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The 50 Best iPhone & iPad Games

Consoles don’t provide much in the way of portability (anyone else ever own this masterpiece of engineering?), and grown men carrying Gameboys often attract the wrong kind of attention, but mobile games offer interactive experiences on the devices that most of us carry every day. They allow us a bit of serenity when we need it most — in the airport, on the subway, at a questionable mid-life Bris.

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In his early life, the gamer listens to bullies call him a nerd, and later, he fields the complaints of his significant other, but throughout it all he argues for the time spent in front of the screen with a simple rationalization: sometimes, reality sucks. Games provide an escape. They’re less dangerous (and cheaper) than drugs and alcohol and provide a more interactive experience than books and movies. They allow a deep sense of connection with a narrative — not just through imagination, or audio and visuals, but an actual physical connection. When the gamer gets into the skin of a hero, he becomes the hero. When he adopts the guise of the villain, well, that’s fun, too.

Consoles don’t provide much in the way of portability (anyone else ever own this masterpiece of engineering?), and grown men carrying Gameboys often attract the wrong kind of attention, but mobile games offer interactive experiences on the devices that most of us carry every day. They allow us a bit of serenity when we need it most — in the airport, on the subway, at a questionable mid-life Bris. Here, we’ve provided a list of 50 of the best games made for iOS. Play at the risk of your relationship.

Crow

Evermore: This beautifully rendered 3D experience, which combines elements from both RPGs and rail shooters, puts you in charge of a magical crow. Navigate through four spectacular environments, and decide whether you’re the good or evil kind of fowl.

Buy Now: $1 (iOS)

Minecraft – Pocket Edition

Virtual Legos: The award-winning build-your-own-adventure game appears as a pocket-sized port. Use the materials you gather/mine to build defenses, houses or anything else your heart desires.

Buy Now: $6.99 (iOS) Buy Now: $6.99 (Android)

N.O.V.A. 3

Halo for iPhone: This first-person shooter has the aspirations of a console game, but not the glitches that plague other high-reaching titles. Go on foot or take vehicles and mechs as you shoot your way to victory.

Buy Now: $6.99 (iOS) Buy Now: $6.99 (Android)

Infinity Blade II

Best iOS Game Ever? Created by the same people who brought you Gears of War, the Infinity Blade franchise was originally made to showcase the Unreal Physics Engine. However, thanks to killer graphics, intense storyline and an intuitive combat system, it became the fastest grossing iOS app ever. The sequel builds on the success of the first, offering better graphics, more upgrades and monsters and the second installment of a fascinating story.

Buy Now: 6.99 (iOS)

Infinity Blade III

Sequel to the Best iOS Game Ever? Just when you thought the Infinity Blade franchise couldn’t get better, Chair Entertainment and Epic Games released Infinity Blade III, the third and final game in the series. It offers the same beautiful visuals and intriguing story as the first two installments while adding more RPG elements and introducing the protagonist’s friend Isa as a playable character.

Buy Now: $6.99 (iOS)

Wall of Shame

You’ve seen them, and you probably own them: the free, addictive mass-market titles that suck up your subway time and make you leave the bathroom stall thinking, what did I do for the last ten minutes? We love ’em for the virtual gems they give us, and hate ’em for the time they waste. Download at your own risk.

Candy Crush Saga: Looking to spend aimless hours moving around digital confections, only to feel like a clown when Facebook tells your friends that you made it to level 326? Get Candy Crush Saga and hide it deep inside a folder called “business”.

Temple Run 2: You’ve stolen a jewel, or something. Book it down a series of never-ending trails, avoiding the “temple-guardian” (i.e., a giant gorilla) and an assortment of obstacles that include tree roots, a spiked log and fire-breathing statues.

Fruit Ninja Watermelons, apples, kiwis, radishes and other assorted produce killed your family. Ribenji! Avenge them by striking Bruce Lee poses, yelling “Kee-aye!” a lot and not swiping — we mean slashing — the bombs.

FLAPPY-BIRD

Flappy Bird It sounds like a John Grisham novel — Vietnamese developer creates game, game makes $50,000 per day, developer feels guilt and takes it down — but it’s the true history behind the addictive Flappy Bird.

The Room

Hell, But Really Fun Hell: This 2012 Apple Game of the Year puts you in a dark room with a puzzle box and gives you a single task: solve it. The gameplay is simple, but it’s one of the most cerebral and beautiful games on the market. Finish it in one sitting (it only takes about an hour), or you’ll end up thinking about trying to solve the puzzles when you’re, you know, supposed to be talking to the in-laws or something.

Buy Now: $1 (iOS) Buy Now: $1 (Android)

The Room Two

Hell, But Really Fun Hell (Again): The sequel to one of the iPad’s eeriest and darkest puzzle games brings even more eeriness, darkness and puzzles. They’re more beautiful than the first go-round (if you can believe it); although the sequel costs more, it’s twice as long.

Buy Now: $2.99 (iOS) Buy Now: $2.99 (Android)

A Dark Room

A Darker Room: You start in a dark room…sounds familiar, eh (see above)? Though The Room and A Dark Room both contain similar horror elements and focus on narrative, they’re wholly different experiences, with A Dark Room sacrificing visuals for text. It’s the closest to playing a Cormac McCarthy novel you’re ever going to get.

Buy Now: $1 (iOS)

Oceanhorn

Link Visits the Uncharted Seas: What do you get when the Finns shamelessly produce a Zelda clone? One glorious day, Nintendo will bring a flawless Ocarina of Time port to the iPad, but until then, Oceanhorn has your back.

Buy Now: $8.99

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP

Killer Soundtrack and Killer Monsters: Some of the best in-game music (and funniest voiceovers) comes from Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, an ambitious 8-bit point and click. Is the game effected by actual lunar cycles? Yes. So buy an almanac.

Buy Now: $4.99 (iOS) Buy Now: $4.99 (Android)

BADLAND

Get to the Portal: Many games take power from their narratives…and BADLAND, which won an Apple Design Award in 2013, is not one of them. It’s more like the high-end Chinese buffet of gaming, where you go to gorge yourself on tasty-looking morsels and experience a foreign atmosphere.

Buy Now: $3.99 (iOS) Buy Now: $3.99 (Android)

Device 6

Told You Reading Was Fun: Is it a game or a novella — or both? Simogo, the two-man team behind Year Walk and Beat Sneak Bandit (see below), strikes gold again with this narrative-based thriller that combines puzzle elements with a novella experience.

Buy Now: $3.99 (iOS)

Year Walk

The Longest Walk: One of those games you just have to play, as it gets its power from a twisted narrative and haunting visuals. Not for the faint of heart (oh god, what’s that horse head thing?!).

Buy Now: $3.99 (iOS)

Beat Sneak Bandit

Time to Steal Clocks: As the Beat Sneak Bandit, you have to steal back all the world’s clocks, which have been stolen by Duke Clockface, who’s really kind of an asshole.

Buy Now: $2.99 (iOS)

Limbo

More Surreal Than a Magritte Painting: Enter the surreal world of Limbo, where you’ll interact with the monochromatic landscape while trying to uncover the fate of your sister. The name of the game could just as easily been “Atmosphere” — not because it resembles the terrific hip hop group that rose to prominence in the early 90s, but because it’s mad atmospheric.

Buy Now: $4.99 (iOS)

Mutant Mudds

Most Inter-dimensional Journey: Go old-school with this Megaman-inspired, side-scrolling platformer. As an added bonus, you can use a jetpack to teleport between two and three dimensions. Whoa.

Buy Now: $8.99 (ios)

Great Big War Game

Little Soldiers, Big War: Playing through this turn-based strategy game requires a bit over forty hours, and we promise that the jokes never get stale. Okay, maybe a little, but you’ll be too busy planning your next move to notice.

Buy Now: $2.99 (ios) Buy Now: $2.99 (Android)

World of Goo HD

Gooiest: Goo, meet pipe. Pipe, meet goo. Oh, you can’t reach each other? Let me help…

Buy Now: $4.99 (ios)

Zen Bound 2

Ohm-iest: Tilt your iOS device to wind a rope around a beautifully-rendered wooden object. Thrilling? Not really. Relaxing? Now you get it.

Buy Now: $2.99 (ios) Buy Now: $2.99 (Android)

Gesundheit!

Most Germ-Ridden: You’re a pig with a cold, which sucks, until monsters with a predilection for snot invade the land and you’re the only one who can stop them. Shoot your boogers into traps and save the world.

Buy Now: $1 (ios) Buy Now: $1 (Android)

Darklings

Touch of Death, Touch-Screen Style: If you like Tim Burton, check out Darklings, which puts you in control of Lum, the face of light. You can’t move, but as creatures attack, symbols will appear above their heads. Draw the symbols to perform a satisfying counter.

Buy Now: $1 (ios)

Real Racing 3

Realer Than Racing 2: Holding title as the most realistic iOS racing game, Real Racing 3 is almost like having Forza 5 in your pocket. Almost.

Buy Now: Free (ios) Buy Now: Free (Android)

Asphalt 8: Airborne

Racing, With Jumps: Some people watch Speed and ask themselves whether or not it’d actually be possible to make that jump in a bus. Others wonder what it’d be like. For them, Gameloft made Asphalt 8: Airborne.

Buy Now: Free (ios) Buy Now: Free (Android)

Ridiculous Fishing

Not As Dull As Actual Fishing: So, uh, what you do is you drop your line, go as deep as possible while avoiding fish, catch as many fish as you can when you pull the line back up, and then blast the fish out of the sky with your upgradeable gun. Yeah, it’s pretty fun.

Buy Now: $2.99 (ios) Buy Now: $2.99 (Android)

Peggle

Snood on Crack: Using a rotating cannon, shoot a ball and try to clear the screen of orange pegs. As your ball bounces around the screen, it’ll touch green pegs, which unlock powerups, purple pegs, which increase your score, along with other obstacles and bonuses.

Buy Now: $1

Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor

Charlotte’s Web Meets Nancy Drew: A mix between a puzzle game and a mystery game might not seem like it would work, until you tackle a hornet out of the air. Play as a hungry spider that (a) wants to eat and (b) wants to unlock the secrets of Bryce Manor.

Buy Now: $1.99 (ios) Buy Now: $1.99 (Android)

Groove Coaster

Weed Not Included: Melt your mind with Groove Coaster, a colorful, rhythmic joy for the senses. Simply tap to the rhythm as your avatar cruises along a colorful track for an explosion of light and sound.

Buy Now: $2.99 (ios)

Bastion

Pistols, Swords, or Battering Ram: The Calamity destroyed the world, and now you’re tasked with running through various nightmare landscapes, collecting weapons and killing bad guys in an attempt to make things right. As you do, a guy with a really gravelly voice tells you the history of your world, and says the word “gasbag” a lot.

Buy Now: $4.99 (ios)

Rymdkapsel

Tetris, in Space: Sigur Ros. IKEA. Scandanavia fairly bleeds minimalism, and this game, made by Swedish designer Martin Jonasson, puts you in control of building a simple, colorful spaceship.

Buy Now: $3.99 (ios) Buy Now: $3.99 (Android)

Rayman Fiesta Run

Run, Rayman, Run: If you’re the kind of person that’s mad we didn’t include Temple Run 2 on this list, you probably didn’t make it this far. But if you did, this one’s for you: an auto-runner that features all the levels, power-ups and artistry that the more popular Temple Run series did not.

Buy Now: $2.99 (ios) Buy Now: $2.99 (Android)

Kingdom Rush HD

We Must Protect This House: Use your resources to purchase defenses against an invading army. It’s not an original idea, but Kingdom Rush HD is one of the most challenging and engaging tower defense games on the market.

Buy Now: $1 (ios) Buy Now: $1 (Android)

République

Brave New World: Tired of terrible-looking iOS games, game designer Ryan Payton decided to make his own. His Kickstarter campaign raised over $500,000 and resulted in République, a stealth/horror survival game that plays like Orwell’s 1984.

Learn More: $4.99 (ios)

The World Ends With You: Solo Remix

Shibuya Shopping District: At $17.99 for an iOS game, you think the world might actually end. But this game, which features beautiful art, terrific music and an engaging plot, justifies its hefty price tag.

Buy Now: $17.99 (ios)

Hitman GO

Killer 4(7) Hire: You’ve played the awesome Hitman games (and seen the terrible Hitman movie), so you might as well join Square Enix for the next iteration of the franchise, a turn-based iOS board game. Each level takes place on a different “board”, and you guide the Agent 47 game piece through grooves, knocking aside your enemy’s pieces when they’re looking away.

Buy Now: $4.99 (ios)

Threes!

1 + 2 = Threes! Battle your addictive tendencies and look like Rain Man to spectators as you push tiles around a 4-by-4 grid to make increasingly large numbers. It takes two minutes to figure out and days to put down.

Buy Now: $1.99 (ios) Buy Now: $1.99 (Android)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Press Y to Carjack: One of the biggest and baddest ports of all time, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas brings a whole lot of the console game’s magic to the iPhone. It’s not exactly the same experience, but for an iPhone game, it’s pretty darn cool.

Buy Now: $6.99 (ios) Buy Now: $6.99 (Android)

Slayin

Low-Res Theseus: Medieval 8-bit greatness hits iOS with gusto in this game, which lets you select from a handful of characters to do battle with giant worms, giant blobs and giant two-legged bulls.

Buy Now: $1 (ios)

Smash Hit

Best Violent Release: Smash shit with marbles — and not just any shit, but glass, and things that feel like they should be smashed with marbles. Catharsis achieved.

Buy Now: Free (ios) Buy Now: Free (Android)

Carcassonne

Unhand My Fields, Ye Knave! In this German version of Settlers of Catan, lay tiles to develop the landscape. Easy to learn, easy to play, and unlike Monopoly, no one leaves the board with a bloody lip.

Buy Now: $9.99 (ios) Buy Now: $4.99 (Android)

Joe Danger

Call Me Danger. Joe Danger: Choose one of dozens of playable characters and race through a cartoon wonderland from behind the handlebars of motorbike. Unlike some of the more dedicated racing games, you can’t control your speed, but that lets you focus on avoiding obstacles and pulling off sweet tricks.

Buy Now: $2.99 (ios)

Super Stickman Golf

Fore! Simple sports at their best. The single player is fun, but, using Bluetooth, you can challenge up to three friends at over 250 holes, earning points by completing levels first. Setting your shot angle with the touch-screen arrows and your power with a timing minigame lets your ball fly.

Buy Now: $2.99 (ios) Buy Now: Free (Android)

Sonic CD

Sonic for iPhone: It’s Sonic. For the iPhone. ‘Nuff said.

Buy Now: $2.99 (ios) Buy Now: $2.99 (Android)

Osmos

Absorb, Grow, Repeat: As you try to eat other, smaller, beautiful blobs, other, larger, beautiful blobs try to eat you. Almost worth it for the serene soundtrack alone.

Buy Now: $2.99 (ios) Buy Now: $1.99 (ios)

FTL: Faster Than Light

Beam Me Up, Scotty: Faster Than Light is the closest you’ll ever come to your dream of commanding a spaceship. Make strategic decisions in this text-based adventure RPG but beware — one you die, there’s no coming back.

Buy Now: $10 (ios)

Monument Valley

Playing on Escher’s Stairs: We could describe the game in a sentence, or we could link you to our rave review. Yeah, we’ll just do that.

Buy Now: $3.99 (ios)

Bug Heroes 2

A Bug’s Life Meets Game of Thrones: Control a team of two bugs…but not just any bugs. Choose from a Waterbug pirate, an Aphid sensei, a Bumblebee boxer, a grenade-launching Worm, and over 20 other miniature warriors. Take them into the battlefield (i.e., the countertop) and protect your base from your multiple-legged enemies.

Buy Now: $1.99 (ios)

Bardbarian

Shakespeare Would Be Proud: A combination of RPG, tower defense and shooter, Bardbarian puts you in charge of Brad, a barbarian who gets tired to killing monsters and decides to turn his axe into a lute and drop some musical love on them instead. Unfortunately for the monsters, the musical love summons his allies, who do get excited about killing.

Buy Now: $1 (ios) Buy Now: Free (Android)

Castle Doombad

From the Makers of Adult Swim: Another tower defense game, except in this one, you’re actually defending a literal tower…or an evil lair, but, you know. Instead of setting up defenses on a prescribed path, you set them up inside the building, stopping the good guys as they try to rescue the princess.

Buy Now: $2.99 (ios) Buy Now: $2.99 (Android)

Walking Dead: The Game

Game of the Living Dead: Based on the comic books series (not the TV show), this zombie-themed release from Telltale Games plays like a narrative-based thriller rather than a blood-and-guts shoot-’em-up. The first episode is free, but you can cop the next four for $20.

Buy Now: Free (ios) Buy Now: Free (Android)

Skulls of the Shogun

Crush the Skulls of Your Enemies: Vivid artwork, hilarious writing, the ability to eat the skulls of your enemies…what’s not to like about Skulls of the Shogun, a turn-based strategy RPG?

Buy Now: $4.99 (ios)

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