The 25 best-reviewed iPhone games of the year
As 2010 has shown, there's certainly more to iPhone gaming than Angry Birds, even if everyone is still playing that casual game classic. And while there are plenty of newer casual games on our list below, there are also titles geared toward the hardcore gamer -- games which are just beginning to tap the full potential that the platform offers.
All of the games below are playable on all Apple portable devices (iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad) unless otherwise noted. Only those games with a minimum of 5 reviews were considered for inclusion.
1. Super QuickHook 94 Get this game
Platformer, Rocketcat Games, $2.99
Metacritic's iPhone Game of the Year!
Great 8-bit graphics, deep gameplay, and a wealth of community features are among the highlights of this sequel to Hook Champ.
Looking for more good platformers? Pix'n Love Rush 86 just missed our top 25, while you'll find Mirror's Edge and Parachute Ninja below.
2. Dark Nebula: Episode 2 93 Get this game
Puzzle/Platformer, 1337 Game Design, $1.99
Improving on the first Dark Nebula in length and quality, this beautifully designed rolling-ball tilt action game comes from Anders Hejdenberg, the designer of Battlefield 2.
3. Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus 93 Get this game
First-Person Shooter, Gameloft, $6.99
The year's best iPhone FPS offers both a single-player campaign and four online multiplayer modes, and its improved graphics really shine on the iPhone 4's retina display.
Want to shoot more things? DoDonPachi Resurrection and Espgaluda II (below) and Mushihimesama Bug Panic 85 also received high marks from critics.
4. Ragdoll Blaster 2 93 Get this game
Puzzle, Backflip Studios, $0.99
This well designed physics-based puzzler may seem familiar to fans of the first one -- or the similar and slightly more challenging Angry Birds -- but that doesn't make it any less fun.
5. Cut the Rope 92 Get this game
Puzzle, Chillingo, $0.99
Another addictive and well-made physics puzzler for the casual gamer, the cute Cut the Rope boasts over 100 quick levels that range in difficulty, while a smaller free version and a new free holiday version allow you to try before you buy.
6. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars 92 Get this game
Action/Driving, Rockstar Games, $9.99
[iPhone/iPod version] Rockstar's content-rich iPhone version of the popular GTA series features a deep storyline with a variety of missions involving plenty of driving and shooting action, and it even comes with 100 minutes of music.
7. Plants vs. Zombies 92 Get this game
Action/Strategy, PopCap Games, $2.99
A massive casual gaming hit, this iPhone port of the clever and addictive PC tower defense game might actually play even better on mobile devices thanks to its intuitive controls; a separate HD iPad version also received strong reviews.
8. Chaos Rings 91 Get this game
Role-Playing Game, Square Enix, $12.99
2010's best-reviewed iPhone RPG certainly isn't cheap, but it showcases the platform's capabilities more than almost any other game and offers as richly rewarding an experience as any of Square Enix's recent Final Fantasy titles.
9. Broken Sword: Director's Cut 91 Get this game
Adventure, Revolution, $4.99
This star of this iPhone adaptation of the 1996 point-and-click adventure Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars is the well-written murder mystery storyline and challenging puzzles, but production values are high all around.
10. Carcassonne 91 Get this game
Board Game, TheCodingMonkeys, $9.99
This well-made adaptation of the classic German strategy board game lets you battle nine different computer opponents of varying difficulty or compete against humans in internet multiplayer (with push notifications) or local modes.
11. Space Miner: Space Ore Bust 91 Get this game
RPG/Shooter, Venan Entertainment, $4.99
Basically a 21st century take on the classic space shooter Asteroids, Space Miner adds a comedic storyline, RPG elements like ship customizations, great physics-based gameplay, and a nifty soundtrack for a surprisingly deep package.
12. Let's Golf! 2 91 Get this game
Sports, Gameloft, $4.99 ($0.99 through Dec. 22)
This feature-packed golfing game improves on every aspect of the original, though it is more suitable for casual gamers rather than players looking for either realism or extreme difficulty.
There aren't a ton of great sports games for the iPhone, but critics liked Baseball Superstars 2011 87 and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 83.
13. Infinity Blade 90 Get this game
Action, Epic Games/Chair Entertainment Group, $5.99
Released a few weeks ago, this 3D sword-fighting action title is the first mobile game to utilize the Unreal Engine 3. It's also an instant hit, thanks in large part to its truly stunning graphics and great touch controls, though the fights can get a tad repetitive.
14. Galaxy on Fire 2 90 Get this game
Adventure, Fishlabs, $9.99
This space-based adventure and combat simulation will keep you playing for a dozen hours or more, with 100 space stations and 20 solar systems to investigate on your own when you aren't playing through the storyline and missions.
15. Tilt to Live 89 Get this game
Action, One Man Left, $2.99
A polished arcade action title that seems to make fans of everyone who plays it, the stylish Tilt to Live offers a deceptively simple concept but grows increasingly challenging as the game progresses.
16. Espgaluda II 89 Get this game
Shooter, Cave Co., $8.99
A port of the 2005 arcade game (and Xbox 360 title), this action-packed "bullet hell" style 2D scrolling shooter offers modes that will appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers.
17. Sword & Poker 89 Get this game
RPG, Gaia, $2.99
This unique Japanese RPG -- which is suitable for RPG newbies as well as fans of the genre -- plays out all of its battles as poker matches, with extra strategy thrown in. A sequel, Sword & Poker 2 87, also received strong reviews and runs a dollar more.
18. Pro Zombie Soccer 89 Get this game
Action, Chillingo, $0.99
With a humorous storyline and comic book-style presentation, Pro Zombie Soccer is one of the better zombie-blasting games available; being able to utilize soccer moves to wipe out the zombies also helps this title stand out from the zombie app pack.
19. Monkey Island 2:
LeChuck's Revenge (Spec. Ed.) 89 Get this game
Adventure, LucasArts, $0.99
[iPhone/iPod version] A new control scheme and improved graphics, dialogue, and music are among the features of this iPhone update of the classic adventure game.
20. Parachute Ninja 88 Get this game
Platformer, Freeverse, $0.99
Glide through 30 levels of this physics-based platformer, using rubber-band-like slingshots as well as your parachute to avoid danger and collect fireflies.
21. DoDonPachi Resurrection 88 Get this game
Shooter, Cave Co., $8.99
Like Cave's Espgaluda II (above), DoDonPachi Resurrection is another intense shoot-em-up for the iPhone, offering a wealth of content for that somewhat hefty price tag.
22. Mirror's Edge 88 Get this game
Platformer, Electronic Arts, $4.99 (now on sale for $0.99)
[iPhone/iPod version] This port of the console game shifts the action from 1st to 3rd person as you control runner Faith Connors, who must show off her parkour skills in a packed urban setting filled with high rises, ramps, ziplines, and more.
23. Trainyard 88 Get this game
Puzzle, Matt Rix, $0.99
This indie game charmer offers a series of unique puzzles -- 150 in all -- that are simple to understand conceptually (route each train to the correct station) but become increasingly challenging to complete. Get stuck? You can get help from fellow players.
24. Push Panic 88 Get this game
Puzzle, Appular, $0.99
Released last month, this addictive and fast-paced color-matching puzzler offers several different gameplay modes and 50 levels of action, coupled with an excellent touch control scheme.
25. Osmos 88 Get this game
Puzzle, Hemisphere, $2.99 (now on sale for $0.99)
[iPhone/iPod version] This port of the one-of-a-kind PC title takes full advantage of the iPhone's multitouch controls for its elegantly-designed physics-based challenges, described by several reviewers as "meditative."
Bonus: The best iPad games
While iPad owners can play most of the 25 games above, those titles weren't designed to take advantage of the iPad's larger screen. That's not true for these next eight games, which are 2010's best-reviewed games designed specifically for the iPad.
1. World of Goo 95 Get this game
Puzzle, 2D Boy, $9.99
Metacritic's iPad Game of the Year!
The gorgeous and highly original Wii/PC hit has been ported in its entirety to the iPad, where it once again trumps all other physics-based puzzlers with its quirky plot, innovative gameplay, and all-around artistry. A no-brainer download for iPad owners.
2. Monkey Island 2:
LeChuck's Revenge (Spec. Ed.) 94 Get this game
Adventure, LucasArts, $9.99 (now on sale for $0.99)
The iPad version of this adventure classic adds commentaries from the game's creators and extra never-before-seen artwork.
3. Dominion HD 92 Get this game
Strategy, Chillingo, $4.99
This iPad take on a Risk-like world domination strategy game adds a few twists to the traditional rules, and couples that with solid design work and both local pass-and-play multiplayer and online multiplayer modes.
4. Flight Control HD 90 Get this game
Simulation, Firemint, $4.99
This fast-paced path-drawing air traffic control simulation adds extra content to the hit iPhone original, with new game modes in addition to new (and bigger) maps and improved graphics.
5. Mirror's Edge for iPad 88 Get this game
Platformer, Electronic Arts, $12.99 (now on sale for $0.99)
This iPad version of the parkour action-adventure title (a steal if you can get it at that sale price) offers better graphics, iPad optimized race environments, and a new face-to-face split-screen multiplayer mode to the already solid iPhone version.
6. Grand Theft Auto:
Chinatown Wars HD 87 Get this game
Action/Driving, Rockstar Games, $9.99
In addition to the all-around improved graphics (which look pretty terrific on the bigger screen) compared to the iPhone version, the iPad version adds better controls.
7. Osmos for iPad 87 Get this game
Puzzle, Hemisphere, $4.99
While this stylish and peaceful physics puzzler doesn't exactly demand a larger screen, the iPad version actually does take advantage of the platform's capabilities, resulting in an experience unmatched on the iPad.
8. Warpgate HD 85 Get this game
Adventure, Freeverse, $7.99
Explore the universe in one of over 170 different starships in this wide-ranging space conquest game. Open-ended gameplay will find you engaging in commodity trading and battles, and the vast number of missions will have you playing for hours.
What are your favorites?
What are your favorite iPhone/iPod Touch or iPad games of the year? Let us know in the discussion section below.