iPhone/iPad Games Guide: What to Buy This Month

  • Comments: ↓ 3 user comments
  • Publish Date: August 28, 2010

Our monthly feature offers a handy guide to the past month's best new game releases for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

Great games on a dollar a day

What are the best new iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch games available for a total budget of $30 -- or about a dollar per day? Below are the best-reviewed titles released over the past month. All games are available for all devices unless otherwise indicated.

Best-Reviewed New iPhone/iPad/iPod Games, $30 Total Budget - August 2010
  Game Genre Rating Metascore Price
Image Dark Nebula: Episode 2 Action 9+ 94 $0.99
Image Chopper 2 Shooter 9+ 93 $2.99
Image Osmos [iPhone Version] * Puzzle 4+ 90 $2.99
Image Monster Dash Action 9+ 86 $0.99
Image Hero of Sparta II Action 9+ 86 $6.99
Image Aqua Moto Racing 2 Racing 4+ 85 $2.99
Image The Incident Action 4+ 84 $1.99
Image Solipskier Sports/Action 9+ 80 $2.99
Image Fastar! Action-RPG 9+ 78 FREE
Image Madden NFL 11 Sports 4+ 78 $6.99
      TOTAL COST: $29.91

* A separate iPad-only version of Osmos was covered in our July iPhone games roundup.
The Metascore for iPhone and iPad games is an unweighted average of individual scores given by professional game publications on a scale of 0 (bad) to 100 (good). A Metascore of 75 or higher denotes generally positive reviews, while 90 or higher indicates universal acclaim. Scores are not calculated for games with fewer than four reviews.

Below, we take a closer look at each of the past month's best new games. (Note that all game summaries are from the publishers' official descriptions.)

Dark Nebula: Episode 2

Metascore (out of 100):
94
from 1337 Game Design
Action, $0.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

The highly anticipated sequel to Dark Nebula is finally here, and it's twice as long. The best way to sum this game up is that it's like a labyrinth game but on steroids. Just tilt the device to move your character through the levels while avoiding traps, opening doors, bouncing, sliding and not falling off. Designed by game industry veteran Anders Hejdenberg, lead designer of many world class games, including Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. Features include: Over 25 completely new enemies and obstacles. 19 action-packed levels that span across six different environments, from lush jungles to barren wastelands. Completely new combat system that enables you to fight enemies. Cinematic musical score. Global leaderboards and Facebook integration.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Dark Nebula - Episode 2 has developed in just the right ways to recapture what made the original so successful while building in new, exciting action elements.
100 Gamepro
The game is clearly made by a professional, and I can't recommend it enough.
100 Slide to Play
The second chapter of Dark Nebula improves on the original where improvements needed to be made. A great game just got better.
95 ZTGameDomain
I want you to reward the development team of Dark Nebula: Episode 2 with your dollar, I want them to experience the positive affirmation of your purchase. I want this app to sell well, so that they can go forth and create more awesome. Now hop to it.
90 148Apps
We loved Dark Nebula: Episode One, but were saddened by its length—Episode Two "only" has twenty levels, but they're all fantastic.
90 Pocket Gamer
The best of old and new wrapped up in one package, the puzzle-platformer gameplay of Dark Nebula - Episode Two is too entertaining to put down.
90 TouchGen
Dark Nebula Episode Two is a triumph of budget game design on the AppStore.
85 IGN
Bring on episode three. Dark Nebula is a frenzied tilt game that bangs you over the head every stage with new challenges like laser tripwires, twirling blades, tricky jumps, and boss battles.

Chopper 2

Metascore (out of 100):
93
from Majic Jungle Software
Shooter, $2.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Chopper 2 features 36 action packed missions over 12 unique and beautiful locations. It features a completely re-written 3D game engine, all new enemies, weapons, graphics, and missions, while still retaining the classic side scrolling game-play. Escort a convoy of vehicles across the desert, or defend a train from enemies emerging from underground mines. Use your laser sight to line up enemies emerging from stairwells in the city. Chase down lines of enemy tanks and choppers while avoiding heat seeking missiles, gunfire and bird strike. Help your allies defend against advancing armies, and rescue stranded civilians, all while trying to complete your mission as fast as possible for the highest score. Chopper 2 features OpenFeint leaderboards and achievements. It is universal for iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch, with HD graphics on both the iPad and iPhone 4. It uses the gyroscope where it can for increased control, OpenAL for spatial sound effects and even features an amazing 17 minute long original soundtrack.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
With so many features packed in to Chopper 2, it's insanely great value no matter what price you can get it at, but especially a must buy while it's still on sale.
100 Slide to Play
Chopper 2 is a lot of fun to play as a standalone game, but if you own both an iPhone and an iPad it becomes a killer app.
90 148Apps
If you enjoyed the original Chopper, you will absolutely love Chopper 2. The graphics are better, the game is more epic, and most importantly… it's more Chopper.
80 Pocket Gamer
Chopper 2 is a demanding experience that won't appeal to everyone, but if you accept the challenge of this side-scrolling shoot 'em up you're certain to get your money's worth.

Osmos [iPhone Version]

Metascore (out of 100):
90
from Hemisphere Games
Puzzle, $2.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

The #1 hit iPad game is now available on the iPhone, with full Retina Display support. Enter the absorbing world that GameAndPlayer called "a work of genius," and many reviewers and players have called one of the best iPhone games yet. Osmos features addictive, physics-based gameplay, fluid multitouch controls, lush, flowing visuals, and a chill, ambient electronic soundtrack. Some describe Osmos as "Asteroids meets a lava-lamp," others as "21st Century Pac-Man," but all have said it's a game you must experience to appreciate. Your goal is to grow by absorbing smaller motes; but to propel yourself you must eject matter behind you, causing you to shrink. From this fundamental balance, Osmos leads the player through ambient playgrounds, deep solar systems, competitive petri dishes, dense mote-fields, and more. This award-winning PC game has been fully redesigned for the iPhone, including a seamless multitouch interface, new menus, play modes, levels, and tons of tweaks and refinements.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
From the PC to the iPad and now the iPhone, Osmos brings its unique pure physics gameplay with all the charm to gamers no matter where they are.
100 Slide to Play
Osmos is an elegant physics game perfectly suited for the iPhone's touchscreen.
90 IGN
I was worried that the smaller screen might cramp Osmos, but that wasn't the case at all. It's still an amazing play.
80 Pocket Gamer
Pacing issues and overly random gameplay detract from the elegance of Osmos.
80 Videogamer
Osmos is still a fantastic little title, one of a rare breed of games that can be described as meditative.

Monster Dash

Metascore (out of 100):
86
from Halfbrick Studios
Action, $0.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

From Halfbrick, creators of the legendary iPhone game Fruit Ninja, comes the newest and most exciting world-hopping adventure. Monster Dash is an action game starring the lovable hero Barry Steakfries as he runs and shoots monsters with nothing to lose. Travel through portals to visit exotic world locations, battling demons, mummies, vampires and more. No monster is safe when Steakfries is on the case. Instantly playable and simple to control, the action speeds up and changes gears with every new world. best of all, there are weapon and health pickups to buff Steakfries into serious action mode. Blast your enemies with the one shot Pacifier, electro-charge your way to victory with Mr. Zappy, and look out for the ultimate in raining destruction -- the Machine Gun Jetpack. Run as far as possible and shoot monsters along the way to amass high scores and collect awards. Upload your best runs to the Openfeint leaderboards, and enjoy every ounce of personality Barry Steakfries brings to your iPhone.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Monster Dash walks the line between non-stop action and platforming in this runner title while featuring enough attention to detail to stand out from the crowd.
100 Gamepro
Monster Dash is easily one of the best iPhone games released this year, and if Halfbrick is as generous with updates to it as it has been with Fruit Ninja, this game can only keep getting better.
100 No DPad
I've had a ton of fun with Monster Dash, and there's really no other words to describe it other than just that: fun.
90 TouchGen
To me, the game is definitely an improvement from Canabalt. The visuals are obviously way better, the music is pretty outstanding as well, and the gameplay is just simple but quite addictive.
80 Destructoid
All told, Monster Dash is a great title and well worth the meager asking price. You'll get your money's worth, and with Halfbrick promising to update the game with new monsters and levels, you can't go wrong!
80 Eurogamer
It's stupid. It's simple. You probably won't want to bother playing something so absurdly shallow. And, hours later, you might just be able to convince yourself that you've got something better to do.
80 IGN
A great game just to drop in and out of, seeing if you can just make it three feet farther or kill just one more monster than your last run. Give it a download today.
75 Slide to Play
Monster Dash isn't anything we haven't seen before, but it's still a lot of fun.
70 Pocket Gamer
Monster Dash is a spunky spin on the speedy platformer with a short shelf life.

Hero of Sparta II

Metascore (out of 100):
86
from Gameloft
Action, $6.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Sailing back from Hell after many battles, Argos finally reaches the shores of his homeland: Sparta. But no human leaves Hades' kingdom alive without consequences. A new odyssey begins for our hero - a journey that will force him face the gods, his fate and his own choices to answer for his arrogance. A thrilling, non-stop hack'n'slash game jam-packed with action and innovation. Furious combat against even more colossal enemies: more combos, more violence! Hold your breath all along your adventure: each level provides the player a new experience – a new weapon, a new gameplay, a new power and more. 12 levels to explore, set up in 8 new majestic environments: from Sparta to the depths and heights of Earth. Unique and exclusive 3GS graphics providing additional 3D, light and relief effects. New powers & new weapons: only the best gear will give you a chance to survive the challenges ahead. Fight and kill the mythical foes that dare cross your path. But be warned: stronger enemies will always be lurking.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Hero of Sparta II is an easy sell for fans of the original, but it's still a fairly mindless action-slashing experience.
100 Slide to Play
If you have a PSP, buy God of War. If you have an iPhone, buy Hero of Sparta II.
90 TouchGen
Gameloft have put a lot of effort into not only creating a great and worthy game for just $6.99 that would look and play great on a console such as the Wii, but also delivered a game that fans of the original had hoped for.
80 148Apps
Hero of Sparta 2 is what you would expect from God of War clone on the iPhone. It's really pretty but is fairly soulless and leaves a bit to be desired.
75 IGN
Hero of Sparta II is a fine "homage" to God of War and it benefits from its solid combat system.
70 Pocket Gamer
Hero of Sparta II is missing the polish to transform its clever combat mechanics and non-stop action from zero to hero.

Aqua Moto Racing 2

Metascore (out of 100):
85
from Resolution Interactive
Racing, $2.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Aqua Moto Racing 2 offers great water racing with some of the best graphics seen on the iPhone platform. With state of the art wave physics this game truly has to be seen to be believed. Race in exotic world locations with amazing details set in the tropics, Greece and Egypt. Start earning cash by participating in races and winning championships and spend them on better JetSkis. Unlock new championhips and achievements on your quest for Legendary Status. Perform insane stunts and round buoys to charge your turbo to get the edge against your opponents. Level up your rider to a higher rank by beating set target times and unlocking medals and winning championships. Connect to OpenFeint to challenge and compare your race results with friends all over the world.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
If you're after a new racing title that doesn't involve four wheels, then you'd best grab Aqua Moto Racing 2 now.
100 No DPad
Aqua Moto Racing 2 didn't strike me as a breakthrough racing experience, but the balance of the game itself really impressed.
80 Pocket Gamer
Pumped and packed with action, coming out on top in Aqua Moto Racing 2 may be a touch easy at times, but it's never dull.
75 Slide to Play
Aqua Moto Racing 2 is a killer water racer, but its lack of multiplayer might turn some off.
70 TouchGen
This is a full PS2/Nintendo 64 kind of game, it is the kind of games we used to pay $50 for before and we had to play it on the couch. This one is only worth $4.99 and we can play it anywhere we want. If it wasn't for the lack of online gameplay and the few flaws it has, it would be a perfect game.

The Incident

Metascore (out of 100):
84
from Big Bucket Software
Action, $1.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

The Incident is a fast-paced, retro-style action game. Run, dodge and jump your way to safety as an angry rain of just about everything in the world falls and builds a mountain of platforms for you to climb up, up… up to the source of it all: the cause of the incident. The Incident is easy to pick up but hard to master. It's a totally new gameplay concept and it's perhaps too addictive. It's loaded with power-ups, power-downs (d'oh!) and collectables. Try to beat the game, then try to unlock all the achievements. No one said getting 500 coins would be easy.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Tilt, jump and survive and have a fun time while finding out just what plagues Earth in The Incident.
90 148Apps
There's something sweet about seeing a simple concept executed well. The Incident is a great game that offers up a fun time with well-crafted retro sensibilities, and it's sure to appeal to a lot of iOS gamers. Download it today.
90 Gamepro
The Incident is quirky without trying too hard, and its core conceit is a concept that's both wholly original and immediately engaging.
90 TouchGen
The Incident is an incredibly cool game, delivering addictive arcade platforming wrapped in classic packaging. It's a budget beauty!
83 1Up
You'll enjoy this clever platformer, but only in short spurts.
80 Eurogamer
Set over seven beautiful retro-style levels, half the fun of The Incident is in seeing what craziness can be thrown your way next while humming along to the giddy chiptune.
75 IGN
The Incident is a prime example of how the best iPhone games are simple ideas, perfectly executed.
75 Slide to Play
The Incident has a few flaws, but where else are you going to score a trophy for getting bashed on the head by a pink smart car?
70 Pocket Gamer
An amusing game of evasion, The Incident holds little in the way of lasting appeal.

Solipskier

Metascore (out of 100):
80
from Mikengreg
Sports/Action, $2.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Solipskier is a fast paced skiing game where you draw the slopes to pick up speed and do jumps. Paint your own cliffs, do tricks and slalom through gates to get huge scores.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
90 148Apps
The fact that he gets over 100 km/hr is amazing.
80 AppSpy
Solipskier is a great fresh twist on side-scrolling running titles with its high-speed gameplay and thumping track it's an easy game to keep coming back to.
80 Eurogamer
Faster, faster, the dizzying spins. The rainbow streaks. Man, the blue tunnels. Mind the gap.
75 No DPad
Some may complain that the price is too high and others may say that it's just too simple. What I say is that it's just good, clean fun.
75 Slide to Play
Solipskier is a fast-paced casual game that we can see ourselves coming back to for some time.

Fastar!

Metascore (out of 100):
78
from Cat in a Box Games
Action-RPG, FREE, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Action and role-playing in their purest, gleefulest form. Fastar! is the timeless tale of a boy with a big sword and a bowtie journeying across vast lands while being ambushed by malicious geometry. Wait, what, seriously? I'm not typing that, it doesn't make any sense. Oh, look what you made me do. I'll just start over. Fastar! is an Action RPG for when you just don't have time for an Action RPG. Dead simple to pick up and play, you'll be slashing and shopping your way across the grassy plains of [irrelevant flavorful name of fantasy world here] in seconds. You'll cross the world in mere minutes. But mastery of your true objective -- reaching that goal as fast as humanly possible -- could take a lifetime. Fun for everyone from the casual player who loves to mash buttons, to the hardcore gamer-optimizer who loves to mash numbers, Fastar! will provide you with hours of minutes of seconds of simple arcadey joy.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Fastar! may be a parody of RPG and action titles, but its strong, simple gameplay beats the pants off just about everything out there while still making your crack a smile.
80 148Apps
It's challenging, requires a surprising amount of thought, and most importantly, is fast. Pick it up for some great action, just don't go in thinking that you are playing the next Final Fantasy.
75 No DPad
Fastar! is not what most would expect of an Action RPG, nor is it what most would expect from Kooistra having played his previous app store releases — admittedly, the game left me scratching my head at first and it took me several plays to warm to it. Set aside such expectations, however, and Fastar reveals itself to be an excellent casual action game, well worth the paltry price of admission.
75 Slide to Play
Fastar! is a very unusual game, unlike any Action-RPG we've played before. It's worth a try if you want something different.
70 Gamepro
I'm stunned by the fact that this game is enjoyable.
70 Pocket Gamer
Fastar! is a clever distillation of the role-playing form, even if it lacks the variety or dynamism of other quick-hit adventures.

Madden NFL 11

Metascore (out of 100):
78
from Electronic Arts
Sports, $6.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Enhanced visuals bring the game to life in lush detail, especially when viewed through the remarkable iPhone 4 Retina Display. Watch the players rumble onto the stadium floor in electrifying detail. Capture the atmospherics of the weather effects. Even see the blades of grass on the field. TDC ("Total Defensive Control") makes playing defense pure fun. Press the TDC button to pause the action, position your defensive players, and feel the thrill of delivering game-changing hits like never before. Based on the great new console feature, GameFlow lets you to choose your play without having to go back into the playbook. Stay on the move with more streamlined gameplay. As always, get the authentic football experience that only Madden NFL can deliver. Match up all 32 NFL teams featuring updated rosters and nearly 2,000 real players. Whether taking on rivals via Bluetooth or playing a solo game, you get the experience you want. Play through a 16-game schedule in Season Mode, making trades and tracking stats. Get into Playoffs Mode and play through last season's historic playoffs – all the way to the Super Bowl.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
EA Sports brings the thunder and smites the competition with their latest update to the Madden NFL series.
90 Pocket Gamer
Madden NFL 11 offers innovative gameplay, impressive visuals, and an overall quality of design rarely seen in portable sports gaming.
90 TouchGen
It isn't quite a full touchdown just yet, but it is definitely a field goal!
80 Gamepro
Everything from the 22 on-screen players to the stadium they're duking it out in looks great, and for the first time ever I felt like I wasn't playing a compromised or downgraded football experience despite the limitations of the iPhone platform.
80 IGN
It presents a prettier, more functional package than last year even if some of the new mechanics don't play as large a role as you'd think.
75 Slide to Play
Madden 11 is a few yards shy of absolute greatness, but it's a good sequel to last year's standout football game.
60 148Apps
What I want developers like EA and Gameloft (NFL 2011) to understand is that people don't want to play full simulation football on a tiny screen. They want to play a football game that is designed for a mobile device, one that gets rid of all the complexities that bog down the console version and only has the fun stuff.
50 No DPad
It feels almost the same as last years. But hey, if you're a diehard football fan like me, there's no way you're not picking this up.

What not to buy

While the new Gorillaz album might be a hit, the game based on it -- Gorillaz - Escape to Plastic Beach 53 -- is not. Critics also didn't care for Ghosts 'N Goblins: Gold Knights II 60 or NFL 2011 63. And Sim City fans looking for a portable version of that game may be disappointed in the relatively low score for Sim City Deluxe 75, though it's not a bad release.

What are you playing?

Have you tried any of the games above? If so, what did you think of them? Are there any other new iPhone or iPad games that deserve a download? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (3)

  • Shaun  

    Appspy also only use a 5 star system so according to metacritic if it receives a 5 it = 100 and if it gets a 4 it is 80.

  • RayRay  

    Well, Bob, AppSpy reviews a lot of games - and these on this page are the best - these aren't all the games released in the month. So what's the problem if they give the best games top scores? You're essentially saying they're "right" and therefore not doing their jobs??

  • Bob  

    It's ridiculous that AppSpy gave every game but one on this list a perfect score. They need to temper their excitement and start writing actual reviews.

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