iPhone/iPad Games Guide: What to Buy This Month

  • Comments: ↓ 7 user comments
  • Publish Date: June 2, 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 - May 2010
  Game Genre Rating Metascore Price
Image Dominion HD [iPad only] Strategy 4+ 93 $4.99
Image Sword & Poker 2 RPG/Poker 4+ 88 $1.99
Image Zombie Infection Shooter 12+ 83 $6.99
Image Monster Mayhem Strategy 9+ 83 $1.99
Image Alive 4-Ever Returns Shooter 12+ 81 $1.99
Image Phoenix Wright Adventure 9+ 81 $4.99
Image Ninjatown: Trees of Doom! Action 4+ 81 $0.99
Image 100 Rogues Action-RPG 9+ 79 $4.99
Image Jump O'Clock Puzzle 4+ 77 $0.99
      TOTAL COST: $29.91

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.)

Dominion HD
[iPad Only]

Metascore (out of 100):
93
from Chillingo Ltd
Strategy, $4.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Dominion HD is a modern take on the classic world domination game of strategy, risk and conquest. Players take turns building armies and seizing territory from their opponents. Dominion HD benefits from Multiplayer functionality over Wi-Fi or 3G so you can challenge your friends locally or online, and dominate the world!

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
For any fan of strategic board games and Risk in particular, this is the dream-app you've been waiting for and is well worth owning for your iPad.
100 Slide to Play
Dominion HD takes just about everything good about world domination games and puts it on the iPad's excellently large screen, where it fits perfectly.
90 Gamepro
Strategy and board game fans alike should keep an eye on this one.
80 Pocket Gamer
A highly competent, even evolutionary spin on strategy boardgaming, Dominion HD pairs quality design with online multiplayer for the win.

Sword & Poker 2

Metascore (out of 100):
88
from Gaia
RPG/Poker, $1.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

A sequel to "Sword & Poker" with new elements added is finally available! Sword & Poker 2 is a new type of game that is based on the famous game, poker, with some elements of RPG added. The easy game control and tutorial will allow you to learn the game system easily, even if you are a beginner. For those who played the previous game, new tricky dungeons have been added so you can enjoy a fresh challenge. Collect new magic and weapons, use your knowledge, creativity and a bit of luck to win the battles against the monsters.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 Slide to Play
Sword & Poker 2 refines the well-balanced gameplay that made the first game so wonderful and addictive. It's practically perfect.
90 148Apps
Sword & Poker 2 is like the Pokemon sequels: it hasn’t changed much, but it’s still an incredibly addictive and satisfying game.
90 Gamepro
Even if you don't consider yourself to be a big poker fanatic, you should give this game a shot; the RPG elements will suck you in and change your opinion of what a card game can be.
88 IGN
Sword & Poker 2 is rather similar to the original, but that also means it’s rather similar to being totally awesome.
80 NZGamer
It’s a clever concept, and the game offers surprising depth once you get past the repetitive ‘weak enemy’ battles of the first half hour.
80 Pocket Gamer
Despite being very similar to the first game, Sword & Poker 2 remains a beautifully balanced marriage of poker and dungeon crawling.

Zombie Infection

Metascore (out of 100):
83
from Gameloft
Shooter, $6.99, ages 12+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

The infection is spreading and fear is everywhere in this non-stop survival shooter. Survive 12 levels in Campaign mode as you fight your way through favelas, mines, a zoo, docks, a boat and secret lab. Switch between 2 characters, ex-soldier Damien Sharpe and reporter Alex Rayne, as they fight together to survive and uncover an evil plot. Head to South America as a soldier and reporter try to uncover the origin of another zombie outbreak. Every environment and character is meticulously rendered in full in 3D so you can feel as close to the action as possible without starting your own zombie outbreak.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Zombie Infection may skate the outer-edge of 'homage' very carefully, but its intense action gameplay makes this a fun experience for any shooter fan.
100 Slide to Play
Zombie Infection is an action-packed wild ride that's a whole lot of fun, but it never strays from or builds on its Resident Evil 5 inspiration.
80 GamesNation
Zombie Infection is so darn similar to the Resident Evil formula! This third-person action-shooter is definitely enjoyable in spite of its cumbersome control system, and the looks and sounds are just amazing. Put it in your iPhone games' top-10 wish list.
80 Modojo
The solid controls, entertaining gunplay and zombies make it a brain splattering good time.
80 TouchGen
Zombie Infection is a great action game from start to finish. Sure, the story is uninspired and the voice acting is terrible, but the core gameplay is some of the best fun I’ve had with an action title on iPhone.
79 IGN
Easily recommended for action gamers or RE fans needing a good dose of shotgun-to-face zombie slaying.
75 No DPad
Zombie Infection is a well-made zombie-shooter with high production values, great graphics, and an overall solid gameplay experience.
70 Pocket Gamer
Cooked up using elements from the most noted games in the genre, Zombie Infection is a predictable, yet filling survival-horror action romp.

Monster Mayhem

Metascore (out of 100):
83
from Chillingo Ltd
Strategy, $1.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Get ready for the goriest, bloodiest, hack-and-slash monster attack game you’ve ever seen. The only game where attack IS the best form of defense! Crazy monsters lurk in the dark of night, trapped behind the rusty iron graveyard gates. As the Gate Keeper, you must keep the monsters behind bars and stop them from escaping by any means necessary. This is classic castle defense with a twist: no gun turrets, blocks or speed reduction – just all out attack with explosive weapons and action-packed combat!

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 No DPad
Despite its very minor flaws, Monster Mayhem is one of the best tower defense games produced to date.
90 148Apps
Beautiful, fun and innovative.
85 IGN
Monster Mayhem is an excellent game, regardless of genre. It’s addicting, easy to play, and looks just fantastic.
80 AppSpy
Whether you're taking out Frankenstein's monster, blobs of goo or avoiding those whacky plants Monster Mayhem is full of action and a cute (and yet gory) style that's fun from beginning to end.
80 Gamepro
The ability to upgrade weapons is what hooked me in the end, so despite the fact that the game has some slight framerate issues (which I hope to see fixed in an update), I'll be revisiting this one soon.
80 NZGamer
No real innovation to speak of, but well worth the purchase price.
75 Slide to Play
While not original in the slightest, Monster Mayhem is frighteningly fun.
70 Pocket Gamer
Though a little monotonous in parts, Monster Mayhem keeps you entertained with inventive enemies and a collection of captivating weaponry.

Alive 4-Ever Returns

Metascore (out of 100):
81
from Meridian
Shooter, $1.99, ages 12+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Your nightmares continue in action-packed zombie slaughter game. Alive 4-Ever Returns features a brand new and improved game engine that provides even more stunning visuals and special, including zooming and realistic environmental effects. New weapons include dual handguns, grenades for mass killing, rocket launchers, and sticky bombs that slow down the zombies. Alive 4-ever Returns also features improved RPG elements, including as new skills and power-ups, and two brand new modes of play. With Survival Battle and Horde Battle modes it’s time to get bloody!

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
There should be no need to convince fans of the series to immediately grab Alive 4-ever Returns, but for anyone that held out on the original, this is definitely bigger, badder and more exciting than ever before. Seriously... grab it!
90 Gamepro
I never got bored with the shooting mechanics, mostly because leveling up to earn new skills and new guns is inherently fun. It goes without saying that fans of the first game are going to want to pick this one up, but I'd recommend anyone who likes shooters give it a spin.
80 Modojo
It's still one of the best dual stick shooters on the iPhone, and quite a bargain at $1.99 (limited time only). Now get those folks off the island.
80 TouchArcade
Alive 4-Ever Returns is easily recommended for dual-stick shooter fans, and a must-have for fans of the original game.
75 No DPad
If you’re a fan of the dual-stick shooter or of zombie games in general, Alive 4-ever Returns should be at the top of your shopping list.
75 Slide to Play
Alive 4-Ever is still among the best twin-stick shooter series on the iPhone, but this sequel is practically a carbon copy of the original.
70 Pocket Gamer
There's not quite enough new material to give it a full recommendation, but the original formula is still great. If you want more zombie slaying, look no further.

Phoenix Wright

Metascore (out of 100):
81
from Capcom
Adventure, $4.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Play as Phoenix Wright, the rookie defense lawyer new to the scene with the wildest cross-examination skills in town. Prove your seemingly guilty client's innocence, no matter how dire the circumstances may seem through five intriguing cases to reveal dramatic, stunning and even comical court proceedings. Play all five of the GBA classic cases. Two distinct gameplay segments: (1) Investigation Phase – Survey crime scenes, interview witnesses and gather evidence that will be used in court. (2) Court Phase – Present findings from the investigation to support your case, listen to testimonies, examine witnesses, and separate fact from fiction to prove your client's innocence.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
90 148Apps
At a low $4.99, this is an absolute steal. Just be prepared to kill your battery many, many times over.
90 Eurogamer
Unlike its Japanese release, all five episodes come as part of this excellent-value package, and even if you've played it before, the quality of the writing makes you want to find someone fun at Capcom and kiss them right on the face.
90 Gamepro
The game is certainly guilty of holding your hand a bit too much, especially in the trials, but the strength of the writing and character development makes it all worth it.
80 AppSpy
Phoenix Wright is one of CAPCOM's flagship titles that has earned its iconic status with its clever gameplay and amusing characters, but the iPhone version does lose a little in the translation from the Nintendo GBA/DS.
78 IGN
It’s a clever game full of fun characters, silly situations, and some genuine moments of intrigue. Using the iPhone as a make-shift DS was a good call, too.
60 Pocket Gamer
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney retains the wit and charm of the original release without much needed tailoring of the controls and interface to fit iPhone and iPod touch.

Ninjatown: Trees of Doom!

Metascore (out of 100):
81
from Venan Entertainment, Inc.
Action, $0.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Ninjatown is back in this brand new climbing adventure. Do you have what it takes to impress Ol' Master Ninja and reach the lofty pinnacle of the Trees Of Doom!? Adorable characters and top-notch production values combine to create a memorable world and addictive gameplay unlike anything else.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Ninjatown: Trees Of Doom! could have easily been another tower-defense game, but Venan Entertainment have proven they don't need lightning to strike twice and have made an endless vertical game that just has to be tried.
100 Slide to Play
Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Ninjatown: Trees of Doom will absorb your life.
90 148Apps
Being somewhat of a casual gaming connoisseur, I can’t recommend Ninjatown enough. The challenge of the game along with the quick play time make this one perfect for a quick gaming session.
84 Game Chronicles
Trees of Doom is perfect for the iPhone with pick-up-and-play gaming suited for the gamer on the go.
80 Gamepro
A good combination of hazards (flying enemies, poisonous walls, crazy people with spears, etc.) and power-ups (invincibility orbs, magical flying mustaches, rockets, etc.) make this a perfect pull-out-and-play experience for the iPhone and ensure that things don't get stale.
80 Modojo
Perfect for long trips or just a couple of rounds a day, it's an irresistible and well-designed App that's affordably priced and a lot of fun.
70 IGN
Ninjatown is no cakewalk, though, so if you are looking for a real challenge, Trees of Doom brings it. Just don’t expect it to bring much originality with it.
66 Digital Chumps
Ultimately, if you're looking for a quick, pick up and play platformer, Ninjatown: Trees of Doom! is worth a look, especially at the $.99 price point.
60 Pocket Gamer
Not in either Doodle Jump or Bird Strike's league, Ninjatown: Trees of Doom! comes with a similar height-chasing set-up, but you could well get bored before it hits the top.

100 Rogues

Metascore (out of 100):
79
from Fusion Reactions
Action-RPG, $4.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

100 Rogues is an arcade-style dungeon crawling adventure for iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad. Maps, monsters and loot all generate randomly, making each playthrough a new experience. You won’t find another game that looks, plays, or sounds like 100 Rogues, as it's got fully animated 2D pixel art, and classic videogame-style music. 100 Rogues is about player improvement more than character improvement, as your unfortunate Rogue’s death is almost guaranteed. Like a game of Tetris or Galaga, 100 Rogues isn’t about completion; it’s about seeing how you can do in one play session. Explore randomly-generated dungeons; find rare magical weapons, armor and other artifacts; meet strange, interesting monsters and do battle in a thought-provoking, turn-based-strategy combat system. Our characters have their own unique skill trees, and as you gain experience you can unlock new skills to survive against tougher opponents.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 Gamepro
Regardless of whether or not you like roguelikes, or even RPGs in general, this is a game that you're going to want to try out.
91 The Onion A.V. Club
100 Rogues is impossible. A turn-based dungeon-crawler in the vein of Diablo or Gauntlet, but with a greater sense of humor about itself, 100 Rogues dubiously asks players to bring back Satan’s head for an obviously bored, mysterious cabal that’s trying to get rid of you.
80 AppSpy
100 Rogues is a true rogue-like game that has been given a near perfect overhaul for modern gamers with hardcore tastes; and don't let this scare you off because it's a game just about anyone can jump in to and enjoy.
80 Pocket Gamer
An homage and a reinvention of the dungeon crawling RPG, 100 Rogues sparkles with wit and fine gameplay mechanic. It's just a shame technical issues have spoiled its sheen.
75 No DPad
100 Rogues has taken me by the heartstrings and drives me by them as if they were reigns. At work or anywhere else I’ve not been able to play, I’ve only looked forward to coming home and hunting Satan. I am thoroughly rapt and constantly hungry for more. After all, hunting Satan is hungry work.
50 Slide to Play
100 Rogues is more betalike than roguelike.

Jump O'Clock

Metascore (out of 100):
77
from Glu Games
Puzzle, $0.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Playing Jump O'Clock can lead to severely extended sessions of gameplay. Take control of the lovable steampunk robot LE0 and jump from gear to gear while avoiding hazards in an endless upward world. Collect bolts to fill your super-jump meter, and boost the height of your jumps. Timing is crucial to keep from winding up on the wrong side of the razor-sharp teeth, scalding steam, electrified wires or broken pipes. Connect to OpenFeint and compete for the dizzying heights of high-score greatness. If you've got time, Jump O'Clock has your challenge - an endless platform adventure which never plays the same twice. Why try and beat a clock when you can Jump O'Clock?

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
80 AppSpy
Jump o'Clock is certainly one of the prettiest vertical jumpers to play, but once you've 'seen it all' the challenge can feel a bit empty.
80 TouchGen
Jump O’Clock is one of the most polished and easy-to-play platform jumpers on the iPhone.
75 Slide to Play
This single-button high score game doesn't require much brainpower to enjoy.
72 IGN
Jump O'Clock is a bit simple compared to its competition – but that does make it a better game to hand off to younger gamers.

What NOT to buy

Some of the more disappointing titles -- at least in the eyes of critics -- released over the past month include Iron Man 2 53, Split/Second 56, and Linkin Park 8-Bit Rebellion! 59.

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 (7)

  • Franco Pellizzi  

    I am a huge fan of Gameloft so my vote goes to Zombie Infection!
    Ciao dall'italia
    Franco @ prestito senza busta paga

  • Vlad  

    Make sure to read my reviews of top iphone games on my blog

  • beatdown  

    That Dominion game looks pretty good, but how come its only for the iPad?

  • SeanP90x  

    I thought Toy Physics was a great buy for a dollar. Pretty creative stuff there.

  • Leulier  

    If you are looking at an iPhone metacritic, you can check www.igamestats.com

  • Brandon  

    I have the Phoenix Wright game for both my DS and my iPhone, and I think that both are excellent games! The interface for the iPhone version could have used a bit more work though, but it still works fine.

  • Evan B.  

    I love this article. Like many have said in the past, we are looking forward to a full iPhone/iPad section in Metacritic!

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