iPhone/iPad Games Guide: What to Buy This Month

  • Publish Date: April 24, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 11 user comments

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

Do you have one of Apple's new iPads? Here are the past month's best iPad games, up to a total budget of $30. (Note that iPad owners can, of course, also play the iPhone games listed in our next section, but these iPad games listed first are designed specifically for the iPad's larger screen and higher resolution.)

Best-Reviewed New iPad Games, $30 Total Budget - April 2010
  Game Genre Rating Metascore Price
Image Mirror's Edge for iPad Action 9+ 93 $12.99
Image Flight Control HD Simulation 4+ 90 $4.99
Image Warpgate HD Adventure 12+ 90 $7.99
      TOTAL COST: $25.97

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.

What are the best new iPhone games available for a total budget of $30 -- or about a dollar per day? Here are the top picks from the past four weeks:

Best-Reviewed New iPhone/iPod Touch Games, $30 Total Budget - April 2010
  Game Genre Rating Metascore Price
Image Chaos Rings Action-RPG 9+ 95 $12.99
Image Espgaluda II * Action 9+ 89 $8.99
Image Fishing Kings Arcade 4+ 85 $2.99
Image Ozone Action 4+ 85 $4.99
      TOTAL COST: $29.96

* Espgaluda II is only compatible with iPhone 3GS and iPad.

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.)

Chaos Rings

Metascore (out of 100):
95
from Square Enix
Action-RPG, $12.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

From the makers of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II comes a brand new RPG masterpiece for the iPhone and iPod touch!! Chaos Rings takes full advantage of the iPhone and iPod touch’s capabilities. Using a classic game system that any RPG fan will enjoy, it presents an epic tale consisting of four different scenarios, all brought to you with gorgeous sound and unbelievably smooth 3D graphics. The story revolves around a tournament where combatants fight for their lives: the Ark Arena. Upon choosing a pair of characters, one male and one female, you will then have to fight against the other pairs. Each pair has their own story, and the truth behind the Ark Arena will not be revealed until each story is completed.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 148Apps
I do not hesitate to claim that Chaos Rings has the potential to change iDevice gaming as we know it, and for the better.
100 AppSpy
For a game that would otherwise cost three times or more on another console, 'Chaos Rings' isn't just value for money - it's an amazing JRPG experience with a solid, intriguing story that's worthy of its developer's pedigree.
100 Slide to Play
We had always hoped Square Enix would deliver an original, Final Fantasy-caliber series to the iPhone, and they’ve finally delivered.
90 IGN
Chaos Rings is not an amazing adventure game for the iPhone. It is an amazing adventure game – period.
90 Pocket Gamer
A marriage of great graphics and solid role-playing, Chaos Rings works through minor hitches to provide enjoyable gameplay.
90 TouchGen
The first premium title for the iPhone is an awesome game reinventing the action RPG genre fully. With marvelous visuals, great controls, deep gene magic system and four intriguing story lines there is no better way to spend your first days of spring.

Mirror's Edge for iPad
[iPad Only]

Metascore (out of 100):
93
from Electronic Arts
Action, $12.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

With ultra-intense action, stunning visuals, and innovative play against friends, Mirror’s Edge™ will truly leave you breathless. It’s an adrenaline-packed iPad essential! Grab hold of the cutting-edge gaming power of your iPad as you bolt into action as Faith Connors – an underground “Runner” who must stop a deadly threat in a “perfect society” full of sinister surveillance and relentless pursuers. Using the incredible split-screen interface, challenge friends on time and tactics in 2 Multiplayer modes. Outrun them with the fastest time in Race Maps, or outmaneuver them on a city hunt to uncover secret packages embedded in multiple Rival Maps. See and feel the iPad difference as you run up walls, slide down ramps, ride zip lines, and hurdle between rooftops. Pound through a visually stunning HD cityscape flooded with realistic sounds, a pulsating soundtrack, and dynamic camera angles.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 No DPad
Mirror’s Edge for the iPad, while extremely short, is one of the best titles the iPad gaming market has to offer so far.
100 Slide to Play
Mirror’s Edge is arguably the most impressive iPad launch game out there, and based on the competition, that’s one hell of a compliment.
90 Pocket Gamer
Unlike many games that assert themselves to be the fairest iPad launch title of them all, Mirror's Edge has the slick visuals and fluid gameplay to back up such a claim.
90 TouchGen
I honestly can’t recommend Mirrors Edge enough, if you have an iPad it in an absolute must own game. The only thing that keeps the game from being a 5 is that the campaign is short for the high price tag, and the story is weakly implemented.
85 IGN
Mirror’s Edge is not just one of the top launch games for the iPad, it’s also a damn fine game, period.

Flight Control HD
[iPad Only]

Metascore (out of 100):
90
from Firemint
Simulation, $4.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

If you were addicted to Flight Control on iPhone, wait until you see it in glorious HD! The App Store classic has landed on iPad with new ways to play and beautiful new graphics. If you’ve never played Flight Control before, now is the perfect time to find out what you’ve been missing! In Flight Control HD, you’re an air traffic controller at an increasingly busy airport. Touch and drag the aircraft to their landing zones, but don’t let them collide. Sounds simple? It is, but can you juggle dozens of flights at peak hour? Firemint’s #1 iPhone hit has been re-imagined for the big screen - it’s everything you love about Flight Control, plus everything you wanted on iPad!

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 No DPad
Flight Control HD is one of the first games that I cannot find a fault with.
100 Slide to Play
If you have ever enjoyed path-drawing games in the past, Flight Control HD is one that you absolutely cannot miss.
90 Pocket Gamer
Flight Control HD is a high flying, high-definition remake of the iPhone original that does well by adding iPad-exclusive content.
80 AppSpy
Where larger fingers or unsteady hands may have had a disadvantage before, Flight Control HD provides a much smoother experience that's bright and addictive to enjoy.
80 IGN
It’s just as fun today as it was in the summer of 2009. The new maps and multiplayer modes just add to the charm (and value) of Flight Control. If you haven’t played Flight Control yet, there is no better place to start than the new HD model.

Warpgate HD
[iPad Only]

Metascore (out of 100):
90
from Freeverse
Adventure, $7.99, ages 12+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Rule the universe. Dominate commodity markets - legal or illegal. Condemn your enemies and explore the vast reaches of the universe. Aliens and Pirates: will they be your allies or foes? Risk it all to explore expand exploit and exterminate throughout the galaxy! Warpgate offers a vast cosmos of over 35 star-systems to explore in 172 different starships with over 100 main quests. Groundbreaking galactic graphics, fluid controls, and endless non-quest missions mean there is no limit to your adventure! Warpgate is perfect for the Apple iPad's large, detailed screen and intuitive touch controls and promises an amazingly immersive experience.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 No DPad
Warpgate HD is currently the best the App Store has to offer. It has a few problems like I mentioned above, but the epic storyline, breathtaking graphics, and sweet battle background music makes this a game that’s unrivaled.
100 Slide to Play
If you’ve got the hardcore gamer vibe, buying Warpgate is equivalent to trading away your social life.
100 TouchGen
The game is as close to perfect as I have seen. If you own an iPad, this game is an absolute must purchase.
60 Pocket Gamer
While its scale is to be applauded, Warpgate HD doesn't deliver gameplay of high enough quality to make interstellar trade and travel fun.

Espgaluda II
[iPhone 3GS and iPad only]

Metascore (out of 100):
89
from Cave Co. Ltd.
Action, $8.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Now you can play the arcade hit and Xbox360 shooting sensation Espgaluda II right at your fingertips on iPhone! Dodge and weave through the waves of bullets as they fill the screen, and go for a high score! With all of the customization options available at your fingertips, anyone from shooting game beginners to advanced players can enjoy the world of Espgaluda II. Cave has maintained the beautiful graphics of the arcade version and brought some of the most dense bullet patterns ever to the iPhone. Dodge for your life! Featuring slide controls for comfortable play on your iPhone, quick dodges that were difficult even on joysticks can now be performed with just your thumb. Dash and weave through Bullet Hell!

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 148Apps
Espgaluda II is a beautiful, well-developed port for the iPhone and the best 2D vertical shooter I’ve ever played. It’s breathed new life into a stale, complacent genre and raised the bar for other 2D scrolling shooter developers.
100 AppSpy
It's rare to expect a game of this quality to make the transition from the Arcade to the iPhone so smoothly, but Espgaluda II has lost nothing from the 2005 classic.
80 TouchGen
I thoroughly enjoyed Espgaluda 2. Sure, it’s pretty mindless arcade fair, but the craziness to it all makes for an exciting ride.
75 Slide to Play
While not everyone can try Espgaluda 2 for themselves, if you own an iPhone 3GS and love shooters, this one's worth your attention.

Fishing Kings

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

Cast your best rod and lures and join the most immersive and intense fishing game on iPhone/iPod Touch! Visit 5 beautiful 3D-rendered locations from around the world, including saltwater fishing in the Bahamas, or exotic places like the Amazon River and the Waikato River in New Zealand, each with 3 different fishing spots. From bass and piranhas to golden dorados and marlins, catch a wide variety of fish in every location you visit. You can even learn more about each species thanks to in the in-game fishing diary. The underwater camera is a unique feature on the iPhone/iPod Touch that puts you in the heart of the action as you struggle to reel in the big one! You can also just have a look at the dozens of fish swimming around you. Whether you’re an experienced fisher or a fish out of water, the gameplay aims at providing you the most realistic fishing sensations, thanks to a wide range of available moves and actions, from casting your line to hooking and struggling with fishes.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Despite any misgivings you might have for fishing games or fishing in general, Fishing Kings is truly an excellent title that shows off the iPhone's true colors.
80 Modojo
Gameloft has done a marvelous job creating a high-quality game that you'll enjoy for months to come, even during actual fishing trips. After all, everyone needs something to pass the time.
80 Pocket Gamer
Even if fishing holds no appeal to you, this digital representation is eminently playable and should keep you hooked for quite some time.
80 TouchGen
Not only is it great to look at, with great fish models and animation, realistic water effects and pretty looking locales all running smoothly on my 3GS, but the gameplay itself is great fun.

Ozone

Metascore (out of 100):
85
from Geardome
Action, $4.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Can a game be a piece of art? Dive into the galaxy of Ozone and unveil the secrets of this unique audio-visual experience, a mix of art and technology, never before seen or heard on a mobile device. Discover more than fifty beautiful 3D worlds with highly detailed graphics, and listen to the crystal clear soundtrack. Play in a fast paced way or simply relax by floating around gazing at the wonderful effects. Prepare to be amazed. Enter Ozone!

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Ozone is an experience worth trying, with its simple and relaxing maze gameplay that is fun to enjoy while you take in the game's atmospheric environments.
90 148Apps
A clever, beautiful, vibrant game that will tickle your visual-auditory fancy. Its sublime levels, decorated with rich, textured art and graphics and polished, engrossing game play will entice you into playing over and again.
80 TouchGen
I love the artstyle in this game and the gameplay is engaging. And despite being very challenging at times, it kept me coming back for more.
70 Gamepro
The game uses an on-screen d-pad to control movement, but it seems like a slight reworking of the game could've allowed tilt control, which would've really help clean up the screen, which can get pretty cluttered once you start picking up weapons.

Bonus Games

If you don't mind going a bit over our $30 total monthly budget, here are a few additional major releases receiving positive reviews ...

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

Metascore (out of 100):
84
from Activision
Sports, $9.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, one of the top-rated and best selling Action Sports video games of all time, shreds onto the iPhone and iPod Touch! Experience all of the tricks, thrills, and style that made the Pro Skater series so highly acclaimed. Play with the traditional control configuration or the enhanced iPhone/iPod Touch accelerometer controls!

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 Slide to Play
The sheer quality of the original console game overshadows the slight issues with this iPhone port.
90 148Apps
Activision’s efforts in creating a faithful port of a hit console game a decade old was successful and should be applauded. The virtual control scheme, while not perfect, works; it just may take some players a little time to adjust to it before they’re comfortable with the controls.
90 TouchGen
The controls take some time getting used to, and some aspects could be improved such as own music support. Online functionality would be cool, but there is still weeks of gameplay without it if you want to find all the hidden tapes, and get gold on the three competitions. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 is a fun and challenging game that keeps evolving as you develop your skater and skills.
82 IGN
It's definitely got some issues -- don't expect spot-on controls -- but the greatness of this classic outweighs any of those concerns.
60 Modojo
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is a hard sell at $9.99, due to its quirky controls and lack of new content. On the other hand, if you love the original or need a quick skateboarding fix, you could do worse than ollie up the cash for it.

Zenonia 2: The Lost Memories

Metascore (out of 100):
84
from Gamevil
RPG, $4.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)
Image

Zenonia 2: The Lost Memories has been highly enhanced in every aspect compared to the original. Full character and control customization, four characters following individual epic storylines, three different modes, asynchronous online PvP feature and an extended world of Zenonia guarantee greater enjoyment!

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Fans of the original may experience deja-vu at first, but with so many enriched features old school fans and new-comers alike will love Zenonia 2's rich RPG experience.
100 Slide to Play
The iPhone’s first game-changing RPG is back and yet again setting the bar higher.
85 Multiplayer.it
It's basically more of the same, but in a good way: Zenonia 2 will definitely please fans of the original game and those who are looking for a serious RPG on iPhone.
80 148Apps
For being a sequel, Zenonia 2 doesn’t bring a ton of new stuff to the table. Still, that’s OK…because it just builds on something that was great to begin with and adds tons to it.
80 Gamepro
The fast-paced nature of this game and its frantic battle system are what makes it great, so RPG lovers should definitely give Zenonia 2 a shot.
80 IGN
The quest is enormous and offers dozens of hours of play. So, even if the second verse is largely the same as the first, Zenonia 2 remains a song worth listening to again.
75 No DPad
The PvP mode is a nice addition to the game though, and I must say that it is one of the most interesting features I’ve seen in an RPG.
70 Pocket Gamer
Zenonia 2 is a fun, yet far too faithful sequel that offers only cursory changes and not the substantive improvements necessary for it to be a great follow up.

What NOT to buy

Some of the more disappointing titles -- at least in the eyes of critics -- released over the past month include The Saboteur 43, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 53, N.O.V.A. HD 61, Sketch Nation Shooter 63, American McGee’s Crooked House 64, and Star Wars: Cantina 64.

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 (11)

  • GamerOne  

    Nice list, I was searching for iPad games then I found your site…extremely useful..thanks for sharing it

  • Zed  

    Thanks for the clarification regarding TA's absense from your ratings; I totally agree their review system is somewhat strange. Great news also you're researching a full blown iPhone games section. A word of advice on that score, if I may...focusing solely on the larger sites - as you currently do - means you may miss out on the interesting titles from independent devs that don't always have the clout to be featured on IGN, Pocketgamer et al. That's a shame because personally I reckon indie devs are the "lifeblood" of iPhone's success as a gaming platform. There are a vast number of smaller sites that're skewed toward coverage of unknown or smaller games - appSIZED, appvader, iFanzine.com, and Touchaholics.com just a few of my current favorites.

  • Marc Doyle  

    @J: As of 2003 or so, all game reviews have been scored by their critics. As such, unlike the editors of the other sections of Metacritic, I haven't had to estimate any review scores. So I would need TouchArcade to do their own scoring.

  • J.  

    @Marc Doyle, but Marc why not just assign a value to TouchArcade review, which you do often anyway and do well? And then correct it if need be? More importantly tho, I disagree with the weighting system (for movies anyway). For instance The Losers is rated 43, yet 20 of the 29 reviews are 50 or above.. Doesn't make sense. Metacritic has already screened the top 30 or so reviewers, weighting them beyond that in a way mysterious to users is confusing and seems inaccurate also. Harms your credibility. (please forward to the movie guys, if possible)

  • Marc Doyle  

    @ Zed - We do cover TouchArcade, but they, very oddly, don't add a score to their reviews until about a month after they're published. I talked to them about changing this practice - maybe the loss in traffic from sites like ours will eventually bring them into line with the rest of the top sites out there.

    And I'm glad that you're all in the market for a full Iphone/Ipad section. We're just getting our feet wet now with these monthly surveys. We've never put up a full-service section without doing the requisite amount of research so that we can give you the most dependable recommendations and Metascores we can. So hang in there.

  • J.  

    In 2009 Apple sold more mobile devices than PS3, XBox, and Wii combined. A lot more. C'mon Metacritic Games, add a full feature for this!

  • zhoomcar  

    while i agree that it is a good idea, the substantial amount of apps being released a day is probably a bit too much to be able to archive them all.

  • JOHN  

    permanent category is incontrivertibly necessary

  • Zed  

    Hmm, Sketch Nation Shooter on the what not to buy list... p'raps you guys should source opinions from a wider selection of iPhone sites. A few suggestions- Toucharcade, Razorianfly, iFanzine, App-reciation Reviews.

  • Evan B.  

    I agree. A iPad/iPod/iPhone category would be great!

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