iPhone/iPad Games Guide: What to Buy This Month

  • Publish Date: January 31, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 3 user comments

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 Apple portable devices unless otherwise indicated.

Best-Reviewed New iPad/iPhone/iPod Games, $30 Total Budget - January 2011
  Game Genre Rating Metascore Price
Image Dead Space [iPhone] Action-Adventure 12+ 94 $6.99
Image Real Racing 2 Racing 4+ 93 $9.99
Image N.O.V.A. 2 [iPhone] Shooter 4+ 91 $6.99
Image Bug Heroes Shooter/Strategy 12+ 90 $1.99
Image Papa Sangre Adventure 12+ 82 $4.99
      TOTAL COST: $30.95

Since we used up our budget so quickly this month (and, yes, we actually went over a bit, but we won't tell if you don't), let's add one more game that might be worth a splurge:

Image Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD RPG 9+ 87 $9.99

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.)

Dead Space [iPhone version]  

Metascore (out of 100):
from Electronic Arts
Action-Adv., $6.99, ages 12+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)

Delve deep into an all-new Dead Space story that sets the stage for the action-horror storyline of Dead Space 2. Already being considered a masterpiece, this is a stunning vision of the acclaimed franchise and a true landmark game -- available only on the App Store, and the first Dead Space storyline ever devised for iOS. Three years have passed since the destruction of the Marker in the first Dead Space story. Now, experience first-hand the events that unleash the Necromorph hordes once again. You'll find yourself on a mission of uncertain purpose in the Mines of Titan. Soon, however, the truth of your situation will become grotesquely clear. Features a fully voice-acted stereo soundtrack, plus a movie-quality score and sound effects. With cutting-edge visuals, rich in effects and atmospheric lighting, Dead Space reproduces the cinematic horror of the console experience and sets a new benchmark for graphical fidelity on the iOS platform.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
For what Dead Space lacks in gameplay details it manages to make up for in sheer stunning production value; a chilling shooter and a good warm-up for the upcoming sequel.
100 GamePro
Dead Space is the most pleasantly surprising iOS release in a long time, and it's a game-changer as far as 3D action games go on iOS platforms.
100 Slide To Play
Dead Space for iOS is just about everything we'd hoped it would be: action-packed, scary, challenging, and a total blast.
100 TouchGen
Dead Space is the best action game I've ever played on an iOS device. It's the first time I've felt like a mobile version of a game has had as much developer love put into it as it's console counterpart.
90 148Apps
To say that Dead Space is one of the best games that we have seen in 2011 doesn't do it justice. This is one of the most immersive experiences available on the platform.
85 IGN
Dead Space has good controls, great visuals, and a fun story. It may repeat itself a little too much, but the blood-soaked ride never feels bloated. While I preferred it on iPad for the bigger screen, it's also a fun iPhone play. Dead Space fans are well-served by this download.
80 Pocket Gamer
Complicated controls can't stop Dead Space from entertaining with its action-packed gameplay and phenomenal presentation.

Real Racing 2 

Metascore (out of 100):
from Firemint
Racing, $9.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)

Get ready for the most exhilarating handheld racing experience. Take control of 30 officially licensed cars, each with unique performance characteristics. Feel the thrill of authentic pack racing action in an incredible 16-car grid -- the first on iOS. Enjoy well over 10 hours of gameplay in the massive career mode with time trials, head-to-head races, eliminations, single 'cup' races, qualifiers and championships. Win races to purchase new cars and feel the difference with performance upgrades that affect handling. Work your way up from rookie to pro, or just jump into a Quick Race for instant fun. Enter auto-matched 16 player online races. Meet up with friends for 8 player local WiFi races. Compete on global leaderboards in Time Trials. Race in 15 beautiful locations, with 40 miles of highly detailed race tracks, speedways and city circuits including twilight and night races.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
Real Racing 2 is a class act, with driving controls that feel smooth; an online multiplayer that gives players to chance to really test their skills; and a career mode that will keep you driving for hours - an easy to recommend title.
100 GamePro
With an impressive variety of modes, cars, and customization options, this realistic and stunningly rendered racer is one of the best driving games on the App Store.
100 No DPad
It's awesome, the graphics are great, and the gameplay isn't too shabby. Sure, there's room for improvement. And if you didn't like the first one, you definitely won't like this. But honestly, compared to the competition, you really can't ask for more.
100 Pocket Gamer
A phenomenal game with an impressive slate of features and superb design, Real Racing 2 is the epitome of iPhone and iPod touch gaming.
100 Slide To Play
Real Racing 2 singlehandedly redefines racing excellence on the iOS platform.
95 Multiplayer.it
Real Racing 2 is not only the best realistic racing game on the App Store; it is also the best realistic racing game on every handeld console ever, setting a new benchmark for the genre in mobile gaming.
90 148apps
In the racing sim category of the App Store, there really isn't another game that is as impressive as Real Racing 2. It really does have everything that you would want in an iOS racing sim, from the nice selection of cars to the various racing tweaks to the outstanding graphics. The bottom line is that Real Racing is now the App Store's Gran Turismo.
90 Eurogamer
The important thing, above all else, is that it's extremely good fun, a fantastic showcase for the technology (particularly on iPhone 4) and comfortably the most rewarding mobile driving game money can buy right now.
90 Eurogamer.it
With its incredible visuals, a precise control sistem and a perfect career mode, Real Racing 2 is the must have racing game for iPhone and iPad. Thanks to the many level of configuration, both the casual player and the simulation addicted can enjoy the game at its best. In a simple word, this is what Gran Turismo should be on a portable device, and don't forget the 16 players online multiplayer!
90 Eurogamer.pt
Real Racing 2 is the best we can find in the App Store and it will take some time to be dethroned. If I said that Gran Turismo was reduced to the iPhone and with some additions, I would not be far from the truth.
90 IGN
Real Racing 2 is without a doubt the best racing game in the App Store today.
90 TouchGen
Overall then, and Firemint have once more crafted the ultimate racing game on iOS devices.
80 MetroGameCentral
There are a few niggling technical issues but this still easily laps any other serious racing game on the iPhone - or any other portable format.

N.O.V.A. 2 - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance [iPhone Version] 

Metascore (out of 100):
from Gameloft
Shooter, $6.99, ages 4+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)

6 years have passed since the events depicted in the first episode. Humanity is now thrown into a bloody civil war fought on one side by the central government of the Terran Orbitals and the self-appointed Human-Alien Alliance; a new organization with a mysterious origin and agenda. Kal Wardin left active service in N.O.V.A. years ago and now lives among the colonists of the desert planet Scorpius. But war never spares even the most peaceful places. Meet new enemies with improved AI! Volterites' new tactics make the gyroscope controls ideal Master a larger range of weapons & powers. Much more diversified gameplay: run, shoot, fall, drive a motorbike, pilot a giant mech, and blast a laser. The more, the merrier, now with up to 10 players in 10 multiplayer maps. Build a career and rise through the multiplayer leaderboard. Explore new locations, offering amazing graphics, fully optimized for the Retina display.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 AppSpy
N.O.V.A. 2 is a great sequel to what was a great game last year; the inclusion of a career-based online multiplayer gives the game a life well beyond the single-player, but don't rush in to the online matches because the single-player is definitely worth finishing first.
100 Slide To Play
It's not leaps and bounds beyond what we've seen before, but as far as first-person shooters on the App Store go, N.O.V.A. 2 is the grandaddy of them all.
90 148Apps
Fans of first person shooters, and especially the original N.O.V.A., will definitely not be disappointed with this fantastic sequel. With its painstaking amount of action and detail, N.O.V.A. 2 really does feel almost console worthy.
90 Pocket Gamer
N.O.V.A. 2 is a great shooter with a thrilling campaign and even better multiplayer that will have you hooked.
90 TouchGen
Despite the critism, leveled mainly at my a high hopes for the game, it deserves the high rating for the multi-player alone, with the single campaign earning a 4/5 if I had to score it separately.
85 IGN
N.O.V.A. 2 is a stunning shooter that should not be missed, especially if you were a fan of the original. Everything has been improved, from the inclusion of the monster mechs to the 10-player online matches that work without hiccups.
80 Eurogamer.it
Even if the graphic engine has not been revamped, this second chapter of the famous iPhone FPS is still a very nice product. With a fabulous 10 player online mode and a lot of missions to attend, you'll have a lot of fun, even if it's a "more of the same". You should wait for a price cut only if you have the previouse game and you are not interested to multiplayer.

Bug Heroes 

Metascore (out of 100):
from Foursaken Media
Shooter/Strategy, $1.99, ages 12+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)

Part endless survival, part castle defense, and part RPG, Bug Heroes is a new blend of action and adventure unlike anything in the App Store. Master three heroes, including a fast and deadly Spider assassin, a heavily armored Beetle, and a machine gun wielding Ant engineer. Build turrets to defend your food stash, explore vast landscapes, scour the environments for food, face off against a variety of enemies, complete side quests, and more. Control three heroes, each with different strengths, weaknesses, equipment, and personalities. Instantly switch between them at any time, and lay waste to over 25 enemy types, ranging from tiny fleas to giant snails. Defend your food stash from hordes of hungry bugs. Build from seven turret types to help you survive, including machine guns, laser pointers, firecrackers, magnifying glasses, and more. Explore several unique and vast levels. Gather food to stockpile at your food stash. Accept or decline optional side quests. Focus on strong heroes, strong defenses, or a balance between the two.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 No DPad
In short, this is the first superb new iOS game of the new year.
100 Slide To Play
Think before you write off Bug Heroes as yet another twin-stick shooter. Its creativity and replay value make it both unique and worth your hard-earned dollars.
90 148Apps
With each mode spanning four levels, I can't recommend Bug Heroes enough due to its amazing replay value. If you enjoy dual stick shooters and have a soft spot for tower defense or RPG's, you'll absilutely love Bug Heroes.
80 AppSpy
Bug Heroes is an impressive twin-stick title that keeps things constantly engaging thanks to three different playable styles that grow and change as you defend your pile of food.
80 Pocket Gamer
A clever castle defence and twin-stick shooter combination, Bug Heroes has the fortitude of a cockroach to withstand the nuclear blast of criticism and earn a solid recommendation.

Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD  

Metascore (out of 100):
from Crescent Moon Games
RPG, $9.99, ages 9+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)

From the Creators of the award winning Ravensword: The Fallen King, Elder Scrolls artist Mark Jones, and developer Galoobeth Games, comes Aralon: Sword and Shadow, an epic 3D role-playing adventure for the iPhone 4, iPad, iPhone 3GS, and iPod Touch. An iPhone 3D RPG inspired by that classic vein that focuses on a compelling story, a unique hero, and an open 3D world ready for exploration. Journey through the Kingdom of Aralon and unravel its mysteries.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 148Apps
No matter how much people gripe about the details though, there is no denying that Aralon is the most impressive RPG to ever hit the App Store. There are others with better stories, but Aralon is the only one that forces you to live and breathe in its fantasy world.
100 No DPad
Aralon is quite simply the best RPG on the App Store. I can't really say enough about it, but man, Galoobeth and Crescent Moon have really outdone themselves.
100 Slide To Play
Aralon: Sword and Shadow offers just about everything you could want in a gigantic open-world RPG. If you have the time to invest, you're going to love it.
80 AppSpy
The scope and size of Aralon: Sword and Shadow's gameplay is only mildly dampened by the occasional odd problem, which may be off-putting for some, but they're far from game-breaking and certainly not worth depriving yourself of this great RPG.
80 TouchGen
The game is a success for the most part, and despite the teething problems outlined above, the game is thoroughly enjoyable.
60 Pocket Gamer
While its ambitious scale is admirable, Aralon: Sword and Shadow possesses a myriad of flaws that yield clunky, unrefined gameplay.

Papa Sangre  

Metascore (out of 100):
from Somethin' Else
Adventure, $4.99, ages 12+
> iTunes App Store (Buy/Info)

Papa Sangre is a terrifying, beautiful breakthrough game created using easily the most advanced, immersive 3D sound ever on a mobile device. The ultimate first-person game, you're trapped in Papa Sangre's palace — a 'Day of the Dead' style afterlife. Your task: save the soul of someone you love. Do you dare enter the dark palace of Papa Sangre? Explore an entire world created in real-time using incredibly realistic 3D binaural audio. "See" with your ears -- we'll teach you how, and then it's up to you to survive. Turn, walk and run using a beautiful, intuitive interface. Escape back to the land of the living without getting eaten … or worse! Solve Papa Sangre's puzzles and dilemmas.

What the Critics Said
Score Publication
100 148Apps
Papa Sangre really is one of the most unique games out there on the App Store. It's clever use of binaural audio and Hollywood quality voice acting and sound makes it a game that I will show off again and again to my friends.
100 AppSpy
The monster that's unseen is far worse than anything that could be legitimately shown on screen and far more realistic too; Papa Sangre makes use of this 'theater of the mind' to create an immersive and chilling survival title.
90 IGN
Papa Sangre is a true horror game, as you are stripped of your pivotal sense – sight – and plunged into a desperate survival situation where you can only rely on your ears. At first, it's disconcerting. But if you play in an ideal environment (quiet, low lights), Papa Sangre is a wonderful gaming experience.
80 TouchGen
Papa Sangre is an engineering marvel, and it is a game that should be experienced by every iOS gamer out there (if you have a 3GS/4/iPad).
70 Eurogamer
For a while, Papa Sangre is a wonderful novelty. Unfortunately, the further you get, the more trial-and-error annoyance starts to put a crimp on your enjoyment.
50 Slide To Play
While it's conceptually brilliant, Papa Sangre isn't all that fun to play.

What not to buy

Based on early reviews, we can recommend that you avoid the new Virtua Fighter 2 45, while December release Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 48 also scored lousy reviews.

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)

  • Lupo  

    Loot the spook is very nice!

  • Keithustus  

    Can you please add an RSS and/or listserv for the "iPhone: What to Buy This Month"?

  • Henk  

    These articles would benefit from screenshots!

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