Skip to main content

The best iPhone games

So you own an iPhone, and you want to know what the best apps for Apple’s smartphone are, naturally enough. After all, the reason that many folks choose Apple is for its famous app ecosystem.

Recently, we looked at the best Android apps across a number of articles, splitting them up into different categories such as utilities, reference and so forth (see the final article in that series here, which has links to all the others in the introduction).

And we’re now doing the same thing with the iPhone. We’ve already looked at the best reference apps, productivity apps, utility apps, and communication apps, but now it’s time to finish the week with some more leisurely pursuits, and a look at the top games.

Note that if you don’t want to follow such an in-depth examination of iPhone apps, and would rather see just a short summary of the most important software, you can simply check out our 10 essential iPhone apps article.

Finally, if you know of a great app that we haven’t covered, please tell us about it in the comments section below. If you have time, give us the full name of the app, price, and a short description so other readers can learn about your favourites, too.

Right, let’s get on with looking at the best iPhone games, some of which you may have heard of, and others, you might not – such as, for example, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, and Beat Sneak Bandit. And no, we haven’t included Angry Birds here, we’ll take that one as read.

By the way, if you want to download a game, simply click on the title, which links to the app in iTunes.

Amazing Alex (£0.69)

Amazing Alex is a mobile game created by Rovio, the same development house that made Angry Birds. In Amazing Alex, you rearrange toys and household items to create a Rube Goldberg machine. As an item drops on your design, it sets off a chain reaction that sends existing objects ricocheting off each other. The goal is to collect the three stars located in every challenge board by hitting them with these flying objects. For less than a quid, you get loads of game time and a good mix of challenges to keep your noodle flexed. You just have to get through a few too many minutes' worth of boring, easy challenges first, before the real fun begins.

Beat Sneak Bandit (£1.99)

The recently released Beat Sneak Bandit game is all about three things: Rhythm, stealth, and puzzles. Everything in the game moves rhythmically, so you have to tap and use your controls to a beat as you employ stealth tactics to solve puzzles. It’s an odd mash-up of gameplay, but provides an interesting and novel game experience.

Cut the Rope (£0.69)

Family-friendly Cut the Rope is a casual game that has you solving an obstacle course in each level with simple physics. The name comes from the core game mechanic: A piece of candy swings from ropes that you cut by swiping your finger through them at the right moment. When you slice the rope, the candy drops – and timing is everything, as the goal is to get the candy to a monster that is waiting somewhere else on the level.

Doodle Jump (£0.69)

Quirky and lovable, Doodle Jump is a fairly simple action game. A springy little creature called "Doodle the Doodler" bounces – all the time – and it's your job to make sure he lands on a firm platform every time he jumps. As he bounces, you guide him up through each level of the game. Tilt your iPhone, and he'll sway left or right with each successive bounce. Simple and addictive.

Plants vs. Zombies (£0.69)

After Angry Birds, a strong contender for the most beloved iPhone game is Plants vs. Zombies. Part action game and part tower defence, Plants vs. Zombies gets players thinking about how they'll ward off zombies using different kinds of greenery, with different properties and undead-repelling powers. For a zombie title, the game is actually quite light-hearted – I might even call it "cute."

Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor (£1.49)

Part of what makes Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor interesting is that it looks like your average casual game, but it's actually quite hard to master. You play as a spider that has to weave webs to catch insects to feed on. There's a larger story arc behind the game – you discover an abandoned mansion and try to learn why it's empty – but the gameplay mechanics require a good amount of focus and concentration. It's a real delight for more serious game players who might otherwise skip this seemingly casual title.

Trainyard (£1.99)

In this captivating iPhone game from indie developer Matt Rix, players lay down tracks to guide trains from their starting points to the stations, sometimes merging with other trains along the way. Trains, starting points, and stations are colour-coded. Red trains must end up in red goal stations. A blue train can merge with a red train to become a purple one before it reaches a purple station. As the difficulty increases, the number of trains also increases, as well as the number of objectives in each level. The free version, Trainyard Express, is a great way to whet your appetite for this absolutely addictive and fun puzzle game for players of all ages.

Words With Friends (£1.99)

Scrabble players know Words With Friends as the digital knock-off of that trademarked game. Whatever you call it, it's a fantastic game for wordsmiths, even if the app itself can be sluggish at times. You can play asynchronously or in real-time with another opponent of your choice, or a random player. Because the game also integrates with Facebook, you can challenge friends to a game even if they don't have an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. There’s also a free version of the app, but it’s advert supported.

World of Goo (£1.99)

World of Goo is one of the most stylised (think Tim Burton, Danny Elfman) and cerebral games I've ever played. The gameplay involves building web-like structures out of little living gobs of goo that are prone to instability. Playing it on the Nintendo Wii is addictive yet maddening because it requires very steady hand control. On the iPhone, the game is even more enjoyable because you can use your fingers right on the screen to pull the goo gobs into shape.