At this point, any version of Angry Birds is a good purchase. But now that Angry Birds Rio is out, we thought we'd swap it in for the original Angry Birds.
We can't say this new Angry Birds is better than the original, but it does have new characters, more-detailed backgrounds, and plenty of levels.
Take tower defense games and turn them on their head, and you get Chillingo's clever Anomaly Warzone Earth. Instead of manning towers, this future-set warfare game has you man your convoy and plan a route through various level maps. A story unfolds about an alien invasion, but that's not why you'll keep playing: it's the console-crisp graphics, clean interface, and addictive weapon-upgrade gameplay that will suck you in.
Already a classic board game in its own right, the iPhone adaptation of this tile-based strategy game was one of the most beautifully executed in the App Store. A new update has added native iPad compatibility, thus it's earned a spot on our list. Online and local multiplayer and a weekly solitaire puzzle challenge add up to a ton of replay value. If you're board game apprehensive, don't worry: while Carcassone can take a little getting used to, it's a more worthwhile iPad game to own than Catan--and it's great for pass-and-play multiplayer.
Sid Meier's classic Civilization strategy series got a face-lift a few years ago when it moved over to consoles and handheld game systems as Civilization Revolution. CivRev played well on the Nintendo DS and iPhone, but its screen got too small for comfort. The iPad's expansive room for larger maps is a good fit for this turn-based, complex experience, and it makes CivRev feel a little more like a computer game again. Unfortunately, at $12.99, it's priced like one--but it's worth it for strategy fans.
Practically a no-brainer purchase while it remains on sale at 99 cents, Remedy's (the makers of Alan Wake for the Xbox 360) top-down combat racing game has silky smooth iPad 2-optimized animation, dozens of tracks and challenges, an addictive level-up system, and a garage of unlockable cars and weapons. Controls take getting used to, but the quick-fix action is some of the best we've seen this year. Oh, and it's also a universal app.
Price: 99 cents
We've been disappointed by a lot of the sports games on the iPad, but FIFA is one that actually came out really well. True, the virtual joystick control is less than ideal and we would have liked to have seen more statistics, as well as a franchise (you can only play through a single season at this point). But the game really has the look and feel of the FIFA franchise and comes with all the players, leagues, and teams from around the world.
If you think $10.99 is too much to spend, EA regularly has sales, so just wait (we picked it up for $4.99).
Flight Control was another one of those titles we were tempted to leave off the list because it's basically the same as the 99-cent iPhone version only blown up (however, it does play better on the larger screen). That caveat aside, it really defined the line-drawing game genre (you must guide planes to runways by drawing lines on the screen) and remains incredibly addictive. If you don't want to spend any money, you can opt for Harbor Master, but fans of Flight Control on the iPhone and iPod Touch will probably end up spending the $4.99 to see and play the game in its full glory.
One of the most memorable retro arcade shooters of this generation is still Geometry Wars 2, with its excellent selection of game modes and insane pace. The iPad port retains the same frenetic feel. Although the virtual control pad mechanics on the touch screen slow things down a little, it's smart that the controls appear wherever you put your fingers on the iPad screen.
Price: 99 cents
Konami's beautiful little puzzler is both odd and full of charming art design. The idea's simple: complete maze puzzles by tossing your little critter's nasal globs at booger-hungry monsters. Stealth and clever patience pay off in increasingly challenging levels. The execution feels as well-wrought as a full console downloadable game on Xbox Live Arcade or PSN. It's cute enough for kids, provided they aren't too young to be scared by cartoonish monsters that gobble green protagonists. And, the price can't be beat.
If you're a fan of Nintendo's Advance Wars series, this is going to be right up your alley. It's not a total knockoff, but it is a turn-based strategy game with various types of soldiers, weapons, vehicles, and modes of play to keep you glued to your iPad screen for hours (yes, it's addicting).
Note: This is a universal app, so you can play it on your iPhone or iPod Touch as well.
If weird, trancelike music rhythm games with a Japanese flair excite you, then look no further. The brainchild of Reisuke Ishida, the creator of Taito's cult hit Space Invaders: Infinity Gene, Groove Coaster is a rail-based rhythm game set to dozens of tracks from Taito video games. All you have to do is tap with the right timing, but the game succeeds in feeling fresh and original thanks to throwback vector-style graphics and a variety of power-ups that make this game much deeper than you'd expect. All told, it's a portable experience just as strange and compelling as music cult games like Elite Beat Agents and Rez. The app is universal, so it also plays on the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Okay, we caved: we didn't have Infinity Blade in our Top Games list--until a free content update made the game's appeal impossible to ignore. A gorgeous 3D world built on the Unreal Engine and a series of tap-and-swipe battles with behemoths can get a little repetitive, but its addictive leveling system and weapon upgrades add a lot of replay value. And, it's one of the best show-off games on the iPad, with graphic bonuses for iPad 2 owners.
Some complain that Mad Skills Motocross is too hard--and it is--but it's also fun to play and addictive. The physics model is very solid, and though it can get frustrating to watch your racer continually crash while trying to simultaneously get through the course quickly and pull off big tricks, those crashes can have a spectacular quality to them.
At 99 cents, this is a relative bargain and it's also a universal app, so you can play it on your iPhone as well.
Price: 99 cents
We've wondered where the iPad version of Monopoly has been all this time; luckily, EA's version does not disappoint. We'd like a slightly less graphics-intensive mode for speed-playing, but otherwise this is exactly what you'd expect out of an iPad-ified board game--tabletop mode included, of course.
Throwback over-the-top, 2-on-2 arcade basketball makes its way onto the iPad and looks just as good as the console versions that came out for the XBox 360 and PS3. The virtual onscreen joystick works fine, but this is one of those iPad games that you wish you could fire up with the PS3's Bluetooth game controller to really get your jam on. But it's still pretty darn good. Price: $4.99
A mesmerizing kinetic action game featuring spherical cell-like balls, the goal of Osmos is simply to jet around using momentum to glom with smaller objects and become the largest object in your micro-universe. Big eats small, and the more you move, the more mass you cast off. It's a fascinating miniature arcade experience with plenty of levels.
We loved Popcap's game on the iPhone. Is it worth the extra cash for the upgrade? If you want a spot-on version of the PC/Mac version at a price that's still affordable, then absolutely. New mini games and modes round out the standard levels. For those who haven't been keeping tabs, this gateway drug to tower-defense strategy games is quite a bit of fun for beginners or the more hard-core.
It's something we keep repeating again and again, but the iPad is simply a fantastic platform for digital board games. Puerto Rico is the latest port of a classic, expensive board game many people are likely unfamiliar with. The farm-raising, colony-developing structure of Ravensburger's game lends itself pretty well to the iPad, where it's not all that different in spirit from games in the App Store. Turn-based play and the complex rules take getting used to, but an impressive tutorial and hints will help newcomers get on their feet before taking on online challengers. Don't be afraid to take the plunge, especially if you like games like Settlers of Catan.
Years ago, we first learned of the addictive qualities that a Bejeweled clone and a role-playing game could make when smashed together, thanks to Puzzle Quest on the Nintendo DS. The sequel's been out for handhelds and consoles for months, but the iOS version, thanks to its combination of big-screen graphics and portability, is arguably the best of all. It's also a universal app.
Ah, the joys of weaving in and out of traffic, forcing cars off the road, creating spectacular explosions, and gathering gold tokens while being pursued by the police. That's what Reckless Getaway is all about, and it's an enjoyable rush while it lasts. The game could be longer but hopefully we'll get an update with more levels in the future.
Firemint, the company better known for Flight Control, has made the iOS version of Gran Turismo for two years running. Real Racing 2's graphics enhancements and physics, along with its stable of cars, racetracks, events, and online play, put it in a league that nearly equals consoles. As an added bonus, the game works with HDMI-out, turning the iPad into a steering wheel while racing at 1080p resolution on a TV screen. It's an expensive game, but well worth it for racing fans--just remember the enhanced graphics work best on an iPad 2 (consider the original Real Racing if you have a first-gen iPad).
Everyone has been chirping about the iPad version of the classic Scrabble board game, mainly because it allows you to use iPhones and iPod Touches as tile racks for multiplayer games in the same room, recreating the old game completely for the Apple gadget crowd. Board games make a lot more sense on a larger screen like the iPad's. Words With Friends, a knockoff of Scrabble, is less expensive and also well-designed. Choose as you will.
Those hungering for either pirate-themed strategy games or excellent PC gaming ports on the iPad will celebrate the arrival of Sid Meier's Pirates!, a port-exploring, ship-managing, booty-collecting game that's excellently adapted for touch. It's not only the best pirate simulation of all time, it's a triple-A PC game that's easily worth twice what the App Store's charging, and then some. This is a great example of the App Store economy in action.
Mario Kart may never make it onto an Apple device, but Sega's kart racer is the next best thing. A strong handful of tracks and circuits along with online multiplayer are spiced up with a collection of quirky unlockable Sega mascots and track themes. Sonic, Super Monkey Ball, and even Samba di Amigo are represented.
Graphics look smooth and fast on an iPad 2, and while the game's not perfect, it's the closest you'll get to Nintendo on an iPad.
Graphically speaking, this is about as far away from EA's Tiger Woods franchise as you can get, but don't let the crudely drawn "courses" fool you. The gameplay here is simple yet shockingly challenging and it's quite possible that you may find yourself playing this one more than the Tiger Woods game.
Do you like your games mysterious? Pixelated? Filled with indie music? If you answered "yes" to more than two of the above, you'd better run and pick up the latest hot game in the App Store. An ode to point-and-click graphic PC adventures of the '80s, the minimal feel, lush atmospheric sound effects, and puzzle-solving oddities add up to an experience worth having, especially if you dig the indie scene.
Yes, we love board games on the iPad. In the tradition of Settlers of Catan and Carcassone, Ticket to Ride is an award-winning board game that's actually easier to learn but offers endless replay value. Online multiplayer is fast and a breeze to set up, and additional board game expansion packs are available for when you tire of the main game, which will likely be never. There's no local pass-and-play multiplayer yet--our one gripe--but it's otherwise a perfect game.
The Rainbow Six franchise comes to the iPad, and this tactical first-person shooter plays smoothly and looks great. No, its graphics don't live up to Xbox 360 or PS3 standards, but it feels like a solid Xbox version of the game. Alas, we've never loved the virtual touch joystick controls for FPS games on the iPad, but the touch-screen interface does work well for quickly positioning and moving around your squad onscreen.
Gameprom's Pinball HD was our favorite pinball game on the iPad; the sequel, War Pinball, ups the ante in several key ways. One: better graphics and physics. Two: the addition of motion-controlled tilting. Three: three movie-themed tables based on "Platoon," "Missing in Action," and "Navy Seals." Four: Charlie Sheen and Chuck Norris. Need we say more?
Either you've played World of Goo before, or you haven't. If you're in the latter category, it's time to pony up and join the club. An indie Game of the Year candidate when it first debuted as a downloadable game on the Nintendo Wii and PC, the iPad version is actually an improvement thanks to a shift to intuitive touch controls, as opposed to Wii remote-based gestures. A combination of construction toolkit and puzzle-platformer, World of Goo instantly rises to the top of our App Store must-buys.