The iPhone’s touch interface and crisp Retina Display make it a surprisingly adept platform for all sorts of games, from sports and shooters to action hits and puzzlers. A seemingly endless array of options can be found in the App Store, but for surefire gaming fun without delay, here’s some of our recent favorites.
Based on the adorable Ninjatown characters created by toy company Shawnimals, Trees of Doom is a fun climbing game where your black-pajama-wearing friend scampers up a pair of trees, jumping back and forth between them to avoid enemies and obstacles and grab power-ups. Mushrooms act as trampolines for a quick boost, and branches are slingshots that let you aim your ninja before flinging him higher. All you have to do is tap the screen to jump and hold to run, but it’s still as tricky as it is adorable.
Encore of the Night takes the storyline of PlayStation classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, omits the side-scrolling action, and replaces it with puzzle gameplay. The journey through Dracula’s castle will have you fighting monsters by matching colored blocks to connect three. Making connections will attack your opponent, but you’ll have to watch out for counterattacks like “stone” blocks that can only be disengaged if a match is made around them. It’s more puzzler than platformer, but it’s a great new take on a classic game.
Ever played a video game and thought you could’ve done a better job? The quirky and feverishly addictive Game Dev Story lets you prove your mettle by fusing together varying genres and settings to create potential blockbusters, while facing hurdles like bad reviews, power outages, and the ever-shrinking lifecycles of home consoles. You’ll have a 20-year cycle to build and expand your studio, as well as hire and train talent, so what are you waiting for? The next virtual smash hit could be yours!
In Fruit Ninja, you swipe you finger across the screen and slice fruit into little pieces, but the catch is that you can’t let any drop, nor can you ever slice bombs. Players receive combo bonuses for slicing multiple pieces of fruit in a single swing, and critical strikes add points at random. We used 10 fingers at one point in Fruit Ninja HD for iPad (it’s also available for iPhone) and it worked like a charm. It features two modes—classic and a new “Zen” mode—that provide a speed option and a marathon of slicing and dicing. Unlockables and a multiplayer mode help add a little replayability, even if it’s not likely to grab your attention for the long haul. Still, Fruit Ninja is a ton of fun while it lasts.
Fans of Choose Your Own Adventure books will love Phoenix Wright. This port of the popular Nintendo DS game is an engaging adventure, filled with courtroom shenanigans where each case involves investigating the scene of a crime and procuring important evidence. With five cases total (each with varying difficulty levels), the game delivers plenty of exciting legal drama, and because it’s filled with cheesy one-liners and dramatized Japanese animation, it maintains a light, humorous atmosphere. All in all, this game will have you shouting “Objection!” in no time.
This clever puzzle game combines the complete-the-circuit gameplay of Pipe Mania with the added difficulty of a sliding-tile puzzle. You can’t pick the pieces up, and obstacles like gates, switches, conveyor belts, and warp portals pose hazards along the way. New concepts are introduced gradually and the difficulty ramps up over time, but the puzzles themselves are one-screen affairs and great for short bursts of gaming. Plus, the app is playable on both iPhone and iPad, making this a challenging and addictive keeper.
Secret Exit’s puzzle hit returns with a visually upgraded iteration that features 100+ total stages, and is both playable and totally gorgeous on both iPhone and iPad. In Zen Bound 2, you’re tasked with wrapping a set amount of rope around a diverse series of wooden sculptures, with a certain percentage of the sculpture needing to be covered to pass the stage. Between the minimalist soundtrack and at-your-own-pace approach, it’s easy to zone out and get lost in this pleasant puzzler on your iDevice of choice.