The App Store is a wonderland of diverse gaming goodness, including deeply absorbing role-playing and strategy games, gripping narrative experiences, and titles that let you build up a character and skills over a large stretch of time. But for many of us, the games we turn to the most are the ones that offer immediate, short-term thrills – the games we can play for a few minutes at a time with minimal hassle, but which are entertaining and engrossing enough to play for much longer when desired. For those needs, we present the 25 best quick-hit games for iPhone and iPod touch, all of which let you play a game, level, race, or round in a few minutes or less. When you need to fill a short stretch of your day, these are the games you'll want.
Button-mashing brawlers make for a great time when you've got real buttons to mash, but they don't always translate so well to iOS touch screens. Rather than attempt to shoehorn all of the intense fighting action into a traditional arcade-style control scheme, indie studio The Game Bakers concocted a fresh touch-centric battle system for its quirky new face-pummeling fighter. Combo Crew's fast-paced fisticuffs and streamlined combo system hinges on simple swipe controls that are far more satisfying to wield than you'd expect from an iOS beat-em-up.
The Fast & Furious movie franchise has gathered a cult-like following of fans who enjoy the intense action and tricked-out vehicles, with the sixth entry expected to dominate the box office once more this weekend. Fast & Furious 6: The Game is true to the elements that made the film series such a smash, with beautiful graphics and plenty of extras relating to the films – though the actual racing in this free-to-play affair can get a bit dull and repetitive after a while.
A slick cyberpunk vibe with a futuristic neon glow sets the stage nicely for Frozen Synapse's brain-twisting tactical combat encounters. When it first launched on Mac and PC, this cool indie strategy game garnered high praise for its unique asynchronous take on turn-based combat and play-by-email style multiplayer matches. This iPad port gloriously packs all of the clever strategizing and insane resolutions of the original – and even lets you play against desktop users – without losing anything in the jump to the portable format.
Tower defense games sprung to life on the PC and have also thrived on consoles, but it's on iOS devices where we've seen the largest and most diverse number of great entries. These strategic affairs challenge you to protect a base from waves of increasingly tough and complex enemies by placing offensive turrets along the way, and the tactical thrill of managing an effective array of fortifications can be hugely satisfying. Need a brainy fix wherever you are? Here are our picks for the 10 best iPhone tower defense games, each of which offers a distinctive test.
The gang's all here for LEGO Batman: DC Super Heroes, a decidedly goofy clash between iconic comic-book superheroes and villains modeled with digital plastic bricks. While Batman and Robin are the centerpieces of this silly iPhone and iPad romp through a LEGO-fied Gotham City, they're joined by more than 80 unlockable characters that add tremendous variety to your quest to stamp out evil. The silly antics and block-smashing fun found throughout this original adventure will feel familiar if you've played any of the other recent licensed LEGO games, but it's an amusing time nonetheless.
Most platform games are known for their difficulty in having players master the art of running and jumping over large gaps and onto hard-to-reach platforms. Taking this concept and turning it on its side, Illusion Labs’ latest game is a vertical auto-running title that simply requires you to know when to jump. Mr. Crab’s controls may sound easy, and its colorful visuals might seem a bit pre-school for some, but this friendly crustacean offers plenty of challenge to keep players of all ages coming back for more.
Bustin Beaver and his beaver bandits have stolen your wood, and being the cartoonish lumberjack that you are, you must punch them to get it back – or something like that. It doesn’t really matter; the motivation behind the fast-paced, hard-as-nails lumber-fueled platforming isn’t important. What matters is that Lumber Jacked delivers plenty of quick-hit fun, which it accomplishes via a mix of speedy sprinting, colorful action, and charming presentation.
If you've ever wondered whether there's a magical formula for how to suck out nearly every last ounce of fun from an otherwise pretty great game, Dungeon Hunter 4 is a shining example of the quickest way to get it done. Gameloft's latest slick entry in the venerable iOS dungeon crawling hack-and-slash series is absolutely rife with over-aggressive pitches for in-app purchases. Granted, some level of that is expected in free-to-play offerings of this caliber, but Dungeon Hunter 4's approach borders on the insidious. It's a shame, really, because the game itself is quite good – at least during the few brief moments when it's not prodding you incessantly to spend more and more cash.
If good artists borrow and great artists steal, how do we classify the artists who break and enter but leave the real treasure behind? It’s not difficult to spot the commonalities between The Other Brothers and Nintendo’s classic Super Mario entries. Both are side-scrolling platform games, feature a damsel in distress, and are rendered in wonderful pixel art. Both even star a pair of silly mustachioed men who wear caps and overalls. But The Other Brothers sadly does not capture its spiritual predecessor’s signature feel.