We're past the halfway point for the year, and 2013 has already proven to be an incredible time for new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch games. Whether you tend towards quick-hit affairs or engrossing, strategic time sinks (or a little of both), there's been an absolute wealth of great options to choose from in a huge array of genres. Why wait until January rolls around to look back on such greatness? We've compiled our picks for the 25 best iOS games of the year to date, all of which are surefire options for on-the-go entertainment.
In Le Vamp, it was an angry mob; in Temple Run 2, a giant gorilla. What’s chasing you in Greedy Dwarf? A dragon on a bicycle (!) — but thankfully, he’s not seen during actual gameplay, as you never slow down enough for him to appear onscreen. In fact, you have no enemies to contend with at all. Your only goal in this auto-runner game is to coast through each of its 32 stages without falling off the path into hot lava, grabbing as many gold nuggets and rocket boosts as you can.
As with last year's Temple Run: Brave, the new Temple Run: Oz takes the framework of the latest core entry – in this case the recent Temple Run 2 – and gives it a Disney-fied makeover tied to a big-budget flick. This time around, it's Oz The Great and Powerful, a prequel to the iconic Wizard of Oz, and the result is a game in which you'll guide a digital approximation of James Franco along a yellow brick road filled with obstacles and collectibles alike. While visually vivid and solidly enjoyable as a behind-the-back runner, Temple Run: Oz simply hits too soon after Temple Run 2 to generate much enthusiasm.
“Watch out for the worm,” a sign cheerfully reminds you the first time you play Worm Run. It’s about the only advice you’ll need to play this precision runner, since that same worm — the game’s single dynamic adversary — takes up around a third of the screen, quickly devouring everything in its path. Worm Run is an obstacle-based platformer of sorts, so your success in getting away from this giant furry annelid is heavily dependent on your ability to quickly clamber over whatever the randomly generated map decides to throw at you.
"Are you sure it is a good day to Die Hard?" asks a terribly voiced Russian enemy as our hero perishes for the umpteenth time. The corny, self-aware line would almost make sense in the universe of Die Hard films, where cheesy one-liners are expected. But in the case of the A Good Day to Die Hard tie-in game for iPhone and iPad, it's just another example of an altogether laughable licensed title, one that's plagued with monotonous gameplay and horrid in-app purchase pandering.
When Temple Run hit the App Store in summer 2011, it didn't look like much -- no thanks to its pixelated, original PlayStation-level graphics and unremarkable visual design. But the old adage about not judging a book by its cover holds true with free iOS games, as well, as its genre-shifting 3D twist on the traditional side-scrolling runner made it an absolute sensation, racking up more than 170 million downloads in the time since. With new sequel Temple Run 2, Imangi Studios needn't worry about making a bad impression, thanks to dramatic visual improvements and welcomed gameplay enhancements.
Joe Danger was a pleasant surprise when it premiered on the PlayStation 3 back in 2010, mixing challenging vehicular platforming with the oh-so-addictive pursuit of the highest score. Since then, the cartoonish motorcycle stuntman has received a sequel and special edition on the Xbox 360. But the series' latest iteration and first on iOS, Joe Danger Touch, manages to ride wheel-to-wheel with its console predecessors, creating a new experience ideally suited for the platform.
While there are plenty of Canabalt and Jetpack Joyride copycats on the App Store, Punch Quest is part of a rarer breed. Managing to bring a new twist to the auto-runner genre, Rocketcat Games has created an addicting title that blends old-school adventuring with the age-old thrill of punching things in the face. Some nagging control issues aside, Punch Quest may be your next go-to iOS game.
It’s quite a feat when a game’s presentation is mesmerizing enough to cause death by distraction. Such is the case with God of Blades, a side-scrolling sword combat game that takes full advantage of the Retina display to create something genuinely remarkable and unique. Your character, the Nameless King, automatically runs from left to right (think Canabalt), encountering enemies as he traverses a flat yet stunning 2D landscape. Directional finger swipes translate into one of four basic sword moves, and various unlockable swords all have different ranges and speeds.
Even if you haven’t heard of Ubisoft’s once-beloved limbless hero, Rayman -- and if you don’t play games on home consoles, that may very well be the case -- Rayman Jungle Run might easily be placed among the App Store's most attention-grabbing titles. Directly inspired by last year’s gorgeous console platform-hopping reboot Rayman Origins, Jungle Run essentially converts Origins’ 2D guts into simplified runner-style gameplay.