We've collected the 69 most essential must-play games for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch - now including a section devoted to free games. With reviews and download links, read on for the 69 best games ever released for the iPad and iPhone. From strategy and action to puzzles and roleplaying games, these are the very finest iOS gaming apps. Updated 7 November 2013
The iOS gaming landscape has seen a lot of change. Take pricing, for instance. When the iPhone came out, publishers thought nothing of charging a tenner for a half-hearted console port. But gamers soon cottoned on to the sub-£1 impulse purchase, and prices plunged. After a rash of ad-supported freebies and aggressive in-app purchases, things seem to be settling around the £1.99 mark.
More importantly, perhaps, iOS is no longer considered the poor cousin of console and PC platforms. Angry Birds showed the world that mobile games can be astonishingly commercial, but they can be critical successes too. The games on this list are inspired, well-written, funny, and occasionally even moving. Sometimes you just want a two-minute puzzle for your bus ride, and the iPhone is perfect for that, but if you know where to look, iOS gaming has so much more to offer.
To make it easier to find the games you're looking for, we've divided our list of the best iPad & iPhone games into eight genres or themes:
- The best free games for iPad & iPhone
- The best shooting/action games for iPad & iPhone
- The best puzzle games for iPad & iPhone
- The best strategy/tower defence games for iPad & iPhone
- The best roleplaying games for iPad & iPhone
- The best sports games for iPad & iPhone
- The best side-scrolling games for iPad & iPhone
- The best casual games for iPad & iPhone
Let's get on to the games reviews. What's the best game for iPad and iPhone?
The best free games for iPad & iPhone
Middle Manager of Justice is a superhero-themed base-building game in which the heroes are preening, stereotype-spouting goons who divide their time between punching thugs, watching TV and manning call centres. You're abstractly their middle manager, working out where best to spend the squad's pitiful income while assigning your heroes to dole out fist-based justice to assorted evil-doers. Utterly shallow, but the game is aware of that - which is why it works so well. Alec Meer
2. Real Racing 3
The Real Racing series is deservedly idolised - Real Racing 2 is filed in our best sports game section below. But Real Racing 3 - another beautiful and accomplished racing game - follows a different racing line, offering itself for free while touting for income via in-app purchases. The game is gorgeous, even though there is quite a lot of pressure to spend real-world money. David Price
FREE | Download Real Racing 3
An old-school RPG very much in the vein of Eye Of The Beholder, Undercroft harks back to a simpler time when men were men and roleplaying games were turn-based. Hasn't been updated in a couple of years - how we'd love the excuse to dig out our old party - but it's low-fi charms remain undiminished. David Price
FREE | Download Undercroft
4. Temple Run 2
Like the ubiquitous first game, Temple Run 2 is an 'auto-runner' wherein you make snap reactions as your fleeing Indiana Jones-alike strives to dodge fatal drops, spikey boulders, hitting walls at speed and the enormous monkey-monster which forever pursues him/her. Death is inevitable, as is having 'just one more go.' Alec Meer
A physics-based puzzler in which you bounce a cute little creature around a level and try to get him to the goal with as few shots as possible. Sort of like crazy golf played in mid-air with a scaly animal instead of a ball. We like this a lot, and the basic game is free. It's probably worth shelling out for the extra levels, though. David Price
Other great free games mentioned later in this article
Tiny Heroes (under best strategy/tower defence games)
Jetpack Joyride (under best side-scrolling games)
Finally, a word of warning - free games aren't always the bargain they first appear. The same author vents his spleen on this subject in 'Freemium is the worst thing in the history of gaming: a rant', which even complains about the gameplay mechanics of Real Racing 3. Be aware that free games, more than any others, tend to be passionately fond of in-app payments. But if you're careful about your spending, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to have fun for free.