Worthwhile iPad games

By | 2010/07/25

I’ve had the iPad now for almost exactly two months, and just like the iPhone before it, it’s become a platform that I’m really happy to play games on. Now before I say too much more, I’ll preface the rest of my comments and recommendations with the simple facts:

  • I don’t play PC games.
  • I don’t play PS3 games.
  • I don’t own an XBox.

I.e., I’m not a hard-core gamer. Instead, I’m just someone who enjoys sitting and playing a game for 10 minutes at the most, happy to quit at any point and come back to it later. For the most part, the iPad is the perfect platform for this. I used to play quite a few games on the PSP, but haven’t picked up a PSP since I got my iPhone 3G 2 years ago (well, other than to sell it)*.

So, here are the games I’ve found that have chewed up my spare 5, 10 and 30 minutes over the last 2 months…

Dungeon Hunter

I’m a fan of traditional RPGs. I still shudder to think of how much time I spent playing Bards Tale III on the Commodore 64. Thanks to a bug (or design feature) in the game, I think I managed to use the same characters in 20 or more end-to-end plays of the game. Yeah, maybe I have a god complex…

Anyway, Dungeon Hunter isn’t quite of that format; it’s more akin to say, “Untold Legends” (both of the PSP and PS3 variety), but for me at least is the right mix of interesting story and no crazy-controls that are optimised for people born with an extra 2 fingers on each hand:

Dungeon Hunter HD

I’ve completed the game once, and have a couple of other characters on the boil developing different skills in the hopes that there are additional world packs eventually released. (I had heard it was a great iPhone game, but having an iPhone 3G I wasn’t even going to attempt to play it.)

It’s fun, it’s simple, there’s action and magic and it can become quite immersive at times, and while my thumbs are glad I’ve slowed down in my playing of it, overall I’m pretty fond of it. I do wish though, like other RPG games out on the market, that every few level increases would allow for adding more than 1 point to magical skills/special attacks. It’s a bit bland when it’s 1 increase per 1 level increase.

I’d give this 4 out of 5. I could imagine giving it 5 out of 5 if they add new world maps (and I’m not asking for freebies; I’m talking in-app purchases.)

Angry Birds HD

It’s nigh-on impossible to be an iPhone or iPod Touch owner without knowing of Angry Birds. The plot is charmingly simple; some nefarious pigs have stolen eggs from the birds, who are, you guessed it, angry about it. Thus comes a series of levels all about retribution and mayhem thanks to a variety of bird types.

Angry Birds HD

The simple touch physics are very easy to master, though some levels far less so. There’s a great deal of fun to be had in this game, even if sometimes you might have to repeat a level dozens of times before you hit on the right combination. Thankfully though, with the average level taking less than a minute to complete, that’s not a big ask…

It’s fair to say that Angry Birds deserves a 5 out of 5. It may be frustrating, but it’s cute, fun and very diverting.

Field Runners HD

I’d never really heard of “tower defence” games before I got my iPhone, but they quickly became a format that I loved playing, and of all of them, Field Runners was certainly the best. Field Runners HD doesn’t disappoint:

Field runners HD

If you’re not familiar with tower defence games, the concept is remarkably simple. In response to countless waves of enemies, one builds defensive towers that smite the enemy either from near or afar. It’s a simple style of game, but personally I find it an entertaining way of spending time.

I’d like to give Fieldrunners a 5 out of 5, but out of spite I’ll only give it a 4 out of 5. (Why? Because I’m yet to go past 140 levels in endless mode. That’s frustrating.)

Galcon Fusion

This is like 8 games in one. It’s all about world conquest – send out waves of armies to take over various neutral and/or enemy planets, until you control the entire region of space. With traditional play, solitaire (“vacuum”), 3-way strategy, “billiards” (where planets bounce around), etc., Galcon Fusion offers a variety of “conquest” options that makes for a good variety of gameplay:

Galcon Fusion

With a large range of difficulty options, Galcon Fusion caters to everyone from the beginner to the expert at conquest style games, and is well worth checking out.

I’m going to give Galcon Fusion 4 out of 5. It’s great, entertaining fun, but I would like to see slightly better graphics in the gameplay.

Trundle HD

I only discovered this game a couple of days ago, and it’s already shaping up to be a favourite. It’s spooky and creepy at times, like a cross between Loco Roco and Limbo (not that I’ve ever played Limbo, I just liked the demo that sat on the net for 2 years…); it’s got immersive gameplay and slightly at times unsettling music, but it’s a highly enjoyable way to spend some time:

Trundle HD 1

Trundle HD 2

Currently free on the iTunes store, I’d recommend getting Trundle HD as quickly as possible. I may be jumping the gun, but I’m going to give Trundle HD 5 out of 5. I know it’s going to at times annoy the crap out of me, but there’s something remarkably satisfying about being stuck on a puzzle for hours at a time (cumulatively, over multiple runs) before suddenly understanding the solution and leaping past the problem.

Tunnel Shoot

A long time ago, I played the game “Descent” on the PC. It was a 3D flight game and I’d find as I was trying to pilot the ship that I’d rotate in my seat, turn and pull off all sorts of slightly embarrassing movements. Tunnel Shoot is the first game since then to cause me to have that reaction, though I do my best to control that reaction. It’s simple, it’s fast, and it’s fun. Oh, and it also reminds me of The Way for some reason:

Tunnel Shoot

I’m going to give it 5 out of 5. It’s fast paced and rewards quick reactions, and somehow, even though I’m über un-coordinated, I manage to occasionally get into “the zone” and get a score that I find acceptable. That you can get such a fun game for $1.19 (AU) remains a big example to me of how much the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch platform can change the portable gaming market.

Warheads

Pangea Software at one point made Warheads available free on the Mac, and I found it quite an enjoyable take on the old “Missile Command” concept. The iPad version of Warheads is, quite frankly, sublime:

Warheads

Missile Command is now 30 years old, having been released in July 1980. Warheads is much younger than that, but plays fantastic homage to the original game, and is perfectly suited to the iPad. 5 out of 5.

Osmos

I find it a bit difficult to describe this game. Maybe it’s that you play a cellular organism that has to absorb other organisms on the playing field and avoid being absorbed. Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but it’s a great deal of fun, quite challenging at times, and the almost binaural music creates an immersive yet relaxing atmosphere that you find yourself repeating any level as many times as you need to in order to progress. You may get stressed by a temporary inability to solve a puzzle, but at the same time you feel OK about it:

Osmos

It may not sound like a lot, but Osmos definitely deserves 5 out of 5.


* I really think that Sony and Nintendo aren’t really aware of how badly they’re losing mind-share in the portable gaming market. After all, consider the most fundamental aspect – an “expensive” game on the iPad/iPhone is around the $15.99 (AU) mark. A “cheap” PSP game on first release is between $50 to $70. Parents, typically responsible for the money allocated towards gaming in the younger market, are voting with their wallets.