10 Sweet iPhone Games

By: Derek Yu

On: December 15th, 2009

I think we’re well due for an iPhone/iPod Touch post. My Touch has become the peripheral of choice for the go, so I made sure it was well-stocked with games. Here are 10 of my favorites:

iPhone Games

Eliss – Steph Thirion’s Eliss was one of the first iPhone games to catch my eye, and still stands out as one of the best games for the platform, in my opinion. It’s gorgeous and challenging, and makes great use of the iPhone’s multitouch.

Canabalt – Conceived by Adam “Atomic” Saltsman, the big brain behind Flixel and Edgecrement, Canabalt has you leaping from roof-to-roof in a frantic and stylish escape from a dying city. It’s the best one-switch game I’ve ever played and the latest update – which features new environments and sick beatz by Danny B. – make it even better.

Developers should check out Adam’s post about “The $0.99 Problem”, too.

Evacuation – We covered Bennett “Benzido” Foddy’s Evacuation on TIGSource before, when it was a Flash game. It’s even better on the iPhone.

Little Master – Likewise, Benzido’s cricket game started life as a Flash title before it became an iPhone game, and we covered it before. What can I say? I really like his work!

Sword of Fargoal – Jeff McCord’s classic roguelike game has been rebooted by McCord and his partners, Paul Pridham and Elias Pschernig. For those of you yearning for a good roguelike experience on the iPhone, this is it! It’s a fantastic update to the game.

Earth Dragon – Earth Dragon was created by Chaim Gingold, the design lead for Spore’s Creators, including the Creature Creator (now indie as the day he was born). It’s quite cute and fun and makes clever use of the accelerometer and touch to let you control your dragon. The art is by Jane Ng, who also worked on Spore.

ZenBound – Zenbound is a calm (I wrote “clam” first, and almost left it), meditative game that has you tying up wooden animals with rope. It’s really striking to look at. The creators, Secret Exit, are best known for their Stair/Truck Dismount series of games.

Stair Dismount – And yes, Stair Dismount has finally made it to the iPhone. This version has a variety of different levels and lets you paste your friends’ faces onto the ragdoll via Facebook. I chose Edmund McMillen, because his photo was cropped the best. Then I chose a baby.

Skull Pogo – Chevy Johnston’s Skull Pogo started off as a Game Maker game, but it works best on the iPhone, where you can use the accelerometer to control your little skullpogoman. Aside from being an awesome, creative, and helpful dude on the forums, Chevy knows how to make an addictive game. The recent update is pretty sweet, too.

Cross Fingers – Because of a certain someone asshole, Edge has been removed from the App Store again. But at least he didn’t prevent Mobigame from releasing their next title, Cross Fingers, a sliding-block puzzle game that uses multitouch. Although perhaps not as unique as Edge, I actually prefer CF as a game to play on the go.

So there you have it! 10 good games for under $22. And I’m sure you got more, so lay it on us in the comments.

  • Derek

    Jon Perry and I redid our puzzle game Diabolika for the iPhone, too: http://www.diabolika-game.com/ :)

  • Hypersapien

    I looked at the second image on the left (which I assume is Canabalt) and immediately thought “Micheal Jackson?”

  • Jsntg

    its really impressive but canabalt gets my heart racing

  • http://www.pixelate.de Andreas

    Um, another self-promoting comment: Our breakout-style game Mr. Bounce also started out as a Flash game. The iPhone version just got an update with five new levels.

  • http://www.nitrobeard.com Brian

    These are all great games! One other must-have iPhone game is definitely Hook Champ. [ http://www.rocketcat-games.com/hook/ ]

    If you haven’t checked it out you absolutely need to.

  • ChevyRay

    “Although perhaps not as unique as Edge, I actually prefer CS as a game to play on the go.”

    I assume that was supposed to be “CF”, for “Cross Fingers”. Other than that <3 nice article and thanks for the highlight!

  • http://www.roguepirateninja.com/ James Munro

    I’d like to pimp our game briefly: We’re a small indie company and we recently released our first title “iRis AG”. We like to think of it as a new twist on the typical puzzle genre. More info here (+free lite version): http://www.roguepirateninja.com/games/irisag

    Here are 3x iTunes codes for free copies of the full version, grab them while they’re hot!

    1. WKX7LW3X693M
    2. PWN9HHA33PX6
    3. E7KJ449TPK9X

    Let us know what you think!

    You guys should also check out the decent iPhone port of Battle for Wesnoth, one of the most popular open-source strategy games: http://www.wesnoth.org/

  • ssp

    Needs more Hook Champ.

  • http://www.eufloria-game.com Alex May

    You can’t miss Hook Champ, it’s boss.


  • http://gangles.ca/ Matthew Gallant

    Hook Champ is a recent favourite of mine. The swinging controls are really smooth, the levels are creative and varied, even the writing is entertaining. Worth a look!

  • JoeHonkie

    Evacuation is nearly perfect on the iPhone, and Diabolika is great, too.

    Also, I really, really like Stair Dismount and I think this means I need serious mental help.

  • http://blog.jwmusic.org Josh Whelchel

    IT’s slightly humorous that you’ve said “My Touch” is the peripheral of choice when the competing phone is the MyTouch.

  • Ninomojo

    How come iBlast Moki is not on this list? :) It’s probably one of the best iPhone games of 2009 and it’s got a level editor and all.

    Other than that:

    Hook Champ

    And of course Edge by Mobigame (if you’re not in the US or UK)

  • Madgarden

    Yes, definitely missing Hook Champ on the list… great game

  • http://508pm.com Arcturus

    Thanks for this great post. This is the reason TIGS keeps me coming back: great game recommendations from a credible and non-biased source. :)

  • malcontent

    I certainly have to agree with Sword of Fargoal. That game has eaten quite a bit of my time.

  • Golds

    this is a good list, but I’ve got some keepers of my own!

    Squareball – Difficult, addictive, old school platrformer action with an interesting control scheme. Here’s a link to IGN’s review: http://wireless.ign.com/articles/102/1025284p1.html(They recently hailed it as iPhone Game of the Year 2009)

    JetCarStunts – Hard Drivin on crack. More of a car based platformer than a racing title. Beautifully rendered, and very very fun. http://toucharcade.com/2009/11/16/jet-car-stunts-an-exhilarating-ride/

  • OrR

    Where is The Quest? Bike or Die? Come on, show some love for hardcore games!

  • MisterX

    To go along with adding personal favorites, I’m “missing” Saucelifter: http://saucelifter.com/
    If you used to love playing Choplifter, you’re very likely to love this one, too :)

    As regards free games, I find PewPew just great: http://appshopper.com/games/pewpew-2 It may look like a basic dual-stick arena shooter, but the 4 gamemodes are totally varied, very balanced and polished, and all really fun.

    Lastly, there is a free game every day until christmas eve in the appvent calendar: http://appventcalendar.com/
    9 days to go and so far there were some pretty nice games to get.

  • ssp

    I found the Quest unsuitable for a mobile device, but Undercroft is pretty ace.

  • salade

    another mention for Hook Champ! it should get its own writeup on the front page.

  • GregWS

    Gotta second Golds when it comes to JetCarStunts; it’s a really really fun “driving platformer,” and the world, floating geometry in the sky, is just plain awesome!

  • Dr Invisibrow

    I like a couple of Squeenix’s contributions to the iPhone catalog, namely Vanguard Heroes and Hills & Rivers Remain. They’re both simple strategy games that manage to get your mind to really race when they pick up.

    Also, there’s a fun coin-combining puzzle game called Cash Cow.

  • Paolo

    Talking about indie games, I would like to also suggest Unify from Zach Gage… It is addictive, fun and cheap, I can definetely recommend it!

  • http://www.gratisspiele-downloads.de Karl

    Hoggy (lite). I might be biased cause i made some the levels for it, but i think it’s a great game nonetheless. A blend of platform action + puzzles.

  • Matt

    I recommend Yipe! 5. It was one of my childhood favorites and it’s great to see it making a comeback. It seems like it might even garner some popularity now.

  • GrahamGoring

    *cough* Go Go Rescue Square *cough*

    Another agreement with Fargoal here. Lovely, lovely game and can’t wait to see how it evolves.

  • Charlton heston

    fix teh forums dood

  • the NRA

    it’s fixed

  • Adam

    I absolutely love canabalt, I play it way too much

  • http://babablacksheep.in/blog kvjoshi

    I found Sway to be pretty decent. Its a little different from Donkey Kong : King of Swing, in that because of the touch controls, the challenges are not as ‘precise’. But it’s awesome once you get a feel for it.

  • Thomas

    Thanks for the great post. I just picked up a 32GB iPod Touch a couple weeks ago and was wondering if you guys knew any good games.

    Bought three based on this article (Zen Bound, Evacuation, and Canabalt) and I’m considering picking up Sword of Fargoal… but I gotta slow down with the spending. :)

  • Derek

    Played some Hook Champ last night – it really is quite fun!

  • ssp

    Hook Champ is probably my most played iPhone game along with Rogue Touch. Though Sword Of Fargoal (best version of this classic, in my opinion) is catching up quicklly. The iPhone is getting some pretty neat games as of late.

  • http://iphone-roundup.com nickthedude

    hey, i run an “on hiatus” iphone gaming show called iphone roundup, check it at http://youtube.com/iphoneroundup .

    Anyway my favorite iphone game has to be:

    Drop7 by areacode inc.

    other games worth looking at:

    rope n fly / rope n fly 2
    surviving high school
    world series of poker hold em
    glass tower is cool but last time i checked it was somewhat broken
    allpro off road
    guns n zombies
    i dig it


    plus check out our youtube channel for more titles of great games and videos:


  • mcc

    I would like to note if people had not already noticed that Gandreas Software has released a free ascii-mode version of NetHack for the iPhone. I CAN’T STOP PLAYING IT

    Other than that I have been playing a lot of Squareball and Hook Champ lately.

  • upriser

    I’m a little surprised Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor was on no one’s list.

  • oyuncu

    I'm a little surprised Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor was on no one's list.

  • oyuncu

    I'm a little surprised Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor was on no one's list.


  • Natalie

    I’ve been playing Crystal bloom on android, it’s free and awesome. My sister has it for iOS too

  • http://theresultsjobs.com/ Hiren P Bhatt

    Nice games list and earth dragon is my one of the favorite game. thanks for share list.