Others may be clucking on about the tablet revolution and how Apple’s iPad will change the world of computing forever, but we know why you really bought an iPad: games. Racing games, strategy games, MMORPGs, they’re all there lining the virtual shelves of the App Store, waiting to be downloaded in a matter of seconds. How do you choose from a virtual marketplace brimming with so many choices – and more than a few duds? With a little assistance. Check out some of our own favorites!
Fruit Ninja HD ($3.99)
This game is one of the simplest, most addictive, and most popular games in the iPad game market. Users use finger swipes to slice and dice a variety of fruits as they fly across the screen in a veritable fruit salad. Slice multiple fruits with just one swipe and you’ll get extra bonus points. The game runs on a three-strikes-you’re-out rule, only allowing users to miss three different fruits before they’re out of the game. The more fruits you slice, the better your score, unless you accidentally slice a flying bomb, in which case your game ends then and there. Several different playing modes keep things interesting, and users can play alone of in a multiplayer version.
Plants vs. Zombies HD ($6.99)
The iPad proves to be yet another winning platform for this casual gaming legend from the maestros at Popcap. As the name would suggest, you’ll need to plant a yard full of anthropomorphic mushrooms, peas, sunflowers and other vegetation to battle it out with wave after wave of invading zombies. A classic tower defense game, sure, but Popcap’s wit, achievements and colorful animation elevate it to a title you won’t be able to put down.
Angry Birds HD ($4.99)
If you haven’t heard of Angry Birds by now, you’ve probably been living under a technological rock for some time. The simple action game is one of the most popular games across virtually all mobile platforms, but it first gained traction with the iPhone and iPad. The story goes that some angry green pigs stole eggs from their bird neighbors, making the birds, you guessed it, very angry. Users slingshot squawking birds towards the pigs’ fortresses in an attempt to destroy them and move on to the next level.
Harbor Master (Free)
A retake on the classic Flight Control substitutes boats for planes but loses none of the fun factor in the process – and this one’s free. Players must use their fingers to direct a never-ending barrage of boats to docks for unloading and then safely out of the harbor. Lines will help you visualize where your freighters are headed, but be prepared for frantic redirection, near misses and eventually a game-ending collision when the boats start to flood in.
Real Racing HD ($4.99)
Need to justify your $800 iPad purchase to a group of skeptical friends who claim it’s just an oversized iPod Touch? Download Real Racing HD. Awkward turn-to-steer controls aside, it’s one of the best-looking games available on the system, and discards the flashy arcade-style action of Need for Speed: Shift in favor of realistic, simulator-style driving.
Labyrinth 2 HD ($7.99)
No, it’s not a sequel to the 1986 David Bowie movie shot in HD. Instead, Labyrinth 2 HD emulates the ball-in-a-maze toys you probably had as a kid, with the same object: Get the ball from point A to point B. But those wooden toys never had the same barriers you’ll find here, which include not just holes but cannons, magnets, carousels and lasers. The game responds realistically to the iPad’s internal accelerometers, and even subtly shifts the viewpoint to create the illusion you’re really looking into a 3D box. Try the “Lite” version for a taste of the game before springing for the real thing.
The most classic of word games has made its way to the iPad with fun features for Apple lovers. First of all, the board game looks even better than before on the comfortably-large iPad screen, making gameplay more realistic. Users can play up to 25 different matches, connect with friends on Facebook, pay the Pass N’ Play mode, or find a game via Local Networks. Second, the most innovative feature comes into play for Apple fans who want to play together in person. Now users can use iPhones or iPod Touches as personal tile racks and virtually flick tiles from a device onto the iPad game board.
Mondo Solitaire ($5.99)
The same game that helped you survive mind-numbing shifts at your first cubicle job and hours stuck in school computer labs can now keep you sane on the train to work, plane to New York, or just occupied during commercials on the couch. Mondo Solitaire turns your iPad into a portable card table with the familiar Solitaire layout you know and love from Windows 3.0 and up, but with updated graphics and slick animated card flipping. The app offers “100 games and over 200 different combinations of gameplay” and is sure to contain the classics like FreeCell and Klondike along with many new games that you’ve likely never seen before.
GodFinger All-Stars (Free)
Take Black & White, cuten it up for the iPad, add simplified multitouch controls and you have GodFinger: a classic god game for people who have never heard of god games. You’ll play the role of a higher power overseeing your own planet and villagers. The barren chunk of rock and sole worshipper you start with can slow grow to a lush utopian village with the right measure of rain, sun, and other divine intervention on your behalf. Although its free to play, GodFinger offers the option of purchasing “Awe Points” for your planet to help jumpstart your civilization with farms, fountains, and other frivolities.
This simple and fun kinetic action game starts out with balls made of cells, hence the science-y name. Using momentum, users must move around the screen to incorporate smaller cell balls to become the biggest and most powerful object in the game’s micro-universe. You can only incorporate objects smaller than yourself, and the more your object moves, the more mass it will lose. The game is surprisingly addicting for its simplicity, and there are plenty of levels to keep you going for hours.
Checkers HD ($1.99)
It’s checkers, plain and simple. We wouldn’t venture that this reincarnation of a 12th-century board game brings anything terribly original to the iPad, but it’s a clean, well animated, and free. The computer opponents can be challenging, and if you would prefer to match wits with a human, the two player mode lets you easily play at opposite ends of the screen.
Fieldrunners for iPad ($7.99)
Another tower defense game along the lines of Plants vs. Zombies challenges you to build a virtual gauntlet for wave after wave of enemies to run through. Let them reach the other side, and you’re done for. The first waves will prove to be a breeze, but by the time you’re trying to stop a monsoon of planes, trucks and speedy goons on motorcycles, even the sturdiest creations start to crack apart at the seams.
Command & Conquer Red Alert ($4.99)
You just can’t play a real-time-strategy game on a tiny display. Despite the developer’s best attempt to make Command & Conquer playable on the iPhone, we much prefer the high-resolution iPad version, which lets you build, command and conquer with ease on all 9.7 inches of screen. Just beware that widespread user reports of crashing may make this one to wait on until it gets just a little more polish from EA.