5. Hero Academy (iPhone/iPad)
Chess meets fantasy in this asynchronous turn-based two-player effort. To win, you must obliterate your opponents or their gems, mastering and taking advantage of each of your team’s special powers. Multiple boards and solo challenges add further scope for play, and if you’re prepared to pay a little, you can buy additional teams.
4. Zen Pinball (iPhone/iPad)
There’s not much ‘zen’ in this highly animated, exciting pinball, which adds to classic metal-ball-spanging with dynamic table elements. Free table Sorcerer’s Lair gives you plenty to do as two siblings face off against an evil sorcerer. They must battle all manner of creepy crawlies, aided only by the power of friendly ghost Whisper, a smattering of mini-games, some dubious voice acting, and plenty of ramps, targets and multiball modes.
3. Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint (iPhone/iPad)
Show-Off Billiards would be an appropriate alternative name for this game that forces you to unlearn and relearn how to smack balls around a pool table. Here, there are no pockets — instead, you play the craziest possible trick-shots (bounce off table edges; ‘buzz’ nearby balls) to score big points. As like-coloured balls stick together, you can create shapes for bigger bonuses. You get a bunch of tables for free, and more are available via IAP.
2. Asphalt 8: Airborne (iPhone/iPad)
There’s a point where arcade racers lose all connection with reality and they’re all the better for it. Asphalt isn’t bothered by trivial concerns such as an actual car’s inability to fly hundreds of metres through the air, or drift seemingly endlessly around gloriously sweeping bends; instead, it’s all about the need for speed, zooming around beautifully rendered and inventive courses, occasionally smashing your rivals into a wall, just because you can. It’s a touch shoppy and grindy, but there’s hours of exhilarating racing here without spending a penny.
1. Letterpress (iPhone/iPad)
There are mash-ups and then there’s Letterpress, the mash-up to beat them all, concocting an absurdly addictive stew from Boggle and Risk. The idea’s easy: find words on a five-by-five grid. But the cunning bit is any tiles surrounded by ones you’ve claimed are protected from your opponent during their next go.Letterpress therefore becomes a tug o’ war land-grab, more about strategic thinking than pure wordplay. For free, you can play two games simultaneously; US$1.99 (RM6.50) unlocks unlimited games.
READ MORE: The 200 best games of all time
38. Smash Bandits (iPhone/iPad)
If you’re regularly stuck on motorways, wishing you could let rip and get all smashy, try this game. You tear about the place like a maniac, ramming the fuzz and obliterating anything smaller than a building. All the while, you’re racking up TV viewing figures that result in cash for upgrades. When you crash, it’s possible to steal a police car or SWAT van so you can cause even more mayhem.
More after the break...
37. ON/OFF (iPhone/iPad)
Sort of a sliding puzzle crossed with a Rubik’s Cube, ON/OFF is all about connecting coloured switches with tiles you drag around. Almost immediately, this is a game that’ll cause steam to fly out of your ears as you battle devious level design. You get the first set for nothing, and several harder packs are available for US$0.99 each or US$1.99 for the lot.
36. Lost Treasures Of Infocom (iPhone/iPad)
Once upon a time, quite a few games were like books, only you typed in what you wanted to do next. Go north! Put dangly bit in tea substitute! Tell husband, “Kiss my kneecaps”! And so on. Zork was one of the earliest masterpieces of interactive fiction, and it’s entirely free in this collection (which enables you to buy other Infocom classics). Just don’t get eaten by a grue.
35. Tiny Striker (iPhone/iPad)
This fast-paced flick-based arcade effort tasks you with scoring endless free kicks. You drag out net-busters and breathtaking curls using a speedy swiping finger, all the while fighting against the relentlessly ticking clock.
Initially, you’re presented with an open goal, but soon defenders get in your way and a goalie starts milling about. There’s little depth here, but Tiny Striker’s a perfect condensed footie game for when you don’t have the time for the likes of FIFA.
34. Word Forward (iPhone/iPad)
With many word games aiming for minimal rules from a random selection of letters, Word Forward instead tries the opposite. Each level provides a specific selection of letters and challenges you to remove the lot by dragging out words, SpellTower-style. Power-ups can help you along, but it’s careful planning that pays dividends here, even if you’re often tempted to lob a bomb on to the board, to remove an awkward ‘Qu’.
33. Ninjaman (iPhone/iPad)
Developer Poppy has created some of the strangest twitch arcade titles on iOS, from avoid-’em-up Giant Metal Robot to the demented whac-a-mole I Am Not A Zombie. Ninjaman is a kind of NES beat ’em up on fast-forward.
Your master is kidnapped and to free him, you must battle past goons and bosses. It’s a one-thumb game, where you hammer the screen to fling the correct number of daggers at each foe - but if they leap or you throw too many, your master gets one in the neck instead.
31. Sky Force 2014 (iPhone/iPad)
Sky Force titles have been providing old-school shoot ’em up larks on the iPhone since 2009, but this latest release takes things to a whole new level.
It’s gorgeous, with beautifully rendered environments and waves of ships zooming about the place. More importantly, the addictive gameplay that’s the hallmark of the series remains intact, giving you a dazzling blaster with plenty of character for no coins at all.
The sole drawback is that it can get a bit grindy, although you can always spend some IAP on a star doubler to help you upgrade your craft more rapidly.