How we scoffed when people suggested the iPhone would one day be a leading games platform. Had they not seen how rubbish mobile phone games were? Had they not noticed the iPhone was bereft of a D-pad and buttons? The fools!
Only things didn’t turn out as expected. Enterprising developers flipped everything on its head – shortcomings regarding tactile controls became benefits in terms of using new touch and tilt capabilities. Games became increasingly immersive as you interacted directly with content, ushering in new experiences through no longer being able to rely on traditional controls. And then the iPad did it all again – only bigger!
Today’s market is mired somewhat in freemium grindy hell, but gems nonetheless abound. Our list includes the very best premium titles the iPhone and iPad have to offer, handily grouped into sections, starting with racers, ending with arcade games, and taking in everything else you can imagine on the way.
Best racing game for iPhone and iPad: GRID Autosport
You hear the term ‘console quality’ quite a lot with mobile games, but GRID Autosport actually is the Codemasters AAA hit shoved into your iPhone or iPad.
This means you get 100 cars, 100 circuits, and a ton of options to adjust how everything works. If you’re a beginner, keep all the driving aids on and tootle around in a Touring Car, until you get to grips with everything. A veteran? Go for the toughest difficulty and get your cockiness handed to you by losing control and driving your shiny race car into a wall.
With tons of depth, great visuals, and decent controls, there’s nothing else quite like this on iOS.
Need For Speed Most Wanted
Fortunately, Most Wanted’s gameplay isn’t nearly as grey as the tracks that you find yourself zooming along for street-racer glory. Fairhaven would be better named Greyandverydrabville, but the arcade racing you get up to is of the gloriously breezy kind found in the likes of Sega’s OutRun 2.
You find yourself hurling your car recklessly off of clifftops (having, naturally, crashed through an advertising hoarding first), drifting around bends, or smashing up the Fuzz, if they’re stupid enough to get in the way of your race-winning ambitions while partaking in high-octane thrills.
Beaming in from the future, Repulze recalls Wipeout with its gleaming metal tracks that fling you about like a furious rollercoaster. At first, the challenge is slight, merely pitting you against coloured gates, but eventually you find yourself boosting through futuristic worlds while trying very hard to not be blasted into so much space dust.
Like the best gravity racers, the sense of speed here is nearly overwhelming, setting this futuristic offering far apart from relatively staid racers that plonk you in a car on boring tarmac. And although the controls are twitchy, they can be fine-tuned to your liking as you wrestle with them on your way to glory.
Reckless Racing 3
The original Reckless Racing was an amusingly ramshackle affair, with rickety trucks and cars screeching around car parks and scrapyards. The sequel added depth but also too much polish, losing the series’ sense of character.
This third entry gets the balance right, enabling you to power-slide through a wide range of settings, including an airport, a charming European hilltop village and, worryingly, an abandoned and very clearly leaking nuclear plant.
The physics is a bit light, and the AI a touch aggressive, but this is as fun a top-down racer as you’ll find on mobile. It also clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously, adding a ‘gymkhana’ mode where you rack up points for ‘precision stunt driving’ in a beat-up old truck.