The best arcade game for iPhone and iPad: Osmos
Osmos is best described as an ambient arcade game. Although demanding quick thinking and fast reflexes, it also rewards planning and patience.
The aim is to grow your mote, which can absorb those smaller than itself and get about the place by ejecting matter. In moving and causing your mote to shrink, you discover an uneasy balancing act must be continually played out as you explore playgrounds that echo microscopic primordial soup through to solar systems with deadly sun-like ‘attractors’ and dozens of orbiting motes.
Beat Sneak Bandit
We’ve bunged Beat Sneak Bandit in our arcade section, but it’s really a combination of arcade, stealth, rhythm action, platformer, and path-finding game, all controlled by a single thumb tapping the screen. Ambitious? You bet. But one of the best games on iOS? Undoubtedly.
You play as the titular thief, sneaking about single-screen levels, trying to grab all the clocks and not get spotted by guards and spotlights. The snag: you can only move on the beat. The other snag: so can everything else. The result is a unique, great-looking, and hugely entertaining game of clockwork madness.
When Eliss arrived in 2009, it was a game that defined the iPhone, fully taking advantage of multitouch. You had to contain and manipulate planets, which could be torn apart or merged before being dragged to portals of appropriate size and colour. Letting planets of different colour collide would deplete limited energy reserves, and matters were further complicated by space storms and other hazards.
Years later, this semi-sequel still feels fresh, and in later levels success demands intricate yet speedy finger gymnastics. Beyond the original game, there’s also a truly crazed endless mode to master.
In a world devoid of humans, robots have seemingly taken up hoverboarding and kleptomania. A nefarious android has pilfered all the batteries that power your village, and so you hop on your board and scoot after him, scooping up any batteries dropped in his wake, across 30 diverse levels.
This could have all been painfully generic, but Power Hover pushes everything to the max. The simple controls — left or right, and that’s it — are twinned with floaty physics that lends the game a unique feel. The level design is superb, optimal pathways weaving through deserts infested with giant sand worms and spider-like drilling apparatus intent on stabbing an inconvenient hole in your droid. It all adds up to a challenge that’s familiar and yet has the capacity to surprise and delight.