MG’s 10 favorite iPhone games of 2008

Yesterday, I wrote up my 10 favorite iPhone apps of 2008 with a note that I wasn’t including any games on the list because there were far too many good ones and they should probably get their own list. Today, I bring you that list.

This was a tough one to narrow down to 10, I have nearly 40 games that I keep on my iPhone right now, and I wouldn’t keep anything on there that I don’t enjoy playing. Just as with yesterday’s list, it’s important to note that these are my 10 favorite games on the iPhone and not necessarily what I think are the 10 best, because that’s something that’s simply too hard to rate with so many different kinds of games out there in the App Store.

I think it’s also worth noting that while on yesterday’s app list almost all of the apps I chose were free, on the games list only one of them (Aurora Feint) is really free — and it was just free to get users addicted so they could release paid sequels. Half of the games on this list are $4.99 or over, which once again says to me that there’s a future for higher priced quality apps in the App Store.

Counting down:

10. Booty Blocks — A recently released game in the vein of Tetris, although I like it more than actual Tetris for the iPhone because it’s a bit different and has some flare. The game’s pirate theme (hence the “booty” in the title) makes for some nice graphics and a fun musical score. Booty Blocks also allows you to use the iPhone’s touch screen and accelerometer to move pieces around. You can even move them after they’ve been placed. The game is $1.99. [iTunes Link]

9. Pop — When the App Store first launched over the summer, a few developers came out with games that simply involved popping bubbles on the screen. Those were fun for about 10 minutes. Pop takes what was fun about those games and turns it into a real game, with strategy. You are still trying to pop bubbles, but you’re doing so in a set period of time and there are certain bubbles you want to pop more than others. It’s very addicting. The game is $4.99, but there’s also a lite version, which is free. [iTunes Link]

8. Fieldrunners — It’s a tower defense game for the iPhone, but it has better graphics than its main competitor, TapDefense. Of course, TapDefense is free, while Fieldrunners is $4.99, but Fieldrunners is more addicting to me because it plays a bit faster as well. Still, when I sit down to play it, I find it hard to stop in under 30 minutes. The upcoming version 1.2 from developers Subatomic Studios also promises new towers. The game is $4.99. [iTunes Link]

7. Tap Tap Dance — It’s a tough call whether to include Tap Tap Revenge or Tap Tap Dance, but I went with the latter simply because while I think Tap Tap Revenge is a pretty nice Guitar Hero port for the iPhone, Tap Tap Dance is more like Dance Dance Revolution, but different because you use your hands and the iPhone’s accelerometer. The music, from the likes of Daft Punk and The Chemical Brother is good and make this game very addicting. The game is $4.99. [iTunes Link]

6. Aurora Feint: The Beginning — This was probably the first iPhone game that I was really addicted to. It’s a puzzle game not unlike Tetris, but it adds in an element of a role playing. As you progress through levels, you buy power-ups and new equipment to help you in later rounds. The game also smartly uses the accelerometer, making you rotate the device to break certain blocks ups. (The developers have also since released a few sequels.) The game is free. [iTunes Link]

5. I Love Katamari – It may surprise some people to see this game on the list because there were some serious bugs that hampered gameplay when Namco first launched the game on the iPhone. But I’m happy to report that those have all been ironed out with an update and now the game runs very smoothly. A game like Katamari just seems perfect for the iPhone and iPod touch with their accelerometers, so I’m glad it works now. The game is $7.99. [iTunes Link]

4. Enigmo — The first game I actually paid money for on the iPhone that I still play to this day. I like it because it reminds me of the classic game Lemmings, but it’s different because it’s all about using the iPhone’s touch screen to manipulate drops of water (and sometimes fire) to reach their endpoint goals. The game is currently $1.99 — which is a good deal because I paid $9.99 for it back when it was released. [iTunes Link]

3. SimCity — It’s another game with bugs (there are some serious load time issues), but when you get past those, it’s pretty remarkable how well EA was able to take a pretty complex game, basically SimCity 3000, and put it on the iPhone. It’s just as much of a time suck on the iPhone as it was on the computer — I’ve sat down and played it for several hours at a time without realizing it. And once you get used to the touch controls, it’s amazing how well they work. The game is $9.99. [iTunes Link]

2. Frenzic — There may not be a more addicting original game on the iPhone. The key to Frenzic is that it’s fast-paced — if you think it’s really easy at first, just wait till you progress. While the game isn’t as complex as some of the others on this list, it’s the one game I turn to if I have a few minutes to kill and want to play something really quick. Plus the game is only $1.99 right now — a must-buy. [iTunes Link]

1. Rolando — I’ve already written about why I think it’s the first truly great iPhone game, and based on the amount of press coverage and praise it’s gotten, I’m sure many of you agree now. Rolando is a great game because it was built to use all of the things the iPhone and iPod touch have to offer. It uses the touch screen, multi-touch, the accelerometer and has the great iSave feature which lets you exit the game at any point and have your position saved just in case you get, you know, a call, on what is after all your cell phone. Rolando will be the proof that well crafted, iPhone-specific higher-priced games can succeed. It sets a new standard. The game is $9.99. [iTunes Link]

Honorable Mentions: Amateur Surgeon, Antimatter, BurnBall, Centipede, Dactyl, de Blob, Deep Green, Dizzy Bee (1 and 2), Dr. Awesome, Lego Batman, Maze Finger, Monopoly, Scrabble, Sudoku, Topple and Trace.

Separately, you may want to check out VentureBeat’s inaugural game conference, GamesBeat 09, on March 24.

Also, see our top 20 game stories of 2008.

The 10 most-anticipated games of 2009.

The game and virtual world fundings of 2008.

And Dean’s top 10 picks of the holiday season.


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