New Verizon iPhone? Download these games first

Feb 8, 2011
Games

So you took the plunge and bought a brand new iPhone on the Verizon network. Now it is time to figure out which amazing games to download first. Since you’re new to Apple’s iOS operating system and the iTunes App Store, you may feel overwhelmed as there are tens of thousands of games (and more […]

So you took the plunge and bought a brand new iPhone on the Verizon network. Now it is time to figure out which amazing games to download first.

Since you’re new to Apple’s iOS operating system and the iTunes App Store, you may feel overwhelmed as there are tens of thousands of games (and more than 300,000 apps overall) you can install on your shiny new iDevice. How can you tell the titles that are really good from the ones that are an awful waste of money?

We have eight unique games representing eight different genres that we suggest you tap into right away. Before you go wandering the thick and confusing jungle that is the App Store looking for mobile games to play, do yourself a favor and download these titles first.

Word Games

Words with Friends Free (Free)

FarmVille maker Zynga’s mobile, online Scrabble-inspired word game has an absolutely huge community of players, which is why you should download the free, ad-supported version and join in. There’s also a paid version, but the description in the App Store suggests it’s about to go on sale, so start with the freebie. Words with Friends games are turn-based, like Scrabble, so you can take your turn and leave the game, coming back to it later; and you can play up to 20 games at a time, with friends or just other players who are part of the Words with Friends community.

But wait, it gets better — if there weren’t enough players for you to take on who own iPhones, Zynga is working on bringing Words with Friends to Google’s Android operating system, meaning you’ll be able to play against your friends who aren’t on the Apple bandwagon. You can also use a pass n’ play mode with people who are in the room with you, chat with the your friends and opponents, and share Words with Friends info using Facebook and Twitter. This is the ultimate social game on the iPhone.

Action

Osmos ($2.99)

Osmos signals the kind of cool thinking that comes from having technology like the iPhone at a developer’s disposal. The game puts you in control of a single-celled organism (presumably), with the goal (usually) of absorbing other organisms. It’s pretty simple: if a thing is smaller than you, you can touch it to absorb it and become bigger. If a thing is bigger than you, touching it will allow it to syphon off your mass to expand itself. So you’re spending all your time trying to maneuver your cell through different situations in order to become as big as possible or absorb certain other cells.

That premise creates a really interesting game that gives you a different spin on physics puzzlers, especially when you consider that to move your cell around, you expel little pieces of it in bubbles — so fighting your way around your little Petri dish is a trade-off between your size and position. Toss in the fact that you have to keep inertia in mind at all times to keep from crashing or getting absorbed, and there’s a lot to think about.

Dead Space ($6.99)

The best brand new game on the iPhone right now is this survival horror title, pulled from the same universe as its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 counterparts, Dead Space and Dead Space 2. Developer Iron Monkey worked closely with Visceral Games, the studio behind the console iterations of Dead Space, and came up with an iPhone game that’s about as close to a full-on console experience as you can get.

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And it pretty much nails horror — it’s filled with jump-out scares, creepy atmosphere, lots of gore and huge, mutant alien zombie monsters that just want to tear into you and turn you into one of them. Dead Space might not be a game for everyone, but it’s definitely one of the more impressive apps available on the iPhone. It offers great production values, an interesting story that plays prequel to Dead Space 2 on consoles, and adds to the overall fiction of the universe (with lots of monster-dismembering action.” If you like video games, Dead Space is in the roster of games that will make you happy you bought an iPhone.

Infinity Blade ($5.99)

Here’s a fact: Infinity Blade is the best-looking game on the iPhone, hands down. When you want to show off your shiny new piece of technology to friends, family and rivals, this is the game you’re going to want to fire up first. Using a combination of swipe controls and touchscreen buttons, Infinity Blade puts you in the armored boots of a lone warrior on a quest to destroy a super-powerful tyrant at the top of a tower, known as the God-King. Along the way, you’ll fight through several of the God-King’s minions with only your sword, your shield and your wits.

Fast reflexes will help you block, dodge and parry blows, and smart combat strategy will require you to take out your enemies with a combination of directional sword-strikes and opportunistic blows. Infinity Blade uses Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 — a video game engine that runs console and PC games, and is both popular and powerful — and is about as fun as it is gorgeous.

Puzzle

Cut the Rope ($0.99)

Casual puzzle games abound on the iPhone, but very few are as addictive, inventive or simple as Cut the Rope. Each level features Om Nom, a cute little green monster that basically begs you to feed him with his huge eyes. And feed him you will, if you can figure out how — there’s a piece of candy meant for Om Nom in each stage, but it’s attached to a rope and generally hanging out of reach. Your job, as the title suggests: cut that rope. Except you need to be smart about it, as cutting one rope can send the candy swinging off into oblivion, or falling shy of Om Nom’s open mouth, or any number of other issues.

It’s a physics puzzler that can get pretty challenging and has some cool ideas for how to keep your mind working, plus a great art style in general. Cut the Rope is that game you go to whenever you need to kill a few minutes — it’s very addictive and engaging, and publisher Chillingo likes to drop packs of free levels every so often to its customers, to boot. Six million downloads and counting is a pretty ringing endorsement.

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Arcade

Angry Birds ($0.99)

We can’t talk about iPhone games without bringing up the 60 million-plus powerhouse that is Angry Birds. A physics puzzler with a lot of personality, you use a slingshot to fling flightless birds at some relatively weak fortresses that house pigs. Pigs that must be destroyed. Part of Angry Birds’ relentless staying power is the fact that it’s packed full of levels for only a buck, with developer Rovio Mobile laying down new ones fairly often. The app just got updated with a new pack to go with its secret showing during the Super Bowl.

You’re getting a whole lot of physics puzzle bang for just that one buck, and Angry Birds has a tendency to pull you in and keep you hitting the “retry” button on its levels until you get them right.

Strategy

Plants vs. Zombies ($2.99)

The depth of strategy is pretty remarkable in PopCap’s tower strategy title that uses militant plants to defend your house against a horde of the undead. As the game progresses through wave after wave of increasingly tough-to-kill zombies, you’ll get access to more and more varying plants — some that shoot peas to knock off zombie heads, some that block zombie paths, some that tangle them in your pool and pull them to the bottom.

What you bring with you to each situation has to be carefully planned ahead of time, and once you get to each fight, you’ll use as much of your reflexes to manage your forces as you will your brain planning your next few moves. Plants vs. Zombies is great fun to look at, and challenging to play through. It’s a great way to kill a few minutes or a few hours on your phone, and it’s the kind of game that makes you feel a little smarter and more coordinated — rather than less — for having played it.

Music

Tap Tap Revenge 4 (Free, but with in-app purchases)

Disney Mobile has done a pretty spectacular job of bringing the rhythm game genre — the one that counts Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution among its members — to the iPhone. It makes sense, really: music plus touchscreen equals tapping to the beat, and that’s exactly what you do in Tap Tap Revenge 4. What’s remarkable isn’t the gameplay, because that’s pretty simple and also pretty standard. But Disney has procured tons of music licensed for the game, including acts such as Weezer, Lady GaGa, Nine Inch Nails and Bruno Mars, and makes all of it available for small fees through in-app purchases.

You can also snag a free song every week, which is a nice touch, and there are other free tracks included in the game’s catalogue that you can download and play at your leisure. But the freedom of choice and the huge amount of potential content, plus the intuitive and addictive nature of a tapping rhythm game, make Tap Tap Revenge a whole lot of fun and a definitive must-download game. Even if you never pay for a track, you’ll find lots to do and have a lot of fun with this one.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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