Take on your friends with these iPhone and Android multiplayer games

May 31, 2011

While smartphone games can entertain us when we have a few moments to ourselves, some of the best titles available for the iPhone and Android devices encourage us to be more social. Featuring Wi-Fi and 3G online support, there are several multiplayer games that allow players to face off against one another at virtually any time. […]

While smartphone games can entertain us when we have a few moments to ourselves, some of the best titles available for the iPhone and Android devices encourage us to be more social. Featuring Wi-Fi and 3G online support, there are several multiplayer games that allow players to face off against one another at virtually any time.

We scoured the app stores for titles that are better when played with friends (or strangers), and came up with a definitive list. So which multiplayer games are the best?

Super Stickman Golf (iPhone) $1.99

Most players will recognize the physics-based gameplay available in Super Stickman Golf. Each shot taken on Stickman’s side-scrolling courses is performed by choosing the power and angle of the shot. The holes aren’t easy, though. They’re wrought with hazards and pits, as well as floating platforms and other difficulties. The physics-based golf is fun on its own, but it gets a lot more interesting when you add in up to three players to take on in turn-based online or local play.

Words With Friends (iPhone, Android) Free/$2.99

If there’s a standout mobile multiplayer experience, it is this simple and fun version of Scrabble. Zynga’s Words With Friends has taken the classic board game’s premise and adapted it beautifully to online play. It’s turn-based, so every Words With Friends game moves at the pace of its players. You can put the game off as long as you need to before taking a turn, and you can also engage in 20 games at a time. Best of all, Words With Friends works regardless of platform: Android players can easily take on iPhone players.

Pocket Legends (iPhone, Android) Free

There are a few thousand players online already in Pocket Legends, a free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing game in the vein of World of Warcraft. The game’s best feature is the fact that it doesn’t cost anything to play, unlike other role-playing games both on smartphones and PCs. Developer Spacetime Studios also gives players a lot of content to work through as well, frequently updating the game with new weapons, quests and areas to explore. There’s a lot to do in Pocket Legends, and it works over both a Wi-Fi and a 3G Internet connection.

Infinity Blade (iPhone) $5.99

The recently added multiplayer mode in Infinity Blade brings the game’s tense one-on-one sword-fighting mayhem to the Internet. The new mode puts one player in control of the game’s protagonist warrior, and the other in the role of one of those monstrous Titans players battle in the game’s single-player campaign. It actually substantially changes the Infinity Blade dynamic without fundamentally altering the game, just by giving players control over the bad guys. When you play as a Titan, you control the speed of your attacks, making the game a lot more about confusing and tricking your opponent than about brute strength. Meanwhile, the heroes have their work cut out as well as they try to read the situation and respond accordingly. It’s a great mode that adds a lot of new life to Infinity Blade.

Archetype (iPhone) $0.99

If there’s a first-person shooter standard on the iPhone, Archetype is probably it. Foregoing a single-player game like one might find in Gameloft’s N.O.V.A. series (themselves strong FPS entries), Archetype is online-only, allowing 10 players to blast away at each other over either a Wi-Fi or a 3G connection in five-on-five-player action. The game features 13 different multiplayer maps and 20 levels, a mess of weapons to use, and full Game Center support for leaderboards and achievements. In short, Archetype offers a full-on FPS experience in the same realm that players would find on consoles or PCs.

Real Racing 2 (iPhone) $6.99

Beautiful graphics make Real Racing 2 a great game to play on one’s own, but the game also packs an involved, 16-racer online mode that lets players take their driving skills to the Internet to rocket past one another through the game’s 3D tracks. That’s some of the biggest multiplayer gaming on the iPhone, period, and Real Racing 2 also allows players to enter races of up to eight players supported over a local Wi-Fi connection. Real Racing 2 includes 30 cars to take onto its 15 tracks, and plenty of racing to do with lots of opponents against whom to challenge yourself.

Gun Bros (iPhone, Android) Free

Gun Bros takes the well-loved twin-stick shooter idea, a genre in which there are tons of games to be found on smartphones already, and tweaks it in one extremely smart way – it adds a second player to the mix. Two players grab various guns and start hammering away at anything that comes into their path in the game, trying to hold out as long as they can against wave after wave of enemies. Eventually, after getting beaten, players can unlock all kinds of new weapons and upgrades for their fighters, based on both currency they earn in-game and via in-app purchases. Gun Bros is simple and a lot of fun, and always best with a friend who has your back.

Homerun Battle 3D (iPhone, Android) $4.99

Join in an online home run derby in Homerun Battle 3D, a game in which you can play one-on-one battles of the bat with thousands of online opponents, using either a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. Each match you enter earns you points that are good to purchase new equipment, like better bats and other, more cosmetic features to help you define your batter as you travel around the Internet, taking on other players. New equipment upgrades your stats as you go, so it’s worth it to practice and do well, but at the core is tough and challenging battling gameplay that’s never easy to put down.

StarDunk Gold (iPhone) $1.99

In StarDunk, a new online competition starts around every two minutes. The battles are always the same: use your finger to define the angle and strength of your shot on the game’s 2D plane and try to sink as many shots as possible. There’s a lot of strategy involved, too, though. First off, if you’ve got the skills to make quality nothing-but-net shots over and over, you can rack up serious points with increasing point multipliers. But put shots into the backboard and light the four panels that make it up and you can grab a bonus, like a triple-ball, a bigger hoop or a multiplier on your shots. Continuing to rack up points earns you currency to spend on different balls with special abilities, and each match you play in puts you on the StarDunk leaderboard, so you can see exactly how you stack up.

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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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