The best iPad games for earth, wind, fire and water

Aug 14, 2010

In part three of our three-part series chronicling the best games to play on the iPad (so far), we span the globe to chronicle apps that make the best use of earth, wind, fire and water. From I Dig It HD to Harbor Master HD, the apps understand the elements of the iPad and its […]

In part three of our three-part series chronicling the best games to play on the iPad (so far), we span the globe to chronicle apps that make the best use of earth, wind, fire and water. From I Dig It HD to Harbor Master HD, the apps understand the elements of the iPad and its 9.7-inch screen size.

Make sure to tap into other installments from this series, which detail classic titles well played on the iPad, as well as best strategy and tower defense games.

I Dig It HD ($9.99)

Calling all globe trotters with a penchant for mining for precious gems and items lost to history! I Dig It HD ($9.99) takes you to five unique locations in need of pillaging by your custom digging machine.

Keep your eye on fuel, temperature, damage, cargo space and oxygen as you tunnel through the earth Dig Dug-style, to snag rare artifacts and gems. Sell your diggings to get more fuel and shields, plus upgrade and repair your rig. Watch out for geo-thermal vents, gas pockets and worse! A treat for the eye and simple controls add up to a unique gaming experience that can only be had on your iPad.

Meteor Blitz HD ($4.99)

The age of dual-thumb shooters is upon us, let the iPad be praised. And no other top-down game can match the precision and sheer fun of Meteor Blitz HD ($4.99).  The concept is simple: pilot your small ship through wave after wave of asteroids and enemies, blasting away in all directions. Add a flame thrower, ice cannon and plasma gun to your arsenal as you progress, eventually strapping on the ever-popular gravity gun that will make mince meat out of anything crossing your path.

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Try arcade and survival modes, then compete to top the global leader boards. Now with autosave and instant resume (plus customizable controls coming soon), this is a must-have shooter for every iPad gamer.

AirAttack HD ($.99)

If the App Store had a dollar menu, this tasty little gem would be a must-nosh. I started playing video games at my local mall back in the day, pumping quarters into games like 1943. AirAttack HD ($.99) combines everything you like about this type of arcade shooter, and takes it to the next level on your iPad.

Rich graphics, and the best soundtrack of any arcade game in my library, combine together with super-simple controls to offer up an addictive “use your WWII-era plane to destroy all things Nazi in the air and ground” gaming experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Dodge your enemies and their bullets, and grab floating coins, stars and upgrades to “kit out” your arsenal. Don’t forget to click on ground targets to drop bombs, all while looking down on a top-to-bottom scrolling battlefield. It’s the best 99 cents you’ll spend in the App Store this week or this month.

Harbor Master HD (FREE; $1 per Add-On Map)

If you’re a fan of Flight Control HD or The Squadron, Harbor Master HD (free) will be a welcomed addition to your “line drawing” collection of games. In a nutshell, you’re a harbor master in control of a very busy shipping empire. It’s your job to draw lines in your iPad to safely guide incoming boats into their color-coded docks. Once they unload their cargo, you’ll need to trace a line for them to follow to safely exit the screen.

Sound simple? Sure it is, until you’re helping four, six, eight or even 10 boats simultaneously. The free app comes with a simple port that will keep you on your toes for weeks to come. When you’re ready for more, grab six additional maps for just 99 cents each. These add-ons feature unique geographical challenges along with pirate ships, cyclones and other obstacles that will challenge even the steadiest of nerves.

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With crystal-clear graphics, auto-save/resume, multi-touch support so you can play with others, and a bouncy soundtrack, Harbor Master HD will be a family favorite for months to come.

EXO-Planet Elite ($6.99)

When I first connected my iPad to the App Store, my very first app search targeted 3-D shooters. I was on the hunt for a familiar desktop gaming experience in the vein of Quake, Tribes or Unreal Tournament from the days of my (relative) youth. EXO-Planet Elite ($6.99) was my very first game purchase and after taking some time to learn the controls, I count it among my personal top-five iPad games.

Taking advantage of the iPad’s dual joystick on-screen control scheme, I was controlling my space warrior across various playfields using my left thumb, while clicking and shooting with my right. The graphics are solid, the soundtrack fits the bill and the outer-space backgrounds give the game an enjoyable feel. The key? Your grapple gun. You’ll use it to attach yourself to far-off parts of the level, then shoot at your enemies as you’re reeled in.

Engage in PVP with other iPad owners, but start with a few rounds of local target practice to earn Scrip points to “kit out” your character with better weaponry, armor and abilities. It’s a solid gaming title that’s worth mastering.

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Tim McLain

Tim McLain is a freelance writer and an online marketing manager, helping serious researchers and students find and make use of the best online content found on the deep Web. His passion for all things computers/tech started when he was a teenager, working with his twin brother to set up a C64 BBS in their bedroom.

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