The 50 Best IPhone And IPad Games Of 2013

There was a great comment on the 50 Best Android Games article earlier this week, in response to carping about smartphones and tablets still not being proper games devices.

“I have a Windows laptop, an Xbox One, an iPad and an Android phone. I like playing games on all of these, because I’m a gamer, not a snob,” wrote @cypherspace. Yes.

One exciting thing about mobile gaming in 2013 was the diverse fare on offer, whether you were a veteran gamer or a newcomer surging through Candy Crush Saga levels on the train home from work.

There was something for everyone: even snobs, if they’d given it a chance.

Below is a very subjective roundup of 50 of the best iOS games from 2013, and while there is plenty of crossover with the Android feature, there are a fair few exclusives too.

One important note: the two biggest iOS hits of 2013 — Candy Crush and Minecraft — aren’t included because they came out in 2012 and 2011 respectively.

Cross at your favourite game being omitted? Make a case for it in the comments section, so people happening on this article in the days and weeks ahead can hear about it. Here’s the initial 50 to start that debate.


Angry Birds Star Wars II

This was the second Angry Birds game to be set in the Star Wars universe, with characters turned into birds and pigs, and 120 levels to fling them through. This time round, you could play as both sides, and there’s a range of Telepods toys that interact with the game too, Skylanders-style.
iPhone / iPad


Justifiably recognised by Apple in its Best of 2013 awards, Badland is the perfect game to get stuck into over Christmas: a platform-adventure set in an eerie forest, with beautiful visuals, slick physics and plenty of exploration. There was real imagination at work here, and iOS gamers responded.
iPhone / iPad

Call of Duty Strike Team

Activision’s latest Call of Duty game was made for mobile devices from the ground up. Some elements were familiar — ie all the shooting — but new twists included the ability to swap between first-person action and a more tactical third-person view to plot your squad’s tactics.
iPhone / iPad

Clumsy Ninja

Clumsy Ninja was first shown off at Apple’s iPhone 5 launch in 2012, but took a while to reach the App Store. It was worth the wait though: it sees you taking ownership of a ninja and training him up with a series of activities: a virtual pet game, almost, but with startlingly-good character animation. Utterly charming.
iPhone / iPad

Despicable Me: Minion Rush

This was publisher Gameloft’s official game for the Despicable Me movies, putting you in the shoes of a scampering minion for this Temple Rush-style endless runner. Leaping, sliding and dodging obstacles while earning or buying costumes and power-ups proved hugely popular among children and adults alike.
iPhone / iPad

Fish Out of Water!

This game from Halfbrick Studios — the developer behind Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride — was an addictive treat this year. You skim colourful fish across the ocean, get rated by crabs, and unlock gems to build power-ups. Which may sound strange, but it plays marvellously.
iPhone / iPad

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Just in time for Christmas came this iOS version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, originally released in 2004 for consoles. It’s nostalgia, yes, but the game still packs a mighty punch with its sandbox gameplay. It plays well with Bluetooth controllers too.
iPhone / iPad

Impossible Road

Yes, modern smartphones and tablets can deliver graphical bells and whistles by the ton. But it’s often the minimalist visuals that pack the greatest punch. Impossible Road was another example: a stylish ball-rolling racer that encourages you to bend the rules.
iPhone / iPad

Infinity Blade III

iOS’ epic trilogy reached its conclusion this year, with more eye-popping scenery, more characters (two) and many more enormous monsters to stick a sword through. There was also the usual levelling up, and “massively social” clashmob challenges to co-operate with players around the world.
iPhone / iPad

Limbo Game

Platformer Limbo was one of the creepiest, most atmospheric games currently available on any platform this year, let alone mobile. With stylish monochrome graphics and frequently fiendish puzzles, it’s a rewarding and original adventure.
iPhone / iPad

Nimble Quest

Having made its name with Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes, developer Nimblebit turned to the action genre, blending Snake gameplay with RPG-style characters and upgrades. You swiped your party of heroes to guide them through levels of increasing difficulty. It’s genuinely addictive.
iPhone / iPad

Rayman Fiesta Run

Rayman often gets underrated in the history of great game characters, but his mobile games have been top-notch in recent times. This was the latest one: a colourful platformer with more than 75 levels to scoot through, and bags of charm.
iPhone / iPad


Out in time for Christmas, Republique justified its pre-launch hype: a stealth-action adventure with startling graphics, properly challenging puzzles, and a storyline that draws you in. Calling it the Metal Gear Solid of iOS sounds like hyperbole, but the comparison wasn’t ridiculous.
iPhone / iPad

Ridiculous Fishing

Ridiculous Fishing IS ridiculous: you lower your bait down as far as possible while avoiding a variety of creatures, then haul it back up again catching as many as possible along the way, hurl them into the air, and blast them to bits with a shotgun. Bad in real life, but fun virtually.
iPhone / iPad

Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies

This second dogfighting game from industry veteran Sid Meier saw you patrolling the Pacific, re-enacting famous World War II battles. The basic action across 180 missions was really fun, but there’s some extra strategy in upgrading your pilots with new skills as you go. Multiplayer was the icing on the cake.
iPhone / iPad

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

BioWare’s game was originally released in 2003 and still one of the best Star Wars games ever. It’s an RPG where you get to learn to use the Force, wander through a succession of famous Star Wars scenes, and can even turn to the dark side. Engrossing and epic in scope.
iPhone / iPad

Temple Run 2

Temple Run was one of the biggest “endless runner” games on mobile devices, and the sequel did a good job of bumping up the graphics and adding more depth to the gameplay. At its core, you’re still swiping to jump, slide and turn your way through paths to escape an angry giant monkey.
iPhone / iPad

Tiny Games

Tiny Games is brilliant: an app that asks you where you are and how many people you’re with before suggesting micro-games to play in the real world, using the objects at hand. There are hundreds to discover, and it’s an ideal way to avoid anti-social mobile use when out with friends.
iPhone / iPad

The Wolf Among Us

Just ahead of releasing its Walking Dead sequel (see below) developer Telltale Games surprised us with this: based on the Fables graphic novels, you play Bigby, the Big Bad Wolf of fairytale legend reinvented as a sheriff. Even a little way in, A well-crafted take on an already-characterful series.
iPhone / iPad

The Drowning

The Drowning tried to rethink the way first-person shooter controls work on a touchscreen. In a nutshell, you tap on the screen to walk to a specific point, swipe to look around, and tap two fingers to shoot — the bullets fire in the middle of them. It works well: a breath of fresh air for the genre.
iPhone / iPad

Walking Dead: The Game – Season 2

Developer Telltale Games’ first Walking Dead game was a justified hit, packed with atmosphere (and zombies). This follow-up was thus hotly anticipated, and turned out to be well worth the wait: atmospheric action and one of the relatively rare iOS games this year with wake-up-at-night scariness.
iPhone / iPad

Tiny Thief

Tiny Thief was a release from Rovio Stars, the new publishing business that’s part of Angry Birds-maker Rovio. Inspired by classic point’n’click adventure games, it sees the titular hero exploring six quests, with some delightful puzzles and surprises in store.
iPhone / iPad


Blip Blup

Blip Blup was a hypnotically-addictive puzzle game from UK studio ustwo, which sees you tapping to fill a screen-full of tiles with colour. The complication being walls and obstacles that get in the way of your colour-pulse’s path. More than 120 levels to work through provided plenty of challenge.
iPhone / iPad

Cut the Rope 2

There have been a succession of Cut the Rope games in the last few years, but this was the first proper sequel: 120 levels of rope-slashing puzzle action, as you try to guide sweets into cute monster Om Nom’s mouth. This time round, there were also new gameplay elements — “nommies” — to take things forward.
iPhone / iPad

Doctor Who: Legacy

The latest Doctor Who game was instantly familiar to anyone who’s played Puzzle & Dragons — one of the few mobile games to be making as much money as Candy Crush Saga. It sees you swapping colourful orbs around to attack monsters while building a team of the Doctor and his companions.
iPhone / iPad

Dots: A Game About Connecting

Dots was the most addictive iOS game this year, thriving on the simplicity of connecting same-coloured dots on a grid in 60-second rounds. Twitter and Facebook are plumbed in to compare your scores to friends, and there is also an untimed mode for practice.
iPhone / iPad

Juice Cubes

Essentially Candy Crush Saga with square-shaped fruit rather than sweets, but it’s very well done. Published by Rovio, it features hundreds of levels of fruit-matching puzzling, with combos, Facebook integration and in-app purchases used to buy power-ups when it gets too tough.
iPhone / iPad

Papa Sangre II

The first Papa Sangre was a real treat: an eerie audio-only adventure game voiced by the (then not-so-well-known) actor Benedict Cumberbatch. For the sequel, developer Somethin’ Else roped in Sean Bean for narration duties, and the gameplay was as creepy as ever as you explored a world conjured up by your own imagination.
iPhone / iPad

The Room Two

The original The Room was a huge hit on iPad, selling more than 1m copies by the start of this year — hugely impressive for a paid game given current App Store trends. This follow-up is well worth tearing a few follicles out over: physics-based puzzles in a wonderfully-realised 3D environment.


Asphalt 8: Airborne

Gameloft’s street racing games were popular on mobile phones long before the App Store even existed. The eighth incarnation offered more cars — 47 in total — nine locations to race them in, and a new emphasis on ramps, rolls and stunts (hence the “Airborne” aspect) and online multiplayer races for up to eight players at once.
iPhone / iPad

Angry Birds Go!

The latest Angry Birds game was controversial for its enthusiastic adoption of pretty much every free-to-play gaming mechanic going, but underneath that is a genuinely impressive karting game with smooth handling, well-crafted tracks and familiarly-fun characters.
iPhone / iPad


Even FIFA went free-to-play this year with in-app purchases to unlock all the single-player modes, and for packs of players in the Ultimate Team mode. Otherwise, it was business as usual: slick action, thousands of licensed players, and inventive touchscreen controls.
iPhone / iPad

Flick Kick Football Legends

The original Flick Kick Football was fantastic, but returned this year as a freemium game with a retro look, and an emphasis on team-building as well as goal scoring. The gameplay was richer too: besides pinging shots you also have to master tackling, intercepting and passing.
iPhone / iPad

Fluid Football Versus

Another polished football game, with more of a focus on multiplayer matches as well as a single-player mode. As in its predecessor, it sees you trying to score goals by drawing lines for your players’ runs, then (hopefully) flicking the ball into the net. A real tactical challenge.
iPhone / iPad

Football Manager Handheld 2014

The latest mobile version of the world’s best football management franchise adds more depth, a redesigned user interface, the ability to create your own club (yes, with you as the star striker if you’re in that frame of mind), and the ability to manage in more than one country. Engrossing.
iPhone / iPad

Real Racing 3

Another game whose switch to freemium was controversial, but after some tweaks to its timers, Real Racing 3 really impressed. Dozens of cars, hundreds of events and genuinely console-quality graphics, plus clever asynchronous multiplayer races to compete against offline friends.
iPhone / iPad


Adventure Town

Supersolid had a big free-to-play hit with Super Penguins, with Adventure Town the follow-up. Familiar elements — build a town, harvest crops, compare with friends etc — have some neat twists and lots of gameplay polish. A cut above the FarmVille-style herd.
iPhone / iPad

Band Stars

A game about forming your own band, training them up and aiming for the charts, mastering different genres and lyrical subject matter along the way. It’s got similar addictive qualities to the games of Japanese developer Kairosoft — Game Dev Story being the obvious comparison.
iPhone / iPad


The most thought-provoking iOS game of 2013 by some distance, Blackbar takes censorship as its main theme: a collection of text-based puzzles with the titular black redaction bars providing the challenge. Its storyline and themes stayed with me for weeks after playing it.
iPhone / iPad

Device 6

Year Walk and this game made Simogo one of the most talented and intriguing iOS developers in 2013. Device 6 is part book and part game: an inventive example of interactive narrative deservedly singled out by a number of critics in their end-of-year best games charts across all platforms, not just mobile.
iPhone / iPad

Frozen Synapse

If you like a real challenge with your mobile games, then Frozen Synapse was a fiver well spent this year. It’s a turn-based strategy game originally released for computers, as you guide your squad through a succession of levels. 55 missions to play by yourself plus five multiplayer modes.

Galaxy on Fire – Alliances

As epic space adventures go, the Galaxy on Fire series is in the same space sector as Wing Commander and Elite. Tough company, but it doesn’t shrink in the comparison. This new game was set in the Galaxy on Fire universe, but focused more on colonising planets and interacting with other human players.
iPhone / iPad

Plants vs Zombies 2

Another game switching to freemium, but Plants vs Zombies 2 just about survived the transition: a strategic defence game where you fend off zombie hordes by placing plants. It was also an example of a game that got more features over time through updates, keeping fans playing.
iPhone / iPad


QuizUp aimed to be “the largest real-time trivia game ever” with 150,000 questions in a host of categories, and global high-score tables to show exactly how your general knowledge skills compare to the rest of the world. Its strong community angle helped it spread rapidly after its release.


An addictive, accessible game that offers a sci-fi twist on the real-time strategy genre. The emphasis is on building a space-base through Tetris-like block-placement, while fending off waves of enemies. It was simple in all the best ways, and well worth the purchase price.
iPhone / iPad

Samurai Siege

Another big free-to-play success story on iOS (and Android) this year was Samurai Siege, as you built a thriving village and constructed an army capable of fending off other players. The samurai and ninja characters put a neat spin on the real-time social strategy genre, too.
iPhone / iPad

Star Wars: Tiny Death Star

This game was based on the equally-marvellous Tiny Tower, where you had to build a tower level-by-level, populating it with “bitizens” to work, play and rest. In this officially-licensed Star Wars version, the tower is a Death Star, and the bitizens are characters from the films. Very moreish.
iPhone / iPad

Warhammer Quest

The first official iOS game based on Games Workshop’s famous Warhammer world and roleplaying games. This brought classic tabletop Warhammer to iOS devices, as you take a party of heroes into sundry dungeons for battling, looting and levelling up. Thoughtful use of downloadable content provided depth too.
iPhone / iPad

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Another classic hardcore game, this: a conversion of the much-loved PC and console game: a strategy epic where you build a base, research new technology and send your troops out into battle. It launched with a premium (for iOS) price, but it was notable that nobody seemed to be complaining about its value for money.
iPhone / iPad

Year Walk

One of the standout iOS games in recent memory. Based on Swedish mythology, it’s a first-person adventure set in a wintry landscape, in which you have to wander in search of a glimpse of your future. There are puzzles, characterful graphics and a creepily atmospheric soundtrack.
iPhone / iPad

The 50 best apps of 2013

This article originally appeared on

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