Talking tech since 2003

Summer begins this week, and you know what that means – the days are at their longest, the heat at its most uncomfortable, and perhaps worst of all, boredom at its worst. Thankfully, in this age of technology and smartphones, there’s a solution to all of the above – smartphone games. That’s right, there’s nothing like picking up your phone and playing through a couple of rounds of your favorite smartphone game to really beat the heat. If you’ve got yourself an iPhone or other iOS device, you’re lucky enough to have the largest array of quality games this side of an honest to goodness console.

As an avid iPhone gamer, you’ll often see me sitting around, addictingly playing through one of these six great iOS games. They’re all great for short bursts of gaming that smartphones are perfect for while waiting around, and all of them are guaranteed to keep you coming back for more day after day.

1) Letterpress (free) – Of all the word games available on iOS, Letterpress might be the best. Thoughtfully designed and amazingly executed, Letterpress is the brainchild of Loren Brichter, developer of the original Twitter for iOS and Twitter for Mac clients. The goal of Letterpress is simple, but wholly addictive – you and one other player compete for domination over a board of 25 letters. The objective here is to make as many words as possible with the characters given. Every time you use a letter, it gets color coded and then “belongs” to you. The person who “owns” the most letters after the board has been cleared wins.

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2) Tiny Wings ($0.99) – In Tiny Wings, you control an adorable little bird whose only goal is to fly, slide, and jump through as many beautifully landscaped worlds as possible until the daylight runs out. The gameplay is simply here – hold your finger down on the screen to put your bird into a high speed dive bomb, and let go to let him spread his wings and fly. Doing so at the most opportune moments will award you with higher speeds and longer flights, while accidentally going into a dive bomb too early could smash your bird into a hill which slows him down significantly. There are also coins and speed boosts spread throughout the levels waiting to be collected, as well as an excellent two-player mode that allows you to race against a friend.

3) What’s the Phrase? ($2.99, limited free version) – What’s the Phrase is a newcomer to the world of Zynga games, but it’s also one of their most constantly enjoyable and addictive games yet. Obviously inspired by the likes of the hit television show Wheel of Fortune, What’s the Phrase? has players pick letters to help guess a phrase relevant to a chosen category. Before picking a letter, you spin a wheel which dictates how many points you gain – or, if you’re unlucky, how many you lose – for every correctly filled in letter. The first person to guess the entire phrase correctly wins all the points in that round’s pool of points. Fair warning, though – What’s the Phrase? does restrict play time based on the amount of tokens you have available. So if you only have 15 coins to spend in one day, and every game costs three coins, once you play five games you’ll either have to sit it out for the rest of the day or pay for more coins. An inconvenience for sure, but not one that stops one from fully enjoying this excellent game.

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4) Whale Trail (free) – Whale Trail is one of the most fun, most charming, most addictive iOS games available on the App Store today. You play as Willow the Whale, a magical flying whale. It’s essentially another race against the clock game where you’re trying to go as far as possible before the time runs out, but the unique gameplay elements and gorgeous art are what make this a top tier iOS game. Simply hold your finger down on the screen to ascend or do a little loop, and collect as many coins as possible to add time to the timer. Every level also has objects to avoid in the form of evil clouds, which are strategically placed to become more challenging the longer a round lasts. You can also collect floating stars spread across the levels – once you collect five stars, you gain the ability to destroy clouds and attract coins for one minute. Whale Trail offers a series of upgrades, achievements, and bonuses to work for to encourage further playing, and it works – I have been playing Whale Trail for over a year now and have yet to grow tired of this amazing game.

5) dots (free) – dots is one of the most unique and free games on iOS. Described as being “a game about connecting,” dots has a simple to understand concept – connect as many dots of the same color as possible, as fast as you can. Easy. The more dots you connect, the more points you get. To make things more interesting, dots also features three “super powers” – Time Stops, which stops the clock for five seconds, Shrinkers, which removes a troublesome dot of your choosing off the board, and Expanders, which removes all the dots of one color off the board. Super Powers are earned by game performance and achievements in the form of trophies encourage play through after play through.

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6) Candy Crush Saga (free) – If you haven’t heard of Candy Crush Saga by now, you might just be living under a rock. One of the most popular games on iOS not just of late but ever, Candy Crush Saga is your standard switch and match style block game that rewards points in exchange for matching up blocks of the same shapes and color. Candy Crush improves on this formulaic game by providing over 100 levels of increasing depth and complexity, online leaderboards, unlockable items and powerups, and synchronization with web-version available on Facebook.

Best of all, with Apple introducing first party support for iOS game controllers in iOS 7, these iOS games and future ones will soon be able to tap into hidden potential with a more console-like gaming experience than ever before available on the iPhone.


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