While games may not be the largest percentage of apps in the App Store (non-games lead the way overwhelmingly), they are the most popular single category, with over 151,000 active games in the App Store as of this month, according to 148Apps.biz.
One could argue, and indeed I will, that games are the most transformative type of app in the App Store, bringing a quality of play to iOS devices previously impossible to achieve. As 148Apps staffers have been heard to proclaim, there are over 1.2 billion thumbs waiting to play games on these crafty little devices.
Of course, there have been landmark games since the App Store went live in 2008, titles that create, extend, and improve on the current state of the art. Here then, are the top 20 of those games, as chosen by your App Experts at 148Apps.
Doodle Jump – This one started the jumping game craze, inspiring a host of clones and imitators along the way.
Angry Birds – Need we say more? The grumpy avians have taken over the public consciousness.
Tiny Wings – Not just another bird game, Tiny Wings showed us how one mechanic, brilliantly executed, could take an unknown designer to untold heights.
Candy Crush Saga – Good heavens we still get a lot of invites for this casual, money-printing game.
Clash of Clans – Say what you will about free to play, but this game has gotten it right.
Tiny Tower – Nimblebit hit the jackpot here with a smart combination of tower building and free to play retro gaming.
Temple Run – If anyone deserved to have a huge hit, it’s the folks at Imangi Studios, who have been pushing the boundaries of quality gaming from the beginning. This one created the 3D endless runner genre at a breakneck speed!
Puzzles & Dragons – Another free to play darling, this one gets all the elements right to keep players entertained and paying.
Where’s My Water? – Disney’s breakout hit, with a new IP (intellectual property) and a fiendishly addictive mechanic.
Pocket God – 47 updates later, still going strong and keeping kids of all ages entertained and laughing.
Minecraft Pocket Edition – The surprise PC hit the iPhone like a ton of cube-shaped bricks, letting crafters and miners of all stripe build and explore on the go.
Words with Friends – Scrabble with people you know. What’s not to like? This one started the “with friends” genre with a bang.
Draw Something – Super successful, super quick, leading Zynga to buy the developer for a landmark price.
Infinity Blade – This game set the bar high for utter gorgeousness and a fighting mechanic that still sees itself in current games on the App Store, some two and a half years later.
Canabalt – Heard of the endless runner genre? Canabalt started it all with a one-touch game that exploded onto the scene in 2009 and has remained in the collective imagination ever since.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP – This one proves again and again that the indie spirit can be captured and distributed via mobile, with a game that may never have gotten noticed on the bigger consoles.
Galaxy on Fire 2 – This space exploration and dogfighting game set the standard for utter gorgeousness, as well as finding a way to build a space sim on a tiny mobile device.
Spaceteam – Don’t forget to flush the four-stroke plucker! Wait, what? Play this game with a few of your (drinking) friends, and you’ll see what multiplayer party games *should* be like.
Real Racing – Still the gold standard for racing games on a mobile platform, the original game hit the starting line in 2011, with sequels upping the ante on visuals, controls, and profitability.
Super Hexagon – If you hate yourself, play this brutally difficult yet strangely compelling arcade game and thank indie developer Terry Cavanaugh in the morning.