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148Apps Black Friday Guide

Posted by Campbell Bird on November 29th, 2019

Is it too early for Black Friday? Yes, absolutely. But does Apple agree? No, apparently not. Tons of games have already been discounted on the App Store, and we'd like to give you a definitive guide on the best deals to grab.

To be clear, we won't be posting EVERY game sale on this page. For a firehose of all deals on games regardless of quality, look elsewhere. What we're listing below is just the deals on games that you definitely should buy if you haven't already.


Xenowerk Tactics - $2.99

Click here to read the review


Kingdom Rush: Vengeance - $2.99

Click here to read the review


Space Marshals 2 - $1.99

Click here to read the review


Grimvalor - $ 1.99



Click here to read Pocket Gamer's Grimvalor review


Fighting Fantasy Legends

Click here to read the review


Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise

Click here to read the review


Transistor - $0.99

Click here to read Pocket Gamer's Transistor review


Sentinels of the Multiverse - $0.99

Click here to read the review

Apple Arcade: Ranked - Top 50 [Updated 11.25]

Posted by Campbell Bird on November 25th, 2019

In case you missed it, I am on a quest to rank every Apple Arcade game there is.

Patch Notes:

Patch notes have been removed and have been replaced with (NEW) designation for the games most recently added or updated on this list.

Games marked with an asterisk(*) are games that suffer in rank due to technical problems.

All current rankings are listed below. More titles will be added frequently until the list is complete.

Apple Arcade: Ranked - 51+ [Updated 11.25]

Posted by Campbell Bird on November 25th, 2019

This is Part 2 of our Apple Arcade Ranking list. To see part 1, go here.


51. Oceanhorn 2

Description:

The follow up to Oceanhorn, Oceanhorn 2 is an action adventure game that bears more than a little resemblance to The Legend of Zelda games. You play as a young adventurer with a sword who journeys into dungeons in order to solve puzzles, discover new items, and use those items to help you with the next dungeon.

Rank Explanation:

Oceanhorn 2 might as well be called The Legend of Zelda: Knockoff Edition. If you’re itching for a Zelda-like experience on iOS, this one fits the bill, but it’s not anywhere near as well designed as the real deal. Oceanhorn 2 also seems designed to take great screenshots, but has moments when in motion where it can look kinda janky. The game itself seems fine, but just feels derivative.


52. Pinball Wizard

Description:

You play pinball, but your ball is a wizard, and your table is a tower floor littered with enemies and loot. In Pinball Wizard, your goal is to get as high up a tower as possible without dying. All the while, you collect experience and money that you can spend on upgrades to your wizard between rounds so that you’ll stand a better chance at making it further up the tower on your next play session.

Rank Explanation:

The idea of Pinball Wizard is incredible, but I don’t really love the execution. The pinball physics here feel very weird. Your wizard hugs the wall in an odd way and everything feels slow and sluggish. Also, it’s only playable in landscape mode, which seems odd for a pinball game. It’s fun enough despite these minor gripes, but it’s hard not to feel like Pinball Wizard isn’t fully realizing its potential.


53. Rayman Mini

[img id="101607" alt=""]

Description:

Rayman Mini is an auto-runner much in the same vein as other Rayman entries on iOS. Rayman has been shrunk, and the only way to undo this spell is by running through levels full of huge bugs, jumping on giant leaves, mushrooms, and other flora to specified exits, apparently. As you work your way through these levels, you can gather collectibles that unlock new costumes for your limbless protagonist.

Rank Explanation:

There’s a whole lot of auto-runners on Apple Arcade, and Rayman Mini decides to be the one that stands out by using popular characters and being weirdly technical. Even in early levels, collecting every little item is a challenge that requires a high degree of level memorization and sharp reflexes. Part of this is by design. Rayman Mini wants you retrying levels until you’ve perfected runs through them. The only problem is that I find it overly difficult to navigate levels due to Rayman Mini’s controls, which feel weirdly imprecise and slow given the demands of the game.


54. Skate City

Description:

Skate your way through three different cities, whether just to find perfect lines or complete specific challenges. Skate City is kind of a 2D take on the Skate series, where you aren’t doing crazy trick combos or finding collectibles. Instead, the focus is on performing specific tricks and riding smoothly.

Rank Explanation:

Overall I’m not super impressed with Skate City. The controls are not as intuitive as they look. It’s visuals also look kind of clunky. This, plus the fact that Skate City has very little personality to speak of, makes it feel pretty forgettable.


55. Hogwash

[img id="101667" alt=""]

Description:

Three little piggies are dead set on muddying up a farm, but they have to be smart to make sure they aren’t caught by a farm hand that’s trying to keep the place clean. This is the setup for Hogwash, an asymmetrical multiplayer game where teams of three players try to outsmart one player who is trying to chase down and hogtie all three pesky pigs.

Rank Explanation:

Hogwash is like a family-friendly version of Dead by Daylight, and it’s a decent one of those. Without a horror element though, Hogwash doesn’t feel particularly intense, and therefore a little less rewarding than the game it draws inspiration from. To it’s credit, it seems like there is a decent online community playing Hogwash, but I don’t see a whole lot of promise in its mechanics to make me want to keep playing it.


56. tint.

Description:

tint. is a puzzle game about mixing watercolor paints on a virtual notebook. You paint lines from pools of color in an effort to activate certain colored nodes. The trick is that these nodes might be different colors than your pools, or they might be surrounded by lines of other colors. To circumvent this, you have to be creative in how you have your colors intersect to create new colors while also leaving space for you to activate all notes on a given page.

Rank Explanation:

tint. has a lot of neat ideas, but there are a few things about it that rub me the wrong way. There are arbitrary rules about how many times your paints can be mixed and how to draw your paint lines that make the game feel less like a playful puzzle game and more like a chore. The end result of each puzzle never really ends up looks too artistic either, which feels odd against a backdrop that is so clearly in love with its art-based premise.


57. Stellar Commanders

Description:

A portrait-mode real-time strategy about planetary annihilation, Stellar Commanders pits two players against each other in a plodding race to see who can control the most territories before destroying the environment. Combat itself operates a lot like Clash Royale’s Elixr-based system, but involves a lot more management of node control, and subverting your opponent’s expectations.

Rank Explanation:

The store page for Stellar Commanders looks rad as hell. There’s helicopers, rockets, and tanks deploying simultaneously all over the planet. Too bad this isn’t really how the game plays, or—if it is—it’s not how things start. Matches in Stellar Commanders move at an odd, lumbering pace, where it never really feels like you’re particularly productive. You can only really do single actions at a time and spend a lot of time just waiting to see what your enemy does to see if you can counter it. To be clear, this can deliver satisfying moments from time to time, but it’s not enough to make it something you’ll want to return to regularly.


58. Fledgling Heroes*

Description:

Fledging Heroes is an auto-runner where you pilot various birds through different environments. In controlling birds, tapping in this game causes your bird to flap, and—depending on what kind of bird you happen to be controlling—said flap may behave differently. Some levels ask you to complete certain challenges in order to gather feathers (which then unlock new areas), while others are time trials of sorts that grant similar rewards. There’s also endless modes, boss stages, and even a level editor.

Rank Explanation:

If you’re going to release a runner on mobile in 2019, it better be something incredible. This is a genre that’s been done to death on mobile, so it’s hard for me to muster excitement for these games unless there’s some really creative twist involved. Unfortunately, Fledgling Heroes does very little change things up. The one edge it presents is the ability to create your own levels, but my experience in level creation was marred with bugs.


59.Rosie’s Reality

[img id="101701" alt=""]

Description:

Rosie’s Reality is a puzzle game where you need to build pathways for a robot to reach an exit. You can’t just build any old pathway, though. You only get a specific set of special tiles to build your paths, and you need to use these to avoid enemy robots, jump over obstacles, and take advantage of your surroundings to reach your goal.

Rank Explanation:

There are a lot of neat things about Rosie’s Reality, with the blend of AI programming with traversal puzzling being chief among them. Unfortunately though, Rosie’s Reality is obsessed with its own animations, and it makes for a game that moves at a frustratingly slow pace. If this game got updated to make it a little more responsive to player input and less focused on drawing attention to every little movement on screen, Rosie’s Reality could shoot up these charts. Until then, it’ll hang out right here.

Build Your Own Apple Arcade, For $400

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 29th, 2019

Apple Arcade has been out for a little over a month, and I’m not entirely thrilled with it. It’s definitely an interesting idea, but it leaves a lot to be desired, especially in fulfilling its commitment to letting folks “play anywhere.” Still, at $4.99 a month, it seems like a very reasonable value proposition that is getting better and better as new games get added to the service.

The greatest strength of Apple Arcade is definitely the variety of games given the price. I am now more convinced of that than ever because I went ahead and built out a list of games you could add to your iOS library to mimic the offerings of the service, and it’s not exactly cheap. If you wanted to capture the breadth and depth of offerings that Apple Arcade currently offers users, it would cost you about $400 ($384 more precisely) in total.

The full list of these games is below. Each game is grouped by genre and includes a link to their review (if possible) and store page.

The best iOS games to get you in the Halloween spirit

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 1st, 2019

We’re getting closer and closer to Halloween every day, which means everyone’s gearing up to watch their favorite horror movies, make weekend trips out to pumpkin patches, and do all kinds of other, fun seasonal stuff before this month ends and everyone looks toward Thanksgiving.

If you’re in the midst of all your Halloween activities and you want to take a break with some games that match the spirit, we’ve got good news for you. There’s a bunch of great games on the App Store that can get you in the mood for Halloween, and we’ve compiled a list of the best ones in a handy little list. We've also added a "spookiness rating" (1=not scary, 5=scariest) to each one so you can find the right game for you. Check out the picks below:

Gears POP! guide - Other games that won't make you wish you had Rustlung

Posted by Campbell Bird on August 27th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Another big-name franchise has come to mobile, and it’s (unsurprisingly) pretty bad. Gears POP! follows in the footsteps of Dr. Mario World and The Elder Scrolls: Blades. All are high-profile mobile releases and all actively engender ill will toward mobile gaming by being somewhat boring knock offs of predatory free-to-play games.

Hopefully, with the launch of Apple Arcade, this will be less of a problem. In the meantime though, there are some games out on mobile that might give you what you want from Gears POP! without subjecting you to its clunky gameplay or intensely haunting Funko Pop aesthetics. See below:

Dr. Mario World guide - Other games that will deliver just what the doctor ordered

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 11th, 2019

We now live in a post-Dr. Mario World world, and I gotta say, things don’t feel too different. Nintendo continues to squirt out bad games on phones, causing all but the most stalwart fans of mobile games to question why they even bother downloading games from the App Store.

Things don’t have to be this way though! Nintendo could make a good phone puzzler if they wanted to. To prove it, here’s a list of great mobile puzzlers that can provide in all the ways that Dr. Mario World doesn’t.

Auto Chess - What is it and which one should you play?

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 25th, 2019

There has been an auto chess explosion on the App Store. Within just a few weeks, three games in this new genre have popped up and are all competing for your attention.

If you’re not sure what auto chess is, welcome to the club. This new genre was born out of a mod for Dota 2, which is a game based on a mod for Warcraft 3. After taking off on PC and having over 300,000 concurrent players daily, it was only natural for it to make the jump to mobile in a big way.

This has a lot to do with the gameplay of auto chess games. If I had to describe it, I’d say auto chess is like a slowed down version of Clash Royale, but with an in-game store that gives you random units to buy instead of using a deck of your own creation. There’s a bit more to it than that, but it’s focus on management and paced-out auto combat makes it relatively well-suited for touchscreens.

I’m sure it’s a kind of game that isn’t for everyone, but if you want to try auto chess out, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. So with that, I decided to check out the current offerings of auto chess on mobile to let you know which one you should be playing:

The best mobile games to celebrate Star Wars Day

Posted by Campbell Bird on May 3rd, 2019

Star Wars Day is coming, and if you want to celebrate appropriately, don’t shout or tweet “May the fourth be with you.” Play some Star Wars games instead. Trust me, everyone will be better served this way.

If you prefer your Star Wars gaming on the go, unfortunately, the pool of “actually good” Star Wars games is pretty slim. But, with this list of the best Star Wars games on the App Store, you can’t go wrong. Check out our picks below:

The best driving games on iOS

Posted by Campbell Bird on April 10th, 2019

With the recent release of Rush Rally 3, it's easy to be excited about mobile driving games. Figuring out what games in this genre are worth picking up, on the other hand, is a whole other story.

Forget things like the Asphalt series, CSR Racing 2, or Need for Speed No Limits. Those games all may promise fast and fun cars, but they are all compromised experiences at best, not to mention the fact that they're all free-to-play. Check out these picks for the best premium driving experiences available on the App Store.


Absolute Drift - download for iOS


Absolute Drift feels positively incredible when you finally learn to coast around a corner in a perfect arc, but doing this takes quite a bit of practice and feels nigh impossible without a controller. If you happen to have an MFi controller handy and a bit of patience though, it can be a really rewarding experience that feels completely unlike any other driving game on the App Store.”


Read the full review

The Elder Scrolls: Blades guide - How to get what you want out of it without playing it

Posted by Campbell Bird on April 1st, 2019

Were you disappointed by The Elder Scrolls: Blades? You're not alone. It's a bad game that gives off one of the worst first impressions I've ever seen.

If Blades was your first foray into mobile games in a while though, I feel for you. Why? Because Blades is a poor representation of what mobile gaming can be. It plays into the platforms worst tendencies, but there are lots of mobile games out there that don't do this and are better for it.

In fact, there are quite a few games available right now on the App Store that can give you exactly what you might have wanted from Blades but didn't get. Don't believe me? I made a whole list to prove it. See below:

The best shooters on iOS

Posted by Campbell Bird on March 19th, 2019

In case you missed it yesterday, Tencent and Activision announced they are putting out a new Call of Duty game for mobile. While details are pretty scant, they did put out a trailer (see above) and have a page where you can pre-register for the game, which might give you in-game rewards when the game actually launches.

Based on what's shown in the trailer, it looks to be a no-nonsense attempt to shoehorn every facet of mainline CoD games into a mobile package, which could be good. Though personally, I have my doubts. There are already precious few first-person shooters on mobile that are any good at all. Many of the best ones, like Call of Duty: Strike Force, have disappeared off the App Store completely. Meanwhile, things like Modern Combat 5 persist, which is a prime example of how to faithfully recreate the feeling of a big budget shooter on mobile while also leaning heavily into every worst tendency of free-to-play mobile design.

In light of all this news and speculation, I decided to dig back into our archives here and pull up a list of the best shooters on mobile. Many of these are not first-person shooters, mind you (as most of the good ones of those are gone), but they can still scratch your shooter fix while we all wait and see if Call of Duty Mobile is any good or not.


The Bug Butcher - download for iOS

Most Anticipated Games 2019

Posted by Campbell Bird on January 8th, 2019

All told, I think 2018 was an ok year for mobile games. There were some truly great titles, but there wasn't any sort of deluge of amazing games as there have been in the past.

2019, however, is looking to be quite a stunner for mobile. There's a lot of releases just over the horizon that I really can't wait to get my hands on. See some of my top picks of most anticipated games below:

Space Haven

Space Haven was on my most anticipated games list last year, but I knew it was a bit of a stretch. There was no promised release date for 2018, and the game looks like an ambitious combination of Dwarf Fortress and FTL. Here's to hoping this game can come out this year, and here's to hoping it's the less-combat-forward version of Star Command that I'm hoping it will be.

Games to play while you’re home for the holidays

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 21st, 2018

The holidays are about being with family, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play games while you’re home with them. Mobile games are the perfect things to take with you as you travel to wherever you’re going, as they’re experiences you can always have with you and bust out at a moment’s notice.

In honor of the upcoming break, I’ve put together a list of the top four games I plan on bringing with me on my travels. All of these picks have their particular use cases, but all can be played in just about any situation, even if you are going somewhere that doesn’t have a good data or wifi connection.


Out of the Loop

Out of the Loop is a great little party game for 3-9 players with a really simple concept. Everyone playing is clued into a particular keyword based on a category (e.g. animal, household item, etc.), but one player is left quite literally out of the loop. Then, players are prompted to ask each other specific questions and the person who doesn’t know what the word is has to hope they aren’t found out.

This game is a great pick for holiday gaming if you want to get your whole family involved. The instructions for every step of the game are clearly written out on every screen, and the concept is so simple that everyone immediately gets how to play.

Here are the top five iPhone games without IAPs

Posted by Elizabeth Eagen-Jones on November 21st, 2018

It can seem like most phone games now have in-app purchases of some kind, whether it's a small fee to remove ads from the game or buy a few gems, up to luxurious and expensive bundles that will ensure you have every piece of top-tier equipment in the game. It's just the way of things now. That doesn't mean that it's your only choice though, which is why we've written this list of our top 5 favorite iPhone games that don't have IAPs.

Tired of seeing those "limited time offer" windows popping up during your gameplay, sick of being asked whether you want to watch a video to get some more gems? Yeah, we know how that feels. Sometimes you just want to sit down with a game and play it, and these 5 let you do exactly that.

Click here to check out all of the other awesome lists we've been writing lately, there's some real good ones there. And if you think we've missed anything out here, feel free to let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.