When the iPad was first released, the largest category of applications initially available for the device was games. The number of apps in this category has continued to grow in the few months that the iPad has been out. As it does, we're running into the same problem we face with iPhone apps; how do we find the real gems among the pages and pages of iPad games listed in the App Store? This article takes a look at some of the most addictive and graphically appealing games currently available for the iPad.
The best is yet to come!
These games represent some of the most addictive and graphically appealing titles currently available for the iPad. If you're looking for a game to keep you glued to your iPad and entertained for hours on end, one or more of these should satisfy you. But given the fact that they represent what talented developers have created in the first few months of the iPad's existence, it's probably safe to say that the best is yet to come.
Doodleblast HD turns a simple shooter game with power-ups into a multi-tapping funfest. The hand-drawn graphic sketches give the game its warm personality. The well-done audio extends this, beginning with the endearing, "Hi!" that your tank driver says as he secures himself into his tank and prepares for a barrage of enemy fire. Once the game kicks into high gear, the number of moving elements and particles on screen is stunning. With all the on-screen activity, the game does pose a bit of a challenge. New players usually don't get very far into the game on their first series of attempts. However, Doodleblast HD is highly addictive, drawing players in for "just one more game." When I show it off to friends, family, and co-workers, it elicits more positive comments ("Wow, that's cool," etc.) than any other game featured in this article.
FieldRunners for iPad is a tower defense-type game with graphics that reminds me of the StarCraft series. The game uses the standard tower defense formula, placing defensive weaponry in the paths of oncoming attackers attempting to reach their target. In the case of FieldRunners, the target is an exit on the right side of the screen. The number of different weapon and enemy types is plentiful—more so than in other tower defense games. The graphics are colorful and vibrant, especially during particularly intense waves of attack. The hook that keeps players engaged is that, unlike many other tower defense clones, the waves of attackers go straight from entry to exit. It's up to the player to redirect the attackers by placing defensive weapons in their path. Flying enemy craft can bypass ground-based paths, adding challenge to the game. All of these aspects collectively make FieldRunners a fresh approach to a winning game formula.
FieldRunners for iPad
- $7.99; app2.me/2451;
- Subatomic Studios; http://fieldrunners.com/
I became a fan of Mahjong when it was first released for the Apple Macintosh back in the 80's. In an effort to spice up this solid yet aging formula, G5 Entertainment has wrapped a progressively challenging set of tile patterns in an odd story presented in comic book panel format. As matches are discovered, beads are collected that can be used to rearrange tiles when no more matches remain. If you undo a move, the game provides you with hints.
Tile sets have colorful themes, some of which are recognizable (Japanese warlords), but others are entirely unique (and slightly confusing). While other Mahjong games are available for the iPad, the combination of story and the ability to earn artifacts by clearing boards gives players incentive to tackle the harder stacks. Matching the graphics are sound effects with crisp presentation and occasionally unique choices of audio cues. Young and old will be mesmerized by the game and be compelled to play it to its conclusion.
Mahjong Artifacts: Chapter 2 HD
This game challenges you to parachute into passing boats while avoiding helicopters, UFOs, etc. on the way down. If you miss the boat, you're lunchmeat for a shark. Parachute Panic HD is also available for the iPhone but looks and plays better on the iPad. As you progress through the levels, the speed and quantity of the boats and obstacles increases, filling the game with frenzied fun. Like Doodleblast HD, Parachute Panic employs a pencil-sketch graphic style, making the game appear as if a real paper notebook filled with playful sketches has come to life. Finally, the animation and sound effects in Parachute Panic HD are identical to the original iPhone version. However, the higher pixel count and larger size of the iPad's display really improves the interactive experience and makes the game a wonderful way to pass the time.
Parachute Panic HD
- $1.99; app2.me/2453
- FDG Entertainment GmbH & Co KG; http://bit.ly/qwcdb
Having enjoyed huge success with Plants vs. Zombies on the iPhone, PopCap Games ported the title to the iPad. The game pits players against an increasing horde of comical undead. These unrelenting beasts are deterred by your ingenuity in using plants and lawn implements to mow down or gobble up enemies trying to infiltrate your home sweet home. Progressive levels add more ingenious defenses and more ravenous and nimble enemies. Only clever placement of limited resources, coupled with a bit of luck, will help you survive the onslaught.
The graphics have been optimized for the iPad's higher-resolution screen, but gameplay is pretty much the same as the iPhone version. Players who already purchased the iPhone version may be disappointed to find little changed for this considerably higher-priced edition. However, if you haven't yet experienced this awesome game, Plants vs. Zombies is worth the price.
Plants vs. Zombies HD
- $9.99; app2.me/2419;
- PopCap Games;
Real-world physics, responsive flipper action, well-positioned and dramatic close-ups, and authentic sounds make this the premier, must-have iPad pinball game. It even has a stereoscopic imaging mode that gives you a remarkably convincing 3D experience (requires 3D "anaglyph" glasses). Pinball HD features three different board themes: Wild West, The Deep (underwater), and Jungle. Each board includes animated characters; plenty of buzzers, lights, and spring-loaded actuators; and more. Pinball HD displays the entire board in portrait mode but only a portion of it in landscape (you have to scroll up and down to play in this mode).
Missing from the game is a bump-and-nudge feature that would let you "coax" the ball in a desired direction. It should also include a "tilt" feature that locks up the pinball machine if the bump is too forceful and a toggle switch to turn the option on and off. But even without these features, Pinball HD is an absolute "must-have" for fans of the silver ball.
- $1.99; app2.me/2454;
- Gameprom Company;
Board games are an obvious fit for the iPad's larger screen, and one of my favorites is Backgammon. I have played electronic versions of Backgammon since IBM PCs began using CGA displays, but seeing the game beautifully rendered on the iPad is a joy. True Backgammon HD combines the graphical simplicity of the game board with the comfortably minimalistic sound effects of dice hitting the board and sliding discs clicking into place. The game itself is straight backgammon with a minimal number of options. Touching the MENU button reveals the options panel, which lets you change the number of games in a match, select computer versus human player, play with or without the doubling cube, and more. The options panel has a monotone background that is rather boring. The developer might consider giving it the same loving treatment they gave the game board (perhaps a subdued wood grain look). It also seemed that the computer was luckier than I was. Whenever I played a match against the computer, it got a lot more doubles than I did when rolling the dice. And yet, even with these minor annoyances, True Backgammon HD satisfies! It's kept me up late into the evening with "just one more match."
True Backgammon HD
- $3.99; app2.me/2455;
Celeris' Virtual Pool has been around since the mid-90s, dazzling players on whatever platform it's been ported to. It's known for its amazingly accurate simulation of ball physics, its intuitive pool cue interface, and its wonderful replication of the sounds and sights of the game. The iPad version is by far the best port I have seen of the game because of its beautifully rendered high-resolution graphics, very usable touch screen interface, and the variety of options and game types you can select. Virtual Pool lovingly captures the sounds and behaviors of billiard balls cracking into one another, rebounding off table bumpers, and dropping into the pockets. Pool sharks and billiard fans alike will be kept entertained for months as they move up the difficulty ladder and face more challenging computer opponents. It's almost like carrying a billiard table around with you wherever you go!