Look, just admit it: The coolest thing about your iPhone or iPad isn't just the games, it's the free games. And this year, the freemium game scene on iOS exploded, bringing some of the best games available for nada the world has ever seen. And no, we're not talking about those mobile social games. (Though, there were some gems in that lot, too.) We're talking meaty games with addictive play hooks and enough oomph to maybe, just maybe get you to pay for that goofy power-up or outfit. With further ado, here are our top 10 free iPhone and iPad games of 2011:
This "endless runner" is another beautifully simple-yet-unimaginably addictive game that the iPhone specializes in. Most endless runners have players tap to jump across chasms from left to right, but Temple Run throws players behind the runner in 3D. Rather than simply jump, Temple Run expands on a tried-and-true genre, forcing players to turn and slide to avoid deadly obstacles and tilt to grab coins.
Yes, this is another life simulator game, but one infused with so much charm and humor that it's hard not to love. Zombie Life has players attempt a life of normalcy as a zombie, and the grins and chuckles that the game inspires make it tough to put down. For those bored of game after game revolving around cadaver killing, this is your jam.
The Sims FreePlay
EA Los Angeles
This is essentially a version of The Sims made specifically to fit around your lifestyle. Tell your Sim to take a shower, and you should probably take one yourself. The Sims FreePlay operates in real time, and therefore your Sim's basic needs revolve around your own. A novel concept in free-to-play: The game encourages the player to do other things while waiting to play again.
4th & Battery (PopCap)
PopCap's little design label has resurrected the classic casual game for your iPhone. Just like the original, you must keep the train going by tapping pieces of an ever-shifting track while picking up more train cars. Again, this is another of those gems that lasts as long as you'll let it. No energy, in-game purchases or other frills here reminds us of a time when, well, games didn't need those.
Fluik Entertainment (Atari)
Atari's first step into its new mobile-centric strategy was one of the strongest games it's put out in years. Asteroids Gunner brings the 30-year-old classic into the 21st century with numerous new power-ups and flashy explosions, but maintains the spirit of the original. In short, Gunner looks and feels like what you imagined as you fired white lines into white circles decades ago.
For all intents and purposes, this is a simulator game for people that don't enjoy such games. With its retro-style visuals, funky soundtrack and quirky, satirical features like the BitBook (your Bitizens' Facebook), Tiny Tower is ingenious in that it ropes in the most curmudgeon of gamers into the same play hooks that have gripped FarmVille fans for years.
It's not about the AddictingGames app itself, but what's inside: Tons of games to play for the price of none. This app brings the best of what Nickelodeon offers on the web and on Facebook in a simple, intuitive experience. The best part aside from it being updated monthly is that the games are curated for players, so no more sifting through duds to find a keeper.
Allied Star Police
4th & Battery (PopCap)
Admittedly, this is a short-lived experience, but what's most impressive about Allied Star Police is its story. The long and short of it is that some PopCap designers worked with a 10-year-old in a sad state of affairs to make this reverse-tower defense game happen. The result? An engrossing game of speed, skill and planning that we wish lasted so much longer.
This is essentially Empires & Allies on your mobile device, but with even more character and strategy. This beauty of a management game-meets-combat simulator weaves strategy throughout from the layout of your territories to the units you bring into battle with players worldwide. Throw in a story told in fun, comic book-style cut scenes and gorgeous animations, and you have the most impressive strategy game on iPhone this year.
This masterpiece of endless runners wasn't released free, but Halfbrick is offering it for free as of this writing, which is excuse enough to include it. Maybe it's the instantaneous restarts. Maybe it's the music. Maybe it's the goal-based progression. Maybe it's the crazy fun power-ups. We haven't put the game down long enough to decide, but even if by the time you read this Jetpack Joyride costs $.99 again, it's well, well worth the buck.
What were your favorite free iPhone and iPad games of 2011? Did they make our list? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.