23 Best iPhone Games of All Time

Discover Apple App Store gaming greatness

Midsection of a person playing a game on an iPhone

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With hundreds of thousands of games to choose from on the Apple App Store, it's challenging to find great games. Unless the App Store features an older game on its front page, most App Store classics remain undiscovered by the next generation of iPhone gamers. If you use an iPhone, don't miss out on these best iPhone games of all time.

In the interest of fairness, these selections are presented alphabetically.

01
of 23

Angry Birds 2

Game screen from Angry Birds 2

What We Like

  • Choose your bird.

  • Daily challenges keep you engaged.

  • It's free to play.

What We Don't Like

  • Pop-ups try to get you to go to Facebook.

  • May be too complicated for younger players.

  • Can be glitchy.

Angry Birds 2 was one of the biggest games on the App Store and an Editor's Choice, and it's not hard to see why. The game's mix of physics gameplay, carefully constructed puzzles, and adorable characters manage to amuse and infuriate in equal measure. For a puzzle game, that's a very good thing.

What started as a simple puzzler eventually turned into a marketing juggernaut, spinning off into countless sequels and sister releases. As much fun as some of those may have been, though (Angry Birds Transformers, we're looking at you), none has managed to live up to the high bar set by the original two versions. If you've never played an Angry Birds game, start here.

02
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Clash of Clans

Clash of Clans

Larry Lunchbox  / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

What We Like

  • Awesome mustaches!

  • Use Practice Mode to brush up on battle skills.

  • Sufficiently challenging to keep you engaged.

What We Don't Like

  • Can't control what's targeted.

  • Your account may not follow you if you change devices.

  • The raiding system could be improved.

Clash of Clans has dominated the App Store charts for several years — and with good reason. Its mix of base-building, army creation, leveling, and combat creates a loop for players that's nearly inescapable — and its creators wouldn't have it any other way.

To play, you farm for resources that you can spend on new buildings, defenses, or troops, all of which are of the utmost importance if you want to ransack other players' bases while defending your own.

Clash of Clans wasn't the first game of its sort (a few Facebook titles like Galaxy Life and Backyard Monsters predated it), but it's easily the best. If you've been playing any of the "me too" games that followed in its wake, be sure to include Clash of Clans in your rotation. There's nothing like the cry of a barbarian to keep your spirits up.

03
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Clash Royale

Clash Royale game

throttlelwp44 / Flickr / Public Domain

What We Like

  • The theme, style, and characters of Clash of Clans but a different genre.

  • Unlimited troops.

  • If you like to collect cards, this game's for you.

What We Don't Like

  • After four wins, must wait hours for your chest to open.

  • It's buggy.

  • You may feel forced to spend money.

How do you take a big property and make it even bigger? By thinking about what makes the core so compelling and building a whole new game around that. Clash Royale is the first spin-off from Supercell's base-building hit Clash of Clans, and although it retains the player-versus-player strategy appeal, it does so by using completely different gameplay.

Competing in real-time battles, you build a team from cards you collect, then play those cards to unleash a variety of troops on the battlefield. In a few short minutes, one player can destroy the opposing player's castle and emerge the victor, earning a chest filled with more cards (delivering more troops).

04
of 23

Crossy Road

Crossy Road

Bago Games /  Flickr / CC BY 2.0

What We Like

  • Simple design that looks great on iPhone.

  • Timeless arcade game appeal.

  • Engaging and keeps you wanting to play.

What We Don't Like

  • Pop-up adds get annoying.

  • Chances of getting duplicate characters seems high.

  • Has a tendency to freeze during gameplay.

Taking inspiration from the arcade game Frogger, Crossy Road successfully paid homage to a classic while setting a new standard for free-to-play gaming. Its simple, one-tap nature make it a perfect fit for gaming on the go, and the familiar mechanics mean that everyone can grasp what to do from their very first tap. Just cross the road and don't die in the process.

If you've ever played a game where you spend earned currency to unlock a random creature and add it to your collection, then watched a video ad to earn even more of that currency and did so with a smile on your face, you have Crossy Road to thank for that.

Similarly, if you've played a game in recent years with a voxel appearance that wasn't Minecraft, there's a good chance Crossy Road's influence came into play there, too.

05
of 23

Cut the Rope GOLD

Cut the Rope's lead character, Om Nom

Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay / CCO

What We Like

  • Based on realistic physics.

  • Easy and fun but still challenging.

  • A companion YouTube channel offers fun cartoons and videos.

What We Don't Like

  • Not free to play.

  • May be difficult for younger players.

  • Costs $4.99 to unlock the third season.

Back in the early days of the App Store, when developers were trying to duplicate the success of Angry Birds with mediocre clones, developer ZeptoLab went in a different direction. Instead of trying to make the next Angry Birds, the developers wanted to make the next physics puzzle hit. And it worked. Cut the Rope was as popular as it was fun, and Cut the Rope GOLD builds on that goodness.

The premise couldn't have been simpler: Your pet monster, Om Nom, needs to be fed his nutritious dinner of candy. Getting it into his mouth, however, requires careful planning and quick fingers. Cutting strings in the right place at the right time sends the candy swinging, flinging, and floating across the screen. Even when you fail (and you will fail), it's impossible not to wear a smile on your face.

If you like Cut the Rope GOLD, check out Cut the Rope 2 and Cut the Rope Magic GOLD.

06
of 23

DEVICE 6

Screenshot of DEVICE 6

What We Like

  • A book that's a game? Winner!

  • Great audio.

  • Truly unique gameplay.

What We Don't Like

  • The ending is a bit weak.

  • At $3.99, it's in the middle of the typical price range.

  • Unplayable for the deaf or hard of hearing.

Call them gamebooks, interactive fiction, or narrative adventures. No matter your preferred label, there's no denying that turning reading into play is an absolute blast.

DEVICE 6 isn't a traditional gamebook by any means, but that's exactly what makes it so enticing. Rather than following a choose-your-own-adventure style, DEVICE 6 presents individual chapters formatted as works of art. Sentences change direction and wrap-around visuals that tie into the narrative; audio cues present new elements to further frame the story. To proceed to the next chapter, you'll find a puzzle in which the solution is brilliantly hidden within the story you just read. 

Don't expect obvious answers, though. Instead, be prepared to comb through the entire tale again as you try to solve these head-scratchers.

07
of 23

Fruit Ninja Classic

Fruit Ninja

Halfbrick

What We Like

  • Awesome sound effects.

  • Four modes offer lots of play selection.

  • Play on your own or with friends.

What We Don't Like

  • Can be a glitchy.

  • Did we mention the ads?

  • Some in-game purchases can go for as much as $10.

Slicing and dicing fruit has never been easier to clean up than when done on your iPhone.

Fruit Ninja was one of the first truly great high-score chasers on the App Store — a game not only about splitting produce but about beating your personal best. Frantically swipe your finger to destroy as much fruit as you can while also trying to dodge the bombs that can bring a quick end to your life as a sword-wielding warrior.

The studio behind Fruit Ninja Classic, Halfbrick, has done a great job of keeping the experience alive, eventually delivering the (equally great) Fruit Ninja 2.0 update that added plenty to the experience.

08
of 23

Heads Up!

Heads Up

Warner Bros

What We Like

  • A great family game, the kids will love it!

  • Completely entertaining and very funny.

  • Can save videos.

What We Don't Like

  • Need to buy trivia decks to keep playing.

  • A bit glitchy on later iOS versions.

  • Sound effects can drown out the videos.

From 20 Questions to HedBanz, everybody loves guessing games. Heads Up! is a game that borrows liberally from the latter, and the result is nothing short of fantastic.​

To play, gather your friends. Then, place your phone on your forehead while it displays a word. Everyone else needs to help you guess that word — the faster, the better. The object of the game is to guess as many words as you can in 60 seconds.

What makes Heads Up! work so well is the sheer variety of themes available, everything from animals and sports to licensed content like Star Wars, Sesame Street, and Disney Parks. There's something for everyone.

09
of 23

Hearthstone

Hearthstone

Blizzard

What We Like

  • Even though the game has been out for years, Blizzard is constantly adding new cards.

  • The game is easy to learn.

  • Play alone or with friends.

What We Don't Like

  • Connection problems and long lead times bring down gameplay.

  • Some cards are expensive.

  • Requires an internet connection to play.

Collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering have always been popular, but in an era where cards can exist digitally, there seems to be a new alternative hitting the App Store every week. None of them can hold a candle to Hearthstone, though.

A card game set in the Warcraft universe and designed by the master game makers at Blizzard, Hearthstone retains all of the warmth and charm of its source material while crafting a new experience that's both deviously strategic and infinitely collectible. It's a well-balanced game that's forever growing: Blizzard has continued to add new expansions, adventures, cards, and modes long after its release.

There's a comfortable onboarding process that welcomes you no matter your skill level, and the game's matchmaking ensures you'll always end up in a fair fight. Don't be intimidated by your preconceived notions of games like Magic: The Gathering. Hearthstone may offer plenty of strategy, but it does so in an incredibly accessible way.

10
of 23

Jetpack Joyride

Jetpack Joyride

Halfbrick

What We Like

  • Easy to play.

  • Addictive gameplay.

  • Fun for any age.

What We Don't Like

  • Must purchase coins to advance.

  • Gets repetitive after a while.

  • Old-style 2D graphics.

There are thousands of endless runners on the App Store. Yet, despite the many fantastic games in the genre, there's one that stands above the rest: Halfbrick's Jetpack Joyride.

Touch your fingers to the screen to initiate the jetpack worn by hero Barry Steakfries as he attempts to navigate his way safely through an increasingly dangerous lab. From lasers to missiles to electric gates, there's plenty to dodge, duck, and dive through. With power-ups ranging from a teleporter to a cash-spewing red bird (that looks suspiciously familiar to the hero of another game on this list), there are more than enough ways to help you get ahead. And, with how fast things will be moving, you'll want every advantage you can get.

11
of 23

Kero Blaster

KeroBlaster

Studio Pixel

What We Like

  • Great controls.

  • Fantastic music.

  • Classic arcade feel.

What We Don't Like

  • Short and on the easy side.

  • A bit pricey at $5.99.

  • No updates since 2017.

Many gamers lament the struggles they've had with platformers on mobile devices, and rightly so. It takes careful consideration to get the controls just right, which means that adding guns into the mix is not unlike asking players to rub their tummies and pat their heads at the same time. The result is that classic games like Contra or Gunstar Heroes don't really have an equivalent on the App Store...or do they?

Kero Blaster, from the creator of the classic indie hit Cave Story, solves the run-jump-shoot conundrum by letting you adjust a slider so that your lizard hero will auto-fire in whatever direction you choose. Add to this a gorgeous 8-bit art style, brilliantly crafted levels, and a brutal difficulty, and you've got a game that every old-school player can get behind.

12
of 23

Kingdom Rush

Kingdom Rush

Ironhide

What We Like

  • Each level offers different geographies and environments.

  • It's free.

  • Challenging, with multiple ways to play each level.

What We Don't Like

  • Not all heroes level up.

  • Some of the in-game purchases are expensive.

  • Some of the more intense levels can be laggy.

There's no shortage of tower defense games on the App Store, but if you can only play one, play Kingdom Rush. The game's focus on balance and well-designed stages enables you to scale your strategy as the challenge mounts on each map.

A big part of what makes Kingdom Rush work so well is its limited range of buildings that you can upgrade in different directions. So, you may start with an Archer Tower, but you can eventually turn it into a well-armed Musketeer Garrison, a Crossbow Fort, or a Ranger Tower that would impress Robin Hood.

Powerful hero units also become a part of the experience, which only continues to grow in the game's sequels, Kingdom Rush Frontiers and Kingdom Rush Origins

13
of 23

Lara Croft GO

lara croft go

Square Enix

What We Like

  • Everything you love about Tomb Raider optimized for iPhone.

  • More than 100 puzzles to keep you busy.

  • Great controls and visual design.

What We Don't Like

  • Puzzle game aficionados may find the game somewhat easy.

  • Some puzzle hints require in-game purchases.

  • It's a short game for the price.

Few companies have been quite as successful at expanding their characters into new genres as Square Enix, and Lara Croft GO is a shining example. A turn-based puzzle game, Lara Croft GO retains the same spirit of exploration and adventure as the Tomb Raider franchise, but it does so in a way that requires forethought before every step. Whether you're sneaking up on a snake or trying to avoid a trap, timing is absolutely everything.

Apple selected this game as a 2015 Game of the Year. Whether you're a fan of Lara Croft, puzzles, or both, you'll find plenty to love in Lara Croft GO.

14
of 23

Monument Valley

Game screens from Monument Valley

What We Like

  • Beautiful visuals.

  • Expansion sets to continue gameplay.

  • Surprising and challenging puzzles.

What We Don't Like

  • The storyline isn't terribly complex.

  • Too short.

  • Gameplay can be slow.

The best case for games as art on the App Store, Monument Valley plays like a living painting — specifically, one by M.C. Escher. You step into the role of Ida, a princess on a mission. As Ida explores her environments, you'll move things in impossible ways to guide her safely to the exit.

The puzzles are absolutely charming, and the art is simply breathtaking. Monument Valley isn't a terribly difficult experience, but it doesn't have to be. In opening new paths for Ida, you feel less like a gamer and more like a caretaker. 

If Monument Valley looks familiar and you're sure you've never heard of it, you might have caught a glimpse of Frank Underwood playing it on House of Cards. The game was so compelling that it actually provided an important plot point in the show's third season.

15
of 23

Ridiculous Fishing — A Tale of Redemption

Game screens from Ridiculous Fishing

What We Like

  • The game packs a lot of humor.

  • No in-game purchases.

  • Easy to play.

What We Don't Like

  • Hasn't been updated since 2017.

  • May not be kid appropriate because of the violence.

  • Not optimized for iPhone X.

Fishing is typically a calming, tranquil activity. So, what could make it ridiculous? How about flinging those fish in the air after you reel them in, then blasting them out of the sky with a shotgun?

Vlambeer's angler-to-hunter experience managed to take home Apple's coveted Game of the Year in 2013, and it's not hard to see why. The game combines three different though equally fun experiences: guiding your fishing line away from fish to sink it as low as you can, touching every fish you can on the way back up to catch them, and tapping like crazy to blast those sea vermin out of the sky.

It's not the most conventional way to make fish and chips, but who really likes conventional, anyway?

16
of 23

The Room Pocket

The Room
Fireproof Games

What We Like

  • Gorgeous graphics.

  • Play offline.

  • Totally cerebral and engaging.

What We Don't Like

  • Not updated since 2015 (iOS 9).

  • Free to try, but costs to unlock the whole game.

  • Heavy graphics requirements.

Few puzzle games have been as universally applauded in recent years as The Room. Originally debuting on the iPad and later making its way to smaller screens, The Room Pocket is a game about physically manipulating boxes to uncover the secrets they contain. Place a gear to turn a switch to open a drawer. That drawer may contain a key, and that key will open another chain of puzzles that gets you closer to the mysteries that wait inside.

The Room Pocket is the very best kind of cerebral experience. The only problem is that once you finish, you'll find yourself wanting more. Lucky for you, Fireproof Games has released three sequels: The Room Two, The Room Three, and The Room: Old Sins.

17
of 23

Threes!

Game screens from Threes!

What We Like

  • Apple Game of the Year 2014 winner.

  • Optimized for iPhone X.

  • Awesome soundtrack.

What We Don't Like

  • Performance can lag.

  • If you're not a numbers person, there may be a learning curve.

  • At $5.99, it's a bit pricey.

The very best puzzle games require virtually no explanation and always make you believe you can get just a little bit better with each new attempt. Threes! checks both of these boxes flawlessly.

A game about combining like numbers to grow their value, the objective of Threes! is to get as large a set of numbers as you can before you gridlock the board. This can happen sooner than you expect if you're not careful. Swipe to move all the tiles on the board at once in their preferred direction: up, down, left, or right. As a result, you can end up pushing pieces into problematic places.

The game is simple and clever: Few games live up to the App Store Essentials title quite as well as Threes. If you've played a variation on this game with 2048 in the title, do yourself a favor and play the far superior game that started it all.

18
of 23

rymdkapsel

rymdkapsel

grapefrukt

What We Like

  • Minimalist puzzle game with great visuals.

  • Totally atmospheric.

  • Easy to play, hard to master.

What We Don't Like

  • Must play it to understand it.

  • Difficulty increases dramatically after wave 20.

  • The artificial intelligence could be improved.

Games that have tried to tackle real-time strategy on mobile devices have rarely met with good results. With the exception of Clash of Clans (which is a variation on real-time strategy), it's hard to find a single example that wows. Other than rymdkapsel, that is.

Stripping the genre down to its basics, rymdkapsel is a minimalist strategy game about building rooms and assigning workers — and hoping you prepared the right balance to survive the next wave of alien attackers. Long play sessions don't make rymdkapsel a natural fit for mobile devices, but once you get playing, that hardly matters; you'll enjoy every second of it.

19
of 23

Spaceteam

Game screens from Spaceteam

What We Like

  • Absolutely hilarious fun.

  • Play with friends in the same room or in the next city.

  • Fantastic for family get-togethers.

What We Don't Like

  • Free to play, but upgrades cost $4.99.

  • The graphics are a bit retro.

  • Some of the gameplay isn't intuitive.

If you're looking for a party game to play with friends, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more suitable candidate than Spaceteam. Available as a free download (and cross-platform, so your Android friends can play, too), Spaceteam puts you in the shoes of an astronaut crew in a bit of a panic.

Each player has a different set of controls in front of them and is given a different set of instructions, but those instructions aren't usually for the player who receives them.

Things devolve pretty quickly into a group of friends yelling things like, "set shiftsanizier to 1m" and "refrigerate leftovers!" It's hilarious, delightful, and one heck of an icebreaker should you need one for your next party.

20
of 23

Super Hexagon

Super Hexagon

Terry Cavanaugh

What We Like

  • Awesome soundtrack.

  • Supports iPhone X.

  • No in-game purchases.

What We Don't Like

  • Game is touchy, requires exact timing.

  • May be difficult for younger kids.

  • Can be sluggish.

Super Hexagon is the digital equivalent of a high-G training centrifuge. You'll spin around faster and faster and pretty quickly end up feeling like this is more than you can handle. But, like any good gamer, you strap in again for another go. You'll master this. You have to.

You finally break 18 seconds. You feel like a hero.

Super Hexagon is a minimalist survival game about spinning left and right on an endless quest to survive geometry that's flying toward the middle of the screen. You'll have to dodge the geometric shapes that are crushing in on you and do it all in time to a killer soundtrack.

21
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Tilt to Live

Tilt to Live

One Man Left

What We Like

  • Fun to play and engaging.

  • Post your high scores on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Four game types.

What We Don't Like

  • iPhone XS or XR resolution not supported.

  • Can be a bit buggy.

  • May be inappropriate for younger kids.

One of the first games to use the tilt functionality of the iPhone, Tilt to Live is still one of the best. It's a game of avoidance and survival. Tilt your iPhone to guide a little arrow safely through a sea of vicious red dots. If the dots reach a power-up, they can turn the tables, but only for a short time.

Tilt to Live doesn't just control beautifully; the design ethos behind it — that players need to pivot from defense to offense and back again quickly — is executed to perfection.

Fans of Tilt to Live will want to be sure to check out the game's successor, Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous.

22
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Vainglory

Vainglory

Super Evil Mega Corp

What We Like

  • Battles are faster paced than in similar titles.

  • Frequent updates and new skins.

  • Characters are really well designed.

What We Don't Like

  • In-game purchases can hit $49.99.

  • In-game tutorials would be helpful.

  • Good community, but beginners may have a hard time scaling up.

MOBAs, or multiplayer online battle arena games, have exploded in popularity in recent years. From League of Legends to DOTA 2 to Smite, PC gamers have gobbled these free-to-play team-based challenges up like so many fallen minions. But on mobile? MOBAs have been a much tougher sell.

Vainglory is the one exception to this rule. Offering a single map, a diverse cast of characters, and gameplay that caters to MOBA and mobile enthusiasts equally, Vainglory has become a mainstay of e-sports competitions while remaining incredibly accessible to newcomers.

If you've never participated in a team-based battle for territory, Vainglory is the most authentic MOBA experience you'll find on the App Store. Its main competitor, Call of Champions, may be a little easier on beginners, but there's no question that Vainglory is the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

23
of 23

Woah! Dave

Woah Dave!
Choice Provisions

What We Like

  • Simple, yet challenging.

  • Classic retro-arcade look and feel.

  • Fun to play.

What We Don't Like

  • Hasn't been updated since 2015.

  • Not optimized for iPhone X.

  • On-screen controls aren't intuitive.

A wonderful homage to the arcades of the 1980s, Woah! Dave puts a fresh spin on the style of single-screen mayhem found in the original (non-Super) Mario Bros.

Jumping from platform to platform, you must fight off an invasion of critters that hatch from eggs. You can pick up and throw eggs at the hatched invaders or carefully time the toss of an exploding skull to keep yourself safe.

But, as an old-school arcade-style game, Woah! Dave has another trick up its sleeve to keep you working toward your high score: Points are awarded only for collected coins that fall from your foes, and letting the aliens run off the bottom of the screen and return bigger and tougher will earn you more coins.

Do you take them out when they're weak and poor or let them get scary and wealthy? Woah! Dave is frantic fun no matter how you slice it.