ThriftyNerd’s Favorite iPhone/iPod Touch Games

There are currently 23 kajillion games on the iTunes store. It takes something special to stand out with that kind of competition. It also needs to be noted that what makes a good game on the DS or PSP doesn’t necessarily make a good game on the iPhone. You need good touch controls and bite-sized gameplay that works while you spend five minutes in line at the bank. With that in mind, here are ten of ThriftyNerd’s favorite iPhone games (in no particular order):

Tilt to LiveTilt to Live $1.99

I’m going to go ahead and immediately contradict myself. This is the first app in the list because it is totally the bestest game EVAR. The tilt controls are flawless, and perfect in every way for the iPhone. Game play is extremely well suited for five minute chunks, and leaderboards let you compete with your friends. Developer One Man Left has been doing a great job expanding on the game. If you haven’t picked this up then I don’t think we can be friends anymore. If you do have it, add me! My username is “MisterD_”

CarcassonneCarcassonne $4.99

I’m such a big fan of this game that it is part of my first ever “Free Friday” giveaway. You can still enter for a chance to win, here are the details. Carcassonne is a faithful recreation of the classic German board game. You place tiles to build cities and connect roads with the goal of racking up a higher score than your opponents. You can play multiplayer on one phone, over the internet with friends or with other random users. There is also a genius “solitaire” mode which plays off the normal game mode, but doesn’t just stick you in a game against lame AI.

Rolando 2Rolando 2 $4.99

This is the game that Loco Roco should have been. The tilt controls are again perfect for the iPhone, the characters are adorable, and the gameplay is great for little chunks of time. There is tons a variation as well, so this will keep you busy for quite a while. It should also be noted that this is currently my 7 year old son’s favorite hand held game.

Drop 7 Drop 7 $2.99

I may have played more Drop 7 than any other game on my iPhone. I would have to describe the gameplay as “Tetris Math”. It is a little hard to describe in a compelling manner, but I can tell you that it is perfectly balanced and incredibly addictive. There are plenty of game modes as well, which really comes in handy once you’ve played 23 kajillion hours.

Civilization RevolutionCivilization Revolution $6.99

This is more of a “30 minutes in the waiting room” kind of game as opposed to “5 minutes on the can” kind of game. Civ Rev is a lovingly miniaturized version of the  classic turn-based strategy game. This is one of the first games that really opened my eyes to the power and potential of the iPhone. This is a for-real game with a lot more depth than 99% of what you would see on the DS. The turn based format works perfectly on the iPhone.

Spider: The Secret of Bryce ManorSpider: The Secret of Bryan Manor $2.99

Another game that works beautifully on the iPhone touch screen. You flick a little spider around the screen to create spider webs that are used to capture various bugs. There is a surprising amount of atmosphere in this game, and a very interesting story being told through the environment.

Plants vs. ZombiesPlants vs. Zombies $2.99

Plants vs. Zombies has been destroying productivity since it was introduced on the PC in 2009. This isn’t an iPhone version of the PC game, this is an exact port. Normally that just wouldn’t work for a handheld game with a touch screen, but it translates perfectly.

Tomena SannerTomena Sanner $1.99

Madness! Tomena Sanner is pure madness. You play as a breakdancing Japanese Salary Man. You are making your way from left to right with rhythm based gameplay. You will find your self jumping over man holes, dodging past Michael Jackson impersonators, and doing synchronized dances with Japanese school girls. It is worth it just for the craziness.

ColorbindColorbind $1.99

Colorbind is a gorgeous and inventive puzzle game made by Daniel Lutz. The goal is to pull different colored ribbons across the screen and hit colored dots of the same color. The puzzling part comes in when you start overlapping the different ribbons. There are loads of levels, and the difficulty goes from fun to mind-bending. The presentation alone makes this one to check out.

Phoenix WrightPhoenix Wright $4.99

Just like the icon says, “Objection!” Wait actually I have no objection to Phoenix Wright coming to the iPhone. The beloved DS franchise is best known for its quirky characters and story. It is pure fun from beginning to end.


  1. For fear of it being a PopCap heavy list I would add Peggle and Bookworm. Also I don’t know if calling PvZ an exact port is right, from what I understand it only has the campaign mode and does not include all the awesome extras.

    Others I would add are Canabalt, Fare City, Flight Control, Skee-Ball (super addictive), Tiki Totems, and Words With Friends

  2. Hey, thanks for the feedback! Yeah, I haven’t played all the way through PvZ on the iPhone, so I’m not 100% sure on the extra features, but dear lord I dropped a lot of hours into that on my mac.

    Your list is great, the only one I haven’t tried is Tiki Totems, and I will check it out.

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