Free stuff is a rare commodity, maybe because most of the time it isn’t a particularly lucrative commodity. Nevertheless, we all love free stuff and the App Store is a surprisingly rich little haven for it. In honour of those selflessly spoiling us with such luxuries, here’s my list of the Top 10 free iPhone games of 2010. Why pay when you can treat yourself for free this Christmas?
1. Valet Hero
Working as a valet isn’t that appealing a concept unless it’s in an 5-star hotel and you plan on joyriding the customers’ cars. However, the iPhone manages to put the fun back into the car park as you have to guide coloured cars to their respective bays. What at first is a simple game soon forces you to plan ahead as you have to guide several cars at once without crashing them into each other. Successfully completing levels on this moving puzzle of a game is immensely satisfying, and there are plenty of challenges and unlockables to keep you in the car-park for a long time.
If Tetris blocks had strange leering faces, and the game was about building up the blocks rather than eliminating them, you’d get Topple. Topple has a relaxed, low-gravity feel about it and your block-tower is sensitive to tilting your iPhone. While the game starts off chilled, it increases in tension as your tower grows taller and less stable. There’s a standard level-unlocking mode, free play and a brand new ‘Space’ mode which doesn’t impose a time limit on you. You can’t ask for much more from a free game.
With its retro wireframe graphics and a cool electronic soundtrack, I felt instantly endeared to PewPew. The game involves controlling a spaceship in a square area and shooting the various geometric shapes that endlessly attack you. There are four varied, equally fun modes to play and even a few ships to unlock, making PewPew a game that I would have happily splashed out a couple of quid for. Those in need of mini-adrenaline boosts on their daily commute will find them with this 80s-retro gem.
4. Jet Ball
Jet Ball is a glorified version of the classic block-busting game Breakout, Alleyway, Arkanoid, call it what you will. If this means nothing to you, you’re a metal bar and need to bounce a ball off your body and direct it at the coloured blocks on the screen. Jet Ball is the most spectacular take on this kind of game I’ve played. There are so many explosions, spinning blocks and power-ups that it can get a bit disorienting, but I enjoyed every chaotic moment of it.
NinJump pulls off the impressive feat of being incredibly simple as well as stylish. You control a Ninja running up a gap between two buildings and have to avoid various obstacles by spin-jumping between the walls. If you hit a ninja star, squirrel or bird during your jump, you get power-ups that temporarily accelerate your skyward journey. If you get hit while on the wall, you die instantly and the game starts again… and you’ll start again with it, because it’s just so damn moreish.
6. Paper Toss
Some people may think of Paper Toss as a bit ‘2008’ but the fact that the developers are still releasing new levels for it now in 2010 is a testament to its appeal. The premise is that you throw waste paper into a bin, with a randomly-powered fan affecting its trajectory. Paper Toss includes several levels and Global Scoreboards, but it’s the simple, finger-swiping gameplay that makes this an all-time free classic.
7. Gun Bros
Gun Bros is a simple top-down shooter in which you fend off waves of robot/alien creatures on various different planets. What’s most impressive about this game is the sheer amount of content you can unlock. As you earn money by gunning down wave upon wave of baddies, you can spend it on guns, outfits and power-ups to make you a more effective killing machine. You can even make your character available for others to use online, allowing you to gain XP even when you’re not playing. It’s hard to tell why Gun Bros is free and what the developers gain from constantly releasing new weapons and levels for it, but I’m sure no one’s complaining.
8. iCopter Classic
iCopter is another example of a hugely addictive game that only uses a single button. You control a helicopter flying through a cave that gets smaller and smaller in size. Well, you don’t so much control it as hold your finger on the screen to keep it airborne. This makes for a smooth gameplay experience which will test your concentration and reflexes. Along the way you have to avoid obstacles while collecting coins and power-ups. There is little more to do in iCopter than try to get as high a score as possible, but the challenging gameplay will keep you instinctively coming back for more.
Dactyl’s simple premise makes it a game that’ll have you completely gripped for the short bursts of time that you spend on it. It’s effectively Whack-A-Mole but with bombs, which you have to tap to defuse. The bombs light up at a quick but steady pace, meaning that with a bit of practice you can get into a trance-like state as you rhythmically tap away at the screen. The pace and intensity of Dactyl means that you can’t spend more than 5 minutes at a time playing it, but it provides a lot of fun in that time.
Bankshot is how I imagine Snooker would be played in the Tron universe. The objective is to flick your puck into the target by bouncing it off the walls anywhere between 1 and 3 times. Due to the fairly limited leeway you have with how many times you can hit the walls, the game requires careful calculation as well as coordination. If you’re looking for something more explosive, there’s also an ‘XL’ Mode which throws in a few extra lives, power-ups and obstacles. It may not be content-heavy but the level of skill involved in actually becoming good at it should hook those up for a challenge.
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