Stop watching movies on your iPad. Stop browsing the web. Your iPad can play some great games. iPad games that shine use the extra screen space and sharper resolution to deliver touch gaming that captivates. Which games do that best? Read on.

Beat Sneak Bandit

You've got to give it up to a game that makes it feel like your fingers are dancing and Beat Sneak Bandit does exactly that. The indie rhythm/stealth/puzzle hybrid turns players into a thief out to reclaim all the timepieces of a hapless town after they've been abducted by the evil Duke Clockface. The Bandit can only move in time with each level's music, which makes navigating the puzzle-like structure of Clockface Mansion both extremely tricky and fantastically catchy.

A Good Match for: Folks with dance-floor insecurity. Maybe you're an ungainly tangle of limbs when you and friends go out to hear bands play, despite being able to hear parts of the various songs that make you want to move. This happens to some of us. Because you can only take steps on the beat, BSB can help you groove with confidence. We promise you'll feel cooler.

Not for Those Who Want: Musical variety. While Beat Sneak Bandit's funk jazz instrumentals are nigh-irresistible, they don't diverge from the game's groove-centric norm. Those wondering how different genres of music---like, say, country or classical---might affect the experience can only dream of pilfering to the sounds of Stravinsky.

Purchase from the App Store.

Collision Effect

Cosmically focused like Eliss and Osmos before it, Collision Effect take a different approach to the play-with-blobs sub-genre: it asks you to explode them. Combine globules of the same color together by touching the screen and they go boom. Do two or more colors in sequence and you get a score-multiplying combo. But, if zybbles of different colors ever touch, it's game over.

A Good Match for: Tap dancers. There's a unique rhythm that bubbles up when you get good at Collision Effect. You're not quite making music but it does feel transcendent.

Not for Those Who Want: Blissed-out zen. Randomized patterns and varying speeds make Collision Effect as challenging as it is beautiful. One minute, you lulled into relaxation by the ambient soundtrack and the next you're frantically trying to explode stuff on the screen so your game can continue.

Purchase from the App Store.


A shining example of multi-touch gaming ingenuity, Steph Thirion's mass-shifting masterpiece require relentless motion and awareness as you slide spontaneously spawning blobs of color away from each other.

A Good Match for: Massage therapists. Whether it's slowing down time or managing a brood of blue blobs, a little bit of contact yields enormous results. And playing Eliss kind of feels like taking care of some weird species of interstellar lifeform.

Not for Those Who Want: Forgiving difficulty. For all its charm, Eliss gets really, really hard.

Purchase from the App Store.

Infinity Blade

Players who enter Chair Entertainment's medieval epic get embroiled in an endless skein of mano-a-mano duels with giant ogres and demonic knights. The combination of treasure grabbing, loot acquisition and slash-&-dodge combate will keep players glued to their tablet for hours.

A Good Match for: Console game players. Infinity Blade raised the bar on the level of persistent visual detail developers could accomplish on iOS and its swipe-and-tap controls make each swordfight immersive in way that button-pressing on a gamepad can't match.

Not for Those Who Want: Variety. Infinity Blade doesn't over-reach in terms of what it offers. It does what it does well, but you'll get the entire gist of the game in about 15 minutes.

Purchase from the App Store.

Kingdom Rush

This tower-defense title initially distinguishes itself with a cartoony renaissance faire motif that makes identifying your units easy and eye-pleasing. Its more crucial improvement is in offering permanent incremental upgrades that you can carry over from session to session, making it so that you get persistent rewards from dedicated play. That's how you build a relationship that lasts, my liege.

A Good Match for: Folks addicted to upgrades. Players just don't get better structures as in loads of other similar games. Kingdom Rush also delivers stronger spells for your buffed-up emplacements, too. And you know what? You can level up those spells, too.

Not for Those Who Want: Quiet strategy sessions. The characters who war with each other blurt out corny catchphrases that will annoy you really quickly. It's enough to make you wish death on your own soldiers.

Purchase from the App Store.

Mirror's Edge

Adapting a first-person, 3D parkour adventure into a 2D sidescroller seemed like folly but anyone who plays Mirror's Edge on iOS will see that the portable version maintains the kinectic sense of flow as the original console version.

A Good Match for: folks too scared to actually do free-running. If you've ever looked up at city rooftops during you work commute and wondered what fun could be had bounding across them, then you should make the acquaintance of Mirror's Edge messenger heroine Faith. It also helps if you like Canabalt, since this game's similar.

Not for Those Who Want: Gunplay. Mirror's Edge favors forward momentum and the biggest enemies you'll face are your own reflexes and simulated gravity.

Purchase from the App Store.

Osmos HD

In this title by indie developer Hemisphere Games, you control a globular lifeform floating in a field of differently sized motes. Bigger blobs can absorb smaller ones in the game's galactic food chain and the path to victory's forged by being a nimble glutton.

A Good Match for: microbiologists. Even though Osmos is more of a cosmological venture, playing it feels like you're controlling the survival of a hapless microbe.

Not for Those Who Want: Guitar rock. Osmos creates genuine moments of tension but it's all accompanied by a chillout electro soundtrack. Not a game to play if you're sleepy.

Purchase from the App Store.

Quarrel Deluxe

Another unlikely mutation of word games fuses letter combination with the territorial land grabs of Risk. Speed's also a factor in how successful your alphabet army is dominating the colorful cartoon landscape.

A Good Match for: Spelling bee enthusiasts. The time-sensitive word creation will appeal to anyone who's stood in front of a microphone and tried to remember how to spell vicissitudes after hearing it used in a sentence.

Not for Those Who Want: Showdowns. Even though the iOS version of Quarrel feels tailor-made for multiplayer, it's sadly lacking. Head over to the Xbox 360 version if you actually want to play other humans.

Purchase from the App Store.


You'll need to turn atoms into molecules in this scaled-down version of Zachtronics Industries' PC hit, which turns controlling the building blocks of all matter into unexpected fun.

A Good Match for: Middle management. Sorta like a manufacturing chain employee, SpaceChem tasks you with drawing supply routes and juggling resources in order to reach each level's required quota. But there's no people to yell at, so it's better than reality

Not for Those Who Want: A Wealth of Resources. The margin for mistakes is very low in SpaceChem and you'll do a lot of trial-and-error runs to figure out ways to win.

Purchase from the App Store.


Word games proliferate on the App Store like mushrooms after a rainstorm, but SpellTower stands out because its acrobatic spin on the word-find model. Nouns, verbs and other parts of speech wind sinuously throughout a vertical grid and each move shifts the game board, making you the architect of your own fate.

A Good Match for: Scrabble fanatics. Playing SpellTower feels less like being at the mercy of letters doled out to you and more like you're fighting your own perception of the game board.

Not for Those Who Want: Multiplayer competition. Zach Gage's alphabet assemblage is a one-player-at-a-time affair and the only bragging rights come from notching a higher score when a session ends.

Purchase from the App Store.

Sword & Sworcery

A retro-styled adventure that pays homage in equal parts to Robert E. Howard and Shigeru Miyamoto, this indie release uses a grainy impressionistic art style to draw players into a lo-fi fantasy quest.

A Good Match for: Folks whose last gaming hardware was the Atari 2600. Not only will Sworcery's visuals ping their nostalgia, the ease of the game invites lapsed gamers back and its clever presentation shows off how sophisticated gaming's become.

Not for Those Who Want: Fast-paced action. You're encouraged to meander and explore in this game and soaking up its decompressed experience matters more than winning out its battles.

Purchase from the App Store.

World of Goo

Built by a two-man team, the clever construction game tasks players with connecting lovable globs into gooey assemblages to get from point A to B. Already loved as one of the biggest indie successes ever, 2D Boy's hit feels like it should've been on the iPad all along.

A Good Match for: architectural fanatics. The Goo balls become a drippy erector set and the challenge of completing the levels while using as few as possible presents a fun, addictive puzzle archetype unique in its execution.

Not for Those Who Want: Hyper-realism. While the tee-totter physics in World of Goo are well-simulated, the humans and Goo Balls look like they're straight out of grade school sketchbooks.

Purchase from the App Store.

Republished with permission.

Evan Narcisse is a contributing editor at Kotaku.