The 10 best iPhone games of 2008

Like picking a needle out of a haystack

The 10 best iPhone games of 2008

With nearly 2,000 games on the App Store, you can bet that selecting the ten best titles of the year is a tall order. Since July, we've seen more than our fair share of underwhelming clones and lacklustre ports.

However, there's been plenty of praise for numerous new games that never before could have been possible. iPhone has certainly given rise to a new style of gameplay and each of the following titles demonstrates the point. From racing to puzzle-solving to platforming, there's a little bit of everything. In just six short months, iPhone has hosted an enormous range of games and our list serves as an indication of that variety.

Games have come a long way since the launch, too. The expectations established by early titles like Trism and Asphalt 4: Elite Racing have quickly been adopted by developers. Online connectivity has turned from a desired feature to a requirement for many games, for example. Achievements, which have been popular as Pickup Points on N-Gage, are gaining steam in games as well. Today's outlook is tomorrow's standard, which has us excited for what the next six, 12 months holds in store.

For now, though, rifle through our Top 10 iPhone games of the year and start downloading!

The ten best iPhone games of 2008

10. Asphalt 4: Elite Racing
Developer: Gameloft
Publisher: Gameloft

Of the more than dozen racing games available for iPhone, Asphalt 4: Elite Racing speeds ahead of the pack with a full set of features and solid driving. The combination of drift racing and crash tactics give the game an active edge that other titles simply don't have. As one of the first to boast wi-fi multiplayer on iPhone, it revs up plenty of online competition to complement its robust single-player story mode. While there are a number of good road-based racers that are worthy of downloading, Gameloft's first effort gets our first pick as it should yours.
asphalt 4 elite racing
9. Tap Tap Dance
Developer: Tapulous
Publisher: Tapulous

Considering that iPhone and iPod touch were designed with music in mind, there's surprisingly few titles that tap into tunes for gameplay. Tap Tap Dance is among those exceedingly rare music games on iPhone that manages to meld great songs with equally good gameplay. Top talent has been pulled to create exclusive tracks for the game, which has you furiously tapping the touchscreen as notes fly toward you. It's unabashedly inspired by others in the genre, yet it features a level of polish and quality unseen in most iPhone titles. With more Tap Tap games on the way, we fully expect them to deliver the same energetic experience as this accomplished title.
tap tap dance
8. Low Grav Racer
Developer: Cobra Mobile
Publisher: Cobra Mobile

The second of two racing games we've chosen for the year's best from a large field of contenders, Low Grav Racer offers a futuristic take that is as yet unrivaled on iPhone. Playing much like an accelerometer-enabled version of WipEout, it doesn't have the same remarkable style but delivers just as many thrills. It's equally as challenging, though, with an intergalactic set of tracks populated by aggressive competitors. No multiplayer sadly, which prevents this speedster from rising higher in the ranks.
low grav racer
7. Spore Origins
Developer: Tricky Software
Publisher: EA Mobile

Although Spore Origins comes to iPhone as a spin-off from the evolutionary PC game, it does so in a surprisingly compelling way. Spot-on use of the accelerometer has you guiding an evolving microorganism through the primordials waters, chomping on lower creatures and escaping the jaws of bigger lifeforms. The visuals are quite nice, accentuated by the ability to plaster pictures from your iPhone onto your creature for a personal touch. Spore Origins stands as an example of how to do a spin-off right, making great use of the handset's features while keeping the spirit of the young series intact.
spore origins
6. Burning Monkey Casino
Developer: Freeverse
Publisher: Freeverse

Style, baby, style – Freeverse has been making its mark on iPhone with several titles since the App Store launched in July, but only Burning Monkey Casino goes all in. This seemingly basic set of casino games –blackjack, poker, money wheel, pachinko, lottery scratch cards, slots and three card Monty – bets on a hilariously hokey tone that ends up taking the pot. Bad jokes, snazzy jazz tunes, and old Vegas charm put it in a league all its own.
burning monkey casino
5. Hero of Sparta
Developer: Gameloft
Publisher: Gameloft

When in Sparta, do as Spartans do: hack mythical creatures to bits using taps on your touchscreen. While not an iPhone exclusive, Hero of Sparta earns a nod for its stellar adaptation to the handset with working touchscreen controls and slick visuals. Hard-hitting action characterizes this adventure that packs in both length and variety. Audio problems keep it from achieving its full potential, but the combat is more than satisfying enough to make it a must-have.
hero of sparta
4. Toy Bot Diaries, Entries 1-3
Developer: IUGO
Publisher: IUGO

This original puzzle-platform serial has quietly written itself into the manifest documenting the best iPhone games thanks to its sophisticated design. Toy Bot Diaries, which is split among three installments, follows the adventures of a heroic robot as it swings to the rescue. Both the touchscreen and accelerometer are used to great effect, letting you swing and move your robot through a variety of challenging puzzles. While it often borders on being too difficult, Toy Bot Diaries earns recognition for its adorable presentation and carefully crafted puzzles.
toy bot diaries
3. newtonica2
Developer: Route24
Publisher: Fieldsystem

It hasn't even been six months since we've been able to play games on iPhone and iPod touch, yet we're already getting a slew of sequels the best of which is newtonica2. The game makes a dramatic departure from the original, having you guide a cute little bird through space with taps of the touchscreen. newtonica2 deserves praise for how cleverly it leverages the touchscreen for solving stages in numerous ways –the sort of game for which the iPhone was designed. Moody tunes and simple visuals give this title a distinct style that perfectly matches its unusual breed of puzzle-solving.
2. Trism
Developer: Demiforce
Publisher: Demiforce

When the App Store launched back in July, Trism was the standout hit in a sea of underwhelming launch titles. More than just delivering a polished puzzler, though, it ushered in a wave of expectations regarding what defines a top-tier iPhone game: connectivity, achievements, and mindful utilization of the accelerometer and touchscreen. Like all of the games commended here, Trism earns recognition not so much for its feature set but due to the sheer brilliance of its gameplay. Here is a game that perfectly balances chance and strategy in a single challenging puzzler. Match-three puzzlers may never be the same.
1. Rolando
Developer: HandCircus
Publisher: ngmoco

It should come at no surprise that the game we claim as unquestionably the best yet on iPhone would take the top spot on our list. Rolando brings more than quality gameplay, introducing an experience that feels as though it can't be replicated on any other platform. Fantastic use of the accelerometer and touchscreen make it intuitive and highly interactive, yet its level design and colourful style lend the fun. Saving the citizens of Rolandoland is enough to break a smile, even if you furrow your brow as you try to figure out the assorted levels filled with platform challenges and puzzles – not to mention a score of achievements. There's no other recommendation to be made other than if you own an iPhone or iPod touch, you need to download Rolando.