Top 25 best auto-runner games for iPhone and iPad (iOS)
Endlessly running towards something
Updated on April 6, 2023 - re-checked the list. Original article by Jon Mundy, updated by Artur Novichenko.
There was a time when you couldn't move for autorunners on the App Store. These compact arcade action games distilled the essence of the platformer and racing game genres, and stirred in an endless high score-chasing mechanic.
While the market is no longer saturated with auto-runners these days, they still get released quite frequently. Aside from maybe the match-three puzzler, we'd say that the autorunner is the most enduringly popular genre in all of smartphone gaming.
Why is that? The genre's suitability for mobile play is one huge factor. Often only taking a few minutes and a single screen input (albeit tapped multiple times) to play a round, a good autorunner offers the perfect between-stops gaming experience.
And also, there's a fair amount of room for free-styling on top of this basic template. There are 3D autorunners, 2D autorunners, racing autorunners, roguelike autorunners, shooter autorunners, RPG autorunners - the list goes on.
Hopefully, we've reflected some of this diversity in the following list.
You might be wondering why we no longer refer to this as the 'endless runner' genre, as we often used to. The reason for that is simple: some of these games have a definite end, and don't merely require you to keep going until you drop.
Super Mario Run
You may not have directional control over Mario in Super Mario Run, but the range of jumps at your disposal makes for a game of surprising depth.
Alto's Odyssey is a truly beautiful endless skier that has you leaping and flipping down a vast mountain. Auto-runners don't come any more polished or satisfying than this.
Badland and its superior sequel helped put the tap-to-fly mechanic on the mobile map. Few other auto-runners can match the silhouetted majesty of their fantasy worlds.
Rayman's mobile outings nailed the whole auto runner template years ago with their stunning graphics and imaginative worlds. Rayman Mini brings that formula to Apple Arcade, and it's sharper than ever.
Chameleon Run combines slick 2D auto-runner gameplay with chunky 3D graphics, resulting in a truly tactile experience.
In Crossy Road you move forward crossing streets full of moving cars. Avoid obstacles and make sure that your character is not hit by a car or falls into the water. By default, you play as a chicken, but you can play other characters as well. It offers the player several modes, which promise you dozens of hours of exciting gameplay.
Also, If you want to know how to get every mystery character in Crossy Road, you should definitely read our article!
The auto-runner can be applied to any genre, and in Punch Quest that means the scrolling beat-'em-up. What a wonderful combination it is.
A brilliant, twitchy arcade masterpiece that takes the 3D endless runner to new heights.
Knight Runner is a runner in a chess game setting where you will have to play as a knight. You will have to think ahead and plan your next step!
Pigeon Wings Strike
A super-fast-paced endless flier that stirs in chunks of racing game and shmup goodness. The result is one of the freshest auto-runners in recent years.
A complete rejig of the masochistic Wave Wave, with a similarly angular approach to the auto-runner, but a more relaxed vibe. Thank goodness.
A game that ingeniously takes the familiar maze-running premise of Pac-Man and applies it to a modern endless runner framework.
One of the undisputed endless runner classics from the early days of the App Store, Jetpack Joyride is still going strong thanks to its tactile and surprisingly varied gameplay.
Super Glitch Dash
An extremely slick and challenging first person runner with a sharp sci-fi setting. If you want to feel like you're really running through a futuristic dystopia, this is your game.
A free-spirited auto-flier that's simply packed with content. It's almost impossible to grow bored of Ava Airborne.
A gloriously fast and fluid update of the autorunner genre, Ninja Chowdown sees your chubby warrior hopping and skipping through detailed 2D levels, hoovering up donuts and chucking shuriken.
Don't Run With A Plasma Sword
It is another fantastic auto-runner with 5 difficulty levels, various bosses, and 25 different stages. Also, you can customize your character and unlock many new moves.
Think the auto-runner genre is fresh out of ideas? Summer Catchers says hi, with its added deck-building elements and bouncy car-platformer gameplay.
Into the Dead 2
Into The Dead 2 pulls the auto-runner genre kicking and screaming into first person, as you run for your life through fields of the undead. Eek!
Super Impossible Road
Is Super Impossible Road's title suggesting that it's super-impossible, or both super and impossible? Both are accurate, as you try and fail to keep your ball on a cruelly twisting road.
We're not 100 percent sure that Tiny Wings is an auto-runner - you need to hold the screen to pick up downhill momentum after all - but it's been so influential that it seems wrong not to include it.
An auto-runner that sees you taking control of an adorable pug in a lifebuoy. The game has simple but cute graphics and will be the best runner for any dog lover.
Monster Dash dates back to the early days of the App Store, but it received an unexpected "bigger, badder" revamp in mid-2020. It still plays great, but it now looks a little sharper.
This starkly minimalist first person auto-runner has you dashing and bounding through wireframe landscapes. It's stomach-lurchingly immersive.
Rest in Pieces
A refreshingly odd 3D auto-runner that ladles on the schlock-horror factor. But it's the fresh swing-based control system that really marks Rest in Pieces out. And while you are still here, make sure to check our list of the best endless runner games for Android phones and tablets. Good luck!