The iPad is now available in stores and there are already over fifty games available for purchase on Apple's new platform. The following article includes the best games available right now on the iPad, and even details the significant differences and enhancements featured in the iPad versions of these game that aren't in the iPhone releases.
Angry Birds shot up the charts when it was released for the iPhone several months ago, and it cemented its position at the top with a free update that added a ton of new levels, which App Store customers always love. Despite the game's success, it did suffer from the iPhone's small screen size. Players had to zoom out to a ridiculous distance to play effectively and see the whole field, so this iPad version solves that problem. Oh, and it's prettier.
CastleCraft is one of the first massively multiplayer online games for the iPad, and those of us around the GamePro offices are stoked for it. It's a city-building game, but players can interact in a number of ways, including trading, going into battle, or even just chatting in real-time. When not collecting resources or building your kingdom, it's possible to take a variety of military units out to war to take over the lands of others. Those who've played the free-to-play flash game Tribal Wars should find this to be familiar ground, and if that game's success is any indication, CastleCraft will be the talk of the blogosphere soon.
- Civilization Revolution for iPad
Aside from the obvious (a reworked interface that takes advantage of the iPad's screen acreage) Civilization Revolution improves upon the basic iPhone version by including a Scenario Creator, which allows players to make their own challenges and adds what is essentially unlimited replay value. If there was ever a game for Civ newbies to jump into, this is it.
Cogs is the tinkerer's dream come true. The game allows players to build or repair increasingly complex machines by sliding or otherwise manipulating parts on a 3D model. Parts like pipes, balloons, and gears are introduced to the player and can be used in several ways. In the Inventor mode, players have to build their own working machine, while in other modes puzzles must be solved within a set number of moves. Cogs HD looks great, and it's one of the most relaxing puzzle games out there. It comes highly recommended.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert for iPad
Command & Conquer's iPhone debut was relatively well-received, but the iPad version looks awesome
. The 3D environments look fantastic, and a new expansion pack, called "Rising Sun" is being included with this release. Although online multiplayer is absent in this release, both wi-fi and bluetooth multiplayer options remain, so some head-to-head fun can be had with the game if you convince a buddy to shell out the $12.99 for it.
The original Fieldrunners was one of the first iPhone games to receive critical acclaim from press other than the traditional gaming media, and it sparked a wave of tower defense games on the App Store. An iPad edition was an inevitability, and it plays and looks about like you'd expect it -- like Fieldrunners for iPhone but bigger and shinier. Developers Subatomic Studios are promising more changes like bigger maps in a soon-to-be-released update, so it might be worth waiting until then to give the iPad version a shot.
Flight Control is one of those games that has become synonymous with iPhone gaming, so it's no surprise to see an HD iPad version ready to go for launch day. The game requires players to think quickly to draw out flight paths for numerous planes to help guide them to a safe landing. directing the planes into one another has disastrous results, so it's important to manage time and space effectively to get a high score. The iPad version features a 3D glasses mode, numerous multiplayer options including split-screen, and even a co-op mode.
- Geometry Wars: Touch for iPad
The original Geometry Wars was a huge success on Xbox Live Arcade, and its sequel is one of the highest rated downloadable-only console games ever. The iPad entry in the series builds upon the core of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, including all six of its modes and introducing a new one, called Titans. The game utilizes on-screen virtual thumbsticks, which work better than one might expect, so if you're unsure about the usability of such sticks, we recommend checking out another App Store game that uses them well, Minigore being a great example.
Harbor Master has been accused of being nothing more than Flight Control with boats, but there are worse things that one can be called, especially when the end result is a game as much fun as Harbor Master. The need for an HD version of Harbor Master is somewhat questionable, but it's safe to assume that the iPad-only version of the line-drawing game will have a lot more stuff going on at once than its small-screen sibling.
Unlike the static collections that Intellivision Lives has taken the form of on other platforms, the iPad release works like a customizable software emulator, with new games becoming available via in-app purchase over time. Six games are included with the emulator itself at launch (three of which being Astrosmash, Night Stalker and Skiing). The ability to pay only for the games you want is a refreshing feature, so those who've held off on buying one of the countless other versions of Intellivision game collections might want to try this one out.
Unlike the first-person console version of EA's "freerunning" game, the iPad edition of Mirror's Edge takes place from a side-view perspective. All of the environments are in 3D, and the sense of speed that fans of the original game loved so much is intact. There is a new single-player story to play through, but it's the split-screen head-to-head multiplayer race mode that should get a lot of people excited.
- Need for Speed: Shift for iPad
EA is claiming to host "the hottest HD graphics on the App Store" with the iPad version of Need for Speed Shift, but a closer comparison between this and Real Racing HD will have to be made before that conclusion can be decisively drawn. Regardless, Shift looks amazing (especially the in-cockpit mode) and it includes eight more cars than the iPhone version, making for a total of 28.
The iPhone's most popular (and surprisingly not-broken) Halo-wannabe has been optimized and visually enhanced for the iPad. The iPad version ships with online deathmatch modes for up to four players, but doesn't come with any new content. It was speculated that the iPad version would at least support more players in deathmatch, but not a single change has been made other than to the visuals and control scheme, which now allows for more precise targeting, especially with grenade throws. Die-hard N.O.V.A. fans will probably buy the game anyway for the iPad's superior graphics.
Ocean Blue is the least "gamey" of all the games on this list, but it's interesting enough to deserve a mention. It's the first (and currently only) scuba diving simulator on the iPad. The app almost falls into the "edutainment" category, as it includes a significant fact database on the various fish that players will run into during their various customizable dives. If you're just way into fish and have another iPad with the game lying around, you can even use bluetooth to render a single environment using two screens, effectively using the iPads as two separate windows into parts of the underwater world.
There are a number of things that make Spacetime Studios' MMO Pocket Legends stand out from the rest of the iPad games available on iTunes: the game is entirely free-to-play, it was developed specifically for the iPad and isn't
a polished version of an existing game on the iPhone/iPod touch, and it features rich 3D environments and characters instead of offering the menu-driven, text-based experience of many MMOs on the iPhone and iPad. Oh, and to top it all off, the game is actually quite enjoyable.
Everybody (and we mean everybody
) loves PopCap and the games they make, and Plants Vs. Zombies is no exception to the rule. There isn't too much of a difference between this version and others, although the iPad release does feature an exclusive minigame, "Buttered Popcorn." The game also supports up to 11 simultaneous touch points, which brings nothing but horrific images to mind.
Real Racing served as a showpeice for the many who bought it for their iPhone's, and the iPad version is looking to fill the same role with enhanced graphics and several new features like a full replay mode, custom car skins, and the ability to race against ghost versions of players which can be downloaded online. Firemint has already proved that they're not a one-trick pony with the success of Flight Control and Real Racing, so it'll be interesting to see what else they can do with their incredible graphics engine on the iPad.
- Sam & Max Episode 1: The Penal Zone for iPad
The Sam & Max games have had a cult following on the PC for close to two decades, and although the games have shown up on other systems as well, the iPad might be the console that Sam & Max games will achieve mainstream success in. This iPad edition plays like you'd expect; touch controls effectively replace the mouse, so it's a clean port. Sam & Max's signature 3D art style looks great on the iPad, so this is by no means a lesser version of the classic point-and-click franchise.
This is one of those games that was meant for the iPad. The iPad's big shiny screen is perfect for the Scrabble game board, and it's easy to imagine setting the device on a coffee table and gathering around the family for a game night. The coolest thing about this app might be the separate Scrabble Tile Rack app for iPhone/iPod Touch, which allows you to use your iPhone as a separate tile rack while playing the iPad edition of Scrabble.
We loved Sparkle on the iPhone, and although the controls worked extremely well on that small screen, they work even better on the iPad. For the uninitiated, Sparkle is more or less a clone of PopCap's Zuma, but some fun powerups and a lengthy campaign mode make it a game that's hard to put down.
Well, this is essentially what you'd expect: Tetris for iPad; which isn't a bad thing. EA might going for the record of "most platforms one game has appeared on" but that doesn't change the fact that Tetris remains to be one of the most satisfying classic puzzle games ever created. And the iPad's large screen also lends itself to the game, making it easier to guide blocks into empty spaces at high speed.
Paramount Digital Entertainment worked with Freeverse to bring the iPhone's Top Gun game to the iPad, complete with upgraded graphics and new content. The slightly corny game follows a new recruit who's looking to become the next Top Gun through a flight school that's taught by instructors Maverick and Iceman. There's also apparently a hidden volleyball mini-game for players to find.
Touchgrind was a fantastic innovation when it originally came out on iPhone, but it was held back by the iPhone's tiny screen size. The game, which lets players perform skateboarding tricks with their fingers, benefits enormously from the increased screen real estate of the iPad, and it's exciting to finally try out the game on a system better suited to its design.
Now that we've seen We Rule for iPad, it seems clear that the game was always meant to be played on Apple's shiny new tablet. The iPad version gives players a clear view of their entire kingdom thanks to its bigger screen, and pinch-zoom capability allows for micro-management. This always-online Farmville-esque game will let those who've already gotten invested in the iPhone version bring their kingdom with them. Now if you'll excuse us, we have some potatoes to harvest in 3 minutes and 12 seconds.
Laminar Research's X-Plane flight simulator series has appeared on many platforms, the iPhone included, but the iPad version is one of the best entries yet. The developer claims that the iPad-specific version of X-Plane is rocking four times the graphical detail, and a reworked cockpit allows for much more detailed control if the player wishes.