The most awful anti-productive attitude is thinking, “I’ll waste a few minutes on games instead of working.” It should be, “Woohoo, time for some fun!” Too many people parse games in terms of what you’re not doing. Avoiding work, killing time, waiting impatiently, a whole range of negative words which view gaming as slightly better than just suffering in silence while whipping yourself. This attitude enables the endless range of zero-effort games, pointless clickers and fruit-swipers, grabbing whatever’s free or popular with no regard to anything except pushing the buttons for a few minutes to avoid spreadsheets.
Games are FUN. That’s their entire function. You should look forward to loading each one, instead of trading hours of your life to do the same thing over and over until a number gets bigger; if that’s what you want to do, you should work and get paid for it! Most iPad games cost less than a fancy coffee and are far better for your brain. Only playing free downloads is telling your own soul, “You’re worth less to me than a new pen.” And that’s why we’ve put together this great iPad games list.
Super Hexagon is the espresso of arcade games, an artisanal adrenaline-booster, which condenses everything you love into a few seconds of joy. Except you can have another without elevating your blood pressure, which is good, because you’ll play this at least twenty times the first time you try. And you’ll do so in less time than the average YouTube video.
The average beginner game lasts for four seconds, and instead of hating that, you’ve already started round two. The frantic gameplay embodies the most important lesson in arcade design: when you die, it’s your fault, and you know that, and you know you can do better if you can just have one more go. You steer a triangle left and right to avoid incoming lines, and that doesn’t do justice to the minimalist masterpiece. The graphics convey energy instead of insanity and the retro chiptune music could only be more perfect if they called out lottery numbers.
iTunes Store link: ($0.99)
We’re truly in a heaven of electronic entertainment, because computerized pinball used to a blasphemy. But it has been redeemed. Zen Pinball captures every bounce and flip of the authentic arcade experience. The only difference from the real thing is that it’s much easier to carry the tables around.
Everything about the game is perfectly judged. The base software is free, so you only buy the tables you want, and each costs less than a single play on the real silvered spheres of old. You’re not limited to “Haunted House” or “Fast Cars” generics either, with awesomely licensed tables embodying Iron Man, Captan America, and other heroes incredibly perfect for a game where the strategy is to hit things with a powerful projectile.
The theme is perfectly developed, with the computer doing things that are utterly impossible on a real table, but also absolutely authentic to a real table. The X-Men table has Magneto ripping up parts of the environment, but only to switch paths in an old-school way. If you’ve ever loved the silvered spheres, this is the game you’ve been waiting for. And if you haven’t, this will show you what you were missing.
iTunes Store link: (Free, tables $0.99 – $1.99)
World of Goo
World of Goo is beautiful. Compelling. Intelligent. If it wasn’t for sale, I’d have to marry it. And even though it started on computers and consoles, it was always waiting to be transferred to a touchscreen. The goal is to help as many of your Goo blobs as possible make it to the exit, dragging and dropping them to build architectural masterpieces.
There are dozens of physics sandbox games on the iPad, because programming a few physics equations and slapping on a price tag is pretty easy to do with a computer. Genuine emotion and character is much harder. That’s where World of Goo towers above other iPad games. Then, you try to build the tower higher to reach the exit, but it teeters and falls shredding into a pit of spinning blades, and you have an idea about widening the base and restart the level.
iTunes Store link: ($4.99)
SpaceChem is the Advanced Mode of enjoying yourself: it can be tricky to get into, but if you complete the challenge, you’ll unlock an amazing power up in real life. That bonus is a game you can play even when you’re not playing it. If you’ve got a boring job or duties where you can’t be seen to be playing games, but desperately wish you were playing games, SpaceChem is the last app you’ll ever need.
One of the best iPad games available today, SpaceChem is all about altering chemicals, building little robot tracks to dismantle molecules and recompile them to produce mixtures, fill fuel tanks, and blow up evil alien pyramids with ionized uranium bullets. Experimenting with tools and tracks is fun, but you’ll find yourself “Eureking” in the middle of your day job, suddenly seized by inspiration, scribbling new schematics on scrap paper (which looks just like working) and glowing at winning a game no-one can see.
iTunes Store link: ($5.99)
Image credit: dvanvliet / Flickr