Here are our picks for the top ten unforgettable iPhone games that made a big splash on a small screen!

In honor of WWDC week, it's time for our yearly best games roundup. These ten picks are relatively recent stunners in the iOS gaming landscape, capitalizing on the iPhone's smaller screen, limited control options, and tilting action. They've used a narrow toolset to go above and beyond, and as a result, they've made our list of best games this year. Stay tuned for tomorrow's list of iPad-friendly iOS games that play out best on a big screen.

1. 80 Days

Jules Verne's 1873 novel about an impulsive businessman who decides on a whim to travel around the globe with his dubious valet doesn't seem like it would make for good mobile gaming fare, but Inkle Studios's adaptation of the classic adventure story manages to do the impossible. 80 Days blends tactical trip-planning mechanics with thrilling prose by the game's lead writer Meg Jayanth; the result is a rollicking adventure that plays out differently each time. Like most of these entries, this game will work well on an iPad, but since it's a game about entertaining oneself on a long road trip, it seems designed to be pocket-sized iPhone entertainment while you await your train or bus (or boat or airship or camel).

2. Monument Valley

The intricate landscapes and haunting towers of Monument Valley give it a dreamlike atmosphere that has been etched into my memory. The smooth, twisting puzzle designs charmed me as well, but the visual design and overall aesthetic were what sealed its place on this list. And if you need a hint or two, read our guide.

3. Threes

Threes has inspired so many clones and copycats that few realize the design debt owed to the original game, a delightful number puzzle with surprising complexity under the hood. Read our tips if you need a hand increasing your score.

4. Crossy Road

Like Threes, Crossy Road has a handful of admiring imitators, but none compare to the original: a free game that sustains itself by selling cute character skins via no-pressure micro-transactions. Helping each of these colorful animals cross the road will require expert timing and patience; rounds are short, so it's great for on-the-go playtime.

5. Geometry Wars 3

Geometry Wars 3 only just came out for the iPhone and iPad, but already it's rocketed into my list of all-time favorites. The thumb-maneuvering required makes it a good fit for the iPhone's size, and the soundtrack adds a thumping, heart-pulsing backbeat to any boring commute or waiting room. Many folks saw Geometry Wars 3 as a disappointment when it came out for consoles and computers last year, but the iPhone's touch controls and screen size make it a perfect fit for the game's mechanics and overall vibe.


From the creator of Super Hexagon comes this dastardly difficult platforming game that relies on a gravity-switching mechanic to evade various V-shaped obstacles, be they stalactites or stalagmites. Prepare to be stumped over and over — only to feel like the smartest person in the universe once you finally figure out how to navigate each of these almost-impossible mazes.

7. Hoplite

Turn-based strategy seems like a better fit for a sit-down computer session — or at least an iPad screen — but Hoplite's minimalistic graphics and straightforward mechanics make it a good fit for the iPhone. Too intimidated to play a high-stakes tactical game against other people? The daily challenges will keep you on your toes without requiring any friendship-ruining stress.

8. Candy Crush Soda Saga

This best-of list would be incomplete without at least a nod to the latest in King's brain-infesting, cloying Candy Crush series. Soda implements a few more layers of complexity within the match-3 dynamic; getting a high score requires different types of advanced planning. The real challenge? See if you can unlock all the levels without giving King's CEOs a dime. For tips, you can always check out our guide.

9. 868-Hack

868-Hack may not look like much, considering its price tag, but this computer hacking simulator provides a deep and complex challenge. It's easy enough to learn the basics, but in order to get good, you'll have to dive deep into the game's convoluted clockwork.

10. A Dark Room

A Dark Room began life as a browser game designed to run in the background, slowly revealing a mystery through minimalist text updates. If you don't work a desk job that allows you to leave a browser open for a week straight, however, the iPhone game will be a better choice for unfolding this spooky, days-long tale. I won't reveal anything about this game's mysteries here: You'll have to explore them for yourself.

11. Your favorites?

Which iPhone games have wowed you in the past year or so? Share your most-played games in the comments.