Best games for the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display

Best games for the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display

Have some down time and want to enjoy your new iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina Display to its full potential? Here's a roundup of games that'll show you what your new device can do.

Oceanhorn

FDG Entertainment's Oceanhorn: Monster of the Uncharted Seas is an action adventure game that's sure to appeal to you if Zelda games on Nintendo systems are your thing. You explore the Uncharted Seas, fight monsters, learn to use magic and unravel the mysteries of the ancient kingdom of Arcadia. The game even features a soundtrack worthy of a console title: it's composed by famed composers Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito, two alumni of Final Fantasy publisher Square.

Infinity Blade 3

The conclusion to the epic trilogy from Chair Entertainment (befittingly owned by Epic Games), Infinity Blade 3 is a hack-and-slash swordfighting game that has almost console-quality graphics thoroughly optimized for the 64-bit processors found in the new devices. There's a lengthy mythology behind the Infinity Blade games I won't get into here. All you have to know is there are giant brutal enemies to defeat; along the way you collect items like treasure, weapons, shields and armor to upgrade yourself.

EPOCH.2

Based on the same game engine as used in Infinity Blade 3, EPOCH.2 is a post-apocalyptic robot combat game. EPOCH is the eponymous robot who's the protagonist of the game; he has to find the Princess Amelia, fighting off legions of Omegatronik and Alphetekk robots. There's plenty of arena-style combat here, along with an engaging storyline.

Anomaly 2

This awesome take on the "tower defense" game genre is absolutely amazing to look at and even more fun to play. The tables are turned: instead of running the defensive artillery, like you normally do in a tower defense game, you're the grunt on the ground, and you have to get yourself (and your troops) through the gauntlet of alien defenses. This time around you have troops that can morph into war mechs, and they'll need to, because you're facing alien firepower like never before. What's more, you have multiplayer to contend with, where you can take alternating roles as tower offense or defense.

Dead Trigger 2

Who doesn't love a good zombie apocalypse shooter? Madfinger Games has followed up on their earlier success with Dead Trigger 2. You're part of the Global Resistance, the last humans left alive as the Zombie plague has overrun the earth. Plenty of story missions, global missions and side quests keep you busy as your progress affects the game's outcome. You'll gain access to new weapons and gadgets, which you'll need to overcome new zombie boss types like Kamikaze, Vomitron and others. Also, chickens play an important role in your defense. But I'll stop there, I've already said too much.

The Drowning

It's the end of the world as we know it. An eco-disaster has turned millions into monsters, and you'll die unless you can get your hands on weapons and survival gear. I know, it's a pretty thoroughly abused trope. But genuinely creepy character design makes this one of the more frightening games you can find on the App Store, and The Drowning has a control system that won't have you tearing your hair out in frustration.

While these titles all have benefitted in one degree or another from optimization for the A7 processor found in the iPhone 5S, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display, we haven't seen anything yet - developers are only now creating games from the ground up with this impressive desktop-class 64-bit architecture in mind. The sky's the limit, and the best games for these new devices are still beyond the horizon for now.

Are you having fun with games on your new iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina Display? Which ones? Sound off in the comments, I want to hear from you!

Retina iPad mini

Retina iPad mini
The world's most popular tiny tablet goes Retina. Features include:

Complete review >

Released
November 12, 2013

Alternatives
iPad mini (original), iPad Air, iPad 2

Replacements
iPad Mini 3
Fall, 2014

Resources
Buyers guide
Help forum

iPad Air

iPad Air
Apple's full-sized iPad gets slimmed down. Features include:

Complete review >

Released
November, 2013

Alternatives
Retina iPad mini, iPad 2, iPad mini (original)

Replacements
iPad Air 2 (iPad 6)
Fall, 2014

Resources
Buyers guide
Help forum

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Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Best games for the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display

50 Comments

Thanks for the list. I hadn't seen The Drowning before. Downloading it to my iphone. Hoping it's not too small a display to play this game on.

Limbo is a good one, probably not pushing the A7 at all but looks great, along with real racing 3, if you don't mind being pushed non stop to buy IAP! I thought about buying x plane.

Also consider Bastion. I don't believe it pushes the A7 but still looks great on my iPad Air.

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Bastion is a fantastic looking game. I actually checked it out for inclusion in this list, but it doesn't look like the developers have made any A7-specific optimizations...yet. :)

Wow, Oceanhorn looks amazing. My iPad mini with Retina should be boarding a cargo airplane shortly, and this might be the first app to land on it.

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I just bought OceanHorn yesterday. I've only played it about half an hour or so, but so far it's been great. Controls are great and the absence of in-app purchases is always very nice.

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This is a great list of games Peter. Well Done sir, I'll be sure to send people here. As someone who plays and follows ios games, you've complied a really good list... Almost as tho you are a iOS gamer yourself ;p

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Ocean horn is basically Zelda for iOS, to which I say HOORAY!!! Since Nintendo refuses to release thier content on iOS this looks like lots of fun despite the 9 dollar price tag.

As far as the price tag is concerned, it's worth noting that Oceanhorn isn't encumbered with In-App Purchases. To that end, it's refreshing to pay a fair price and get a complete game. :)

Amen! I'm much more enticed to spend $5-$20 per game without the IAP structure. Even @ $20 ala Final Fantasy, these are bargain prices in comparison to consoles, true PC games, handheld (GS/Vita, et al). And the ability to play (& sync) between iOS devices with a one price 'fits all' scheme is excellent. I'd love to see the tide swing back to one price, less IAPs
A suggestion I've found to be pretty incredible, GTRacing 2 (if you're into racing games, while there are IAPs, it's a free download and I've made it quite far by spending $10---still with plenty in the bank after completion of novice/rookie and through Amateur). Asphalt 8, Badland, Dungeon Hunter 4.....& you nailed it with Epoch.2 and Oceanhorn. Amazing how far in three years iOS gaming has improved!
Exciting times. And the ability to still play on the older devices is a good interim decision by the development community. We've still got several 'A5' units. iPad 2 and iPod touch 5th gen that our 8 year old son uses....and he's the 'gamer' in the family. I've got the iPad 4/Air and first gen mini (wife's) which will be sold off to help finance her new retina mini. It's amazing to me the progress made with each passing year. Three iPhones (original, 3G, 3GS) before the iPhone 4 gave us 'retina' or high resolution. Two iPad (large), the original, and iPad 2 before the progression to the high Rez 3/4 models in 2012...& just a single mini last year with the A5 and this year's leap not only to retina and high resolution but absolutely NO trade off in performance (other than a 7% clock increase) between iPhone, Air and rMini with the A7 ubiquitous across all platforms. That's to me the biggest selling factor of this year's releases....and the expectation moving forward that we won't have to choose a 'lesser' device according to our 'size' preferences (display quality issues aside...that IMHO represents a small fraction of mini buyers and perhaps the reason we are seeing a soft launch without a lot of inventory as they work to get the mini display 'right').
Thanks for the article. Excellent choices. And Oceanhorn wasn't even on my radar:-)
Regards,
Jeremy

So much awesome game in this topic ! i wish i could win an Ipad from Imore in another contest

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Gr8 list! Can't wait 2 try some of these games when my new mini arrives on Tues.

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Oceanhorn is not only gorgeous, but the touch controls are perfectly responsive, and the frame rate is incredible on the iPad Air!

I'd add Badland to this list.

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Looks like zelda..yeah i like the game zelda. Played it on nintendo gamecube before..

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What happened with the guys who brought Dead Space to IOS? Would be great to see that type of game pushing the new hardware specs.

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Cool list- I out Anomaly 2 on the old wish list. Also, I know Real Racing 3 came out last year but it still looks amazing and is a blast to play

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These really are some great games. Thank you for the list, Peter.
These are some of the reasons why I haven't invested in console gaming for a while... Great looking / playing titles that are always in my pocket / bag no matter where I go. I will never have Starcraft II on iOS, but Hearthstone will be available soon enough.
Apple really has indirectly created a great gaming experience via iOS.

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Just started playing Oceanhorn last night with my girlfriend and over Apple TV. We love it! I'd also like to put in a plug for Aquaria on Airplay. Great game with a massive map that would benefit from another set of eyes to help you find your way.

Peter, take a look at Snow Jinks. Is's developed by the same guys that gave us Epoch. It's free and uses the Unreal engine.

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I appreciate the enthusiasm for games like Oceanhorn, but after playing for two and a half hours I encountered more than one bug that made the game's actual playability rather difficult. In my current play-through, I came across a critical design flaw in one of the puzzles for the great forest dungeon that left my character unable to progress in the game. After contacting the developer for support, they recommended deleting some shared files from inside iTunes that they identified as the problem. However, their suggestions didn't work and I'm currently left with a game I can't play. And because I know it's a problem many players have experienced, I think te game is still not fully baked. I'll be excited when an update fixes the issues I've been having

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I did not think Infinity Blade could get any better but playing 3 on the iPad Air is just wicked awesome!

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I can't say that I'm too happy to see another zombie plague type game. However, Anomaly looks very interesting.

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Im getting a hard time solving the puzzles on oceanhorn..zelda is much more easier..

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Im getting a hard time solving the puzzles on oceanhorn..zelda is much more easier..

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Im getting a hard time solving the puzzles on oceanhorn..zelda is much more easier..

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Oceanhorn is probably the most fun I have had with a game in a long time. Simple enough for the non-gamer to pick up and yet challenging enough for the experienced gamers. Enjoy!

Added Oceanhorn and Infinity Blade 3 on my wish (watch) list. Have too much of a backlog of games if that's even possible, haha. Haven't even touched IB 1 & 2. But yeah both Oceanhorn and Infinity Blade 3 looks amazing. This is really an exciting time for mobile gaming as the new and faster devices are taking the graphics/animation (hopefully, the same goes for gameplay) to a new level. Can't wait for more beautiful games like this to come up.

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You can play games on an iPad? Who knew? :-)

Seriously though, these all look pretty boring to me.
Like ... if you've ever played a computer or a video game *ever* ... this is kind of just more of the same isn't it?
Where's the novelty? Where is the art?
If you've seen one skull-faced monster with a sword, you've basically seen them all IMO.

Are we gonna gonna discuss whether these iOS games are "real" games? Or if those who play them can call themselves as gamers? I'd rather not. It's a tired topic. I've had my fair share of games - PC, console, portable but what I can say are that yes it might not be the "hardcore" games that we've all grown attached (it may lack some depth and complexity) but for me if it looks nice, and plays nicely then it has served its purpose like any other game - for enjoyment (and a bit of fulfillment perhaps). Also, I think this market has not yet reached maturity, so maybe give it time. Peace, sir.

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I look forward to playing Oceanhorn, but I can vouch that Dead Trigger and Apoche are fun

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I love to play FIFA. I'm totally addicted to that game. I would love it if madden was half a playable and fun as FIFA then i could really kill hours playing on my iPad.

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Thanks for compiling these, especially because I hadn't heard of some of these. Anomaly 2 sounds really interesting. I'll take a look at it. Mahalo!

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Really loving Oceanhorn. Picked it up over the weekend and finding it to be a very worthy Legend of Zelda clone.

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My son is an avid Zelda gamer - has every title ever released. He loves the look of this game, but we are waiting for the price drop to hopefully come. This reminds me of the two Lost Winds games.

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I bought OCEANHORN. It is a fun game. But now it keeps crashing on me. Not fun! Hoping for an update soon.

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XCOM Enemy Unknown also flies on the Air. While not yet optimized for the A7 it looks great and runs super smooth, and it's a full port of the PC/console title, so even though the price is higher than most games you get a lot of bang for the buck and no IAP :-)

I'm enjoying Oceanhorn. I particulary like that there are no in app purchases.
Actually I am avoiding games that offer ridiculous pricing platforms in order to complete a game.
I'm happy to pay a fair price for a game. I think that some game developers are taking the piss.