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Best free iPad games of all time

by Ian Black

If you recently purchased an iPad 2 and are wondering which free iPad games are worth downloading, we have you covered. From adventure games, to racing games to music games to sports game, we showcase the best iPad games that won’t cost you a dime.

Cut the Rope HD Lite

We know there’s a fine line between genius and madness. It’s hard to tell which side of the line the creators of Cut the Rope fall on. You must feed candy to a gremlin that lives in a box. The candy is attached to one or more ropes, so you must cut the ropes with finger slashes to get the candy into the creature’s mouth. Obstacles mount the farther you get – you’ll encounter bubbles, gravity, air blasters, and a whole lot more. You won’t know quite what to make of this wacky game, but you won’t be able to stop playing.

Air Hockey Gold

Air Hockey still rules the arcade. Who doesn’t love battling an opponent on that ingenious cushion of air? Air Hockey Gold’s version of this experience on the iPad will blow you away. The game delivers realistic physics and amazing sound effects right down to the whirr of the air and the clink of the pucks. Two player games make your iPad an instant party favorite, and if you want to up the difficulty stakes, choose two-puck mode.

Tilt to Live HD

Don’t play this game in public places. The accelerometer drives the action so you may look like an idiot if people don’t know what you’re doing. You steer a red arrow through on onslaught of red dots that will kill you and end the game. To win, you’ll need to run into the power-up nodes that unleash spouts of fire and icicles. Choose from several engaging modes – Classic, Code Red, Gauntlet Evolved, and Frostbite – that alter the background and the death threats. Flexible options allow you to select the way you hold your iPad, including in your hands, on a table, or laying on your back in bed.

Pocket Legends 3D MMO

Like your games a little more action-oriented? In Pocket Legends you choose your avatar – either a warrior, an enchantress or an archer – then head out on an adventure. Pick from a list of active online sessions and join in. You can chat with other players on the ‘net in real-time, and fight together against creatures and demons on each level as you try to win the treasure. Upgrade your armor, fighting skills, and buy additional gear and potions. Imaginative landscapes – from forests to castles – deliver a lot of fun detail.

Harbor Master HD

If you've heard of the popular game Flight Control, you should be immediately familiar with the concept here. Imagine that game, but with boats, and for free! Ships enter your harbor from all sides. You must navigate them safely into a port, allow them to unload their cargo, and then send them on their way – all with a flick of your fingers. Of course, one or two boats feel easy, but thirty or forty makes for a real challenge. You can also share the fun by having someone else join you in managing the harbor.

Tap Tap Radiation

The crushing success of Guitar Hero forever linked music with gaming. That game, however, works best with a full-sized axe strapped across your mid-section.  For jamming on your iPad, you might want to stick with Tap Tap Radiation. The concept is very similar. Here three floating circles within easy reach of your thumbs take the place of Guitar Hero fret board buttons. The music track pulses shining orbs of light down toward the circles. If you tap a circle just as an orb arrives, you stay in sync and increase your score, otherwise it’s an epic fail. Visit the store to purchase new tracks for the game.

NinJump HD

Going up? The ninja hero of this iPad game wants out of his tough inner-city Chinatown and he is not waiting for any hand outs or opportunities, he decides to climb straight up the sides of two skyscrapers into the sky. Ninjas, by the way, are excellent climbers. Use your thumbs to leap from one skyscraper to another, avoiding monsters, barriers, and other threats which will send him plummeting to his death. Time your jump perfectly and your ninja will slash birds and other creatures right out of the air as he leaps to the opposite building.

Angry Birds Free HD

What list would be complete without mentioning the world’s most famous and most popular mobile game? And here it is optimized for iPad owners in full HD so it plays perfectly on the big screen. With hundreds of physics-based levels to enjoy (in the full game) and plenty of greedy pigs to destroy using a variety of interesting fowl, Angry Birds is a classic, casual puzzler that still continues to see updates and new levels added by developer Rovio every few months. What makes the free version so enticing are its 15 exclusive levels not available in the full game. Angry Birds completionists won’t want to miss this one.

Smurfs’ Village

This hugely popular ‘freemium’ title is a huge hit, especially amongst the younger generation. The game is free to download, but players can purchase additional in-app content to move things along. Fortunately, this capability can be locked if parents are worried about their kids buying too many Smurfberries!  Players get to build their very own village full of homes, gardens, crops, rivers and elaborate paths. Smurfs’ Village also packs in mini-games and essentially allows kids to be as creative and imaginative as they wish.

My Horse

This beautiful looking game from Natural Motion allows you to train, nurture, groom and develop your very own virtual horse. It’s great for kids who want to learn how to look after something and certainly doesn’t cost as much as the real thing. It encourages social gaming as it's easy to share your new stablemate with friends or help them out with grooming and feeding. Take care of your horse well enough and he may end up a world champion. With eight different breeds to look after and a wide range of activities, My Horse is fun for ‘virtual pet’ fans everywhere.

Others in this series:

1. Best free iPad apps of all time

2. Best paid iPad apps of all time

3. Best paid iPad games of all time