The sensations that swirl around after you open up your iPad and tap through all the games selections feel very much like walking through a video arcade for the first time. There are so many great selections that you just don't know where to begin.
To start you on your journey, here are some great games that take true advantage of the 9.7-inch screen size and enhanced functionality that the iPad provides. Enjoy!
Steering you to these racing games
While Apple did not invent the iPad specifically for the racing game genre, after taking your first spin through Real Racing HD, you will literally feel how much the revolutionary company had racing in mind. The sheer weight (1.5 lbs) and dimensions of the iPad provide a completely original way to engage a racing game as the device serves as both your view and steering wheel.
One of the best games for the iPhone, it is no surprise that developer Firemint geared up special new bells and whistles for its $9.99 iPad title. Rather than telling you all about all the cool features, check out our Real Racing HD video review.
Racing fans might also want to pony up $14.99 for Need for Speed Shift for iPad, developed by Electronic Arts.
Games only on the iPad (at least for now)
Months before the April 3 debut of the iPad, successful iPhone game developers already began to shift their focus to the new device. Moving forward, expect top titles to debut on the iPad first, and then come out with iPhone (and iPod touch) configured versions thereafter.
Geometry Wars: Touch for iPad is one of the first iPad-only games to become a hit on the new device. The classic arcade shooter game, which costs $9.99 to download, offers a new Titans! mode in addition to the six pre-existing gameplay modes found on earlier versions.
Another iTunes game only currently available on the wider screen is Mirror's Edge for iPad. Developed by Electronic Arts, this (introductory price) $12.99 game showcases how split-split screen interface and multi-player modes shine on the iPad.
Going old school on the new device
Casual fans and nostalgia junkies will appreciate new versions of PAC-MAN ($4.99) and Frogger (99 cents) crafted specifically for the iPad. Not surprisingly, experiencing these games on the iPad is superior to the iPhone and iPod touch.
One nice surprise for console kids from the early 80s (me included!) is VH1 Classic Presents: Intellivision for iPad. Back in the day, I remember how exciting it was to bring home $30 cartridges of games like Astrosmash and Night Stalker. Now those games and a few others are available on the iPad for less than three bucks (combined)! Here's hoping they'll bring back the Intellevision football game. I still remember the code for the bread-and-butter crisscross play (9-5-2-5).
Speaking of sports games
NBA Hotshot HD at $2.99 is a great way to gear up for the NBA playoffs, which start later this month. The league-sanctioned game has updated graphics that will challenge you to make your next shot. If you are jonesing for a football game to play before new titles become available in August, NFL 2010 HD is your best option. You'll dig the multi-touch 4-fingered snap option in this $6.99 game.
Free and Fun
Famed iPhone app developer Tapulous has a new Tap Tap Radiation game designed specifically for the iPad. Tapulous CEO Bart Decrem recently explained to Appolicious that "the experience is now moving into the living room" and games moving forward will have "more people at the same time on the same device." Expect more Tapulous titles - with a price-tag - developed with this new contextual reality in mind in the weeks and months ahead.
A lite version of Labyrinth 2 HD is also available for no price on the iPad, although the real thing is a bargain at $7.99. We Rule for iPad and other titles by acclaimed developer ngmoco can also be downloaded for free. However, like most "freemium" games developed by ngmoco and others, you'll be motivated to pay along the way if you want to get very far. Still a good deal any way you slice it.