A year has passed, and iPhone games continue to push the envelope of what can be done with an iOS device. We’ve seen beautiful graphics on a cell phone with the likes of titles such as Infinity Blade, crazily addictive and creative games like Cut the Rope, and a few apps that might make you think you’re actually playing on an Xbox 360 or PS3, like Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. It’s been a great year to be an iPhone gamer, and we’ve run down the best titles to hit the App Store in 2010. Check them out below.
Infinity Blade ($5.99)
A no-brainer of a choice: Infinity Blade is the top of the line when it comes to iPhone games, and its tight touch controls, addictive action and on-going customization make it a game you’ll have a hard time putting down. Developer ChAIR has just dropped a big update and has multiplayer on the way -- can’t wait!
N.O.V.A. 2 ($6.99)
N.O.V.A. has pretty much become the top of the line as far as first-person shooters go on the iPhone. The graphics are beautiful, and Gameloft has created a game that does a great job of melding touch and motion controls for an immersive experience. And, it supports a 10-player multiplayer mode for when you’ve finished up with the single-player campaign.
Spider-Man: Total Mayhem ($6.99 - but on sale now for $0.99)
An adventure game that nails both the Spider-Man license and a variety of beat-em-up and web-slinging actions, Total Mayhem gets really close to providing the same kind of experience you’d get with a full console game. With great graphics and production values, there aren’t many action-adventure games on the iPhone that can top Spider-Man.
Part two-stick shooter with some pretty intense action, part point-based arcade game with lots of different challenges, Guardian of Light was originally a console download title that's ported pretty much in its entirety to iOS. There’s a ton of stuff to do in this one, plus challenging combat and a phenomenal co-op system that will definitely make you want to make friends with other iPhone users.
Zombie Wonderland ($0.99)
There are tons of zombie games available, but Zombie Wonderland combines strategic defense with fast-paced action. You’re charged with defending a building from zombies who want to come in and eat you, as well as make the floor dirty. Your job is to blast them with different weapons through the windows, and clean up any zombie goo if they get into the building with you. The action -- shooting, fortifying and cleaning -- gets intense pretty rapidly.
Trundle (free, with in-app purchases for $1.99)
Your only goal in Trundle is to get through each side-scrolling level, but each new screen is another environmental puzzle that demands some creative thinking. The game has you controlling a small gear that you steer around the game using tilt controls, with movement and jumping being your only means of interacting with the game. With lots of puzzles, additional levels to purchase, and a cool silhouette look, Trundle is one of the best free games on iPhone, period.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars ($6.99)
An expansive addition to the Grand Theft Auto universe, Chinatown Wars captures the feel of the console and PC versions of the game, while using virtual controls on the iPhone’s touchscreen. It combines the writing, story and production values we’ve come to expect from GTA, but it’s in your pocket -- a perfect combination.
Fruit Ninja ($0.99)
When you’re talking simple and addictive, there are few better competitors than Fruit Ninja. Fruit is tossed into the air on the screen, and you have to slice through it using a swipe on the touchscreen -- the more you slice, the more points you get. Along with some awesome recent additions, like Game Center support and a multiplayer mode, there’s a lot to keep your fingers burning up your iPhone screen here.
Angry Birds ($0.99)
You’ve heard about the best-selling game in the App Store: Angry Birds masters challenge and simplicity. Slinging birds into various structures to take out pigs sounds weird, but this game is tough to put down, and it’s packed full of levels. The puzzles require a lot of planning and skill to complete with top marks, and updates for different seasons adding more levels will keep Angry Birds interesting for quite a while.
Cut the Rope ($0.99)
What you’ve heard about Cut the Rope is true: it’s awesomely addictive in its puzzle-solving creativity, which mostly just have you doing what the title says -- cutting a rope in order to swing a piece of candy into the mouth of a waiting monster. Cutting certain ropes at certain times will help you solve the puzzles with better scores. It’s so simple and intuitive, this is one you’ll have a hard time putting down.
Doodle Jump ($0.99)
Another super-casual game that gets a lot of attention is Doodle Jump, which has perfected the endless vertical jumping game genre. Tilting back and forth guides your character up in the air as you bounce off different platforms, trying to get as high as possible. Your scores get synced up with Game Center’s online leaderboards and Doodle Jump has been getting seasonal graphical updates to help get in the spirit of Halloween and Christmas.
Zen Bound 2 ($2.99 - but on sale now for $0.99)
There are more than 100 levels in this innovative puzzler that, like its predecessor, has you using the iPhone’s touch and motion controls to wrap a rope around a wooden model on your screen. The rope spreads paint onto the model, creating some tough puzzles in which you have to manipulate the models in the right way to get them completely covered. Add in more gameplay modes and a great, mellow soundtrack, and Zen Bound 2 becomes a great puzzler that has a lot to offer.
Finger Physics: Thumb Wars ($0.99)
There are lots of puzzle games out there, but few of them use the iPhone’s physics-recreating capabilities as well as Finger Physics does. Combining two kinds of puzzles -- stacking objects to beat gravity and getting a ball to roll down to a goal -- there’s a lot to keep you playing, and plenty to keep you thinking.
Plants vs. Zombies ($2.99)
Developer PopCap has come up with a great combination of a fun, cartoony graphical style and a challenging, strategic tower-defense action. As zombies tromp across your lawn, you’ll have to use quick moves, planning and planting to defend your house from the undead. The later levels incorporate different terrain, like a swimming pool, that keep you rethinking how to play.
Real Racing 2 ($0.99)
You’ll be amazed at the kinds of graphics the iPhone 4 can generate when you fire up Real Racing 2, which sets a new bar with its 16-competitor online multiplayer mode as well. Using 30 real-life cars on 10 different tracks, Real Racing 2 sets a standard in the genre.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit ($4.99, but on sale now for $0.99)
Head-to-head cops-and-robbers racing is on tap in this game, which lets you take on the role of good guy and bad guy in Need for Speed’s online multiplayer mode. There’s also a lot of racing action in the story mode, which puts you in the role of an undercover cop. It’s not quite as real as Real Racing 2, but Need for Speed will keep your attention with its amped-up action.
Related: Best free iPhone games of all time
Related: Best paid iPhone games of all time