The expression that less can be more applies to a number of things, video games included. While many of us would love to go on a days-long Final Fantasy binge, there isn’t always time for that.
This is certainly an expression that is familiar to iOS developers, as there are a plethora of quality games that will appeal to those on a time budget. Gamers are advised to clear out the next five minutes of their busy schedules before diving into these short, but solid, iPhone games.
JoyBits’ Doodle God ($0.99) takes the less is more approach to a new level, with almost unparalleled minimalistic gameplay. Of course it leads this list of games because it’s also quite fun and dangerously addictive. There are also no levels, meaning you can play this game in short bursts or in lengthy, “Intervention”-esque marathons. Using basic elements you create things, with more than 300 items after the latest update. Combining elements is intuitive and easy, and the very helpful hint system means that you won’t spend too much time trying to figure out how to create gold. The equally time-friendly Doodle Devil (free, with in-app purchases available) is recommended for those with destruction instead of creation in mind. Either way you go, you’d be hard pressed to find a better short-term gaming experience.
The aptly-named predecessor to stylish hit :Shift:, :Shift!2: brings an intriguing twist, but not so much as to alienate fans of the original. The rotational block shifts things 90 degrees, a feature that might sound small but one that mixes things up just enough to keep things interesting. Aside from that, those who indulged in the first :Shift: will be right at home, what with the faceless, sometimes obnoxious (but equally humorous) narrator. To the point of this list, levels are short and timed, both of which are a plus for gamers on a time crunch. The more advanced of the 120 levels will likely take you more than a few tries, but by that time you’re sure to be hooked and willing to make time for :Shift!2:.
Often imitated but never duplicated, Fruit Ninja was released more than a year ago but impressively remains near the top of the App Store’s top paid games list. Surely this has to do with its simple but addictive gameplay, but the ability to knock out a game or two in just a few minutes likely helps out as well. In case you’ve somehow missed the game, users swipe the screen to cut up fruit, avoiding bombs and hoping not to let too many delicious edibles fall uncut in the process. Graphically the game is decent and there are a good, but not overwhelming, number of game modes, yet this remains a compelling iPhone game for casual gamers and video game snobs alike. In fact, the issue isn’t whether you can tackle a game within five minutes, but whether you’ll be able to stop playing it after you start.
If you’re unfamiliar with Adult Swim it might take you some time to realize what’s happening in Robot Unicorn Attack ($0.99), but aside from that, this is very much a pick-up-and-play classic. As for what’s happening, this endless runner challenges you to guide a robot unicorn through various levels, dodging obstacles and dashing through stars. The presence of a soundtrack that consists entirely of Erasure’s Always takes this over-the-top experience even further out there, and the general absurdity of the game means that you’ll have a few chuckles in addition to a fun iOS gaming experience. But back to the point, incredibly simple controls and short gameplay make Robot Unicorn Attack perfect for this list, as well as any collection of top iPhone games.
While Backbreaker 2: Vengeance ($0.99) may not be a complete football game like Madden, when’s the last time – if ever – you were able to finish a Madden game in a few minutes? This isn’t a problem with Vengeance, and the latest version of the arcade-style football hit not only offers the popular Tackle Alley mode, but a new Vengeance mode in which you get to make the tackles. The latest update also introduced an endurance mode, adding another way to spend five minutes with Backbreaker. Those with a little more time to spend will appreciate the game’s depth, and fans of the original will appreciate a wealth of new moves and celebrations. Though Vengeance may be a stripped-down football game compared to others, it’s also perfect for sports gamers with little time on their hands.