5 Free, Stylish Games for Your New iPhone


I spent the better part of yesterday’s lunch hour reading a live blog of Apple’s iPhone 5S announcement, even though there were absolutely no reveals to be had. Such is the power of this beast called internet—there are no secrets! We knew pretty much exactly what were were getting last week. As I was munching on some Pirate’s Booty and watching the feed refresh, I suddenly thought, when did I become such a tech head? Oh right, because GAMES.

I’ve done a list of quality mobile games before, and one of the commenters asked that I round up some free offerings the next time. Today’s your lucky day, thenottakenname! But here’s the rub: I don’t want to send you all out with a bunch of ugly, grind-or-pay, or ad-heavy games crowding your new devices. That ain’t how you treat a champagne iPhone.

The good news, for those of you with champagne taste and beer bottle pockets, is I curated a list of free games that will look right at home on the new iPhones. The great news is they’ll work just fine on older models, and Androids too.

Dots: A Game About Connecting


I was turned on to this gem by a game critic friend of mine, and it’s what inspired this post. I’ve always been a big Bejeweled fan, especially when traveling to and from work. But as someone who constantly writes long-form personal essays on the emotional and aesthetic powers of video games, Bejeweled sometimes seems a bit…pedestrian, for lack of an even more pretentious term. Enter Dots, a game just as addictive as the aforementioned puzzler and way, way classier to look at.



A while back I decided to go for a full-on Zynga purge and boycott, despite my love for Words With Friends. I probably don’t need to go into why I wanted to get rid of anything and everything Zynga, but suffice to say I’m not a fan of their business practices. In any case I needed a new word game to fill the void, preferably one that allowed me to, well, play with friends. Letterpress is that game and I dare say it’s even more fun than WWF. It’s sort of Scrabble meets Go, as you don’t just compete to create more words, but also to claim territory on the board.

Cube Runner


This simple and addictive game uses your phone’s built-in accelerometer for the controls. The goal is as straightforward as can be: don’t crash. It’s relaxing yet fast-paced, and there are downloadable level packs if you ever feel inclined to create your own and share with friends.

Flood-It! 2 (iPhone) and Flood-It! (Android)


I’m a big, big fan of this developer, not only because they’ve created a couple of great games (Flood-It! and Flood-It! 2 are equally good), but they’ve thoughtfully provided an option for color-blind players, which is shown on the right side of the screenshot above. As the friend of someone with red-green colorblindness, my hat’s off to Labpixies. The goal is to flood the board with one color by tapping the color palette along the bottom of the screen. I realize that’s not the most descriptive explanation of the gameplay, but you like games and it’s very intuitive. You’ll figure it out.

Robot Unicorn Attack 2


Okay, this one isn’t classy in the slightest. But who cares? It’s about a robot unicorn who smashes stuff. It’s also legitimately fun and has a really great soundtrack. Just get it. It’s the twinkie hidden amongst the fois gras and caviar. Upscale? Certainly not. Slightly embarrassing? Sure. But you’ll stuff your face with it when no one’s looking.

Similar Posts


  1. Or you could get an Xbox/Playstation/PC and play real games. Sorry but I’m sick of people allowing these little time-wasters to befoul the word “game”.

  2. Why am I instantly drawn to the robot unicorn one?

    Mr. Anderson (picture me saying that in Hugo Weaving’s voice, please), you can’t put a console in your pocket. iPhone games are nice to have for when you’re sitting in a doctor’s office or on break at work or somewhere else and you just need to kill a few minutes’ time but don’t need an epic adventure or multiplayer fragfest to break out.

    1. You’re drawn to it because Robot Unicorn Attack 2 is unadulterated awesomesauce, that’s why.

      Mobile gaming fans bear the brunt of elitist scorn, for some reason. I don’t really understand it. I have an Xbox/Playstation/PC and I game on all of them, but I like gaming on my phone, too. I just want to game, man. JUST LET ME GAME.

  3. I genuinely think mobile and social gaming is really hurting the push for society to accept gaming as a legitimate pastime. In an age when games like Bioshock and The Last of Us should be getting mainstream cred, people still associate them with the brainless 99c apps you play while you take a dump. Think of a situation like this.

    “Hey what did you think of The Last of Us?”
    “I haven’t seen that movie”
    “It’s not a movie, it’s a game”
    “Oh, a game! – like Candy Crush? I like Candy Crush.”

    Every time someone calls these apps “games” I feel like a cinephile would if someone was to compare Schindler’s List to Jersey Shore.

    If you playing these apps meant nothing to me, I wouldn’t care – knock yourself out. But you have to realise that they’re holding the entire industry back.

    1. A cinephile would be equally annoyed if someone was to compare Schindler’s List to Transformers. There’s both greatness and crap in any medium, and console games are no exception. Superman 64, anyone?

      Play a game like Blackbar and tell me it’s hurting gaming. If anything its accessibility will help laymen see that there’s some real storytelling to be done via video games, even on the smallest (read: mobile) scale.

  4. Pretty sure the two main things holding gaming back as a legit pastime are territorial elitist nerds and territorial bigoted assfaces.

    The reason gaming is treated like a children’s thing is because the most vocal people are children. Video game creators, especially women (or their children), get death threats all the time because they did or said something gamers didn’t like.

    Gamers relish in the image of being caustic, bigoted entitlement complexes. There will be no legitimacy afforded until that image can be shattered.

    And yeah, good luck with that. I don’t see that happening. Ever.

  5. You’re very close minded sir if you’re only using Candy Crush as a basis. Flood-it resembles Tetris to some degree and the latter was one of the first video games.

    It’s kind of ironic since Apple just showcased Infinity Blade III recently. There are also games like Breach and Control by former Infinity Ward creative strategist Robert Bowling.

    How is it holding industry back if it carves a new market for developers? It allows them to create a new type of content (apps) which consequently increases the potential for more revenue.

  6. Stop ruining my argument with your logic and damning counter-examples!

    I guess you’re right – I am referring pretty much only to games like Candy Crush. But be honest, as much as we want indy gems like Blackbar to succeed, it’s the Farmvilles and the Candy Crushes that dominate the casual market. I see games like the former being real games the happen to be on a mobile platform – the exception not the norm.

    That’s why we need to make the distinction between “apps” like Angry Birds and CC, and real games that need, IMO, to be a deeper experience to qualify.

    I wouldn’t care so much about this but I can see the casual market already making my experience worse. I wish we could get the low-cost, indie mentality to spread to core gaming, but leave the shallow, manipulative and money-grabbing aspects behind.

    Maybe I’m just a cynical old man telling the kids to get off my lawn. Maybe Farmville and CC and Angry Birds is the future we are inescapably barreling towards. But if it is, I’m gonna sorely miss *real* gaming.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.