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Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday 10s: The ten must-own iPad games for serious gamers

List by Matt S.

Everyone likes a top-10 list. They're a bit of fun, and always good for discussion. And so every so often we pull together a "top 10" list. These are here for fun and laughs - we're not pretending that we're the authority of good games taste in the world and this is purely the author's preferences. Agree with him/ her or not, it's all good.

We'd love to hear your own personal preferences in the comments below the list. But please do be civil. We're all friends here!

For some strange reason mobile games still have a bad reputation in some circles. People who evidently don't own iPads and the like immediately dismiss the platform for gaming on the basis that it has some bad or cheap games, such as the now-infamous Flappy Bird. That's like saying the Nintendo 3DS or Vita is a bad gaming device because they have games from Circle Entertainment on them, but I digress, it's pointless trying to argue logic with these people.

So instead here's a list of ten games that are as good as, if not better, on the iPad than any other platform you can play them on. What are some of the games you play on your iPad (or Android device, of course)? Do you just use it for shovelware time wasters, or do you play serious games on it? Let us know in the comments below!

FTL

FTL is a roguelike set in space. What sets it apart from the rest is just how well balanced and challenging it is; this is a game that takes seconds to learn, but the sense of achievement in actually succeeding and beating the end boss cannot be described adequately. It's also a game that you can pick up for five minutes or settle down to for hours at a time, which makes it perfect for the mobile format.



Avadon: The Black Fortress

Ignore the primitive art style (though if you're a fan of old-school RPGs, that art style will give you a nostalgic rush, no doubt). Avadon (and its sequel) are ridiculously lengthy and full-feature RPGs that offer truly enjoyable and well-written narratives. You can get these games on PC as well, of course, but being able to boot this game up whereever will make even the longest flights or traffic jams bearable.



Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

One of the finest RPGs ever made, Baldur's Gate is a classic for a very good reason - it's a lengthy quest where players are essentially free to explore wherever they like, and meet some truly classic characters and personalities. The port to the iPad? Near-perfect, and even consider its age, this game still has a vision and creativity that is impossible to ignore.



Baroque

This is one of the darkest and most compelling JRPGs ever made. It's a game that's nearly been forgotten from its original console releases (it was a PlayStation 2 game, and then a Wii release), but despite concerns you might have about how the game would play with virtual controls on the iPad, this is the definitive version. A dark plot, incredibly challenging gameplay and some truly spectacular monster design - this is one of the finest niche games you'll ever play.



Transport Tycoon 

The sim genre has struggled in recent years with EA damaging the Sim City brand with its online requirements, and then other sim titles like the upcoming Rollarcoaster Tycoon and already-released Theme Park on iOS being hampered by being free to play nonsense. Transport Tycoon is an older game, but its port to iPad retains its pure  vision. Yep, this is a sim game with actual sim gameplay and that makes it an essential purchase for anyone who has fond memories of growing up with classics like Sim City 2000 and the original Rollarcoaster Tycoon.



Battle Academy 

The iPad does turn based strategy very well, since there's no room for imprecise controls to lead to error. Battle Academy is one of the best turn-based strategy games on the iPad, with its meaty campaigns and well-ballanced play-by-email multiplayer. This is the kind of strategy game where players need to make effective use of the environment, concealment and lines of sight in order to succeed, and that makes it more appropriate for strategy game purists. To put it another way - most of the strategy games on iPad are more casual orientated, but Battle Academy is designed from start to finish for purists.



The Shadow Sun

The Shadow Sun is a little unique - it's a traditional RPG that is exclusive to mobile platforms. It's an ambitious, gorgeous RPG, with plenty of side quests and an intrigeuing setting, and the controls have been well optimised for the device. The only criticism I'd have of this game is that it left me wanting much, much more. This perhaps makes sense as the studio that produced the game has previously specialised in building expansion packs for existing RPGs rather than "full games," but hopefully we see more of this world in the future.



XCOM: Enemy Unknown

This game is held up by many as the perfect example of just what the iPad can do for gaming. XCOM on the iPad is a near perfect port of the console and PC game. There's a few minor concessions - such as fewer maps to fight over - but those are very minor omissions. The core game is left perfectly intact, and while of all iPad games this one perhaps demands more attention than a half hour here or there, it's a game that I suspect every serious gamer has on their mobile devices.



Romance of the Three Kingdoms Touch Plus

Grand strategy games are uncommon on all platforms, but it surprises me that the iPad hasn't seen more of them. As with other slow-paced strategy games, the interfaces for these games naturally suits the mobile platforms, and games like Romance of the Three Kingdoms proves that the games can run on the devices. This game isn't for the impatient - it takes a lot of practice to learn how to play it, and then even more to master it, but once you get these games like these will last you for months as you develop new strategies and try seemingly impossible scenarios.



Final Fantasy IV

There's a lot of Final Fantasy games on the iPad, but for my mind the remade Final Fantasy IV is the finest. Combining a simple, but enormously effective 3D art style with classically entertaining Final Fantasy gameplay makes for a perfect game to have to play on the go. Of course you can play this game on the 3DS via the DS release of the game, but it looks that much more impressive on the gorgeous retina screen.


- Matt S. 
Editor-in-Chief
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld
Friday 10s: The ten must-own iPad games for serious gamers
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