Kotaku's 2010 iPhone Gift Guide

With Christmas not long away, it's probably a good time to start thinking about what sorts of gifts you want to give and get this year during the holidays.

And don't think that digital platforms like the iPhone and iPad don't warrant game gift-giving too. Now that you can gift your favourite apps to relatives, it's probably a good idea to start considering which ones they or you might want.

Here's our take on the 10 best iPhone games to give and get for 2010. Hope you enjoy the list. Feel free to add your own recommendations in comments.

Chopper 2

Rating: 9+ Genre: Shooter Ideal Player: Fans of classic arcade space shooter Defender and those who like a quick hit of deep gameplay with superb graphics. What's It About? Chopper 2 is a solid example of how to make a game for Apple's many, popular devices. Tilting left or right to control direction and back and forth to control the height of your helicopter while tapping to fire seems overwhelming at first, but once you master the controls the experience is fun and rewarding. The mix of escort missions, attack runs and having to save stranded allies means that game never gets old. Being able to play it on a television, while requiring special cables and two devices, is the ultimate Apple gaming experience. Bang For Your Buck: Chopper 2 costs $6 and includes 36 missions spread over a dozen locations. The game's 3D graphics, wide selection of enemies and weapons and ability to connect to a television to play makes it a great deal. You can also pair the game up with a second iPhone or iPad and use one as the controller and the other as the screen.

Cut the Rope

Rating: 4+ Genre: Puzzle Ideal Player: Five-minute gamers who don't have a lot of time to devote to gaming on the iPhone. People who join brain teasers and puzzles. Bang For Your Buck: Levels take very little time to complete, but there are 100 of them and this game is a penny less than a $US1. What's It About? The premise is simple enough: feed the big-mouthed little green monster on the screen with a piece of candy dangling from a rope. But once you throw in gravity, enemies, obstacles, bubbles, spikes and the ability to collect gold stars, you've got a devilishly addictive game.

Read our review here

Galaxy on Fire 2

Rating: 12+ Genre: Space fighter Ideal Player: This arcade space flight game feels a bit like a role-playing game in space. iPhone owners who want to invest a little time and effort in this game and enjoy soaring around in a space fighter after enemies are sure to get a kick out of this title. Bang For Your Buck: Packed with 20 inhabited solar systems and 100 space stations, Galaxy on Fire 2 has you exploring the galaxy, mining in space and fighting pirates over the course of a 10-hour story. What's It About? Galaxy on Fire 2 is a fantastically deep space fighting game that allows you customise more than 30 different types of space ships as you journey around a surprisingly deep universe. The bulk of the game is built around flying your ship on a variety of missions using either tilt controls or a virtual thumbpad, but the depth of gameplay and the level of polish sets this space flight game apart from the rest.

Game Dev Story

Rating: 4+ Genre: Simulation Strategy Ideal Player: Wannabe video game developers. Folks looking to get a quick, whimsical taste of what game development might be like it it were itself a game. Bang For Your Buck: There's a surprising amount of depth in this game, having you staff up, expand your offices and increase the number of games you make at a time year-over-year. What's It About? It's not surprising that the game developer reaction to Game Dev Story was very mixed. Some bemoaned its lack of authenticity, "Who would hire a receptionist first?", while other's called it a fantastic, albeit completely off-kilter look at the world of making games. All that should matter to you is that it's a fun business simulator that drops you into a job more interesting than running a restaurant or planting crops. And that it does it with panache.

Glee Karaoke

Rating: 4+ Genre: Music Ideal Player: Glee watchers, closet singers, karaoke disciples. Bang For Your Buck: This game's $1.19 price tag can be deceptive. Consider the cost of the game more of an entry fee than something that lands you the entire experience. For that $1.19 you get the game, one song and the ability to earn more through repetition, but the main way you get the songs you're going to want to sing is by purchasing them for $1.19 a pop. What's It About? Made by Smule, the folks that brought magic fiddles, T-Pain and the Ocarina to the iPhone and iPad, this clever karaoke game has you pop on headphones and sing to the music running down your iPhone. The iPhone, in turn, autotunes your voice and records it. If you like the final product you can share it with the world, literally. An option in the game lets you put your music out on Glee Karaoke's virtual world for other to listen to and, if they'd like, sing a duet with you. It's a clever way to make karaoke on your own feel like a social experience.


Rating: 4+ Genre: Platformer Ideal Player: People who like cute design married to brutally hard level design. Bang For Your Buck: Hoggy's list price is said to be $3.99 by the developers but it appears to often be either deeply discounted or free on iTunes. Even at a couple of bucks the game's neat approach to platforming and more than 50 levels makes it worth while. You can also buy an additional pack of levels for $1.19. What's It About? Hoggy has you playing as a gelatinous pink blob out to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend from the moon men. The game is pretty straight forward, you tip your iPhone to move Hoggy in either direction and tap the critter to reverse gravity. You'll also be trying to collect fruit and of course avoid dangers. It's a fun little pick-up-and-play side-scroller well worth the price to pick up.

Mirror's Edge

Rating: 9+ Genre: Action Ideal Player: People who enjoy the constant running of Canabalt but would love a little diversity. Fans of the console version of Mirror's Edge. Bang For Your Buck: This is a short, perhaps half an hour game, but it's also one of the most impressive titles to find its way onto the iPhone. At $6, it's a bit of a reach, unless you love your Mirror's Edge or high-end graphics. What's It About? This is one of the most impressive games on the iPhone, it's also a surprisingly steep purchase, judged on price and length alone. But if you can get past the price tag you're going to love the gameplay. Players take control of underground runner Faith Connors as she parkours her way over and under a city hunting for her. The game play has you tapping the screen to run up walls, along fences and through 14 levels. There's even a little bit of hand-to-hand, on-the-run combat. Read our review here.

Plants Vs Zombies

Rating: 9+ Genre: Tower Defence Ideal Player: Anyone looking for a solid, fun game to pass the time. This is one of the iPhone's must-own games. Bang For Your Buck: The $4 game includes 50 levels and the ability to earn 25 achievements on your iPhone What's It About? Tower defence games may be a bit overplayed on the iPhone, but Plants Vs Zombies is a wonderful twist on the genre that makes every moment with it a pure delight. Players defend their home from an increasingly bizarre collection of zombies with a equally strange collection of pea-shooting, zombie-eating plants. The premise may sound odd, but this is one of the best games to ever hit the iPhone. Read our review here

Rimelands: Hammer of Thor

Rating: 9+ Genre: Role-Playing Game Ideal Player: Role-playing game fans will love this deep, intricate experience, but it may leave the more casual gamers out in the cold. Bang For Your Buck: Rimelands includes three character paths, dozens of talents, hidden blueprints that can be used to build new items and about 10 hours of story to fight your way through. What's It About? Rimelands' biggest draw for role-playing game fans is likely how it handles battle, relying on actual on-screen dice rolls, instead of statistics and behind-the-scenes number crunching, to determine the outcome of battle. In the turn-based-game, players take on the role of Rose Cristo as she fights her way through a world of magic, swords and even a bit of steam.


Rating: 4+ Genre: Puzzle Ideal Player: This straight-forward puzzler is a great fit for people looking to kill a few minutes in line or on a plane. Bang For Your Buck: With quickplay and endless modes, players will get as much out of this game as they would a copy of Tetris. If you like the premise, you'll love how it's delivered. What's It About? Shibuya has you matching coloured bars as they drop down your phone, trying to pair up two or more at a time. It's a very straight forward game, like the best of puzzlers, but is as addictive and fun as any puzzle title you're likely to find on this platform.

Check out the rest of our platform-centric gift guides.

Don't have the money to buy a gift or a game? Check out our list of fantastic free iPhone games.


    How could Reckless Racing not make it on this list?

    HOGGY. HOGGY. How could a crappy ripoff of VVVVVV make it into the list?

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