80 best free iPad games 2014

Top free games for all the iPads under the sun

Top 40 best free iPad games

So you've got an iPad and have come to the dawning realisation that you've gotno cash left to buy any games for it.

Have no fear, because the App Store offers plenty of iPad gaming goodness for the (unintentional or otherwise) skinflint. Our pick of the 80 best free iPad games is listed below.

Note that apps marked "universal" will also work on an iPhone or iPod touch, scaling down controls and graphics accordingly.

You can also check out some of the entries in our TechRadar video:

1. Dumb Ways to Die (universal)

Based on a Webby Award winning video, Dumb Ways to Die lets you try and save those adorable characters from dying in rather dumb ways. From having private parts eaten under water and being hit by a train to having your head explode while out in space, Aussie developer Metro Trains Melbourne has created a rather fun, sometimes strange game.

Dumb Ways to Die

2. PewPew (universal)

"Expect retro graphics and megatons of enemies," says the developer about this twin-stick shooter, adding: "Don't expect a story". With its vector graphics and Robotronish air, PewPew brings to mind Geometry Wars and Infinity Field, but without a price tag. Despite being free, PewPew nonetheless boasts five modes of shooty goodness.


3. Flockwork

It turns out if you're a sheep that thinks the grass is greener, you should check out the other side of the fence first. In Flockwork, wooly heroes make a break for freedom, but end up immersed in a kind of ruminant hell. Your task: help the sheep escape by way of finger gymnastics and fast reactions.


4. Ashphalt 8: Airborne

At some point, a total buffoon decreed that racing games should be dull and grey, on grey tracks, with grey controls. Gameloft's Asphalt series dispenses with such foolish notions, along with quite a bit of reality. Here, in Asphalt 8, you zoom along at ludicrous speeds, drifting for miles through exciting city courses, occasionally being hurled into the air to perform stunts that absolutely aren't acceptable according to the car manufacturer's warrantee.


5. Air Hockey Gold

Air hockey games work much better on the iPad than the iPhone, simply due to the iPad's larger screen. Air Hockey Gold isn't the only free game of this type, but it was the one that felt best during testing, and the two-player mode works nicely.

Air hockey gold

6. Jetpack Joyride (universal)

Australian-made endless game Jetpack Joyride is a witty, polished take on the iCopter format, with one-thumb controls dictating the hero's attempts to avoid death that comes increasingly rapidly from the side of the screen. The real gems here are the power-ups, including the amusing Profit Bird (depicted), which isn't at all a swipe at Angry Birds and Tiny Wings.

Jetpack Joyride

7. Real Racing 3

Here at TechRadar, we love a good racing game, and Australian-made Real Racing 3 is a real treat on an iPad. The stunning visuals on a larger iPad screen allows for a much better mobile gaming experience than you would expect - and for free! Though there are in-app purchases for upgrades and boosters, you still get a lot of tracks and cars without any purchases.

Real Racing 3

8. Plants vs Zombies 2 (universal)

This is more like Plants vs. Zombies 2 vs. freemium grinding. But if you can look past the forced repetition of stages and irksome IAP, there's a lot to like in EA's horticulture/zombie defence sequel, including loads of new stages, a bunch of new plants, plenty of unique features, and a smattering of time travel.

Plants vs zombies 2

9. Tinkerbox

Myriad physics puzzlers exist for iOS, but most are twitch-oriented games where you fling objects around, and repeat with slight variation until you succeed. TinkerBox is different, because it demands you carefully consider the task at hand and then construct machines and tools using engineering concepts. It's great for educating kids and also perfect for anyone who used to love the likes of Meccano.


10. QatQi (universal)

QatQi starts off a bit like Scrabble in the dark, until you figure out that you're really immersed in a kind of Roguelike mash-up. So although the aim is to make crosswords from a selection of letters, you're also tasked with exploring dungeons to find score-boosting stars and special tiles.


11. Harbor Master HD

This game might look like Flight Control in the drink, but the gameplay mechanics are subtly different. As with Firemint's effort, Harbor Master is a line-drawing game, this time with you drawing paths so boats can dock. However, once they've unloaded, they must leave the screen or sometimes visit another dock, ensuring things rapidly become complex and frantic.

Harbor master

12. Tiny Tower (universal)

Tiny people in a tiny skyscraper need you to feed then tiny sushi and do other tiny tasks. Things can, inevitably, be sped up by not-so-tiny IAP cash infusions, but if you're a patient sort, and keen on micromanagement games, Tiny Tower is a charming, enjoyable title that will eat many tiny moments out of your day.

Tiny Tower

13. Crimson: Steam Pirates

This turn-based strategy game comes complete with an engaging story and a healthy dollop of yo-ho-ho. You command pirate ships, setting their courses and then watching the action unfold. Crimson: Steam Pirates gives you eight free voyages and further adventures can be bought via IAP.

Crimson Steam Pirates

14. Labyrinth 2 HD Lite

Another demo for a paid-for title, Labyrinth 2 HD Lite is definitely worth downloading if you don't have the full game. It's the digital equivalent of tilt-based marble games, but with crazy designs. You get a small selection of mazes here, but they're playable and varied, and there's always a high-score to beat.


15. Frisbee Forever (universal)

With almost limitless possibilities in videogames, it's amazing how many are drab grey and brown affairs. Frisbee Forever is therefore a breath of fresh air with its almost eye-searing vibrance. The sense of fun continues through to the gameplay, which is all about steering a frisbee to collect stars strewn along winding paths. Initially, you explore a fairground, but soon you're soaring above the wild west and sandy bays.

Frisbee Forever

16. Pocket Legends (universal)

Many free iPhone OS MMOs are dreary text-based affairs, so it's nice to see Spacetime Studios creating something a bit more ambitious with Pocket Legends, providing us with an iOS-specific 3D world populated by the usual motley collection of fantasy characters. As always with MMOs, the game demands you invest plenty of time to get anything out of it.

Pocket legends

17. Solitaire Ace

After a few hands of Klondike, we actually ended up preferring this free app to several of the iPad solitaire apps with hefty price tags. Solitaire Ace might be simple (no undo, only one theme, just three solitaire variations), but it's fast and responsive, with intuitive controls and extremely clear cards.

Solitaire Ace

18. Tilt to Live HD

The basic aim of Tilt to Live is simple: avoid the red dots, either by cunning dodging and weaving or by triggering explosive devices in the arena. The game stands apart from similar releases due to its polish and sense of humour. You get the basic mode for free, and others can be unlocked by in-app purchase.

Tilt to live

19. Doctor Who Legacy (Universal)

It's a case of timey-wimey-puzzley-wuzzley as Doctor Who: Legacy aims to show you that your iPad is bigger on the inside, able to house intergalactic warfare. The game itself is a gem-swapper not a million miles away from Puzzle Quest, but all the Doctor Who trappings will make it a must for fans of the show — or Daleks fine-tuning their tactics regarding how to finally beat their nemesis, mostly via the use of strategically placed coloured orbs.

Doctor Who Legacy

20. 10 Pin Shuffle (Bowling) Lite (universal)

We're big fans of 10 Pin Shuffle, a universal app that combines ten-pin bowling and shuffleboard. Of that title's three game modes, the best one is included here in 10 Pin Shuffle Lite, for free. Called 10 Pin Poker, it adds a card game to the mix. Get a spare or strike and you're given one or two cards, respectively. At the end of the tenth frame, whoever has the best hand wins.

Ten pin shuffle

21. Pilgrim's Punch-Out (universal)

Become a 1980s NES-style Scott Pilgrim in Pilgrim's Punch-Out, a movie tie-in that isn't at all a massive rip-off of (sorry, tribute to) Nintendo classic Punch-Out!! Decent controls enable you to fight your way to glory, and although the game's over pretty quickly, there's always a high-score to beat.

Pilgrims punchout

22. Pitfall! (Universal)

Fans of the ancient Pitfall series on the Atari might feel a bit short-changed, given that this comeback in the shape of a Temple Run clone diverges wildly from the platforming action of the originals. However, it's one of the best-looking endless runners on iOS, and if you persevere there are exciting mine-cart and motorbike sections to master.


23. To-Fu 2 (universal)

There's a touch of Angry Birds about To-Fu 2, at least if the birds were covered in something yucky that glued them to any walls they collided with. Said stickiness is the name of the game here, getting the squidgy hero to level's end rather than impaling him on the literally strewn spikes.

To Fu 2

24. Choice of the Dragon (universal)

It's not the most interesting-looking game in the world, but luckily the magic of Choice of the Dragon is in its witty prose. Playing as a multiple-choice text adventure, akin to an extremely stripped-back RPG, this game is an amusing romp that perhaps lacks replay value, but you'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Choice of the Dragon

25. Lux Touch (universal)

There are several Lux games on the App Store, but the original is now free and works very nicely on the iPad. Essentially, this is Risk, and while the computer AI isn't terribly bright, Lux Touch should nonetheless keep fans of the original board game quiet for a short while.

Lux touch

26. New York 3D Rollercoaster Rush HD Free

In all, 25 of the full game's tracks are on offer in New York 3D Rollercoaster Rush HD Free. The game's a simple arcade title: tilt your iPad to control the coaster's speed, aiming to keep it on the track, and take risks to ensure the crazy riders have a great time (and, presumably, give the health-and-safety guy a heart attack).

New york 3d rollercoaster

27. iLifeGame (universal)

John Horton Conway's famous Game of Life cellular automaton exists for practically every platform, and this simple iOS version, iLifeGame, gets things right with clear graphics, the ability to draw your own starting points, and a small collection of predefined patterns.


28. Pukk HD

Given that it's another Pong clone, Pukk HD isn't the best game to play if you've no friends, because the single-player mode is extremely dull. However, with another player, it becomes an exciting battle of digital tennis - and it looks a lot nicer than Tap Blaster HD, too.

Pukk hd

29. Grim Joggers Freestyle (universal)

When we think of extreme sports, jogging isn't the first that comes to mind, although it might be now we've experienced Grim Joggers Freestyle. The game's essentially Canabalt, but instead of one guy leaping across grey rooftops, you get a string of joggers trying desperately to survive in a surreal alien world.

Grim Joggers Freestyle

30. Pilot Winds (universal)

With Tiny Wings having spent a large amount of time troubling the App Store charts, we're surprised it took so long to make it to the iPad. All along, Pilot Winds was the next best thing, and it's still free. Instead of a fat bird sliding down hills, you're a daredevil penguin skier, and while the game's inspiration is clear, it has plenty of tricks of its own.

Pilot Winds