80 best free iPad games 2014

Top free games for all the iPads under the sun

31. Drop7 Free (universal)

Drop7 is one of the finest puzzle games on iOS. You drop numbered discs into a grid, and if the number matches the number of discs in its column or row, it vanishes. Grey discs are destroyed by twice removing discs next to them. Three modes are on offer, each demanding a different strategy. And now the game's owned by Zynga, it's free, with only the occasional unobtrusive advert.


32. Frotz (Universal)

Although it works on an iPhone, Frotz isn't great on the smaller screen. But on the iPad, with its larger keyboard, the interactive fiction player is a revelation. It uses the Z-Machine format, and you can download a selection of freely available text adventures (including the original Zork) using the app, or upload your own files to the app via FTP.


33. Trainyard Express (universal)

Trainyard Express is a puzzle game which tasks you with getting trains to stations by laying track. It starts simple, but the logic puzzles soon test you, with colour theory and other complications. We're sure Cityrail struggles with the same issues. In all, you get 60 puzzles, and there's no overlap with the app's commercial sibling Trainyard.

Trainyard express

34. X-Baseball (universal)

If you haven't heard, A-League baseball will be coming to Australia soon... though we aren't sure why. But in any case, to prepare you, as the saying goes, there are few American sports that can't be improved by the impending threat of a banana, and that's X-Baseball. Hit balls! Hit bananas thrown by fans! Also, hit annoying birds flying overhead! Just don't 'not hit', otherwise your game will soon be over. It's just like the real thing!

X Baseball

35. Paper Toss: World Tour HD

The original Paper Toss was pretty dry and throwaway, but in dumping the wastebasket in absurd surroundings (within a volcanic pool, in the desert, by the Taj Mahal), it gets a second wind as Paper Toss: World Tour HD and is a far more satisfying flick-based arcade game. There's no clear Australian level (maybe the beach?) but it's still fun!

Paper toss

36. NinJump - HD

NinJump is a quickfire one-thumb game which has your ninja rapidly climbing, leaping between two endless towers. As he leaps, he knocks obstacles from the air, dispatching killer squirrels, deadly birds and throwing stars lobbed by enemy ninjas. Simple, addictive fun.


37. Chuck's Challenge (universal)

Chuck's Challenge has a long pedigree, being heavily based on ancient Atari Lynx game Chips Challenge. The idea is to use your brain and swiping skills to solve tile-oriented puzzles, keeping your strange purple-haired avatar alive. For no money, you get 25 puzzles, but more are available to buy.

Chuck s Challenge

38. Parsec (universal)

On playing Parsec, we had to check a couple of times that it was free, because it's one of the best shooters on the App Store. The game boasts retro-style neon visuals, slick touch controls, and an exciting 20-level time-attack structure that begs you to regularly attempt to beat your high score.


39. Yolk 'Em (universal)

Another Aussie-made game, Yolk 'Em gives you a shooter game unlike any other on the iPad. It's part augmented reality, part alien shooter, part eggs. Confused? We were at first. But no matter, it is interesting enough to at least give it a go, all you got to do is print out some targets, aim your iPad at it using the camera and yolk some aliens! It'll be great to keep your kids entertained on those rainy days.

Yolk em

40. BIT.TRIP Beat Blitz (universal)

The love-child of Pong and a drug-fuelled hallucination, BIT.TRIP Beat Blitz has you deflecting hundreds of balls, in time to crunchy industrial-style dance beats. This is dazzling and pure but demanding arcade gaming, with long, tough levels. Miss too many beats and you're plunged into Nether, a soulless black-and-white realm where you must chain multiple beats to escape from.

BIT trip

41. Triple Town (universal)

In Triple Town, you have to think many moves ahead to succeed. It's a match game where trios of things combine to make other things, thereby giving you more space on the board to evolve your town. At times surreal, Triple Town is also brain-bending and thoroughly addictive. Free moves slowly replenish, but you can also unlock unlimited moves via IAP.

Triple Town universal

42. Pinball HD Collection

If you're a fan of spanging a metal ball about, Gameprom's iPad pinball tables are as good as they come. Pinball HD Collection is the freemium incarnation of the company's output, and you get the simple but playable Wild West entirely for free. Yee-haw!

Pinball HD Collection

43. Temple Run (universal)

There are many endless running games for the iPad, but this is the only one where you're being chased by deadly evil demon monkeys. But then you did nick a priceless trinket from a temple. Tsk! The tilty swipey gameplay's perhaps a tad tiring after a while of holding up an iPad, but Temple Run is great in short bursts on the larger screen.

Temple Run

44. Punch Quest (Universal)

The clue's in the title — there's a quest, and it involves quite a lot of punching. There's hidden depth, though — the game might look like a screen-masher, but Punch Quest is all about mastering combos, perfecting your timing, and making good use of special abilities. The in-game currency's also very generous, so if you like the game reward the dev by grabbing some IAP.

Punch Quest

45. Bejeweled Blitz (universal)

Bejeweled Blitz is the online incarnation of PopCap's hugely popular gem-swap game, and it looks fab on the iPad's screen. As a freemium title, there's a whiff of IAP (either grind or buy coins to unlock power-ups, or you've no chance of topping the high-score tables), but you'll still be addicted all the same.

Bejeweled Blitz

46. Magnetic Shaving Derby (universal)

"Use the magnet to attract the razor to shave the face!" explains Magnetic Shaving Derby, presumably having first hidden any safety instructions from view. The result is an experience best described as completely bonkers, with a side order of "don't try this at home, kids, unless you enjoy the site of blood".

Magnetic Shaving Derby

47. Fairway Solitaire HD

Fairway Solitaire HD is a perfect example of what happens when you marry simple gameplay with a bit of character. On its own, the basic card system would be fine: unlock face-down cards by selecting those one higher or lower than the current one in the draw pile. But the addition of golf scoring and a crazed gopher out for blood turns this into a surprisingly enjoyable and original title. You get nine courses for free.

Fairway Solitaire HD

48. X-Motorcycle (universal)

X-Motorcycle happily offers two video game cliches for the price of none: the speeding hero (this time on a motorbike), who cannot slow down, and inexplicably giant fruit that appears to be an immensely important currency. The result is a fast, playable game reminiscent of old-school thrills filtered down to their essence and squirted into your iPad.

X Motorcycle

49. Orbit1

One thumb per person and one glowing neon ship is the premise behind Orbit1. You grab points, aim to destroy your opponents, and just hope someone doesn't flip out, grab the iPad and fling it out of the window in a huff.


50. Zen Pinball (universal)

More pinball! This one's a bit less realistic than Gameprom's efforts, but Zen Pinball is very pretty, with a bright and exciting free table, Sorcerer's Lair. Further tables are available via IAP, including some Marvel-themed and surprisingly great Star Wars efforts, but the sole freebie should have pinball addicts happily sated for a while.

Zen Pinball

51. Word Solitaire HD

With a game called Word Solitaire, you might expect a kind of solitaire game that has you form words rather than use standard cards. And that's exactly what you get here - sorry, anyone waiting for a huge surprise. However, this is not a bad thing, because Word Solitaire HD is a relaxing, entertaining title.

Word Solitaire HD

52. Royal Revolt (universal)

In Royal Revolt the king is dead and his siblings have stolen his kingdom while the prince was at school. Unfortunately for them, he was studying magic and is now out for revenge. The game itself is a real-time-strategy effort with some seriously cute and well-animated graphics.

Royal Revolt

53. Letterpress (universal)

Who knew you could have such fun with a five-by-five grid of letters? In Letterpress, you play friends via Game Center, making words to colour lettered squares. Surround any and they're out of reach from your friend's tally. Cue: word-tug-o'-war, last-minute reversals of fortune, and arguments about whether 'qat' is a real word or not. (It is.)


54. Snuggle Truck HD

This one had a dubious start, initially named Smuggle Truck and featuring immigrants being smuggled across the US border. One swift rejection by Apple later and the game swapped immigrants for cuddly toys, which is significantly funnier anyway. The trials-oriented gameplay isn't bad either. Perhaps the sequel will have cuddly toys in boats headed to Australia?

Snuggle Truck HD

55. Frisbee Forever 2 (universal)

As noted elsewhere in this list, we love Frisbee Forever. This sequel is essentially more of the same: fling your plastic disc away, guide it through hoops, collect stars, and make it to the finish line. What makes Frisbee Forever 2 really stand out is the lush locations you get to fly through, including ancient ruins and beautiful snowy hillsides.

Frisbee Forever 2

56. Gridrunner Free (universal)

Gridrunner Free has the look of a lost 1980s arcade game, with hints of Caterpillar and Space Invaders. But this is really a thoroughly modern affair, with perfect touch controls and bullet-hell-style gameplay, albeit bullet-hell in the video game equivalent of a shoebox. Oh, and you only get one life in survival mode, making every game a frantic bid to stay alive. (More modes can be unlocked via the 69p In-App Purchase.)


57. Hero Academy (universal)

There's a point in chess where you sometimes wish your knight would just give your opponent's bishop a thoroughly good trampling. Sadly, few chess games do such things (the ancient Battlechess being an exception), but Hero Academy takes the idea and runs with it. On specially designed boards, wizards attack knights, and demons defend their turf against samurais. It's an engaging turn-based effort with plenty of depth.

Hero Academy

58. Rinth Island (universal)

Rinth Island is what would happen if you propped block-shifter Soko-Ban up against a wall and wrapped it around a tube. The puzzles soon become notoriously devious, as you figure out how to reach each tube's summit, but its novelty factor combined with great design will ensure you stick around.

Rinth Island

59. Outwitters (universal)

Another chessish two-player effort, Outwitters has teams of angry sea creatures battling to the death, first helpfully arming them with surprisingly dangerous weapons. (It turns out crabs eschew claws when they've a mortar cannon to hand.) Unlike Hero Academy, Outwitters has a 'fog of war', meaning units cannot see any further than they can move. This makes the game tougher to master but perhaps more rewarding on doing so.


60. Shadow Era: Dark Prophecies (Universal)

Proving that great ideas never die, Shadow Era brings trading cards to life on the iPad. What you lose in not being able to smell the ink and manually shuffle the deck, you gain in not being able to lose the cards or have them eaten by the dog. It's all very swords-and-fantasy oriented, and just like in real life you can also buy extra cards if you feel the need.

Shadow Era