70 best free iPad games 2014

Top free games for older iPads, iPad Air and iPad mini

Top 40 best free iPad games

So you've got an iPad and come to the dawning realization that you've no 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 70 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.

1. 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.


2. Bub - Wider

This curious creation is a tranquil arcade game, where you tilt your iPad to guide a bubble around forests. The aim of Bub is to snare strangely named seeds and avoid foes. There's little new here over the iPhone release, and the fuzzy graphics desperately need an upgrade, but Bub works well on iPad due to the precision the larger device offers.

Bub wider

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. Cliffed: Norm's World XL (universal)

This race-to-the-bottom vertical platform game lacks depth but Cliffed is fun for a quick high-score blast. Use the chunky controls to make your guy dash left or right to avoid rocks and leap down holes. If the screen catches up with him, it's game over.


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. 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

7. Dizzypad HD

Dizzypad is a one-thumb game which has you tap the screen to have your frog leap between rotating lily pads. If he falls in the drink, he dies (pollution, eh?), but extra lives can be gained by munching bugs or bravely skipping lily pads. Extra modes are available via in-app purchase.


8. Escape - Norm's World XL (universal)

IUGO's puzzler Escape has you swiping to make your silhouette leap between circles, which vanish when you leave them. The idea is to jump on every circle, whereupon you move to the next level. In-app purchases are available for tougher levels and two-player modes.


9. 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.


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 HD 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 while further adventures can be bought via IAP.

Crimson Steam Pirates

14. Labyrinth 2 HD Lite

Another demo for a paid-for title (and one that made our best paid-for iPad games list), Labyrinth 2 HD Lite's 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 cunningly dodging and weaving or by triggering explosive devices in the arena. The game stands apart from similar releases due to its polished look and sense of humor. You get the basic mode for free, and others can be unlocked by in-app purchase.

Tilt to live

19. Flow Free (universal)

Flow's quite sneaky. It looks simple enough, tasking you with connecting like-colored blobs via pathways that cannot cross. And indeed it is at first, despite you also having to fill the entire board to proceed. But once you're on larger grids, trying to figure out snaking pathways, your ears will be shooting steam.


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. Fowlplay HD

If you ever wanted to poop on someone's head from above, Fowlplay HD is the game for you. Taking on the role of a pigeon that should really cut back on fibre, you zoom around a stylised forest that appears to be populated by refugees from Minigore. Aim your deposits at their heads, avoid the trees and grab any power-ups that come your way.

Fowlplay hd

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 the level's end rather than impaling him on the liberally 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

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

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 that the game's owned by Zynga, it's free, with only the occasional unobtrusive advertisement.


32. 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.


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 color theory and other complications. In all, you get 60 puzzles, and there's no overlap with the app's commercial sibling Trainyard.

Trainyard express

34. X-Baseball (universal)

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.

Paper toss