It's safe to say that Apple's given the gaming industry a square kick in the tender regions.

Despite their bluster, dismissing Apple in every way possible, Sony and Nintendo are both clearly concerned by the meteoric rise of iPod touch and iPhone as handheld gaming devices.

Although great games are the driving force behind the success of Apple gaming, low prices have also helped. Most 'premium' titles cost six quid or less, and many developers end up in a race to 69p, thereby providing games that'd cost 20 quid on a rival platform for the price of a Kit-Kat.

But what if you've spent the last of your cash on your shiny Apple object of desire? Can you get great games for nothing at all, or is the 'free' section of the App Store best ignored?

The answer is, of course, both, and the trick is finding the gems amongst the dross. What follows is our pick of the bunch - our top 70 free iPod touch and iPhone games.

1. Asphalt 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 8: Airborne dispenses with such foolish notions, along with quite a bit of reality. Here, then, 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.

asphalt 8

2. Letterpress

What mad fool welds Boggle to tug o' war Risk-style land-grabbing? The kind who doesn't want anyone to get any work done again, ever, that's who. Letterpress is, simply, the best word game on the App Store.

You make words to win points and temporarily 'lock' letters from your opponent by surrounding them. The result is a tense asynchronous two-player game with plenty of last-move wins and general gnashing of teeth when you realise 'qin' is in fact an acceptable word.

Letterpress

3. Jetpack Joyride

We're pretty certain if there's one thing you shouldn't be using for a joyride, it's a jetpack that's kept aloft by firing bullets at the floor. But that's the score in this endless survival game with decidedly tongue-in-cheek humour, not least the profit bird power-up, a rather unsubtle dig at certain App Store chart-toppers.

Jetpack Joyride

4. Super Monsters Ate My Condo

Logic? Pah! Sanity? Pfft! We care not for such things, yells Super Monsters Ate My Condo. It then gets on with turning the match-three genre and Jenga-style tower-building into a relentless time-attack cartoon fest of apartment-munching, explosions, giant tantrums and opera. No, really.

Super Monsters Ate My Condo

5. Hero Academy

Most developers create games from code, but we're pretty sure Hero Academy's composed of the most addictive substances known to man all smushed together and shoved on to the App Store.

The game's sort-of chess with fantasy characters, but the flexibility within the rule-set provides limitless scope for asynchronous one-on-one encounters. For free, you have to put up with ads and only get the 'human' team, but that'll be more than enough to get you hooked.

Hero Academy

6. Trainyard Express

Developer Matt Rix is bonkers. That's the only explanation for Trainyard Express, which isn't so much a demo version of the wonderful Trainyard as an entirely separate edition.

The mechanics are great: draw tracks to lead trains to like-coloured stations, combining or crossing them on the way, as necessary. It starts out easy, but soon hurts your brain, and the 60 puzzles aren't repeated in the paid-for version. Bargain.

Trainyard express

7. Triple Town

Three bushes make a tree! Three gravestones make a church! OK, so logic might not be Triple Town's strong suit, but the match-three gameplay is addictive. Match to build things and trap bears, rapidly run out of space, gaze in wonder at your town and start all over again. The free-to-play version has limited moves that are gradually replenished, but you can unlock unlimited moves via IAP.

Triple Town

8. Real Racing 3

While Asphalt 8 aims squarely at arcade racers, Real Racing 3 goes for the simulation jugular. Its stunning visuals drop you deep into high-quality racing action that sets new standards on mobile devices. Plenty of cars and tracks add longevity, although do be aware the game is a bit grindy and quick to hint you should buy some in-app cash with some of your real hard-earned.

Real racing gti

9. Pitfall!

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.

pitfall

10. MazeFinger Plus

Again, the forced Plus+ account sign-up is hateful, but it's worth persevering to get to this addictive game, where you "unleash the awesome power of your finger," according to the App Store blurb.

MazeFinger plus

The aim is to drag your finger from the start to the finish of each simple maze. The problem is you're against the clock and obstacles litter your path. Great graphics and 200 levels of compelling gameplay ensure you'll be glued to your screen.

11. Dactyl

Almost entirely lacking in depth, Dactyl is nonetheless one of the most furiously addictive games on the App Store. A gloriously demented Whack-A-Mole-style effort, Dactyl merely tasks you with tapping red bombs to stop them exploding.

Dactyl

Almost immediately, though, red bombs arrive thick and fast, forcing you to keep track and tap them in order, to avoid the inevitable 'game over'.

12. Trace

Trace is a sweet, inventive platform game which has you navigating hand-drawn obstacles to reach the star-shaped exit. The twist is that you can draw and erase your own platforms, to assist your progress.

Trace

With an emphasis on time-based scores rather than lives and the ability to skip levels, Trace is very much a 'casual' platform game, but it's none the worse because of it.

13. Solomon's Keep

Solomon's Keep

Reminiscent of a twin-stick shooter mashed into an RPG with a really big wand, Solomon's Keep has your wizard battle endless hordes of supernatural foes, with the help of your thumbs and some in-game spells. It's a bit like an overhead Diablo, or, if you're getting on a bit, a powered-up Gauntlet.

14. Buganoids

Buganoids resembles a NES game where the author decided to mash together random bits from various arcade classics. You patrol tiny planets, blasting 'across' them to kill nasty bugs. The gameplay's reminiscent of Gyruss and Tempest, and although the controls sometimes feel a little off, the game's always fun for a quick blast.

Best free iphone games

15. Spider: Hornet Smash

Tiger Style's Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor is an App Store classic, combining arcade adventuring and platforming action, with you playing the role of a roaming arachnid.

Hornet Smash includes a level from that game, but its main draw is the frenetic arcade minigame. Still controlling our eight-legged hero, the aim is to fend off attacks by swarms of angry hornets, while weaving webs and munching tasty lacewings for health boosts. Three environments are included in this compelling and innovative title.

Hornet smash

16. Bankshot

One for pool sharks, Bankshot tasks you with sending your orb to a goal by bouncing it off of at least one wall. A few different modes are on offer in this attractive neon-style game, but the best is Blitz, a high-octane time-attack affair.

Best free iphone games

17. 10 Pin Shuffle (Bowling) Lite

A curious mix of ten-pin bowling, shuffleboard and poker, 10 Pin Shuffle proves surprisingly addictive. You get two cards for each strike and one for each spare, and whoever has the best hand at the end of the tenth frame wins.

Best free iphone games

18. Lux Touch

Quickfire Risk clone Lux Touch isn't exactly a champion in the smarts department - the AI's pretty easy to outfox - but it's perfect ten-minute fodder for Risk fanatics. The graphics are clear, the board is responsive, and the game's also universal, for if you want to install it on your iPad.

Lux touch

19. iCopter Classic

There are loads of one-thumb copter games on the App Store, and while this isn't the best, iCopter Classic is without doubt the finest free variant. It's also fast and responsive as you go about helping your helicopter (or - in the unlockable themes - bee, submarine, spaceship or football) survive for as long as possible without smashing into something.

Best free iphone games

20. Cell Splat

So you think you're observant? Cell Splat will test that claim to the limit. The game distills 'match' games to their purest form. You get a target shape or colour, and, against the clock, must tap all matching items in the well. Quite why this frantic, great-looking, fun, addictive game is free, we don't know; we just suggest you download it immediately.

Best free iphone games

21. InvaderR

Like Cell Splat, InvaderR streamlines and hones a popular game, but this time it's Space Invaders. Like Taito's original, aliens are out to get you, but in InvaderR you have it tough. While the invaders are content to stay out of reach, it's 'game over' the second you're hit by a projectile. This turns InvaderR into a compelling and exciting score-attack game.

Best free iphone games

22. Whacksy Taxi

Although it looks like a 1980s racer, Whacksy Taxi also has much in common with platform games. You belt along absurdly straight highways, avoiding traffic by dodging or leaping it. Variety's added by power-ups, new background graphics when you reach a stage's end, and several bonus zones that also provide extra challenge.

Best free iphone games

23. Volkswagen Think Blue Challenge

Most racing games are about tearing round corners at high speed, your only concern being to not smash into things. Think Blue turns the genre on its head, providing you with limited fuel. The game becomes a unique and intriguing survival-based challenge as you try to eke out an extra few metres each go.

Volkswagen think blue challenge

24. Hoggy

Hoggy resembles VVVVVV smashed into Nintendo's Kirby, combining platforming and puzzles. The game tasks you with grabbing fruit within jars that are peppered around a maze. Complete a jar and you get a key; with a certain number of keys, new maze areas open up. Although occasionally a mite frustrating, Hoggy's a great-looking, fun and innovative freebie.

Hoggy

25. Bam Bam Dash

Imagine Monster Dash with the cast of The Flintstones and you've got Bam Bam Dash. Your auto-running caveman has to avoid plummeting to his death and being eaten by things with sharp teeth. Nice graphics and helpful dinosaurs you can ride add extra flavour to the game.

Bam bam dash

26. Alice in the Secret Castle

If brutally difficult old-school games are your thing, Alice in the Secret Castle will appeal. The game boasts 64 rooms of NES-style hell, with a curious game mechanic that hides walls when you hold the 'A' button. Progression therefore becomes a case of mastering taxing and relentless (but rewarding) puzzle-oriented platforming.

Alice in the Secret Castle

27. Fairway Solitaire

In this game, golf met solitaire and they decided to elope while leaving Mr. Puzzle Game to fill the void. What's left is an entertaining bout of higher-or-lower, draped over a loose framework of golf scores, with a crazed gopher attempting to scupper everything. You get a few courses for free with Fairway Solitaire and can use IAP to buy more.

Fairway Solitaire

28. PicoPicoGames

It's clear you'll never see Nintendo games on iOS, but PicoPicoGames is the next best thing: a collection of tiny, addictive NES-like minigames. Frankly, we'd happily pay for scrolling shooter GunDiver and the Denki Blocks-like Puzzle; that they're free and joined by several other great games is astonishing.

PicoPicoGames

29. Escape from NOM

Another entry in the physics game genre, Escape from NOM differentiates itself by lacking a price-tag but nonetheless rolling in nice graphics and gameplay. The aim is to drop 'Alan' and use obstacles and bumpers to get him safely into coloured goo at the bottom of the screen. However, he must be the same colour as said goo when he reaches it and avoid hungry NOMs.

Escape from nom

30. Need For Cheese

This tilt-based avoid 'em up has you steering clear of cats (especially red ones that home in on you), munching cheese and grabbing power-ups to smash evil cats off the screen. Need For Cheese is simple, but a first-rate quickfire highscore game that rivals Bit Pilot for best-in-class.

Need for cheese