Our favorite free iPhone soccer, golf, tennis and basketball games.
Nano Golf: Hole In One
Nano Golf: Hole In One is mini golf in fast forward, redefined as a pastime of perfection. Every tiny course you’re presented with must be completed in a single shot. Miss just once and your game is over.
Shooting, at least, is simple enough – you drag your finger back to aim/set power, and then let go. The game’s also rather generous regarding how near to the hole you need to be in order to succeed.
Given the hazards on these courses, that’s just as well. Along with the usual awkward corners and bumps, there are ball-frying heaters and teleporters, and some courses take place underwater. It’s all simple stuff, but the compulsion loop here is strong – not least because you can rattle through a complete game in a matter of minutes.
Rowdy Wrestling is a sports game that doesn’t take itself remotely seriously – and that says a lot, given the spectacle it’s simulating. But all the weirdness of pro wrestling has nothing on this game, which features ludicrously bouncy physics and fighters whose arms whirl around in an entertainingly cartoonish manner.
There’s the feeling throughout that you’re only just in control, whether trying to dropkick an opponent in the face, or unceremoniously hurl them out of the ring. But when Rowdy Wrestling clicks, it grabs hold for good. Just as well, then, that you get a range of modes – Tag Team; a solo career; and the ‘last man standing’ Rumble – along with multiple fighters to unlock.
Golfing Around transports you to a simpler age of golf video games. You don’t get lush 3D visuals, enough club choices to give a pro caddie a nervous breakdown, or inch-perfect takes on real-life courses. Instead, you have basic controls, minimal top-down visuals, and a handful of holes dreamed up by the developer.
On iPhone, though, this works really well. The visuals provide clarity, and the straightforward controls afford Golfing Around immediacy. There’s some nuance too – push the power meter into the red and your aim wobbles about, your dream of extra distance at risk from potentially smacking the ball in the wrong direction.
All this ensures Golfing Around makes the cut, but it’s boosted up the leaderboard by a construction kit. Making and sharing your own courses is a cinch. Probably don’t spell out “I prefer soccer actually” using water traps, mind.
Kind of Soccer
Kind of Soccer will be catharsis in gaming form for anyone who ever felt their soccer team was wronged by an official. That’s because although this game has a pitch and a ball, points are scored by belting the ball directly at the referee’s head.
The controls are a straightforward slingshot – just drag an arrow indicator and let rip. At first, your only danger is bad aim – kick the ball out of bounds and a point is awarded against your team – but in later rounds, defenders attempt to save the ref from a beating.
Fortunately, you can continue your unsporting rage by using bonuses that pop-up, including laser sights, and one option that entertainingly turns every opposition player into a tree.
DROLF is mini golf combined with scribbling and a smattering of route-finding. Courses start in bare-bones, incomplete fashion. You see a ball, a hole, and perhaps a few walls. You then draw on the screen to add new barriers, before dragging a line to smack the ball on its way.
This isn’t a game that cares a jot for realism. The ball has endless momentum and merrily bounces around enclosed spaces like a trapped fly before – with luck – finding the hole, or exiting the screen.
But DROLF wants to be played, and so the only limitations are your pot of scribbling ink (for which you get unlimited undos) and your cunning planning powers when battling later stages packed full of magnets, fans and moving walls. As a tactile touchscreen reimagining of a fun pastime, it’s more hole-in-one than out of bounds.
Pocket Run Pool
Pocket Run Pool reimagines pool for the solo player. It gives you a table from above, with the twist that each of the pockets has a multiplier on it. Your score comprises the number on the ball multiplied by the number on the pocket, and you lose one of your three lives every time you miss a shot or pocket the white.
Aficionados of videogame pool may grumble at this game’s basic nature. The visuals are 2D and minimal, and there’s some major hand-holding regarding aiming. But any such complaints miss the point.
Pocket Run Pool isn’t about slavish realism, but taking a fresh look at pool, and fashioning a modern, quick solo game around scoring and taking risks, rather than getting soundly beaten again and again by a computer opponent on a 3D table.
Golf Up is an endless golfing game. However, as its name might suggest, this isn’t about forever belting a ball across a horizontal landscape - the holes here head towards the heavens.
Everything about Golf Up is pretty basic. The visuals are clean, and the audio sparse. The controls are straightforward, too: drag a finger to set direction and power. A little aiming arc even helps predict where the ball will go.
A simple game, then, but Golf Up quickly proves itself to be a relaxing, meditative arcade experience, with a hint of strategy and risk. There’s no timer and no rush, but you always know you’re only one shot from your ball falling into the abyss, ending your latest attempt at a new high score.
Flick Soccer 17
Flick Soccer is all about scoring goals by booting a ball with your finger. It looks very smart, with fairly realistic visuals and nicely arcade-y ball movement. You can unleash pretty amazing shots as you aim for the targets, and occasionally bean a defender.
The game includes several alternate modes, providing a surprising amount of variation on the basic theme. There’s a speed option that involves flicking at furious speed, and the tense sudden-death Specialist, which ends your go after three failed attempts to hit the target.
Rather more esoteric fare also lurks, demanding you repeatedly hit the crossbar, or smash panes of glass a crazy person has installed in the goalmouth.
Like real-world sport on the TV, Flick Soccer is a bit ad-infested. You can, though, remove ads with a one-off $0.99/99p/AU$1.99 IAP, or – ironically – turn them off for ten minutes by watching an ad.
Playing football on your own can be dull – that is, unless you’re the sporty hero of Footy Golf. As ever, scoring is the main aim – and there’s a goal to be found somewhere on each course. But along the way, you can also collect coins someone’s generously left lying around.
The controls are straightforward (aim with a directional arrow and then let rip); much of the challenge comes in trying to maximize your star rating by reaching the goal using the fewest possible kicks. You’ll also have to navigate increasingly complex courses as you move through a city, caverns, a factory, and a scorching desert.
The game’s a bit ad-infested, with a mildly hateful level unlock mechanism that encourages grinding, but played in bite-sized chunks, it’s definitely more ‘match winner’ than ‘own goal’.
Frisbee Forever 2
Flinging a plastic disc about isn’t the most thrilling premise for a game, which is why it’s a surprise Frisbee Forever 2 is so good. The game finds a little toy careening along rollercoaster-like pathways, darting inside buildings and tunnels, and soaring high above snow-covered mountains and erupting volcanos.
You simply dart left and right, keeping aloft by collecting stars, and avoiding hazards at all costs – otherwise your Frisbee goes ‘donk’ and falls sadly to the ground. Grab enough bling and you unlock new stages and Frisbees.
This game could have been a grindy disaster, but instead it’s a treat. The visuals are superb – bright and vibrant – and the courses are smartly designed. And even if you fail, Frisbee Forever 2 lobs coins your way, rewarding any effort you put in.
PKTBALL is tennis on fast-forward – a racket game that appears to have absorbed the pace and power from air hockey, squash, and a demented take on classic videogame Pong.
Each match features cute characters facing off, smacking a ball back and forth at insane speed. Bonuses regularly appear on the court, and if you can direct the ball over one, you might end up with some shields – or find the ball unhelpfully turns into a fish.
It’s like Wimbledon as reimagined by Salvador Dali. And PKTBALL’s bonkers nature only increases once you start collecting characters. Courts become strewn with rainbows, searing neon-nightmares, or have games of Tetris running in the background.