Most addictive games for iPhone and iPad you might not have tried: Football Chairman, Threes and more
We have to admit, we're spending some serious time with Football Chairman on the iPad at the moment. The game is as addictive as chocolate-covered Jelly Belly jelly beans and it's obvious when you look at Twitter or the iTunes charts that we're not alone.
So that started us thinking about all the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad games that we've found that once you start playing you can't put down. There are many obvious ones, such as Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, Tiny Wings and even a bundle of other titles that don't even feature birds, but we've decided to give you a heads up on addictive games that you might not have tried or heard about before.
Some are free-to-play, some cost cash, but they all share one thing in common; they'll make you want to stay on the bus or train even beyond your stop or station.
As it was the inspiration for this collection, it makes complete sense to start with Football Chairman. Most football management games ask you take control of a team, existing or made up, and guide them to glory through coaching, transfers and mucking about with team selections and tactics. However, Football Chairman dispenses with much of the more intricate control by putting you in the shoes of the person running a club, not the manager him or herself.
In fact, you are charged with hiring the manager, who will then select the team without your interference. You can sack them when they are not performing and even set the transfer budget and have final say on whether cash should be spent. You can also dedicate funds to improving the stadium and training facilities and there's little more to it than that. However, watching the results come in each week as you try to take your newly-formed team to the Premiership and cup glory can be as rewarding or excruciating as the real thing.
In a word, brilliant.
You can even try a less featured version for free in Football Chairman Lite before opting to pay the three quid for the full version. And while both have in-app purchases, it is possible to succeed without paying an extra penny.
Hill Climb Racing
Hill Climb Racing is not the prettiest game out there, but it has that special magic that means you have to keep going and beating every course and distance set. Without break or sleep.
It's a 2D scrolling racer where the aim is to get as far as you can on limited amount of fuel. There is money to be collected along the way, which you can spend to upgrade your car or other bought vehicle, and you will often need to as the upgrades are the only way you'll be able to climb some of the in-game hills in order to progress even further.
There are multiple tracks to navigate, including one set in a land of perpetual Christmas, and more have been added since the game first came out a couple of years ago. It's well worth revisiting even if you put is to once side back then.
There are in-app purchases to help you progress faster, but we've found that perseverance meant that we could complete just about all of it without paying real cash even once.
You know that an app is special when a number of clones start to appear on the App Store soon after. Threes is one of those games that many have tried - and failed - to emulate.
It's a remarkably simple concept, but extremely tricky to master - hence the addictive quality. You have a board on which numbers appear. You can match a two and a one to make three and then match number divisible by three together to try to create the highest number possible before you entirely fill the board and have no spaces left.
It's played by swiping up, down, left or right and the entire board moves in the related direction. A number stops if it hits the wall, and if it can be matched with the number directly next to it as you swipe, it will grow.
You don't even need to be good at maths to play the game. knowing one plus two equals three is as hard as that gets. You will need to have the will power of a saint to tear yourself away from it, however.
Fairway Solitaire Blast
A new game that's recently hit the App Store, Fairway Solitaire Blast takes the traditional Klondike Solitaire card game concept and adds gophers, lasers, snakes and golf.
The puzzle game is by Big Fish Games, most commonly associated with hidden object adventures, and we think it has a hit on its hands. It is simple to get to grips with - just remove cards from the board by eliminating those that are next in the sequence - but it borrows elements from other hugely successful franchises, such as Facebook connectivity and leaderboards, three star goals and more.
As levels progress, power-ups and trickier positions are introduced and the whole experience becomes more thought-provoking. However, it never takes long to play a round, and therein lies its casual gaming beauty.
In-app purchase are naturally involved, it is a free-to-play game after all, but we've not yet found any need to pay.
Ubisoft and RedLynx has finally released an official Trials game for mobile devices and it features the same intuitive and addictive gameplay as its console and PC predecessors.
Unlike the forerunners, however, Trials Frontier adds a storyline and defined mission structure to the game. The sometimes fiendish sideways scrolling motorbike stunt game is the same during the levels themselves, but you have different tasks to perform and a payment system that you can use to upgrade your hog.
Of course, as a free-to-play game there are in-app purchases aplenty, with the fact that fuel is limited and only replenishes in time (or if you pay real cash for more). You can therefore only play a set amount of tracks before having to put the game down. This could be a blessing though, as it can really eat into your day otherwise.
Kairosoft has set a mighty stall in creating mobile business sims, with its most famous perhaps being its first: Game Dev Story. It has released many since that first great game and Pocket Stables is the latest to get us hooked.
It features the same 8-bit pixel graphics that the developer is famed for, but switches the management aspects to the world of horse racing - a much-loved pastime in Japan, Kairosoft's home. You must train and maintain horses with the ultimate goal being to win the Triple Crown races within 17 years. You won't be able to do it with the horse or horses you initially buy, so much breed a champion over time.
Building your ranch and stables does feel a little tacked on and from a different game, and some have complained that the game is too easy (not something we found), but there's absolutely no denying that you'll want to keep going until you have a champion.
Score! World Goals
With the World Cup coming up and one of the best Premier League title chases in recent memory, football games are performing well on iTunes at present. And there's certainly no shortage of good ones, including New Star Soccer, Flick Kick Football legends and the aforementioned Football Chairman. But Score! is a different kettle of fish.
The game essentially gives you hundreds of great goals from throughout the history of the sport to re-enact through drawing paths for passes and shots as they happened in real life. There are plenty of extra goal packs available too and different levels of difficulty. You earn coins in the game or buy them through in-app purchases and these can unlock more packs.
Its addictiveness lies in the fact that while you might be able to complete each goal, you are rated for each pass or shot, so there's an impulse to keep trying to get the perfect result. It's also great reliving some classic footballing moments.
Farm Heroes Saga
Developer King is most famous perhaps for its other match-three game Candy Crush Saga, but we feel that Farm Heroes Saga is very much a game that improves on its stablemate thanks to hindsight.
It is basically the same type of puzzle game, but seems to flow more smoothly, with a more forgiving difficulty curve.
Like Candy Crush Saga, it too connects to Facebook, so you can pick up and play on in the game using any compatible device, even through Facebook on a desktop computer and leaderboards and progress can be tracked socially. Some words of warning, however; like all of King's games, in-app purchases are available en masse and sometimes you will find that levels, while not impossible, are very tricky without the right power-up.
Also, it can be very aggressive if you want to contact friends to help you with lives and unlocking new level sets. We've found ourselves that many of our Facebook friends were being inundated with requests.
Nimblebit is the developer behind Tiny Tower - Star Wars and vanilla versions - so has some pedigree in the free-to-play management simulation arena, but Disco Zoo is arguably its finest game yet.
You run a zoo and must collect animals from several different habitats to show visitors. This is done through a Battleships-style grid game mode, which mixes the play a little. There are time management features, where the animals fall to sleep and therefore don't earn you money while doing so, and this is where the disco bit comes into it.
If your animals are asleep, you can either wake them up manually or spend a disco coin to hold a, well, disco. Everybody, animals, park staff and visitors alike, then boogie for a set time, earning you bonus coins and waking all animals in the zoo.
It's fun and silly and we like that sort of thing.
Clash of the Clans is perhaps developer Supercell's biggest hit but its answer to Farmville, Hay Day, is always close behind on in the app charts.
You are a farmer and must grow crops and keep animals to sell or use to create other produce in order to generate cash to expand your farm. It's a simple concept and Supercell's genius is in the way it gradually adds layers of new gameplay elements in order to keep you even more busy over time. You start out with some basic concepts, but eventually there are many different aspects to handle, yet you never feel overwhelmed.
There is also something very satisfying in its swipe control in order to reap crops, and the cutesy graphics seem perfect suited. There are plenty of in-app purchases, and it is a difficult game to progress through quickly if you don't want to shell out real money, but it's possible and rewarding if you manage it.