A Dozen Games That Make iPhone Gaming Worthwhile

So you got a fancy new iPhone over the holidays, or maybe you've had one for a bit but are looking for some games to kill time at the airport, or snowed-in apartment. Don't worry, we've got your back.

I'm a pretty regular gamer on the iPhone and I spent the past month or so putting together what I think is the must have list of games for the iPhone. Why a dozen? Because that's how many can fit neatly in a single folder on your device.

I've tried to limit my selection to cross-section of different types of games that came out this year, but some older ones just had to be included. There are plenty of other fantastic games out there worth checking out. Feel free to make your own lists in comments.

Here we go.

Angry Birds


Price: $1
Sure, Angry Birds actually came out in the final month of 2009, but it's such a great game that it would be a travesty not to include it on this list. What may seem like a simple concept, slingshot birds into forts made by pigs, becomes an addictive puzzle game thanks to the wonderful art design, simple sense of humor and fun mechanics. If you buy just one iPhone game, make it this one.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2


Price: On sale for $1
I struggle to find first-person shooters on the iPhone I like. The lack of physical controllers make playing such a fast-paced, precision-heavy genre on the iPhone often frustrating, but Battlefield: Bad Company 2 manages to polish the rough spots enough in the genre to make the game fun to play online. I'm not saying this is the perfect iPhone shooter, but it's the one I'm having the most fun playing right now. The game includes a full 14-level, singleplayer campaign, as well as the ability to play online or locally on multiple devices. There are two things that bug me about the multiplayer. The game only includes two maps and the matchmaking is horrendous. Hopefully a patch will address both of these issues.

Dungeon Defenders: First Wave


Price: On sale for $3
This is the second game built on Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3 and it does the graphics engine proud. Dungeon Defenders is an online cooperative action role-playing game that leans heavily on the mechanics of tower defense titles. What's that mean? You play as a hero setting traps, casting spells, building towers to fight off the hordes of enemies attacking your castle. You also get to run around and fend off the creatures yourself, leveling up, finding loot and, occasionally, dying. It's a blast to play and it's a universal app, meaning it will play full-screen on the iPad or iPhone.

Dungeon Hunter 2


Price: $6.99
Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter 2 brings more of what made the original Diablo-clone so much fun to play with the addition of online multiplayer and plenty more dungeons to crawl. Despite rather generic graphics and plot, the game's dungeon crawling, loot-heavy action is hard to put down. And this time the game has three character classes, each with two specializations and a much bigger world. If you're into Diablo, or dungeon crawlers, you should pick this up.

Glee Karaoke


Price: $1
Made by Smule, the folks that brought magic fiddles, T-Pain and the Ocarina to the iPhone and iPad, this clever karaoke game has you pop on headphones and sing to the lyrics running down your iPhone's screen. The iPhone, in turn, autotunes your voice and records it. If you like the final product you can share it with the world, literally. An option in the game lets you put your music out on Glee Karaoke's virtual world for other to listen to and, if they'd like, sing a duet with you. It's a clever way to make karaoke on your own feel like a social experience.

Hook Worlds


Price: $1
Russ over at MTV's Multiplayer just turned me onto this wonderful, pick-up-and-play title. The game has you running and grappling-hooking your way through four different worlds with one of four different characters. Each world has it's own special challenges, like needing to shoot ghosts or deal with reversed gravity. Hook Worlds is a bit like Cannabalt only with grappling hooks, guns and hats, lots of hats.

Infinity Blade


Price: $6
The first iPhone game built with Epic's Unreal Engine 3 tech is a beautiful thing to behold and, much more importantly, a joy to play. The game has you dueling increasingly difficult Titans as you make your way through the Dark Citadel and toward the God King. Players swipe the screen to attack and parry with their sword, tap to use potions and shields and trace symbols to cast spells. Your knight's weapons, armor, shield, helmet and ring can all be upgraded and developer Chair Entertainment promises multiplayer is coming early next year. You owe it to yourself to pick up this wonderfully crafted, unique iPhone gaming experience.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light


Price: $7
I was a big fan of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light when it came to consoles and, it turns out, I'm just as big a fan of the iPhone version. The game translates surprisingly well, using twin digital thumbsticks to let players control Croft's movements and in which direction she fires her twin handguns. You can also tap over to a spear, which can be thrown into walls and then jumped up on to get to hard to reach spots. Croft also has a mine she can drop and later detonate. The game comes with ten levels, a plethora of challenges and the ability to play through the game cooperatively with a friend.

Plants Vs. Zombies


Price: $3
Tower defense games may be a bit overplayed on the iPhone, but Plants Vs. Zombies is a wonderful twist on the genre that makes every moment with it a pure delight. Players defend their home from an increasingly bizarre collection of zombies with an equally strange collection of pea-shooting, zombie eating plants. The premise may sound odd, but don't let that fool you.

Real Racing 2


Price: $10
Firemint's original Real Racing was a marvel, but Real Racing 2 blows it away. The game includes a plethora of ways to control your car during races, 30 licensed vehicles, a multitude of camera views, 15 locations and up to 16 vehicle online races. You can also host 8-player local WiFi races. This is the racing game for the iPhone.

Smurfs' Village


Price: Free with paid content
Smurfs' Village isn't much different than the countless free-to-play simulators that pack iTunes, but it does have one thing going for it: Smurfs! If you loved the cartoon, you're probably going to like the game. Sure you still have to plant and harvest, build and wait, and wait, and wait. But the opportunity to create your own village of such lovingly detailed Smurfs is hard to resist. The game also has a fairly nice selection of mini games and if you really want to get into it, you can spend cash to buy Smurfberries to speed up the growth of your crops and village. Just don't cheat, or you'll get a stern note from Papa Smurf.

Words with Friends


Price: Free or $1 for the ad-free version
Another classic that should be on everyone's iPhone. Words with Friends is essentially Scrabble with a much better matchmaking system, and user interface. Words with Friends supports in-game chatting, pass and play and the ability to play up to 20 games simultaneously. You'll never be Scrabble-free again.

While your loading up your iPhone, you also might want to check out our guide to the best free games out there right now. And if you're interested, check out last year's list.