26 best console games on iPhone

A look at 26 different titles on the iPhone and Android that gamers would consider "real" video games. Familiar franchises and known names that are a little more than the usual casual fare

  • What are the best console games for mobile?

    The games have all been around for a long time and are now considered classics. In all cases, what has seemed dated and old has been given a new lease of life and made fresh thanks to mobile gaming. It's not too surprising, modern phones are dramatically more powerful than the old consoles these originally ran on!
    All of these started out on the iPhone first but can nowadays also be found on Android.
    Picture: (Miquel Angel Pintanel Bassets, Flickr)
  • Rock Band

    With three different releases in Tapulous' Tap Tap series already available and selling well on the App Store, it wasn't apparent whether or not EA's Rock Band could break into an already loaded market. Surprisingly, EA hit hard with the iPhone adaptation of their music franchise, crafting it into one of the best music games on the App Store. Much like in the Tap Tap games, all four of Rock Band's selectable instruments are "played" by tapping corresponding virtual buttons as notes scroll down from the top of the screen. The game is aesthetically identical to the console versions, and there's even an in-game music store to purchase additional tracks from if the 26 included songs don't quite satisfy your hunger for more Rock Band.
  • The Sims 3

    The Sims is one of the most successful PC franchises in history, and EA has been (mostly unsuccessfully) attempting to port spinoffs of the franchise to platforms other than the PC for years. While swapping out a mouse for an obviously less accurate, chubby finger as the main control method for a game has its downsides, The Sims 3 works pretty well on the iPhone. It's fair to say that the game is more or less a significantly paired down adaptation of the PC game of the same name. We were disappointed with the iPhone version due to its lack of house-construction features and thinned-out customization options across the board, but if you're the type of Sims fan that likes to focus on building relationships amongst characters, the App Store port might get the job done for you.
  • Civilization Revolution

    2K Games surprised critics everywhere when they brought Sid Meier's legendary PC franchise to consoles in the summer of 2008, and the iPhone version of Civ Rev is arguably just as complete as the console release. 2K has been extremely consistent in addressing player complaints and fixing bugs via updates, a great practice that earns major props from us. With 16 unique civilizations to choose from and the ability to achieve victory through military, cultural, scientific, or economic domination, this is a full-featured version of a Civ game that even the hardcore fans of the PC games will appreciate.
  • Earthworm Jim

    Earthworm Jim was a 16-bit darling that is affectionately remembered by many, and its still-active cult following will vehemently swear on its status as "one of the all-time greats." In one example out of many of Gameloft stepping up as a great developer/publisher in 2009, this port of the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis classic is excellent, imbedding on-screen controls that work like a charm. The original soundtrack has been remastered for the iPhone port, and the game looks gorgeous on the touch screen. As one iTunes customer/reviewer so eloquently put it, "it's Earthworm Jim on the iPhone. Good job."
  • Doom Classic

    With four-player online support, extensively customizable controls, and all three of the original game's episodes plus a newer fourth (titled "Thy Flesh Consumed"), Doom Classic is a prime example of a port done right. Those with fond memories of blasting demons and fragging college buddies via LAN deathmatch while hunched over an early '90s computer screen will feel right at home with this game. iD's respect for their source material runs deep; players can choose to listen to the game's original soundtrack if they wish, but their own music library is a viable alternative if they can't handle the pure nostalgia.
  • SimCity

    Although the small iPhone touch screen is probably not the optimal way to view a full-featured SimCity game, EA went the extra mile to support their App Store release of the time-honored franchise by regularly releasing updates to address some stability issues that the first release of the game experienced. The game (which is a near-complete port of SimCity 3000) gives players total control over all the usual SimCity trappings like natural disasters, and a complete tutorial mode is included for new players.
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour

    Tiger Woods' iPhone debut is impressively full-featured. It allows players to make like Mrs. Woods and take a metal club to seven courses where you'll be able see if you can drive a ball further than Tiger can drive an SUV without crashing it on over 120 holes. All jokes aside, Sam Torrance and Kelly Tilghman provide real-time commentary during matches, and that combined with the crisp graphics make the App Store release of PGA Tour an undeniably viable alternative to the console edition.
  • Duke Nukem 3D

    On August 10th, 2009, MachineWorks Northwest did what other developers called impossible and released a Duke Nukem game. In a somewhat hilarious and shameless move, the developers proved that everyone connected to the Duke Nukem franchise is permanently stuck in the '90s by posting quotes from 13-year-old reviews of the original PC game in their App Store description of the game. All fun-poking aside, we found that with a little customization (which the iPhone version of Duke allows in spades) the controls work quite well and the 1996-era FPS gameplay had us captured all over again. Duke Nukem 3D was a game with real character, and although Apple has censored some of the more offensive bits of the original game for publication on the App Store (those strippers just aren't quite the same with all that pixilation), that unique sense of character still shines through.
  • Madden NFL 10

    Much like FIFA 10, the iPhone version of this long-running sports franchise packs in as much content as possible to make the game as similar as possible to the console games. While online multiplayer has failed to make an appearance here, local multiplayer via Bluetooth is an option, and we found that to be a lot of fun. One of the coolest features of the iPhone port of Madden is the ability to save a multiplayer game at any point and simply reconnect later to resume it. As with most sports games by Electronic Arts, unless you're on the road often you'll probably just want to stick with the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 versions of this game, but the iPhone adaptation is nonetheless a fun alternative for the console-less.
  • Tetris

    The best-selling game of all time has appeared on far too many platforms to count, and EA made sure that the iPhone wouldn't be excluded, dropping Tetris into the App Store a little over only a month after the App Store's introduction to the world. It might take a little bit of practice to get completely used to the slide-based controls, but within minutes you'll feel right at home. Tetris will automatically create a save for you if you have to quit in the middle of a game, a nice touch for any portable game. Aside from the traditional "marathon mode," the game also offers up a mission-based play option simply called "magic mode." It's Tetris, people. Either you love it or you don't.
  • Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies

    The Nazi Zombie mode in Call of Duty: World at War was a huge hit when introduced on consoles, so the sudden release of a dedicated CoD: Zombies game on the App Store raised a lot of eyebrows. World at War: Zombies features Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and online multiplayer, and although it only plays host to one map as of the time of this writing (Nacht der Untoten from the original console version), Activision has confirmed that more maps will be coming as pay-to-download DLC. We recommend the tilt-based control scheme for aiming, as we found it to provide the most console-like experience once mastered.
  • NBA Live

    NBA Live is generally considered to be the best among the iPhone ports of Electronic Arts' sports games, and for good reason. A simple gesture-based control scheme that revolves around only a virtual stick and two buttons allows for full control of players on the court; pump fakes, passes, blocking, stealing, and even a variety of dunks are possible through a simple flick of a finger. Console veterans will probably find that this iPhone version of their favorite basketball simulator won't completely replace the console version, but EA has probably created the best game possible considering the limitations of the iPhone hardware. The inclusion of classic players like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird only serves to make the App Store variant of this basketball series all the more enticing.
  • Command & Conquer Red Alert

    Developers have been struggling to find a way to make real-time strategy games work on the iPhone since the App Store's opening, and while Red Alert is in no way a perfect execution of the genre on the platform, it's notable for getting terribly close. The game uses the pinch-zoom, multi-touch, and drag features of the iPhone touch screen to allow for quick maneuvering of the battlefield and easy unit/group selection, so much of the Command & Conquer experience that PC veterans so fondly remember remains intact on the smaller screen, but potential customers will have to decide for themselves if they can tolerate obscuring the screen with their fingers to pull of basic RTS commands.
  • Doom Resurrection

    Doom Resurrection is an all-out effort to push the iPhone to its graphical limits, and the results are impressive. Unlike Doom Classic, Resurrection is not a port of an already existing game in the Doom franchise; it's an all-new game influenced heavily by Doom 3. The game's App Store description fails to mention that it's an on-rails shooter, not a "real" FPS, and while that may have caused some confusion that lead iD Software to lose some goodwill from their customers, it shouldn't keep you from checking out the game. As far as on-rails shooters go, it's by far the best that the App Store has to offer.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island

    Not content to release a straight port of the first game in the much-beloved Monkey Island series, LucasArts went all out, delivering a remastered Special Edition with a new musical score, new art, and full voiceovers. Much like the recently released Xbox Live Arcade version of The Secret of Monkey Island, the best part of this edition of the point-and-click classic is the ability to see what it looked like in the past; at any point in the game a simple two-finger swipe across the screen will cause the newly updated art and remastered audio to fade away and the game's original graphics will appear. This is a feature that those who remember the nearly 20-year-old PC game will find themselves using again and again. The good news for those fans is that they shouldn't worry that they're purchasing a second-hand product, as the iPhone version is roughly equivalent to the Xbox Live Arcade release.
  • The iPhone has a reputation as a platform exclusively for indie developers and ports of Flash games. What those who don't have access to one of Apple's do-it-all devices don't know is that there are numerous console developers who have begun to take the iPhone quite seriously as a platform, putting out well-crafted ports of their biggest franchises. We've constructed a list of 26 of some of the biggest names in gaming that have made an appearance on the iPhone. Admittedly, some are better than others, but all of them are worth picking up if you're a fan of the series on consoles because, quite frankly, games are ridiculously cheap on the App Store. So you can feel informed when spending your precious dollars we've banged out some text that is part information, part critique for each game on this list.

    It's important to note that this is not a list ranked in order of quality; this list is in alphabetical order.

    1 [[xref:|Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles|Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles]]

    As one of the first "console-style" games released on the App Store, Altair's Chronicles tickled the curiosity of countless iPhone owners, causing it to be an enormous commercial success. The game isn't open-world like its console counterpart, and most of the levels are designed to be played left-to-right like a sidescroller, but the game is, in fact, fully 3D. You’ll use of an on-screen virtual joystick to navigate Altair through the campaign, and AC's timing-based battle system is fully intact here, making it an experience that will impress even those accustomed to consoles.
  • Mass Effect Galaxy

    Mass Effect Galaxy is a unique entry into the ME universe that serves as a loose prequel to the upcoming Mass Effect 2, introducing two of its main characters and delving into their backstories. Unlike the console games, however, Galaxy is a top-down shooter than has been met with somewhat middling critical response. A weak framerate and automatic weapon firing are the two elements that keep Galaxy from being wholly recommendable, but those looking to wring just a little more story from the Mass Effect universe will probably get their money's worth out of this short adventure.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

    Releases of GTA: Chinatown Wars have been slowly rolled out across the DS, PSP, and finally iPhone, and with the already established quality of the other versions it might surprise some to report that the new iPhone edition is right on par with the other releases. Graphically, the App Store release is middle ground between the PSP adaptation and the original DS version, so it looks incredible on the touch screen. The super-low price point is what makes this edition of Chinatown Wars a must-buy, as the game costs triple that price on other platforms. The 3D isometric viewpoint doesn't take away a lick of that familiar GTA feel, so fans of the console games who haven't yet played a version of Chinatown Wars will be surprised by how faithful it is to its higher-budget counterparts.
  • Driver

    The original Driver was something of a groundbreaking title when it was first released for the PC and Playstation back in 1999. Over 10 years have passed since then and the Grand Theft Auto series has picked up the torch that Driver once carried (free-roaming 3D gang-themed games ripe with police pursuits), but Gameloft's port of Driver to the iPhone has proved that some games have a conspicuous ability to hold up well over time. The touch-screen controls for Driver's port are among the best on the device, and all of the various modes from the first game have been included for your amusement. It's just too bad that the replay viewing/editing options that made the original Driver so much fun to tool around with for hours on end didn't make it into the game's portable release.
  • Worms

    Since the series' inception in 1994, Team-17 has been faithfully delivering a slightly updated version of Worms almost every year. Other than the 3D spin-offs that were released in the first half of the '00s, these releases have been nothing more than graphical and mechanical refinements of the original Worms, and the iPhone version of the classic series is no exception to this rule. With the addition of the new Body Count mode, complete online leaderboards, the return of "action-replays," and four-player multiplayer via Bluetooth, this is a well-done port of a game that you probably already have.

    Follow GamePro Australia on Twitter: [[xref:|@GameProAu|Twitter: GamePro Australia]]
  • FIFA 10

    To call the iPhone version of FIFA 10 "full-featured" would be a severe understatement. Included in the package alongside the usual quick match and season play modes is Be a Pro mode, local Wi-Fi multiplayer, and over 500 playable teams. The on-screen controls (which consist of a virtual joystick and two buttons) work fairly well, but the eight-way control stick makes players look a little jumpy and unnatural whenever performing quick turns or evasive maneuvers. EA has been diligently putting out bug fixes through updates since the game's initial release, but there are still a few glaring occasional bugs that remain. If EA can iron out these lingering issues, FIFA 10 will easily be the best soccer game on the iPhone.
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition

    When Pac-Man C.E. was released on Xbox Live Arcade in mid-2007, it was celebrated as the revival that fans had been waiting for since Ms. Pac-Man. Developed by the creator of Pac-Man, Toru Iwatani, Championship Edition features a distinctively futuristic art direction and level progression focused more on getting as many points as possible within a time limit than finishing multiple individual levels like in the original. The iPhone adaptation of Pac-Man C.E. is essentially identical to the Xbox Live Arcade version, although in-game DLC must be purchased to "unlock" the full XBLA build of the game. While one might expect that a game like Pac-Man would demand physical button inputs in order to feel responsive, Namco has devised a dual-joystick control setup that works surprisingly well. That control scheme is selectable amongst three total control options, but it's the one that we recommend for serious players.
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

    As would be expected, the incredibly complex physics engine that debuted in the console release of The Force Unleashed doesn't make an appearance on the iPhone. Instead, this game uses a gesture-based battle system that works pretty similarly to the quick-time events popularized by God of War and Resident Evil 4. The entire game can be completed in a little over two hours, and much of that time is filled with impossible-to-skip, plodding cutscenes, so we can't really recommend this game for anyone other than the most rabid of Star Wars fans.
  • Metal Gear Solid Touch

    Much like Mass Effect Galaxy, the iPhone release of Metal Gear Solid is a serious departure from its console predecessors. Instead of the stealth elements that one might expect the game to incorporate, it positions itself as something of a fixed-screen first-person shooter that makes exclusive use of cover and shooting mechanics. You won't be diving under trucks or sneaking up on guards in this MGS4-based entry in the Metal Gear universe, but the simple tap-to-shoot gameplay can provide a good bit of entertainment for fans of the series who are just pining for a little bit more action in Solid Snake's shoes.
  • Need for Speed: Shift

    While the Need for Speed series has struggled for years to find its place as a middle of the road product between realistic simulation racing games like Forza Motorsport and more arcade-style franchises like Burnout, the recently released Need for Speed: Shift really found its sweet spot, earning nearly universally positive reviews. The iPhone variant manages to maintain much of the complex, sim-like control scheme from the console version while simultaneously delivering some of the best 3D visuals on the App Store. It might take players a while to get used to the touch-to-brake and tilt steering controls, but a little time spent delving into the Career mode reveals a distinctly complete experience.
  • Space Invaders Infinity Gene

    Much like Pac-Man Championship Edition, Space Invaders Infinity Gene takes its source material in a decidedly futuristic direction, but Infinity Gene makes some more drastic changes to the original Space Invaders formula than Pac-Man CE made to its predecessor. The further along that players make it into the game, the more modern the game becomes visually, so whereas the game starts out looking identical to the 1978 arcade edition, it eventually morphs into something similar to the 2001 Dreamcast cult classic Rez HD. Infinity Gene is a loving tribute to the gaming industry's first "killer app," (Space Invaders' original release on the Atari 2600 quadrupled the systems sales) and if vertical shooters are your thing you're likely to get a kick out of shooting for some top positions on the game's included global leaderboards.
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