Holiday Buyer’s Guide

There are holiday buyer’s guides for all sorts of things: clothes, shoes, console games, food… and each guide definitely makes it a bit easier to shop during the holidays.  And while I can’t imagine anyone gifting apps for Christmas, there’s bound to be some iTunes giftcard gifts out there.

So, let’s create a situation in which you received a $50 iTunes giftcard.  What do you get?


Need for Speed Shift: It’s only $0.99 right now, and you really can’t get much better than this (aside from Real Racing 2).  Grab it quickly though, as I have no clue how long this EA sale is going to last.

AND Real Racing 2: On the expensive side, and it’ll eat 10 of your $50, but it’s totally worth it.  Of course, that’s only if you liked the first one and don’t mind a bit of repetitive racing here and there.  It’s great, and you can’t get a more quality-filled game than Real Racing 2.

Total: $10.99


Aralon HD: It’s universal, extremely expansive, provides over 30 hours of gameplay, but it is a bit expensive at $6.99.  You do get what you pay for—a fully-featured 3D RPG unrivaled in the App Store—and that’s the main reason why this is my first recommendation to all of you shoppers out there.

Alternative: Zenonia 2: If you’re tending to go with the cheapest RPG out there, you can’t get much more bang for the buck than Zenonia 2.  It’s on sale for $0.99, and while I don’t know how long that sale’s going to last, it’s definitely a solid, entertaining RPG.  There is a lot of grinding, but hey, the game as a whole is pretty solid.

Alternative 2: Infinity Blade: This new, shiny RPG from Chair won’t give you much content—I’ve spent around 4 hours on this—but it does provide a fun and unique experience, along with some of the best graphics you will ever see on this device.  It is a bit expensive at $5.99, so that’s the main reason it’s the 2nd alternative.  Other than that, this is one game that you must try if you have the budget.

Total: $6.99


Madden NFL 11 (or any EA Sports title): I have to default to my love for football and put Madden here, but NBA Elite 11 is also a nice choice.  EA’s fire sale is really nice for all of you shoppers out there, and it’s really something that should be taken advantage of.  While Madden NFL on the iPhone is still maybe a year away from being great,  it’s enough to satiate your football needs.  It’s $0.99, and with not many sports titles on the iPhone, it stands out.

Alternative: Touchgrind: Is this a sports title?  I would say it is, and that’s the main reason why it’s on here.  While it’s $4.99 and nearly two and a half years old, it’s still one of the most unique games on the App Store.  It’s fun, challenging, and gives a wow factor in place of the lack of content.  Again, if you have the budget, fit this one in.

Total: $0.99

First-Person Shooters

Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus: This wins by a landslide.  Arguably one of my most favorite games on the App Store—not just first-person shooters—its robust online multiplayer mode alongside the 6-or-so hour single player campaign mode, it’s definitively one of the best gaming experiences to date.  Sure, it’s a rip off of Modern Warfare 2.  But it’s one heck of a rip off.

Total: $6.99


Fruit Ninja: This is probably the toughest category to pick from since there are so many that are so good, but Fruit Ninja is probably the one that I have spent the most hours on.  I’m sure a lot of you out there reading this have picked it up, hence the alternatives, but if you haven’t, this should be your first choice.

Alternative: Flight Control: Anything can go here really—Doodle Jump, Angry Birds, Angry Birds Christmas—but Flight Control has been one of my favorite even today.  Now, I understand if you have this game already, so head on to the second alternative for maybe a choice you haven’t heard of yet.

Alternative 2: Robot Unicorn Attack (Christmas, Heavy Metal, Original): Robot Unicorn Attack is quite enjoyable, with all those GameCenter achievements and all.  The graphics do still need some improvement, and you can play the game for free on Facebook.  But they’re fun, and they’re all $0.99.  If you had to pick one I would go with the Christmas, since it’s the only one packed with GameCenter.  And of course, because it’s Christmas.

Total: $0.99


Edge: Mobigame has updated this game nearly two years after release; yes, it hasn’t really been two whole years because of legal trouble, but Edge is pretty old nonetheless.  It’s universal, has Retina graphics, contains GameCenter achievement and leaderboards, and it’s quite frankly one of the best games I’ve ever played.  I tend to say that a lot, but Edge is a nice pick here for $2.99.

Alternative: Cut the Rope: Cut the Rope is just plain fun, along with the fact that it’s easy enough for casual gamers to get into.  It’s got GameCenter achievements and leaderboards, Retina graphics, and even a free Holiday Edition you can download on the App Store.  I’m not going to lie, Cut the Rope is pretty fun.  And for $0.99, it’s a great grab.

Total: $2.99


Super QuickHook: This is probably the best “Hook Champ” game of the three—Hook Champ, Super QuickHook, and Hook Worlds—and it’s only $2.99.  While the developers could add some GameCenter, it’s enjoyable nonetheless.  I doubt you’ll be bored with this one, as if you beat it, there’s a lot of replay value to keep you playing.

AND Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor: You won’t find any game like this on any other platform.  This is beauty at its finest, and it’s totally worth the whole $0.99 and more.  It’s got GameCenter achievements and leaderboards, which is a bonus, and it’s definitely one game that makes the iPhone unique.

Total: $3.99


Rock Band Reloaded: This is ONLY if this is your first rhythm game that you have played on your iDevice.  If not, then you can check out the alternatives.  With that said, Rock Band Reloaded contains over 30 songs for free, and for $4.99, that’s the best deal you will get on a content perspective.  While it isn’t groundbreaking in anyway, Rock Band Reloaded is the cheapest and provides a pretty basic experience into the rhythm game genre.

Alternative: Guitar Hero: Not much content here for $2.99, and you’ll probably be spending close to $6.99 with DLC content, but the game experience itself is probably the best among all the other rhythm games that I have played.  It’s enjoyable, and I can’t really ask for a better Guitar Hero experience.

Total: $4.99


Mirror’s Edge: Didn’t really know where to categorize this one, as it’s a platformer… but not really.  Either way, this is one game you HAVE to pick up for $0.99, preferably for the iPad.  It looks great on the iPhone though, and again, this is a sale that you should take advantage of.  Mirror’s Edge is a great game—albeit short—for a great price.

AND 100 Rogues: This is a game that has received a lot of love from us, especially Matt, and it’s one rogue-like that you can’t miss.  It’s on sale for $1.99, which makes it an even better deal than it already was at $4.99.  It’s universal, has GameCenter, and all the content to keep you fighting for hours upon end.

AND Warpgate: Arguably the best space sim/trader/action game on the App Store, Warpgate is unique, expansive, and provides tons of hours of gameplay.  The iPhone version is a bit cramped, in my opinion, but the storyline and graphics aren’t too shabby.  For $4.99, be ready to say bye bye to your social life and hello to your iPhone.

Total: $7.99


So with all that added up, you’ll have around $4 left.  With that you should check out the alternatives listed, and there’s enough games to last you at least a couple of months.  And if you already have all of these games, be sure to contact us on Twitter for some more suggestions.  And if we’re missing something, please leave your suggestion in the comments and we might just add it to our list.

Merry Christmas all, and have a Happy New Year!

About Daniel

I have been an iPhone game addict ever since the NES emulator came out on the 1.1.4 iPhone 2G. After 2.0 and the App Store came out, my iPhone homescreen has never been the same. Other than writing reviews for App Store games, I play soccer/football, American football, volleyball, and golf. I love going to the beach and fishing on the pier. Some games not available on iPhone/iPod Touch that I truly love are the Call of Duty series, Guitar Hero III, Madden NFL 09, and PGR: Gotham Racing.

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