Today’s featured games don’t have a common storyline, theme, or gameplay style– but they do share something special. Popcap games are known for their colorful characters, easy accessibility, and rich, unique gameplay. These iOS games, from Peggle to Plants vs Zombies, belong on every gamers’ iOS device.
Although it’s not Popcap’s most popular Match-3 game (Bejeweled takes that honor), Chuzzle is worth playing, too. These tribble-like hairballs come in a variety of different colors, and your goal is to group them together by sliding an entire row. Large chuzzles, multicolored chuzzles, and locked chuzzles appear at higher levels to give you some extra challenge. Our biggest complaint with this game was that there’s no storyline, but the variety of modes still keep us entertained years later.
Key Quote: “Chuzzle is quite addictive, but it lacks depth. There is no storyline to follow or online leaderboards to post high scores to. High scores, combos, and level progression will fill your trophy room with odd-looking achievement icons, but there is no way to show others your awards.”
Bejeweled has an interesting history on the App Store. After launching early on as a standalone app, it was later pulled and replaced with the version you can read about below. Popcap also released a freemium game called Bejeweled Blitz, which let you run through a timed mode and post your scores as a challenge to your friends on Facebook. No matter which version you play, the gameplay is mostly the same– line up groups of colorful gems and cause a cascade of points. It’s been imitated hundreds of times, but they still can’t beat the sparkling atmosphere and ease of play of these original Bejeweled games.
Key Quote: “Bejeweled is one of those timeless games that’s built on a rock-solid foundation of fun gameplay and appeals to casual and serious gamers alike. The three modes included here are all well-designed offerings, each with a very different feel from the others.”
Peggle is a unique twist on pachinko, and we’ve never seen another game quite like it. You have to shoot steel balls into a level lined with pegs, then watch it bounce crazily until it reaches the bottom. After each round, the pegs will disappear and give you points. The goal is to destroy all the orange pegs, but the bonus challenge levels force you to clear every level, use a limited number of shots, or reach a high score. As you progress, you’ll unlock new friendly animals who can grant you special powers. On iOS, special considerations were given to the screen size and touchscreen controls. The port translated extremely well and won our Game of the Month award in May 2009.
Key Quote: “Good gravy. We knew Peggle was dangerously addictive on the PC, but this is ridiculous! We just spent the last half-day playing straight through, and we still haven’t had enough. We’re going to fall right back off the wagon tomorrow.”
Plants vs Zombies
The original Plants vs Zombies was a unique twist on tower defense, or “flower defense”. Zombies slowly approach your house from the right side of the screen, and you have to plant your defenses in five rows on the left side. Sunflowers produce sunlight, the in-game currency, which you can then use to plant pea shooters, cabbage-pults, and other clever weapons. As a paid download, PvZ contained numerous levels set in different environments, with a finale against Dr. Zomboss that was extremely memorable. This charming and addictive strategy game has become one of Popcap’s most popular franchises, and it finally earned a sequel this year.
Key Quote: “Remarkably, Plants vs Zombies starts off great and gets even better as you play. By the time you’re done with adventure mode, you’ll have unlocked most of the game and still be happy to start over, with your plants unlocked and a chance to earn even more goodies. This is a very special game, full of personality, and both thoughtful strategy gamers and zombie hunters alike will love it.”
Plants vs Zombies 2
The sequel to PvZ is notable for being a free download, with a few of the first game’s plants available only as an in-app purchase. But even if you never spend a dime, you can still find hours of compelling gameplay in PvZ 2. The sequel takes you, along with Crazy Dave and his time machine, to different eras. Egyptian, pirate, and cowboy zombies each have their own unique special abilities, like swashbucklers who swing into the middle of your defenses, or a saloon piano player who makes the zombies dance into different lanes. It’s got a unique business model, but PvZ 2 is still more of the great gameplay that we love.
Key Quote: “PopCap has created a fine sequel and an impressive model for free games to follow. They certainly haven’t reinvented the wheel here, but there’s plenty of levels included (and more on the way), tons of plants and enemies, and loads of fun to be had. Better yet, it’s likely that only impatient gamers will feel much need to spend real money.”
Tomorrow, we’ll look at a platform-defining racing series for iOS, Real Racing.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.