A few years ago, Newtoy, makers of the “With Friends” series of casual online games, received an unexpected endorsement. After being told to turn off his smartphone on a plane, actor Alec Baldwin– deep in a game of Words With Friends– was booted off an American Airlines flight from the runway. We can sympathize, because once you start playing these incredibly competitive board and word games, it’s hard to stop.
Words With Friends
There’s something incredibly familiar about Words With Friends– the numbered letter tiles, the triple-word scores– but this is more than just another Scrabble clone. Words With Friends caught on in a big way because of its social features, like being able to challenge friends online and take turns sending words back and forth. However, Words With Friends is online-only, so you won’t be able to play a solo game against the computer. Still, if you actually have friends (or don’t mind some random matchmaking), you’ll be able to find plenty of competition with this app.
Key Quote: “Words With Friends is a bare-bones Scrabble clone with legs. We still hope to see some new features down the line, and some fixes for the infrequent technical issues. But if you’re a word game master, Words With Friends is definitely worth picking up.”
Hanging With Friends
Hangman may not have the same complexity as Scrabble, but Hanging With Friends adds enough new features to make it feel like more than just a grade-school pastime. Like in Words With Friends, you have to form your word out of pre-selected letters, which also gives you a point value. Your opponent can make random guesses, and use special abilities to receive hints. The more you play, the more coins you’ll earn for hints and unlockable characters. Hanging With Friends also comes in an ad-supported free version, so we recommend giving this Must Have game a try.
Key Quote: “Regardless of any minor complaints, we’re having a total blast with Hanging With Friends, and we plan to keep playing for a long time to come. It’s a very polished version of the pencil-and-paper classic that anyone who likes word games will enjoy.”
Matching With Friends
In a departure from word and board games, Matching With Friends is a bit closer to Bejeweled. You and a friend take turns placing rows of tiles onto a board, and the object is to match three of the same color together. Ideally, you want to place a set of tiles that completes larger chains, racks up points, and lets you brag to your friends about your superior matching skills. You can also buy bomb power-ups, which will demolish a larger portion of the board. Although we found the visuals to be underwhelming, this is still an accessible and addictive social puzzler.
Key Quote: “Matching with Friends plays like the others with its easy to understand gameplay and its buyable power-ups, but it may not be enough to make the game as exciting as the others in its family.”
Running With Friends
Zynga (which acquired Newtoy in 2010) chose to make their mark on the auto-running genre with Running With Friends. With this free download, you could play competitively against other friends in order to race to see who can race the farthest. The character customization and social features are once again the biggest draw, even if the running gameplay isn’t anything new. While we still prefer Jetpack Joyride for our auto-running high-scores, the online components helped make Running With Friends yet another hit.
Key Quote: “Is Running with Friends perfect? Not in the least. But it’s a fantastic amalgamation of what made the games in the rest of the series so memorable. It’s bright, cheerful, and potentially another moneymaker for Zynga.”
Tomorrow, we’ll close out the week with the fastest blue hedgehog in all of gaming, Sega’s mascot Sonic.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.