Games can be wonderfully immersive experiences that teleport you to another world. They let you be the crime-fighting vigilante hero, the champion race car driver, or the legendary general cleverly fighting off a seemingly invincible enemy. And that’s great – if you’ve got the time.
Life has plenty of short waits, but today’s sprawling games don’t always fit into the moments spent twiddling your thumbs in a doctor’s office. This means a quick, challenging experience is not just an adrenaline rush, but a necessity. Here are five iOS apps that can scratch your gaming itch in five minutes or less.
PewPew [No Longer Available] / PewPew 2 ($2.99)
Dual-stick shooters are great five-minute fighters, but most of them available on iPad are of questionable quality. Getting the controls right is difficult, as is maintaining a framerate that provides butter-smooth gameplay.
PewPew manages to overcome both of these obstacles, and it does so while providing a good bit of fun. Instead of going for a pixel-art look or trying to wow you with amazing 3D graphics, this game uses old-school wire-frame models. As a result, PewPew plays without even the slightest hint of a hitch no matter what happens on-screen.
And a lot happens on-screen. There are five different modes, each of which is entirely unlike the others. Some, such as Asteroids, pay some obvious tribute to arcade classics, while others are completely unique. Each game mode ramps up the difficulty pretty quickly, so sessions last between two and five minutes for most players.
Best of all, PewPew is free with no strings attached. It essentially serves as a demo for PewPew 2, which goes for $2.99 and expands the list of game modes to nine.
Rayman Jungle Run ($2.99)
Ubisoft’s Rayman franchise established itself as a leader in modern big-budget 2d platformers with the release of Rayman Origins, a fast-paced and astoundingly unique title filled with creative, challenging levels. Rayman Jungle Run brings that experience to iOS and, surprisingly, it’s not been dumbed down.
As the name implies, Run makes up a part of iOS’ swelling running genre, in which character always runs towards the right. There are plenty of other apps that provide a similar experience, but level design once again sets Rayman apart. Though levels start simple, they quickly become more complex, and latter levels vary from jumping challenges to confusing mazes that will test your reactions and memory. “Beating” these levels is only the start – the real goal is to collect all the Lums, little yellow guys that let you unlock secret levels and characters.
Rayman Jungle Run is 99 cents on the App Store. The developers have added 20 new pirate-themed levels since release, all of which are available for free. There’s also a newer game, Rayman Fiesta Run, which provides even more levels for $2.99.
Galcon ($1.99) / Galcon Fusion ($1.99)
Space strategy is among my favorite genres, but as fans of such games know, they’re usually built on an epic scale requiring hours or even days to finish just one session. Complexities like research, diplomacy and economy are layered over each other, all of which distracts from the fact that your goal is usually the same – take over the galaxy!
Galcon dispenses with such mechanics and distils the entire space strategy genre into its bare essence; you take over planets to get more ships, which you then use to take over more planets. This is accomplished by tapping and swiping between worlds, sending hordes of cursor-shaped cruisers to meet the enemy. With all distractions besides conquering removed, sessions are heavily focused on combat, and a winner often appears within just a few minutes. The original Galcon is quicker than Galcon Fusion, the tablet-only sequel which can take longer to play.
There are several versions available.Galcon Lite [No Longer Available] and Galcon (which is $1.99) are designed for iPhone, while Galcon Fusion (also $1.99) is meant for the iPad. Make sure you buy the right edition for your device!
Tetris Blitz (free)
Most gamers who are older than 25 have fond memories of Tetris, but as anyone who has played it knows: it isn’t the quickest game in the world. Slogging through already-beaten levels can become a bit tiresome, which is why even the original allowed players to skip to their chosen difficulty immediately.
Tetris Blitz refines the experience into a two-minute rush of tapping, the goal of which is to score as highly as possible. To make Tetris quicker and easier to play on a touchscreen, players no longer have to manually slide pieces into place, and instead pick between pre-defined areas highlighted on the screen. As before, the goal is to create a solid line of tiles across the entire board, causing the line to disappear and racking up points. The more lines cleared at once, the more points you get.
The new controls may seem outlandish to Tetris veterans, and it’s true that the original’s focus on planning falls to the wayside in favor of quick-thinking and spry fingers, but that’s the point. Blitz is all about creating a rush of adrenaline, and it does that very well. The inclusion of new power-ups that can move or destroy tiles only adds to the madness. Tetris Blitz is free-to-play with in-app transactions.
10000000, or “ten million,” is an action-puzzle-RPG that embraces the concept of grinding and somehow manages to make it enjoyable. The set-up is simple and silly: you’re an anonymous adventurer who has somehow become trapped in a dungeon, and you can only free yourself by scoring 10,000,000 points.
Points are scored by progressing through the dungeon by matching appropriate tiles in the game’s puzzle. To attack, match three swords or magic wands and to defend you must match three shields (and so on). Matching more than three will make your action doubly effective. While you attempt to match tiles, your character progresses and fights monsters in real-time, so you have to think quickly.
When you die, you return back to the beginning to do it all over again – until you reach 10,000,000 points. You also find various upgrades along the way which are both fun to use and make your significantly more effective. 10000000 is $1.99 on the App Store.
All of these apps provide an amazing rush in five minutes or less, yet they also span a few different genres. This is just the tip of the iceberg; there are way too many of these sorts of apps on the App Store to summarize at once. If you have played a great five-minute iOS quick blast, help us out by letting us know about it in the comments.