For the past few months, part of my morning wakeup routine has been playing a variety of iOS games. I’ve tried many, and what I have here are descriptions and pointers to those which I find myself coming back to on a regular basis. Each category listed alphabetically. FYI, anyone who wants to connect with me for social games via Facebook may do so.

City Builders

Granted, not all of these are actually cities, but they are the same style: expand your territory, develop properties or elements with normal and premium currencies, and continue from there. Frankly, these are the games that I keep coming back to for some strange reason.

Archie: Riverdale Rescue

This is a “free to play, but you can buy currency” style game. The concept is straightforward: the mayor took off with Riverdale’s money, which has (somehow) caused the town to deteriorate. You need to unlock areas of the city and repair buildings to get the city back in shape. Each expansion brings at least one new character with it. Most expansions involve choosing between Betty and Veronica. Tasks are building centric with ties to plotlines. (i.e. a story may involve sending Jughead to school, then Betty and Veronica to Betty’s house, then Reggie and Archie to Pop Tate’s, etc.) Characters that are unlocked in the normal course of the game are Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Pop Tate, Moose, Dilton, Reggie, Midge, Nancy, Ethel, Chuck, Mr. Weatherbee, Ms. Grundy, Coach Kleats, Coach Clayton, Prof. Flootsnoot, Sheila, Maria, Frankie, Raj, Hiram Lodge, Mrs. Beazley, Trev, Toni and Marcy. Premium characters, which can be bought with the premium currency (kisses) are Ginger, Kevin, Cheryl, Jason, Hot Dog and Kumi. Teenage characters who do tasks together can become couples or BFF, depending on genders and sexual orientations, while adult characters can form no such relationships. Buildings can be upgraded to offer more cash after characters spend sufficient time in them, and the time can be tracked easily by clicking on the building. The only limited time quests I’ve encountered since the July release involve the current Halloween quests. The game connects to Facebook to accumulate friends, with rewards for sending friends gifts. There are ten in game achievements, but those do not connect to the Game Centre. Quests can result in a variety of unlockables, including several comics.

iTunes links: US, CAN

My Muppets Show

iTunes links: US, CAN

My Muppets Show

This game is by the developers of My Singing Monsters. At present, you can gain up to three stages, and populate those stages with various muppets. Individual muppets can be fed to level them up. They can be combined in the digitizer to produce new muppets as well. Each muppet provides his, her or its own unique contribution to the harmony they produce as a band. This does connect to the Game Centre for all 23 goals and achievements. You can share with friends via Facebook, Game Centre or friend codes. (Mine is 6468482AK.) Normal currency is in coins, with premium currency in diamonds. Set decorations can make different muppets happier, so they produce more cash for you.

iTunes links: US, CAN

My Singing Monsters

This came before My Muppets Show, and is clearly the original engine for the game. This allows you to breed original monsters to form orchestras as well, using islands instead of stages. There are currently five normal islands, and two deluxe islands for more developed and advanced monsters. This also is shared between Facebook, Game Centre or friend codes. (Again, mine is 1689687FD.)

iTunes links: US, CAN

Nemo’s Reef

This allows you to develop a reef to attract various fish. Coins and sand dollars are two normal types of currency, with pearls as premium currency. Your reef area expands as you develop. There are quests that have no time limit which are mandatory to continue the game, and there are timed “homework” or other daily quests which are optional with larger rewards. I typically find the timed quests to be very challenging if you don’t spend real money on premium currency. I don’t mind doing that occassionally for a game with long term entertainment value, but this is constantly “on the bubble” in terms of playing ongoing. Social quests are available if usernames are shared. (Mine is Fiziko42.)

iTunes links: US, CAN

Simpsons: Tapped Out

Probably the best known of the licensed city builder games. For enjoyment, I’d give the Archie game a slight edge over this one. Homer accidentally destroyed the city of Springfield in a nuclear disaster, and you have to rebuild the city. I won’t list the Simpsons characters available because there are currently 96 of them, and the list grows on a fairly regular basis. Tasks are character driven and have storylines themselves, and they frequently have seasonal content with limited time offers, such as the current Halloween material. There are multiple forms of normal currency and donuts for premium currency. This accesses the Game Centre, and friends can be found via username. (Mine is Fiziko42.) This does a good job of capturing the feel of the series the last time I watched it, which was the week before the series finale of The X-Files.

iTunes links: US, CAN

Action / Adventure

Ghostbusters

This seems to be a modern retake on the Commodore 64 game I loved so much growing up. It took some flack when an upgrade caused a massive change in game design, which prompted the designers to refund many virtual currency purchases that were no longer applicable. I still find it to be a lot of fun, working through a story that takes a minor but memorable character from the original movie and turning him into a significant villain. The writing feels more like I fondly remember the cartoon (rather than what the cartoon actually was) than the movies, but it’s still fun. My only real complaints are the long delays between updates and expansions and the lack of volume control. (It’s the loudest game I have.) The ultimate goal is to reach the 50th floor of a hijacked skyscraper, but you’ll need to get objects and complete research in the city at large to build your characters up enough to do so.

iTunes links: US, CAN

Justice League: Earth’s Final Defense

This is an isometric brawler using members of the Justice League. It’s enjoyable, but involves a fair amount of grinding for an iOS game. I can see a lot of people losing interest. I’ve also heard rumblings about issues with in game purchases, where the transaction fails after billing a credit card but before crediting the user’s account. I haven’t tried it myself.

iTunes links: US, CAN

Puzzle

:) Sudoku +

My original obsession. Great Sudoku app, including tutorials, a wide variety of difficulty levels, a number of useful tools, statistics, and more. Sudoku fans really need to check this one out. There are free and paid versions, differing only in ads.

iTunes links: US, CAN

Angry Birds: Star Wars

If you need me to explain Angry Birds, why are you reading a column on iOS games in the first place? This is Angry Birds with Star Wars characters. Very well done. This walks you through episodes IV-VI in Angry Birds form.

iTunes links: US, CAN

Angry Birds: Star Wars II

The recent sequel to the above, allowing you to play representing both sides of the Force, as well as bringing in a pile of new characters. This takes you through Episodes I-III, in theory. At this point, it only takes us through parts of Episode I, but it’s actually fun this time!

iTunes links: US, CAN

Gems With Friends

This is a “match 3” puzzle game that connects you with random people and/or Facebook friends. I really enjoy it, but very few people I know actually play.

iTunes links: US, CAN

Iron Man 3

The only infinite runner I play. Buy and upgrade many different armors, and face off against villains who have yet to make it to the big screen. The plot follows immediately after the movie, but with only minimal spoilers. Connects to Game Centre.

iTunes links: US, CAN

My Pudding Monsters

Slide monsters made out of pudding around to gain 0-3 stars. Interestingly, this game actually rewards you for getting every possible combination of stars instead of just the maximum, once you play through far enough. Fun, and with distinct personality.

iTunes links: US, CAN

Secret Passages

This is a hidden picture puzzle with a few extras. Good for very quick plays.

iTunes links: US, CAN

Trivia

4 Pics 1 Song

A picture puzzle, where you identify the song based on four picture clues. A great variety of genres, and systems to help you get the puzzle whether you know the song or not. It’s like 4 Pics 1 Word, but narrowed to song titles which transforms the mindset and difficulty.

iTunes links: US, CAN

SongPop

Categorized trivia by genre, which lets you play against Facebook friends and/or random others. Identify the songs faster for more points, but consecutive answer accumulators make accuracy more important than speed. Uses Game Centre.

iTunes links: US, CAN

These are the games I play. What are you playing? What do you recommend?