Brilliant iPhone games made by one person

There's no 'team' in 'I'

There is hope for all of us. One person can make a great iPhone game all on their lonesome. From match-3 puzzlers to retro shooters and point & click adventures, there aren't many genres a single developer can't have a good stab at. Perhaps an iOS MMORPG would be a bit of a stretch for one person, but judging by this lot, I wouldn't be surprised if that happened too.

So let's take a look at some of the standout one-man developed iOS games. I'm gonna say it: Swipe to continue! Yes, I know I'm fired. Totally fair.

You Must Build A Boat

Eighty-Eight Games sounds like a big company, but is simply a very talented man named Luca Redwood. He clearly understands what makes video game so compelling because his games push all the right video game buttons in my brain. His touch-to-slide, match 3 block puzzler 10000000 instantly became one of my personal favourite iPhone games in 2012, and its sequel You Must Build A Boat is even better.

Your character's progress is blocked by enemies, doors and chests, and you must match weapon and key icons to get past them before the screen scrolls too far and you get left behind. It's devastatingly simple, but its 8-bit looks are complemented by an 8-bit soundtrack, resulting in one of the most enjoyable games I've ever played.

Get it here.

Air Supply - SOS (Save Our Sheep)

Why 'Save our Sheep'? Because it's made by Quantum Sheep a one man developer with a penchant for sheep puns. And tea, if his Twitter feed is anything to go by.

The game itself is heavily influenced by Rare's Jetpac, complete with nods to other ZX Spectrum classics along the way. The gameplay soon becomes more varied and there are plenty of sci-fi in-jokes in the achievements list to keep you smiling, not to mention some impressive boss battles, making the most of the GameSalad game creation tool.

Get it here.

The Secret of Grisly Manor

Fire Maple Games is made up of one man: Joe Kauffman. An early adopter of the GameSalad development platform, Joe created his first game with the software Danger Cats in just 12 days. Before that, he had worked on Flash and with other people, too, but decided to go it alone and ended up with a #1 Paid App in the US. That's pretty damn impressive. The game? The Secret of Grisly Manor.

It's a traditional point and click adventure, in which you explore a spooky old manor, poking about under beds and taking jewelled butterflies from slightly macabre displays. It's beautifully-crafted, with solid-looking rooms and intriguing objects, making great use of the touch interface. A simple concept, brilliantly executed.

Get it here.

Tiny Wings

What is it about birds and iPhone games? It's like cats and the internet, or muscular, brown-haired men in their late 20s and console titles. Still, Tiny Wings' devastatingly simple gameplay premise does make sense with a bird. It can't really fly, so you use inertia built up by sliding down declines and leaping from inclines in the environment's undulating terrain to get airborne.

Andreas Illiger is the man behind the game, and has said in interviews that the success of Tiny Wings hasn't really changed his lifestyle too much at all, despite selling over 10 million copies on the App Store. Apparently it has meant he can now eat good food and has bought a laptop.

Get it here.


The simplest concepts are often the best and Pivvot proves that beautifully. A dot moves along a winding track, while a second, larger orb 'pivots' around it depending on which side of the screen you press. The clean aesthetic and gentle introduction of new obstacles make for a mesmerising and addictive game.

While there are some parallels to be drawn between this concept and GBA launch game Kuru KuruKururin, developer Whitaker Trebella's title still feels fresh and original, even if it does have you navigating tracks in your head when you're trying to go to sleep.

Get it here.


Canabalt may not have started life as an iPhone game (it was a Flash game on PC first), but it works beautifully on the Apple device. I dont think it's an exaggeration, either, to say that it invented the endless runner. Certainly, it popularised it, and 'it's like Canabalt' was used to describe each new game in the burgeoning genre. And the last time that happened was with 'It's like Doom', which says a lot.

Adam Saltsman is the man behind the game and, honestly, it's easy to see how it was designed. A simple premise, greyscale graphics and increasing speed and difficulty. It's a masterclass in game design and fits mobile play beautifully thanks to its short-burst gameplay. Not that it'll help at the bus stop you'll totally miss the bus.

Get it here.

Flappy Bird

Don't roll your eyes! My professional opinion is that Flappy Bird is a superb game. For starters, the one-touch control system couldn't be any simpler, which means anyone able to prod the screen can play it. Secondly, it's all about micro-managing your height and future trajectory by double-tapping and swooping through each descending arc as low over each pipe as you can. There is some serious skill needed to do well.

We all know the story of how it blew up overnight and made so much money its designer, Dong Nguyen, felt forced to remove it from the store because he couldn't take the pressure of creating something so big. It's currently unavailable as a result, but his follow-up title, Swing Copters is available now, if the thousands of Flappy Bird clones aren't enough to sate your need for Flappiness.

Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.