Best iOS Group Game: Psych! (Free)
What do you call a group of zebras? What in the world is a mumpsimus? Inspired by party games like Balderdash, Psych has you cooking up the zaniest but most plausible answers to these questions so that you can fool your friends and score points. Each player secretly submits a funny but plausible answer; once collected, the submissions (and the correct answer) are displayed on the screen, and players try to figure out which one is the correct one. If somebody chooses your submission, then you score a point, and if you guess the right answer, then you score a point as well.
Triple Agent (Free)
Triple Agent is a quick-playing game of social deduction where you and five to nine friends try to figure out who’s an agent of the Service or a nefarious VIRUS infiltrator. Inspired by social deduction classics like Mafia and Werewolf, Triple Agent brilliantly condenses the deduction game into a single round of clues, with the smartphone app taking on the role of facilitator. At the start of each round, players pass around the phone to learn their allegiance to the Service or VIRUS. The app then provides each player with a single Operation that can reveal clues about other players or change the nature of the game. At the end of the round of deductions, players vote on who to imprison; once the vote is tallied, that player and their entire team loses the game. The game is free, with an in-app purchase unlocking more expansions.
Step into a haunted manor and commune with a restless ghost in the mobile port of Mysterium, a social deduction card game that has players interpreting cryptic clues in an attempt to avenge an unsolved crime. Each round, the ghost player lays down a series of evocative cards that hint at the killer, the scene of the crime and the weapon used; the other players take on the role of psychics interpreting the cryptic visions. The app is a faithful adaptation of the board game, allowing you to pass around a single phone or tablet instead of shuffling a deck of cards. Mysterium also includes a campaign mode, as well as solo or online play. In-app purchases unlock expansions sets.
Selfie Games (Free)
Selfie Games makes good use of your phone and a smart TV or Chromecast to bring selfie-powered shenanigans for three to 10 players. Everyone snaps a selfie, and for each turn, one player is given a secret, wacky drawing prompt around one of your selfies. Once done, everyone sees the doodle and secretly writes their own caption. You then vote on the captions, scoring points if you can guess the original, or if someone thinks your own caption was the original drawing prompt. The app is free to download and play, but you'll need to buy the $6.99 in-app purchase to host a game.
Just Dance Now (Free)
Nothing brings a party together like getting people to dance. Still, not everyone knows how to, which is where Just Dance Now comes in. This mobile spinoff of the hit console series brings more than 200 titles to iOS and Android smartphones, including "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson, "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley and (for some unfathomable reason) “Hungarian Dance No. 5” by Johannes Brahms. While the game is free to download, you'll need to pay for most songs. However, you can buy a temporary pass for as little as $1 per hour — great for a single night of entertainment. You can also cast it to a big screen via Google Cast or Apple AirPlay.
Heads Up ($0.99)
Heads Up is sort of like charades, and it's the most fun you'll have at a party all year. The app challenges players to guess as many words as possible from a themed deck of cards based on their friends' clues. You'll quickly get over the awkwardness of holding your phone up to your forehead, where the screen displays the word to be guessed, because you'll be laughing too hard. Deck themes include celebrities, movies and animals. You can even create your own custom decks with an in-app purchase of $0.99 per deck.
Train Party (Free)
A cooperative or competitive multiplayer game for two to 12 players on the same Wi-Fi network, Train Party has players scrambling to build a railroad route across their board with the pieces available on the map while shooing away animals and saboteurs from blocking or destroying their track. Once the train crosses your board, it hops onto another player's screen like a hot potato, with players either cooperating to keep the train going as long as they can or trying to be the last player standing while everyone else’s trains derail. The app is free to play, with a limited number of power-ups available each round; an in-app purchase unlocks unlimited power-ups such as stations to slow down the train or replacement track sections for tracks damaged by saboteurs.
The Game of Life ($2.99)
Family game night moves from the tabletop to your iPhone in The Game of Life, a mobile recreation of Hasbro's classic board game. The basic premise of The Game of Life remain largely unchanged from the board game — you advance your blue or pink peg through college, marriage a career and retirement, racking up big bucks along the way. This mobile version adds fun mini-games and colorful graphics to the mix. Families will particularly enjoy the multiplayer features, which let you play with up to three people on one phone or track down opponents through an online mode.
Who Can't Draw (Free)
Who Can't Draw takes inspiration from the Telephone game and uses your touchscreen as a drawing pad for some garbled message hilarity. The first player is given a word to draw in a limited time, and each player down the line is given a brief moment to interpret and copy that image. The last player then has to guess what the word was, while nominating other players as the best and worst artist for that round. The app comes with basic word packs, and users can access additional themed packs, like Pokémon, Star Wars, or Big Screen by watching ads or through in-app purchases.
Party Doodles (Free)
Another great party game app is Party Doodles, which replaces chalkboards or paper pads with a tablet touch screen. Players form up in teams, and then take turns guessing words based on friends' doodles. Party Doodles supports Apple TV, allowing players to beam their drawings straight to the big screen for easier viewing. The app comes with loads of free content, with additional theme decks available as in-app purchases.
Reattach the Electronic Grabber, activate the Multi-Spoon and set the Contaminant Hypnothruster to 3! Spaceteam is a cooperative party game of science fiction technobabble, in which you play the role of a starship bridge crew working together to avoid disaster. Every game features chaos, confusion, teamwork and a whole lot of shouting. Each player's screen is composed of an instrument panel of buttons, switches and sliders; as impending doom races toward the ship, players have to execute timed tasks, barking out instructions to other players while also paying attention to their own screen. How many missions can you accomplish before your untimely demise?
King of Opera ($2.99)
Tuokio has released a number of mobile games geared toward same-device multiplayer, and a hilarious standout is King of Opera. In this raucous fighting game, players take the role of competing tenors trying steal the limelight from other singers by body slamming them off the stage. The game features simple, one-button controls for each player at the corners of the screen, which propel your tenor forward into the other spinning singers.
Ticket to Ride ($6.99)
Ticket to Ride is the mobile port of the beloved board game that sees players connecting cities with train lines in an attempt to score the most points. The mobile app supports solo play against AI bots and online play against mobile and desktop players, but it also shines with its pass-and-play multiplayer support, which works particularly well on the big screen of a tablet like the iPad. Ticket to Ride features easy-to-teach rules and challenging multiplayer gameplay, which works great if you have board game-loving friends over.
Party Starter (Free)
It won't win any points for flash, but Party Starter is awfully convenient for breaking the ice at parties. It takes a bunch of popular games — Never Have I Ever, Most Likely To, and King’s Cup — and offers them in one convenient mobile package on your iPhone, along with rules and visual aides to help you play. Several games come in the free version; you can unlock the rest and remove ads with an in-app purchase.
Toca Hair Salon 3 ($3.99)
Toca Boca has a good record for delivering premium family friendly games and software toys that kids and parents can play with together on the touchscreen. Toca Hair Salon 3 is the latest version of the virtual hair salon that lets you cut, style and dye in whatever crazy haircut and style you can dream of. Each customer gets a randomized starting appearance and personality, and kids have a variety of simulated styling tools and brushes to play around with, while your customer reacts. You can dye, fade, and blend different hair colors together, go straight, kinky, or curly, add beards, moustaches, and other accessories. Once you’re done, you can take pictures of your wacky creations on a variety of backgrounds.
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