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Your first five iPad games

Justin McElroy

You weren't going to be that guy. Your friends could fall in line all they wanted, but you were going to be strong. You didn't need an iPad, after all, you had your iPhone! Besides, the thing can't even make calls, what's the point? But then, your friends started coming around, magically flipping through USA Today with a swipe of their fingers like news genies, and you cracked, guiltily sliding your last $500 bill across the Genius Bar and walking out of the Apple Store defeated, but one iPad richer. It's OK, could have happened to the best of us.

But now that you have the thing, what do you play on it? We've tried dozens of apps specifically made for the device and have culled a list of the top five you should buy without hesitation. Don't have an iPad yet? No problem. Just bookmark this page and come back later, we'll be updating with the new hotness whenever it sweeps us off our feet.

Mirror's Edge ($12.99): We know, it's a little troubling, our first recommendation being $13 and all, and we promise, things get a little more budget-conscious after this. But you have to buy Mirror's Edge, you just have to. It may have been moved from first-person to a two-dimensional side-scroller, but it's lost none of the intensity, none of the thrill of leaping off a roof and holding your breath, just hoping to catch the edge of the next building. In fact, we might argue that the iPad version is even more true to the "spirit" of the game as it doesn't allow weapons, forcing you to rely on speed and evasion. Get it.

Real Racing HD ($9.99): If you're trying to justify your big ticket purchase to friends and loved ones, you're going to need a showpiece. Mirror's Edge will do nicely if your mark is willing to sit down and play, but if you need something with a bit more pizazz, get Real Racing HD. Not only does holding your iPad like a steering wheel work surprisingly well, it also looks great. Like, drive-your-neighbor-crazy-with-envy great.

Dungeon Hunter HD ($6.99): Sure, Dungeon Hunter HD is just a portable, poor man's version of Diablo, but it's also the best fix you're going to get on the go. You play in an isometric view as King Something, fighting to rid the land of Whatsernothers -- you know, it doesn't matter. Here's the important thing that loot whores like us need to hear: There are many different, cool-looking swords and hats to collect. Yeah, we thought that'd get you. See you in 10 hours.

Small World ($4.99): The iPad has fantastic potential as a stand-in for your favorite board game, but there aren't as many ad-App-tations (no?) of the classics as I'd like filling the App Store. For the moment, we're making do with the wonderful Small World, a scaled-down version of the popular territory-control board game. It's fairly limited when compared to its analog sibling, but the heart of the game -- using fantasy races to steal territory from friends -- is intact and a great way for two people to pass 15 minutes or so.

Pinball HD ($2.99): We'll concede that playing something as decidedly retro as pinball on your 21st century device may feel a little ... crass, but this is really well done pinball. The spot-on sound effects and 3D tables with themes like Wild West and Jungle Style left us feeling nostalgic for tables that never existed in the real world. Thanks to the super-responsive flipper controls and beautiful tables, it's a great bargain at $3.

.... What's that? We forgot your favorite? Let us know in the comments below, and maybe we'll add it to a revised version of the list.

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