While most of us would be happy to play our sports games within the comfy confines of consoles and PCs, it's not all bad for sports games in the mobile space. In fact, when a developer embraces the strengths of the medium (portability, connectivity, touch screen), and ignores the tropes of console gaming (fake d-pads, complex mechanics, too many menus), it can actually create something that is a nice change of pace to what you'll find elsewhere, and it won't cost you as much, either.
In that spirit, I'd recommend checking out the following five apps on your iOS device.
Pit Crew Combine
A fun, little time-waster, Pit Crew Combine challenges you to fill the fuel tank and change the tires on various NASCAR vehicles. All that's required is some nimble touching and sliding on your iPhone, and you'll be sending cars out on the track in under 20 seconds. It's quite addictive for such a simple concept, and there is even Game Center and multiplayer support. The ability to compare scores with your friends quickly adds that “just one more” spirit to the proceedings, and the concept is simple to understand for people who aren't all that into NASCAR.
Backbreaker 2: Vengeance
This is truly the home for this type of game, as the console releases never seemed quite full-featured enough to warrant the price they carried. On the iOS platform, Backbreaker really makes sense, as you can have a quick five-minute game and play a few waves, evading tackles and, in this release, actually making them. The game still takes the appearance of a “tackle alley,” and you're tasked with hitting scoring zones, jumping barriers and evading or tackling opposing players. The graphics are pretty solid for such a small game (under 20mb), and it's nice to have Game Center support as well.
iOOTP Baseball 2011
A great mobile version of the popular PC franchise, this is the ultimate baseball simulation for hardcore stat junkies. You control everything within your franchise, whether it's the rotation, lineups, minor leagues, free agent signings, drafts and so on. Once on the field, you dictate the strategies of your players and how they should go about their business. There are all sorts of speed options as well, so if the text play-by-play isn't moving fast enough for you, you can simulate an at-bat, an inning or the whole game. It's also great to have real MLB pros occupying the lineups in this release, and you can even recreate historical seasons from the past or participate in a fictional league. There's so much to do in hardcore sims like this, but for those who love it, iOOTP Baseball 2011 provides an on-the-go way of doing so.
This is definitely a great poker app, with the a good amount of free chips to start and the ability to buy more (with real money) if you want to stock up. The fact that there are five- and nine-person tables is a nice option, and you can get playing with online players right away (no account creation). You have good options like check/fold and check any, and you can sit out hands and make your bets quickly and easily. If you want some quick drop-in poker with online competition, this app fits the bill.
Price: Free (you can pay money to add chips)
Homerun Battle 3D
This full-featured, online-enabled homerun derby allows for quick and easy matchups on the diamond. You can pay to download new characters if you like, but by default you can setup your slugger and go against the CPU or live competition. It's pretty simple to play, as you tilt the device to aim the batting cursor and touch the screen to swing. There are various levels of pitchers, and they will throw crafty pitches with higher multipliers and effects. Online play works very well, with lots of stat tracking and a picture-in-picture view so you can see the other player during his attempts.