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And this week’s best free iPhone games are…

A lot of iPhone games publishers are getting very excited about the term ‘freemium’ right now: making games that are free to download, but then charge players for premium features within the game. It’s the model used by Facebook games like FarmVille, and it’s increasingly popular on the App Store too.

The bonus for iPhone owners is that you can download and try these games for free – and in most cases, play quite happily without having to stump up more cash. Four have been released in recent days, and we think they’re all worth a look.

First, Lil’ Pirates, a colourful game that sees you assembling a pirate crew and pimping out your ship with an array of items. The game includes ship battles, buried treasure and the ability to interact with your Facebook friends. It’s easy to get into, and should do well.

Second, there’s Gun Bros, which is a more traditional action game. It’s a ‘twin-stick shooter’, with one virtual joystick to move your gun-toting badass, and the other to aim said guns at enemies. It’s fully plumbed into Game Center, and the ‘Bros’ element involves borrowing friends’ characters to act as your wingman. Its servers have been struggling a bit with the load this week, but when working it’s great fun.

Third, there’s Capcom Arcade, which bundles four famous titles from the Japanese games firm into one app: Street Fighter II, Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, 1942 and Commando. You get three free plays a day, but that’s when you start paying for virtual tokens that can be used for more goes – it’s using the physical amusements arcade model. Will pay-to-play really work in iPhone-land though?

Finally, MiniTycoon Casino is much more of a Facebook-style social game for iPhone, which gets you to run and develop your own casino. Customisation is a big feature as you kit out your gambling paradise, while you’re also encouraged to hire your friends as dealers, and send them gifts for their own casinos. It’s FarmVille-gone-gambling, but that means you really need a few mates playing to get the most out of it.

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