The world of mobile gaming has become a tricky one to navigate given the flood of titles that flows into app stores each and every month. And if it’s difficult to figure out which games are really worth your time, it’s even tougher to determine which ones can actually keep you occupied long enough to make for a memorable or rewarding gaming experience.
Sifting through the endless heap of games to find one that works for you really comes down to what kind of gaming experience you’re looking for. Are you looking for more strategy games or casual games? Wherever you fall on this spectrum, there’s sure to be a game that suits you and is actually worth your time (and potential your money). Here are a few ideas to start with.
THE THRILL SEEKER
Smashy Road: Wanted
If you’ve played Grand Theft Auto, you know that causing mayhem is probably the most exhilarating part of the game. Who completes the missions anyway? But for mobile, we have the casual equivalent under Smashy Road: Wanted. You simply control a vehicle bolting around a pixellated landscape smashing things and trying to avoid police cars, tanks, vans, and helicopters for as long as possible. Each round ends when you’re either cornered or destroyed, and in between rounds you can earn upgrades for new cars. It’s delightfully simple, and you can play a round in under five minutes.
80 Days has been praised as a faithful and fascinating adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around The World In 80 Days. But even if you’re not a fan of the background literature, it makes for an absolutely satisfying mobile gaming experience. It’s essentially a text adventure blown up to epic proportions, as you work your way through various routes circumnavigating the globe. Different cities and routes bring different experiences, and as you go along you have to manage inventory, deal with various misfortunes, and keep your wealthy patron satisfied. It’s almost akin to the old Oregon Trail games in its execution, but it’s a bigger experience. And best of all, playing again and again really isn’t repetitive because there are so many different ways to do it.
The epic Civilization franchise of Sid Meier and the Age Of Empires series still stand as featuring some of the most enjoyable and influential games in the world-conquest genre. However, DomiNations holds up very nicely against both of them in mobile form. The game’s website reveals that it was designed by Brian Reynolds, who worked on Civilization II, so perhaps that explains some of the quality. It’s really a sprawling civilization development and conquest experience that takes you, as it advertises, “from the stone age to the space age.” And as with 80 Days, it’s every bit as fun the second or third time around, as you can pick a new nation (eight are available) to try with.
THE RISK TAKER
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THE EVIL GENIUS
Plague Inc. will have you on the edge of your seat as you weigh your decisions. This game’s been a round a while but or those who may not know it, the basic idea is to control the spread of a deadly disease in an attempt to wipe out humanity. The trick is, humanity is working hard to stop the spread of the disease, and you’ll have to weigh options when it comes to adding new features to the illness and attempting to evade cures and controls. The wrong decision curbs your spread and leaves your disease ineffective (or at least not totally devastating).
THE SPORTS NUT
FIFA 16 Ultimate Team
FIFA 16 Ultimate Team continues to improve on mobile with better controls and graphics. The team management features are absolutely stellar, and for soccer fans or even those looking to become more knowledgeable about the sport, there’s just all kinds of fun to be had. The game action isn’t bad, either – it’s just a little more free-flowing than in Madden, which makes it slightly more challenging on a small touchscreen.
Rollercoaster Tycoon 3
You may have played it on PC, but the mobile port does the game justice with plenty of features and items to build your own theme park. It includes several games modes as well as the opportunity to be creative while keeping your guests happy. Oh, and it’s not a free-to-play game that we saw in the past. This is a full port of what you will find on PC but with optimized touch controls.
That’s a nice little variety of games that can really satisfy you on a smartphone, no matter what your preferences may be. And again, each category includes plenty of fine games not listed here. But this is a nice start.
Minecraft: Pocket Edition
I know: recommending Minecraft at this stage feels like telling someone that getting a smartphone might be a good idea. It’s one of the most popular games on the planet, and most everyone has either tried it or heard enough about it to make up his or her mind. But I want to stress just how great the regular Pocket Edition game is on mobile. This gaming concept has gotten somewhat stretched out of late: many prefer the Xbox version; the recently released “Story Mode” is the most popular game on iOS; and as the New York Post wrote up this past summer, Microsoft is even working toward mind-blowing virtual reality version of the game. But if you love Minecraft just for the endless creative potential it provides—and you love designing buildings, landscapes and entire worlds—the Pocket Edition really has all you need. It’s also incredibly easy to pick up and play at any time, whether for five minutes or an hour.