Mobile games have been a bit of a hot topic for years—do they count as video games? Well, yes, I don’t see why not. Not everyone has the means or desire to buy a gaming PC or console, and many big-name games like Fortnite or Stardew Valley have mobile versions anyway. Plus, maybe you just want to play for a few minutes during your commute or (like me) when you can’t sleep in the middle of the night. So let’s take a look at some of my favourite mobile games.
Generally speaking, mobile games come in two categories: pay a one-time fee of several dollars and own the game outright or free-to-play, loaded with advertisements and microtransactions. You play until you run out of lives and then are encouraged to buy more. You can ignore these entirely, but they can get obnoxious. I get that it’s just the standard these days, but I don’t have to like it! So whenever the case, I will point out what kind of payment structure each game has and whether it is on additional consoles.
You’re a little dude with gunboots and you’re going down a well! Doesn’t have to be complicated to be fun, and that’s definitely the case here. Don’t let the simple mechanics and cute design fool you though, Downwell gets incredibly challenging. Earn gems to buy items and upgrades, learn what style of weapon works best for you, and get just a little bit farther each time. Maybe just one more round—okay one more. I still haven’t beaten the game, but I loved it enough I bought it on my phone AND on Steam. I also love games that let you choose different colour palettes if the basic black-white-red doesn’t do it for you.
Downwell is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, and PlayStation Vita for around 3 dollars.
TAP! DIG! MY MUSEUM!
Dinosaurs have always been cool, so obviously running a museum dedicated to them is awesome. In My Museum, you flex your palaeontology muscles by digging in grid patterns to find dinosaur bones, eventually assembling a full specimen. You earn coins when visitors check out your sweet exhibits and your displays can be upgraded and change the light colour to make them extra fancy. It’s free-to-play, with options to buy items and watch advertisements to speed things up. I found after a certain point I had so much money that I didn’t need to bother waiting for anything, plus you can sell specimens if you’re low. The game has been updated a few times now, so there’s plenty of dinosaurs to fill out your collection, including secret fossils.
TAP! DIG! MY MUSEUM! is available on iOS and Android.
Aim your little worm fellas and blast away blocks in holedown! I’ve always been a fan of brick-breaker style games and this is no exception. Sometimes you’ll collect crystals to update your stats, and the levels do get harder and there really isn’t much more to it than that. It’s fun though! And I just like watching numbers go down. I’m a simple person.
holedown is available on Microsoft Windows, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and Android for around 3 dollars.
Pokemon Café Mix
Pokemon has put out a bunch of mobile games, each with its pros and cons. I struggled to decide which to add on here and eventually settled on Café Mix. A spin on a match-3 style game, you’ll match little Pokemon while also completing food-related missions, because you run a little Café where all the Pokemon work. They wear hats and aprons. It’s very cute. Each Pokemon has a special ability and you’ll be switching around a lot to find what works best for each situation, but they give you a suggestion of who to pick so it’s nothing too bad. Free-to-play with microtransactions.
Pokemon Café Mix is available on Nintendo Switch, Android, and iOS
Another food-based game, specifically sushi this time! Fill in the bento box with your various fillings to match the diagram. Starts simple but gets progressively more difficult. I admit I got stuck, but I’m sure I’ll come back to it eventually. It also tells a very cute story of a family of cats in between chapters! This one’s made by the same developers as Golf Peaks, which I also recommend.
InBento is available on Nintendo Switch, Android, and iOS for around 3 dollars (5 on the Nintendo Switch).
So basically this is a match-3, where you are the recently deceased owner of Vincent Van Meowogh, a washed-up painter and cat. The house you lived in is dilapidated and by completing levels you can help Meowogh restore it to its former glory! A whole bunch of other famous painters are ALSO cats in this and there’s a continuing storyline involving all of them. And yes, you are dead in this. There’s a minigame to decorate your grave. It’s very weird. But I swear other than that it’s a normal game! Free-to-play with microtransactions.
Cats Atelier is available on iOS and Android.
Part Time UFO
The developers of Kirby come in swinging (pun definitely intended) with this title! So I originally got this in 2018 when it released on Android, but in late 2020 it was ported to the Nintendo Switch with some extra levels and features. You play as a cute little UFO with an extendable claw you use to grab and stack various objects while also completing objectives. There are outfits you can buy with to change the UFO’s abilities or just to look extra adorable. The soundtrack is fittingly quaint, mostly comprised of whistling and humming.
Part Time UFO is available on iOS, Android (3 dollars), and Nintendo Switch (10 dollars).
Easily the oldest game on this list, Slayin came out all the way back in 2011, with expanded versions later in 2013. Extremely simple, just move left, right, and jump. It’s an “endless RPG” so you’ll keep going until your character dies. Gather coins to buy upgrades and unlock additional characters including the archer, tamer, and ninja. (Back in my day there were only the knight, wizard, and knave) Plus there’s a Slayin 2 now? Guess I know what I’m doing today!
Slayin is available on iOS and Android for 0.99.