Whenever the topic of mobile gaming is brought up, it’s bound to be met with cynicism. Mobile games carry the stigma of microtransactions, ads galore, and broken promises. These platforms have been tarnished by anti-consumer schemes, making such negativity deserved in many instances. Yet there are diamonds in the rough, ones that only cost a flat fee. You might have to dig for them, but such gems are well worth your time and money.
Below are just a few recommendations of lesser known games from my personal library, each of which can be found on iOS or Android. If I miss a title you’ve enjoyed or think others should try, please leave a comment below!
Based on a flash game, Gunbrick is a unique take on the side scrolling genre. Instead of running and jumping through each level, you’ll be in control of the Gunbrick. Think of it like a tank without treads that moves by awkwardly rolling and firing its cannon. Each level is like a puzzle, requiring you to maneuver your way to the exit while avoiding hazards and defeating enemies. Although a somewhat short game, Gunbrick is lovingly crafted and incredibly clever. Certainly worthy of a spot on your phone’s home screen.
Part Time UFO
Developed by HAL Laboratory, the studio behind Kirby and BoxBoy, Part Time UFO gives you all the excitement of a claw game without the disappointment. Players take control of a tiny UFO with a grabber, trying to earn some cash by working various part time jobs. One level you’ll be assisting a farmer with his crops while another will have you building a giant robot to protect Earth. The more jobs you complete, the more money you make. The more money you make, the more outfits you can purchase, many with their own abilities. And with every level featuring multiple challenges as well as achievements, there’s a good amount of content to keep you coming back.
You might have heard of or even played a game called 2048. In it you slide numbers around a board to combine them into higher multiples of the base number. But did you realize Threes is the original? Released before 2048 and numerous other clones, Threes not only created this concept, but perfected it. The charming visuals give personality to every number you combine while the music provides a great tune you’ll be humming in no time. This simple yet addictive game will have you thinking “just one more game…or maybe three.”
Layton Brothers: Mystery Room
Before Professor Layton had a daughter, he had a son. This lesser known entry in the Professor Layton series stars Alfendi Layton and his assistant, Lucy Baker, as they work to solve a string of murders. Instead of the usual puzzle-based gameplay the series is known for, Layton Brothers plays out more like a police procedural. Each case begins with the collection of evidence, which you’ll study before interrogating your suspects. Similar to Phoenix Wright in overall structure, Layton Brothers: Mystery Room offers an original tale full of twists and turns. If you’re a fan of Professor Layton, check it out.