With its easy accessibility and the popularity of smart phones, it’s no surprise that mobile gaming is quickly taking off and becoming the most popular way to game on the go. And with the use of touch screens, we’ve seen countless games make it through development, all trying to capitalize on the unique feel and control of the touch-based system. Some have worked, and some haven’t. Some have fizzled out, getting lost in the wave of games that appear on app stores every day, while others have risen to legendary status, routinely topping charts and setting a bar of excellence for future games to follow. Here are the 10 games that not only were successful, but managed to have a great impact on the platform as a whole.
#10: Fruit Ninja
On the surface, Fruit Ninja seems like a game that shouldn’t be all that great. The gameplay consists of using your finger to mimick a samurai sword and slicing fruit as it is launched in the air and scoring combos by chaining slices together. It’s simple and lacks any sort of depth, but Half Brick’s game manages to find the sweet spot between easy to learn and difficult to master, always driving players to improve their score as they play.
The game’s intuitive touch controls and simple gameplay are what made it such a hit, even porting over from mobile devices to the Kinect for a motion-control-based version. It’s clever, creative, and nothing if not addicting.
#9: Doodle Jump
Where most games attempt to take up touch controls as their main operation mechanic, Doodle Jump dared to be different by using a very different facet of the iPhone’s technology: tilt controls.
Doodle Jump is another very simple, yet incredibly clever title with few rules and many challenges. You’re tasked with helping a little alien jump his way up the screen, aiming for him to land on different bouncy platforms and using power ups to get him to the top. He jumps automatically off of platforms, and players use the sensitive tilt controls of their device to angle the direction of his movement. There’s no story campaign, no online multiplayer, and no side missions; the goal is simply to get as far as you possibly can without falling. The game not only made use of a less-popular part of the tech, but also managed to be popular enough to inspire multiple spin-offs and clones that never quite managed to capture the same intuitive quality as the original.
#8: Plants vs. Zombies
Plants vs Zombies didn’t invent the tower defense genre, but it sure perfected it. Using the help of a myriad of unique and dangerous garden plants as “towers,” players must defend their home from invading hordes of the undead. Plant variety is broad and creative, enemies are unique and present their own set of challenges to the player, and multiple game modes ensure players are always satisfied and faced with a challenge.
The game translates extremely well to touch controls, and has been successful enough to port over to virtually every gaming platform known to man. But it was its debut on the touch-based mobile device that still stands as one of the best versions of the game.
#7: Cut the Rope
Feed the monster candy. That’s the main objective in Cut the Rope, the runaway physics-based puzzler that still holds a spot on the iPhone app stopre top 25 list so long after its initial release.
With challenging obstacles, different rules and patterns, and collectibles for an added challenge, Cut the Rope is one of the best examples of a puzzle game on the mobile device. It finds the right blend of challenge and accessibility that so many games in the genre fall short of, managing to present players with a tricky stage that will yield satisfying results without getting frustrating along the way. And who wouldn’t want to feed that little monster a peppermint?
#6: Tiny Tower
Arguably one of the most successful in-app purchase-based games, Tiny Tower was a surprise hit on the mobile device that took the platform by storm. In the game, players create their own mega tower, complete with multiple shops, businesses, restaurants, and apartment complexes. You’ll hire and fire people, build additional floors, order inventory items, and make sure the inhabitants of the tower in general are happy and satisfied with their lives.
In-app purchases are handled in the game the way they should be; they’re there if you want them, but the game isn’t crippled if you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on in-game currency. Coupled with great simulation gameplay, simple mechanics, and a neat pixelated art style, it’s hard to say no to the game that had so many checking their phones to keep up on the tower.
#5: Temple Run
Throwing its hat into the endless runner genre arena, Temple Run is a free-to-play game that challenges players to escape a pack of dangerous apes while running through the jungle. Swipe controls are used with great success to jump over, slide underneath, and dodge objects, all while sprinting down twisted paths in the rainforest environment. The true challenge of the game, however, is seeing not only how quickly and efficiently you can run, but how far you can get. It’s a game that challenged players to play just one more time, constantly seeing if they could beat their highest score, or even the high scores of their friends.
The game gave way to multiple clones, including a liscenced version of the game for the Disney film Brave, which still sits within the top 50 apps on the iOS marketplace.
#4: Infinity Blade
Often touted as the “first iOS game for hardcore gamers,” Chair’s Infinity Blade utilized the Unreal Engine to bring a unique RPG experience to the palm of your hand. In the game, you’ll face off against several titan-like bosses in multiple fights pitting your skill with a sword against that of your opponent.
The game was unique for a number of reasons; first, it managed to ditch the ever popular and clumsy on-screen joystick that so many other RPGs had taken as a main mode of control, instead swapping it out for touch-based swipe motions that controlled the angle and attacks of the blade. The result was intuitive and inspired gameplay we haven’t seen rivaled by any similar titles within the genre.
It was also a visually striking game with fantastic aesthetics and an art style approaching a seamless realism that seemed almost impossible for such a small platform to achieve. But, it did, and the result is one of the most well-realized and interesting games available on mobile devices.
#3: Words With Friends
Scrabble with well-developed multiplayer. That’s all this game really is. Yet despite its blatant rip-off of the classic board game, Words With Friends managed to do on such a large scale what no other game before it did: seamless multiplayer play. While its popularity has since dwindled, there was a time when everyone and their grandmother was engaged in this game, playing multiple games at once, either with their friends or with random opponents. The connection between mobile devices and Facebook led to cross-platform play that opened up doors for a wide audience to play together, opening the doors for a runaway hit with easy access and quick pick-up gaming.
Bejeweled is one of the most creative and unique puzzle games to appear on mobile devices, even before the era of smartphones. In Bejeweled,the rules have always been the same; swap out gems to match up rows of the same color and break them to fill your meter before time runs out. Since its initial launch, we’ve seen multiple versions of the game, each with their own uinque set of rules and conventions.
The game’s rules have been borrowed by countless puzzles of the same style since then, and the game has essentially become one of the most influential puzzlers in mobile gaming today.
#1: Angry Birds
Love them or hate them, they’re part of arguably one of the most successful mobile gaming franchises of all time. With simple swipe controls, fun challenges, multiple spin-offs and versions, and satisfying gameplay, Angry Birds managed to come at the right time and place to not only seize the top of the charts, but become something of an icon for mobile gaming. They’re one of the first things you think of when you think of mobile devices, and it’s near impossible to find someone who hasn’t played it. The runaway success of the game led to not only impressive financial gain, but also saw the game become a licensed trend as kids and adults alike donned Angry Birds t-shirts, ported work projects on Angry Birds USB drives, and cuddled up with their Angry Birds plush toys at night. It’s managed to not only become one of the most successful mobile games, but something of a cultural phenomenon as well, making it an obvious choice for top honors in the most important mobile games of all time.