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12 of the best games for your new mobile device

Those gifted with new mobile devices this holiday season have a world of fun awaiting their fingertips — maybe too much fun. Thousands of games have been made available over the years, especially since iOS and Android have increased in popularity, making the selection process frustrating for those navigating Google Play, the App Store, or the Amazon App Store for the first time. Well, consider this list of the best mobile games your saving grace. We’ve compiled a source for mobile gaming based on user friendliness, accessibility, and more importantly, fun factor. Whether you have an iPhone, iPad, Galaxy device, or Kindle Fire, these games are waiting for your attention. Think of this list as a beginner’s guide to gaming on your mobile device.

Plants vs. Zombies

Developer: PopCap Games
Platform: Apple App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore

PlantsVsZombies_Screen_BestMobileGames

Plants vs. Zombies still stands as one of the more addictive games I’ve played. Ever. The object of PvZ is to protect your home from a hoard of zombies that hungrily make their way across your yard. All that stands in their way are plants curiously armed for your war against the living dead.

Specifically, the plants are equipped with a variety of weapons, such as projectile peas. Other plants eat zombies while cherry bombs blow them to deader than dead bits. The more plants you create, the better your chance at survival. You must position your plants strategically, or the game will end rather quickly.

Cut the Rope

Developer: Chillingo Ltd.
Platform: Apple App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore

Cut the rope_best mobile apps

Cut the Rope is disgustingly cute. How so? A piece of candy hangs on a rope over an adorable little monster, and the player must swipe to break the candy free and drop it into the creature’s mouth. His smile is priceless. He’s a happy, goofy-looking little beast named Om Nom.

Cut the Rope’s puzzles are mostly based on physics and timing. For instance, the candy may be hanging from two or three ropes. The order in which you cut them becomes a strategic decision, and timing a cut perfectly so that the treat lands in Om Nom’s mouth can prove tricky. Some of the tougher parts incorporate elements such as hungry spiders that also want the treat, forcing the player to act quickly while still trying to carefully plan moves. More often than not, you’ll retry a level in the hope of feeding the little guy a candy so you don’t have to see his pouty face. It’s heartbreaking, and you can’t help but feel overwhelmed with guilt every time you fail.

Infinity Blade and Infinity Blade II

Developer: Chair Entertainment
Platform: Apple App Store

Infinity Blade_best mobile games

Infinity Blade is the first iOS game developed using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, and it looks beautiful. It’s truly a showcase of what can be accomplished visually on a mobile device with the right resources, and it’s not far from what current consoles are capable of.

You walk through a castle fighting monsters using simple left, right, and swipe gestures to dodge, block, or attack your enemy. These controls work well with touch screens because they don’t rely on precision finger movements. Instead, the player must focus on timing and pattern recognition to win. It’s Punch-Out!! with shields, swords, ogres, and knights.

Angry Birds series

Developer: Rovio
Platform: Apple App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore

Angry Birds_Best Mobile Apps

I admit that every time a new Angry Birds game hits the download market, I pretend I’m too cool to be interested. How many times can Rovio reskin the same game? Then I pick it up, and I’m hooked. Angry Birds is arguably the most popular mobile game around right now, and for good reason. It’s no wonder the developers keep releasing sequels and making Angry Birds available on every thinkable platform because even when you want to hate it, you have to admit it’s fun.

The object of the birds’ anger are evil green pigs that have stolen their eggs. The player’s job is to slingshot the birds into said pigs’ fortresses, rendering them dead and bacon. You have a limited number of birds per level, and you must find clever ways to efficiently eliminate all the pigs before advancing. The puzzles are physics-based, so players have to calculate distance and trajectory to win. You’ll often find that what was supposed to be a few minutes of playtime can become an hour or more of slaughtering hogs and cursing at the touch screen.

Draw Something

Developer: Omgpop
Platform: Apple App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore

Draw Something_best mobile games

Draw Something was one of the first mobile games to bring a social element to the general public thanks to its Facebook integration. In fact, the social network is very likely the reason Draw Something became so huge. It’s easy to sign up for because most of us have a Facebook account. It’s also very accessible to nongamer types since drawing is a basic skill, which eliminates the need to learn complicated control schemes or rules to enjoy the game.

One player is given a word and must do his best to represent it in a drawing by using his device’s touch screen. Then, he sends it to the other person, who must guess the word based on his (usually horrible) illustration. You can be playing against several friends at once, and it’s not unusual to have 10 or more games going at any given time. Keep in mind that it may be hours or even days before a friend gets back to you with a reply. The only downside to any of these social games is that you are forced to rely on others if you want to play. Once the initial popularity dwindles, it’s a little harder to find opponents.

Rayman Jungle Run

Developer: Ubisoft
Platform: Apple App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore

Rayman Jungle Run_best mobile games

Ubisoft is one of those top-tier gaming companies that wasn’t afraid even early on to invest in development and publishing for mobile platforms. Rayman Jungle Run was picked by Apple as its best game of 2012. Luckily, Rayman is multiplatform, so Android users don’t have to sit this one out.

Rayman Jungle Run is what’s called an autorun game. The character — in this case, Rayman — continuously runs through the levels. The movement is out of your control. It’s the player’s job to jump, glide,, or attack at the right moment. This genre has grown in popularity on mobile devices because it brings elements of traditional run and jump games (often called platformers) yet keeps gameplay simple enough so that users aren’t annoyed by sloppy touch-screen controls.

Kiko: The Last Totem

Developer: Fabulapps
Platform: Apple App Store

Kiko the Last Totem_best mobile games

Kiko: The Last Totem wasn’t given much publicity. I actually happened to find it by chance while browsing through the App Store. This was one of those games I downloaded on a whim, and I’m glad I did. This game is a lesser known gem that is grossly underappreciated. Kiko deserves some recognition, and I would be doing it and my readers an injustice by overlooking this personal favorite.

The game is a puzzler in which players must slide colored cats across the floor to land them on a matching colored tile. This usually proves rather difficult because placing the cats requires quite a bit of forethought. It’s comparable to working a slide puzzle, where you have all but one or two tiles properly arranged and then mess up the entire image because you need to get that one piece to sit in a different place. Kiko also has a level creator, which adds some replay value for those who make it through the 200+ puzzles.

Mirror’s Edge

Developer: EA Mobile
Platform: Apple App Store

Mirrors Edge_best mobile games

Mirror’s Edge is a mobile version of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 game of the same name. Rather than using a first-person view, Mirror’s Edge for iOS is a sidescrolling platformer. The feel of the console version remains intact. You run through levels escaping guards and using agile parkour moves and momentum to keep moving forward without stumbling or getting caught.

It’s mostly based on swipes to jump and slide across rooftops and through air ducts. The controls may take a few minutes to get used to, but once you figure things out, you feel unstoppable. Some portions in later levels can become frustrating, but overall, it’s a great experience.

Tiny Wings

Developer: Andreas Illiger
Platform: Apple App Store

Tiny Wings_best mobile games

Tiny Wings is a fun little title. The character, a chubby bird, is in constant motion while the player taps on the touch screen to jump and avoid obstacles as the birdy rushes through the level. The simple controls make it easy for beginners to understand.

You collect suns (they look like gold coins) as you progress through the game, and the score increases based on distance traveled. Where Tiny Wings truly shines is in its pick-up-and-play value. It can be enjoyed in short bursts and doesn’t require the player to commit a great deal of time.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Developer: Capcom
Platform: Apple App Store

Ghost Trick_best mobile games

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a rather interesting puzzler originally released for the Nintendo DS.

Basically, the player takes control of a dead man’s spirit. The spirit can move through inanimate objects in the game world and possess them at will. This lets you manipulate the objects and carry out a number of tasks. I realize the description is a bit simplified, but players must find creative ways to interact with objects throughout the level to intervene with events in the physical world. An example is killing a would-be murderer by positioning things around him to cause his untimely demise. This gives the appearance — in the physical world, at least — that the death was the result of a freak accident. Consider, for instance, the ability to possess a wrecking ball and cause it to drop on your target. That’s Ghost Trick.

LostWinds and LostWinds 2: Winter of the Melodias

Developer: Frontier Developments
Platform: Apple App Store

LostWinds_best mobile games

LostWinds is a platformer with puzzle elements. The first was a personal favorite when it arrived on Nintendo’s WiiWare service, and now it and its sequel are available for iOS. LostWinds caters to gamers looking for something that isn’t considered casual. It’s appropriate for all ages, but younger players may find it a bit too difficult for their tastes.

Players control a boy named Toku and guide him through the world. There are no levels in LostWinds. Rather, the entire game takes place in a large, explorable space. You gain new abilities such as creating strong gusts of wind to carry Toku over large pitfalls or changing summer to winter to freeze waterfalls. This makes it possible to access new areas of the world.

Into the Dead

Developer: PikPok
Platform: Apple App Store

Into the dead_best mobile games

As if the world needs another zombie game. Don’t fret, though, because this one is actually a fun and interesting take on the living dead craze that seems to have consumed our entertainment lives. Also cool is the fact that it’s free and pretty. Well, about as pretty as running through a foggy field overrun with flesh-eating ghouls can be.

Like Tiny Wings and Rayman, this is an autorunner. The difference is that this one is in a first-person view, and it’s much more gory. When you start, you run through an eerie field at a constant pace and only possess the ability to dodge zombies — that is, until you eventually pick up weapons and ammo that help you survive at least for a few more minutes before you are ripped limb from limb by a walking corpse. It’s rather graphic, so this game is not for everybody.

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