Try sharing that new iPad with the family this holiday; you might be surprised how fun it can be.
Mobile games lag behind their console counterparts when it comes to providing awesome local shared experiences. And it’s not down to a lack of demand. Research from TV network and game publisher Nickelodeon recently found that game-savvy parents want more mobile titles they can play along with their kids.
“When we spoke to parents, they told us that they actually want to see a bigger choice of family-targeted apps that they can use together — ahead of educational apps and other types of games,” said Alison York, the research director at Nickelodeon U.K. “Developers should look at this as an underserved area of the market.”
Luckily, some mobile games do offer the chance to play alongside (or against) family members. We’ve rounded up 10 great examples that will keep you and your loved ones entertained this holiday.
This is a simple but awesome take on marbles that’s perfect for playing with the family. Up to four players huddle round and battle it out on three different boards, and you can also choose to add A.I. opponents to make up the numbers. It’s really quick and it’s great fun, making Marble Mixer an ideal game to bust out at quiet moments.
Snail Bob 2
Released in September, Snail Bob 2 is a neat physics puzzler that’s ideal for parents to play with their kids. The puzzles are diverse and interesting, Bob is super cute, and it features levels and costumes you can unlock without any expensive in-app purchases. Oh, and it has plenty of pop culture references for keen-eyed parents to spot while they’re helping save Bob from certain doom.
iOS and Android, $3 (no in-app purchases, and reduced to $1 on iOS at the time of writing)
Wrestle Jump is as simple as multiplayer games get. You battle against your opponent using just one button (which makes your fighter straighten their legs and jump), trying to knock their head to the ground before yours. If someone’s proving too good, you can always throw in hazards like ice to help level the playing field.
iOS, $2 (no in-app purchases)
DragonBox Algebra is the benchmark for educational games. It presents algebraic concepts as a series of puzzles that gradually build from simple manipulable images to more traditional symbols, letting kids as young as 5 grasp complicated mathematical principles while having fun. It’s best played together, and parents might end up learning as much as their children.
iOS and Android, $5 (no in-app purchases)
I’ve had a ton of fun playing The Room with my daughter. The groundbreaking game is great for encouraging discussion as you manipulate and explore the devilishly clever 3D puzzle boxes, trying to discover their secrets. And when you’re finally done, you can try out the game’s two equally great sequels.
iOS and Android, $1 (no in-app purchases, and free on iOS at the time of this writing)
Scribblenauts is an awesome puzzle series, but if you want to make cool stuff — and you can make a whole bunch of cool stuff — you need to be able to type (and spell). So it provides an ideal opportunity to sit and play alongside a younger family member, thinking up crazy plans together and watching them play out.
iOS and Android, $1 (with in-app purchases)
Inspired by classic multiplayer games like Super Bomberman, Astro Duel pits two players against each other in a space battle across 10 different dynamic arenas. You can also use iPhones or gamepads as controllers to make it a four-player affair.
iOS, $5 (no in-app purchases)
If regular charades feels a little tired, this digital twist will help spice things up. Instead of one player acting out the cards, the whole team acts them out for one person to guess. With rounds of 30, 60, or 90 seconds, it’s a fast-paced game that’s great for a family gathering.
iOS and Android, free (with in-app purchases for card packs)
Bam Fu is competitive multiplayer game where players stab at the screen, competing to make colored tiles their own. With multiple layouts and support for up to four players, it’s a great game to have on hand while waiting in line. Just be mindful not to take it too seriously as things can get pretty frantic with four hands fighting over one screen.
iOS, $1 (with no in-app purchases). Android, free (in-app purchase to unlock 3-4 players)
Fruit Ninja was one of the big early mobile success stories, and its local splitscreen multiplayer makes for a frantic, fast-paced, and free diversion. Sit head-to-head over your tablet and compete for the highest score.
iOS and Android, free (with in-app purchases)