While I’ve never been what you might consider a “gamer,” I have always loved mobile games - games that you don’t have to spend thousands of hours in to get to a high level, where you can see yourself improving quickly, and don’t have to spend more than five minutes learning the rules. Although there are some mobile games that do take hundreds of hours to start enjoying, none of them are in this list. If you want a game that you can download, learn immediately, and then spend idle time playing - this list is for you. Additionally, the list is in no particular order. I created it by going through my downloads, and picking out any game that I remember having a good time playing. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a few that you also enjoy.
Skiing Yeti Mountain
Skiing Yeti Mountain is a brilliant little game about skiing down a mountain as fast as possible. There are 841 levels, and on each level, there’s a “gold medal” time to beat. It’s not very hard to beat that time (not to mention you don’t need to beat it to progress), so when I played this over the span of about two weeks, I was able to finish 15 or 20 levels in a half hour of playtime. There’s also a challenge mode, which has leaderboards per level, and this is one of my favorite parts of the game. After two weeks of playing, I was able to get to the top 100 in the world on roughly half of the challenge levels, which suggests that I might be a top 100 player in the world in this game. So either I just have an insane amount of natural talent (my lack of skill in most video games would say the opposite) or it’s not too hard to get good at this game. Oh, and there’s also a story, which is kind of cool but mainly plays the role of convincing you that no, these levels aren’t all automatically generated and there will be an end.
Geometry Dash is a game in which I am certainly not in the top 100 players in the world. In fact, I suck at it. I haven’t even come close to completing a “demon” rated level (the rating given to the hardest levels in the game), but I still enjoy getting to listen to the first eight seconds of the great soundtrack before inevitably mistiming my jump by two pixels and getting killed. This game has an incredibly high skill ceiling, so if you WANT to spend thousands of hours playing it, you definitely can. If you’re like me, and you don’t want to, then you can spend your time trying over and over again to beat some of the easier levels, which are just as satisfying to complete and don’t require you to tap your phone five times in the span of three milliseconds. As an interesting side note, this game was last updated (to version 2.1) five years ago, and the developer apparently keeps releasing previews of the next update (2.2) but hasn’t released it, which means this is a great game for fans of the Game of Thrones series of novels.
Bloons Tower Defense 6
The entire Bloons Tower Defense series is incredible, and with each new entry in the series the game gets more content, better graphics, and provides a more enjoyable experience. The concept of the game involves placing monkeys on the sides of a path so that they can prevent “bloons” from getting to the end of that path. They do this in a variety of ways - initially by throwing darts, but as you upgrade them more, you unlock spiked balls, grenades, and eventually sun rays. (it’ll make sense if you play it). It’s easily worth the $5, is continually updated, and although there are microtransactions, you never have to buy anything to progress and there are no ads. I’ve played this series of games for over 10 years and will always come back to it every so often.
Disc Golf Valley
This is one of the more recent games that I’ve played, but it absolutely merits inclusion on this list. Disc Golf Valley is not only the best disc golf game out there (although there isn’t much competition) but it’s among the best sports games out there as well. Currently, there are over 150 well-crafted holes to play (with more releasing every couple months), and while you won’t be very good at first, with some practice you’ll eventually be able to unlock better discs and improve significantly. Getting three stars on all the single-player courses is very difficult and will keep you interested for a long time. And while I would also recommend actual disc golf, it takes much less effort and practice to get better at the game than the real thing. (Also, if I threw as many discs into water in real life as I do in this game, I would be spending hundreds of dollars on replacements.)
Golf Blitz is probably the most pay-to-win game on this list, but I’ve invested plenty of hours without investing any money. The game is basically a combination of two-dimensional golf and Clash Royale , in that you have a certain amount of “elixir” which recharges throughout the game. You can use the elixir on certain powerups for your shot, like a really fast shot, or a really powerful shot. By winning games, you can unlock more golfer skins, powerup levels, and more starting elixir. You’re not going to be very high up on the rankings without spending money unless you truly put a ton of hours into it, but the game’s dynamic matching system ensures that you’ll only be put in matches with other people who also don’t want to spend money or hundreds of hours, so unless you really care about being the best, you can still have a lot of fun at the lower levels.
You probably know what this game is if you were alive in 2015, when the game was most popular. I played it then too, but I recently came back to it and found that it’s actually pretty fun still. In case you don’t know how it works, the basic concept is that you control a chicken who tries to cross an endless road full of cars, trains, and floating logs. Once you get past the early stage of dying before 100 every time, trying to see how far you can get without getting struck by a car or train (the trains come more often later on) is pretty fun, where fun here means “often very frustrating”. My personal high score is around 600, and the best score ever is around 4,000, so I’m probably not going to be setting any records soon. However, this is another one of those games where you can really impress people by being only kind of good at it, so who knows, a 5-hour investment now might pay off when you can make someone mildly impressed with you.
Super Stickman Golf 3
Yes, this is the third golf-related game in the last four on this list. Are they all really that deserving of a spot? The answer is yes. Super Stickman Golf 3 is made by the same developers who made Golf Blitz , but it’s focused more on more traditional golf, where you count strokes, as opposed to getting the ball in the hole as fast as possible. Of course, when I say “traditional” golf, that doesn’t mean there aren’t powerups, balls that bounce off water, sticky goo, etc. It’s very much an arcade-style golf game, so if you were hoping for a golf game where you actually play real golf, you’re not going to find that here. But if you were hoping for a fun arcade game, this is the one for you. The one downside I would mention is that there are only around 20 free courses, so you might want to purchase the paid upgrade if you want to get more courses than that, such as some more of the ones in Golf Blitz .
This game holds a special place in my heart. I downloaded it a couple of years ago, before I was to take a 5-hour flight to Boston. I then played the game for the entire flight, trying to achieve a score of 10,000 overall. Eventually, after some time, I succeeded and moved my goal to 11,000, which I didn’t get until a few weeks later. Now, my best is 11,585, and every few months I get really into playing the game and trying to optimize to finally get 12,000. One of my recent attempts at doing this can be found in this spreadsheet, containing my scores.
But what is the game? It’s essentially a decathlon (or nonathlon, as there are nine events) performed entirely on a unicycle. The premise is ridiculous, but the game works. You can do such things as throw a javelin, a hammer, and hit a giant 8 ball (the game takes some creative liberties with the events that are actually in a decathlon), all from a unicycle with three-button controls. It’s fun initially, as you level up and become better at each event, but once you’ve maxed out every skill, the goal becomes to optimize every event in order to put together a perfect run. If you were to add up all of my best scores in each event, you would get nearly 13,200, but my high score is only around 11,600 because I’ve never put them all together right. I could easily play this game for 100 hours and never get 13,000, and that’s why it’s such a beautiful game.
A couple of years ago, I actually wrote another blog post about the game Pogocat, and how I managed to beat it after around 7 hours of playtime. If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at the game, I recommend reading that, but for here, I’ll just explain quickly what it’s about. Pogocat is a game where you control, as the name suggests, a cat on a pogo stick. The jumping mechanic is difficult to control at first, but eventually, you’ll be able to navigate the cat through a series of increasingly difficult obstacles to eventually reach 1000 meters jumped in a single run. It’s frustrating at times, but will be satisfying in the end. This is also a good game if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like games, because the premise is ridiculous and so you can keep your moral high ground by just saying “well, it’s not really a game, it’s just funny”. Dadish also falls under this category.
Mmm Fingers is another one of those games that you can get really addicted to for a bit and spend several hours trying to get all of the achievements. The game has a fairly unique mechanic, which involves you putting your finger on the screen and dragging it around to avoid monsters which will try to touch it. Or I guess eat it, given the title of the game. Don’t worry though, I haven’t had any of my fingers eaten by the game. Usually it will just end the run if you touch a monster, so they don’t have a chance to eat your finger, which is a good move by the developers. One (real) warning with this game - because of the constant screen-dragging that you’re doing while playing, it’s not uncommon to get a blister on the finger that you use the most. This is potentially the single least cool way to get an injury, so maybe consider switching fingers while playing or using a stylus.
College Football Coach
College Football Coach is a GM (or whatever the equivalent for college is) simulator - you run a college football team, and go through all of the stages of the season, trying to win a championship. It’s text-based, so there aren’t any real graphics, but that didn’t stop me from getting really excited about my 116 rated quarterback who broke all my season records. If you’re someone who likes stats, and especially sports stats, you’ll enjoy this game. It’s not too hard to craft a dynasty if you start with a good team, so if you enjoy absolutely crushing American Samoa by 90 points, that’s not too hard to do. On the other hand, if you like building your way up from the absolute worst team possible, you can start with American Samoa, and try and win a national championship. I’ve never done it, but I’ve also never really tried to do it. It’s definitely possible. You’ll be able to play through 50 seasons in one session of playing if you play at a fast pace, which means you’ll go through the triumphs and defeats, the epic highs and lows of college football very quickly.
Hill Climb Racing
One of the most popular games on this list,Hill Climb Racing (and its equally good sequel,Hill Climb Racing 2 ) is also among my favorites in terms of how much fun they are to grind through. At its core, the game is just a basic 2D racing game which doesn’t have a lot of complexity, but when you add the many different environments, different cars, parts upgrades, and everything else, it becomes hard to put down until you’ve earned enough coins to reach the next milestone, and the next one, and the next. The sequel is focused more on multiplayer racing, which is fun even if I’m not convinced I’m not just going up against a bunch of bots. To unlock everything in the sequel, you’ll have to spend a lot more time grinding than in the original, but there’s plenty of things to do even if you don’t want to unlock everything .
Flappy Golf 2
Yes, Flappy Golf 2 is the third Noodlecake golf game that I’ve put on this list. But I’ve spent enough time playing all three that it would have been a shame to take any of them off. The concept is very simple: you control a golf ball which can flap in the same way that the bird in Flappy Bird (RIP) can, except you can choose to go left or right. This concept sounds really dumb, yeah, but it actually works pretty well. You can flap your way through a ton of 9-hole courses, trying to complete each hole in the fewest number of flaps. There’s a lot of optimization and strategies that you can try out, and there’s also apparently a multiplayer mode, though I’ve never actually managed to get that to work. On the plus side, I’m told Flappy Golf 3 is coming soon, and if they don’t completely ruin it, it should be an instant download.
Race Time is a fairly simple game, and you can’t play too much at any one time, but it’s a great game to play for 10 minutes a day. The basic concept is that there’s a new racetrack every day, and you need to try to get around it as fast as possible. There are medals to earn each day and if you’re really competitive, a ranking system that I have never come close to the top of. (I would usually just go for the silver medal and stop there.) You probably won’t become addicted to it, because there’s only two tracks per day that you can play. This might be a positive or a negative, depending on your perspective. But it’s fun to continually try and beat your best time, and improvement happens quicker than you might think. I often come back to this game to try and beat the daily track, and it always provides a short boost of fun.
This is that game that was on TikTok for a while a few months ago. I downloaded it, and while there are a lot of ads, it’s also surprisingly fun. For those of us who are too broke to play the VR game Beat Saber, this is a solid alternative. It’s got a lot of songs that you should be able to actually recognize even if you’re not a fan of anime music or random electronic music, which is a problem with some other rhythm games. The skill cap is also very high, and I didn’t spend too much time on this game trying to actually reach it, but you definitely could. If you’re like me, though, and you just don’t have enough money to get a VR headset that’s not Google Cardboard, but you feel really left out by people playing Beat Saber, this is a good game to get.
I really liked playing this game last year, but I just Googled it and apparently the company that makes it has gone out of business, and the app is no longer available. So sorry about this one, but I’ll keep it on the list in case they’re able to resurrect it somehow. It was basically a trivia game in the style of QuizUp, but the catch is that you get put into a group of 1000 people, and then have to win ten consecutive battles in order to reach the top of a single-elimination tournament. It was always fun once you got up in the final rounds, and I only won once. I would sometimes get matched up against someone who has like 500 wins and must have memorized all the questions or something, which wasn’t great, but overall it was fun. You’ll never be able to experience that fun, though, because it’s dead now. Sucks for you.
aa is a very simple game, which centers around trying to tap at the right times to shoot little black arrows into a rotating ball, without hitting any of the arrows you’ve already shot into it. It’s difficult to describe in words, but you’ll understand it in roughly five seconds if you play. There are a lot of levels, I’m not sure how many exactly but at least 200. There’s a few ads, but none if you use airplane mode (this is a general recommendation as well for other games with ads). Overall, this is one of the simplest games on the list and most arcade-like, but I definitely spent a lot of time playing it when I first downloaded it, so it’s worthy of an install. If you like it, there’s a lot of other two-letter games that are by the same developer which are similar and also generally pretty good.
A good amount of the fun of playing Asphalt 8 is the incredible graphics. I don’t know how the team behind it managed to pack so many details into a game played on a phone, but there’s a reason this game appears in a bunch of iPhone ads to showcase the phone’s display. The actual racing is also fun, and there’s plenty to do in the game across the many tracks and races to complete. You can play it on the Windows store too, so you can play it if you have a PC. You start to hit a bit of a paywall if you play enough, but grinding coins is fun because the races are so fun, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The game does have a sequel (Asphalt 9 ), which has the same incredible graphics, but the game is overall worse as they put in more pay-to-win mechanics and an energy system (at least when I played it), so I would recommend that you pick Asphalt 8 , which is still being updated. (Note: After some searching around, it seems like the pay-to-win stuff in the game has been increased since I last played, so expect a lot of that. The gameplay is still fun though, even if you can’t get all the best cars).
Duet is best described as a fun extension of that mode in Geometry Dash where you have to control two things at the same time and get them both around various obstacles. It has a clever design, with great music and enjoyable visuals. It costs $2.99 on the App Store, and is free on Android for some reason, so I guess if you have an Android it’s easier to try out. It probably won’t take too long to beat, but it’ll be very satisfying to finally beat a level you’ve been trying to beat for a while. It’s one of those games where it says it’s best with headphones in a kind of pretentious way at the beginning of the game, and I’ve never played it with headphones, so who knows, maybe it really is way better with headphones. If you have easy access to headphones, you should try that. In summary, Duet is a fun, abstract game that looks cool to people watching over your shoulder.
A lot of my playtime on this game has been registered on the Steam / PC version of it, but the mobile version is essentially the same game. I’ve often compared this game to solving a Rubik’s cube. Well, that’s not true, but I’m comparing it now. If you know how to solve a Rubik’s cube, you won’t be super impressed by someone being able to solve one, but if you don’t, you’ll be very impressed. Similarly, if you spend the 10 hours necessary to get relatively good at Super Hexagon ‘s hardest level, it’ll look really impressive to anyone who hasn’t done the same thing. I won’t be impressed, because I’ve beaten that level, so if your plan was to impress me, you should probably do something else. But for most other people, it should work. This game also has a great soundtrack (if you like electronic music soundtracks) which is nice to listen to while playing.
Not American football, football as in soccer. If you’ve ever wanted to play Football Manager , but found that it was too realistic and made you do things that felt more like bureaucratic tasks than part of a game, this is the game for you. You can easily play through a few seasons in one play session, and it seems to be updated even several years after its release, which is nice. I recommend getting the pro version, because it’s only $2.99, but if you want to try it out, there is a free version. (I don’t understand why people are so much more willing to spend $3 on like half a Starbucks coffee than an app that they might end up using for a few hours, but that’s just my two cents.) Also, you don’t have to be a fan of soccer to enjoy this game, because I am not a big fan of soccer and I found it to be fun. I am a fan of other sports, so being a fan of sports in general is probably a positive for enjoying this game, and if you don’t like sports, you probably won’t like this game.
I’m Ping Pong King
I occasionally search the App Store / Play Store for ping pong games, because it’s a really fun game to play in real life. Rarely, though, are these games entertaining enough to play beyond a couple of games - it’s very difficult to get the ping pong mechanic just right. Well, I’m Ping Pong King has come very close. It won’t take you too long to beat the game once you get good enough at the mechanic, but it’ll be a worthwhile experience to go through and beat all the players in line for the title. If you watched table tennis at the Olympics this year and thought “Wow, I wish I could do that,” you still won’t be able to, but you can pretend by downloading this game.
Data Wing was one of the most unexpectedly fun games I’ve played on mobile. I’m generally not a big fan of mobile games that have a story, as I think stories are better reserved for games that aren’t played on 5.5-inch screens, but Data Wing does it well. I won’t spoil too much about the story, because it’s interesting to play through without knowing anything. The racing mechanic is really fun to play around with, and there are even some Easter eggs if you click around enough. It won’t be the longest game you’ve ever played, but however long it takes you, it’ll be fun. I’ve played through it twice in the few years since discovering it. It’s a free game, so the cost to try it is very low, and if you hate it (which you probably won’t) you can just delete it.
Moto X3M Bike Race Game
Yeah, the title of this game doesn’t make it sound super fun, but it’s actually one of the best bike race games I’ve played, which granted is not a huge category, but it does include a game you might have played before, Bike Race . It’s fun to work through the levels, which can be surprisingly difficult at times, and it’s not completely bombarded by in-app purchases. (According to some of the current reviews, there are a lot of ads now, so you might want to use the airplane mode trick on this game as well.) This game was originally on coolmathgames, so if you wanted any more proof that it’s a fun game, there you have it. I’ve only managed to get about halfway through, but I have good memories of trying to grind through the levels and unlock all the stars.
Not Not won’t take too long to play through, but it’s got some clever gameplay that I enjoyed when I played it. The basic idea is to follow a series of commands to swipe the screen in one of four directions: left, right, up, or down. The commands start off easy, like “left” or “not right,” and become more difficult as you go on, like “not not left or not green”. It reminded me a lot of jmtb02’s Flash game Obey The Game , which has similar mechanics in terms of “FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE OR DIE”. I wish the developers would update the game, or release a sequel, or release any other mobile game, as this is their only one so far. I mean, maybe they only work part-time or something, but hey Altshift, if you’re reading this, I would love some more similar content.
Tigerball has kind of a weird vibe to it, and I’m not sure why. The goal of the game is to get through 100 levels which all involve swiping a ball to throw it into a bucket. It gets easier as you play it more, as well as gain more lives, bombs (which let you skip levels), and checkpoints, which are every 25 levels. Sometimes the best strategy for a particular level is just to skip that level with a bomb, which isn’t great game design, but the game makes up for it with the feeling of getting a difficult level in one shot. Honestly, I’m not really sure why I spent so much time getting through the 100 levels in this game - like I said, it’s got a weird vibe. But I did spend a good few hours on it, so I’m including it in this list because if you play it, maybe you’ll experience the same sort of odd attraction to it as I did, and have what can’t exactly be described as “fun” but more a trance state, where I didn’t particularly want to stop playing, but also didn’t particularly want to continue. (Yeah, this isn’t a shining endorsement, but go download it if you want to know what I’m talking about).
Dadish answers the question that many of us have always had on our minds - what would happen if a radish lost his kids in a series of increasingly difficult platforming levels? Well, look no further for an answer, because by playing Dadish , you’ll be able to finally figure out what would happen. The premise to this game is easily the most ridiculous of any game on the list, which is saying something considering the list includes a game where you play as a cat on a pogo stick, as well as one where you have to fight off a series of balloons with dart-throwing monkeys. Insane story aside, Dadish is a legitimately great platforming game, which is rare to find on mobile. It reminded me of many of the old Nitrome platformers I played as a kid, which is high praise. It doesn’t introduce anything that’s really new to the genre, but it executes the basic mechanics very well and is very satisfying to beat. (or beet , get it? because it’s a vegetable? and the main character in this game is a radish, which is also a vegetable?)
I discovered Walk Master at the beginning of 2021, while under a quarantine order from UC Berkeley. The game is pretty simple - essentially you are some sort of creature who walks across terrain using stilts. There are about 200 unique main levels, although the game wants you to think that there are an infinite number by repeating the levels after a certain point. There are also 35 daily challenges and 17 challenge levels, which were my favorite part of the game. I came back almost every day for 35 days to finish all the daily levels, so it was able to hold my attention for a while. This game is very similar to Skiing Yeti Mountain in that there are a ton of fairly short levels, and it’s centered around one particular mechanic which is satisfying to improve at. Overall, a fairly chill game that you can play idly while watching a TV show or something to relax.
This is the only incremental game on this list, and that’s because a lot of the incremental games I’ve played aren’t on mobile. But this one is definitely one of the best incremental games, on mobile or otherwise. If you’re a fan of numbers that go up by a lot, then you’ll probably like this game. If you don’t get those types of games, then you probably won’t like this game either. If you want to understand sentences like “Starting at 3e203 IP, you can do a one replicanti galaxy (RG) run that reaches e45000 antimatter and g70 to unlock ID6,” this is a great game for you. A full run takes a solid few weeks to complete, but a lot of that is just waiting until a time when you have enough of a resource to unlock something else (you don’t need to have the app open to wait). Also, they’re planning to release a major update in 5 hours.
Just to respond to anyone who says “Why didn’t you put X game on this list? It’s clearly one of the best of all time,” the answer to that is either that I haven’t played it, or didn’t think it was that good when I did play it. This list isn’t intended to be the 29 best overall, but just the 29 games that I have liked the most, so people who have similar interests to me (at least in terms of mobile games) can find some games that they’ll enjoy.
If you’ve gotten this far, go and download one of the ones that looks interesting, or even one that doesn’t look interesting - who knows, maybe you’ll like it.