We now live in a post-Dr. Mario World world, and I gotta say, things don’t feel too different. Nintendo continues to squirt out bad games on phones, causing all but the most stalwart fans of mobile games to question why they even bother downloading games from the App Store.
Things don’t have to be this way though! Nintendo could make a good phone puzzler if they wanted to. To prove it, here’s a list of great mobile puzzlers that can provide in all the ways that Dr. Mario World doesn’t.
There’s a lot of ways to play Tetris these days, but 99 Bricks Wizard Academy is my absolute favorite. This game has you building a wizard tower out of tetrominos, with the main catch being that these blocks don’t simply lock into place. A stiff breeze can shift blocks out of place, leaving you to try and adapt as well as you can before things start toppling down. There are also fun challenges that arise from rival wizards coming along to foil your tower-building plans. This definitely isn’t traditional Tetris, but that’s part of why I like it so much.
If you want a puzzle game that will constantly surprise and delight, Tiny Bubbles is your best bet. It’s a color-matching game, but it’s unlike any other color-matching game out there. Instead of swapping blocks or dropping pieces, you pop bubbles and can even mix colors of non-matching colors to create a match. Tiny Bubbles sports seven sets of unique puzzles for you to try in addition to an endless mode that lets you keep on popping forever.
The most zen entry on this list is Pipe Push Paradise. This isn’t to say the game is easy. Quite the opposite, actually. Pipe Push Paradise is devilishly clever with it’s pipe-pushing puzzles. It’s hard to get frustrated by any of its challenges though because of how chilled-out the experience is. Everything about the game oozes beach vibes, especially the game’s excellent bossa nova soundtrack.
Minesweeper Genius is probably my favorite logic puzzle game on the App Store. It takes the core concepts behind Minesweeper and puts them into a modern context in really smart ways, not the least of which is giving you a character that you must pilot through each level of minefields. It creates many moments where you feel like a genius, just because you can look at a level and systematically deduce where mines are to create a safe path to the next level.
Lumines is one of the greatest puzzle games ever made, and Lumines Puzzle and Music is a solid version of the game that plays well on phones. As its name suggests, this puzzle game integrates music into its mechanics. You drop blocks much in the same way that you might in Tetris or Dr. Mario, but Lumines doesn’t clear away matched blocks of color until a bar—moving in time with the game soundtrack—sweeps across the playfield. Go play this if you haven’t already.
I’ll admit, Dr. Mario World offers competitive multiplayer, which many mobile puzzle games don’t do. If that’s what you were looking for from Nintendo’s latest release though, you can do better. Zookeeper Battle is an oldie but a goodie. Don’t be fooled by how free-to-play its menus look. The game is actually a pretty good and pure competitive take on Bejeweled.
For anyone looking for more of a narrative-focused puzzle game, I can’t recommend anything better than Ticket to Earth. Followers of the site will know I’ve already proclaimed it one of the greatest mobile games of all time. So, what are you waiting for? Wouldn’t you rather play one of the best mobile games ever instead of Dr. Mario World? I know I would.