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Distract Yourself With These Great Mobile Games on Sale Right Now

Posted by Campbell Bird on March 4th, 2021

There’s a lot going on right now, and I don’t really feel like trying to write some kind of pithy intro for it. All I’ll say is lots of people have been coming together and helping each other in small ways, and I’m choosing to focus on that as I try to stay safe myself.

One of the ways folks are trying to help are by making their games more affordable, or even free, during this time. Check out my top picks below of some great mobile titles that have gone on sale recently:

Games marked with an asterisk(*) denote that the entire developer/publisher’s catalog is discounted, despite the fact that all of their games may not be listed here.

Apple Arcade: Ranked - Top 25 [Updated 2.22]

Posted by Campbell Bird on February 22nd, 2021

In case you missed it, I am on a quest to rank every Apple Arcade game there is.

Over a year into the Apple Arcade experiment, I’m adjusting my approach to these rankings to make it a bit less cumbersome to update and read. For the most part, this means the number of updates on previously released games will decrease, and the text below each entry will be kept to a brief-yet-accurate justification for its positioning.

This has less to do with the pace of Apple Arcade releases and more to do with the fact that the general quality of games on the service simply isn’t what it should be. In the time that one release comes to the service, multiple high quality games hit the App Store that you don’t have to pay monthly upkeep for. Unless something drastic changes with the service, my opinion on it probably won’t change much.

Anyway, on with the ranking updates:

Game ranking updates for 2/22:

The 5 Best Mobile Ports

Posted by Campbell Bird on January 14th, 2021

Ports or coversions of games from one platform to another can be quite tricky. This is especially true when porting games to phones and tablets, as these titles have to be designed with workable touch controls and account for smaller screen sizes.

It’s rare these days for a console or PC game to grace the App Store in a totally unplayable state, but it can be hard to find games that make their transition to mobile look easy. It’s even rarer when a mobile port comes out and it’s just so dang slick it feels better than it did on its original platform, but these games exist. Here are five of them:

148Apps Game of the Year 2020

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 31st, 2020

Every year, I always honor my favorite mobile games by highlighting some of my favorites. For this year, I'd like to try to do more than just say "hey, these games are fun." So, with some inspiration from other Game of the Year honors from around the web, I've assembled a few categories of video game honorifics to bestow on the mobile games that most deserve it.

In the coming days, be sure to check in to see nominees and winners picked from this list as we count down the final days of the horrid year known as 2020.

The Top 10 Mobile Games of the Generation

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 8th, 2020

With new consoles coming out soon, it's inevitable for folks to want to look back and determine what were the best games that came out across the current console's lifecycle. This process is commonly referred to as picking the best games of the generation, but that terminology is making less and less sense as the games industry expands beyond console hardware and the systems themselves see half-step upgrades.

As silly as it may be as an exercise, I thought it would be fun to go back and look at "this generation" of mobile titles and pick and rank the ten best. In terms of time period, this takes us back to November 2013, which is actually interesting timing for mobile games. It's a world where Flappy Bird already released but hadn't yet become a cultural phenomenon, and the latest and greatest iPhone was the 5S.

Anyway, enough preambling, let's get to the list. See below for the best mobile games of the generation:

The 5 Best Mobile Games Like Genshin Impact

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 6th, 2020
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: GIGA GACHA :: Read Review »

Genshin Impact is easily the most ambitious game to hit mobile devices to date, and we’re over here loving every second we can spend with the game. There are a few things about it that aren’t ideal though, so it’s entirely understandable why someone might walk away from it disappointed.

In light of that, we decided to put together a list of mobile games that are somewhat like Genshin Impact just in case you were looking for an alternative to play for the time-being. Check out our picks below. You can find our other game recommendation lists here.

The best iOS games to get you in the Halloween spirit

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 2nd, 2020

We’re getting closer and closer to Halloween every day, which means everyone’s gearing up to watch their favorite horror movies, make weekend trips out to pumpkin patches, and do all kinds of other, fun seasonal stuff before this month ends and everyone looks toward Thanksgiving.

If you’re in the midst of all your Halloween activities and you want to take a break with some games that match the spirit, we’ve got good news for you. There’s a bunch of great games on the App Store that can get you in the mood for Halloween, and we’ve compiled a list of the best ones in a handy little list. We've also added a "spookiness rating" (1=not scary, 5=scariest) to each one so you can find the right game for you. Check out the picks below:

The 5 Best Mobile Games Like Hades

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 23rd, 2020

Supergiant Games finally released Hades upon the world this week, and we’re loving it. The game plays to all of the studio’s strengths while still retaining a strong sense of identity. It also just so happens to play rather well using the Steam Link.

If you don’t have Hades, a PC or console that can run it, or perhaps have already blazed through it, try these mobile games that can give you some of the great blend of style and action that makes Supergiant’s latest so good.

The 5 Best Mobile Games Like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 8th, 2020

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 dropped last week, meaning you can get remastered versions of two of the most iconic “sports” games ever made and experience some of the highest watermarks set in games of generations’ past.

There aren’t many new games like the Tony Hawk titles these days, and even attempts to re-capture the magic of earlier games in the series tend to go awry. That said, if you do want somewhat fresh and mobile takes on arcade, trick-based gameplay, here are our top picks.

The 5 Best Mobile Battle Royale Games

Posted by Campbell Bird on August 26th, 2020

The release of Call of Duty: Warzone on PC and consoles renewed a lot of people’s interest in the battle royale genre. Once a red-hot game mode a couple years ago, battle royales have maintained their prominence despite finding more competition with other popular genres like autochess and more traditional multiplayer shooters, particularly on mobile.

Although you can’t play Warzone on touch screens (although maybe someday that will change), there are plenty of battle royale games you can jump into right now. Check out our five favorites below. Oh, and click here to check out all of the great lists we’ve been making recently.

The 5 Best Mobile Platformers

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 30th, 2020

Touch screens and action-oriented gameplay don't typically mix, but over the course of pondering the best platformers on mobile, I found myself having a really hard time picking just five. Quite a few developers have found really creative ways to make games that require quick reflexes and precision feel perfectly enjoyable on your phone or tablet.

Check out our top picks for platformers on iOS, which cover the range of one-handed, streamlined experiences to titles more typical of the console platfomer experience. If you're looking for some other great mobile games to play, click here to check out all the other top lists we've been making lately.

Apple Arcade: Ranked - 26-50 [Updated 2.22]

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 29th, 2020

This is part 2 of our Apple Arcade rankings. Quick navigation to other parts:

1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125 | 126+

26. Shantae and the Seven Sirens

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Shantae and the Seven Sirens is a colorful and beautifully animated platformer that feels a lot like a Castlevania game. Shantae and her friends arrive on an island for a half-genie celebration, when all of them get kidnapped (except for Shantae, of course). To rescue the half-genies, you must pilot Shantae across different parts of the island to find magic powers that let you explore new locations. All along the way, island wildlife and other enemies stand in your path, and you have to decide how best to deal with them using your hair-whipping skills, magical abilities, or otherwise just avoiding them.

Rank Explanation:

I really dig the straightforward and old-school style of Shantae and the Seven Sirens. It’s also just a gorgeous game. There definitely aren’t many surprises with a game like this, but Shantae manages to execute so well on creating a Castlevania-type game that it’s also hard not to have a good time with it.

27. The Bradwell Conspiracy

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An accident has happened at the newly opened Bradwell Museum, and somehow everyone was able to evacuate except for you. In this desolate first-person adventure game, you solve a bunch of environmental puzzles while winding your way through this museum which leads you to the discovery (shocker!) that everything isn’t quite what it appears to be.

Rank Explanation:

I didn’t really know anything going into The Bradwell Conspiracy, and I think that’s the best way to approach it. It’s much more of a puzzle game than I was anticipating, and a pretty creative one at that. It doesn’t always execute on its ideas as elegantly as it should, but The Bradwell Conspiracy gets high marks for trying a bunch of new ideas and doing right by a good number of them.

28. Cat Quest II

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Cat Quest II is a bigger, bolder version of the fantastic Cat Quest. As the name might suggest, these games are fantasy role-playing games where you play as a cat. You wander what looks like an overworld map in most games, but this operates as the primary view for doing just about everything in the game, including combat. Cat Quest II ups the ante by offering co-op play (where player two is a dog!), a larger world, and more stuff to do, find, and discover.

Rank Explanation:

Cat Quest II is one of those sequels that is just more of the first game. This is by no means a bad thing. Cat Quest was super charming and fun, so I’m glad there’s now more of it to play. It does feel a little odd as a game somewhat designed around co-op, though. Also some of its systems are a little too easy to exploit, making the game a bit too easy.

29. NUTS - A Surveillance Mystery

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NUTS is a narrative adventure game about a young researcher sent into a forest to document the life and habits of squirrels. You do this by wandering the wilderness and setting up cameras and other observation gear before going back to your RV to see if you were able to gather the intel you were looking for.

Rank Explanation:

What starts as a novel meditative experience quickly gives way to a curious mystery that only gets more puzzling as you continue to capture the habits of these strange squirrels. It certainly helps that NUTS is super stylish and has a lot of fun quirks in the way it controls, though I wish some of observation challenges were a little less convoluted and tedious.

30. Manifold Garden

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Manifold Garden is a mind-bending puzzler where you can adhere to any surface or fall infinitely off of cliffs as you explore an unsettling, non-euclidean environment. It’s very minimal in its presentation, but that’s part of what makes the game so mesmerizing.

Rank Explanation:

Every time I complete a puzzle in Manifold Garden, I’m in awe. For a game that gives you an amazing amount of freedom, it’s impressive how the game keeps coming up with ways to block your path. Sometimes the challenges here are so tough that I wander aimlessly for a while (not great for a mobile game!), but in dedicated play sessions, Manifold Garden is an immersive treat.

31. The Last Campfire

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In The Last Campfire, you play as a lost traveler named Ember, who is searching for a way home. What you discover in this strange land is other people who have been mysteriously trapped here as well, and by solving puzzles, you can help them move on. Travel between various different locations and complete anything from sliding block puzzles to more standard fetch questing in this mysterious narrative puzzle game.

Rank Explanation:

The Last Campfire is a competent and varied puzzle game that feels almost like what a PC or console version of something like Monument Valley might look like. Environments are more spaced out, and the variety of puzzles expands beyond simple traversal (though that is a big part of this game). I don’t love the way the game controls, particularly how it forces you to make distinct swipes or turns to activate switches once you’ve tapped to activate them, and it’s not exactly bursting with new ideas, but The Last Campfireis enjoyable nonetheless.

32. Bleak Sword


Bleak Sword challenges you with combat encounters that are encased in little monochromatic diorama scenes. There’s a story here, but the main focus is: Enter arena, kill enemies, get loot, level up, and repeat.

Rank Explanation:

It’s really hard to get action-based combat right on touchscreens, but Bleak Sword kind of nails it (and in portrait mode no less!). The controls are simple and responsive without feeling limiting. If you want micro doses of really stylish-yet-minimal action combat, this is the way to go.

33. Survival Z

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A zombie shooter that takes after Slay the Spire's structure, Survival Z has you shooting, looting, dying, and repeating on loop in hopes building a survivor strong enough to take on overwhelming waves of undead. Along the way, you'll also build up an arsenal of defenses to deploy and survivor companions to shoot alongside.

Rank Explanation:

Survival Z would be dangerously close to my new favorite Apple Arcade game, but it's one of those games that squanders its potential at every turn. I'd love its roguelike structure if it didn't seem so dependent on grinding. Deploying defense structures gives Survival Z a tower defense vibe, but your access to them is disappointingly limited. The worst part about the game right now though is its hit boxes, which allow zombies to hit you from unreasonable distances.

34. Grindstone

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Capy’s addition to Apple Arcade is a match-three title where you control a barbarian who is slashing through patterns of creeps to meet certain kill goals in order to gather loot that will let you take on even tougher challenges.

Rank Explanation:

Grindstone has a great premise for a mobile game, which is probably why there are already games on the App Store that do what it does, and better. It’s not a bad game, but it’s not terribly exciting, either.

35. The_Otherside

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The_Otherside feels like if someone made Stranger Thingsinto a board game. It’s a retro-styled turn-based game where you control up to four party members in an effort to close otherworldly gates, all while defending themselves from the hellish creatures that come through them.

Rank Explanation:

It’s hard not to draw comparisons between The_Otherside and Zombiecide: Tactics and Shotguns. They’re extremely similar digital board games that involve a lot of enemy crowd control, dice-based combat, and environment exploration. All of those elements are pretty well executed here though, and I’m happy to have a new strategic board game added to my library.

36. Cricket Through the Ages


Learn about the history of cricket as you have two astronauts throw space rocks at each other. Cricket Through the Ages is a goofy physics game where wild-armed players "play cricket" by flailing about wildly. There is a competitive aspect to this nonsense, but it’s not the main focus.

Rank Explanation:

Cricket Through the Ages is most enjoyable when things are going out of control on screen. Fortunately, this is often the case, as this game goes out of its way to be completely absurd in the best ways possible. Although I enjoy this game quite a bit, Cricket Through the Ages loses some points for feeling a bit too much like it’s cribbing from Colin Lane’s games. There are also times where the physics buffoonery works against you in frustrating ways.

37. No Way Home

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This is a sci-fi exploration-based action adventure game where you play as a human that has just woken up after drifting through space for nine million years. Lost in an alien galaxy, you take on missions, upgrade your ship, and try to discover a way back home.

Rank Explanation:

No Way Home is a game that borrows mechanics from a few different popular genres. It’s exploration-heavy like Castlevania, has a crafting system like a survival game, and features dual-stick shooter combat. All of these disparate parts are pretty cool, but they don’t gel together as well as they could. As a result, No Way Home feels a bit disjointed and aimless, despite having some neat ideas.

38. Dead End Job


Dead End Job is like The Real Ghostbusters with a toned-down Ren and Stimpy aesthetic. You wander through haunted areas, busting ghosts using standard dual-joystick shooter controls. All the while, you’re earning upgrades and money, which can help you take on even more powerful poltergeists. Although it looks like a pretty casual game, Dead End Job can be rather punishing to all but patient and deliberate players.

Rank Explanation:

There’s a lot to like about Dead End Job, but its action-oriented nature makes it best suited for controller play only. This limits its appeal on devices meant for on-the-go play. Also, it’s not that hard to find other, better dual-stick shooters on iOS outside of Apple Arcade.

39. ShockRods

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This is a car combat game, but it moves and plays like a typical third-person shooter. You compete in classic multiplayer shooter modes like capture the flag and team deathmatch, but you control a car that can go from moving forward to strafing sideways no problem. As you play, you can unlock new cars to customize your automotive avatar.

Rank Explanation:

ShockRods feels like an old shooter, but in all the right ways. It’s not trying to make too much sense, and prioritizes gameplay that feels good to make you want to keep playing it. I can’t say this game is too fun on a phone using touch, but using an iPad and a controller it’s a fun throwback multiplayer game.

40. Spyder

[img id="103997" alt=""]


Play as a super-spy who also happens to be a robot spider in this puzzle/platformer. Crawl all over the surfaces of submarines and trains to do things like hack computer terminals, defuse bombs, and vent deadly gas to keep your team one step ahead of the bad guys.

Rank Explanation:

Spyder makes a pretty good first impression. It has nice visuals, a creative and fun conceit, and its level designs are actually quite clever. The only thing really holding this game back is its camera controls, which are pretty bad regardless of whether you’re playing via touch or controller. If the camera here improves, I could see Spyderleaping a bit futher up this list.

41. Legend of the Skyfish 2

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Legend of Skyfish 2 is the second game in Mgaia’s Zelda-inspired action/adventure series. You play as a Red Hook Guardian, a kind of warrior armed with a fishing rod that you use to bash enemies and pull yourself around environments to solve light puzzles. This game builds on the first primarily through adding a quest system and a somewhat open, interconnected world.

Rank Explanation:

My issue with the first Legend of Skyfish game was that it was too easy, and this is still a problem in Skyfish 2. The whole game is incredibly linear (even the quests are supposed to be done in a specific order) and it feels trivial to blaze through just about everything that stands in your way. Even the puzzles don’t take much thought to complete. The game looks nice though, plus sometimes it feels good to play a game that makes you feel overpowered.

42. Winding Worlds

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Do your best to fix everyone’s problems in this surreal, narrative adventure. Winding Worlds has you controlling a character as he leaps between mini-worlds, chatting up the people there, and trying to find ways of solving whatever has gone wrong there.

Rank Explanation:

Winding Worlds is a pretty simple game, but massive props to KO_OP for designing a title that plays beautifully in landscape on iPad and portrait on iPhone. The game itself is pretty short, and its story is a basic parable, but its gameplay is varied enough and the writing is charming enough to make it enjoyable... enough.

43. Creaks

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Amanita Design’s second release on Apple Arcade is a more standard puzzle adventure than Pilgrims. Creaks has you playing as a young man who is lost in a mysterious world found through a crack in his apartment. The challenges here are ones of traversal, and most of your time is spent figuring out how to manipulate your environment to hit the right switches you need to move forward.

Rank Explanation:

Creaks hit during a wave of Apple Arcade duds hit the service, and even then it’s nothing too fancy. Of course, it has the signature Amanita Design style, but otherwise feels like their take on Inside (a thing quite a number of Apple Arcade games have done for some reason). It’s a totally solid experience that is helped a lot by its audio and visual design, despite feeling a tad derivative.

44. Don’t Bug Me!

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Don’t Bug Me! is a sort of off-kilter tower defense game where you play as an astronaut defending mission-critical space hardware. This game merges the basic tenets of tower defense with resource management, real-time strategy, and light shooter elements.

Rank Explanation:

This is very much one of those games that is more than the sum of its parts. Don’t Bug Me! isn’t especially challenging, or long, or deep, but it does what it does well, and presents everything in a pleasing and colorful low-poly style. It’s just a nice and inviting experience that feels well-scoped for a service jam-packed with long games fighting tooth-and-nail for your attention.

45. Pilgrims

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We’ve seen a lot of card-based games on mobile, but not really one that tries to emulate adventure games. Pilgrims does exactly this and with all of the charm you can come to expect from Amanita Design releases. In it, you take a charater from location to location and you gather objects and companions who are kept as cards in your inventory. At new locations, you need to pull these cards out to solve light puzzles, witness bizarre hijinks, and play through a brief story.

Rank Explanation:

Pilgrims reduces the trial-and-error of conventional adventure game design down to a small card game that rarely wastes your time. Part of this comes from establishing a game logic that’s pretty easy to follow, but it also helps that Pilgrims rewards players with funny little scenes and collectible cards for trying out cards that don’t specifically solve the puzzle you’re working on. My only real issue with the game is that it ended rather abruptly. Just when I thought I was clearing the first section of the game, credits started rolling.

46. The Pinball Wizard


You play pinball, but your ball is a wizard, and your table is a tower floor littered with enemies and loot. In The Pinball Wizard, your goal is to get as high up a tower as possible without dying. All the while, you collect experience and money that you can spend on upgrades to your wizard between rounds so that you’ll stand a better chance at making it further up the tower on your next play session.

Rank Explanation:

The idea of Pinball Wizard is incredible, but I don’t really love the execution. The pinball physics here feel off. Your wizard hugs the wall in an odd way and everything feels slow and sluggish. Also, it’s only playable in landscape mode, which seems odd for a pinball game. It’s fun enough despite these minor gripes, but it’s hard not to feel like Pinball Wizard isn’t fully realizing its potential.

47. Mini Motorways

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Mini Motorways is the follow up to Mini Metro. Only this time, instead of building public transportation, you are building road ways from houses to buildings with parking lots. Your goal is to create as smooth and quick a flow of traffic as possible, and if too few cars can reach their destination in an appropriate amount of time, you lose.

Rank Explanation:

Mini Motorways is a fine minimalist puzzler, but it doesn’t feel all that different from Mini Metro. On top of that, the game has some clunky controls which often result in accidentally building roadways where you don’t mean to.

48. The Survivalists™

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Team17 takes their crafting/survival formula to the tropics with The Survivalists. Like Robinson Crusoe, you are stranded on an island and have to find a way to fend for yourself. Luckily, you can unlock blueprints for pretty complicated items and train monkeys to help take the tedium out of gathering or crafting particular items.

Rank Explanation:

The Survivalists is certainly better than the other island-themed crafting/survival game on the service, but it's still very much one of those games and operates pretty much exactly as you'd expect it to. It's competent, but far from special.

49. Shinsekai Into the Depths

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This game is sort of like an undersea Castlevania-type game. You wander the ocean depths in a scuba suit, defending yourself from all sorts of deep sea creatures, all while trying to discover why there’s a sudden influx of ice that has started flash freezing the waters around your home.

Rank Explanation:

There’s a slowness and murkiness to Shinsekai that takes some getting used to, but once you do, the game is pretty intriguing. There’s a lot of systems to balance as you float about and discover mineral deposits you can use to upgrade your suit to travel to new depths. There are definitely some weird and unpolished things going on with this game, but it’s also such a confidently weird take on a well worn genre that it’s hard to put down.

50. Reigns: Beyond

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Reigns has finally leaped into the future. In Reigns: Beyond, you play as an amnesiac who captains a starship and plays guitar in an intergalactic rock band. Swipe your way through all kinds of sci-fi adventure and make stops to play shows, make money, and grow your following.

Rank Explanation:

Reigns? Are you ok? What happened? You were once a silly, stripped down adventure game and now you’re... a sci-fi Guitar Hero management sim? I don’t say this to sound entirely negative. Reigns: Beyond is mostly fine, but it feels like a game made without confidence in what made the original game great. On a specifically negative note though, I do wish Reigns: Beyondcould have lasted at least 30 minutes before serving me repeat cards.

The list continues here, or see below to jump to another page:

1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125 | 126+

The 5 Best Mobile Games Like The Last of Us Part II

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 18th, 2020

The Last of Us Part II is set to come out this week, but review scores have already been rolling in to pump up excitement for the latest entry in Naughty Dog’s expensive-looking apocalyptic survival horror series. Generally speaking, the game has already received near universal praise for its technical prowess, it’s a little less clear whether its story and tone will be as successful.

Some of this is due to the review embargo Naughty Dog has put in place around The Last of Us Part II, which has restricted critics from writing about the game in its entirety. Outside of that, there has been also heavy discussion among writers about how the game’s tone feels overly brutal and needlessly bleak, particularly since these aspects are seemingly being used in order to raise the same tired questions about player agency and violence that have been explored repeatedly in over a decade’s worth of “prestige” games.

The 5 Best Mobile Real Time Strategy Games

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 3rd, 2020

Real-time strategy games feel like they’d be a perfect fit for mobile, but they’re trickier to pull off that you might think. The traditional mold of base-building and micro management can work on touch screens, but needs to be carefully honed so that it doesn’t end up too overwhelming.

Few titles on the App Store get this right, but the games below are all nail it in their own, unique ways. Check them out. Oh, and click here to check out all the other great lists we’ve been making lately.

The 5 Best Mobile Racing Games

Posted by Campbell Bird on May 19th, 2020

With KartRider Rush+ making a splash this past week, we figured it was high time we updated our list of the best mobile racing games out there. From realistic racing sims to futuristic arcade racers (and even racing management games!), check out our top picks for the absolute best games for those with a need for speed.

If you’re more interested in games where driving is the key focus, check out our list of top driving games here. For all of our most up-to-date top lists, click here.