The first game, just called Kingdom Rush, is free, so you can test the waters before diving all the way in with Kingdom Rush: Frontiers (iOS | Android) and Kingdom Rush: Origins (iOS | Android)
The premise of Threes! is pretty simple: Pair matching numbers, starting with threes. Your base units are ones and twos, which you can push together to create a three. From there, you have to place matching numbers next to each other, then push them together to create a single, doubled number.
The idea is to get the number higher and higher, until you hit the highest number achievable in the game — 6144 — on a 4-by-4 grid. It seems simple, but the game play has been very carefully balanced to provide a challenge and progression, capturing that elusive “… just one more go.”
It’s all done with a cartoon-like art style, but don’t let the cuteness fool you. The deaths can be pretty gory. Still, an excellent and funny time waster.
Once you get hooked, be sure to check out Rayman: Fiesta Run (iOS | Android), Rayman: Jungle Run (iOS | Android) and even the remake of the original, Rayman: Classic (iOS | Android). These games are all very high quality and great to have on your phone.
The Escapists uses old-school graphics, but that doesn’t take away from the game’s complexity as you try to piece together the best way to escape from several different prisons. You’ll acquire tools by stealing utensils from the mess hall, paying prisoners who know how to get stuff from the outside and doing inside jobs to raise money to pay for it all.
On its face, it looks simplistic, but The Escapists is a fun and challenging time-waster that’s great for anyone who likes solving puzzles.
Taylor is the sole survivor of the crash of the Varia, on a barren moon somewhere in the vicinity of Tau Ceti. Reaching out on comms, Taylor is able to find a single person, a single lifeline. You. As Taylor sets about exploring the inhospitable environment, you’ll help make decisions on what to do next. The troubling part is that none of the decisions are good ones and one wrong move could land Taylor in serious trouble.
The mechanics are what set Lifeline apart. It plays out in real time, notifying you via your phone’s alerts, through which you can also respond to and interact with Taylor, making this the first mobile game that I know of that can be played via the lock screen. It’s also compatible with the Apple Watch, where you can receive notifications when Taylor is ready to talk.
And it’s surprisingly heart-wrenching as you start to develop a connection with Taylor, knowing that hope for survival is, at best, slim.
If you manage not to kill Taylor, the adventure continues in Lifeline: Silent Night and Lifeline: Halfway to Infinity.
Hero Academy 2 improves upon the original with more polished animations and graphics, new challenges that keep game play interesting and new “decks” you can earn or buy to try out different armies. I’ve only just started to explore the game, but it’s already tons of fun, just like the original.
The eerie soundtrack and dark levels — with only your flashlight to guide you — make this game scarier than most, but the lighting effects and near constant action make it perfect for action gaming fans.
That would be simple enough, but here’s what’s interesting: you win money with every hit, which you can then spend on attributes to make you hit the ball further. After a few upgrades, suddenly you’re hitting it 1,500 feet and it looks really cool to see your ball launched over the rooftops of the city.
To be clear, this game is a little bit like those clicking games where there’s no limit to how high you can go, and there’s not much skill involved. It’s also ad-supported and you’ll need to pay $3 to get rid of them. But with that said, it’s still a fun way to pass a little time and it’s extremely easy to learn how to play.
If you’ve always wished you could play Starcraft on your iPhone or iPad, Iron Marines is your best bet.
I should note that this is a game you need to commit to playing because you have to play through the full match (about 20 minutes) just so you don’t let down your teammates.
With that said, just like games like DoTA 2 and League of Legends, Vainglory has you start fresh every game, slowly progress through character levels and then return to base to buy items to modify your abilities. When it’s all said and done and you finally see the enemy team’s base explode, it’s enormously satisfying.
PAKO 2 has easy touch-screen controls to drive your car as you dodge tons of cops trying to take you down. Each “job” helps you earn money so you can buy bigger and better cars that will help you last longer — and pull off more heists.
Overall, it’s just a delightfully chaotic game that gets your heart pumping as you try to make your getaway.
PAKO 2 is a recent release and is not yet available for Android. Android users should check out the original PAKO Car Chase Simulator.
Set in Newcastle, England, you assume the role of a sad man whose world has been turned upside down by the loss of the love of his life. Simple controls let you explore the beautifully designed (albeit small) world.
It was free when we downloaded it, but it appears the developers are changing the price frequently. At the time this was published, the game cost $1, £1 or AU$1.50.