The 50 Best Mobile Games of the 2010s

Games Lists Best of the Decade
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10. Holedown

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Holedown felt instantly timeless, like a forgotten early arcade hit dragged onto 21st century smartphones. It takes a simple idea—you shoot out balls to break blocks before they reach the top of the screen, caroming the balls around the screen like it’s a pool table—and maximizes it for the mobile platform, with easy drag-and-go controls and a ruleset that makes it much more complicated than just busting some bricks. Somehow Holedown makes one of the oldest ideas in videogames—bouncing balls off of blocks—feel fresh and original.—Garrett Martin


9. Year Walk

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You’ll get lost really quickly in Simogo’s sinister Year Walk—which makes it that much creepier when you stumble across one of the game’s many eerie puzzles and frightening creatures. I can’t remember the last time a game gave me the intense feeling of being completely lost and alone the way Year Walk does.—Luke Larsen



8. Super Hexagon

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In Super Hexagon, you control a small triangle trying to survive in a world full of shapes, sounds and colors that would love to engulf you. Rotating left and right around a hexagon is the only action possible, as patterns and obstacles moving in sporadic motions come hurtling toward you. The first time you play you’ll probably make it through 10 games in 30 seconds. The game is that hard and sessions are that short. One thing is for sure, though: That 30 seconds will quickly turn into hours if you’re not careful.—Luke Larsen


7. Downwell

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Downwell is a crunchy, rapid-fire “Spelunky-like” (are we at that point already? Are we prepared to start describing games as “Spelunky-likes”?) but, instead of side-scrolling, Downwell occurs vertically, in a procedurally-generated dungeon that the player falls down through. The player’s sprite will often fall right past powerups, enemies, and treasure rooms, making the game wonderfully frenetic torture. Fortunately, the player is equipped with a pair of goddamn gun-boots—making you, the player, feel incredibly powerful for every second you’re not staring in shock at the Game Over screen. —Jenn Frank



6. Ridiculous Fishing

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Ridiculous Fishing is a story about a man’s attempt at becoming one with nature in an attempt to settle a personal vendetta against the ocean. It is a story about a world that exchanges fish that have been liquified by gunfire for surprisingly large amounts of cash. It is a story about birds making fun of each other on the internet. Ultimately, and in a pretty roundabout way, it is a story about coming to terms with the infinite.—Joe Bernardi


5. Old Man’s Journey

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Old Man’s Journey is a small, quiet game that you can tell was a work of passion. Sometimes the best way to get someone to listen to you is to whisper. In a just world, this spare kaleidoscope of memories and manipulated hillsides will garner as much attention as bigger games beset with earth-shaking explosions. As we all learn in time, it’s often the smaller chance encounters that make the most impact on us. Especially when we look back.—Jon Irwin



4. Monument Valley

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Monument Valley is a brief, wondrous piece of art about structure and perspective. Technically it’s a puzzle game, available now for iOS and coming soon to Android, but its puzzles serve less as brain-teasers than as a vehicle to explore Ustwo’s beautifully crafted environments. The game’s artwork, which unfolds across ten succinct chapters, borrows heavily from the works of M.C. Escher, the Dutch graphic artist known for his “impossible constructions”—grand rooms filled with infinite staircases, balconies simultaneously above and below one another, spires at once in the foreground and background. Monument Valley isn’t entirely about optical illusion, but its pastel stages consistently channel this brand of imagination.—Matt Akers


3. Threes

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In 2013, in the Atlantic, Ian Bogost described Hundreds as “the haute couture” of videogames, important more as a “design object” than a “consumable media experience.” That could almost describe Threes. Its simple color palette—a soft grey rectangle on a white background, covered with tiles that are either white with small splashes of orange, or a muted blue and red—is almost as stark as Hundreds’. Threes is a more whimsical game, though—tiles have small faces and sometimes speak, saying hello to one another when they combine or muttering “bored” when the player takes too long between moves. Jimmy Hinson’s music has a strong Jon Brion influence, evoking the mannered but not quite icy early films of Paul Thomas Anderson. If Hundreds was a European art film, Threes would be its quirky American cousin. It’s worth getting obsessed over.—Garrett Martin



2. Pokémon GO

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Pokémon GO deserves tremendous praise for finally achieving what we’d all been secretly longing for whether we realized it or not: the ability to catch Pokémon out in real life. The world has responded accordingly, quickly turning Pokémon GO into a wildly popular, and profitable, success. In the years since its release, the mobile title is still going strong and continues to add new features, from player vs. player battles to Pokémon transfers between Pokémon GO and Pokémon Let’s Go, the Switch remake of the first Pokémon games. For bringing together so many fans in real life, and getting me out of the house on a regular basis, Pokémon GO is one of the best mobile games ever made.—Holly Green


1. Florence

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Florence knows what it means to be human. We love, we lose, we learn, and move on. This story follows a relationship from its first flickering to its final ember, and although that’s as sad as it sounds the misery isn’t the point. The message is that this is normal—this is life. Most relationships won’t last, and what’s important is what we learn during them and how that impacts the people that we’ll be if—or when—they do end. Florence captures this entire journey in elegant fashion, using the touchscreen to turn us into active participants in Florence’s life. It’s a modest game that’s made a deep impression, and proof that videogames don’t have to serve as a power fantasy or wish fulfillment to resonate with an audience.—Garrett Martin

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