Mobile Gaming is the quickest growing area in the gaming market and is introducing tons of new people to gaming. While many dismiss these games as casual, mobile gaming has plenty of good games. Phones, and especially tablets, are getting more and more powerful by the month, making them able to handle even more complex games. It may be that in a few years tablets are able to come close to or surpass consoles.
Part of why mobile gaming is viewed so harshly perhaps is the ease of access to the marketplace. Like many things, for every worthwhile thing created there are even more badly designed things created. With mobile app,s self publishing and instant marketplace though, there is no longer layers of filters that stops the bad stuff from getting to you. This leads to all the copies and poor games that do get out, souring many to mobile gaming.
But, while that may be part of the case, there are some really good games that come from mobile platforms. Whether they are re-releases of old classics, ported over games, or games built just for it, there are some really fine ways to spend time on mobile devices gaming - and here are a few of our favorites from 2014 -- Don Parsons
Marvel Puzzle Quest
At first glance, Marvel Puzzle Quest doesn't look like anything special: a freemium game on mobile devices. However, upon playing it you realize that this is very much like Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords which was a runaway hit upon its release in 2007. At it's heart, it is the same color-matching game, but there are some different mechanics present, such as the ability to use three characters at a time with an extra 3 summonable characters as well. The most addicting part of the game - besides the gameplay - is gathering up all of the coolest characters from the Marvel Universe. There are even multiple versions of characters, with notable series getting their own nods.
The freemium side of the game basically allows one to get more characters and skills with real money. These are perfectly attainable while playing normally so they are not necessary. Time blocks are also fairly rare. When your characters go down you often have the ability to use items to bring them back up, and you only hit a timer when you're clean out of options. I was able to play for many hours in a row without being stopped, so I can safely say that the freemium aspect is not very troublesome.
If you're into Marvel or just addicting puzzle games, give this one a try. -- Tanis Pallagi
Thomas Was Alone
Considering that the characters are all simple quadrilateral shapes, Thomas was alone is absolutely charming. Solid platforming paired with an excellent, unique narrative makes Thomas Was Alone stand out in the crowded market of puzzle platformers. The learning curve is smooth and the controls are tight. With a story that's surprisingly evocative, Thomas Was Alone can both put a smile of your face and give you a solid sense of satisfaction and enjoyment. -- Travis Williams
If MC Escher were alive today and wanted to play a fun game on his iOS or Android device then Monument Valley would be that game. Your wit is challenged as you are able to move the perspective of the landscape as well as other features, such as platforms, while ultimately progressing your character further in the story. The real key to this game is that what you see is all there is - if you move a platform high enough to make it look like it could connect with another platform then it will. While the beginning of this game may seem simple, a lot of the challenge comes from the later levels that will leave you scratching your head for days. -- Andrew Stretch
Walking Dead - Season 2
It's time to take the reins as Clementine as the continuation of Telltale's interpretation of The Walking Dead went into its second season. Themes of growing up are littered within this season as Clementine must became an integral part of a new group of survivor's mission to beat the horrors of the new zombie world, using whatever she has available in wits and equipment to keep herself alive. The season is filled with hard decisions and truly tragic moments as expected, and the writing is still reasonable for the Telltale series. The voice acting is good, and it only helps that you can now experience the game on mobile platforms. -- Shaun Joy
Runner Up: Shin Megami Tensei
Sometimes, the best things aren't anything new, but something old come again. That's definitely the case with Shin Megami Tensei, which made its English debut this year. The original was released in 1992 in Japan and has been re-released numerous times over there, but never until this year was it given an English localization. Shin Megami Tensei was the first game in this universe, based loosely off the NES game series Megami Tensei. Here it began on the SNES and is the game that would spawn numerous spin-offs (Persona foremost among them), and all sorts of various games over the years.
To fans of the series in the west, SMT will grant a vision of some of the events that are referred to in other games. Both the spinoffs and the direct sequels will sometimes refer to things that happen here, making the localization of odd names easier for the team as that work had been done already. The game lacks refinements that would be done to the systems in later years, but the core of it - getting demons, struggles between law and chaos, what is right and what is wrong, fusing demons, and more - are all there in this game. Looking at some of the exploration maps that they used on iOS you can see some of the similarities even more to the latest entry in the series. So go back to where it began - the first struggle between Law and Chaos - and have some fun playing a classic! -- Don Parsons
Top Pick: Hearthstone
Released in March of last year, Hearthstone was a breakthrough success in the field of free to play gaming, and indeed, gaming in general. Having millions of World of Warcraft enthusiasts already in play, Hearthstone came pre-equipped with a huge player-base. Coming straight out of beta with millions of active users is an advantage few online games have, but the real accomplishment for Blizzard has been keeping so many of them months after release.
Titles developed by AAA studios are rare in the land of free to play, and fewer still display the level of quality inherent to their giant developers, but Hearthstone managed to launch as one of the most attractive and accessible free to play titles to date. It had what I would consider a balanced and fair approach to free to play — indeed, I've amassed almost every card from the original set without ever spending a dime. Even expansion content was made available to me after a little casual grinding.
In the end, requiring no monetary commitment, fast-paced battles, stylish effects and sounds, and accessible game-play, set Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft apart from established competitors like Magic the Gathering. I can only look forward to what the future brings to this critically acclaimed title. -- Benjamin Jeanotte
And that's how we saw Mobile Gaming this year. There are tons of other worthwhile games out there we're sure, but these were the top few we picked to reflect 2014!
Do you think we missed any mobile games of note? What games would you pick? Tell us in the comments below!