Mobile gaming has come a long way since Snake on your Nokia 3310. If someone gave you a snazzy new phone this Christmas, or you’re just looking for a way to spend that gift card you got from Aunt Linda, here are five games to get you started.
Super Mario Run ($9.99) Nintendo’s first big push into the mobile market features easy, single-button gameplay that captures the fun of traditional Mario games, paired with iconic unlockables and the ability to build and customize your own Mushroom Kingdom.
Banner Saga 2 ($4.99) Stoic’s fantastic follow-up combines challenging tactical combat, anxiety-inducing resource management and expertly crafted storytelling. You guide a desperate group of heroes in a struggle to survive the end of the world. The story’s highly influenced by Norse mythology and pulls no punches.
PinOut! (free/$2.99) Sleek neon lights and pulsing electro beats drive Mediocre AB’s addictive new take on pinball. The goal is to push ever upward, racing the clock and chasing the high score. Three bucks unlocks the ability to restart at checkpoints, a must for all but the most gifted pinball wizards.
Vikings: An Archer’s Journey ($2.99) This Pinpin Team release gets everything right, from its minimal art and ambient soundtrack to its challenging gameplay and satisfying unlockables. The premise is simple, along with the controls, which are easy to learn but hard to master.
Steamworld Heist ($9.99) Bursting with charm, Image & Form’s turn-based tactical RPG lets you run a ragtag band of “Cowbots” (steam-powered robot cowboys) as they loot derelict spaceships and blast invading pirates. A quirky setting and witty humor round out a solid game that includes some daunting confrontations.