Cutting-edge consoles like the Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox One, Sony’s (SNE) PS4 and Nintendo’s (NTDOY) Switch might score more headlines and pump out flashier games, but when it comes to sheer size, no gaming platform on the planet can compete with that smartphone in your pocket.
With an astonishing 6 billion mobile devices expected to be circulating worldwide by 2020, there’s an exceedingly good chance you have a smart something or other a few yards away right now. That also means you have access to the largest – and fastest-growing – segment of the gaming market.
But with hordes of mobile games arriving with little fanfare on a weekly basis, trying to figure out what, exactly, you should be playing on your iPhone or Android device is a daunting task. Still mindlessly crushing candy? Tired of catching ‘em all? Then put your thumbs to good use and try something new.
Here are the 10 coolest mobile games of February 2018:
(iOS | $4.99)
The long-awaited sequel to one of the best mobile games of 2015, “Alto’s Odyssey” shifts the endless snowboarding of “Alto’s Adventure” to mysterious sand dunes. The core is intact — you once again jump and flip to grab coins and cross chasms — but developer Snowman has added cool new features like wallriding and upgradeable gear. Serene, demanding and absolutely gorgeous, it’s another must-have mobile triumph. (Never fear, Android owners — it’s coming to your devices later this year.)
(iOS | $2.99)
This surprisingly earnest interactive story tells the heartbreaking tale of a couple who find love and, as is often the case, find a way to lose it. Told through stylish comic strip sequences, “Florence” uses simple game mechanics in brilliant ways; an awkward first-date conversation becomes a jigsaw puzzle that grows easier as you loosen up, for instance. “Florence” is brief but memorable, a liaison that, and like any meaningful relationship, stays with you long after the credits roll.
(iOS, Android | $14.99)
Don’t let the hefty price tag scare you off – “Dandara” is a burly enough game to warrant a decidedly un-mobile hit to the wallet. A Metroidvania with fantastic style, “Dandara” is all about unlocking new abilities to open up more of its fascinating sci-fi world. Though it’s out on other platforms as well, it works wonderfully on mobile devices thanks to a perfect marriage between touchscreen controls and the lead character’s Spider-Man-like movements.
“Dig Dog – Treasure Hunter”
(iOS | $2.99)
Who’s a good boy? The star of this weird, roguelike bone digging game “Dig Dog,” definitely. Sure, he can’t stop digging — not exactly good boy material — but he’s cute and heroic, constantly searching for bones despite tons of monsters and spiky things ready to send him to that place where all dogs go. It plays a bit like the excellent “Downwell,” though the controls are a little frisky.
(iOS, Android | Free)
More of a cat person? February’s got you covered, too. This adorable clicker lets you purchase cats, combine them into cooler cats, then combine those cats into even cooler cats, and so on. Where does the cat coolness stop? If you have to ask, you’re clearly not a cat person. Like a real cat, “Cat Condo” is addictive, cuddly and too cool to explain itself to us.
“Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition”
(iOS, Android | Free to try, $19.99 for full game)
Kudos to Square Enix for finding a way to get a mobile version of their immense console RPG not only working, but working pretty darn well. The Pocket Edition of “Final Fantasy XV” jettisons the original’s open world, but it features the same cast and hits all the big story beats. Travel, combat and questing have been streamlined for your phone or tablet, and it all works surprisingly well. That $20 price is a tough boss fight (you can find the full console version for around $30 these days), but checking out the first chapter won’t cost any Gil.
(iOS | $2.99)
Puzzle aficionados will flip over this colorful mind-bender. Players solve shapes by swapping colored bricks — easier said than done — but the real joy is found in the satisfying, tactile clicks when snapping bricks into place. Aesthetics matter, too: a soothing soundtrack and color schemes ripped out of a Pantone catalog make playing “Dissembler” a bit like hanging out in an architect’s design studio.
“Game Dev Tycoon”
(Android | $4.99)
Making a blockbuster video game takes time, money and all kinds of luck. Or you can skip all that and play some “Game Dev Tycoon.” Already a hit on other platforms, this game-making sim finally made its way to Android devices in February, and if you’ve yet to play it, it’s absolutely worth a look. Pick a genre, allocate development time, manage budgets, squash bugs, hire some staff and pray that the fickle masses will dig Loud Shooty Man 4 half as much as Loud Shooty Man 3 (though they probably won’t.)
(iOS, Android | $0.99)
At only a buck, “Rogue Hearts” is a dungeon crawler that punches above its weight with lots of cool features. Simultaneous turn-based combat design turns every encounter into a fast-moving chess match, as you anticipate where enemies will wind up and plan attacks accordingly. It’s a bit confusing — some shaky localization and wonky menus make getting to the good stuff a little harder than it ought to be — but fans of action-RPGs will find a lot to love.
(iOS | Free)
What happens when an untalented unicyclist takes on the Summer Olympics? “Unicycle Hero” may hold some answers. Your goal: to throw balls, javelins, logs and other heavy items as far as possible while balancing on the back of a rickety unicycle. Spiritual successor to impossible physics games like QWOP, it’s hilariously hard. It’s also hilariously fun and hilariously free.
And in case you missed it, play catch up with the best iPhone and Android games of January 2018.
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