But boy have things changed. Mobile games have gone from simple time-wasters on your Nokia to, well, simple time-wasters on your iPhone.
But we've also seen incredible indie classics, engrossing stories, deep strategy sims, and life-ruiningly addictive puzzle games.
Pocket Gamer has been there for pretty much all of it - watching and reporting on an industry that went from numpads and Java games to touchscreens, app stores, and in-app purchases.
So no one is better placed than us to share with you the 100 greatest mobile games of all time. Which is exactly what we're going to do, as we celebrate our 10th anniversary.
Every few days from now until April we'll count down another 10 games until we crown the best mobile game ever made. You ready?
Mobile | 2007 | Digital Chocolate
It may be difficult to accept in our modern always-connected world but the concept behind Digital Chocolate’s Cafe series – which saw simple, casual games bolted onto a platform supporting avatar-based, community-driven interaction – caused a bit of a stir back in pre-touchscreen days.
It was a pioneering move that proved a genuine draw for feature phone gamers, offering a huge incentive to keep playing and inviting friends in order to unlock avatar items and build up your in-game ‘cafe’ space.
Oh, and the solitaire part of the mix happened to be one of the best to have made it onto mobile, too. - Joao Diniz Sanches
iOS and Android | 2013 | Nitrome
It’s tricky to think of a more apt debut game for Rovio’s then new publishing programme, Rovio Stars, than Nitrome’s hugely accomplished ice-centric creation.
Aside from its Viking theme, you could argue the game’s physics-based gameplay as being a thematic evolution of Angry Birds’, and to date it remains one of the most impressive Rovio Stars releases (even if it's no longer published under the brand).
Exceptional attention to detail, glacier-solid mechanics, sparkling presentation, and a rewarding, engaging challenge crystalise to form one of the finest app store puzzlers.
It’s no coincidence it was voted Overall Game of the Year at our PG Awards 2014… - Joao Diniz Sanches
iOS and Android | 2015 | 3 Minute Games
Ever read one of those choose your own adventure novels as a kid? Lifeline is basically one of those except it's played out in real time as a series of texts on your phone.
Without spoiling the fun too much, you receive a transmission from an astronaut who has crash landed on a mysterious planet, and it's up to you to provide emotional support and advice as they strive to learn more around their surroundings and, well, escape.
There's way more to it than that but we'll let you discover itself. Trust us, it's a unique experience totally worth having. - Glen Fox
iOS and Android | 2012 | GungHo Online
Mashing an old-school dungeon crawler with match-3 puzzling may not sound particularly enticing, but Puzzle & Dragons successfully blends those genres in a very smart way.
Your varied team of monsters must combo-match gems to battle with all manner of ferocious beasts, and reach the end of each dungeon.
Because of its free to play nature, it's very easy to disregard Puzzle & Dragons as a soulless cash-cow, yet its simplicity, style, and substance make for a compelling and often enriching experience. - Ray Willmott
iOS and Android | 2012 | Cipher Prime Studios
Splice: Tree of Life is a game that needs to be experienced. And not on your own. There's a communal, over the shoulder wonder to the Platinum Award-winner that draws people in.
It's easy to understand, but there's such a joy in figuring out the movements you need to make to complete each sequence that you almost feel churlish keeping it to yourself.
By all means, play it on your own, there's a brilliant puzzler here that needs to be played, but bring a friend along for the ride and you'll find the game opens up like a spring flower. - Harry Slater
iOS and Android | 2013 | 5Ants
Everyone loves a good point and click adventure. They have great characters and engrossing stories, and moon logic puzzles that ask us to MacGyver our way out of tricky situations.
It's a shame, then, that they've fallen out of popularity over the years.
Tiny Thief gave the genre a kick up the butt, and made it suitable for the smartphone generation. Now the puzzles are split into short levels, there's nary a word to read in the game, and there's no inventory to fiddle and faff with, resulting in a sharply streamlined puzzler. - Mark Brown
iOS and Android | 2012 | King
When the inevitable nuclear / zombie / killer-space-mice apocalypse arrives, only three things will remain:
Cockroaches, Kim Kardasian's adamantium-coated teeth, and the 1,235,884,345.5 smartphones loaded with Candy Crush Saga, scattered among the world's ashes.
The game's sugar-coated world is instantly recognisable, crammed with all the colour and fizz of a Willy Wonka exhibition. Yes it made King the poster child of gnarly free to play mechanics, but Candy Crush is as addictive as the gummy bears it emulates.
Love it or loathe it, King's saccharine match-three puzzler is a cultural phenomenon that is here to stay. - Alysia Judge
iOS and Android | 2015 | Nitrome
Magic Touch is a game that shows Nitrome on top form, and perfectly encapsulates the way it manages to dissect and rebuild the mobile gaming experience with almost every title it releases.
This one's an action game, but it's an action game perfectly designed for touchscreens. Bubble-borne enemies float down from the top of the screen, and it's up to you to scribble out the right patterns on their transport to send them crashing to the ground.
It's fast, it's frantic, and it shows just how entertaining the genre can be on mobile if it's done right. - Harry Slater
iOS | 2015 | Frogmind
The original Badland made us smile and nod, before wandering off in search of a snack. Badland 2 made us spit out our Twix bars, realising that we'd never before now said "I love you" and meant it.
The sequel to Frogmind's 2013 platformer builds where the original left off, tightening all the cogs for a slicker experience. You're guiding a fuzzy black blob through a series of deadly obstacles using taps to keep it flapping.
Badland 2 is fun, compelling, and so beautiful you'll be playing with your nose as a stylus - anything to get closer to those visuals. - Alysia Judge
iOS | 2008 | HandCircus
Rolando came out eight years ago. Apart from making me feel quite old, it stands as a reminder of how much things changed since then.
Rolando truly felt like one of the first game designed with iOS devices in mind that wasn't just a good mobile game, but a great game on its own.
Indeed, Rolando's production values were above everything else at that time. The colours were vibrant, the music was charming and all the characters were really darn cute. And it played like a 2D Super Monkey Ball.
Rolando was poised to be iOS' gaming mascot but sadly, and despite a great sequel, publisher Ngmoco killed the franchise. - Clément Renaudin
See numbers 90 - 81 or get the entire list
What's all this, then?
The Pocket Gamer 10th anniversary is a month-long celebration of the last decade of mobile games running March 10th - April 10th and featuring a stream of retrospective articles and fun stuff, supported by our friends at Gram Games, Gamevil, JoyCity, Rovio, and Nordeus. Head over to the PG 10th anniversary homepage for more information.