iOS and Android | 2014 | Laser Dog
A lot of games make you feel big and important. Alone does the opposite.
You're an insignificant speck navigating enormous space caverns. You're vulnerable, stuck in some awesome places, and the craft that you're piloting doesn't really have the manoeuvring capabilities to get you out of there in one piece.
And that's the joy of the game.
Of all the hardcore arcade experiences that came out in the wake of Flappy Bird, this is the most complete. It's painfully difficult, a joy to look at, and spins its theme of space-based isolation through everything that it does. - Harry Slater
iOS and Android | 2010 | Pixelbite
Reckless Racing nails that feeling of churning up dirt, drifting around slick muddy corners, and rocketing through bubbling creeks.
Here was a game that didn't just look stunning (well, for 2010's standards), but it felt wonderful too. This chunky top-down racer also won us over with a suite of online modes which gave you plenty to do when you finished up with the generous single-player campaign.
Many an hour was spent chiseling mud off our virtual tires in this game, and its two strong sequels. - Mark Brown
iOS and Android | 2014 | Scott Cawthon
Five Nights at Freddy's revolves around a simple pretence: watch some security cameras.
That's easier said than done though when you're playing through the gaps in your fingers. Scott Cawthon's smash horror hit is packed with jump scares as you try to last the night in Freddy's restaurant without having your frontal lobe crushed by an animatronic monstrosity.
While its sequels become a little tired, the original FNAF is your worst nightmare this side of Elm Street. Tense, tricky and traumatic, It's a must-have for those who like their mobile games served with a side of steaming frights. - Alysia Judge
iOS and Android | 2010 | Kairosoft
You ever played the zombie racing game Brains 'n' Lanes? You've probably never heard of it, but it was a breakout hit for my tiny game development studio in Kairosoft's epicly addictive sim Game Dev Story.
This adorable management game let you see what it's like to run a company like Nintendo, as you hire and fire designers, try to predict market trends, balance the budget, and chase down awards.
No idea how realistic it actually is but that didn't stop us wasting months trying to be the next Electronic Arts. - Mark Brown
iOS and Android | 2010 | Halfbrick
A good game knows that platform it's on, and takes advantage of that device's unique capabilities.
Fruit Ninja then, which turns you and your finger into a strawberry slashing samurai, is definitely A Good GameTM.
It's about good timing, sharp reflexes, and touchscreen dexterity as you try to swipe a pinky through all the fruit (and away from those nasty bombs) under a strict time limit. It feels wonderfully fun to play, and chasing down a high score is an addictive thrill. - Mark Brown
Mobile | 2004 | Gameloft
There was a time when mobile versions of games weren't ill-fitting ports or pointless companion apps.
Back in the Java days, a mobile game like Gameloft's Might and Magic had to try and distill the, ahem, magic of this venerable PC classic down into a game playable on a 2 inch screen and a phone's keypad.
Impossible task? Far from it - this pocket RPG offered a broad-reaching adventure, and real-time battles with a team of multi-talented fighters. You had dozens of items to find, intelligent puzzles to solve, and tactical strategies to think through.
When most mobile games were simple arcade-like pleasures, this thoughtful game was a pleasant warning: mobile games are about to grow up. - Mark Brown
iOS | 2010 | Secret Exit
Granted, a puzzle game featuring a series of wooden ornaments which have to be painted by winding a taut line of cord around them may not sound like the most captivating of experiences, yet Zen Bound was and remains exactly that.
By incorporating some of the iPhone’s key features into its play mechanics with a confidence rarely seen in other titles up to that point and mixing in an uncommonly lenient approach to game progression, Secret Exit delivered a game that has managed to masterfully maintain a unique intuitive and contemplative stance. - Joao Diniz Sanches
iOS | 2011 | Taito
Groove Coaster comes from the mind of Reisuke Ishida, the creator of Space Infinity Gene, and you can tell - both have that same vision of integrating music with gameplay.
Groove Coaster and its sequel, though, are first and foremost a music game. You'll tap, slide and move along with the beat on a twisted path. The sense of rhythm, so important for these games, is impeccable and the selection of tunes is fitting.
More than anything, it's Ishida's attention to detail that is exemplary. There are hidden beats to find and there's also the fact that the path you're on is actually a drawing, usually a figure or object representing the track that you're playing.
Groove Coaster has everything you'd want in a music game. Well, except that catchy Earth, Wind and Fire track. - Clément Renaudin
iOS | 2011 | Zachtronics
In most puzzle games you provide an answer. In SpaceChem you build one.
The game gives you a task (make a water molecule) and some raw materials (a handful of oxygen and hydrogen atoms) and you've got to create a factory that will get you to your goal.
That involves building an intricate maze of train tracks for nano-sized robots to run along as they pick up, plop down, fuse, split, and spin atoms. And you must avoid collisions and out-of-sync circuits through clever coding.
Because while SpaceChem might sound like a science game, it's actually about programming as you build loops, logic statements, and air-tight code. And, believe it or not, programming is manic fun as there's a palpable satisfaction to making a personal solution to a super tricky conundrum. - Mark Brown
iOS and Android | 2015 | Snowman
Alto's Adventure is an utterly gorgeous snowboarding jaunt down a picturesque mountain. To say it combines the addictive endless high score chasing of Ski Safari with the sheer beauty and artistic value of Monument Valley isn't far off the mark.
You play as Alto - or one of the other characters you unlock - and are on a mission to rescue your escaped llama in a peaceful mountain village. Along the way you'll perform tricks, ride through thunderstorms, and escape irritable elders.
It's highly likely that you'll want to kick off that snowboard and head off into the world to explore its every nook and cranny though - it's just that haunting, atmospheric, and captivating. - Glen Fox
See numbers 80 - 71 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.