Whether it be waiting for your bus, on your break or just passing time, we’ve all played games on our phone. Even the earliest models with a screen had games. Lets have a look at some of the most popular games from Nokia to iOS and Android.

Snake- 1997

Who hasn’t played Snake? Stemming from an arcade game published in 1976, Nokia was the first to put the game onto a phone, programmed in 1997 and installed on to the Nokia 6110. While most look upon the game with fond memories we cannot forget the frustration this game caused! All you had to do is eat the little squares and avoid taking a bite out of your tail. Sounds easy… But the longer and faster you got, it became increasingly harder to control with no real end goal, just to get the highest score.

Angry Birds- 2009

Due to the huge success of this game turned franchise it’s hard to get away from it nowadays! First released onto iOS and Maemo devices in December 2009 it quickly grew into one of the most popular and memorable phone games, since its release, over 12 million copies have been sold on the iOS app store. The aim of the game being to retrieve eggs stolen by the evil green pigs by using a slingshot launch the birds, all with different abilities at the pig’s hideout to destroy it. Each level is different and must be completed to unlock the next. There is also a score system depending on how many birds it took to infiltrate the base and the amount of pigs killed. The game has been highly praised for its addictivity, style, comedy and potential to be a franchise and they weren’t wrong! With merchandise, theme park rides, clothes and even a film based on the game the developers really stuck gold with this one! 

Cut the Rope-2010

With possibly one of the cutest game characters, Om Nom, this physics based puzzle game was very well received by players and critics alike after its release in October 2010. Praised for its personality, near-perfect touch controls and quality of puzzles by IGN and described as “fresh, challenging, gorgeous and highly entertaining” by GameSpot this game was highly impressive, especially for its time. The aim of the game is to feed Om Nom his candy which is suspended over him by a rope, with your job being to swing the candy and cut the rope in the right place so the candy lands in his mouth while collecting stars placed around the level for bonus points. 


Fruit Ninja- 2010

One of the first big app games, first released on the iPod Touch and iPhone in 2010 and other operating systems over the next 2 years. The aim is to slice fruit by swiping the screen to control a blade. The player can gain extra points by slicing multiple fruits with one swing. All pieces of fruit that appear on screen must be severed, there is an allowance of two misses before the run ends. The occasional bomb may appear instead of fruit and slicing a bomb will also end the game. This game is based on score rather than completion however there are different modes to cater to differing play styles such as Zen Mode which omits the bombs but imposes a time limit of ninety seconds to get a high score. Fruit ninja was praised by reviewers calling it “fun fun fun” and perfect for the short moments of boredom such as waiting in line as it is an “instant pleasure”. With over 300 million downloads by its second year I think the consumers agreed!

Temple Run- 2011

Fast-paced, challenging and addicting. A running theme here.. Controlling character Guy Dangerous, plus others you can purchase with in app gold, who has just stolen the golden idol from a temple in Gardens of Bomarzo, Italy. Said temple, unbeknownst to him, happens to be inhabited by ravenous monkeys that give chase to our player. Controlled by tilting your device and swiping the screen you must guide Guy through the endless temple while avoiding branches, holes in the ground, fire and the army of monkeys behind you with the occasional power-up, including periods of super speed and invincibility, to help you along your way. Your score is a combination of the amount of coins you collect and the distance you have run. Once again this game was generally well received by critics due to the “crispness” of the controls and objectives that keep you playing that sets it apart from many automatic endless runner games showing “there is still life in the genre”

Candy Crush Saga- 2012

I don’t know about you, but I really do not miss those invites from distant family members to play Candy Crush just so they could get in-game perks. It is still perplexing how such a simple match-three game was so popular. It may have been the introduction of a story in which the player solves puzzles so that character Tiffi can help the fictional villages and communities in game. The addition of power ups and dynamic board clearing tiles also made the game a lot more interesting than your typical match three. The game received generally positive reviews and has been downloaded over 500 million times across Facebook, Android and iOS. 

Flappy Bird- 2013

Who can forget Flappy Bird? Possibly one of the most addicting, rage inducing apps of all time it’s no wonder it received a lot of media attention. Control the cute little bird by tapping the screen and don’t touch the green pipes.. Easy.. Wait.. No.. Why…Try again.. And again.. Not only was the simple looking game very difficult… Don’t those pipes look familiar? Accused for plagiarism of game design and mechanics and the level of addictivity leading to overuse by some players the developer eventually took the game down less than a year after it was first released: May 2013- February 2014. There have been hints at a re-release with better game-play and usage warnings but no timescale was ever set. We can only wait and see.

Crossy Road-2014

Described as “endless frogger”, Crossy Road is a lighthearted arcade game with a simple objective of getting as far as possible in the endless, increasingly difficult level by dodging vehicles, and using platforms to cross rivers. The player can also collect in game coins to unlock a wide variety of characters, adding an element of personalisation to the game. The game was a finalist for Game of The Year in the 2014 Australian Game Developer Awards and was one of the winners in the 2015 Apple Design Awards. Just three months after release the game had over 50 million downloads and had earned $10 million.

So there we have it. The general trend is that the most popular games are simple but addicting, no need for a gripping plot or complex characters, just a simple goal and dynamic, but not always perfect, graphics. Tell us what your favourite mobile game is! What did we miss out?