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With all the low-quality, gacha-ridden, energy-limited shovelware on mobile gaming platforms, it's time to take a step back and recognize devs who rise above the rest, offering a desktop/console quality experience on mobile.

What differentiates a desktop/console quality mobile game from the rest (the criteria):

No overly-simplistic, low-quality, or shovelware mechanics and design. Examples include:
* "mission manager" or "construction manager" games where you have a set of resources or characters and all you do is place them on tasks and wait for them to complete.
* "Idle" games or "clickers".
* Object-grid matching games, sometimes referred to as "Match 3"
* (Somewhat subjective) Overly simplistic mechanics, such as one having very few controls. A practical example includes simple platformers where the only controls are "move forward", "jump", and "attack".
* PvP-only card or obviously tabletop games that require other players present (no AI opponents or teammates)
* "Virtual pets", "find the hidden object", visual novels, choose-your-own-adventure books, and visual chat rooms that really aren't games.

None of these mobile-standard freemium online annoyances:
* "energy" or "stamina" limits designed to limit the amount of time you can use the game before having to pay for a refill. If the devs can't afford a server able to handle all the data with none of these limits, they shouldn't be making an online game.
* Arbitrary and excessive waiting for level ups, item crafting, unlocks, or other forms of progression
* Functionality that could be (and should be) offline requiring an internet connection. Only online modes should require an internet connection.
* Nondeterministic gacha/lootboxes (except for strictly cosmetic items)
* Microtransactions for in-game advantages or otherwise transient purchases for (what should be) offline content. The only non-cosmetic in-app purchases allowed are expansions and content pack purchases, for example some games are packaged as "chapters" that you can buy separately. Microtransactions to unlock inventory space, character leveling, and other core functionality in an offline game are only allowed in the context of free demos with a one-time purchase to unlock the full version.
* Subscription fees and non-cosmetic microtransactions in online content are allowed, except non-cosmetic gacha/lootboxes.


I'll start with my recommendation: Final Fantasy VII for iOS.

Squeenix released their critically acclaimed classic for iOS and it's everything you would expect. You can play the console-quality classic on a phone or similar device that fits in your palm with no strings attached. The app is rather expensive on iOS (I remember paying around $16 and it rarely goes on sale) but it's worth every penny considering there are no microtransactions and it doesn't require an internet connection.

Traditionally, I've never favored JRPGs, and anime games generally make me cringe. I wasn't expecting much here. However, Final Fantasy VII exceeded all of my expectations, standing far above its D&D-based Western counterparts of its time. While fighter-type characters in D&D-based Western classic RPGs generally only have normal attacks with no thinking required, FFVII features equippable special commands through the Materia system including double/quad attack, guaranteed critical with lower accuracy, swipe items from enemies, and adding commands that trigger on other commands. AFAIK, no Western RPG of the era (excluding "Diablo clone" ARPGs) comes close to that flexibility with martial characters. There are also "limit break" abilities (years before the concept of "cooldowns" or "ults") that unlock as characters take damage.

FFVII is every bit as innovative for caster-type characters as for its fighter-types. Caster materia can be linked with supporting materials to add affixes. For example, you can take materia that gives you a lightning ability and link it to "All" materia, allowing the same lightning ability to strike all enemies. Or you could link it to "Quadra Magic" and have it activate 4 times for major damage.

Most JRPGs use cookie-cutter turn-based combat with no difference between melee and ranged. Again, FFVII rises above the standard with a somewhat real-time "Active Time Battle" where you can take your turn as characters come off cooldown. If you're slow, enemies can act during your turn as well. Git gud!
The "Order" command lets you switch characters between "front" (melee) and "back" (keep your distance) configurations. Attacking from the back row does half damage except if you're using a ranged weapon or a specific Materia that makes all your attacks ranged. Melee damage taken on characters in the back row also does half damage.
There are also random combat encounters that reshuffle the roles of front/back row, such as being sneak attacked from behind or flanked - this means you aren't guaranteed permanent 50% melee resistance by giving everyone ranged attacks and putting them in the back. Fortunately there's a type of Materia that helps prevent being sneak attacked or flanked.

While classic Western RPGs usually have something resembling a D&D skill-and-dice check to determine the outcome various adventuring actions (for example, "if your character skill + the dice roll >= some value, the door unlocks, otherwise find a different way"), FFVII hands control of the situation over to the player. Adventuring actions with variable outcomes are presented as minigames where you have to press various buttons in the right order (or quickly enough). If you fail them, it's your own fault, with no dice checks or RNG.

While I've never liked random character leveling (getting random amounts of increased attributes on level up), FFVII does random leveling much better than D&D. All character attributes loosely follow numeric curves, which means that if you get many lower attribute increases, your chances of better level-ups increase. Conversely, if you save scum for better attribute increases, you end up above the curve and your next few level ups will have a lower chance of good attribute increases. Contrast this with traditional D&D where you roll dice for extra health and you could get only 1 more health on a level as a fighter-type character.

The only aspects where I found FFVII lacking are the general shortage of side quests and absence of a quest journal - it's easy to get lost with no clue on how to advance the story if you forget where you left off. Shortage of side quests greatly shortchanges the partial open-world aspect of the game - instead of completing many side quests, it turns into wandering and hunting random enemies that appear.

Otherwise, throw in a decent storyline, plenty of content, along with a combat/character build system years ahead of the industry standard, and you have a solid game that holds up well on mobile - even when reviewed by someone who generally doesn't like JRPGs.


Your turn. What desktop/console grade mobile games do you recommend?
Simon Tatham's Puzzle colleciton. It's a collection of 39 puzzle games that while basic, are plenty for short time.

RealMyst. Yes, really.

Hyper Rogue is a weird game taking place on a Hyperbolic plane, I think.

2048. It's a basic sliding block game with an easy premise, but hard mastery.

Vector pinball is a colorful but basic pinball game.

OpenTyrian. Now you can play Tyrian on your phone.

Or you know, you could get Retroarch.
Quickly scanning my Play Store list, these stand out to me.
Some of them are simplistic platformers, but they work like their console counterparts.

Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection.


Broken Sword.

Hitman GO.
Lara Croft GO.

Monument Valley.

Pac Man.

Great Giana Sisters.

Rayman Classic.

Another of the newer Rayman games (Rayman Adventure perhaps) switched control mechanics to something console-like when a controller is attached. But IIRC, it was full of micro transactions.

Tomb Raider 1&2.

Duck Tales Remastered.

Little Big Adventure.

Bridge Constructor.

Soul Calibur.

Crazy Taxi.

Shiny the Firefly.


World of Goo.


Great Little War Game.

Air Control.

Angry Birds.


Various board and card games.
Fortnite Mobile
Minecraft PE
GTA 5 apknite. I mean where to download it
Call of Duty:Black Ops Zombies
Joe Dever's Lone Wolf Complete

Excellent turn-based solo RPG based on the classic gamebook series, with top 3D graphics and luscious muaic.

Not to be confused with Lone Wolf Saga, a free conversion of the original 20 gamebooks to playable mobile app.
Post edited June 24, 2019 by servobeupstry
Some I haven't seen mentioned yet:

Carmageddon. Literally the same as the PC version but for mobiles.

Solomon's Keep (not Boneyard, which is simply a survival). Similar to Diablo 1. You go through a number of floors, fight baddies, level up your magic skills, progress through difficulties, buy and sell items etc. The mechanics are simple, yet fun and I've drown many hours in it.
Post edited June 24, 2019 by idbeholdME