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A close-up profile view of a cartoonish horse and its jockey riding on a grassy race track from the game Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! Image: Game Freak/Apple

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The best mobile games to play in 2024

Catch ’em all or not, there’s plenty to play on your phone

There’s no shortage of quality mobile games in 2024, and it can be hard to sift through the sheer number of games downloadable on your phone. That’s where we come in: Over the years, we’ve filled up our phones with mobile games to find the best games across genres. Looking for a hidden object game? A unique tower defense title? A turn-based RPG or classic side-scrolling runner?

Let’s dig into the best mobile games you can download today. Most of these games are available on both Android and iOS devices. Lots of them are free to download, with in-game purchases to unlock more game time or extra items. But others require an additional subscription service, like Apple Arcade or Netflix.

Krispee Street

Where to play: Available on iOS via Apple Arcade or Netflix

Simply put, Krispee Street is a hidden object game — its crowded visuals hide lots of little details to seek out, some of which tell little stories within the contained worlds. There’s so much to love about the silly, colorful art style and the characters that inhabit the world, which is based on a webcomic. (I hadn’t heard of the webcomic before getting into Krispee Street, so don’t let unfamiliarity scare you off.) Despite Krispee Street being visually chaotic with hundreds of things — characters and objects — to find within its margins, I would describe the experience of playing the game as anything but.

When I want a mobile game that’s absolutely chill, I pull up Krispee Street and get inspecting. —Nicole Carpenter


Where to play: Available on Android and iOS

I saw someone describe Gubbins as “Scrabble on acid,” and yeah, that checks out. Studio Folly’s word game is a more laid-back version of Scrabble, but with pesky little creatures — the gubbins — that help or hurt the board. Like in Scrabble, you start with a bunch of letters (using them reveals more letters, until you run out) to lay out on your board to make words for points. You want to amass a lot of points by using your letters (and gubbins) creatively. Some of the modifiers will fill in letters automatically, for instance, or lock up parts of the board. It’s one of those games that’s easy to play but harder to master, making it a mobile game that I often come back to. Plus, the colors and music simply rule. —NC

Honkai: Star Rail

Where to play: Available on Android and iOS

Honkai: Star Rail is the reason I make sure my phone is well charged before leaving for a day out. Genshin Impact creator Hoyoverse released this gacha game last spring, and I have found it to be the perfect game to play while out and about. This goofy sci-fi RPG has turn-based combat that feels great on my phone’s small screen. And I like that I can sync progress as I play on PC and my iPad so I can easily chip away at regular tasks.

Honkai: Star Rail has charming characters and stunning graphics that look surprisingly great on my phone. It turns a lengthy bus ride into the perfect opportunity to catch up on an event or finally finish a quest I’ve been putting off. —Ana Diaz

Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On!

Where to play: Available on iOS via Apple Arcade

Game Freak, best known for Pokémon, has a less iconic game that should be more well known: Pocket Card Jockey. It was released originally on Nintendo 3DS in Japan in 2013 and came to English-speaking markets in 2016. But the game’s found new life on Apple Arcade with Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! The premise is the same as the original, but with a 3D twist on the horse racing element. You see, Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! is both a horse racing role-playing game and collection game where races include fast-paced rounds of solitaire. It’s delightful — just look at these little horses. —NC

Two Dots

Where to play: Available on Android and iOS

Two Dots is a classic that stands the test of time. Though it was released in 2014, Two Dots still gets updates and more levels, where you’re tasked with meeting objectives by connecting colored dots. There are a surprising number of different ways for these levels to play out, meaning a ton of challenges. But Two Dots also has a hidden object mode, too, to add in a bit more diversity in the gameplay. —NC

Laya’s Horizon

Where to play: Available on Android and iOS via Netflix Games

Laya’s Horizon fits a whole dang open-world exploration game onto your phone. The game was created by the developers of the viral hits Alto’s Adventure and Alto’s Odyssey, and sends players on a full 3D adventure where you explore by gliding through the sky. What really makes this an easy recommendation for me is that it pairs a simple but beautiful polygonal art style with a touch control scheme that actually makes it feel good to fly. Add the fact that this it’s just a nice, relaxing game to play and you’ve got the recipe for a refined mobile game. —AD

Bad North: Jotunn Edition

Where to play: Available on Android and iOS

Tower defense is a classic genre, but Bad North: Jotunn Edition gives it a roguelike, real-time strategy twist. That’s a lot of jargon to explain it, but the premise is simple: Viking invaders are attacking your island, and you’re the one tasked with leading the defenses against the invaders while evacuating everyone else. Each quick round takes place on a procedurally generated island, meaning that’s a ton of variation between rounds. The aesthetics of the game look quite simple, but beyond that facade is a deep strategy game. —NC

Sneaky Sasquatch

Where to play: Available on iOS via Apple Arcade

The general audience for Sneaky Sasquatch will likely skew young, but there’s a reason it’s such a widely beloved and highly rated game on iOS. You play as a sasquatch that rummages through trash and campsites to find food and useful items. The beginning of the game emphasizes stealth elements as you evade the eyes of fearful campers, but this game contains so much more. You can fish, play minigames, race cars, get a job, dress up, and even decorate your home. RAC7 still releases regular updates with new content, too. Before long, no one will be able to stop the sasquatch’s meteoric rise to become mayor of the town. —AD

Pokémon Go

Where to play: Available on Android and iOS

You’ve heard of Pokémon Go, but maybe you haven’t realized that it’s still going strong, with regular updates and tons of Pokémon to catch. If you’re somehow not familiar, Pokémon Go is a mobile-only game developed by Niantic; you walk around your neighborhood — or farther! — to seek out and catch Pokémon. Beyond that basic premise, there’s also a battle system for holding on to gyms and battling your pals. If you’re someone with that “gotta catch ’em all mentality,” you won’t be able to put Pokémon Go down. —NC

Jetpack Joyride

Where to play: Available on Android and iOS, while Jetpack Joyride 2: Bullet Rush is available on iOS via Apple Arcade

Another classic mobile game, Jetpack Joyride is what it says on the tin: It’s an endless runner where you’re jetpacking instead of running, dodging obstacles in increasingly difficult levels. It was first released in 2011 by Halfbrick Studios, but it’s still going strong with gameplay updates. Jetpack Joyride has a sequel, Jetpack Joyride 2: Bullet Rush, which is available on Apple Arcade, but the original is still worth keeping downloaded on your phone. —NC