One of the best benefits to seeking out mini games, puzzles, and board game experiences on mobile devices is that they’re often games that train your brain. Because they’re smaller in terms of scope, graphics, and content, they often have to survive by way of presenting genuine challenges that can keep gamers busy with even the simplest concepts. And with these games having now carved out a significant corner of the mobile market, here are 10 great ones to keep on your radar.
Published by Mayfair games, Steam: Rails to Riches initially may seem like a simple railroad-network building game, but there is a large element of strategy in play in order to maximize efficiency while fending off opponents from hindering your supply trains. This is one of the better brain games that train your mind while providing plenty of entertainment, and you can even invite up to 6 players to join in on the fun!
At Kotaku’s countdown of the best app games, the Threes app was termed “deviously addictive,” and it’s an accurate description. But this app hooks you not with cheap purchase tricks or monotonous gameplay, but instead with a challenge to better your score and improve your mathematical logic. The concept is simple: match up like numbers on a grid until you can’t anymore (with matched numbers combining when they’re adjacent to form one bigger number).
Have you ever wanted to play a version of checkers in which your pieces could throw spears at the opposition? That’s not quite what Hoplite is, but it speaks to the general concept. This is a turn-based strategy game played out on a grid with progressively tougher levels and a ton of variation in strategy. We have also featured this game in our ‘New Genre HaC n’ Slash’ post written earlier this year, be sure to check that post out if you haven’t already!
This one’s about as basic as they come in concept and display, but it requires a great deal of intelligence and creative thinking. Your only job is to get the blue gears going on a grid by placing other gears in place, and naturally it gets more and more challenging with each new level. Get ready to get your brain juices flowing, as Geared is certainly one of the games for training your brain!
Sporcle’s online site has become one of the most popular platforms of all time for quiz gaming, enhanced greatly by the feature that allows users to make their own quizzes (thus resulting in an endless selection). But the app never seems to get its due, mostly because there are so many trivia apps out there. It’s exceedingly basic in appearance and execution, but the depth of content is extraordinary, and is definitely one of the brain games that make you smarter the more time you spend playing on it.
Hundreds is a pretty unique brand of puzzle based in shapes and spaces. Your only goal is to grow the numbers within circles to equal 100 (with the circles increasing in size as you go). But there winds up being a mathematical element to the effort. Growing one circle too big and the others not enough makes it likelier that you’ll expand into an obstacle, and thus lose the game.
Online, Betfair’s poker platform is among the smoothest and most realistic of them all. Various poker rooms create very realistic environments for online players enjoying real competition. Curiously, the company’s Poker In Play app is very different. It’s equally sharp, but focusing very little on actual poker. Instead, this is a game about betting tactics, in which your job is to wager on which hand at the table has the best shot at winning. It’s a nice twist on ordinary poker that will get you thinking.
This is one of the few app games that genuinely feels like a 3D, physical experience. Your task is to move a marble from a starting point to a finishing point by sliding tiles around to create a groove along which the ball can run. It’s the epitome of simple but smart app gaming.
WordBrain has lately eclipsed the like of Words With Friends and Ruzzle as the most popular word puzzle in app stores, and it’s certainly a unique twist. It makes a great deal of sense that developer MAG Interactive’s collection of games includes both Ruzzle and the Bejeweled-esque Potion Pop, because WordBrain is kind of a combination of the two. Your job is to spell out words through connecting letters on a board—only then those letters fall off and more fall into place.
Word puzzles are a dime a dozen in the app stores, but Unolingo is a pretty unique experience. It’s designed to look like a crossword puzzle, only you have to fill in each square with the available letters to find the single solution that works for each board. It’ll train your vocabulary in its own way, but it also sharpens your deductive reasoning ability.