There are tons of addictive games for the iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and tablet devices that won’t cost you a dime.
Sure, some of these games expose users to advertising or begin charging in-app payments after a certain point. But a lot of fun can be had for free with minimal distraction.
Here are the 15 best free games for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android devices that you should consider downloading right away.
Paper Toss 2.0 (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
The follow up to mega-hit Paper Toss offers even more time-wasting fun for free. The original game was downloaded more than 100 million times, but the sequel takes things to a new level. More than just paper, you get to throw bananas, grenades, tomatoes and more. This all transpires in new and improved settings with crisper, cleaner graphics. The game’s dynamics remain similar, but the gameplay has been refreshed and improved to increase replayability. When you factor in more power-ups, more people to throw things at, more unlockable items and Game Center leaderboards, Paper Toss 2.0 adds up to a heap of fun. While Paper Toss 2.0 has yet to arrive to Android, the original title is still available on that platform and is also free to download.
Tiny Tower (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android)
Tiny Tower is a very well made resource management game in which your goal is to build your tower higher and higher. By making money and expanding your tower, you’ll attract new tenants and business owners, allowing you to make more money to build even higher. The towers are very customizable, and there are plenty of upgrades to purchase. Best of all, you can compare your tower with your friends’ towers, courtesy of Game Center. On top of the simple and addicting gameplay lies the charming pixelated aesthetics and pleasing elevator music soundtrack. Definitely give this quirky title, which Apple proclaimed best game of 2011, a try.
Here is our video review of the recently released Android version.
Six-Guns (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
There is an awful lot to explore in Six-Guns for free before getting into all the in-app purchase opportunities. In fact, it’s possible to play through the entire game without spending a dime. Set in an old West environment, Six-Guns is an open-world cowboy adventure with plenty of varied missions to enjoy, usually involving gun-totin' and horseback ridin'. Though the storyline and plot isn’t the greatest, play often and your character will gain access to better weapons and you can hone your cowboy skills no end.
Check out our video review.
Angry Birds (Android)
While the iPhone and iPad versions of Angry Birds will cost you one and five bucks respectively, the addictive international sensation remains free on Android devices. If somehow you are unfamiliar with the premise of Angry Birds, here’s the deal. Evil pigs have stolen the eggs of normally peaceable birds, turning them into fierce flying fighters for justice. Test your skill by sling-shooting these now angry birds at the pigs that are hiding in ever-increasingly secure forts made of bricks and wood. To move up levels, you must destroy the forts, and the pigs, with the limited number of suicidal birds you have on hand. You’ll find the game’s details – like the birds’ determined grunts and trilling whistles – as addictive as the game itself.
Smurfs’ Village (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android)
This is a FarmVille-like game featuring the lovable little blue guys from the classic cartoon. You can grow crops, build your village and play mini-games ranging from baking goods to mixing potions. All the favorite characters from the cartoon make appearances, and the game’s vibrant cartoon graphics are both impressive and fitting for a game that will appeal to younger audiences. The premium part of Smurfs’ Village is mainly smurfberries ($4.99 to $99.99), though there is some exclusive content to be had for the right price. Smurfberries act as a ‘turbo’ of sorts, allowing you to complete a task immediately instead of waiting.
Harbor Master HD (iPad)
If you've heard of the popular game Flight Control, you should be immediately familiar with the concept here. Imagine that game, but with boats. Ships enter your harbor from all sides. You must navigate them safely into a port, allow them to unload their cargo, and then send them on their way – all with a flick of your fingers. Of course, one or two boats feel easy, but thirty or forty makes for a real challenge. You can also share the fun by having someone else join you in managing the harbor. There is also an iPhone version of Harbor Master available for $1.99.
My Horse (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
This beautiful looking game from Natural Motion allows you to train, nurture, groom and develop your very own virtual horse. It’s great for kids who want to learn how to look after something and certainly doesn’t cost as much as the real thing. It encourages social gaming as it’s easy to share your new stablemate with friends or help them out with grooming and feeding. Take care of your horse well enough and he may end up a world champion. With eight different breeds to look after and a wide range of activities, My Horse is fun for ‘virtual pet’ fans everywhere.
Words With Friends Free (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android)
Words With Friends Free is exactly that — a brand of Scrabble that you can play against your friends by taking turns, over the Internet or mobile devices, at your own pace. Each player places a word and submits it to Words With Friends, which vets it to make sure it really is a word, and keeps score. You can play up to 20 games at a time, with as much time as you want between turns — it’s all up to you. And best of all (yes, better than free), you can play Words With Friends cross-platform, against players on Android phones as well as iPhones or iPads.
Hanging With Friends Free (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android)
Zynga’s new take on the traditional hangman game is another winner. With the same drop-in-and-play vibe as Words, it’s a game that players can dip in to at their own pace. Create words for your opponents and see if they can solve them. There are lifelines and hints available if you get stuck (plus an in-app store where you can buy more coins), but get five words wrong in a game and you’ll lose. This word game doesn’t pack the same strategic punch as Words With Friends, but it’s still fun to pick up and play now and again.
Tilt to Live HD (iPad)
Don’t play this game in public places. The accelerometer drives the action so you may look like an idiot if people don’t know what you’re doing. You steer a red arrow through on onslaught of red dots that will kill you and end the game. To win, you’ll need to run into the power-up nodes that unleash spouts of fire and icicles. Choose from several engaging modes – Classic, Code Red, Gauntlet Evolved, and Frostbite – that alter the background and the death threats. Flexible options allow you to select the way you hold your iPad, including in your hands, on a table, or laying on your back in bed. You can download an iPhone version of Tilt to Live for $2.99.
Unblock Me FREE (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android)
There are tons of puzzle levels in Unblock Me Free, even though it’s a demo game for its paid counterpart on iOS (it’s completely free on Android). The premise is simple, even though the game is challenging: in each square level, you have a series of wooden rectangles that are placed together in the grid. One of the pieces is colored, and this one you’re trying to slide off the screen. The blocks can move horizontally or vertically, but only in the direction that they’re smallest side is facing – in other words, you can’t move the blocks sideways. Even the beginner puzzles are a decent challenge. Unblock Me has an addictive nature that will draw you into its free puzzle-solving charms for a good long time.
Bejeweled Blitz (iPhone, iPod Touch)
The latest iteration of the classic match-three gem-swapping game is only available for iPhone and iPod Touch owners. If you are not already part of the converted, Bejeweled Blitz is a great free way to tap into the excitement. The superlative graphics and addictive gameplay will keep you coming back. Also, don’t forget to grab your headphones for “Zen Mode”, which features entertaining mantras to keep you focused on the game at hand. This app also features great new Facebook integration.
Sudoku 2 (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
Anyone who’s given Sudoku a try in the puzzles section of a newspaper knows how addictive it can be. Of the dozens of quality free versions of Sudoku available on the iTunes App Store, Sudoku 2 is the best. Sudoku 2 is a beautiful, free way to play Sudoku on your iPhone, and it’s as addictive as it is elegant. The game provides all the features you would get if you were playing with a pen and paper, including the ability to mark squares with hypothetical numbers that could occupy them as you continue to eliminate options. It’s packed full of puzzles of varying difficulties and seems to go on forever. While the Sudoku 2 game developed by Finger Arts is not available on Android, we recommend Sudoku Way Lite by Cogitas for that platform.
Amazing Breaker Free (iPhone, iPod Touch)
This free, trial version of Amazing Breaker, is an excellent physics-based puzzler with plenty of ice-smashing action. There’s 16 levels to try here, and you’re pretty likely to get hooked and want to upgrade to the full game. With universally positive reviews, this challenging puzzle game sees you blasting ice sculptures with bombs. You need to destroy at least 90 percent of each sculpture to move on, so the trick is to demolish every little fragment of ice, and therein lies the challenge. It’s easy to learn, but hard to master like the best and most addictive games.
The ninja hero of this game wants out of his tough inner-city Chinatown and he is not waiting for any hand outs or opportunities. So, he decides to climb straight up the sides of two skyscrapers into the sky. Ninjas, by the way, are excellent climbers. Use your thumbs to leap from one skyscraper to another, avoiding monsters, barriers and other threats which will send him plummeting to his death. Time your jump perfectly and your ninja will slash birds and other creatures right out of the air as he leaps to the opposite building.
Check out our video review.
Multiple members of the Appolicious Advisor team contributed to this report.