The main problem with gaming on Windows Phone devices isn't the hardware (which is generally very good) or the choice (fair, but improving all the time), but actually finding the good stuff.
We'd go so far as to say that discovering anything worthwhile is a nightmare. Just take a look at the top charts, which are loaded with obvious knock-offs – unless Nintendo has suddenly ported its catalogue to Windows Phone – that linger and obscure the actual good stuff buried in the depths. Not as much as on iOS or Android, but enough to keep you happily entertained throughout the day. We dug through the mess and created this list of the best overall games available on the platform today.
1. Angry Birds Star Wars II ($0.99)
There are many Angry Birds editions, but the aim is often the same; destroy the greedy pigs! However, in the Star Wars version you can “Join the Pork Side” and fight back against the avian race. Using special powers from ‘the force’, slingshot your characters across an intergalactic landscape to take down the opposition. In the latest update (version 1.3.0) you can control new characters,
such as Carbonite Han Solo, Jabba the Hutt, Wicket the Ewok, Lando Bird, Royal Crimson Guard, Tusken Raider and more.
2. PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES ($1.99)
Traditional tower defense games often star fantasy knights, sci-fi warriors, or military men. How about some cartoon foliage and their undead opponents instead? Plants vs. Zombies is a casual classic and one of the best genre entries around, putting an accessible spin on the action by leaving you in charge of powered-up plants trying to protect a suburban home. It's silly, but serious fun for sure.
3. RAYMAN FIESTA RUN ($1.69)
The recent Rayman console side-scrollers are superb, but they wouldn't be a good fit for mobile. So rather than tarnish a great thing, Ubisoft built a touch-centric affair using the same stunning graphics but with influence from the auto-runner genre. Rayman Jungle Run was a good start, but follow-up Fiesta Run is truly excellent, delivering tense action, the real challenge, and an extensive array of stages to clear.
4. MINECRAFT: POCKET EDITION ($5.39)
It arrived years after the iPhone and Android versions, but ignore all of that: now that Microsoft owns Mojang, Minecraft: Pocket Edition is finally on Windows Phone.
The massively popular cube-based exploration game holds up on well on mobile, letting you try to survive on your own in a randomly generated world (that features exploding zombies at night) or have free rein to mold the terrain around you without threats. Either way, it's a brilliant time sink.
5. Kinectimals ($2.99)
Play with your very own virtual fury (and cute) cub in this undeniably attractive children’s (and adults) game. If you’ve got Kinectimals on the Xbox 360, download this app, and it’ll unlock five new cubs that you can play on your console.
6. GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS ($3.99)
One of the greatest and most expansive open-world action games of all time is available on Windows Phone, and even a decade later, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is still a blast. Set in the early '90s in Los Angeles, San Andreas finds you navigating a world of gang wars and strife as you cruise the city, explore CJ's story, and cause mayhem. It's not perfect with touch controls, but still plenty of fun.
7. MONUMENT VALLEY ($3.09)
One of the most astounding games ever designed for small screens, Monument Valley is a puzzler that messes with your mind. You walk along walls and across paths that only connect via optical illusions, and explore stages that aren't physically possible yet make sense in this digital world.
It's gorgeous and memorable too, and although bite-sized, it's absolutely worth the asking price. (Pay a little extra within for the expansion pack, too!)
8. Asphalt 7 Heat ($4.99)
Put the pedal to the metal in this fast-paced racing game. Tame any (or all) of the 60 cars at your disposal, such as Aston Martin, Lamborghini, and Ferrari, as you speed against the backdrop of real cities from around the world.
But don’t just beat the other AI racers; take on your mates with the multiplayer mode.
9. ANGRY BIRDS SPACE ($0.79)
While the original Angry Birds is still the series' best starting point, not to mention packed with fowl-flinging content, we're rather fond of the sci-fi spinoff, Angry Birds Space.
Instead of flat, earthbound terrain, you're whipping birds around planets and asteroids, and the puzzles that result are largely smart and entertaining. Although if you want a good mix of the series' styles, Angry Birds Star Wars has a bit of each.
10. NBA JAM ($2.99)
Another classic game from the nineties, NBA JAM wasn’t built for realism. Instead, it was pure fun over-the-top basketball goodness where commentator’s catchphrases were as much part of the game than the two-on-two action itself. Thankfully, nothing changes here. BOOMSHAKALAKA!