Mobile gaming is still understandably dominated by mobile-specific releases. Only a few multi-platform free to play games such as Hearthstone and Fortnite make a dent in lists of the highest-grossing mobile games. Although many are loath to spend upfront on mobile gaming, there are a number of classics preserved on the platform to make it worthwhile. Many newer gamers may have missed out on some of these releases altogether if not for mobile. Take a look at 5 all-time classic turn-based games you can experience on mobile right now.
1. Chrono Trigger
After hearing JRPG old heads bang on about Chrono Trigger for years, I finally caved and tried it on Steam. It did not disappoint at all. However, the Steam version is essentially just the mobile port, ported to PC. A friend played the android version and the functionality seems just as good and many features appear clearly intended for mobile. The game itself still felt revolutionary 22 years after its release. (I’m not that bad at maths, I just didn’t play it this year.)
The time travel mechanics are astoundingly well implemented, resulting in a story told across millions of years and containing multiple substories that come together to create a coherent whole. Combat is nothing exceptional, but it is engaging without slowing down the much faster pace of the story compared to fellow JRPGs.
Chrono Trigger is the best-selling paid app on this list, partly because mobile is one of the few modern platforms it is preserved on. Yet it well deserves its newfound popularity and it’s no wonder so many players wanted to go on another adventure with its vibrant characters.
2. Final Fantasy Tactics
As a self-confessed Final Fantasy Tactics fanatic, how could I not include this? One of the best stories in gaming, aided by the War of the Lions edition translation which lends the game Shakespearian stylings, is on mobile. If the story wasn’t enough, the game also sports its classic frenetic turn-based combat which works great on mobile. This all synergises with a classic levelling system that is often imitated but never duplicated.
Like Chrono Trigger, this classic of turn-based gaming is available on very few modern systems besides mobile. A PC port is rumoured but without it, Final Fantasy Tactics is even rarer than Chrono Trigger. If you still need convincing, pick up this game to experience the greatest final line to anything ever made. I’ll not spoil the line, so go play it now so you can comment how right I was later.
3. Slay The Spire
Too early to be an all-time classic turn-based game? I don’t think so. Slay the Spire has already cemented its place amongst the other games on this list. I burned the phrase ‘often imitated but never duplicated’ on Final Fantasy Tactics but maybe I should have saved it for this. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a game so quickly wrack up as many would-be successors describing themselves as “like ‘X’ game but….” like Slay the Spire has. Not one of them has equalled its masterfully fine-tuned addictive gameplay.
As the only non-story based game on this list, Slay The Spire probably has the most gamers playing cross-platform. The run-based nature can have you playing morning noon and night, from the commute to the desktop. Yep, it’s that addicting. The gameplay consists of slowly building a deck to use in a variety of fights as you climb (you guessed it) the spire. The variety of cards and relics, which completely change the way you play, can keep you coming back for hundreds of hours.
4. Dragon Quest: V
There are a number of classic Dragon Quest games available on mobile. Each game takes place entirely separately from the last. Therefore, you can start anywhere in a series full of classic turn-based games. Of these, the fifth entry might be the most beloved of all and recently even inspired a full-length movie.
The game is notable within the series for taking place over the course of 30 years in the main character’s life. Okay, so maybe that’s less impressive now compared to Chrono Trigger. However, it does mean that the game allows a unique (for the time) level of player choice. You control major life decisions that shape the hero’s story. The Dragon Quest series has always stayed true to its roots, so players only familiar with the latest instalment won’t feel out of place playing V on mobile.
Like many Dragon Quest games, if not for mobile gaming it would be very difficult to play. Gamers would have the dust off their Super Famicon, DS or PS2 to play this seminal JRPG release.
5. Final Fantasy VI
Like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy fans have a wide range of mobile releases in the series to choose from. As well as being a fan favourite, the sixth entry makes its way onto this list because the mobile Ui is very easy to use. I first played it on mobile and the game played very smoothly. It almost challenged Final Fantasy Tactics in my heart (but not quite).
Now, before anyone starts attacking me, and they had the opportunity to do so with Chrono Trigger too, I need to own up. Final Fantasy VI is technically ATB instead of strictly strict turn-based. Personally, I think a classic turn-based system works better on mobile. Touch screens can be a little fiddly to use quickly. In my own experience, however, this did not cause any problems. The layout of the controls made them easy to use quickly. The game also allowed for pausing the action when playing on the go.
If you are not sure about the ATB system on mobile, this game is available more widely than others. It might be worth taking a look at this specific game on other platforms or waiting for the upcoming steam release.