Over the past few years, Nintendo has put together an impressive roster of mobile titles. Many of them are spin-offs from popular Mario series — such as Mario Kart Tour, Super Mario Run, and Dr. Mario World — but Nintendo has also seen fit to bring other franchises to Android and iOS devices. To date, the company has released seven titles. However, one of them — Miitomo — was shut down in 2018 despite being a critical success.
The other six games live on, and each one brings something unique to the table. Although some of them fall prey to the usual trappings of mobile games such as microtransactions and gacha mechanics, Nintendo’s mobile titles are still worthy of your time. Here are all six titles, ranked from best to worst.
Besides Miitomo, Dragalia Lost is the only original IP created by Nintendo for mobile phones. As of January, it is their third most profitable mobile title, but is arguably the best game in their App Store catalog. It’s an action RPG played out from a top-down view, where players try to put together a powerful team as they progress through the story.
The gameplay itself is enough to keep you coming back for more, but Dragalia Lost also boasts an incredible narrative that features more than 60 fully voiced characters that flesh out the world. It’s easily one of the most enjoyable games on Android and iOS, bogged down only by some annoying gacha mechanics — new Adventurers are earned by summoning them, which is a random process with very low rates for the rarest of characters. Over the years this has slowly been fixed, but it can still make levels later in the game challenging if you haven’t been lucky enough to summon a strong party.
By far the most profitable title for Nintendo, Fire Emblem Heroes takes the tactical battles you’ve come to love and modifies them for a mobile audience. For the most part, it’s incredibly successful. Battles require well-thought-out plans, all your favorite characters return, and there is plenty of content to dig in to.
If you’re a fan of strategy games, Fire Emblem Heroes is one you won’t want to miss. Like Dragalia Lost, Fire Emblem Heroes relies heavily on gacha mechanics — and its story is a bit lackluster at certain points — but it’s still a great game than anyone can enjoy.
With New Horizons launching on the Nintendo Switch, you might not be inclined to log back in to Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Although most of the familiar faces are there, some of the Animal Crossing charm gets lost in the transition to smaller screens. If you don’t have New Horizons, Pocket Camp might be able to scratch that itch, but don’t expect a full-fledged experience. The game is broken up into bite-sized locations, daily activities are strictly limited, and there isn’t as much to do as in its console counterparts.
That being said, it’s still an impressive mobile title. If you’re willing to put up with a few inconveniences, Pocket Camp will provide you with hours of fun without having to break open your wallet and spend a single Bell.
When it was first announced, everyone had high hopes for Mario Kart’s first mobile outing. There are plenty of other successful handheld racing games — all Nintendo had to do was take their formula, slap some Mario textures on it, and it’s got a home run. And while the gameplay does a commendable job recreating the joys of throwing a Blue Shell at your friends, Mario Kart Tour isn’t shy about getting you to spend real money.
That’s because Tour not only relies on gacha mechanics, but it also forces users to become Gold Pass members — currently $4.99/month — to play in high-speed 200cc races. Plus, monthly subscribers get a bunch of other items with their payment, giving them a clear advantage over non-paying players. It’s easily the worst game in the Mario Kart series and a poor example of what Nintendo is aiming for in its mobile titles.
If Mario Kart Tour exemplifies greedy monetization, Super Mario Run is the exact opposite. The game can be downloaded for free, but after the first few trial levels you’ll need to spend $9.99 to unlock the rest. However, that’s all you’ll spend. There are no ads, no in-app purchases, and no gacha pulls in sight.
Whether Super Mario Run is worth the $9.99 is another story. The game plays out as an auto runner, where you are simply tasked with pressing the jump button at the right time. There’s a bit more to it than that, but compared to the other impressive offerings by Nintendo, it’s hard to rank Super Mario Run any higher. Still, the game can be demoed for free so there’s no harm in giving it a try.
There are plenty of Match 3 games available in the App Store, and Dr. Mario World doesn’t do much to separate itself from the competition. Unless you’re a diehard Dr. Mario fan, you’re better off playing anything else on the marketplace. It’s a completely generic experience that is brought down further by your typical mobile microtransactions and time gates.
For example, players must use one Heart to play a level, and they are only able to stockpile a maximum of five hearts. There are a few different ways to replenish your Hearts, but it typically boils down to this – wait a set amount of time for them to refill or spend real cash. It’s a tactic that’s common in the mobile world but is carried out in an egregious way by Dr. Mario World. The game isn’t exciting enough to earn your cash, and by the time you’re done waiting for the Hearts to refill, you’ll probably have moved on to something better.
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