There is certainly no shortage of mobile spinoffs on the market. For Hitman there’s a Hitman Go, for Pokémon there’s a Pokémon Go. And for Sonic there is Sonic…Dash? They were so close.
Needless to say, the on-the-go nature of mobile games is often what keeps them on a par (or even ahead) of their more preoccupying console counterparts. But every now and then, when we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape (you’ve got to love those family obligations), the hankering for a console classic is just too much to bear.
Luckily enough we now live in an age where the gulf between mobile and console gaming is steadily shrinking. With the likes of the Nintendo Switch – a console that runs mobile and console games alike – at the front of the bridge-building operation.
Mobile ports of console games can sometimes be ungainly. They can sometimes be practically unplayable. However, there are still plenty of mobile ports out there worthy of your time and money. So here’s a list of what we consider to be the best console games on mobile that you should definitely try out next time you’ve snuck away from the dinner table for a suspiciously long bathroom visit.
The GTA Series
As fans continue to lament the distinct lack of GTA VI (and deal with that grief in their own ways) at least we can console ourselves with the age-old classics in our pockets.
GTA III (Android & iOS), Vice City (Android & iOS) and San Andreas (Android & iOS) will forever go down as series fan-favourites. Nothing quite beats the stress-reliever that is going on a bombastic rampage through the streets of a fictionalised USA. So it stands to reason that they have been ported into portable versions for those times when stress and strife hit in day-to-day life.
And that’s not forgetting Chinatown Wars (Android & iOS)and Liberty City Stories (Android & iOS). Games whose portability was built-in from the start thanks to their PSP origins. So grab your phones and let loose. Just maybe don’t do it on public transport.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Android & iOS)
BioWare’s legendary take on the Star Wars universe has had such a cultural impact that fans are still clamouring for its plots to be codified in film. But the knowledge that this dream is looking less and less likely feels like a blaster bolt to the chest. Luckily, the ability to replay the title wherever we may be is just the bacta tank bath we need.
The dated graphics are no dampener on the matchless story and seminal choice system. And with combat that complements the mobile screen far better than its more dynamic contemporaries, this mobile port feels particularly apt.
In the ongoing struggle between light and dark, and mobile and console gaming, Star Wars fans and gamers alike can at least find common ground in their appreciation of this stellar title.
Monster Hunter Stories (Android & iOS)
Monster Hunter Stories is another title that came from a handheld console. Specifically, the Nintendo 3DS. So it’s no surprise that this Monster Hunter spinoff fits so well on a mobile screen.
Unlike the other titles in the series, Monster Hunter Stories sees the player adopt the role of rider instead of hunter. The player does this by stealing the eggs of monsters and raising the offspring as a ‘friend’ that they then ride and battle with. So a more honest title would probably be something along the lines of Monster Thief or Monster Sociopath. Or just Monster for that matter.
Despite what its premise suggests under scrutiny, Monster Hunter Stories is a lighthearted RPG that was even turned into an anime series. So if you find yourself hooked by the game, feel free to double down with your viewing time, too.
The Final Fantasy Series
The ability to play these stone cold classics on mobile is something of a privilege we could never have fathomed back in the day. The problem is that privilege comes with the corresponding price tag.
But if price is no obstacle, then Final Fantasy fans will be elated to hear that every game from Final Fantasy I to IX is available to buy on the App Store and Google Play. Final Fantasy VIII fans, however, are all out of luck. Because for some inexplicable reason, Square Enix did not see fit to port that particular title. As if this already divisive instalment needed those fires stoked even more.
But whether it’s taking an extended trip down memory lane, or discovering why these games were among the most influential in the industry, there’s no reason why people can’t enjoy the first episodes of the epic anthology from start to finish wherever they may.
XCOM: Enemy Within (Android & iOS)
Another bonafide legend in the game industry, XCOM has earned critical acclaim across its many platforms. The console version was released in October 2012, with its iOS port following less than a year later in June 2013. Meaning people have been laying into aliens on the go for more than eight years now.
But the endless replayability for which XCOM is famous means that we do so with relish. This tactical team and turn-based sci fi romp has inspired many a copycat title. But there’s nothing like getting stuck into the original.
Its turn-based nature makes for a perfect mobile timekiller, allowing players time to carefully consider their next move from a top-down perspective. Only to have its notoriously unscrupulous RNG combat system slap you right in the face as your 99.9% chance to hit point-blank sniper shot misfires.
Fortnite Battle Royale (Android)
The cultural phenomenon that is Fortnite could probably never have been as pervasive as it is without being available on every platform imaginable. We wouldn’t be surprised if they had a version for smart fridges in the pipeline.
But the reason for its popularity is more than its wide availability alone. With oodles of charisma, bundles of fun and truck-loads of ever-changing content, it’s really no surprise that Fornite sits comfortably atop its gaming throne.
Plus, being able to whip out Fortnite at a moment’s notice means you’ll never again have to miss one of the gargantuan celebrity performances that Epic are wont to host. Your phone is your ticket to the next Ariana concert.
PUBG Mobile (Android & iOS)
As we await the mobile-specific spinoff title PUBG New State, PUBG Mobile is ready to satisfy those who prefer a more mature battle royale experience. Or, at least, as mature as a game featuring people running around in their underwear wielding frying pans in pursuit of a chicken dinner can be.
Despite PUBG Mobile essentially being a mobile port of its predecessor, unlike New State, it claims to be ‘even better than the original’. We’d let you be the judge of that. However, with its Unreal 4 powered graphics and 100-player battle mode, it’s an objectively impressive endeavour.
ARK: Survival Evolved (Android & iOS)
A beautifully-rendered tropical setting for a survival game replete with dinosaurs that you can tame. What’s not to love when it comes to Ark? There’s escapism, and then there’s the Lost World in your pocket.
Ark released on Android and iOS at the same time as Nintendo Switch – only its mobile ports ended up outperforming the Nintendo rendition. So if you need any more reason to hop aboard a velociraptor and roam a tropical island to your heart’s content, you can rest assured that your mobile port is the superior platform. On this occasion, anyway.
With all these console classics available at the push of a button we defy anyone to resist the urge to indulge in a spot of console gaming whenever the feeling suits them.
And if the idea of playing a console game with the controller there on your screen turns you off, there’s always the option for mobile controller extensions. Though at that point you may as well just buy a portable console.
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