Great games for your phone

In bed, at the office, in class -- smartphone users are up for gaming just about anywhere, according to a 2012 survey conducted by mobile gaming company MocoSpace. And with so many games available, many approaching console quality, who can blame them? No matter what genre you enjoy, you’re sure to find a mobile game you love to fill your free time.

Bird mania

Any roundup of must-have mobile games would be lacking without a mention of “Angry Birds” and its spinoffs, all available for iPhone and Android. These addictive games put you in control of a slingshot filled with various types of birds, as you try to knock down the increasingly complex structures built by the pigs who stole their eggs. For a more mellow experience, check out “Tiny Wings” (iPhone), where you use your finger to launch a bird whose wings are too small to fly up and down a dreamy backdrop of sweetie-coloured hills.

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Hammock games

When you need to unwind for a few minutes, these casual games are perfect for a quick break. “Doodle Jump” (all platforms), is a fun game that sends you higher and higher through a never-ending series of platforms, avoiding enemies and collecting power-ups along the way. If you like your games with a dose of 90s synthpop, try “Robot Unicorn Attack,” a frenetic side-scrolling endless runner for iPhone and Android that has you guiding a psychedelic unicorn through a series of obstacles with Erasure’s “Always” looping in the background.

Puzzle mania

Engage your brain with these mind-twisting puzzlers. “Bejeweled Blitz” (iPhone) is a mobile take on the popular browser game that retains the frantic pace of the original as you attempt to clear as many gems as possible in 60 seconds. For a less fast-paced (but still satisfyingly strategic) experience, “Cut the Rope: Experiments” for iPhone and Android offers 150 levels that have you trying to figure out what lines you need to cut -- and in what order -- to drop a sweet right into Om Nom’s hungry mouth.

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The best of action

Looking for an adrenaline-pumping, pulse-pounding action game? “Rage HD” (iPhone) is a first-person shooter from id Software, the same studio that defined the genre in the 90s with “Doom” and “Quake.” The game places you behind the trigger in a post-apocalyptic game show with hungry mutants lurking around every corner. If you’re more in the mood for hand-to-hand combat, check out “Real Steel: HD,” which brings the no-holds-barred robot combat of the film to your iPhone or Android smartphone.

The classics

Take a stroll down memory lane with these vintage arcade classics, but don’t worry – you won’t need to waste pocket money at the arcade. Old favourites like “Tetris,” “Centipede” and “Pac-Man” have been reimagined with better graphics and new features for the iPhone and Android smartphones. You can scratch your 90s arcade itch with games like “Ultimate Mortal Kombat III” and “Golden Axe,” both for the iPhone.

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Socially connected

One is the loneliest number, but you won’t have that problem if you play one of these super-social mobile games. Indulge your competitive nature with Zynga’s “With Friends” series of games for iOS and Android, which allow you to play one-on-one against friends or randomly selected strangers. Offerings currently include the Scrabble-like hit “Words With Friends,” “Scramble With Friends,” “Chess With Friends,” “Matching With Friends,” “Gems With Friends” and “Hanging With Friends.” If you would rather play alongside friends than against them, TeamLava’s “City Story” (iPhone and Android) lets you build your own city and invite friends to be your neighbours.

Learn something

Games can be more than just entertaining; exercise your mind with educational games that teach and entertain at the same time. The classic “Oregon Trail” comes to life on Android phones and the iPhone, with fantastic graphics and plenty of historical facts, including references to real locations and famous people. Wannabe moguls will enjoy “Lemonade Tycoon” for the iPhone, which uses the classic “lemonade stand” formula to teach lessons about capitalism, business, and supply and demand.

Eye-popping graphics

Modern smartphones, with their stunning, high-quality displays and high-powered graphics processors, nearly rival consoles in their ability to render mind-blowing graphics. If you want to put your iPhone’s Retina Display through its paces, check out the recently released role-playing game “Horn,” which casts you as a hero determined to rescue his people from a curse. Android users can show off their phone's graphical prowess with the high-definition fighting game “Samurai II: Vengeance THD.”

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Space invaders

Defend your home from intergalactic evil with the "N.O.V.A. - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance" series for Android and iOS. Spanning three games so far, the series follows protagonist Kal Wardin as he fights to prevent a mysterious alien race from destroying humanity. The games offer console-worthy graphics, an epic storyline and a real-time multiplayer.

Handheld sports

Go for glory with games that put you behind the ball. If you’ve ever dreamed of winning the UEFA Cup, you have a (virtual) shot at it with PES 2011 Pro Evolution Soccer. It is considered to be one of the best football games on Android.

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About the Author

Jacqui Lane has been writing professionally for print and the web since 2004. She got her start at a small publisher, where she wrote, edited, designed advertising and handled page layout for up to five magazines a month. She writes primarily about video games, technology and internet culture. Lane holds a Bachelor of Arts in online journalism from Marshall University.