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7 Of The Best Mobile Time Wasters (For Your Monday Morning and Beyond)

Your smartphone is effectively a portable PC, providing you with endless access to information. It’s also a great distraction tool, with thousands of games at your fingertips. If the latter sounds like more fun, here are some of our favorite time wasters.

These days, both the App Store and Google Play Store offer a wealth of different games. It’s possible to play classic games like Final Fantasy 9 or Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but it’s also possible to play recent hits like puzzle games, Monument Valley or The Room 3. Your options are vast. In many ways, you don’t actually need a “proper” games console any more to still enjoy some great games. But we’re not here for the award winning titles that you should really sit down and enjoy with a dedicated play through and focus.

Today we’re focusing on games you can dip into for a few minutes at a time. Life is busy and you might not always have the time to devote hours to a game, so these titles are all games you can experience for as long as you’re able to, all while still achieving something. They’re the perfect distraction from life’s demands and they don’t require lengthy play sessions. Here are seven of the best time wasters out there.

Universal Paperclips (Android/iOS, $2)

Universal Paperclips is pretty ugly to look at, but despite that it’s astonishingly compelling. As dumb as it sounds, you play an AI who wants to create a massive and ridiculously oversized paperclip empire. Previously successful in browser form, this is one of the ultimate time wasters out there.

Effectively, it’s a form of mathematical simulator. You have to learn to make paperclips as fast as possible, figuring out how to streamline the process and make things more efficient. It sounds incredibly tedious but it’s oddly addictive because you’re never far from another improvement that will increase your productivity. When you’re up against everything in life, it’s satisfying to feel like you’ve achieved something in the space of seconds through your smartphone. Dubious as to whether or not such a game could entice you? It sucked us in hard when it first came out. So hard, in fact, we even wrote up an article here on Review Geek just about Universal Paperclips. Originally just a web-based delight, it’s now available for both Android and iOS.

2048 (Android/iOS, Free)

Previously a browser based game (and still available in that form), 2048 is a simple yet addictive numbers game for Android and iOS. You want a game that is delightfully simply but offers a chance to zone out and focus on one goal? This is it.

The idea is simple enough—swipe to move tiles across and when two tiles with the same number touch, they merge into one, thereby doubling. To win the game, you have to create 2048 from your numbers. In reality, you’ll rarely manage to achieve that but it’s great fun to work towards. There are always high scores to chase anyhow, if not the big prize of “winning”. Because of the relaxed paced nature of the game, you can play through it as quickly or as slowly as you like, meaning it’s great for dipping into when you have a spare 30 seconds.

Clicker Heroes (Android/iOS, Free)

Clicker Heroes actually has a lot in common with Universal Paperclips but it’s a far more stylish way of doing things. An “idle clicker” game for both Android and iOS, Clicker Heroes requires you to interact fairly minimally to get things done, just like with Universal Paperclips. Here though, things are a little more exciting — you’re a hero embarking on an epic quest of monster hunting and treasure collecting.

With vibrant cartoon style graphics, you tap your way to victory before leaving the game alone to do its thing while you’re gone. There are skills to unlock, new heroes to hire and level up, and thousands of zones to negotiate. It’s a little repetitive at times, but it’s the kind of thing you’ll find yourself dipping into throughout the day, keen to see what else you can unlock. Seeing those level up bars go up steadily is satisfying stuff.

Dunk Shot (Android/iOS, Free)

Dunk Shot is one of the simplest games out there. Your aim? Simply dunk a ball in a net then keep going ad infinitum. It’s basic yet a lot of fun. Physics plays a role here with you soon learning the best way to flick the ball into the net for maximum points. Hitting the net just right makes all the difference to your score multiplier with better scores giving you new balls to unlock.

It’s a form of fast food gaming. Your soul won’t be enriched exactly, but you’ll have a ton of fun for those few seconds when you just want to mess around in a game. Available for Android and iOS, there’s no reason why this isn’t worth giving a (slam dunk) shot.

Bowmasters (Android/iOS, Free)

Bowmasters is a personal favorite of mine—it’s bloodthirsty but great stress relief for those necessary breaks throughout the working day. You partake in duels with other players—either real or AI based—firing projectiles at them from a distance. Taking it in turns, you have to get your angle and power just right in order to hit them. Strike them with the weapon, and an over the top amount of blood and guts spills out, and the round ends.

It could be disturbing but Bowmasters is too cartoony to be creepy. It leans heavily into the silliness by offering up tens of different characters, each with increasingly quirky weapons. When you’re able to decapitate someone with a games controller, it’s hard to be disgusted by what happens. Multiple modes are available and it’s going to take you a long time to unlock all the content. It’s perfect for those moments of downtime, and it’s out for both Android and iOS.

Words With Friends 2 (Android/iOS, Free)

Words With Friends has been a hugely successful phenomenon in recent years, and its sequel is better than ever. As before, you can play a Scrabble style game against friends or random players, through Android or iOS. Where Words With Friends 2 improves upon the formula is through its additional modes. You can play in teams, collaborating in lightning rounds, earning badges and rewards as you go along.

Even better, there are new solo challenge events pitting you against fictional characters, as you work on improving your vocabulary skills. Themes and opponents are updated twice a month, so there’s always something new to do. If you’re after something more cerebral than the other entries here, Words With Friends 2 is perfect at giving you a relatively quick thrill while taxing the ole gray matter.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Android/iOS, Free)

Many mobile games offer what’s known as city or village building. Games like FarmVille started the trend with you checking in on your “land”, completing a few tasks and then leaving for a while afterwards. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is one of the better examples of the genre, thanks to being part of the Nintendo name.

In the game, you’re establishing a cute and quirky campsite for a wealth of animal friends. It sounds childish but it’s pretty fun to be embroiled in. It’s a little more hands-on and long term than the other games here, but you can still get a lot done in 5-10 minute bursts throughout the day, as you craft new equipment and complete errands for the critters amongst you. For a calming experience that still gives you a sense of achievement, it’s a delightful haven from the real world. The game is truly adorable and the only negative thing we can say about it is that it requires an active internet connection (like other mobile Nintendo games such as Super Mario Run) so it’s not the best fit for airplane rides or subway commutes where you’ve got spotty internet access. It’s available for Android and iOS.

Jennifer Allen Jennifer Allen
Jennifer is a freelance writer for ReviewGeek. In the past decade, she's also written for Wareable, TechRadar, Mashable, Eurogamer, Gamasutra, Playboy, and PCWorld. Read Full Bio »