Best Free Game Apps of 2011
Last week, The Recapp brought you Best Paid Game Apps of 2011. This week, we’re helping out all the penny-pinchers out there with our picks for the best free game apps of the year.
We know, you’re not cheap (at least that’s what we all say), but you just spent hundreds of dollars on your phone and would like to play solitaire without it asking you for even more money. Fair enough. However, the truth is that the best games typically require you to shell out a little cash. Thankfully, there are thousands of hours of fun to be found in the iTunes App Store or Android Market without ever spending a cent.
Many popular games have “free” versions which provide largely the same experience as their paid counterparts, sometimes minus some levels or features, and usually plus some advertising. Whether or not these differences are worth paying for is up to you—but you might as well try the free version first. Chances are you won’t be missing anything.
Some of this year’s best games were just made to be free. Simple, addictive titles with developers who want to see their pet projects in as many hands as possible. (Or, just want the opportunity to ask for a little donation once you’re hooked.) Either way: free is free. So for this list, you can leave your wallet safely pocketed and put your focus toward getting your gaming on.
Alchemy starts simply enough: with water, fire, earth and air. But combine water with fire, and you get steam. Combine fire and earth to make lava. Any new elements or objects you create are now at your disposal. Eventually, your four original elements will have spawned over 400 unique new objects, animals, elements and more. (You can even combine a werewolf and a vampire to get the “Twilight saga.”)
The chemistry-inspired puzzle game app takes a bit of cunning and can get frustrating, especially as you get closer and closer to completing the daunting list of possible combinations. But the challenge makes it that much more satisfying when you finally get one. Share it with your friends and you’ll be boasting about new wacky elements for weeks. (Free for Android and iPhone)
The recent winner of the US App Store’s “Game of The Year,” Tiny Tower is a slow but continually evolving game that is as addicting as it is fun. The goal is to build your (tiny) tower up, adding shops and apartments as you go. Fill your residential dwellings and assign your new citizens jobs. You’ll spend a lot of time waiting at first, but Tiny Tower provides incentive to speed things up (for a cost). Though it is a free game, you can buy “bucks” at the app developer’s store, which allow you to skip waiting for an item to stock or a renter to move in and just get it done. We recommend experiencing Tiny Tower at its own pace when first starting out with the game, though.
As your tower gets bigger, there are more and more town features to attend to. You’ll find yourself checking back as often as you can spare a moment to see how much money you’ve raked in and to make sure your tower’s citizens are happy. Free games don’t get much better than this. (Free for Android and iPhone)
We’ll admit it: Pocket Frogs might not be for everyone. But we would be remiss not to include it here. The insanely popular game borrows a “collect ’em all” mentality from longtime Nintendo standby, Pokémon. Only here, you’re tasked with collecting cute, colorful frogs.
Train your frogs in the pond, breed them, coax your new baby frogs into adulthood and purchase new, rare frogs from the Frog Mart. Each frog has a different look, a rarity and its own attributes that may or may not make it well suited to partake in one of Pocket Frogs’ many mini-games.
Like the other NimbleBit title on the list (Tiny Tower), you can pay to speed things up, but Pocket Frogs is a long-term time investment. With over thousands of frogs to collect and trade with friends, Pocket Frogs may have the highest-hours-played-to-cost ratio of any mobile game this year. (Free for Android and iPhone)
There are two kinds of people in this world: people who play Words With Friends and people who need to. For those of you in the latter group, here’s the gist: it’s social Scrabble. You pick letters out of a proverbial hat and then do your best to make words on the board, taking advantage of special bonus squares to outscore your opponent.
Even if you’re not a wordsmith, chances are your friends aren’t, either. And with the ability to play up to 20 games at once in this words puzzle game, you’re likely to improve in a hurry. Even better, this isn’t your grandma’s Scrabble. No more sitting around a cardboard square waiting your turn. Your matches are all ongoing, stored within the game. Tired of waiting for your opponent to make another move? Start a new game with someone less cowardly. Cowardly! That’s 19 points. (Free for Android and iPhone)
The reigning champ returns. With an unparalleled and unwavering fan base, it’s no wonder we continue to see new levels, new versions and new friends lost in the addictive void that is Angry Birds.
The fundamentals of all Angry Birds versions remain the same: fling wingless birds from a slingshot to take out pigs and structures to earn points and pass on to the next level. Earning a three-star rating for each level is challenging and—of course—addicting.
The most recent release is Angry Birds Seasons, a holiday-themed download that’s more jam-packed with features than the original game. Whether you’re an Angry Birds addict (yes, you with the Angry Birds Halloween costume hanging proudly in your closet) or you’re finally willing to give in, Angry Birds Seasons is the one to give a whirl. At least until next year.