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Mobile gaming has a problem. You download a game, you start playing, but you hit a roadblock and the only solution seems to be paying for some token or power-up in the in-game shop. From Angry Birds to Candy Crush, almost every game has in-app purchases. Almost.
Even when we round up fantastic free games, we have to state up front that there’s an in-game store where you might want to spend real money. But wait, you can still get your game on without incurring any cost.
Such games are ideal for parents who need to make sure their kids won’t run up a huge credit card bill, as well as for anyone who just wants to play. So whether you’re running Android or iOS, here’s what you can get without any hidden costs.
Note: If you aren’t a fan of in-app purchases (IAP), you can disable IAPs on Android or iOS.
Lego Bionicle Mask Of Creation
Apparently, Lego isn’t just good to manage your time better. The new mobile game by the toymaker has a whole lot of free gameplay, with no in-app purchases and no third-party ads or online content. It’s as kid-safe as Lego! The fighting game has you choose one of six cool characters to start battling in 71 arenas. With each win, you earn new blocks that you can attach to your character, upgrading them into lean, mean fighting machines.
Download: Lego Bionicle Mask Of Creation for Android (Free) [No longer available]
Download: Lego Bionicle Mask Of Creation for iPhone/iPad (Free) [No longer available]
Dumb Ways To Die
What started as a campaign to prevent accidental deaths in trains took a life of its own when it went viral. Dumb Ways To Die (read our review) has a bunch of cute characters in stupid yet precarious situations, and your only job is to keep them alive. The 15 mini-games employ simple gameplay mechanisms of tapping the screen, flicking, doing precision moves, and even blowing on the screen! The amount of time you have in each mini-game keeps decreasing as you progress, upping the difficulty level.
Download: Dumb Ways To Die for Android (Free) [No longer available]
Download: Dumb Ways To Die for iPhone/iPad (Free)
You can’t ask for much more from a puzzle game than Trainyard Express. It has 60 levels of increasing difficulty, addictive gameplay that’s perfect for a pick-up and play game, and puzzles that will have you scratching your head. You are in charge of ensuring coloured trains reach their corresponding destination, so you need to manipulate the tracks and signals so that all the trains make it through. It sounds easier than it is.
Download: Trainyard Express for Android (Free)
Download: Trainyard Express for iPhone/iPad (Free)
Lego Ninjago Rebooted
There’s no such thing as too much Lego, right? Ninjago Rebooted is part of the Lego Ninjago universe, where you can play as Kai, Cole, Jay or Zane in their fight against the forces of Overlord. There are two major game modes: vertical (think Doodle Jump with more action) and horizontal (which is like any platform game). The change in game modes provides a nice break, but the action does get a little repetitive after a while.
Download: Lego Ninjago Rebooted for Android (Free) [No longer available]
Download: Lego Ninjago Rebooted for iPhone/iPad (Free) [No longer available]
Retro-style graphics that remind you of classic DOS games? Check. Dual touchscreen joysticks to control movement and shooting? Check. A frantic pace that will get your heart thumping? Check. Free? Check. No in-app purchases? Check. There is nothing to dislike about PewPew, a solid top-down shooter with an arcade style of gameplay. If you love the Geometry Wars series, you’ll instantly be a PewPew fan.
Download: PewPew for Android (Free)
Download: PewPew for iPhone/iPad [No Longer Available]
How long can you protect your finger from the hungry monsters? Mmm Fingers is special for its super-simple concept and execution, but still having rich gameplay that makes you come back for more. Touch and hold the screen, and then drag your finger to avoid any monsters. It’s all a matter of how many seconds you can last before one of the monsters bites into your yummy flesh.
Download: Mmm Fingers for Android (Free)
Download: Mmm Fingers for iPhone/iPad (Free) [No longer available]
There’s a bit of nostalgia in Traal, reminiscent of the fantastic Atari games of old. You’re alone in a dark maze, armed with just a flashlight. Ironically, the flashlight is what keeps you from moving ahead—if you shine it upon the gaze of a monster, you’ll retrace your steps, so the trick is to avoid the monsters and avoid pointing your torch at them. With creepy, eerie music in the background and a few scares thrown in, Traal is simply magnificent.
Download: Traal for Android (Free)
Download: Traal for iPhone/iPad (Free)
Free, With IAP You Can Ignore
There are plenty of free games where you can ignore in-app purchases and still have a great time. The recent WWE Immortals is a great example, as is the older Plants vs. Zombies 2. So tell us your favourite free mobile games where the IAP doesn’t matter.