We’ve all been there. You see a new game available on your phone of choice based on one of your favorite franchises and give it a try only to realize you’ve made a mistake. The game is designed entirely around making the developer and/or publisher money.
Sure, most mobile games are designed to make money. But, some just feel soulless. We wanted to sift through the sea of crap and talk about our top five licensed games that aren’t just empty cash grabs. Fair warning, most of these entries are gacha games. But, they handle them super well.
Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is a collectible gacha RPG set in, you guessed it, the Star Wars universe. When you get a licensed Star Wars game from EA, you’re bound to expect a lot of monetization. In this case, you’d be right. However, once you push past all of the in-game ads to purchase resources and other things, the game is super solid.
Galaxy of Heroes is set “in-universe”, but is non-canon which opens up cool possibilities story-wise. You use characters from across Star Wars history to play on holo tables, making dream teams of various rosters.
Out of all of the games from the same genre, Galaxy of Heroes is one of the only games that doesn’t make people feel like they have to spend money to progress. Hitting level 85 (the max level) is simply obtained by playing the game.
Between the light side, dark side, arena, cantina, galactic, guild, and event battles, there’s so many things to do in the game. One additional tidbit about the game is how eventful the galaxy really is. You always feel like you’ve got a lot of things you need to do every day when you boot it up for the first time.
There is enough content in the game to sustain play for the long term. In fact, the gameplay just keeps you coming back. Other games from the same gacha genre owe their success to Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes.
Dragon Ball Legends
We had a choice between Dragon Ball Legends and Dragon Ball Dokkan. We went with Legends for this list, but both would be solid options. In Legends, the original story in the game and ease of play are what won it out for us.
This is, as we mentioned, a gacha game. Gameplay is in a unique perspective that offers a card-based battle system, but feels fresh. This game is just as fun to train up your characters as it is to play the story itself.
There’s a constant flow of events, new characters to try to summon, and a massive amount of missions and story battles to finish. The game actively tries to give you as much energy as possible so you always have something to do in the game, anytime.
Pokemon Masters EX
Pokemon Masters EX takes the gacha genre and gives it a nice extra flavor. Bringing together a full multiverse of Pokemon and personalities, there are so many different characters in the game. Players join up with characters that have a single Pokemon, known as sync pairs. There’s a tournament on the island of Pasio, a new, original region made for the game.
There’s an original story that is ongoing and adds new chapters every so often. With a constant revolution of events and available sync pairs, there’s always something to do. They pull from every possible world, utilizing the multiverse that the mainline games have established.
Sync Pairs are fun to upgrade and have some awesome load-outs when it comes to how you play the game. Best of all, you can optimize your team for each battle, automatically, and then set it to auto-play the match.
There’s plenty of ways to earn the in-game currency, Gems. Gems can pay for anything from attempting to summon new sync pairs to adding more energy to battle more. Sure, you can pay for Gems. But, it’s not often that you feel any need to.
Street Fighter: Duel
Street Fighter: Duel is the newest out of every game on this list, but has become popular quickly. It’s no wonder, though. This game, made by Crunchyroll Games, should have been the cash-grabbiest game out there. And yet, it might honestly be a contender for one of the best current mobile games out there.
Street Fighter: Duel is all about becoming stronger, which is literally the theme of the entire series. In this case, becoming stronger involves unlocking more characters and powering them up. Make individual fighters stronger in various ways, including drawing to summon the same fighter and combining them.
There are idle rewards, a challenge mode that you can set to play automatically, and plenty of waits to train and earn more gear and upgrade materials. Make an ever-changing team to be the strongest and face a ton of enemies in various forms.
Marvel SNAP has quickly become a fan favorite in the short time it’s been around. You build a small deck of cards that have various Marvel characters. You battle against other players with their 12-card deck. There are three sections to fill with cards and players must find a way to get the most amount of points in each section.
The game is short, sweet, and super easy to learn. This has got to be one of the more casual games on this list. Build a deck, play the deck, rinse and repeat.
If you feel the need to get that Captain America or Guardians of the Galaxy bundle, cool. But, Marvel SNAP doesn’t shove it in your face. It’s there, if you want it. You have to pass by them all to get the free and obtainable stuff. But, it never makes you feel like you must buy it.
While you’re here, check out our top picks of the most frustrating games of all time.
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Arthur Collins likes collecting titles. Some call him Dungeon Master, some call him Pokemon Professor. He's been a journalist off and on for over a decade and a half, which means he's almost Level 2 in journalism. You can find him yelling at his screen while playing Halo or curled up playing games like Animal Crossing. Or on Twitter. He has one of those at @professorchime