There are many reasons to want to play mobile games one-handed. They range from the noble and legitimate, such as injury or physical impairment; to the lazy and hilarious, such as when you’re on the toilet or have a particularly needy cat; to the ludicrous and ridiculous, such as when you’re multi-gaming or gaming while driving. If you’re here for the last option, this is not the place for you. Please, please, please do not game while driving – no matter how good these one-handed mobile games may be.
If you’re ready for some Mario Kart action on the small screen, 2019’s Mario Kart Tour firmly delivers on all of the adorable, nostalgic kart-racing goodness that you’ve grown to love. While the endless microtransactions do become tiresome, Mario Kart’s classic racing is just too good to resist. One-handed play is easy as players steer with a simple swipe of the thumb. It contains retro gaming’s most beloved characters, all the familiar jingles, fan-favourite maps and brand-new ones.
Climbing up the app store ranks right now is the one-handed mobile game that half the world is talking about – Raider: Origin. This idle fantasy MMORPG is designed to be played vertically and with one hand. Thanks to its auto-gameplay and haunting soundtrack it’s surprisingly relaxing given the levels of foe-massacring mayhem that constitute its primary gameplay. While idle or “auto” games aren’t for everyone, Raider: Origin’s skill combinations and fun classes, such as the fencer and magician, are a great way to get your MMORPG fix without putting in the hours of manual grinding.
Crossy Road is the transit-based equivalent of Flappy Bird. That is to say, an inexplicably addictive, humble, bird-based mobile game with a ridiculous name. Never mind one hand, players can play Frogger-clone Crossy Road with a single finger. The object of the game? Cross the road (or bridge or train track for the truly adventurous). The simple things in life are so often the best, and while some leading mobile games bombard you with half a dozen currencies and a million customization options, Crossy Road keeps it oh-so-simple. Why did the chicken cross the road? Ask the 200-million players who’ve downloaded it.
While some parts of Monumental Valley do benefit from two-handed gameplay, many of its award-winning puzzles do not. And yet, it’s not just the puzzles that make both Monument Valley and Monument Valley 2 some of the most highly rated mobile games of all time, it’s the storytelling. A touching tale of motherhood told in an understated heart-warming manner. There are some stories that could only be told in a certain medium: Crime and Punishment should never be a cartoon; Mickey Mouse should never be a live-action horror movie. And Monument Valley tells a story that should only be experienced in-hand in a comfy armchair with a cup of tea. It is, quite frankly, a delight.
There are an almost endless number of endless runners on the app stores right now. We could have recommended any number of them, the majority of which would be playable with one hand. That’s all the more reason to give credit to the franchise that started it all, Temple Run. A game which in the late noughties was in the hand of every kid, teenager, and adult in the country. We’ve given a particular shout out to Temple Run 2, our favourite of the franchise and one whose gameplay requires little more than a Tinder-style swipe of the thumb.
Some of you might be disappointed to discover that 2048 is not a prequel to Bladerunner 2049. It’s actually an addictive little mobile puzzler that will keep your brain active while giving your left hand a rest. What started as a browser game quickly became a surprising mobile sensation. To win, players must continually double numbers in a grid until they reach their target; you guessed it, 2048. Better still, as well as being a one-handed mobile game, it can mostly be played offline making it an ideal game to play on your way to work – even if you need one hand to stop you falling over on the subway carriage. Suffice to say, it will keep your mind fresh and active and entertained until 2048.
At this stage, if you’re reading this article about mobile games, you’re bound to have heard of King’s Candy Crush series. There’s good reason that King have retained their crown in the “match-three” puzzle genre in spite of many would-be usurpers. The satisfying sound effects and colourful aesthetics really hit the sweet spot and just keep us coming back for more. The latest game in the series is Candy Crush Friends Saga – an entry that expands on previous Candy Crush games with a new focus on social cooperative teamplay. And all but the most frantic of candy-matchers can play with one hand. Pretty sweet.
Did you enjoy our selection of the best mobile games you can play one-handed? If you disagree with our claim that Monument Valley 2 is the Dostoevsky of the mobile gaming world, feel free to share a piece of your mind with us.