The greatest ever RPGs on mobile

Forget Candy Crush – these are the most addictive time sinks you’ll ever find on smartphones.
Written by Ben Sillis
5 min readPublished on
A title screenshot for Final Fantasy VI.
Final Fantasy VI
Yesterday, one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time debuted on mobile. Final Fantasy VI, Square Enix’ legendary Super Nintendo roleplaying game (RPG) landed on Android smartphones, resurrecting the massive world with new animation and graphics, and controls that perfectly adapt the menu and battle system to touchscreens instead of TVs.
An iPhone port is expected any day now, but whatever your platform of choice, it’s not the only classic RPG worth keeping in your pocket to idle away long bus journeys. We take a look at the best mobile RPGs and Final Fantasy VI rivals you can download right now.
Chrono Trigger
Widely regarded as Square Enix’ greatest ever game outside of the Final Fantasy series, Chrono Trigger’s time hopping, world shifting gameplay blew minds back in 1995 - it was one of the first adventure games with different endings affected by the decisions you made along the way. Since first launching on the SNES, it’s been released on almost every console under the sun - you can now play it on PlayStation, Nintendo DS and even Wii - but its 16-bit graphics and intelligent turn-based battles translate brilliantly to smartphones. It’s out on iOS and Android.
Sacred Odyssey: Rise Of Ayden
There are an awful lot of Nintendo knock offs on the Google Play and iPhone App Stores, but this is by far the most flattering. Sacred Odyssey is an action RPG very much in the same vein as the Nintendo 64 era Zelda classics, Ocarina Of Time and Majora’s Mask. Ancient, wise, talking trees? Captured princesses? Dungeons and horsies to make travelling across vast plains much less boring? Yep, this is Zelda alright, or the next best thing.
Spectral Souls
Spectral Souls is by some measurements one of the biggest mobile games ever made - it was the first Android game to top 1GB in file size on the Play store - and if you’re looking for something to occupy you on your commute for months to come, this is it. The tactical RPG - a port of a Sony PSP classic - can take hundreds of hours to complete, and will tax your grey matter no end while you do (It’s basically chess on steroids with an epic storyline). It’s also one of a handful also available on Windows Phone, so if you’re rocking a Nokia smartphone be sure to check it out.
Prefer your Zelda a little bit more old school? Gamevil’s got you covered on mobile with its own riff on the 16-bit era hack-and-slash RPGs, the long running Zenonia series, which has become a big budget franchise in its own right. We’re up to edition five now, but the formula hasn’t changed much, just the animation. Bash your way through top down dungeons and evil daemons to save the maiden fair - best of all, every single Zenonia is free to download right now on iPhone and Android.
Final Fantasy IV
While Final Fantasy VI has received a spit shine with this week’s mobile release, it’s still a top down 2D RPG at hear. Square Enix’ remake of its predecessor however completely revamps the game, bringing it into 3D while keeping the dramatic storyline and clever ATB battle system intact. Even if you played the game through years ago (in which case, kudos: this game is hard) it’s a worthy port from the Nintendo DS version, and if we’re honest, what we hope to see more of from Square Enix in the future. The company has even ported its Japan-only pre-smartphone mobile sequel, The After Years, to Android and iOS too on the same engine as a fully separate game. Less of the airbrushing please guys, more of the rebuilding from the ground up.
Chaos Rings
Square Enix’ first original RPG for mobile remains one of the best, with an original setting and several different characters giving you a completely different perspective with each play through. Your party is thrown into a Hunger Games style deathmatch arena, and it’s up to you to work your way, pummeling as many monstrous beasts as possible. It was followed by a sequel and a prequel, Chaos Rings Omega, all of which are available on both iPhone and Android.
Secret of Mana
Love Zelda’s pot smashing, hack’n’slash gameplay as well as Square Enix’ beautiful worlds and storylines? This one is for you. The Japanese publisher of the Final Fantasy series is better known for its turn based RPGs, but back in the 90s, it tried its hand at real-time action with the dazzling Seiken Densetsu/Secret Of Mana series. The results were mesmerising, even if on a touchscreen you do lose the brilliant co-op multiplayer mode. It’s out on iPhone, but Android users watch out: there’s a fake version on the Play Store.
Penny Arcade's On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3
While most mobile RPG developers seem content to pay homage to 16-bit classics, the team behind the cult Penny Arcade web comic (and charity Child’s Play) would rather spoof them lovingly. The mobile edition of Tycho and Gabe’s adventures is crammed full of absurd dialogue - and of course your standard RPG classes are replaced by the likes of the infamous Tube Samurai, while the duo’s notoriously lewd blender (with a name so rude we can’t repeat it here) makes an appearance too. Think Final Fantasy meets Sam And Max and you’re not far off.
Ravensword: Shadowlands
Fancy something a bit more ambitious than a Zelda clone? Check out this monstrous open world RPG, clearly inspired by smash hit The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, with lots of dragon slaying and troll hunting on the menu. Several things set it apart however from Bethesda’s PS3, PC and Xbox 360 classic. It’s on mobile, but looks almost as good; you can plug in a controller if you want to play with a gamepad (Hello Ouya); the characters don’t look like robots stuck on a loop moaning about arrows in their knees; there are dinosaurs. Dinosaurs. Why are you still here?
Final Fantasy VI is available on Google Play now