Personally, I find it almost impossible to function without a daily 20ccs of something anime-eye-wibblingly adorable. If you need your fix of cute, these games will help transform your smartphone into a haven of enchanting fuzziness powerful enough to transcend the stickiest and sweatiest of commutes. But be warned: innocent as they may seem, these fluffy bundles of code can be addictive enough to suck out your soul through your wallet.
Alphabear (iOS/Android/Windows Phone – Free)
I don’t often like to judge a book by its cover, but just look at the icon for new word puzzle app Alphabear. I wasn’t about to leave this fella behind in the App Store.
Alphabear is sort of like a cuddly countdown/Scrabble mashup: you aim to create the longest words you can in order to grow your little puzzle bears, thereby gaining more points. Depending on how many points you snag, you can collect all kinds of rare and delightful bears to use as you play. They each come with their own special bonuses – more precious seconds in the timed rounds, or more points for using certain letters. A sweet and sometimes unintentionally hilarious touch can be found in the end-screens, where one of your bears will make a little phrase out of some of the words you’ve created.
Nekoatsume (iOS/Android – Free)
Who likes cat butts? You’re going to be seeing a lot of them with Nekoatsume. This Japanese app – the name means “cat collector” – is a kind of pet simulator. Leaving out food and toys in your virtual garden encourages the local feline wildlife to visit. They leave you payment in the form of sardines, which you can use to buy bigger environments, better toys and fancier food for your cats. The art style and animations in this game are exquisite, and it’s great fun to casually check in on the app to collect your sardines and watch the little furballs pouncing on dangly butterfly toys. Who knows, if you catch them at the right moment, certain toys will attract super rare kitties – a chef cat cooking pizza on your heater, a maid cat serving coffee from the little cardboard cafe, or a cat that looks suspiciously like Anna Wintour.
Zombie Panic in Wonderland Plus (iOS/Android – Free)
Originally a WiiWare title, Zombie Panic in Wonderland Plus is the mobile version of the third-person shooter with an irresistible creepy-cute aesthetic. Gameplay is reminiscent of ye olde arcade style where the focus is firmly on mindlessly gunning down ravenous yet strangely endearing hordes of enemies. Controls are simple but effective, as you slide left and right to shoot and dodge, but this does mean that the game is often repetitive, and the barely-concealed pay-to-play nature does take the shine off the experience somewhat. Despite this, the game redeems itself with its surprisingly slick feel, wonderful music and enchanting graphics. A charming stress-buster and an excellent porting job.
Hatchi (iOS/Android/Windows Phone – £0.99)
All aboard the nostalgia train! Wipe your starving, diseased, loyal but long-forgotten Tamagotchis from your conscience, because there’s a new blob in town. Hatchi lets you care for (and inevitably neglect) your very own pixelated pal. Name it, feed it, play games with it, evolve it – your pet will reward you by being the only thing in your life not to leave you. Whilst the graphics stay true to the retro digi-pet style, the app is definitely an upgrade from your old Tamagotchi, with tons of well-designed mini games and extensive customisation options. Hatchi is now even available for Apple Watch, so you can now callously ignore your responsibilities as a pet owner from the comfort of your wrist.
Tsum Tsum (iOS/Android/Windows Phone – Free)
Mickey Mouse has always scared the bejesus out of me, so when Disney introduced their Tsum Tsum range, I was 100% on board with the kawaiification of what I can only describe as a monstrosity.
The Tsum Tsum puzzle app is the company’s inevitable attempt to slowly drain wallets, but this Bejeweled-esque matching game is perfectly playable without sinking money into it. Once you get past the introduction animation (which is HEART-PALPITATIONS-I-HAVE-TO-SIT-DOWN CUTE), there’s a solid puzzle game which will have you frantically tilting your phone and jabbing your screen to match up your Tsums before the 60 seconds are up. If you want to collect more Tsums for your arsenal of adorableness, you’ll spend the coins you earn on a Gacha-style mystery box. In it, you’ll get either a new character with special stats, or – frustratingly more likely – your current Tsums will level up. If you wish your jewels or candy had animu eyes, this one’s for you.
Battleheart Legacy (iOS/Android/Windows Phone – £3.99)
Last but by no means least, it’s the – dare I say it – almost staggeringly perfect mobile RPG Battleheart Legacy. With gorgeous 3D graphics reminiscent of Supergiant Games’ eyecandy Bastion, Battleheart Legacy is an intuitive and expansive adventuring experience. There are tons of combat classes to choose from, dialogue is engaging and witty (and even includes morality branches) and controls are as simple as tapping on where you’d like to go and which attacks you’d like to use. Although you might look at the squat little sprites and artistic environments and “awww” condescendingly, Battleheart Legacy soon reveals that it’s far, far more than the unassuming bit of fluff it appears to be. The replay value is through the roof on this one, and it’s probably one of the only mobile games you’ll find yourself playing at home on your sofa as well as out and about.
And most importantly, it’s sooooooooo cute! Ahem.