Who needs intimidating mechanics and hard to master gameplay where you could play some casual games? Millions of players certainly feel that way and while I love games that challenge me in different ways, there are certainly times when I just want to play a game without having to learn new mechanics and convoluted systems. Below you’ll find games that are targeted at a mass audience, accessible titles that anyone can play on a variety of devices, games that don’t have specific requirements in terms of hardware and games that are easy to pick up and play. With the popularity of social networks and smartphones, there are thousands of games that qualify as casual and naturally, a lot of them didn’t make it to the final version of this list, so make sure you mention the ones you like the most in the comments below.
Sometimes you want to forget about life and that’s when you play a game that simulates actual life. In The Sims, you create virtual people called Sims and you place them in houses where you try to satisfy their basic needs and emotional desires or kill them in macabre ways. That’s The Sims in a nutshell and the open-ended gameplay and lack of defined goals made this game an immediate success. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and check out the number of expansions that each title has produced since its release.
Do you want to create a game that’s an immediate success on smartphones and social networks? Leave it up to Zynga. Say what you will about the developer, but they definitely know how to create games that people keep coming back to. In Farmville, you basically manage a farm which includes plowing, growing and harvesting crops, raising livestock and so on. Some critics and video game designers have strong opinions about Farmville, but that didn’t prevent this simulation RPG from conquering the charts and social networks. If not, there’s always Harvest Moon.
There’s something about matching gems that’s irresistible to pretty much anyone and Bejeweled is the grandfather of that simplistic concept. Since its inception there have been numerous iterations of Bejeweled and while everyone who has kept up with the series for years, have their favorite, I keep coming back to the PC version.
For better or for worse, they will never be another game like Tetris. When this Russian-developed puzzle game was released in 1984, no one expected such a tremendous success. The fact that it’s available on everything that has a screen, simple rules that anyone can understand, catchy tunes and hundreds of iterations that feature different mechanics and alterations make Tetris one of the best casual games you can play.
In Angry Birds, you use a slingshot to catapult birds towards constructions that have pigs in them. Sounds simple enough, but hours later that concept remains as fresh and that’s what has kept millions of people playing Angry Birds. It may not be for everyone, but Angry Birds started as a simplistic title that eventually became a cultural phenomenon and that’s something that can’t be said about most games.
Plants vs Zombies
Creating a tower defense for the masses must have been a challenging endeavor, but PopCap Games definitely pulled this off. The result was Plant vs Zombies, a game where a homeowners uses plants to defend their house from the zombie apocalypse. A variety of both plants and zombies, challenging gameplay, great sense of humor and compelling modes made this title easy to pick up and hard to put down.
Like Tetris, this was one of the first casual games ever made. One of Pac-Man’s biggest success was that this was one of the first titles to appeal to both men and women which definitely changed the industry for the better. If playing the original Pac-Man sounds boring to you, you can always try Championship Edition or Championship Edition DX, since those games are some of the best re-imaginings ever made.
Peggle is what you get when you combine pachinko with bagatelle and whoever came up with that idea deserves recognition. So in Peggle you have a limited number of balls that you use to hit specific pegs and when you clear all the marked pegs, you win. Of course, this requires planning, skill and patient and with that simple concept, PopCap found an addictive formula that kept millions of players glued to the screen for hours. And I have to admit I was one of them.
With Wii Sports, Nintendo proved what made the Nintendo Wii such a unique console. It didn’t have powerful graphics or amazing technical capabilities, but it did have some innovative ideas that anyone could wrap their head around in a few minutes. Believe it or not, a lot of people bought the bundle that came with Wii Sports and never got another game and that’s the definition of a killer app.
Whenever you hear about developers such as King or Zynga, you either love them or hate them. But regardless of how you feel about them, it’s almost impossible to ignore their success and their ability to develop successful franchises that pretty much anyone with a smartphone or a computer have access to. Candy Crush is a Bejeweled clone, but that didn’t prevent this app from becoming downloaded by millions of people.