The main problem with gaming on Windows Phone devices isn't the hardware (which is generally very good) or the choice (fair, but improving all the time), but actually finding the good stuff.
We'd go so far as to say that discovering anything worthwhile is a nightmare. Just take a look at the top charts, which are loaded with obvious knock-offs – unless Nintendo has suddenly ported its catalogue to Windows Phone – that linger and obscure the actual good stuff buried in the depths. And there is good stuff. Not as much as on iOS or Android, but enough to keep you happily entertained throughout the day.
Fortunately for you, we dug through the mess and created this list of the best overall games (paid and free alike) available on the platform today. And we've just gone through and expanded the list to add some of the more recent worthwhile releases.
1. Plants vs. Zombies
Traditional tower defense games often star fantasy knights, sci-fi warriors, or military men. How about some cartoon foliage and their undead opponents instead? Plants vs. Zombies is a casual classic and one of the best genre entries around, putting an accessible spin on the action by leaving you in charge of powered-up plants trying to protect a suburban home. It's silly, but serious fun for sure.
Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✭ Price £1.99
2. Asphalt 8: Airborne
For insane speed, impressive graphics, and no entry fee whatsoever, there's no better mobile option than Gameloft's Asphalt 8: Airborne, easily the most accomplished entry in what had previously been a serviceable series.
By amping up the action and excitement, not to mention adding a whole lot of graphical polish, Asphalt 8 makes it possible to enjoy arcade-style racing thrills wherever you are.
Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✭ Price: £free
3. Rayman Fiesta Run
The recent Rayman console side-scrollers are superb, but they wouldn't be a good fit for mobile. So rather than tarnish a great thing, Ubisoft built a touch-centric affair using the same stunning graphics but with influence from the auto-runner genre. Rayman Jungle Run was a good start, but follow-up Fiesta Run is truly excellent, delivering tense action, real challenge, and an extensive array of stages to clear.
Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✭ Price £1.69
4. Halo Spartan Assault
No, this isn't the same first-person experience that's been selling Xbox consoles for more than a decade, but the series' trademark aesthetic transfers surprisingly well to this top-down shooter.
Across a couple of dozen bite-sized stages, you'll blast familiar Covenant creatures, command an array of vehicles, and soak in the great sci-fi universe, albeit in a different kind of format. It's surprisingly strong.
Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✩ Price £3.49
5. Minecraft: Pocket Edition
It arrived years after the iPhone and Android versions, but ignore all of that: now that Microsoft owns Mojang, Minecraft: Pocket Edition is finally on Windows Phone.
The massively popular cube-based exploration game holds up on well on mobile, letting you try to survive on your own in a randomly generated world (that features exploding zombies at night) or have free rein to mold the terrain around you without threats. Either way, it's a brilliant time sink.
Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✭ Price £5.39