MMObility: The 16 MMOs in my pocket

HTC Inspire picture

I have a smartphone that is pretty much filled to the brim with actual, functional, persistent MMORPGs. Some of them are three-dimensional romps through massive worlds filled with dungeons and dragons; others are representational browser-based games that work through the phone's native browser; and the rest are hardly nothing more than a few dots on the screen and impressionistic gameplay.

Still, they are MMOs. I love having access to them, and over the last year I have actually grown to love simple, clever design and basic artwork over almost anything else. Forget Guild Wars 2; we'll hear enough about that to make us choke. Sure, it might be a fun game, but I'm a tech guy from the Bizarro universe. I prefer to see how little tech I need to game with. I want to push the limits even lower.

Anyway, it's springtime here in Texas, so it's time to clean out all sorts of crap from my life. I organize all of my hundreds of songs, films, movies and art pieces and get my digital life in order as well. This process includes tweaking my current line-up of basic technology and downloading any updates for the games that exist on those devices. It's time to cull the weak and glorify the wonderful.

Order and Chaos Online banner

Let's take this list in the order as it appears on my HTC Inspire Android phone.

Order and Chaos Online - It looks like my subscription for this game ran out since I last played, so I decided to buy up a month. It's only 99 cents, so why not? Of course, the fact that my purchase timed out twice before finally being approved was a little much to handle, but I did get into the game finally. It still looks great and plays great. Yes, it is a World of Warcraft "clone," but so are many games. At least this one you can play on your phone, and it's actually become slicker and smoother over time. The quest updates are more accurate and easier to follow. I could find myself enjoying the game more now that quests are much easier to track. Truly, this game is really nice and a lot of fun for what it is. At 99 cents a month, it's definitely worth it. Click here to check out the latest updates and keep an eye on the game's Twitter feed.

Pocket Legends - Pocket Legends has been doing games right, right from the very beginning. Spacetime Studios has taken a game that was originally nothing but a grindfest and turned it into a grindfest with many more options. Players are everywhere, and the customization and cash-shop options are great. I can still kill 30 minutes or an hour running through quests, crafting items, and adventuring with instant groups filled with strangers.

Star Legends - Spacetime's next hit is essentially Pocket Legends in space -- but with a few twists. I love the emphasis on ranged combat. During a shootout in some space hangar, I am reminded of scenes from Star Wars or other sci-fi movies. The sound effects are great, and the game still holds up, perhaps lagging just a bit behind Pocket Legends, developmentally. You can understand why, being that the title came after the studio's flagship fantasy game. One day I hope to see some kind of actual spaceship-to-spaceship combat, but until then we are forced to transport only in our imagination. There have been plenty of updates to the game, akin to Pocket Legends' update timeline, and now we have Dark Legends, a more "adult" vampire-themed game that looks to be based off of the same engine and design ideas. Check out Spacetime's Twitter feed for constant updates and community interactions.

TibiaME banner

TibiaME - Could this game be any cuter? It really looks and plays very smoothly, but it must delete characters periodically. I tried to sign in with my normal account and was told that it was gone. I had to make a new one and start over, but luckily the game is pretty fun to play, especially in landscape mode. I love the art style. In a very clever touch, a tiny light is cast on the screen to show exactly where your dpad is pointing, making driving around easy.

Elemental Knights Online - To be honest, I have no idea what the heck this game is talking about most of the time. I mean, sure, I can understand the basic quests and the game, once I'm inside, and it is really well-animated and fun. Logging in, however, is an adventure in crazy colors and wacky groupings of words. Once you are past the five or so login screens, you will be surprised to find a true, full MMORPG with nice graphics, fun combat, and lots of other players. It might be a little grindy, but this title is a real game.

Travians - Travians is strange but somehow compelling. If you have ever played Travian, the ever-popular browser-based MMORTS, then you might be familiar with the developer. Now imagine that you can play a single citizen of your mighty empire in a sort of Sims-styled social game complete with bath houses, gardening, and working for gold. It sounds strange, and it is, but it is also designed to run in HTML on any device. I find myself logging in to make my little guy bathe and work, but I need to dedicate some more serious time to it.

Illyriad - I've mentioned this favorite browser-based MMORTS numerous times, and for good reason. It has depth, strategy, and a mostly friendly community that is notorious for helping out new players. Beware, though, because any city can be burned to the ground, leaving nothing left but the skills that the player has learned. As I am fond of saying, this is a game where everyone is carrying a loaded gun, so there is a friendly tension permeating the community.

Parallel Kingdom banner

Parallel Kingdom - In a recent funny development, PerBlue decided to take its popular location-based smartphone MMO to the browser. Wonderful, I thought, I will be able to to log in from anywhere on any device and gain access to my tiny virtual kingdom! Unfortunately, it turns out that the browser version is on a different server and I would need to make an entirely new account just to play on it. I enjoy the phone version, but after a day filled with frustrating lockups on the old HTC, I looked to the browser for help. And not only did I forget my password, but every email I put in was marked as being already attached to an account. So until this game gets smoothed out or its designers decide to make the game as flexible as a location-based game should be, I will let it sit on my phone until it patches. Other than that, the recent patches and graphical tweaks have made it a lot more fun.

Die2Nite - This is the most brilliant game that resides on my phone. I cannot say enough about this very simple, yet very eerie, zombie survival game. You have a set of points to spend on different actions until midnight... then the zombies come. At that point, you had better be in some solid shelter.

Vendetta Online - This space-based shooter gives you eight free hours of gameplay, and that's enough for you to decide whether or not you enjoy it. I have been surprised at how nicely the game controls, even on a small device like my phone. The problem? Not only is the game confusing, but the website is designed with that tired and eye-destroying white text on a black background. I would rather just stumble my way through the game rather than read a tutorial that will set off a migraine in five minutes.

OnLive - While not technically an MMO, this service works well to stream touch-based gaming to my phone, the latest games to my desktop, and now Flash-based MMOs to my iPad. I wish I'd bought stock in this company a long time ago.

The Infinite Black - This unique space-based MMO is definitely in beta. It's relatively easy to understand, but it seems pretty limited. I enjoy the fact that the controls are very basic yet still leave me feeling as though some action is going on. Still, I have had to make a new account a few times just to get into the game. Perhaps resets are common during the beta, so I won't complain.

World of Midgard banner

World of Midgard - This wicked-looking mobile MMO is in the early stages of alpha, so I am not going to say anything about it at all. Nothing to see here; move on.

Glitch - While my Inspire is not powerful enough to actually run this browser-based beauty, I can access my character, his skills list, the wardrobe, and pretty much everything else that is attached to the game. Tiny Speck was wise to keep the game glued to the browser. A player can not only access it from anywhere but develop tools that use the browser as an extension of the game.

Warspear Online - Warspear is a sluggish game, but obviously a lot of people seem to enjoy it. The updates for this game have been steady, and there have been quite a few strides made toward higher quality. If you like primitive yet colorful graphics, then check this one out. The developers have recently added more tools to make quests much easier than they were before; they've also added a lot more sound, interactive quests, and cash-shop goodies. This one is a casual, fun little MMO that is perfect for the bath. I mean bed.

Empire Online - Empire Online reminds me of Warspear Online, but it is much more of a typical foreign free-to-play game. It has everything you need, however, to enjoy a game of turn-based combat and mission-running. When I play a short round of a game like Empire Online, I am often struck by how far mobile gaming has come. Sure, this isn't the most in-depth game you can find on the market, but the quality UI, music, and animations are nicely done.

Feel free to try any of these games out. I have whittled this list down to these 16 games because they are mostly true MMOs with persistent worlds, character growth, and social interaction. Plus, you can fit them within the palm of your hand.

The next time your PC crashes, you'll have me to thank for giving you something to do.

Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.