The Best One-Handed Android Games for Your Commute

Games that can be played while on a crowded bus or train

There are just sometimes when you want to play a mobile game, but you don't have the ability to play it with two hands. Anyone who's ever had to stand on a moving train going underground has had some need to play a game with just one free hand. Or maybe you just want to sit back and play something in an incredibly casual way. Whatever the reason, you need great games to play while you're doing nothing, and here are the best to enjoy, even on the massive slates that are considered cell phones nowadays.

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Pac-Man 256

Bandai Namco
What We Like
  • Ideal for fans of Pac-Man.

  • Many twists and incentives make for long game play.

What We Don't Like
  • Each ghost has own color and behavior, which can be visually overwhelming.

  • Can become boring for experienced gamers.

While all of the games from developer Hipster Whale are well worth checking out, Pac-Man 256 might just be their best, taking Pac-Man and turning it into an endless game. You know how the game plays, but there are all sorts of new twists, such as powerups and ghosts with different abilities to use in order to help survive the dangerous mazes. The encroaching glitch wave must be reckoned with as well, but you can go backward to a certain degree to avoid the ghosts. They all have behaviors you can recognize and track, but they require practice and skill to effectively dodge on your way to high scores. Plus, with the many powerups to collect, you have reason to come back for a long time. This game plays perfectly with just using a thumb to swipe wherever you want to go, making it the perfect game to play on your commute.

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Sirvo LLC
What We Like
  • Character feedback keeps game interesting.

  • Easy to understand after a few minutes of play.

What We Don't Like
  • Gamers might view as unsophisticated.

  • If you’re good with numbers, you might find this unchallenging.

While it's quite possible that you know 2048 instead of this game, which came out before 2048 and features far more refined game mechanics, regardless, it's still one of the best one-handed games you can play right now. You slide the tiles on the 4x4 grid, trying to combine numbers and get as high a score as possible. Strategy really comes into play as you have to make sure your board isn't crowded, and you aren't restricting future moves. Randomness does play a role, but it's more important to act intelligently with your moves. It's a smart game that boasts more depth than 2048 and its various clones, but also far more charm, thanks to the numbers being characters with voices and reactions to the game's events. It makes things feel much more special than they otherwise would if this was just a game with number tiles.

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Boom Dots

What We Like
  • Fast-moving game that offers lots of play in a short time.

  • Simple but engaging.

What We Don't Like
  • Lots of popup ads.

  • Game history doesn’t carry over if you change phones.

This game is perfect for casual play on the go. You tap anywhere to fire your dot at the bottom of the screen toward another, bigger dot at the top of the screen. Where the challenge comes in is that the top dot is moving, and you're rewarded for getting perfect hits, then chaining them together. There's a lot going on at any given time, and your dot slowly falls off of the screen, so you have to react quickly. It's a surprisingly involved game for something so simple. The mission system and unlockable themes will help keep you coming back, though the quest for an even higher score is reason enough to keep playing this slick game. It's also perfect for one-handed play while on the bus, particularly as you can get several sessions done in a short amount of time.

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Plasma Sky

What We Like
  • Bright, appealing graphics.

  • Easy to learn, with enough challenge to maintain interest.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires internet connection.

  • Can be buggy.

While there are plenty of great shoot 'em ups on mobile, and ones that play well with one-handed controls, Plasma Sky is one of the more accessible games. It's got glowy visuals and plenty of action, with over 100 levels to conquer across several game modes. It's also plenty forgiving, with a health meter and plenty of powerups to collect, but isn't easy to beat, at all. It does everything you want from a good shoot 'em up, and it's great as a gateway to other games that will really test you. Not only is it fun for someone who might want to graduate from Galaga and Space Invaders, but it's got great one-handed controls with configurable sensitivity. It's intense action for when you can't use both hands.

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Hue Ball

What We Like
  • Simple but fun.

  • Entertaining mix of bubble shooters, shuffleboard, and pinball.

What We Don't Like
  • Free version is ad-supported.

  • Not particularly original.

This game combines some of the elements of bubble shooters with physics puzzlers, as you shoot balls into a playing field, trying to destroy them with the additional shots you have, without draining your health by having balls end up below the shot line. The game also tests you by having the balls left in the playing field constantly growing in size, so you need to deal with them as you shoot. There have been multiple games like this based on a Flash game known as Gimme Friction Baby, but this is one of the best takes on it, especially for those needing a very casual take on it.