Hungry Cat Picross – while neither microtransaction free or technically picross – is one of my favorite mobile games. I upgraded my phone a few months ago, and the first thing I did was make sure my progress transferred over. You can pay $5 to get rid of its ads, and anything you can pay for is mostly just cosmetics you’d get through play anyway. But most importantly, I have lost hundreds of hours making my way through its seemingly never-ending amount of puzzles. You’ve got self-contained pictures to solve, weekly 3x3 puzzles (as well as the game’s entire backlog of them), and enormous 40-tile ‘frescoes’ that will take you hours to solve. It’s really one of the best deals for a F2P game I’ve ever come across.
I’ll also second Cytus II as a great mobile rhythm game. The gameplay is really fun and straightforward, and the music is extremely well curated. If you wanted to play all of it, it’s going to be pretty expensive (since every additional character is $10 retail), but if you’re cool with what’s in the base version (four characters, each with their own collections of ~12-15 songs), then you really can’t go wrong. What’s more is that the whole game is centered around this surprisingly decent cyberpunk narrative about twitch streamers getting mind hacked, and every new character you get builds onto that story.
Most recently I took the plunge and got Final Fantasy Tactics to play on my phone. And it’s Final Fantasy Tactics…just on a phone. I’m surprised how well it translates, even if it’s not a full-on adaptation for touch screens. Plus it’s just a really nice game to have when you’re out and about, and you just want to optimize your team or grind out a random battle really quick.