TOP-10 Hyper Casual Game Mechanics of 2021

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Game Mechanics for Mobile Games

Video games are divided by genres, and genres are defied by common game mechanics. Hyper casual games are unique: they have no common mechanics other than “can be played with one finger”. So what are the most popular hyper casual games? We studied dozens of mobile hyper casuals to pick out TOP-10 game mechanics which you can use to develop your own mobile game.

victory pose

Don’t forget that the fastest way of development is to hire a game outsourcing studio. Just choose one of highlighted mechanics and fill the brief to start.

What are the gameplay mechanics

Gameplay mechanics are activities the players do in games. For example, in Mario Bros. the player runs, jumps and stomps enemies. In Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War the player aims crosshair on enemies and shoots. In racing like Need for Speed the player steers to be the first one on the finish line.

Gameplay mechanics are like laws of physics in the game’s world, because they define what players can and can’t do. So, game mechanics are connected with player’s actions. For example, in Angry Birds the player can activate bird’s abilities: yellow bird flies faster, black bird explodes, etc. But it is possible to beat the first game without using those abilities, e.g. without using certain mechanics.

voxel angry birds

The developer’s goal in hyper casuals is to give the player a few simple mechanics and force to use them through the whole time. Talking of Angry Birds, that “forced” mechanic is pulling back the slingshot and aiming to shoot.

What game mechanics all hyper casual games have in common

The most common thing among hyper casuals is endless flow. The game continues until the player fails to dodge a cactus or something. 

The second common thing is that the player has no second chance. First mistake give “Game Over” screen and the player have to start again.

game over cat game

The third common mechanic is that the difficulty is constant and the player often can’t make gameplay easier by collecting items, buying power ups or leveling up the character.

The fourth common thing is that there is no final goal. In Mario Bros. the players were saving princess Peach, but in hyper casual games they are just rushing for the highest score or to unlock a new skin.

The fifth thing is that the player can’t take the time to think. The character is always running, there is something chasing the character or there is a “Game Over” timer. If the player does nothing, [he loses].

By these common game mechanics you can remember the last hyper casual mobile game you played. To sum the things up: the player always starts on the same spot with the same abilities. The game is over only when the player fails to use a certain gameplay mechanic in time.

And now we can talk about 10 most popular gameplay mechanics for hyper casual games.

Agility game mechanics — die for a coin

Agility in games is an ability of hand-eye coordination or an ability to quickly take the best decision. In hyper casual agility is used while making the player to choose between collecting coins and dodging bullets.

agility game

A simple example of agility gameplay mechanics is Pac-Man. In this game the player needs to collect dots and run away from ghosts. More modern examples are Temple Run, Subway Surfers or Skiing Fred. The player must dodge obstacles while collecting coins and power ups.

How to use agility in development: design a game about dodging obstacles and add items to collect. The players will feel a constant need in collecting them and this would be fun. Difficulty is regulated by character’s speed, amount of coins and obstacles placed on level.

Timing games — victory depends on milliseconds

Timing means “To do something in the right moment of time”. Games with timing mechanics require the player to do things precisely. The best example of timing is juggling mechanics in fightings. If the player hits the enemy in the air in the correct frame, the enemy won’t fall on the ground and the player may punch him again.

timing game mechanics

In hyper casual games timing is used mainly with arkanoid or breakout games. The player must beat off the ball with the platform he controls and hit the bricks above. If the player misses the correct timing, he won’t lose, but still won’t get closer to victory.

How to use timing: design a game where in order to win the player must tap or hit something in correct time. The player loses only if he misses the timing completely. Here’s example — arkanoid where the player must score a goal with pluck and after each goal the gates are getting narrower.

Puzzle game mechanics — think fast

Puzzles for Android and iOS make players think fast and plan next moves carefully. The basic game mechanic is to fit something into bigger something, like Tetris. There is no hand-eye coordination required, the player has a few seconds to think and react, but the consequences of his actions are temporary. In Tetris the player can’t undo a bad placed figure, and in Sokoban-like games he can’t pull the barrel away from the wall.

puzzle mobile game

In hyper casual game design you can take use only one particular mechanic like connecting the pipes, painting the ground or staking the vegetables into a bag. Just don’t forget about the learning curve: every puzzle game is unique in some way, so the player needs to pass a few easy levels to get used to core gameplay.

How to use puzzle mechanics: design a gameplay, where after each player’s action the game will give him a few seconds to think. In classic puzzle games the player will win only if he acts in the right combination, like in Sokoban. The good thing about puzzle games is that you can easily sell hints for money or ads.

Swerve or dodge mechanics — no rest for the finger

Swerve game mechanic is based on dodging things while the player is constantly moving. This kind of mechanics require great timing and precise moves. The best example is the legendary Flappy Bird: each tap makes the bird to fly up a little, and the player must constantly tap to maintain altitude to dodge pipes.

flappy bird game

The difference between swerve and agility games is in the price of the mistake. In swerve games the player loses after first hit, while in agility games the player must hit the obstacles for a few time to get caught by the pursuer. Also, swerve games don’t have additional rewards (coins, carrots, etc.) and don’t have a character upgrades.

How to design a hyper casual swerve game: create a game where the character is always going forward and add obstacles. Add distracting elements to make the gameplay more interesting: side movement of the character which the player needs to compensate, sharp turns and moving obstacles. Don’t forget to add a high score board to motivate the player to try once more.

Merging mechanics — the most casual gameplay

Merge gameplay mechanics require the player to combine objects. There are two types of merging mechanics:

  • combine two similar objects to create a new one, like in 2048;
  • place three or more objects in a row to destroy them, like in a typical 3 in a row game;
  • combine two different objects to create a new one, like in the Doodle God.

The goal of merging mechanics is to get points or more powerful items. For example, you can create a game where the player needs to merge PC parts to build the most powerful PC in the world. Or to merge atoms to create molecules and chemical elements. And 3 in a row is 3 in a row, there’s no need to explain it in details.

merging mobile app

How to design a game with merging mechanics: make a cool game settings first. It’s impossible to add something new to the gameplay scheme, so you need to bet on the art style.

Staking game mechanics — physics rocks

Staking games require the player to build a tower out of given objects by staking them. No, Tetris isn’t the oldest staking games, because it has different gameplay mechanics. A staking game includes next elements:

  • the objects fall downwards and obey the laws of physics;
  • the player can control where to drop next object;
  • the goal is to stack the objects in a tower, the higher the better;
  • the game is over when tower falls.

To make the game interesting you may add more mechanics or advanced physics. In Tetris-like game the player needs to stack solid objects with 90° angles, in your game the player may need to stack cats, groceries, building blocks or something else.

staking cats game

There is one more stacking game mechanic: stacking combined with timings. In this case the player can’t select the precise place to drop the object, because the object is swinging from side to side and is released by tap.

How to design a stacking game: create a cool game setting for the player’s esthetical pleasure. The player will mostly spend time by calculating where to drop the next object and looking at the tower he built. Make the objects look good!

Also, you can experiment with the physics engine. Just imagine a stacking game, where objects are made from jello.

Rhythmical game mechanics

Maybe, you’ve played Guitar Hero, Rock Band or other rhythm games. The goal of these games is to press correct buttons in the right rhythm. Hyper casual rhythm games are a thing too: Piano Tiles is a great example. Basically, every game can become a rhythm game if the game developer will add a rhythm element to it and support the music with animations.

rhythm game mechanics

Here’s a rhythm game example: a runner game where the player must jump between platforms. The platforms are evenly distributed in space, so the player can get used to the rhythm and make the gameplay easier. You can improve a generic gameplay by adding rhythmical elements and timing mechanics. Don’t forget to add the music: it will make easier for the player to do things in time.

How to use rhythm: make a game you like, add rhythmical music and adjust the timings to it. For example, let the player jump higher if he taps in the correct timing.

Direction flow mechanics — dig it down

In most hyper casual games the goal is to avoid obstacles, but in direction games it is to destroy them. For example, in Where’s My Water? The player must dig the ground to provide water to the crocodile Swampy. Basically, the player’s goal is to build a path for electricity, liquids or solid objects like balls.

directional flow game

This mechanics is simple, but the game developer’s task is to make a condition where the player can lose. For example, add cavities, immovable walls and traps that destroy the liquid. Or you may take an opposite approach and make a game where the player needs to create obstacles and play with physics.

How to design a direction flow game: find out what thing the player will transport in the game: water, lava, gas, cats, etc. Use it to come up with obstacles, objectives and way of interaction. For example, you may give the player a task to deliver gas with pressure higher than X, so the player can’t just dig giant holes wherever he wants to.

Rising and falling mechanics — minigames became real games

In God of War 3 there were minigames of Kratos flying and dodging obstacles. It was fun because of sense of flight, unlike “meh” sense of typical running games. Games with rising and falling mechanics also give the player more control of the character and funny consequences. In Falling Fred, for example, Fred was getting bruises and losing limbs with every obstacle hit.

free fall game mechanics

One thing that differ the falling games from typical timing, agility or swerve mechanics is the character’s inertia. The character is harder to control and this kind of games is more challenging. Also, the concept of falling or flying up eases the design of power ups: just catch a parachute to fall slower.

How to design falling and rising game: come up with a main character and the reason why it is flying or falling. Then design obstacles: differently shaped holes in solid floors, giant fans, flying-by birds and pterodactyls, etc.

Growth game mechanics — the oldest mobile games ever

A few years ago there was a popular Agar.io. Its goal was to control the little ball, consume smaller balls and don’t get caught by bigger balls. Its predecessor was Snake, where the player had to eat dots and don’t get the snake head to hit its tail.

growth game

The growth mechanics are about the player controlled characters to grow bigger and hunt bigger prey. Here’s an example of a modern Snake: to finish the level the snake must eat the giant apple in the center of the map, and in order to eat it the snake must eat smaller apples and grow bigger. The thing is that the snake doesn’t know how many small apples it takes to be able to eat the big one. And the timer is ticking.

How to design a game with growth mechanics: get some ideas of the character’s evolution. Maybe, after 10 apples consumed it will grow wings and learn how to fly and eat apples from the trees. After you got the evolution scheme, you may do the art style.

Conclusions

Found a game mechanics you like? Fill the brief below to start developing with us.

We are Kreonit — game art outsourcing studio, also skilled in development on Unity3D and Unreal Engine. We can develop any gameplay mechanics you came up with, polish it, build the whole game and help to release it.

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