Is this, to borrow a refrain from the classic holiday song, the most wonderful time of the year for mobile games? It just might be. GDC seems to grow in importance every year for this corner of the industry, unleashing a wave of announcements and peeks at titles in development. The downside, though, is that fewer games actually get released during GDC. It’s understandable; some companies don’t want to suck the air out of whatever they are showing off in San Francisco, while smaller studios don’t even have anyone left at home to actually get a game out there this week.

Still, when the going gets tough, we get going, or whatever cliche you’d like to use to describe our devotion to unearthing the most promising new titles to hit app stores this week. Kudos to the companies brave enough to send them out at this particular time.

The Escapists

Jailbreaks are super serious in real life, but they don’t have to be when they’re translated into 8-bit digital form. The Escapists puts you behind bars and then challenges you to … well, get out, of course. It was released on Steam way back in February 2015 to positive response, and it’s since made its way to console too. Why not give it a shot on mobile? I don’t have an answer for that, as this looks like a lot of fun.

After the End: Forsaken Destiny

Feeling like solving puzzles while still embarking on an Indiana Jones-style adventure at the same time? After the End: Forsaken Destiny sounds like it might be right up your alley. Figure out how to collect as many gems and statue pieces as you navigate some pretty intricate 3D graphics and advance through what the write-up claims are “puzzles of ever-increasing difficulty.” Hey, don’t feel bad. Indy flunked the first one we ever saw him try, what with the idol and the giant boulder.

Mudd Masher

Touch Arcade called this game the “love child of Mutant Mudds and Totes the Goat,” so make of that what you will. The block graphics you’ve definitely seen numerous times before, but there’s a little Q*Bert feel to Max’s latest adventure. That takes me back. In any case, the clean freak part of you won’t like the idea of the whole world being covered in mudd (their spelling, not ours), so at least now you can do something about it.

Dice with Ellen

Celebrities don’t always move the needle when it comes to associating or promoting mobile games, but Ellen is a notable exception. This game is worth keeping an eye on simply for that fact alone, and if we were to pick one game from this week’s batch to shoot up past RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch as the top game on the iOS charts, this would be it. As for the gameplay, it looks pretty similar to other mobile dice games, but the hook about trying to beat the scores of Ellen or members of her squad is a good one.

#breakforcist

I’m not sure where to start here. The hashtag in the name feels so 2015, but since no one has dared to mash up breakfast and exorcisms in any game I’ve seen before, it can have a pass. Some decidedly old school gameplay is given a fresh coat of paint thanks to the graphics and the concept, which involves smashing through waves of waffles that have been possessed by demons. I couldn’t make that up even if I tried. Over 40 minutes of original music are included as well, so this is likely to be the craziest new game you try this week.

Pan-Pan

My kids got all excited when they saw this game was coming out, thinking it might be about the character from We Bare Bears. It is not. Instead, it’s a stylized adventure game where you have wrecked your spaceship (it was the other alien’s fault) and have to fix it and return home. The write-up promises “environmental narrative storytelling with puzzle solving and exploration elements at its core,” which sounds like a fancy way of saying it wil have lots of cool stuff to see and mess with. Speaking of sounds, Pan-Pan is also touting a strong audio experience.

Smash Club: Streets of Shmeenis

Street gangs that look suspiciously like a certain powerhouse toy brand’s tiny figures have taken over. It’s time to fight back and give them a little taste of vigilante justice. With 50 playable characters, it shouldn’t be too difficult to round up the help you need. Plus there’s local multiplayer, with support for 2-4 MFi controllers on the same device. Couch co-op beat ’em up action? Now that sounds like a good time.

Incidence

Now here’s something we don’t see every week: a minimalist puzzle game that also happens to be played by putting your pool or mini-golf skills to good use since you need to bounce a ball off the walls of each level in order to get to the goal. Using just the right force and calculating the angles correctly is key. With 100 levels right now and the promise of more to come, this is the kind of game that could really give you a lot of bang for your buck. Or bounce for your buck, as the case might be.