Looking back on the year that was in mobile games is always fun, and it’s something everyone does this time of year. Heck, we do it too.
But as the great philosopher Luke Cage once said, “Always forward.” The calendar hasn’t even quite flipped its last page yet and we’re already geeking out about what 2017 has in store for us. Forget Santa; it’s what the mobile game developers and publishers will deliver to us that really get us excited.
Of course there’s no guarantee that the games on our list will actually be on our phones and tablets this coming year. Delays and cancellations are the nature of the beast in this industry. Still, we feel confident at least some of these titles will make their way to app stores before it’s time to compose another one of these lists next December. If we get even half of them, and they’re as sweet as they look right now, this should be one heck of a year for mobile.
Ready? Set? Anticipate!
Transformers: Forged to Fight
Kabam already proved it knows how to do fighting games right on mobile with Marvel Contest of Champions. Now under new ownership, the same Vancouver studio responsible for that title will work its magic on the Robots in Disguise. Transformers is a great franchise for games of all kinds, and the idea of seeing bots from various branches of that Cybertronian tree (animation, toys, and yes, live-action movies) has us giddy.
Where Cards Fall
We prefer some hard info before getting our hopes up, but sometimes just a trailer will do. Such is the case with Where Cards Fall, a collaboration between Snowman and the Game Band. Despite not knowing much about the gameplay — except that a house of cards is going to be involved — or even if it’s definitely coming to mobile, just watching what the studios have cooked up in terms of mind-blowing visuals is reason enough to want to know more. And let’s just say that Alto’s Adventure buys you plenty of goodwill.
We called the first Oceanhorn the “Zelda-like to end all Zelda-likes” when reviewing it in 2013, which is high praise indeed. The sequel, Knights of the Lost Realm, is being built by the same team but promises to be bigger and better in all the right ways. Plus the game’s new hero has a cool weapon called a Caster that fires magical projectiles, calling to mind Gene Starwind from Outlaw Star. We’re sold.
Imagine something like a black-and-white “Where’s Waldo?” come to life and you’re on the right track for understanding what Hidden Folks is all about. It’s more than a hidden object game, since you’ll be interacting with different elements of the scenery. Even if this genre isn’t usually your bag, you can just marvel at all the details thrown into the visuals, which are being created using both new school tech and old school pen and paper drawings. There shouldn’t be anything like it when the game emerges from hiding.
Even just a tease and some knowledge of the people behind a game can get you on the “most anticipated” list, provided they’re the right ones. Count Guildlings in, both due to its premise of “fantasy adventure in a world of wizards and wifi” and the involvement of Asher Vollmer. You might remember that name as one of the co-creators of Threes. This looks about as different from a puzzle game as you could possibly get, but that only adds to the intrigue.
Here’s one to watch from the “we were hoping for it in 2016” file. Thimbleweed Park is the brainchild of Maniac Mansion creators Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, and calling it a spiritual successor seems very fair once you watch the trailer. It looks spooky, quirky and funny all at once, and we’re suckers for good point-and-click adventures. Maybe it shouldn’t be called “click” on a touchscreen, but you know what we mean. The official website has a development podcast that is tiding us over until its release.
Reigns taught everyone to throw away their preconceived notions of what a card game should be in 2016, and Card Thief looks like it will continue to break paradigms. Tinytouchtales is working on this follow-up to Card Crawl and packing it full of interesting ways to sneak around, avoid pesky guards and yeah, steal stuff. Light and shadow play important roles as well, and the graphics look amazing. Hopefully this sneaks onto app stores soon.
Her Story 2
Her Story was something that was difficult to describe but awesome to behold. It was an interactive murder mystery, albeit one that called to mind FMV games from decades past. Talk about an interesting and unique aesthetic. In any case, we loved the first game enough to perk up back in January when creator Sam Barlow tweeted hints about a Her Story 2. It’s now nearly the end of December, but chances are the follow-up will be worth the wait.
We’re fans of Ironhide Game Studio, makers of the Kingdom Rush series. And while we’d love to see that continue, we perked up upon learning that a new franchise called Iron Marines was in the works. Pitting armies of soldiers, aliens and mechs against each other, it looks vaguely Warhammer 40,000-esque except much less grim and more adorable, if that makes any sense. Expect less tower defense mechanics and a bit more RTS, which sounds great.
Is the anything J.J. Abrams can’t do? He’s already resuscitated Star Trek and Star Wars, and now he’s going to lend his magic touch to mobile gaming too. Okay, maybe not Abrams himself, but his company Bad Robot is, along with ChAIR Entertainment of Infinity Blade fame. What exactly is SPYJINX? We honestly still don’t know, and it was supposed to see the light of day this year, but hope springs eternal — or at least it springs into 2017, in this case.
Punch Club 2
Just about everything about the first Punch Club was one of a kind. From its blend of fight sim and hilarious narrative to the way Lazy Bear and tinyBuild decided to promote its release, it was a true original. Now its makers have turned their attention to a sequel, one they claim will do away with the grindy yet important training bits from the first game. We’re confident it will be amazing anyway.
Imagine if you took a Mario game, replaced the famous plumber with a guy named Frank who’s best known for climbing on junk piles and traveling to outer space and then flipped everything on its head by having players control the ground and obstacles instead of Frank himself. Now stop imagining, because “reverse platformer” is a thing thanks to Stage Hand. This was supposed to arrive in November, and the game’s Twitter feed has still only managed a single tweet, but the mystery only makes us more curious.
We’ve already given some props to Snowman once on this list, but let’s go back for more, shall we? The studio teased this follow-up to Alto’s Adventure earlier this month, along with the teaser image you see here. Other than that, we know … well nothing, really, except that it’s due out on 2017. Doesn’t look like we’ll be snowboarding this time, so place your bets on what form of transportation will be at the center of this one now.
Alphabear was our favorite game of 2015. That might seem like ancient history given how many new games hit iOS and Android every year, but Spry Fox managed to keep it in our hearts with excellent updates. And then the studio went and sent those hearts aflutter by teasing Alphabear 2. It’s even supposed to have educational elements, and any game that can bring us joy plus learning deserves our attention. This one has it.