What a year it’s been in the world of Android gaming. iOS’s younger, cheaper cousin doesn’t always get the best treatment when it comes to games, with numerous titles hitting the App Store long before they come to Google Play. In fact, there are several such tardy titles on this list. All good things come to those who wait, however, and it’s hard to be bitter when 2017 was so generous.
So kick back, grab a glass of mulled wine (unless you are under 18, in which don’t), and check out the cream of this year’s games.
The top 10 (in no particular order)
There are plenty of excellent pixel-art games in 2017, including a few point and click adventures, but Thimbleweed Park stands out because it comes from the keyboard of Ron Gilbert, the original adventure game supremo.
The game sees you taking on the role of an FBI agent and trying to solve a murder in the fictional town of Thimbleweed Park. This sets up a classic LucasArts-esque yarn, complete with verb table, colourful characters, and plenty of jokes.
Hey it’s another pixel-art game. This one is as modern as they come, however. A collaboration between indie darlings MadFinger and Rocketcat, Death Road to Canada has been out on PC and iOS for a while, but only came to Android last September courtesy of Noodlecake.
Part Organ Trail, part Binding of Isaac, the game sees you attempting to get from Florida to Canada during a procedurally generated zombie apocalypse. To succeed you’ll need to not only kill and evade a lot of zombies, but also make canny choices about allies and resources.
Ironhide made a name for itself on mobile with the immaculate Kingdom Rush tower defence series. Expectations were high for its follow-up, and the studio absolutely crushed it with Iron Marines.
Though its tower defence DNA is evident, Iron Marines is a fully fledged RTS, with only minor concessions to the small screen. It has the humour, simplicity, and presentational flair of its mighty predecessors, yet it somehow manages to be even better. That makes it a compulsory purchase.
It must have been a dark day in the house of Mario when it became clear that Nintendo had no choice but to cross its own red line and develop a game for mobile.
To their credit, the boffins rolled up their sleeves and produced a very creditable auto-running platformer. It feels like a proper Mario game, perfectly adapted to its platform, and with plenty to do for players young and old, rich and poor.
Reigns: Her Majesty is a testament to what you can achieve when you deliberately try to make life difficult for yourself. This is a game that affords you just two actions – swipe left, or swipe right. It has fewer input options than Tinder.
And yet, this simple mechanic conceals oceans of complexity and intrigue. You play as a queen, presented with an endless succession of situations and asked to make binary choices that will typically appease somebody and annoy somebody else. A few subtle but important tweaks elevate it far beyond the already brilliant Reigns.
Slayaway Camp has the adorable, blocky aesthetic of Crossy Road, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a cute game for kids. Okay, so it IS cute, but it’s also brutal, macabre, and shot through with adult humour.
The gameplay involves sliding pieces around a board, much like in the Square Enix GO games. You have to factor your environment and the things that are happening around you into every move. If you don’t, the police will get you or the teenagers will escape before you can murder them. And you wouldn’t want that.
Monument Valley 2 is technically a traitor to Android, because it came out exclusively on iOS at first, only arriving on Google’s platform a couple of months ago. But it’s hard to stay angry when a game is this good.
As with the first Monument Valley, the aim in Monument Valley 2 is to navigate a series of achingly beautiful levels in which walkways, staircases, and other architectural features connect impossibly like castle parts in an Escher drawing.
If we were partial to making bets we would have put money on this long awaited mobile Animal Crossing spin-off slipping into 2018, and perhaps oblivion. Obviously, we would have lost that bet, because Animal Crossing Pocket Camp came out last month.
The second Nintendo game on this list, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp reproduces the joy of micromanaging the lives of talking animals on mobile, placing you in charge of a camp site where furniture must be crafted, quests must be completed, neighbours must be visited, and fun shall be had.
Golf Clash is a curious beast. In some respects it’s extremely casual. Witness the single hole matches, the cartoon presentation, and the in-game economy that lets you earn currency by badgering your Facebook friends.
But in another sense it’s a pretty serious golf game, with a tight, mobile-friendly input method, effects to contend with such as wind and spin, and an annoyingly skilful playing community who will ensure that you’re appropriately challenged at all times.
Guns of Boom is a title that invites a lot of questions, such as, “huh?”, “don’t ALL guns go boom?”, and, “why is this game called Guns of Boom?”
If you can look past the eccentric name, however, you’ll find a cartoon team-based multiplayer FPS that has no equal on mobile. Firing is taken care of automatically, so all you need to do is move and look. The graphics are slick, the maps are impeccably tailored for carnage, and the upgrade mechanic is horribly addictive.
The long list