Every day, as we count down to Christmas, we'll be sharing a brilliant and essential game from 2015 that didn't quite make our game of the year list. We'll reveal the very best iOS and Android games of the last 12 months on Christmas Day

Shooty Skies December 17th - Shooty Skies
iOS (Free) - Android (Free)

Shooty Skies is the perfect mobile game, and here's why: it appeals to the warring tribes on both sides of the hardcore/casual schism.

Like studio stablemate Crossy Road before it, Shooty Skies is a free to play game, but in the best possible way. It lets you build up coins at a comfortable rate, and then spend them on a generous crane game that gives you more coins or a new character to play with.

And it gives you presents every now and then for good measure.

You can pay for stuff if you like, but declining to pay for stuff doesn't impede your enjoyment in the slightest. It has a compulsion loop which feels like it's designed to make the game more fun, and nothing else.

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But Shooty Skies is not just a great casual game.

It's also one of the best arcade shooters I've played on mobile. The collision detection is fair, the explosions are gratifyingly meaty, the special weapon mechanic is clever, and - best of all - when you get hit you die.

That's how it used to be, back in the old days when literally everything was better. For some reason, modern shooters see you absorbing unavoidable weightless swarming projectiles before eventually exploding, and they're all consequently rubbish.

Shooty Skies knocks them all into a cocked hat.

On top of all that, it looks great, with the developers' hallmark blocky graphics and tons of knowing references to retro and nerd culture, presumably inserted to reassure lifelong hardcore gamers who find themselves unsettled by how much fun they're having with a free to play mobile game.