The Top 50 mobile games of 2006

Our Festive Fifty counts down in traditional style

The Top 50 mobile games of 2006

Top 50 mobile games of 2006Whew. What a year. Whether you're an old hand at this mobile gaming lark or new to the thrills and spills to be had on your phone, 2006 has been a great vintage. From action-adventures to puzzlers to racers, just about every genre had one or two standout titles to download.

With that in mind, we've rounded up the inaugural Pocket Gamer Festive Fifty – the 50 best mobile games that we've reviewed this year. Read on to see what we've picked, and resist if you can the temptation to skip straight to the end to find out who... oh, you already have. Tsk!

50 Siege (THQ Wireless)
Neat old school casual game that sees you defending a castle from hordes of would-be plunderers, using just a bow and arrow. As the enemies stream towards your lair, you have to time your shots to catch them in mid-waddle. Deceptively simple fun.
Read our review

49 Luxor (Real)
Egyptian-themed puzzler that involves firing coloured balls at a chain of other coloured balls to make them disappear and (if possible) set off chain reactions. Immaculate presentation and an understated soundtrack add up to one of the slow-burners of the mobile puzzle world. Read our review
48 Twin Kingdom Valley
(Silicon Magic)
The legendary text adventure gets a mobile makeover. Yes, you heard right: this is an old-skool 'GO NORTH, HIT ELF, EAT JUG' adventure game, complete with predictive texting for ease of typing and all the original locations and characters, and new content too. Magical. Read our review
Twin Kingdom Valley
47 Michael Vaughan Cricket 06/07
(Player One)
So much for the Ashes then. Thankfully, this excellent sports sim gives you the chance to give the Aussies a virtual belting, taking in short matches and even full one-day internationals. Batting and bowling are simple to grasp but tough to master, and extra Challenge modes provide depth. Read our review
Michael Vaughan Cricket
46 Muppets Dance Party
(Disney Mobile)
Frantic puzzler that's a feast for the eyes and ears, featuring as it does all your favourite muppets. Yes, including Statler and Waldorf. Matching colours to a frenetic soundtrack while taking in the obligatory muppet banter is fun, and over all too soon. Read our review
45 Ancient Empires II (Glu)
Smart game that takes Advance Wars and transposes it to a fantasy setting, with turn-based action pitting your archers, sorceresses and skeletons against, well, evil archers, sorceresses and skeletons. Great learning curve, and a tough long-term challenge to complete. Read our review
44 Call Of Duty 2 (Hands-On Mobile)
Cerebral military sim that puts you in the shoes of Russian snipers, British foot soldiers and more. Using an overhead view, it provides varied missions and numerous challenges to work your way through, choosing your weapons to suit each task. Read our review
43 Ronnie O'Sullivan Snooker
(Player One)
He's a livewire on the table, and The Rocket ain't half bad as a mobile game either. This 3D title offers the most realistic physics yet, with well-thought-out controls making potting a piece of... well, you get the picture. Plus it puts up a decent challenge in solo mode, which is refreshing. Read our review
42 Darkest Fear 3: Nightmare (Rovio)
Mobile Resident Evil didn't quite cut the mustard this year, but DF3 was a more than adequate replacement in the survival horror stakes. Wander round menacing top-down levels solving puzzles, and playing as two characters – one of whom hates the dark, and the other one who can't come out of the shadows. Spooky. Read our review
41 Pro Golf 2007 Feat. Vijay Singh
Tiger Who? This year, Vijay Singh ruled the roost when it came to mobile golfing, with this absorbing simulation that included a challenging career mode, and proper bumps and slopes. Meanwhile, the game keeps track of all your vital statistics so you can boast about your virtual trophies. Read our review
40 Company Of Heroes
(THQ Wireless)
Another WWII game, and this one has gritty action in spades. Control troops simply by clicking on them and telling them where to go (directly into enemy gunfire, usually), while occupying buildings, laying ambushes and calling in airstrikes. The most fun you'll have had catching trenchfoot all year. Especially since Glastonbury didn't happen. Read our review
39 3D Bomberman (Living Mobile)
All the fun of the classic blast 'em up, but with swizzy new 3D graphics to take into account more powerful mobile phones. The game's been revamped too, with you facing monsters in varied arenas, rather than simply three other Bombermen. Great casual fun. Read our review
38 Garfield 2: Royal Adventure
Who said movie tie-ins had to be rubbish? Garfield 2 surprised us with its structured adventure thrills, with a range of mini-quests to complete and relatively strategic battle sequences. It's also well-designed for the mobile handset, unlike many adventure games. Read our review
37 Platinum Sudoku (Gameloft)
The best out of the 873 sudoku games that hit mobile this year and last. Platinum Sudoku gets our vote for its polished presentation, slick controls and 640,000 (count 'em!) grids available across four difficulty levels. That should be more than enough to keep any 'doku heads happy. Read our review
36 Playman Beach Volley 3D (Real)
From puzzles to piledrivers... We'd rather be leaping about on a sun-kissed beach in real life, but if we have to do it in a game, it'd be this one. Accessible controls make this two-on-two beach volleyball game a match-winner, even if there is a lack of athletic Brazilian women in bikinis. Read our review
35 The Sims 2: Mobile Edition
(EA Mobile)
It was an understandably cut-down version of the famous PC and console sim, but The Sims 2 kept its character for the mobile version, which sees you pimping out your pad, finding jobs and chatting up your fellow Sims in order to find love and happiness. Read our review
34 Freddie Flintoff All Round Cricket
(Player One)
The second cricket title in our Festive Fifty, with more of an emphasis on slogging sixes and skittling the stumps than deeper strategy. Take on individual opponents around the world, hitting passing elephants and other scenery for bonus runs as you go. Top stuff. Read our review
33 Block Breaker Deluxe (Gameloft)
This year's best Breakout clone (and there were many) is Gameloft's brick-breaking effort. Seven maps, end-of-level bosses, numerous power-ups and varying pace make this a decent challenge in its own right. Meanwhile, the funky LA-themed visuals add some graphical flair to a tried-and-tested gaming concept. Read our review
32 Slyder (I-play)
Another puzzler this, with an equally retro tinge to it. You play a little blob who has to slide (well, slyde) around a series of self-contained 2D levels, avoiding hazards and the edges of the boards while finding his way to the exit. Loads of levels to work through, and a cheeky visual style with bags of appeal. Read our review
31 PileUp!
Yes, the puzzle games are indeed piling up thick and fast in our Chrimbo rundown. It starts by looking like any old load of coloured balls, with you matching colours to make 'em disappear. But the challenge (and joy) comes from anticipating the way the balls above will drop, giving deceptive depth to your actions. Read our review
=29 My Dog (I-play)
Of the 78 virtual pet games to hit mobile this year, My Dog shares our Best In Show prize with Gameloft's Dogz, which is why we've placed them equal. A Fisher Price visual style belies an increasingly involving game where you bring up your puppy chum. It might not be Nintendogs, but it's still rather ace. Read our review
=29 Dogz (Gameloft)
And the second virtual pooch game we'd recommend this year is Dogz, based on the Ubisoft console title of the same name. Adopt a pup, take him home, and bring him up to bite the postman. Sorry, we mean to be talented and warm-natured. More free rein than My Dog, but not quite as attractive. Somewhere between the two lies the perfect pet dog game. Read our review
28 The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (3D) (I-play)
If this is what Japanese drivers are like, we're sticking to the bullet trains next time we're in Tokyo! This stunning-looking 3D racer will show off the power of your swizzy new handset, with distinct locations and driving styles to master, making for a driving game that plays as well as it looks. Read our review
27 Bubble Bash (Gameloft)
Gameloft's puzzler may have swiped its main gameplay mechanic from Puzzle Bobble, but it added enough twists to be a sustained bursty of bubbly brilliance. Fire coloured bubbles at other coloured bubbles to burst them, while working around balloons at the top of the screen. Super accessible, and super fun. Read our review
26 Torino 2006 (I-play)
Anyone remember who won anything at the Winter Olympics this year? Us neither. But I-play's official game proved to be a winner for cold-hearted fans, mixing downhill skiing, curling, ski jump and two-man bobsleigh in an varied collection of events. In particular, curling will have you practising your stone-shifting skills long into the night. No, that's not a euphemism. Read our review
25 Brain Challenge (Gameloft)
2006 was the year brain training hit mobile with a vengeance, with Gameloft's Brain Challenge at the (pointy) head of the queue. The game follows the traditional format of mixing logic puzzles, arithmetic and visual conundrums, but it's the super-slick presentation that sets it above the herd. Read our review
24 Diner Dash (Glu)
Ever wanted to get into a waitress' uniform? Pipe down fellas, not in that way. Diner Dash was the mobile conversion of a popular PC casual game, and has you rushing from counter to tables to dishwasher. And back again. Excellent controls and a steadily ramping-up learning curve made this one of the casual hits of 2006. Read our review
23 King Kong (Gameloft)
Movie games don't have to be rubbish. King Kong helped prove that this year, even if the film itself didn't exactly make us go ape. In essence a fairly traditional 2D platformer, the joy of Kong was that it was just fun. Admittedly most when you were playing the giant monkey himself. Accessible and enjoyable, this was one game that finally did the big screen justice on the small screen. Read our review
22 Virtua Tennis: Mobile Edition (Glu/Sega)
Tennis on phones is a hard nut to crack, but Glu smashed it to smithereens with this conversion of Sega's console classic. Turning it into a one-thumb game was the publisher's biggest achievement, making it as fast and fluid as on other platforms. Ten tournaments and a training mode only helped. Read our review
21 2006 Real Football (Gameloft)
The first footy title on our list, playing a deep-lying midfield general role in comparison with the competition. Gameloft's effort aspired to be the Pro Evolution Soccer of the mobile world, and delivered technically outstanding action, complete with through balls, one-twos and overhead kicks. Magnifique! Read our review
20 War Diary: Torpedo (Rovio)
You can't argue with a Finnish game about British submarines sinking Japanese ships. Well, you could, but you'd have to be tri-lingual. This isn't a submarine-based shoot 'em up, but more a strategic simulation where you need to put real thought into your aquatic approach. The thinking man's Battleships, in other words. Read our review
19 Asphalt 3: Street Rules (Gameloft)
Once upon a time, mobile driving games were rubbish, but 2006 was the year several publishers changed all that. Noticeably nippier than Gameloft's previous Asphalt games, this also had more racing locations, deeper strategy, and the frankly insane (in a good way) ability to use two nitro boosts at once. Adrenalised. Read our review
18 Miami Nights: Singles In The City (Gameloft)
In a nutshell? The Sims, but even better. You get to live life as a Sunshine-State playboy or playgirl, getting a job, making friends and copping off with as many attractive men/ladies as possible. Free-roaming gameplay, and hot tubs to boot! What's not to like? Read our review
17 MotoGP 3 (THQ Wireless)
This two-wheeled racer oozed quality, showing how far mobile games have come in the last few years. Fully-licensed tracks and riders, near-limitless bike-pimping options, and luscious-looking 3D visuals all made it a great purchase. And there was depth in spades too, from full Grand Prix and time trials through to the Xtreme street-racing mode. Vrooming great. Read our review
16 Zuma (Glu)
It might be an oldie, but Zuma was 2006's king of coloured balls. Based on a famous PC casual game, it borrowed elements from numerous puzzlers but made them its own. Stop coloured balls from reaching the end of a channel by spitting other balls at them with a frog. It sounds silly, but the result was so addictive we're still playing it nine months later. Read our review
15 Sonic The Hedgehog (1 & 2) (Glu/Sega)
Two separate games this, but we've considered them together, as there was nothing to separate them. Converting a much-loved console classic to mobile could've been a disaster, but this two-parter did a stellar job, maintaining the look, feel and most importantly the speed of the original Sonic games. Read our reviews: Part 1 & Part 2
14 Playman World Soccer (Real)
Top soccer dog for this year's World Cup was RealArcade's cartoonish take on The Beautiful Game – spinning heads and all. It wasn't just silly though: the control system managed to solve the traditional problem of slick movement, passing and shooting in mobile football games, with some deceptively spangly 3D graphics adding to the fun. Read our review
13 Mafia Wars Yakuza
(Digital Chocolate)
The third in Digital Chocolate's gangster trilogy was the best yet, with dozens of enemies, a revamped control system that made it easy to sprint across rooms firing bullets at all and sundry, and a stylish visual look all of its own. Carnage, in other words. It was easy to play, had some tough bosses to defeat along the way, and had an extra Tower Of Destiny mode providing weeks of extra gameplay. Read our review
12 Galaxy On Fire (Fishlabs)
2006 was the year we finally got some decent 3D mobile games, exemplified by this glorious space-based shooter. It's got visuals that wouldn't look out of place on PSP, and better still, they actually move smoothly, rather than the jerk-o-vision seen on many of 2005's 3D titles. Dogfighting and trading come in equal measures, ensuring the gameplay is as absorbing as the graphics. Read our review

11 Cars (Disney Mobile)
Here's another title that proved this year that films CAN make great mobile games. Okay, it's aimed at kids, but Cars is still one of the most genuinely enjoyable driving games we played in 2006, with a mission-based structure and cute visuals that captured the style of the original movie. But it's the sense of freedom and adventure that set this apart from the pack. Read our review
10 FIFA 07 Mobile (EA Mobile)
2006 was the year EA (and developer Distinctive Developments) revamped FIFA to make it a truly mobile game. The controls were stripped down, the action was simplified, and PRAISE BE, you could actually defend. As such, it's now the most rewarding mobile football game to play, with thrills instead of frustration. 2007 should see a battle royal between FIFA and Gameloft's Real Football, which is good news for mobile footy fans. Read our review
9 Rollercoaster Rush
(Digital Chocolate)
Otherwise known as What Digital Chocolate Did Next, after Tower Bloxx. This one was equally original, putting you in control of a rollercoaster with the ability to speed up or slow down to give passengers the most thrilling ride. Instantly-graspable controls, a host of neat visual touches, and an all-round sense of fun made this one of the most enjoyable casual games of 2006. Read our review
8 Super KO Boxing (Glu)
For this ring-sim, Glu cast realism to one side in favour of pure silliness, and it proved to be a sensible decision. Beating the blazes out of a host of cartoon pugilists on your phone can't help but bring a smile to your face, while the simple controls make jabbing, hooking, dodging and letting off absurdly hard uppercuts a dream. A worthy 21st century version of classic console games like Punch-Out and Ready 2 Rumble. Read our review
7 Need For Speed Carbon (EA Mobile)
A controversial choice this, given the debate around whether it's as good on cheap handsets as more expensive ones (answer: apparently not). But on the N70 we reviewed it on, NFS was an absolute dream. It wasn't just about the 3D graphics though: the handling, game structure and general feel of it was just right. If this is the approach EA continues to take to bringing its console games mobile, we're in for a treat. Read our review
6 Splinter Cell Double Agent (Gameloft)
On mobile, the Splinter Cell franchise is as old as the hills, and hasn't changed that much. But Double Agent undeniably deserves celebration as the most well-crafted and enjoyable 2D platformer you can find for your phone. Mixing stealthy sneaking with random violence, plus a nice plot twist with you working undercover among the terrorists, made this the best console conversion of 2006 in our eyes. Read our review
5 Project Gotham Racing (Glu)
Trying to recreate one of the console world's most immersive racers on mobile is doomed, right? Wrong. Edging ahead of Need For Speed Carbon by a nose, Project Gotham is simply stunning in its 3D version, with all the kudos-earning car-unlocking joy of the original, plus connected features letting you compare your kudos and ghost race against other players. Read our review
4 Tower Bloxx (Digital Chocolate)
Only kept from a higher position because, well, it's getting on a bit now (familiarity etc etc). But still, Tower Bloxx is an absolutely fab slice of casual fun that in 2006 made people sit up and realise mobile games don't have to be copies or conversions of what's happening elsewhere. Genuine one-button controls and an idiot-proof gameplay mechanic has kept this on the PG team's phones throughout the year. Read our review
3 Turbo Camels: Circus Extreme (Real)
Another mobile-exclusive game (you may spot a theme here..) that saw you bouncing Baldwin the camel around a huge number of colourful levels, collecting objects, bouncing off walls (and clowns) and executing the perfect landing. The game was accessible, but its joy was in the long-term depth provided by working your way through the levels trying to snag Gold Stars. Quirky, but brilliant. Read our review
2 Stranded (Glu)
Perhaps the ultimate slow-burner of a mobile game in 2006, Stranded took as its basis the TV show Lost, and built around it an absorbing and immersive mobile game that you just had to keep on playing to find out what happened next. Wandering around a desert island shooting chickens and cooking soup doesn't sound like fun, but we literally couldn't put our phones down while Stranded was on them. Read our review
1 Tornado Mania (Digital Chocolate)
It might sound strange to plonk a game we only just reviewed atop our Festive Fifty. Tornado Mania is that good. An original concept – control a tornado picking up buildings – allied to familiar gaming ideas (Sim City and Katamari Damacy, mainly) made it instantly enjoyable, while the intricacies of building the perfect utopia with your collected buildings looks set to give it a long handset-life. The Rampage Mode where you get to just tear stuff up was a marvellous bonus too. A worthy successor to Digital Chocolate's Tower Bloxx and Rollercoaster Rush, but potentially the best of the lot. Read our review
Stuart Dredge
Stuart Dredge
Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)