Top 5 mobile games of 2020: Dann's picks of the year
2020 has been a wild year for everybody and that means that it's been a wild year for the mobile games industry on the whole - what with it being the biggest entertainment industry in the world, etc, etc. Global pandemics, political upheaval, raging forest fires, swarms of locusts, new heat records in the Arctic Circle and all sorts really...It's unlikely we'll look back on 2020 fondly. I mean they started trading water as a commodity on Wallstreet this year... hoo-boy!
But there have been some great games, right? Right! Last year sent us off with games like Black Desert Mobile and Oddman in its final whispers, but since then 2020 has been positively screaming with new games. I feel like I've really been at the frontline of it all, regularly celebrating the launches with our Games of the Week articles, and -perhaps obviously- being surrounded by mobile games during my day to day life. 2020 has truly felt like a series of years all knotted together by mishaps and chaos, but if you cast your mind back to the launch of great games like The White Door, Maze Machina, Warface: Global Operations and Pascal's Wager then, well, you're still thinking about this year. Yep, that was January, even if it feels like years ago.
And with games like that to kick the year off, it's no wonder that the team here have been so busy this year. It's been a truly amazing year for the mobile space, and I'd like to think that we've made it even more amazing with our fantastic Pocket Gamer LaunchPad events, where we deliberately pulled together some of the most promising, cool games to show off. Those were phenomenal, and if you loved those then you'll be overjoyed to hear that we're running four of them this year.
All of this said this list isn't about the games that we've talked about throughout the year. Nope. It's about the five games which I've stubbornly refused to delete from my phone this year, my personal best five games of this year. Oh, and they need to have launched this year as well, which is especially tricky as this year I've changed phones a couple of times, spent a lot of time gaming on older - established - games with my kids, and - well - installed hundreds of games.
Anyway, buckle yourself in and click on through below to find my top 5 mobile games of this year, and let me know in the comments if you disagree with my choices.
Super Fowlst 2
Super Fowlst 2 managed to juggle the fun, joyful platforming that you might find in a Nintendo Mascot game with a tap-based movement system which feels absolutely perfect on the touchscreen of a mobile device. It features fantastic music and brilliant level design, and the only time that I manage to shutter the game is when I fail at a level - otherwise I'll just sit there playing indefinitely.
I really enjoy tiny, tight roguelikes and that's exactly what Seven Scrolls is. You play a monk who must defeat his strange, sometimes goose-adjacent demons as he clears through strangely square rooms. It's a simple case of zapping enemies when they're at a distance and, generally, trying to outwit your enemies until you can escape the room. Different enemies do different things, and most of them drop something... and that's where the titular scrolls (of which you can only have seven) come in.
Each of the scrolls change the fundamental rules of the game and you won't know what they do until you pick them up. This random element is perfect, it means that in one round you'll heal every time you hit an enemy, while other runs will have you reviving enemies with each enemy death... goodness. I even reached a point where I cloned myself almost instantly. Random and brilliant.
Summer of Memories
No monks fighting demons, or chicken fighting... green things... here. Summer of Memories is a narrative idle game about a child sent to a distant island for the summer. As it turns out, they has family there, and there are also plenty of people on the island who they can meet and make friends with.
You know how people say that the opposite of love isn't hatred, but is instead apathy? Well, by that example the opposite of stress isn't relaxation, but is instead a kind of wistful, but busy time. Summer of Memories is that. You don't do much in the game, you read small story moments, you collect collectables and read about the island, and you pack a little lunch and send the protagonist off for wanders which you don't even get to see. Instead you just read about the events which took place as they explored the island while you were gone.
It's incredibly peaceful and calming, and really helps bleed away stress. If you like narrative games, and don't mind slower paced, slice-of-life experiences then I can't recommend it enough.
If you're interested, below is some footage from the iGameplay1337 channel.
Ahh, Gumslinger. Gumslinger is incredibly simple, physics dualling fun. You play as a gummy-person who flips, flaps and flops around as you dual against one-another in brutal pistol shootouts. Once you get good you'll find yourself quickly slamming in headshots, and blasting your way through the fun mini-challenges (shooting bottles out of the air? Check!), and it doesn't seem to ever get boring.
There is an interesting premium pass for the game, which like a lot of passes unlocks a lot more content. In this case it also unlocks certain weapons which will make some of the challenges a little bit easier, but the more miserly of you can definitely work your way around it (although it is great value for money).
I've been told about a few games which sound similar to Badlanders, but I've definitely not played one like it until now. In Badlanders you're dropped into a dead zone where you, and a selection of other players, must scavange for goods while also picking each other off. You can go into the area completely unarmed if you wish, or - if you like - you can take in equipment that you've previously scavenged. Be careful though, if you die in there, don't have insurance, or somebody picks up your stuff then you'll lose it for good. High risk, high reward.
I've really enjoyed playing Badlanders, and at the moment it still feels like a hidden gem even though it's from mobile powerhouse NetEase and has a mass of active players. A new, fresh twist within the shooter space, I'm very excited to play more of Badlanders through 2021 and beyond.