Pocket Gamer's best mobile games of 2016 - Glen's top 5

Editor's choice

Pocket Gamer's best mobile games of 2016 - Glen's top 5
| Mars: Mars

2016 was a hell of a year for mobile games. Pokemon GO was so intensely popular it broke the internet, Clash Royale proved that core games can both make money and reach a massive audience on mobile, and flipping Super Mario is now playable on your iPhone for flip's sake!

As a result, picking just five mobile games this year proved incredibly difficult, so I had to decide on a plan of attack to help me select the special games that would nestle snugly on my list.

But before we begin, then, here's my disclaimer: this is not a definitive list of the best mobile games which launched in 2016.

These are the games that I had the most fun with, and revisited countless times for just one more go. In their own way they all blew me away.

So without further ado, here's a bunch of games you should check out in case you missed them in 2016. You won't regret it.

Punch Club - Get it on iOS or Android

Punch Club was the first game that blew me away in 2016. Going in, I really didn't know what to expect. All I knew was that I loved the pixelated visuals and quite liked the sound of a boxing take on The Sims.

But it turned out to be much, much more than that.

As soon as I turned on Punch Club, I was transported right back to my misspent youth watching cheesy action movies like Kickboxer and Kill Bill.

It tells a similar silly, dramatic, and over the top revenge tale with its tongue firmly in its cheek.

There's a hell of a lot of depth to the gameplay as well, and I found myself heading over to forums to pick up fight tactics, training tips, and to discuss whether or not I needed to bother having a girlfriend (in the game, of course).

It felt just like the old days, where I'd obsess over my character's build in a Bioware RPG.

I never did reach the end of Punch Club, because I was terrible at it. But I did thoroughly enjoy the journey each time I went back for more.

Clash Royale - Get it on iOS or Android

I'd forgotten just how damn addictive video games could be until Clash Royale came along.

But being addictive is not Clash Royale's biggest achievement. That's in its successful marriage of core gameplay and casual monetisation.

Before Clash Royale, the industry would likely have laughed at anyone who considered that possible. You won't like to hear it, but up to that point freemium games were light on genuine challenge.

Let's face it, any obstacle you needed to overcome could be done so by throwing money at it. Not so with Clash Royale.

Sure, you can spend to gain a slight advantage - but player skill is paramount here. If they're more skilled, it's quite feasible for a low level player to beat a rich, high level opponent. Which other casual game can say the same?

Clash Royale also has a gorgeous art-style, laugh-inducing animations, and a balanced selection of interesting cards that will keep you pondering builds deep into the night.

Mars: Mars - Get it on iOS or Android

There are few feelings quite as satisfying as landing smoothly in Mars: Mars. In fact, it's a feeling so good it carries an entire game.

There's very little to this endless score chaser. You play as a spaceman on Mars, and all you have to do is fly from platform to platform.

You use a jetpack to slow your fall, which prevents you from crashing and exploding into a thousand different bits.

Along the way, you'll gather credits which you can use to unlock new characters - some of which even change the background theme. It's a nice little touch that beefs up the longevity.

And the best part? You can take and collect a bunch of selfie snaps at alien-themed versions of recognisable locations.

It's just a damn fine example of a mobile game done well. It's gorgeous, endless, satisfying, and provides a ton of unlockables to keep you coming back for more.

And you will - oh, you will.

Legend of the Skyfish - Get it on iOS or Android

During my brief tenure on this crazy planet, the one thing I've made abundantly clear to everyone I've met is that I absolutely love Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda franchise.

Seriously, it's not okay just how invested I've been in each of Link's escapades.

So when the beautifully hand-drawn Legend of the Skyfish dropped on the App Store, claiming to offer a similar experience to my favourite franchise, I leaped at the chance to check it out. I was not disappointed.

And it does, indeed, borrow heavily from Zelda - though it's always tasteful and very well done - it still very much has its own identity.

The beautiful artwork is reminiscent of the folk tales we all read as a child, and your primary tool, a fishing rod, leads to some interesting puzzle design and combat mechanics.

It's just a beautiful adventure in its own right, that also manages to serve as a tasteful love letter to The Legend of Zelda. You absolutely won't want the time you spend with it back.

Super Mario Run - Get it on iOS

2016 was a year of surprise for mobile games - from completely new experiences, to fresh takes on previous ones. But the biggest surprise of all was what was once deemed completely impossible - Super Mario on mobile.

But that's exactly what we gor in Super Mario Run, an absolutely fantastic mobile autorunner that not only completely captures the sheer magic of a Mario game, but makes it work on mobile.

And that's thanks to some incredibly nifty one-touch controls - you tap to jump and that's it. That's what a Mario game is all about, after all.

But that one mechanic is iterated on in a bunch of different ways, all thanks to the contextual nature of the controls.

Tap while you're vaulting over a goomba and Mario will acrobatically vault into the air. Do so while you're sliding down a wall and you'll kick off it.

It's a smart system that, in practice, feels incredibly satisfying. When it all comes together and you carve that perfect path through a level, grabbing all coloured coins on the way, it feels like a real, uncompromised Mario title.

Despite some initial reservations, once I spent time with Super Mario Run, I realised that that's exactly what we have here. A brand new and complete Mario experience - just on your iPhone. And it's one well worth the price.

Chris James
Chris James
A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)