2020 has been another excellent year for mobile games. In fact, there’s almost been an overload of games to play this year to the point where I’ve not managed to get around to all of them yet. I’m still trying to find some time to squeeze in a bit of League of Legends: Wild Rift, for instance.
The strength of the year is also reflected in our ‘Top 5’ lists here at Pocket Gamer. Everyone has included different games for the most part, with only a few titles cropping up on multiple lists. Undoubtedly there was an excellent game for everyone then and let’s hope that continues in 2021
So here are my picks for the best mobile games of 2020, in no particular order.
Sometimes, if you boil a game down to its basic premise it can be tough to accept it’s actually good. Swordshot is one of those. All you do is tap the screen to try and shoot a floating object a couple of times to kill it.
But it’s that simplicity that makes Swordshot such a joy to play in short bursts. It’s essentially a game that tests your reactions and nothing else. Timing your limited shots so they’ll bypass the enemy’s defences is all you have to do but it quickly becomes very addictive.
This is in part helped by the game’s stellar presentation. This is undoubtedly a hyper-casual game but it sports a lovely retro aesthetic and absolutely nails visual feedback too. The screen appropriately shakes when you land a shot, making your successful attempts infinitely more satisfying.
XCOM 2 Collection
Available on: iOS
Feral Interactive has frequently proven themselves to be a premier company when it comes to porting console and PC games over to mobile. Their most recent success was bringing XCOM 2: Collection over to iOS devices, with an Android launch planned for next year.
It’s a real treat to be able to carry a game of XCOM 2’s calibre around in my pocket and the touch screen controls work really well. In truth, it’s a far more enjoyable experience than playing the game using a controller, though PC still remains king. But you can’t very well pop your rig or even a laptop in your back pocket now can you?
It undoubtedly has its drawbacks, you need a fairly recent and powerful iPhone or iPad to play the game in the first place and it’s also pretty expensive for a mobile title at around $23. Porting it over to phones and tablets has also seen the graphics take a notable knock too, so definitely do your research before picking this one up.
Find out more about Dadish
Dadish was perhaps the biggest surprise of the year for me. On the surface, it seemed nothing more than a bright and cheerful platformer, something we have seen from the likes of Super Cat Tales on mobile before. Not to say I thought it would be bad, it just didn’t scream ‘top game of the year’.
And in some ways, it really isn’t. It’s a fairly straightforward platformer that controls pretty well on mobile – the left-hand side of the screen deals with movement whilst the right handles jumping. If you’re a veteran platformer it’s not going to provide much of a challenge for you either.
However, there’s something about the sense of humour that developer Thomas Young went for here that has stuck with me since the game launched in February. The titular radish father’s children are all so sassy, rude and ungrateful that it becomes a genuine reward to finish each level to discover the next hilarious quip these baby radishes will say. And I’m looking forward to the sequel next year!
Though I previously said this list is in no particular order, Retro Bowl is comfortably my mobile game of the year and I’m not really into American football. This retro-inspired sports game sees you only having to worry about the offensive side of the game and it’s endlessly enjoyable.
You’ll use the classic slingshot style controls to launch the ball to one of your players and it’s always gratifying when your pass finds its intended target. From there you just flick up and down on the screen to dodge incoming tackles as you head for the touchline, which also feels very satisfying as you duke your way past defenders.
It also has a wonderful feature where if you decide not to enter your name at the start of your career it will give you one instead and they’re all delightfully American. For example, I became Marshal Cannon. If that doesn’t sound like a coach who can lead his team to the coveted Retro Bowl multiple times, I don’t know what does.
Legends of Runeterra
Genre: Card battler, Card/board game, Strategy
I’ve been a fan of League of Legends for quite some time now, though I’ve never been particularly good at it. Legends of Runeterra immediately intrigued me because it promised a new way to engage with characters I’ve gotten to know over the last five or six years.
And it turns out, Riot knows how to make a fun card game too. Once you’ve ploughed through the seemingly endless tutorials the game wants you to complete, you’ll find an incredibly fun and competent card battler that feels much faster to play than the majority of its competition.
If you’re a fan of League it’s also worth trying simply to see game’s lore expanded in a way we haven’t experience much outside of the occasional webcomic or music video. Similarly, there’s a sense of enjoyment to be found in the way they’ve successfully converted champion abilities into card mechanics.