There weren't a ton of standout mobile games this year, the most high profile being Fallout Shelter of course. With so many mobile games out there, however, it'd be hard to get all those that deserve recognition in here. Regardless, these are the games we thought were worth a download this year.
This category had a pretty solid winner, but second place was only three votes behind. Here's a reminder of what our nominees were (find out how we chose our nominees here):
- Pokemon Shuffle
- Lara Croft Go
- Fallout Shelter
- The Talos Principle
- Sonic Runners
3rd Place – Pokemon Shuffle
By Georgina Young
Pokémon Shuffle was perhaps wrongly attacked in the media as a much hated free-to-play title, but actually Genius Sonority, who previously worked on Pokémon Battle Trozei, worked hard to integrate Pokémon style battle mechanics seamlessly into the match three puzzle genre. In Pokémon Shuffle the Pokémon fight back using disruptions to block you from completing levels. It's a classic easy to play, difficult to master title, where the more you play, the more you are rewarded. Expert levels are unlocked only with S ranks, so you really have to up your game to proceed.
Gameplay is highly addictive, and as it is based on using a minimal number of moves rather than high speed action, levels need to be well thought out and can be improved with every play. With one play regenerating every half hour, it's not so spaced out that it feels like you have to pay-to-play, but is restrained enough that you are kept more interested and engaged than if you were allowed to play endlessly.
In all Pokémon Shuffle excelled in bringing Pokémon lore into a puzzle genre game. Pokémon types and double effectiveness and weaknesses come into play, there's a catch rate, and you have to build your team. It's not perfect. Some levels feel impossible to become an expert at and others feel unfair in terms of how easy the Pokémon are to catch, but it's not a bad attempt, and in all a good mobile time waster.
Runner Up – Fallout Shelter
By Robert N Adams
Bethesda unleashed a lot of surprises at this year's E3, but nobody expected them to launch a mobile game in the Fallout universe that very night. Fallout Shelter was a side project inspired in part by games such as Progress Quest, and it brought in over $5 million dollars for Bethesda in its first two weeks alone. Money talks, and the word is a lot of people liked Fallout Shelter at first. (Well, save for the Android users who had to wait a month for the port to their OS.)
While part of the appeal of Fallout Shelter was due to its setting, the game itself would have worked well as a standalone title. There was a surprising amount of strategy for a free mobile title of this type, and the free to play model was remarkably fair—indeed. you didn't need the “best” items to survive, much less to do well.
Fallout Shelter wasn't without its problems. Later patches removed the ability to collect the best class of items in Wasteland exploration. The game had gameplay and UI issues that made some simple tasks overly difficult or unnecessarily time-consuming. And while there have been several content patches to date, Fallout Shelter suffers from a distinct lack of a challenging endgame (save for, perhaps, Survival Mode).
Still, the title is more interesting than not, and if Bethesda irons out the bugs and design issues Fallout Shelter will evolve from an experience that fizzles out in a few weeks into a standout example of a good mobile game.
Winner – Transistor
By Andrew Otton
We all knew Transistor was a pretty good game already, with its beautiful artwork and incredible soundtrack. What we may not have realized at the time was just how suited the game would be to play on a tablet or phone .
While the controls in real-time may take a bit to get used to, the ability to pause and then line up your attacks make it perfect. The mobile version may force you to be a bit more tactical, but with some time you can get moving around easier.
Supergiant Games did an excellent job making Transistor fun to play on both your phone or tablet, which is a difficult task considering it is largely an action-RPG. Whether you think the game plays better on console or PC, you now have an excellent option in the mobile market as well.
Readers' Choice – Fallout Shelter
A mobile app to go along (well, before) the release of a massive AAA title? Surely, this will be terrible. Many people didn't think so as Fallout Shelter took second place in our awards and first in the Readers' Choice, though both were close affairs with either Transistor barely inching ahead or falling behind.
What games did we miss for the year? Did we get some of the good ones? What do you think was the best of 2015?