Welcome to the DDNet Awards, our annual celebration of the best and brightest games that we’ve been playing throughout the year.
It has been a really good year for games in 2016, with great examples of every genre popping up through the year. Across 15 categories over the next three weeks, we look at the winner, runner up and three bronze medalists for each category.
In order to qualify for selection, a game needed to have been released for the first time on a new platform, between the first of December 2015 and the end of November 2016.
Let us know what you think of the award winners in the comments!
Mobile gaming has come such a long way since the introduction of the Apple App store? Remember all those people that swore think-and-thin that mobile games were ‘useless time wasters’, ‘terrible games with terrible controls,’ or ‘not real game’? Yea, there’s still some of them, but not nearly as many, as most of the rest of us are having a blast with our ever-growing library of diverse and entertaining mobile games.
Crossy Road was one of the many stand-out hits that have come from Australia in the mobile space in recent years, and Disney Crossy Road is a nearly perfect way to enhance an already awesome thing. Taking the basic appeal of that old classic, Frogger, and then throwing gameplay quirks in there based on a very wide range of Disney franchises, Disney Crossy Road has all the charm of Disney, mixed in with the charm of Crossy Road, and the addictiveness of that endless high-score chasing heroics. This game is incredible.
The more Bioware classics that appear on mobile, the happier we are. Perhaps Bioware’s least well known classic, Jade Empire was a truly remarkable game. Set in a fantasy China, the game has all of Bioware’s trademark sense of strategic combat, in-depth narrative, and a freedom to explore, and mixed in the exotic setting in a spectacular way that, rarely for western developers looking in to Asian culture, did the cultural basis justice. On mobile, the game plays beautifully, which is a real testament to the porting team, because this is one very complex game.
For the longest time we have been waiting for a Harvest Moon game on mobile. The platform naturally fits with the aimless style of gameplay and, unlike FarmVille and other free-to-play nonsense games, Harvest Moon also offers players a genuine sense of progress and a narrative to work through, without ever asking for a microtransation payment. Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories is not the perfect Harvest Moon game, but it is Harvest Moon, and it is on mobile, which has made it one of our most player mobile games all year.
It’s a little hard not to mention the game that literally caught the planet in a storm in 2016. The game’s popularity might have settled somewhat now (as it was always going to), but there are more than enough Pokefanatics out there that would be more than happy to tell you that Pokemon Go is much more than a game. It got people outside, walking around and socialising. It created one of those rare moments where almost everyone who has ever played a game was in solidarity, sharing tips on monsters to collect with one another without a care in the world. It was, indeed, a game that has been a genuine force for good in the world, and has revitalized interest in Pokemon as a bonus; the recently-released Pokemon Sun and Moon have had a better start than any Pokemon game in history, and it’s in no small part because of this game.
There is perhaps no game that is more perfect for mobile gaming than Mini Metro. A minimalist masterpiece that can be comfortably played with a single finger, this is an abstracted, and yet entirely comprehensive, simulation of train lines. You’ll start with just a couple of stations, trying to direct traffic to their goal destination with just a few train lines, but shortly enough the train network becomes dozens of platforms and many, many train lines, all weaving out and across one another. Doing well at this game requires a lot of skill and planning, and that’s what makes it so endlessly replayable. Getting a better score feels like a genuine achievement. Being able to export your successes as .gifs certainly helps too.