The best mobile games of 2016

Slay dragons and fly spaceships at the bus stop.

Did you catch them all this year? You may have had trouble keeping track of all the new games in 2016, because mobile gaming is booming -- more than 250,000 new titles hit iTunes this year, and games are consistently some of the top app store downloads for both Android and iOS. We've narrowed the playing field down to our top 5: the mobile games you definitely shouldn't miss this year.

Note: Android users may be prompted to download the Google Play Games app, which works kind of like Xbox Live: It keeps track of your gaming activity and lets you record gameplay to share with others.

Pokemon Go (Android, iOS)

  • Price: Free to play; optional in-app purchases from 99 cents to $99.99
  • Age rating: E for Everyone
  • Metacritic rating: 68

Unless you've been catching Z's like Sleeping Beauty this year, you've heard plenty about Pokemon Go -- and this addictive app is worth the buzz. Niantic's augmented-reality game sets you wandering around the real world, capturing creatures on your phone and leveling them up through digital combat. If you like collecting things and tending to them, Pokemon Go will be like butter to your popcorn. Other perks: The game runs well on a wide variety of devices, it's a small download, and it promotes outdoor exercise.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Android, iOS)

  • Price: Free to try, $7 for base game, $10 for complete bundle
  • Age rating: Everyone 10+
  • Metacritic rating: No score yet

Make like Rey and Finn and fight your way through bad guys using characters from "The Force Awakens" -- you can swap in different characters depending on what kind of puzzles you need to solve. Along the way you'll engage in iconic scenes and conversations from the film, only done with a comedic flair. Game developer Traveller's Tales has been collaborating with LEGO and Star Wars since 2005, and despite the pace at which it has been producing LEGO games, the studio has kept up quality and familiar, family-friendly gameplay mechanics.

Rayman Classic ( Android, iOS)

  • Price: $5
  • Age rating: Everyone 10+
  • Metacritic rating: No score yet

Charm and production values have made Rayman Classic -- a rerelease of PlayStation's 1995 gem -- age as gracefully as Super Mario, or maybe better. This side-scrolling platformer has loads of personality, smooth animation, and high-quality music and voice acting. If you're used to playing this kind of game with a gamepad, the touchscreen controls may take some getting used to. Android users can try a Bluetooth-enabled gamepad to really marinate in the nostalgia.

Deus Ex Go ( Android, iOS)

  • Price: $5 (iOS version currently on sale for $2)
  • Age rating: T for Teen
  • Metacritic rating: 81

If you prefer more basic controls in your games, Deus Ex Go is a good choice. This turn-based stealth game gets progressively more difficult the further you go in. But because it's not real-time, you can pause and think about your next move for as long as you want (though there are special challenges that have a time limit). In fact, the developer describes Deus Ex Go as a "tactical board game." When you've played through all 50 levels, you can create your own with the built-in Puzzle Maker and share them with the community.

Jade Empire: Special Edition ( Android, iOS)

  • Price: $10
  • Age rating: M for Mature
  • Metacritic rating: 80

BioWare has a long resume of well-received Star Wars games, but the developer's unafraid to do its own thing, and Jade Empire is arguably the most striking example. This epic role-playing game is set in a country patterned after medieval China, replete with martial arts combat and magic, and it follows an orphan hero on a quest to track down his mentor. Along the way, you'll navigate a spectrum of morality where one end isn't necessarily bad, and the other isn't necessarily good.

About Tom McNamara

Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.

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