The 5 Best Core Android Games of 2016 (So Far)

As a core gamer, I tend to ignore most mobile games because they're made for casual gamers. I'm not really interested in playing puzzle games for ten minutes at a time or herding cats into an elaborately-decorated apartment. [Maybe you'd think different if it were fused with Pokémon? ~Ed. Nick]

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there are numerous mobile games geared towards core gamers, and some of them can easily be played for hours on end. Heck, some modern Android games are even ports of old console games! Here is my list for the five best core android games released during the first five months of 2016.


Crashlands (Butterscotch Shenanigans)

This little gem, err, crash-landed onto the Google App store and made a B-line for my Galaxy S5 (see my review here!). It's a great action-RPG with deep crafting elements that easily sapped away hours of my time. While the simplistic combat seems rudimentary at first, it can be quite difficult to defeat certain enemies if players don't have the right weapons and armor.

Speaking of which, part of the fun is harvesting a variety of ingredients to not only craft cool gear, but also useful tools, buildings, crafting stations, and more. It's also great to explore the large planet and discover new areas, quests, and enemies. Add a heavy dash of laugh-out-loud humor, and the result is one of my favorite portable games of all time!

Survival Island Creative Mode (Game First Mobile)

Similar to Crashlands, this is a survivor-type game where players are dropped into unfamiliar territory and are forced to craft various items and fend for themselves. As the adventure begins, players find themselves on a mysterious deserted island where danger lurks around every corner.

This remote island is full of trees to hew and ore to mine, which in turn, are used to craft weapons, torches, buildings, clothing, and more. Various weapons like spears and knives are needed to hunt numerous types of deadly creatures: rhinos, crocodiles, and panthers (not an island I'd like to visit in real life!). Be aware that crafting is much more enjoyable than combat. That's why I prefer the Creative Mode version that features unlimited items for crafting houses, plenty of starting resources, and no ads.

The LEGO Movie (Warner Bros.)

Everything is awesome (when you're clueless), but not all portable games are. Fortunately, this game delivers on what most people would expect: the ability to “play” what they saw in The LEGO Movie. As such, players take on the role of everyday drone, Emmet, as he journeys from a forgettable nobody to the most important person in the LEGO universe.

Over 90 characters from the movie, such as Gandalf, Wildstyle, and the Green Ninja, are packed into this portable game with 45 playable missions on numerous surreal worlds. Players can break up parts of the environment into bricks and use them to craft a wide variety of cool items. One new twist is that only “master builders” can build practically anything they want while other characters have to search for instructions for each item that are hidden in different levels.

Taichi Panda Heroes (Snail Games)

Taichi Panda was a surprise hit on mobile platforms last year, and this year's sequel expands the dungeon-crawling experience. The biggest change to this game is the ability to control a small team of warriors instead of just one at a time. This adds balance to some of the more difficult battles and also lets players explore multiple skill trees at once (on different characters).

In addition to upping the available characters from 6 to 19, this sequel lets players explore a much larger world than what was found in the original. Luckily, the tight controls and deep customization haven't changed, nor has the ability to play certain missions cooperatively and/or battle against other players online.

Assassin's Creed Identity (Ubisoft)

I'm a longtime fan of the Assassin's Creed franchise, so I knew coming into this game that it wouldn't be as robust as its console brethren. Instead of exploring a vast, open world, players are thrust into brief missions and then returned to the animus to gear up for the next area. In addition to the main missions, players can also perform optional side missions and accept contracts.

Side missions, like not getting detected during a main mission, can be performed at any time while contracts task players with additional assassinations, theft, or delivery. There's no world hub, but players can still perform assassinations, parkour through areas, climb buildings, and steal objects. Since I'm constantly changing gear, leveling up, unlocking skills, and gaining XP, it feels more like an action-RPG than other games in the series. This game controls well, and despite some bugs, it still offers a fun-filled, watered-down Assassin's Creed experience.