Powered by a slew of new high-end phones and tablets, mobile games in 2017 hit new heights in gameplay and graphics. These four games, chosen by editors at Google Play’s app store as best of the year, are also available for iOS. Next week: Best 2017 games as selected by editors at Apple’s App Store.
CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars
(iOS, Android; free)
Chosen best game of the year, CATS is bare-knuckle fighting game and more. The goal is to design and build a battle bot that will destroy your opponents, who are real-life players all over the world with the same goal. The weaponry at your disposal ranges from the conventional to the crazy.
(iOS, $1.99; Android; free)
A fast-paced solitaire card game from Berlin-based small developer Arnold Rauers, Miracle Merchant was named Best Indie Game of the year. In the story-based game, you are an alchemist who mixes potions for your customers. The potions, made by combining various cards, may turn out to be just what your customer needs — or they could be fatal.
Toca Life: Hospital
(iOS, Android; $2.99)
Developer Toca Boca has been producing highly rated kid-friendly games for years, and Toca Life: Hospital was named Best Kids Game of the year by Google. Kids get to experience the joy of bringing a new life into the world and the challenge of treating sick patients. The hospital, with five floors, is beautifully rendered. There’s also real-life lessons: Sometimes, patients die, an event the game treats somberly and with respect.
Super Mario Run
(iOS, Android; free)
The year in mobile gaming wouldn’t be complete without a look at Nintendo’s iconic superstar. Super Mario Run, named Most Popular Game of the year, combined a retro feel with cutting-edge graphics. The game, however, remains controversial for its pricing structure. There’s a free download with limited levels, but unlocking the full game entails a pricey $10 purchase.
More than a game
Video games can be fun — but addictive. The World Health Organization, in an early draft of its 2018 International Classification of Diseases, lists “gaming disorder” as a mental health problem. The organization says the disorder causes “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.” The organization will decide later this year whether to actually include gaming disorder as a health problem. — PETER KING
Homes for the holidays
Traveling during the holidays used to mean staying with friends, family or at a hotel. But more Americans are staying at strangers’ homes. Airbnb said more than 3 million people used the home-rental service over New Year’s weekend, up from 2 million in 2016. For New Year’s 2009, shortly after the service started, Airbnb booked homes for only 1,400 people.
Cutting back on tweets
The Library of Congress has been collecting and archiving every single tweet published on Twitter since 2007. But since Jan. 1, the library is only saving tweets limited to elections “or themes of ongoing national interest.” The library said it can’t collect every tweet anymore because of Twitter’s recent changes, such as the adoption of embedded images and video and support for longer tweets.
— THE WASHINGTON POST