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GOTY 2016: Handheld

Just because you're not sitting in front of the big screen, doesn't mean you can't carry on playing. Here's our favourite games to play on the go.

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Honourable Mentions

GOTY 2016: Handheld
Severed was a surprise indie hit, with intuitive touch screen controls producing a nice RPG-esque experience.
GOTY 2016: Handheld
World of Final Fantasy provided a nice entry point for series' newcomers, but featured recurring characters for existing fans.
GOTY 2016: Handheld
This addictive building game, Dragon Quest Builders, is fleshed out with RPG mechanics, offering a huge amount of content too,
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GOTY 2016: Handheld
For the first time in the series, Rhythm Dance Megamix lets four people play on one console, bringing back many aspects of previous games as well,
GOTY 2016: Handheld
Super Mario Run is Mario's first venture onto mobile, and see 2D platforming take a different shape for the little plumber.
GOTY 2016: Handheld
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth has a turn-based combat system that will please JRPG fans and features an incredibly in-depth digivolving system that extends the lifespan of the game.
GOTY 2016: Handheld
A monarch's job isn't easy and in Reigns the power is literally at your finger tips. There's a lot to consider when taking decisions in this indie gem.
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Pokémon Sun/Moon

GOTY 2016: Handheld

Pokémon Sun and Moon only released last month, but we feel it's easily one of the best handheld titles to come out this year. Releasing for the 3DS, the game lets you and a crew of lovable creatures loose across the brand new Alola region, a unique place based on the Hawaiian Islands. Pokémon Sun and Moon offers you a massive adventure and countless hours of fun, that fits right in your back pocket. Depending on which version you pick, you'll also run into different Pokémon, and experience the game at different times of day.

It's been 20 years since the original Pokémon games graced our Gameboys, and the main series has been a handheld mainstay ever since. This time around, Game Freak has switched up the formula a fair bit, canning the Gym system we've grown to love over the years and replacing it with Island Challenges, offering a more unique and rewarding way to earn badges of honour. The Pokémon League is back, and as always there is a vibrant and expansive post-game for you to get stuck into.

This next generation of Pokémon also means that there are loads of brand new creatures for you to find, and you can build your Pokédex even more on your everlasting quest to catch 'em all. 81 new Pokémon were added in total, bringing the National Pokédex number to a massive 801 different Pokémon for you to find and catch. Some have new looks, too; many of the original first generation Pokémon now have an 'Alola Form' which changes its type and stats, as well as giving it a makeover. For example, the famous fire-type Pokémon from the first generation, Ninetales, is now an ice-type.

The latest iteration in the Pokémon series has been one of the best new games in a long time, and the many risky changes that Game Freak brought in seem to have paid off for the most part. That is why, without a doubt, Pokémon Sun and Moon is one of this year's best handheld games.

Fire Emblem Fates

GOTY 2016: Handheld

Two kingdoms, Hoshido and Nohr, are locked into a conflict that never seems to end. The player is thrown right into the middle of it as a member of the Hoshindan royal family who was capture by Nohr and raised as a Nohr royal. A few chapters into the game you have to pick a side in the conflict - the family you never knew who you were stolen from, or the family you've grown to know as your own.

Fire Emblem Fates offers three campaigns, spanning two games, and offers an interesting dual perspective (three if you play the downloadable bonus campaign) on a conflict that offers all the usual trappings of a Fire Emblem title. But the campaigns don't only offer two perspectives, but also slightly tweaked gameplay setups, with one offering a more old school challenge than the other.

The Fire Emblem franchise has long been cherished on Nintendo handhelds and Intelligent Systems has once more created an instant classic. It's more accessible and forgiving than previous entries, even if it maintains permadeath for those who wish to experience the heavy toll of losing one of your friends and comrades as a result of a careless move. The whole package is simply massive, and it's not just about the campaign missions as there's a lot to explore elsewhere. The only real downside we encountered is the massive amount of text and character dialogue. Some of it is, naturally, key to the narrative, but that's a minority of the massive amounts you'll read through with the game making it a little difficult to tell all the characters apart.

Brilliantly balanced and addictive gameplay makes this one of the best titles you could have played on any handheld device in 2016. Just make sure you make an informed decision on which version you pick up, Birthright or Conquest. Unless you want to play both, of course.

Pokémon Go

GOTY 2016: Handheld

If you stepped out of your house this summer you no doubt know that a massive craze this year was Pokémon Go, and Niantic's augmented reality game was a phenomenon like no other. While other games had people cooped up inside the house, this game instead got people outside, as you have to walk around in the real world to find pokémon to catch.

People instantly loved the concept and players flocked here, there, and everywhere to catch 'em all. It was so popular, in fact, that all sorts of weird stories emerged, including people trespassing to try and catch pokémon. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon, including Maroon 5 and even the Prime Minister of Norway, who was caught playing it in parliament. For months you saw Pokémon Go everywhere you looked, and although it's nowhere near as prominent now, it still has a big following.

The biggest mobile game in US history was unprecedented, and we liked it too, as it merged something new and innovative with the lovable nostalgia of the original first generation pokémon. Now, second generation ones are starting to appear, and people are talking about the game yet again.

Despite the popularity dwindling after the initial fad, Pokémon Go remains the most important handheld game of the year, if only because it showed a new way of approaching video games, by merging on-screen action with reality through AR, in the process producing something that was fun, accessible, and addictive. Niantic outdid themselves with this innovative idea, and 2016 will forever be the year of Pokémon Go from now on.

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