Smartphone gaming in 2017 is about much more than flinging birds at cartoon pigs. Here are the most exciting mobile games coming to a phone near you...

A new calendar year means a freshly stacked roster of upcoming games. And while Super Mario Run has been topping charts and making headlines in the mobile space, it’s far from the only big smartphone game to be excited about. To prove it, we’ve rifled through the 2017 release schedule to uncover the best mobile games coming this year – from big budget blasters to interesting indie gems…

Alto’s Odyssey (iOS, Android)

As the much-anticipated sequel to the endless snowboarding zen found in Alto’s Adventure, Odyssey has a lot to live up to. Details are scant right now, but the teaser image released by developers Built by Snowman suggests the game will do away with the snowy setting in favour of something a bit more arid. Watch this space.

Static Sky (iOS, Android)

Static Sky is a polished-looking tactical real-time strategy set in a futuristic Blade-Runner-esque city. You’ll control a squad of expert infiltrators, spies and assassins as they’re tasked with complicated wetwork missions spanning across rooftops, down dark alleyways and in shady offices. One to watch for strategy fans.

Animal Crossing Mobile (iOS, Android)

Nintendo’s Animal Crossing series has been a longstanding fan favourite on home and handheld consoles, which means there are plenty of people who’ll be itching to get the upcoming mobile version. For the uninitiated, the game puts you in a village full of loveable and hilarious anthropomorphic animals, and prompts you to fill your days however you please. Do you go fishing? Dig for treasure? Explore? Find and sell items? Focus on paying off your mortgage? Run a shop? Go to the pub? Animal Crossing is your oyster.

Modern Combat: Versus (iOS, Android)

Gameloft’s Modern Combat series takes everything Call of Duty does best and shrinks it down into mobile-friendly experiences, but without losing anything in the way of graphical splendour or big budget set pieces. Aiming to take a big piece of the multiplayer pie, Versus will eschew a single-player campaign to focus purely on player-vs-player online action.

Lady Layton: The Millionaire Ariadne Conspiracy (iOS, Android)

Professor Layton’s puzzlebox adventure games quickly went from obscure indies to a global phenomenon on Nintendo’s DS handhelds for good reason: quality. There are now a number of awesome mobile titles to the series’ name, too, with this next release focussing on the retired professor’s daughter as she tries to unravel yet another international mystery. As always, expect brain-melting puzzles and beautiful animation.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Game Series (iOS, Android)

Telltale has made a name for itself crafting choice-heavy games with brilliant stories, memorable characters, and devastating consequences for each of your decisions. So far they’ve done tie-ins for The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Batman, and now it’s Marvel’s interstellar superheroes who get their turn. As with other such entries, the Guardians of the galaxy game will likely tell a story that weaves around the events of the upcoming movie sequel.

Get more great apps… Here’s our pick of the best new and updated apps available this month.