Play the holiday season away with these festive Android games

Pump some timely spirit into your phone with these 10 Play Store picks.

android holiday games 2016 lead

Decked-out games

Some people find the year-end holidays overwhelming and obnoxious, while others try to soak in as much of the seasonal spirit as they can before it disappears for another 11 months. If you fall into the latter camp, have we got a treat for you: even the games you play on your Android phone can be loaded with holiday sights and sounds.

Many great Android games have been updated for the holidays, and while some of these are loaded with familiar Christmas images, others simply offer some winter gaming fun that’s perfect for right about now. Here’s a look at 10 of the top games you can play today, split between older favorites and more recent fare, all of which have some welcome seasonal spirit.

android holiday games 2016 steppypants

Steppy Pants

Steppy Pants is one of this year’s silliest free-to-play distractions, as you must avoid stepping on sidewalk cracks by individually raising and thrusting forward each foot. That leads to a lot of awkward-looking animations and goofy moments amid the oddball fun, and it has a full-fledged holiday mode right now, too.

The game’s holiday level transports your lanky hero from the sidewalks to the rooftops, as he must make each step while not stepping on cracks or falling between houses. You’ll also need to avoid slipping on snow, and all the while you’ll deliver presents you pick up by dumping them in chimneys. Even Santa makes an appearance as he brings you coins to spend on prizes.

Steppy Pants (Free)

android holiday games 2016 angrybirds

Angry Birds Seasons

One of the absolute best mobile holiday games is the gift that keeps on giving, as Angry Birds Seasons has been updated yet again—after six years of existence—with another winter set of stages. The latest is Ragnahog, a set of 25 levels with a Viking advent calendar theme and plenty of ice, snow, and garlands along the way.

Of course, that’s just one of many winter areas in the game. You’ll find the original Christmas batch of levels from years ago, along with a few other Christmas and winter-themed level packs along the way. Most of the old stuff must now be unlocked using in-game coins, however, but those can also be purchased with real money if you’re in a hurry. 

Angry Birds Seasons (Free)

android holiday games 2016 ssgolf3

Super Stickman Golf 3

Noodlecake’s cartoonish golf series keeps getting better and better, and this year’s Super Stickman Golf 3 is loaded with free content: 20 courses, single-player and multiplayer modes, and plenty of power-up hats and other goodies. And if you play right now, the game has been given a little bit of a holiday upgrade.

That’s clear from the menu screen, with the game’s logo wrapped in glowing lights, plus the new default golfer costume is a Santa suit (in male or female varieties). You can also pop on a Santa hat, and while there’s no dedicated Christmas or holiday course, Snow Field is a pretty ideal locale for Santa to hit the links.

Super Stickman Golf 3 (Free)

android holiday games 2016 thumbdrift

Thumb Drift

Drifting your car around turns in racing games always seems a lot easier than in real life, but Thumb Drift’s squirrelly steering seems more on the mark. You’ll use one thumb or finger to maneuver your ride around a curvy course, and keeping the car pointed forward can be a mean feat after the first few turns. It’s loopy fun, though, and now it has a cool ride for the Christmas season.

You can swap out your generic car for a sweet Santa sleigh, complete with a reindeer, but the change in what you see doesn’t alter how slippery the steering is. And when you ultimately crash into a wall, your sleigh will detonate into an explosive cloud of wrapped presents. The game’s Ice Road stage also has Christmas sights now, but you’ll have to play quite a bit to unlock that late-game location.

Thumb Drift (Free)

android holiday games 2016 goodsnowman

A Good Snowman is Hard to Build

Unlike most of the games on this list, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build doesn’t make an overt effort to be a holiday game. However, it is a puzzle game built around the premise of rolling up and assembling proper snowmen, so we can’t help but think that it’s perfect for the season. Also, it’s incredibly charming.

The title might be a mouthful, but it’s absolutely true: building a good snowman is indeed difficult, as you must roll three snowballs around a yard filled with fresh powder. Each roll makes the smaller balls larger, but you’ll need one of each size to build your snow buddy. Finding success means figuring out the correct positioning, order of maneuvers, and number of moves needed to get the job done right.

A Good Snowman is Hard to Build ($4.99)

android holiday games 2016 jetpackjoyride

Jetpack Joyride

Sure, it’s the oldest game on this list, but Jetpack Joyride still delivers marvelous fun. And if you haven’t played in a while, now’s a good time to check back in, since this frenzied side-scrolling runner has been decked out for the holidays. Lit-up Christmas trees, wreaths, and stockings now populate the hallways, amidst the rockets and electric hazards. It snows occasionally, too.

You can also dress up Barry Steakfries with some sweet seasonal gear. A Santa hat and outfit are available for purchase with in-game coins, along with a Christmas tree jetpack that replaces your normal bullet-spewing one. And there’s a Santa sleigh available for purchase if you really want to rock the Christmas theme: it usually sells for $5, but it’s down to $1 as of this writing.

Jetpack Joyride (Free)

android holiday games 2016 altosadventure

Alto's Adventure

Here’s another game that doesn’t have a strong holiday theme to it, but it’s perfect for winter shenanigans when the cold keeps you indoors. Alto’s Adventure is a side-scrolling snowboard game that opts for being super chill rather than over-the-top extreme: it’s calm and soothing, and the only trick available is a backflip. Not exactly the X-Games, right? 

Play Ski Safari if you want something livelier and cartoonish; Alto’s Adventure does a great job of being warm and inviting as you slide down the slopes, dodge hazards, and soak in the gorgeous backdrops and weather effects while setting new distance records. It’ll be a nice, quiet break between some of the more aggressive fare on this list. 

Alto’s Adventure (Free)

android holiday games 2016 tabletennis

Table Tennis Touch

Table Tennis Touch offers a nicely convincing simulation of ping pong, as you lob balls back and forth in realistic environments, and the premium game added a trio of fresh mini-games just in time for the holidays. Also, it has an adorable holiday backdrop, complete with decked-out trees, ornaments, and candy canes, and a special Santa-hat paddle.

In the mini-games, you’ll smack the ball at items found on the other half: you’ll try to knock down little snowmen, for example, or aim the ball to land inside a little gingerbread house. And bits of tinsel are stuck to a half-folded table in another game, in which you’ll try to hit those points targets while ensuring that the ball doesn’t stop bouncing.

Table Tennis Touch ($2.99)

android holiday games 2016 subwaysurfers

Subway Surfers

Kiloo’s behind-the-back endless runner has been around for a few years now, but it’s still an entertaining pick for quick fun—and one of the most reliable games around for having holiday-themed updates. Subway Surfers is back again with a Christmas-themed skin, and the seasonal spirit comes through all over the game.

Now your young hoodlum is escaping a man in a Santa hat (and his antler-wearing dog) as you run through the train yard, which is appropriately loaded with Christmas trees, presents, and other holiday sights. You can also unlock holiday and winter-themed costumes of all sorts, plus you’ll find frosty penguin items to pick up on the tracks to complete challenges. 

Subway Surfers (Free)

android holiday games 2016 colorswitch

Color Switch

Color Switch may not look like much with its black backdrops and solid-colored shapes, but this collection of simple tap-based challenges has been a mobile sensation this year, racking up more than 125 million downloads. And now it has special Christmas levels that add a bit of festive spirit, all while providing fresh challenges for fans.

In the Christmas levels, you’ll tap the screen repeatedly to make a snowflake bounce higher and higher while only passing it through only like-colored obstacles—such as a tree made of dancing ornaments. Color Switch offers a tricky challenge, but it’s also drenched in video ads that pop up very frequently. If you end up loving the game, spend the $3 within to kill the ads for good.

Color Switch (Free)