The quality and quantity of games on the Android Market has increased tremendously over the past few months, with nearly all of the industry’s top developers now busy bringing their iPhone hits, and a few brand new creations, over to Google’s green shores.
But with so many games hitting the market, in such as short space of time, finding the best ones is a bit tricky. So to make it easier we’ve rounded-up the 30 must-have games for Android owners.
These are games that stand out due to their originality, technical merits, addictiveness and, above all else, their fun factor.
Let us know your favourites in the comments below.
Okay, so it’s the obvious pick to begin with, but still it cannot be ignored. If you haven’t heard of Angry Birds yet then we advise you to pick up your smartphone and download it now. You can thank – or curse – us in a few days time after you stumble bleary eyed into work with nothing on your mind but pigs, scaffolding and exploding fowl. The game is essentially a physics-based puzzler, where you launch wingless birds at various structures in a effort to knock the buildings down and strike the evil pigs hiding inside.
As the game progresses you’re given you new toys to play with, such as birds that can divide into two when launched, or explode on impact. Since it’s release last year, Angry Birds has become something of a cultural phenomenon, spawning plush toys, numerous sequels, and even talk of an animated movie.
Price: Free (Lite version), UK: £1.80, US: $2.95
A game about making games? It sounds rather self-indulgent, but Game Dev Story is one of the most charming and addictive Android titles you’re likely to find. It plays like a stripped-down version of the famous sim games of yore, such as Theme Park and Theme Hospital.
Only this time you run your very own videogame company and get to nurture it from humble developer, with just a handful of staff, all the way to a giant corporation with the clout to manufacture your own games console. Much of Game Dev Story’s appeal lies at the geekier end of the spectrum but, even if you didn’t spend all of 1992 glued to your Super NES, it’s still a essential game for all Android owners.
Price: UK: £0.60, US: $0.99
When it was released on the iPhone back in 2009, Lima Sky’s Doodle Jump pretty much reinvented the platform genre for the smartphone age. It didn’t do this with complex gameplay, social media integration, or any other gubbins, but with a combination of intuitive controls and clean, simple, back-to-basics gameplay.
The aim is to bounce ‘The Doodler’ upwards between a never ending series of platforms, while avoiding black holes and pencil-drawn monsters. You do this by simply tilting your phone left or right depending on what platform you want to land on. The higher you get, the more points you score. It’s ridiculously simple, but get a few friends involved and you struggle to put it down until you’re at the top of the high score table.
Price: UK: £1.83, US: $2.99
Tower defense games are ubiquitous on smartphones but up until recently the granddaddy of them all, Field Runners, had been iPhone-only, leaving the Android Market awash with clones and crappy knock-offs. But last month developers Subatomic Studios finally gave Android fans what they’d been waiting for.
Like all other tower defense games Field Runners is about building a maze of death-dealing turrets, then sitting back and watching the carnage unfold as wave after wave of enemies try to penetrate your defenses. Where Field Runners excels is in its highly polished cartoon visuals, intuitive controls and excellent learning curve. You’re never bombarded with stats and options, rather the game slowly drip feeds you new tactical opportunities until you’re hopelessly addicted.
Price: Free (ad-supported version), UK: £0.80, US: $1.31
Now we’re assuming that everyone, at some point in their life, has walked into Tescos, stared at the fruit section, and dreamed of decimating every melon in sight with a giant samurai sword. Well praise the gods, because Fruit Ninja lets you live out this fruiticidal fantasy from the safety of your smartphone, giving you the power to slice, dice and chop everything from lemons to apples with a swipe of your finger.
It’s a points scoring game, and there is elements of strategy involved, such as earning bonuses for destroying multiple pieces of fruit with a single slice. But quite frankly Fruit Ninja’s appeal lies solely in the primal pleasure gained from chopping things up like a nutter.
Mobile Flash may not be long for this world, but while we’ve got it we might as well make the most of it. Kongregate is a website that hosts hundreds of great little browser-based Flash games. Its Android app simply acts as a portal that lets you play all these titles online on your smartphone, with touch controls.
It all works beautifully, giving you quick access to classic indie games such as Ninja Hamster vs Robots (which is great, trust us), Vector Runner and loads more. If you ever get iPhone envy then Kongregate Arcade is the perfect antidote.
Price: UK £0.60, US: $0.99
The ‘God’ genre has been around for ages, but while most games that fall under its umbrella – such as Populous and Black & White – require you to protect and grow your population of ardent believers, Bolt Creative’s Pocket God encourages you to revel in their destruction.
There’s no real objective, just a series of rather sadistic micro games, which ask you to torment your ‘pygmy’ tribe of worshippers by tossing them into volcanoes, feeding them to sharks, and blasting them with thunderbolts. It sounds depraved (and it kind of is), but the cute slapstick humour is able to magically wipe your conscious clear. Plus with Bolt Creative regularly rolling out updates with new mini-games you get plenty of bang for your buck.
It’s not often you see genuinely innovative game concepts appearing on the Android Market (or any market in fact), which is why our first reaction to Hexage’s Robotek was to sit back in our chairs and nod appreciatively like the esteemed critics we are. Robotek puts you in the metal boots of angular robot who has to defeat a bunch of other robots in a series of turn-based one-on-one battles. At the start of each turn you decide to either build more robot squaddies, or make a offensive or defensive play.
But the effectiveness of any action you take is determined by a fruit machine-style minigame, making battles a compelling mix of strategy, RPG levelling and dumb luck. Is a lot of fun and boasts a cool retro-futuristic aesthetic, with chunky robots, geometic backgrounds, and glowing laser beams, all pulsating to a trance soundtrack.
Price: Free (ad-supported), UK: £0.60, US: $0.99
Developed by the ominous-sounding South Korean developer EvilGames, Zenonia 2 is widely regarded as the best action RPG you’ll find on a smartphone. Yes it’s full of genre cliches – angsty teen heroes, burning villages, demons and dead fathers – but its 2D top down visuals and epic storyline hearken back to a golden age of 16-bit era videogaming. Perfect if you’re looking for a game with a bit more depth and a hefty dose of nostalgia.
Price: Free (Lite version), UK: £1.22, US: $1.99
If you’ve played Trials HD on Xbox Live then you’ll be on familiar ground with Mx Moto. It’s a platform racing game where you tear a stunt bike along a series of 2D tracks while aiming to beat the best times on the online scoreboards. You can lean back and forward on your bike by tilting your phone, time it right and you’ll launch into air flips, shaving valuable seconds off your lap and making you look dead cool in front of your friends.
Price: UK: £0.62, US: $1.01
Cut the Rope is one of those games that exudes so much charm, cuteness, and unbridled innovation that it’s hard to play without grinning like an idiot. The objective is to drop a piece of candy in the mouth of Om Nom (a little green monster trapped in a variety of boxes). In order to do this you have to solve a variety of physics-based puzzles, that get increasingly complex as the game progresses. With over 20 million downloads, and merchandise on the way, Cut the Rope is fast becoming another Angry Birds-style smartphone phenomenon.
Price: UK £1.83, US: $2.99
Air traffic controllers are renowned for having one of the most stressful and intense jobs in the world and after a few minutes playing Flight Control you’ll probably understand why. The game, which was originally a huge hit on the iPhone, sees you guiding various aircraft to land safely on an airport runway by drawing a flight path on the touch screen. It starts off at a stately pace, but once you have three or four planes all vying to land on the same spot, you’ll do well to avoid a nervous breakdown.
Price: UK: £1.75, US: $2.87
Top down shooters of the dual-stick variety are notoriously hard to pull off on small smartphone-sized screens, which makes it all the more amazing that Pew Pew 2 was created by just one guy (a Frenchman no less) in his grotty little bedroom. Pew Pew 2 is a brilliant game, and while it’s heavily inspired by Geometry Wars, it boasts a level of polish, and pixel perfect controls, befitting of a large studio like Glu Mobile or Rovio. But casual players beware, the difficulty level can be rather punishing.
Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus
Price: UK: £4.27, US: $6.99
Call of Duty may dominate the home console world, but it’s smartphone spin-offs are still relatively small fish when compared to the indie delights of Angry Birds and Doodle Jump. Nevertheless Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus is a great interpretation of the multi-million dollar FPS franchise, with shockingly good graphics, great story and even a multiplayer mode. It’s only let down by a demanding engine that may leave lower-end Android phones struggling to keep up.
Gem Miner: Dig Deeper
Price: UK: £1.34, US: $2.20
Buy tools to dig up gems, sell gems to buy more equipment, use equipment to dig up more gems. In a way Gem Miner: Dig Deeper inadvertently sums up the human condition, which is probably why it’s so hideously compelling. Developer Psym Mobile doesn’t bother giving you any fancy distractions like a story or enemies to fight. This is a resource management game pure and simple, appealing to our base desire to find and collect shiny things.
Top five multiplayer games
Think Pictionary, but online and on a smartphone, and you’ve basically got the gist of Sketch Online. It’s seriously fun and, despite what you may think, there’s not a comical penis in sight.
Five years ago we’d have told you a smartphone MMORPG would be a terrible idea. But Pocket Legends delivers World of Warcraft-style gameplay on the go, and somehow it all works .
Don’t be put off by its slow pace, Wordfeud puts a competitive online multiplayer spin on Scrabble and Literati, with up to 20 players battling it out to see who can form the longest words.
Price: UK: £3.05, US: $4.99
If you fancy some multiplayer action with a bit more depth then give Uniwar a try. It’s a involving turn-based strategy war game that should keep the most ardent Advance Wars players happy.
Price: UK: £1.83, US: $2.99
It was a hit on the iPhone and now Angry Mob’s Robotron-style shooter Guerilla Bob has arrived on Android. The cross-platform co-op puts players together in a frantic arcade shoot out.
Top five puzzlers
Alchemy Classic sees you mixing different elements to make everything from vampires to geysers. It’s like a giant sandbox where you progress through lateral thinking and just a bit of guesswork.
Match two or more coloured blocks, watch them vanish, and then match some more. Yes we’ve all seen puzzle games like Bebbled before, but that doesn’t stop it being any less damn addictive.
Frozen Bubble Plus
Nearly every gaming platform in existence has a Puzzle Bobble clone and Android is no different. Frozen Bubble offers a no frills recreation of the classic puzzler.
Price: Free (ad-supported), UK: £0.60, US: $0.99
Glu Mobile does a fantastic job at putting a new spin on an old genre with Bonsai Blast. It’s a bit like a cross between Puzzle Bobble and Snake
Bubble Blast 2
A genuinely innovative puzzle game where you have to carefully cause chain reactions in order to clear the screen of goggly-eyed bubble creatures. Easy to pick up, difficult to master.
Top five retro classics
Price: UK: £1.49, US $2.44
If you’ve ever played Galaga or Raiden then you’ll be right at home with Radiant HD. Just don’t be fooled by its redux visuals, Radiant HD’s difficulty level is firmly set to ‘old school’.
There’s not much that can go wrong with Minesweeper given its simplicity and this Android clone does the job nicely with crisp visuals, clean presentation, and spot on touchscreen controls.
Pacman Championship Edition
Price: UK: £1.83 US: $2.99
Namco didn’t wait long before letting its pill-popping mascot loose on Android. The result isn’t perfect, but Pacman Championship Edition still has the original’s ‘one more go’ factor.
Price: Free (ad-supported), UK: £0.60, US: $0.99
Frogger’s less than precise touchscreen controls can get slightly irritating at times, but otherwise this is a faithful – and 100% official – adaptation of the arcade classic.
Blast enemy rockets out of the sky before they crash into your city. Sound familiar? Yep, Missile Defense is 80s arcade classic Missile Command, just without the giant plastic trackball.