Must-have Android games
Galaxy S III? Nexus 7? In any case, congratulations on your new Android phone or tablet. What’s that? Someone told you there were no decent games on Android? Well, as 2013 rolls in, not only have most iPhone developers ported some of their best titles to Google's mobile OS, but we’re also seeing many great games that are available only on Android. Read on for a list of fun, accessible, and affordable Android games that will keep you glued to your phone or tablet wherever you go.
Angry Birds is, by anyone’s count, the once and future king of mobile games—three years after its release, it’s still impossible to ride the subway for a week without seeing someone playing this game. The premise is simple: Pigs have stolen the Birds’ eggs, hence the Birds are Angry; use the touchscreen to slingshot your Angry Birds at the pigs. The levels are creative, you can use birds with special abilities, and the game's theme song will stick in your head for the rest of your life. Highly recommended—and if you ever finish it, you can move on to Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio, and Angry Birds Star Wars.
Pac-Man Championship Edition
Who doesn’t love Pac-Man? No fair answering “people born after 1990.” Okay, who doesn’t love Pac-Man with high-definition retro graphics and a weird trance-rave aesthetic? Also people born after 1990? Huh. Well, tell you what—Pac-Man is a classic, and this is a great, stylish, fast-paced remake of a classic. The ghosts are faster, the levels are more varied, and Pac-Man himself is more agile, skidding around corners like a 1972 Trans Am.
Space Invaders: Infinity Gene
Remember what I just said about Pac-Man? Dial back the get-off-my-lawn by a few years, replace the trance-rave aesthetic with a cool, hard-edged minimalism, and voilà, you have Space Invaders: Infinity Gene. It’s tough, it’s gorgeous, and—in a serious departure from the original—it has so many enemies of different shapes and sizes that no two levels are alike. Even if you don’t have fond memories of the original, any fan of 2D, top-down shooters ought to pick this one up—it’s the best in its class.
Jetpack Joyride is among the best of a particular genre that has become popular on smartphones: Run/jump/fly for as long as you can until you die, and then do it all over again. You have to avoid angry (armed) scientists and a fusillade of missiles and other roadblocks while flying through a comedically long tunnel. Why is Jetpack Joyride the best? Simple, because it involves a jetpack! Oh, and it’s free. Also try: Temple Run and Doodle Jump.
Remember Snood? How about Puzzle Bobble? Bust-a-Move? Any of the other one or two dozen names this same game has been called over the past 20 years? As with Angry Birds, the premise is simple: Patterns of differently colored balls slowly descend from the ceiling, while you shoot them one-by-one, trying to match the colors. It isn't new, but it is cute, challenging, free, and pretty much unlimited fun.
This is a great little brain-teaser with a bizarre sense of humor. Karoshi is a depressed office worker who has been thrust into a Mario-style world, but try as he might to just die and get it over with, all of the bad guys and traps are seemingly intent on keeping him alive. Lots of clever puzzles are involved as you try to electrocute yourself—or burn yourself, or fall onto spikes, or (no joke) subject yourself to verbal abuse from your boss. It's lots of kooky fun, and definitely an app worth checking out.
World of Goo
World of Goo is another unorthodox puzzle game with top-notch animation. Your goal is to drag and drop adhesive, roly-poly goo blobs to build fantastic towers and bridges so that they can cross various chasms—sort of like Lemmings-meets-Erector sets. Great for wannabe engineers and for anyone seeking a challenge.
I know I promised no more dad-games, but I also know that all of the kids these days love Breakout. I mean, Arkanoid. I mean … wait, didn’t we just do this with the Bubble Shooter game? Huh. TNNS (pronounced “tennis”) is yet another modern take on a classic—this time with updated visuals, fancy power-ups, and an unparalleled soundtrack that will have you playing for hours on end.
Rebuild is a supercool, SimCity-style game about trying to hold a city together after a zombie apocalypse. You'll need to scavenge for supplies, secure your perimeter from zombie attacks, and make sure your fellow survivors stay happy. It’s accessible yet tough, and it keeps you coming back without any "social" nonsense to speak of. Also try: Dungeon Village.
Plants vs. Zombies
And speaking of zombies—well, I bet you know this one already. It’s one of the more beloved games in the tower-defense genre, pitting an armament of flora against some of the wackiest zombies you've ever seen. The main campaign will have you using literal pea-shooters to keep zombies off your lawn, out of your pool, and away from your roof. This version doesn't include the puzzle modes or minigames you get on the PC, but it's still an addicting game and a must-have for any fan of the genre.
Final Fantasy III
Yep, Final Fantasy is on Android, with all the trimmings you'd expect—White Mages, four elements, crystals—and it’s drop-dead gorgeous to boot. Chances are pretty good you’ll buy this just based on the name, but be forewarned: This is Final Fantasy III. Made in 1990. It has received one heck of a coat of paint, but it’s still a fair bit less modern than some of the other retro remakes I’ve mentioned. There's no saving in dungeons, leveling up requires fighting an absurd amount of enemies, and the story can be a bit tricky to follow at times. Still, the game's music is hauntingly beautiful, it offers plenty of dungeons for you to get lost in, and you'll have no better feeling than finding a powerful weapon or taking down an epic boss. Even with its steep price tag, Final Fantasy III is a game that every RPG fan should experience.