photo credit: secretlondon123
While the Android Market isn’t nearly as diverse as Apple’s app store yet, it’s growing quickly and has plenty to offer in the way of games. I have compiled a list of some of the games that I’ve enjoyed playing.
All of the games I mention in this guide are either completely free or have a free version available, so you have nothing to lose by trying them out!
I’ve also included the QR Code for each game so you can download it quickly. To use the QR code, scan it with a barcode scanning application (such as the aptly named Barcode Scanner, ShopSavvy, etc.) to be taken directly to the the game’s Market page. For the paid games, I used the free version’s QR Code.
If you are unfamiliar with NetHack, I suggest downloading the desktop version first to familiarize yourself with how it works. The Roguelike genre is a niche market with its ASCII graphics and unforgiving gameplay, and NetHack is definitely not for everyone.
In the game you play as a variety of character classes, some familiar (Knight, Rogue), and some not so familiar (Archaeologist, Tourist), in an attempt to reach the bottom of a randomly generated dungeon. Roguelikes are known for the ruthless difficulty, and NetHack is no exception. Some people have been playing NetHack for over a decade and still haven’t managed to beat it.
For fans of the genre, you can now YASD on the go! NetHack for Android is a faithful port (which is no surprise, since it’s compiled from the desktop version’s source), and plays almost exactly like its desktop counterpart. Since NetHack makes extensive use of the keyboard, you’ll need a device with a hardware keyboard if you want to play it. It’s still not as good as a full keyboard, but it’s functional. Better touch screen support is supposedly coming, but as of this writing it isn’t available.
Price: £1.35, about $2.10
Gem Miner is hands down my favorite game that’s currently available for Android. On paper it sounds silly (dig to collect gems to buy better equipment to dig deeper to collect more expensive gems to buy even better equipment, and so on), but once you actually start playing it quickly sucks you in.
Gem Miner nails the concept of “just one more level” perfectly. The developer has continued to expand the paid version, so it’s definitely worth the $2 to pick it up.
Price: €1.00, about $1.49
This game also falls under the Roguelike genre. Unlike NetHack, it features pretty decent touch screen controls. It’s still best to use a keyboard if possible, but if your device doesn’t have one you can at least still play it.
Also unlike NetHack, Kamyran’s Eye uses a tileset for graphics, so if pure ASCII graphics turn you off you’re in luck.
Price: €2.99, about $4.50
Everyone has played those little games with the silver ball where you have to roll it around a maze into a hole, and now you can do it on your phone. Labyrinth uses the accelerometer in your phone to move the ball and has pretty decent physics.
The free version offers ten levels of varying difficulty as well as a level creator, but unfortunately the full paid version (with over 1000 levels) has been “temporarily unavailable” for months.
UPDATE 5-5-10: The full version is once again available for download through the Android Marketplace.
ThrottleCopter is the pinnacle of pick-up-and-play gaming when you need to burn a couple of minutes. This game uses a familiar concept: you navigate a helicopter through a barrier-filled cave by pressing the screen to gain altitude and releasing to lose altitude.
If you also install ScoreNinja, you will be able to submit your scores to an online leaderboard, so you can stare in awe at someone who managed to break 100,000 points.
This game comes from the same developer as Abduction! and Gem Miner. It isn’t quite finished yet, but has received several updates recently.
Right now Fire Helicopter’s gameplay is fairly simple: you control a helicopter via the accelerometer and try to put out forest fires (Smokey the Bear would be proud). Compared to how awesome Abduction! and Gem Miner are though, it’s worth keeping an eye on this one to see where it goes.
The Android Market is packed with Tower Defense games, so if you’re a fan of the genre you have your pick of terrific games. Retro Defense is my personal favorite.
Retro Defense has top notch controls and makes the great decision of doing away with a timer for the next wave, instead letting you trigger it at your leisure. This keeps you from cursing when you suddenly have a tough time making accurate touches and keep accidentally placing towers in the wrong spot.
Other than that, Retro Defense offers fairly standard Tower Defense gameplay. It’s a bit more expensive than most games on the Market, so I highly recommend trying out the free version before making the decision to shell out $5.
Flight Director has gameplay which is quite common in the mobile games market. You’re given a view of an airport with several runways, and you have to direct planes that come in from offscreen to a safe landing without crashing into other planes.
Flight Director is simple and addictive, perfect for short spurts of time. What sets Flight Director apart from similar games on the Android Market is its above average controls (much better than competitors I’ve played) and the novelty factor of using views of actual airports via Google Earth.
Price: £1.35, about $2.10
One of the most popular games on the Market, Abduction! has you (a cow), bouncing off platforms and collecting your falling animal friends, trying to reach a UFO at the top. The concept is silly but the gameplay is superb, and once again simplicity reigns supreme.
The full version of Abduction! has a campaign of sorts and a series of challenges, and also lets you switch out your cow for various other animals. I recommend buying it to support the developer, but the free version has quite a bit to offer as well.
Have an Android game you enjoy playing? Tell us about it in the comments!