Dec. 27, 2010 at 10:34 PM ET
There's a pretty good chance you (or someone you know) got an Android phone this holiday. After all, the Google phones are taking over the world ... or at least, threatening to do so. And, in case you didn't know, if you own a smart phone these days, you also happen to own a very competitive gaming machine.
Though Apple has a big jump on Android phones in terms of the sheer number of games on offer, the Android Marketplace is sprinting along nicely with hundreds upon hundreds of game apps ready and waiting.
That said, the Android Market is not especially easy to navigate. Which games are the good ones? How do you find them among the hundreds of mediocre (or downright terrible) offerings? With that in mind, I've tried to sift through the mess and to bring you the following list of games that really are worth both your time and your money.
Take a look and, if you have other suggestions, please chime in below.
Angry Birds – free
Even if you haven't been a smart phone owner until now, surely you've heard about "Angry Birds"? This game of bird-flinging, pig-smashing and smart trajectory is a veritable phenomenon ... and for good reason. It's simple to jump into and yet nearly impossible to stop playing. This game first became a hit on the iPhone but recently made the flight to Android phones. And here's a little something to make all those iPhone owners jealous: The game is free for Android phones, while it costs 99 cents or $1.99 for iPhone/iPad owners. (You can read more about the "Angry Birds" phenomenon right here.)
Fruit Ninja – $0.99
I've said this before and I'll say it again: I love "Fruit Ninja" so much I just might marry it. This superb game of fruit slicing is quite simple to play (just slash your finger across the screen to cut all manner of flying fruit). But it is so well crafted you will want to play it over and over and over and over and over again. I'm serious, this game, which recently made the leap from iPhones to Android and Windows Phone 7, is incredibly, wonderfully addictive. When you check yourself into the "Fruit Ninja" detox program, just tell them I sent you.
Dungeon Scroll – $2
If you happen to like both word games and dungeon crawling games, then "Dungeon Scroll" is the game for you. This game took a few cues from PopCap hit "Bookworm Adventures" in its blend of moster battling and word making. As with that game, words are your weapons. And the bigger the words you create with the letters you’re given, the better you’ll do in an ongoing battle against all manner of nasty creatures — spiders, skeletons and snakes oh my.
Game Dev Story – $3.62
If you've ever wondered what it was like to run your own video game company, be sure to check out the simulation/management app "Game Dev Story" (also available for the iPhone). You will decide what kind of games to make, manage all kinds of employees — programmers, designers, sound engineers — and even develop the latest game platform and as you try to work your way up from a small company to the top of the game biz. This game is not only fun to play ... it might even teach you a little something about how real game making works.
Galcon – $2.99
Get ready to wage an interstellar war ... with the mere touch of a finger. This planet-conquering strategy game asks players to take over the stars by smartly deploying ships to as many nearby planets as possible before your enemy does. The game offers a compelling combination: fast moving but quite simple gameplay. You tap your finger on the planet you want to attack to send your ships there. But you must think fast and think smart if you want to outmaneuver the ever-advancing enemy.
Reckless Racing – $2.99
If you enjoy putting the pedal to the metal, then you must try out the superb racing game "Reckless Racing." This top-down game of high speeds and hairpin turns is a great-looking game and a zippy blast to play. It also boasts some top-notch multiplayer modes that let you pit your skills behind the wheel against those of your friends.
Pocket Legends – free
If you're away from your computer and hankering for a "World of Warcraft" fix, all you need to do is fire up this mobile massively multiplayer online role-playing game. "Pocket Legends" lets RPG lovers do what they love most — create a character, go on quests and explore a world populated with thousands of other gamers. The graphics look good and, best of all, you'll be able to play this game across platforms — against other Android owners and iPhone owners as well. Though it is free to download and there is no monthly fee to play, you will have to pay for premium content.
The Sims 3 – $0.99
The epic life-simulation gaming found in your typical “Sims” game has been smartly streamlined for mobile phones with this application (a version of which has also appeared in Apple’s App Store and for Windows Phone 7 devices). “The Sims 3” for Android is easy to jump into and yet retains plenty of depth. Create your own little digital human complete with some seriously quirky personality traits. Tend to their needs and help them achieve their wishes both big and small. The game is, as always, delightfully engaging.
Slice It! – free
You don't have to be a "gamer" to enjoy this fun, free puzzle game that tasks players with slicing different shapes into multiple pieces with the same surface area. This one is simple to play — study the shapes you're given and use your finger on the touch screen to make your cuts. "Slice It!" will get your gray matter working in all the best ways.
Ancient Frog – $2.62
“Ancient Frog” is another game that has made the leap from App Store to the Android Market. In this puzzle game, you must help a frog catch a bug. You do that by moving your frog across a leaf, one leg at a time, toward its fly dinner. The problem is that the frog’s feet can only land in predetermined spots, which are limited, and only one foot can be on a spot at a time. Plus, the frog’s legs can only stretch so far — they’re not made of rubber! There’s no time limit to the game and you can take as many strides as you’d like, but getting the amphibian across the screen in the least amount of steps possible will take some serious strategizing. When your not marveling at the critter's contortions, you'll be marveling at this game's pretty looks.