The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Screw Apple, you say. You don't need to enter their closed system to taste sweet mobile bliss! Look, you have a perfectly fine Android handset or tablet on your person. It's still wrapped in plastic, even. Once you remove that protective layer, it's Fun City! We've got you covered on games, you non-conformist rebel. Download the ones below onto your device and be proud.

Update 10/04/2013: Way past time for an update, so we're playing catch-up. There'll be some older games added, as we're establishing a new baseline for this sadly-neglected list, putting it more in line with our other mobile lists. First off, we removed Arcane Legends (didn't quite fit), Muffin Knight (only Fahey likes Muffin Knight), Fruit Ninja (it's 2013) and Dead Space (was a bit of a cop-out). Angry Birds Star Wars gave way to Angry Birds Star Wars II, a mild improvement over the original, but an improvement nonetheless. Added Reaper, Temple Run 2, The Room, Rymdkapsel, Super Hexagon, and Dots. Left Triple Town and Cut the Rope alone because we love them. Debated swapped out Need for Speed for Asphalt 8, decided Need for Speed was still a little bit better.

Update 12/25/2012: Google's mobile OS keeps proliferating on more and more handsets and the games hitting that hardware keep getting better. And so the line-up of games that we think are the Bests for Android gets some additions and changes. Angry Birds Star Wars—the latest version of Rovio's mega-hit franchise—replaces Angry Birds Space and Need for Speed Most Wanted, Arcane Legends and Hamlet all land onto the Bests.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Angry Birds Star Wars II

As brutishly mercenary as a Force-enabled version of Angry Birds might seem, the first Star Wars variant of Rovio's mobile juggernaut is actually pretty good. The standard Birds gameplay got bolted onto iconic sequences from the Star Wars saga and players were able to deflect lasers with a lightsaber and use Force Push on the franchise's rickety environments. The second installment gives players the ability to swap out characters on the fly, making for endless ways to approach every level.

A Good Match for: Iteration addicts. We've reached the point where each new AB release shows interesting tweaks to a core formula. The smash-it-all gameplay has moved from a see-what-happens model to one where various abilities exist to help you force the outcome you want. The Star Wars-centric skills in ABSWII aren't going to replace careful aiming and application of momentum, but they make it so you won't need as much luck as in the past.

Not for Those Who Want: Their childhood memories unsullied. If you break out in hives at the mere mention of Episodes I through III, then you should probably act like this game doesn't exist. Your younglings, though, may not give you a choice.

Here's how it looks in action.

Download it from Google Play.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Cut the Rope

Simplicity's been the key to success for ZeptoLab's hit physics puzzler. As intricate as the levels get in Cut the Rope, the slicing and tapping methods by which you get cute little alien Om Nom his candy never feel too complicated to execute.

A Good Match for: Grade schoolers. Who loves candy more than kids? Plus, the cartoony presentation and easy mechanics will draw them in right away.

Not for Those Who Want: Easy puzzles. Later levels of Cut the Rope will test the mastery of most players, as ropes, balloons and whoopee cushions get deployed in fiendishly maddening ways.

Here's how it looks in action.

Purchase from Google Play.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Dots: A Game About Connecting

It's about time Dots got its due. There is no experience quite as satisfying and additctive as trying to make boxes out of these colored circles. This is the distilled essence of casual mobile gaming.

A Good Match for: Anyone with fingers. Our ancient ancestors must have spent all of their free time tracing colored dots on cave walls, because damn this game is easy to fall into. Each round is a minute. Sessions average anywhere from 10 minutes to you're actually still playing right now, and you don't even know it.

Not for Those Who Want: Complexity. This is a short, sweet and simple game, designed to be played over and over again until you die. If you want a little more mental investment, it's all uphill from here.

Here's how it looks in action.

Purchase Dots on Google Play.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Hamlet

Hamlet is an active adventure game that follows the same basic plot as the classic Shakespeare play, only in this version Hamlet himself is killed by an crash-landing alien spaceship and replaced by its pilot. Solve clever puzzles while enjoying the lovely visuals of this incredibly inventive title.

A Good Match for: Thinkers, dreamers and puzzlers.

Not for Those Who Want: Everything for free. Once you finish the first three levels you'll have to pay to unlock the remaining 22.

Here's how it looks in action.

Purchase from Google Play.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour

The latest entry in Gameloft's mobile Call of Duty wannabe franchise delivers super-sharp visuals and an online multiplayer component worth of a console shooter. Zero Hour is a highly-polished first-person shooting experience that'd be just as home on your television set as it is your phone or tablet.

A Good Match for: Call of Duty fans looking for a mobile multiplayer challenge.

Not for Those Who Want: To take their shooter story seriously. Modern Combat 4's plot is as hackneyed and silly as they come.

Here's how it looks in action.

Purchase from Google Play.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Need for Speed Most Wanted

The folks who already make the best racing games for smartphones get their hands on EA's premier racing franchise and knock it out the park.

A Good Match for: Speed demons. Need for Speed Most Wanted feels fast in a way that you can't pull your eyes away from. The experience is smooth and shiny, putting nearly every other mobile racing title to shame.

Not for Those Who Want: Customization. The cars you get in Need for Speed pretty much stay the same. It's great that the simulated physics make various classes of cars feel different from each other, but can't do anything visually to make them feel like your own.

Here's how it looks in action.

Purchase from Google Play.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Reaper

This is how you do a mobile action role-playing game. Bite-sized battles on beautiful stages, tons of equipment to collect, and an entertaining story with real choices and a killer sense of humor. You need a sense of humor when you're Death. Otherwise the job would just suck.

A Good Match for: Folks looking for a strong adventure without a substantial time commitment. Reaper encounters are intimate affairs that are over quickly, perfect for squeezing in a little play during bathroom breaks.

Not for Those Who Want: To take it easy. The gameplay may be bite-sized, but the difficulty is not. This is an action RPG, after all, not a sit and watch things happen RPG.

Here's how it looks in action.

Download from Google Play.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

The Room

There is a room. Inside the room is a box. The box is covered with knobs and dials, cryptic messages and foreign mechanisms. Figuring out how those work is key to opening the box. And inside? Another box, more convoluted that the last. There is a mystery here, and the solution lies in the center of this intricately assembled, gorgeously rendered assemblage of brain-skewering puzzles.

A Good Match for: People that believe they are incredibly intelligent. The Room exists in-part to confirm or disprove that belief.

Not for Those Who Want: A long-lasting experience. Once you've made it to the center and unraveled the mystery behind this intricate puzzle box there's no reason to go back.

Here's how it looks in action.

Purchase from Google Play.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Rymdkapsel

Rymdkapsel is a real-time-strategy base-building game with a Tetris twist. It's also all touch-screen, but don't let that worry you. It's still superb on Vita. The game's Swedish developers call it “meditative space strategy.” It’s simple. Place odd-shaped floors of different colors on a plane in outer space. Command little rectangular men to farm on or work in these spaces to generate resources to build more spaces and feed more workers. Rally the little men to defend the base against alien invaders every so often. Survive and repeat.

This is a minimalist game, a stripping down of the real-time-strategy genre that went baroque with the visually and technically complex top franchises StarCraft and Company of Heroes. Rymdkapsel makes its more ornate competitors feel needlessly garnished.

A Good Match for: Gamers looking for a portable real-time-strategy game. There ain't much to choose from, and this one has the bonus advantage of being good.

Not a Good Match For: Those who want a lot of action or complexity. This is a mellow game with a single unit-type and a handful of rooms to create. Players won't be progressing through complex skill trees.

Here's how it looks in action.

Purchase from: Google Play


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Super Hexagon

Super Hexagon is a game that will kill you in seconds. A pattern of geometric shapes flow towards the center of the screen to the beat of the music, and your task is to dodge them. You won't. You'll die in seconds. If you get really good, you'll die in minutes. And you'll love every minute.

A Good Match for: Eye-hand coordination masters. Seeing the path your little dot needs to be in is one thing. Getting there is another thing entirely.

Not for Those Who Want: Lengthy gameplay sessions.

Here's how it looks in action.

Purchase from Google Play.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Temple Run 2

Maybe you were a Temple Run skeptic, someone who thinks that a game as obscenely popular as this one can't be any good. But chances are that once you started swiping through the infinite escape of the runaway hit's , you'd find it hard to stop playing. Temple Run 2 keeps the first game's simple control scheme and eminently approachable premise and layers on improved graphics that make idol theft look a lot prettier.

A Good Match for: Travel magazine subscribers. The additions of zipline, minecart and more fantastic locations make Temple Run 2 feel like more of a globe-trotting adventure than its predecessor.

Not for Those Who Want: Huge iterative leaps between sequels. The core experience remains the same in this follow-up, so if you were hoping for fancy new ideas in Temple Run 2, you're out of luck.

Here's how it looks in action.

Purchase from Google Play.


The 12 Best Games for Android Devices

Triple Town

Triple Town looks like a match-3 game. It plays like one, too. But the randomly dished out pieces on the static board make up one surprisingly strategic game, calling for thought and patience in pursuit of the highest scores. Also, villainous bears are surprisingly cute.

A Good Match For: Those with the patience to take a lot of failures on the way to a big success. It takes time to learn the best strategies for reaching high scores.

Not for Those Who Want: Permanence. Unlike web versions of Triple Town, a town, once complete, vanishes into the ether. The only marker of its passage? Achievements for certain score milestones.

Purchase from Google Play.


NOTE: This list will be updated if and when we discover better games. We will only ever list 12 games, at the most.