The 12 Best Games For Android

Droid: It's not just a word that's been trademarked by Lucasfilm. It's also a pretty great option for anyone who wants a mobile device unshackled by the closed operating systems of certain other smartphone manufacturers.

There are a bunch of really great games available for Android phones and tablets, most of the same as the games on Apple's iPhones and iPads. Below, our list of the 12 best games for Android.

The 12 Best Games For Android

Here's something unexpected: Rovio created something fun out of Star Wars' prequel trilogy. The sequel to Angry Birds Star Wars improves on that game's design ideas, with branching levels and character packs that let you swap out to try different strategies. And there are collectible toys now, too. Thankfully, you don't need to buy tiny plastic toys to play this sharp sequel.

A Good Match for: Darth Maul fans. ABSW II offers you a chance to play as the evil pigs of the Pork Side. So, if you've ever thought that the titular birds were just too damn angry, here's your chance to get revenge.

Not a Good Match For: Those looking for a lengthy relationship. Dedicated players can zip through the entirety of the story-centric levels in about an hour.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

Do you know Doodle Jump? Knightmare Tower is a little bit like that, what with the constant jumping and trying to get higher. You can even tilt your tablet to help yourself along, rocking right to move to the right, and left to move to the left. But this game is different and, dare we say, better. You're a knight. You're trying to ascend a tower. You are trying to fly ever higher by bouncing yourself off of enemies that are flying up from below. The better you attack, the swifter you fly. The ascent is exhilarating, but you'll probably eventually fail. No bother. You're constantly earning new and better abilities that allow you to soar ever higher. Warning: this is a tough game to stop playing.

A Good Match For: More hardcore gamers who are looking for something on their tablet that rewards strategy and reflexes while wrapping it all up in a good bit of monster-slaying and constant leveling up.

Not a Good Match For: Those who want a long-session game. Your ascents in Knightmare Tower won't last long, so even as games get a bit longer, this one is going to be over quite quickly again and again.

Read/watch our review.

Purchase from: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

AreaCode's numerical puzzle game may be the most perfect short-session game ever created. As falling numbers land on a 7×7 grid, you need to make them disappear by matching the number of vertical or horizontal spaces match the digit. Yes, it sounds tedious but when the rules finally click in your head, it's a lifetime addiction.

A Good Match For: Anyone who spends a lot of time waiting for things or people. Whether it's stuck in traffic or waiting on a queue at the bank, a few quick levels of Drop7 will make any kind of stationary drudgery more bearable.

Not a Good Match For: Those hoping to stay productive. It take superhuman willpower to resist the siren call of Drop7 and if you want to get anything done after installing it, make sure your phone is out of reach.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For AndroidRymdkapsel is a real-time-strategy base-building game with a Tetris twist. 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.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase from: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

Threes is basically a game about kissing. And math. You slide a bunch of little numbers around a tiled pad, trying to get two like numbers next to each other. If you can do that, they'll get friendly and combine to form a new, bigger number. Keep on moving, keep on combining, and your score will climb and climb. Threes is an immaculately designed game made all the more winning for its aesthetics. Charming, musical, and deviously addictive, it'll become your new obsession.

A Good Match For: People looking for a simple puzzle game to play on a commute, anyone who likes competing with their friends for high scores.

Not a Good Match For: People hoping for a deep story, those who prefer sub-standard clones.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Purchase From: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

In Hoplite, you play a man in armor who has a blade, a spear and a very specific chess-like move-set. Each enemy has their own movement and attack rules. And each board of the game is ultimately a maze of survival, one hope, spear, stab or shove at a time. Bit by bit, you can make your guy tougher. Until you die. Then start again.

It's so simple, so pure, so damn hard by level 16, but also turns out to allow so many different approaches that it's hard to stop playing. Become a master at distanced spear-based attacking next time. Or upgrade your bashing ability and just push guys off the grid. Options, options, so many to tease your brain!

A Good Match For: Careful planners who love facing impossible odds.

Not A Good Match For: People who want a please-undo-the-last-stupid-move-I-made button.

Watch it in action.

Purchase from: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

"You're tearing me apart, Lisa!"

Oh… wrong The Room? Okay. Well. Um.

If the many whirring, gear-laden puzzleboxes of The Room Two could be made real, we'd gladly decorate our houses with them. Fireproof's Room games seem custom made for a tablet's touch screen, letting you easily flick and zoom your way around its many intricate contraptions. Come for the often vexing puzzles, stay for the weird atmosphere and increasingly creepy ambience. Okay, guy with no face. I'll solve the puzzle if you really want me to.

A Good Match For: Puzzle maniacs, Myst fans, collectors, machinists, occultists.

Not a Good Match For: The easily frustrated, people looking for an action game, those who would rather Lisa didn't tear them apart.

Read Stephen's NYT write-up.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

The closest mobile gaming comes to Criterion Games' Burnout series, Asphalt 8: Airborne is the premiere arcade racer on smartphones. Simulation nuts can keep puttering around with their Real Racing 3 — this is a game about using speed as a weapon. The cars are as sexy speeding down the road as they are leaping majestically through the air into a pylon, and Gameloft keeps adding more of them every time we turn around.

A Good Match For: Hardcore racing fans, anyone looking for a console-style racing game on mobile.

Not a Good Match For: People who hate cars.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

The cartoony garden-defense blockbuster soars on smartphones thanks to touch inputs and a port that sacrifices very little from other versions of the game. Put your battery on notice.

A Good Match for: Urban gardeners. PvZ's all about cultivating flora to stave off hordes of the undead, something that anyone trying to grow tomatoes in a windowsill planter can probably relate to. Those would-be farmers probably need a bit of digital payback.

Not a Good Match For: Those looking for top-down tower defense. PvZ doesn't deliver the general's-eye view of the battlefield that you get in games like Fieldrunners, so you may not feel quite as god-like when killing zombies.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

You wouldn't think that a game that stitches together fishing and firearms would be a sublime mobile experience. Well, maybe you would think that... but anyway, if you think that you're right, so good for you. Everything about Ridiculous Fishing: A Tale of Redemption is both as ridiculous and as great as the title suggests. You'll be playing, fishing, and shooting for many hours to come.

A Good Match For: Anyone who's ever been bored with real-world fishing. All that quiet and waiting and patience that usually comes with the ol' bait-and-line pastime gets thrown overboard in Ridiculous Fishing. Thank God.

Not a Good Match For: Those who want tilt-free gameplay. You're going to look a little silly with all the turning and twisting your 21st century smartphone in pursuit of crazy levels of fish death. But it's worth it, by God.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

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. If you get really good, you'll die in minutes. And you'll love every one.

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 a Good Match For: Those looking for lengthy gameplay sessions.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

We wouldn't have predicted that the Rayman series, with its precision platforming and complicated level design, would have been a great fit for touchscreen devices. Yet Rayman Jungle Run proved that the series was just that, and its sequel, Fiesta Run,only refined and improved the formula. It'll have you chasing Lums until your intended bus stop is a thing of the past.

A Good Match For: Obsessives, perfectionists, people who like cartoons.

Not a Good Match For:Intolerant people who require their video game protagonists to have arms and legs.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

The 12 Best Games For Android

How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:

Update 11/26/2014: Again our Android list has gone far too long without an update. (Sorry!) We've remedied that by completely overhauling it, bringing it much closer to parity with the generally similar iPhone list.

Update 10/04/2013: Way past time for an update, so we're playing catch-up. We removed Arcane Legends, Muffin Knight, Fruit Ninja, Dead Space, and Angry Birds Star Wars. We've added Angry Birds Star Wars II, Reaper, Temple Run 2, The Room, Rymdkapsel, Super Hexagon, and Dots.

Update 12/25/2012: Angry Birds Space and Need for Speed Most Wanted, Arcane Legends and Hamlet all land onto the Bests.

The 12 Best Games For Android

Want more of the best games on each system? Check out our complete directory:

The Best PC GamesThe Best PS4 GamesThe Best Xbox One GamesThe Best Wii U GamesThe Best 3DS GamesThe Best PS Vita GamesThe Best Xbox 360 GamesThe Best PS3 GamesThe Best Wii GamesThe Best iPhone GamesThe Best iPad GamesThe Best Android GamesThe Best PSP GamesThe Best Facebook GamesThe Best DS GamesThe Best Mac GamesThe Best Browser GamesThe Best PC Mods