What’s better than a free game? Pretty much nothing. Except when it’s terrible and you’ve wasted time on downloading and playing it. Fortunately, there are loads of fantastic free games for Android – and we list the very best here.
Whether you’re into word games, endless runners, platformers or puzzles, there’s something here for you.
Click through to the next pages to see each category or read on below for our pick of the week. And check back weekly for our latest pick.
Free Android game of the week: XOB
XOB transplants an ancient TV into your Android device. Within the CRT fuzz and lurid colors lie 100 levels of platform puzzling, where you must find a path to the exit by manipulating gravity.
You play a square. By dragging the screen, the entire level tilts, forcing the square to trundle. If it falls from an edge on to another plane, the entire scene twists. A single tap and the square leaps to the ceiling, rotating everything 180 degrees.
This can disorient, but XOB keeps you glued to the screen with its retro-modern aesthetic. The end result is something that at its core is actually quite basic, but the whole is elevated by way of superb presentation and execution, in a manner countless other Android freebies would do well to take note of.
The best free racing games for Android
Our favorite free Android 3D, retro, 2D and on-rails racers.
Beach Buggy Racing 2
Beach Buggy Racing 2 is a high-octane kart racer. True to form, your dinky vehicle belts along larger-than-life tracks, taking in everything from medieval castles with fire-breathing dragons, to an ancient world full of dinosaurs – and gigantic sea creatures you can bounce off.
Naturally, your aim is to get to the checkered flag first, across just two laps. To do this, you must find shortcuts, and make use of power-ups that can turn opponents into a block of ice, blast them into the heavens, and far more besides.
Sadly, there are no leagues, and Beach Buggy Racing 2 only ever offers you two race choices at any given time. But the compulsion loop is extremely strong, the upgrade/unlock path reasonable, and the racing action some of the best around on Android.
Disc Drivin’ 2
Disc Drivin’ 2 is the turn-based driving game which was presumably created when someone reimagined shuffleboard as Mario Kart and shoved that strange concoction online for web-based multiplayer contests.
The concept of a turn-based racer is bonkers and it shouldn’t work, but it really does. As you flick your little disc about tracks suspended in space, the tension ramps up as you home in on your opponent. You will learn to master shortcuts, zip past hazards, and also how to make best use of bonus powers afforded to your little disc.
It’s absurd to think that one of the best mobile racers on Android is about flicking a coin around a race track, but there we have it. Miss this one at your peril.
Asphalt 9: Legends
Asphalt 9: Legends, like its predecessors, is a decidedly nitro-happy, larger-than-life take on arcade racing. It has you belt along at insane speeds, regularly soaring into the air, your car spinning and pinwheeling in a manner that’d have your car insurance company angrily tear up your policy documents.
This racer also differentiates itself by streamlining controls to the point you needn’t steer. The car moves on rails, with you swiping between lanes, and timing actions like boosts and drifts. That might sound reductive, but this doesn’t detract from the racing feel, it gives you a keen sense of focus on timing, and there’s a manual option if you really want that.
Being an Asphalt game, there’s some grind, but this is offset by you being immersed in the most outlandish and eye-dazzling arcade racing on Android.
Carmageddon is a blast from the past of PC gaming. It masquerades as a racer, but often feels like you’re hunting prey – albeit while encased in a suit of speeding metal.
The game’s freeform ‘arenas’ are networks of roads in a dystopian future. People and cows blithely amble about while deranged drivers smash each other to pieces. Victories come by way of completing laps, wrecking all your opponents, or mowing down every living thing in the vicinity.
In the 1990s, this was shocking to the point of Carmageddon being banned in some countries. Today, the lo-fi violence seems quaint. But the game’s tongue-in-cheek humor survives, sitting nicely alongside bouncy physics, madcap sort-of-racing, and deranged cops attempting to crush you into oblivion should you cross their path.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Asphalt 8: Airborne is a high-octane racer that gave a cursory glance towards realism. It then decided against bothering with such a trifling issue, and decided it’d much prefer you to pelt along at insane speeds under the power of glorious nitro, which frequently sends your car soaring into the air.
Not one for the simulation crowd, then, but this racer is perfect for everyone else. The larger-than-life branched courses – hyper-real takes on real-world locations – are madcap and exciting. Rather than doing laps around a boring circuit surrounded by gravel traps, you blast through rocket launch sites, and blaze through volcanos.
There are downsides – cynical IAPs and timers abound, welding a massive comedy tailfin to this otherwise sleek racer’s stylings. But for dizzying speed, mid-air barrel rolls, and loads of laughs, this racer is tough to beat.
Data Wing has the appearance of a minimal top-down racer, but it’s far, far more than that. That’s not to say the racing bit isn’t great — because it is. You guide your little triangular ship around neon courses, scooting across boost pads, and scraping track edges for a bit of extra speed.
But there’s something else going on here – an underlying narrative where you discover you’re, in fact, ferrying bits of data about, all under the eye of an artificially intelligent Mother. Initially, all seems well, but it soon becomes clear Mother has some electrons loose, not least when you start getting glimpses of a world beyond the silicon.
With perfect touch controls, varied racing levels, a few hours of story, and plenty of replay value, Data Wing would be a bargain for a few dollarpounds. For free, it’s absurdly generous.
One Tap Rally
This game does for racing what auto-runners do for platform games. One Tap Rally is controlled with a single finger, pressing on the screen to accelerate and releasing to brake, while your car steers automatically. The aim is to not hit the sides of the track, because that slows you down.
Win and you move up the rankings, then playing a tougher, faster opponent. In a neat touch, said opponents are recordings of real-world attempts by other players, ranked by time.
In essence, this is a digital take on slot-racing, then, without the slots. But the mix of speed and strategy, along with a decent range of tracks, makes you forget about the simplistic controls. If anything, they become a boon, shifting the focus to learning track layouts and razor-sharp timing. Top stuff.
In the world of Splash Cars, it appears everyone's a miserable grump apart from you. Their world is dull and grey, but your magical vehicle brings colour to anything it goes near. The police aren't happy about this and aim to bring your hue-based shenanigans to a close, by ramming your car into oblivion. There's also the tiny snag of a petrol tank that runs dry alarmingly quickly.
Splash Cars therefore becomes a fun game of fleeing from the fuzz, zooming past buildings by a hair's breadth, grabbing petrol and coins carelessly left lying about, and trying to hit an amount-painted target before the timer runs out. Succeed and you go on to bigger and better locations, with increasingly powerful cars.
- Keep your mobile secure with one of these best free VPN apps
The best free strategy games for Android
Our favorite free Android RTS and turn-based games, board games and card games.
Pocket Cowboys: Wild West Standoff
Pocket Cowboys: Wild West Standoff invites you to endless high-noon standoffs, with four gunslingers ready to fill their enemies full of lead. But instead of being a free-for-all brawl, this game is more like rock/paper/scissors, with a smattering of chess.
During each round, you choose to move, shoot, or reload. Depending on which character you’re controlling, shooting may unleash leaden death on a wide area, or just on the space next to you. Success relies on correctly anticipating what your (online, human) opponents will do, and making the right move yourself.
This straightforward slice of strategy affords Pocket Cowboys great immediacy; but stick around for the long haul and you can upgrade your team, and partake in events, all while formulating strategies to avoid your gang too often being sent to Boot Hill.
King Crusher is a real-time strategy brawler in a shoebox. The backstory finds the king being annoyed that adversaries exist, and so he dispatches you to remove them. Your little band must therefore trudge through forests, deserts, and cemeteries, wiping out anyone in their path.
Although King Crusher immerses itself in a range of RPG tropes, such as building your team, upgrading powers, and taking on quests, it’s also perfectly suited to mobile. Each battle takes place on a tiny grid, where you must quickly react to danger, and unleash your team’s powers on whoever you happen to be duffing up.
It all works wonderfully. There’s enough depth to keep you scrapping over the long term, but the bite-sized action-packed battles are ideally suited to phone-based play.
Hearthstone is a head-to-head card game that immerses you in a world populated by hunters, mages, warriors, and other fantasy types. Players take it in turns to try and batter their opponent’s health down to zero, playing cards that represent minions, spells and other skills.
This genre is often baffling to the newcomer, but Hearthstone is an accessible and balanced game. Although IAPs lurk – cards can be bought with bling won in-game, but also by using actual cash – veterans have proved that you can blaze through the leaderboards without spending a penny.
However you choose to play, this is a game that rewards those in it for the long haul. Have patience and learn its mechanics, and you may eventually become a master of this fantastical world of character and chance.
The Battle of Polytopia
The Battle of Polytopia is a turn-based game akin to a stripped-back Civilization designed specifically for one-thumb mobile play. Each game has you start with a single city, the aim being to dominate a little isometric world. You either race to be the best within 30 turns, or emerge victorious when you’re the only tribe still standing.
Wisely, Polytopia focuses more on approachability than depth. The tech tree is abbreviated, stopping short of guns. The maps are small. Cities can be conquered, but you can’t found new ones with settlers.
Each of these decisions helps the game flow, but despite its compact nature, Polytopia affords plenty of opportunities to strategize. That’s especially true when venturing into online multiplayer with other people – a mode open to anyone who buys one or more extra tribes.
First Strike is Risk with nuclear weapons. You command a nuclear power, and set about taking over the world. Mostly, this involves lobbing missiles at neighbors before invading, and researching the technology to stop your enemies turning your country into radioactive rubble.
This is a sobering game. Futuristic graphics are joined by a sombre soundtrack, and clinical casualty readouts appear when a major population center is destroyed. Fittingly, victory doesn’t come with a fanfare, but the game asking: “You win?”
The free version contains ads that somewhat disrupt the experience, but this is an otherwise, thoughtful take on land-grab strategy, with a message that we really don’t want to see a devastating first strike – or even a single nuclear missile launched in anger – in the real world.
Train Conductor World
You might moan about trains when you're — again — waiting for a late arrival during your daily commute, but play this game and you'll thank your lucky stars that you're not in Train Conductor World. Here, trains rocket along, and mostly towards head-on collisions.
It's your job to drag out temporary bridges to avoid calamity while simultaneously sending each train to its proper destination — it's exhausting.
From the off, Train Conductor World is demanding, and before long a kind of 'blink and everything will be smashed to bits' mentality pervades. For a path-finding action-puzzler — Flight Control on tracks, if you will — it's an engaging and exciting experience.
There's always a whiff of unease on recommending a game from a developer nestled deep in the bosom of freemium gaming, but Clash Royale largely manages to be a lot of fun however much money you lob at it. The game is more or less a mash-up of card collecting and real-time strategy. Cards are used to drop units on to a single-screen playfield, and they march about and duff up enemy units, before taking on your opponent's towers.
The battles are short and suited to quick on-the-go play, and although Clash Royale is designed for online scraps, you can also hone your strategies against training units if you're regularly getting pulverised. There are the usual timers and gates for upgrades, but the game largely does a good job of matching you against players of fairly similar skill levels, meaning it's usually a blast and only rarely a drag.
The best free shooting games for Android
Our favorite free Android FPS titles, twin-stick blasters and vertically-scrolling retro shoot ’em ups.
Piffle is a shooting game where you fling strings of balls at blocks, depleting their face numbers until they explode. The backstory is that the nefarious Doc Block is doing something suitably evil with the blocks, hence why you’re trying to eradicate them.
Okay, that’s not the deepest of stories, but it doesn’t matter when the cartoonish action is so inviting and immediate. Flinging balls around the colorful levels is lots of fun, not least because they resemble tiny meowing cats.
There’s some grind here, and you’re going to hit levels that urge you to open your wallet. In the main, though, this is a bright and breezy arcade treat, with nice surprises as you work your way to the ultimate goal of stopping the blocks – and Doc Block – for good.
PewPew is a twin-stick blaster in the classic mold. It has no time for storylines. Instead, it dumps you in a ship, hurls countless enemies your way, tasks you with blowing them to pieces, and dresses the entire thing in gorgeous old-school neon vectors.
From the off, this is a tense, exciting game. The arena you’re within is claustrophobic and frequently packed with ships and projectiles. Surviving for any length of time requires mastery of the controls, and learning how different enemies behave.
But there’s depth here, too. Once you’ve suitably honed your shooty skills, you can take on a mode with giant space rocks, and a version of PewPew that removes your weapons entirely, presumably making the ships pilot really wish they’d added ‘bring a really big gun’ to their to-do list.
AZ Rockets is the follow-up to 99 Rockets, an insanely hard precision shooter featuring little triangular ships on rails. The aim was to blast objects as the ships moved along a pre-defined path. One miss and your game instantly ended.
AZ Rockets initially seems very similar, but this time the game’s ‘merely’ hard – a timer has replaced ‘one error means game over’. Also, your targets are now letters, which when all shot often spell out a message of encouragement.
You’ll probably need it, but this combination of the whimsical and tough-but-fair gameplay makes for a compelling concoction. And given the clockwork nature of the levels, this is a game you can potentially master – without being the kind of one-thumb gaming genius necessary for success in 99 Rockets.
Shadowgun Legends is a first-person shooter with tongue firmly in cheek. Set in a world where mercenaries are rock stars, and aliens are so much cannon fodder, this is a bold, brash, noisy slice of wanton arcade violence.
If you’re looking for nuance, head elsewhere. The story and characters here are wafer thin. But if you’re after action, Shadowgun Legends does the business. Missions are linear in nature, challenging you to be fast and accurate. Combat is responsive and fluid, and you soon find yourself amassing a pile of cash, upgrading kit, and adding to your fame.
Get good enough and your adoring fans will build a statue in your honor. It still won’t be enough to convince you this is a console-quality shooter, but this game feels perfect for mobile: streamlined, bite-sized, free-flowing, and fun.
Tower Fortress is a semi-randomized, hard-as-nails shoot ’em up. It takes place in a mysterious tower infested with strange creatures. And if you don’t ascend to the top, everyone is doomed, for some reason.
Getting to the top isn’t easy. Your hero dodders about, shoots his gun, and can double-jump in a Sonic-style spin attack. Which sounds fine until you realize even the most innocuous foe can trip you up, such as seemingly-benign frogs.
But then you reach the end of a section, nip into a secret area with a key, grab a power-up, and feel like a boss. Until you meet an actual boss, who’ll kick your face off. One to persevere with, then – and once your arcade thumbs are in tip-top condition, give each of the four zones a thorough blasting.
Drag'n'Boom shows that you should never encourage a teenage dragon. Here, the rebellious fire-breather zooms about minimal landscapes, belly-sliding down hills, soaring into the air, barbecuing soldiers, and generally being a menace.
Fortunately, you get to be the dragon, rather than the put-upon army rather wishing it had better weapons. The game recalls Angry Birds in how you ping your dragon along, but also borrows from twin-stick shooters, Sonic the Hedgehog (super-fast tunnel bits), and even The Matrix (slo-mo as you aim).
Although there’s admittedly not masses of variation across the game’s 50 levels and endless mode, it’s hard to be too critical. Drag'n'Boom looks great, and has the kind of grin-inducing breezy gameplay that’s perfect for slotting into the odd moment when you feel the need to unleash your inner dragon.
This vertically scrolling shooter plays with convention in a manner that messes with your head. The basics are familiar – you’re dumped within a vertically scrolling environment and must shoot ALL OF THE THINGS.
Occasionally, obliterated foes drop bonus items that boost your weaponry, providing the means to unleash major destruction while yelling YEEE-HAA – if that’s your sort of thing.
However – and this is a big ‘however’ – everything in Time Locker only moves when you do. The temptation is to blaze ahead, due to bonus points being won for covering greater distances, and because you’re being pursued by the sole thing that doesn’t freeze when you do – an all-devouring nothingness.
But careening on isn’t always a good strategy, because blundering into a single foe or projectile ends your game. Risk versus reward, then, in this fresh and great-looking blaster that dares to try something different.
Bad news! It turns out the Axis of Evil needs overthrowing immediately, on account of having access to a ridiculous number of planes and tanks, some of which are the size of small villages. Sadly, we've had some cutbacks, which means our air force is now, er, you.
Still, we're sure you're going to love your time in AirAttack 2, cooing at gorgeous scenery shortly before bombing it, surviving bullet-hell, and puffing your chest to a thumping orchestral soundtrack.
Sure, you might have to turn down the graphic effects a bit on older hardware, and it's a bit of a grind to reach later levels, but you're not going to get better freebie shooting action this side of World War III.
The best free puzzle games for Android
Our favorite free Android brain-smashers, logic tests and path-finding games.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle bucks the trend in Android horror games. Instead of traipsing about a rickety building that may as well hang ‘Enter to be horribly murdered!’ above the door and getting the odd jump scare, you instead face a sliding puzzler. Think Sokoban – but with buckets of cartoon gore.
The aim in each level is to slide horror icon Jason Voorhees into unsuspecting campers, who are then summarily dispatched. The required pathways become increasingly convoluted; hazards and move limits also act as barriers to your desire to get all stabby.
The puzzles are well designed, and the horror neatly straddles the line between icky and ridiculous. After all, it’s hard to take things seriously when your mother’s decapitated head, levitating in the corner, is offering sagely wisdom.
Tiny Bubbles is a mostly meditative match game set in a world of gloopy bubbles. A premium app in its previous life on iOS, it comes across intact to Android in free form, merely dropping in the odd ‘commercial break’ if you don’t fancy splashing out on IAP.
The game itself is delightful, having you figure out how to match four bubbles of the same color, which then pop, ideally in an explosive chain reaction. Complications come by way of color mixing demands, troublesome bubbles to remove, and the machinations of a bubble-blowing fish.
If that all sounds a bit too sedate, the game ramps things up some in the arcade mode. But however you take on this puzzler, it’s bursting with fun!
Flipflop Solitaire is at its core spider solitaire. The aim is to remove every card from the table. Cards can be built on the tableau in rank, and in-suit sequences can be moved between columns – but Flipflop shakes things up by messing with the rules.
First, it’s primarily designed for smartphones, and you get just five columns of cards. This is trickier than the standard spider layout, and so the game allows you to stack cards in both directions – enabling dizzying sequences like 9876787654543. You only have to stop stacking when you run out of space.
These changes might seem paltry, but they have the effect of making almost every hand technically possible to win. Throw in endless undos and this transforms Flipflop from yet another throwaway card game into a deviously clever mobile puzzler.
A Way to Slay
A Way to Slay turns epic and extremely bloody sword fights into a kind of turn-based puzzle. You start each bout surrounded by angry foes with a penchant for getting all stabby and head-choppy. Double-tap on any enemy and your hero zips his way over, before painting the screen red with their insides.
On making a move, your opponents also get a chance to adjust their positions – and they are vital to keep track of. For if you venture too near to anyone, it’s your innards that end up decorating the sparse landscape.
The key to victory, then, rests in figuring out the combination of moves that will see you tap your way to victory, a lone survivor surrounded by a sea of corpses. Top stuff, assuming you’ve the stomach – and brains – for it.
Aquavias is a sedate path-finding puzzle game. The aim is to deliver water to cities, which will otherwise suffer from drought. Unfortunately, a buffoon has decided the means of moving said water is by way of elevated and fragmented aqueducts.
Each section – most being a single line or quarter circle – can be individually rotated, the idea being to gradually fashion a solid path for the water to follow.
Naturally, this is where you come in. Each tap rotates a piece 90 degrees clockwise. Depending on the level, you’ll either have a limited number of moves, or a rapidly draining reservoir.
Over time, the complexity of the required pathways increases – notably when T-junctions enter the fray; but the game never becomes overbearing, and its pleasing visuals and soundtrack further add to the charm.
One of the more abstract games you’re likely to install on your Android device, Cubway comprises over 50 minimal scenes you traverse as a tiny red square.
The aim is simply to reach a goal, but all kinds of objects block your path and respond to your presence in varying ways. You must figure out how to get past them all, despite being restricted in terms of movement – forward or backward are your only options, although you can (and will often have to) stop, move slowly, or backtrack, depending on the hazard before you.
As you travel, a story of sorts is revealed, although the text reads like a strange self-help guide. Otherwise, Cubway is a success – it’s intuitive, the mechanics are fresh and clever, and the aesthetics are unfalteringly atmospheric.
One of the most sedate, forgiving puzzle games you’ll ever play, Outfolded also manages to do something interesting with minimal blocky environments and trundling shapes.
For each of the game’s scenes, the aim is to reach a goal by ‘unfolding’ one or more shapes. Each move you make, one of the shape’s faces disappears, leaving you with whatever’s left for further turns, and you can only move in a direction if you have an intact face pointing that way.
Early on, you can make all kinds of blunders and still reach the goal. But before long, the shapes become complex many-sided things reminiscent of Tetris blocks, requiring you to think carefully about the order in which their sides are unfolded and the routes you take.
Mess up and you can undo as many moves as you like. Even this isn’t galling, the rewind animation being pleasing even when you’ve already watched it several times on a particularly tough level.
Does Not Commute
This superb arcade puzzler finds you directing traffic about a small town. A vehicle enters the screen, and you’re told where it needs to leave, steering it by way of directional arrows. Easy.
Only, this town is afflicted with strange temporal oddness that means subsequent journeys overlap previous ones. Before long, you’re making all kinds of detours to avoid collisions with cars you’d a minute ago driven to safety, which would otherwise wipe seconds off the timer as you wait for damaged vehicles to limp towards their exit.
Adding to its smarts, Does Not Commute includes a storyline with multiple characters, playing out across its varied environments. The only snag on mobile: you must complete the entire game in a single sitting. If that sounds like too much, a one-off IAP unlocks checkpoints.
Although you play games, few of them are about play itself, in the sense of experimenting with a set-up or situation and seeing what happens. Orbit, though, while presenting itself as a puzzle game, is more a minimalist sandbox where you immerse yourself in the delights of creating tiny solar systems.
The game is played by slingshotting celestial bodies around black holes. They then proceed to leave colored trails in their wake, while gravity does its thing. Soon, you have planets clustering together, wheeling around one or more black holes, creating minimalist modern art while they do so.
It's all rather gorgeous and mesmerizing. The only snag is ads periodically wrecking the mood, although they can be eradicated with a single IAP.
In RGB Express, your aim is to build up a delivery company from scratch, all by dropping off little coloured boxes at buildings of the same colour. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Only this is a puzzler that takes place on tiny islands with streets laid out in a strict grid pattern, and decidedly oddball rules regarding road use.
Presumably to keep down on tarmac wear, roads are blocked the second a vehicle drives over them. Once you're past the early levels, making all your deliveries often requires fashioning convoluted snake-like paths across the entire map, not least when bridge switches come into play. Despite its cute graphics, then, RGB Express is in reality a devious and tricky puzzle game, which will have you swearing later levels simply aren't possible, before cracking one, feeling chuffed and then staring in disbelief at what follows.
The best free arcade games for Android
Our favorite free Android arcade titles, fighting games and retro fare.
Project Loading depicts the adventures of a loading bar on a quest to reach 100%. If you’ve ever wondered why such bars take ages to fill, this game explains why. Rather than inching from left to right, the bar here must work its way around all kinds of hazards and traps.
There are speed-up mats, and those that slow you down. There are bouncers and deadly crosses, and barriers to open with keys. Given the twitchy nature of the tilt controls, getting to the end can be a tricky business.
The lives system (refilled by watching ads) can be a drain when you hit later levels, but otherwise this is an engaging creation, with stripped-back arty visuals, a clever concept, and plenty of challenge.
Williams Pinball squeezes some of history’s best pinball tables into your Android device. Each has been lovingly recreated, with superb physics, lighting, and visuals. Although this being a free app, your experience does end up bouncing around some freemium bumpers.
You start by choosing one table to unlock from the selection, and you then gain XP, table parts, and coins from daily challenges (single-ball; score attacks). Parts and coins can be used to gradually unlock other tables for challenges, and then free play.
This takes ages, and we doubt many players will ever get tables to level four, where creator Zen Studio’s animatronic components come into play. Still, the vanilla pinball’s great, the challenges are fun, and at worst you’ll have one amazing table to play, assuming you pick well at the start. (Hint: Attack from Mars or Medieval Madness!)
Fly THIS has hints of mobile classic Flight Control, which some time ago vanished from Google Play. Like the older title, Fly THIS has you draw paths for planes to follow, so they land at airports. But instead of following Flight Control’s endless stylings, ramping up the panic until an inevitable collision, Fly THIS feels more puzzle-oriented in its execution.
You deal with fewer planes, but the maps are smaller and peppered with hazards, such as weather and mountains you probably don’t want to steer your aircraft into. You’re also charged with getting passengers from A to B – and must do so within a strict time limit.
The entire thing becomes a grin-inducing – and sometimes challenging and frustrating – juggling act. It’s different from the game that inspired it, but no less appealing.
Don’t Trip! is an endless runner with a unique vantage point, given that it’s played from above. You plant a massive foot on the ground, aiming to avoid stepping in anything gruesome or deadly, and then twist your phone around to find free space for your other foot.
There’s a great physicality about the game that comes from this oddball control method, which can only really work on a handheld touchscreen device. Also, the distinctly zoomed-in nature of the viewport quickly makes Don’t Trip! surprisingly challenging.
This is especially true when you suddenly find yourself facing rooms packed full of deranged automated vacuum cleaners armed with massive spikes, knives and swinging axes. So much for robots reducing the hassle of housework…
Super Fowlst is the follow-up to claustrophobic high-octane avoid ’em up Fowlst. In this sequel, demons from the first game have overrun the world, and they can only be stopped by a head-butting chicken.
So, yeah, this isn’t your typical arcade game. As you dart left and right, like a refugee from Flappy Bird, you must line up your arc-like paths with fire-spitting enemies, and make use of the local environment to, for example, unsportingly crush foes under massive boulders.
There’s a lot to like here, including the procedurally generated stages, plentiful secrets and unlockable characters. And although we’d say the boss battles are a bit too difficult, Super Fowlst is so good you’ll keep on clucking until those giant demons are toast.
Candies 'n Curses
Candies 'n Curses is a great warning that when all of your friends start properly freaking out about that haunted house down the road, perhaps you should listen. Molli Pop didn’t, and now she’s stuck in tiny rooms packed with spirits, ghosts, and all manner of spooky critters. Fortunately, she can zap them with her torch.
This is a speedy one-thumb affair, with you swiping to make Molli leap between platforms and change direction. Because of the claustrophobic nature of the game, you must constantly have your wits about you, to avoid life-force-depleting collisions – especially with tricky end-of-level bosses.
There are only six rooms to visit, but the game’s challenge is such that it’ll take a while before you see them all. In the meantime, you’ll get plenty of fast-paced ghostbusting fun for free.
Train Party is a collaborative or competitive game for between two and 12 players. It features a little train happily chugging along, about to have a rather nasty surprise, given that no-one’s thought to lay some tracks.
You and your friends must therefore avert a derailing disaster, figuring out the best place to drop sections of track, dealing with stubborn local wildlife, and ensuring a rogue track bomber doesn’t scupper your plans with a bang.
When collaborating, the train automatically heads to whoever’s device has a completed section of track; but in competitive mode, it always goes around in order. The last player to not cause an accident wins, and – presumably – is then qualified for a combined job in rail transit, zookeeping, and counter-terrorism.
Bacon is an entertaining and lightly satirical arcade game, poking fun at food hacks. They say bacon makes everything better, and so Bacon puts that to the test, by having you flick the tasty foodstuff on to nearby foods – at least at first.
You tap to drop your slice of meaty goodness into a sizzling pan. Another deft tap should be enough to flip it on to a nearby cheeseburger. Next up: pancakes. And then it all goes a bit weird.
The game will ask you to put bacon in a glass of red wine, atop the Chinese character for pleasure, and – brilliantly – on Francis Bacon. The physics and controls are pitch-perfect, and some levels are surprisingly tough – but almost always very silly indeed.
Sneak Ops is a retro-infused stealth game where every day brings a new mission. The goal is to get to the chopper by stealthily moving through an enemy compound without being spotted.
The game utilises intuitive top-down gameplay — initially, you can freely scamper about the tiles, but when deeper into your mission, it’s vital to carefully time runs past cameras – and regularly use your ability to smack guards over the head.
Getting to the chopper is tough, but if you don’t fancy starting from scratch on being captured, you can ‘buy’ restart points with floppy disks that litter the compounds – an odd quirk we suspect a real spy would give up their best attaché case for.
Fun gameplay and a fresh daily challenge keep Sneak Ops feeling fresh.
Spaceteam is a superb multiplayer game that deftly showcases your ability (or lack thereof) to work as part of a (space)team. With between two and eight players connected in local multiplayer, you’re informed that your spaceship is fleeing an exploding star, and you must perform actions to stave off your transport being blown up in a manner that would be a major downer for everyone on board.
The snag is the controls were designed by a lunatic. They’re spread between everyone’s screens, and demands simply show up as text-based prompts, so you’ll be searching for the Dangling Shunter switch and Spectrobolt slider, while pleading with everyone to “please turn on the Eigenthrottle”. Captain Kirk never had it this tough.
Jodeo features a cycloptic blob being put through the grinder by a sadist. A claw-like contraption lifts the jelly-like critter above an ‘experiment’ and lets go. Your aim: to move it left and right, squelching over every edge of geometric shapes lazily rotating on the screen – without falling off.
With standard 2D forms, Jodeo might have been entertaining, but it wouldn’t have been as interesting. Here, you’re tackling 3D objects moving in and out of a 2D plane, along with other ‘scientific’ conditions, such as someone unhelpfully hurling meteors your way, or turning off a shape’s lines so you can’t see them.
The experience is short, but it’s hard to gripe about a freebie – not least given the protagonist’s seemingly permanent expression of sheer terror.
Beat Street is a love letter to retro brawlers, echoing the likes of classic arcade title Double Dragon. Yet here you duff up all manner of evil gang members by way of using only a single thumb.
This is quite the achievement. Old-style scrolling beat ’em ups might not have had a modern-day gamepad littered with buttons and triggers, but they still had a joystick and two action buttons. Here, though, you drag to move, tap to punch, and use gestures to fire off special moves.
It works wonderfully. Beat Street gradually reveals new abilities and features – not least weapon pick-ups, one of which rather unsportingly has you smack opponents over the head with what’s described as an ’80s brick.
Stranger Things: The Game
Stranger Things: The Game re-imagines the Netflix TV show, set in 1984, as a 1980s videogame. How meta, you might think… but it works.
You take on the role of gruff Officer Hopper, trying to uncover a mystery at the heart of Hawkins, Indiana. As you work your way deeper into the game, you gradually find new characters, each with individual powers that are vital for further progression.
This pixelated adventure game looks the part (despite not being quite as retro as games of the period), and offers an entertaining mix of straightforward puzzling (find an object; put it somewhere specific), and gleefully punching local security forces when they get in your way.
Well, it is set in the 1980s – you’re not supposed to solve mysteries with brainpower alone.
Up The Wall
Up The Wall is suitably named given that it probably will drive you mad. It’s an autorunner with a vicious streak, but also some serious design smarts.
You start out by selecting a character from the claw machine, and that determines which world you’re dropped in. You might be a rubber duck blazing along bathroom tiles, or a skull skidding through a fiery hell.
The aim: get to the end of a hand-crafted level to add the character to your collection.
Even the so-called ‘easy’ levels are tough, and the swipe controls are sometimes a bit iffy. But the trippy visuals, head-bobbing audio, and varied isometric worlds peppered with devious traps will keep drawing you back.
Silly Sausage: Doggy Dessert
In Silly Sausage: Doggy Dessert, the world’s stretchiest canine finds himself trying to worm his way through a land of cake, chocolate, ice cream, and a worrying number of spikes, saw-blades, and massive bombs.
Rather than walk like a normal pooch, the furry hero of this game stretches as you swipe, until his front paws can cling on to something. His bottom then snaps back into place. It’s quite the trick – but also a hazard if one end of his body ends up in danger when the other end is worryingly distant.
There are 50 scenes in all, along with tricky bonus rooms to try and beat. And although some of the later bits of the game are perhaps a bit too testing, this one as a whole is a very tasty, satisfying arcade treat.
Take an early 1990s FPS, smash it into an auto-runner, add a dash of Pac-Man, and you'd end up with Hammer Bomb. You're dumped in dank mazes and dungeons full of hideous beasts and must stomp along, finding keys, loot, weapons and the way out.
Levels are randomised, adding a Roguelike quality to proceedings, and the entire game's underpinned by a levelling up system. This means XP being awarded for killing loads of monsters, rapidly finding the exit, or performing other tasks, such as completing quests (which, in a nod to Ms. Pac-Man, involves hunting down roaming foodstuff).
Every few levels, you face off against a massive screen-high boss, darting towards it with whatever weapon you have to hand, before fleeing like a coward. Survive long enough and you can swap coins for upgrades.
Top tip: as soon as you've 150 coins and level 3 status, grab the radar, because Hammer Bomb is much friendlier when you can spot monsters on the top-down map.
The best free match games for Android
Our favorite free Android games where you swap gems and match tiles, aiming for a high score.
Six Match is a new take on match games. Instead of swapping gems, you switch coins by having the suitably named Mr Swap-With-Coins barge past them. The twist: a number on the cuboid hero’s head denotes how many moves he has left before he freezes to the spot – six at most before he must make the next match.
This twist makes for a very different match experience – one that’s far more strategic than swiping at the screen like a maniac. You can’t afford to waste moves – particularly when Six Match introduces new concepts to help and hinder. These include bombs, coin-shifting cages that assist and frustrate in equal measure, deadly skulls, and poker-style card hands that boost your score.
The combination of factors proves clever and engaging, and offers scope for long-term play as you work out strategies to improve your score.
Push & Pop
Push & Pop is a sliding tiles puzzler, with mechanics not a million miles away from Threes! (or low-rent knock-off 2048), but this is no mere clone. Instead, it builds on the basics of shifting tiles or blocks around a limited space by also borrowing ideas from Sokoban and Pac-Man, before stripping everything right back again.
Play occurs on a five-by-five grid, around which you slide a cuboid. On every move, a new block appears somewhere on the grid. Arrange five into a solid line by pushing them and they disappear, freeing up space, and leaving behind gems the blocky hero can collect by eating or shoving blocks through them. Further complications are added when immovable blocks appear. Your game’s over when you become stuck.
With its neon visuals and ethereal soundtrack, Push & Pop takes simple foundations and runs with them, fashioning an intriguing, engaging, and surprisingly novel title.
Laps – Fuse
Laps – Fuse is a match-three game based around numbered discs. If three or more of the same meet, they fuse into a new disc with twice the face value. The tiny snag: you’ve limited slots to hurl discs into. The other tiny snag: the discs you hurl zoom about the edge of a circle. The other other tiny snag: you’ve only 20 laps to secure your high-score – and thereby Laps bragging rights.
This isn’t a thoughtful Threes-style outing, then – more an arcade puzzler on fast-forward. You at every moment you must plan ahead, trying to set up matches and chain reactions that fling your circling disc back a little way, buying you a few seconds of extra time.
It’s a tense, clever take on what’s become a tired genre. And should you master the main mode, you can unlock ‘endless’, ‘furious’ (faster), and ‘extreme’ (fewer slots – presumably for masochists).
Wilful Kitty is a sliding tile puzzle game on a four-by-four grid. But before you yawn and assume it’s another 2048 knock-off (which itself was a Threes! knock-off), guess again. Because this game features cats. And all the things that cats really like.
The twist here is a little kitty moves about the grid as you swipe, and objects that enter the grid are combined into consumables and toys. For example, milk and a bowl becomes a kitty drink, and a plate and some fish makes a hearty lunch.
This shift in mechanics shakes up everything you knew about this kind of game – as does you being able to charge up a ‘satisfaction bar’ that when full unleashes a ‘Hyper Kitty Dash’, clearing a chunk of the playfield in double-quick time.
It’s entertaining serving the tiny cat’s every need – and surprisingly challenging, too. Because it turns out this Wilful Kitty has bite.
With its four-by-four grid and penchant for rapidly restricting the playfield, Topsoil comes across a bit like a horticultural Threes! There’s no sliding cards about, though – instead, you’re presented with a string of things to plant, and prod open spaces to plonk them down.
After three, you get a chance to harvest – and this is where things become more complicated. You get more points for harvesting many plants at once, which requires them to be on adjacent squares. But on harvesting anything, the soil beneath is turned over. Soil cycles between blue, yellow, and green, and groups of plants cannot cross different soil colors.
The net result is a clever game where you must plan ahead, and where you keep digging for strategies to last longer and discover new plants to grow and harvest.
There are a lot of Android puzzle games that involve you sliding blocks about, but Imago is one of the best, even giving Threes! a run for its money.
You drag numbered tiles around a grid, merging those of the same colour and shape. On doing so, their numbers combine, but when merged groups reach a certain size, they split into smaller tiles, each retaining the score of the larger piece. Successful games require careful forward planning, with only a few moves it can be possible to ramp up scores dramatically, into the millions or even billions!
The game's relative complexity is countered by a smart modes system that gradually introduces you to Imago's intricacies. There's also a Daily Flight mode that provides a regular influx of new challenges, for when the standard modes begin to pall. On Android, we noticed a few minor visual glitches here and there, but otherwise this is a must-download puzzle game that's among the best on the platform.
In Threes! Free, you slide numbered cards around a tiny grid, merging pairs to increase their values and make room for new cards. Strategy comes from the cards all moving simultaneously, along with you needing to keep space free to make subsequent merges, forcing you to think ahead.
On launch, it was a rare example of a new and furiously compulsive puzzle-game mechanic. Within days, it was mercilessly ripped off, free clones flooding Google Play.
Now, though, you can get authentic Threes! action entirely for free, and discover why it's 2048 times better than every freebie 2048 game (personality; attention to detail; music; small elements of game design that make a big difference).
You get 12 free games to start. Add groups of three more by watching a video ad. And you can always upgrade to the paid version if you get suitably hooked.
There are loads of freebie Bejeweled knock-offs on Google Play, and so if you fancy a bit of gem-swapping, you may as well download the original. For reasons beyond us, Android owners don't get the multitude of modes available on some other platforms, but there's the original match-three 'classic', the can't-lose 'zen', and the superb 'diamond mine'.
In the last of those, matches smash a hole into the ground. You're playing against the clock, and over time uncover harder rock that needs special moves to obliterate. It's a frenetic, intense experience considering this is a match-three title, although high-score chasers might cast a suspicious eye over the offer to extend the time limit by watching an advert.
The best free platform games for Android
Our favorite free Android platformers, from classic retro 2D fare to full-on console-style adventures.
OCO is a one-thumb platform game that will make your head spin. Everything takes place within minimal rotating circular arenas, and your aim is to grab all of the bling. All you can do is tap the screen to jump – it’s precisely when you do this that makes all the difference.
Depending on the level you’re tackling, you may have to figure out which walls to rebound off of to change direction. Or there might be speed-up mats and jump pads. On emerging victorious, OCO will wryly provide minimum jump and time targets, adding replay value to levels you’ve already completed.
With daily challenges, a level editor and un-intrusive advertising, OCO is a good bet for platform game fans looking for something a bit different, and that’s perfectly suited to one-handed mobile play.
Spicy Piggy is like Canabalt, but with an auto-running pig that breathes fire. Along with carefully timing jumps, you belch flames that obliterate everything from enemies to walls. (It turns out the pig’s wolfed down some particularly hot chili, and is desperate for a drink.)
This is, to put it mildly, a tricky game. You must perform intricate finger gymnastics to prod the three action buttons (you can also slide) at the perfect moments to nail a route’s required choreography. There are checkpoints, but unlocking one requires spending collected fruit (which can only be grabbed once) or watching an ad.
The game therefore tends to be staccato, or forces you to replay sections again and again. Even so, it brings home the bacon if you’re after an exciting hardcore auto-runner.
Yeah Bunny 2
Yeah Bunny 2 might be wafer-thin on plot – find a mother bird’s kidnapped chicks – but it’s big on fun as your speedy rabbit zooms about platforms, grabbing carrots, collecting coins, squashing enemies, and trying very hard to not get impaled on a spike.
We’re in traditional platform-gaming territory, then, but without conventional controls. This bunny auto-runs, and so your interactions are limited to timing jumps, whether that’s across deadly pits, or from wall to wall, ninja-style.
Levels can become puzzle-like as you figure out how to get to areas with this stripped-back setup, and sometimes backtracking can be a chore. For the most part though, Yeah Bunny 2 is a blast – and surprisingly exciting during levels where you’re chased by a gigantic, deadly boss.
Turn Undead 2: Monster Hunter
In stills, Turn Undead 2: Monster Hunter looks like an action-packed platform game. Its heavily armed, cloaked hero can be seen performing all manner of monster-killing feats with two massive guns that fire stakes the size of a small tree. Only Turn Undead 2 – as the name hints at – is in fact turn-based.
This means you get all the trappings of a classic platform game, but within the framework of a clockwork turn-based puzzler. You get time to plan every move you make, but with the ongoing realization that you might not make it to the exit if you put a foot wrong.
Arguably, it’s a little too tough at times, which can frustrate. Even so, this game’s well worth hunting down, purely because of how well the mash-up of genres works.
Super Cat Tales 2
Super Cat Tales 2 follows in the feline footsteps of its superb predecessor. All chunky retro-style visuals and leapy gameplay, this high-octane platformer finds a ragtag gang of moggies trying to save their world from an alien invasion.
Like the original, this sequel cleverly rethinks platform game controls for the touchscreen – tapping or holding the left or right of your device’s display is all that’s required for running, leaping, wall-jumping like a furry ninja, and obliterating robot foes when you chance upon a massive yellow tank.
Smartly, this time round you can switch cats on the fly, making use of each one’s special power to blaze through tricky sections, or unearth sneaky secrets. For a fiver, we’d recommend this one; for free, it’s a total no-brainer.
It’s Full of Sparks
It’s Full of Sparks is a speed-run platformer where sentient firecrackers must find a body of water to hurl themselves into before their fuses make them explode all over the shop. The first level is a sprint to the finish line, but the game immediately makes things more complicated.
You first don some red shades, which give you a button for turning on and off chunks of red landscape. Two more colors soon join the show. As the levels increase in size, you end up with a crazed, tense dash for survival, juggling bits of landscape via delicate finger choreography that’d impress even the finest flautist.
The game can be frustrating, and larger levels need quite a bit of trial and error, but this game’s charm and innovation ensures its spark won’t die for the duration.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Classic
Sonic The Hedgehog 2 arrived on consoles in 1992 and, like its predecessor, is a super-fast side-scrolling platform game. The aim is to zoom through levels, grab gold rings, and avoid the enemies and spikes liberally sprinkled about. This sequel also adds a Super Dash Attack to help Sonic obliterate foes, and 3D special stages, which recall newer Sonic fare on mobile.
The game is rightly regarded as a classic, and the mobile version is a rare example of retro done well. Rather than giving you a bog-standard emulator, Sega has fully ‘remastered’ the game in widescreen, added enhancements and secrets, and provided touchscreen controls that are actually pretty good.
There are obnoxious ads here and there, but they’re a small price to pay to get Sonic 2 on your Android for nothing; and if they bug you, a one-off IAP removes them forever.
Hoggy 2 is a platform puzzler that feels like it’s escaped from a Nintendo console. The premise involves the evil Moon Men kidnapping the children of the blobby heroes. You must find where the kids have been hidden, somewhere inside a massive maze full of jars.
Each jar houses a bite-sized challenge packed full of platforms, enemies, traps, and fruit. Eat all the fruit and you’re awarded a key. Collect enough keys to unlock new areas of the maze.
The platforming bits are frequently deviously fiendish. Early levels ease you in, but you’re soon facing tests that seem impossible until you spot something crucial – a block you’d previously not noticed, or a different order in which to approach things – whereupon you feel like a genius.
Should you best all 200 hand-crafted levels, you can make your own in a level editor, or take on those the Hoggy community’s created. That this all comes for free is astonishing. Download it now.
Drop Wizard Tower
Drop Wizard Tower is a superbly crafted love letter to classic single-screen arcade platform games like Bubble Bobble. You dart about, knocking out enemies, grabbing gems and fruit, and duffing up bosses, working your way towards a final confrontation.
However, there’s a twist in that Drop Wizard Tower fuses old-school platforming with auto-running. Your little wizard never stops moving, and can only be directed left or right. And he only shoots the instant he lands on a platform.
You’ll likely fight against this at first, cursing Drop Wizard Tower for straying from traditional left/right/jump/fire controls. But the game really works on mobile, and when it clicks you’ll be zooming about, stunning foes with your magic wand, and booting them away to create tumbling ‘avalanches’ of enemies.
A brutal, brilliant platform game, Circle Affinity finds its protagonist in a literal take on the circles of hell – only here there are considerably more than nine.
He scoots about the edge of each disc, leaps into it, and then must jump to the outer edge of the next circle, which bobs about in the air. All the while, massive teeth-like daggers close in, and demons march back and forth, waiting for you to blunder into them.
Games are initially short, and Circle Affinity almost taunts you on death, as you try to master the inherently-disorienting nature. Over time, you'll begin to survive a little longer, whereupon you'll be rewarded with new eye-searing color schemes and additional play modes.
Touchscreens should be a poor fit for platform games, which typically require the kind of precision that only comes from a physical controller. This is why so many mobile titles opt for auto-running, distilling platform gaming to its core essence of timing jumps.
In Leap Day, your little yellow character is tasked with getting to the top of a tall tower. You can jump, double jump and slide down walls, but that's it. You must therefore carefully leap past cartoon foes and gigantic spikes, grabbing fruit along the way.
At various points on your climb are checkpoints, which can be bought with 20 fruit or by watching an ad. This means you don't have to start from scratch on coming a cropper. And when you do reach the summit, you can come back the next day for an entirely new level to try.
Although there are exceptions, traditional platform games rarely work on touchscreens. Fortunately, canny developers have rethought the genre, stripping it back to its very essence. In Bean Dreams, you help a jumping bean traverse all kinds of hazards, by sending the bouncing hatted seed left or right.
Each level is cleverly designed to offer optimum paths, boosting your points tally when hitting the goal having made the fewest bounces. Timing is everything, then, but there are further challenges that reward exploration. To find the pet axolotls spread across the map, or collect all the fruit, you must use different approaches, which adds plenty of replay value.
Cally's Caves 3
Poor Cally. It's like she can't go for five minutes without her parents being kidnapped. It's third time unlucky for her in Cally's Caves 3, but lucky for you, because you get an excellent old-school platformer that costs nothing at all. Cally leaps about, shooting and stabbing enemies in a gleeful manner you might consider unusual for a young girl with pigtails.
The game's brutal, too, with a checkpoint system that will have you gnashing teeth when you die a few steps before a restart point. But the weapon upgrade system is clever (keep shooting things to power up guns!), there are loads of items to discover, and unlike on iOS, the free Android version has several extra unlocked modes.
The best free sports games for Android
Our favorite free Android golf, football, tennis and extreme sports games.
PGA Tour Golf Shootout
PGA Tour Golf Shootout is an interesting golf game, sitting halfway between simulation and the many ‘flick’ golfing games that litter Google Play. The viewpoint echoes the latter, with you directly interacting with a ball rather than an on-screen avatar getting all swipey with a club. But the level of control the game affords is a novel, intuitive and fun mash-up of arcade and precision.
Although there are plenty of challenges to delve into, the meat of the game is ultimately its multiplayer offering, which is quickly and easily unlocked. You then find yourself in tense, short matches against real people, and can over time gradually improve your kit and skills. Naturally, there’s a whiff of freemium shenanigans, but this one’s closer to a hole-in-one than a bogey in the fun stakes.
Nano Golf: Hole In One
Nano Golf: Hole In One has apparently decided that anyone who needs more than a single shot on any given mini-golf course should be immediately expelled. Here, then, you drag back your finger to set power and direction, aiming for the hole. Get your hole-in-one, and you score a point; miss and your game instantly comes to an end.
In play, Nano Golf comes across like mini-golf in fast forward. Courses are tiny, but strewn with hazards, including teleporters and cannons. There’s always something new, which keeps you on your toes.
And although the game is arguably quite lightweight in nature, it’s entertaining trying to beat your high score, or figure out how unlockable balls (Bee ball! Explosive bombs!) shake things up.
Touchgrind BMX 2
Touchgrind BMX 2 is a BMX trials sports game. In other words, it’s not enough to just be fast – you also have to be a massive show-off, catapulting your bike into the air, before performing all manner of stunts. However, unlike the majority of trials games on mobile, Touchgrind eschews a side-on view for something far more tactile and ambitious.
Your bike is seen from above and behind, and you’re invited to park two of your fingers on it – one on the handlebar and one on the seat. Subtle movement allows you to steer, while flicks let you perform the aforementioned stunts.
Success and high scores rely on mastery of stunt combos and committing courses to memory, and then stringing together bike-based choreography that’d make your hair curl if you were to try it in the real world. Great stuff.
Rowdy Wrestling manages what some people might consider impossible: taking a sport that’s already full of spectacle and the ridiculous, and making it even more so in every conceivable way.
Bouts involve absurdly bouncy physics and fighters whose arms whirl about their person. Buttons enable you to move left and right, jump, and attack, but this isn’t a game about precision and nuance. Instead, it’s a madcap free-for-all, where you feel like you’re, in terms of control, clinging on by your fingertips.
Fortunately, it’s a blast. Although it can irk when you lose because your wrestler’s seemingly doing his own thing, it’s hard to stay mad at a fighting game that’s this stupid. And it moves beyond single-bout gimmickry, too, with tag-team and career modes.
Virtua Tennis Challenge
Virtua Tennis Challenge is based on the classic tennis game that years ago once graced the Dreamcast. Although it politely doffed a sun visor in the direction of realism, the game was very much a frantic, exciting arcade outing – and that’s just as true on mobile, as you scoot about the court, trying to better your opponent with a dizzying array of well-placed lobs and electrifying super shots.
Given its console origins, the game controls as well as can be expected. And that means badly if you opt for the gestural controls, which make your tennis star look like they’ve had a few gins too many before appearing on the court. But go for the on-screen D-pad and buttons, and Sega’s tennis game is a fine example of having your own little Wimbledon nestled on your smartphone.
Mad Skills BMX 2
Mad Skills BMX 2 is a one-on-one racing game. You pit your skills against various opponents, racing them on tracks packed full of ramps and bumpy sections designed to make you giddy as you zoom along.
And this is very much a fast game. When deep into a race, the scenery blazes by in a blur as you battle to beat your opponent and take the checkered flag. It’s a true arcade experience, with two-button/one-thumb controls making racing all about track mastery and careful timing.
Somehow, it often feels like a breakneck upside down Tiny Wings. And although it does eventually spray pay-to-win freemium in your face, for a good few hours this one’s wheelie good.
Battle Golf Online
Battle Golf Online is a major revamp of the original – and hugely entertaining – Battle Golf. Once again, the golf bit is stripped right back to two players whacking balls toward holes that appear from a lake. Some of these are greens with slopes to aid the ball’s progress. Others are rather more esoteric – a lighthouse with smashed-out windows; a submarine; the Loch Ness Monster with a hat.
The controls are straightforward – a tap to stop an aiming arrow and another to choose your shot’s power. And that’s just as well, because this game’s more about speed than precision – and the first to five wins.
Against the computer AI, this results in frenetic, entertaining battles, but the hole-in-one comes from online multiplayer, where you battle it out against real humans. Just watch out for people performing the so-called ‘pro’ shot, hitting and hoping before holes surface from the water.
Super Stickman Golf 3
This third entry in the Super Stickman Golf series is perhaps feeling a bit too familiar, but the game remains the best side-on golf to be found on Android.
As ever, your little stickman is charged with smacking balls about courses comprising floating islands, laser-infested bases, and space stations. You set your direction and strength, hit the ball, and hope for the best – although this time you can also add spin.
Power-ups eventually enter the mix, providing opportunities to discover new ways to lower your scores. There are also two multiplayer modes – a deranged real-time race and a more sedate turn-based affair.
The free version of Super Stickman Golf 3 is a little limited regarding simultaneous multiplayer games and access to new courses, but a single IAP unlocks the premium game.
Although a far cry from classic Pokémon titles, there's no getting away from the sheer impact of Pokémon GO. It's resulted in swarms of smartphone users roaming the streets and countryside, searching for tiny creatures they can only see through their screens.
In all honesty, the game is simplistic: find a Pokémon, lob balls at it, amble about for a while to hatch eggs, and use your collection of critters to take over and guard virtual gyms.
But despite basic combat and the game's tendency to clobber your Android's battery, it taps into the collector mentality; and it's a rare example of successfully integrating a game into the real world, getting people physically outside and — shock — interacting with each other.
The best free word games for Android
Our favorite free Android games that are all about letters, anagrams and crosswords.
Typochondria is the ideal word game for anyone who gets miffed on spotting a terrible spelling mistake when reading a book or article. Your beady eye is pitted against the clock, with you tapping typos within the paragraphs of a crime novel. It proves surprisingly fun – and nerve-racking when you’re down to your final seconds and just can’t find a misspelling.
If that all sounds a bit too stressful, there’s a Zen mode for when you want to relax and play endlessly, without any risk. There’s a tough challenge mode, too, which tasks you with finding how many errors are within a specific page. IAP lurks, but only to try your hand at other genres, including sci-fi, romance and non-fiction. Buying any of these inexpensive packs removes the ads.
Alphabear 2 is the sequel to TechRadar favorite Alphabear – a word game that mixes up anagrams and large furry critters.
Each game takes place on a grid, and you select letters to form words. Used letters vanish and bears then fill the gaps. But if turn-based countdowns on any letters reach zero, the tiles turn to stone, scuppering gigantobear schemes.
The game shakes things up a bit with timed levels, and a fairly baffling meta-game where you collect bears to unlock a bewildering array of bonuses. There’s also a smattering of educational content lurking within, giving you an excuse when someone asks if you’re wasting all your time playing games again.
Well worth bear-ing in mind, then, if you’ve a hankering for a fab new set of word puzzles.
Bonza Word Puzzle
Bonza Word Puzzle deconstructs the classic crossword. Rather than a clue for each word, you get one for the entire puzzle. Said challenge is essentially a completed crossword that’s been hacked to bits and sprayed across your screen like a cross between a Scrabble set and tetrominoes.
Early levels lead you in gently. When there are only a few pieces to manipulate, it’s not much trouble to complete the puzzle before you. But when you’re staring at a dozen or more tiny clusters of letters, figuring out how they all join up is an invigorating test.
Bonza does have IAP for level packs, but you get a decent selection for free. Even better: every day, you receive a new puzzle, giving the game reason to stick around on your device for the long term.
Dropwords 2 brings together Boggle and Bejeweled. You sit before a five-by-five grid of letters while a timer ticks down. When you spot a word that snakes through the board, you tap it out from start to end. Submit your word and its letters vanish; gravity then has its brief moment of glory, bringing in new letters for you to use.
Like in timed Bejeweled modes, fast matches are the key to high scores. However, keeping your timer bar full doesn’t just require rapidly submitting words, but also finding longer ones that’ll give you an extra second or two.
If that all seems a bit stressful, there are more relaxing modes too. And the app rather neatly provides a slew of other customization options, from larger boards to alternate typefaces – just as well, given the default Chalkboard that whiffs of Comic Sans.
Jumbline 2 is one for anagram fiends. Its main mode starts life as a row of scrambled letters, and a bunch of empty slots awaiting any words you find. Against the clock (which is surprisingly tense and exciting), or in a more relaxed timer-free mode, you drag to rearrange letters, and then draw a line beneath relevant ones to send a word to its slot. Get them all to try the next level.
There are two additional modes as well. Cloud Pop has you fashion words from letters found within clouds, using them before they vanish from the screen, but Star Tower is better, having you create the floors of a tower as it gradually scrolls downwards. Longer words make for taller floors, gaining you precious extra seconds to get your brain in gear and think of something suitably amazing with your next set of letters.
Letterpress combines the anagrams of Boggle with the territory capturing of Risk. Two players take part in a turn-based battle on a five-by-five grid of letters. Any letters used in your word turn your color – but there’s a twist: those surrounded by your tiles cannot be captured by the other player during their turn.
Strategy within Letterpress is therefore not just about finding the biggest words – and certainly not if its tiles are spread about the board. You must instead cunningly eat into your opponent’s territory while safeguarding your own. Battles become like an intense tug of war, ramping up the excitement and providing the kind of edge not usually found in word games.
Spellspire finds you as a crotchety wizard, trying to climb a tower. The snag is that heavily armed monsters want to stop you. This might not sound like the premise for a typical word game, but Spellspire adds a bit of magic to the anagrams mix.
On each floor, you get 10 letters to juggle and form into words that become fuel for spells. Short words only unleash a smallish magical blast, but longer words give your foes a serious kicking. Perform well on your quests and you’ll over time acquire new bling, with which to take on tougher floors.
There’s a bit of grind – you’ll need to replay levels to get enough clout to duff up even the earliest boss – but Spellspire is always fun, and you’ll smile from ear to ear once you start walloping foes with seven-letter words.
Alphabear has you spell out words by selecting them on a grid, but there’s a twist: use letters that are adjacent to each other and bears fill the space. As you remove letters around them, the bears continue to expand. At the same time, you’ll notice countdowns on each of the letter tiles – when they reach zero, they turn to immovable stone, potentially scuppering any gigantobear schemes you had in mind.
When your game’s done, you’ll be given a score and probably also a bear, which can act as a power-up in subsequent games. Frankly, this bit doesn’t quite click, given the bewildering array of bonuses on offer, and the rather overt nudge towards IAP to wake up tired bears. Otherwise, this one’s a furry good word game that’s well worth bear-ing in mind.
Typeshift rethinks anagrams, word searches and crosswords. Each puzzle comprises columns of letters you can drag up and down, the aim being to make a complete word in the central row. When you do so, the word’s letters change color. To complete the puzzle, you must color all of the letters.
Although completing puzzles at speed rewards you with higher scores on the leaderboard, such aspects to Typeshift are largely hidden. This is mostly a lean-back game to relax with, but should you hanker for an additional layer of brain-smashing, you can try cracking crossword-style puzzles where you match words to set clues.
It’s worth noting that Typeshift’s puzzles are hand-crafted, not algorithmically generated, so they do run out — and only some of them are free. Still, there’s always a daily puzzle to try your hand (or your best swiping finger) at.
Yes, the proper Scrabble, not some copyright-infringing clone that'll be pulled by the time you read these words. EA bought the license, tidied it up and stuck it out on Android, where it's a remarkably advert and in-app purchase free experience.
It's been beefed up with a few new modes, but stuff like the ability to sync with Facebook and play multiple matches is actually exactly what you need. A classic that's not been ruined. Hooray.
The best free endless runners for Android
Our favorite free Android games where you run, hop, drive or pinball towards a high score – or an abrupt end.
The VideoKid is an intense endless skating game that has beamed in most of 1980s pop culture. During games you’ll spot everything from much-loved classic cartoon characters to the Bluesmobile, Depicted in blocky voxel style.
Your task is to hurl video tapes at subscriber mailboxes, and make it to the end of your shift without getting run over – which is easier said than done. The road might be straight, but it’s full of hazards. Intersections are especially perilous, whether you suddenly find yourself down in the sewers before a massive ’gator, or weaving between brawling transforming robots.
Still, it’s fun trying, and The VideoKid showcases that with the addition of charm and smarts, creaky old arcade games (in this case, 1985’s Paperboy) can cut it in the modern day.
Transformers Bumblebee Overdrive
Transformers Bumblebee Overdrive is a fast-paced one-thumb arcade game, which has you direct a lone heroic Autobot to blow up a seemingly endless number of evil Decepticon bases.
True to Transformers lore, your character gets to transform from vehicle to robot and back a fair bit. He starts off as a car, barreling along in gameplay that echoes arcade classic Spy Hunter. On reaching a Decepticon base, he transforms and starts blasting, dodging laser fire and explosions. With enough points, he can take on a big boss.
Given its freemium underpinnings, there’s grind lurking within, but Bumblebee Overdrive is fun from the off, has smart level design, and offers varied boss battles that force you to quickly spot attack patterns – or Bumblebee gets very rapidly transformed into a pile of scrap.
PAKO Forever is the third entry in a car chase series gradually leaving behind all semblance of reality. If its predecessors were a bit odd at times, Forever is decidedly nutty. It dumps you in the world’s largest car park, with a seemingly unlimited number of cop cars out for the kill.
If you’re rammed just once, your game is over. Initially, that will take mere seconds. But you soon figure out how to drift and snake around obstacles to eke out some extra seconds. At that point, you can start collecting temporary bonus weapons, or chancing upon bizarre ‘events’ like UFOs and volcanic eruptions.
The game’s a touch crude, and should arguably be more forgiving; but for a quick blast of high-octane racing survival, it hits the spot.
Alto’s Odyssey finds the titular board-obsessed protagonist move from the snowy slopes of Alto’s Adventure to sandy dunes. Again, he’s on an endless journey, zooming through eye-dazzling scenery, and regularly flinging himself into the air for the odd bit of show-off and score-chasing stunt work.
The game starts off very similar to its predecessor, to the point it might feel like you’re just getting new visuals. You prod the screen to leap, hold to somersault, and must regularly clear massive ravines. You still get chased, too, albeit by rabid wildlife rather than angry elders.
But soon you discover new places to explore, and novel ideas like the ability to wall ride. And if working your way through the game’s increasingly tough achievements gets too stressful, there’s a chill-out risk-free ‘Zen’ mode that’s just you, an endless desert, and some moody music.
Will Hero is a superb, daft, frenetic one-thumb platform game featuring a bunch of squares. Perhaps it’s easier to animate such creatures, but a lack of torsos and limbs hasn’t made Will and his enemies any less violent. Instead, they’re intent on hacking each other to pieces.
Initially, you largely spend your time prodding the screen to move forward and attempting to jump on bouncing enemy heads, like a simplified geometric Mario. But grab a chest and all bets are off. You might find a massive sword or missiles within.
Will Hero then becomes a blast – a glorious minute or two of gore and destruction, before you lose your concentration for a moment and are sliced in half by an inconveniently placed and surprisingly dangerous windmill. This one’s great – install it immediately.
Power Hover: Cruise
Power Hover: Cruise is a spin-off from futuristic hoverboarding game Power Hover. Whereas that game mostly featured heavily choreographed levels punctuated by the odd boss battle, this one’s all about endless challenges that involve the robot protagonist eventually becoming a pile of scrap metal.
The journey, though, is wonderful. Several of Power Hover: Cruise’s modes could lay claim to being among the best endless runners on Android, and you get over half a dozen here, each with its own distinct feel, hazards and challenges.
As you arc across the screen, learning to master the board’s heavy inertia, you’ll be thrilled when dodging dancing lasers inside a pyramid by a hair’s breadth, whirling around a track snaking through the sky, and avoiding projectiles hurled your way by a psychotic monster living deep in an underground tunnel – and who everyone probably should have left alone.
Glitch Dash is a premium auto-runner. It’s also really, really hard. It essentially dumps you in an abstract world of checkerboard corridors peppered with traps. You must swipe to dodge, leap and slide, avoiding walls, laser grids, and massive scythes that some nutcase has left swinging from above.
The high-octane gameplay is augmented by an intense electronic soundtrack that broadly matches the moves you must make in order to survive. And unlike the majority of entries in this genre, Glitch Dash’s levels are hand-crafted.
This means when you fail (and you will – often, and sometimes when tantalizingly close to your goal), it’s down to your lack of mastery and an inability to make your thumbs do what you want them to. But you’ll try again right away. After all, you’re not going to let a game beat you.
Infiniroom is Canabalt in a box, infused with the sadistic nature of Super Hexagon. You prod the screen to make the auto-running protagonist leap to avoid electrified boxes that appear from every surface of a room you’re trapped in. And like a certain superhero, he happily runs up any wall he reaches, then along the ceiling and back down again.
It’s dizzying and chaotic, but Infiniroom further ramps up the tension by continually chopping and changing the play field. At any moment, you may get a second’s warning before a chunk of space disappears (don’t be there when it does), or a new area opens up. And then the game starts gleefully lobbing saw blades and lasers at you.
Not a relaxing game, then, but one you’ll want to play again and again. And given how short Infiniroom games are, you can pack plenty into the shortest break.
Flipping Legend is a demanding endless runner smashed into an RPG-like upgrade system. The protagonist embarks on an orgy of destruction atop a chessboard-like pathway, and can only leap diagonally.
This initially makes your head spin, not least because the path is a wraparound one. This means if you leap off of its left-hand side, you reappear on the right – something you frequently have to make use of, to avoid the many hazards in your way.
To further complicate matters, your health bar drains at an alarming rate, and only refills when you biff enemies. Grab enough bling and you can unlock power-ups for taking out multiple foes.
With an energetic soundtrack, a bunch of alternate characters, and a very smart chunky art style, Flipping Legend shows there’s still life left in endless runners (albeit as the hero is busy killing everything in this one).
Zero points for innovation in Binary Dash, which is another side-scrolling auto-runner where you tap to jump, and tap somewhere else to flip upside-down.
But many points for the combination of super-fast gameplay, superb level design, and a visual aesthetic that thumbs its nose at the modern-day penchant for mid-80s pixel art, instead hurling you back to the lurid charms of late 1970s gaming.
Yes, Binary Dash more looks like it’s been vomited out of an ancient Atari console, but it nonetheless has a quirky charm. And the game itself is great. It eases you in gently, helping you get to grips with flipping above and below the horizon, thus turning game-ending pillars into pits to leap over when you’re upside-down.
Before long, though, your thumbs will be seriously challenged by the tight choreography required to jump and flip your way to the ends of later levels.
Yet another into-the-screen endless runner, channeling Temple Run. Yawn. Only Sky Dancer has a certain something that keeps you playing – and that certain something is leaving your stomach in your throat every time you jump.
Much of this is down to the construction of Sky Dancer’s world, which comprises tiny chunks of land hanging in the air in a manner that rocks usually don’t have. As you hurl yourself off the edge of one, you must quickly maneuver to land on a platform below.
Battling gravity and inertia is exhilarating, especially when the game speeds up and you know the slightest miscalculation will result in you meeting a splattery end on the desert floor.
Pinball infused with the DNA of an against-the-clock endless runner sounds like an odd combination – but it works. In PinOut’s neon world – featuring a gorgeous electro soundtrack – a massive table stretches far into the distance. Within: dozens of miniature tables comprising flippers, ramps, and more than a few traps.
The basic aim at every turn is to keep moving forward to the next mini-table – and quickly. Accurate ramp shots are key, and so mastering the game’s physics and the layout of its various stages is essential.
For advocates, this is a fresh take on pinball that works brilliantly in mobile form. And for newcomers, PinOut is freed from the frequently arcane rules of pinball, but loses none of its frenetic excitement.
Cubed Rally World
More or less an auto-runner on a five-lane road, Cubed Rally World is all about belting along, steering left and right to avoid anything in your path. Survive long enough in this isometric landscape and you hit the checkered flag, where cube-oriented fame and fortune awaits.
But things get really interesting when you grab coins en-route and start buying new vehicles on the game’s home screen. Each vehicle shakes up the visuals and the manner in which you race — the dune buggy, for example, can leap majestically over sandy hills where the UFO bothers farmyard cows to add some variety into a older game format.
More importantly, for every vehicle you buy, a new track section is added to the rally, the vehicle you control automatically switching when you reach that point.
Amass a suitably large collection and there’s the potential for colossal scores – but completing the rally becomes significantly harder, which helps prolong longetivity.
Magic Touch: Wizard for Hire
Even now, years after Android proved itself as a major gaming platform, some developers seem to barely remember the touchscreen exists. If you reckon trudging through games with virtual D-pads and buttons can be a chore, Magic Touch: Wizard for Hire will be a little slice of magic.
You’re a wizard, defending a castle from interlopers attached to balloons. Cast spells by scribbling gestures to match symbols on the balloons and said flotation devices explode – much to the surprise of their owners, who then rapidly plummet towards a squishy end. Miss just one of them and your wizarding days are done.
From the off, this is a fresh, frantic survival game, especially when trying your hand at the super-fast extreme mode. Stick around for long enough and you’ll be able to utilize super spells too, turning enemies into frogs, and summoning a dragon. Which we all need to do on the odd Thursday here and there.
Disney Crossy Road
We're big fans of Crossy Road, which is both a lesson in how to update a classic arcade game (Frogger), and create a free-to-play business model that isn't hateful. (In short, throw free coins at players, don't make anything pay to win, and add loads of tempting but entirely optional characters to buy.)
With Disney Crossy Road, anything could have happened, but this is far from a cheap cash-in. Sure, it starts off very much like Crossy Road — just starring Mickey Mouse. But unlock a few characters (you'll have at least three within ten minutes) and you suddenly find yourself immersed in chunky takes on famous movies, such as Toy Story, Wreck-It Ralph, and The Lion King.
Even better, these aren't mere skins on the original. Each world has unique features, from tiny graphical details that will thrill fans, through to subtle shifts in how the game is played that force you to dramatically change your approach.
You might think there's little new in Alto's Adventure, which is essentially endless leapy game Canabalt on ice. But refined visuals best even Monument Valley, with an eye-popping day/night cycle and gorgeous weather effects; additionally, there's a delightful soundtrack, and a kind of effortless elegance that permeates throughout, propelling Alto's Adventure beyond its contemporaries.
Ostensibly, Alto's Adventure is a game about collecting escaped llamas, but mostly Alto is keen on mucking about on snowy slopes. You zoom down hills, catapult yourself into the air, and try to somersault before face-planting. Extra challenge arrives in the form of chaining stunts to increase your speed, and outrunning elders, angry you're having fun rather than sitting in a stinky llama pen.
In Rust Bucket, a cartoon helmet with a sword dodders about a vibrant dungeon, offing all manner of cute but deadly adversaries — skittering skulls, angry armoured pigs, and spooky ghosts. This is a turn-based affair, echoing classic RPGs, but its endless dungeon and savage nature transform it into a puzzle game perfect for quickfire mobile sessions. You must learn how foes move and react, plan every step and always keep in mind a single error can spell doom.
In its current incarnation, Rust Bucket cleverly balances enough depth to keep you coming back with the brevity that makes it ideal for on-the-go roguelike larks. Future plans include finite puzzle modes and expanded endless content.