Smash Hit takes you on a deeply weird and oddly ethereal journey through a geometric world of glass barriers. Your only way forward: lobbing a rapidly depleting supply of metal balls to clear a path, and grabbing increasingly scarce top-ups as you go.
It's a strangely cathartic experience, and very demanding as you take on later levels with whirling glass contraptions and a spinning camera.
Multi-device party games are usually a bit glib, but Spaceteam bucks the trend with a quirky and oddball take on co-op gameplay. Between two and four players are part of the Spaceteam (red jerseys optional), and must give orders, to try and stop your ship exploding, a ship – naturally – that happens to be attempting to outrun an exploding star.
It's a very silly game, and you can't help but love anything on Google Play that has 'Beveled Nanobuzzers' as an item in its feature list.
Before all games had to be 3D by law, the 2D adventure-platformer reigned supreme. On touchscreens, these games are usually a bit rubbish, due to iffy design and even worse controls, but Swordigo bucks the trend.
You get a huge magical realm of monsters to fight, treasures to find, and towns to explore. Any whiff of nostalgia is rapidly expunged as you become engrossed in the plot, give giant spiders a serious kicking, and do your best Harry Potter impersonation with the aid of enemy-troubling spells.
If you're very old indeed, you might remember a ZX Spectrum title called Deathchase. There wasn't much to the game – you zoomed through a forest, tried very hard not to get killed by smashing into a tree, and shot bad guys – but it was brilliant.
Voxel Rush takes the concept, adds beautiful geometric 3D graphics, and shows off with crazy 'events' such as towers collapsing or the view flipping upside down. It's an adrenaline-fuelled breathless affair that feels more exhilarating than many proper racing games on Android, and it's far more exciting than most endless runners.
ZEN PINBALL HD
Pinball often gets a duff deal, because many people just don't get it. A modern table isn't just about spanging a metal ball about – you must learn the table's rules, discover missions, and complete them with uncannily accurate aiming.
Zen Pinball layers on top of classic pinball a modern gaming sensibility, peppering tables with animated characters, vibrant visual effects and some amusingly awful voice acting. For free (with no ads), you get Sorcerer's Lair, and more tables are available via IAP, including some surprisingly great ones based on Star Wars
READ MORE: 25 best free Android apps
More after the break...
When Flappy Bird appeared, so did an endless stream of clones, most of which were rubbish. Flappy Golf was an exception, in part because it was so utterly stupid. As its name might suggest, it’s a golfing game, and it takes its courses from side-on classic Super Stickman Golf 2. But instead of hitting the ball with a club, you use two buttons (flap left and flap right) to urge a winged ball to the hole. Ramping up the absurdity factor further is a fast and furious multiplayer race mode.
This one’s not so much an endless runner as an endless puncher. You control the entire game using two buttons - one punches upwards and the other punches to the right. Hold them both and you block. The aim is to punch your way through anything that has the audacity to block your path: rocks; skeletons; giant bats suspiciously armed with what appears to be magic that would make a certain boy wizard yelp.
Occasionally, you get to ride a laser-spewing dinosaur, because that’s the kind of game this is. In-game currency (and, yes, IAP’s available as a shortcut) enables you to buy new capabilities, such as supermoves and, er, ‘fancy hats’.
If someone bounded up to you and enthused about an officially licensed Frisbee® game, you’d probably consider them some kind of lunatic, but Frisbee Forever somehow manages to be really good.
It’s essentially a series of on-rails rollercoasters, and you nudge your plastic disc left or right, to collect stars along the way. The scenery is all cartoonish pirate ships and snowy landscapes, more bringing to mind Nintendo than a freebie Android game; and although IAP lurks, it’s not really necessary, since every attempt at a level (including those that end in failure) rewards you with XP for unlocking new worlds.
Trainyard Express is devious. At first, it’s painfully easy, having you drag tracks to get trains to goal stations of the same colour. You’ll blaze through the initial tasks, barely pausing for breath, but then the game starts lobbing complications into the mix: rocks to navigate around; junctions; train-splitters and painting stations. Before long, you’re tearing your hair out, trying to figure out how rework a spaghetti track, to avoid the last of six trains smashing into a wall.
Technically, this is in fact a demo for Trainyard (which costs all of US$2.99), but it’s the most generous demo around, given that the 60-plus puzzles here aren’t found in the paid title.
Retry is presumably Rovio’s knowingly vindictive response to people who moan its Angry Birds games have all the precision and skill requirements of throwing a wet flannel at a wall. You control a plane that’s all too eager to loop the loop, and coaxing it even a small distance is a challenge. As soon as you’ve managed to tame this pixelated equivalent of a dying fly, Retry sneers and lobs at you levels with tight passageways, inclement weather, and steep hills and precarious drops.
Coins are dotted about, enabling you to buy into restart-point runways strategically placed throughout each stage, but it’s pretty clear they may as well be called ‘failure points’, you rubbish player, you.
Additional words: Craig Grannell
READ MORE: The 35 best free Android apps in the world