Sometimes you really do get what you pay for. There are loads of fantastic free games on Android, but spend a little bit of cash and you can enjoy the best mobile gaming experience around.
And when we say 'a little bit', we mean it. None of the games in this list cost more than a fiver and most can be had for less than the price of a pint. Some are free, with in-app purchases available if you choose to take them.
So what should you be playing? While Android used to be not so much a poor relation to iOS but more of a penniless acquaintance, these days the Play Store is pretty well stocked.
Most of the big developers' AAA titles eventually find their way into Google's virtual shopfront, albeit sometimes a little later than they arrive on iOS, and there are plenty of quality indie games to be found if you hunt a little harder.
And while it may lack the exclusives that iOS gets, Android users can console themselves (pardon the pun) with the fact that the huge 5in-plus screens on the average Samsung, HTC, Sony or LG phone make for a superb gaming experience.
Anyway, enough of this talking - you want to get gaming. So here's our list of the 25 best games we've played on Android.
1. Monument Valley
Arguments continue to rage about whether games can be art, and Monument Valley is a pretty big tick-mark in the ‘art’ column. It’s a beautiful and delicate arcade adventure, featuring a silent princess who explores impossible monuments. The architecture shifts as you drag and spin components, Escher-like constructions fashioning pathways that can only exist in the reality of a videogame. The quest is short, but every moment is delightful, and Monument Valley is a beautifully crafted, thoughtful and reflective experience throughout.
Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✩ Price S$4.98
2. Osmos HD
Osmos is a game of warfare between ‘motes’ - blobs that absorb anything smaller than themselves, and which can sometimes propel themselves by ejecting matter. Initially, it takes place in what appears to be primordial soup, and you learn how to cope with the gloopy physics and manipulate time to speed up or slow down the movement of the tiny universe. Subsequent levels then introduce antimatter, ferocious hostile motes, and gravity-based constructions that shift Osmos towards what resembles a galactic scale.
It’s hard to pigeon-hole this title, given that there are elements here from real-time strategy, arcade fare, and puzzling, but it’s certainly easy to recommend it.
Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✭ Price S$3.76
More after the break...
'Rymdkapsel' is an old Norse word that refers to something which is soft on the inside but crunchy on the outside. As in: "Hey, have you tried Olaf Fjörnbutter's muffins today? They're like the tastiest little rymdkapsels!" Try using it, next time you're describing a croquette or a jacket potato, and you'll find it satisfying and descriptive.
Equally satisfying is this stylish, minimalist strategy game, in which you direct little white oblongs to build you a space station and defend it from steadily increasing waves of enemies. You have to manage your resources of food, energy and minions just as you would in Age Of Empires or Civilisation, but on a much smaller, simpler, mobile-friendly scale. It's a fantastic piece of game design, but its simple approach means it's over fairly quickly - a few more challenges and a multiplayer mode would make Rymdkapsel even better.
Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✩ Price S$4.99
4. Minecraft - Pocket Edition
The grown-up press is always banging on about the educational qualities of Minecraft, as if kids somehow needed to justify the fact that they're spending hours playing it.
Well here's some news for you, Mr and Mrs Poncey Academic Thought-Piece: kids play Minecraft because it's fun, just like watching TV or playing with Lego or building a den was back in the dim and distant days when you were young. Educational? Well sure - it's a computer game, they're ALL educational in some way (even GTA teaches you the virtue of leaping out of a car before it explodes in flames).
But we digress. Kids may love Minecraft, but that's because it's really, really good. And for that reason, plenty of adults love it too. The Lego comparison is the easy one to make, but it's a bit lazy - Minecraft is as much about puzzle solving and exploration as it is about building things. There are elements of the RPG, the adventure game and the strategy game, all wrapped up in an endearingly old-school blockiness.
The Pocket Edition loses a few features from the desktop version, but it gains almost as much in the form of touch control and portability. Well worth the price.
Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✭ Price S$8.98
5. Trial Xtreme 2
No, this isn’t the latest version. Trial Xtreme 3 was bigger and slicker, but something about the bike handling had changed and it no longer felt as technical. Not that there was ever a great deal of science to the Trial Xtreme games: you repeatedly fire your bike at the obstacles and eventually some combination of speed, lean angle and hammering of the physically dubious ‘jump’ button would get you through. Any frustration is immediately dispelled by marvellous swoopy moments such as shooting off the end of a loop-the-loop and landing just-so on the downslope of the next section. Whoop! Crash. Repeat.
Stuff says ✭✭✭✭✩ Price S$3.72