Sometimes you really do get what you pay for. There are loads of great free games on Android, but spend a little cash and you can enjoy some of the best mobile gaming around.
And when we say ‘a little bit’, we mean it. Most of the games covered here can be had for less than the price of a pint – and some are even free.
Also, this being Stuff, we’re all about the very best. We’ve actually played all these games – probably a bit too much, if truth be told – and so whether you’re into high-octane endless survival games, blasting aliens, or having your brains smashed out by maddeningly tough puzzles, there’s something in this list for you.
The best endless runner for Android is... ALONE… (S$2.50)
Somewhere along the way, a great many games forgot how to be exciting. But ALONE… remembers those days of seat-of-the-pants roller-coaster gameplay, where a moment’s distraction spelled game over. Here, you’re piloting a tiny ship through deadly caverns at breakneck speed. Occasionally, alarms blare, to warn of incoming projectiles. All you have is your wits and reactions as your sliding finger directs the ship up and down, before it inevitably comes a cropper on the rocky face of one too many giant asteroids.
There’s no depth here, but there doesn’t need to be — ALONE… has tons of replay value simply by virtue of being relentlessly thrilling, no matter how many times you play.
Pinball reinvented as an endless runner of sorts, PinOut has you smash a ball ever onwards while a timer relentlessly counts down. The table is essentially a huge neon corridor, punctuated by ramps and flippers. Each section is a miniature table – a puzzle you must quickly grok, before making the perfect shot to send the ball to the next challenge.
It’s immediate but tense. Bonuses and mini-games help replenish the timer, but a few duff shots can leave you struggling on entering later, tougher zones.
For S$5, you can buy permanent checkpoint restarts; for free, you’ll have to play through to the end in a single sitting – a tall order, even for (virtual) pinball wizards.
Super Hexagon (S$4)
Super Hexagon is survival gaming as reimagined by a lunatic. A tiny craft sits in empty space, surrounded by an infinite number of walls that are rapidly closing in. All you can do is dart left and right, nipping through the gaps, holding off your inevitable demise. But then the screen starts to lurch and spin, as if trapped inside a deranged washing machine.
Games last mere seconds until you start noticing repeating patterns and mastering how to get through each unscathed. As 60 seconds finally pass (many attempts later), colours shift and the pace increases further, signifying that a new, faster and even more punishing challenge has been unlocked. It might be brutal, but Super Hexagon is also electrifying and absurdly addictive; enter at your peril.
Impossible Road (S$3)
Less impossible than once it was, thanks to an update that gave the white ball some shaded definition against the all-white background. But, don’t worry, it’s still completely impossible.
Keeping the ball on the track – though twists and turns, yumps, bumps and chicanes – is made harder by weird physics which give it apparent weight in the air but no directional momentum in the corners. And the fact that the simple left/right controls rotate the track around the ball, and the slightly sticky track edges occasionally repulse you into the white nothingness and time-out death.
But the insistent techno beat and endlessly redrawn and randomised track just keep you rolling back in for another run.
Disney Crossy Road (free)
Endless Frogger meets Disney in a rare example of an indie dev/movie house tie-up that works perfectly.
The mechanics will be familiar to anyone who’s played the excellent original — tap and swipe to have a blocky protagonist weave through traffic and deftly jump across rivers.
The addition of Disney characters, though, finds you battling your way through retro versions of famous animated worlds, dodging tumbling blocks in Toy Story, filing memories for bonuses in Inside Out, and avoiding a psychotic suit of armour in Haunted House.