The best arcade game for Android is... Osmos HD (S$4)
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.
Pac-Man CE DX (S$7)
If you’d visited Stuff HQ in early 2015 and told us mere months later Android would receive the best Pac-Man game ever made, we’d have laughed so hard you’d have been blown out of the window. But the joke would have been on us, because CE DX is marvellous.
Following on from the original Pac-Man Championship Edition, this sequel is a fast-paced time-attack game, where you manage mazes split in half. Clear one side and a special object appears in the other; eat that and the now-empty section is refilled with a new dot configuration.
All the while, you graze sleeping ghosts that awake in a bad mood and follow your every move. The result is the best of Pac-Man and Snake, smushed together and sped up, across ten unique zones.
Spaceteam is a masterpiece in design — a multiplayer game that anyone can understand in an instant. The premise is your ship is falling to bits while attempting to outrun an exploding star. The only thing that will keep it going is responding quickly to commands that appear on your device. The snag is they may refer to your control panel or those on friends’ screens.
The net result is lots of people maniacally yelling things like “WILL SOMEONE PLEASE SET THE SIGMACLAPPER TO ZERO?” while frantically searching their own screen for “a switch that looks like someone being eaten by a telephone”. Genius.
If you liked the idea of Flappy Bird but hated everything else about it, give Badland a go. It's the best side-scrolling-one-button-physics-floater we've played (and we've played a lot), and is worthy of its place in this list for its gorgeous graphics alone.
It's also beautifully animated: we've never seen a fuzzy alien blob absorb a power-up and gently throb as it grows to 10 times the size, but we're pretty sure this is exactly what it would look like.
As a game, it totally nails the tricky balance between so-hard-you-hate-the-world and so-easy-there's-just-no-point. It's tough, sure, but the checkpoints are well placed and it rewards repeat attempts. And trusts us, the sense of satisfaction you'll feel as you lead your troupe of cloned blobs to the finishing point will outweigh any you got from lasting 10 seconds on Flappy Bird.
Ridiculous Fishing (S$4)
There’s heart, whimsy and more than a touch of satire at the core of Ridiculous Fishing, a title that at times resembles grind-based IAP-laden fare, but that on closer inspection couldn’t be further from it. Play is broken into three distinct scenes; the first involves dropping your line and avoiding aquatic wildlife, until something is snared or your line runs out; you then reel your line in, hooking whatever you can on the way up; and then the catch is hurled into the air and blasted to smithereens, which oddly adds to your coffers.
Money can be spent in the in-game store, but there’s no IAP here; and while there’s plenty of repetition, grind is avoided by a masterful slow reveal of kit, captures, locations and a sweet story that underpins the entire game.