My recommendations for Android Games

These are my recommendations based on gaming on Android devices since 2011. Some of these games are actually that old, while others are brand new.

As a whole, I will not recommend pay for win games, betting games, and puzzle games (not because I don't like them, but because there are plenty of fish on the sea). 

While I do sometimes mention some pay for win games, it's often with a heavy caveat that you should enjoy it until the pay for win gets in the way, then leave, because the price is not worth it.

Here are some tips on how to avoid games without the need of any review:

  • VIP system, Online Ladder, Tournaments, plans to win game currency every day you log - All are pay to win, no exception. Stay away.
     
  • Always-online requirement for games that are not real time
     
  • IAP items that offer clear advantages on your game instead of saving you time or giving you aesthetics or game play benefits that do not affect ease of play (examples of good IAP: offer you ad-free, offer you double rewards, offer you visual improvements, offer you extra slots for something non essential, cloud save capability (kid of evil but not really pay to win))
     
  • Games by Gamevil. This company lives up to their name, they license foreign games for a time (1 year usually), translate it (poorly), get your money on heavy P2W IAP, then shut down the servers when the lease is over. Seen that happening to multiple games, I lost some money to them in two titles.

Games are in ALPHABETICAL order, no tricks.


Turn-based hexagonal title war game set in WW-II, control tanks, infantry and airplanes in this very nice android game.

Campaign based, the game also boasts challenges and a currency that follows up each map on the campaign so you can choose when to use it or not (the currency is used to spawn extra units whenever needed, repair units and so on. You earn them for almost every action ingame)

IPA starts from removing ads to ingame currency (not required if you don't waste what the game gives you)

Caveats: 

  • If you loose a game, you might get low in ingame currency, which might be an issue since you can only get it by replaying or IAP. You can, however, play earlier levels to make the ingame currency back.
  • Annoying AD when you start the game ... yeah, nitpicking.

Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: Yes
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Large
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

A small title that will tick the itch for civilization-style games: You build unites and evolve tiles around your cities, which you can either build or conquer from enemies, on a turn-based game that is minimalist, but fun.

Each game shouldn't last more than a few minutes, since there is even a hard limit on turns, but that shouldn't stop you from beating the game by conquest since maps are not big. You also can select a civilization on game start, which will grant you different units or bonuses.

The game is totally free and limitless as long as you can rinse and repeat, with in-app purchases for different civilizations, which is neither required nor abusive in price should you wish to contribute.


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Portrait
Timesink: Huge but limited
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

While defining itself as a "Space TD", it actually isn't. It is more a beautiful arcade top-down ship shooter.

You control Battleship Lonewolf, on multiple campaign levels that pit you against wave after wave of enemy ships and boss battles. As you progress, not only upgrade but build up a larger ship, unlock new turrets and improve existing skills.

Ingame, while you move around to seek or avoid enemies, you level up two types of turret fire (which you install at any time once you have enough resources) or the resource gather range. 

Time your skills for that boss battle, or once you complete the campaign, brace for endless mode.

Beautiful, addictive and expansive, this is a shooter/TD that you want in your library


Model: Paid (one time purchase)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Huge but limited
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

This funny little 3D racer has been around for quite some time, and boasts a very nice graphic visual for an old game. It is as simple tap start and run to your heart's content, since the goal is dual: beat your own time, and get coins. Input scheme can be configured too so don't worry about driving.

The road is randomly generated and will periodically change theme (beach, lava-world, swamp and so on), with many weird achievements like running over penguings to your usual "beat 5km".

With the coins you collect, you can upgrade your car, get another car (each with different stats) and even change your driver avatar and car colors. All mostly secondary other than some upgrades. If you like the game, you will probably get the coins you want by playing it over and over, but in-app purchases vary from ad-free or double coins (forever) to directly purchasing coins. If you want to support this awesome game, I suggest you get at least the double coins.

There is another game with the exact same style, Beach Buggy Racing, which is a little more competitive, with timed races, challenges and even multiplayer, but will cost you to get farther.


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: Yes
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Infinite
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

A fun alternate on the TD genre, this side-scroller instance have you building a castle (add rooms, walls and gates based on your level and experience), then proceed to spawn troops that have to fight to defend said castle from waves or enemies that not only can breach the gate and steal your flag, but also siege and start destroying your castle - and as any special room is destroyed, you loose the ability or troop it provided.

For the extra fun, there are also castle vs castle levels where you need to defend and attack simultaneously (your castle have a balista that can fire all assortments of weird charges to kill either troops or damage the enemy castle).

Finally, you can have a hero that helps your troops, and you can take direct control (for a limited time) to maximum damage. 

The game also offers a variety of campaign and play styles, as well multiplayer modes.

Probably one of the best games on mobile, though you need to enjoy the style.

IAP range from ad-free, daily bonuses and stars (for upgrades and troops). Not really required but this game is worth the incentive to the developers.


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Huge but limited
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

What can we say? a fresh concept.

You control cars in a top-view of a small map, going from their starting point to a specific destination point. Easy enough, except your route is recorded and then you need to take another vehicle from another starting point to another destination, and avoid your previous vehicles. As you start having 15 cars moving on screen, it can get quite challenging, and remember, you have a predefined time to beat the whole level, so don't even think of going slow.

While the game is fresh and execution is masterful, one word of caution: while freemium with the usual "remove ads" IAP, the ability to save your progress is also an IAP, called "checkpoints". If you don't buy it, you have to start from scratch every time you restart the game, which is kind of a way of making that IAP mandatory on top of the no-ads. Still, honestly, quite worth it.

Caveats:

  • The mentioned requirement to "purchase" checkpoints on top of removing ads.

Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Large
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

An ambient game by Sony, you control two "birds" (one on each side of the screen) with your fingers and have to move them away or after obstacles that come faster and faster, doing combos or loosing lives. 

The game boasts a good visual and audio/music attraction to be a nice pass-time, and the premium feel makes the price worth it.


Model: Paid (one time purchase)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Huge but limited
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

There are multiple flight control games currently available, but this is the original take, which is still fresh and fun.

Take the role of flight controller and command airplanes and helicopters to approach landing zones. Sounds easy and boring until you have 20 airplanes trying to land simultaneously and, as you would expect, they can't crash into each other. So plan the routes ... or grow 20 fingers.

Trust me, not as easy (or boring) as it sounds once the number of planes amp up, and the anger when you let two planes crash early on a stage will make you keep trying to beat your own score.


Model: Paid (one time purchase)
Spawns multiple games: Yes
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Huge but limited
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

A strategic 3D game, you control a fleet of up to 4 capital ships against a predefined set of enemy capital ships on missions that can change from simply destroy everything, to escort or survive. You move your ships on the map by swiping their destinations, and set up each ship (before battle) with a vast array of weapons, skills and Armour/shield

The game provides free updates and ingame currency enough to last you hours and a couple dozen maps on the campaign before starting to get a little needy on the IAP (it takes real time to repair your damaged ships, and stronger weapons/skills are too expensive to get without IAP or some serious grinding), however, by then you should know if you like the game or not to make the IAP.

Caveats:

  • Might get pay to progress eventually (or huge waits for your ships to repair), though since the game up to then is totally free, I consider that a "ok, time to pay" purchase.

Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Large
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

This is pretty much the holy grail of Tower Defense. This "infinite" endless game has literally no ending, the game even goes to warn you that you are not supposed to "beat it" but rather try to reach as far as you can. With several maps, an map editor, literally hundreds of profile-level upgrades which can translate into up to 80 upgrades per tower type (and a dozen tower types), there is really a lot to do here. The graphics are minimalistic but when you can have, well, hundreds of enemies, towers and even more projectiles flashing your screen, that is for the best.

While free, the game deserves at least the double money IAP (every time you "finishes" a game, you get "money" to buy profile-level upgrades for your towers, map statistics and other tinkering to try and progress more). You can also purchase more "money" with IAP if you really want to progress faster but that is really not the fun of the game ... the fun is getting there.

Certainly recommended and easily one of the biggest time sinks available.

The game supports google play cloud saves to keep your progress, but is played entirely offline.

 

 


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Infinite
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

If you like Tower Defense, welcome to your final stop. Kingdom Rush defines the whole genre on mobile, and has even spawned to PC.

With plenty of levels, tower options and the mandatory endless mode, this entry spawns 3 games that while the same on mechanic, have different tower, enemies and hero mechanic, with some entries the heroes leveling per stage, while others per profile.

Some entries are paid, others freemium, with IAP's for ad-remove (on the freemium versions) or new heroes, that are mostly just a small change of pace but not an OP unit.

Get the free game and try it out, you will end up with all series and some extra heroes for sure.


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: Yes
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Infinite
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

A tactics turn based game using the hexagonal-tiles concept. Recruit and lead your army, of which any unit can be made into a hero (units that can respawn with same experience points and skills if dead) and take the enemy castles.

While the graphics are not the most impressive aspect of the game, they are cute and clear enough. The real star of the game is the tactics, which are seriously important. Unit damage depend on which tile type they and their enemy are, they HP (the more hurt, the less damage), surrounding allies and other factors, and you will need to master which types of units to move together to get the best effect. 

To make this a must-have, skirmish mode with configurable opponent AI, map and settings is also available to infinite replay value.

IAP comes in the form of coins you use to level unit skills, coins which you gain every game you play and are not greedy. Certainly worth at least the "double coins" IAP.

 


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Infinite
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

In need to satisfy your itch for strategy base-building games? you found your fix

Build your base, your army, and go beat the opponent base. As you progress in the campaign, new buildings, unites and upgrades become available, but beware, the enemy will often get the upgrades earlier than you - for difficult sake right?

A very clean and simple interface, with buildings only allowed to be built on predefined pads that you need to conquer before using make it a lightweight game. 

For the small price, quite a good entry. I did not play the first game, and given it seems to be the same with less features, I saw no reason to buy it - the developers should have made the first instance free, but well.


Model: Paid (one time purchase)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Large
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

Simple and minimalistic, but far from easy. Stations pop randomly on a map and you need to connect them by metro lines so all stations somehow connect to each other - passengers pop in the stations with a destination (represented by the station shape) and need to get there - the game routes the fastest route but you need to make sure the trains are on time!

Seems simple enough, but add to that limited resources (locomotive, carriages, tunnels or bridges, metro lines) and you will find yourself soon getting a station overcrowded, which is the loose condition.

Certainly worth the asking price, it features many maps (which are mostly just about the water layout, though the Osaka map adds two types of trains, normal and shinkansen) and an endless mode (have as many stations you can before you can no longer support more passengers).

No IAP, no Ads, no hastle, just pure entertainment. Enjoy your mini metros. 


Model: Paid (one time purchase)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Infinite
Network requirement: optional
Link: Google Store

A simple yet fun game where you play "nature" as you adapt your ultimate plague to extinguish mankind. Evolve communities, resistances, cause quick or slow death and adapt to spread by air or water and kill off the humans.

Sounds easy? Not so fast. Kill too fast and end up killing the infected before they can spread the disease. Kill too slow and allow humans to find the cure. Go towards the path of simple symptoms or ridiculously obvious deadly ones and see how humanity reacts.

After you beat the game a couple of times, it kind of becomes boring, so there are a few challenges and start-options to tweak a little. Still fun to learn how the best killer is a silent plague with little symptoms, that infects the most before being 'found out' and triggering more investment on "the cure". 

IAP for Ad-removal and tiny not mandatory updates.


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Large
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

This raw simple shoot-them-up arcade is a small timesink. There is a free "demo" version to check if you will like it or not, so give it a try.

The pixelated art and very simple control guarantee addiction and runs on pretty much any device. 


Model: Paid (one time purchase)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Huge but limited
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

This one is not really one of my best recommendations, in fact I would urge you to choose Kingdom Rush instead, but since you can enjoy this game - for free - for some time before the truckload of PayForWin hits you, you might consider as an "cute alternate", but beware you will not, under any circumstance, progress about half the game without starting to pay (or pay every day for a couple of months to acquire a little something to progress a little further before you rage quit about the PayForWin).

Basically, this is the greedy version of Kingdom Rush. Other than almost identical interface, play style and towers, you have Heroes with abilities (you can have up to three), which are actually what matters (Example, A premium hero can beat the first couple levels of the game without tower help, and medium-progress levels onwards are impossible without a decent hero).

All the signs this game is a big no are there: "gems" (ingame currency you get by logging every day or IAP), Tournament with ladder, premium levels, online requirements (although standard levels will play offline), and even a whole part of the game that only opens if you play for a certain amount of time (as in days ... that is new ... ick). So, you were warned. When it starts getting hard, it means its time to go back to developers who care. Buy a hero in Kingdom Rush just to praise them for the good work, but don't drop a dime in this, just use it and trash it.

Caveats:

  • Pay to Win after around half the game
  • Is currently under active development but developers don't reply or care
  • Active development is actually more content that requires more purchase (good luck on World 3 if you don't get the 3000 gem heroes)

Model: Freemium with pay to win IAP
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Large
Network requirement: optional
Link: Google Store

With near console-like visuals, this racing game is a blast for fans of the genre. With a small price tag, there is huge replay value and even a sequel.


Model: Paid (one time purchase)
Spawns multiple games: Yes
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Huge but limited
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

This unique turn-based game lets you control a robot and spawn 3 machines to fight against a similar setup. The twist? you have to run a partially-random "slot-machine" sequence to select which action to take (you can choose the first action, the other 2 are random) which will trigger either an attack, a defense, or spawn/boost a machine.

This mix of random and choice is great and plays very nicely. The game comes with a free multiplayer (real time!) and a complete campaign that is huge (I never finished it, I usually switch device/tablet and loose my progress, but this game is fun from the first battle onwards, so no pain on loosing progress).

There are in-app purchases to get skill points and access to a "recharde node" which allows you to recharge if you loose all your energy (which basically will require you to restart the campaign all over again, but it never happened to me, just don't fight enemies too harder than you).

Each game lasts only a few minutes but the chance of progress, gaining skills and building the ultimate combo keeps you coming back.


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Infinite
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

One of the best top-down arcade shooters available, it boasts vibrant graphics and sound, and a good playtime. You control the plane by moving your fingers on screen, which might require some getting used to if you never played like that, but once you do, it is a blast.

The game has a complete sequel with about the same playtime if you like it.

IAP features from removing Ads, to gaining experience (coins) faster or coin purchase. Certainly worth removing Ads.

 


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: Yes
Orientation: Portrait
Timesink: Large
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

Control a fleet of capital ships (top-down) and fighters against wave after wave of allies. You could always say this is a TD game.

Spawn new capital ships you develop as you progress on the campaign, launch and control wings of fighters by swiping the path they should take, harvest resources and protect the mothership.

The only caveat I really don't like about this game is you cannot zoom out, and your vision is limited only around the mothership, so you don't see the whole picture. Enemy alien ships that are not visible until close, being displayed only as triangular warnings on the edges. For an A.I. which will always try to flank you, it gets annoying fast. Still, very good game.

Unfortunately, a little pay to progress. While you can progress without IAP, all the good strong ships are paid with IAP-acquired currency (you get a tiny amount in game sometimes, nowhere near to have the best ships since it is wasted on special emergency skills)

With so much to say against it, that I still recommends it goes a long way to show it is a great game. Shame it is old and the development team doesn't seam interested in expanding/improving it.

Caveats:

  • Seems to no longer be actively supported
     
  • Best ships are purchased on IAP (or you will play until your eyes gouge out to get even one)
  • Lack of zoom makes control troublesome at parts
     

Model: Freemium with pay to win IAP
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Portrait
Timesink: Large
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

A variation on the TD genre, in Tiny Guardians you are the one who moves on the scenario beating down enemies. Your main character can summon heroes who you can control and level on each level, creating pretty much the traditional dungeon party of tank, archer, mage and healer (these classes unlock as you play, you start with tank and archer only).

Unfortunately the game is small and you can beat it fairly quickly if you like it. There is an endless mode after you beat the main story, which is quite fun (you play in a circle map and enemies keep spawning around you)

While paid, the game also features a small IAP store that allows you to either change the appearance of your hero classes, or buy a couple of new classes, which are not really required to beat the game. If you like the game after a couple of levels, I suggest you make the IAP for the costumes, because the game is short.

The cutesy, gameplay and style more than make the one-time purchase worth it.

Caveats:

  • Too short

Model: Paid (one time purchase)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Small
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

Welcome to as close as you get from city simulation on touchscreen. While not the traditional "zone and wait for buildings to spawn", it is still quite a minimalistic city builder, where you need to build specific structures for specific tasks (food, materials, goods and so on), while growing the population (by simply building new houses, which spawn immediately with people) to take on those jobs.

The most recent version even have bandits raids so you require to build troops and defense (optional).

A huge timesink, you can easily waste hours on one town. To add even more replay value, complete challenge-cities and unlock special upgrades.

IAP is not mandatory and goes from simply removing ads, to increasing how fast you earn XP, coins or directly give you coins. I suggest at least removing the ads (which you can do directly by purchasing the "premium" version).

Caveats:

  • Paid fast-forward is evil

Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Infinite
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

Goo ... it is everywhere. Well .. 

Build structures with goo by moving your small goo balls and forming connections between others. Beware, however, they are not stable or solid, so weight will deform them - from this simple start, the game pushes you to try and build connections and bridges between points to an exit, requiring you to "save" a certain amount of goo (so you can't use them all). Eventually you will have different types of goo, like floating ones, or ones that can be reconnected. 

A sandbox mode allows you to use whatever number of goo you saved from the main game to be used to build the tallest structure you can. Challenging as the higher you get, the more weight and tension to the base and thus the likelihood of collapse.

Old but gold!


Model: Paid (one time purchase)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Huge but limited
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

A 3D top-down shooter, you enter bases infected by mutants to perform simple quests (usually kill this, destroy that) before requiring to evacuate the base. 

The controls are different in the way you need to use an onscreen controller to point where to shoot, which can require some getting used to, but at least your hand will not need to be in front of the action like some games where you "touch" the target. While one controller is used to aim, the other moves your character, so your phone/tablet becomes pretty much a dual-stick controller.

As you level up (or rather, gain coins), you can upgrade your character, weapons and buy new weapons or armor. Not necessary but certainly a big help.

An unfortunate characteristic of the game is that there is no removing the ads. Even with IAPS, which allow you to get coins for upgrades (not necessary to beat the game).


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Large
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

This is pretty much an idle game, but as the name implies, it is meant to take it easy, Control a Koi fish on a pond, eating specific organules or smaller fish to grow and earn skills and eventually increase the pond size. Once you master the pond, the fish turns into a dragon and becomes a trophy, queue restart the whole thing with a new fish: There are literally dozens of color and shape variations and the "point" is to collect them.

From time to time, another fish will appear and you can "mate" and get an egg for that fish, so you can mix the colors and shapes accordingly. Since you can only have a certain number of eggs or active fishes, you end up having to decide which partners are worth it ... or use IAP to increase your inventory capacity.

Simple, relaxing, but yes, repetitive and boring. But kind of a good game to doze off when you go to bed.


Model: Freemium (Free with IAP)
Spawns multiple games: No
Orientation: Portrait
Timesink: Huge but limited
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store

A fun take on the TD style, in Zombie City Defense instead of towers you train squads and move them around the map placing them in strategic choke points to kill the waves of zombies that arrive. While doing that, you must take buildings for cover (some are just entering, others have zombies inside).

The minimalist design displays your armies and zombies as symbols, which is not that bad considering the whole point, but it kind of makes control a little tricky to learn, specially how you need to de-select whatever you have selected to even move around the screen (otherwise the tap will count as a move order).

But other than the tricky controls, the game actually ramps up fun. Each level can be as lengthy as 1 hour so be prepared for some time for play (sure, there is pause). 

New stronger units come as you earn credits and stars on the campaign, and if you are too eager to advance, there is IAP to get you them faster, but it is not intrusive nor required for the fun.

The game spawns a sequel with improved dynamics and options.


Model: Paid (one time purchase)
Spawns multiple games: Yes
Orientation: Landscape
Timesink: Huge but limited
Network requirement: no
Link: Google Store