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Top 10 best Android games: November 2011

Xtreme Trials, Cruise Stories, and Boulder Dashes
Product: Top 10 Android charts | Format: Android
Top 10 Android charts Android, thumbnail 1
While Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich OS was on many mainstream lips in November, spec-hungry Android gamers were looking ahead to something else with a powerful flavour.

Asus’s Transformer Prime is the first tablet to be powered by Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 chip and launches Stateside later this month. Apparently five times more powerful than the current gen Tegra 2 and rocking a 12-core Nvidia graphics processor, this Android powerhouse is a mouthwatering prospect that should compete with home consoles like the Xbox 360 and PS3 for image quality and framerates.

If you need proof, then look no further than the trailer for MMO shooter DaVinci THD, which had us drooling more than a dog outside a butcher shop window.

So, while you get your Prime orders sent off to Santa, here are November’s top ten Android Games.

As usual, if we missed off your favourite from the last month, don’t take us off your Christmas card list - just let us and your fellow Android gamers know in the comments section below.

World of Goo
Review - Download

If you need a barometer of just how good World of Goo is, then consider that I’ve personally bought four copies of the game (on Steam, via the Humble Indie Bundle on PC, on iOS, and now on Android).

2D Boy’s seminal physics-puzzler was a joy to play with keyboard and mouse, but in the transition to touchscreen devices, a tactile new control system has been devised that's a perfect fit.

There is an innate joy in the simple bridge-building mechanics, in which you guide balls of goo towards a suction pipe. The game's imbued with a darkly comic aesthetic and storyline, mind - all hinted at by the mysterious Sign Painter’s messages.

Identical to the Pocket Gamer Gold Award-winning iPad edition, the Android conversion is ideal for large screen tablets, but a little fiddlier on smaller handsets. Still, don’t let that put you off sampling the goo-ey goodness of this indie masterpiece.

Asteroid Defense 2
Review - Download

Another month passes, and another slew of tower defence titles invade the Android Market. Yet, despite the genre becoming more overcrowded than a US department store on Black Friday, developers keep on coming up with new twists to keep fans addicted.

Asteroid Defense 2’s biggest selling point is its setting. As a blessed relief from defending patches of earth from trundling tanks, you’re now launched into planetary orbit and tasked with repelling a shower of deadly meteors. Think Armageddon, but without Ben Affleck.

Rather than creating funnels of towers, you're augmenting a sole command module with cannons, missile launchers, freeze guns, and solar panels to power your deadly arsenal. You’ll need the firepower, too, as the game takes delight in hurling screen-filling lumps of rock at you that only progression-linked upgrade system can defend you from.

Trial Xtreme 2 HD
Review - Download

Suspiciously similar in name, style, and design to a certain PC / Xbox 360 franchise, Trial Xtreme 2 HD is nevertheless a confident effort in recreating the bone-crunching physics of a motocross obstacle course.

Your job is simple enough: get from one end of the level to the other without wrecking your bike, or your rider, in the process.

The mix of touchscreen-based throttle management and accelerometer balancing can take some getting used to, but the physics rarely let you down - even when obstacles clutter the screen and your biker is spending more time airborne than safely on terra firma.

The only thing missing compared to the hallowed likes of Trials HD is a mid-level checkpointing system to save you from constantly starting from scratch after every crash. Fortunately, the levels are brief enough for this to not present too serious an issue, but it’s a strange omission that could make the difficulty level a little too cruel for casual players.

Battle Group
Review - Download

A personal favourite from last month, Battle Group is a solid effort to mix the retro gameplay of Missile Command with some 'torpedo hell' blasting.

Put in command of an Allied Nations fleet of naval destroyers, you have to head into deadly waters controlled by some swarthy pirates with a penchant for state-of-the-art military hardware (planes, choppers, boats, and subs).

With movement controlled by the AI, you’re left in charge of manning your ship’s artillery and defensive weaponry - with play divided between blasting enemies and stopping torpedoes from sinking your boats before the mission is completed.

While you start with one, rather weedy, vessel, completing missions (and grinding back through them for extra plunder) earns you upgrade points to spend on better ships and, more importantly, deadlier cannons.

Polished and suitably frantic to play, Battle Group is a short game - padded out with the need to replay levels - but more missions are promised to lengthen the voyage soon.

World Cruise Story
Review - Download

Continuing our nautical theme is the latest release from strategy-lite master Kairosoft.

World Cruise Story is, like all the publisher’s other output, built on the solid structure of Game Dev Story. You’re the owner of a luxurious cruise ship, who is tasked with giving passengers a trip chock-full of relaxation, sunshine, and on-board entertainment.

You’re also responsible for arranging the cabins, attractions, shops, and other money-making facilities, as well as organising coach trips for passengers across countries you dock in. Through shrewd investment in other business, and even the economies of holiday destinations, your clientele grows richer and so do your coffers.

It’s nothing Kairosoft fans haven’t seen before, but World Cruise Story is still an immersive slice of ocean life that’s perfect for anyone who's dreamed of running his own Love Boat.

Elder Signs: Omens
Review - Download

Although a little daunting for people whose only experience of boardgames is a gentle afternoon of Ludo, Elder Signs: Omens is a title that rewards investment in its rich lore and mechanics.

Based on the works of fantasy horror legend H.P. Lovecraft (the guy behind Cthulhu), the story is centred on the awakening of a world-decimating beast (Azathoth).

Rather than wait for him to change out of his pajamas, have a cup of coffee, and set off the apocalypse, you lead a team of investigators into a museum to collect Elder Sign tokens. These, rather handily, are capable of returning the beastie to his slumber.

You gain these tokens by completing Adventures - in which you have to match up series of glyphs with symbols on your cards - across the museum map. There’s a fair amount of complexity to the gameplay, with the risk of losing investigators along the way (all of whom have special powers to aide you), but the learning curve is eased by the luscious hand-drawn visuals that really bring Lovecraft’s world to life.

Open Sea!
Review - Download

Our memory of the Bible is pretty hazy, but we don’t remember Moses parting the Red Sea to free the Israelites only for them to be attacked by mummies along the way.

Still, developer The Pixelizers has done such a grand job of turning one of the Good Book’s most dramatic moments into a fun game - so we’ll overlook this slight sin. You play Mo: a bearded prophet capable of parting the sea (by swiping across the screen) and using incentives like lightning bolts to encourage his followers to make a dash for freedom.

You’ll need all these tools, too, as these acolytes tend to be either cowardly, drunk, narcoleptic, or have one foot in the grave - yet, all (or most, anyway) must be saved.

With 50 stages and plenty of twists to keep you on your toes (like Heroes who can give your followers the ability to walk on water), Open Sea! is a compelling, addictive, and slightly sacrilegious game that’s still holy enjoyable.

Boulder Dash - The Collection
Review - Download

This Android compilation of Boulder Dashes actually only includes one modernised version of the retro game (from 2005) from the outset, with four further incarnations (stretching way back to the early '80s) available as, reasonably priced, in-app purchases.

Regardless of whether you prefer slightly shinier HD visuals or retro pixellation, all the versions play roughly the same. As explorer Roderick, you have to collect enough diamonds in each level to unlock the door to the next cavern.

Moving automatically digs you through the earth, with bricks, metal walls, and piles of easily dislodged boulders acting as the main obstacles.

Later on, deadly insects, unstable bombs, and stretchy walls make the job even riskier. 30 years on, the gameplay is dated but undeniably thrilling, thanks in part to well-optimised touchscreen controls.

Rick O’Shea
Review - Download

Once you get over the initial disappointment that this is not an Irish-flavoured remake of '80s platformer Rick Dangerous, you’ll discover a fun game about the world’s most dangerous way to earn a living - the human cannonball.

Rick O’Shea is something of an expert in this rarefied circus profession, which is handy as he has 120 levels to blast himself around in this generous Android title. The titular hero bounces off any flat surface he touches, meaning he will ricochet around until he either touches another cannon, blasts through the exit to the level, or collides with deadly obstacles (of which there are many).

It’s a little similar to Puffle Launch, which graced last month’s Android top ten, but it requires a little more finesse in your cannon-firing skills than the Club Penguin child-friendly title does.

Your performance rating is governed by how many of the three available stars you collect in each level, meaning there’s a lot of replayability as you try to 'beat' the stage.

Rick O’Shea is free to download, with the first act included gratis and two more available via in-app purchases - should the blasting action take your fancy.

Bag It!
Review - Download

If working on a Tesco checkout was anything like Bag It!, we’d all be signing up for a career behind the till.

Billed, optimistically, as "Tetris meets Toy Story", this physics-based puzzler might not quite live up to this lofty claim, but it still has bags of charm and lots of variety to go alongside its simple premise. You’re tasked with packing a range of different foods into bags without crushing them.

Yes, it’s not dissimilar to the grand finale of a trip to Asda, but by giving all of the food items (melons, milk cartons, bananas, eggs) expressive eyes - and the ability to shake with fear when something heavier is hovering above them - Hidden Variable Studios makes the game cute and compelling.

There are 50 levels to tally up high scores in, with stacks of variation - like levels where you have to crush as many food types as possible - to keep you heading down the Bag It! aisles for one more go.

Reviewer photo
Paul Devlin 12 December 2011
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