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 ANDROID FEATURE

Top 10 best Android games: January 2012

There's nothing Humble about this Bundle
 
Top 10 Android charts Android, thumbnail 1
If you're able to tear yourself away from your beloved smartphone long enough to boot up a PC, chances are you'll have heard of the Humble Bundles.

These 'pay-what-you-want' compilations of hit indie games have been selling like scorching baked goods over the past year, raising cash for both the developers and charities, too (a percentage of each sale goes to the likes of Child's Play Charity and the Electronic Frontier Foundation).

January saw the latest bundle launch with an exciting mobile twist: for the first time, this pack of games is also available for phones.

Alongside mercifully DRM-free PC or Mac versions, you can pick up the Android incarnations of acclaimed iOS titles Anomaly Warzone Earth, Edge, and Osmos. Plus, you'll receive a copy of the peerless World of Goo if you pay more than the average price for your bundle.

It's a surprising, yet warmly welcomed, move that shows just what a dominant force Android gaming is becoming among the indie community, at least. So, in tribute (and because, helpfully, they hit the Android Market last month), we'll take a gander at the pick of the Humble crop within January's Top ten best Android games round-up.

As always, if we've missed off your New Year favourite, give it a shout out in the comments below.

Edge Extended
By Mobigame - buy on Android



If I had to name the game that made me think smartphone gaming was going to take over my life, it wouldn't be Angry Birds - no, that honour goes to Edge.

Something of a curio when it launched on iOS - a situation both helped and hindered by constantly being removed and restored on the App Store due to litigation from resident industry annoyance Tim Langdell - Mobigame's title quickly developed a cult following.

Now, this semi-sequel, packed with bonus levels and updated graphics, should bring an even bigger Android audience to the isometric platformer. The deceptively simple concept - you need to carefully roll a cube around increasingly complex maps (filled with switches, portals, and gems to collect) - paired with the stripped-down neon aesthetic means it's easy to get sucked into the right-angled world.

It plays beautifully, with a real sense of peril as you desperately try not to topple into the void. The lure of beating your rubbish first level completion time means Edge Extended is likely to remain a permanent fixture on your Android.

Anomaly Warzone Earth HD
By 11 bit studios - buy on Android



It's not often we dole out Platinum Awards to games, but some just outright deserve that perfect 10. Anomaly Warzone Earth is one of those games, and the incredible critical reception it was afforded on iOS last year was enough to make even the most devoted 'droid devotee turn into a green-eyed robot monster.

An ultra-smart spin on the well-worn tower defence template, the game turns Fieldrunners HD and its ilk on their heads by making you the invading force. This leaves you desperately trying to snake past a merciless barrage of machine guns, missile launchers, and plasma cannons.

Keeping your units alive and achieving objectives are never easy under constant fire, so plotting a safe route and picking up as many bonuses as possible (like invaluable field repairs) along the way is the key to survival in the hostile yet beautifully rendered war-torn landscapes.

Osmos HD
By Hemisphere Games - buy on Android



Although it first landed on the iPad back in 2010, Osmos HD is one of those timeless titles that still impresses nearly two years on. The chilled, almost meditative, visuals and sound design are the real standout features of a physics-puzzler that's best enjoyed on a large-screen phone or tablet.

In a similar style to cult favourite flOw on the PSP, you control a tiny life form that can only grow and survive by absorbing smaller single-cell organisms floating around it.

You control your glowing cell with an intuitive combination of multi-touch gestures - pinch to zoom, swipe to speed up or slow time, and three-finger taps to call up menus - and learning to manage the inertia of your movement is the key.

While Osmos HD initially appears very relaxing, more 'hardcore' gamers will be pleased to know the difficulty ramps up as you progress. With a single touch from a larger cell spelling instant death, frustration can creep in. The more familiar you get with the controls, however, the longer you'll survive.

Epic Astro Story
By Kairosoft - buy on Android



It was inevitable that once Kairosoft had drained the planet of earthly pastimes (including football management and video game development) for inspiration, it would have no choice but to look to the stars.

While the stat-crunching gameplay of Epic Astro Story may seem comfortably familiar, its intergalactic setting makes it the developer's most exotic experience to date. From colonising planets to vanquishing alien races, this is a vast game that remains accessible thanks to Kairosoft's cuddly byte-shaped visuals and obsessive-compulsive gameplay.

Simply constructing an off-world civilisation would have been enough for many players, but the chance to explore new worlds with a fearless Away Team (Star Trek reference: check) opens up new expansion and combat areas to add infinite appeal to the stock intergalactic micro-management.

Inertia: Escape Velocity
By Red Fly Studio - buy on Android



If I were able to turn off gravity at will, the chances are I'd soar majestically into the sky and then be skewered by a Ryanair jet. It's a blessing, therefore, that there are games like this to keep me - ahem - grounded.

A clever riff on the physics-platformer formula, Inertia: Escape Velocity lets you turn off your character's "personal gravity" at any point, causing him to drift at a constant speed in his current direction. It's a simple, yet intriguing mechanic, that makes zipping around the space-age environments a constant delight.

The levels are always inventive, with force fields, launchers, attractors, and repulsors all added at various junctures to spice up the levels. While the constant distractions mean Inertia: Escape Velocity loses some focus later on, it's never anything less than a thrilling anti-gravity trip.

Tree Jumper
By WaveCrest Entertainment - buy on Android



While the old adage that 'squirrels are just rats with good PR' rings true here, the nature of the high score-chasing challenge in Tree Jumper makes it an irresistible prospect for fans of the likes of Doodle Jump.

With shiny 3D graphics bringing Tree Jumper's lush timber environments to life, WaveCrest's game does a good job of hooking you into its light but addictive gameplay.

Playing as a - presumably endangered species of - blue squirrel, you're tasked with climbing an everlasting tree in search of nuts. It's not all plain jumping, mind, as you have to watch out for snakes, beehives, and angry birds on the way (the slightest collision causes you to drop all your nuts, you see).

Grinsia
By Kemco Games - buy on Android



Unless you're prepared to dip into the murky world of emulation, finding quality old skool Japanese RPGs to sate your desire for random battles, 2D sprites, and dialogue-heavy cutscenes can prove an endless quest.

Thankfully, veteran developer Kemco Games - which first published on the ancient NES - is steadily releasing titles like Grinsia. It's an unashamedly traditional RPG, packed with overly perky teen warriors, a predictable 'evil descends on a peaceful world' storyline, and turn-based battles that pop up without warning.

There's nothing here that Final Fantasy and Golden Sun fans haven't seen before, yet as a generous nod to the 16-bit role-playing era, it's as welcoming to retro gamers as a warm bath in a cold winter.

Move the Box Pro
By Exponenta - buy on Android



Eloquently described by our reviewer as "single-player chess, if chess had been invented in the '70s by someone with a luggage fetish", Move the Box Pro is tough to market, but harder to put down than a suitcase handcuffed to your wrist.

Move the Box Pro is a match-three puzzler of sorts. To explain: in each level, you're given a specific amount of crates and square boxes which need to be 'moved'. You have to rearrange the boxes into chains of three or more of the same colour by sliding them one move at a time.

The tricky part is that you have to clear the screen within a very tight move limit, without toppling any of the precariously balanced ones. Plus, there's usually only one specific way to complete each level.

This may put more casual players off Move the Box Pro's fiendish charms, but those looking for a more demanding match-three experience are in for a luggage-tugging treat.

Triple Town
By Spry Fox - buy on Android



Those with addictive personalities should look away now, as Triple Town is one of those games that can take over your gaming life after just a couple of quick goes.

Each time you play, you're presented with a randomly generated 6x6 grid in the middle of a pretty barren forest. The game then steadily gives you grass, bushes, trees, and the odd Wild Card diamond with which to fill up the space.

This isn't Harvest Moon, mind, for the high score-chasing OpenFeint leaderboards encourage you to match rows of items that will then morph into bigger pieces of foliage or buildings - pushing your points up in the process.

Triple Town soon reveals itself to be a surprisingly tactical experience, as creating the longest chains possible is the only way to earn houses or even a mansion. It's near impossible to put down once your scores start shooting up, and we haven't even talked about the bears yet. The bears are great.

Sonic CD
By Sega - buy on Android



Although it's cherished by Sonic devotees, and critically lauded to boot, 19 years ago, almost no one got to actually play Sonic CD.

The console it appeared on - the Mega CD - was an expensive flop back in 1992, and even Sega's blue spiky mascot couldn't save the day that time. Yet, Sonic CD was never forgotten by the true Blue Blur faithful.

The development on this eagerly awaited remake was led by bedroom coder and Sonic obsessive The Taxman, using his own Retro Engine.

With its reliable physical controls, the Xperia Play incarnation is the most refined version available on Android. Looking and playing just how you (might) remember it, the streamlined, multi-layered, and blisteringly fast levels are a nostalgic feast for the eyes, ears, and thumbs.




Top 10 best Android games: December 2011
Top 10 best Android games: November 2011
Top 10 best Android games: October 2011
Top 10 best Android games: September 2011
Top 10 best Android games: August 2011
Top 10 best Android games: July 2011
 

Reviewer photo
Paul Devlin 6 February 2012
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Joined:
May 2012
Post count:
1
jeree | 01:51 - 23 May 2012
Used to play Sonic as a kid and now it's on Android! Coolness. You should check out Applorer too for more awesome Android games: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.movend.gamebox2
Joined:
Apr 2012
Post count:
1
ChampionBOXer | 01:51 - 28 April 2012
Move the box.......... Wow.

What about GLWG? You just told the whole internet that moving boxes around is more fun than commanding wide varieties of troops using war tactics to defeat your enemy.

"Ay bro, he likes moving boxes. Let him follow his dreams."

Lol I could go on and on. One more before I'm done though.

"He lost his favorite teddy bear in some airport luggage long ago. He never let it go. Decades later he still wanders luggage stores, airports, and warehouses in hopes of finding his teddy bear"

Wait! One more!

"You're late for your shift at Fed-Ex! And don't forget your graveyard shift at UPS tonight.
They're already saying you have a box fetish cause you got caught talking dirty to a cardboard box. Buy they're just overreacting, right?"

Joined:
Feb 2012
Post count:
1
deidein | 03:43 - 7 February 2012
I'm thrilled to see someone finally giving Grinsia the credit it deserves. Kudos to you, sirs.
 
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