The year gone by was huge in the world of Android gaming. Most of the great titles were sequels to established franchises, and what this meant is that we got experienced developers working on a platform and game they knew. The end result? A series of mature gaming titles that are only limited by the hardware that Android runs on; take that limitation out and some of these could go toe-to-toe with console titles. Indeed, 2013 was the year mobile gaming came of age.
Dead Trigger 2 (Free)
The much-awaited sequel to the popular zombie shooter didn’t disappoint. Dead Trigger 2 is, in my opinion, the best first person shooter on mobile. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, has fantastic gameplay and gorgeous graphics, and is easy to pick up and play. Plus, it has weekly updates to keep you going after the campaign mode ends. But this one is for the casual gamer, not those who look for more depth from their titles.
Call of Duty: Strike Team ($6.99)
The Call of Duty series is fantastic on the big screen and with its latest installment, Activision got it right even on mobile. It’s got refined graphics and the audio is particularly good, but where it shines is the gameplay. CoD: Strike Team can be played like a regular first person shooter, and includes the added feature of ‘snapping’ your crosshair on an enemy. But if that isn’t up your alley, you can play it as a tactical shooter too, with a top-down view where you have to guide your team. It’s fantastic!
Rayman Run Fiesta ($2.99)
If you ever needed to see how much music can change the experience of a game, you need to play Rayman Run Fiesta. The background score is peppy, it’s lively, it’s fun, it’s whimsical–and all of that perfectly complements the game’s vibrant hand-drawn animations and the fast gameplay. The controls are pretty simple: you just need to jump and glide at the right times to make it to the finish line, but you’ll have a blast doing even that simple task.
Sonic Dash (Free)
That blue hedgehog so many of us grew up with is now on our mobile phones! Sega’s consoles were synonymous with Sonic and now, Sonic Run puts you in charge of the classic character once again in an endless runner akin to Temple Run. It’s the same old story, where you have to collect rings and keep running till you lose all of them or fall down. But where Sonic Run shines is in the graphics. No other runner I have played gives you the same sense of speed and combined with the arcadish soundtrack, it’ll have your blood pumping.
Plants vs Zombies 2 (Free)
Plants vs Zombies 2 is my game of the year for 2013. Building upon the hit Plants vs Zombies, the sequel makes it even easier to get into the scheme of things and keep playing on and on. There are new plants, there are new worlds (ancient Egypt, pirates in the Caribbean and the wild west), and a whole host of zombies to kill. Apart from being completely free, it also doesn’t push you to with in-app purchases too often. It’s an option, but if you keep playing the game (and it is addictive enough that you will), then you’ll never need to spend a dime.
Angry Birds Star Wars II (Free)
The latest Angry Birds game took you back to the world of Star Wars, and this time, you can visit the darker themes of the sci-fi universe by “joining the pork side“. Angry Birds Star Wars II is a lot of fun, with a wide host of characters from the Star Wars universe, each with a unique ability of their own. There’s a corresponding character for each skill on the good and evil sides, and plenty of gameplay. It’s surprising that this game is completely free!
Real Racing 3 (Free)
Real Racing 2 was one of the finest racing games on mobile, so how would its sequel top that? By doing more of the same, refining the gameplay and graphics, and going free! That’s right, Real Racing 3 is completely free to download and play. Keep playing and chances are you will never hit a paywall, like most freemium games. You can choose to turn on racing assists to make the game easier, or turn them off for a more simulation-like experience. And it’s got that pretty cool Time Shift multiplayer mode too. Alas, if only it had true head-to-head racing, it’d be a complete game.
Asphalt 8: Airborne (Free)
Very quickly, the Asphalt series has become as synonymous with racing games on the mobile phone as the Need For Speed series has been on consoles and PC. And the latest title from Gameloft didn’t disappoint. Asphalt 8 is perhaps the best-looking racing game you will play on a mobile. It’s arcade gaming at its best, with nitrous boosts and rough tackles to take down your opponents. Oh boy, it’s a lot of fun!
Rymdkapsel is a real-time strategy game. No wait, Rymdkapsel is a Tetris-like game. Hold on, Rymdkapsel is a tower defense game. Oh my god, Rymdkapsel is all three of those rolled into one incredible game. And yet, somehow, it still seems minimal and simple. Words can’t do Rymdkapsel justice, you need to play it and be amazed and entertained. Now wonder it’s made it to our best Android games list. Beware though, this is one hard game.
Anomaly 2 ($1.99)
As far as real-time strategy games go, Anomaly was perhaps the biggest hit on Android. Instead of tower defence, this is tower offence. Anomaly 2 takes everything up a notch: better graphics, better gameplay, better vehicles, better AI. The AI is a lot smarter than the original Anomaly, but then again, your units can now “morph” into a secondary unit mode, which has the opposite capabilities of the original unit. With so many towers in your path to get to the enemy, you’ll need to smartly morph your units.
Mobile games are more about casual gameplay. So how do you make an RPG—an inherently complex genre—into something that casual gamers can enjoy? Meet Reaper. It’s a 2D platform game, but somehow, it offers the depth of a classic RPG title. You need to keep levelling up your character, finding quests, upgrading your gear, and so on. It’s an evolved RPG meant for mobiles and you will love it.
Ravensword: Shadowlands ($6.99)
Played from a third-person perspective, Ravensword: Shadowlands could very easily pass off as a full-fledged console game. Sure, the graphics don’t match up to the likes of a PS3, but if you played and loved RPG games on a PS2, then Shadowlands can go toe-to-toe with any of them. Go on an epic quest to find the three Ravenstones that get you the Ravensword, with which you can slay the demon. It’s an open RPG with plenty of weird creatures, like dinosaurs and giant spiders, and you will need to level up quickly if you want to take them out.
Real Boxing ($0.99)
Real Boxing is obviously inspired by Fight Night on the consoles and it would have been easy to go in for the same simulation style. Instead, Real Boxing mixes up sim and arcade for an enjoyable punchfest on your phone. It all starts with creating your player and then training him to become a great fighter. But the ring is where the action is! Duck and weave, jab and hook, and when you have him on the ropes, don’t let up.
FIFA 14 (Free)
FIFA 14 is definitely the best football (or soccer) game–nay, the best sports game that you will play on a mobile device. There are so many things it does right. The graphics are spectacular, the sound is great, and the fact that it’s free is hard to believe. But what sets FIFA 14 apart is the gameplay. EA has got it just right with this one, offering a mixture of old-school arcade virtual sticks and a new set of touchscreen controls with swipes and taps that will make you never want to put this down.
Strata is a mesmerizing game full of great visuals and sound. On a grid of coloured squares, you have to draw ribbons, layering them on top of each other. The top ribbon must always match the square under it. Each tap of this minimalist game plays the sound of a key on a piano, and pretty soon, you’ll find yourself lost in a world of colours and melodic notes. I picked this up for a 5-minute game and didn’t realise where half an hour went by.
Spelltower had been a hit on iOS for a long time and in March, it finally came to Android. If you love your word games, then you need to grab this now. Spelltower mixes Boggle and Bedazzled to form a new type of game, where you have to make words by connecting adjoining blocks in a Tetris-like grid. The connected blocks are destroyed and the objective is to clear the level of all blocks.
Ridiculous Fishing ($2.99)
Ridiculous Fishing was originally released as a Flash game called Radical Fishing and made a huge hit on the Internet. Its makers were slow in coming out with a mobile app and copycats ran amok. But the wait was worth it as Ridiculous Fishing is one of the finest games you’ll play. While the gameplay is engrossing and addictive, making you guide a fishing line down into the depths, it’s the graphics that really make this game what it is. Developer Vlambeer has gone with a pixel-themed visual style full of solid colours and sharp lines that you can’t help but fall in love with. And man, that soundtrack is incredible!
Geometry Dash ($1.99)
You’re a little pixel. You need to get through a world of pixels by jumping and dodging obstacles. It’s all 8-bit graphics and retro awesomeness that makes Geometry Dash a visual treat, sporting loud but fun colours and lovely animations. Plus, as with every platform game, the music is pretty awesome. In fact, each level comes with its own track! It’s only seven levels, but these are some of the the best levels you’ll play.
What Did You Like in 2013?
These are just some of the fantastic Android games that we played and loved in 2013, and unfortunately, not everything could make the cut. For example, I love Riptide GP2, but Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8 edged it out in the racing titles. I’m sure you have your favourites that didn’t make it here, so share your picks in the comments!