FIRST OF ALL: Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to All of You (bless you, Chuck Norris).
Note: skip here to see the games I kept on my phone for 2013 after reviewing thousands of others.
As 2013 dwindles, so many sites are eager to compose a variety of best-of lists in competition for web traffic and probably revenue from promoting X thing or Y thing just because company making X is giving them more for that traffic. Well, don’t worry, reader(s), because I’m doing this on my own time…
I may be paid to review over 25 Android games a day for an app discovery service called Fetch, but my process is as about as impartial as Google’s Play Store is.
I’m not paid to do any of this [blogging]. My only interest is in sharing opinions that might develop some kind of discourse, or help people find something they might enjoy, so, there you go…
2013 was a big year for Android gaming. We got NVIDIA’s SHIELD (which is great if you go to the effort to make it work well), a ton of quality iOS ports, and some excellent indie titles.
Considering I play over 100 unique Android games for mobile devices every week, it’s hard to keep track of what is “good,” but if I keep something on my Android device after I’m done reviewing and tagging it, it must have some sticky quality everyone working on mobile stuff wants. Well, here’s what I’ve kept on my phone, and regularly play, with short commentary.
- 4 Elements: Hidden object gaming, matching puzzling action and a decent story
- Ride into the Mountains: one of the finest action-oriented pixel-art mobile games of the year
- Colors: a deductive game I like that makes you swipe matching adjacent colors to advance
- Crazy Market: I was a cashier for Whole Foods, so I like the way it emulates the pressure of being in customer service…by…swiping REALLY QUICKLY
- Cut and Hack: level up your hacking career by drawing the matching paths. It’s geometric, fast, and exactly what it wants to be
- Doctor Who: yeah, it’s an online matching game, but it doesn’t have that daily energy limit, and tons of content. I usually play it whenever I have a network connection on the San Francisco MUNI system
- Doodle Fill: tap to fill in sections of pictures to complete them within the move limit. Lots of levels and different color schemes have staved off me deleting this game
- Emotion Game: it’s a turn-based game about finding the sequence to meet a girl your character likes. Sounds simple, but is actually, kinda fun
- Gemini Rue: obvi, I bought this and a few other great games via the Mobile Humble Bundle last week, but I’ve played enough of this classic point-and-click adventure to know it’s no slouch, and one of the best for Android. It’s also cheap if you get the Humble Bundle!
- Hungry Cat: it’s a Sudoku-like game from the people that made Puzzle Forge. This isn’t a bad puzzle game, if you don’t mind light logic puzzles and pop-up ads.
- Ingress: I beta’d this earlier this year. I uninstalled it because the notion of going anywhere to play a game seemed counter-intuitive to me. Some people think otherwise, and like sharing their data with Google, which is fine by me. I keep it on my phone because I sometimes turn Google’s services on to see where the game is. That’s the only reason I have it. It’s a cool concept, but too close to Big Brother for me to want to play it.
- Kitty Punch: I play this on the way to my office every day. It’s a perfectly-designed mobile game for playing on the train or bus. It sounds and looks ridiculous, but it’s a concentrated tap-fest of trippy colors and chip-tunes
- Little Inferno: I reviewed this before I finally bought it because, well, as a Boy Scout, I like burning things, and this quirky game rewards you for making fiery combinations
- Little Legends: not your stereotypical dev sim. I like that this game offers a more active sense of improving your village via hero-based quests. Just stop sending me push notifications so much. Actually, that keeps me coming back
- Magic Cats: the most polished cluster breaker for Android, and it’s cute as hell
- Nyan Cat: Lost in Space: it’s Nyan Cat, come on; it’s got different gameplay modes and tons of unlocks
- Office Story: fairly new, but considering I work at a startup, I find it ironically fun to be playing a game that tasks the player with charming the world with the next must-have app
- Phrazzle: keep this, because new phrase challenges are posted every day, and some of them are ridiculously amusing
- Pop Stars: another matching game, but you usually have to match constellations by swiping
- Pressurizer: tap on pipes and water nodes to restore the hydraulic pressure of each level. A great puzzle game with a great visual style
- Robot Unicorn Attack 2: the best distance survival game out there. It’s the pinnacle of the genre for the year. Get one of the 80s music tracks and tell me otherwise
- Soul Calibur: mobile fighting games suck. This one sucks a lot less. It’s the best fighting game on Android, and it’d be perfect if it had SHIELD support and multiplayer
- Western Girls: it’s a gimmicky and sexist game, yeah, but it is really challenging to get what you think you’re going to get
I’m going to write more about this…about the purpose of mobile games and what we should expect of them, but, for now, these are tbe games of 2013 a professional tester and reviewer of Android games has kept on a mobile device. So, do yourself a favor of either checking these things out, or finding an app-discovery app like Fetch to find similar games and apps you might like.
For now, I’m off to grab a beer from the fridge and work on a poem, or maybe play Arkham City or MineCraft. We’ll see…