The 20 Best Android Games

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Love Live: School Idol Festival

If you have access to a Japanese iTunes account, you might already be familiar with the vast world of “idol games.” Half collectable card games, half rhythm games, Idol Games are a slightly creepy offshoot of the Anime Industrial Complex. But if you’re just looking for a fun and challenging rhythm game you can play on the bus you can’t really go wrong with Love Live: School Idol Festival. Packed to the brim with personality, Love Live just wants you to collect and get to know these teenage girls, (yes I know how that sounds), but it really wouldn’t mind if you spend money on its many currencies. But no matter how exploited I feel, I’ll still fire up the game whenever there’s an event going on or a new SSR card to collect. I just really love those girls.—Gita Jackson


Jetpack Joyride

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Videogames used to exist solely to suck up every quarter of our baby-sitting and paper route money. They offered short bursts of play with a goal no greater than making the high score board. Mobile games often share the same sensibility today, and Jetpack Joyride fulfills its end of that bargain better than most games. Few games stunned me more with “just one more time” paralysis than this infectious one-finger pursuit. No matter how far I fly with that jetpack (or dirtbike, or mechanical dragon) it will never be far enough.—Garrett Martin


Threes

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Threes is an elegant finger-slider for the discriminating player. The goal is to combine tiles on a four by four grid by sliding them into other tiles with the same numbers on them. Two threes combine to form a six, two sixes form a 12, and so on. You don’t slide individual tiles or rows, though—you slide every tile on the board in the same direction whenever you swipe. The game starts with nine tiles on the board, and a new one appears every time you swipe. Once the board is full and there are no possible combinations left, the game ends and your score is calculated. It might look complicated in words, but it’s a simple concept with a surprising amount of personality.—Garrett Martin


Alto’s Adventure

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Consider this like Canabalt with snowboarding, llamas, breathtaking mountain vistas, a day-night cycle, and cranky old people who will toss your ass down a hillside if you disturb them. So maybe not much like Canabalt after all.—Janine Hawkins


Desert Golfing

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I can go on about how Desert Golfing is a knowing deconstruction of the mobile game, how its series of simple and repetitive swipes boils the entire form down to its most basic parts, with barely any embellishment at all. I mean it looks like an Atari game, just a two-tone background with a white dot for a ball, blocky white numbers and a small yellow flag. I could talk about how it locks us into our failures, preventing us from restarting and replaying levels. About how it pretty much never ends. But in that time I could add like another thirty strokes to my total on hole 2000 and something, so I’ll just go do that instead.—Garrett Martin


Super Hexagon

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Disclaimer: Paste Games Editor-at-Large Jenn Frank did voiceover work for this game. Other than a few previously published entries for other games, she was not involved in the decision making process for this list at all.
Super Hexagon is incredibly challenging , but it understands to a remarkable degree how players progress to that tipping point. This continuous point of revelation—that place where the player and the developer have a real honest moment of communication—is what Super Hexagon gets right.—Luke Larsen


Eliss Infinity

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Playing Eliss Infinity feels like juggling. While you’ve got one ball in the air, you need to be thinking about the one you are catching, as well as the new ball that is about to get thrown into the routine. In Eliss Infinity, you’re tasked with the mission of combining planets of the same colors that pop up and “scoring” them in same-colored portals, all while keeping them from touching other planets of different colors. It’s a simple idea, but things get hairy really fast—especially in the high score Infinity mode. The Infinity mode really is the big new thing here, and the classic Eliss gameplay absolutely shines in this new mode. Not since Super Hexagon have you had so much fun while being so utterly stressed out.—Matt Akers


Hitman Go

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Hitman Go transposes Hitman to the context of a board game, and in doing so makes every aspect it touches smarter. Guns and weapons are no longer tools of reckless aggression, but board tactics for puzzle solving and path opening, used only in careful consideration of cutting through the ranks of the other player’s men. People have always been pieces, and Hitman has always been about manipulating them to accomplish a grisly deed. Go focuses more on the former than the latter, to the effect of not burying itself in needless pulp.—Matt Akers


Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP

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Sword & Sworcery’s most awe-inspiring moments take place when it allows us to forget about ourselves, our world, our iPhone and our Twitter followers for long enough to take in the wonders that it presents. Danger feels imminent and foreboding, and the animal and plant life seem organic and ethereal. While performing the “Songs of Sworcery” our fingers seem to trigger magical wonders and beautiful music. The story itself is beautiful in its simplicity, and it is so effective because it lingers on implications rather than literalities.—Richard Clark


Kim Kardashian: Hollywood

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The greatest asset for videogames as fiction, one that it holds over other forms of media, is the immediacy with which you can identify with people and experiences that are not your own. While books and movies allow you to observe, videogames really allow you to be someone else. With each little tap on my tablet’s screen, I feel like I am closer to experiencing Mrs. Kardashian West’s world, though with less pressure, and the ability to turn it off. If there’s any reason or purpose for this game other than to put more money in Kimberly Noel Kardashian West’s pocket, it’s this: You want to know why Kim Kardashian is famous? It’s because she works.—Gita Jackson

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