With emulators being pulled left, right, and centre from the Android Market, you may be forgiven for thinking there’s not much point in picking up an Xperia ‘emulator haven’ Play now that it’s launched in the US.
But hold your horses, young sir / madam!
There’s still a good selection of games available on the Market right now that play better with physical buttons under your thumb, despite none of them featuring Mario (or whoever else you were planning on pirating - yes, we know your game).
And if E3 is anything to go by, there’s a shedload of potentially interesting Xperia Play games coming out in the near-future, too, so everything looks rosy for those that have decided to kick touchscreen-only controls out of, er, touch.5 Xperia Play games to play right now
Galaxy on Fire 2
Those hoping for a free-form space adventure the likes we’ve not seen since the heady days of Elite should find plenty to be pleased about with the eye-catching Galaxy on Fire 2.
With an epic plot spanning countless systems and real-time dogfighting against a wide range of craft and factions, the touchscreen version of the game was a worthy Pocket Gamer Silver Award-winner when it was first released on iPhone last year.
While the original controls were well tailored to the buttonless devices, the addition of the analogue nubs and healthy selection of physical controls allow you to admire the game’s graphics without your thumbs getting in the way of the action.
BackBreaker 2: Vengeance
Currently an Xperia Play exclusive (for Android), BackBreaker 2: Vengeance takes the original’s concept and runs with it (sorry), pitting you against a variety of defenders as you attempt to carry the ball over the line for a touchdown.
The sequel expands on the original conceit in a variety of ways, introducing new moves like jumping (complete with hurdles and ‘low tackles’ to leap over) as well as a whole new game mode where you play as the defence.
The physical buttons really do a good job of making each crunching tackle that bit more satisfying, and ensure the game's a lot easier to control than the slightly cluttered iOS touchscreen original.
Twin-stick shooters are almost always guaranteed to play better on the Xperia Play than on touchscreen, even if the machine doesn’t pack the dual analogue sticks to make it the ideal home for the genre.
Gun Bros still profits, therefore, from the refined controls and - ooo, look - a favourable price tag (it’s free).
While some may find its slightly grindy gameplay to be a bit of a drag, it can become a genuine time sink if you’ve got a few friends playing at the same time.
A real-time multiplayer update is apparently on its way, too, which should definitely sort the men from the touchscreens.
Yes, Cordy handles fine on the touchscreen. So fine, in fact, that it managed to bag a Pocket Gamer Silver Award on release.
But while it may be ok to tap-leap about in the dreamlike world of the little robot, it’s far more enjoyable to use the Xperia Play to do so.
No matter what you feel about its pricing structure - which effectively acts as a demo unless you stump up the cash - Cordy will have you returning to it for quite a while after you’ve cleared the initial levels thanks to its compulsive hidden objects and pixel-perfect jumping.
The PlayStation part of the Xperia Play is a little bare at the moment, and - if we’re being honest - filled with software that’s too old for today’s hip young things.
Still, despite suffering from a number of faults that no modern title would be seen dead with - including a crazy turning circle and some illogical level design - Syphon Filter still offers a better spy-action thriller than a number of the more contemporary mobile offerings.
It helps to have a few sprays of the eau de Nostalgic in the air before you clap your eyes on the blocky PS1-era graphics, but those hoping for a silly and overblown action game should still find it enjoyable.Honourable mentions:
HandyGames’s games - Free, bright, and easy to play, Handygames's output is well worth dipping your toes in. Start with Cyberlords or Townsmen 6 and go from there.
Lumines - A new Lumines game that retains the original’s gameplay, but adds some great licensed music from Defected into the mix.
Meganoid - Though not officially an Xperia Play game, Meganoid benefits hugely from the physical button control option, which makes clocking its 90 vicious levels somewhat easier. 'Somewhat', mind.5 Xperia Play games to look out for
Well, this one is a no-brainer, really, unless something goes horribly wrong in the development process, that is.
A portable version of the massive PC indie smash hit, Minecraft Portable is still at an early stage in development, but the prospect of being able to construct, explore, and build your own worlds (while running away from the scary Creepers) on the go is a truly mouth-watering prospect.
Our only fear is that the game will have to be stripped down too much in order for it to run on the machine, although our recent hands-on quells those fears to a certain degree.
Cracking Sands Polarbit has established a strong reputation over the years for creating compelling mobile racers, so the announcement of a new title is always met with a healthy degree of anticipation here at Pocket Gamer Towers.
Cracking Sands looks like it could be the studio’s best yet - combining gorgeous graphics and karting-style gameplay with the real physical buttons of the Xperia Play.
Desert Winds Desert Winds on the Xperia Play could either be really good, or a bit of a mess.
The reason for this is that, firstly, it’s essentially the Android response to ChAIR Entertainment’s iOS sensation Infinity Blade - a game specifically set up to take advantage of touchscreen controls without putting fingerprints all over the screen.
Not a great precedent for good button controls.
Add to that the fact that the game originated from a tech demo for Qualcomm’s new Adreno 220 GPU, whereas the Xperia Play uses the older Adreno 205 to power its graphics, and we’ve got a title that, in all honesty, shouldn’t really work on the Xperia Play.
So, we’re rather intrigued as to how this one’s going to play out on Sony Ericsson’s gaming machine.
We weren’t overly blown away by the title at E3, but it was an early build and we still have strong hopes that Southend Interactive (the team behind the brilliant ilomilo on Windows Phone) will pull it off.
Reckless Racing: Getaway It’s Polarbit again, this time exploring the road less travelled of the overhead dodge-’em-up, via the Reckless Racing brand.
Getaway takes the old ‘switching lanes’ gameplay mechanic so beloved of LCD games of the late '80s and shifts it up a gear, adding some great-looking graphics and environmental hazards that should have even the most curmudgeonly gamer smiling at the teaser video.
We’ll have to wait and see if it can sustain the carnage over the course of the game, of course. We will, however, strip our hat from our heads and jump up and down on it if the Xperia Play version doesn’t handle better than on a standard Android phone.
Sleepy Jack Freshly revealed at E3, Sleepy Jack is Silvertree’s follow-up to the massively successful Cordy, so is automatically one to look out for in the future.
The game involves trying to keep the titular Jack asleep by flying him through a fantasy dreamscape, picking up literal ‘z’s, and blasting monsters (in his slumber).
It’s looking pretty special right now, with PG Rob describing the game as ‘shaping up to be tight and arcadey... think ilomilo crossed with DoDonPachi Resurrection’.