While Pocket Gamer takes pride in scouring the recesses of the Android Market to find quality titles, there are times when we fear the combination of hardware fragmentation, lack of quality control, and rampant piracy (all regular developer complaints) are holding back Google gaming.
So we applaud publishers like Kairosoft that choose Android as their launch platform. Hit titles like Pocket League Story show that launching on the Market isn’t such a risky strategy, while proving there are millions of gamers out their without iPhones clamouring for quality titles.
So, with a special shout out to developer teams like Kairosoft, here are our ten highest scoring games for September.
Try them all, support the developers, and do your bit for Android gaming.Pocket League Story - Review - Buy
Ever since the brilliant Game Dev Story, Kairosoft has been the undisputed king of the casual strategy genre. In its capable hands, any career - software design, Formula 1 racing, running a Japanese spa - is turned into a charmingly pixelated world with deceptively deep stat-crunching gameplay at its core.
Even non-footie fans can’t help but be entranced by its latest mini-opus, Pocket League Story. The cute-as-a-button player sprites belie a rich management game that requires deft strategic skills.
You’ll handle everything from picking formations to managing subs, an, while it can get bit menu heavy at times the wry humour and jolly touches (like your team’s miniscule coach) will keep you shouting from the bench until the final whistle blows.Airport Mania 2: Wild Trips - Review - Buy
We loved the first Airport Mania, but that doesn’t mean bagging another Silver Award would be plane sailing for publisher Lemon Team.
Fortunately, the sequel sticks pretty rigidly to the formula that made the original such a hit. You still have to run an airport smoothly, for example, by keeping both the cartoony planes and the passengers happy and on time.
Timing is everything, and if you’ve got a jumbo circling without an in-flight movie to keep your passengers pacified then the expressively-faced planes let you know with Roger Moore-style eyebrow work.
While Wild Trips is, gameplay-wise, a little too similar to the first game, newcomers will be dazzled by the spruced up visuals and wider range of colourful airports to control.
While the likes of Virtua Tennis are the genuine progeny of vintage tennis sim Pong, Deflecticon is the more spiritual successor.
Switching to a 3D viewpoint, you face off against AI opponents across a neon-tinged wire-frame court, whacking a tiny ball at each other until one of you messes up, blames the umpire, and storms off to nearest Tron-themed bar.
It’s blisteringly fast and features two modes to sink your racquet into. Normal is the standard ever-improving AI model, while Push sees you take one step forward and two steps back.
Beating the computer (by knocking a hole through the wall behind him) advances you a level, while losing sends you back for a rematch with your last opponent.
This adds a compelling desire for progress into the mix and, until the planned multiplayer arrives, remains Deflecticon’s secret laser weapon.A Game With Balls - Review - Buy
Like Cut the Rope, A Game With Balls is one of those experiences that plays exactly like it sounds.
Crossing realistic physics with arcade shooting, the game tasks you with surviving for as long as possible against an ever growing onslaught of balls and rectangles - all of which bounce off each other in unique ways (hinted at by their design and colouring).
You have only a weak cannon to fend them off with, which can fire pea shooter-like bullets to steer enemies off course, or larger ones for a more powerful hit that needs to be charged up.
Managing your limited but rechargeable ammo is the biggest challenge, however, as running out is the quickest way to a bouncy funeral.
Although it's a little light on content, A Game With Balls earns bonus points for its trippy presentation and impressive physics - not to mention the funky soundtrack.Pipe Swipe - Review - Buy
If you thought you’d solved enough pipe puzzles in BioShock’s hacking mini-game, think again. Pipe Swipe is here to show that there’s a lot of fun to be had as a virtual plumber.
In this case, you’re looking after a paint mixer in a factory (otherwise known as ‘The Dream’) with the job of ensuring the right coloured paint gets to the right coloured pot. The pipework was clearly put in by someone off of Rogue Traders, though, as nothing is flowing in the right direction.
It’s up to you to twist, slide, and spin the pipes to fix the problems using the simple tap controls. The tricky part is that different pipes move in different ways, and learning how they can be manipulated is the key to solving the game's varied puzzles.
Yes, this is little more than a Pipe Mania for the new millennium, but there’s plenty of head-scratching fun and challenge here for casual puzzle fans.Stardash - Review - Buy
You’d expect nothing less from the creator of Meganoid, but Stardash’s bone-crushing, esteem-sapping difficult is still something of a shock for casual gamers.
Designed to echo the monochrome gems of the original Game Boy era, this platformer is a spirited dash through genre tropes like carnivorous plants, coin collecting, and enemy head-bouncing.
The twee presentation conceals a need for pixel-perfect platforming that is challenging at first, but quickly runs the risk of turning frustrating.
Fortunately, the short levels alleviate the chore of endless replays, while the cheery chiptunes keep you whistling as you die for the 1,543,000st time.
If you can use a physical controller with your handset, or you have an Xperia Play, we’d recommend real buttons over the less accurate touchscreen ones every time, mind.Armored II: Towered Defense - Review - Buy
If you’re making a tower defence game, you need a hook to make your title stand out in a marketplace so overcrowded that it makes rush hour on the Northern Line look like a first class cabin on the Orient Express.
Armored II: Towered Defense’s trick up the sleeve is the use of mobile towers, which need a solid stretch of railway to help them get around. With expansive maps filled with enemy routes to cover, you need to build tramlines to ensure mobile units can zip straight into the fray when needed.
Aside from this neat twist, it’s a pretty by-the-book strategy effort that’s blessed with a polished sense of refinement to the tank-filled combat.
It’s a tough old bird, too, with success relying on impeccable unit-placement and wiping out enough enemy waves to earn tower upgrades and the odd air-strike for decimating foes.
Yes, these mechanics are a little worn around the edges now, but those looking for a nuanced spin on the tower defence genre are in for a treat.180 Ultra - Review - Buy
Hey, you - you over there. Put down that copy of Bejeweled 2. There’s more to life than playing a granny gaming favourite: there’s 180 Ultra for a start.
Ostensibly, it’s a match-three puzzler - so, not too much of a stretch for a Bejeweled addicts - but Head Case’s title brings some entertaining new tweaks and smooth line in Bust-a-Move style to make it stand out.
Rows of multi-coloured coins bear down on you and your only defence is to fire more coins at them in the hope that you’ll match a trio of the same colour and watch them disappear.
Cleverly, each coin has a flip side of a different colour and it can be switched at any time - either at the top or the bottom of the screen.
As we said in our review, 180 Ultra is a “compelling monster of a time sink” that’s made all the more addictive by different play modes and OpenFeint high score tables.Muffin Knight - Review - Buy
Forget rescuing damsels in distress - today’s knight in shining armour is all about saving baked snacks.
Waistline be damned, Muffin Knight wants exactly what his name implies - although he claims to be collecting them for an old fairy (the tubby liar). The Xperia Play-optimised platformer plays a lot like old skool Donkey Kong, with the main aim being to get to the muffins while jumping over nasty animals that trot about the small scale levels.
Crates shouldn’t be avoided, however, as destroying them changes both Muffin Knight’s appearance and weaponry. One minute you’re shooting off arrows as an Archer and the next you’re dropping explosive dung as a Unicorn, and adapting to your powers on the fly is the highlight of the game.
With a nice RPG levelling system to boost your powers, it’s an addictive experience that’s packed with cheery 2D charm and a quirky sense of humour.EVAC HD - Review - Buy
We’ll admit it - this one’s been rattling around the Android Market for a while now, but the recent addition of an Xperia Play optimised version earns the stellar Evac HD another Top ten place.
From Android developer hero Hexage, the team behind Radiant and Totemo, the game is neon-splashed spin on the Pac-Man formula that plays to the original title's strength yet adds some smart new touches of its own.
Your goal remains to gobble up all the pills on the screen, but, unlike old fashioned ghosts, the bright red ‘security’ blocks can be thwarted in more original ways than simply munching them. You can hide from them, trap them with moveable blocks, or sometimes crush them.
It’s never easy, though, as the game’s 32 levels take great delight in hurling new hazards at you, like spikes and pressure switches (which unleash armies of the red menaces), whenever you’re feeling a bit cocky.
The controls were pretty smooth on touchscreens, so they’re understandably impeccable on the Xperia Play, where the physical buttons are less likely to let you down in a crisis. Basically, if you haven’t already, gobble this one up quick.