Top 10 best free Android games (2011)
Fun for free
The Android Market's a terrifying place, isn't it?
Sure, Google may like to boast of thousands of free apps at your fingertips, but sometimes it can seem as if they're only free because no-one in their right mind would pay for them.
There are some gems in there, though, whether hidden in plain sight or buried under layers of sliding tile puzzles and comedy sound banks.
Here are the ten best games on the Market that won't cost you a penny, but which any self-respecting Android owner simply must play.
Top 10 best free Android games Cordy (Silvertree Media)
Cordy is an old skool platform game, with audio and visuals so perfectly lovely there'll be a smile on your face in seconds.
The simple, responsive controls make it playable while collectibles and time trials help bolster its replay value.
Best of all, performance settings allow even the lowliest Android handsets to run its splendidly realised world.
It would be high up the list of recommended games even it wasn't completely free.Speed X 3D (Hyperbees)
Of all the endless runner games around, Speed X 3D is among the finest.
Developer Hyperbees has stripped the idea down almost to the minimum. You're travelling down a long tunnel into the screen, tilting the phone left and right to dodge oncoming obstacles.
There's no scene-setting (unlike in Canabalt), but the minimalist look and blistering speed ramp the tension up just fine, while the random hazards and morphing terrain keep things fresh.Tank Hero (Clapfoot Games)
Tank Hero's basic premise has been around for years in the form of Battlezone and its ilk - you control a tiny armoured vehicle dumped into a large arena, with one or more enemies doing their best to kill you before you can take them out.
But this is classic gaming updated the right way, giving you scores of increasingly complicated maps, different types of opposition, weapons, and with two game modes - Campaign and Last Stand - both with medals to aim for.Rocket Bunnies (Defiant Development)
If you're hungry for more cartoony physics puzzlers, Rocket Bunnies should prove pretty filling.
Each map has you riding your tiny spaceship through a network of planets revolving in the void.
You need to use their gravitational pull to slingshot yourself from one to the next, trying to drop off carrots to all the starving rabbits on the surface as fast as possible. But enemies, mines, and other interstellar hazards make planning the optimum route a fiendishly addictive proposition.Angry Birds (Rovio)
Never mind whether Angry Birds deserves its astonishing success or not. It's still a quality franchise.
For anyone who's managed to ignore it up until now, you launch the title characters from a catapult at their evil porcine targets on the other side of the screen.
Whether Angry Birds classic, Seasons, or the 2011 movie tie-in, Rio, the solid graphic design, hundreds of levels, and secrets to discover across the three games mean every Android owners should give one of them a shot.Pyxidis (Hyperbees)
How would you explain Hyperbees's Pyxidis? Well, imagine a match-three game where the pieces are rolling all over the screen instead of neatly lined up in grids.
To match them you have to draw lines connecting three or more when they're close enough. Fresh pieces warp, rather than drop in.
This bizarre spin on the traditional format is maybe a little too clever for its own good, but it's still compulsive stuff. A lengthy campaign and Puzzle Quest-style special powers give it a healthy dose of longevity.
Slice It! (Com2uS)
Slice It! doesn't exactly need a manual. You're shown a shape, ranging from simple geometric forms to complicated asymmetric patterns, and you have to divide it into a set number of equal pieces with exactly the given number of strokes.
Cutting a square in half with one slice is easy, but the game soon gets much tougher. Developer Com2uS has been regularly adding more challenges and the clean, attractive presentation makes it a pleasure (of sorts) to struggle through them.Shinobi Barrage, Software Industrial Co. Ltd.
Fans of manic arcade shooting don't have too much to choose from on Android, but they still get some excellent games.
Shinobi Barrage lacks polish, with some fairly cheap and cheerful graphics, but the presentation (drawing from Japanese myths and legends) is strong, and the touchscreen controls are smooth and precise.
Multiple difficulty levels offer steadily more enemies and tighter patterns of bullets to weave through, meaning high score fiends will be kept busy for a while.Townsmen 6, (HandyGames)
Strategy games on mobile platforms are often pretty abstract, like playing a boardgame, but HandyGames's popular Townsmen series is a richly detailed throwback to classic economic strategy games like the Settlers series on PC.
In this sixth edition you're managing provinces in a stylised version of revolutionary France, building settlements, and keeping the people happy, busy, and productive.
While visually it's an obvious Java port, this is still a deep, compelling little simulation perfect for a free afternoon.
Tesla Plushies (Bithack)
Bithack's Tesla Plushies is tough enough that it's liable to result in a few broken handsets.
The concept takes some getting used to, for starters. You need to guide one or more brainless little creatures through a maze, but they can only move by drifting towards the places you touch.
The graphics and sound are effectively placeholders, but the idea proves bizarrely fascinating, and mastering how to coax your charges along provides quite the endorphin rush.