Mobile gaming is bigger than ever, and that comes with some ups and downs. On one hand, it means lots of increasingly awesome games that give even proper console heavy-hitters a run for their money; on the other hand, it means a lot of subpar choices to wade through on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore. In this roundup, we've got you covered: Here are five Android games that are worth your precious time (and in some cases, even your money!).
Sonic 4: Episode I ($3.99)
by SEGA of America
After years filled with varying degrees of critical failure, Sega wisely took Sonic the Hedgehog back to his 2D roots in this fast-paced episodic platformer, which most recently made its way -- visually unscathed, in all its HD glory -- to Android OS. The big question, of course, is how well the touchscreen stands in for a console controller; Sonic 4 handles the run-and-jump action decently, with a virtual d-pad on the left side of the screen, and a jump icon on the right. It stands to reason that a more complicated game might not fare so well with these types of controls, but Sonic's simple control scheme works in its favor. And with the second (and, apparently, final) Sonic 4 episode due out next month, now's a great time to get reacquainted with the little blue guy.
Fruit Ninja THD (Free, $3.03 for full version)
by Halfbrick Studios
"All ninjas hate fruit! Swipe the fruit with your finger to end their journey. Be wary of bombs, hope for random criticals, and make Sensei proud." Pretty self-explanatory, no? The game throws random bits of fruit at you; you slice them; miss three (or swipe too many bombs), and it's game over. On the surface, it sounds dull -- but in practice, Fruit Ninja creates something of a Zen gaming experience, if only in short bursts. It's fun, it's fast, and it'll have you trying again and again to top your own high score. It even features a collection of Xbox Live-ish achievements to keep you coming back!
Canabalt HD ($2.99)
by Kittehface Software
Canabalt's simple premise, in the developer's own words: Run for your life. This quick, one-button platformer debuted as a free Flash game a few years ago, and it finds you guiding a man across an apparently doomed city, tapping the screen to hurl him from rooftop to rooftop at a steadily increasing pace. Smash into something, miss a jump, or just time your taps wrong, and you're dead. The challenge lies in seeing how far you can go before meeting your maker; speed management (colliding with harmless environmental clutter slows you down) is essential, though moving too slow is just as risky as moving too fast. Give it a try -- it's definitely one of the finest Flash games ever made.
Cut the Rope (Free, $0.99-$1.99 for various full versions)
Cut the Rope's monstrous mascot Om Nom is basically the most adorable creature ever to grace a video game, and he's a hungry little guy. Your job: Successfully drop a piece of candy -- suspended by a network of ropes -- into his waiting mouth. Swiping your finger across a rope cuts it (if you hadn't guessed by the game's title); this is where the game's physics kick in, as you need to time your slices appropriately, ideally nabbing a trio of bonus stars in each level as the candy is en route to its ultimate destination. It starts off simple and gets unbelievably convoluted, making for what amounts to a damn fine logic puzzle. If you get just one of the games on this week's round-up, make it Cut the Rope.
by PopCap Games, Inc.
When a game is from PopCap, it's usually good, and Peggle is no exception. This wonderful game's gimmick: You fire balls across fields of pegs, fine-tuning your shot trajectory to wipe out as many scattered red pegs as possible. Pull it off, and some feverish fireworks and musical fanfare carries you into the next level, where you do it all over again. A musical-chairs selection of animal mascots accompanies you on your peg-destroying journey, each with their own special abilities, triggered by hitting other special pegs. Get into a groove, and it's pure PopCap bliss -- but then, so is every game they make!