Amazon has made a deep push into the mobile space with devices like the Kindle and Fire Phone. People who want to play games on their Kindle devices have a lot of options, though not all of them are good. The Amazon Appstore is a vast jungle that’s beautiful and lawless. While there is plenty of luscious fruit to be found, you may also stumble upon the gaming equivalent of a giant leech.
Money and time are both precious, so don’t waste either on the dregs of the digital marketplace. Here are some of the best offerings available on the Amazon Appstore. Some are free, some not, but all are worth checking out.
Minecraft: Pocket Edition ($7)
What started as a promising indie game on the PC has morphed into one of the biggest franchises in the video game industry. Minecraft appears on basically every platform imaginable. There’s even a series of Minecraft books aimed at kids! The Pocket Edition of the game allows you to play on your Amazon device, giving you access to both Survival and Creative modes, so you can play on the go.
For those who have somehow avoided the Minecraft phenomenon until now, the game is fairly straightforward: When you start a game, you are placed randomly into a procedurally generated world made of various types of blocks (such as wood and stone). You can harvest these blocks for resources and use them to build items and structures, which you’ll probably want to do in Survival mode. The worlds are populated by a variety of dangerous creatures. You can also log into multiplayer servers where people come together to build and explore. If you want to test your survival skills or flex your creative muscles by building expansive structures (or maybe both), Minecraft offers seemingly unlimited value.
A unique twist on the classic Metroidvania style of games, VVVVVV features the exploration and platforming one expects from the genre, with one crucial difference: There is no combat. Nor are there items to make your character more powerful. Indeed, the only ability protagonist Captain Viridian has is the power to reverse gravity. Players can use this to go flying upward or plummeting downward. Navigating the dangerous world of VVVVVV will require careful thought and good timing, as there are plenty of spikes, ghosts, and other hazards to avoid. Of note is VVVVVV’s soundtrack, which features some of the finest chip tunes around. Really, the entire game is an aesthetic treat. The pixel-perfect 8-bit graphics and challenging, minimalist gameplay make you feel as if you are playing a lost Nintendo game.
Ever since Minecraft went supernova, hundreds of imitators have followed, hoping to siphon off some of the Big M’s success. Hundreds of shameless ripoffs aside, there are some games that took Minecraft’s innovations in their own direction, and Terraria is perhaps the greatest example of this. Terraria takes the exploration and crafting gameplay popularized by Minecraft and implements it in a 2-D sidescrolling adventure game, which evokes classics like Metroid with a modern twist. With a variety of different environments, quests, and procedurally generated worlds, Terraria is one of the biggest adventures on mobile devices.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ($3)
One of the great classics in video game history, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is playable on Android devices in a remastered version with some new features added. Players can choose between the titular Sonic or his sidekick, Tails. The game is an old-school platformer in which players must progress through a series of increasingly difficult levels, fighting through a colorful array of enemies along the way. The game’s vivid graphics and lightning-fast gameplay are still notable today.
Five Nights at Freddy’s ($3)
If you ever celebrated a birthday at a family entertainment center, you may have had the misfortune of coming across animatronic characters (think The Rock-afire Explosion). Hulking beasts made of metal and nightmares, one questions why anyone would install them in a venue for small children. Developer Scott Cawthon recognized the inherent horror of these beasts, and decided to bring it home with Five Nights at Freddy’s.
Taking on the role of a new security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, players must survive their nightly shift without being mangled by the animatronics, which come alive at night. Players cannot leave the security office, and must use cameras throughout the building to keep track of where the robots are roaming. Shifts get tense quickly, especially when you lose sight of one of the animals. Watch out for Foxy!
Thomas Was Alone ($6)
A charming puzzle-platformer with a great script, Thomas Was Alone puts players in the role of Thomas, a small rectangular A.I. who must navigate the various levels and guide other programs to exits in the levels. Like Thomas, the other A.I.s are represented by shapes, and each shape has a unique personality and abilities. Progressing through levels will require players to make use of the various talents of the shapes. Along the way, narration provided by British comedian Danny Wallace fills in the blanks regarding the characters and the world they inhabit. Thomas Was Alone is not a long game, but its colorful aesthetic and wit make it very endearing.
Next page: Arcade games
Super Hexagon ($3)
Pour yourself a cup of coffee or two. You’re going to need your reflexes twitchy in order to succeed at Super Hexagon. In this game, the player controls a small triangle that circles around a hexagon in the middle of the screen. Walls will close in from the edge of the screen, and players must move the triangle out of their way by lapping the screen to move left or right. The walls will come in faster over time, and in more complicated patterns, necessitating careful movements and quick reactions from the player.
The camera constantly rotates as the game is playing. Combined with the throbbing techno soundtrack, this creates a tension that keeps the player on edge. Despite being comprised entirely of simple geometric shapes, Super Hexagon gets the adrenaline flowing in a way no other mobile game can.
Crossy Road (Free)
One of the great success stories of the so-called freemium pricing model, Crossy Road is a free-to-play game modeled on the classic arcade game Frogger. The game is simple: Players choose a mascot and attempt to cross as many roads and other obstacles as possible without being slain by the hazards in their way. Players can tap to move forward, or swipe to move left or right. In addition to earning points based on distance traveled, the player also collects coins throughout the levels. These coins can be used to unlock new characters.
There are currently 95 playable characters in Crossy Road, and they can be unlocked in various ways, and this is where the freemium model comes in. As mentioned, you can collect coins in game that you can use to win random characters from the prize machine. Players can also earn coins by watching in-game advertisements or simply playing the game for a certain period of time. It is also possible to spend money to unlock specific characters immediately. The business model is very consumer friendly, as nearly every character can be unlocked without spending money.
Crossy Road’s simple but challenging gameplay makes it a great way to occupy yourself on a morning commute. And at the low cost of free, can you really afford not to try it?
Ridiculous Fishing ($3)
A game that lives up to its name, Ridiculous Fishing puts players in the role of Billy, a fisherman hanging out on the surface of a lake. Gameplay is divided into three stages that flow together. First, the player must drop their hook into the water, avoiding fish and trying to descend as far as possible. Once the hook touches a fish, it will shoot upwards, and the player must steer the hook to grab as many fish as possible on the way up. Finally, when the hook reaches the surface all the fish will fly upwards and players must tap the screen to shoot the fish before they fall back into the water. The more fish you shoot, the more cash you win and spend on upgrades. All the pieces of Ridiculous Fishing flow together well. The game has a vibrant aesthetic, with various colorful fish designs that stand out against the simple background.
Desert Golfing ($2)
Angry Birds reimagined as purgatory, Desert Golfing challenges you to hit a hole-in-one on a series of increasingly difficult 2-D courses. The difficulty curve seems to arc toward infinity. There is a seemingly limitless supply of stages, and the difficulty likewise seems to increase along an infinite curve. Eventually, you may find yourself cursing the game and those who made it. You may throw your phone against a wall, hoping to break it along with Desert Golfing’s infernal hold on you. Yet, you will always return, for there is always another level, always another world to conquer, even if it takes you forever.
Zen Pinball HD (Free)
By perfectly emulating the physics of actual pinball, Zen Pinball HD gives you a top-notch simulation of the real thing. The developers take advantage of the digital nature of the game, crafting a variety of diverse and crazy tables to play on. In addition to the standard stables, you can also buy additional tables with themes from popular brands like Marvel and Star Wars. Zen Pinball HD provides all the fun of pinball in the palm of your hand, and with no need to carry quarters in your pocket. Well, almost all of the fun — slamming your hand on your phone probably isn’t as satisfying as on a real pinball table.
Fruit Ninja ($1)
There are not a ton of mobile games that challenge your reflexes. Fruit Ninja decided to carve that niche itself, with a finely-honed katana. The game is simple: Fruit will be hurled at you, and you can swipe the screen with your finger to slash. Keep slashing fruit quickly to build up a huge score. There is not a whole lot of depth to Fruit Ninja, just good and messy fun.
Next page: Puzzle games
Monument Valley ($4)
Perhaps the most aesthetically rich mobile game in recent years, Monument Valley challenges the player to progress through a series of mazes built to resemble optical illusions. Subtle design elements like changes in color offer the player cues needed to attempt the puzzles. Monument Valley was designed by a graphic artist working for a digital design firm, and it shows in every aspect of the game. The levels use soft, minimalist color palettes that allow players to focus on the Escher-esque structures they must navigate. The sound design is equally superb — hear the rumbling of objects in the world, feel as if the world around is stirring from a long sleep.
Monument Valley is not particularly challenging, but that is by design. Like laying in a field on a Spring day, it’s a sublime moment to be experienced, not an obstacle to be overcome.
Threes! is a simple and frighteningly addictive puzzle game that requires nothing more than basic math and problem solving skills. Here’s how it works: There is a 4×4 game board.
When you start a game, there will be some random tiles placed throughout the board, each tile with a number on it. When you swipe the screen in any of the cardinal directions (up, down, left, right) all the tiles will move as far in that direction as they can. If you smash two tiles with the same number together, they will fuse to a number that is the sum of both of them. For example, pushing two “3” tiles together will produce a “6” tile. The only exceptions to this rule are “1” and “2” these tiles can only combine with each other, and will make a “3.”
Every time you swipe, new tiles will come onto the board, and the game is over when the board fills up to the point where you can no longer make moves. The goal is to get the highest score you can, which you can then submit to the leaderboards.
In addition to its straightforward but challenging mechanics, Threes! is also a joy to look at and listen to. The game uses a simple color palette of red, white, and blue, and each type of tile has its own personality, with a unique look and sound effects. The background music is delightful as well. Threes! spawned many imitators, such as 2048, but none of them have the polish of the original.
Hitman GO ($2)
The Hitman series has a long history of presenting players with clever, free form puzzles disguised as assassination missions. Hitman GO takes that formula and scales it down for mobile devices, replacing the elaborate locales with beautifully designed game boards. Players must navigate the game boards and use their arsenal of equipment to take out their target. If that sounds excessively violent, don’t worry — All the characters are rendered as game pieces, and murder consists of one piece knocking over another. Essentially, Hitman GO is no more gory than chess. And like chess, Hitman GO is an engaging intellectual exercise. There are a number of ways to complete every level, and finding a method that suits you is immensely rewarding.
World of Goo ($5)
If you like building creative solutions to problems, or if you simply find yourself drawn to adorable critters, World of Goo may be perfect for you. A puzzle game unlike any other, World of Goo presents players with a series of environmental puzzles. Players will start on one side of a stage with their collection of goo balls, tiny sentient creatures made of goo that can combine to form structures. Each stage provides the player with a set number of goo balls, and players must use them to form structures to reach a pipe somewhere in the level.
Physics plays an important role in completing the puzzles. The further you place a goo away from the other balls, the more distance you’ll cover, but the connection between them will be stretched out and weaker. As such, the player has to think about how to build sturdy structures with their limited resources. As the game progresses, players will discover new types of goo balls, each with their own unique properties. These special goo balls are essential to completing some of the more difficult puzzles later on.
World of Goo is one of those games that sits squarely at the intersection of simplicity and depth. No challenge ever feels insurmountable — You simply have to look at it from a different angle. It is truly one of the most engaging and rewarding puzzle-solving experiences available.
Games that combine disparate genres tend to be fun or at least intriguing. So it’s no surprise that 10000000 became such a hit when it came out. The game fuses together traditional dungeon crawlers with tile-matching a la Bejeweled. The player-character is trapped in a dungeon and will constantly run to the right in order to escape. Along the way, they will encounter various monsters and obstacles. Using the tile-matching aspect of the game, the player can use abilities, cast spells, and do other things necessary to progress. Only by racking up a score of 10 million points will players escape the dungeon and win.
Puzzle & Dragons (Free)
The match-3 genre has seen explosive growth with the rise of mobile gaming, and such games have become so common that developers have begun blending match-3 gameplay with other genres. In the case of Puzzle & Dragons, a ridiculously popular game from Japan, that blend involves elements from monster-collecting RPGS such as Pokemon. The game is divided into two main sections. One involves the player exploring dungeons and battling monsters by playing a tile-matching game to trigger abilities. The other main portion of the game involves building a roster of monsters that you use in combat. Unlike most tile-swapping games, you can drag gems as far as you like, so the challenge comes in setting up large combos as other gems fall into place.
Puzzle & Dragons is free to install and play, however, you can spend money to upgrade your monsters and player ranking, as well as some other functions.
Candy Crush Saga (Free)
If you spend any time on Facebook, you probably have at least a passing familiarity with Candy Crush Saga. With over 46 million users, it has become the most played game on Facebook, and now you can play it on your mobile device for free (technically, but more on that later). CCS is a puzzle game in the “match-3” style, where players match small colored candies in order to form bigger, better candies. Certain assemblages of candies will produce special candies that have various effects.
The game is technically free to play, however, there are strings attached. Players begin with five lives, and a life is lost every time they fail a puzzle. Once a player has run out of lives, they have to choose between three options: wait for them to replenish, send requests to friends asking for more lives, or purchase lives with money. In addition, there are helpful power-ups that can be purchased. So, it’s entirely possible to play Candy Crush Saga without spending money. Just be aware that the game will dangle plenty of hooks in front of you.
Scribblenauts Remix ($1)
Games by their very nature are about constraints. After all, you need rules to make a game enjoyable or even playable. As such, it’s interesting to see a game try to lift as many of those constraints as possible, leaving the player bound only by their imagination. Enter Scribblenauts, a puzzle game in which players can enter a word and the thing that word represents (reader, be assured there will be no deeper discussion of semiotics) will appear on screen. For example, type “giraffe,” and a giraffe will appear. Type “tank,” and lo and behold, a tank!
The levels in Scribblenauts present you with various objectives. In order to complete these objectives, you will need to summon objects into the world and maybe even combine them to various effects. The game has a fairly extensive dictionary, so you will likely only be limited by your own creativity. Scribblenauts is a remarkable puzzle-solving experience, one that leaves the player with a real sense of pride when they complete a goal.
Next page: Strategy and board games
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Free)
A collectible card game in the vein of Magic: The Gathering, Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone is a fast-paced take on the genre, designed for the mobile era. Players construct decks of 30 cards and use them to battle other players for prizes and glory. Hearthstone draws on lore and characters from Blizzard’s Warcraft franchise, so fans of games like World of Warcraft can expect to see familiar faces. In addition, there are eight classes to choose from (based on classes from WoW), and each class has its own unique power to use in games, as well as cards that only they have access to. This makes it easy for new players to build decks with a strong sense of identity.
Blizzard periodically releases new content for the game, and Hearthstone has rapidly built up a large community since its release. New players need not find the game daunting, as there are plenty of fan-made resources to learn about the game, including our own guide for beginners.
Game Dev Story ($2)
Have you ever wanted to experience the soul-destroying grind of working in the video game industry without having to put in the 70 hour work weeks required? Now you can, with Game Dev Story! GDS puts you in the role of owner of a video game developer. You must hire (and even fire) employees, balance budgets, and try to ship the best products you can. You might even win some game of the year awards! The gaming industry is perilous, however, and life may throw you some humorous curveballs. Fans of management sims will find none better than Game Dev Story on the app store.
Plants vs. Zombies ($1)
Tower defense games seem particularly suited to mobile devices. Gameplay is moderately-paced and focuses more on strategy than on quick reflexes. It is perfect, then, that one of the most polished and just plain fun tower defense games is available on the app store.
Plants vs. Zombies streamlines tower defense, removes the idea of multiple paths on which enemies can walk, and creates a sort of chess board with the player’s forces on the left and the enemies on the right. Zombies will stream in from the right side of the board, ambling towards the player’s house, hungry for brains. Players can defend themselves by placing plants on the board, adorable minions that have various abilities. Some plants shoot seeds at incoming zombies, some plants function as walls that the zombies have to break through, some plants can freeze zombies in place.
The zombies come in a variety of forms, and the challenge comes from understanding what enemy zombies can do, and which plants work best against them. As Sun Tzu said: “If you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.”
Trivia Crack ($3, free with ads)
Do you ever want to prove that you’re smarter than your friends? To crush them mentally and see them broken and fleeing before your intellectual majesty? Trivia Crack may be the game for you! A mobile trivia game similar to the classic board game Trivial Pursuit, Trivia Crack allows players to take turns answering questions from a selection of categories such as Sports and History. Answering enough questions correctly will reward you with characters related to each subject: collect all six and you win. If you really want to wager your friendship for a victory, you can initiate a quick fire round — Whichever player wins gets to take a character from their opponent.
Words With Friends (Free)
Words with Friends, or: Words with Future Enemies? A mobile adaptation of Scrabble, Words allows you to test your vocabulary against your friends. You use letter tiles to assemble words on the game board and take advantage of tiles that offer bonuses such as double points to rack up big points. It’s all good fun, until one person starts using words like “Qi” or “Zax,” at which point the game turns into a cold war. Words With Friends is at least free, so your wallet will stay full while your friends list thins out.
Sudoku puzzles became a global phenomenon about a decade ago, and for good reason. Like crosswords, Sudoku is a tough but stimulating puzzle game that can liven up any free time you may have. This free Sudoku app gives you a good selection of difficulty levels to choose from, and unlike a pen-and-paper Sudoku puzzle, you can easily correct your errors. There are cosmetic options such as different boards and themes, but at the end of the day, what matters is the unlimited fun and thrill offered by Sudoku puzzles. With the Sudoku app, you will always have one on hand.