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.
Action, Adventure, Arcade
Action and adventure
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.
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.