I’m old enough to have played River Raid on an Atari 800XL, with a tape deck that slowly rolled as it loaded the game. But with the late acquisition of a smartphone and a tablet (an old phone died and needed replacing; the tablet was my present to myself when I sold The Violent Century), I’ve gone back to playing games. Though as it turned out, the particular type of game I like (no strategy, no sims, no puzzles, no cards – in fact, what do you like, Lavie!) isn’t that easy to come by.
I’m drawn still to the old school type of game: an endless scroller/runner where, ideally, you get to shoot everything that moves. What more can you ask for!
Here are five recent-ish free android games. Sadly, they don’t all involve shooting – in fact, one of them involves bananas.
Nuns. Nuns with guns.
Nuns with guns.
I don’t really know what else there is to say! This is like the ultimate... thing.
You get to play several different nuns with an assortment of weapons and abilities – the ninja throwing knives are my favourites – and battle skeletons, werewolves and vampires.
Skeletons with guns.
It’s got great gameplay, smooth scrolling graphics, jumps, dodges, some ok powerups (to be fair it’s not so great on the powerups, but you don’t really need them, here), and while the difficulty level increases, this is one of the games where, once you muster them, you can keep playing. Unlike, say, Skiing Fred, which just has the most ridiculous escalation of violent mayhem you can imagine. (I played Skiing Fred in cheat mode once and even then you can’t get very far!).
Hands down the best nuns-with-guns game on the market!
Free Lunch Design
An endless jumper, rather than an endless runner. It’s super addictive. I actually played the original Icy Tower on PC back in the day, but this is jazzed up for android – all you have to do is get as high as you can (and who doesn’t like that!) while collecting coins and picking up all kinds of useful tools like a floating umbrella and a power magnet. Even now that I’ve maxed up all the powerups and so on, I still play it, though the highest I’ve ever got is around 1400 floors.
For you genre geeks out there, Icy Tower 2 also comes in a special zombie edition.
I had a hankering for playing old school Donkey Kong the other day, but it hasn’t been ported to android. I think I was watching The King of Kong. Did you watch it? It’s only the most chilling documentary about computer game obsession ever made...
I ended up discovering this curious little gem of a game instead. Banana Kong follows the adventures of a monkey (or is it an ape?) in an eternal quest for bananas. There are three different areas for you to discover outside the main run – cave, underwater and treetops – each with their own weird rules. It’s got what I can only describe as a sort of Alice in Wonderland logic to it, but it’s strangely charming. Five out of five bananas!
[adult swim] Games
This game surely wins the award for weirdest thing ever made, or some sort of Internet mashup gone mad. Cooked up in a meth lab full of geeks. I don’t know! It’s a unicorn, only it’s a robot, and it can fly!
You play a unicorn who runs through an endless world of weird crystal obstacles and laser-firing ice-giants. You can customise your unicorn with different horns and wings and tails for slightly different skills, and have a bunch of equally weird powerups you can use – all in your quest to run farthest and kill as many giants as you can and... oh, I don’t know! The soundtrack by Erasure hypnotises you into a state of supreme transcendence and suddenly you are transported into a strange psychedelic world where you are a robot unicorn with wings.
A robot unicorn.
As you do.
My current obsession, my ultimate game-crush, Ninja Revenge offers everything I look for in a game. I was searching for Shinobi, an old PC ninja game, but came across this instead – and it’s miles better.
You’re a ninja! You have a sword! You traverse a world full of awesome opponents, all of whom are trying to kill you! You decapitate them! Bloodily!
There are some cool powerups and special moves – my favourite is the overkill, which involves doing a double jump onto an enemy and – naturally – decapitating them – lots of very cool enemies, and a lot of mini-missions in order to gain higher score multipliers, and so on.
Lavie Tidhar is currently in hiding, where he is busy playing Ninja Revenge. His new novel, A Man Lies Dreaming, is out now from Hodder & Stoughton.