It's been a great year for Android gaming and the Android Market saw the release of several timeless classics. High definition tablets are becoming a more widespread gaming platform each day and it's not hard to see why, with the bevy of high quality apps that are consistently put out. Of those many games, here are my picks for the best of 2011.
World of Goo ($4.99)
Let's start out with this little gem, which arrived rather late in the year, just in time for this list! World of Goo from 2D Boy was one of those initial games to really get people's attention during the big indie boom not too long ago. It's one of the most original and well-crafted physics-based puzzle games out there with its intelligently designed construction puzzles. It's simply packed with strange images, abstract ideas, and a surprisingly memorable story with an environmentally friendly aftertaste. Definitely don't let this one pass you by.
Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD ($6.99)
A pretty sizable amount of racing games emerged this year, and I believe Asphalt 6 easily tops them all, ironically beating out the well established franchises it's emulating. Fantastic visuals, plenty of cars and game modes, and the very psychedelic and memorable "Adrenaline" boost mode are just a few of this game’s strong points. It plays well, the cars control perfectly, and it's just a well made game that any gamer, especially racing fans, should pick up.
Cut The Rope ($0.99)
What World of Goo helped accomplish for indie gaming, Cut the Rope did for mobile gaming. Simple swipe-based rope cutting, candy, and the infinitely adorable monster known as Om Nom made for a winning physics-puzzler combination, the success of which has inspired dozens upon dozens of comparable titles. Plenty of interesting mechanics consistently keep things engaging, and the developers released several new level packs completely for free which have more than doubled the size of the game.
Sentinel 3: Homeworld ($2.99)
Out of the vast ocean of carbon copy tower defense games, very few gems stand out from the crowd, and even fewer can make this list as the reigning king. Sentinel 3 initially seems to be more of the same, but soon introduces the "Commander" mobile super unit, which immediately adds another layer to the game. The Commander gains levels and abilities, growing as a unit. The traditional tower defense elements are refined to perfection, and the new elements only reinforce them. Likewise, the gorgeous HD visuals and various game modes are polished to a shine.
Great Little War Game ($2.99)
Strategy games tend to be far less common in the Android Market than the ubiquitous genres seen above, so when a great one sees a release, it's quite noticeable. This game is indeed "Great" as its title implies. Simple turn-based strategy on a hexagonal tiled battlefield, an equivalently simple and appealing visual style, and a great deal of fun content make this game worth noticing. It’s well designed and full of humorous characters and dialogue, so even non-strategy fans should give it a shot.
Related: Best Android Tablet Games of 2011
Air Penguin (Free)
I'm really not a fan of tilt based games. I detest having my seating position and posture dictated by a simple game. It should then surprise you to learn that I absolutely loved this game, which is entirely controlled through tilt. In this casual game, you play as a loving penguin father simply trying to rescue his family. Bounce through a crumbling Antarctic and avoid sea-faring predators. Packed with charming art design and amusing mechanics, this game is a joy to play, even if it doesn't always make sense.
Where's My Water? ($0.99)
Following the same principles popularized by Cut the Rope, Disney Mobile released this delightful physics-based puzzle game featuring an adorably pitiful sewer dwelling alligator named Swampy. However, this game's mechanics are far more "fluid" in nature, as your goal is to guide a body of water to Swampy's bathtub so that he can keep squeaky clean. You do this by digging through dirt, avoiding various acids and other hazards that may contaminate the water. Similarly supported by the developers with free additional content, you really can't go wrong with this one.
Guns'n'Glory WW2 (Free)
This is another strategy game that really does some genre mixing. Is it a tower defense with real time strategy elements, or vice versa? I'm not really sure, but all I know is that it's darn entertaining. Fight as either the Allies or the Axis in what is essentially a tower defense with mobile towers. You must constantly adjust your unit's positions to account for whatever the next enemy wave brings, all while collecting resources and reinforcing your very perishable troops. Great art and music are just the icing on the cake for this excellent and original game.
Zombieville USA ($0.99)
This simple side scrolling action game doesn't really have much to it, and despite being rather repetitive, for some reason what it has really works. Play as several colorful characters and utilize and abundance of very cool weaponry as you fight through the seemingly endless undead hordes. Pop into every house you see, scrounging for ammo and money like a proper survivalist, and upgrade your arsenal to ever-increasing levels of lethality. This game is a sublime example of simple mindless fun.
Game Dev Story ($2.50)
Kicking off what would soon become a veritable empire of "Story" games, this title helped put developers Kairosoft on the map. Simulating a game development studio with all the choices and decision-making that come with such a job, this game is surprisingly addicting. The pixelated art style definitely made the most sense in this installment of the series, and it is quite gorgeous. Grow as a studio, gain fame and popularity, and remember to keep everything within budget. Trust me… that's a lot more awesome than I just made it sound.