Try Participate Learning — Better teaching through digital resources.

New Android smartphone for Christmas? Download these games first

by Andrew Koziara

Every year the Android Market sees the release of hundreds of quality titles, and every year it gets harder and harder to keep up with them all. If you joined the Android smartphone family this holiday season, you might need some help figuring out where to start. The following titles are all simple and fun mobile gaming experiences that showcase some of the best mobile gaming has to offer. Not listed here (but still highly recommended) are Doodle Jump, Cut the Rope, and of course, Angry Birds, so go ahead and get those too.

Fruit Ninja ($0.99)

Fruit Ninja is one of those games that you'll consistently come back to between other games. It's a very well made casual game in which your finger becomes the blade of a ninja, and a supermarket's worth of fruit becomes your enemy. Slice fruit while avoiding bombs and hone your skills as you streak together impressive combos. Play through a variety of single player modes, such as the tense classic mode, exciting arcade mode, and excellent Zen mode. Unlock new backgrounds and new blades with shiny effects, and even enjoy online multiplayer matches with OpenFeint achievements and leaderboards. This is one of the most addicting games you'll ever play, pure and simple.

Robot Unicorn Attack ($0.99)

If you want a game to be both addictive and hilarious, then you'll probably love this eccentric little gem. Put out as a free Flash game by [adult swim], the Internet nation was swept up by this game in 2010. Now, that game has been made portable on your Android device, along with all the bells and whistles that come along with that, such as OpenFeint support. This is a great endless runner, in which the goal is to get as far as you can before dying as your running speed constantly increases. Robot unicorns, giant stars, flying dolphins, pixies, and cheesy '90s synthpop ballads are what await you in this ridiculously over the top title.

Reckless Racing ($1.99)

There are many choices to be made when it comes to racing games on the Android Market, from kart racers to more realistic simulation and arcade racers. This is a rally racing game that breaks from the norms, viewing all the action from an isometric top-down camera angle. The controls and gameplay are simple as you try to weave your way through packs of opponents on the slippery dirt roads, fishtailing around turns and generally driving skillfully. The graphics and visual effects are impressive, the cars and their drivers are over-the-top caricatures, and there are plenty of different controls options to help you find your comfort zone. You can even enjoy online multiplayer with friends in this simple and fun racer.

World of Goo ($4.99)

World of Goo is a fantastic physics-based puzzle game with unique construction mechanics. This is easily one of the best indie games to come out of the last decade, and while many imitations have been made, this app is beyond comparison. Strange and surreal settings are combined with brilliant building mechanics in this environmentally friendly fable. The memorable music really sets the tone, and the narrative is surprisingly memorable despite the lack of characters. The five chapter story mode is abundant with increasingly innovative puzzles, perfectly balanced as to always feel challenging yet fair, plus the added tower-building bonus game in which you compete with the world to achieve the highest of heights. There is a ton of content on offer here, and everyone should see it.

Robo Defense ($2.99)

There are more tower defense games on the Android Market than people are even willing to count, so it can be tough to know which ones are shameless imitations or the real deal. Robo Defense is not necessarily my favorite, but it is easily the most popular, which has to count for something, right? The game goes with the classic "open field" style of tower defense, in which the only things standing between the enemies and your base are the towers themselves. Deploy all the classic strategies on five maps across different difficulty levels, and save up in-game currency to purchase and unlock dozens upon dozens of upgrades. You can't really go wrong with this one.

Related: New Android tablet for Christmas? Download these games first