Take aim with these great Android shooters

by Tim McLain

While there may be no shortage of games available on the Android marketplace, there is a need for organizing the "best of the best" titles in each category to make them easier to find.

Recently, we kicked off a series of app compilations that address this need. For my third installment, we present reviews of some the best shooting games for the Droid.

Shoot U! ($1.99)

With more than 90 levels of rag-doll-physics-powered mayhem, Shoot U! takes the traditional notion of the shooting game, and stands it on its head. Literally.

In this hand-drawn game, you're in control of a cannon, pre-loaded with a small supply of rag dolls wearing costumes that look a lot like Spiderman, pandas, zombies, frogs and more.

Point the cannon at a distant red ball, then press to fire. Your rag dolls (one or two) will shoot up into the air, interact with the obstacles in the way, and do their best to get to the destination. Hit the red ball on the first go, and you'll earn extra points. Extra tries will slowly degrade your score, so be careful.

As you progress, each level offers a new challenge. Some have rotating wheels, bouncing balls, moveable objects and stone walls. You'll need to study the path, and sometimes fire a hail of dolls to break through. Other times, a single well-placed shot does the job.

Try the free, lite version or, better yet, drop $2 on one of the best physics/shooting games on the Android marketplace. You and your kids will love it.

Cannonball ($0.99)

If you've ever been to a state fair or carnival, no doubt you've walked past a shooting gallery. You know, a booth where you pick up a BB gun or laser rifle, aim it downrange at targets ranging from tin cans to animated props (think water cans, clocks, doors and the like), then shoot as many different targets as you can before you run out of bullets.

Cannonball mimics this familiar game on your Android device, instead challenging you to fire your cannon at pirate ships, sea monsters, rats with wings (I mean seagulls) and other things that fly, swim, or sail by your field of view.

The artwork is first-rate, with an early 1900s look and feel. Everything looks like it's made out of wood, and you'll have to aim carefully to hit the ships and other targets as they cruise past. Each sports one or more colored targets, with a given point value shown for hitting it.

My favorite? The large sea creatures that pop up every now and again, sporting multiple point targets to nail. Sometimes these targets are on the end of the creature's limbs, other times their bodies contain spinning wheels and other objects with more than a dozen chances to score.

For less than a buck, Cannonball is one of the best-looking (and sounding) shooting games available for your Droid. Pick it up today!

Radiant Lite (Free)

Who hasn't played Space Invaders? Radiant beefs up this classic title, enhancing the baddies and obstacles with bright neon-colored edges. Even your little ship is a luminous white, moving cleanly across the play field as you dodge asteroids, shoot up the marching aliens, take out flying saucers, and handle the bosses.

Just like the original, you'll need quick reflexes to take out your enemies and grab falling bonuses and credits to purchase upgrades and more.

This is one top-quality arcade action shooter that will keep you playing for many hours. Toss in a quality soundtrack, a full story mode complete with text bubbles (and embedded hints), plus truly radiant graphics from start to finish, and you've got yourself a must-own title for your Droid. (The for-pay version adds more levels.)

Armored Strike Online Lite (Free)

Tank games are a dime a dozen in the gaming world, but I'm happy to report that Armored Strike Online is a totally original entry into this crowded field, offering up a turn-based strategy shooter that's one part Worms and one part Death Tank.

You start on an uneven playing field, facing your foes. Choose your tank, kit it out with all available weapons (limited in the free version), then start firing at your enemies. You'll each get a turn to try to damage each other, then switch weapons and continue to fire.

The controls are perfectly arranged to choose weapons, adjust your angle of attack, move your tank, and fire your ordnance. Plus, you can zoom in and out, and easily swipe left and right to view the entire play field.

At $3.99, the full game is expensive but – given its level of polish, perfect implementation and variety of levels, vehicles and weapons – there's nothing to stand in your way of pure shooting enjoyment on your Android device.