Android Police's bi-weekly roundups have covered more than 750 games this year. That's a hell of a lot for a site that's not specifically about gaming, and picking out the top five is no small task. Before you read any further, take note of the following: I had a few criteria that games had to meet before being included in the following selections.
You think you know pinball, right? There are hundreds of variations on the game, thousands of themed layouts to freshen up the experience, and millions of dollars in IAPs to unlock this ball or that theme or that bonus. But PinOut is different, and the first sign is that it comes from the same guys that gave us Smash Hit, Does Not Commute, Granny Smith, and other beautifully and thoughtfully designed games: Mediocre.
Unlike what their name might make you expect, Mediocre's games are fantastic and PinOut is no exception. Somehow, the game is both dark in its environment yet vibrant with its neon colors, both retro in its music and menus yet modern with its 3D graphics and layered platforms.
Welcome to the latest entry in our Bonus Round series, wherein we tell you all about the new Android games of the day that we couldn't get to during our regular news rounds. Consider this a quick update for the dedicated gamers who can't wait for our bi-weekly roundups, and don't want to wade through a whole day's worth of news just to get their pixelated fix. Today we have a new licensed pinball game from Zen, a stylish take on Minesweeper, two retro-inspired platformers, another Sparke "life" game, a simplified brawler, and a connect-the-dots puzzle game. Without further ado:
Are you a fan of cartoons produced, owned, and distributed by Fox Broadcasting Company? Hey, then it's your lucky day—well, unless you don't like pinball. Zen Pinball now has tables based on Bob's Burgers, Archer, Family Guy, and American Dad.
After Star Wars, Marvel, and The Walking Dead, it seems like just about any property is fair game for Zen Studios' expanding pinball franchise. The latest addition is South Park, Comedy Central's foul-mouthed animated show now in its 18th season. As usual with Zen Pinball expansions, you can get the two new 3D tables as either a stand-alone paid app or as in-app purchase expansions to the original game. The separate app is $4, or each table is $2, so it works out the same.
The first table is just general South Park stuff, featuring a staggering number of characters, references, scene items, and voice clips from the show.
Is your relationship with family and friends a little too good? PinWars can take care of that by taking a nice game of pinball and turning it into a super-competitive button-mashing frenzy. It does look neat, though.
The headlining game mode in PinWar is the two-player setup where each person grabs onto one end of the device – probably a tablet – and taps away to control their flippers. It's kind of like Air Hockey, but with pinball rules. In addition to the human-on-human carnage, there are AI levels to beat, as well as various challenge missions. The intriguing part of PinWar is that the levels aren't just generic pinball tables with different junk in them.
Sony knows you like playing pinball, but they also know you tend to reach for the volume rocker after you launch the ball into the first bumper and it sets off a cacophony of sound. They know that all that pinball experience needs to be perfect is background music that overpowers those obnoxious pinball sound effects. So they've brought in hits from rock bands both new and old to provide the soundtrack for Pinball Rocks HD, an experience Sony's pitching as the loudest pinball game ever. It's well-rated on iTunes, but now that it's available on Android, it's really ready to rock.
If you're the kind of fan that absolutely must have a Star Wars version of everything in your life, then grab your officially licensed Ahsoka Tano phone case and head for the Play Store. Zen Studios, makers of the well-received Zen Pinball HD, have released their Star Wars-themed pinball app, creatively titled Star Wars Pinball. It's a reasonable $1.99, but unfortunately restricted to Android 4.0 devices and above, and thus tragically off-limits to the Special Edition R2-DROID2.
The game comes with the Empire Strikes Back table, and the Boba Fett and Clone Wars (The Cartoon Network series, not the lamentable prequel) tables can be downloaded for another two dollars each.
The arcade may have killed the pinball star, but like the Rubik's cube or the Slinky before it, pinball machines have refused to disappear. Pinball Arcade, from Farsight Studios, brings back several classic pinball tables from major players in the pinball industry. Each table also comes with a brief description of its history.
Tables licensed from Williams, Bally, Stern, and Gottlieb have been recreated in impeccable detail. Gameplay and physics are fluid and the flippers are responsive with virtually no lag, which is critical in a game of reaction times. Controls are simple: tap a side of the screen to trigger the flipper on that side.
Update 2: Looks like the kinks have been worked out, and it's now available on the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
We first told you about Zen Pinball THD back in May, and it finally landed in the Android Market just a bit ago. I got the opportunity to test out the APK a few weeks ago, and I can assure you, it was well worth the wait. This is probably the single best pinball game that I've played on any device - the graphics are great, the tables are fantastic, and the overall feel of the game is absolutely stellar.
There seems to be some confusion about device compatibility - this is for Tegra devices only.