Another week, another pile of evidence that iPhone isn’t the only game in town (though even we have to admit Infinity Blade is awesome). No matter! We’ll drown our sorrows with these ample offerings.
Get it from the official site
Above: Who knows what riches lurk below the surface of the earth?
Take control of a terribly adorable little miner as he traipses through randomly generated mines in search of the ultimate riches with Gem Miner, perhaps the most addictive game yet for your Android device. The further you get into the mines, the better loot you locate, which allows you to buy better and better mining equipment and delve even deeper still. Everything from improved picks to full-on mining elevators is available for purchase: eventually your mine will be more tricked out than your car on Pimp My Ride - but don't get the idea that this game is easy.
Perils hang around every tunnel curve in Gem Miner. Rocks can fall and crush you, tunnels can collapse or lead to nowhere, and there's the ever-present fear of running out of money, too. While the game does a good job of balancing the difficulty (try the "Challenge Mode" for a really tough dig), some levels can be frustrating if the random level generator chooses to screw you over.
That said, Gem Miner will grab a hold of you, and you'll find yourself going for "just a couple more minutes" to get that next gem, that next reward, and buy your next piece of equipment. It successfully combines elements of construction games (like Minecraft) with dungeon delvers (like Diablo) in a super-cute setting that's just plain hard to resist.
Get it from the official site
Above: A little bot-on-bot violence
If you've ever played a tower defense game – and if you own an iOS or Android phone, you almost surely have – you know what you're getting with Robo Defense: You've got a fort that you need to protect from multiple waves of bad guys. You do this by purchasing defenses (in this case, defender robots of various types) and setting them up along the routes the enemies travel, thus sending your invading attackers to the big junkyard in the sky.
The more bad guys you kill, the more money you make, with which you can purchase ever more effective defensive structures and thereby put the smack down on ever more enemies, rinse and repeat. Robo Defense manages to walk the fine line of difficulty between frustrating and challenging, and generally provides an entertaining combination of strategy and puzzle elements.
What it doesn't provide is any multiplayer, which is a shame given the proliferation of multiplayer tower defense games of late. It also doesn't sport the world's finest visuals, as most of the sprites look blocky, and the maps always seem like they're too zoomed in. Nevertheless, its utterly addictive gameplay manages to get you hooked into its dynamic right from the get-go.
Brain Genius Deluxe
Get it from the Android library
Brain Genius Deluxe, the oddly titled brain-training game for Android, is pretty derivative of popular Japanese games of the same type. You're given a series of puzzles and quizzes, on everything from logical reasoning to historical trivia, and you've got to suss out the right answer (sometimes with a little help) to move on to the next level. Beyond quizzes, there are also motion-controlled spatial recognition challenges, as well as sudoku and straight up math problems.
Now, we understand if this doesn’t sound like it'd be all that fun. Brain Genius Deluxe bills itself as a mind sharpening tool, something to keep your brain from shifting into neutral over a long flight or a stint in a waiting room somewhere. And in that sense, it's quite effective. It lacks the cutesiness or pizzazz of some competing titles on the Nintendo DS, but the core gameplay gets handled pretty much as you'd expect and has the desired effect on all but the most stonily bored minds.
So, just understand what you're getting into here: yeah, there's a point system that rewards you for solving problems quickly and accurately, but beyond that, you're not getting much in the way of "game." On the other hand, for shaking the dust off of your noggin during that long train ride to work in the morning, it's probably a lot healthier than that double-espresso.