Get it from the developer
It may seem crazy to play a first-person shooter on a phone – you may wonder if the controls are completely impossible, or if the processing power is up to snuff. But, believe it or not, ToonWarz - a fully 3D, honest-to-goodness FPS - manages to be both charming and challenging, both entertaining and easy-to-use.
Yes, the controls do come with a bit of a learning curve: you'll need to get used to the multitouch means of moving about (and make sure your device has multitouch capability). But once you've mastered its system, ToonWarz offers many levels of shooter action, and even the ability to jump online and play against real, live humans in deathmatch. Believe it or not, the deathmatch mode works darn well and feels a lot like Nintendo's GoldenEye multiplayer. It’s all about lighthearted-but-somehow-hardcore competition.
While it's not going to replace Call of Duty anytime soon, ToonWarz is the most successful shooter we've yet seen on an Android device. Plus the Team Fortress 2-style graphics and sound make it a joy to kill time (and other people) with. Oh, and in case you're worried, ToonWarz has no blood or gore, so don't feel bad about little Johnny getting his hands on this particular shooter - the only trauma he's likely to suffer is carpal tunnel syndrome.
Above: Don't be afraid, it's just an FPS.
In a glaring example of what has got to be some form of copyright infringement, Bonsai Blast, from Glu Games, is pretty much identical to PopCap's Zuma series of games, except the theme is East Asian, rather than MezzoAmerican. Like Zuma, Bonsai Blast features a continuous string of marbles that moves inexorably toward an end point along a maze-like route. Should the marbles reach that end point, the play loses the round.
To stop this from happening, the player must shoot his own marbles into the string in an attempt to match three or more marbles of the same color. Matching marbles like this causes the run of same-colored balls to disappear, and makes the whole string contract accordingly. Bonuses are awarded for shooting through obstacles (including gaps in the marble string itself), breaking open chests with marble shots, and a variety of other special moves.
Backgrounds and music set a Zen-like mood for the game, but the action can get pretty frenetic in the later levels – and there's about 90 of them to go through, so you won't finish this game in any brief period. Controls are simple, just rotate the marble shooter with your finger and fire away at will. And, while there's no multiplayer mode, the game does add a neverending survival mode to go with its standard adventure mode for more bang for your buck. In all, this is a very diverting little casual title, despite its downright shameful Zuma similarity.
Above: Yeah, you might have seen this somewhere before.
Armored Strike Online
Get it at the Android Market
If you're an old-school PC gamer, you may remember Scorched Earth or, if you're a bit less long in the tooth, the Worms series of strategy titles. If you are familiar with either of those, you know what you're getting with Armored Strike: Two or more teams of units (generally tanks/artillery pieces) face off against each other in a deformable, 2D map and take turns blasting at one another – the last man standing wins.
Typically, battles consist of a series of ranged artillery strikes, the "hook" of the game being a player's ability to accurately guage the angle and power needed to hit an enemy with a shot. But, as the game progresses and more weapons become available, matches become more and more bizarre – with parachuting military men and nuclear missiles causing all sorts of chaos.
Although originally only local multiplayer was available, the latest version of Armored Strike has full online play, so you can blow the crap out of your friends' armies to your heart's content. Cartoonish graphics, reminiscent of the old Neo-Geo classic Metal Slug add panache to the combats, and the AI (if you're playing by yourself) is just the right blend of challenging without too obvious cheating.
If there's a drawback to Armored Strike, it's that the maps tend to be a little smaller and more repetitive in layout than they should be to take advantage of the full range of weapons and abilities. After a while, you start to feel like you've seen every possible permutation of map layout and enemy disposition. Still, that minor qualm shouldn't stop casual strategy fans from getting a blast (get it!?!?) out of Armored Strike.
Above: Colorful graphics and a little humor make this strategy title a keeper.
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