Android Games of the Week: Gem Miner, Brain Genius Deluxe, Radiant, RoboDefense, Blow Up

Get it from the Android library

Above: It's like Space Invaders, but with a lot more panache

Radiant is yet another shooter for your Android device (also available for iPod), but don't dismiss it among the chaff - this is a quality title that's reminiscent of Space Invaders with some elements of side-scrolling shooters like Konami’s Gradius games thrown in. Waves of enemies eventually give way to gigantic bosses that you'll have to take down using your dexterity and a pretty darn powerful Android phone - this game looks sharp and requires the resources to back that up.

As you'd expect, Radiant features plenty of special weapons, secret areas, unlocks, and even the ability to share your high scores with your friends. You can upgrade your ship with new abilities throughout the game, which tweaks the way you'll play through the levels, and also gives the game at least the veneer of some replayability.

If Radiant has any serious drawbacks (other than the system requirements) it's that the controls aren't always super responsive. Sometimes you'll make an input and the game just doesn't respond, or lags slightly when it does. For a game that's heavy on the action, this can lead to some phone-throwing moments (I'm being figurative, do not throw your phone), so keep in mind that you have to be Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to controls, or you'll hate life.

In all, though, Radiant is a fun throwback to the times when gaming was just you, your TV and a bunch of alien scum. Plenty of enjoyable action to be had here.

Blow Up

Get it from the Android library

Above: Boom goes the dynamite

Blow Up shares some similarities with the wildly popular Angry Birds, in that your goal is to demolish structures. But, unlike that game in which you launch objects at the structures, in Blow Up, you place charges in strategic places and then set them off. The gloss on the Angry Birds gameplay model works surprisingly well, and gets very challenging (in a good way) in the latter levels.

One of the things that makes this one particularly interesting is that you can set your bombs not only to go off simultaneously, but to go off at specific timed intervals. This means you can set one off, wait for a particular part of the structure to collapse into another bomb, then use that bomb's explosion to hurl the newly formed piece of debris into hard to reach portions of the structure. It adds a critical (and addictive) layer of complexity to the game.

Making things much easier to handle are the game's accurate and snappy touchscreen controls. You don't have to worry about accidentally placing a bomb in the wrong spot with an errant finger, or miss setting the clock on one of your sequences: Blow Up is simple to pick up and the controls are easy to get the hang of. And, given that it's completely free to play, this is one time waster that comes highly recommended.

Dec 21, 2010

Unreal Engine now ready for Android, first game due out this week
Dungeon Defenders: First Wave may just be the best-looking game ever to hit Android

Its fate on other Android phones is unclear

Happy smartphone-enabled holidays!