Android games of the week: Zenonia, Everlands, Pocket Racing, ExZeus Arcade, and Angry Birds

ExZeus Arcade

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Above: Giant robot action as only Japan can deliver

Reminiscent of the shoot-em-up games from the late 80's and early 90's, ExZeus Arcade is not for the slow-reflexed, or those without top-of-the-line Android devices. This thing looks awesome, but will make your phone cry and beg for mercy with its graphical demands.

You also need to make sure you have a device with an integrated accelerometer, because this game is controlled by tilting the phone to handle how your giant robot flies, and by touching the screen to aim and shoot. That might sound complex, and while the learning curve is a bit steep, once you've gotten the hang of it, the game's controls are surprisingly responsive and intuitive.

Now, keep in mind that ExZeus Arcade is Japanese, so if you're expecting an over-the-top storyline, tons of graphical effects, and some silly, poorly translated dialogue, you won't be disappointed. But, leaving aside that part of it, the game does have some wonderful graphical effects, and the constant stream of explosions, targeting data, and other whizzbangs will keep your eyes from getting bored.

So, if you've got a phone that can handle the requirements and a brain that can process piles of stimuli at once, ExZeus Arcade is a terrifically enjoyable experience. Just keep in mind that if ever a game fell into the "hardcore" gamer class for Android, this is it. Not for the faint of heart – or of thumbs.

Angry Birds

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Above: Seem simple? Yeah, not so much

This devilishly simple "artillery" game -- well known to iPhone/iPod Touch folks -- is terribly addicting. The premise is that a bunch of evil pigs have kidnapped some birds' eggs and taken refuge in a variety of extremely unstable structures. The birds, in retaliation, must launch themselves at the pigs: the goal being either to contact the pigs directly (killing them) or bang into the structures, causing them to collapse on the pigs (also killing them). And because the structures crumble like a kid’s wooden block castle when you plow into them, it’s destructively satisfying.

While the basic idea of the game is fun, the real challenge comes from trying to reach the coveted "three-star" rating for each level which requires the maximum efficiency of bird-shots to pigs killed. Some levels are diabolically designed to keep you trying over and over for that third star, so expect Angry Birds to drive you half crazy sometimes – but it always keeps your interest.

Part of the appeal is Angry Birds' simple control scheme and easy-to-apprehend gameplay, but the news about this one is that it's free. Plus, there are a whole bunch of expansions for it – the Finnish design team is adding new levels all the time, some of which even add new gameplay elements like different bird types (each bird has its own unique speed, weight, and size) to refine the challenges.

Nov 24, 2010

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