The best free arcade games for Android
Our favorite free Android arcade titles, fighting games and retro fare.
That’s a cow
That’s a cow is an auto-runner that features a bovine hero who can fly using an endless jet of milk. Tilt the cow and she blasts herself upward or forward – and can halt encroaching enemies in a decidedly dairy-based manner.
It’s easy to grasp, but the game offers a stern challenge – at least if you want to perfect every level. Getting to the end of each finite stage isn’t that hard, but grabbing all the collectables requires mastery of your flying cow.
In all, it’s comical stuff and a world away from comparatively dull scrolling arcade games where you tap to make a protagonist jump or flap. Blasting milk everywhere and the slightly out-of-control nature of proceedings feels silly and fresh – you won’t get a case of deja-moo with this one.
Catchee claims to be a happy musical catching game. Don’t believe a word of it. Although the game’s all jolly visuals and hummable tunes, it has the kind of ferocity that will leave you a gibbering wreck in the corner.
Imagine someone tried to combine juggling with the relentless intensity of Super Hexagon and you’re most of the way there. So you find yourself grabbing Catchables in a bowl, their patterns aligning with a song’s beat – and with everything quickly speeding up to breakneck pace.
Like Super Hexagon, Catchee isn’t random. There are patterns in the chaos and once you spot them, you’ll put together chains, complete songs and then face sterner tests. It’s hugely compelling when it clicks – although whether your eyes will forgive you for minutes long sessions without blinking is another matter.
Valley of the Savage Run
Valley of the Savage Run is like an on-rails Frogger, only instead of crossing a street and a river, you’re heading in breakneck fashion along a pathway peppered with traps and teleporters, all while a lumbering but relentless and deadly snail pursues you.
Further complicating matters, you control two frogs – one with each thumb. A tap moves the relevant amphibian on one space, and each frog must only ever land on matching colored tiles. Not doing so means instant death, and in this game, there’s a lot of death as you get to grips with the demanding pace, plus the regular requirement to have one frog temporarily travel on another’s back.
You’ll hate your thumbs as they err, but stick with the game and it will click. You’ll then feel like a gaming god when blazing through even the most savage of levels.
Fancade is 50 minigames in one – but also potentially unlimited in scope. The base game has you face off against bite-size arcade tests that echo fare you’ll find elsewhere on Google Play. There are dinky racers, micro-puzzlers, and tricky compressed platform games. Win enough stars and you unlock more worlds and games.
That alone would be enough for a recommendation. The games are without exception fun and simple, and they fit nicely into odd moments. But Fancade also invites you to make your own games, either through using pre-defined kits, or - for the most motivated players - by starting with a blank canvas.
This is a level of ambition rarely seen on mobile, not least in a free Android game. Should you fancy rewarding the creator, consider the low-cost monthly IAP that will help keep the servers running while you work on your next miniature Fancade epic.
Super Fowlst 2
Super Fowlst 2 finds a chicken on a mission to defeat evil, but said fowl’s main weapon is merely a rotund behind - and it’s no marvel in the air either.
Tap left or right and the bird hurls itself in that general direction, gracelessly arcing through the air. Smack into a demon to clobber it - but you must avoid chicken-skewering projectiles spewed your way. Beyond that, you grab gold to later buy upgrades, and beat up bosses that appear periodically - if you can figure out how.
All of which might sound familiar to fans of the original (and excellent) Super Fowlst, but this one’s even better. There are treasures to hunt, mechs to drive, and a body slam move to squish anything beneath you. With its retro visuals and two-thumb controls, this game is a tiny arcade classic perfectly realized for your phone.
Tiny Tomb: Dungeon Explorer
Tiny Tomb: Dungeon Explorer is a free Android game that reimagines dungeon crawling for mobile. But although you’re not surrounded by swarms of enemies you have to cut through with your weapon, there’s still tension as you use a single digit to explore varied dungeons, aiming to find food for a gigantic demon.
The isometric visuals echo Crossy Road, and have plenty of vibrance and character as you dart about dank locations. Coins are grabbed, skeletons are punched, and you quickly learn to jump on and off bear traps to avoid losing one of your three lives.
Naturally, there’s freemium gunk alongside more traditional green stuff on the dungeon walls, but the app’s quite generous regarding progression and checkpoints. And although ads pop up now and again, the fun factor of Tiny Tomb is more than enough to encourage further exploration of its blocky depths.
Vertical Adventure is a minimalist tap-based arcade effort that – depending on your approach – is either a casual game for noodling around, or the kind of speedrun test that will leave you sobbing and rocking in a corner.
The game casts you as a tiny dot that for some reason needs to climb 60 levels packed full of obstacles. Between you and the finish line are a bunch of collectables. With careful aiming and a basic grasp of gravity, reaching the end shouldn’t be too tricky, if you’ve a reasonable sense of timing.
Leave things there and Vertical Adventure is worth your time. But if you crave further challenge, a bar fills at the side of the screen as you play, indicating a target reference time. Only if you beat that by way of a crazed mix of prodding, slalom, and luck can you truly consider yourself having mastered the game.
Free Android game Yokai Dungeon features a festival interrupted by the titular yokai – monsters, demons and spirits out to make a nuisance of themselves. Taking the form of what amounts to a furry ghostbuster, you set out to banish the evil critters – primarily by hurling things at them.
All these critters are fortunately corporeal and easy to squash, so you scoot about grid-like arenas, and shove boxes at the monsters to flatten them against a wall. It’s fast-paced stuff, with a fluid control system that keeps you zipping about.
Because the dungeons are randomly generated, no two games are the same. And with power-ups, periodic boss battles, and some arenas that span multiple screens, the hero of the hour won’t get bored dishing out justice in this beautifully realized arcade treat.
Knight Brawl is a side-on brawler, where medieval fighters leap about the place, hitting each other with weapons designed to do serious damage. But rather than immerse you in blood and gore, Knight Brawl gallops towards the absurdist end of the fighting-game spectrum – and then keeps on riding.
If you’ve ever played the creator’s previous efforts, such as Rowdy Wrestling, you’ll know what to expect. Cartoonish combatants bounce around, realistic physics having long ago left the building. You get the feel you’re just about in control, as if driving a car that’s always on the edge of skidding off the road.
It’s glorious – huge amounts of fun, and perfectly pitched for mobile. Moreover, there’s surprising depth, with several modes when you just fancy a scrap, and also missions to carry out.
Project Loading depicts the adventures of a loading bar on a quest to reach 100%. If you’ve ever wondered why such bars take ages to fill, this game explains why. Rather than inching from left to right, the bar here must work its way around all kinds of hazards and traps.
There are speed-up mats, and those that slow you down. There are bouncers and deadly crosses, and barriers to open with keys. Given the twitchy nature of the tilt controls, getting to the end can be a tricky business.
The lives system (refilled by watching ads) can be a drain when you hit later levels, but otherwise this is an engaging creation, with stripped-back arty visuals, a clever concept, and plenty of challenge.
Williams Pinball squeezes some of history’s best pinball tables into your Android device. Each has been lovingly recreated, with superb physics, lighting, and visuals. Although this being a free app, your experience does end up bouncing around some freemium bumpers.
You start by choosing one table to unlock from the selection, and you then gain XP, table parts, and coins from daily challenges (single-ball; score attacks). Parts and coins can be used to gradually unlock other tables for challenges, and then free play.
This takes ages, and we doubt many players will ever get tables to level four, where creator Zen Studio’s animatronic components come into play. Still, the vanilla pinball’s great, the challenges are fun, and at worst you’ll have one amazing table to play, assuming you pick well at the start. (Hint: Attack from Mars or Medieval Madness!)
Fly THIS has hints of mobile classic Flight Control, which some time ago vanished from Google Play. Like the older title, Fly THIS has you draw paths for planes to follow, so they land at airports. But instead of following Flight Control’s endless stylings, ramping up the panic until an inevitable collision, Fly THIS feels more puzzle-oriented in its execution.
You deal with fewer planes, but the maps are smaller and peppered with hazards, such as weather and mountains you probably don’t want to steer your aircraft into. You’re also charged with getting passengers from A to B – and must do so within a strict time limit.
The entire thing becomes a grin-inducing – and sometimes challenging and frustrating – juggling act. It’s different from the game that inspired it, but no less appealing.
Sneak Ops is a retro-infused stealth game where every day brings a new mission. The goal is to get to the chopper by stealthily moving through an enemy compound without being spotted.
The game utilises intuitive top-down gameplay - initially, you can freely scamper about the tiles, but when deeper into your mission, it’s vital to carefully time runs past cameras – and regularly use your ability to smack guards over the head.
Getting to the chopper is tough, but if you don’t fancy starting from scratch on being captured, you can ‘buy’ restart points with floppy disks that litter the compounds – an odd quirk we suspect a real spy would give up their best attaché case for.
Fun gameplay and a fresh daily challenge keep Sneak Ops feeling fresh.
Spaceteam is a superb multiplayer game that deftly showcases your ability (or lack thereof) to work as part of a (space)team. With between two and eight players connected in local multiplayer, you’re informed that your spaceship is fleeing an exploding star, and you must perform actions to stave off your transport being blown up in a manner that would be a major downer for everyone on board.
The snag is the controls were designed by a lunatic. They’re spread between everyone’s screens, and demands simply show up as text-based prompts, so you’ll be searching for the Dangling Shunter switch and Spectrobolt slider, while pleading with everyone to “please turn on the Eigenthrottle”. Captain Kirk never had it this tough.
Jodeo features a cycloptic blob being put through the grinder by a sadist. A claw-like contraption lifts the jelly-like critter above an ‘experiment’ and lets go. Your aim: to move it left and right, squelching over every edge of geometric shapes lazily rotating on the screen – without falling off.
With standard 2D forms, Jodeo might have been entertaining, but it wouldn’t have been as interesting. Here, you’re tackling 3D objects moving in and out of a 2D plane, along with other ‘scientific’ conditions, such as someone unhelpfully hurling meteors your way, or turning off a shape’s lines so you can’t see them.
The experience is short, but it’s hard to gripe about a freebie – not least given the protagonist’s seemingly permanent expression of sheer terror.
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