Ten Fun Android Games To Play On Holiday Break

by Jeff Marchiafava on Dec 23, 2013 at 11:00 AM

If you're like me, the winter holidays contain their fair share of downtime. Whether you're waiting for the Christmas lasagna to finish cooking (...everyone eats lasagna at Christmas, right?) or just bored out of your mind by a chatty relative, mobile games provide short, sanity-saving doses of entertainment.

I've written about a bajillion round-ups of Android games, and each time I'm amazed at the increasing quality of Google's offerings. Android gaming may still not be on par with iOS, but there are plenty of great games available, from one-man indie projects to big-budget mobile titles.

The following list features some of my favorite Android games that I've stumbled upon in recent months. They might not be the newest or flashiest titles, but each one provides its own unique and interesting experience.

Reiner Knizia's Tigris & Euphrates
Based on an award-winning board game, Tigris & Euphrates involves building a civilization with basic tiles and going to war with your fellow players. As you can probably surmise from the picture above, the actual board game is fairly complex, but the digital version expedites turns and makes it easier to parse the information being presented to you. Playing this challenging strategy game on a tablet is ideal, but you can still get by with a phone.

Also known as Doodle Link, Pandoodle tasks players with helping an artistic panda paint colored lines between different icons. Crossing lines results in different colors, while taking squiggly detours uses more paint. I've played a number of similar color-based puzzle games, but Pandoodle is the most polished incarnation I've seen yet.

Reiner Knizia's Deck Buster
Another Reiner Knizia joint, Deck Buster is a unique card game that mixes solitaire and poker. Players must build poker hands by placing a limited pool of cards in three five-card rows. Although much of the game comes down to luck, Deck Buster is still fun for short, solo play sessions.

Pictured above, this clever puzzle game tasks players with building up the best city possible. However, gameplay feels more like something you'd find in a board game than SimCity. Each tile that the player places has a different effect on its surrounding plots, which factor into clearing columns. MegaCity is a satisfying mix of strategy and luck, and unlockable tiles add an extra dose of replayability to the fun.

Chinese Poker
This barebones card game won't win any awards for its visual presentation, but it will teach you an addictive variation of Poker. In Chinese Poker, players receive 13 cards that must be used to make two five-card hands and one three-card hand. Players then compare their three hands to each of the other players individually, and earn money based on one of two different scoring systems. If it sounds complicated, it is; but the game gives you everything you need to know to learn the rules, and accommodates a variety of alternate scoring options.

You didn't think I'd get through this list without a word game or two, did you? SpellTower tasks wordsmiths with chaining together words from a jumbled block of letters in order to clear room for more tiles. It's basically Bookworm, but since PopCap still hasn't released a game in the series on Android, that's good enough. SpellTower also includes a couple of interesting mode variations, and a simple yet effect visual design.

Beyond Ynth
I'm not a fan of mobile platforming games, but Beyond Ynth mixes in enough puzzle elements to keep things entertaining. You play as a bug named Kribl, who has to push and rotate giant, platform-filled boxes to make his way through the environment. While the platforming still isn't great, the puzzles can get quite clever and the game features a fun art style.

This is by far the ugliest game I've ever played on mobile, but it sports a ton of strategy and replayability. Based on an old board game named Acquire, Shareholder tasks players with purchasing stocks on an open grid, with different colors denoting different companies. When two groups are bridged by connecting a piece, a merger takes place which can lead to a big windfall or financial ruin. This game is about as nerdy as it comes, but don't let that get in your way of a good time.

Jumbline 2
I've played about a billion anagram games on my phone, but Jumbline 2 is my favorite. Why? It's got colorful visuals and a clever input system for spelling and selecting words. That might not sound like much, but seeing as how those are the only gameplay mechanics in an anagram game, it makes a big difference. If you enjoy word games, check it out.

This implementation of the Japanese logic puzzles is possibly my favorite mobile game to date. Kakuro is kind of like Sudoku, only it mixes some basic math into the equation. While the developer doesn't get points for originality, everything else about the game is perfect. The input mechanics, theme, presentation, and soothing music all make it a joy to mutter obscenities to myself while trying to figure out which numbered box I screwed up.

Know of any other Android games we should be playing? Share them in the comments below!