Android Gaming: Fun on the Run

Steven Pryor | Contributing Writer

Around this time, I would have beaten and reviewed “Street Fighter X Tekken.” This ended up not happening for a number of reasons. First, I am kind of short on money for the new term. Second, the issue of the on-disc DLC is interesting to the least (My favorite characters are Sakura and Asuka, which are on the disc, but cannot be unlocked by normal means). Third, my brother’s Xbox 360 had the dreaded red ring of death on it.

So instead, I will talk about Android gaming. Since Android OS was first made, it has proved a worthy alternative to Apple’s iOS (their Operating System for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad); allowing many open-source games and applications to be made for it.

In addition to the staple of the paid version of Tetris, EA has now made a free version for people to get from Google Play (the new name for the Android Market). Namco has put up many of their classic arcade games (Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig Dug, and many others) for people to play.

The once-dead subgenre of arcade games has made a resurgence on Android OS. Sega remastered Space Harrier and Afterburner with new touch and motion controls. Konami finally gave their revered X-Men beat-em-up a home release with the Android format. (Yes, it still features Magneto’s broken English of “I am Magneto! Master of Magnet!” and “Welcome to die!”)

There was once a time where the only good cell phone games came from Japan, and Americans thought cell phone games would never live up to consoles or dedicated handhelds. With the Android OS’ open-source format, it can deliver just as rich an experience. Sega has made a version of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 for the format; and it proved to be a good platform for the game.

The platform is also a boon for retro gaming, as there are all manner of emulators that can be run on Android OS devices. There are ones for the 8-bit Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, and the original Playstation. There is even an Android version of the popular SCUMM VM emulator (which can be used to play older point and click PC games such as Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle).

Once you have the emulator of choice installed, you can find plenty of ROMs of old games through a quick Google search on your device. (Note: Emulation poses some risks. A general rule is that you should only get ROMs of games you own physical copies of, lest you risk falling into piracy complaints from the Entertainment Software Association. Also, if something is missed, you can brick your device; something customer service generally frowns upon.)

Android gaming has another advantage for cash-strapped gamers: while console games  generally cost $50 and handheld games go for around $35, there are all sorts of free games for Android. Even if you do pay for a game, I rarely found one that cost more than $10 to download.

In short, if you’re looking for a fun way to kill time, your Playstation Vita was defective, or just want to save a few bucks on a game, Android gaming is for you.

What do you think?