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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Top 10 best Android games: February 2012

With the seemingly endless parade of dual- and quad-core handsets on show at last week's Mobile World Congress, the tech benchmark for Android blowers is liable to get raised on a weekly basis this year.

Yet, with loads of high-budget 3D games being lined up for these mega-powered handsets, will there still be room for the little guy: the bedroom coder brimming with originality but lacking the funds to compete with the big boys?

Personally, I find it hard to imagine there won't be space on your next quad-core Ice Cream Sandwich phone for the simple genius of the likes of Mr Legs - and the rest of February's finest Android releases we've rounded up for you below.

Reckless Racing 2
By Polarbit - buy on Android

One of the first racers to really show just how many pixels a decent Android phone could push, Reckless Racing was a stunning showcase for touchscreen racing that played like a dream to boot.

It was, however, decidedly brief, so the prospect of a sequel with a generous Campaign mode, stacks of Arcade challenges, and a neat car upgrade system, made Reckless Racing 2 an irresistibly mud-splattered prospect.

Polarbit's Gold Award-winning game more than matches these expectations, with cars that require real skill to drift around the twisty tracks and fend off the more aggressive AI. There's even a full-fledged multiplayer mode in which to give your souped-up motor the ultimate test drive.

Stay Alive
By Drummer Games - buy on Android

Like flying a spaceship through an asteroid belt with the throttle jammed on full, Stay Alive is not for the average fainthearted earth dweller.

A kind of "Canabalt in space", as our reviewer astutely described it, Stay Alive tasks you with surviving for as long as possible while ducking and weaving between all manner of space debris.

With the default speed set to 'ruddy fast', your only means of survival is to frantically steer with the intuitive slider controls, pick off obstacles in your path with laser cannon blasts, and aim for stellar high scores.

Farm Frenzy 3
By Mobigame - buy on Android

Offering a far more frenetic experience than the likes of Zynga's time / money sink FarmVille, Farm Frenzy 3 lives up to its manic title with 95 stages of increasingly tricky agricultural action.

Imbued with cuddly visuals to lure you in, the game challenges you to craft a set number of different products in each stage. Keeping your animals fed and happy is the key to success, along with capturing predators and knowing the recipe for a delicious cake.

The simple tap controls allow you to focus on the farming process, which is handy as - after a gentle introduction - the challenges are multi-stage affairs that really tax your husbandry tactics.

Great Little War Game: All Out War
By Rubicon Development - buy on Android

Admittedly, All Out War is more of an add-on than a full-on sequel, but with the first Great Little War Game being such a glorious mash-up of Cannon Fodder-style humour and Advance Wars-esque turn-based tactics, that's not such a terrible prospect.

The lack of a tutorial and the steep difficulty curve might put off newcomers, yet veterans will be right at home with the complex turn-based battles.

From the very first conflict, your mettle will be tested to the limit, making this a must-play experience for fans of the original and any warmongers looking for a stern challenge.

By SupaSupa Games - buy on Android

From a studio containing the team behind the MX vs. ATV console series, it's no surprise that SupaSupa Games's first title is a dirt track extravaganza - crammed with muddy tracks; loose, drift-heavy steering; and huge jumps.

Style- and control-wise, SupaSupaCross is not a world away from Polarbit's Reckless Racing, only with motorbikes.

The torrent of in-game achievements can be distracting, but the core racing is fast and furious enough to warrant a decent spin.

Mr Legs
By I Like James Games - buy on Android

What do you get if you cross Monty Python with Android? A game about a gentleman with legs so long birds peck at them, of course.

So eccentric and absurd even Terry Gilliam would smile at its setup, Mr Legs is a surreal delight that's as much fun to sit back and watch as it is to play.

The aim is to collect cherries by stretching the titular 'fellow' as high as possible, though this makes his appendages vulnerable to attacks from birds and even bombs. Despite the bizarre cartoony looks, it's a tough game that requires real skill to conquer the harder levels.

Dungeon Raid
By Fireflame Games - buy on Android

The unlikely splicing of the fantasy-RPG and match-three genres has been done before - most notably in the rather wonderful Puzzle Quest series - but Dungeon Raid does forge its own identity.

Yes, you're battling monsters, levelling-up, and looting everything that's not nailed down, but the generic orcs-and-elves narrative is jettisoned in favour of roguelike survival.

The game is essentially one long battle, with only your match-three wits and an array of potions and shields available to help you fend off the never-ending horde long enough to climb the OpenFeint leaderboards.

Gem Miner 2

By Psym Mobile - buy on Android

As any Minecraft - Pocket Edition fan will tell you, humans have an innate desire to dig deep into the earth and uncover priceless relics - why else do you think Channel 4's Time Team has lasted so long?

This jewel-crammed sequel polishes up its predecessor's creaky visuals, yet retains the simple allure of surviving long enough underground to find the most precious items.

With two modes (Freeplay and the mission-focused Expedition) on offer, it's easy to lose hours patiently digging, installing wooden supports, and searching for shiny things to sell.

Tropical Stormfront
By Noble Master Games - buy on Android

The idea of a mostly sea-based military RTS on a touchscreen phone may sound like a fiddly Titanic-esque disaster waiting to happen, but Tropical Stormfront's old skool charm somehow keeps the concept afloat.

You're waging future war in the Pacific over a generous 25 missions, mastering a fleet of units on land, sea, and air that all have a unique role in battle (such as tanks, which are the only ones capable of capturing enemy bases).

The 8-bit graphics and casual mechanics help to make it an accessible game for noobs, yet there's plenty of challenge here if you ramp up the difficulty.

NFL Kicker!
By Full Fat - buy on Android

Full Fat's gridiron game concept might not be a million miles away from Flick Kick Field Goal, yet its swish presentation and official NFL licence make it a more visually impressive punting pastime.

Glitz and glamour aside, the flick controls are remarkably solid, and the generous number of game modes - which have to be unlocked by racking up high scores - means it's got some serious staying power, too.

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