The Nexus Player is here, and it wants to be more than a streaming box for Netflix and your Google Play downloads. Google has put some serious time into making the Player’s Android TV operating system a viable option when it comes to gaming, even if you didn’t spend the extra $40 up front to purchase an optional gamepad.
With the first Android TV device officially available, the selection of gaming titles available to users will surely grow in the coming months. In the meantime, here are seven of the best games you can download right now and play with only the remote included with the Nexus Player — no gamepad needed
If Flappy Bird had a darker, more developed aesthetic and slightly more forgiving (though no less fun) gameplay, it would be Badlands. The object of the game is simple. Tap and/or hold the action button on the Nexus Player remote to send our strange, flapping protagonist into flight. Just don’t let the edge of the screen catch up to you or your done. The first few levels are easy enough, but things become addictively difficult in the later stages. Shifting sizes, moving obstacles, and narrow passages are only a few of the pitfalls that await. [Google Play]
Those with fond memories of Wave Race (particularly the Nintendo 64 edition), the series that arguably established jet ski racers as a genre in itself, will get right into Riptide GP2. It’s a pretty standard take on watercraft racing with a slightly futuristic aesthetic. You can focus on navigating the various courses and hitting those ramps to perform sweet tricks thanks to some really straightforward controls. Tightened graphics and online multiplayer help Riptide GP2 transcend to a truly worthy living room gaming experience. [Riptide GP2]
A bouncy red ball takes on a world being overrun by squares. Not the most exciting plot synopsis, but Red Ball 4 brings a healthy dose of classic platform action with a touch of puzzle play to add some perplexity. A simplified control scheme means it’s easy to jump right in, but stringing together bounces and timing them to hit the right platform at the right time to advance through a level is a whole other challenge. [Google Play]
Sky Force first launched in 2004 and was one of the first titles to put mobile gaming on the map during the pre-smartphone era. The 10th anniversary update lives up the its predecessor with the same classic gameplay but it is boosted with modern graphics and an engrossing upgrades system to help you take down the enemy threat over numerous levels of action. Each level features classic arcade-style gameplay that culminates with a series of increasingly difficult big bosses. Online play pits your skills against other virtual pilots attempting to claim victory. [Google Play]
Perhaps no game is better suited to the limited capabilities of the Nexus Player remote than is Pac-Man. The arcade legend is presented here in its original format. Munch on dots, ghosts, cherries, and more without leaving the couch. In addition to the standard game, a selection of alternate maps is available via in-app purchases. [Google Play]
Who wants to see some dingers? If the long ball is your thing, then Home Run Classic from ESPN is the game for you. A traditional home run derby-style game with exaggerated graphics inspired by the likes of NFL Blitz, RBI Baseball, and NBA Jam, Going Going Gone adds depth with in-game upgrades. Buy a new bat, up your hitting power, and knock an endless stream of balls right out of the park. [Google Play]
The reliance on simple directional controls makes the infinite runner a genre right at home on the Nexus Player, and there are several options to choose from. For our money, Orborun brings the most interesting take on gameplay. The stakes are slightly higher as your character is not locked on rails (so be careful you don’t go flying over the edge) and a variety of levels add new gameplay possibilities, including puzzles and platform-style action. [Google Play]
Any Android TV gaming favorites of your own? Let us know in the comments below or head over to our Android TV and Nexus Player forums to join the discussion there. Next up we’ll be covering our favorite casual games for the Nexus Player built with the official gamepad in mind.