Although Honeycomb tablets have gotten off to quite a shaky start, most tablets such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Motorola XOOM are now drawing on the increased power of NVIDIA Tegra to deliver better graphics and promise console-standard gaming. Honeycomb already has quite a wide choice of games that have been specifically optimised for it, but to make your life easier I have chosen 10 of the best to help you while away those hours of boredom.
(I’d like to mention to those who have read my Honeycomb rant – I tested and thoroughly played all these games before I wrote that piece!)
Angry Birds Seasons
Sorry if this sounds a bit cliché, but what top 10 games list would be complete without Angry Birds? All of Rovio Mobile’s evil green pig-killing games have been optimized for Honeycomb for quite some while now, but the Seasons incarnation of Angry Birds is probably the best (and offers the most varied game play).
The tablet version is almost identical to the phone version, however the larger screen allows for super-sharp accuracy, making sure that you can nail that high score.
Physics-based games, thanks to the increased processing power of Android smartphones and tablets, are becoming ever more popular. Just look at the success of Cut the Rope when the Android version was released! Apparatus is an interesting take on a construction program wherein you have to strategically place and nail together blocks of wood to guide the blue ball into the bucket.
Guide the ball into the blue bucket - it's that simple
There are plenty of levels to choose from and they all get progressively harder as the game goes on. Apparatus is available in both phone and tablet versions but I feel that the interface and gameplay does suit a larger tablet screen. The lite version (which is free), gives you a taster of the game and features a few levels – well worth it if you simply want to try it out.
Bang Bang Racing THD, from the developer Playbox Games, is a really interesting take on a racing game and one that is specifically designed for NVIDIA Tegra devices. Unlike most racing games, where you are driving the car from the perspective of the driver, with Bang Bang Racing THD you control the cars from above (a bit like the old versions of Grand Theft Auto, or Micro Machines).
A race in progress
The developers have really concentrated on the physics of this game (it uses NVIDIA PhysXtm technology) and it makes for some enjoyable gameplay. You’ve got the choice between three gaming modes, Standard, Championship and Time Trial, a range of different cars and 8 racing tracks, which are based on real-world locations.
To steer the cars, you can either drag the cars around the racetrack with your finger or, if you want something more realistic, you can use the in-built virtual joystick, which is quite tricky to get used to at first! It’s an enjoyable game, if not a little expensive, and works really well on tablets.
When PacMan came along in the 1980s, it changed the way people looked at video games forever. Think of EVAC HD as PacMan for the 21st century. You have to navigate your way around futuristic-looking neon mazes, trying to collect all the dots before the red squares come and catch you.
Collect all the dots before the red squares manage to hunt you down!
You steer around the maze by an in-built joystick, which (as in Bang Bang Racing) can be a bit tricky to get used to at first, but as there are plenty of levels, you’ll soon get the hang of it. On a tablet, EVAC HD boasts crystal clear graphics and a very enjoyable playing experience. You can download a free trial version with a limited version of levels if you want to test the game out before purchasing.
I’m sure that you, like me, have sometime in your lifespan bought a watermelon and dropped it out of an upstairs window, just to hear that satisfying “splat” sound! Well, you can relive this memorable experience with Fruit Ninja THD on your Honeycomb tablet!
Fruit Ninja THD lets you take it out on apples, pears, coconuts and, well, anything really. As long as it's fruit.
For a very small price, you can waste away hours slicing away at apples, bananas, melons and so on. As you work through the game, you can unlock different swords and wallpapers, and the game features three different modes: Classic, Zen and Arcade. You can even play against your mates using the split-screen multiplayer mode. The application also integrates with OpenFeint, so you can show off your fruit-slicing achievements to your pals (if they’re interested, that is).
Space simulators have seemed to have died a death in the past few years, but this hasn’t stopped developers Fish Labs developing Galaxy on Fire 2 THD specially for Honeycomb tablets. You play as Keith T. Maxwell in a universe which is threatened from an alien race. The idea of the game is to travel round the galaxy and solve missions as you go along.
A typical moment in Galaxy on Fire 2 THD
The full version of the game is available through an in-app purchase of €11.99, which gives you the choice between around 30 different ships and allows you to explore 10 different solar systems. The graphics have been specifically adopted to suit NVIDIA Tegra devices and if you don’t mind parting with nearly $20 for an Android game, then Galaxy on Fire 2 THD can keep you occupied for a while!
Price: Free (limited); full version via in-app purchase is €11.99 (around $17)
Market Link: Galaxy on Fire 2 THD
Pinball HD was one of the first games that was designed to draw on the increased processing power and although at the start it did suffer from some teething troubles (a few force-closes here and there), the developers, Gameprom, quickly released several updates to iron out the creases.
The Wild West themed table in Pinball HD
Pinball HD features three themed tables, Wild West, Jungle and The Deep, each with its own mission and objectives. The graphics are nice to look out however the game is still a little buggy in places and sometimes does have the tendency of crashing, so watch out!
Riptide GP is probably my favourite game for Honeycomb tablets not only from the actual gameplay, but from the sheer awesomeness of the graphics. It’s a jet ski racing game which has been especially optimised for Honeycomb tablets. You’ve got the choice between three game modes — Race, Hot Lap, and Championship — and three different speed classes.
Riptide GP is one of the best games available for Honeycomb
As you progress through the game, you can unlock up to 12 new tracks and six jet skis. You can also do a variety of stunts whilst in mid-air by simply moving your thumbs any direction, which gives you an extra power boost!
The game integrates well with OpenFeint, so you can compare your progress to others around you. However, what really makes this game worth shouting about is the graphics capability; you’re probably not going to get better on an Android tablet. The price is a little steep (however there is a demo version available), but for such a polished and fun game, this becomes almost trivial.
Robotek HD is from the same developers as EVAC HD (see above) and is quite hard to put your finger on. It’s sort of an odd cross between a turn-based shooting game and a one-armed bandit machine. You play as the red robot (on the left) and the aim is to destroy the blue robot using a combination of helper bots, shields and weapons, which you get by “rolling” (this is where the one-armed bandit comes into play).
The aim of Robotek is to destroy the blue robot by using shields and weapons
There are hundreds of levels to choose from and winning a level gives you experience points as well as coins, which you can use to strengthen your existing weapons. For the lazy-minded among you, you can get hold of more coins via in-app purchases (these also help support the developer), however you can complete the game without having to make any purchases (that’s if you’re good enough…). Robotek is a great take on a strategy game and for a free offering, it’s certainly worth it.
Price: Free (in-app purchases available)
Market Link:Robotek HD
World Series of Poker
What Top 10 Games list would be complete without a poker game? World Series of Poker is, in my opinion, the best poker game for Android devices — and at the moment the developers are giving it away for free. You can either play a single round or you can work your way through the career mode, to gain experience points and win virtual prize funds.
A round in progress in World Series of Poker
If you’re a poker novice (like me), World Series of Poker very helpfully includes a “hand strength” meter, which flashes either red or green depending on how strong your hand is. The game also makes use of hand gestures, for example to fold you simply swipe your fingers upwards and to call you simply tap twice.
There are plenty of rounds to go through, so World Series of Poker will keep you entertained for a fair while. A word of warning to all 3G tablet users though: when you first install the program you have to download the game data (which is around 300 MB), so best to do it over Wi-Fi.