Five games to keep you running on Android

Smart phones game developers didn’t invent the continuous motion or “running” game genre, but they definitely popularized it. It’s a genre perfectly suited for mobile play--fast and easy to get in to, and they require minimal input (in most cases). Most people that are into mobile gaming know the big names in the genre, Canabalt and Jetpack Joyride, both of which are excellent games. If you’ve already played those, here are five more you might find fun.

Note: The Google Play Store is littered with me-too clones and bad running game rip offs. I played several in the genre, and these represent some of the best.

Stellar Escape

Stellar Escape puts you in the shoes of an astronaut fleeing an alien base. You’ll jump, slide, vault and climb around a variety of obstacles through a set of increasingly difficult levels. The exaggerated cartoony animation is superb, definitely my favorite thing about this game. The button layout is under the on-screen action, not on top, so your thumbs don’t get in the way. Though when things get hectic, it can be easy to hit the wrong one.

Price: Free

Micro-transactions? Yes, but only to upgrade to the full version, which unlocks a few dozen more levels.

Wind-Up Knight

Maybe the best looking game on the list, Wind-Up Knight is difficult but rewarding. Seriously, if you can play perfectly, the game rewards you with free gear and level packs. Of course you can pay to unlock levels and gear too. I aced the first set of ten and got the second set free, but I’m not sure I can do the others without losing my sanity. The game has a steady stream of ability unlocks—double jumping, shield guarding, rolling, etc.—to help mix things up and keep you on your toes. The only fault I can find with this excellent game is that the control buttons are a little on the small side.

Price: Free

Micro-transactions? Yes. You can purchase additional level sets as well as in-game points, which you can use to outfit your knight with better gear, e.g., a helmet that can take multiple hits.

Mr. Legs

This one is just plain weird. You play a strange person-like creature with extendable legs. The further you extend them, the faster you move. You raise and lower Mr. Legs to avoid birds and bombs and eat cherries. Simply tap the screen to start moving, and then slide up and down anywhere to extend and retract his legs. The unique art style, quirky music, and easy controls make this one worth playing.

Price: $0.99

Micro-transactions? No.

Temple Run

Temple Run has eaten up most of my mobile gaming time lately. It’s one of the few running games that isn’t from the side or played in landscape. You play an adventurer, dashing through ruins with a cursed idol, while strange monkey-like creatures chase you. The levels are randomly generated and feature a nice bit of variety. You tilt the phone side to side to lean your runner and collect coins littered about the world. Swipe up to jump, down to slide, and left or right to turn 90 degrees. This one has me hooked because of the achievement and upgrade system. Like many games, you can buy more in-game currency with real money, but in Temple Run, the upgrades are just low enough to make you think if you stick with it, you can make enough on your own. And so you try, and try, and try.

Price: Free

Micro-transactions? Yes. You can buy more coins to aid in the purchase of upgrades.

Winter Walk

This simple little game is absolutely delightful (picture at the top). As the name implies, it’s not about running. You play a charming British man in a top hat, out on his evening constitutional. Controls are simple, tap the screen to start him walking through the snow, tap and hold when the wind blows to make him clutch his top hat. The goal is to make it as far as possible without losing your hat. I love this game’s presentation. It’s simple and silly, and the pixel art visuals and retro 8-bit music are great. I also love the polite and pithy ponderings that pop-up as you walk.

Price: Free

Micro-transactions? No.

11 Comments
12 Comments
Posted by yeah_write

Smart phones game developers didn’t invent the continuous motion or “running” game genre, but they definitely popularized it. It’s a genre perfectly suited for mobile play--fast and easy to get in to, and they require minimal input (in most cases). Most people that are into mobile gaming know the big names in the genre, Canabalt and Jetpack Joyride, both of which are excellent games. If you’ve already played those, here are five more you might find fun.

Note: The Google Play Store is littered with me-too clones and bad running game rip offs. I played several in the genre, and these represent some of the best.

Stellar Escape

Stellar Escape puts you in the shoes of an astronaut fleeing an alien base. You’ll jump, slide, vault and climb around a variety of obstacles through a set of increasingly difficult levels. The exaggerated cartoony animation is superb, definitely my favorite thing about this game. The button layout is under the on-screen action, not on top, so your thumbs don’t get in the way. Though when things get hectic, it can be easy to hit the wrong one.

Price: Free

Micro-transactions? Yes, but only to upgrade to the full version, which unlocks a few dozen more levels.

Wind-Up Knight

Maybe the best looking game on the list, Wind-Up Knight is difficult but rewarding. Seriously, if you can play perfectly, the game rewards you with free gear and level packs. Of course you can pay to unlock levels and gear too. I aced the first set of ten and got the second set free, but I’m not sure I can do the others without losing my sanity. The game has a steady stream of ability unlocks—double jumping, shield guarding, rolling, etc.—to help mix things up and keep you on your toes. The only fault I can find with this excellent game is that the control buttons are a little on the small side.

Price: Free

Micro-transactions? Yes. You can purchase additional level sets as well as in-game points, which you can use to outfit your knight with better gear, e.g., a helmet that can take multiple hits.

Mr. Legs

This one is just plain weird. You play a strange person-like creature with extendable legs. The further you extend them, the faster you move. You raise and lower Mr. Legs to avoid birds and bombs and eat cherries. Simply tap the screen to start moving, and then slide up and down anywhere to extend and retract his legs. The unique art style, quirky music, and easy controls make this one worth playing.

Price: $0.99

Micro-transactions? No.

Temple Run

Temple Run has eaten up most of my mobile gaming time lately. It’s one of the few running games that isn’t from the side or played in landscape. You play an adventurer, dashing through ruins with a cursed idol, while strange monkey-like creatures chase you. The levels are randomly generated and feature a nice bit of variety. You tilt the phone side to side to lean your runner and collect coins littered about the world. Swipe up to jump, down to slide, and left or right to turn 90 degrees. This one has me hooked because of the achievement and upgrade system. Like many games, you can buy more in-game currency with real money, but in Temple Run, the upgrades are just low enough to make you think if you stick with it, you can make enough on your own. And so you try, and try, and try.

Price: Free

Micro-transactions? Yes. You can buy more coins to aid in the purchase of upgrades.

Winter Walk

This simple little game is absolutely delightful (picture at the top). As the name implies, it’s not about running. You play a charming British man in a top hat, out on his evening constitutional. Controls are simple, tap the screen to start him walking through the snow, tap and hold when the wind blows to make him clutch his top hat. The goal is to make it as far as possible without losing your hat. I love this game’s presentation. It’s simple and silly, and the pixel art visuals and retro 8-bit music are great. I also love the polite and pithy ponderings that pop-up as you walk.

Price: Free

Micro-transactions? No.

Posted by Hugh_Jazz

I just recently got an Android tablet and have been hoping for some good game recommendations. Gonna try these out for sure, thanks.

Posted by Skald

That's a pretty interesting slice of the platform. I definitely want to try Winter Walk now.

Posted by LordAndrew

What about ads? Do the free ones have ads, and how obtrusive are they?

Posted by Binman88

@LordAndrew: Temple Run has no ads. None that I've encountered anyway.

Posted by yeah_write

@LordAndrew: I think Stellar Escape might have some ads, but they aren't bad. Winter Walk has no ads, but a small button that leads you to other games by the developer, but I think that's only when you're out of gameplay. Wind-Up Knight pesters you a lot with pop-ups. Early on, when you beat the first few levels, you'll see a pop-up that offers you the chance to unlock the rest of the game at a discounted price. You can say yes and buy it, or you can say no, but you'll never see that offer again. It's true too. I said no and missed out! I believe Patrick interviewed the Wind-Up Knight guys once. They were pretty up front about how they were experimenting with pricing. The Tested guys also did an app of the day video of it too. I know they've patched the game a bunch though, so maybe some of the pop-ups I saw when I first downloaded it months ago are gone.

Posted by TooWalrus

Well I've got an Xperia Play, so all these nes, snes, gba, genesis etc. emulators are pretty rad...

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Posted by GunslingerPanda

I tried Wind-Up Knight, Temple Run, and Winter Walk.

Wind-Up Knight has fake on-screen buttons. Blergh, not fun. Just put it on something else if you're going to do that.

Temple Run was fun.

Winter Walk was charming and whimsical but boring.

Posted by louiedog

Anomaly: Warzone Earth is excellent and maybe my favorite game on the platform right now. ScummVM is great if you've got a bunch of old adventure games that you like to replay, or if you've ever wanted to try them. I genuinely like Angry Birds, but I was also a big fan of the flash games that it basically cloned. The Kairosoft games like Game Dev Story are good. I think Dungeon Village might be my favorite of them. I liked Where's My Water quite a bit on the iPad, and it's still good on Android, but on my pretty capable tablet the loading was painfully slow and it wasn't particularly stable. I'm not sure if it's the Android version itself or some weird incompatibility with mine.

Posted by yeah_write

@louiedog: I'll have to check out Anomaly, I've heard good things about it. I was late to Game Dev Story. Finally downloaded it last month and burned through it in a weekend. It was super addicting, although it didn't take long to figure out how to "break" the game and always develop hall of fame games. I'll definitely try out some of their other "story" games though, especially if they refine the formula.

Where's My Water works fine on my Droid Razr, but I feel like it would be better on a tablet. I also enjoyed Cut The Rope, Fruit Ninja and Spirit. Thanks for the recommendations!

@GunslingerPanda: Oh yeah, Winter Walk is totally short and pointless, but still charming. Worth checking out, but not something you'll keep on your phone. I feel the same way about on screen buttons. I like Wind-Up Knight, but wish they could use swipes or multiple taps instead of buttons.

Posted by SlightConfuse

Love temple run will check out the rest

Posted by RecSpec

Winter Walk sounds awesome. Downloading now.