From this month onwards, we’re splitting out apps from games: you can find the link to the separate Best Android Apps roundup at the end of this piece.
Prices are correct at the time of writing, and from this month we’re also including a notification when apps that are free to download also use in-app purchases (or IAP, as we’ve marked them).
Read on for February’s list, and let us know your recommendations by posting a comment. The equivalent iPhone and iPad roundups will follow later in the day.
The original The Room was one of the best puzzlers on Android, and its sequel continues the quality. “A physical puzzler, wrapped in a mystery game, inside a beautifully tactile 3D world,” as its developer puts it, this is beautifully-crafted 3D puzzling posing a considerable challenge to your logic skills.
The latest of Square Enix’s vintage RPG games to hit Google Play is a pixel-perfect port of the 1994 iteration of Final Fantasy, with additional features from a 2006 remake. If you like Final Fantasy games, this is a great blast of nostalgia, but if you’re new to the series, it might just be the ideal introduction to the series.
Adult Swim’s Amateur Surgeon games have been great fun, and this third instalment continues the vein of gory humour. It sees you performing surgery on a range of strange characters using, well, a range of unlikely-to-be-recommended-in-hospitals instruments, from pizza cutters to car batteries. It’s very fun.
This is the latest mobile game that I’ve disappeared down a rabbit-hole with: a polished and inventive RPG where you build a party of heroes, explore a succession of levels, and capture monsters along the way who might just become your next playable heroes. Entertaining RPG action with a dash of Pokemon-style collecting.
The latest from Crescent Moon Games, this is a very neatly-done ninja-themed platform game, as you dive, jump and sneak through levels offing a bunch of enemies. This genre doesn’t always work well on touchscreens, so it’s to the developer’s credit that this example leaps those pitfalls to provide a smooth experience.
Adventure Time is supposed to be a children’s TV show, but I suspect I’m enjoying its gaming-infused charms as much as my kids. This official release takes a card-battling game from the show and turns it into an Android game, as you build a deck of characters and spells then battle favourites from the show.
This is a game from British music industry body UK Music, working with Aardman on a game to give players an insight into what it might take to make musical stars. You run a label signing artists, recording songs, planning tours and keeping an eye on piracy figures (the latter is part of the game’s awareness-building mission). It’s good fun.
This excellent indie title comes highly recommended, having recently won a Critic’s Choice prize at the Casual Connect Europe conference. It’s an “ambient” puzzler where you connect up dandelion seeds across 60 puzzles. It’s a decidedly unstressful experience, with plenty of replayability.
Namco Bandai’s Ridge Racer gets its latest mobile outing, although this may be controversial with some fans due to its use of timers to slow down the gameplay for non-payers. The actual game is impressive enough: speedy and smooth with lots of vehicle customisation. Play it yourself to see what you make of the timers though.
This is unusual: a game in a genre (card battling) that’s almost always freemium, but which uses no in-app purchases at all. More importantly, it’s really good: a mix of adventure-style storytelling and card battles, with 180 cards to collect as you play. The combo system, where you connect cards up, is a nice twist on similar games too.
Another marvellous platformer that previously made its Android debut as part of the Humble Bundle series. Released alone as a free title, it’s an enticing mix of monster-slicing and exploration. The developers say they may add in-app purchases and/or ads in the future, but for now it’s entirely free, and well worth snapping up.
More zen-based puzzling here, with this turn-based strategy game that can be played alone in a single-player campaign, or against up to three other players locally or online. Based on human viruses, it sees you placing cells to take over the board, and with a lot of depth once you get into the nitty-gritty of viral strategy.
Another interesting source for a mobile game: charity Cancer Research UK, which commissioned this space-themed game, which gets players to collect “Element Alpha” by exploring the universe. The twist is that by playing, your smartphone is analysing real genetic data and feeding it back to researchers at the charity.
There’s been a lot of unrest online at the news that developer King was filing trademarks based on its Candy Crush Saga game. Intern Saga is one of the more inventive protests: a game where you play as an intern for a trademark lawyer, filing takedowns from an app store. It makes its point well, but is also a decent game in its own right.
Another game from Square Enix, and another card-battler, although this one is more characteristic of the genre with its use of in-app purchases. Developed by a number of veterans from the Final Fantasy games, it sees you building a zombie horde to battle against other undead armies, complete with Walking Dead-style post-apocalyptic setting.
Cutesy first-person shooter Call of Mini gets a dinosaur-themed offshoot, as you blast your way through dinos across 50 quests, upgrading your character along the way with skills and items. It’s the latter where the real fun of the game lies, as you build a character suited to your preferred method of playing.
There are lots of action RPGs available for Android, so new releases need something different to stand out. Brandnew Boy has that, tapping the Unreal Engine 3 for its impressive graphics – complete with hand-drawn feel – with constant battles and a very well-designed controls system providing a challenge in all the right ways.
A famous name from the console games world comes to Android courtesy of publisher Thumbstar Games, as you slip’n’slide your way round a succession of rally tracks and pit your driving wits over rallies and full championships. It nails the handling – crucial for this sub-genre of racing – and looks good too.
Publisher G5 is finding a fertile cross between hidden-object and adventure games, with Mystery of the Opera its latest example – clearly influenced by a certain theatrical Phantom. You have to solve a mystery by finding objects in 60 scenes, while also interrogating characters and playing mini-games.
Finally this week, a very neat twist on the beat ‘em up genre where you fight one boss, who keeps evolving as you play. That means you have to constantly upgrade your own character too, with the chance to battle against other players’ bosses as you improve. It’s colourful and frenetic, with good scope for strategic skills.
Now read: 20 best Android apps of February 2014
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © amika_san