Welcome to this week’s best Android apps roundup. As ever, prices are correct at the time of writing, and (Free + IAP) means the app is freemium and uses in-app purchases.
Habbo (Free + IAP)
Virtual world Habbo has launched an official Android app, giving people full access to its pixelly world from their devices. Aimed at teenagers, the app enables them to chat, create rooms and decorate their avatars.
Riff is the latest experimental app from Facebook, promising the ability to “make videos with friends”. How? By filming a clip, then sharing it for friends to add their own footage, then their friends, and so on. It’s fun, but will anyone still be using it in a couple of months’ time?
Office Lens Preview (Free)
This from Microsoft is an official beta for its new workplace app: to get access, you have to sign up for its Google+ page to become a “tester”. It’s worth a look: the app lets you snap documents and whiteboards, cleans up the image and turns it into a Word, PowerPoint or PDF file.
Spell With Pip (£2.49)
Oxford University Press is the company behind this educational children’s app, which teaches children spelling skills using a colourful mini-game with a parrot flying around the screen catching letters.
File Transfer by Infinit (Free)
A clean, simple file-sharing app here, focused on sending photos and videos to friends at their full resolution, rather than compressing them. Naturally, you’ll want to be connected to a Wi-Fi network when using it.
Materials World Magazine (Free + IAP)
A specific niche here: this is the official app for the magazine of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. But if materials are your thing – “metals, plastics, polymers, rubber, composites, ceramics, glasses, natural materials, wood and packaging” – then the app is a slick way to keep up to date.
Strobe for Messenger (Free)
Finally, in a slightly slow week on Android, a pair of social apps from Facebook for its new Messenger platform. Strobe turns your photos into animated GIFs to send to friends using its messaging app…
Selfied for Messenger (Free)
…And Selfied gets you to take photos of yourself to match a range of moods – from “Thumbs Up” to “Sad” – and then use them in place of emoticons during your Facebook Messenger conversations.
Attack the Light (£2.42)
Thankfully it’s a stronger week for Android games, led by this excellent title from Cartoon Network. Based on its Steven Universe show, this is an accessible yet quirky roleplaying game with bags of replayability.
DomiNations (Free + IAP)
DomiNations is the work of designer Brian Reynolds, who gamers of a certain age will remember for his work on Civilization II. His latest work remains in a strategic, empire-building vein as you take your civiliz… your nation from the Stone Age to the Space Age.
Marvel Mighty Heroes (Free + IAP)
More free-to-play action here from DeNA – the firm that’s working with Nintendo on that company’s first mobile games – and an all-action Marvel game. All the familiar Marvel superheroes are present and correct, as are four-player co-operative battles.
Boulder Dash 30th Premium (£4.99 + IAP)
I grew up with Boulder Dash on the Commodore 64, but it’s certainly been gussied up since those pixelly 8-bit days. This 30th anniversary version has 21st century graphics, but retains high playability and some well-crafted puzzling.
Playworld Superheroes (£2.99)
Ported from iOS, this action game is aimed at children who want a mixture of light crafting and heavy alien-shooting gameplay. They create a superhero suit for their character from (virtual) cardboard, then set off to save the world.
Tomb Raider I (£0.99)
Another game that I grew up with – slightly older, admittedly, and mainly shouting “F***ing wolves!” as I died repeatedly. Square Enix is now bringing the very first Tomb Raider back for Android: a history lesson for young gamers, or a nostalgia-fest for older players.
CivCrafter (Free + IAP)
CivCrafter is one of the most polished examples of the “clicker” genre of games, where a single action – tapping on the screen in this case – develops into a richer resource-management game of empire-building. It’s very addictive.
Tap Tap Tap (Free)
This characterful take on the rhythm-music genre comes from developer Bart Bonte, who’s made a habit of creating entertaining casual games on mobile. Tapping and swiping pilots you through this fun minimalist music game.
DuckTales: Remastered (£8.08)
More 8-bit nostalgia, but this time for the DuckTales game that came out for Nintendo’s NES console in 1989. It stars Scrooge McDuck – yes, he’d probably raise an eyebrow at the price – as he explores a side-scrolling platform world to find five treasures. Still very fun after all these years.
Fatal Fury Special (£2.99)
This is clearly the week for old gaming franchises to rise again on Android. This is SNK Playmore’s Fatal Fury beat ‘em up reborn in a faithful port of a Neo Geo game – and if these words mean nothing to you, rest assured that it’s an excellent slice of 2D fighting fun.
Project Parkour (Free + IAP)
In the days before freemium ruled Apple’s App Store, EA released an excellent touchscreen version of its Mirror’s Edge console game. Now, in 2015, developer TwoRobotsStudio has made a new parkour game that reminds me of it: you leap and slide your way around its carefully-designed world using clear controls.
Slayin (Free + IAP)
Finally, a game that looks retro but is actually new: “the world’s first endless action RPG” as your little character wanders along a side-scrolling world setting about monsters and upgrading his gear. Lots of charm, here, including its chiptune soundtrack.
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Monday 6th April 2015 09.07 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010