Summer Catchers give the relentless runner a distinctive and implacably tense take on. The goal of the protagonist is to reach sunny climes in a wooden rickety cart. The problem is that there are all kinds of dangers and vicious creatures standing in her path.
In general terms, prodding the screen will make you spring up in Android games. Not in here. Instead, Summer Catchers has you load your car with abilities that are activated at the right time by pressing buttons – a rocket to escape from a beast chasing it; a battering ram to smash through a totem pole.
It can often be a little staccato and grindy, and the boss fights are tough, but there’s so much heart and shine here that you’re going to keep plugging away to help the dinky heroine achieve its ultimate objective.
Table Top Racing: World Tour is a high-speed driver who guides tiny cars around circuits built from household objects that are fairly large. It is like the Micro Machines and Mario Kart offspring. Races are highly competitive, and in a mad rush to the finish line, you fend off insane rivals by means of cunning maneuvers and unsporty weapons.
While there are opportunities to upgrade the vehicle to compete better on tougher tracks, World Tour lacks the IAP. Instead, it’s your abilities that will see you taking checkered flags – and ending up having enough cash to buy swanky new vehicles.
With easy but responsive controls, this Android game is a breath of fresh air on a platform where arcade racing is often about your wallet’s breadth just as much as your track skills.
GRID Autosport is a racer, but also a challenge for Android gamers who complain that they never get top titles, and that freemium fare comes packed with ads and IAPs. This is a full-on ad-free premium AAA hit, transferred to your phone intact (assuming your phone can run it-see the list on the Google Play page of the game).
GRID Autosport was amazing stuff at its release even on PCs and consoles. Five or so years on, as a smartphone character, it’s no less amazing as you blaze through 100 circuits, fighting it out in a vast array of automobiles.
Note, this is a simulation. It won’t go easy on you, or let you break walls at full speed and go on as if nothing had happened, but driving aids will help you master what is undoubtedly the finest premium racing experience on Android.
Repulze occurs far too easily in a future beyond racers driving cars; instead, they are put in futuristic hovercraft belting along at crazy speeds. The conventions of track design have also been ditched, flat courses being replaced by roller-coaster-like constructions that turn you around in stomach-churning mode.
The game is subdivided into three phases. It begins with time trials that make you move through different coloured hoops, and ends with you taking on AI enemies, blowing them up with weapons sometimes – and unsportingly.
There is a sci-fi backstory about digital people and businesses, but this one really is all about pace. At first, you’ll find yourself constantly smashing the twitchy controls into tracksides and wondering if someone should take away your hovercraft licence. Yet master the tracks and controls alike, and as you blast along to the finish line, Repulze is an exhilarating experience.
Rush Rally 3
Rush Rally 3 brings rally racing style console to Android. You can dive into single rally mode for fast blasts, with a co-driver bellowing in your ear; or there’s the rallycross grinding metal, pitting you against machine cars that seem to be fuelled by anger. If you’re in it for the long haul, dive into full career mode.
If the race wasn’t up to much, none of those options would matter one jot. Fortunately, that is very sweet. The game looks like the part, with very smart graphics and perspectives, be it belting around a racing circuit or blowing through a forest.
The controls also work well, offering a variety of settings to suit a range of tastes (tilt; virtual buttons)-and ability levels. All in all, getting this coveted checkered flag is enough for the game.
Check out Horizon Chase if you’re fed up with road games paying more attention to whether the tarmac looks photorealistic than just how much fun it should be to zip along at insane speeds. Instead of dull realism, this tribute to old school arcade games is all about the pure excitement of driving.
The graphics are vivid, the music is jolly and cheerful, and the race finds you are continuously battling your way to an hostile pack line.
If you remember the Lotus Turbo Esprit Challenge and the Top Gear with fondness, do not miss this one. (Note that Horizon Chase offers you five songs for free. A single £ 2.29/US$2.99 IAP is required to access the rest.)
Need for Speed:Most Wanted
Anyone expecting the kind of free-roaming racing from this title’s console versions will be miffed, but Need for Speed: Most Wanted is nevertheless one of its finest games on Android. Yeah, with only the occasional shortcut, the tracks are linear but the actual racing bit is superb.
You belt along a drab, grey town’s seedy streets, seeking to win events that will raise both your confidence and credibility. Wins swell your pockets allowing you to buy new vehicles or attend special events.
The game looks beautiful on Android, and has a high-octane soundtrack to push you on. But most of all, this one’s about the controls – a smooth mix of responsive tilt and effortless drift that makes it feel closer to OutRun 2 than usually sub-optimal mobile racing fare.
You had to zoom around ondulating watery loops surrounded by gleaming metal towers in the first two Riptide games. Riptide GP: Renegade presents another slice of dazzling futuristic racing but this time you’ll find yourself submerged in the sport’s seedy underbelly.
You’re still piloting a hydrofoil as with the previous games, and racing means not only going very, very fast but also being a huge show-off at any opportunity available.
If you hit a ramp or wave that hurls you into the air, the best way to get turbo-boost on landing would be to pilot your ride around or do a handstand. Responsive racers are getting nothing.
The career mode will find you earn cash, upgrade your ride and possibly forget the slightly tiresome bits of storey. However, the racing is superb – an exhilarating mix of old-school arcade thrills and modern smart mobile touchscreens.
Mini Motor Racing
Mini Motor Racing is a frenetic top-down driver that sees tiny cars darting through claustrophobic roads twisting and turning in a simple attempt to have you crash into walls repeatedly. The cars are more like remote control cars than actual fare, which means races are normally close – and easily lost if you just look away from the screen for a moment.
There’s a lot of material here – several thousands of races across a wide variety of settings. You fly in through the ruins and scoot on tracks along the beachside. The AI is sometimes a bit too aggressive, but you’ll take more than the rarely checkered flag with smart car improvements, and nitro boost use while driving.