The 7 best games for Android TV (no controller required!)

Even in its infancy, Google's newest media platform features some solid choices for killing some time with games.

nexus remote games
Credit: Derek Walter
Android gaming moves to the TV

Google’s Android TV ambitions are big. Google doesn’t just want you using the Nexus Player or other Android TV devices as a glorified Chromecast, streaming content from your phone (though you can certainly do that). It wants to build a big ecosystem of apps and games on your TV.

Google even partnered with Asus to make a dedicated gaming controller which is for sale in the Play Store.

Fortunately, you don’t need it to get in on the action—the included remote works as a game controller. Plus, it’s hard to justify dropping $40 on an accessory when the Nexus Player itself is $100. Of course, some games play better than others with simple controls offered by the remote.

So we’ve pulled together the best games that pair well with the remote, which does an admirable job. 

There aren’t a ton of titles yet, but the best among the ones I tried show Android TV has promise as a gaming platform. If you have a Nexus Player or are interested in the future of Android TV, check out our list for the best remote-friendly games it has to offer.

badland
Badland

One of the best Android mobile games is also a top choice for Android TV. Badland succeeds because the play is just as simple on the bigger screen as your phone or tablet: there's only one button to worry about.

You control a spherical creature who must navigate a darkened obstacle course, saving your smaller friends. Each button press pushes him up and along. You have to be careful to not get smashed by all the hurdles. 

Unfortunately it doesn't have a multiplayer mode, which is quite fun on a tablet. But it's still great fun. Even better: as with most Android games if you bought the mobile version once it's free to download for your Nexus Player.

Badland ($3.99)

pac man
Pac-Man

The controls are admittedly a little wonky, but I just couldn't stop playing this version of Pac-Man.  

It's the classic as you know and love; to play you use the large, circular button on the remote as a multi-directional control.

I found at times Pac-Man would not respond as fast as he should to the movement of the controls. But if you anticiapte a little, it's easy to overcome. 

The ghosts start out rather slow, so it's pretty easy to get deep into the different levels of the game. If you're a fan of Pac-Man, it's definitely worth grabbing.

Pac-Man (Free)

table top racing
Table Top Racing Premium

There are plenty of good racing games on Android, but for some reason I had not come across this one. Table Top Racing is pretty addicting. It's a clever concept: you control toy cars that are engaged in a race atop tables and other home furniture.

You use the directional button as a steering wheel and the button inside of it as a power booster. It's pretty easy to get addicted to - it just made me wish the remote was motion-controlled like a Wii.

Table Top Racing Premium ($1.29)

orborun
Orborun

Don't let the game's quirky name turn you away. Orborun is a lot of fun, as long as you don't mind a little bit of frustration. 

You control an Armadillidiidae (often called a roly-poly) type of robot who rolls his way through an obstacle course that looks like it was in Tron. The directional control works well for keeping him on the course, but it's the jumps you have to worry about. 

You'll need to learn to approach them from the right angle as the landing point is often several degrees away in a different direction. It takes some work, but it's the kind of challenge that kept me trying it again and again.

Orborun ($2.39)

red bull air race
Credit: Derek Walter
Red Bull Air Race: The Game

What makes Red Bull Air Race fun is you the balance betwen speed and control while zipping through the air. Your racing plane must fly through hoops and other targets while meeting speed goals to continue racing at higher levels. 

This keeps it from being just a monotonous game of flying around in circles. There are also several different venues, some of which you may recognize if you follow the world of air racing. You can take on the top pilots and customize your plane - with plenty of in-app upgrade options, of course.

Red Bull Air Race: The Game (Free)

hungry shark
Hungry Shark Evolution

This is a great way to blow off some steam - power a super hungry shark through the ocean to munch on humans and sea creatures.

You move him with the round directional control, which works pretty well in this instance. Keep an eye on the meter that indicates when you're running out of energy and need to start snacking on sea creatures or those pesky swimmers.

Eat enough and power through enough levels and you'll be able to upgrade your shark, with the possibility of becoming a Great White.

Hungry Shark Evolution (Free)

sky force
Sky Force

This plays like a hybrid of Star Fox Command and 1942. Your fighting ship must blast through aliens who come at you with a variety of different ships.

The gunfire smartly is automatic, so you can focus on controlling the ship with the remote and deploying specialty weapons. The game oddly starts by throwing you right into the action. Once you bite the dust you're pushed to the beginning of the game, where you can get an overview of the ship choices and other add-ons that you can work your way toward.

Sky Force 2014 TV (Free)