Home Editorial Reviews Best Android games for cheapskates: Robotek HD

You’re looking for the best free Android games available. And why shouldn’t you? The economy is in shambles, middle class wages have been in stagnation for decades, and you’re already used to pirating all your PC and console games. It’s like your mom always said, “Money doesn’t grow on trees, Jeremy. Now go steal us some milk.

Sometime since then, you bought an Android phone along with an expensive data plan. And while you could just cancel the plan and start paying your utilities bill, where’s the fun in that?

Wouldn’t you rather be playing video games?

I know I would. And in the past few months, I’ve done a large amount of traveling, flying, and suffering from gastro-intestinal problems – wholesome activities that lend themselves well to spending lots of time (but not lots of money) gaming on my HTC Incredible 2. I’ve scoured the Android Marketplace for the best free games, and I’ve found a few that might float your digital boat. Clear up some space and start downloading these pronto, starting with Robotek HD.


Robotek HD by Hexage

I don’t know a damned thing about Hexage, but what I do know is they make simple Android games with astounding graphics. Their paid games, which include the brilliant Radiant HD and Buka HD, are challenging action titles that are as funny as they are difficult to master.

With Robotek HD, Hexage decided to try its luck with a new approach. The game is free to play, with optional transactions to unlock additional player skins and in-game currency – an interesting proposition for gaming on the cheap. But the gambling goes much further: Robotek HD effectively combines the thoughtfulness of turn-based strategy with the addictive rush of a slot machine. Fans of poker or Magic the Gathering will probably best appreciate the dynamic mix of skill and luck.

How does this work, exactly?

Unfortunately not pictured: Giant fucking lasers.

Every match, your “mainframe” robot must destroy an enemy mainframe, but how you do it is up to you. There are three types of wheels you can spin, each with a different category of effect. The first wheel summons smaller robots to fight, turn by turn. The second wheel includes utility spells, like a shield that absorbs damage or a hack that can steal or disrupt enemy robots. The third wheel is host to a bevy of direct damage attacks, including giant fucking lasers.

Despite the random nature of “spinning a wheel,” there is a great deal of strategy involved. So much so that the game includes a 20-page strategy guide PDF, which includes analysis of the costs and benefits of various skills. For instance, rolling three-of-a-kind on the screen-clearing microwave storm gives a much stronger version of that ability and a free turn – but is that possibility worth the risk if ending up with the weaker version could cost you the game?

Yes, your wheel spins within each category are random, but you can stop the wheel at any time, and the first column is so slow you’d have to be a tortoise to miss your selection. With one column locked in, you’re really only gambling your options on the last two. Thus the gameplay becomes a matter of risk assessment: choosing which general category of skills to use, when to use them, and how much you’re willing to wager on the roll of the dice the game supplies. Needless to say, those of you with gambling addictions should probably steer clear.

There is an additional, non-luck mechanic for those who want guaranteed power plays. As you progress in the campaign, you’ll unlock skills that can be used on various cooldown timers. One heals everything on your side of the arena, another doubles damage for one turn, and one of them, uh, drops a nuclear bomb on your opponent. As you can imagine, that’s not one of the earlier skills in Robotek HD.

Aside from the interesting skill/luck gameplay, the production values on a game that’s essentially free are impressive. The graphics are sharp, bright, and lively, with a catchy techno soundtrack and a good mix of cute and brutal robot sound effects. The in-game menus are simple to navigate, with helpful hints for newbies and the aforementioned detailed strategy for people looking to start the upcoming robot revolution. More impressively, the game features not only a “conquer the world” single player campaign, but also online multiplayer, local ad hoc multiplayer, and hotseat multiplayer (two players take turns playing on the same phone).

All of that, plus the hundreds of hilarious (if a tad repetitious) campaign battles, make for a huge return on investment. Figure a few dozen hours of gameplay, divided by zero dollars, and you’ve got nearly infinite value. The fact that almost anyone can learn the basics of the game instantly make it accessible. The fact that you can crush your little sister’s robot army with strategy-fueled beams of death make it priceless.

What’s that? You want me to make it easy for you? Fine. Download Robotek HD from the Android Marketplace.


3 replies to this post
  1. I’ve had Robotek for a while, but just since the wholesome activity of -getting things for free via means that may or may not be illegal- was mentioned, just go to 4shared.com, type in the name of the game / app you want, and to refine results, just add apk to the search term.

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