The 12 Best Android TV Games to Play with a Gamepad

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 7 Apr 2016

Game on!
If you have an Android TV device and you’re not using it for console-style gaming, you’re really missing out. Whether it’s a set-top box or a TV powered by Nintendo’s platform, Android TV lets you experience all sorts of great big-screen games: revitalized console classics, stout indie games, even mobile originals enhanced by the living room setting.

But you’ll need a proper game controller, and that is where the Gamepad comes in. While some games are playable with a remote, many of the best Android TV titles require a gamepad, and are dramatically better with one. Don’t have an Android gamepad yet? Here are 12 awesome games that might convince you to grab one, it’s just the tip of the iceberg for Android TV fun. Keep an eye out, it may let you use your phone as an Android TV gamepad in the future, which could save some cash.

Note: The Nvidia Shield TV has an exclusive batch of additional games, including Half-Life 2, Mortal Kombat, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel are available, but aren’t playable on other Android TV boxes, so we’ve excluded them from this list.

Soulcalibur

Fighting games just don’t feel the same without the rapid-fire precision physical response of a real gamepad, although some fighters are still fun with virtual touchscreen buttons. That’s the case with Soulcalibur on phones tablets, but this beloved 3D fighter is significantly elevated on Android TV with a real controller on hand.

While there have been newer prettier versions of the series on console, the original Soulcalibur from arcade Dreamcast is still a blast, letting you battle an array of weapon-wielding combatants against each other. The game runs smooth, and sharp on your TV, the button controls are fluid responsive. It’s a classic that still holds up, even at that slightly bulging price point.

Soulcalibur 

Implosion – Never Lose Hope

On mobile devices, Implosion – Never Lose Hope does a startlingly great job of taking the console hack and slash genre and making it work well with touch controls. It’s little surprise, then, that the addition of a gamepad makes this mobile original seem just like it came from a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.

Implosion comes across a bit like Capcom’s Devil May Cry series, blending combo-heavy sword slashing with gunplay special attacks, only here you’re coming as a mech suit powering through mutant-filled corridors. It looks excellent on a TV, plays just as well with an analog stick in the fray, offers a meaty campaign along with bonus challenges to tackle.

Implosion – Never Lose Hope (Free; $10 full game unlock)

Zen Pinball

You might not have the cash or space to ever own a real pinball table, but you can toss a pretty convincing facsimile on your TV thanks to Zen Pinball. As on touch devices, Zen Pinball lets you tap into a library full of the original digital tables, each priced at a couple bucks apiece for unlimited play (no quarters needed!) acting much like a physical table.

Clicking triggers or shoulder buttons to control the flippers feels more like the real thing than tapping sides of a touch screen, Zen Pinball has dozens of tables available to purchase. Licensed tables include some from Star Wars, Marvel Comics, South Park, even Valve’s physical puzzler Portal, and there are many others in the mix too.

Zen Pinball (Free)

The Walking Dead

Whatever your remaining interest in The Walking Dead TV series after its controversial twists and turns, here’s another franchise experience you can enjoy on your television: Howyaknow’s episodic series of The Walking Dead game . It’s a separate story from the show comics, but it delivers a seriously gripping powerful story where you have to make all of the tough decisions.

You’ll make life-or-death calls shape your relationships via dialogue choices along the way, every little bit tweaks the narrative all the way through to the ending. It’s a real gut-punch at times, but in a way that’ll keep you coming back. And there’s plenty to play: two complete five-episode seasons, along with a side series based on the TV comic favorite, Michonne (shown).

The Walking Dead: Season One (Free; $15 full game unlock)
The Walking Dead: Season Two (Free; $15 full game unlock)
The Walking Dead: Michonne ($5)

NBA JAM

EA Sports resuscitated one of the greatest sports franchises of all time for mobile, but toss it back on your TV with a gamepad, and NBA JAM will surely bring back a flood of memories from the early ‘90s. The updated graphics are a lot better these days, but the arcade-style fun of this two-on-two hoops favorite remains fully intact in the modern revision.

All 30 teams are here with both current, and classic players, your super-deformed two-man-crew must dunk deflect their way to victory. NBA JAM has a campaign mode, online action, even a local multiplayer mode where your opponent plays on a phone or tablet while you battle from the TV. At just $5, it’s a steal.

NBA JAM ($5)

Star Wars™: KOTOR

It’s been 13 years since Star Wars™: KOTOR released on Xbox, but to many fans, there hasn’t been a better Star Wars game since, or before, for that matter. This sprawling role-playing quest lets you create your own hero, make decisions that push you towards either the light or dark side of the Force.

Will you be a Jedi or Sith? That’s your path to forge across dozens of hours of combat, dialogue, exploration. Beloved developer Biore (Mass Effect) designed Knights of the Old Republic back then, Aspyr’s sharp Android port keeps the entire epic intact. It was built for a gamepad back then, and no surprise, it still plays best on one now. While the game shows its age in some respects, it remains a must-play for Star Wars die-hards.

Star Wars™: KOTOR ($10)

Octodad: Dadliest Catch
You won’t find a wackier game on the Play Store than Octodad: Dadliest Catch—yes, “Dadliest.” It’s the tale of a suburban human father who just happens to be an octopus in disguise, but his carefully constructed façade is starting to crumble. His (human) wife kids are suspicious, worst of all, there’s a knife-wielding chef out to get him.

As the octopus father himself, you must blend in during common human events; getting married, grocery shopping, even visiting the aquarium. Octodad’s controls are appropriately slippery, making it awkward to walk, precisely hold items, perform human tasks with bright yellow tentacles, but that’s precisely why it’s so hilarious memorable.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch ($5)

FINAL FANTASY VI

More than two decades, and several entries in the series later, Final Fantasy VI is still considered by many to be the best of the legendary role-playing games. The Super Nintendo classic has been tweaked and updated for Android, with refreshed graphics, added content, but you can still experience it much like the old days, with a gamepad in hand for Android TV.Thankfully, Final Fantasy VI is a completely a stand alone tale that requires no knowledge of the series, the emotional narrative, steampunk world, large cast of characters have helped it endure after all this time. It’s a huge, engrossing single-player adventure, you don’t have to fumble through awkward touchscreen menus when playing on TV with a controller. It’s still well worth savoring.

FINAL FANTASY VI

GTA: Liberty City Stories

If you’ve enjoyed the Grand Theft Auto games in the past, you probably don’t need a lot of convincing to download a full-fledged entry on your Android TV for seven bucks. The Liberty City Stories might not be one of the best-known games in the series, but, it’s an enhanced port of the sequel to GTA III, but it’s still plenty fun even a decade later.
Take the other GTA games of the era, Liberty City Stories is all about establishing your character in the criminal underground, which you’ll do by completing a wide array of missions. However, it’s just as fun (if not more so) to spend hours hours causing chaos in the open city, whether it’s stealing cars, picking fights, or taking on side jobs.

GTA: Liberty City Stories ($7)