The best games for Android TV – no gamepad required!

No need to splurge for an additional controller to get in on some gaming action with your Android TV.

android tv
Derek Walter

Just start playing

The promise of Android TV is that many of the fun and addicting mobile games you love on your Android phone will be playable on your television set. Just buy a game once and you can enjoy it on multiple screens without the need for a batch of physical controllers.

The actual experience has been mixed, as Android TV has not caught on nearly as well as Google’s Chromecast. But thanks to good hardware like the Nvidia Shield, there are some good titles that you can enjoy. Better yet, there are plenty of games that can be played with your remote, a smartphone, or a tablet so you can fire up the action right away, without the need for game controllers.

bombsquad

BombSquad

This is one of the most enjoyable games out there if you’re looking for something fast paced, easy to play, and ideal for groups. While you don’t need a hardware controller, you do need a phone or tablet to play the game since the remote alone won’t do the trick. It’s worth the effort though, especially if you want to get the whole gang involved. Grab the BombSquad Remote and you'll be right in the game, dodging pesky bombers and throwing your own combustibles.

There are plenty of in-app purchases, though the most worthwhile is the $2 one that will eliminate the advertisements that pop up after each gaming session. It's a pretty addicting concept, and one you'll be glad to have for the next time you want to kill off some time.

BombSquad (free)

leos fortune

Leo's Fortune

Even if you’re already played this game on mobile, you’re in for a great experience if you want to try out Leo’s Fortune on Android TV.

The experience translates very well to a larger screen. You control the nimble and fuzzy Leo with your remote, moving him to the left or right with the remote buttons and then holding down the center button to jump. The trick is to keep your thumb close to the side of one of the directional controls so can jump and move quickly. Just as on mobile, the game features great graphics and is an excellent challenge to play.

Leo’s Fortune ($1.99)

badland

Badland

This is another title that is perfectly suited for play without a controller because of the relatively simple controls. Pressing down on the home button will cause the creatures to stay afloat in the strange and deadly world they must survive. Better yet, the developers are very quick with updates and new levels so it’s a game that you should be able to play for many months to come.

Unfortunately, the sequel Badland 2 isn't yet on Android TV. Hopefully it will soon make the leap, completing the package to make for some quality gaming on the biggest screen in your house.

Badland (free)

smashy road

Smashy Road: Wanted

You're probably familiar with Crossy Road, where you take cute characters across roads and rivers, dodging cars and hazards in Frogger-like fashion.

Ramp that up a few notches and you have Smashy Road: Wanted. There are shootouts with other vehicles and death-defying chases that make for a great way to kill an afternoon with your Android TV. It's one of those nonstop gaming concepts that can be quite addicting as you try and get as far as possible without succumbing to your enemies. Sometimes imitation does make for a great form of flattery.

Smashy Road: Wanted (free)

minion rush

Despicable Me

It’s hard not to love the Minions. This game is a little loaded down with too many in-app purchases, but it’s still fun and quick with a lot of action that will keep you trying to get past those inevitable spots where you'll get stuck.

It’s ideal if you want a game that just requires the remote, as all you need are the directional arrows to control the minions while they run their way through an obstacle course. You’ll need to avoid bombs, drops into the abyss, and other exploding debris in the race to collect as many bananas as possible.

Despicable Me (free)

table top racing premium

Table Top Racing Premium

You can finally ignore your parents’ admonitions to stop playing with toys on top of the kitchen table. Table Top Racing Premium is an excellent challenge that injects some child-like fun to the racing genre. You control a series of cars that are in a racing battle throughout tables and other assorted furniture. You can control it pretty well with the remote that comes with your Android TV, as long as you’re willing to be quick since you’ll be making a lot of sharp turns and sudden moves in order to avoid flying off onto the wood floor. Then you'll really be in trouble.

Table Top Racing Premium ($0.99)

pac man android tv

Pac-Man TV

It seems like you can’t find a screen out there that Pac-Man hasn’t ported to. (There’s even a watch face for Android Wear!) Given the simple nature of controlling the game, it's ideal for playing on your Android TV without a gamepad.

The key is quick action with your fingers, as it takes a little getting used to the remote controller compared to the traditional joystick or sliding on glass if you've played on a smartphone. But this edition, built specifically for televisions, is a great option and one that you’ll enjoy if you’re a fan of the old-school character.

Pac-Man TV ($0.99)

god of light android tv

God of Light

If you're into the whole physics-based puzzler genre of games then you'll enjoy this title on Android TV. Not only does it make you think in order to connect all the light rays, but the graphics are pretty solid as well. 

The atmospheric music is one of those things that you can take or leave, but it's a good way to mix up your gaming if you've been playing too many action or racing games. While there's a free version, it's worth it to spring for the full edition in order to get an ad-free gaming experience.

God of Light HD ($0.99)

hungry shark

Hungry Shark Evolution

Yes, you probably shouldn't enjoy playing a game where you devour swimmers while they're enjoying a dip in the sea. But if you take take on the cognitive dissonance about the ethics here, you'll have a lot of fun playing Hungry Shark Evolution.

Just use your Android TV remote to patrol the waters for tasty humans that are swimming way too close to shark-infested waters. The more you chow down on human flesh, the greater number of sharks you can unlock. The game also taps into Google Play Games to sync up your progress across devices. You never know when the hungry shark will strike next.

Hungry Shark Evolution (free)

sky force reloaded

Sky Force Anniversary

Sometimes you just need to spend some time with a good old-fashioned shoot-em-up. That's where Sky Force Anniversary excels, with a combat mode that might take you back to classics like 1942

The gameplay is pretty much what you'd expect, but it's pretty enjoyable if you like the idea of engaging in aerial combat and dodging incoming blasts from the enemy. The later levels get pretty intense, so maybe do some finger exercises before you get started.

Sky Force Anniversary (free)