Gaming on Android isn’t all about installing apps and tolerating microtransactions. There are a multitude of completely free games you can play on Chrome for Android right now – no install needed!
After going through a wide variety of options, we’ve narrowed down our selections to seven top picks across a variety of genres. Many games in this list are Pico-8 based – think of Pico-8 as a virtual console with specs similar to the Game Boy Color, with most of its full games being playable in a browser! Not all Pico-8 games are mobile-compatible, but the ones we’ve chosen for this article are, and they all run like a dream.
Besides the Pico-8 based games, there are also a few based on regular old HTML5. Flash is nowhere to be seen here, of course.
While we are using Chrome on Android, these games are playable in other browsers, too, including your desktop.
1. Celeste Classic 2
Celeste Classic 2 is the Pico-8 sequel to the original Pico-8 Celeste Classic. If you’re familiar with the PC/Switch/Console game Celeste, you’ll know that you’re in for a serious platforming challenge with these games. While the Classic Pico-based games are much simpler than the main Celeste, they’re still fairly difficult, and Celeste Classic 2 even innovates by adding a grappling hook in place of a dash!
If you want a complex but enjoyable platformer playable right in your browser, Celeste Classic 2 is a tough one to beat.
2. Tough Love Arena
Tough Love Arena is a simplified fighting game playable in both mobile and desktop browsers. It’s based on HTML5, which lets it scale well to different resolutions and has massively simplified its control scheme while keeping the fundamentals of the fighting genre intact.
There are only five buttons: move left and move right on the left side of the screen, and light, heavy, and special on the right side of the screen. Backing away from an enemy automatically blocks like Tekken and analogs to your typical Street Fighter dragon punches. Fireballs are present as well.
The character roster is fairly limited, but that’s to be expected from a game like this. What isn’t to be expected is that it boasts full rollback netcode, which minimizes input lag and desyncs better than any other form of netcode for online fighting games.
3. POOM (Pico-8 Doom Demake)
POOM is a genuine marvel of the Pico-8 engine, much less mobile browsing in general. This is a fully-functional first-person shooter with 3D graphics running at 60 FPS, with custom music and plenty of levels. POOM is arguably an even better experience than official ports from the original game’s time, like the notoriously poor SNES Doom port.
If you want a simple on-the-go shooter that still looks like a visual treat and plays at a smooth framerate, POOM is easily our top pick.
4. Breakout Hero
Breakout Hero is a Pico-8 conversion of … well, Breakout. For those unfamiliar, Breakout is a classic Atari game where you constantly play one-man ice hockey against a horde of destructible blocks. Allowing the puck to pass you results in you losing a life, and once you lose all of your lives, you need to start over. Meanwhile, breaking blocks and beating stages grants you more points and lives. Breakout Hero is just that but with a slick Pico-8 makeover.
5. Low Knight (Pico-8 Hollow Knight Demake)
Low Knight is a Pico-8 demake of/tribute to Hollow Knight. Unlike the Celeste Classic series, this Pico series is not related to its better-known counterpart and instead serves as both a fun fangame and excellent showcase of Pico-8’s visual capabilities. There are even real-time reflections here!
6. Platformer Escape: Dungeon Speed Run Style
Platformer Escape: Dungeon Speed Run Style is a simple three-button (left, right, jump) platformer running flawlessly on HTML5. The detailed pixel art is a treat, and unlike many games with this control scheme or aesthetic, character control (even in the air!) feels as tight as it should for a platformer. If you want a fair challenge with great graphics, Platformer Escape is difficult to overlook.
7. Galactic Wars
Galactic Wars is a traditional 2D schmup (shoot-em-up) with plenty of powerups and powerful enemies to fight. It runs smoothly, gets a surprisingly high concentration of bullets and enemies onscreen, and overall should offer all you’re looking for in a quick pick-up-and-play schmup on the go.