The GameStick’s greatest strength is its controller. Sure it feels light, but once you get over the weight, you’ll see just how shockingly responsive the buttons and analog sticks are. I was quite taken with how well the controller holds up to games in my review of this Android-based microconsole.
Many of the games you’ll find on the GameStick you might have seen on Google Play and the iOS App Store, but the biggest difference is how much more control you have over them with physical, moving parts. What makes the GameStick controller such a joy to use (and worlds better than the Ouya’s) is the sensitivity of both the analog sticks and the face buttons. They’re neither too loose or too firm, and offer a satisfying amount of resistance. Plus, you don’t have to fuss with a sketchy touch pad.
I’ve compiled a list of games you should consider if you’re picking up a GameStick. All of them take advantage of the console’s controller while showcasing the system’s potential.
The Button Affair
Developer: Modern Dream
This gorgeous platformer bills itself as a mix of ’60s spy movies and European travel posters. You guide suave jewel thief and rampant womanizer Enzo Gabriel through his increasingly complex plan to steal the infamous Button Jewel from a shady businessman named Victor Meirelles.
Think James Bond meets animated silohuettes of people. Messing up carefully timed jumps and dives will send Enzo into gruesome death animations, some of which are reminiscent the opening credits for the ’60s-themed drama Mad Men.
Plus, if you purchase The Button Affair, the developer and the GameStick manufacturer PlayJam will donate all proceeds to the U.K. charity SpecialEffect, which gives people with disabilities a chance to enjoy games they might not have access to on their own.
Catcha Catcha Aliens
Developer: Hotsauce Interactive
Catcha Catcha Aliens is a quirky endless runner developed by Hotsauce Interactive, or the studio that British radio and television presenter Jonathan Ross founded to pursue his love of video games. Ross voices the computer that guides you on your alien-catching adventures.
What sets Catcha apart from many endless runners is that it has levels that are really only as endless as you make them. Each level has a required number of aliens you need to catch and three mini challenges that unlock stars. After you beat the objectives and gather stars, you can actually keep running for as long as you want. The game will periodically check on you to see if you want to move on, but you’re free to keep running until you die.
Radiant is a classic Android game at this point (it’s been around since 2009), but it is also a neat vertical shooter that takes away your ability to fire on your own. Instead, your ship fires in automated bursts as you navigate hordes of enemies. I’m sure that sounds terrible to shoot-em-up purists, but Radiant’s gameplay forces you to rely more on puzzle solving than shooting your way to victory.
Radiant’s enemies are all reminiscent of familiar ’80s arcade games. Space Invaders and the ghosts from Pac-Man will come flying at you in patterns similar to Galaga, and all you can do is time your movements to avoid getting hit. You can also collect power-ups which will increase how fast you fire, but the real trick is knowing how to dodge.
The Other Brothers
Developer: 3D Attack Games
Imagine the Super Mario Bros. games set in a grim world full of gangsters where the heroes are mechanics instead of plumbers. That game is The Other Brothers, which is one of the more intricate platformers you’ll find on the GameStick.
You start off in a grungy salvage yard where the brothers are lamenting the increasingly horrible state of their world. Aliens are appearing all over town, animals are turning violent, and the mob has taken over the city. When gangsters kidnap a girl outside their auto repair shop, brothers Joe and Jim finally set off to save their gritty, rainy world.
The art in The Other Brothers is evocative of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP while the platforming has a vague Earthworm Jim (meaning dastardly) quality to it. If you’ve always wanted a grittier Super Mario Bros. game, check this one out.
Nimble Quest has a very simple premise: What if the classic arcade game Snake had role-playing mechanics? The result is an addictive game all about guiding a band of heroes through increasingly complicated battlefields full of obstacles and monsters trying to steer you into walls.
The upgrades and stat management aspects of Nimble Quest definitely elevate it above other Snake-like games. As you narrowly escape enemies, you’ll gather gems and new fighters that will expand your winding train of heroes. After battle, you can upgrade your stats to hopefully endure more attacks and live through the onslaught of baddies. The added responsiveness of the GameStick’s analog sticks will likely save you in moments where a touch screen might not.