If there’s anything that Modern Combat 5 or Asphalt 8: Airborne prove, it’s that smartphone games these days can be mistaken for AAA console or PC games. The visuals are sleek, offer a lot of eye candy, and can run well on even cheap, unbranded smartphones and tablets.
However, one key problem with these games is that they take up a lot of space—well over a gig and a half for just the initial install and additional bloating in size during content updates. This conflicts with the fact that many android phones—even branded ones—have limited storage space available. Some allow you to install apps on the SD card even without rooting, but performance is inconsistent as many demanding games behave inconsistently when run on the SD card.
For the average Android device with 8 GB of internal storage or less, users will have to be content with one visually impressive 3D game and a number of small 2D casual games that look like they were made in Flash.
Of course, that isn’t necessarily the case. There are a number of Android games that are visually impressive, yet take up less than a gig of your precious internal memory (and of your precious mobile bandwidth, in case you’re using your cell data plan for downloading games).
Top 5 Android Games With Small Initial Installation File Sizes
- Dead Trigger 2 (450 MB Initial Install)
- Marvel: Contest of Champions (450 MB Initial Install)
- Zombiewood (309 MB Initial Install)
- Marvel: Future Fight (49 MB Initial Install, Followed by 600 MB In-Game Update)
- Sonic Dash (58 MB Initial Install, 80+ MB After First Update)
1. Dead Trigger 2 (450 MB Initial Install)
Dead Trigger 2 is the second in a series of first-person shooters set in a world beset by a zombie outbreak. If you are at all familiar with stories set in a zombie-infested future, you’ll be familiar with Dead Trigger 2’s setting: You are part of a ragtag group of survivors who go out on supply runs, rescue missions, or even just plain clearing missions. Regardless of the mission type, you get to bust down hordes of zombies using a wide variety of guns, melee weapons, and projectiles that can also be modified and upgraded in between missions.
2. Marvel: Contest of Champions (450 MB Initial Install)
Described as a collectible character brawler, Marvel: Contest of Champions takes its cue from DC’s mobile Port of Injustice: Gods Among Us, where you have what looks like a hybrid 3D/2D fighting game that looks traditional that uses touch and tap controls. Like Injustice, Contest of Champions is gorgeous, and the choice to go with a more stylized art style will make it age better as new technologies come.
The gameplay can be a bit repetitive, but an RPG-like leveling mechanic along with a somewhat grindy character collection system (which can be sped up with real money transactions, for those with more money than patience) greatly extend the game’s shelf life.
3. Zombiewood (309 MB Initial Install)
An oldie but goodie! Zombiewood is a 3D twin-stick shooter that puts you in the role of a former Hollywood stuntman, who finds himself in a zombie-infested Los Angeles. Unlike other zombie games that paint the world as bleak and scary, the setting in Zombiewood is comedic—with bobble-headed protagonists and zombies and a wide variety of cute enemies and equally cute (yet explosive!) power-ups.
Like all free to play games on the mobile platform, Zombiewood is supported by microtransactions, but the game is so chaotic and forgiving that you'll enjoy grinding away the upgrades; there's no need to spend money at all (unless you really have very short patience and must have all upgrades immediately.)
4. Marvel: Future Fight (49 MB Initial Install, Followed by 600 MB In-Game Update)
This is most likely the largest game in this list, but also the best. In fact, it’s the only game in this list that would pass off as a full-featured console or PC game if ported to the PC. Future Fight is a 3D third-person beat ‘em up that gives you control of your favorite heroes and villains (although Fantastic Four and X-Men–related characters are suspiciously absent), giving you the option to take three of them on a mission with the combat itself giving you access to one of them at a time, with the ability to switch on the fly.
Future Fight has support for on-screen gamepad and single-tap control schemes, and like Contest of Champions, comes with light RPG mechanics and a grindy collect-a-character system that can be sped up with real money transactions (it’s free, after all. They have to make their money from somewhere.) If you don’t want to spend money on the game, all you need to do is play to unlock other characters and log in every once in a while to take advantage of their giveaways and promos.
5. Sonic Dash (58 MB Initial Install, 80+ MB After First Update)
Its small install size is impressive, considering that Sonic Dash’s visuals make it look like its bigger console and PC cousin, Sonic Generations. It’s an endless runner game in the same vein as Temple Run and Subway Surfers, but the main difference is that there’s a lot more variety in the stages, and it doesn’t take long before you encounter the bosses. This makes Sonic Dash a lot less repetitive than other endless runners, whose reliance on stages that rarely change results in players growing bored over time.
Additionally, Sonic Dash also adds more variety due to the presence of other characters—from Tails, Knuckles, Amy, and some of the newer characters like Shadow, you have alternative characters that play a lot different from Sonic. The catch is that the game relies on grinding or microtransaction, so if you’re getting tired of Sonic, you have to put in the hours to earn enough red coins or buy the characters outright using real money.
The Android platform has finally matured from the days when it was only used as a dumping ground for casual and roughshod games—developers now port games properly and even produce games exclusively for the mobile platform. The number of free, fully playable games is also impressive, and the numbers swell even further if you’re willing to spend a few dollars here and there.
Got any recommendations for this list? Feel free to sound off in the comments.
Jake Clawson from Kazakhstan on March 16, 2017:
Dead Trigger 2 is excellent. Ever play Unkilled? From the same guys (Madfinger Games) A more advanced game with multiplayer (PvE & PvP)