Space games in general and space shooters in particular are a feast for your eyes and fingers. In their predominant majority, space games look vibrant, colorful – a neon-induced spectacle. We have decided to include pure space shoot-em-up’s as well as the games that encompass shump elements with strategy, thus adding a great deal of micro-management and variety in terms of gameplay. Without much ado, here is our today’s list in no particular order.
Developer: Magma Mobile, Free
We have reviewed Squadron here, and were thoroughly entertained by the colorful and intense shmup in its purest form. The story is irrelevant and as old as the space shooter genre itself – save the world from the alien invasion, but boy is it fun to play! You are in charge of a spacecraft that fights alone against the incoming waves of alien ships – diverse, numerous and deadly. The fun part is you actually have four ships you can switch to and from whenever you like, but you can only have one ship at a time, not two. Each ship comes with a unique weapon that can be upgraded, and the one you are using does not have to die to let you use the next one – you can switch freely. The case in point – switching ships with different kinds of weapon in response to different incoming waves of assaulting alien crafts. The tricky part is to sort out the different alien tactics and discover which ship of yours is best against each alien tactic.
The design is beautiful while the music is perfectly fitting – the fast, pumping beat goes well with the frantic action, so get those fingers ready. 30 levels and three difficulty settings, upgadeable ships and hours of gameplay – it’s fun.
Developer: Halfgeek Studios, Freemium
Star Nomad is a tribute to the old school games like Freelancer, Wing Commander Privateer, Escape Velocity and Elite, if those ring a bell. It is a space sim, and a deep one for that matter. Reddit Android Gaming voters chose it as number 2 in the top hidden gems of 2014 and top games of 2014. It is a game of no-perma-death, vast MMO-like world of exploration, trade, ship upgrading, missions, rewards, smooth eye-pleasing graphics and an insatiable curiosity. What at first seems like a no-fuss journey soon becomes a coherent tale with quite a few unexpected turns – perfect for a space sci-fi aficionado. You scout the Wildlands sector of the galaxy unwinding a noir sci-fi story somehow based off of WWII and cyberpunk plot Johnny Mnemonic-style.
The one-touch controls and UI are simple and accessible while the amount of things to do is surprisingly large. You can be a mercenary venturing on various patrol, escort, defend, bounty hunting missions; a cargo runner transporting a neutral cargo; an asteroid miner seeking out expensive ores; a merchant exploring new trading routes; a smuggler dealing drugs; or a pirate attacking and looting on whoever they meet wrecking chaos and anarchy across the galaxy.
The game features multi-faction battles, multiple ships to buy and upgrade and weapons to deploy, as well as offers quite a lot of content in its free version while a one-time IAP unlocks the full game.
Developer: Moonfish Software Limited, Freemium
A spaceship action RPG, Galactic Phantasy Prelude from Moonfish is no-nonsense space adventure, strategy, RPG and combat game, where reflexes are as important as your strategy skills and micro-management. Fans of the Galaxy on Fire II usually refer to this game as a decent alternative. It’s a hefty download requiring decent RAM availability and higher-end hardware. You will build a strong fleet, so if you enjoy mingling with the different types of spacecraft and their customizable upgrades and options – this way. Galactic Phantasy Prelude features 46 types of them, from frigates to battle cruisers, meticulously crafted so that players can customize thousands of options and features. Each ship has a different style and management, equipment, maneuverability, and corresponds to a specific class – Frigate, Transport, Destroyer, Cruiser, Battleship and Battlecruiser.
The open world of the Galactic Phantasy is immense and rendered in gorgeous graphics, encompassing 10 star systems and 40 starports divided by two nations, each with a unique take on advanced technology. The storyline also features a mysterious Sphinx Empire and a fight for survival of your home Galactic Union 20. With all the micro-management, you’d think it gets tedious, but no, the action part of the gameplay is equally important and intense, and you can try out different approaches in beating the enemy – stun them, drain their energy, launch an attack to leave them breathless.
Developer: Spectacle Games Publishing Inc., Freemium
Pocket Starships is a freemium MMO RPG and a space combat that has you battling with or against other players in real time. The game is cross-platform, so you will play with iOS and browser allies, or foes. You can recruit other players and form powerful alliances and the chat system lets you communicate freely. Players will be able to upgrade their ships and craft new ones based on a meticulously crafted system of micro-management. Exploration and warfare in the massive galactic setting opens path to massive PvP battles. If MMOs are your thing, by all means try this one and set out on an endless quest to explore your own skills in galactic domination warfare.
Developer: Binary Helix, $6.99, has free demo
Dangerous is a space simulation of console quality and great depth, and you would anticipate something impressive by the price alone. A player even said GoF II is child’s play if compared to Dangerous HD. Romance, factions and alliances, NPS partner systems, cloud save and so much content to explore you’d be lost for months.
Thankfully, the game offers a free demo, LITE version, as well as HD and SD versions for different devices. A 3D, Unity-built, open world space sandbox action RPG, Dangerous features an engrossing story – you wake up from a cryo sleep some 100 years older than you were when you fell asleep. While you slept, many things have changes, and you will start gathering an army and set out on a journey across the galaxy to become a hero or a villain. Personal interactions with the game’s numerous characters are as interesting and engrossing as the action part – princesses, military men, crazy robots, a Universal AI, the world’s elite working behind the scenes, mercenaries, playboys and suicidal slaves – sounds like the Game of Thrones set in space.
Graphics-wise, it is a Unity masterpiece of a space combat RPG with 20+ ships, 180+ modules, 33 solar systems, open world, possibilities of a romance, 15 factions, various mission types and speactcular cinematic camera views. Controls-wise, you can choose to fly using autopilot at all times or go manual, with or without the Newtonian physics. The 22-track OST by Sean Beeson is amazing, so the overall experience is one worth paying for.
Developer: Spellbook, Free
The Infinite Black is an online MMO adventure and space combat that sees you commanding huge spaceships, forging powerful alliances and waging bloody war against the other alliances to your heart’s content. Alien races, treasures, loot, bounties, achievements, customizable ships, thousands of items and a massive user base from all over the world. The game features a rare support of the users confirming the developers have kept a steady and firm grasp over the game, responding to user feedback with all the due diligence. Whenever you see players leave their nicknames on the play store for an alliance opportunity is a great sign the game has been keeping them glued for months.
Those of you who enjoy choosing your character’s appearance will dive into the gallery of 244 trillion of pilot avatar combinations, and even though fashion is somewhat Babylon V-like, you will be able to choose the one to suit your taste. Terraforming, mining, trading, researching technology, loads of micromanagement and feet to fleet battles, when you can forge a strong fleet from over 20 ship types and a massive load of items will keep your mind busy.
Radiant Free and Radiant HD $2.99
Developer: Hexage Ltd
A faux-retro pixel delight of an unforgiving space shooter with vibrant, neon-induced design and a great soundtrack by Kubatko – if any of these elements sound like your cup of tea, give this indie game a try. It offers a free and an HD paid version and offers purely space shmup gameplay with hordes of incoming alien spaceships, boss fights, massive creep fights, 6 upgradeable weapons, power-ups, three difficulty settings, and 3 episodes with an overall of 100 levels. Global leaderboards will appeal to the competitive kind while a vast array of supported devices, including the NVIDIA SHIELD, MOGA and Nyko controllers lets the hardcore shmup players take the game to its spectacular extremes. It is also quite hard to beat, but the controls are smooth, so with its ingenious style and great attention to detail, Radiant is a must-try if space shooters are your thing.
Developer: Cold Beam Games Ltd, $3.99, Free Demo here
Space shooters are intense, reflex-based games, where intense gameplay is complemented by beautiful graphics. However, to many players the accompanying music is no less important, and that is when a bad soundtrack choice can send an overall decent game into the sands of oblivion of the play store. Beat Hazard Ultra hears you and lets you play your own music located on your SD card or from an Internet radio station as you blast through the waves of the enemy. The game adjusts to the beat of your favorite tracks and follows the rhythm, be it slo-mo or fast-paced. Hence, the gameplay speed changes depending on your music choices – how atmospheric is that? The controls system is adjustable from 1 stick to 2 stick for the hardcore arcade fans, and is overall quite accessible and easy to get the hang of. A good deal of unlockable items, Boss Rush and Survival Modes are complemented by my favorite Chill Out mode. In other words, it’s a must have for any shmup and music fan.
Developer: Spikepit Games, $1.99
A classic on the list, Plasma Sky is one of the great representatives of the bullet hell shooting genre, with spectacular visuals, fast-paced soundtrack and an intense, crazy survival shmup with loads of incoming enemies and you alone, against them all.
Exhilarating, yet accessible, addicting and highly polished, Plasma Sky is great for both beginners and hardcore shmup players – everyone will find a sweet spot here, among the 80 levels of intense survival, conquest and hardcore modes, crazy but beautiful boss fights, pouring power-ups and most importantly, a nifty choice between tilt and touch controls, with a keyboard and MOGA controller support and… lasers! Lots of deadly, shiny lasers and other ammo you can equip to bring doom to whoever it is that you’re fighting.
Developer: Deep Silver, Freemium
Galaxy on Fire 2 is the starting point, a benchmark of them space shooters, and whenever you see players asking for a good space sim or shooter, their first reference is ‘looking for something like GoF 2.’ If you are a newcomer to the genre, or the mobile gaming in general, Galaxy on Fire 2 is a must-have if space shooters is your thing. It offers a good deal of content for free and paid expansions – Valkyrie and Supernova. A massive, complex, story-driven world of GoF has been brought to mobile in all its unrivaled 3D glory and depth of gameplay.
Of course, you are a fearless captain saving the entire galaxy from the doom brought by aliens, human pirates and the crazy power-hungry elite. The game features a 10+ hours campaign and two extensions available via IAPs, with tons of new missions. Achievements, leaderboards, great deal of supported devices and an unprecedented vast galaxy with 30 star systems, over 50 customizable spaceships, hundreds of weapon systems, power-ups and other perks. Full voiceover, orchestral soundtrack and even a special action freeze to take screenshots from any scene. In other words, Galaxy on Fire 2 preserves its relevance while its place on the pantheon has not been rivaled, yet.
Developer: Deep Silver, Freemium
Galaxy on Fire – Alliances is actually a sci-fi strategy MMO, and even though its shooting scenes are not overly abundant, it is a perfect space sim game to fit the list. A gorgeous universe to colonize, terraform, conquer, expand, make allies and fight with other alliances for the domination – Galaxy on Fire Alliances is a different take on the acclaimed franchise, and a very engrossing one. We reviewed it here, and were impressed by the depth and the visual supremacy of the game.
You choose you race from the Terrans, Nivelians or Vossk, and the game assigns you a server, where your galaxy Shroud Nebula is. You build your structures, colonize planets, expand your reach, but most importantly – make friends. Alone, or allied, you will face off your competitors, and the fights will depend on the might of your fleet. Even though there is a visual presentation of the combat, the action is mostly in building up the fleet and upgrading it – stats and micro-management is the key in strategy games.
High-end 3D graphics, complex yet accessible control panel, a whole lot of things to do and many ways to play with or against others provide for an unlimited gameplay time for the fans of the genre. One of the games that sets the benchmark in its niche, GoF Alliances is, simply put, wonderful. Read our full review here.
Developer: EntwicklerX, $1.99
Also available on iOS and Windows Phone, and AmigaOS, MACE Military Alliance of Common Earth is a classic old school shmup with gorgeous graphics, unforgiving gameplay and tough bullet hell challenge. It supports Shield controls, and if you are up for a tough challenge, with long hard levels, give this one a shot – it nails the 2D vertical space shooter’s spirit. Besides, the design is hand-drawn and sends shivers down my spine because I hate bugs, and the enemy ships and the creatures crawling in the background just give me nausea. These space bugs have come to colonize the Earth, so the bug-phobics beware.
The game features three different environments with an overall of 18 levels packed with incoming waves of enemies you need to either destroy, or at least avoid. Another challenge, despite the bullet hell, is the power ups and weapons are not so easy to come by – sometimes you would confuse them with the enemy bullets, other times they’re too hard to reach behind all that bullet chaos. Your ship can have an additional element, like a shield, companion, rocket or a smart bomb. Big ugly bug bosses, 3 difficulty levels and a great soundtrack make it a perfect space shoot’em up for the fans of the genre. Oh, and don’t forget the leaderboards, if you are after them.
Developer: BulkyPix, $3.99
Beyond Space is a little on the controversial side mainly due to the developer not responding or updating it since last year, but if it plays, it plays wonderfully. It looks dazzling and is a wonderful space shooter, with missions, full voice acting, amazing cutscenes and tons of first or third person space flight and combat. The only issue is the Google Play games social platform integration done wrong, and on some devices it may cause lags or crashes. In other words, it is a very competent and impressively beautiful space shooter with one little flaw that prevents it from getting a high rating it deserves. Proceed at your own discretion – we know it as one of the noteworthy space shooters for Android, and which device might experience the lag, and which might not is up for the developer to address. Other than that, the game features an intriguing story of Max Walker, a pilot for hire, who gets involved in a world-changing drama, so yes, there will be plenty of fighting and cool ship upgrades, all rendered in cinematic 3D – pure eye candy.
Developer: Crescent Moon Games, Free demo
One of my favorite space shooters on the list is Strike Wing: Raptor Rising – it combines stellar design with flexible controls and several camera views while the gameplay revolves around the shooting. The free part is only a demo consisting of several missions and training while the full game, which will set you off some $5, consists of a slew of missions and several game modes, where you can choose different ships. Read our full review here.
Since the game is pretty heavyweight and requires space and Ram, the free demo makes perfect sense. You can choose on-screen joystick or tilt controls, as well as adjust the sensitivity. You can also choose from several camera views and enjoy the flight from the cockpit or choose a third-person view from the ship’s rear part. The game will guide you through the UI, controls and ship maneuvering training as well as different tactics in dealing with large static targets and multiple moving ones. You will shoot the enemy, the asteroids, complete various missions based on a story-driven conflict.
Overall, if you are up for a high quality space shooter, which implies a learning curve and patience, but rewards players with spectacular graphics and intense gameplay, go for a free demo to see how it plays out for you. The only downside and the cause for users woes, as of now, is the game has not received more missions, as was initially declared by the developer. Even so, it is fun and spectacular as it is now.
Developer: Digital Reality, $5.99
Sine Mora is no doubt one of the best games on the list – a visual stunner and probably everything you wanted in a space shoot-em-up game. It has a story, an ingenious aesthetic and an unforgiving gameplay. It also offers four different control schemes, each more challenging than the other, so this horizontal shooter with two modes – story and arcade, where the story blends time travel with a space war.
It supports MOGA and offers quite a rough challenge through its intense assaults and power-ups that come down to zero once you are dead, and have to replay the level again. Nonetheless, Sine Mora has a unique style of its own, and even though its controls feel like they need an update, it is a must-have experience for any mobile shoot-em-up fan. The music is top-notch and underlines how time-based are the levels, urging you to act faster and make more mistakes. It is accessible, yet hard, very hard, but that’s no reason not to experience the beauty of it, with its 7 environments, the ugliest of adversaries, 50+ weapons and a challenge worthy of a hardcore player.
Developer: Guild Software, Inc., Freemium
Don’t get this game if you get dizzy with too much spinning in the open space – you will have to aim while your ship is moving and the target is moving, so quite a lot of spinning is involved. On a serious note, Vendetta has it all – elegance, graphic polish, grim soundtrack, tons of features of both the space shooter and the MMORPG. Trade, develop and build up your empire, fight other players, cooperate with friends, mine resources, craft cool stuff. The game features a real time PvP, but if you don’t like the mess, you can just sit quietly, mining ore and trading peacefully – that’s one feature, which lets players try different play styles that I appreciate. Eventually, you will work out a pace and strategy that works for you.
In a single-player mode, you will unlock the sandbox sector where you can train flying and shooting before drifting off to the massive open world. The game supports various controllers and is cross-platform, so $1 IAP lets you play from all your devices. Vendetta is a gorgeous, addicting and huge world to play, so we recommend it wholeheartedly.
Developer: AXL Dynamics sp. z o.o., Free demo, Full Version here
One of the genre classics, Xelorians is a frantic, retro styled space shooter that tasks you with protecting our world against the Xelorian invaders coming in endless waves, sometimes from all sides. It’s a reflex-based, top-down scrolling shmup, where you can choose your ship also based on alien tech and stuff it all sorts of weapons. If you are nostalgic about the 90’s games, you will find Xelorians a delight flashback to the times when games were tough. Besides, it looks really great and offers a challenging and rewarding difficulty level.
Four episodes encompass 18 missions, 48 enemy types, 5 difficulty settings, 19 bosses, 10-track soundtrack and even a zoom-in option – all that goodness topped with great style and the best shmup traditions of gameplay. Try the demo!
Developer: KIXEYE, Freemium
Vega Conflict is a strategy game we reviewed earlier, and were thoroughly impressed by the amount of content this complex world has to offer. Rebel against the greedy Vega corporation, attack her fleet and loot ore, energy, resources they carry. You will be building up your base up in the space, and the process is thoroughly entertaining, provided you don’t mind the timers, or IAPs. Attacking the Vega fleet is a matter of tactics, of course, but the outcome depends on the level of your fleet and that of your opponent, so considering your upgrades and researching technology is a must-have. Overall, the game is a delight for the right player fond of PvP, research, upgrades, shields, and all that micro-management customization roll. A dark space tale, Vega Conflict is a competent MMO RPG.
Another game of a similar breed we would like to highlight is Haegemonia: Legions of Iron.
Developer: Anuman, $3.99
An Android port of a computer game, Haegemonia is the heavyweight player on that space simulation arena. It is spectacular, cinematic and engrossing, although do not expect to engage in the first-person shooting – it’s more of a mission-based story-driven strategy game than anything else, but the amount of content and the level of graphics it carries are top-notch. The humanity has expanded beyond Earth and now there are two conflicting sides – the Martian colonies that have fought and acquired independence, and Earth that as always wants to control everything. You can choose to play as a Martian commander, or the Earthling. You will be terraforming planets (50+ of them), colonizing them, mining resources, researching tech, upgrading your fleet, spying on your enemy, deploying different hero types like scientists, heroes, tyrants, spies and soldiers and so much more you’d be surprised. The only little nag is to get the hang of the controls and the map – some complex gestures may not always register correctly., so the bigger your screen the better. Read our full review of it.
Developer: STUDIO EVIL, $1.50
Syder Arcade is fun, frantic, polished and unnervingly addicting. You control a ship in a multidirectional assault where you not only have to shoot the baddies, but also collect the coins that rotate around the alien ships. So you have to get really close to the enemy to collect the coins before they’re gone.
The game has a distinct old school, hardcore feel to it – and the developer admits it’s a love letter to Amiga and the annoyingly hard computer games of the past. Get ready to shoot and die, die and shoot across the 6 campaign levels and one survival mode, battling aliens, their bosses and capital ships in this crazy and frantic space shmup, which is also zombie-free. What a delight! Great soundtrack, too.
SKY STEEL – Ultimate Edition $2.99 and SKY STEEL – Heavy Wings Freemium
Sky Steel games are a surprise – what looks like a casual shooter ends up being a black hole, a massive time sucker and a road to hell, if you begin playing when you should not. Being a horizontal space and sky shmup, Sky Steel has you controlling an odd kind of spaceship – it basically consists of two wings and a core. You shoot the incoming hordes of enemies, collect power-ups and try to deliver a modified energy core to the invader core and unite them – this unlocks new worlds. Besides the addicting and challenging gameplay, Sky Steel features loads of content. Colonize or regain controls of the worlds you lost, 7 worlds with more than 25 stages, tons of upgrades, 100+ power-ups, story stages, boss fights, randomly generated orbit patrol missions – the game feels like a multi-layered pie, just when you think you’ve seen it all, it throws new elements and you are sucked in again. Permanent upgrades, like controllable drones called drone pets, bombs and other nifty weapons you can attach to the core, or the 7 difficulty modes, a robust combo system, lasers, rockets – it’s a true space shmup fest. Exciting and addicting, Sky Steel is a must try if you are looking for something new.
Developer: ZET, Freemium
After you play Sky Steel, or very well before that, try MoonBeam – it’s a thoroughly fun space shooter with a unique art style and novel ideas. You can choose among the three ships and your goal is to reach the Moon. The catch is your ship gets attached to a moon beam, which is also its weapon, capable of destroying or slowing down the obstacles and pirate ships. It also has an element of Tetris in the gameplay, so besides shooting and aiming you will also need to think fast. Three planets to unlock, three ships to try out and upgrade to their full capacity, simple one-touch controls, online leaderboards for the competitive, good music and, what is important, no unnecessary permissions.
The game is a delight and an unorthodox kind of space shooter, so if you appreciate hidden indie gems, get it – for free, no IAPS.
Developer: Clapfoot Inc., Freemium
Sector Strike lands right in the middle between pure shmups and complex space sims. It has just enough of micro-management to upgrade your ship and shoot better, while all the rest is fun, horizontal, impressive shooting. Set some time in an unidentified future, Sectro Strike challenges your reflexes and hand-eye coordination. A visual delight, the game has you battling AI drones (that no longer sounds like futuristic, does it?) across 4 unique environments. Equip your ship with more fire power and abilities and fry those heartless drones into a barbeque. The upgrades and power=ups provide for that perfect rewarding feeling when you know you have worked hard to receive a meaningful improvement, and some particularly cool weapons are a delight to fire. It’s a horizontal wave-based shooter and it’s a surprise this one is free, so get it! It’s fun to play and features great music.
Developer: Psyonix Studios, Freemium
A freemium, single player, story-driven space shooter, ARC Squadron offers a ton of content, vibrant visuals, great soundtrack and an addicting as hell gameplay. Some evil alien race named Guardians are conquering the universe, destroying life and exhausting the planetary resources. You are the elite soldier destined to protect your home and bring doom to the invaders. The campaign offers 60 levels and a story, supported by actor voiceover, while the one-touch controls make it an accessible challenge, which is easy to pick up but hard to beat. The game features 20+ unique, impressive environments and anyone who buys visuals first should try ARC Squadron, probably inspired by Starfox.
Developer: Martian Monkey, $2.99
Alpha Squadron may not be overly new, but it still is a relevant space shooter and a competent one. Featuring wonderful graphics, neat, if somewhat small, controls, and a great space shooting action, Alpha Squadron is a delight for the fans of the genre. It offers a smooth experience, flawless performance and challenging gameplay mainly due to the same mechanics implemented in many other space shooters – you have no breaks. So, you dash and dash and only have this little time to shoot while the target is in your aim. It’s an intense shooter, with stylish graphics and a fun, engrossing gameplay. I, for one, could not care less for the customization part and upgrades that you have to weed through manually, and Alpha Squadron lets you skip that and focus on the fighting core – the one thing a shmup fan needs above everything else. So, it has got the lasers, but the action is top-notch and the controls are fun to master. Overall, Alpha Squadron is rightfully on our list, and we surely hope the developers will release an update soon to encourage the fans and the newcomers to stick with the game; because ultimately, it’s a great one. Upd. It appears Martian Monkey are working on a sequel, Alpha Squadron 2 Edge of Oblivion, so we will definitely keep tabs open on the new one.
What about you – what are your favorite space simulation and space combat games for mobile? Share your titles in the comments below or join a conversation on our forums, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.