Now that most new Chromebooks run Android apps via the Google Play store, the gaming options for Chrome OS laptops aren't paltry and laughable, and include some gems. There's only one catch: not all Android games run well (or at all) on Chrome OS, as they were originally built for phones and tablets and not laptops. And with each passing month, Android's best new games — which I will add here — become Chrome OS's gains.
So while Fallout Shelter runs without a stutter and Marvel's Spider-Man Unlimited is a fun infinite runners, others (including Madden NFL Football, NBA 2K17 and Middle Earth Shadow of War) just fail to run smoothly even launch properly. This is why we downloaded a ton of Android games to test them out on the 12.3-inch Google Pixelbook so you know which games to trust on a Chromebook. Our new favorite Chromebook overall, though, is the 14.1-inch Asus Chromebook Flip C434, which has thin bezels and a big, bright, vivid display, an aluminum chassis and nearly 10 hours of battery life.
The big news of the moment is that Google Stadia — a new game-streaming service — looks to give Chromebooks (as well as a ton of other machines) a new way to game when it launches later this year. Stadia was first tested in Google's Project Stream, which allows you to play demanding games with the two other major requirements being one of Google's controllers (at a price to be named later) and a fast internet connection.
The sequel to Alto's Adventure is even more beautiful than the award-winning mobile game that preceded it. Expanding on the tap-to-jump gameplay with a new hold-to-wall-grind move, Alto's Odyssey is more of the same, and that's not an insult. Also, Odyssey is just as calming as ncreasingly luscious locales, with vibrant and calming visuals. You'll need a touchscreen Chromebook, as there's keyboard support, but since there are no on-screen controls to tap -- you just tap anywhere you want -- it's comfortable to play even on larger screens.
One half Tetris, one half Peggle and entirely addictive, Holedown is now available on Chromebooks, and it works well. Yes, now you can drill down into orbiting planets during breaks from your lengthy Google Docs. In this game, you're tasked with breaking rows of slowly rising bricks, by firing a series of white balls at them. Numbers on said bricks indicate how many hits you need to land to shatter them, and power-ups can give you more shots. Doesn't support keyboard input, so a touchscreen is a must.
This vertical-scrolling shooter takes everything we loved from the games of yore, and places them on Android (and now Chrome OS) devices. Oh, and you won’t *need* to use a touch screen, as clicks from your cursor can replicate taps. So we’ve only got one question, why is it called Bullet Hell Monday? Yes, Mondays are hell and this is a bullet hell title (where you’re dodging an insane amount of fire), but the connection isn’t exactly obvious in the game.
The latest version of the Asphalt racing series runs pretty well on Chrome OS, though you'll see small stutters here and there. Overall, it's very much playable, and I'd recommend playing it with the touch controls and rotating the screen. While there are keyboard controls, its touch-based gestures, including swiping, make this game best for use with touchscreen Chromebooks.
One of the greatest fighting games of all time has landed on Android and Chromebooks, and it looks great on a high-res PixelBook screen. This edition comes with more than 20 characters, with unlockable moves, online competition and a story mode.
Arguably the most adorable Pokemon game yet, Quest sends you to Tumblecube Island. There, you'll meet Pokemon that look straight out of Minecraft, with brick-based versions of your favorites, including Pikachu (one of your starter options). Requires a touchscreen.
One of the most addictive puzzle games of the decade has landed on the Chromebook, with Threes, where you move tiles together in a grid to add them together. You start with 1's and 2's, and then add matching tiles together (3's with 3's, 6's with 6's and so on and so forth). Not to be confused with the bland knockoff 2048, Threes features a catchy instrumental soundtrack, and its tiles come to life as cute, growly little rectangles. Only supports touch-screen for tap controls.
The cult classic Katamari Damacy ball-rolling game is one of the weirdest concepts in video game history, and its fun has now arrived on Android and Chrome OS. Instead of collecting items on your giant ball in an aimless manner, this mobile version is an infinite-runner where your ever-growing sphere gets larger and larger and becomes difficult to fit between dangerous obstacles. One note, though: you'll want to use its touch screen controls, and not tilt option, as the latter isn't sensitive enough for survival.
While it's not a straight port of the console version of Injustice 2, the Android version of the DC fighter game playes quite well via Chrome emulation. Not only do the characters move smoothly, but you see them in tons of detail. Since there's no keyboard support, and you need to tap the screen quickly, this one may be best on Chromebooks with smaller screens.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp puts you in the role of a gal or guy who's walking around the world, just looking to make friends and have them come over to hang out. Unfortunately, his world is filled with a bunch of lazy animals with increasingly high demands. Still, there's a certain calm zen feeling to be gained by clicking around this adorable cartoonish environment. Unfortunately, Pocket Camp is touchscreen-only, as it doesn't support the keyboard, which it could, since you're just moving your character around on a map.
It doesn't have to be Throwback Thursday for you to have fun shooting hoops in NBA JAM by EA Sports. The major difference between this game and the classic version you're used to? Updated rosters featuring the likes of Carmello Anthony, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. Pro tip: if you can't find LeBron James, tap on the Cleveland Cavs players to cycle through and find King James, who is surprisingly not a member of its default pairing. The keyboard doesn't do anything in this one, so you're better off setting your Chromebook in tablet mode.
All it takes to get addicted to Two Dots is to simply trace a line between two of its dots. Then, the dots become a grid of different colored dots, and you can only connect dots of the same hue. Then, some dots get trapped behind blocks you have to break. After that, you need to connect the dots before they can become lava. And while it supports using your touchpad to select dots, that's a lot less natural than moving your finger on the screen, so better hope your Chromebook's screen can bend-back to tablet mode, like those in the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA, the Samsung Chromebook Pro, and the Google Pixelbook.
One of the best mobile games you haven't played yet, PinOut is part pinball and part infinite runner. That means your goal is to advance your ball by knocking it through a series of tables that keep going and going. And from its Tron aesthetics to its excellent electronica soundtrack, Pinball looks and sounds as great as it plays. Pinout also supports your keyboard, as clicking the left and right shift keys flip the corresponding flippers.
The Chromebook is the latest platform to allow you to go back to Green Hill and Marble Zone to fight Eggman's robotic army. And while it's free to play, that is with ads (you can remove them for $1.99). And Sonic includes keyboard support: W, A, S and D move the iconic hedgehog and J makes him jump.
Super Mario Run (Free, but mostly locked behind in-app purchase)
One of the best mobile games of 2016 also runs on touch-screen Chromebooks. That's right, Super Mario Run's Android version works well in Chrome OS's Android emulation, allowing you to collect every single special coin (in pink, purple and black) and play Toad Rally to win more toads. The only catch, though, is that there's no keyboard support. Oh and you'll need to spend $9.99 to unlock the whole game, but that's a pittance for how fun this one is.
Fallout Shelter is a dystopian version of Sim City, where you build out a bunker using an ever-growing group of survivors taking shelter from a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Some will mate, some will produce energy and others will be armed and sent outside to fight the radioactive hordes. While this spinoff from the popular console and PC franchise runs smoothly on Chrome OS, it doesn't support the keyboard, so you'll want to set your Chromebook into the tablet mode.
Just because you have a Chromebook doesn't mean you can't go forth with Adult Swim's Rick and Morty to battle and capture other Mortys, in the wildly popular mobile game Pocket Mortys. Confused? Here's another way to think about it: what if Pokemon embraced the dark nature of a franchise where teens ran around running monster fight clubs, and involved the smartest grandpa and most manic grandson ever? The on-screen directional pad and A button are mapped to your keyboard, but you'll need to tap the screen for other buttons.
Everybody's favorite neighborhood web-slinger has his own infinite runner, but it separates itself from the pack with swipe-based boss battles. You'll need to tap and swipe its screen to play, so this one's best in tablet mode.
Yes, even the true OG of retro gaming is also on the Chromebook, thanks to Android version of Pac-Man's flat world landing on the laptops. Of course, you can use the up, down, left and right arrow keys to move the circular fellow, but the option to turn an entire tablet into a Pac-Man board is also a fun time.
Henry is a senior writer at Laptop Mag, covering security, Apple and operating systems. Prior to joining Laptop Mag — where he's the self-described Rare Oreo Expert — he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. You can find him at your local pro wrestling events, and wondering why Apple decided to ditch its MagSafe power adapters.