With mid-sized screens that you can hold comfortably in your hands, Amazon’s Fire (formerly Kindle Fire) tablets are perfect for playing games. However, you can’t look for titles in Google Play, because these slates only work with Amazon’s own app store, which has many of the same apps, but not all of them.
Whether you like old-school games, building games, or fantasy games, here are some of the best games available for the Fire. Most of them are free, but even the free ones tend to have in-app purchases that help you move along in the game.
Zen Pinball (Free)
Finding working pinball games out in the real world is hard these days, and Zen Pinball is an excellent substitute. The first time I ever played Zen Pinball I was blown away by how much it felt like playing an actual pinball game. (How would I know? Extensive research in college.) The physics of this game are mind-blowing. The free download comes with a really excellent game, Sorcerer’s Lair, and you can buy other tables from franchises like Star Wars, Aliens, Marvel, South Park, and The Walking Dead. You don’t have to be online to play, unless you want keep track of your progress with local and all-time high score boards. Hot Seat mode lets up to four players compete on the same device.
Crossy Road (Free)
Why did the chicken cross the road? To get me addicted to a game! For those of you old enough to remember Frogger, this is like a reboot of that classic game, where your character has to cross busy roads and rivers of floating logs without getting hit or drowning. Playing the game is completely free; You only have to pay if you want to play as characters other than the basic chicken (other characters have different abilities to help you through the game, and sometimes play in different environments), although some of these characters can be obtained by collecting coins within the game. Simple fun with a blocky retro look. Can be played offline.
Bubble Shooter (Free)
Bubble Shooter is a simple game where you shoot bubbles at other bubbles, trying to get at least three of the same color, which makes those bubbles explode out of the frame. But as you’re doing this, more bubbles are added, advancing the wall of bubbles closer and closer to you. Can you shoot enough bubbles before they get to the bottom of the screen and crush you? This game is mindless fun that can be played offline. It’s free, but you can pay to remove ads.
RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic ($5.99)
Have you ever dreamed about running an amusement park? RollerCoaster Tycoon is for you. What started out as a roller coaster simulator has evolved into a world-building strategy game. You get to build rides and manage your park, trying to keep the customers safe and happy while bringing in money. You have to manage every aspect of your park, from maintenance to food to shops to music to prices to staff. RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic is not free to download, but with practically endless combinations of locations and rides, this game could keep you occupied forever.
Call of Duty: Heroes (Free)
You want to command an army, but you also don’t want to leave your couch? This game is for you. With equipment and characters from the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty: Heroes lets you train your forces and build bases, then use them to defend or attack. Part builder game, part strategy game, and part action game, Call of Duty: Heroes is free to play, but you can earn rewards by watching video ads, or buy the ability to get through parts of the game faster. Note that you have to be connected to the internet the entire time in order to play.
Despicable Me: Minion Rush (Free)
The Minions are on strike! If you’re a fan of those little yellow guys, you’re going to love this game, because it’s packed with Minions acting just like they do in the Despicable Me movies. Run through different settings as you collect bananas and maneuver around obstacles. You can customize your Minions, and you’ll recognize settings from the movies. Playing is free, but buying tokens can help you advance faster. Must be connected to the internet (most of the time) to play.
Pac-Man 256 – Endless Arcade Maze (Free)
Having grown up on Pac-Man and Ms. Pac Man, I thought it would be difficult to play on a tablet, without a joystick. What I found, however, is that just like you could jam your joystick into a new direction before Pac-Man got to an intersection, you can swipe to a new direction in this game before you need to, making game play very similar to the original! The familiar characters are all there, but now Pac-Man is packing some new tricks, like lasers and tornado mode. Can be played offline.
Red Ball 4 (Free)
The little red smiling ball may seem like a happy guy, but he’s on a serious mission: an angry cube wants to pound the earth and everything in it in to squares! So the red ball has to make it through level after level (there are 75!), rolling and jumping and solving physical puzzles in order to advance. Figuring out when you need momentum, when you need to move an object, and when to jump can be very challenging. You can play this game offline.
Candy Crush Saga (Free)
Candy Crush is the granddaddy of all freemium games. Sure, you don’t have to spend any money playing Candy Crush Saga, but if you want some help getting past a nearly impossible level, you have that option. Swipe delicious candy left, right, up, or down to make rows of three or more of the same candy. Set off a chain reaction and watch your points add up fast! If you choose, you can share your progress across different devices, or sync with the Facebook version. There are more than 100 levels to get through. If you just want to play on the Fire, you do not need to be online.
Temple Run 2: Lost Jungle (Free)
Harness your inner Indiana Jones because this sequel will have you running, jumping, and sliding around the jungle in your quest to get the golden idol, collecting artifacts along the way. Avoid the monsters, fire, cliffs, and other obstacles by swiping with your finger and tilting the Fire tablet to make you lean. The game is free, but you can pay in order to advance more easily. This is a non-stop thrill game, and it can be played offline.
Fruit Ninja 5th Anniversary (Free)
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been slicing fruit in the air with ninja swords for five years, but it’s true. Celebrate with this anniversary edition of the classic game. There are new mini games and new powers, but the heart of the original is still there. You can play alone, or in a same-time, head-to-head challenge with an opponent. The game is free, but contains ads, which you can pay to remove. [Optional ad-on: For a limited time, the ad-free version is free in the Amazon app store.]
Subway Surfers (Free)
You’ve been caught tagging subway cars, and now you’re on the run from the security guard and his dog. Luckily, you have all sorts of tricks at your disposal! Jump, slide, ride on a paint-powered jet pack, and more as you collect coins and run through the Florida rail yards in this fast-moving game! It’s like Temple Run without the monsters. Free to download, but you can pay to get through the game faster. Can be played offline.
World Series of Poker (Free)
The World Series of Poker gives you the opportunity to play Texas Hold’em, Omaha or Roulette, earning free chips and bracelets along the way. You can use real money to buy more chips if you want, but with generous bonuses for playing and inviting friends to play, there’s no need. You can join a table or enter tournaments, and there are slot games to play between hands. If you choose you can chat with other people at your table. Sign in with Facebook and you can even play live with your friends, wherever they are! You have to be online to play this game.
Minecraft: Pocket Edition ($6.99)
Minecraft is a creative world-building game that allows you to interact with worlds that others have built. The Fire app lets you have access to both survival and creative modes, and you can log into multi-player servers. While Minecraft: Pocket Edition is not the same as the “full” versions, it gets closer with each update, and there are a multitude of add-on apps for skins and mods. This app does cost money, and you do have to be online to play multiplayer.
Words With Friends (Free)
Playable in seven languages, Words With Friends is a super-popular Scrabble-like game that lets you play solo offline for practice, or head-to-head against other people online. Sign into Facebook in order to find your friends and challenge them to a game. You can even switch seamlessly mid-game to another device. There are ads between moves, which you can pay to remove. But the good news is, if you’ve ever paid to remove ads from Words With Friends on any other mobile device, and you sign into the game on your Kindle Fire with the same account, your ads will be gone on Kindle as well.