When Google announced that Android apps would come to Chrome OS, the biggest focus was on productivity. With Play Store access, any Chromebook would be able to use Photoshop, Microsoft Word and other key services that people need to earn a living. But a less spoken-about benefit: it gives powerful Chromebooks the ability to play Android's best games.
Playing games on a Chromebook has some advantages and disadvantages compared to trying to play them on a smartphone or even a tablet. No Chromebook yet has an accelerometer, so certain titles just won't work. Not every Chromebook has a touch screen, and very few games work with a mouse and keyboard. On the flip side, every Chromebook supports Bluetooth controllers and video output, so many will work when attached to a television.
I tested all these games on the Pixelbook, but they should all work just fine on less powerful Chromebooks. I used 8Bitdo's excellent SF30 Pro gamepad, but any controller that works with Android phones will also work with a Chromebook. With that said, let's get into the games!
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
For those that don't know, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas is an open-world game that takes place in a fictional version of California in 1992. The game fully supports controllers and plays wonderfully on Android phones, as well as on Chromebooks. The story itself takes a long time to complete, with plenty of side objectives to keep you entertained. The earlier installments — Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City are also available.
Monument Valley and Monument Valley 2
These games are for those with a convertible laptop, since they don't support controllers and rely entirely on touch controls. Still, the M.C. Escher-inspired level design is gorgeous and the puzzles themselves are a fun challenge. The base games have hours worth of puzzles, but there are expansions for the first Monument Valley for those that want to solve even more puzzles.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
The Asphalt series is one of the most popular racing series for Android, and that continues with Asphalt 8: Airborne. This game supports Google Play Games for synchronizing your progress, and supports Bluetooth controllers. There are over 190 cars and motorcycles in the game to race, and plenty of racetracks to keep things exciting. Asphalt 8: Airborne is available for free with in-app purchases.
We featured this game on our roundup of the best shooter games for Android, and for good reason: the game is fast paced, features different loadouts to face different bosses, and includes a co-op mode to play online with your best friend. Overkill 3 is available for free with in-app purchases.
Your emulator of choice
Emulators are nothing new in the Android world, and they work just as well on Chromebooks as they do on smartphones. Which emulator you use will depend on which games you'd like to play. I'm using John GBA for Game Boy Advance games, and while this emulator doesn't support controllers, the controls are laid out well on screen so it shouldn't be tiring to play. As always, make sure you get your game ROMs through legal methods.
What say you?
Do you play many Android games on your Chromebook? Let us know down below!
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