Best endless runners for Android

Keep on running, keep on hiding,
One fine day I’m gonna fall down a hole,
Or be eaten by an ape,
Or maybe trip over something.

The endless runner is a weird offshoot of the platform game genre. You play as a constantly moving character and have to tap controls to jump or dodge obstacles, pull off special moves, or attack enemies. The simple controls make them ideal for smartphone screens and that’s why they’ve exploded on Android. There’s something about endlessly generated worlds, increasing speed, and twitch response that makes them really addictive for short bursts.

These are the best endless runners on Android right now.

Canabalt HD [69p]

This was the first endless runner on the mobile scene that really took off and, as with all successful games, it spawned a massive megaton of steaming clones, a few of which managed to improve on the formula. You can try Canabalt out in your browser for free. It’s super simple, tap to jump. Try to avoid things. Try to get as far as you can. You can easily miss the fact that you’re running from invading aliens. The stark white, black and shades of grey art style with a be-suited character jumping over rooftops look very much inspired by The Matrix. It’s a minimalist 2D side-scroller that builds a real feeling of speed and it’s quite hard to stop playing.

Robot Unicorn Attack 2

Robot Unicorn Attack 2 [Free]

The Robot Unicorn galloped to fame as a Flash game, but it soon made the leap to Android. It’s a car crash of absurd humour, pastel colours, and catchy music, although the 80’s pop ear worm from Erasure that accompanied the original is an IAP now. There were several versions before this sequel landed and introduced a few extra elements. The novelty joke wears off, but it’s a deceptively addictive game and it’s a decent challenge for endless runner fans.

Temple Run and Temple Run 2 [Free]

Flipping endless running into 3D, so you’re heading into a map, brings a new element and there are probably more games emulating Temple Run than anything else. It has been phenomenally successful with over a billion downloads of both versions. You’ve presumably just stolen a golden idol and you have to try and escape from some giant rabid monkeys that want to eat you. Dodge left or right by tilting, swipe left or right to turn, and swipe up to jump or down to slide under something while collecting coins for power-ups. The second version looks better and adds death slides and cart sections. The main character and environment are so original it’s odd that they’ve never inspired a movie series.

Despicable Me [Free]

Chaotic, hyperactive endless runner action, broken up with challenges, unusual camera angles and bonus levels, this is well worth a look for fans of the movie. My kids find the minions hilarious and the environments and characters are nicely realized here. It’s a good-looking game with tried and tested game mechanics. It does have IAPs, but you don’t need to bother with them in order to progress, so it’s good choice for kids as well.

Into the Dead [Free]Into the Dead

Every right-thinking person loves zombies and this clever, first-person twist on the endless runner genre is packed with them. You start off in a dark field with zombies lumbering out of the fog as you run for your life, frantically ducking and dodging to avoid them. It’s reminiscent of Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead as the shuffling corpses pose little threat unless you get too close to one. The fact you can pick and use weapons adds a new element to the gameplay and there are missions and goals to keep things interesting.

Looking for more endless runners? Gravity Project gives the genre a sci-fi makeover and lets you mess with gravity, though laggy controls can be a problem at times. The aesthetic of Vector brings Canabalt to mind, but introduces Parkour-inspired moves into the mix. Headless is a darkly humorous gore-fest that casts you as a recently beheaded chicken. Subway Surfers is a solid endless runner that gets the balance right. Jetpack Joyride is an unmissable classic with loads of depth and replay value.

Got an endless runner to suggest? Post it below!


About Simon Hill

I'm addicted to gaming and have been since I was a wee boy. Worked in the industry as a tester, designer and producer. I'm now a full time freelance writer and editor.