Did You Know You Can Play These Games On Your Google Home?

Playing Are You Feeling Lucky on Google Home

We’re pretty lucky in Australia to be out of the worst of lock-down. Now that we’re out and about, a few of the new iso-virtues like baking sourdough or practicing ukelele chords have definitely fallen by the wayside. But something that has stuck with me are at-home workouts and my obsession with Google Home. 

As well as re-wiring our whole apartment to support smart light bulbs (try saying “Hey Google, Sexytime” if you ever come visit), I also discovered the joy of Google Home mini games. 

Yes, we’ve all asked Google to “play fart noises”, “self destruct” or “do the dishes” to hilarious responses, but did you know that your Google Home is a treasure-trove of audio escape rooms, high-stakes word jumbles, and even a choose-your-own-adventure style Wiggles concert? Helloooo childhood.

You might have already stumbled across some listicals with Google Mini games listed, but as I’ve found out, many are for US users only, or are no longer available. So the next time you have a few minutes – or a few hours – to kill at home, here’s our tried, tested and ranked countdown of our favourite Google Home mini games. 

You can thank me later. 

Magic 8 Ball

Type: Decider of fates
Command: “Hey Google, Magic 8 Ball”
Difficulty: Novice
Format: Audio & Screen Display

Ok, so you may know that Google Home can help you “roll a dice”, but did you know there’s a Magic 8 ball feature? It’s got all the answers to life’s big questions, even if it’s simply “Reply hazy, try again”, but this new-age spin on a New Age classic is definitely worth a giggle the next time you’re at home and wondering if you should have another Gin & Tonic, or wether you should call that guy back. Each answer also comes with an equally-hilarious disclaimer. It’s worth a play just for that legalese-gone-wrong.

Playing Are You Feeling Lucky on Google Home

I’m Feeling Lucky

Type: Trivia
Command: “Hey Google, I’m Feeling Lucky”
Difficulty: Medium
Format: Audio & Screen Display

This game is the big daddy that launched all the Google Mini games and it’s still the king. Once the theme tune kicks in, it’s hard not to feel like you’re on the podium of a daytime TV show. 5 questions from 5 different categories like Literature, Language, Food and Google Search, it also supports up to 6 players, so it’s kinda fun to kick off your game night with friends.

The questions are suitably obscure (“True or False: in the middle ages, stale bread was used as plates”), and the answer is often revealed with a mini monologue teaching you a thing or two about the subject in question (Answer: true. They were called “trenchers” and the idea was that after diner was finished, the plate would have soaked up the sauces and was then given as alms to the poor). If you have a Google Home with a screen, the animations add an extra element of fun.

Song Quiz

Type: Trivia
Command: “Hey Google, play Song Quiz”
Difficulty: Medium – depending on the decade
Format: Audio & Screen Display

This game is the classic audio question in Trivia turned into a mini game. Start off by choosing the decade you want the questions to come from, all the way from the 60s to 2010s, and Google will pit you against another user. Name the artist correctly from the clip played, you get 10 points. Get both the artist and song title, you get 20 points. The best out of 7 rounds wins. Now I do doubt how “live” or even “a-live” “Daniel from Australia” truly is, but I have to say my sense of competition was triggered by the set-up. It certainly gives you a sense of achievement when you know a specific name to yell “suck it, X” to when you beat them afterwards.

Ding Dong Coconuts

Type: Memory
Command: “Hey Google, play Ding Dong Coconuts”
Difficulty: Hard
Format: Audio & Screen Display

Ok this is probably just because of the way I’m wired, but this game is TOUGH. It doesn’t make it any less fun though! To start, a pair of random sounds are introduced (like a dog barking and a car screech), and each is paired with an unrelated word (like “imagination” and “language”).  One of the sounds is played, and you have to say the word that the sound is associated with. So far, so simple. But as each round progresses, a new sound-word pairing is introduced, and your ability to rely on chance dwindles. Or so I’m told, because I’ve never really made it past round 7 and my competitive Asian ego wouldn’t let me keep trying.  

My Smart Pet

Type: Tamagotchi meets RPG 
Command: “Hey Google, Play My Smart Pet”
Difficulty: Novice
Format: Screen only

Yup, you read that right. This is Google Home’s answer to the Tamagotchi. The setup is almost old-school RPG-like. You make decisions like “move forward”, “turn left by the river” as you explore a mystical forest and come upon an egg. “A voice speaks and the noise awakens something peculiar in your mind…:”. All that just to meet your new virtual pet, but from there, the love affair begins. There are time intervals when you need to leave him/her alone, before you’re allowed to come back to continue the adventure and to continue to learn what’s in the forest. It’s definitely nostalgic, but after a couple of days of neglect, I’m afraid to check back in to see what my neglect has caused – let’s call it PTSD from my first tamagotchi. It’s sometimes best not to know.

Audio Escape Rooms

Type: Puzzle/Story
Command: “Hey Google, play Audio Escape Room”
Difficulty: Various
Format: Audio & Screen Display

I think I like the theory of this more than the actual execution, but it’s worth a try. In Audio Escape rooms, there are 13 available locations to choose from. There’s the infamous Orient Express puzzle, (why is it always the Orient Express?), an abandoned submarine, Inca curse… all in a range of difficulty from easy to hard. Each puzzle is unique, but the format is the same – 3 riddles with clues you need to solve to advance to the next stage of the story.

Overall the experience is novel, but the puzzles itself are kinda WTF. Here’s one: “In his cabin, the driver had hung pictures that do not seem to have anything in common. And yet. A pie, snow a pile of leaves, a pizza and a hole in the ground. What do they have in common?”. The answer? A shovel. Like. How? Who’s shovelling leaves when there’s a perfectly good rake!?

The newest room, though, is kind of fun. Download the Audio Escape Room app and it’ll pair with your Google Home. From there, the two work together to create a world where you solve the puzzles or interact on your phone and read out the answer before you can progress. In the meantime, your Google Home provides ambience to set the mood of the story – which in this case is a hunt for Alibaba’s lost cave. Again, 10 points of gimmick and creativity, but not one you would come back to after doing once.

The Vortex 

Type: RPG
Command: “Hey Google, Get The Vortex by Doppio”
Difficulty: Medium – Hard
Format: Best with screen

If the Audio Escape Room is too simplistic, then this game is for you, but fair warning: this game is INVOLVED. It’s a sci-fi novel built “from the ground up to be voice-first”, so it’s no casual game. The story starts with you, the central character, waking in the middle of a derelict space ship, stalked by a hostile alien entity. You’re commanding an AI and a team of robots and start to uncover the mysteries of the world and your past. The concept and execution is pretty cool, but I have to be honest – this game was too involved for me. After about 15 minutes, I’ve had enough. But if you’re a fan of the genre – and according to the website, 3 MILLION players are – then it’s definitely worth a go.

Puzzle of the Day

Type: Word puzzle
Command: “Hey Google, Play Puzzle of the Day”
Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Format: Audio & Screen

This is the game that I found myself coming back to day after day, because you get a new game – and only one – each day. Each day, you have to guess 5 words that are tied together by a hidden theme. For each word, you are given a clue and the number of letters it contains, such as “man’s best friend” or “state a person in quarantine is kept in”. If you’re stuck, you can ask to reveal a letter or to skip it altogether. At the end of the 5 words, you can bet any amount of your score in a single round of double-or-nothing to guess the theme tying the 5 words together.

The fun thing about this is each day is its own leaderboard, and you get live feedback after answering a question such as “this was the hardest question according to today’s players” or “you are faster than 50% of today’s players” which nicely speaks to my competitive nature. A great game to play quickly in the morning to wake your brain up a little.

Voice Quest

Type: RPG
Command: “Hey Google, play Voice Quest”
Difficulty: clunky
Format: Screen Only

I love the concept of this game and the tutorial really set up my expectations. You’re introduced to our narrator, Merlin, as a medieval “brut” is walking across the screen. Your job is to use your “powerful voice” to help Brute fight the skeleton army that is charging forward. In the first tutorial round, you are told to cast the spell “Fire Ball” to help defeat the enemy. So far, so good. Until you actually try to say the words “Fire Ball”. Basically nothing happens – well, that’s not fair, one in 200 commands of “fire ball” actually registers so basically you spend the whole time getting angrier and angrier at Google Home.

It looks so slick and so much like an old school PC game I just keep coming back to give it a chance, but I’ve never once advanced beyond level two, in which you now add “Water” ball, “Earth” ball, or “Air” ball. Let’s just say nothing worked and it got me so worked up my Google Home became the fire ball i’ve been so desperately trying to summon and was thrown across the room. There’s a reason this is the last game I reviewed. 

Hey Google, Let’s Play A Game

With the Google Home being the most-requested Christmas gift of 2020 and voice-controlled devices becoming more ubiquitous, expect to see many more voice-controlled games hitting the market. To see the latest games that your device can support, just use the magic words “Hey Google, Let’s Play A Game” and it will display all the weird and wonderful voice-controlled apps and games you can try. There’s sure to be one that will keep you entertained. Enjoy, and see you on the leaderboard!