Lately, I've been experimenting with gaming in every form possible, even going as far as dabbling in some light smartwatch gaming using my Galaxy Watch 5. Following my experience, I wouldn't call the smartwatch a gaming device, but I must admit that I found smartwatch games charming in their simplicity and straightforwardness.
Some might also call me a casual Android tablet gamer, as I prefer gaming on the larger screen of the Galaxy Tab S7 FE rather than my smartphone. In any case, the point is that I'm no stranger to gaming on Android.
But while I think the average Android user plays traditional touch-based games, and I do too, recently, I conducted another experiment to see if I could emulate the PC gaming experience on my Android tablet with a mouse. And what better way to do this other than by trying out a few PC classics?
And so, I did. I already owned a handful of Android ports of classic PC games on my Galaxy Tab S7 FE tablet, and they provided a good start for my new experiment. So, without further ado, if you ever wondered if you could prop up a tablet on its stand, connect a mouse, grab a coffee in the morning — whether you're at home, a hotel, or a coffee shop — and emulate a PC gaming experience, here might be the answer you were looking for.
The classic PC games I have tried playing on my Android tablet
To my surprise, given Android's marred reputation regarding mouse controls, I found a few classic PC games that work excellently on my Galaxy Tab S7 FE hooked up to a mouse (wirelessly). Even though these Android ports of classic PC games were updated to make touchscreen inputs easier, they work precisely as you'd expect when using a mouse. The classic PC gems (no typo) I tried are:
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is a classic PC game that tries to bring the traditional pen-and-paper role-playing experience of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (3.0) to the PC screen. And as far as I'm concerned, it succeeded. The game's character creation engine is almost limitless, and it seems to use as many D&D mechanics as possible to empower players who want to create the D&D characters they want.
Some might argue that it offers too many choices, which makes the game overwhelming for people who are not familiar with D&D mechanics. But even if that's true, I think Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is the ultimate D&D character creation game backed by great stories and campaigns. If you're familiar with the game and wondered if you should buy it for your Android tablet, you probably should, regardless of whether you prefer mouse or touch-based controls.
Company of Heroes: This is another PC classic I found works well on Android tablets when using a mouse. It's a real-time strategy game (whereas Neverwinter Nights is a real-time turn-based RPG in which a new turn starts every four seconds). Company of Heroes is about strategically controlling WWII military units, from soldiers to tanks, as well as building bases and calling in reinforcements to gain control of enemy territories and win campaign missions or skirmishes against the CPU.
Although the in-game tips and tutorials won't change to accomodate mouse controls and will always give players instructions for touchscreens, you can still get a classic PC gaming experience when playing Company of Heroes on your Galaxy tablet using a mouse. The one issue I found is that the game is technically incompatible with newer Android OS versions. Thankfully, players can ignore the incompatibility message when you fire up the game, and it still works. For how long, I'm not sure. But more on the issues of Android after this third and last entry in my list:
Old School RuneScape (OSRS): Lastly, if you're looking to emulate the classic MMORPG experience on your Galaxy tablet, you might want to give Old School RuneScape a try. It's available for free on the Play Store (with an option for a monthly subscription), and there are no micro-transactions or pay-to-win items to worry about.
OSRS looks like a classic PC game and plays like one too. You click to move; you use the mouse wheel to zoom and pan the camera; and you right-click on items, monsters, and other players to bring up contextual pop-up menus. It's a game in which you can grind for hours to level up fighting and crafting skills for your character while you're also watching your favorite TV show. But OSRS also has some neat quests to complete. And unforgiving PVP, if you're into that sort of thing.
The Android games that work with a mouse work surprisingly well. Until they don't?
Initially, I had four games on this list of Android tablet games that work as well with a mouse as you would expect. I was excited about sharing the fourth game because it's a free, fan-made recreation of the 1994 Transport Tycoon Deluxe. And for many older PC gamers, Transport Tycoon Deluxe is the king of all tycoon-type management and city-building games.
OpenTTD JGR, as this Android port with mouse support is named, used to work brilliantly on my Galaxy Tab S7 FE — even in DeX. But not anymore. For whatever reason, when I tried capturing some screenshots for this article, the mouse controls refused to work, and the cursor was stuck in one corner of the screen. I haven't played OpenTTD JGR recently, so I wouldn't be surprised if the problem cropped up after I received the One UI 5.1 update for the Galaxy Tab S7 FE.
And that's the big issue with Android gaming, in general. The Play Store is the most volatile gaming platform I have ever experienced, as new Android updates can break compatibility with older apps, and countless games become unplayable and are forgotten and left behind, while the Play platform churns out new, disposable-feeling mobile games, most of which have a short expiration date compared to classic PC games.
Thankfully, in the case of OpenTTD, there's also a much more popular touch-based version of the game that still seems to be working fine. And, of course, there's the GOG version for PC.
But since my fourth entry couldn't make it, here's an honorable mention for Galaxy tablet users who might be looking for a fun tycoon game: Game Dev Tycoon. It's highly addictive, fun, and ad-free, but it is a premium game that costs around $5. And although you can play it with a mouse or touch controls, this one probably works better with the latter option.
At the end of the day, as much as I was pleasantly surprised by how well the few games I listed above worked with a mouse on my Galaxy tablet, the experience also reminded me of why Android gaming tastes like digital junk food. No matter how much you'd like to turn your tablet into a PC-like gaming machine, eventually, you'll run into some issues due to software compatibility.
Is gaming with a mouse worth trying for classic PC ports on Android if you have a Samsung tablet? I think so, as long as you manage your expecations regarding long-term compatibility and even mouse compatibility, as not every touch-based port supports moue controls. But even though you won't always get lucky, you'll probably get some fun out of it.