While action games seem to garner the lion’s share of attention from the hardcore gaming community, the App Store also provides a thoroughly entertaining and stimulating collection of puzzle games for the iPhone and iPod touch. In fact, puzzle games consistently deliver the best replay value of any genre due to the continuously changing playing fields generated by these games. This roundup features ten of my favorite puzzle games listed in the order of how much time I spend playing them (least to most). Every game on the list has high replay value, and the more time I spend with a game, the more rewarding, intellectually stimulating, and addicting I find it.
The best is yet to come!
The iPhone and iPod touch platforms host some of the most beautiful and addicting puzzle games available today—for any mobile device! It is simply remarkable how many excellent titles have been released for the iPhone/iPod touch platform in such a short period of time.
I am really looking forward to the release of games that take advantage of the latest iPhone SDK libraries, enhancements to the OS, and new hardware features found on the iPhone 3GS. It’s a great time to be a mobile gamer, but the best is yet to come!
While dozens of jigsaw puzzle games are available in the App Store, few have the remarkable look and feel of Jigsawed. Unlike other titles, Jigsawed manages to recreate the experience of scattering real puzzle pieces on a virtual playfield. Like other electronic jigsaw titles, you can create a puzzle using one of the images that come with the game, import an image from popular Internet photo sharing sites, or use a picture from your iPhone’s photo albums. You can adjust the difficulty of the puzzles by specifying the number and rotation of pieces, by seeing the image before scattering the pieces, and by adjusting the sensitivity of the positioning of the individual pieces. In the latter, reducing the sensitivity restricts cheating by reducing the effectiveness of Jigsawed’s game engine to auto-snap puzzle pieces into place. The graphics are great, and all these features help to keep the game fresh.
- Ephemeron Industies
Aqua Forest represents the new, expanding generation of games that more deeply immerse players in the gameplay by making them active participants via their motions. The game includes a series of fluid-like puzzles that are beautiful to look at and fun to play. It includes five puzzle categories: Tilting, Touch, Draw, Warm & Cool, and All Functions. Each category has 10 different games. Aqua Forest is one of those titles that showcase the smooth graphic effects of the iPhone. However, while it is entertaining, other puzzle games deliver a more addicting experience at a lower cost.
- Hudson Entertainment
This Tetris-like clone is addictive and fun to play. But I was slightly disappointed by its somewhat minimal sound effects and graphics. The game is Freeverse's first iPhone/touch app, and I’m sure they will do better with future releases. They might have delayed the release of this one and applied a little more of the polish normally associated with their games.
Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab
- Freeverse, Inc.
This block-stacking game has cute graphics and a SimCity-style building construction theme. Towers sway as you add blocks, generating delightful tension. You have to time the dropping of your blocks with the swaying of the towers, and this takes some getting used to. Once mastered, towers can be built with hundreds of pieces. Tower Bloxx Deluxe 3D is a wonderful game for kids of all ages.
Tower Bloxx Deluxe 3D
- $2.99 (free version available)
- Digital Chocolate, Inc
Tilt your device to guide the ball through corridors, along ledges, and through pipes to reach the exit and advance to the next level. Fifteen levels are available in the free version of the game; 60 levels in the paid version. The game provides an addictive experience that can keep you on the edge of your seat!
- $1.99 (free Lite version also available)
- Fishing Cactus SNC
This addictive, finger-centric word creation game keeps vocabulary hunts going sometimes for hours at a time. The sounds of popping, plopping, and freezing bubbles heighten the thrill of connecting the letter-bubbles to form new words before they completely fill the screen. The fast pace of the game sometimes means that the words you create are more random than clever or educational; but there is enough here to keep lovers of word puzzles engaged for hours.
- $1.99 (free Lite version also available)
- Larva Labs Ltd
Realmaze3D is a first-person dungeon romp through graphically interesting, three-dimensional mazes. The game has five different maze sizes (Tiny to Insane), which become more challenging as you progress. To escape the most extreme maze, you’ll need an excellent memory, and superior spatial orientation. It takes a few minutes to get used to the touch interface. Once you do, you’ll have to figure out the pathways and ladders of the game. Realmaze3D can be a real mind-bender!
- Eric Haines; Starscene Software
Crazy Machines is virtually a remake of the once-popular The Incredible Machine series published by Sierra Entertainment. The concept behind the game is to construct a working, Rube Goldberg-style contraption that will transport a ball from a starting point on the screen to a designated end point using the objects available. The variety of 70 different objects includes billiard balls, boilers, magnifying glasses, candles, and much more. The game features 50 levels along with a construction kit to build your own crazy machine layouts to try on family and friends.
- dtp entertainment AG
Bejeweled 2 on the iPhone and iPod touch is by far the best version of the game PopCap has ever produced. The subtle graphics include an occasional reflective sheen, the smooth glide of the gems, and bolts of crackling electricity obliterating matching gems. The high-fidelity stereo sound of gems being collected and destroyed has to be heard to be believed. Bejeweled is one of the most addictive puzzle games I’ve ever played. If it were not for the fact that I had already played this game to death on other mobile platforms, this version of Bejeweled would have captured most of my puzzle playing time.
- PopCap Games, INC.
This puzzle action game combines the strategic ebb and flow found in chess with colorful, explosive graphics that reminded me of the classic arcade game, Stargate. Critical Thought’s David Whatley has done an outstanding job combining the game’s devilishly addictive puzzle qualities with 30 levels of fast-action fun. This is one of those games that will keep you up at night until the first rays of the sun appear in the eastern sky—or until your battery dies!
- $3.99 (free Lite version available)
- David Whatley; Critical Thought Games