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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Very Best Puzzle Apps of 2013

Ladies & Gentlemen,

each week, the ITunes Store publishes approximately 200 new puzzle app games. I've taken it upon myself to sort through them and play test as many as humanly possible. I skip the ones that look like clones of Bejeweled, the 15 Puzzle and Candy Crush.

Yesterday I published a list of The Best Puzzle Apps of 2013. What distinguishes today's list from yesterday's? I was hooked on these more and played them more extensively.

The order is loosely tied to the order in which they appeared. Please download these. A lot of them are free!

Puzzle Retreat
Just Routes
Ripple Effect
Directional Gem Matching
Go Round
LogiSquares HD
Color Zen
Space Dots
Fizzy Factory
Push Box
Flip Stones
Help Me Fly
Arrows Maze
Ins and Outs
Even Up
Cross Blocks
Fizzy Factory
Zen Garden
Path Puzzles!

Note: last year I was extremely remorseful because I forgot to include a really great fun puzzle. If I have written a good review of your game this year and forgot to include it in the list today or yesterday, it's probably an oversight on my part. Please shoot me a note, but don't shoot me.

It's also possible that I never played your game!  If that's the case, do let me know so I can play-test that.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Best Puzzle App Games of 2013

Ladies & Gentlemen: here are the Best Puzzle App Games of 2013. Tomorrow's list will be 'The Very Best Puzzle App Games of 2013. 

What's the difference? The Very Best Puzzle App Game: I've played them a lot more.

Judging all these puzzle apps was subjective. During 2013, I played every one of these. And a lot  more that did not make the cut.

The order of these puzzle apps is based on approximately when they came out.

Let's talk money. Nobody has paid me anything.  A lot of these puzzle apps are free. None cost more than $3. Please download these.

The Angel's Cube
Word N-Puzzle
Book Tower
Nonogram Style Lite
7 Planets
Snake Walk
Put The Dot
Find the Mafia
Make Me Blue
Zen Sand
Quantum Game
Super Bubble Crush
Block Path
Dizzy Squares
Temple Trap
Flip Stones
Brain Twirler
Amigo Pancho
Blinkys Escape
Paint It Back
Tip Tap Overlap
Dice Jockey
Super Squares
Mystery Lighthouse
Critter Fitter
Arrows XD
Move Dots
Spooky Manor

Friday, December 27, 2013

BlockSwipe: puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

About 2 weeks ago I saw BlockSwipe as a new puzzle app and thought to myself 'looks like another swipe puzzle'. I ignored it. Image 1 looks a lot like past puzzles, which are usually quite good.

Then about a week ago, I got a note from the developers asking me to give it a serious test run.  Okay, I thought.

Objective: You are the blue square and must collect the yellow stars and land at the bright yellow square.

The first 5 or 6 levels - typical.  After that, things got very interesting. Besides finding the correct route to pick up the stars and then end at the big yellow square, you must dodge fast moving gray blocks.

There's more!  Look at image #2.  See the green square? If you attempt to crash into it, you will bounce back rapidly.

Look at the third image. See the red star in the bottom left? It turns on/off every 1.5 seconds. You will have to traverse it. The white blocks are ice. You can crash into them once and they will crack. The second time, they will disintegrate.

The Red Squares (no image here) make you red-hot. If you touch another red square, you will burn up. Before you touch another red square, you will need to cool off by hitting an ice block.

I completed 25 levels perfectly. I was so proud, I wrote to the developers asking them to inform me right away of future levels.  I didn't notice the other 125 levels! Since then I've completed about 130 levels. I can't stop playing this game.

I love this game! Definitely one of the Best Puzzle app Games in 2013.

BlockSwipe is very reminiscent of The World's Hardest Game.  I played that about 5 or 6 years ago and gave up after level 25 or so.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

R.P.S. 25: free point scoring game for iphone, ipad

R.P.S.25 is a point scoring puzzle game app for the iphone, ipad.  Swipe orthogonally in this order: Red, Blue, Yellow.  Same thing as Rock, Paper, Scissors.

You score more points for a long chain. 60 seconds is your total time.

The user interface is nice.

R.P.S.25 is a free puzzle app game.

It is not going to make the List of Best Puzzle Apps of 2013. That list will be published on December 30 and 31. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Board: Chess Puzzle Free: puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Board: Chess Puzzle Free: the object is to assemble the pieces onto the square board.  I have a compendium of these types of puzzles. If you're interested, let me know & I'll sell it for the right price.

This puzzle app is free.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Forcos: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Have you ever played Dots & Boxes? NYC school kids have been playing it for decades. The object is for players to draw 1 line at a time. The person who completes a box gets to write their initials.

Forcos is a new puzzling app strategy game that is a worthy successor.

The rules
  • On each move you should paint one of the 16 squares using one of four colors (red, yellow, blue and green). There’s only one restriction: squares of the same color can't touch each other (not even with corners).
  • The winner is the one who paints the last available square.
You can play against somebody or you can play against the computer.
Forcos is fast, challenging and fun. And it's free!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Zen Garden: puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

My friend Nicola Salmoria often sends me emails about new puzzle apps that are worthy of this blog. He created Twin Beams about 1.5 years ago. It was an instant classic. I've played it often.

For the past 2 months Nicola has been sending me beta versions of his newest: Zen Garden Puzzle.

 The object is to put a stone in each region, making sure that each column and each row has exactly 1 stone. That's it.

I've spent at least 5 hours on the various beta versions. The puzzles are not that hard. However, they make you think because you will want to solve them using as few moves as possible.

Lots of puzzles have a certain number of levels. Either I want to do them all, or I simply give up and acknowledge defeat. Zen Garden Puzzle is different. You can solve every level with guess and check. And there seems to be an infinite number of levels. Which makes the experience somewhat meditative.

Unquestionably, Zen Garden Puzzle is one of the best puzzle app games of 2013.

The final list of Best Puzzle App Games for 2013 will be announced on December 30 & December 31.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cross Blocks: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Multiple people have told me about Cross Blocks: a free puzzle app game for the iphone and ipad.

The object is to remove all of the blocks by tapping at an intersection that joins like-colored blocks.

Cross Blocks combines sequential movement with other elements.

For example: 2 blue squares right next to each other - impossible to eliminate them at the same time. Also, it's possible to eliminate 3 of the same color all at once- provided they form a T junction.

I solved all of the levels in the A world and B world pretty quickly. Then I purchased the additional levels. I particularly liked D-16. And I'm still stuck on D-19.  Altogether, there are 80 levels and I've done about 65 of them. I tend to do these when I wake up and cant go back to sleep.

Heads-Up! The Official List of Best Puzzle Apps 2013 will be announce December 30th & 31st. Get your party hats on baby.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Logic Gates: puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Logic Gates is a puzzle app game from Morten Jorgensen.

"LogicGates is a puzzle game based on basic digital building blocks - logic gates. No knowledge of logic gates or digital circuits is required - all puzzles can be solved with logical reasoning alone.
Each pizzle will challenge you to create a new digital circuit, and on completion you will be rewarded with a new logic gate that you can use to solve other puzzles.
This game is ideal for anyone who wants to learn the basic principles of how computers work - especially students of digital engineering or computer science.
Learn how to create simple logic gates, latches, flip-flops, adders, shift registers and counters."

I have not truly had enough time to play Logic Gates. I'm a bit overwhelmed with the end of year doings. Logic Gates is quite serious. You can't jump right in. A video tutorial would really help.

Blog followers: please give Logic Gates a shot and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Route-Out: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

I downloaded Route-Out about a month ago and then forgot about it. It looks like one of the many laser/maze/mirror puzzle app games.

Look at the third image. This is how a level appears. See the blurred images? The red circle is moving to the right. I find this annoying because the arrow clearly indicates which direction it will start when the play button is pushed. Also, this uses up a lot of the battery. Anyway, the object is to place the reflectors on the grid so that each color goes to its predestined exit.

One interesting feature is the ability to draw a path with a virtual pencil.

You may have planned it perfectly, but then when you hit play, 2 balls collide.

Route-Out has 90 levels, and they do get tricky! I've solved 87 of them. Lots of fun!

Bottom Line: Route-Out is a terrific puzzle game app. And hey, it's free!

Heads-Up: This blog will announce the Best Puzzle App Games of 2013 on December 30 and December 31.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Spooky Manor: puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Spooky Manor comes from the people who made Mystery Lighthouse and other similar games.

Spooky Manor is like Myst. You must walk around, pick up objects, use them in other get the idea.

My son watched a walkthrough solution and has memorized the entire game. He showed me the game from soup to nuts in about 10 minutes. It was quite funny.

Spooky Manor has great graphics, I really like this game.

Friday, December 13, 2013

MegaStars: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Joseph Carlson recently contacted me about his new puzzle app game MegaStars.  Looking at the images, I was a bit skeptical!  The images remind me of South Park.

The object is to get each DJ to the correct disco. I did the first 7 or 8 levels pretty quickly. Then it got tough.  #9 is very challenging. (There are 64 levels.)  Do you remember my blog entry about Vubu? It's a little like that.

A DJ can travel along the city blocks only if another DJ is adjacent to him. This gets very interesting, puzzle-wise. It's like a group of people who walk while holding hands, but everybody must go their separate ways.

The graphics are a bit clunky. I really like the fact that, from an aerial view, you can see the cars driving down the blocks. Reminds me of Grand Theft Auto 2, back in the day.

Zombies pop up and must be killed off before they start singing Karaoke. Each DJ has a traveling power, which indicates how many blocks they can travel. Each DJ has his own power; one can jump over water.

Do me a favor, check out the video, it's 1 minute long. I should note: MegaStars is free.

MegaStars is a serious challenging puzzle app. Please give it a try for 20 minutes and let me know what you think.

Heads-Up: This blog will announce the Best Puzzle App Games of 2013 on December 30 and December 31.

Update: check out this walkthrough.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Critter Fitter: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

 Peter Simon recently contacted me about his new puzzle app game that he built with his brother.  Their studio is called Demon Apathy and their game is Critter Fitter.

You are an alien and your task is to gather earthlings and fit them into your cargo.  Essentially, this is a packing puzzle.

I'm not a big fan of packing puzzles. But these are cute. I think Critter Fitter would appeal to the younger puzzlers. They're not easy!

Altogether there are about 40 levels.  I've done 18 of them.

The graphics are good, not overly done. The puzzles are challenging. What more do you want?

Heads-Up: This blog will announce the Best Puzzle App Games of 2013 on December 30 and December 31.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blip Blup: puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Blip Blup used to cost $.99, but it's temporarily free.

The object is to color all of the tiles. Tap on a square, and all of the tiles in all directions will colorize. Kind of like a Queen in chess, but more so because there are ripple effects.

Check this out: there are currently 13,986 players. Only 117 people rated it.  22 wrote reviews.

There are 140 some puzzle levels.  I've done about 50 levels.

There are some interesting features: walls, obstacles, skulls.  Some squares toggle on/off.

But there's one thing I'm not crazy about: the graphics. They should be more crisp.

Blip Blup is a serious puzzle app game that you should definitely try.

Heads-Up: This blog will announce the Best Puzzle App Games of 2013 on December 30 and December 31.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tricky Circles: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

My friend Nicola (click here to see his blog about puzzle apps) told me about Tricky Circles.

It's hard to describe. But the object is to start at one of the circles and travel to each circle by moving the corresponding number of steps.  If you can reach all of the circles in one route, then you've solved it.

The first 21 levels are free. Even though I understood the rules, it took me forever to solve level 1. You can't tap the numbers. You must have one long continuous swipe.

I think I've seen this concept before. But I cant remember the name of the related app.   Can you?

I solved the 21 puzzles in about an hour. Then bought the next 21 and solved those too.

Tricky Circles is well done. It is worth your time.

Heads-Up: This blog will announce the Best Puzzle App Games of 2013 on December 30 and December 31.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Annie's Asteroid: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

There's an old Twisty puzzle called Masterball.  It came in all color configurations. 

Annie's Asteroid is a virtual model of that. Hey, it's free.

Heads-Up: This blog will announce the Best Puzzle App Games of 2013 on December 30 and December 31.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Even Up: puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Even Up is a puzzle app game from Kurt Bieg. See the first image - how it's 'Inspired By Sudoku'? It has nothing to do with Sudoku! I would say that Even Up is much closer to Fling and Lunar Lockout. Fling is a terrific puzzle app. Lunar Lockout is a regular puzzle from It's also similar to LogiSquares.

The object is to connect number pairs that will grow and grow. Hard to put in words.  Look at the first image that says level 4. The 1 in the left will go to the other 1 and become a single 2. Then that 2 will go down to the other 2 and become a single 3. Finally, the 3's will merge to form a single 4 and you're done.

This concept is not new. About a year ago I played another puzzle app that was identical called Moskeez

That's okay.  Even Up has 125 levels.  The puzzles are very well designed. The graphics are perfect and terrific.

The first 25 are 4x4 grids and are beginner. The next 25 have the same grid size and are novice. 

Those are followed by 25 Intermediate 5x5 grids, 25 Advanced 6x6 grids and then 25 Expert 7x7 grids.  Many of these puzzles may have more than 1 solution. However sometimes it's hard to tell.  I particularly liked the design of Intermediates 8 & 22. I'm almost certain that those have only 1 solution.

Right now I've solved 101 of the 125 levels.  What's also interesting is that you can create your own levels and then share them. At the moment, sharing is not possible, but you can create them. I think everybody should create their own level - it will help you understand the process of solving.

Heads-Up: This blog will announce the Best Puzzle App Games of 2013 on December 30 and December 31.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Knight Trade: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Knight Trade is a free puzzle app game that has just 10 levels.  The object is to swap the black knights with the white knights.

The first 2 are easy. After that, they get very hard. Years ago, at an IPP in Japan, I got one of these puzzles, but it was a Knight Trade puzzle in disguise.

I really like the fact that there are only 10 levels.  Perfect. However, the graphics are a bit gray/boring.

Nevertheless, Knight Trade is a fine chess puzzle app game.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Zuki's Quest: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Zuki's Quest is billed as a physics puzzle. It's really not. It's a tilt maze puzzle.  The object is to slide up/down & left/right until you pick up all of the tokens. Hopefully minimizing your moves.

There are some interesting features: spikes - crash into them perpendicularly and you will die. Slide along them, and you're okay.

Some blocks can also tilt with you. Try not to get crushed by them.

Wooden blocks - crash into one of them and they will crack. The second time, they will disintegrate.  This feature we saw in another puzzle app game called Woodhead last year.

One problem I have with Zuki's Quest: when you lose, your man changes to a skull and the screen shakes a lot. Very annoying.

There are 72 levels. The first 24 are free. I did 15 of them. I'm not crazy about the graphics or, as I mentioned, the dizzying shaking when you fail. Nevertheless, the puzzles themselves are pretty good.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Voro: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Voro is a puzzle app game where the object is to eliminate all the colored tiles by grouping them.  Look at the first image.  Grab the light green shape in the bottom left and try to connect the other greens in the center.  If you can get 4 or more together, they will disappear. 

Each puzzle level allows you 24 steps.  There are 64 levels and I've done 41 levels.

Voro's graphics are outstanding. You must download this fast because it's free for a limited time.

Definitely one of the most unique puzzle app games of 2013.

Heads-up: The List of Best Puzzle Apps of 2013 will be announce on Dec 30 and Dec 31. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lab Mice Puzzles in Barnes & Noble

Want to buy a great set of spatial reasoning puzzles for a young puzzler? Please consider my product for Lab Mice Puzzles.

Barnes & Noble is now carrying it. Next time you're in one of their stores, take a picture of yourself holding a copy, send me the picture and maybe I'll post it on my blog and give you a prize!

Click here to purchase.

Happy Thanksgiving. Next post will be on Monday.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tunga Bunga: free online puzzle game from SmartLive

 Raf Peeters has created numerous puzzles for Smart Games Live over the years.  His latest has a caveman theme: Tunga Bunga is the title.

The object is to place the tiles onto to the board so that the hungry bear cannot escape off the grid.

Look at the example below: note the pieces can be rotated. You really just need to block off the two exits. But every piece must be placed onto the board.

There are 72 levels in the easy, medium and hard levels.  I did a few of the easy ones then jumped to the expert levels and did 9 of the 24. These are challenging! You are given the same 4 pieces every time.

Tunga Bunga is the perfect game for elementary school kids. I can imagine teachers letting their students play this as a reward.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Path Puzzles by Rod Kimball: new book of pencil puzzles

Rod Kimball is a professional juggler with the Flying Karamazov Brothers. (Way back in the 80's, I idolized these guys as awesome jugglers who got to play for a living.)

Besides being a terrific juggler, Rod is an  accomplished musician with the Maestosities. He's the trumpet player. About a year ago, they made a pilot tv show. I threw in some money via kickstarter, got a t-shirt and saw the premiere. It was hysterical! I generally do not watch sit-coms either.

But this post is really about a new genre of pencil puzzles called Path Puzzles.

The object in Path Puzzles is to find a route from the entrance to the exit so that the numbers on the top and sides match the number of squares used in that column or row.


There are some sneaky features like not knowing which spaces are the entrances/exits.
Look at the 8!  It's in the middle and means that the path will cross through 8 of the spaces in that column and row.

Path Puzzles come in all grid sizes and some funky irregular shapes.  There's a good mixture of easy, medium, & hard puzzles. Most importantly, they're fun.

The final batch of puzzles is encrypted. Which means that each number is replaced with a letter. So it adds a little cryptology to the mix.

$12 is a bargain, considering that it will provide you with a good 15 hours of entertainment. Note: bad movies cost the same and use up only 2 hours of your time.

Buy the book!  Then bring it with you to the New York Puzzle Party Symposium in February and get it autographed. Rod will be there.

New Yorkers: I'll be selling puzzles this Saturday 11/23 at a Fall Festival at the Church of the Heavenly Rest. 2 East 90th st. Right off 5th avenue. 1 block north from the Whitney museum. Come say hi and tell me which puzzle apps you've been playing.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Professor Max: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

'Dr. Maximillian von Fluffybottom, Professor of Advanced Particle Physics was hard at work one day when he noticed that he was late.....'

Professor Max is a sokoban series of puzzles. The first 20 are free.  I solved #s 1 & 20.  I want to like this set of puzzles. You have the option of making it 3D or 2D.  Either way, the movement is too slow and I'm impatient.

Perhaps you're a sokoban fanatic and can't get enough of these.  If so, give this a try and let me know if these are good.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cross the Line Puzzle Game: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

Cross the Line Puzzle Game is another topology puzzle app game.  The idea is to cross each bridge once.  Kind of easy if you know the key on where to start and where to finish. On higher levels, the idea is to cross each bridge a specific number of times.

There are some variations - and they're good!  Houses and Colors is challenging.  Cross a yellow bridge to turn yellow, then find the yellow house and tap it.  Very clever & tricky.

Another theme of Houses and Colors is called Tolls. In Tolls, you must collect a coin from each house to pay a toll to cross some bridges.  Some houses have multiple coins, buy you cannot grab them all at once.  You must exit the area and return to get the 2nd coin. There is one particular level in Tolls that I've spent at least an hour on.

There are 80 levels.  I've done 69 of them. The graphics are not very good. But the puzzles are.

However, the ads are frequent. Not just after you're solving a puzzle, but in the middle. And it seems like every ad is for the evil Candy Crush. At least 10 times this happened to me: I tapped to move my man to a spot.......but a nano second beforehand, the Candy Crush ad popped open. Therefore, I actually tapped on the ad which directed me to the App Store.  Not only did it interrupt my game, it eliminated all my progress on that specific level.  Extremely annoying. I decided to turn off the wireless to play uninterrupted.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ins and Outs: free puzzle app game for iphone, ipad

 Andrew Kallem recently contacted me about his puzzle app game Ins and Outs - A Casual and Competitive Puzzle Game.  The object is to form a loop around all of the 'ins' while leaving all of the 'outs' outside the circle.
There are 900 free puzzles.  100 levels for the 4x4 grids, 100 for the 5x5's.....all the way up to 100 for the 12x12's.

I've done a lot of these - simply because they're addictive and fun.  The grid sizes of 7x7 and smaller - I can do those in seconds.  The 12x12's can get tricky, but not terribly so.

Ins and Outs - A Casual and Competitive Puzzle Game is unique, fun and dammit, I'm going to solve all 900 free levels. At the moment I've done about 600.