Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 10 Best Puzzle Apps of 2013

It's finally time for the big list of the best puzzle games of 2013.

I don't update this blog daily, so I "only" reviewed about 60 games this year. Among them, I tried to pick just ten which I enjoyed playing the most. I had to leave some out; that's the nature of these things.

This is a very subjective list, so your mileage will vary. Let's get started.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Hardest Puzzle Apps of 2013

Nowadays, everyone is dumbing down their games to make them accessible to the largest number of people. However, during the past year, I still occasionally found some game which struck me as particularly hard.

I have compiled a short list of the games I consider most significant in that respect. If you are looking for a challenge, I guarantee that you will find something to sink your teeth into.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Best Missed Opportunities of 2013

Well, 2013 is coming to an end so it's time to put together the customary end of year lists. But before reaching the usual "best of" list, I thought it would be interesting to look at things from a different perspective.

Today I'm focusing on ideas. This is a list of games which are based on very good ideas, but didn't turn out to be excellent games. They left a sour taste in my mouth because the potential is there, and with some more they could improve significantly.

Let me be clear: I'm not putting together this list to belittle these games; on the contrary, I'm doing it because I think they are worthy, and I hope that their developers will put some extra effort into them.

So let's begin.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: Sifar for iPhone and iPad

Sifar by Takahiro Sakuda is a game in the tradition of Japanese logic puzzles.
Interestingly, it would have worked as a pen and paper puzzle, and the rules are simple enough that I wondered if it had been published before, but couldn't find any prior art.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

On the uniqueness of solutions

An exchange of comments in the Willa's Walk review prompted me to talk more in depth about solution uniqueness in logic puzzles, and its possible use as a shortcut while solving the puzzles.

First of all, one question which I'm often asked is: why should logic puzzles have a unique solution?

The easy answer is: why not? When you solve a crosswords puzzle, you take it for granted that there is only one valid solution. So why should logic puzzles be any different?

The more articulated answer is: because logic puzzles are puzzles that should be solvable by logic, and logic alone; no guessing should be necessary.
Solving a logic puzzle should consist of a series of logic deductions which allow you to exclude possibilities, until you are left with only one option. If the puzzle didn't have a unique solution, you would inevitably get to a point where you have two equally valid options, and you cannot choose between them, because they both lead to a different solution.

Once it is determined that a puzzle has a single solution, a question comes to mind: can one use this knowledge to make deductions and find the solution more easily?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: MindTilt for iPhone and iPad

MindTilt by MadRuse Games is a 3D puzzle game that I really wanted to like. I came back to it several times with the best intentions, but eventually I gave up.
MindTilt is a tilt maze, by which I mean that everything which isn't nailed down moves in the same direction until it hits a wall or something else. I've played a few others in the past (the best is probably still Blockhouse), but this is the first time I see one in full 3D.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Games accessibility

I just noticed a post on the blog of the Voxel Agents, authors of the excellent Puzzle Retreat, talking about what they did in the game interface to ensure that the game was playable by the largest possible audience. This earned them the GDAA's Accessibility Award.

Incidentally, I totally love how the GDAA press release that talks about the importance of accessibility is written in black over a very dark grey background, making it almost unreadable even for a normal-sighted person.

Anyway, I found interesting that many of the things mentioned in the post also apply to Zen Garden Puzzle. The lack of timers and penalties is the most obvious one, of course.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: Atoms Puzzle for iPhone and iPad

It took me a while to fully grasp the rules of Atoms Puzzle by Wharf Games.
It's not that they are difficult, but to play knowledgeably it's essential to have an exact understanding of the value of each piece on the board. The game however avoids showing clear numbers, relying only on the size of the pieces.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review: Tricky Circles for iPhone and iPad

In a normal day, there can easily be a hundred new apps released in the Puzzles category. It's impossible to even check the description of them all, but I try to be as thorough as possible because often the best games come out of nowhere.

Tricky Circles by Dmitry Chalovskiy is one of such games.
After seeing the icon, I feared that it was just another clone of the boring Dots, but thankfully it's something completely different.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Strategy Guide: Cross Blocks

In my review of Cross Blocks I said that to find the solution to the puzzles "some amount of trial and error is probably needed". I have to take that back somewhat, because after finding the right strategy I've become quite good at solving the puzzles on the first attempt.

This is a really good logic puzzle, so I'd like to share my findings.
SPOILER ALERT: don't read past this line if you want to find the strategies yourself.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Zen Garden Puzzle: First gameplay video!

Zen Garden Puzzle has been approved by Apple and will be available on the App Store from December 12th!
To whet your appetite, I have prepared a first video to show the game mechanics and interface.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review: Cross Blocks for iPhone and iPad

Cross Blocks is such a brilliant logic puzzle that I wondered if it had been copied from somewhere else. The developer, Adrenaline Punch Games, had only released word/trivia games before, so a pure logic puzzle like this one is a major shift in focus.
Probably some inspiration for the user interface came from SEQ, but that's all. The mechanics are radically different, and appear to be completely original.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review: Move: A Brain Shifting Game for iPhone and iPad

I had high hopes in Move: A Brain Shifting Game by the Israelian Nitako.
Initially, the game seemed very fun and addictive. I played through the first 40 puzzles without even realising it. As I moved through the puzzles, however, I felt something was wrong.