Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review: Hard Logic for iPhone and iPad

I'm fond of puzzle games that just throw the players into the action and let them figure out what to do, without lengthy tutorials. Hard Logic by Maxim Urusov surely delivers on that front.
To be honest, I believe that the lack of a tutorial is more due to lack of polish rather than to a deliberate artistic expression, since the game is really bare bones, even lacking a title on the main menu (though it has an "Exit" button which is rarely seen in iOS apps!). Regardless, it worked for me and the first couple of puzzles sucked me in.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: Lost Lands for iPhone and iPad

Lost Lands (also free) by Ryan Ding is a seriously challenging maze puzzle that suffered a bit from feature creep but is guaranteed to require all your attention.
The game is entirely based on a single, clever mechanic: L-shaped doors which can only be pushed. This is the same concept as Open Doors and Open Doors 2, two Flash games by Ozzie Mercado (thanks to Keith Harrison for pointing them out to me), but plays quite differently because of the puzzle layout.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Niño for iPhone and iPad

Niño by Lennard Meijer, Reinder Nijhoff, and Peter Kortenhoeven is a nice turn-based strategy game which can be pretty challenging.
The movement rules are simple but they don't get boring because there are many different elements—maybe even too many.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: Impuzzible - Monochromatic Rectangles Puzzle for iPhone and iPad

If you want to play hands-on with a complex mathematical problem, look no further than Impuzzible - Monochromatic Rectangles Puzzle.
The stated goal is pretty simple: change the color of the blocks (choosing among four colors) in such a way that there are no rectangles whose four corners have the same color. The grids get increasingly larger, so how far can you go before giving up?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Zen Garden Puzzle: Three Moves Suffice

Today it's three months since the release of my last game Zen Garden Puzzle. While financially it has been a failure, and is orders of magnitude away from recovering the development costs, it has been appreciated by players, receiving nothing but 5-star reviews on the App Store.

A few people have been engaged enough to solve hundreds of puzzles, but only a handful have reached the elusive 10th Dan achivement. To earn that achievement, you have to take advantage of one of the selling points mentioned in the App Store blurb: "no matter what you do, you will never be more than three moves away from the puzzle's only solution."

After seeing the game for the first time, most people doubt that this is actually possible. Some asked me if you need some amount of luck to be able to do so. The answer is: it's always possible, and you don't need any luck, only skill. I could provide a mathematical proof, but I don't want to be more boring than usual, so I'll just show how to solve one puzzle.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review: Where to Jump? for iPhone and iPad

Where to Jump? by the Slovakian Mirka Boženková is a hidden gem that didn't receive the attention it deserves. I had skipped it myself, and reconsidered it thanks to a tweet by Federico Prat Villar. So if you haven't done it already, follow me on Twitter and share your favorite games.
The graphics of this game probably look a bit cheesy, but the puzzle mechanics surely are interesting.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Review: Color Tangled for iPhone and iPad

Color Tangled is a good example of how the App Store is being ruined by bad business models. For each one of the creatively original games that I review on this blog, there are... hundreds? thousands? of unoriginal lookalikes. And I'm not just talking about the current flood of Flappy Bird clones, nor of the apparently endless flow of reskins of Flow Free. This is a pervasive problem, and it's often not easy for the customer to understand what's going on.
I like graph transport puzzles, and there is a good selection of them on the App Store. Subway Shuffle and Sky Scramble, for example, are excellent choices based on original ideas. Color Tangled is based on a much simpler idea, but it would still be fun.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: Slide Boxes for iPhone and iPad

Slide Boxes by George Novozhenin is a good example of how the App Store can still provide some surprises from time to time, even if lately it seems to be completely flooded by clones of Flappy Bird and Flow Free.
The game is a very clever twist on sliding block puzzles. In this case you don't slide single pieces, but whole lines at a time. There is so much free space on the boards that one would expect the puzzles to be simple to solve, but there's a catch.