When I was a kid, I had a chunky wooden tangram set that I would use to make different shapes but always ending up with something that looked like a legless horse/giraffe combo. It was about as exciting as it sounds and if I got my kids this today I would most likely be pelted with wooden triangles and parallelograms. I don’t have that issue with Zengrams, mainly because they know they’d have to find another place to live if they threw my iPad, but also because Zengrams is actually fun.
Zengrams follows the basic concept of the tangram puzzle in that you’re trying to create a new shape by combining smaller, distinct shapes. Where Zengrams turns this on its head and becomes quite difficult, however, is when you start blending colors. Each different colored area becomes its own block, whereas similar colored block edges will stick to each other. Each puzzle involves creating new colors to make new shapes, or combining existing colors into a larger whole. On top of that, each puzzle also has a limited number of possible moves. Sure, you can finish this puzzle if you could move the blocks 8 times. Now do it in 3.
Zengrams takes a very old idea and has turned it into a very challenging puzzler that costs $3 for 70 puzzles with no IAP in sight. Trailer after the break.
Monument Valley is a title that’s hard to pin down with traditional games press tropes. Tierney gave it high marks, but noted that it wasn’t particularly puzzling for a puzzle game. That knock is pretty minor considering developers Ustwo have, for some time, described Monument Valley as an aesthetic experience first, and a puzzle game (albeit one which exploits surreal, impossible architecture) second.
If you often find yourself hung-up about how long a game lasts then, again, you might be missing the point a bit with Monument Valley. That said… the game is expanding with today’s Forgotten Shores release, which adds 8 new chapters to the base title’s ten. So, on one hand, Monument Valley was just as long as it needed to be, as are all aesthetically complete games. On the other hand, if you were to happen upon more delicate, gorgeously realized, aesthetically complete path-finding puzzles , that wouldn’t be unwelcome, right? Right. Good. Glad we’re all clear, collected, and on the sam- aw hell Bowie’s on the ceiling again. We’ll deal with it later.
The Forgotten Shores expansion is out now on iOS as a $2 in-app purchase, with an Android release planned for the near future. Monument Valley itself is $4 on the App Store. Video after the jump is quite slick, naturally, and gives some good insight into the thought process behind the expansion.
Super Glyph Quest is the brainchild of ex-Bullfrog developer Alex Trowers and his wife Leanne Bayley and a sequel-of-sorts to the much-enjoyedGlyph Quest. Like the first game, the object is to combine elements into chains and create powerful spells to decimate your enemies, only this time there’s more of everything. There are more elements to chain, more characters, more monsters, crafting, and even an over-arching storyline to bring everything together into a nice, neat package.
Super Glyph Quest was released back at the end of October, and we somehow missed it. This is what happens when Owen gets married, folks. Lucky for us, they just updated SGQ this week, which brought it to our attention, finally. It’s good they did, because I’ve since downloaded SGQ and have been having a good time with it. It has clever gameplay that’s not afraid to mock itself or its genre, and it can be pretty funny.
Super Glyph Quest is available for iOS Universal and costs $3 with no IAP in sight. If you want to just see what the gameplay is like, you can try out the original Glyph Quest for free.
Back in the early 80’s, our family received a Merlin handheld electronic thingee and it quickly became one of my favorite toys. Yes, kids, before the Internet, a red plastic phone that played tic-tac-toe was as good as it got. When my brother and I pulled ourselves away from another round of Mindbender, I would use the device to play Magic Square in which you were trying to turn every light in the grid out by pressing buttons. As you pressed a button, it would turn the lights around it on or off. As a 10 year-old, I found it to be an incredibly difficult problem to solve. As I got older, not so much. Break the Grid reminds me of that old Magic Square game quite a bit. In Break the Grid you have a5x5 grid and you’re trying to turn every box in the grid “off”. The big difference between Break the Grid and the old Magic Square is that Break the Grid is tough and fun.
Its difficulty comes from the randomly drawn cards which indicate a pattern of squares you can toggle. This randomness makes a simple puzzle into a struggle that can, sometimes, border on frustrating when you just need a certain pattern to clear a board. On top of that, you’re only given 20 turns per puzzle to succeed and those 20 turns go by extremely quick. There are 10 different challenges you can aim for, like finishing with all the squares off except the corners, or leaving an “X” pattern lit through the center of the grid. I have yet to actually complete any of the challenges, and I’m imagining the only way I’ll do so is by sheer luck.
Break the Grid is another one of those puzzle games that works great as a five minute time waster, like Threes or Rules. Unlike those, however, Break the Grid is free to play with ads, which can be removed via a $2 IAP. There are also “Power Points” which you can spend on power-ups. You can buy those via IAP as well, but you earn them as you clear each grid so, you could always grind for more if you feel like you really need the power ups (you don’t).
Break the Grid is out now for iOS Universal and should hit Android devices next week. Trailer after the break.
If my actual wireless communication exams in college would have been like this, I might have passed.
Transmission: Connect to Communicate is a new puzzle game developed by the Science Museum (it’s in the UK, I checked) that’s supposed to be educational, but I don’t really see it. It is a pretty good puzzler, though, so I’ll cut it some slack. It’s also free without any IAP or ads, so it’s got a few things going for it.
Transmission tells the story of human communication starting with the telegraph and ending…somewhere. I don’t know, I’m only up to the computers level. The goal is to move cubes that represent information from a transmitter to a receiver using things like transceivers and for-loops. The initial telegraph and telephone levels are incredibly straightforward and serve as a decent introduction, but the game gets pretty darn tough as you move forward. I should clarify that, completing the puzzles isn’t too tough, but getting 3-stars by completing all the criteria for that puzzle can be quite tricky.
Transmission: Connect to Communicate is free and is available for both iOS and Android. Trailer after the break.
If this were real, I would totally be one of those dads who wouldn’t let their kids play with it.
It’s not often that a game will make me pause with just a screenshot. Personally, graphics aren’t everything. In the case of Hitman GO, however, it’s not that it has realistic or cutting edge graphics, it’s just that the screenshots look so damn cool. Seriously, every picture of the game looks like a toy, and not just any toy, but one that you want to get in there and explore every nook and cranny. It’s the Castle Grayskull of apps.
Since its release in April, Hitman GO has already spawned one expansion, dropping you into an immaculately rendered airport, and now they’ve released another. This time it’s frosty St. Petersburg with 8 new levels based on some chapters from Hitman 2. In a cool twist, you can access the new levels via two methods: pay for the damn thing ($1) or unlock the new levels by completing mission objectives.
If that’s not enough, Square Enix has also put the game on sale for a limited time. You can grab it for iOS or Android now for only $2.
Seriously? I’m getting stuck on 4 and 5 node puzzles.
As a puzzler, Nexionode has more going for it than a name which I’ll misspell at least 4 times in the next hundred words, it also has a plot. You can’t say that about most puzzle games, which are simply high-score or 3-star affairs. Nexionode tells the story of a starship facing destruction with the puzzles being the knitting that holds the story together.
Puzzles consist of nodes, each with a certain number of markings on them. You need to connect all the nodes together, ensuring that each node has as many connections as indicated by the markings. The trick is that you have to do them in a continuous path which bumps up the difficulty. It’s complex enough to become very difficult, but simple enough to have that “one more try” feel. As you complete puzzles, you select different sections of the ship to repair you’re rewarded with story segments allowing you to piece together what’s happening upon the Nexio Colony Spaceship.
Houses and hotels totally not copied from Monopoly
If you follow board games at all, you’ll know that this week is Spiel’14 which is an annual convention that takes place in Essen, Germany. It’s the largest board game event in the world, and every year thousands of new games are released there. One of the publishers there, Aporta Games, just released a board game called Doodle City. How do I know this? Because they also released a digital version of the game and the app has no qualms about constantly reminding you of its cardboard cousin’s release. It’s a bit obnoxious, but doesn’t ruin what ends up being a pretty decent board game conversion.
Doddle City gives each player a grid that has symbols for hotels, shops, taxi stand and houses on it. Your job is connect these icons by drawing roads on the grid, but you’re limited to where you can draw based on dice rolls. As you connect icons, you will gain points based on what your roads connect. It’s actually quite a fun little puzzle game, but it’s also what we would call “multiplayer solitaire”. There’s no real interaction between players at all. None. Sure, everyone works off the same die roll, but that’s about it. As such, the game has no AI. You can play solo or multiplayer via pass-and-play or online asynchronous. Normally, I’d crush a non-cooperative game that didn’t have AI, but Doodle City doesn’t suffer from it. It works great as a solo puzzle game. Maybe even better than multiplayer, to be honest.
Doodle City is a fun little game and you can pick it up for free through October 20th. Trailer after the break.