There are a ton of great puzzle games out there on iOS, but when it comes to finding great word games, your options are a bit more limited. In fact, I have to go all the way back to QatQi and SpellTower to remember any really good solo word games. This week’s entrant is Highrise Heroes from Noodlecake, the makers of Super Stickman Golf and Joinz.
Highrise Heroes sticks close to the SpellTower mechanism which has you removing letters from a random grid as you construct words. Highrise Heroes adds a dose of story to the word game mix, however. Here, you’ll need to escape 90 levels of a crumbling skyscraper while saving colleagues and figuring out who’s behind the destruction. I’ll admit it sounds a bit flimsy, but the trailer shows that there’s a monkey involved, and somehow that makes it all okay.
Highrise Heroes is for iOS Universal and comes free with an IAP option to unlock the full game for $3. Trailer after the break.
“How will I ever use this?” you ask the algebra teacher. “TO AVENGE THE EARTH.”
We love weird around here, and you couldn’t fill an egg carton with games that were weirder than Calculords in 2014. When I interviewed creator (and Web comedy notable) Seanbaby about it last year, he said that Calculords was “a weird idea that [he’d] never get to see unless [he] made it.”
You’d be a fool to argue with that: Calculords is a game about arithmetic. The last game about arithmetic that you played was probably Number Munchers back in the late 1980s.
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.