puzzles

Calling all alien firefighters

In Sprinkle for Android, its your job to protect the alien inhabitants of Titan, a distant moon being bombarded by flaming asteroids. Armed with a gigantic water cannon, you venture from level to level extinguishing the falling asteroids along with all of the other neighborhood fires they happen to ignite.

Each level challenges you with a number of rampant fires, each on the verge of engulfing a Titanite's home. All you have to do is aim your cannon at each set of flames (sometimes for a few seconds) to make sure that they are completely extinguished. Sound easy? Well, … Read more

Word nerds, behold: Dropwords for Android

If Scrabble and Boggle had a digital love-child, and that love-child were then adopted by Bejeweled, Dropwords would be it.

To start, you get a five-by-five board of lettered tiles, with each letter worth a certain number of points, a la Scrabble. Your objective is to use these letters to make words and score as many points as possible within the allotted time. A word can be made up of any number of connected tiles, and can go in any direction, just like in Boggle.

But what makes this game different from Boggle is that after you find a word … Read more

Dropwords, a unique word puzzle mashup

Dropwords for Android is the digital love child that Scrabble and Boggle never had. In other words, it is a word nerd's dream come true. To start, you get a five-by-five board of lettered tiles, with each letter being worth a certain number of points, as in Scrabble. Your objective is to use these letters to make words and score as many points as possible within the allotted time. A word can be made up of any number of connected tiles, and can go in any direction, just like in Boggle.

But what makes this game different from Boggle … Read more

Cut the Rope enters the lab

Cut the Rope: Experiments is a fun follow-up to the arcade puzzler Cut the Rope, with a few new elements but the same core concept centered on inventive physics challenges, well-designed and replayable levels, and a cute little candy-loving monster named Om Nom.

The interface is the same: you swipe your finger to cut a rope (occasionally more than one, with multitouch) to drop an attached piece of candy into Om Nom's mouth, a task that becomes increasingly complex with the addition of floating bubbles, dangerous spikes, movable anchors, elastic ropes, and so on. As before, you're also … Read more

Touch puzzler inspired by top apps

Contre Jour is an arcade puzzler that veteran gamers will see as a mashup of game mechanics and inspiration from several other popular titles. That said, Contre Jour is a well-executed melange, a fun and often challenging puzzle game with polished art and sound.

On each short level of Contre Jour, you're trying to get a charming little alien (essentially, a rolling eyeball) to the level's exit. The alien doesn't move on its own, so you need to use attached ropes (some elastic, some not, some with movable anchors), slingshots, malleable ground (which you can shape with … Read more

Portal is free! Portal is free! (for PC and Mac)

Well here's some interesting timing. Just days after I finished playing Portal for the very first time (more on that in a bit), Steam is offering the game absolutely free.

Specifically, from now until September 20, you can download Portal (PC and Mac) absolutely free. Yesterday, it would have cost you $10.

Update: Many readers have reported difficulty signing up for a Steam account. My only suggestion is to keep trying, as I'm sure Steam's servers are overloaded. I'll update further if I learn anything more.

Update #2: Steam tech support just tweeted this fix: "… Read more

Contre Jour for iOS blends beauty, puzzles

If World of Goo and Cut the Rope somehow got sucked into a black hole, Contre Jour is what would emerge from the other side. This breathtakingly beautiful and relentlessly addictive puzzler isn't the most original iOS game ever, but it's definitely one of the most wonderful.

"Contre jour" translates literally to "days against," but in this case it refers to a photo-backlighting technique. And once you eyeball the game's lush backlit levels, you'll understand the reference.

But it's hard to escape comparisons to World of Goo, not just in the level design, but also in the goo-ball-like "hero" of the game, Petit. The little guy's nothing more than a gelatinous eyeball, and it's your job to roll, fling, and otherwise maneuver him to the glowing blue orb---collecting as many glowing lights as possible along the way.… Read more

Free the Mouse with your logic skills

Mouse Trap is an addictive puzzle game that tests your logic skills as you help a trapped mouse find his way through a thoroughly obstructed exit. Your job is to move the obstructing blocks either vertically or horizontally (never both) in order to clear a lane for the trapped rodent. As you progress through the game's hundreds of levels, the configurations of blocks get increasingly complex, requiring additional brain power to clear them.

Mouse Trap is a classic puzzle game similar to other hits like Unblock Me and Traffic Jam. But what sets this game apart is that there … Read more

A new puzzle for crossword and anagram fanatics

7 Little Words is a simple, minimal puzzle game that's perfect for fans of crosswords, anagrams, word searches, and other word-based games. The first 30 puzzles are free. After that, you can purchase extra puzzles in packs of 50 for 99 cents from the Android Market.

The gameplay is simple. Guess the seven words. To help you, you get seven clues, the number of letters in each word, and a reservoir of letter combinations from which to construct your guesses. Since there is no time limit or penalty for guessing wrong, you pretty much just play until you win (… Read more

Perhaps it should be called Cut the Web

In Greedy Spiders, your job is to rescue helpless flies being hunted by one or sometimes several hungry arachnids. Each fly is thoroughly trapped in web, but with a simple tap of your finger you're able to cut individual strands to eventually free them all. The problem is, every time you make a move, the spiders get to make one, inching themselves progressively closer to their prey.

To start, you get to cut a single strand of web per turn. A good strategy is to either snip near the spider to cut off its route, or snip one of … Read more