Arcade puzzle games for iOS

This week's iOS app collection is all about puzzle games to test your problem-solving power. If you don't mind playing levels over and over to get something just right, this is your collection.


Are you a puzzle gamer? My iOS devices have a mix of gaming genres, from action arcade titles and racing games, to FPS shooters and role-playing adventure games. But sometimes I also like to focus in and test my logic and problem-solving skills with puzzle games.

Some great games have come out recently that are worthy of any puzzle-gaming fan's iPhone. All of these titles are worthy of checking out, because they have plenty of challenge, are all very polished graphically, and are perfect for when you want to put your brain-teaser skills to the test.

This week's iOS app collection is all about arcade puzzle games. The first combines lessons from past iPhone games to make for a great brain-teaser. The second has you blowing up ice sculptures using different types of bombs. The third challenges you to divert water to a cute little alligator's tub.

Contre Jour
You'll need to drag and attach the eerie tendrils to the eye to get it to the goal. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Contre Jour (99 cents) is an arcade puzzler that veteran gamers will see as a mashup of game mechanics and inspiration from several other popular titles. Though it's been out for a while, Contre Jour is a well-executed and 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 a touch), teleporters, and other elements to get the alien to its goal. Each progressive level relies on an increasingly Rube-Goldbergian series of actions, which you must carefully time to get the alien to the exit--ideally grabbing between one and three floating blue lights along the way.

Contre Jour may not introduce a lot of new ideas as a puzzler, but it does a good job of refining some of our favorite ones--and it pulls them all together into an attractive and fairly addictive package. If you're a fan of arcade puzzle games, Contre Jour is definitely worth a download.

Amazing Breaker
You have to destroy the entire sculpture to get a perfect score, but how you do it is up to you. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Amazing Breaker (99 cents) is an arcade physics puzzler that challenges you to fling bombs into ice sculptures with a slingshot.

Amazing Breaker's slingshot schtick is not unique, but this app's combination of quick-playing levels, increasingly complex gameplay, and high-res graphics sets it above most physics puzzlers. In each new level, you slingshot a series of bombs up into an ornate ice sculpture, and you have to smash 90 percent of the sculpture to progress to the next level (smash 95 percent for two stars, 100 percent for three). The complexity comes in as you decide how and whether to bank bombs off the sides and top of the screen, and how you choose to array four different types of bombs in order, including "split" bombs (tap to divide into three bomblets) and "ghost" bombs (which you can maneuver as they pass through the sculpture). Add to this the occasional timed power-up and the ability to set up chain reactions if you can set off bombs near one another, and Amazing Breaker's levels can quickly become devilish brain-teasers that reward thoughtful play and arcade reflexes.

If you're a fan of physics puzzlers, Amazing Breaker is a cut above and a worthwhile download--and you can start out with the free version, which lets you try out the game's first 16 levels.

Where's My Water?
Every level comes with a new challenge, but in the end, you have to get swampy his bath water. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Where's My Water? (99 cents) is a charming physics puzzler, in which you funnel clean water to the bathtub of a fastidious little alligator named Swampy.

Where's My Water? ranks among the better arcade puzzlers, sharing some similarities (fast-paced levels, an intuitive interface, and a winningly cartoony protagonist) but with a central schtick that's mostly all its own: you dig paths through dirt, creating channels for liquid to flow from one place to another. Ideally, you'll get enough clean water into a pipe to fill Swampy's tub, but along the way you have to contend with various obstacles, including acid (which can combine with your water), algae (which acid will eat, or which will grow in contact with water), and all sorts of water-activated switches and elements. With some planning, you're also hoping to float between one and three rubber duckies along the way. Levels aren't too tough (at least at first), but getting all three duckies can take some forethought and tricky multitouch timing. The interface isn't always perfect (an antiquated scroll bar can be frustrating at times, and digging isn't too precise), but overall Where's My Water? is slick, satisfying, and silly--in a good way.

Where's My Water? is a worthwhile download for fans of cute physics puzzlers, and with any luck we can look forward to more levels on top of its initial 100.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.