When you begin a game of Stickets, the emptiness of its 5x5 grid is a vast expanse of possibility. You have four shapes, all L-blocks made up of three squares each. These squares alternate in color between three set tones, with the palette randomly ordered. Each L-block, unable to be rotated, can be placed anywhere on the screen as long as there’s room to accommodate its shape, and when placed it plays an ambient tone. Once on the grid, the block is replaced with one of a different color arrangement, with the same rotation. Your sole objective: Make three or more squares of the same color touch so you can clear them from the board. There’s no timer, and the only score is the number of moves you manage to rack up. What do you do? Stickets' total lack of forgiveness generates a brilliant iPhone puzzle experience.
The App Store is a wonderland of diverse gaming goodness, including deeply absorbing role-playing and strategy games, gripping narrative experiences, and titles that let you build up a character and skills over a large stretch of time. But for many of us, the games we turn to the most are the ones that offer immediate, short-term thrills – the games we can play for a few minutes at a time with minimal hassle, but which are entertaining and engrossing enough to play for much longer when desired. For those needs, we present the 25 best quick-hit games for iPhone and iPod touch, all of which let you play a game, level, race, or round in a few minutes or less. When you need to fill a short stretch of your day, these are the games you'll want.
Remember Minesweeper? It was a semi-blind guessing game, and if you hit a mine, it was game over. No, it wasn’t exactly thrilling. Playing Blip Blup, a decidedly sleeker, more interesting, and modern puzzle game, it’s hard not to have Windows 3.1 flashbacks. Here you also have tiled grids that – when touched – send out a pulse wave that expands from your finger tap outward, sending color in every mappable direction. Thankfully, solving puzzles by coloring in grids is both more interesting and unsurprisingly much brainier than in Minesweeper.
In the tradition of Plants vs. Zombies, Go Home Dinosaurs delivers streamlined tower defense action on iPad under a delightfully absurd premise. As a projectile-tossing gopher, you'll collect coconuts to fill each stage with an array of offensive turrets and structures to ward off colorful dinosaurs attempting to disrupt your precious BBQ. And the game even adds in a puzzle element, as the defenses arrive on Tetris-like pieces that must slot into the purposely cramped grid layouts. While not always the most electrifying mash-up, Go Home Dinosaurs still charms as it (lightly) challenges.
Despite its wide catalog of beloved characters, Disney’s mobile games (like the great Where's My Water?) have often introduced their own leads created especially for each game. The company's latest such entry is Mittens, a physics-based puzzle-platformer starring that favorite of Internet obsessions: Cats. Mittens is strung together by adorable animated cutscenes, which show the irascible titular feline attempting to woo a prissy purple kitty. Every time Mittens tries to give her a gift, she inevitably grows distracted by some other potential sign of affection. As a result, each set of stages introduces a new target gift to win her heart, like milk, balloons, and chocolates.
Combining a match-three puzzler with a role-playing game isn't an entirely new idea. After all, the popular Puzzle Quest series managed to accomplish as much over five years ago. But Dungeon Hearts adds a character party dynamic, tasking you with aligning jewels on a scrolling play field to launch attacks from four unique avatars. The concept itself is great, but the entire affair falls apart only minutes after the quest begins.
Video games are an ever-evolving medium, and as such, certain genres seem to fall out of style as the years pass. The match-three tile puzzler – arguably perfected by PopCap with Bejeweled 3 – isn't exactly redefining the interactive experience, but Alien Hive proves there's still room for innovation in an otherwise well-worn, casual-focused concept. Blending two simple gameplay ideas with a relaxing, cartoonish aesthetic works – for the right player.
NightSky is the kind of game that drops you into its world without a whole lot of explanation. Start a new file and you'll see a luminescent sphere, your charge that must be navigated over various physics-based environmental challenges. But you don't need much else to go on, really. In the opaque opening, you wonder over the origins of this mysterious object. Is it alive? Is it a crystal? The answer is unknown. You'll soon find out how effective a premise it is for the game’s atmospheric, ethereal tone.
Thanks in no small part to the perpetual success of Angry Birds, the puzzle game has mutated its own amazingly popular block-breaking sub-genre. Not content to simply ape the competition, Toy Story: Smash It! takes that concept into three-dimensional space, and in doing so makes for one of the best games of its kind on iOS devices. It's a simple concept that makes great use of a familiar property: Buzz Lightyear lobs balls at toy block play sets in Andy’s room, attempting to knock over all of the squeak-toy aliens in as few throws as possible.
The App Store isn’t suffering from a dearth of puzzle games, so some rely on illustrated hooks or stories to draw players in. Sporos, on the other hand, presents a simple, no-frills presentation that puts the emphasis solely on the puzzles themselves. Placing the sporos pieces on a hex grid lights up the surrounding cells in patterns of straight lines, based on different configurations found on the pieces’ faces. Once you’ve lit up the entire board, you’ve completed the puzzle. This concept is easy enough to grasp, but the challenge quickly builds as the beehive patterns grow more complex corridors and the “Experimental” stages introduce arrow cells that divert the lines.