Category Archives: Got it for free

Tractor Beam

The look and feel of this game is very nostalgic — it’s all classic asteroid. But instead of shooting the asteroids that come at you, you send out a grappling hook (see my last posting on Gravity Hook), and pull yourself forward, trying not to hit any of the oncoming asteroids (game over). No gravity in the game (thank goodness) but there is inertia. So, when you grab an asteroid, you exert force on it and pull it towards you. The effect of this varies depending on the size of the asteroid. The goal is just to go as far as you can without smashing up into little matchsticks. A nice thing is that when this happens, you don’t have to go all the way back to the beginning.

Survival Score: several games, now and then

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Tractor Beam

The look and feel of this game is very nostalgic — it’s all classic asteroid. But instead of shooting the asteroids that come at you, you send out a grappling hook (see my last posting on Gravity Hook), and pull yourself forward, trying not to hit any of the oncoming asteroids (game over). No gravity in the game (thank goodness) but there is inertia. So, when you grab an asteroid, you exert force on it and pull it towards you. The effect of this varies depending on the size of the asteroid. The goal is just to go as far as you can without smashing up into little matchsticks. A nice thing is that when this happens, you don’t have to go all the way back to the beginning.

Survival Score: several games, now and then

Gravity Hook HD

The game is easier to play than describe, but I’ll try. You’re a little person in a space suit, and you have a grappling hook. There are a bunch of orbs in the air above you. Touch one of them and the hook will grab it and pull you up. But you have to be strategic because there is only so much power in your hook. The farther away the orb, the less power you have to get pulled up. And there is gravity, so as soon as you can, you need to move to a different, higher orb, or else you’ll fall and lose. The orbs have different properties too — sometimes, they blow up after 3 seconds (blowing you up too if you are near), sometimes they fall immediately, and so on. Turns out I’m not very good at it…

Survival score: A few games

Gravity Hook HD

The game is easier to play than describe, but I’ll try. You’re a little person in a space suit, and you have a grappling hook. There are a bunch of orbs in the air above you. Touch one of them and the hook will grab it and pull you up. But you have to be strategic because there is only so much power in your hook. The farther away the orb, the less power you have to get pulled up. And there is gravity, so as soon as you can, you need to move to a different, higher orb, or else you’ll fall and lose. The orbs have different properties too — sometimes, they blow up after 3 seconds (blowing you up too if you are near), sometimes they fall immediately, and so on. Turns out I’m not very good at it…

Survival score: A few games

Spectre 3D

This is a throwback to the arcade games where you move around a battlefield and shoot things, avoid other things, and collect some stuff. In Spectre 3D (make sure you put the 3D on when you search for it) you are a tank, and you are being chased by other tanks. You have to collect flags to go to the next level (at least, I think you go to the next level, I’ve never made it that far). The tank can jump, which is handy, but it can’t really turn. Who builds a tank that can jump but not turn?!

Survival score: A few games

Spectre 3D

This is a throwback to the arcade games where you move around a battlefield and shoot things, avoid other things, and collect some stuff. In Spectre 3D (make sure you put the 3D on when you search for it) you are a tank, and you are being chased by other tanks. You have to collect flags to go to the next level (at least, I think you go to the next level, I’ve never made it that far). The tank can jump, which is handy, but it can’t really turn. Who builds a tank that can jump but not turn?!

Survival score: A few games

Cursed Treasure HD

Cursed Treasure is a pretty standard tower defense game with enough interesting elements that I actually played all of the levels (about 25 of them) and thought seriously about going back and getting “gold” ratings on all of them. Some people find tower defense games tremendously boring. But I think of it sort of like dynamic chess. I set up my board, invite in the waves of marauders, and modify my defenses in real time to both anticipate their strengths and (hopefully) demolish them. The theme is a gridded open countryside. Each square is either grass, snow, or rock. Or a “special” square. There are three towers corresponding to the three different types of squares, and the square and the tower must match. Any tower can be built on the special squares. The bad guys are pretty ordinary tower defense stuff — some are stronger, some can disappear, some are faster, etc. What is cool about Cursed Treasure is that there are dozens of different upgrades. You “purchase” them with skill points, which you earn by playing (not necessarily by winning). And each of the upgrades has anywhere from 2-5 levels, so the upgrading goes on and on and on… For me, it provides a little thrill of power to see my towers go into frenzy shooting 20% faster than before! and so forth.

Survival Score: Hours. Had to stop myself from attempting a perfect score.

Cursed Treasure HD

Cursed Treasure is a pretty standard tower defense game with enough interesting elements that I actually played all of the levels (about 25 of them) and thought seriously about going back and getting “gold” ratings on all of them. Some people find tower defense games tremendously boring. But I think of it sort of like dynamic chess. I set up my board, invite in the waves of marauders, and modify my defenses in real time to both anticipate their strengths and (hopefully) demolish them. The theme is a gridded open countryside. Each square is either grass, snow, or rock. Or a “special” square. There are three towers corresponding to the three different types of squares, and the square and the tower must match. Any tower can be built on the special squares. The bad guys are pretty ordinary tower defense stuff — some are stronger, some can disappear, some are faster, etc. What is cool about Cursed Treasure is that there are dozens of different upgrades. You “purchase” them with skill points, which you earn by playing (not necessarily by winning). And each of the upgrades has anywhere from 2-5 levels, so the upgrading goes on and on and on… For me, it provides a little thrill of power to see my towers go into frenzy shooting 20% faster than before! and so forth.

Survival Score: Hours. Had to stop myself from attempting a perfect score.

1 Bit Ninja

2D platformer looks just like every other Mario clone except with not just crappy graphics and controls but REALLY crappy graphics and controls. If you play platformers all the time, you’ll probably think this 1 Bit Ninja is cute. You can run just one direction, only one speed (fast), and you die a lot. Well, I died a lot. Didn’t even bother making it through first level. OK, those of you crying foul, supposedly (according to the web page), the whole 2D thing is a ruse and it’s actually 3D with hidden paths and stuff. I couldn’t even get far enough to explore that option!

Survival score: Get it out of here!

1 Bit Ninja

2D platformer looks just like every other Mario clone except with not just crappy graphics and controls but REALLY crappy graphics and controls. If you play platformers all the time, you’ll probably think this 1 Bit Ninja is cute. You can run just one direction, only one speed (fast), and you die a lot. Well, I died a lot. Didn’t even bother making it through first level. OK, those of you crying foul, supposedly (according to the web page), the whole 2D thing is a ruse and it’s actually 3D with hidden paths and stuff. I couldn’t even get far enough to explore that option!

Survival score: Get it out of here!

Crossword Light and Crux Crosswords

I am not a serious crossword puzzler. But I really like the ones that hit at the sweet spot of being challenging without being exasperating. And a bonus when they have interesting words that people might actually use (granted, provided they have large vocabularies). There are dozens of crossword apps out there, but many are for serious crossworders, or those who want to download puzzles from their favorite publications (like the NYT). Because I don’t need that, Crossword Light and Crux are great. Each comes with a healthy number of puzzles (a few dozen each), divided into different levels of difficulty. The easy ones are not too easy, and the hard ones are not too hard. Everything within my range. Each has an option to “check” or to “reveal” either a cell or a clue or the whole puzzle. If you “check” (which I do a few times a puzzle) then every wrong letter is marked with a red tick in the corner. I like that. I like Crossword Light’s puzzles a bit more, and Crux’s interface a bit more (e.g., it removes items from the clue list if you filled in the word). But I definitely recommend either one. Crossword Light is free, Crux Crosswords I picked up on sale for a buck. If you buy the paid version of Crossword Light, you can download puzzles from different publications.

Survival Score: Permanent place

Crossword Light and Crux Crosswords

I am not a serious crossword puzzler. But I really like the ones that hit at the sweet spot of being challenging without being exasperating. And a bonus when they have interesting words that people might actually use (granted, provided they have large vocabularies). There are dozens of crossword apps out there, but many are for serious crossworders, or those who want to download puzzles from their favorite publications (like the NYT). Because I don’t need that, Crossword Light and Crux are great. Each comes with a healthy number of puzzles (a few dozen each), divided into different levels of difficulty. The easy ones are not too easy, and the hard ones are not too hard. Everything within my range. Each has an option to “check” or to “reveal” either a cell or a clue or the whole puzzle. If you “check” (which I do a few times a puzzle) then every wrong letter is marked with a red tick in the corner. I like that. I like Crossword Light’s puzzles a bit more, and Crux’s interface a bit more (e.g., it removes items from the clue list if you filled in the word). But I definitely recommend either one. Crossword Light is free, Crux Crosswords I picked up on sale for a buck. If you buy the paid version of Crossword Light, you can download puzzles from different publications.

Survival Score: Permanent place

Topple!

From the name, you’d think this was a stacking game, right? It’s not. Definitely not the right name. In fact, there is another game on the store called Topple (no exclamation mark) that is all about stacking. So be sure to get the one with the !. This is is the iPad-ified version of those puzzles where you have to figure out a fairly long quote or a saying. You get the blanks where the letters go, and the blanks line up like columns. At the bottom of each column are the letters that go into the column, but mixed up, so you have to figure out which letter goes into which blank. What I like about these is that each puzzle isn’t necessarily all that hard, but the game comes with hundreds of quotes, and additional packs are a buck for about 50 puzzles. The game play is very smooth and the interface is simple and uncluttered. It has a left handed setting (a nice touch for lefties like me) and–like the best examples in the pencil-and-paper world–the quotes are sometimes witty or clever.

Survival Score: Permanent place

Topple!

From the name, you’d think this was a stacking game, right? It’s not. Definitely not the right name. In fact, there is another game on the store called Topple (no exclamation mark) that is all about stacking. So be sure to get the one with the !. This is is the iPad-ified version of those puzzles where you have to figure out a fairly long quote or a saying. You get the blanks where the letters go, and the blanks line up like columns. At the bottom of each column are the letters that go into the column, but mixed up, so you have to figure out which letter goes into which blank. What I like about these is that each puzzle isn’t necessarily all that hard, but the game comes with hundreds of quotes, and additional packs are a buck for about 50 puzzles. The game play is very smooth and the interface is simple and uncluttered. It has a left handed setting (a nice touch for lefties like me) and–like the best examples in the pencil-and-paper world–the quotes are sometimes witty or clever.

Survival Score: Permanent place