Durion

s you know, I am a word game fanatic. In order to keep my attention, a new game must offer something unusual or distinctive. And it has to have a good dictionary. Durion’s dictionary is mostly OK. But the gameplay seemed to me, initially, to be pretty typical– a dropping letters game. You get a row of letters, make a word and zap it in for points, with bonuses for word length, speed, and how many times you’ve gone without a false entry. And so, it was headed for the recycle bin. But then I uncovered a couple of things — things I couldn’t pick up in the incredibly confusing instructions. First, I could make the letters drop faster. The default speed was mind numbingly slow. Second, I could move the letters around in the tray, a la Scrabble style. So instead of identifying words in the dropping letters, it became more of a strategy and probability game. I could choose some letters thinking that I had a high probability of using them in a word (different letters have different point value, so is a bit of a gamble — play it safe and run out of time, or go for the big points but possibly go bust!?) and then change my mind about what word to make as the letters continue to drop. As a result of this serendipitous discovery, Durion kept me occupied for a good hour straight.

Survival score: 30-60 minute sessions.

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Durion

s you know, I am a word game fanatic. In order to keep my attention, a new game must offer something unusual or distinctive. And it has to have a good dictionary. Durion’s dictionary is mostly OK. But the gameplay seemed to me, initially, to be pretty typical– a dropping letters game. You get a row of letters, make a word and zap it in for points, with bonuses for word length, speed, and how many times you’ve gone without a false entry. And so, it was headed for the recycle bin. But then I uncovered a couple of things — things I couldn’t pick up in the incredibly confusing instructions. First, I could make the letters drop faster. The default speed was mind numbingly slow. Second, I could move the letters around in the tray, a la Scrabble style. So instead of identifying words in the dropping letters, it became more of a strategy and probability game. I could choose some letters thinking that I had a high probability of using them in a word (different letters have different point value, so is a bit of a gamble — play it safe and run out of time, or go for the big points but possibly go bust!?) and then change my mind about what word to make as the letters continue to drop. As a result of this serendipitous discovery, Durion kept me occupied for a good hour straight.

Survival score: 30-60 minute sessions.

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

Towers Infinite

And thus begins a set of posts about pencil-and-paper games that have been iPad-ified. In Towers Infinite, you get a grid (4×4 for easy, and 6×6 for very hard). Along the edges of the grid are numbers. The numbers tell you how many towers are “visible” from that position if you look down the column or across the row. On the easier levels, some of the boxes will already be filled in. So, it’s completely a puzzle, specifically a logic puzzle. Love it. There are several of these on the store, what I like about this one is the many levels of difficulty, and how you can get a hint or check an answer. And, like on the better sudoku games, you have an option of entering multiple numbers in a box until you decide which one is correct.

Survival score: permanent place

Towers Infinite

And thus begins a set of posts about pencil-and-paper games that have been iPad-ified. In Towers Infinite, you get a grid (4×4 for easy, and 6×6 for very hard). Along the edges of the grid are numbers. The numbers tell you how many towers are “visible” from that position if you look down the column or across the row. On the easier levels, some of the boxes will already be filled in. So, it’s completely a puzzle, specifically a logic puzzle. Love it. There are several of these on the store, what I like about this one is the many levels of difficulty, and how you can get a hint or check an answer. And, like on the better sudoku games, you have an option of entering multiple numbers in a box until you decide which one is correct.

Survival score: permanent place

Train Defense

his game is sort of like a tower defense game except you don’t have towers, you have a train engine with one car, and you use your finger to lay down tracks to travel along. If you run out of track, you just sit still until you make more tracks. So, the game board has passengers to pick up on the left of the screen, and you drop them off on the right. Plus, a big ol’ water tower in the middle you need to go around. Simple enough. Yes, but then bad, bad vehicles start moving in, to steal your water or to shoot you. Did I mention that your train car has a turret on top? Luckily, you don’t have to aim, you just have to get close enough and it shoots on its own. You have a certain amount of life points. Once those are gone, the game is over. When you deliver passengers, you get “money,” which you can use to upgrade your weapons and add train cars, and so forth. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to get them attached. I think that’s just because I haven’t played enough. I get a little stressed out, so I only play a bit at a time.

Survival Score: Fun, in short bursts

Train Defense

his game is sort of like a tower defense game except you don’t have towers, you have a train engine with one car, and you use your finger to lay down tracks to travel along. If you run out of track, you just sit still until you make more tracks. So, the game board has passengers to pick up on the left of the screen, and you drop them off on the right. Plus, a big ol’ water tower in the middle you need to go around. Simple enough. Yes, but then bad, bad vehicles start moving in, to steal your water or to shoot you. Did I mention that your train car has a turret on top? Luckily, you don’t have to aim, you just have to get close enough and it shoots on its own. You have a certain amount of life points. Once those are gone, the game is over. When you deliver passengers, you get “money,” which you can use to upgrade your weapons and add train cars, and so forth. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to get them attached. I think that’s just because I haven’t played enough. I get a little stressed out, so I only play a bit at a time.

Survival Score: Fun, in short bursts

HawaiiDrop HD

Sometimes, I don’t download updates to the games I’ve already purchased. Why? Because developers add advertisements, or in-app purchases, or whatever. But I would download an update to HawaiiDrop in an instant. Once I got the hang of it, I found I really enjoy it. What’s the problem? Crashes after the first few levels. So, if it worked, this would be a 5 star game. The game board is a grid, around 8×8 or so. Various squares have puddles of water in them. Some puddles are bigger than others. You flick a puddle across the board, and if it hits another puddle, the two puddles will join. If the puddle gets to big (more than 5 drops), it will burst, sending 4 drops of water outward, one in each direction. Do it right and you start a chain reaction, the drops of water hit a large puddle, which then bursts, and so on and so on. What happened to that last drop of water, you ask? It goes into your “pool” (get it? I made that up) of drops that you can use when you get stuck. Just tap on a puddle to add a drop. Each flick also costs a drop of water, so there is some strategy involved. Level is won when you clear the puddles, or lost when you use up your pool of extra drops.

Survival Score: It self destructed, wish it would have lasted longer.

HawaiiDrop HD

Sometimes, I don’t download updates to the games I’ve already purchased. Why? Because developers add advertisements, or in-app purchases, or whatever. But I would download an update to HawaiiDrop in an instant. Once I got the hang of it, I found I really enjoy it. What’s the problem? Crashes after the first few levels. So, if it worked, this would be a 5 star game. The game board is a grid, around 8×8 or so. Various squares have puddles of water in them. Some puddles are bigger than others. You flick a puddle across the board, and if it hits another puddle, the two puddles will join. If the puddle gets to big (more than 5 drops), it will burst, sending 4 drops of water outward, one in each direction. Do it right and you start a chain reaction, the drops of water hit a large puddle, which then bursts, and so on and so on. What happened to that last drop of water, you ask? It goes into your “pool” (get it? I made that up) of drops that you can use when you get stuck. Just tap on a puddle to add a drop. Each flick also costs a drop of water, so there is some strategy involved. Level is won when you clear the puddles, or lost when you use up your pool of extra drops.

Survival Score: It self destructed, wish it would have lasted longer.