I got my first couple of games to play on my subway commute, like everyone else on there crushing candy or flinging angry birds. I have an older iPad mini so I only keep five or six games at a time on there, and if I decide one’s a dud or realize it’s going to cost me actual cash to make headway, I delete it. Over the years I’ve developed some favorites, and today I thought I’d talk about them and ask you to recommend your favorites in comments, because I’m always ready to try some new things.
I will say it’s amazing to me how many sub-par games there are available in the app stores – constant ads, they crash all the time, if you’re going to get beyond level 10 it’s going to cost you money, etc. It should be easier to find the “good ones” but it isn’t, partly because folks must have a lot more tolerance for endless ads and in-app cash grabs than I do.
Beyond that, I like a certain kind of game experience and format. I prefer puzzle-like games over ones with a timer clock (strategy over speed). I give bonus points to games that are beautiful to look at, although it’s not a requirement. I’m willing to pay a few bucks up front for a great app, or a few bucks once I’m in to get rid of ads (hey, the devs have to make their money somehow) but I’m not going to watch the same 30-second ad over and over between each level, or continually shell out actual money for coconuts or magic darts or whatever you need to progress. Personally, if I can’t beat a level after a try (or five) without some sort of in-app help on a regular basis, even if the boosters are free, it’s not the right game for me.
So, given those parameters, which games have stood the test of time on my iPad/phone and get used regularly while I’m standing in line or taking a break from Zoom calls? Here are my picks.
Monument Valley I and II (ustwo games) – I’ve mentioned this one before, and it’s everything I love in a time-waster. You have to buy them outright and after that you’re done, play them forever, no ads. It’s more of a puzzle – a walk-through of various Escher-like impossible landscapes. It is both simple and complex, beautiful visually and musically, and any fans of MC Escher really need to check it out. I think I spent a total of $10 on the two (they have additional add-on games included) and, given the hundreds of hours I’ve played and replayed various levels for years now, it’s one of the best ten-buck purchases I’ve ever made.
Wordscapes (peoplefun) – probably the oldest game currently on my devices, I just checked and I’m at level 1463 lol. Find all the words to solve the on-screen crossword puzzle using the letters in the circle (usually five or seven letters a game). You get bonus points for words even if they’re not on the board, which I guess is why I have …. 63,075 points, because I don’t have to buy anything to progress, and I’m good enough I don’t often need points to solve. How many words (of three letters or more) can you make with E R M E V O ? If you just thought of five, and that stimulated you, you might enjoy this.
I Love Hue (Zut! games) – my daughter told me about this one awhile back, correctly predicting I’d love it. It’s a color grid puzzle, sort all the shades correctly – from light to dark, red to blue, etc. It starts off simple so you can get the hang of it and gets more complex as the tonal variations get more subtle (what I’ve jokingly called Fifty Shades of Greige), and the grid itself gets more boxes. Beyond a certain point, I can’t imagine doing this on a phone rather than my iPad, and if I keep going I think I might upgrade from my Mini, which is pretty old anyway. It’s incredibly soothing, and a fascinating illustration of how shades can look different depending on what they’re adjacent to.
Bubble Shooter (ilyon) – my most old-school game. When you first open it they’re always giving you bonus crap and trying to get you to play on an online team; I just keep hitting NEXT to ignore and then I’m back in play, I probably have enough bonus doodads to buy a Ferrari, I don’t know. ANYWAY. Aim your little bubble like it’s 1997 and shoot! There is strategy involved as you progress, which is probably why I’m still playing it, but it’s achievable without having to make in-app purchases, and the banner ad at the bottom is easy to ignore. I’m somewhere in the 2000 levels at this point, and I’m not embarrassed about it. Good for a quick game in an Uber or while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil.
Sugar Blast (Rovio) – my dumbest game, said with affection. I cannot possibly be the target audience; I just love looking at it – the little dancing jellybeans! The noises they make! The cheerful Disney-movie musical score, the slightest of challenges …. it’s adorable, as colorful and non-nutritious as a bowl full of candy.
Happy Glass – this was an absolute hoot at first (draw a line to fill the glass with water) but I’ve leveled up to a point of insanity where it takes me too many attempts to advance, so I think I’m done. Maybe.
OK, your turn! What games do you like, and why?
Finally, congrats to the winners of Regime des Fleurs sample sets (I’ve emailed you already) … commenters Taxi, Spring Pansy, VerbenaLuvvr, Nancy C, Maya, Dina C, Anna Egeria, Tiara, Angela, Pam F. I used Random.org to select and if you didn’t win and you’re bummed, I feel you, I never win anything either. RdF does sell the sets on their website, and I noticed some new items on there recently as well…