Archive for the ‘Word or Number’ Category

Strimko

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Strikmo

If you like Sudoku and want to try a similar logic puzzle with a clever twist, Strimko is for you. The way it works is that each column and row needs a full set of numbers, as well as each string (numbers that are connected by lines), with no duplicates. Many of the same Sudoku-solving principles apply for these puzzles, but it still manages to provide a fresh experience.

I’ve played through many of the puzzles from the Core Pack (100), the Bonus Pack (20 puzzles unlocked after finishing the core pack) game, the Lite Pack (9), and the mixed pack (60 puzzles available via DLC) and have enjoyed most of them. The numbers are color-coded for quick recognition and you can input smaller ‘number candidates’ to narrow down your options. The game has four difficulty levels (Easy, Medium, Hard, and Master), OpenFeint integration that provides a number of achievements that are fun to chase after, and the all-important pause and resume.

My only suggestion to the developers would be to remove the extraneous top bar, move the bottom bar up, then add a number line to replace (or compliment, if you prefer) the circular number entry. You never know where it will appear and it covers information necessary to determine your input. I know you can move it around, but that’s too fiddly. Sometimes simpler is better (almost always, when in reference to interface).

Anyway, it’s a great puzzle game for the intended audience and the included puzzles far outnumber the DLC, so you can play through them first, before making the call on spending extra cash.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Bee Spelled

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Bee Spelled

Bee-Spelled is a streamlined clone of PopCap’s Bookworm Adventures. The word “streamlined” here means, “missing features”, but it’s still fun. What we have here is a humorous, artistic, and lovingly animated version of the primary gameplay element of the original game; spelling words from a 4×4 grid, with as many letters as you can, to blast a cute little furry creature to bits. I actually like their bonus system a great deal; red letters deal fire damage, blue letters freeze, and green letters heal. The player has to factor in these bonuses when choosing a word to play. Like I said, it works well and the game is fun, but it has very little depth. The reason for this is that they left out all the ancillary elements that make the original game great; overworld exploration, collecting items, mini-games, and…hmm…that’s all I can remember, but it was full-featured. Anyway, this version isn’t perfect and you’ll quickly beat it, but your kids might like it too. It does feature a wisecracking tomcat with a monocle and a top-hat, which would make any game a winner.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Puzzle Dice

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

This is the follow up to the follow up of Str8ts (the first follow up was Domino Dice, which had its issues). Basically, Puzzle Dice is Str8ts, with better art and I’m a big fan of Str8ts. They are sorting out some bugs right now, but once the update drops, it’s a recommendation for anyone that finds Sudoku-style games interesting.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Str8ts

Monday, August 10th, 2009

I’m really enjoying Str8ts and I highly recommend it to fellow number crunchers. It’s exactly what I was looking for; a layered logic game with enough depth to really make you think and enough content to make it last indefinitely.

The concept makes sense after you play, but it’s non-obvious, initially. Luckily, a thorough tutorial is included to compliment the rules explanation. The goal of the game is to fill in all of the empty white cells with numbers, while following a set of placement rules. Each white “compartment” can only legally contain a contiguous set of numbers, but they need not be in order (for instance, “2, 3, 1″ is a valid set). This is where the game gets its name; think of a straight in Poker. A compartment is analogous to a “run” in Kakuro; a set of adjacent cells, in a row or column, that is capped at both ends, either by a black slot or the board edge. The black compartments cannot be edited and simply remove a number from play, but you don’t know which number. The visible numbers in the black compartments cannot be used in the white compartments.

When you start the game, some of the white slots already have numbers placed in them and this is where to start. You look for obvious answers. For instance, if there is a 2-slot compartment that already has a 9 in it, then you know the other slot must contain an 8. If you have a 3-cell run, that contains a 4 and a 6, then you know that the missing number is a 5. After filling in each of these instances, more opportunities arise. If you have a slot in which every other number has already been used in the corresponding row and column, then you simply fill in the remaining number. Soon after, though, you’ll really need to start thinking. This is what I mean by layered logic; I’m referring to the escalating brainpower needed to solve a puzzle. In some instances, you can narrow down your possibilities, but not all the way. This is why you can mark potential candidates, to revisit later. Candidates are entered via a modal entry interface, similar to many Sudoku implementations, in which tiny numbers are displayed directly in the cell. This seems like it will definitely be a game where players will “plateau” at certain points, but figuring out these problems is what makes the game really challenging and engaging.

There are four difficulty levels, each of which contains enough levels to total over 750 in the entire game. The puzzles were all designed by a published puzzle designer and it shows. Don’t sleep on this one; it’sreally good.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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Dungeon Scroll

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

This is a fascinating mash-up of Textropolis and a Dungeoncrawl, that most closely matches the gameplay of Popcap’s Bookworm Adventures (which is brilliant, BTW), if you’ve seen or played that game. The player is presented with a tray of letters and must tap them in the proper sequence to form words. A monster will attack from the inset dungeon room and the spelled words inflict an amount of damage that corresponds to the length of word spelled and the quality of tiles used. It’s quite fun, but it does end, unlike most of the competing word games that don’t include the monster mash elements.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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DropSum

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

This is a really good drop puzzler, similar in some ways to Drop7, which is a good thing. As blocks drop, you have to match up tiles that total 9. What’s fascinating, and non-obvious from the screenshots, is that blocks take multiple hits to break. Getting a match just turns it to a new color, but it takes multiple matches to break the blocks and remove them from the screen. Planning for this is tricky, but my feeling is that this will provide a lot of depth. I haven’t played enough to fully assess the combo system, but I find it very intriguing, so far.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Countdown: DownToZero

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Countdown: DownToZero

This game is soon to hit the app store and I got a chance to play it early, so I wanted to give you guys a heads up to watch for it. It combines elements of Drop7Numba, and Big Top 10, but what it adds is a bucketload of timing, strategy, pacing, and competition.

Numbers drop from the top of the screen and the player must swipe across a set of tiles, starting with the highest number and ending with a sum of zero; hence, the title, Countdown: DropToZero. The score for a swipe is calculated by multiplying the first number by the total number of tiles swiped. Simple enough, right? Well, the tiles drop at a pretty decent rate and, early on in your learning, you find yourself having to swipe dupes, (4-4=0, 2-2=0), just to save yourself, because the like many Tetris-style games, if a column hits the top, it’s game over, dewd.

As your skills improve, you learn to chain together swipes, to increase your score. You see, each swipe has a buffer zone; swiping a correct set of tiles causes them to flash for a predefined duration and if you swipe another set, in that timeframe, the timer resets! Like many great puzzle games, when you discover this method, the core concept of game reveals itself to you. The optimal strategy is to have a board full of matched sets and then swipe them in succession for huge, high-scoring chains. To aid in this, you can press an empty section of the screen to speed up the drops temporarily.

As the game progresses, higher number tiles are added to the mix, and the pacing is really solid. There are four different modes, Endless, 1 Minute, 3 Minute, and “Clear”, all of which are fun to play. Not only that, but each has its own leaderboard to compete against your friends…and enemies. This game is addictive, challenging, and well-paced. I recommend it not only to fans of the aforementioned titles, but to anyone that likes puzzle games that challenge your mind and your dexterity.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Big Top 10

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Big Top 10

This is fun. It’s like a simpler, but whimsical, and thematically rich take on Numba, but without the falling tiles. The goal is to remove numbers from the screen in sets that total 10, hence the title. Negative numbers and a variety of powerups are thrown in, for good measure. The ancillary screens are really nice too. The achievements are graphically rich and humorous, although an alert when they are obtained would be great. The production is nice and the game is fun, which bodes well for the relatively new developer, Bight Games.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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KenKen: Train Your Brain

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

KenKen: Train Your Brain

Capcom has released the official version of KenKen (which you may recall from a previous 2Doku review), which is based on, and sanctioned by, the original designer of the game. For those that have just recently come to the dark side, KenKen is an evil and addictive game from Japan, in which the player is tasked with inserting the proper numbers in each “cage” to equal the callout in the corner, using the mathematical operator shown, and without duplicating numbers in a row or column. A simpler way to describe it is, “do the math”. I’m not a mathematician, nor do I play one on tv, but even I find this game thoroughly addictive. For the most part, the interface is good, although the highlighting is kinda wonky. This particular version of the game has three primary things going for it; it’s great for beginners, it is really polished and pleasing to eye, and the inventor signed off on all of the puzzles.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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ArithmeGrid Full

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Latkin

This is another KenKen title, which lacks polish, but it includes puzzle sizes, up to and including 9×9 (although, as you can see, the screen becomes a bit blurry). Recommended for KenKen completists and die-hards.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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