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Simple yet challenging puzzle games for Android

by Larry Sullivan

I love a good puzzle. I’m pretty sure puzzle games are one of the most popular game types for Android mobile devices. It is always a good thing to give your brain a workout, plus it’s a nice change of pace from many of the first person shooters, zombie attacks or sim-type games.

In addition to giving my brain a workout, I like puzzle games because they are usually easy to pick up and play, do not require a large time commitment, and they have a lot of replayability. Even after I finish, I usually will go back to try and improve my score, looking to get those gold stars!

Where’s My Water? ($1.99)

Below the city, alligators are destroying the pipes, stopping the water flow. Swampy, your friendly neighborhood alligator, is trying to take a shower. You job is to get the water to his shower. The game comes with 20 levels per chapter and there are seven chapters. A new challenge area has recently been added. There are numerous hidden in-game bonuses you can discover, adding to the challenge.

Within each level you need to direct the water into the open pipes and that is done by swiping your finger to help remove the dirt and create a path. There is only so much water so the challenge is to create the shortest path and conserve your liquid. There are three rubber ducks you need to try to collect (this is done by having the water wash over them) on each level, to help unlock future levels. There is no time limit which is great since I will sit and try to envision the path I want to create before digging. Trying to get all the ducks and the hidden objects can be tough. You can also download the sequel, Where's My Water? 2.

Bag It! ($1.99)

It’s time to do some shopping! In Bag It, you need to fill up your grocery bags with milk, juice, cereals, produce and bread but you need to try not to break or crush anything. The game comes with 16 levels per aisle and there are six aisles of groceries to pack. You can earn points by creating different combinations of groceries within the bag. Depending on how well you pack the bag, you will earn points/stars which will unlock future levels. The game also has OpenFeint support.

With all of the groceries our family gets you would think I would be an expert at this game! You always put the heavy items on the bottom. The problem is that the items are given to you in a specific order and once you put something in the bag, you cannot take it out! You can do some rearrangement but not a lot. The game only shows you the next three items, adding to the challenge. Once items are in the bag, you can gently shift them by tilting your device. This way you can hopefully prevent items from getting destroyed. I am still working on this. Putting a watermelon on top of eggs is not a good idea!

Greedy Spiders (Free)

The poor little flies are trapped in the spider’s web. Your job is to free them by breaking the web between them and the greedy spider. The game is broken up into four sections with 32 levels in each section. You will need to earn enough stars to unlock the next sections. You are allowed one free hint every 12 hours. If you like them on Facebook, you can earn 100 stars immediately, to help unlock the higher levels more quickly. A paid version of Greedy Spiders with more levels is also available for $0.99.

This is a game that will frustrate you and make you think. Just when you think you have cut the spider off, he finds a way to get to his lunch. In the game you take turns with the spider; you cut one segment and then he moves one segment, and so on. To succeed, you need to try and anticipate where the spider will go and cut him off. As you move up to higher levels, you will be able to use fire and other items to help cut the web but that will not solve all your problems. On some levels I am happy just to get through it, never mind trying to earn three stars! If you get through all the levels, you can chrck out the sequel Greedy Spiders 2.

A Monster Ate My Homework (Free)

Monsters have your homework and you need to get it back! Your job is to knock the monsters off the box but not the homework. The game comes with grades 1-4 with 20 levels in each grade. You need to use the least number of balls to get the best score. You need to complete each grade in order, just like school. If you want to skip a level you can use their in-game credits, which I believe you can purchase for real money. The game also has OpenFeint support. You can remove the ads with an in-app purchase.

The difficulty of this game is in the placement of the homework and the monsters. Can you hit and move the monster without significantly moving the homework? You can rotate the box they are on and change the angle of your throw. As you move up in grades, the position of the homework and monsters becomes more precarious. I have played some levels many, many times trying to get the right bounce or angle with my throw. There are some levels in which I am still not sure how to save the homework!

Move the Box Lite (Free)

Move the Box is a simple game. You need to clear the boxes from the screen by moving similar boxes next to each other. You need to get three of same boxes together to clear them. The game comes with five cities and 24 levels in each. There is Move the Box Pro for $0.99, which comes with eight cities, no ads and an arcade mode. If you are having problems, you can purchase hints (for real money) for the game. Move the Box Lite does not have any stars or high scores; you simply need to complete the level in the number of turns provided.

The whole challenge of the game is in the number of turns per level. Can you get nine boxes to line up in pairs of three in just two moves? Some levels will go quickly, others will take some time. I find myself sitting there studying the screen trying to figure out the moves needed. For one of the simplest puzzles (in terms of graphics, sounds and rules) I have played, it can be one of the toughest. I have not broken down and purchased any hints – that’s sorta cheating, right? Patience is the name of game here.

These puzzle games have great graphics, smooth gameplay, tons of levels and bonus achievements, plus plenty of challenges to keep you occupied for a long time. All of these games will take some time to complete. I am still working on these and am not sure when I will get done. If you are looking for some puzzles to test your brain, give these a try. Have you played any of these games? If so, how far have you gotten?

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