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Monday, January 31, 2011

Cut the Block: iphone puzzle app review

Cut the block comes from ColorMoon Games. Object: drag your finger to cover 2 or 3 blocks at a time. Eliminate all the blocks.

Seems random - however one must think strategically. Well done!

The free version has 24 levels, the paid has 1000.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flipple: iphone puzzle app review

Flipple is similar to Lights Out. The object is to make all the tiles the same color. Double tap on one tile and that tile and its neighbors will Flipple! Here's where Flipple gets interesting: drag your finger along any row or diagonal and make just those tiles flip.

I have a friend who's a retired mathematics professor. He has compiled an extensive collection of Lights Out versions. He will be thrilled to see this one!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The New York Puzzle Party Symposium

The Schedule (still tentative)

10:00 Arrive
10:30 - 10:45 The Chinese Puzzle Exhibition by Peter Rasmussen

10:45 – 11:45 Lecture: The Making of a Virtual Puzzle by Robert Stegmann Please explore the link beforehand.

12:00 – 12:20 Lecture: Puzzles at the Museum of Mathematics George Hart
12:30 – 2:00 Lunch.

2:00 – 3:00 Puzzle buying/selling/trading

3:00 – 3:20 Lecture: Newest iphone Puzzle Apps by Tom Cutrofello

3:30 – 4:00 Mystery Lecture from a Mysterious Guest

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Slidetastic: iphone puzzle app review

Do you like the 15 Puzzle? There have been hundreds of variations. On first glance, this version seems easy. Not so!

The object: get the numbers in sequential order with the center blank. Notice the 2 diagrams: That level has 8 spokes - EASY. The second image has 4 spokes - harder.

Altogether there are 10 puzzles. I solved the first 9 puzzles in about 20 minutes. 9:17 on puzzle #9. Puzzle 10 - I'm stuck.

We look forward to future sliding tile puzzles from Chris Sell. Nice job!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tileavex: iphone puzzle app review

Many years ago I discovered edge-matching puzzles. One company, long forgotten, produced a series called Crazy Penguins and other Crazy Animals. Rubik came out with 4 versions called Rubik's Tangle. All were 5x5. If you had all 4 sets, you could make a 10x10. I spent many hours on just one of the 5x5 levels and did not succeed.

A company called Zoki produced an interesting series of edge-matching puzzles. Instead of producing a square, the objective was to make a 2x6. They also had a hexagonal series.

Tileavex has grid sizes from 3x3 to 7x7. .99 you can't go wrong! These are fun. Who knows, you may get addicted to these, like my friend Luc from Belgium who has an amazing collection of edge matching puzzles. is the company.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Vi Hart: Mathemusician

It isn't everyday the New York Times features a mathematician. Then again, Vi Hart is no ordinary recent math-major grad.

Watch her videos!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quell: iphone puzzle app: review

Quell is another tilt maze puzzle. The object: move the raindrop (blue circle) to collect all the golden dots.

Look at the red arrow. If the raindrop falls down onto that, it disintegrates. Landing onto it from the side or below - you're okay.

Look at the blue arrows. They point to wormhole.

I solved all 80 puzzles in about 2 hours. Good fun & well designed.

You should also download: Blaxx & Brain Freeze. Both are very similar but with different elements.

Lewis Boadle is the puzzle creator of Quell. We look forward to future level packs!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chrome - 8

Chrome - 8 is terrific! Slide the balls along the lines so that no ball is connected -by a line - to another ball of the same color.

150 'Apprentice' levels. Look at the top diagram - that's one of the 'Master' challenges. Notice the exclamation point. That item cannot move.

The second diagram: look closely. Do you see the outer ring around each of the balls? That ring designates what color ball should go in that slot.

I've done about 40 of the Apprentice levels and 5 of the Master levels. If you like Chrome - 8, try Subway Shuffle

Nice job Marten Saflund!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brain Freeze: iphone puzzle app review

Brain Freeze is a tilt puzzle. Not a dexterity puzzle! More like a tilt-maze puzzle.
The object is to match up like pairs - blue star with blue star - horizontally or vertically to make them disappear. Grey squares are walls. Black squares are black holes. If a pieces lands in the black hole - it's gone forever. Squares with a padlock cause an object to stick there forever.

Chrisoph Vogelbusch produced this great diversion. The XL edition has 400 challenges. I am on level 35 - after about 1.5 hours.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cryptoku: iphone and ipad puzzle app: review

We've seen dozens(maybe a hundred?) of variations of sudoku. Cryptoku is the zaniest. It's a combination of Tetris and Sudoku.

The white numbers are fixed - always the bottom row. As numbers fall, place them anywhere in the grid. If that number turns red, it's wrong. Green is correct. If the number turns orange, then the correct number is either 1 higher or 1 lower.

That's for the basic levels. Harder level: as the numbers fall, they increase in value. Look at the orange arrow. It's pointing to a Temporary number. It will fade away after about 10 seconds.

Crytoku has 50 levels. I'm on level 20 right now. One of the bottom numbers alternates between two numbers. Let's say the space alternates between 5 & 8. It's crazy! And fun!

Kira Hamilton is to thank or blame. Her note to me:

I actually thought up the name "Cryptoku" before I had any idea what the game was going to *do*. I was also inspired by the design on a MacHeist splash page from a few years ago (this one: My earliest design notes just say "sudoku meets tetris meets the matrix!" I knew I wanted it to be a falling-numbers sort of game; beyond that I had no idea :) I spent several months just figuring out how it would work. I tried a couple of different options with the boxes on the screen, but ultimately just went with the Sudoku-style grid, and numbers 1-9. The earliest designs actually *added* the numbers when a new number landed on a box that already had a number. But that was just impossibly difficult, even for brainiacs like me :) So now the numbers just replace the ones they land on. I also added in various computer-geek-type "hazards"... /tmp, rotating keys, and viruses are all real things in the computer world. In the game they just have some sneaky effects to confound the player. :) Anyway. Thanks for the review! Hope you enjoy the game. :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Numeric Paranoia: iphone puzzle app review

Listen up kiddies: Numeric Paranoia is one of the best iphone puzzle apps! It's topological in nature. Start at tile #1. Drag your finger over all the tiles. The #2 tile is not necessarily the next tile after #1, but it must come before the #3 tile. Meaning, there could be a slew of blank tiles between #1 & #2.

264 challenges in all. The updated version came out yesterday. No idea who the author is. Some guy who calls himself PurpleRobo! His web page has Korean characters.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Geo Magic Squares

Lee Sallows has written a book on Geo Magic Squares. I've not had a chance to peruse it. However, it is intriguing, though I do not claim to grasp the essence - yet!

On a side note: many people have written to inform me of Rubik's Cube iphone apps. Thanks. There are so many! I am interested in learning about the ones that offer something more novel.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cohabit: iphone puzzle app review

We admit: sudoku has gotten boring. However, there are many versions that tweak the rules and spice it up. Cohabit is one of them. The object is to assign a number AND color to each cell.

Look at the large photo. We already have green 1, 4 & 5. Can you see why green 2 must be placed in the bottom row in the 3rd column? Next, can you figure out where the green 3 goes?

Bryan O'Malley and his team have provided 4000 puzzles for $1.99 No need to buy sudoku puzzle magazines anymore.

The grid sizes: 3x3, 4x4, 5x5 & 7x7.

Remember: this blog only features great iphone puzzle apps. If you discover a puzzle app that I may not be aware of: shoot me an email. Or post a comment.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hipercubo: iphone puzzle app review

Many years ago I read Flatland by Edwin Abbott & Sphereland by Dionys Burger. I recommend both highly!

Now we have a wonderful 4-dimensional maze via a hypercube. I was not able to download and sample this set of puzzles because my ipod touch does not have the latest software. However, having watched the video of this, I am 1 step closer buying an ipad. Hipercubo will be the first app that I will download.

Roger Sodre from Brazil is the creator. He spent 6 months on this.

His note to me:
"Hipercubo is a puzzle game that takes place inside a Hypercube, a four-dimensional cube. Within it, there's 8 regular tridimensional cubes interconnected, each one of a different color. You can run through the cubes forever and never reach the end. The goal is to bring all the colors asked to the center of the Hypercube within the time limit. The first levels are easy, but as you progress through the challenge, it starts to get complicated, as connections are closed and obstacles atart to appear inside some cubes.

There's a Full Screen mode where you can appreciate the Hypercube being deconstructed with the accelerometer. With a TV or Video cable, you can watch it on a monitor or TV.

The new version now runs on iPad and is ready for the new Retina display on iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4. There's a new scoring system, based on cubes flipped, the level and speed, with global scoreboard managed by Apple's Game Center. You can also clone the game to a monitor or TV.

The distribution model have also changed. The game was free, with upgrade to the full game after the 10th level. Now there's the free Hipercubo Freestyle, including only the Freestyle mode, where you can flip the Hypercube as long as you can. The full Hipercubo have all the 56 challenge puzzles."

Hipercubo teaser video:

Full mode video:

Carl Sagan explains the nature of a Hypercube:

Hipercubo Full direct iTunes link:

Hipercubo Freestyle direct iTunes link:

Monday, January 10, 2011

BlockMan: iphone puzzle app review

Blockman is one of the best iphone puzzle apps of 2011. Trung Trang is responsible! "It's a remake of a similar game called BlockDude I used to play on my TI-83 Calculator." Brandon Sterner wrote the original puzzles for BlockDude.

The object is to move your man to the exit. He may lift blocks. Notice the first image: the blocks have numbers. The number indicates how many times that block can be lifted and moved. Another series of levels has blocks that can only be pushed

80 levels for .99 I have already spent 2 hours on this app and have solved 15 levels. Well worth the money!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Logix Arrows: iphone puzzle app review

Rob Cutler has produced a fine set of puzzles here. This is one of those puzzles that could never be presented for a solver to use pencil/paper.

The object: point all the arrows into the grid so that each numbered square is the target of that many arrows.

Rob has produced some other interesting puzzle apps. We'll report on those at a later date.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Steven Natanson: Maze Man

Steven Natanson is an artist is draws big wonderful mazes. Similar to Elizabeth Carpenter's work. Explore his web page!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Doug Engel's iphone circle puzzle app: review

My good friend Doug Engel is the most under-appreciated puzzle designer today. He produced these 3 circle puzzles in the mid 80's. This app duplicates them just fine.

However, I thought I knew everything there was - mathematically - to these puzzles & could solve them easily. Then Doug decided to expand his circle puzzles to demonstrate how truly complicated they could get.

For example

This puzzle: first align the colors, then make sure arrows point to 12 o'clock. It completely changed my entire analysis of these circle puzzles upside down.

Doug now calls these Battle Gear Puzzles and has added more pieces to some variations. Good God man!

Download the app!

Even better, go to Doug's site and buy the physical puzzles & the variations. Tell him I sent you & he might give you a discount if you order a lot.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Puzzle book announcement

Glenn Iba has a new puzzle book: "Round TripPuzzles" (PuzzleWright/Sterling Publishing) officially available Jan.4, 2011. Look for an announcement on his web page:

From Glenn: "Also available there (on-line only) is a "long book introduction" that was cut by the publisher. It goes into detailed analysis of solving strategies I've discovered for Round Trip puzzles. I think it might be of interest to some of you, especially if you tackle the more advanced puzzles. Very briefly, these puzzles (for those not familiar) involve finding Hamiltonian Cycles in a graph, where the cycle must include certain specified edges. Informally, you are asked to find a closed path(returning on itself) that visits every grid dot exactly once, and include all the specified links that define the puzzle. The required links are sufficient to guarantee that the solution is unique. My web site includes samples of these Round Trip puzzles, though they are named Grand Tour puzzles there ("Round Trip" is the original name -- I changed the name due to concern that the name might be"owned" by Dell Magazines where the puzzles first appeared). On my site, you can solve the sample puzzles interactively via java applets[NOTE: the puzzles in the book are all new -- they are different from the puzzles on my site]. I would appreciate hearing your reactions to the book, and would love hearing of any new strategies you discover (beyond or in addition to what I discuss in the "long intro" .pdf on my web site). You cane-mail me directly at: "". Thank you and happy puzzling!Glenn

Monday, January 3, 2011

Please don't Jailbreak your ipod/iphone.

First of all I object to the term ‘jailbreak’ in this situation. The term ‘jailbreak’ should bring to mind images of prison tunnels, a riot, guards being held hostage, tear gas, and mayhem. Now consider the iphone owner who ‘jailbreaks’ his iphone. Let’s move on.

A few days ago I was comparing favorite iphone apps with 2 guys. They instantly recommended that I ‘jailbreak my ipod touch and download everything for free.
I’m know those 2 guys would not recommend walking into a deli and stealing a candy bar. Yet, it’s okay to steal intellectual property if the owner never discovers it?
As a citizen of the US, or any nation, do people get to choose which laws to follow and which to ignore?

If you’re laughing these arguments off, consider this: very few iphone app programmers are making any money. The vast majority of iphone apps make peanuts or even lose money. As it is now, you can sample the ‘Lite’ version of an app, and then pay the .99 for the full version. This will encourage programmers to make more apps.

Don't be a cheapskate, pay for the program. If you choose to 'jailbreak' your iphone please don't boast that you're breaking the law; such actions and proclamations encourage others.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Blaxx Puzzle: iphone puzzle app review

Last month, this Mechanical Puzzle Correspondent received some 100 emails queries. Most often asked: can you solve every level of every puzzle? No, I cannot! Right now I'm stuck on level 62 out of 100 on a terrific puzzle, which I will review at a future date.

Which brings me to Blaxx. Stefan Ritter has produced a nice variation and combination of Sokoban and Lunar Lockout. In the first image above the white arrow points to your man. You must bump into the rainbow yin-yang balls to hit the red x's. The second photo shows an arrow that may switch directions. Another element, not shown, is the wormhole square - not on all levels. Free to download 5 sample puzzles. A level pack of 40 - I solved them all in about an hour and a half. I feel smart again! Note to Stefan: we look forward to level packs 2 & 3.