Kindles are great for reading, but many people don’t know that they are also a great tablet for games, too. Each day, the Kindle App store selects a different game to feature for free, and a smattering of other apps are on offer as features as well—some are discounted and some are not, but they’re all placed in the spotlight. Our contributor Jen Schiller will take a look at those games every day, and every two weeks she’ll weigh in here for the best of the spotlight. In addition to the highlights, Jen will warn you about the greatest misses so you will know what to avoid. Tune in regularly to see what games are great and what games are massive flops in the Kindle App store. -ed.
Check out our last kindle review here.
Best Game of the Moment: Orbital <<<($2.99 in Amazon Appstore)>>>
I don’t really know how to describe Orbital, besides the fact that it’s addictive and heaps of fun. Orbital has three modes, all of which have to do with shooting balls off into a gridded space. “Supernova” has you shoot using a constant laser beam, “gravity” shoots balls that weigh on and warp the grid depending on how big they are, and pure has the cannon constantly rotating from side to side. In all three versions the goal is to destroy the same balls that you shot into the grid—the amount of hits they take to be destroyed is indicated by a number in the center of the ball. The balls get bigger the longer they bounce around the screen without an obstacle. Orbital can be played alone or with a partner—either way will provide you with hours of gameplay.
The Little Flash Game That Could: VVVVVV <<<$2.99 in Amazon Appstore>>>
VVVVVV is a fantastically difficult platformer that started out as a flash game. Since its humble beginnings, VVVVVV has become massively popular and available on almost every platform ever. It’s a bit of a pricey game, but it’s worth every penny. Hardcore Droid gave the title a 4.5 when we reviewed it back in June. You are a stranded captain of a space ship and you must go through treacherous obstacles to find and rescue the rest of your crew. There are two controls’ forwards, and reverse gravity. It seems easy enough, except that there are lots of moving parts that can easily lead to your demise if they are not expertly maneuvered. I’ve gotten all the way to the fourth or fifth room—I’ve lost count—and it took me a while to get there. One of the great things about VVVVVV is that there is no limit on your lives, you can fall into a pit of spikes as many times as you want before giving up. There are save points before major obstacles that you activate simply by walking through them, but some save points are as hard to access as the obstacles are to avoid. Good luck putting this one down.
Back to Basics: Pipe Puzzle- Premium <<<($.99 in Amazon Appstore)>>>
Some games are great because they remain simple. Pipe Puzzle is one of those games. There are no frills, no tricks, no extra elements. There are pipes, and puzzles that need to be solved with those pipes. It’s a nice return to games that need no introduction, among games that twist and distort classic genres with varying success. For all its simplicity, Pipe Puzzle is not “easy”. After a few levels the number of pipes you need to connect increases, and stationery pipe pieces are added to the board. You have to use all the pipe pieces offered to you. The game has 100 levels, and all are unlocked upon download.
Tap to Flap: Flappy Nyan <<<($.99 in Amazon Appstore)>>>
I missed out on Flappy Bird. Maybe I’ve explained that to you all before, but that’s not what matters here. What matters is that that simple, apparently infuriating game, has practically launched its own genre of games that want to piss off players as much as the original did. At least, I’m hoping that’s their goal, because if it is then Flappy Nyan is very VERY successful. Flappy Nyan is the first of these games I’ve found that lets you play in either direction on the screen. Plus as you play there are more and more skins unlocked. Right now I’m playing as Grumpy Nyan, because I don’t mind mixing my memes. My top score so far is 1. ONE PIPE. But I’ll die before I give up playing.
International Boggle: Master of Words <<<($2.99–free in Amazon Appstore)>>>
If you are familiar with Wordament, then you are familiar with the general idea behind Master of Words. What I like best about these games is that you play on the same board as others around the world, which confuses me because how are we all finding words when we speak so many different languages… but I digress. Both Wordament and Master of Games are variations on digital Boggle. Master of Words eliminates the letters as they are used, and your score depends on how fast you find words, how few mistakes you make, how many stars you clear from the board, and the length of the words you find. The longer you play the more special abilities you unlock–and you are never penalized for using said abilities. On the contrary, it seems that these abilities are a reward for your ever-growing addiction to this amazing little game of letters and intrigue. Master of Words is the game I found myself coming back to day after day this week, and I’m sure it will stay on my kindle for a while. You can choose between the free and PRO versions of the game.
Let Down of the Week: Sudoku <<<($.99 in Amazon Appstore)>>>
I don’t know what I was expecting from Sudoku. This title is literally just the game of Sudoku, but it has a few elements to it that confuse the hell out of me. The “options” screen makes absolutely no sense. There are plenty of elements to toggle, but I don’t actually know what any of them do. There’s a “highlight” option but I’m not really sure how it works. Some of the options make sense logically, but don’t actually effect how I play the game, which makes me wonder why they were programmed in in the first place. Once you lock in numbers on the board, they’re locked in whether you reset the board or not, so you can never really start from square one again. Additionally, you are assigned a puzzle randomly when you choose the size of your board, so there’s no way to control which puzzle you’re working on. You can use hint coins without ever earning them—they only penalize you by adding five minutes to your timer—but then you can wipe the timer back to zero by logging out and logging back in again. If the game is going to cheat on your behalf, fine. I can even forgive a glitch or two. But Sudoku is poorly programmed from top to bottom, and it makes what should be a relaxing game of numbers into an annoying experience.