Remember the time when crossword puzzles and sudoku mornings meant newspapers? In fact, remember newspapers? The mobile phone market, especially with the advent of the tablets – has been eating away from the printed paper’s market and mind share for a couple of years now, and the trend seems to be getting stronger. So you get all your news and entertainment on your mobile devices now. But how about those cute little puzzles that have been your companions for many a morning. How about the experience of striking off those clues on the crossword clues or penning down number after number in the sudoku grids?
Like most good things, these puzzles have also made their way to the smartphones and are in many ways better than their printed counterparts. When was the last time you kept score of your timing on the kakuro sprints? Let’s look at a few notable tree savers that give you just one more reason to get your Android out in the morning.
Crosswords: those classic, timeless puzzles that linguists love and non-linguists hate with equal vigor. Like them or not, crossword puzzles are by far the most popular rituals, going back a good few generations. Shortyz Crosswords attempt to recreate the experience of a crossword puzzle on the mobile with puzzles downloaded daily from the most popular publications around the world. All but the New York Times puzzles are free, and the app’s tablet-optimized interface makes it the best way to do crosswords on Honeycomb.
Crosswords is another app that downloads daily crossword puzzles from all over the world and lets you solve them at your time with a sleek and intuitive UI. There isn’t much to say about it other than that it is a paid app, and pretty expensive at that.
Not to be confused with the previous app, this one is just ‘Crossword’. The main distinction here is that this app comes loaded with 150 crossword puzzles ready to go. No need to wait for the daily puzzles to download every day. The app also features zoom in and out, a nice way to enter word directly next to the clues and have them reflect on the board, and integration with Twitter & Facebook.
The most painful thing about solving a crossword is when you get stuck – when you come across those sneaky words that are so close to the tip of the tongue but refuse to reveal themselves. Crossword Solver is a nice way to get over those mental blocks. Enter a pattern based on the clues you already have and the app will list all words that fit the bill. Sure, it’s cheating. But it’s way better than waiting for the next day’s paper for the answers.
In recent years, Sudoku has taken over crosswords as the top printed puzzle game. A lot of its success comes from its very simple, yet highly addictive concept. You solve the puzzle by writing the numbers 1 to 9 in every row, column and 3 x 3 square of a 9 x 9 grid. OpenSudoku is an open source implementation of the Sudoku puzzles for Android. The game features an intuitive touch-based entry system, the ability to download new puzzles or even create your own, and the usual score tracking functions.
Andoku Sudoku 2 takes the basic concept and adds a few of its own twists to the story with six variations of sudoku, eight difficulty levels in each and a total of over 10,000 unique puzzles. That should be good enough to keep one busy for a pretty long time. To top things up, the game is chock-full of the regular features like autosave, undo, and redo. It’s also optimized for Android tablets, a feat very few games in this roundup can boast of.
Half a dozen variations and 10,000 puzzles is all fine, but what do I do if I simply HAVE to solve that Sudoku from the newspaper in my dentist’s office? Just because I can’t write on that newspaper makes me want it even more. Well, Sudoku Geab’n'Play to the rescue. The app lets you take a picture of a Sudoku puzzle in the newspaper or anywhere else, and then automatically converts it into a digital version of the game, ready for you to solve directly on your phone.
Like with most puzzles, they’re great as long as you have the patience to continue solving them. If you are anything like me, you get frustrated really quickly the moment you are stuck in a game. The mobile versions of Sudoku obviously come with their own solutions, but what about those printed ones? Sudoku Solver does exactly what it says. Simply enter the values you already have on the board and the app will instantly figure out the other numbers and solve the puzzle for you.
You can speed this up even more by using Google Goggles. Just snap a photo of the puzzle and wait a few seconds.
If you like math-based puzzle games, a very recent hit in the global puzzle space is kakuro – a fun variant of the genre where you fill a board with numbers that total up to the clues provided. It may sound simple, but can be pretty daunting beyond the basic levels. Kakuro Do is a slick implementation of Kakuro on the Android platform, complete with sound effects, timers and score history. The app isn’t exactly stable, as is obvious from the comments on the Android Market, and it hasn’t been updated in well over a year, but if it works on your phone then it’s definitely worth picking up for free.
mPuzzle is different from the other games we have covered so far, in packs in a whole cocktail of math based logic puzzle games into a single package. You get Sudoku and its variant SudokuTo, Kakuro, Hitori and a few others. You can play up to eight levels in each category and the game provides tutorials and a hint system for all games.
SlitherLink by Tatsuya Kaido brings the seemingly simple newspaper puzzle to the Android where you create a single loop by connecting dots and using numbers as clues. Although this is not the most popular of newspaper puzzles, those who have played the game swear by its addictiveness and SlitherLink does a good job of recreating the concept for mobile devices.
Yep, there’s another game with exactly the same name (if you ignore the fact that the ‘l’ is in caps in one of the titles). This game, developed by Ejelta LCC, takes the slitherlink formula a few steps further by introducing pentagonal and hexagonal shapes to make things a bit more complex. The basic premise remains the same, but you have the choice of grid type and the ability to zoom in and out using multi-touch gestures for finer control.
So there you go – another reason to ditch the dead tree newspapers and go digital, at least for your morning puzzle routine. Of course, there’s a whole bunch of other puzzles that haven’t been featured here or have simply not made their way to the mobile world yet.
Have you transitioned from the newspaper to the mobile for your puzzles yet? What do you prefer? Let’s hear it in the comments.