Fun puzzle apps are handy to have on your phone. Keep them ready when you need to clear your mind. Maybe you are stuck in the office on a Friday afternoon, or trapped in a car on a long road trip, or waiting on a flight that is delayed. Puzzle apps can help make that time more enjoyable.
The apps can also help avoid the oft-repeated question, "Are we there yet?" from your young travelers.
But puzzle apps can do more than entertain you. They can also improve your mental skills, to help keep you sharp. While you are having fun, your brain can be solving problems, learning new English words and more.
Warning: These games may be addictive! Only start playing them if you have time for fun.
If you are a fan of the classic video game Tetris, you will enjoy 1010! This puzzle game is a lot like Tetris but without the time pressure.
1010! shows a game board of 10 spaces across and 10 spaces down.
In each part of the game, you get three shapes to place on the board. The shapes are similar to the Tetris shapes and are made from squares. You must place them on the boards in the free spaces.
Like Tetris, in 1010! a row or column is cleared if it is filled with squares.
Players earn points when they clear rows and columns. Clearing the board is also important to have enough open spaces to place the shapes.
This video shows how 1010! works:
As with Tetris, you cannot really "win" at 1010! The game is over once your board is too full to fit another shape. But the higher you score, the better. And you can always try to beat your best score.
You can find tips and tricks to master 1010! on the app’s website under “Tips, Tricks and Such.”
1010! is available for free. An in-app purchase is available to remove ads.
Monkey Wrench is a word search game with a twist: you have to clear the board by finding words.
Each puzzle has categories of words you must find. The categories may be from history, sports, pop culture, music, food, people and more. Instead of letters being in a square, letters in Monkey Wrench are in hexagons. The first letter of each word is darkened.
Swipe your finger along the letters when you find the word. The word will be cleared from the puzzle. When you clear all of the words you have solved the puzzle.
You can choose from three levels of difficulty: easy, medium and hard. The easy level shows the words you must find. Medium gives you the first letter of the word and shows how many letters are in each word. Hard shows you how many letters are in each word but no letters are given. You have to figure out the words yourself.
This video shows how Monkey Wrench works. The puzzle in the video is at the medium level:
Monkey Wrench starts off with a free pack of 50 puzzles. Each day a new free puzzle is added. Players can buy puzzle packs or just wait and play a free puzzle each day.
Monkey Wrench for iPhone and iPad
Monkey Wrench for Amazon Fire tablets
People who enjoy the number puzzle game Sudoku will be happy to know that now it’s as close as your phone! The Sudoku app means you can play this interesting game wherever you are.
Sudoku players fill in numbers on a grid of nine squares. Each square is divided into another nine squares. Each row and column in the grid must have the numbers 1-9 filled in without repeats. Each large square must have the numbers 1-9 within it, again without repeats.
Some numbers are provided and it is up to you to fill in the rest. The game can be simple on an easy level where lots of numbers are provided. Or the game can be difficult with very few numbers provided.
The Sudoku app from the developer Finger Arts offers different themes so you can make your board look the way that works best for you.
You can play at different levels from easy to expert. Try each to find the level best for you.
When you fill in the grid with three mistakes or fewer, you win!
The goal of this app is to have a string of wins. If you have four or more mistakes, you can continue playing but your string will be broken.
This app offers many different settings permitting you to make changes so the game is more enjoyable.
Sudoku from Finger Arts is available free for the iPhone and iPad.
Sudoku + is from the same developer but removes ads. Sudoku + is available for just under $5.
Many free Sudoku apps are in the app stores. Also check out Sudoku from Branium Studios.
Branium Sudoku for iPhone and iPad
Branium Sudoku for Amazon Fire tablets
7 Little Words
7 Little Words is another word game app from the developer of Monkey Wrench. But instead of trying to find words, you have to put puzzle pieces together to figure out words.
To play 7 Little Words, players read clues for seven different words. The clues tell the meanings of the words and how many letters are in each word.
Below the clues are puzzle pieces that are groups of letters. Players must put together the groups of letters to form the word. Form all seven words to win the game.
Like Monkey Wrench, 7 Little Words is a free app and players are given a puzzle pack with free puzzles. Each day a new free puzzle is added to the game. You can buy additional puzzle packs if you cannot wait for tomorrow's puzzle.
7 Little Words for iPhone and iPad
7 Little Words for Amazon Fire tablets
The game is also available on the 7 Little Words website and in French at 7 Petits Mots.
Sembl is a free puzzle game that shows you a shape with colors and patterns. You then try to match it with the same shape that starts out blank.
You can add patterns and colors, spin the shape, and cut it to try to make it look the same as the one above. To make the game more difficult, players must make the changes in the right order to match the shapes.
Sembl has Journey setting, an untimed version of the game, or Challenge mode, which is timed and more intense.
This video shows how Sembl works:
The game starts out easy but gets more difficult as players rise through the levels. The app has 32 levels with 190 total puzzles.
Sembl is free for iPhone and iPad.
I’m Dan Friedell. And I’m Caty Weaver.
Carolyn Nicander Mohr wrote this report for VOA Learning English. Catherine Kelly Weaver was the editor.
Have you played any of these puzzle apps? Do you have any suggestions for fun puzzle apps? Do you like playing games that make you think?
Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below or on our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
puzzle - n. a question or problem that requires thought, skill, or cleverness to be answered or solved
entertain - v. to provide amusement for (someone)
addictive- adj. very enjoyable in a way that makes you want to do or have something again
fan - n. a person who likes and admires someone (such as a famous person) or something (such as a sport or a sports team) in a very enthusiastic way
classic - adj. used to describe something that has been popular for a long time
row - n. a horizontal section of a page; items that are next to one another
column - n. a vertical section of a page; items that are underneath and above each other
category - n. a group of people or things that are similar in some way
hexagon - n. a flat shape that has six angles and six sides
grid - n. a pattern of lines that cross each other to form squares on a piece of paper, a map, etc.
theme - n. the color and style of a website or app