Olde Puzzle Apps Worthy of Your Time

Reviews of Puzzle Apps

This area of TheMetagrobologist is devoted to a wide range of puzzle related articles, including recreational mathematics, puzzle apps and magic, education and apps.

Olde Puzzle Apps Worthy of Your Time

In the spring of 1981, I came up with my own solution to Rubik’s Cube. But I didn’t consider myself a puzzler. In the mid 90’s, I devoured the offerings from Binary Arts and wanted more. My second attendance at the International Puzzle Party was in Japan, 2001. While there, I discovered the many varieties of pencil puzzles published by Nikoli. I stuffed my suitcase with them.

Fast Forward to the present: Every week Apple’s App Store is publishing approximately 225 new puzzle apps. I scroll through them and download about a dozen that looks promising. Each year, there are approximately 25 gems. Unfortunately, they often go unnoticed and out of print.

Here are three old puzzle apps worthy of your time. Two are still available. The third is no longer on the App Store.

Blockhouse By Kory Heath
Blockhouse By Kory HeathThe blockhouse is a series of 100 tilt mazes. The objective is to move your man/men to the matching, shaded squares of the same color. Your Men will travel as far as they can until they hit a wall. Level 5 shows purple pillars that are fixed in place. Levels 25 & 61: two objectives must be achieved simultaneously. In Level 59, three separate mazes must be solved simultaneously.

The puzzle levels offer a good mixture of difficulty levels. The colours and graphics are excellent.

Cool graphics: After solving a Level, the program zooms out to the menu, then quickly zooms into the next level for instant addiction. When I see my students playing CandyCrush, I steer them to this game first.
The blockhouse was published 20-September-2009.


Up! By Csaba Tamas
Up! was published by Csaba Tamas in October 2010 and is sadly no longer available on the App Store. The reason is that older puzzle apps don’t generate sales.

Up! By Csaba TamasThe objective: move your man (the yellow square) from the bottom to the red door. The yellow man can swap positions with a neighboring square if and only if that other square is pointing at him. The yellow man is currently on cell C1. If he moves to C2, the green arrow at C2 will migrate to C1.

The solution path is C1 to D1, D2, C3, B3, A4, A5, B5, A6, A7, B7, C7, D7. Note: the exit must come from the left side.

These maze puzzles are not difficult. However, the swapping of blocks is a novel concept.

Interesting: the timer records the total time to solve all the puzzles. 45 minutes is sufficient to solve the approximate 40 levels. The largest grid size is 10 x 15. If you want to play this game, I’ll lend you my old iPod touch device!

Frogiz by Haim Shafir
The objective of Frogiz is to clear the board of the frogs and lily pads. Frogiz is a puzzle masterpiece. It is similar to a peg jumping puzzle in that all moves must be made vertically or horizontally. However, there can be several empty spaces between the objects.

Frogiz by Haim ShafirLook at the green frog in cell e5. There is no matching green frog in either its row or column. One possible path: move him to the square lily pad at b5. Then move him to b4. When that happens, the matching green frogs disappear while the square lily pad moves to b4.

Look at the pink frog at a5. She moves to a4 on the round lily pad. Then she and the lily pad travel to a2 where both matching lily pads dissolve. Finally, she moves to b2 and disappears with her match.

These puzzles are challenging and extremely fun. I was stuck on level 80 for about 3 weeks. (I used up all my available hints on level 34.) I have solved all 98 levels – and now I’m sad. I want more! Frogiz is one of the best iPhone puzzle apps. Unfortunately, it has not received the attention that it deserves.

Published 23 September 2010. 98 Levels

Tom Cutrofello blogs 5 days/week about puzzle apps: Contact him about any great puzzle apps you are playing:


Check out our other interesting puzzle articles:

An interview with puzzle box maker Dave cooper

An interview with Shane Hales

An interview with puzzle prototyper George Miller

The three main puzzles everyone should own!

An interview with Kim klobucher

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