If you are like me, you like your FPSs and RPGs on a desktop Mac with a mouse and keyboard (wired not wireless), your head-to-head Sports and Racing games on an HDTV-based console game system with a controller (wireless not wired), and the more social, location-based challenges on your handhelds with GPS capabilities built-in. So where does the iPad fit in to this perfect gamers lifestyle of infinitely available devices? I have found myself gravitating more towards graphically intensive puzzle games on my iPad. Not the tired old handheld favorites like Bejeweled, Tetris or Trism, but rather newer puzzle games with a lot more to offer both visually and with ever-expanding challenges and levels along a central theme.
Osmos for iPad ($4.99)
This game has recently topped my list of most time-consuming games. Base on the theory that water will move from an area of lesser concentration to an area of creator concentration, this game sets up a series of challenges where the player must pursue becoming the largest blob on the screen. Tapping, swiping, pinching and zooming, this game is more physics than chemistry. Even the soundtrack draws you into its own immersive universe in a way that we all were convinced Spore was going to do. This game definitely rewards patience and requires a subtle touch to master. There are plenty of different challenges and there are just enough skill levels in the game so that the difficulty increases at a pace that teaches rather than punishes.
Zen Bound 2 Universal ($2.99)
I was consumed by Tangram Pro on the iPhone, and was looking for a similar experience on the iPad. Sadly none of the existing Tangram games on the iPad were of the same quality as the one made by Embassy Interactive for the iPhone. Then I started playing Zen Bound on my iPad. I tried it previously on my iPhone and while the graphics were impressive, I felt that something was missing. What was missing was the screen size. On the iPad I found this game to be more of a pleasure to play. The game play is similar to the real world wooden, rope and interlocking steel ring puzzles you can pick up at truck stops and antique stores. With nearly 10″ screen on the iPad, this game comes alive and does not feel like it belongs on the end of a keychain like it did when playing it on an iPhone or iPod touch.
Little Things ($2.99)
If you really like staring at your iPad for extended periods of time, this is the game for you. A look and find variation that sounds simple enough to play, but it pulls you in and finds a rather subtle way to challenge even the most confident among us all. This is also a game where two can play along side one another. It is a great game to play with a child, but still interesting enough to play alone as an adult. There is a timer, and you can solicit hints along the way. You will feel a bit of the adrenalin and anxiety kick in when it takes you a little longer than you would like to find the next object in the list. Where’s Waldo when you need him?
Enigmo Deluxe ($2.99)
I first played this game on my MacBook Pro several years back. It is again a physics based game where you must direct various streams of liquid into different collectors using all kinds of tools and instruments to divert the streams along the way. Reminiscent of creating your very own Rube Goldberg machine, this game challenges us all to build the better mouse trap. Like Zen Bound, the larger screen lends itself to a better experience than the version on the iPhone as the tools you need to interact with are easier to move around and rotate. The real draw of this particular version of Enigmo is the level creator. I use to spend countless hours on a Macintosh Classic creating levels in Lode Runner. The experience here is about the same. If you like to build things, this version of Enigmo is for you.
Jelly Car 2 on iPad ($2.99)
A little more platform than puzzle, and at the same time a little more puzzle than platform, this game is uniquely challenging and fun. With a sketchbook flare and breaking the laws of physics in a way that only the most classic of Saturday morning cartoons could do, this game will force you to re-learn everything your high school science teacher drilled into you. The premise of the game is simple, drive a car across the screen to capture a little flag. If only the execution of this most simple of tasks were just as easy as it sounds. Like Enigmo, Jelly Car comes with a level editor as well. There is definitely a little less zen and a little more frustration than the other games mentioned above when your Jelly Car falls of a cliff, constantly ends up on it back, and bounces out of control.
What are your favorite mind-bending games on the iPad?