pdrydia's Blog

Posted on Sep 20th 2015 at 10:00:00 AM by (pdrydia)
Posted under ios, iphone, puzzle

I was originally going to write a blog entry on iOS retro ports. The problem is that retro ports on iOS are universally pretty terrible.  Games made to be played with a joystick, D-pad, or keyboard simply don't convert well to the touch screen.

Some games, however, do work very well on iOS. Puzzle games in particular flourish on iOS, for the same reason they do on the DS; the touch screen is well-suited for the genre, allowing you to manipulate puzzle pieces or the puzzle board in a direct, intuitive manner. The impreciseness that sometimes comes with controlling a touchscreen with your finger can be frustrating in more action-oriented titles, but many puzzle games are much more forgiving of this device flaw.

Unfortunately, on the app store the success of one puzzle game will inevitably be followed by 50 sub-par clones. The iOS store is so overrun with puzzle games that it can be difficult to find one worth playing. Need help sorting through the masses? Here are a few of my favorites:

Blendoku - The Puzzle Game About Color (Lonely Few)

Despite the name, this game really doesn't have anything to do with sudoku. In Blendoku, you are presented with the task of lining up a series of colored playing pieces according to how they would blend as pigments. Each puzzle has a few preset tiles to help you along your way and there is a useful hint system to help you with tougher puzzles. This game is lots of fun for artists or those of us who just like playing with pretty colors.

This download is 17.0 MB, requires iOS 5.0 or later, and is compatible with iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. It is optimized for iPhone 5 and there are 500+ levels that are free to download, with additional levels as DLC. Supposedly, this has been updated to be colorblind friendly, but I have no idea how. (And there's apparently a second Blendoku game out now by Benjamin Moore & Co., which is a paint company. It has fewer puzzles, but it's free, so if you somehow manage to finish all the puzzles in the Lonely Few game and want some more without paying money, there's that for you.)

Blip Blup

In this game, you are presented with a playing field consisting of a connected series of squares. When you tap on a square, it (and every square in line of sight of the 8 cardinal and intermediate directions) fills with color. Your goal is to color all of the squares within a limited number of taps. Special squares are introduced, including squares that need to be colored multiple times, directional squares, and instant death squares. The game gets difficult very quickly, especially if you are trying to get 3 stars on all of the puzzles.

The download is 35.6 MB, requires iOS 4.3 or later, and is compatible with iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. It is optimized for iPhone 5 and costs $2 for 140 levels or you can play a free version with 120 levels, if you don't mind ads.

Color Zen

In this game, you are presented with a screen of variously colored geometric shapes, framed in a border of one of those colors. Some of these shapes can be moved freely with touch screen controls. When two shapes of the same color touch, they fill up the surrounding area with that color. The goal is to remove shapes in this way until the screen is removed of all shapes and the field is the same color as the border color. As the game progresses, additional mechanics are introduced, such as white and black shapes that have special matching rules, shapes with dotted outlines that can be "frozen" in place, and special levels where moving one shape moves another. The description may be a bit hard to follow, but it's an incredibly simple game to understand when it's in your hands. It's perfectly suited to the touch screen and very relaxing to play (it's also designed to be colorblind friendly).

Color Zen is 40.8 MB and requires iOS 5.1 or later. It is compatible with iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, optimized for iPhone 5. There are 20 simple levels that are free to download and additional levels are paid DLC. It was also released on 3DS and WiiU.


In this simple game, you are presented with a virtual puzzle box and are tasked with pulling it apart. It is an excellent game for fans of those wooden and metal mechanical puzzles and is very satisfying to play with on the touch screen. There are four sets of 27 puzzles each.

Interlocked is 20.2 MB, requires iOS 4.3 or later, and is compatible with iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. It is optimized for iPhone 5 and costs $1, though you can play a much smaller and easier version for free on your browser. There is a game that is very similar to it called Unlock (also $1).


Loopical is a puzzle where your goal is to fill the board with one solid, looping line that never crosses itself. Hint tiles are placed to guide you in building the solution. If you like logic puzzles like Picross, Sudoku, or any of the Nikoli puzzles, this game should be right up your alley. If you just like Picross, consider checking out the publisher's other game, PathPix. There are 108 levels and if you like this app, there's Loopical Pro with even more puzzles.

This game is 16.4 MB, requires iOS 7.0 or later, and is compatible with iPhone/iPad/iPod touch.  It is optimized for iPhone 5/iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus.  It costs only $1, but there is a separate, free Lite version you can download to try out the game.


If you have ever played a Sokobon (Boxxle) game, this game plays similarly. You control a drop of water (two in some later levels) and move it in cardinal directions with swipe controls. Your goal is to collect all of the dots on the field. To do so, you must make good use of the environment, including features such as one-way and moveable blocks, while avoiding hazards such as spikes and infinite loops. This is a beautiful game, both in terms of visuals and music, and the difficulty curve is perfect.

Quell+ is 48.7 MB, requires iOS 6.0 or later, and is compatible with iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, optimized for iPhone 5/iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus.  It costs $2, with in-app purchases for hints and the like and has two sequels, Quell Reflect+ and Quell Memento+. There's a similar game with a retro aesthetic called Squarescape, and another similar (but much more simplified) retro-looking game called Stompem (both free). Try Escapology, too. Hey, turns out there's a lot of these games!

Rolling Kongs

Rolling Kongs, like many puzzle games, tasks you with clearing a puzzle board of playing pieces. Playing pieces are variously colored squares that can be moved by rolling the entire puzzle board 90 degrees left or right (which affects all playing pieces at once). You can only clear playing pieces when they form a like-colored group that has at least one 2-by-2 brick of pieces. When this happens, you can tap the group to destroy it. Levels are short, but there are a lot of them (456). This game may not be colorblind friendly.

The download is 47.5 MB, requires iOS 4.3 or later, and is compatible with iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, optimized for iPhone 5. It costs only $1.

Talesworth Adventure Ep. 1

In this game, you are tasked with safely guiding Questy, a very stupid adventurer, through a dungeon. By default, he only walks a certain way, so you must set up certain icons (gold, for instance) to alter his default walking path so that he will get to the exit, and not walk into a bottomless pit or a nasty troll. This is the smallest of these games, there are 30 levels (plus 3 hidden bonus levels).

Talesworth Adventure Ep. 1 is 5.8 MB, requires iOS 3.2 or later, and is compatible with iPhone 3GS/iPhone 4/iPhone 4S/iPhone 5/iPhone 5c/iPhone 5s/iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus/iPad/iPod touch (3rd gen)/iPod touch (4th gen)/iPod touch (5th gen)/iPod touch (6th gen). There is a sequel, the creatively named Talesworth Adventure Ep. 2. Talesworth Adventure Ep. 1 sells for $1 and is free on your browser ($2 for the sequel).


I will never stop recommending this game - it's just so tidy and beautiful. In this game, you are tasked with drawing tracks in order to lead trains from their starting stations to their goal stations. Train cars are the same color as their starting station and must end up in a goal station that matches their color. It starts off simply, but new mechanics are introduced as the difficulty ramps up. The difficulty curve is perfect and to make things better, you can design and share your own puzzles. It has a colorblind mode and 150+ levels.

Trainyard is 8.1 MB, requires iOS 3.0 or later, and is compatible with iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. It costs $1, but there's also Trainyard Express, a "lite" version you can download to try out the game to see if you like it.

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Q by iliac is also available on iOS i believe.

I think the one letter title makes it less likely that people would come across it.

I've had fun with it on Xbox One.
I'd never heard of Q, but I looked it up and it looks interesting. Thanks for letting me know about it!
I'm a big fan of puzzle games, especially when it comes to quick, easy to pick up and put down games on my phone.  All of these sound very interesting and fun. Thanks for the suggestions!
Glad to help. :]

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