They go by all kinds of different names — nonogram, picross, hanjie, griddlers, paint by numbers, and more — but there’s something magical about picross games. Like a cross between minesweeper and sudoku, it’s a pure test of logic. You find the hidden image by filling squares on a grid, given clues for how many — both altogether and in succession — are in each row and column.
It takes only seconds to learn, but you could spend your whole life mastering the formula, and it’s incredibly addictive — not only have I wiled away many an hour, but I got my sister-in-law, brother, and girlfriend hooked at one time or another. And I’ve scoured the Play Store for the best in picross action on Android. Here are my 10 favorites.
Games have been aping Indiana Jones since Raiders of the Lost Ark burst into the cinema in 1981, but few execute on their vision as well as Relic Rush — a retro-styled one-touch game of racing through dungeons and tombs in search of treasure.
It’s pretty light on depth, but it’s so well made and cleverly conceived as to be a glorious distraction worthy of the hour or two time investment.
There’s something strangely cathartic about watching cute cartoony animals marching off to their doom, oblivious to the dangers that lie ahead. Lemmings was great not just for its level design and presentation but also for the way in which its blissfully ignorant critters were always mere seconds from annihilation.
EliteWare’s debut Android game, The Penguin Trials, harks back to this Amiga masterpiece with helpless penguins that need guidance from a higher power to herd them safely from igloo to flag pole. It’s far from perfect, but the quirky concept and clever level design make Penguin Trials a worthy test of your time.
Blowing up cartoony worms is more fun than it sounds. Team17’s Worms series exploded onto the PC gaming scene in 1995, adding a touch of Lemmings-esque dark humor to the formula of taking turns to shoot projectiles at an opponent across a deformable landscape.
The cute little critters wasted little time after conquering the Amiga, expanding to several other platforms and a franchise with more than a dozen entries. Now they’ve set their sights on Android with the excellent Worms 2: Armageddon. And the good news is that the series is intact and just as compelling on mobile.
The best puzzle games are elegant, simple, and challenging all at once. Tetris, Drop7, Bejeweled, Peggle, and Picross all share this quality, testing your ability and working your brain no matter whether you’re a total newbie or a seasoned expert.
Abstract Connect Four lookalike 7×7 does an admirable job emulating these classics in an innovative and visually-polished package, but it falls at the last hurdle. It hooks you instantly and holds your interest, yet never quite captures the magic you expect it to.
I’m loving the current trend of old games getting polished up and ported to new platforms. It exposes new audiences to ideas that maybe don’t get the due they deserve nowadays, dishes out nostalgia to fans of the original, and explores how old-school gaming can adapt to the pick-up-and-play modern world.
But it’s not often one of my old favorites gets a reboot. Galactic conquest game Spaceward Ho! was a mainstay on the Mac in the 90s, burning through five major revisions over 13 years and helping pave the way for the likes of Mater of Orion and Gazillionaire, and now it’s been resurrected for Android. Let’s see how classic holds up.
There’s more than one way to skin a city-building game. The delightful Triple Town already showed the world that the basic gameplay concepts and the core mechanics of SimCity could be distilled into a turn-based puzzle game. Now MegaCity tackles the genre, boasting a “Tetris meets SimCity” hook that turns your city into a never-ending carousel of urbanization.
It’s fun, clever, challenging, and original, but the reliance on a luck-based building queue holds MegaCity back from utter brilliance. Let’s take a look.
Games have a knack for making boring, dull, or difficult tasks seem fun and interesting. They engage players, rather than putting them to sleep, and make it easier to learn through action and experimentation.
Light-Bot, which started life as a web game but is now available for Android, serves as a brilliant introduction to programming. It teaches logic through puzzles that require you to guide a robot through a level by writing step-by-step instructions for its movement. And it’s fun to boot.
There’s no shortage of camera apps on Android, with multiple options covering almost every niche imaginable. But sometimes one breaks through the noise with impressive filters or awesome features to wow you.
Pencil Camera HD is one such app. Similar to the popular Paper Camera, it applies sketch-like, painting-style, or texture-overlay filters to your photos and videos, to sometimes-incredible results. Let’s take a look.
To people of a certain age, point-and-click adventure games hold enormous nostalgic appeal. Millions of people fondly remember the quirky blend of comedy, puzzles, and absurd fun from the likes of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, King’s Quest, and their ilk.
The Great Fusion draws its inspiration from the classics of the genre. But it somehow manages to pull the worst that the point-and-click adventure has to offer, with thin dialogue, illogical puzzles, and a need to read the designer’s mind to get anywhere.
It’s hard to recommend, but the low barrier to entry and copious referencing of graphic adventures gone by make the game at least worthy of consideration.