The app store is a fabulous opportunity to distribute beautiful apps for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. And even Apple has got the message that gaming is big business! My long-term interest relates to puzzles, and I think the iPhone offers an excellent platform for advanced puzzles. However, the large majority of the puzzles that are available on the app store are simple duplicates of long known simple puzzles. Only a few are currently offering new approaches to the art of puzzling.

In this blog, I will present some more background about the history of puzzles and puzzle design, review available puzzles from the app store, and offer some suggestions in which direction developers might be looking for new and more interesting puzzles.



19 Responses to “About”

  1. Robert Abbott Says:

    Please take a look at my Theseus and the Minotaur maze. I think it’s the best puzzle game on the iPhone. Here’s the address:


    I also have a write-up of the game on my web site.

    About Chip’s Challenge and Sokoban: I’m one of the few people who has played the original Sokoban. I solved most of the puzzles, but I thought it was a little dull. However, when Sokoban is added to other elements (as in Chip’s Challenge) the results are fascinating. I have the version of Chip’s that came with Windows-95, and I have played it endlessly. If you see a game that looks derivative of Chip’s, maybe it is just derivative of Sokoban, not Chip’s.

    Here’s a game you might find interesting:


    It has a variation on the Sokoban rules. You move on top of the blocks and when you leave a block you push it backwards.

  2. Bob Hearn Says:

    Theseus and the Minotaur is a delightful puzzle. (Though naturally I disagree slightly about which is the best puzzle game on the iPhone. :-) )

    One of the things that intrigues me about Theseus and the Minotaur is that, unlike most puzzles, in a technical sense it’s easy — there’s an efficient algorithm for solving any puzzle (because there are only n^4 possible states, where the board is nxn). Most other interesting puzzles are NP-complete or harder to solve.

  3. Paul Carruthers Says:

    Please check out my game SlideRules. Superficially it’s a number puzzle, but when you get further in, it’s really more of a logic puzzle, and it does get very difficult.


    Also regarding Sokoban games, check out this free remake of a game called Xor that I did on the BBC Micro in 1986. The remake is by “Ovine by Design”. It does seem a little dated now, but I still get a kick out of it :)


    It’s not obvious, but click on the fish icon in the top right for downloads.

  4. Dick Lane Says:

    Combination by Chris Jefferson (http://www.bubblescope.net/) is worth a look.
    I also suggest a comparison of Shinro (http://www.romancini.com/Far_Apps/Shinro.html), Jabeh (http://www.jabeh.org/), and Shinro Mines (http://www.shinromines.com/).

    Thank you for creating a very informative blog. Your remarks about ancestry and families of puzzles are especially interesting.

  5. James Brown Says:

    You might be interested in my new puzzle game, Ancient Frog:


    It’s an original game. The aim is to manoeuvre your frog across the board, with the restrictions that only one leg can move at a time, and only one foot can occupy a location at a time.

    There’s no time limit or anything like that – it’s just you, a little frog, and some beautiful environments.

  6. Carrie Says:


    I wanted to invite you to check out my new puzzle game, Colorific. I tried to take a new direction and create a different kind of puzzle/strategy game based on additive color blending. The youtube video is available http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HgIis0R6IA&feature=channel to give you an idea of how it works.

    Best Wishes,
    Carrie Segal

  7. Law School Student Says:

    Hi Michael,

    I wasn’t able to find any contact info on this blog, so instead of a private email I’m writing publicly.

    This is a great blog, providing the very useful service of classifying iPhone puzzle games. No doubt about that. But there’s so much text devoted to whether game authors give credit to prior similar games. It’s distracting, and it takes away from the utility of the blog.

    I won’t bore you with the details of intellectual property law, but it’s totally legal to steal ideas, and in fact, some would argue that doing so is essential to the progress of arts and science. No, you can’t infringe on patents; no, you can’t use someone else’s trademark for your similar product; no, you can’t duplicate someone’s copyrighted computer code or sprites. But after that, the sky’s the limit. If I write the 10,000th Tetris clone and claim it’s my own, that’s my right.

    Is it cool to acknowledge history? Sure. History’s cool, especially for history buffs.

    But does every songwriter need to include a list of influences at the end of the music? Must the reverse side of every painter’s canvas disclose every similar prior painting or style?

    Again, it’s cool to give credit to your predecessors. But a blog complaining about how people aren’t cool is…. well, kind of boring. Please keep telling us the history of popular games, but please don’t get mad when others don’t.

  8. Michael Cysouw Says:

    Hi nobody/law school student,

    I like to have these kinds of comments to be made in public!

    And I know it is legal to steal ideas, but I am a scientists in my daily life, and the most important thing in my profession is to acknowledge your sources. So, I think this talk about predecessors is partly my professional quirk. It’s a bit like I am the history buff you are talking about. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to take that with the rest of package :-).

    And you know, it’s so easy to give credit. It won’t cost you anything, it won’t hurt anybody. It’s just plain nice and social to say that you got this nice idea from so-and-so and that you are developing it further. Also, people often forget how much love and devotion went into making a particular puzzle. As a part-time puzzle designer myself I know how difficult it is to make a really good balanced puzzle: not too difficult, interesting, with a good twist.


  9. Peter Grabarchuk Says:

    Dear Michel,

    I think it will be interesting for you to review new great puzzle for iPhone/iPod touch – Magnetic Block Puzzle (www.kissthemachine.com/magnetic/) from Kiss the Machine (www.kissthemachine.com), based on puzzle concept by Andrea Gilbert (www.clickmazes.com).

    As for me it very interesting and nicely developed app. Definitely I can put this puzzle near such great puzzle apps as Subway Shuffle from Bob Hearn and Theseus and the Minotaur from Robert Abbott.

    Happy puzzling,
    Peter Grabarchuk

  10. Michael Says:

    Hi Michael,

    I thought I’d tell you about Magnetic Block Puzzle – see http://kissthemachine.com/magnetic/.

    It started life as what I believed at the time to be an original concept, but evolved to be very similar to http://www.clickmazes.com/magb/ixmagb.htm. The puzzles themselves however differentiate it from this version – there are 110 meticulously designed puzzles, which offer some good challenges as you progress (naturally, it’s very easy to begin with).

    I believe it’s quite different to most of the puzzle games on the app store and I’d love your opinion. Check out the lite version (which has 20 of the 110 puzzles), or mail me for a promo code for the full version.


  11. Rory O'Bryan Says:

    Hi Michael,

    Just wanted to drop you a note to introduce you to my puzzle game “Connected” it’s a cross between Road Block and Plumber style games, but even so I think it’s quite original and I haven’t seen a similar game elsewhere. I’ve put together a press page with all the info at http://www.madeupsoftware.com/connected/press.html

    I will gladly send you a Promo code if you would like one, and would be really interested to know what you think.


    Rory O’Bryan

  12. Marvin Says:

    Hi Michael,

    I’d really like for you to try “What is this App?”, a new puzzle app for the iPhone and iPod touch. It just may be the most difficult puzzle in the App Store. As its title suggests, the app challenges users to figure out the app’s identity, how to use it, and what its used for. It’s available at:


    It currently has an average 4-star rating so I think you’ll really enjoy it. Please contact me if you’d like a promo code and let me know if you’ve got questions.

    Thank you,

  13. James Eadon Says:

    Hi, I was unable to find a “contact us” link, so I am contacting you here :)
    I have invented and released Culica, an iPhone / iPod Touch game on the app store.
    The press release is here:
    More on the game is here
    Please could you mention or even review the game on your puzzlingiphone blog? I have a promo code, email me if you would like it, it works in the US only apparently.
    Thank you and great site!

  14. Rogers George Says:

    Humbly submitted for your consideration, yet another iphone game:

    Nurikabe Vault

    Nurikabe is nikoli puzzle type I’m sure you’ve heard of; Nurikabe Vault is a collection of 500 original nurikabe puzzles, in a slick player app with all the trimmings. (As part of the development process, I also wrote a solver, editor, and generator for my own use.)
    It is the third nurikabe game on the app store, and, if I do say so myself, whomps the other two: there’s openfeint support, including challenges; the art is varied and original; and the puzzle collection is huge and high-quality.
    A promo code for free download is NHY4FMKXR6AE, and if someone grabs that one before you see it, just email me for a fresh one.

    I am an independent, solo developer, and this is my first app store submission. Let me know what you think!

  15. Neville Attard Says:

    Hi Michael,
    We have created a simple yet addictive puzzle game for Apple’s iPhone/iPod
    Touch. It has been approved by Apple a couple of days ago, and is now available
    on the AppStore.


    If you would like a promotion code to try it out, just email me.

  16. miguel_roboso Says:

    take a look at chromixa, it’s nice (it’s not mine :) )

  17. Dumitru Ban Says:

    Hi Michael,

    I’ve just launch the first version of the iGlobe 38, an application based on the Hungarian Globe mechanical puzzle. It is a spherical puzzle with the map of earth on its surface. The aim of the game is that the original picture of the earth is to be restored by the rotation of the sliding elements.

    Here are some links:
    App website – http://www.dako.ro/iglobe38
    Youtube video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srJwd7XjEvU
    App Store – http://itunes.apple.com/app/iglobe-38/id469911114?mt=8

    I can provide you a promo code if you want to review it.

    Thank you,

  18. Juan Carlos Says:

    Hi Michael,

    I just published a game, Fruitzzle, you can check it out in the App Store:

    Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fruitzzle/id444322327?ls=1&mt=8

    I see you’ve got real good experience with puzzles and I think you might find this one interesting. Please let me know if you want a promo code and I’ll send you one.

    Kind regards,

    Juan Carlos.

  19. Ian McColm Says:

    Hi Michael,
    Myself and a friend have recently released a new 3D puzzle app on the App Store.
    The puzzle is a ‘world’s first’ in the sense that never before has there been a 3D transparent slider puzzle produced! Obvious? perhaps… but it has never been done before! For this reason I hope you will agree with us that we have created a new approach to the classic sliding puzzle.

    We are currently free on the app store and can be found here:


    Alternatively you can see a couple of videos on youtube here:


    Many thanks for your time.

    Kindest regards,

    Ian McColm

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