February 13th, 2011
It’s time for a big update! Amazon stunned game-lovers over the last 10 days by unveiling Kindle versions for two of the all-time classic board games. The first one was True Backgammon, created by a company called CompuLab — and I’m impressed. I thought I was a pretty good backgammon player, but the game has managed to beat me several times!
And just six days later, Amazon’s Kindle store got a full-featured Kindle version for the game of chess (developed by Oak Systems Leisure Software). I’d been trying to play chess online by pointing my Kindle’s web browser to a special URL that I’d created — tinyurl.com/kchess — which led to a chess-playing application on the web. It’s much nicer having a chess program tucked away on my Kindle, and it even lets you take back your moves if you discover that you’ve made a mistake! (There’s already been a chess game available for the Nook for the last 10 months…so it’s great to see that the Kindle has finally caught up.)
Just two weeks ago I’d written about 10 new games on the Kindle, but checking again, I see now that there’s ten more new games for the Kindle! The very next day 7 Dragons released a brand new game called Flip It. It’s a little bit like the board game Othello, because you’re studying a virtual board of black tiles which you’re trying to flip over to their white side. It’s a game “that starts out simple and gets more challenging as you play,” according to its description on Amazon — and they’re right! I’ve been playing this game since it came out, and while I solved the first few fairly quickly, I’ve reached a couple of levels that have really kept me thinking!
Meanwhile, just 10 days ago, Oak Systems Leisure Software was releasing another game — a nice Kindle version of the familiar Word Search. It let’s you use the five-way controller to draw a pencil line when you’ve spotted a word hidden in the big grid of letters — but the game also includes a lot of extra features, according to its description in the Amazon Kindle store. (“Play at your own pace or against the clock… You can reset each puzzle and try it again as many times as you like.”) I loved solving Word Search puzzles when I was a kid, so I’m glad to see that you can finally puzzle them out on the Kindle!
There’s also a very simple game that’s called simply Cat Jump. There’s 14 cats drawn in 15 squares that are stacked up to form a pyramid. (There’s just one cat in the first row, two in the second row, three in the third row, and four in the fourth.) Your mission? Get rid of all of the cats! (Except one.) You remove a cat from the board by jumping over it — just kind of like a game of cat checkers. It’s simple, but also tricky, like a classic old-fashioned brain teaser…but with cats!
I’ve also discovered a fascinating new variation on Sudoku from a game company called Puzzazz. Instead of numbers, you’re fitting symbols into the nine-square boxes, which transforms the traditional Sudoku game into something much more challenging, which they’re calling Symdoku Unbound. I have to admire the game-maker’s ingenuity, because it’s a game that would be difficult to play with a paper and pen — though it works perfectly on the Kindle! And they’ve even created another version of the game where you’re fitting letters into the nine-square boxes, called Worduko Unbound.
One of the top manufacturers, Electronic Arts, also has a slick version of the classic Sudoku game that’s just been discounted by 50%. Now it’s available for just $1.49, and it plays just like the classic number game that you’ve seen in your local newspaper. There’s still nine boxes (with nine squares each) where you’re trying to enter the digits 1 through 9. In fact, the Japanese word Sudoku roughly translates to “each number can occur only once” — and I’ve had a lot of fun studying Sudoku boards trying to find my way to the solution!
Plus, Amazon has released another new game for the Kindle that’s absolutely free. The free game is Video Poker, and it’s just like playing the poker slot machines in a Las Vegas casino. There’s a beautiful illustration of a “Jacks or Better” video-game display, and it “deals” you a five-card hand (where you’ll select which cards to keep). Amazon just released this game — three days before the Super Bowl — and it’s already become a huge hit. It became the #1 best-selling item in the Kindle Store’s “free” section, and 10 days later, it’s still holding on to the #2 position.
Triple Town is one of the best new games for the Kindle. Though it was released in October, it’s still one of the top 100 best-sellers in the Kindle store. It’s sort of a cross between Sim City and Tetris, since you’re given a randomly-chosen piece that you try to place on a 6 x 6 grid. Create the right combinations, and you can build castles, cathedrals, or even a floating palace up in the sky. But there’s also troublesome “wizard” pieces flitting across the grid, which can temporarily block the squares that you need to complete your combinations!
There’s another nicely-designed word game called Panda Poet. How to describe it? The pandas get larger depending on the length of the words you submit! Each round brings you extra letters — giving you even more chances to grow larger and larger pandas. You’ll get more letters to work with than you do in most word games, but it’s still fun to search carefully for the largest possible word. And of course, it’s also fun to see your pandas growing taller and wider…
By the way, here’s a handy tip for how to reach three more free games on Amazon. There’s a special shortcut at Amazon.com that will take you to the first three games ever released for the Kindle. After typing Amazon.com (and a slash), just type out the name of the game (in lowercase letters). The games were Every Word, Shuffled Row and Minesweeper — so here’s what you’d type into your web browser to reach their pages on Amazon.
All three of these games are free — and at the top of the page, you can click on the author’s name (where it says “by Amazon Digital Service.”) This will take you to a page listing all six of the games released by Amazon, including two more free games — Blackjack and Video Poker. The only game there that isn’t free is Dusk World, Amazon’s special graphic novel-style text adventure. But there’s also a similar shortcut for reaching that game’s page with your web browser — just type Amazon.com/duskworld
It still amazes me. Last summer there were only a handful of good games for the Kindle. But now, there’s a couple dozen!