A New Free Kindle Game From Amazon!

Amazon Free Kindle game screenshot - Dots and Lines

Thursday Amazon released yet-another free game for the Kindle. It’s called Dots and Boxes, and it’s a very attractive rendition of one of the classic mathematical strategy games.

Amazon’s game was actually invented more than 150 years ago, by a famous French mathematics professor named Edouard Lucas. (According to Wikipedia, he invented another classic math game — the Tower of Hanoi puzzle — which was also recently adapted into a game for the Kindle 120 years after his death.) Lucas once discovered a 40-digit prime number by performing all the calcuations by hand! But what’s funny is that Lucas himself tried to market a version of “Dots and Boxes” back in the 1800s, saying the game’s author was “N. Claus de Siam” (which was really just an anagram for “Lucas d’Amiens” — acknowledging the city in north France, where he was born).

It’s a game which is traditionally played with a pencil and paper, but Amazon’s created a slick update. Players take turns drawing lines between the dots on a grid — and if a player’s line forms the fourth side of a box, a picture of an animal appears inside to show that they’ve claimed the entire square. “Your goal is to beat your opponent by completing more boxes than they do,” Amazon explain in the game’s instructions, but the game is surprisingly difficult. The first time I tried playing a game against my Kindle, the Kindle actually managed to beat me! (“Wow! The Kindle is really smart and very tricky,” posted one reviewer on Amazon.com.)

But I really liked how Amazon indicated which player had claimed the square — using either a lion’s head or the head of an elephant. There’s also a nice illustration of the two animals above each of the menus (which are framed with vines and flowers.) Even when you’re scrolling through the menus, the “selection indicator” is an elephant’s head on one side and an lion’s head on the other. I think it would’ve been fun if Amazon had just decided to call the game “Elephant Heads and Lion Heads.”

This makes the seventh free game that Amazon has released. (Less than a month earlier, Amazon released — Number Slide — and there’s also two free card-based games, Video Poker and Blackjack.) Amazon’s also released two (free) word games — Every Word and Shuffled Row — and of course, the first free game for the Kindle was Minesweeper. There’s a link built into “Dots and Boxes” that leads to Amazon’s own game page in the Kindle store where you can donwload all of their other free games to your Kindle.

This game brought back fond memories for at least one Kindle blogger. “I can remember being in the back of the car on a long trip with a large pad of paper with a 100 square grid playing with my sister,” remembers Michael P. Gallagher. In a review he posted to Amazon’s web site, he suggests that the Kindle version reminded him of some of that childhood drama.

“We were usually good to be a little more quiet for ten minutes or so until one or the other would get frustrated with losing, or gloaring a little too much with winning!”

Monopoly for the Kindle – just 99 cents!

EA's Monopoly for the Kindle

It’s another special sale. Monopoly — the classic dice-rolling, property-buying board game — is now available on the Kindle for just 99 cents! (First released in December, the game normally sells for $4.99.) It’s a special promotion (which ends Sunday night), but it’s also part of a larger publicity stunt by the game’s manufacturers. “April 7th is Global MONOPOLY Day,” announces Electronic Arts in the game’s product description at Amazon.com. “Join the fun and play MONOPOLY on Kindle for just $0.99…”

And there were more strange details in their official press release yesterday. Hasbro, the original makers of Monopoly, and Electronic Arts (the maker of several digital variations) formally declared Thursday to be “Global Monopoly Day” — but only on Facebook. “MONOPOLY fans around the world are invited to play MONOPOLY Millionaires on Facebook,” they announced in a press release, “to win more than $20,000 in prizes and participate in an attempt to set a new Guinness World Records title.” They’re giving away exactly $20,580 in prizes — the dollar amount that’s in the bank in the board game version of Monopoly — and the prizes include a free Kindle, a Macbook Pro, or an iPad 2. (They’re also giving away versions of Monopoly for the iPhone and Android smartphone, as well as $500 Visa gift cards, and $5,000 in cash.)

“Does this mean we get a day off work to play Monopoly?” joked one game blogger. (Adding “No? Dammit!”) But dig deeper into the press release, and you’ll realize two dirty secrets. First, “Monopoly Day” has nothing to do with the Kindle version of the game. And second, the game they’re celebrating isn’t really Monopoly.

EA Monopoly Millionaires logo (from Global Monopoly Day on Facebook)

Instead, the companies are trying to set the world record for the most simultaneous players for an entirely different (but equally complicated) game on Facebook. “Monopoly Millionaires” strands each player alone on their own individual Monopoly board, where they’re already the owner of all the colored properties. But at timed intervals, they can make a temporary visit to another player’s board, where they’ll have a chance to earn money or win extra upgrades to their own board’s properties. Unfortunately, the extra upgrades are only awarded at random through a Three-Card Monte-style game that’s triggered by landing on any colored property square.

Screenshot of EA Facebook game Monopoly Millionaires

Confused? I sure was. Especially when the game asked for my credit card number so I could buy more play Monopoly money using real money from my Mastercard. And while you’re playing the game, you’ll see pop-up advertisements urging you to visit the Facebook page for the real Charles Schwab investment brokers. While it’s free to play the game, “Monopoly Millionaries” apparently still earns money for its creator in other ways — and several times, it’ll ask you to lure your friends into playing the game too.

Screenshot from EA Monopoly Millionaires

It feels much more like a Facebook game — for example, Farmville — than the classic board game of Monopoly. (Although it’s already racked up 5,880,579 active users just this month, according to statistics on its Facebook page.) Electronic Arts claims Monopoly Millionaires has now reached an audience of “tens of millions of people on Facebook.” Though maybe this is just their way of making you want to play the original classic version of Monopoly on your Kindle!

In fact, by yesterday Monopoly had become one of the top 10 best-selling items in the entire Kindle Store. (34 days ago it wasn’t even in the top 100, presumably because buyers were discouraged by its higher $4.99 price tag.) “I bought this because it was a buck,” joked one reviewer this morning on the game’s page at Amazon.com, “but then remembered that I hate the game.” But other responses were more positive, including one reviewer who posted today that “I bought it for a dollar, and my husband and I just started playing and couldn’t stop. If you like Monopoly, this is an excellent and easy to use version.”

Though she also added that when playing it on her Kindle, “I do miss the pretty colors…”

Amazon Releases a New Free Game

Free Amazon Kindle Game Number Slide screenshot

It sounds like an April Fool’s Day joke — but it’s not! Amazon’s just released a brand-new free game for the Kindle. It’s a beautiful rendition of the classic “number slider” puzzle — this time with a couple of twists.

To start with, there’s just one empty square on a grid of numbered titles, which makes it possible to slide just one tile at a time, either up, down, or sideways. “Your goal is to use the empty space to slide the numbered tiles until they are in order,” Amazon’s instructions explain. “When the tiles are in order with the empty space in the bottom right, you win!”

But Amazon also lets you select a new difficulty level for the puzzle, offering grids that are either “small, medium, or large.” (That is, you can slide the numbers in a small three-by-three grid, a trickier four-by-four grid, or an even more challenging five-by-five grid.) And if you choose the “automatic” setting, a tile will move as soon as you highlight it, so you don’t even have to press in the select button. (And if you instead you choose the “manual” setting, you can cursor past several tiles, and then move them all at once by selecting the one that’s farthest away!)

“You know, the last thing I need is yet another addictive game on my Kindle!” complained blogger Michael P. Gallagher. This morning he posted the game’s first review on its page in the Kindle store, writing that “The graphics are very crisp and the response time is very fast on my Kindle 3 as compared to the slowness I saw on the free Kindle poker game…”

“Now, if I can just find time to read on my darn Kindle….”

This game is part of an unacknowledged trend, since gradually all of the classic games are starting to become available on the Kindle. Just yesterday Oak Systems Leisure Software released Codewords and Cryptograms for Kindle. It’s the familiar cryptograms that appear in your daily newspaper, where a quote from a famous person is hidden with a “substitution” code where different letters are swapped in to represent every letter. (And they’ve also bundled in a fascinating variation on the classic crossword puzzles, called “Codewords,” where you try to perform the same de-ciphering in a crossword puzzle grid!)

That company also released the first Kindle version of Chess in February (as well as a Word Search game). And if you’re looking for traditional crossword puzzles, The New York Times has released six different volumes. One week ago, two different companies even released two different Kindle versions of the board game checkers on the exact same day. And just Tuesday, the same thing happened again, when two companies released competing versions of the disk-flipping game Reversi.

In February, a company named 7 Dragons released a Kindle version of the game Tic Tac Toe (as well as a new game called Flip It) — but two weeks ago, they even unveiled a Kindle version of the classic text-document application, “Notepad.” And there were already two competing versions of the software. So game development is definitely starting to happen on the Kindle platform.

I agree with Michael Gallagher — all these games are cutting into the time that I’d normally spend reading on my Kindle. Number Slide marks the sixth free game that Amazon has released. Below is a complete list of all Amazon’s free Kindle games — in case you’re looking for more fun ways to spend this year’s April Fool’s Day.

Video Poker
Shuffled Row
Every Word
Black Jack
Number Slide

15 Kindle Games Now Cost 99 Cents Each!

Cheap Kindle Games on Sale at Amazon for 99 cents

Amazon’s just announced a special deal. “For a limited time, customers’ favorite Kindle games — including Scrabble, Mahjong Solitaire and NY Times Crosswords — are on sale for just $0.99 each.”

Here’s a complete list of the games available at the special 99-cent price.

Sudoku Unbound
Mahjong Solitaire
Texas Hold ‘Em
New York Times Crossword Puzzles
   (Two sets of easy and two sets of “challenging” puzzles)
Hangman for Kids
Triple Town

View the web page at tinyurl.com/KindleGameSale

The offer ends March 27 — a week from Sunday. The sale is apparently designed to encourage Kindle owners to buy these games over the next 10 days, so the games will start appearing on Amazon’s best-seller lists. And it’s working. Instantly Scrabble shot into the #1 spot on the Kindle best-sellers list, and Solitaire became the #2 best-selling item in the Kindle store.

In fact, six of the 10 best-selling items in the Kindle store are now games. (Mahjong Solitaire is currently #4, Sudoku Unbound is #5, and a New York Times Crosswords collection is #10.) Interestingly, even the new Word Search game (released February 3) is now #8 — though it’s not even one of the games that’s being touted in Amazon’s special promotion. It’s been in the top 100 since the day it was released, and for some reason, it’s also listed on Amazon’s Nonfiction best-sellers list, where it’s #2 — behind Sudoku Unbound.

Every game in this special promotion is now among the top 100 best-sellers — and there’s at least three more 99-cent games that have also crashed into the top 100. (There’s Slingo — which used to retail for $3.99 — as well as Flip It and Maze A Thon!) That means 13 of the top 100 best-sellers in the Kindle store are all games. Besides the six
top-10 titles listed above, here’s a list of the remaining seven.

Slingo (#16)
Hangman for Kids (#19)
Chess (#22)
Triple Town (#44)
Texas Hold ‘Em (#45)
FlipIt (#60)
Maze A Thon (#65)

Amazon sent out an e-mail Tuesday touting these games to Kindle owners who’d requested special promotional announcements. (“Check out these bestsellers that customers describe as fun, addictive, and a great way to take a break from reading.”) And I was surprised to see that there’s still more new games in the Kindle store — or at least, some games that I hadn’t seen before.

For example, there’s The Warlock of Firetop Mountain — a sort of one-player Dungeons and Dragon’s game based on the “Fighting Fantasy” series of game books. It’s a text adventure with some nice black-and-white illustrations, and even the rolling dice get adorned with some very fancy graphics.

Screenshot from the Kindle game Warlock of Firetop Mountain

And I have to admit that I’m intrigued by a new word game called “Word Soup.” There’s over 125 different letters displayed on a grid, and the object is to build words out of the adjacent letter blocks. But when you create a word, all its letters disappear from the grid, while the remaining letters drop down a row. There’s at least 13 different rows, so it gets pretty complicated — but it looks like a lot of fun. Even at $2.99, it’s already one of the top 200 best-selling items in Amazon’s Kindle store.

But for the next 10 days, it’s going to have a lot of competition from all the 99-cent games!

10 *More* New Games for the Kindle!

Symdoku (Sudoku variation) game for Kindle screenshot

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.

Symdoku (Sudoku variation) game for Kindle screenshot

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!

Screenshot of Triple Town game on a Kindle

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!

10 New Games for the Kindle!

Brain Bump - New Game for the Kindle

It’s amazing. Last summer there were just two good games you could play on your Kindle — Shuffled Row and Every Word. A couple more trickled in over the winter, including Scrabble and Monopoly. But suddenly there’s a flood of of brand new games appearing in the Kindle. In fact, ten more new games have turned up in just the last eight weeks. And at least two of them are now on sale!

Mahjong Solitaire
It was just last month when this beautiful new game turned up in the Kindle store – and for the next week it’s on sale for half price! It’s now just $1.99 (instead of $3.99), and it features a variety of 10 different game boards, each one below a very attractive grayscale logo. It’s a one-player version of the classic Mahjong tile-removing game, but I think the layout is absolutely gorgeous.

Mahjong Solitaire was produced by Mobigloo, which had released its first game for the Kindle just eight days earlier (on November 22nd). Next is a Tetris-style “matching” game that’s “easy to learn…hard to master,” according to the description on Amazon.com. For $2.99 you get 128 different levels, and you can play them in any order, according to one reviewer at Amazon.com. “You do not have to slowly work your way to the hardest level!”

Amazon also released a new free game for the Kindle in the first week of December: the classic card game Blackjack. It’s currently the 11th best-selling free item in Amazon’s entire Kindle store, and it’s very well-produced. (It’s nice to see a Kindle game with all the functionality of an actual card game in a Vegas casino, like “doubling” your bet for the next card drawn, and even “buying insurance” against the dealer having a 21.) And if you’re not sure whether to hit or stand, there’s even a built-in adviser which reveals your mathematical odds of success in every situation.

The day after Amazon released Blackjack, Sonic Boom released a Kindle version of the game Hangman. For just $2.99, you can play the classic letter-guessing game with over 1,000 different words. (And the game lets you swap in three different “victims” that you’re trying to save from the hangman’s noose — a stick figure, a gingerbread man, or even William Shakespeare.) Sometimes the puzzles are “Wheel of Fortune”-style phrases, but the game will always provide you with at least two hints towards the final answer. Right now the game is averaging just three out of five stars among reviewers on Amazon, but the biggest complaint seems to be that if you finally fail to guess the correct word, the game still doesn’t tell you what it was!

The reviews were much more positive for Slingo, which is averaging four and a half stars out of 17 different reviews. It’s a variation on Bingo, where you “spin the dial” on the numbers at the bottom of the board, and hope they eventually match all the numbers on your Bingo card. “This Kindle version is a very good adaptation of a classic hand-held and PC game, and I think it is well worth the price,” wrote one reviewer in Arizona. “If Amazon keeps this up, I may have to unload a few books from my Kindle to make room for the games!”

Dusk World - new Amazon Kindle game

Dusk World
This is one of the most interesting new games for the Kindle, created by Amazon Digital Services, and released on December 14. Dusk World is the first game from Amazon which isn’t free — it costs $5.99 — but it’s got some really wonderful graphics. It’s an interactive text adventure with some lavish, noir detective style illustrations, in which you play the character Agent Patriot (described by Amazon as “a super-powered chameleon, reformed mob enforcer, war hero, convict framed for double murder.”) They warn that the game contains content “that may be inappropriate for children,” but it’s exciting that Amazon envisions the game as the first installment in a new “Living Tale” series of digital graphic novels.

Maze A Thon
Just five days before Christmas, another game developer released their very first game for the Kindle: Maze A Thon. You maneuver a cartoon mouse with your four-way controller, trying to navigate all the passages to a very elusive piece of cheese. There’s three maze styles — including wrap-around mazes which scroll off the Kindle’s screen, as well as “cubetastic” mazes (where the paths actually wrap around the six sides of a three-dimensional cube!) The mazes are generated at random, so it’s never the same maze twice, and at 99 cents, it’s already become one of the 50 best-selling items in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

New York Times Crosswords
For $1.99, you can also get a set of 30 easy crossword puzzles from the New York Times. (Or, for $4.99, purchase a larger set of 90 puzzles.) And instead of easy puzzles, you can also purchase a volume of “challenging” puzzles instead, in either a 30- or 90-puzzle set. The first set of games was released on December 21, and some users complained that its interface was a little slow to respond. But there’s also a built-in feature that will offer you hints — something that you’ll never get from a crossword puzzle in the newspaper!

Choice of the Broadsides and Choice of the Dragon
The week before Christmas also saw the launch of two text adventure games — and if you purchase them before midnight on Monday, they’re just 99 cents! (When they were released in December, they cost $4.99 apiece!) “Fire the starboard broadside!” shouts the Caption of the H.M.S. Courageous, as it engages in a fierce cannon battle with an enemy ship. Choice of the Broadsides lets you choose your response at key points in the story — for example, when one of your crew-member’s is wounded and needs medical attention. And in Choice of the Dragon, you’re not the junior commander on a war frigate, but a flying and fire-breathing dragon — so the choices can feel even more personal!

Brain Bump
This is probably the newest of the new games on the Kindle, since it was released just a week ago, on January 21. Brain Bump is a straightforward trivia game, presenting multiple choice questions about books and keeping track of how long you can maintain your “brain streak” of right answers. The questions cover everything from The Lord of the Rings to Shakespeare (though one reviewer on Amazon even complained that too many of the questions were about Lord of the Rings). Like any trivia quiz, you may have trouble if you haven’t read the books in the question. But for what it’s worth, the game costs just 99 cents — and it will always be the first trivia game ever released on the Kindle.

A 50% discount on five Kindle games!

EA Monopoly for the Kindle

It’s a Christmas miracle! Some of the best games for the Kindle have been slashed in price, down 50%, for the next two weeks. And Amazon’s even released a new free game this month for the Kindle — plus a new text adventure — so if you’ve been waiting to try Kindle games, this is the perfect opportunity.

These aren’t just any games — they’re some of the best-known games in the world. For example, Hasbro has licensed both Scrabble and Monopoly to a Kindle game designer, but originally they were both priced at $5.00. (Scrabble was just released in September, and Monopoly is a brand-new Kindle game — just in time for the holidays.) Now both games are just $2.49 — and in addition, there’s also a 50% reduction in the price of Sudoku, Texas Hold ‘Em, and Solitaire, down to just $1.99.

These aren’t just knock-off games. They were created by one of the best known game designers in the industry. Electronic Arts was founded back in 1982, according to Wikipedia, and now earns more than $4 billion a year in revenue. (They’re the home of the famous Sims games, as well as the Command and Conquer series, and even some Harry Potter games.) They’d done a good job with their game designs, and this afternoon, I personally “field tested” both Scrabble and Monopoly. They both feel exactly like the classic board games — except, of course, they’re much smaller, and in black-and-white, and most of the game commands are entered using a five-way controller…

The nicest thing about EA’s “Solitaire” game is it’s really 12 different games in one. There’s the classic “Klondike” version of solitaire (which is the one that ships with Windows) — but there’s also games like FreeCell, Canfield, Yukon, and Baker’s Dozen. And while there’s been other versions of Sudoku for the Kindle, EA did a really nice job with theirs. It includes a feature that lets you write notes on possible numbers for each square — which can sometimes provide valuable clues on where the other numbers go.

You can buy all five games for just $11.00 — and then have them forever on your Kindle. The fifth game is Texas Hold ‘Em (where players create a poker hand by matching their two concealed cards to five face-up cards on the table.) That sounds simple, but EA added lots of extra features, like the “Play Career” version where you have to earn your way up into high-stakes games. And there’s even an in-game advisor — an avatar named Amy — so if you’re not sure what to do, you press a for Amy.

And earlier this month Amazon Digital Services released a brand new, free version of Blackjack. I thought the classic card game would be simple and boring, but they’d included all the extra casino features like buying “insurance” against a dealer 21 or doubling your bet for the next “hit.” I know some people resist games on the Kindle, because they want it to be a dedicated reading device. But for me it’s become an all-around companion that can entertain me if I end up trapped in the lobby of an auto repair shop. If I don’t want to read, I can surf the web, or burn a few minutes playing a game.

I’d been wondering when someone would write an old school “text adventure” for the Kindle — and then discovered that Amazon just released one last Tuesday. It’s a dark superhero/detective game called “Dusk World”. And don’t forget, in October Amazon also released a new, free version of Minesweeper that you can download to your Kindle.

As I tested out all the new Kindle games, I felt like a kid opening up his Christmas presents early. Like any new toy, all the novelty may wear off eventually. But for a least a few minutes, they’ll be my favorite toy in the world…

The 10 Best Games for the Kindle

Amazon Kindle solitaire game

I was jealous. My friend bragged that in April, Barnes and Noble upgraded the Nook with the ability to play two games — chess and Sudoku. But Amazon was determined not to get left behind, and now games are appearing in Amazon’s Kindle store. In fact, four of the top 15 items on Amazon’s best-selling list are now games — and all four of them are free!

I count a total of eight games on the Kindle store’s top 100 list — there’s three more on the paid list, and a fifth free game ranked #42. And if you search through the Kindle store, it turns out there’s a lot more! Here’s a run-down of some of the best games available for the Kindle – along with some quick reviews, and a little trivia.

Tower of Hanoi
This is a classic math puzzle that was invented in 1883. It’s a very simple game, but the graphics are effective, and it’s a challenging brain teaser. Can you move all eight disks from tower one to one of the other two towers, without ever placing a disk onto one that’s smaller? Once you’ve solved it, you won’t necessarily want to play it again — especially if you know the legend behind it. The story goes that there’s a far-away temple where priests spend their lifetimes trying to find a solution — and on the day that they do, the world will end!

There’s always been a free version of Minesweeper that’s built into the Kindle. (Just press the Alt and Shift keys, along with the letter M. It even words on a Kindle 1!) But fortunately, three weeks ago Amazon released an improved version of Minesweeper which has already become the second-most popular item in Amazon’s Kindle store (behind only a free novel called Deceit). One review on Amazon perfectly crystallized the dilemma now facing Kindle owners about whether to download Kindle games to appear on their home page. “I really didn’t need this – while not as addictive to me as the Kindle version of Scrabble… after playing it several times I see it as yet another thing that is going to take me away from reading…”

It used to be painful to play Sudoko on the original Kindle, but the five-way controller makes it much easier to enter your guesses. (The word Sudoku roughly translates to “the numbers must occur only once,” since you’re trying to determine the right location for each of the digits between one and nine — in every nine-square row, column and box.) Dell Puzzle magazines (in New York City) claims they actually published the first Sudoku puzzle — under the name “Number Place” — in 1979. According to a British newspaper, it was 1984 when the puzzle “was spotted, imitated and embraced in puzzle-obsessed Japan…where the alphabet is ill-suited to crosswords.” Eventually, an Australian who moved to Hong Kong spotted the puzzle, and then began selling his own version to newspapers in England.

This variation features a smaller grid, but turns it into a tricky logic puzzle. There’s no numbers filled in, but there’s smaller rectangles which contain a mathematical clue. (For example: all the numbers add up to six.) It’s challenging, but it’s much more rewarding when you finally deduce a number. The game is also called KenKen, and was developed just six years ago by a Japanese math teacher, according to Wikipedia. “The numbers in Sudoku could be replaced with melons and you would still be able to play,” the teacher told one newspaper. “In KenKen the value of the numbers is absolutely central to the solution.”

Shuffled Row
It was released on August 2, and it’s still probably the best game available for the Kindle. (Nine letters gradually appear at the top of the screen, and you score points by selecting letters to form words — the longer the better.) It’s a word game with beat-the-clock excitement — and it’s challenging to try to beat your own high scores, both for individual words or for games. (My best word was jawlines — worth 108 points!) The game goes by fast, though I guess you could always hit the home key if you wanted more time to think. And it goes by even faster if you follow Amazon’s strategy tip: press the space key to make the next letter appear instantly!

Every Word
Released in August, “Every Word” is still #7 on Amazon’s list of “free best-sellers” list. The biggest problem with this game is it includes a lot of obscure words which you’d never be able to guess. (For example, when did “Rick” become an actual word?) This actually got the developers into some trouble, since their dictionary also apparently contained some “inappropriate” slang words. Amazon released a sanitized version on September 15, and it’s been popular ever since.

Word Morph
I was a little disappointed by a game called “Word Morph” — and another reviewer on Amazon’s web site agreed. “Although you can sort of play it on the Kindle using the Notes feature, this is NOT A KINDLE GAME!!!! This is just a puzzle book. It is not interactive in the sense of the other Kindle Games like Scrabble and Shuffled Row.” The game presents two words, and challenges you to make the first word into a new word by changing one letter. Then you continue making new words until you’ve “morphed” the first word into the second word. It turns out there’s many “possible solutions” — so I didn’t always get the satisfaction of coming up with the “right answer.” But it’s currently ranked #42 on Amazon’s list of best-selling free items.

Triple Town
It looks a little like Sim City, but with much simpler graphics. “This is a game that can be played for minutes or hours at a time,” according to the game’s page on Amazon, where it’s received 37 five-star reviews. Released just three weeks ago, it’s already ranked #21 on Amazon’s best-seller list, even though it sells for $2.99. “Overall, the game is a bit basic, which is why I only gave it 4 stars,” noted one reviewer on Amazon. “However, the graphics are quite nice, the tutorial is very clear and detailed. The game is fun and relaxing and works great on Kindle!”

Solitaire and Scrabble
Electronic Arts has been distributing computer games for nearly 30 years, and they’d finally brought their expertise to the Kindle. Solitaire was released just three weeks ago (and is currently #4 in the Kindle store), while Scrabble was released September 23 (and ranks #37). “EA Solitaire” contains 12 different versions of the popular one-player card game, and Scrabble also comes with a one-player option. Using the Kindle is such a new experience, some users may be glad to see some games that they actually recognize!

Note: Among Amazon’s free best-sellers is a book called “Games for Everybody.” It’s currently ranked #62, but it’s just instructions for playing games — and not the games themselves. “This book contains short, simple, and to the point instructions for games that can be played by children, adults and to mark special occasions…” wrote one reviewer, adding “There are also 106 games that adults can play and enjoy an evening rather than sitting around and gossiping or drinking or watching TV.” I’m a little curious about what games are in there — but honestly, I’d rather be reading!

How to Play Games on the Kindle!

Yes, it is possible to play games on your Kindle. (I even wrote a game for the Kindle, which you can try here!) Click here for my updated list of 100 games you can play on your Kindle — including eight free ones. There’s also the 10 best games for your Kindle and all my other posts about playing games on the Kindle.

But when I first got my original Kindle 1, it wasn’t nearly this easy to play games. Here’s my original post – written about my Kindle 1 – so you can see how much better things have gotten!

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It turns out you can play Sudoku on your Kindle – and some other games too!

I was feeling a little jealous because Barnes and Noble had upgraded the Nook so it offered users the ability to play Sudoku. And then I discovered that it’s also possible to play Sudoku on your Kindle! That link leads to several interactive Sudoku puzzle books that you can download, and they’re played using the Kindle’s wireless web connection. Use your menu to select the row where you’ll enter a number, and then choose the appropriate square within that row.

I ordered a sample from several of these Sudoku books, and ended up with a nice collection of free Sudoku puzzles for my Kindle. Having said that, it was still a horribly clunky way to play Sudoku. (It takes almost 10 seconds to enter every number.) And on my original edition Kindle, the squares were simply labeled “Input Field”. I had to count each separate “Input Field” until I’d figured out which square I was looking for!

It’s also possible to play Tic Tac Toe on your Kindle — if you order the appropriate “book” from the Kindle Store. Tic Tac Toe (Kindle Edition) uses the same format, letting you select the row for your move with the menu — and then selecting the appropriate square. It was also a little clunky. On my original Kindle, the menu would still say “Zoom Image” if a square already had an X or O in it — while the empty squares were labeled “Follow Link” in the menu. Yes, it’s possible to play a game of Tic Tac Toe using this book. But what’s hardest about winning the game is simply navigating the menus!

And finally, it’s also possible to play Minesweeper on the Kindle. This is a free game that I’d just assumed was a hidden “Easter Egg” — a secret feature that was pre-installed, just to make users feel special when they discovered it. Hold down the Alt key and the shift key directly above it while also typing M at the same time, and a grey 8 by 10 grid appears on the screen. You use the keys on the keyboard to navigate to the square for your next guess, and the space key reveals whether that square contains a number or an exploding mine! Like the other games, it’s a little clunky.

And to tell you the truth, I’d rather use my Kindle for reading!

UPDATE: Ironically, I just discovered this blog post has become one of Google’s top matches for the phrase: “Can I play Sudoku on a Kindle!” (And “Is it possible to play games on the Kindle?”) But it turns out there’s an even more famous game that you can play on the Kindle: Jumble puzzles!

I’m sure you’ve seen these “scrambled word” puzzles in your daily newspaper. (Circles in the squares mark all the letters which appear in the final set of scrambled words — which is usually the punchline to a question asked in the cartoon.) I’ve always loved doing Jumble puzzles (which I’ve also seen called “the Junior Jumble”).

And now you can play them on your Kindle!