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New addictive iOS games that are impossible to put down

A few games have come out recently that have that perfect mix of challenge and gameplay to eat up all of my playing time.


What makes a game addictive? Obviously your answer to that question will depend on what type of games you like to play, but certain games have a way of breaking down those barriers when they have just the right mix of challenges, rewards, and overall feel.

If you had never heard of Angry Birds, a description of the game probably wouldn't entice you to play. But once you fling your first bird at a structure and hear the sounds as it flies through the air and takes out the pigs, suddenly you start to want to chase that perfect three-star rating. Few games have just the right mix to keep you playing, but when you find one you can't wait to jump back in whenever you get a spare moment.

This week's collection of iOS apps are games that keep you coming back for more. The first is a puzzle game that challenges you to reach the goal using your mind as well as your reflexes. The second has you solving puzzles while navigating unique cylindrical 3D gameboards. The last is a fun mix of adventure and RPG that might one of the best I've played in the genre.

On some levels you'll need to first figure out your strategy before making your first flick. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Fibble ($1.99) is a puzzle game that has you touching the screen to interact with elements as you try to complete each puzzle. The object of the game is to send a cute little alien (named Fibble) to the end of a maze while picking up as many coins and stars as possible. You get three "flicks" to get to the goal, but if you can do it in one flick and reach a minimum score on the way, you'll receive a perfect three stars. The setting is an average everyday house and your job is to reach the end of puzzles that are surrounded by regular household items. More than just destroying a structure, in this game you'll need to use logic and your reflexes to get the goal in one shot.

Fibble is not alone in his quest; several of his ship's crew are spread out around the rooms of the house and each have unique abilities you'll need to use as you complete each level. For example, one of his friends sits beneath a manhole cover and, by touching the screen at the right moment, you can send Fibble into the air to reach stars and other objects. Another friend named Docto has octopus arms, and tapping when Fibble gets in range lets you grab Fibble and shoot him in any direction you want. In later levels, these game elements become part of the puzzle as you'll need to figure out the best way to reach every star -- often in the right sequence to get the most points.

As you play, you'll unlock four different worlds (living spaces in the house) and there are 30 levels to master in all. What makes this game so addictive is figuring out the best way to complete each level with the "friends" you have available. At the beginning of a level, you have to place the friends you want to use in each area that make it possible for Fibble to gather all the stars and coins before reaching the goal.

With Fibble's unique twist on a tried and true game mechanic, interesting levels with bumpers, chutes, and other obstacles, anyone who likes puzzles (that also require reflexes) will enjoy trying to master this game.

Rinth Island
On this level, you need to knock down the coconuts to make a platform you can walk across below. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Rinth Island (99 cents for a limited time) is a puzzle game that takes place on rotating 3D structures, and you'll need use your character to move objects in order to create a path to the goal. You play as either Gimble (male) or Libby (female) as you try to retrieve items that have been scattered around the levels from a horrific storm. Instead of just walking around a flat level, the puzzles are cylindrical with your character at the front while the structure rotates around. Earlier levels require you move only a couple of crates to create platforms for you to walk on, but the game gets much more difficult quickly.

What makes Rinth Island especially appealing are the four ways you can attack each level. Adventure mode challenges you to move blocks and retrieve an item in order to finish the level. Steps mode requires that you complete the level in the least amount of steps. In Timed mode you try to get to the goal in the least amount of time possible. And in Crystal mode your job is to gather all the crystals as you try to reach the goal. Having these four game types adds tons of replay value because you'll need to approach the puzzle differently with every gametype you play.

The game comes with 60 puzzles to conquer and an included level editor that lets you make your own. You also can try user-created levels from within the game. I found the included levels can become very challenging, so I imagine it will take a long time before I feel like I need to resort to user-made levels, but a quick sampling showed that there are some very good levels out there already.

Rinth Island is a really unique concept for a puzzle game and offers enough challenge and game types to make you want to keep coming back for more. If you like puzzle games that really make you think, and want to try out the unique cylindrical puzzle mechanic, you should definitely download this app.

The bright saturated colors and dynamic lighting are part of why this game is so addicting. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Swordigo ($1.99) is a side-scrolling hack-and-slash adventure in which you play as a sword-wielding hero and explore a great-looking 2.5D world. While the game is played in 2D, moving backgrounds and perspective give the world added depth. A mix of platform gaming and RPG elements makes for one of the more charming and addictive iOS games I've played in a long time.

The first thing I noticed as I started playing Swordigo was the beautiful graphics, which are made even better with the game's dynamic lighting. To go along with the amazing visuals, a tight, responsive control system makes the game a joy to play with arrows on the left to move and buttons for jumping, slashing your sword, and spell casting on the right. Where some platform games seem sluggish with the controls (particularly those with great-looking graphics), this game performs extremely well, even on my iPhone 4.

Swordigo -- at its heart -- is an adventure game, but it also has RPG elements that draw you through the action. You start in a small village, but as you explore, you'll find other towns, dungeons, caverns, and secret areas with treasure chests to plunder. As you progress you'll also gain experience points that help you level up and let you add points in health, attack, or magic abilities. You'll spend most of your time hacking and slashing to defeat enemies, but your spell abilities offer a second means of attack and also can help you get past specific areas. In many areas early in the game, for example, stacks of rocks will block your way, but you can cast a spell that acts as a bomb to blast your way through. Working toward making my hero stronger and wondering what the next earned spell might be kept me coming back for more.

With precise touch controls, beautiful graphics, and challenging hack-and-slash gameplay, Swordigo is one of the best games I've played yet on an iOS device.