17 Gifts at All-Time Lows Gifts Under $30 ChatGPT, a Mindblowing AI Chatbot Neuralink Investigation Kirstie Alley Dies New Deadline for Real ID RSV Facts Space Tomatoes
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

A tale of two iPhone puzzle games

At first glance, Connected and Wriggle look like countless other puzzlers you've seen in the App Store. But they're unique, entertaining, and well worth the 99-cent asking price.

Connected's pipe-arranging puzzles are like potato chips: Bet you can't play just one.

A few weeks ago, I received e-mails from two developers within the space of about two hours. Each was pitching a new, "totally unique" puzzle game, and would I like to review them?

Now, I'm a sucker for puzzlers, especially on the iPhone, but the App Store is already teeming with them--each one claiming to be "original," "addictive," "brain-teasing," and so on. How truly unique could either of these newcomers be?

The first one, Connected, instantly reminded me of countless lay-the-pipe-before-the-water-escapes games--until I started playing it.

Connected does involve pipes, but here you're not fighting the clock (or the water). Instead, you merely have to figure out the proper arrangement of preselected pieces, which can be moved but not rotated.

It's a bit like Traffic Jam, but damn if it doesn't manage to be original, challenging, and insidiously addictive. With each level I somehow managed to complete, I told myself, "Just one more."

Add to it an elegant, simple interface and you've got 99 cents extremely well-spent.

The other game, Wriggle, also costs 99 cents--but there's a try-before-you-buy free version as well.

Great for kids but fun for anybody, Wriggle puts a great twist on block-sliding puzzles.

At first glance, Wriggle looks like a kids game--but don't let that fool you. While kids will undoubtedly enjoy the colorful, smiley-faced worms, there's plenty of challenge here for all ages.

Your goal is to help the blue worm escape the maze in as few moves as possible. This is done by dragging the heads and/or tails of the various worms that stand in his way.

Again, you can see elements of Traffic Jam, but that game doesn't go around corners. Wriggle does, and, like Connected, it comes across as a wholly unique kind of puzzle.

Wriggle also offers a bit more replay value, with four difficulty levels and the option of replaying any puzzle to see if you can win in fewer moves. You can even tweet your progress, if you're into that kind of thing.

Initially, I judged both games by their covers (make that screenshots), and that was a mistake. Connected and Wriggle are perfectly priced and perfectly entertaining. I highly recommend both.

Seen any unique puzzle games lately? Are there any you just can't put down? Share your puzzle faves in the comments. In the meantime, check out these five perfect puzzle games for the iPhone.