Apple Considers This a Word Game: Key of Back Rooms 2

August 21st, 2017

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Key of Back Rooms 2 iTunes Listing

The first sentence in the game’s App Store description says Key of Back Rooms 2 is a puzzle game. Why is it in the word game list? Key of Back Rooms 2 is as much a word game as LetterMiner is a trivia game.


Apple Considers This a Word Game: What if..

August 15th, 2017

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If you browse the word games in the iOS App Store, you will find a Free Games category. I browsed through the free games to see where LetterMiner appeared on the list. I discovered that LetterMiner was not on the list of free word games even though LetterMiner is a free word game.

When browsing the list of free word games, I discovered lots of games that have no business being classified as word games. This discovery inspired me to create a series of blog posts spotlighting these games to point out the absurdity of Apple categorizing these games as word games. The series starts with the game What if..

What if..

What if.. iTunes Listing

What if.. is a game where you answer Yes or No to a question about a hypothetical situation and see how other people answered. The question starts with a What if that describes something positive and ends with a But that adds a downside to the situation. The following example comes from a screenshot on the iTunes page:

What if...

You got a magic printer which could print real money


You need to wear a kilt and no underwear for the rest of your life.

This sounds like an interesting game to play with a group of people. But the only way you could classify What if.. as a word game is to say the questions contain words. But if you’re going to use that logic, almost every game would be considered a word game, rendering the category meaningless.


iOS Games I Like: SpellPix

May 3rd, 2017

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SpellPix iTunes Listing

SpellPix is a game where you find words to paint pictures. Each level begins with a grid of letters. Some of the letter tiles are colored. A colored tile represents either the start or the end of a word. The starting and ending tiles for a word have the same color. There are usually more than two tiles with the same color in an area so it’s not always easy to know which two tiles are the start and end of a word.

Building a word involves creating a path from one colored tile to another. It’s similar to building a word in LetterMiner. When you find the word, the letter tiles in the word become the color of the starting and ending tiles. When you find all the words, you see the picture you painted.

SpellPix has 233 levels. The early levels have smaller boards you can complete in a few minutes. The later levels have large boards that can take 15-30 minutes to clear so you get a lot of gameplay for $2. If you like word games, I recommend SpellPix.


iOS Games I Like: Blockadillo

April 24th, 2017

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Blockadillo iTunes Listing

In Blockadillo you control a bouncing armadillo. The armadillo constantly bounces vertically. Tap the left side of the screen to move left, and tap the right side of the screen to move right. Having the armadillo constantly bounce simplifies the controls.

The goal for each level in Blockadillo is to smash all the colored blocks. There are also optional idols to collect in each level. Collecting the idols increases the challenge and provides some replay value. You can play a level one time to get through it and go back and collect all the idols. When you die you have to restart the level. That’s why you would want to play a level once to complete it and go back to grab all the idols. The levels aren’t too big so restarting a level isn’t too frustrating.

Blockadillo combines the gameplay of a platforming game and a puzzle game. Many levels have traps to avoid and chasms to cross, similar to a platforming game. Some levels require puzzle solving to smash all the blocks. Blockadillo currently has 80 levels with the promise of additional levels coming in the future.

Blockadillo is a premium game with no ads or in-game purchases. It currently costs $2. You can try the game in your browser at the Blockadillo website and see if you like it before buying it for your iOS device.


Tools I Used to Make LetterMiner

March 20th, 2017

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It’s a short list. I used Apple’s Xcode tool and SpriteKit framework to program the game using the Swift language. I used the app Acorn to create the letter tiles.

Some auxiliary tools I used include git for version control, Bitbucket to store a backup of my code online, and the app Asset Catalog Creator to generate the app icons.

If you’re wondering why I used SpriteKit instead of Unity to make LetterMiner, I did try Unity before I settled on SpriteKit. With Unity I had a hard time getting the tiles on the game board to line up properly and determining what tile on the board was clicked. I had a much easier time getting a prototype working with SpriteKit so I stuck with it.