Teens aren’t the only ones who have fun playing games on their smartphones and tablets. A recent study found that two of the 10 most popular apps among people age 55 and older are games, including Words With Friends (see below).
Here’s a look at six other exciting and mentally stimulating smartphone and tablet game apps*—some of them can be played on computers, too…
A crossword puzzle/jigsaw puzzle hybrid. The game Bonza Word Puzzle looks a lot like a crossword puzzle, except there are no clues. Players instead are given a puzzle theme, plus jigsaw-puzzle-piece-like letter groupings. These letter groupings must be assembled together to form crossword-like interlocking words that fit the theme. The first few puzzles in the starter pack are easy, but puzzles soon become more challenging. A new free puzzle is available every day. Free for Android and iOS.
A truly addictive trivia game. Trivia Crack is similar to the board game Trivial Pursuit. Players compete against friends or strangers answering multiple-choice questions in six categories—art, entertainment, geography, history, science and sports. Question difficulty is greatly varied.
Trivia Crack games can move slowly, however—your opponent gets several days, if he/she wants them, to take his turn each time you get an answer wrong. For faster play, choose Trivia Crack’s “Challenge” option. With this, there are no alternating turns—all participating players try to answer the same series of questions in just a few minutes. Free for iOS, Android or Windows. Upgrading to an ad-free version for iOS or Android costs $2.99. Or play through Facebook free.
A captivating game of connect the dots. Colored dots are arrayed on a grid in the engaging single-player game Flow Free: Bridges. The player’s task is to trace lines connecting each dot to the dots of the same color—but these connecting lines can cross one another only where a “bridge” is provided on the grid. More than 1,000 different puzzles are included, each with a different pattern of dots and bridges. Free for Android or Windows, $0.99 for iOS.
Helpful: If you like Flow Free: Bridges, also try Flow Free, an earlier version of the game that does not include bridges. It’s free for iOS, Android and Windows.
A beautiful, mind-bending maze game. Players navigate through three-dimensional mazes in the visually striking game Monument Valley. The award-winning graphics are not the only reason it stands out—players must think their way through clever obstacles, such as M.C. Escher–like optical illusions. The app costs $3.99 for iOS, Android and Windows.
A Mahjong tile-matching game. In Mahjong Solitaire, 144 tiles are arranged face up in a four-layer stack. Locate matching pairs of tiles, and they can be removed from the stack, exposing tiles previously hidden below. Remove all of the tiles to win. Several software companies have developed Mahjong Solitaire apps, but Mahjong Solitaire Epic is perhaps the best. It features attractive graphics and hundreds of different starting boards. An app simply called MahJong by software company ByteRun is very good, too. Mahjong Solitaire Epic is free for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac or PC. (A free trial of Mac and PC versions can be downloaded at Kristanix.com. $4.95 for the full version.) MahJong by ByteRun is for iOS only and costs $0.99.
A numbers game that makes addition addictive. Threes is fun, fast and mentally challenging. Numbered tiles appear on a simple four-by-four grid. Players slide 1s and 2s together to create 3s…and slide 3s and multiples of 3 into matching numbers to double them—slide two 3s together to make a 6…two 6s to make a 12…and so on. But each time you slide a number, new numbers slide onto the board…and any other tile on the board that has room to slide that direction does so, too. Sliding tiles is easy at first, but as the numbers climb and the board fills with tiles, it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid getting stuck in a situation where there are no more moves that can be made, ending the game. The goal is to build the numbers on the board as high as you can.
The cost is $2.99 for iOS or Android, free for Windows. Or play for free through Facebook.
Words With Friends or Scrabble?
Words With Friends is extremely similar to the classic game Scrabble. Both are available on Apple and Android phones, while Words With Friends also is available on Windows phones. You can play either game on a computer through Facebook (Facebook.com/WordsWith Friends or Facebook.com/Scrabble).
So if you have an Apple or Android phone, which of these two games should you play? That depends on…
How well you spell. In Scrabble, you lose your turn if your opponent challenges and it turns out that your word is not actually a word. Words With Friends is more forgiving—the app simply tells you that your word is not acceptable and lets you try again.
Which of these games your friends play. The Words With Friends and Scrabble apps both let players challenge their Facebook friends—but you can challenge a friend only if that friend plays the same game.
Whether you also play the physical board game Scrabble. The differences between these games are relatively minor—most notably, the board layout, points system and acceptable words lists differ slightly. But those minor differences could lead to costly mistakes if you try to jump back and forth between the games.
Example: You might lose a turn in Scrabble if you accidentally play a word that is permitted in Words With Friends but not Scrabble.
*Prices cited reflect the cost of the app itself. Many mobile games also encourage players to make in-game purchases, but these are not required. Apps for iOS devices can be downloaded at the Apple App Store (or through iTunes)…for Android devices at Google Play (Play.Google.com)…and for Windows phones at the Windows Phone Store (WindowsPhone.com, then click “Apps+Games”).