The best puzzle games ever! 

I’m a huge fan of the puzzle game, to me a puzzle game is the perfect blend of intelligent gaming and relaxation. As a creative person I find it really hard to switch off and forget about everything going on around me – a good puzzle game is like sleeping tablets to me. Play for 20 minutes and feel relaxed enough to forget about work and deadlines.

Many of these games listed below will be well known to you, many of them have been inspirational and helped my create my own puzzle game Directional Dash.

1. Hexic HD (Xbox)


Hexic HD was like crack to me when I first got my Xbox, If my memory serves me right it came bundled with the console and everyone, at some point would of played it. It was the first game where there were competitive social leaderboards, I could see how well my friends we’re doing on Xbox Live and it made me want to play it more.

“Create clusters of same-colored tiles to clear them from the board. Sounds simple, right? The real fun of Hexic is in creating special patterns to earn special pieces. Create a flower to earn a starflower piece. Use starflower pieces to make another flower and earn the elusive black pearl. Make a cluster or flower out of black pearls to win the game.” (Their words, not mine)

I’m not sure ‘winning the game’ ever existed but it was really great intelligent fun. It probably looks very dated now but if you ask my wife she will tell you how much I played it.

2. Bejewelled (iOS)


Everyone is familiar with Popcap’s Bejeweled, It has gone through hundreds of changes and improvements over the years, when I first started playing it there was only a couple of modes, now it boasts plenty more – Including the rather addictive Diamond Mine. Blitz was so successful they split it off and turned it into its very own cash cow. Despite Popcap boasting that Bejeweled is the ‘Worlds Number one puzzle game’ (Which Candy Crush fans may argue with) Bejeweled is an excellent example of simple match three gameplay and colourful indulgence.

“Ease into Classic Bejeweled for cascades of fun, test your gem swapping ability with Lightning, save Butterflies from a hungry spider, dig into Diamond Mine for a gem-blasting challenge, or slip into Zen for a revolutionary new way to relax. Collect flashy Bejeweled badges and achievements as you soar to dazzling new heights in the Game Center leaderboards!”

Bejeweled has occupied more hours of my life than I’d care to mention, a truly excellent and regularly cloned concept that has been around for many years and shows no sign of going away.

3. Triple Town (iOS)


Triple Town was one of the first of a new wave of match three games that offered not only matching puzzling but also evolution, so the grass would turn into a tree, trees would turn into log cabins, log cabins would turn into houses etc, it was truly a revolutionary concept within the puzzle genre, another one which has been cloned to death. Triple Town is cute, relaxing and super challenging.

“Triple Town is an original puzzle game in which you try to grow the greatest possible city. The larger the city you build, the more points you score. You build your city by matching three or more game-pieces: combine three grasses to make a bush, three bushes to make a tree… until you’ve filled the board with houses, cathedrals and castles. Along the way, you’ll have to outwit giant bears who will try to block your progress.”

Triple Town doesn’t have the pace of the other gem matching games, it is quite happy for you to take hours within its walls.

4. Puzzle & Dragons (iOS)

Puzzle and Dragons

Puzzle and Dragons is probably the newest (And most successful) on this list. It is no way original and borrows heavily from other games but the fusion of all these elements creates something amazingly addictive and brilliant to play. The basis is Bejeweled with Pokemon. You swap gems, fight monsters, collect monsters, evolve monsters, battle and repeat. The thing that strikes me about Puzzle and Dragons is it’s sheer depth, You unlock monsters that are numbered 975, meaning there is so much content to unlock you just get hooked. You can play for free but at some point you will be tempted to pay for some magic stones which help you move through the game.

“Match 3 or more orbs of the same color to attack your enemies. Unlike most puzzle games, you can move an orb as far as you want. Make the biggest combo you can to obliterate your foes and snag the dungeon’s loot – you may even score a SUPER RARE monster! With over 700 unique monsters to collect, there’s virtually no limit to the number of different team combinations you can try. Fuse your monsters to make them even stronger. With the right ingredients, adorable baby dragons can become majestic and powerful beasts.”

This game has made millions since launching in Japan, followed by the US and now the UK. It alone is probably earning more than Nintendo. (To which it has borrowed heavily) Until Pokemon makes it to iOS, P&D is going to remain king of the evolution puzzlers.

5. Alien Hive (iOS)

Alien Hive

Alien Hive is similar to Triple Town, evolve your blocks to progress your game. Alien Hive however is more sci-fi, futuristic and damn pretty. It uses some really stunning artwork and gameplay to draw you in and hook you up! There is even an element of collecting the alien characters, it is really tough to get them and when you do you feel a great sense of achievement. The main issue is as soon as you unlock them the game is nearly over as you will run out of moves! There is a high chance i’m not very good at it though!

“Alien Hive is all about evolving aliens, blending match-3 with sliding tile puzzles for a game that feels both familiar and fresh. Swipe tiles to make matches – combine eggs to hatch cute baby aliens, and then help them fully evolve into Supreme Aliens. Match resource tiles for upgrades that let you take command of the board, with the goal of building the ultimate alien hive. Strategically avoid the villainous Bots, who block your progress, by crafting power-ups to eliminate these baddies. As you advance, you will uncover the mystery of the hidden aliens… and tame the Red Planet!”

Alien Hive has introduced a Blitz mode which is fast and furious fun, but not a patch on the main game. It’s probably the most polished game on this list and one that all match-three puzzle fans should be playing.

6. Monsters Ate My Condo (iOS)

Monsters ate my condo

Monsters Ate my Condo by PikPok {Adult Swim} is certainly the whackiest game on this list, those guys are brilliant at creating original games and although this may be more arcade than puzzle it is a match three at its core. Godzilla meets Bejeweled sounds crazy but that’s nothing compared to when you play it. Wait until the fat lady sings, which she will!

“Four ferocious monsters of destruction are on a rampage and only residential high-rises will satisfy their boundless hunger. In this larger-than-life puzzle game, you will use intuitive swipe controls to match the colored floors. Feed the creatures and prevent the destruction of all humankind!”

7. Tetris (Various)


I’m not going to link to modern versions of Tetris as the one I really want to talk about is the one that came attached to a watch that was played by everyone in my family. It is rare that a family would be interested in the same things, let alone competing against each other but this little hand held device did just that. It made us all fight for a go. This version of tetris had no power ups, no fancy moves or special effects it was just pure, basic Tetris.

Sorry iOS, Android, Xbox, others – Get the watch version. (I’m old remember)

8. Drop7 (iOS)


Drop7 in my eyes is the greatest of all the puzzle games, saving the best til last. There are very few words that I can say about Drop7. It is perfection, it is both intelligent and challenging, simple and engaging – a true puzzle great. It breaks my heart that Zynga have taken over and killed it. It is loved by puzzle fans all over the world and the big red giant that is Zynga have just spat it out. It’s still live so there is hope that they will revive it but it looks doubtful.

“Drop numbered discs into a grid to stay alive while aiming for chain reaction bonuses. Master the unique gameplay in seconds, and fine tune your strategies the more you play.”

Seriously get it.

Directional Dash Update

My game has been well received and pleased to announce that I have a new developer partner TJ Fallon, TJ is working with me to bring you the best Directional Puzzler we can. We have just submitted v1.5 to the AppStore which features loads of bug fixes, graphic improvements and a new online multiplayer mode. Check it out when it goes live. If you are playing it, a review would mean the world to us, so please review it 🙂 (REVIEW HERE)

I’m not suggesting this is part of the list, just an update, maybe one day?

OK. That’s it.



Mike Hince is a UI & UX Designer and the co-founder of Bossanova Design.

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