Bio Break Games: Blockwick & Aqueduct for iPhone / iPad by Kieffer Bros.

Casual, fun iPhone games that are great for those spare moments. Highlighted this week: Kieffer Bros. titles Aqueduct and Blockwick, two terrific puzzlers you'll keep going back to.

Casual, fun iPhone games that are great for those spare moments. Highlighted this week: Kieffer Bros. titles Aqueduct and Blockwick, two terrific puzzlers you'll keep going back to.
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The Bio Break: A break from an otherwise scheduled activity–be it a production meeting, a family movie night, or an MMORPG raid–for the purpose of fulfilling one’s biologically derived needs, usually implying a trip to the bathroom but also applicable to other basic necessities such as hydration, nutritional sustenance, and the re-application of caffeine.

The Bio Break Game: Any game in which a fulfilling gaming session can fit naturally into the three to five minutes allotted for your standard bio break. Although any gaming platform can offer up a bio break game, the term applies most particularly to games for handheld devices, which can be snuck easily into either the boardroom or the restroom.

Highlighted this week are two of my absolute favorites for iPhone & iPad: Blockwick and Aqueduct, both by Kieffer Bros.

Blockwick: a Gorgeous Puzzler That Does Everything Right, from the Basics to the Little Extras That Make an Exceptional Game Stand Out Even More

I love this game. Simply love it. First, the basics. The puzzles themselves are beautifully crafted to progress from the initial levels of learning the game, solvable in seconds, to intricate brain teasers of several minutes or more. Simple square and rectangular blocks are eventually joined by lopsided oblongs with enough twists and turns to satisfy your average spy novelist. I have played the entire game all the way through more than once, and even after moving on to other things I find myself returning to it again and again for yet one more run through: the hallmark, in my opinion, of a truly exceptional puzzler.

The game play is fast, smooth and uber stable. The sound effects are highly satisfying. Pick the block up with a touch: snnniik. Slide it around on the screen and drop it somewhere else: snnnaak. Make a connection: buhdddooo and the blocks light up. Success! Solving each puzzle is more than just an intellectual achievement. It’s a visceral experience.

And talk about those little extras! I’m a big believer in the idea that the true quality of a game can be seen in the details that the designer didn’t really have to put in, but they took the time anyway. For example, each Blockwick level has a puzzle within a puzzle. Find the little white ball in its hiding place on each level for an extra challenge. Not to mention the art of the blocks themselves. Look closely. Even on the small screen of the iPhone you can see a myriad of subtle, tiny stars pulsing in and out inside each colored block. (Oooooohhhh shinyyyyyyyy…)

With twelve… no, wait! Thirteen!… different chapters of twenty levels each (that’s 260 boards if you don’t feel like doing the math), you’ll get plenty of play time if you buy the full version for a mere $1.99.

Aqueduct: A Pipe-themed Game With a Truly Original Game Style That Sets It Apart from the Rest, Making It Another Winner from Kieffer Bros.

If you think all connect-the-pipes games are the same, think again. I spend hours upon hours net fishing in the virtual oceans of iPhone/iPad game offerings (throwing far, far more titles back than I keep, by the way), and you will be hard-pressed to come up with a better, more original plumbing puzzler than this one. The idea, of course, is to move pieces of pipe around on the board to connect each faucet to a drain. As with any exquisite puzzler, the concept behind it is simple, but the boards themselves become intricately complex by the time you’re nearing the end. Gates, bridges, conveyor belts, teleporters… I just couldn’t put it down.

 

As with Blockwick, the game play is fast, smooth and uber stable, and the sound effects are again highly satisfying. Pick the block up with a touch: snnniik. Slide it around on the screen and drop it somewhere else: snnnaak. Only this time the sniks and snaks sound more, well, pipe-like. And each new element has its own appropriate sound. Gates open and close with a metallic whoosh, conveyor belts move with a chain-like chiga-chiga-chiga-chig. The first time through I found myself making unnecessary moves from time to time just to hear the sound effects again.

I should also mention that both titles have a highly intuitive system for navigating through boards, making it quick and easy to see which ones you have completed and which ones you haven’t, and equally simple to jump to any unlocked board in the game.

For an Un-timed, Unparalleled Puzzler Experience, You Won’t Find Better than These – For Timed Puzzlers, Check Out Kieffer Bros.’ Other Titles Too

What you will not find in either game is any kind of timer. And thank the iOS heavens for that. It seems to me lately that the entire iOS universe has gone way off the deep end over timers and leader boards, but I’ll save that rant for another day. Suffice it to say that these two games are both genuinely casual puzzlers. You can start a puzzle on your first bio break of the day and finish it on your last, and you won’t be penalized for spending some time in a board meeting or in a class or in a raid or will-miracles-never-cease actually spending some time with your kids in between.

Of course, they are in Game Center, complete with Game Center achievements, and Kieffer Bros has other titles that do have timers and leader boards if that’s your thing. As an iOS developer myself, I know quality when I see it, and Kieffer Bros. is a quality outfit. So if you’re more in the mood for some leader board competition, check out some of their other titles. (They have a nice word game title as well for the more alphabet-oriented puzzler.) But if you’re looking for an un-timed, unparalleled puzzler experience, Blockwick and Aqueduct are both in the very top echelon of what iOS has to offer.

(You can get a feel for the play of each game for free with Blockwick 101 and Aqueduct 101, both available in the AppStore.)

Casual, fun iPhone games that are great for those spare moments. Highlighted this week: Kieffer Bros. titles Aqueduct and Blockwick, two terrific puzzlers you'll keep going back to.
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Bio Break Games: Blockwick & Aqueduct for iPhone / iPad by Kieffer Bros.

Casual, fun iPhone games that are great for those spare moments. Highlighted this week: Kieffer Bros. titles Aqueduct and Blockwick, two terrific puzzlers you'll keep going back to.

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app developer, author, rancher, gamer, (and occasional lawyer)