Brandon Boyer

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Late last night, the second chapter of Infinite Interactive’s PuzzleQuest landed on the App Store as a free update to those who bought the original edition, and is now available as a Chapter 1&2 package at the same price. That reminded me that there were a number of games that I’d either recommended earlier or hadn’t written about yet that’d since seen free Lite versions released, or had dropped to free downloads.

Since I don’t normally do straight up “buyer’s guides”, let this be a quick update to catalog all some of the best games you should be trying risk-free. Full descriptions are after the jump, and let us know what Lite/free gems you’ve stumbled upon lately yourself via the comments.

i Love Katamari LitewwwApp Store link

I Love Katamari got some due criticism on its initial release for a poorly implemented control scheme that would gradually make its tilt-sensitivity lose all sense of its resting state, but did see major improvements via later updates. If you’ve consequently been too nervous to give it a full go, Namco recently released this demo version for your perusal.

Katamari rolls onto iPhone – Offworld
iPhone Katamari gets Exquisite addition – Offworld

Monospace LitewwwApp Store link

A game I haven’t yet mentioned here, Monospace plays on many of the same 2D/3D interactions that made Sega/Zoe Mode’s PSP puzzle platformer Crush (YouTube trailer) so intriguing, only here it’s presented in a much more traditional sparse cube-puzzle form. Your goal is “simply” to use the cube’s blue block to smash through the white by spinning and flattening the perspective to clear them from each angle, though even a short stint with the Lite version will prove how spatially mind-warping this soon becomes.

Newtonica PlayerwwwApp Store link

One of the main reasons I wanted to put this list together was simply to highlight the video above. The Lite version of Newtonica, one of the games detailed in the Offworld 20 list, gives you a sense of its mechanics, but not so much its gameplay. Instead, ex-console devs Kenichi Nishi (Chibi Robo) and Kenji Eno (D2, Enemy Zero) have morphed the app into a lite music synth, played adeptly by Eno above (and you’ll soon discover just how adeptly when you lay your own fingers on it). As a bonus, the full version of Newtonica has also just dropped from $4.99 to $2.99.

The Offworld 20: 2008's Best Indie and Overlooked – Offworld

Newtonica 2 LitewwwApp Store link

Unlike Newtonica Lite, the second demo version does give you a true sense of the game, which progressed from ball-spinner to a zero-gravity puzzle game featuring the first version’s true star, Baby Space Duck. In it, you’ll skip Space Duck through the stars by pressing the Funny-Face-esque balls to send ripples through space, pushing her to the black hole goals, and, hopefully, pick up donuts (!) along the way.

Puzzle Quest FreewwwApp Store link

Like i Love Katamari, PuzzleQuest is a game that probably needs little introduction, but, as I said in the intro, with a free version out, if you haven’t given the iPhone version a try (having been put off by the early, but now considerably improved, performance issues), or especially if you haven’t played the game itself on any of its other platforms, the Lite version is an essential download.

Things We Lost In The Snow, pt 1: PuzzleQuest hit the iPhone …
iPhone's second PuzzleQuest chapter coming as free update – Offworld

Rolando LitewwwApp Store link

Rolando itself was, of course, one of Offworld’s top 20 games of last year and one of the App Store’s highest profile indie releases. While many of you probably haven’t missed out on this one yet, Ngmoco recently released a Lite version of the game, a good way to get a taste as developer Hand Circus works on both new levels for the full version, and a proper sequel due before the end of the year.

Touch me I'm slick: ngmoco/Hand Circus's Rolando – Offworld
Ngmoco: Rolando sequel coming, Touch Pets Dogs announced – Offworld
Ready for their closeup: Mikko Walamies' Rolando art – Offworld

TopplewwwApp Store link

The first of ngmoco’s “fast apps” to hit the App Store, Topple quickly rose to the top of the paid app ranks for its dead simple block-stacking premise, Spumco-esque graphical polish, unlockable achievements, and perfectly-tailored iPhone controls. Ngmoco turned the app loose as a free download to celebrate the release of their Rolando.

Ngmoco promise Word-Fu, more Topple by mid-February – Offworld

Tower Bloxx Deluxe 3D FreewwwApp Store link

Recently mentioned when images came through the wire that the game might hit the iPhone, Tower Bloxx is one of publisher Digital Chocolate’s finest, and the height of “one button” (or here, one-touch) gaming. A block-stacking minigame at its core, Bloxx gets greater depth from a lightly strategic neighborhood planning mechanic that only allows you to build the better high-rises (and in turn, attract a bigger population) by surrounding areas with well-built lower ranking structures. And, as I wasn’t sure of at the time but can now say empirically, it truly shines on the iPhone.

Digital Chocolate's Tower Bloxx coming to iPhone? – Offworld

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