Dream of Pixels
What would Tetris be like if, instead of stacking blocks, you were pulling them back out? Now you can find out, thanks to Noodlecake Studios' Dream of Pixels (free, Android; $3, iOS). Simply put, Dream of Pixels is reverse Tetris. Instead of fitting blocks together to form a solid wall, you're pulling blocks out of a solid wall. But you can't just pull them out at random, or you'll end up with stranded blocks that can't clear themselves.
In Dream of Pixels, a solid wall of blocks descends slowly from the top of the screen. In the upper left corner, there's a shape — the shape of the tetramino you can pull out of the wall. To pull the shape out, tap any block near the bottom of the wall: If it can somehow combine with blocks near it to form that shape and leave the wall, it will (if it can't, the block will pulse red). The trick is to pull shapes from the "right" places, because if you pull a shape from too far up, you may end up with orphaned blocks that can't be turned into tetraminos (they'll be floating on their own, not adjacent to any other blocks). The goal is to basically undo Tetris, block by block.
Dream of Pixels has a bit of a learning curve, and it's definitely challenging. But it's just challenging enough to keep you interested without frustrating you (too much). True to its name, Dream of Pixels has an overall tranquil, dream-like feel: The blocks are multi-colored clouds floating through a starry sky.
I love Tetris, and I love word games. And Puzzlejuice ($2, iOS) combines both of these loves into one challenging, addictive game.
You can think of Puzzlejuice like Tetris, but with an extra step. The main part of the game is block-matching tetraminos using intuitive swipe controls (swipe right/left to move your block, tap to turn it, and swipe down to speed it toward the bottom). But when you make a line, it doesn't clear from the board: Instead, the blocks turn into letter tiles. To clear blocks from the board, you must now make words with those letter tiles by dragging your finger across the tiles (similar to Scramble, or offline Boggle) while still fielding falling blocks.
Puzzlejuice also utilizes colors in its gameplay: Tetraminos are made of individually colored blocks. As blocks start to pile up, you can tap on color-groupings of three or more blocks of the same color to quick-change those blocks into letter tiles. For the most part, you don't need to strategize to get colors together (they'll end up falling that way), but if you want an extra layer of challenge you always can.
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