Classic games never die, but sometimes they’re reborn and reimagined on newer platforms
Such is the case with puzzle, word, card and board games – all playable on the pocket-sized device you always have with you – and able to deliver little moments of enjoyment throughout the day, wherever and whenever.
In fact, games that challenge you to solve problems aren’t just fun, but can stimulate your brain, improve your mental speed and even improve short-term memory, according to several studies, including reports published by Brittne Nelson-Kakulla, of AARP Research, who presented findings last week at the 2023 AARP Games Summit in Washington, D.C.
If you enjoy “casual” games like Wordle, there are many other new (or newly updated) puzzle and board games to play on your smartphone or tablet – and all are “freemium,” meaning there is no cost to play but offer optional in-app purchases to unlock more content, remove ads, and more.
Try these 5 word game spinoffs
Out last week, Scopely’s Monopoly Go!, in partnership with Hasbro, gives the 88-year-old iconic board game a modern update, with slick animation and some new gameplay mechanics.
Designed to be a social experience, the game connects the global community of players, allowing friends to work together and boost each other’s fortunes, but also compete with rivals while building empires – just like the original cardboard version.
Roll the dice and move across the board as one of the beloved tokens, like Top Hat or Racecar, while amassing properties, building houses and hotels, and collecting money as you pass Go.
And yes, you can be sent to jail, too, and must roll doubles to get out.
But while you’re increasing your net worth, Monopoly Go! has you traveling to world-class cities, collecting (or trading) hundreds of unique stickers for your album, and partaking in daily tournaments and minigames.
If you like crossword puzzles, try your hand at Joy Vendor’s Word Hike (for iOS and Android), which lets you (virtually) travel the world as you guess the correct vertical or horizontal word on the board, based on the clue in the margins.
Vertical words, highlighted in blue, are tied to the board’s theme, such as ’90s movies, cartoon characters, or pop stars.
While easier than many other crosswords, if you get stuck, tap the small “finger” to get a clue. You’ll also earn bees by winning levels, which can be activated at the start of each subsequent level, to reveal the first letter of a word.
Word Hike houses more than 12,000 puzzles, says the company, with rewards to collect for completing a puzzle, such as coins used to unlock additional levels.
If you’ve never played a “Picross” game before – also referred to as “Nonograms” – they’re both relaxing and stimulating at the same time.
In SuperSonic Software’s Picture Cross Color, you’re presented with a blank grid, but along the margins are clues as to which blocks are a certain color. Through deduction and process of elimination, you’ll figure out how many blocks need to be “painted” with your fingertip.
If correct, you’ll solve the puzzle and be rewarded with a picture. Complete several pictures to unlock a much bigger canvas, with an animated scene.
A “World Tour” mode features popular destinations to virtually visit from around the planet.
Fans of classic games – with a twist – should tap through Zach Gage’s Really Bad Chess, a fresh take on the beloved centuries old game of wits.
What makes this version unique is randomized pieces, such as eight knights, four bishops and three pawns. And yes, your opponent will have something completely different, too.
Designed for beginners and pros alike, this new approach to an old game lets you play against the game’s artificial intelligence (AI) or your friends online – including daily and weekly challenges.
If you like games like crossword puzzles, word searches, Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, Codeword, and the above-mentioned Picture Cross Color, one freebie called Puzzle Page has it all in one place.
As the name suggests, Puzzle Page is not unlike a page of games in a newspaper, with a variety of puzzles to play that day (and a fresh batch the following day). But at any time, you can go back in the in-game calendar and play a previous day’s collection. You can even filter by puzzle type.
Along with several number, word and picture games, there are daily challenges, unlockable “achievement” trophies and rewards.
Follow Marc on Twitter for his “Tech Tip of the Day” posts: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.