You know, I work with computers and devices for a living, so when I want to have fun — or when I need to relax — I do "analog world" things, like walk the dog or weed the garden. But not too long ago, I purchased a Windows Phone 7 (mostly because I needed to write about it), and it's changing my outlook a bit. Recently, when I wanted a few moments to escape from the demands of the day, I turned to the phone, curious about what types of games might give me a little respite. I had two criteria: (1) the games had to be free and (2) I didn't want to have to think in order to play them.
1: Bubblo World
Bubblo World is one of those take-me-away games that balances just the right amount of logic with just the right amount of whimsy. The idea is to get the bubbles pointing in the right directions so that you can create a chain reaction and pop all the bubbles in sequence. It's absorbing in the way that building a Domino maze is absorbing, and when you push over that first domino (or tap Play to fire the arrow at the first bubble), watching the chain reaction is truly a beautiful thing.
2: Seeds on the Wind
Seeds on the Wind gives you a chance to be the wind, helping along a little seed that needs to be planted in fertile soil. Sounds easy, right? But being the wind isn't as easy as you might think. Your gusts have to keep things moving the right direction, over trees and around buildings, and away from one very hungry squirrel. The illustrations are relaxing and it's not too big a stretch to feel that you are buffeted on the breeze alongside that little seed.
De-Bugs is a high-color game with great sound and animation effects. The objective is simple: Flick your phone to knock bugs of the same color together and earn points at the same time. Here's a tip I didn't discover until I'd lost several times: Tilting your phone improves your chances of high scoring. This is a fun, mindless little game, and the bugs seem to have personality as they whir away.
4: Beanstalk Tale Free
Beanstalk Tale Free is an interesting game in which you use the tilt and tap features of Windows Phone 7 to climb a beanstalk and gather fruits and other charms. There are monsters to stop your progress, of course, and if you're not very game savvy (as I'm not), you're likely to fall off the beanstalk a gazillion times before you start to make progress. But it's still better than proofreading that report, right?
5: 3D Mahjong Solitaire
3D Mahjong Solitaire is a like a breath of fresh air if you are drawn to Eastern approaches. The goal is to match the mahjong tiles two by two. When you pair them up, they disappear. You win the game when you clear the board. The various flicks and taps and pinches work well with 3D Mahjong; you can enlarge the playing board or shrink in with a pinch; you can rotate and tilt the board (which is helpful if you're having trouble seeing which tiles are on top) by dragging your finger in the direction you want to rotate the board.
What are your favorites?
What free WP7 games do you turn to for a little diversion? Share your recommendations with other TechRepublic members.
Katherine Murray is a technology writer and the author of more than 60 books on a variety of topics, ranging from small business technology to green computing to blogging to Microsoft Office 2010. Her most recent books include Microsoft Office 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), Microsoft Word 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), and Microsoft Word 2010 Inside Out (Microsoft Press, 2010).