May 19, 2011

Free Kindle Games

The Kindle, with its e-ink black-and-white display and limited processing power, isn't ideally suited to be a gaming platform.  But that's fine, since I'm not much of a gamer.

Still, simple games can be a nice diversion on occasion.  And if they are free, why not?  So when a free Kindle game becomes available, I download it.  And occasionally I play it.

Here are the games I have so far:

This is pretty much the classic PC game of mine sweeper, just using the Kindle's 5-way controller rather than a mouse.
The objective of Mine Sweeper is to find all of the mines that are hidden on the game grid. When you uncover a location on the grid, the number of mines adjacent to that location is revealed. The game ends when you have successfully identified all the mines and uncovered all the unoccupied locations - or, when you inadvertently uncover a location that contains a mine. The clock is ticking, so challenge yourself to go faster and faster with each game.
For me, it quickly gets pretty boring.

Blackjack is the one gambling game that I actually enjoy.  And the Kindle implementation is pretty well done.
The Kindle version features all of the most common aspects of the game including splits, double down, surrender and insurance, as well as multiple options for customization that allow you to play the style of Blackjack that you want to play. For example, you can configure the game to match specific structures like 'Dealer must hit soft 17' - a common rule variation in many Las Vegas casinos. 
The built-in advice feature, which you can turn on and off at any time, applies basic strategy and will recommend the best course of action to maximize your chances of winning.

If I have a few minutes to spare and I'm not reading, a few hands of Blackjack can fit in quite nicely.  And next time I plan to play for money, I'll spend some time practicing on my Kindle.

I'm not a big fan of Video Poker.  But the Kindle implementation is well done, so I would imagine it works well for those who do like the game itself.
Video Poker accurately simulates the Vegas-style video poker machine known as Jacks or Better. After making a bet, you will be dealt five cards. You select which of these five cards to hold, and redraw the rest to try to make the best poker hand possible. A hand with a pair of Jacks or better wins.
The built-in Strategy feature, which you can turn on and off at any time, will provide recommendations for how to play given the hand you were dealt, and will give you hints on how to improve if you fail to make the best move. This guidance will help you learn how to play the game, and how to maximize your payouts.
For me, there's very little strategy, and doesn't hold my interest.

This is the classic kids game.
In Dots and Boxes, you are presented with a set of dots in a 5x5 grid. One by one, each player must fill in a horizontal or vertical line between two dots. The player that completes a box by filling in the fourth side captures that box. Completing a box allows a player to immediately make another move. When all 16 boxes are claimed, the player with the most boxes wins.  
Play against Kindle at Easy, Medium or Hard difficulty levels. You can also play against another person in Pass 'n' Play mode and select whether a match requires 2, 3 or 4 wins to complete. Dots and Boxes comes with tips and instructions to help you if you get stuck, and also tracks your best scores, wins, and ties for each difficulty level. 
It didn't hold my interest, but might be fun to hand over to one of your children for a while.

Another classic puzzle game.
In Number Slide, you are presented with a set of numbered tiles on a grid. One tile is removed and the remaining tiles are scrambled. The objective is to get all the tiles into proper numeric order by moving the tiles into the one open space and sliding them around until they are back where they belong.  
Number Slide features hundreds of randomly generated game grids for you to enjoy. You can choose between a small (3x3), medium (4x4) or large (5x5) puzzle grid with larger grids being more difficult. You can also challenge yourself by trying to beat your best time on each puzzle. 
Again, I'm not a big fan of the game itself.

I do like word games.  And Every Word is pretty well done on the Kindle.
If you like word scrambles then Every Word is the game for you. Test your vocabulary as you try to find as many words from the scrambled letters in this fun and fast-paced word game. 
You are given six or seven scrambled letters with the goal of finding as many words as you can. You score points by filling out the words in each empty spot on the board using only the letters that appear at the top of the game board. Keep at it until time runs out or until you fill up the board. The more words you make, the higher your score! 
Your score is comprised of two components: first make a lot of words, second try to make the longest word possible. The best way to increase your score is to do both. Why? Because when you do, you earn the right to play a new level with a brand new set of letters. As long as you keep finding the longest word, you can move on to a new level and push your score higher and higher.
Not a bad way to spend a few free minutes.

Another good word game.  Again, the Kindle platform works well for this sort of game.

The tiles are added to your row one at a time so you'll constantly be working with a new set of letters. After you submit a word, the letters you used will be removed and new ones will be added. Increase your score by using less common letters. Create longer words and increase your score even more. 
If you don't use the letters fast enough, they'll disappear and new ones will take their place, so you'll have to decide if you want to play it safe and use short words or try to wait for more letters to form longer words.
Pretty good for using your vocabulary skills.

Note: These games were free at the time I downloaded them from Amazon.  As with all free items, you must check before you download, since they may no longer be free.

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
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