Conceptis Mobile Apps for iOS (Monthly Musing, Jan 2019)

Know it or not, I’ve been enjoying Conceptis puzzles since I stumbled upon Calcudoku on the Flash game website OneMoreLevel. Back then, my primary medium was the Flash website, which inspired me to write a few related articles:

A few months after writing the Block-a-Pix article, I was surprised to find that the Conceptis Twitter account had retweeted the automated Tweet that went up in unison with the publication of the article. Even later on, Conceptis went on this very site and gave positive feedback on the article, asking in the same comment for feedback on their mobile app. I was literally unable to at the time, considering I was an Android user and the app was only on iOS, but I haven’t directly said anything else since then, which I imagine can only be interpreted as leaving them in the dark. As such, I aim today to bring to light what this month has brought to my mind regarding Conceptis (and part of it is already in the light by now).

The happenings of this month mostly tie in with getting a new mobile device for Christmas. Got an iOS phone with quadruple the storage space of the Android device that I had, so instead of having a phone so filled to the brim with necessity apps that I have to limit myself to one Conceptis app at a time to minimize complaints about lacking storage space, I can now have all 16 currently released iOS apps concurrently without any problem whatsoever. Oh, how that contributes to the fun factor. (No, really.)

Anyway, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. First off, know that not every variety of Conceptis puzzle has a mobile counterpart, not even on iOS…in case that wasn’t clear from that I mentioned 18 puzzle varieties from my prior articles and that there are 16 apps on iOS (although what I haven’t mentioned yet is that two of them are subsets of Sudoku). The following puzzle varieties currently lack mobile apps:

  • Calcudoku – Imaginably low priority because it highly resembles SumSudoku (one of the aforementioned subsets of Sudoku). That said, I look forward to the possibility, because Calcudoku is where I started and SumSudoku is morbidly difficult.
  • Skyscrapers – Since the Battleships app was given the name SeaBattle, I have a feeling that Skyscrapers would get the same treatment. That, in turn, leads me to think that part of the reason why Skyscrapers doesn’t have an app is the difficulty in nomenclature.
  • Hitori – Similar in mechanics to Tic-Tac-Logic, therefore sure to be coming soon. (At least, I hope so.)
  • Maze-a-Pix – Considering Dot-a-Pix made the cut, I expect this to follow suit.

(Another potential setback is that higher numbers of puzzle varieties require more routinely updates requiring the same amount of attention, which in turn becomes a pain.)

Second, the mobile apps follow a particular format: 2 or 3 free Starter volumes, Weekly Bonus puzzles that come in a size 4 First-In-First-Out queue (this is a rather subtle feature that I didn’t discover before getting the better phone), and a selection of priced volumes that increase in count on a regular basis. What’s nice about the Weekly Bonus queue is that it’s not restrictive; it lets the user choose when to update, so “expired” puzzles don’t disappear until the update is agreed upon.

The improvement to free puzzles is a major boon in the transition from Flash to mobile, and it’s far from the only. The interface is so much more slick, featuring significantly lightened menus, using dual fingers to zoom in/out and pan, and no more superfluous sounds. Also worth noting is the far greater portability of mobile compared to Flash. Anything else I have to say is about specific puzzles, so here they are in descending order of number of volumes currently released (including the ones exclusive to iPad). Also, this is the part where I stop being so meticulous about my writing structure, because it was tough enough writing the whole rest of this article.

Pic-a-Pix (350)

Starters: 21 B&W and 21 Color, ranging from 5×5 Ultra easy to 15×20 Easy

Settings: Check rows/columns, Show time, Include iPad volumes

Comments: Just a minor complaint specific to this puzzle variety: Drawing lines of squares/dots isn’t as easy on mobile as in Flash.

Fill-a-Pix (322)

Starters: 21 Basic Logic ranging from 5×5 Ultra easy to 40×60 Medium, and 21 Advanced Logic ranging from 8×8 Ultra easy to 40×60 Hard

Settings: Autofill starting clues (0s, 9s, edge 6s, and corner 4s), Show errors, Show time, Use cursor, Long press, Include iPad volumes

Comments: It wasn’t until I transitioned to mobile that I realized the existence of the big cursor: a 3×3 stamp that, when you click on a number, automatically fills or crosses out the unoccupied tiles around it—extremely helpful for Basic Logic. The “Use cursor” setting does a great job at enhancing precision.

Link-a-Pix (296)

Starters: 21 B&W and 21 Color, ranging from 5×10 Ultra easy to 40×60 Easy

Settings: Autofill starting clues (1), Show errors, Show time, Use cursor, Include iPad volumes

Comments: “Use cursor” is still great for its purpose. So too is “Autofill starting clues.”

Sudoku (271)

Starters: 40 ranging from 6×6 Very easy to 9×9 Easy, 32 ranging from 6×6 Medium to 9×9 Medium plus, and 32 9×9 ranging from Hard to Very Hard

Variants: Mini, Classic, Diagonal, Irregular, OddEven (missing Chain Sudoku from Flash, but that’s too much like Irregular for me to actually care about)

Settings: Visual enhancements, Show conflicts, Show time, Include iPad volumes

Comments: “Visual enhancements” is an interesting setting. It’s the sort of thing that I’m used to when doing Conceptis puzzles, where the fixed numbers are black and the placed numbers are brown, but I can imagine Sudoku veterans—who are more accustomed to pen and paper—to find it uncanny and want to turn it off. Other than that, I really like how the Starter puzzles are presented in difficulty order on mobile (Mini first, others after), whereas the Flash site had Mini after Classic.

Hashi (232)

Starters: 30 ranging from 7×10 Very easy to 10×14 Easy, 30 ranging from 8×11 Medium to 10×14 Medium plus, and 30 Hard ranging from 9×13 to 10×14

Settings: Show errors, Show time, Include iPad volumes

Comments: Instead of clicking between islands to create bridges (in Flash), the mobile app has more intuitive mechanics where you drag from one island to another to create a bridge. …Nothing else to comment on, really.

Tic-Tac-Logic (221)

Starters: 30 Easy ranging from 6×6 to 10×14, 30 Medium ranging from 8×10 to 10×14, and 30 Hard 10×14

Settings: Show conflicts, Show time, Include iPad volumes

Comments: Might be tough for the large-fingered to interact with (take it from me), but highlighting rows/columns to check for matches is much easier on mobile than on Flash. (In Flash, you pin down a row/column by clicking, and you find matches by hovering over other rows/columns. On mobile, you just tap the row/column header and automatically find out if there is a match.)

Nurikabe (216)

Starters: 30 ranging from 6×8 Very easy to 10×14 Easy, 30 ranging from 7×10 Medium to 10×14 Medium plus, and 30 ranging from 8×11 Hard to 10×14 Very hard

Settings: Show time, Include iPad volumes

Comments: Similarly to Pic-a-Pix, it’s tougher to span a single input across multiple tiles.

Slitherlink (216)

Starters: 30 ranging from 6×8 Very easy to 10×14 Easy, 30 ranging from 7×10 Medium to 10×14 Medium plus, and 30 ranging from 8×11 Hard to 10×14 Very hard

Settings: Auto complete, Show time, Include iPad volumes

Comments: “Auto complete” works wonders. It puts so many automatic Xs on the board that I feel spoiled after the transition from Flash. Other than that? Similar issue to Tic-Tac-Logic where the inputs are hard to make.

Cross-a-Pix (137)

Starters: 21 SingleClue and 21 DualClue ranging from 7×7 (and 5×10) Very easy to 20×30 Medium

Settings: Check rows/columns, Show time, Include iPad volumes

Comments: Like Pic-a-Pix with more complex numerical logic, except it has absolutely no need for multiple square inputs per touch.

MultiSudoku (98)

Starters: 24 Easy, 24 Medium, and 24 Hard ranging from 2-Grid to 5-Grid

Settings: Visual enhancements, Show conflicts, Show time

Comments: Slightly more difficult Sudoku. What more to say?

Kakuro (81)

Starters: 40 Easy ranging from 7×9 Very easy and 14×16 Easy, 30 ranging from 8×10 Medium to 14×16 Medium plus, and 30 ranging from 10×12 Hard to 14×16 Very hard

Settings: Show errors, Show time, Include iPad volumes

Comments: Similar to Flash, yet somehow not as efficient (at least if you’re like me and use the number keys to put numbers in the squares).

SeaBattle (80)

Starters: 40 ranging from 6×6 Very easy to 10×10 Easy, 40 ranging from 8×8 Medium to 10×10 Medium plus, and 40 10×10 ranging from Hard to Very hard

Settings: Check wors/columns, Autofill Water, Show time

Comments: I like the name change from Battleships; it’s less generic and has a nicer ring to it. I also like “Autofill Water,” which is much like “Auto complete” in Slitherlink.

Block-a-Pix (71)

Starters: 25 ranging from 5×10 Ultra easy to 20×30 Medium, and 21 ranging from 30×45 Medium to 40×60 Medium plus

Settings: Autofill starting clues (1s), Show errors, Show time, Use cursor, Include iPad volumes

Comments: I’m bummed that the mobile app allows you to stretch a block beyond the highest possible dimensions, unlike the Flash site. However, “Autofill starting clues” and “Use cursor” are just as useful as in Fill-a-Pix and Link-a-Pix.

SumSudoku (62)

Starters: 30 “Easy”, 30 “Medium”, and 30 Hard (all 9×9)

Settings: Visual enhancements, Show conflicts, Show time

Comments: Way more difficult Sudoku. Arguably strange how it got release priority over Calcudoku.

Sym-a-Pix (61)

Starters: 21 Basic Logic ranging from 5×10 Very easy to 40×60 Medium plus, and 21 Advanced Logic ranging from 5×10 Easy to 40×60 Hard

Settings: Autodraw starting walls, Auto complete, Show errors, Show time, Include iPad volumes

Comments: “Autodraw starting walls” and “Auto complete” are an obscene combination, with which the 5×10 Easy “Advanced” Logic puzzle can be solved in literally one move. Also, the cursor of mobile Sym-a-Pix is probably the best cursor of any Conceptis puzzle I’ve ever done. It rests on lines, it becomes a crosshair when you move it around, and you can hold while filling in a line to draw multiple at once.

Dot-a-Pix (20)

Starters: 24 SingleLine ranging from 35 to 400 dots, and 24 MultiLine ranging from 40 to 723 dots

Settings: Show time, Include iPad volumes

Comments: Still child’s play (literally just connect-the-dots), but I have to admit that it’s well designed for what it is and also taught me the art of zooming and panning in Conceptis apps.

 

Overall rating: 9.5/10. Had them rated a flat 9 when I reviewed during the Flash era, and the mobile transition certainly bolstered that rating. That said, puzzles are naught more than a tertiary activity to me, and everything has its setbacks.

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