A very good game, far above average & recommended.
iWin Games Review
- Very diverse set of games
- Fun daily puzzles
- Pretty good presentation
- Poor stability and optimization
- Some games just don't suit the mobile platform too well
iWin Games Review
An All-in-One Package
The folks over at iWin have produced so many games that it can be really hard to keep track of them all. There are matching puzzlers, solitaire adaptations, hidden object finders, mobile game shows, singleplayer apps, multiplayer apps and the whole nine yards. The selection is nice, but it can be hard to tell what software is really worth your time. Thus we have iWin Games, an app that contains a sample of the company's extensive library. Do the games that come with it represent the cream of the crop? That's a question for another day. The important thing is that it does contain a good variety of games that are all fun in their own way. However, it also has a number of technical issues that work overtime to bog the whole experience down.
Since this is a collection of games, it stands to reason that they all deserve to be looked at individually.
An iWin Games app wouldn't be an iWin app if it didn't have Jewel Quest. It plays just like how you would expect a match-three puzzler to play; swap gems around so you can group at least three together and watch them burst into brilliant displays of color for points. The twist it brings to the old formula is that it requires you to turn the entire board into gold before you can advance, which you do by forming matches on unaltered grid spaces. In order to help you along, you can try matching three lion-headed gold coins together, which will give you the Midas Touch and the ability to turn any square of your choice into gold.
There's a reason why Jewel Quest is iWin's flagship title; it's easy to get into, hard to put down, and great fun all around. It requires a lot more strategy and thought than the average match-three game, but has a consistent difficulty curve that increases the challenge at a steady pace. This version of Jewel Quest includes 72 newly designed levels. Even if you've mastered the game, that alone should make it worth revisiting.
The first on the list is a basic spelling game. Every round, you're given a fixed selection of six letters, and you've got about two minutes to see how many words you can spell out of them. Any word will score you points, but if you want to be able to move up to the next round, then you need to spell at least one six-letter word. It's a simple but fun word game with a decent woodland-themed presentation to go with it. A cartoony raccoon smiles and nods when you correctly spell a word, and sulks sadly if you attempt something that doesn't work. You'll need an extensive vocabulary to succeed in S'More Words, which is always good for this type of game. It just feels a tad restrictive with how you must progress through it. You could spell a few dozen words in one round, but it won't really mean jack unless one of them has six letters in it.
Bubble Town is a puzzle game with a surprising amount of charm. Each level consists of a crowd of bubble people that you need to clear out by shooting more bubble people at them in a way that matching ones can group together. You can fire them directly if you want, but if you really want to prove your worth, you'll need to learn how to make banking shots by bouncing your ammo off of the wall.
Bubble Town is a simple game, but it's fun and it does a good job at gradually ramping the difficulty up the further on you go. The various bubble people look very cute and distinct as well; their ability to emote gives what could have been another puzzle game a lot of personality. If it does have a problem, it's that it might not play too well on every touchscreen. If you're playing on a small device, then you might have trouble making the precise shots that are needed to do well.
Deal or No Deal
The televised game show makes an official appearance on iWin. The object is to sell a chosen briefcase to the Banker for as high a price as you can get. The briefcase in your possession could contain as little as one dollar or as much as one million dollars, and you need the Banker to think that you've got a lot of money in your case to get a good deal out of him. In order to convince him to give you some adequate dough, you have to knock out any briefcase that could theoretically hold less money than what yours has. You do that by getting rid of all the low-value cases while keeping the high-value ones in play.
Deal or No Deal is ultimately a game of luck. If you want something that requires a bit more skill or brainpower, it will likely bore you to tears. Otherwise, it can be pretty fun and addictive, particularly if you're a gambling enthusiast. A single play session can easily be done within a minute, so it's quick, snappy and never wears out its welcome.
Guess It is a fast-paced online multiplayer app that seems to borrow a few things from the old Family Feud game show. Two players are asked a single question, and both of them have to see if they can get more correct answers than the other. The questions can cover a wide variety of silly topics like "things a racehorse would complain about" or "what wouldn't you want your teacher to catch you doing." Answers are typed via an in-app keypad, which is pretty generous in what words it will accept. The game isn't looking for the exact term; it will often accept anything that covers the general idea. Some of the answers can be overly obscure, especially if they cover a topic you know nothing about, but there's otherwise not a whole lot to complain about in Guess It.
Frontier Solitaire and Solitaire Quest: Klondike
The iWin Games app includes two separate versions of solitaire. They both play everyone's favorite foundation-stacking time-killer. However, the former just seems to be a Wild West-themed adaptation of the game that randomly generates the foundations as usual, while the latter is a more level-based affair where each stage stacks everything up in a pre-determined way. That alone could be considered a significant difference, since one lets you play things your way while the other forces you to adapt different strategies. The app still doesn't really need two versions of solitaire, and one can't help but wonder if perhaps something else would have been better instead.
In this day and age, a compilation of mobile games wouldn't be complete without a digital version of mahjong to go with it. Mahjong Quest proceeds like how you would expect regular mahjong to play; you look for unobstructed tiles that match, and then remove them from the board. Your goal in each level is to collect the tiles that bear the golden yin-yang symbols. You have to be very strategic in which ones you remove, or else you'll quickly hit a dead end.
It's an amazingly addictive little game that's made even better with some brilliant presentation. Each round is played against a beautiful backdrop depicting an idealized scene of ancient China, and the tiles have enough detail on them to appear authentic but still distinct from one another. More than anything else, the music is absolutely divine. Gorgeous pieces of traditional Chinese music play alongside your tile-matching, which brings a lot of atmosphere to what would otherwise be a pretty run-of-the-mill mahjong simulator. Mahjong Quest is definitely one of the more standout components to the iWin app.
And All the Rest
In addition to games, the iWin app includes an assortment of different puzzles that change everyday. Pretty much any sort of puzzle that you have seen in physical form appears here. There's the Daily Word Search, Hidden Object, Difference, Sudoku and Crossword. The only thing that really seems to be missing so far is a Daily Jigsaw puzzle, but that can always change. In any case, they're mostly pretty good, though there's room for improvement
Sudoku works as well as you should expect and is pretty well-done overall. It comes with multiple difficulty modes to accommodate players of different skill levels, and allows you to "write" numbers down in both lead and ink. Lead numbers can be erased and are ideal for marking down possibilities, while inked numbers are for when you've narrowed things down to one specific choice. If you're a Sudoku fan, you can't ask for anything better.
Daily Difference is pretty simple. All you have to do is spot all the little variations between two images depicting the same thing. The touch screen mechanics are pretty generous in that they will more often than not know what exactly you're tapping on. The same can't always be said for the Daily Hidden Object game. While the images are well-crafted, there are times when the objects are just so tiny that the app will have trouble knowing if you're tapping the right thing. Furthermore, there's no zoom option, which is especially unfortunate as it complements this kind of game very well.
The Daily Crossword works as you should expect, but it comes with one rather confusing design decision. Unlike the crosswords you'll typically find in the newspapers and books, the squares that you write in are black, while the blocks are white. It's easy enough to get over this little hump, but it is a bit off-putting at first. Besides that, the crossword puzzle should be enjoyable to anyone who loves this kind of thing, but be wary; iWin will make you work for your solutions.
The Daily Word Search puzzle is the one that could use the most work. Word searches are good fun, but dealing with unresponsive touchscreen controls are not. The game demands that you be exact when highlighting the letters in the jumble, but it just can't seem to keep up with the average human finger. The highlighter has an annoying delay when it follows your finger, making it easy to overshoot the word you're trying to display. Other times, it will outright fail to appear right where you touch the screen. It's playable, but there's just too much hassle involved for it to be any fun. You're better off just sticking to the old paper-and-pencil versions.
The overall impression for the iWin app is that it contains a solid collection of games. None of them are perfect, all of them have their issues, and some are clearly better than others, but at a glance, this is a pretty good package if you just can't stick to one genre.
Unfortunately, this app fails in the one area where it really shouldn't: performance. Even though all of the games are really low-key on the graphical front, they still have noticeable issues. Some of them can suffer periodic bouts of lag and slowdown. All of them suffer the possibility of just randomly crashing. It's not a rare occurrence either; it happens enough that it cannot possibly be ignored.
Conclusion: Not Quite a Winner
It's kind of sad. The games that are included here are not bad at all, and the ads that you're required to watch, though annoyingly lengthy at times, are nevertheless a worthy tradeoff for being able to play for free. Unfortunately, there is just no excuse for the app's technical issues. The lag is irritating and the frequent crashes are infuriating. The iWin app would have been great if its performance was up to par, but as it is, it's just going to have to settle for being decent. By all means, give iWin a go. Just prepare yourself for some frustrating delays along the way.
- Review by David Galvin
Dave Galvin is a freelance writer and avid gamer. Somehow, he managed to find a way to combine the two passions.
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About Download Free Games
Recommended by PC World Magazine (August 2004), The Miami Herald Online (Sept. 25, 2004), and Downhome Magazine (2005 – Favorite Games Site), Download Free Games has provided its users quality downloadable games since 2002.
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