Gaming & Technology

iPhone games 'Tiki Totems' and 'Jungle Swing' are simple and fun

Tiki Totems is great fun, although physics-based puzzle games usually are. What plagues these games is that they're kind of high- maintenance on the iPhone.

Games that require precise degrees of tilting and touching also demand that players sit upright and use both hands, which isn't ideal for a lazy pre-bedtime game session.

So Tiki Totems gets points for adopting a less-is-more approach. The object of each level is to remove bricks and planks to safely drop a Tiki statue from the top of a structure to safe ground below, and removing certain pieces of the structure can ignite a chain reaction that's entirely physics-powered. But the game's low-maintenance control scheme — tap pieces of the structure to remove them, with no tilting or other precise motions running interference — makes it easy to pick up and play without sacrificing all that's good about a physics-driven puzzle game in the first place.

Now also is a good time to pick up Tiki Totems. The basic version, which comes bundled with 80 levels and the option to buy 64 more, is free, and the premium version, which includes all 144 currently available levels and a promise to include all future level packs for free, costs $1.99.

Another addictive iPhone game is Jungle Swing. A number of factors have come together to make the iPhone a surprisingly viable gaming platform, and the unassuming Jungle Swing pretty well illustrates all of them.

Conceptually, it couldn't be simpler: The goal is to keep the monkey swinging, Spider-Man style, from tree to tree without falling into the water, and the farther he travels, the better the score.

Playing the game is simple, too, but as is the case with the best low-concept games, mastering the timing and swing physics takes a lot more skill than the one-button control scheme initially implies.

A handful of unlockable items and upgrades is on hand to reward players who sink a lot of time into the game — a simple feat, given how easy it is to knock out a game or two in a spare moment.

Finally, there's that price tag. Jungle Swing, like so many absurdly priced iPhone games, costs as much as a bag of chips, and the price-per-pound value is incalculably small for players who really get into the game and all it has to offer.

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