Not Martha

Mobile Games To Keep You Happily Distracted

Here are some mobile/tablet games that I recommend for keeping you distracted during long stretches of travel or just during the dark winter nights. (I played all of these on iOS but I’ve linked to the developers websites for each game and noted what platforms they are available on.) They aren’t new but these are the ones that I found memorable and keep around for replaying in the future. At the bottom of this post is a list of little puzzle games that keep me happily distracted while waiting in lines at the airport. Happy travels everybody!

Long Mobile Puzzle and Adventure Games

Tetrobot and Co
I am very, very obsessed with this game. This is a cute and stylish puzzle game that hits all the right spots – the controls are easy to pick up, there aren’t any Running Against The Clock levels, there is a rewind button that will take you back one step at a time, and the puzzles are just difficult enough to make you feel like a GENIUS when you solve them but never quite get frustrating. There are plenty of elements to make completionists happy including some play-it-again challenges that make early levels that much more challenging. In Tetrobo and Co. you pilot a tiny robot through each level moving and arranging blocks to make your way to the exit. The blocks have different properties (magnetic, reflective, impervious to fire, stick to the walls). These are all very familiar game concepts but the levels here are especially clever, often requiring a bit of extra discovery on your part to solve. As you go along new physics are introduced so the puzzles never get repetitive. I found the clicky/whirry/buzzy sounds in this game particularly appealing and the soundtrack changes for each set of levels. There is a sweet little background story that is revealed as you solve things that is safe to ignore if that’s not your thing, it’s a continuation of story behind Swing Swing Submarine’s previous game, Blocks That Matter.

What else? The main protagonist in this game, the one who built the tiny robot, is a girl. The game is completely safe for kids (but please don’t tell me if your seven year old found the whole game really easy, my ego will be crushed). It was originally built for PC and is available on Steam, but it was clearly designed with touch screen in mind. I’ve played the predecessor to this game, Blocks That Matter, on my laptop and found the levels just as clever but occasionally more dependent on frustrating time elements (for example, a series of crates catching on fire, a constantly oncoming boss monster). I was able to get through all of the main levels without rage quitting and can definitely recommend playing it.

I’ve been trying to describe to friends why I like Tetrobot and Co so much and I’ve been comparing it to the Portal games because of how smart it makes me feel when I solve a level. I’m currently giving this game a rest in the hopes that I forget all the tricks and solutions so I can play it all over again. Save for kids? Yes. App Store/Steam/Google Play/Humble Store/GOG.

Reviewers compare this to a Zelda game (Wind Walker era) and they aren’t wrong. In this game you play a young boy who explores islands, swings a sword, shoots arrows at monsters, finds hidden caves and, yes, defeats a few boss monsters all in the effort to save the world and find his long lost father. I’m not partial to console-like games on the iPad but this one won me over in a big way and I’ve played all the way through it twice. The monsters that you encounter as you explore the world aren’t difficult to defeat (though they do respawn the moment you leave each area) and I had less trouble with the boss monsters than I feared (with a little help from some walkthroughs, I admit, because ugh boss monsters ugh). While you do encounter plenty of monsters the game is well balanced with lots of time for exploration on each new island, and a few towns where you can stock up. There are lots of hidden areas, completionist elements and reasons to revisit old areas (like magic boots that allow you to cross gaps). Despite the usual meters for health/money/arrows/bombs I never found myself stuck. There has been a nice update to the game this year so I’m ready to play through it again. Safe for kids? Yes. App Store/Steam/GOG/Humble Store.

Broken Age
Disclosure: I played this on PC because I was a Kickstarter backer and that was the option available. Having played it and carefully scoured reviews for the touch screen version of the game I’m pretty sure that you won’t miss having a mouse and keyboard when playing this game.

Broken Age is a brand new retro style point and click adventure game of the sort I grew up playing. It’s more about the story and a bit less about the puzzles and I absolutely loved it. The graphics looks like watercolors, the characters are all voiced incredibly well (and by lots of names you’ll recognize) and I absolutely fell in love with all the characters. There is humor and heart and randomness and a little bit of “I have a bucket, a skirt and a mirror and I need to convince a sentient vine to let me jump into the pit” that you’ll recognize if you’ve played these sorts of games before.

The world of the game is split between two characters/worlds that you can switch between if you are feeling stuck with one storyline or the other and I bet you’ve already guessed that at some point the storylines cross. For as much as I love the world that Doublefine has created and I love this sort of game, there isn’t a lot of puzzling or defeating going on here and after a while it becomes clear that no matter how many amusing conversation threads there are you’ll eventually be lead towards the only one that counts. This didn’t make me love the game any less, but if you’re not a fan of the King’s Quest era games this isn’t one that will change your mind. Safe for kids? Yes. App Store/Steam/PS4/PS Vita/Google Play.

Murder Files
Everything about this game seems geared towards a younger version of me but it managed to completely delight my old self. It’s a little bit cartoonish and it’s interspersed with the style of logic puzzles that I remember being given to pass the time during long car trips. (Kids, this was before we had iPads or even, shudder, portable DVD players. Car trips were boring, grim and probably account for 95% of my lateral thinking ability.) The real star here is the narrator who manages a humorously dramatic tone and does all the character voices. Half of the game are the aforementioned logic puzzles and half is listening intently to the answers that possible suspects give which I found surprisingly tricky since my brain is so likely to tune out at the wrong moments. This whodunnit/logic puzzle combination is something I’ve seen in a few games but it’s executed perfectly here and I recall the story as fondly as the puzzles. Safe for kids? Yes. Except, you know, it’s about murder. Kid safe? Yes, but murder is a thing. App Store/PS3/Steam/Kindle Fire/Google Chrome.

The Trace
This is a murder scene investigation game with controls similar to The Room. You can move around, zoom in, make observations and collect clues, find codes and open drawers and uncover some hidden areas. At the end of each case you answer a series of questions and uncover the guilty party. Safe for kids? No, there are some dead bodies lying around. Not gruesome but definitely grim. App Store/Google Play/Kindle Fire.

Agent A
A stylish point and click adventure where you play a secret agent who needs to work her way through the hideout of a villain, Ruby LaRouge. The game is full of tropes – keys and locks and passcodes, hidden panels, getting a clue out of a fish tank that contains sharks, trying to get the cat to move. The game play felt slow at times (go all the way outside to get that thing, now come all the way back, now go outside again) but the puzzles and storyline kept me entertained the whole way through. Bonus points for both the secret agent and the villain being female. Safe for kids: yes but violence is implied. App Store only.

Tiny Bang
I’ve been a little hesitant to recommend this game here. The game has beautiful Samorset-like hand drawn visuals, a relaxing soundtrack, and a charming story. The elements of the gameplay involve hidden object hunting, logic puzzles, jigsaw assembly, some Simon Says (ugh), a couple of constantly moving 8-bit style mini games (which I find frustrating and overly long) and a few puzzles that just require that you put the things in the right place that are somehow simple and difficult at the same time. I don’t find any of these elements particularly swoon worthy on their own but they’ve all been brought together into a game that is (most of the time) relaxing despite all my protestations. Kid friendly? Yes. App Store/Steam/Google Play.

Quick Puzzle Games

These are easy to learn, quick to play games that are perfect for when you need something you can pick up and put down just to fill the time spent waiting in a long line. Or, you know, while on your couch watching reruns of Scandal.

Patchmania – App Store
Logic Dots – App Store/Android
1010! – App Store/Google Play/Amazon Apps
Hex FRVR – App Store/Android Apps
Infinite Loop – App Store/Android
Quetzalcoatl – App Store

Games I’ve got to carve some time for but love so far: The Wolf Among Us, Seek (swivel chair is helpful, go try it out), Lifeline, Walking Mars, Heroki and The Room 3. What have you been playing? Let us know if you have any gems!

· comments [8] · 12-22-2015 · categories:dailyphoto · uncategorized ·


a pint of strawberries on the dashboard of my car

It was decidedly un-summerish yesterday so we fought back by eating strawberries and overexposing photographs. I drove home with these on the dashboard and they made my whole car smell like strawberries.

We don’t plan on having any strawberries left over but if we did I would definitely make this Strawberry Conserve seen over at Orangette.

· comments [2] · 07-20-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·

My Badass Perforated (aka Egg) Spoon

perforated spoon

For our anniversary Scott got me The Badass Perforated (aka Egg) Spoon. It’s made to allow the runny bits of egg white separate so you can make a tidy looking poached egg. It works!

· comments [13] · 07-5-2011 · categories:dailyphoto · food · shopping ·

photo: sometimes I wish doing errands was more like playing video games

the top of the elevator shaft, angular with some blank white spaces

This is the housing for the top of the elevators and stairs on the roof of the parking garage at a Target store nearby. But all I can see is a level in Portal 2.

· comments [16] · 07-1-2011 · categories:dailyphoto · shopping ·

dailyish photo: my mixing bowls

nested mixing bowls, yellow, oranges and blue

My mixing bowls, from the outside in:

The big yellow bowl was purchased during the summer I worked in the costume shop of the Santa Fe Opera during college. My roommate and I bought this on a trip to Target when we realized we needed popcorn, booze and warm blankets to make it through the summer. The dry air and cold nights there resulted in me getting strep throat for the first time in my life. We didn’t have a television in our apartment and I couldn’t afford a computer so my roommate bought me one of those black and white flocked posters that come with markers for you to fill in, you can still find them in drug stores. It was a stained glass window, or something. I was so bored I spent hours trying to figure out how to fill it in so that none of the colors would be next to one another. I also read The Mists of Avalon. Twice.

The two largest orange bowls were purchased the second year that Scott and I lived in Seattle, when we rented a house in Ballard. It is a short walk away from where Delancey opened up after we moved away, how I wish we still lived there. It was a three-bowl set from Williams-Sonoma and buying them was one of those “I’m finally a grown up!” moments for me. After only a few weeks I broke the smallest bowl in the set, my favorite one, when I dropped it while doing dishes. It cracked right in half. Which make me feel not so much a grown up. The rubber feet on these bowls are light blue, a detail which I adore.

The medium orange bowl was purchased earlier this year at a Ross that opened in my neighborhood. The Ross was clean but shockingly sparse, more like mostly empty Goodwill. It was incredibly depressing and a bit disorienting. Suddenly there was this shiny orange melamine bowl looking like it was waiting just for me. Then I found a second shiny orange bowl a little further down on the shelf. They are just about the size of the bowl I broke, so I bought both.

The smallest four (orange, green, yellow, blue) were a birthday present from Scott last year and they make for very happy prep. The blue one is so cute and petite, it’s smaller than a teacup, that I find myself just holding it because I find it so pleasing. Scott bought them at the Moma store while he was in New York with Kirby Krackle. He also visited Mood during that trip simply so that he could snap a picture for me. I wasn’t jealous at all.

· comments [14] · 06-30-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·

dailyish photo: new bicycle helmets

me being amused at the face Scott is making into the mirror

The other day we bought new bicycle helmets. I chose a Giro Indicator and I like it because it has a little adjustment wheel on the back so it fits snuggly but it’s not headache inducing, and it’s really well ventilated. It was on sale at REI, and the one I picked (White/Silver) is even cheaper on Amazon right now. Yay for bicycling.

· comments [19] · 06-29-2011 · categories:dailyphoto · shopping ·

photo: best case scenario emergency oil

[the hand of Scott pouring oil into a water bottle with the bottom chopped off which is working as a funnel]

When your car’s oil light comes on while you’re out running errands the night before a flight it’s a really lucky thing that the nearest place to pull over is actually the parking lot of a drugstore that happens to sell oil. It’s even luckier if you have a Scott of your own who happens to be on his way home and can do all the dirty work for you.* While you’re waiting for your Scott to arrive it is also very lucky if you happen to have a Car Kit with scissors so you can improvise a funnel out of a water bottle. It’s also pretty cool that the kit also contains individual handi-wipes to clean the hands of your Scott after he’s done saving the car. And then you can pick up dinner from your neighborhood Italian place before you head home. Seriously though, the car kit has saved the day a number of times since I’ve had it. It’s always so cheerful to realize that you do have that flashlight/tire gauge/sunscreen/safety pin/breath mint/pliers that you need.

* (For the record I definitely can put oil in my own car but he really was only minutes away and what the hell, it likely saved my favorite jeans from a nasty oil stain.)

· comments [5] · 06-13-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·

photo: night ferry

brightly lit and completely empty ferry

This is what the last ferry at night out from Bremerton looks like. I was on foot and barely made it, I half-jogged the few miles from the house of the friend I was visiting, sprinted up the pedestrian entrance and moments after I got on board the ferry pulled away.

There were very few people with me, one was a very big and ominous bald man with the most amazing and delicate flower tattoo covering his scalp. I wanted to rub his head but thought he might take it the wrong way.

· comments [7] · 06-10-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·

photo: cheery red VW van

a sign painter

This van was so cheerful, like spotting a bunch of balloons on a dreary day. The owner clearly loves their van.

· comments [21] · 06-9-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·

photo: a sign painter

a sign painter

I was walking through the Georgetown neighborhood and spotted this nice guy painting a sign by hand. I stopped to ask if I could take a photo and mentioned I knew somebody who is making a film about people who paint signs by hand. “Faythe?” He asked. Indeed. The world, it is small.

· comments [7] · 06-8-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·

daily-ish photo: bacon maple bar from Frost

maple bacon bar from Frost donuts

We found ourselves out near Frost Donuts (a short drive away from Seattle) so we stopped in. I’d read a lot about it but I wasn’t prepared for how amazing the donuts look (take a peek at that Aztec Chocolate, go on), how adorably designed the shop was, and how really, really good the donuts were. I didn’t mean to eat this whole one but I did. We are definitely going to find a reason to swing by again soon.

· comments [17] · 06-6-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·

almost daily photo: April 28th

[handwritten beer cap saying Not Martha IPA]

Kyle sent Scott home with a bottle of the beer which I had the opportunity to watch him make last month. Don’t be fooled by the name, I mostly observed! Thank you, Kyle, it was delicious.

· comments [5] · 04-28-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·

almost daily photo: April 19th

image uploaded from my iPhone to Flickr and on to this here blog

This is my view down into the industrial kitchens from my seat at Serious Pie (as in pizza). Those Hobart mixers mean business.

· comments [7] · 04-19-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·

almost daily photo: April 15th

[yellow pipe cleaner chicks all lined up]

I love how pipe cleaner chicks always look a bit freaked out.

· comments [14] · 04-15-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·

almost daily photo: April 14th

[three-quarter inch circles of tissue paper in yellows and pinks in a white bowl, poorly lit]

Today was way better than yesterday, or so I thought. At lunch I dropped off the last document needed for our tax people to do our taxes, I got all the stuff needed to make dinner, I gathered and bagged the recycling for collection tomorrow, I got everything ready to take photographs of the Easter project I have in mind for this year, I did dishes, I washed and chopped kale, I cleaned out the fridge, I cleared the dining room table of miscellaneous mail and I was feeling triumphant and smart (I was listening to The Tobolowsky Files, it makes me feel smart) and nearly I felt like I actually had my stuff together until Scott got home and discovered that all of my keys were still in the lock of the door. Just hanging there, forgotten. In my rush to turn off the alarm when I came home I failed to actually remove my keys from the lock. Way to go, me.

Anyhow, the photograph above is a sneak peek at what I’m doing for Easter. Sort of.

· comments [12] · 04-14-2011 · categories:dailyphoto ·