WIN! Plants vs. Zombies GelaSkins

I’m giving away a few Plants Vs. Zombies GelaSkins, generously provided by PopCap. They fit either iPhone 4 or 3GS/3G/original. They do not fit on an iPod Touch.

GelaSkins are protective coverings for you device. They cling to the surface to prevent damage. They sell for about $15 each.

To enter, all you have to do is:

1. Share a link (even this one) or follow State of Play via:

Please note: if you already follow us on Google, RSS, Twitter, or Facebook, just let me know that you’d like to enter, and please do a retweet or some other kind of link share.

2. Let me know you want to enter. Do this in any of the following ways:

  • Leave a comment.
  • Tweet me @StateOfPlayBlog
  • Post a message on the State of Play Facebook Page
  • Send an email to “” (replace the =at= with @) to have your name entered.  
  • Please don’t forget to do one of these things or I won’t know you’ve entered!

The deadline is Friday, October 8, 2010. Deadline extended to Monday, October 11!

I’ll choose winners by the scientific process of writing names on little pieces of paper and pulling them out of my Mario hat.


PUZZLE: Next-Door Neighbors

Here’s a poser from Henry Dudeney:

“There were two families living next door to one another at Tooting Bec—the Jupps and the Simkins. The united ages of the four Jupps amounted to one hundred years, and the united ages of the Simkins also amounted to the same. It was found in the case of each family that the sum obtained by adding the squares of each of the children’s ages to the square of the mother’s age equalled the square of the father’s age. In the case of the Jupps, however, Julia was one year older than her brother Joe, whereas Sophy Simkin was two years older than her brother Sammy. What was the age of each of the eight individuals?”

Puzzlewood: A Maze In Nature

If you don’t yet have Atlas Obscura–“A Compendium of the World’s Wonders, Curiosities, and Esoterica”–in your RSS feed, you should. Today they did an interesting writeup on Puzzlewood, a 14-acre stretch of the Forest of Dean near Coleford, Gloucestershire, England.

Puzzlewood is a mysterious and bizarre tangle of paths, caves, strange rock formations, and trees. The Forest of Dean was a frequent haunt of J.R.R. Tolkien, and some have suggested that the mysterious landscape of Puzzlewood was the inspiration for Middle Earth. There’s no solid evidence for this, but it’s a good story.

The strange combination of limestone caves, uplift, erosion, and pre-Roman open-cast mining have created a natural labyrinth. The effect was made more pronounced in the 19th century when the owner of the land laid down a mile of twisting paths. The proprietors have added a willow maze and an indoor “wood puzzle,” which they describe as “a maze of secret doors, dead ends, ups and downs and rounds and rounds.”

Puzzlewood is such a complete labyrinthine package that it even came with a treasure for those who braved its mysteries. Workers in 1848 found 3 jars hidden in the rocks. Inside were 3,000 Roman coins. No one has a clue why they were hidden there.

App O’ The Mornin’: BookWorm Review

PopCap smashed together Boggle and Bejeweled to create this obscenely addictive games about 7 years ago. Since then, it has been reinvented as BookWorm Adventures, and remains a popular fixture on mobile device, computers, and even the Nintendo DS.

The version PopCap brought to the App Store is the original BookWorm, rather than BookWorm Adventures. That’s a little disappointing, since Adventures added some great twists to the gameplay, and I hope it find its way to Apple devices soon.

That said, BookWorm for iPhone isn’t one you’re likely to pass up for a buck. This is one of the best casual word games of the past 10 years. Letter tiles are laid out on a grid, with each letter touching at least touching at least 3, and as many as 6, other letters. The board is cleared by linking letters to form words. When a letter is used, it disappears and all the tiles drop down to fill the space.

Naturally, longer words earn more points, while words that are too short generate burning tiles. These tiles must be eliminated before they reaching the bottom of the frame, or the game is over.

There are other scoring opportunities, such as special tiles and bonus words. Various “books” include particular word lists, such as colors or insects, and bonus points are awarding for spelling these words and completing entire books.

Gameplay breaks down into the classic game, which progresses through levels, and a timed games, which requires some speed spelling.

BookWorm is one of the classic casual games, and the App versions does a fine job of making it portable.