iPhone: my ears are happy, but my eyes are bored.
January 31, 2009 2:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a very specific sort of game for the iPhone: one that (a) takes almost no conscious brain power and (b) doesn't interfere with my iTunes music. I want a game I can play while listening to iTunes.

I listen to music and audiobooks on my iPhone. Usually I do this when I'm out and about, so I have plenty of visual stimulation from the city or subway. Or I listen in bed with the lights off, so I don't need any external sights. But when I'm stuck waiting at the dentist or whatever, I find myself wanting something to look at while I listen. Better yet: something to look at and manipulate with my hands.

I can't surf the web, because I can't pay attention to that and an audio book at the same time. But a really simple game could work. For instance, I've listened to audiobooks and played snake (that game where you make a snake move through a maze and eat apples) with success. Something like Bejewelled might work, too -- basically, something that's more about getting into a zenlike state or a tactile state than a logical-deduction state -- the way you can drive your car down the freeway while listening to talk radio.

The other problem is that so many games override the iPod/iTunes functionality. I've heard people say there's a way to stop them from doing this, but I can't figure it out, despite reading "instructions" on many websites.

The instructions always say to start the iTunes song playing, then switch to the game, then double-tap the home button. When I do that, sure enough, my music controls pop back up, but I'm also closed out of the game. The game doesn't come back when after I start the music playing. If I close out of the music controls and restart the game, the game music overrides iTunes again.

As far as I can tell, the reality is that some games allow you to play your own music and some don't. So, unless you can tell me the secret of overriding any game's sounds with my own audio, please recommend simple games that let you listen to whatever you want while you play.

PS. I already know about Galcon.
posted by grumblebee to Technology (28 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Once Peggle is released, it will be perfect choice. :)
posted by OwlBoy at 2:47 PM on January 31, 2009

One of my favorite games that I can run while listening to music is Word Warp. It takes some brain power, but at least it satisfies your main criteria.

Check out toucharcade.com they review iPhone and ipod touch games, and there's also forum that may help you find what you need.
posted by sambosambo at 2:47 PM on January 31, 2009

Response by poster: Owlboy, do you know if Peggle will let you listen to your own music?
posted by grumblebee at 2:54 PM on January 31, 2009

Response by poster: Frogger would be perfect if I could listen to my own music while playing.
posted by grumblebee at 2:54 PM on January 31, 2009

posted by pravit at 2:56 PM on January 31, 2009

Response by poster: pravit, Tetris is perfect in theory -- but does it let you listen to your own music?
posted by grumblebee at 2:57 PM on January 31, 2009

Shake & Spell doesn't override iTunes, and I play it in a zen-like state.
posted by goo at 2:59 PM on January 31, 2009

Hangman and BubbleWrap are those games for me, though BubbleWrap makes sound above music.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:59 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Frenzic. Great little puzzle game, totally nails the Zen-like state you're looking for. Completely compatible with listening to your own music and with the pop-up iPod controls (it even pauses the game automatically when you double-tap Home).
posted by chrismear at 3:01 PM on January 31, 2009

reMovem is addictive and will let you play your own music. Double clicking during the game brings up the iPod controls but doesn't stop the music. Going all the way out to the iPod though, stops the game but hey, you start a new game every minute or so. Plus reMovem is free.
posted by tamitang at 3:12 PM on January 31, 2009

Pop. Absolutely lets you listen to your own music, and it's about as zen-like as you can get.
posted by Remy at 3:15 PM on January 31, 2009

Moonlight Mahjong Lite: I play it a lot while listening to audio books or music. You manipulate tiles to uncover matches. Makes you think a bit but not enough to interfere with the book, and the 3D is well done.
posted by PatoPata at 3:30 PM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wurdle, doesn't interfere with music.
posted by TimeDoctor at 3:46 PM on January 31, 2009

Sol Free - Demon in particular seems to be a very brainless version of solitaire - I use it to disconnect from life when i don't feel like thinking any more. If I start iPod then the game, I can listen no problem. Since the game doesn't have any internal clock, you can switch over to anything else (even turn off your phone and come back hours later) and it will save where you are in the game.
posted by metahawk at 3:49 PM on January 31, 2009

Rolando is a great iphone game that will let you listen to your own music. You are the Finger, and you help a bunch of little cute ball creatures roll around the screen and rescue each other.
posted by Pants! at 3:51 PM on January 31, 2009

Bejewelled has an option under its settings to specifically let iTunes music play. Wurdle lets you shut off its sound and let itunes play as well. Wurdle is like boggle.
posted by beautifulcheese at 3:51 PM on January 31, 2009

Word Warp is great for this. You can turn the in-game sounds off so your music-listening experience isn't tainted, and the game doesn't use much processor power so the music doesn't "skip" at all like other cpu-intensive games will cause to happen. Disclaimer: The free version has annoying ads.
posted by fusinski at 4:08 PM on January 31, 2009

Bejewelled is great. Rolando wants too much of your (at least my) attention to concentrate to an audiobook for instance, but for music it's great.

In the same vein as Bejewelled is Trism which I don't like that much, but lots of people love, and it definitely lets you play iTunes.

WordUp allows iTunes, but requires some concentration as it's a word game (so less good for audiobooks. Great game tho).

Just tested Tetris (the EA one), this does let you play your own music.

Also seconding SolFree, perfect no-brainer.

Monopoly also lets you listen to your own music. If you're into that kinda stuff. Which I currently am. *obsessed face*

PS Oh yes, Word Warp too. Totally addictive.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 4:10 PM on January 31, 2009

[to = on in the first sentence. I will shut up now]
posted by ClarissaWAM at 4:11 PM on January 31, 2009

TapDefense lets you listen to music.
posted by furtive at 4:54 PM on January 31, 2009

"Lock n' Roll" and "Poker Quest" are two dice based games that are good for this. You have to turn sound effects off in Poker Quest to turn off the in game music (and let your own music play).

Solebon is a collection of solitaire card games that has a wide variety of games with a great UI (no fancy effects or unnecessary 3d modes). It's the paid version of Sol Free.
posted by Gary at 5:08 PM on January 31, 2009

I like iDefend a lot. It's like tower defense, but it's puzzle-oriented -- you get to watch the creeps come down, but you only have to deal with a few waves before getting a new level. You can listen to your own music while playing.
posted by headlessagnew at 6:17 PM on January 31, 2009

Apple's Texas Hold 'Em game, if you're at all into poker
posted by mkultra at 6:37 PM on January 31, 2009

I am able to play Loops of Zen while listening to music on my iPhone. There's a lite (free) version to try out.
posted by krix at 7:11 PM on January 31, 2009

I like Trism
posted by jcrbuzz at 8:35 PM on January 31, 2009

Seconding reMovem and Lock & Roll. Also, Mancala is great.
All of these let you listen to your own music.
posted by exceptinsects at 8:54 PM on January 31, 2009

thirding word warp.
posted by changeling at 9:16 PM on January 31, 2009

There is an official version of UNO that is available as an iPhone app. It asks you at boot up if you want to listen to your own music or the music that the game comes with. And, as anyone who has ever played UNO would attest, it requires very little brain power so it pretty much fits your stated requirements to a tee.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:17 PM on February 1, 2009

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