Usually I kick off my features with a succinct introductory paragraph which lays out a tenuous thread linking a hodgepodge of free time-wasters I collected in the dusty, forgotten corners of the App Store. This is that paragraph. And below lies the collection of free things. But what is the tenuous thread? See if you can work it out for yourself by the end. (Hint: It’s not the Olympics).

Drop7 by Zynga (a title acquired from developer Area/Code) It takes a bit of a brain shift to get used to what you’re supposed to be doing, and I really didn’t like it for the first 30 seconds. Then I was like “oh” and then “aha” and then “ah, there we go” and now I’m actually having a good time with it.

Colored, numbered balls get dropped into a 7×7 grid. First instinct from the title is that you’re trying to match up numbers that add up to seven, then suddenly a four suddenly disappears in the middle of a row and you’re like “meh?” It’s not adding; it’s the number of balls in the row or column. If a row has two balls in it, the 2 ball disappears. If a column has six balls, the 6 ball disappears. Does that make sense? Didn’t at first, does now, play it and see. It’ll fill a bus ride home.

Six-Guns was next. I haven’t played too far into this one, but from what I’ve seen, I’m mucho impressed. I don’t play a lot of first person 3D stuff on iDevices, and I don’t play a lot of stuff with an on-screen D-pad either, so I couldn’t tell you how it compares to others of the same ilk. I don’t even like Westerns. But I liked this.

Six-Guns, as you’d expect, is a wild-west, mission based adventure. Stop the black hats ravaging the town, survive the shootout on Mesa Frijole, stop the robbery of the General Store in Fort Muerte, that kind of thing. It looks like there’s loads of adaptations and customizations and in-app purchases, which must be what supplies the free price tag, and it also seems the sort of game that you can get as deep or as shallow as you like into it. I’ve only been through the tutorial missions, but from what I’ve seen I like. Maybe it’s the tutorial lady. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

Five-Letter Words. In a nutshell, it’s Mastermind, but with words rather than colored pegs. All they give you is the first letter, and you’ve got five chances to guess it. It seems like a tight schedule, but the five-chance limit is usually just challenging enough with strategic guesses. I haven’t yet worked out if I’m too clever or it’s too easy. I like to think I’m clever.

Not to be rude, and I doubt the developers intended this (or will necessarily appreciate it) but it’s actually an ideal game for playing on the toilet. Have I just revealed something about myself I shouldn’t have?

4 Elements. I have been absolutely blindingly hooked on this one since I pulled it down, to the point where my children get hungry waiting for me to stop. It is such an addictive puzzle game, I can’t for the life of me figure out why it’s free. Unless I found it on a lucky sale day, or (gulp) there’s more story variations on the same gameplay I can purchase… Jeepers, my kids will starve!

The game has little segments of find-the-hidden-object, little segments of spot-the-difference, but the majority of the game is a lengthy color-match path-building puzzler. Match gems to dig a path so the flow of water/earth/fire/air can travel from the start to the finish. The artwork is top-notch, the gameplay is lagless, and levels are just long enough to be challenging without being frustrating, and just short enough that you don’t feel too guilty about squeezing in just one more level (I’m on level 62 at the moment). 4 elements gets five stars from me.

(:3 )+[_____]. See that bundle of ASCII characters just there? That is the name of the next one I grabbed. It’s the latest Japanese export everyone’s talking about. Surely you’ve been in the cafeteria and overheard the cool kids say, “Hey have you played left-parenthesis-colon-three-space-right-parenthesis-plus-left-bracket-underscore-underscore-underscore-right-bracket?”

I think the purpose of the game is to figure out how to play the game. With perseverance, I scored 98837 on the first game mode and 5409 on the second game mode. I challenge anyone else to do better.

Two Worlds II Castle Defense. Like Six-Guns, it was a visually stunning, well-produced 3D spectacle of combat. It had an opening sequence to rival Troy, the artwork and animation were top-notch. The menu was very golden and so sharp looking I wasn’t sure if I should be touching it, and my first in-game visual was a nasty looking orc/troll glaring at me, with the advice ‘Store your food, or it will go bad.’ It was so real I immediately shut off the game and cleaned my fridge.

If you like Tower Defense style games, I think you should probably give this one a whirl and let me know what you think, because Tower Defense isn’t really my thing. Again, like Six-Guns, despite my initial lip-crinkle at the subject matter, I tried my best to get into it, but there were too many options and icons for me to just pick it up and run with it.

Maybe it’s the sort of thing an advanced TD fan would go for, especially one who knows the difference between a Priest and a Necromancer, but it’s definitely not a “let’s see what this whole TD craze I’ve been hearing about” starter pack. I fear it would be unfair for me to pass judgment; that’s like asking your Gran what she thought of Saw II.

And finally…

Velocispider Zero. Great little tilty retro space-invader app. I was particularly a fan of the 8-bit hover-whales. Definitely worth a grab. You can read AppAddict’s review of the paid version here.

Did you figure out the theme?

If yes, well done! If not, this should confuse further. 4-0-6-7-2-5-3-1. That’s the order you should be downloading them. Yeah, I know there wasn’t a One in the article, but only because it was so bad I couldn’t bring myself to include it for fear it would bring them downloads and encourage them to make more games. And yes, it was even worse than (:3 )+[_____]..