Some mobile games are built to be nothing but diversions, pointless time-killers for train rides and doctors' appointments. Others are good enough to keep you up all night.
TrafficWonder, a wonderful traffic game by developer Yo Ambulante, drives proudly through the latter category. It's a delightfully devilish puzzler that tasks you with guiding reckless cars through entangled road junctions by using your finger to steer a course for each one. Once your paths are plotted, a single button press will set off your automobiles, simultaneously launching them towards their respective destinations.
Accidentally crash two cars? Try again. One vehicle took too long and ran out of fuel? Try again.
As the courses get windier and some cars become faster than others, clearing out the roads can get tricky, but never impossible. Mastering this game requires the type of experimentation that will be familiar to fans of old contraption games like The Incredible Machine. And with each victory comes a brief moment of satisfaction — a moment that lasts just long enough to propel you to the next level.
Though the controls can be frustrating if you're on your phone (this game was clearly designed for an iPad), TrafficWonder is a smart, addictive puzzler that's more than just a diversion. You can probably even play it in traffic.
Note: Do not play TrafficWonder in traffic.
Traffic Wonder [$0.99, iTunes]