Top 5 Most Popular Free Zune Games

If you've installed the new firmware, you'll be happy to discover 5 Zune games included under the "Games" menu - Hexic, Space Battle, Texas Hold 'Em Poker, Sudoku and Checkers. These are great games and will keep you busy for hours.

But at some point you'll be exhausted from hexicing, space battling, pokering, sudokuing and checkering, and will be looking for something new. When that time arrives (if it hasn't already), you'll be happy to hear that you can download many games from Zune forums. All for free!

Top 5 Zune games in descending order:

5.  Bombtastic!
4.  zBreak
3.  Zune Hero
2.  Solitaire
1.  Sir Tet

To help you wade through all the available Zune games, I've compiled a list of the top 5 favorite games in the Zune community. I've chosen the favorites based on which games got the most attention of your fellow Zune owners. Maybe you'll enjoy them as well.

Before you go ahead and download any of these Zune games, I'd like to set some expectations. These are not professional quality games.

Every single one of these Zune games crashed my Zune multiple times. You essentially are getting what you pay for.

They don't come with instructions either. But you can usually figure out what to do. When it doubt just start pressing all the buttons on your Zune!

Are you cool with this? You aren't going to come back saying "This game crashed my Zune!", are you? If so, you may proceed.

So without further adieu (we'll had quite a lot of adieu already, thank you very much), here are the 5 most popular free Zune games in descending order of popularity...

Disclaimer: I have had no part in developing any of these Zune games and do not guarantee them in any way. Install them at your own risk.

5. Bombtastic!

Download it!

Of all the Zune games in this list, this one comes the closest to a professional quality game. I was pleasantly surprised since this was the last game on this list that I played. Kudos to Mavis Puford who has developed this game!

If you are not happy with this one, better you skip the rest of the games in this list. When it comes to quality, Bombtastic! is about as good as it gets for a free game.

Remember the Martian from Bugs Bunny? The game character (and actually the game setting as well) looks like it came straight from that show.

You start on a grid somewhere in outer space. Your job is to plant bombs and blow up everything in sight. Use the play/pause button to plant a bomb.

Make sure to run away before the bomb blows up. If you are too close you will die too.

Use the Zune pad to move around the grid. I found this somewhat awkward. It was even worse when I changed the option to enable touch on the Zune pad. It does have a sensitivity control so fiddle with that to see if it improves your ability to smoothly move around the grid.

You will discover time warps hidden under the brick walls that you blow up. You can use them to go to the next level.

My biggest gripe with this Zune game is that you can't keep songs from your Zune playing in the background while you play. The game has its own music which you can silence if it annoys you. But I would have played much longer if I could have chosen the soundtrack.

And it still crashed my Zune when I tried to exit the game, but other than that it was stable.

Recommendation: Download it. The game is quite stable and fun to play. A good free addition to your game suite.

4. zBreak

Download it!

If you are a fan of the arcade game Breakout and must have it on your Zune, look no further than zBreak.

And if you are not familiar with this game, the basic idea is to break all the bricks at the top of the screen by bouncing a ball off a paddle at the bottom.

As the ball comes back down, you need to move the paddle from side-to-side and attempt to bounce the ball back up again.

If you miss the ball, you lose a life. 3 strikes and you're out!

If I made it sound easy, it's not. I had a very difficult time moving the paddle which probably made the game much harder than it should be. The motion is extremely awkward.

Press the play/pause button to display options. You can choose to play music from your Zune. But you cannot choose a song or a playlist. It chooses songs at random. This feature is quite buggy. I crashed my Zune several times before I could get this to work.

You do have the option of choosing another song if you don't like the one that it decided to play. But this didn't work for me. Each time I tried, it crashed my Zune.

Recommendation: Skip it. I found it very difficult to move my paddle which took away most of the fun. Add the fact that I crashed my Zune over 10 times, and it's probably better to look elsewhere. Games are supposed to be fun!

3. Zune Hero

Download it!

Now this is a cool game!

If you are familiar with Guitar Hero (and only someone living under a rock for the last couple of years wouldn't be), this is basically the same game for the Zune.

I'm a big fan of this game on Xbox 360 (actually Rock Band, but I always play the guitar so it's essentially the same thing). It's very cool to be able to play it on the Zune!

Of course you don't have a guitar, but it's simulated using the Zune pad and other various buttons. Back is green, left is red, center is yellow, right is blue and play is orange. I actually find this more intuitive than the controls on the guitar controller.

What's really cool is that you can play guitar on any song that you have on your Zune. I'm puzzled as to how it allows you to do this. Which leads me to believe that the notes you have to hit are somewhat random and not actually tied to the song.

I noticed the volume going up and down as I either hit or missed notes. This must be the game's way of telling you how well (or poorly) you are doing. I did mention that these games don't come with instructions, right?

I played 3 games on easy mode. Even that was too difficult for me. But I noticed "easy" did not mean the same for each song.

The first song I played, Somebody put something in my drink... by Children of Bodom, was very difficult. The next song by Guns N' Roses called Shackler's Revenge proved to be easy. The final song Venus Doom by H.I.M. was again too difficult.

It would have been great if easy actually meant easy for every song.

Note that this game only works for songs that do not have DRM enabled. If I tried to pick a song that I had downloaded from the Zune Marketplace, then it would crash my Zune.

Another point is that I could not find out how to exit a game once you start it. Once it finishes, you can exit the game by pressing the Up button. So if you start a game, be prepared to finish it!

Recommendation: Try it! If just to see what guitar hero looks like on the Zune. It's pretty cool!

2. Solitaire

Download it!

At no. 2 we have Solitaire, the PC game that everyone knows and loves!

Just in case you are not familiar with Solitaire, the object of this game is to arrange a deck of cards in an alternating pattern of red and black. It is super addictive and a great way to kill time. A staple of bosses!

WARNING: I downloaded a virus when I tried to download this game! Luckily my computer was running anti-virus software which blocked and destroyed it. Download at your own risk!

The play/pause button brings up options. One of the options allows you to play music in the background. I just could not get this to work, a real deal killer for me.

The movement is very clunky. It's very difficult to move the cards around the board. To the point of being frustrating. Later I found that default movement is set to "Fixed" in the options. You can change it to "Free". This option is much better and actually makes the game somewhat playable.

This Zune game is highly unstable. It crashed my Zune several times just trying to start it.

Recommendation: Not worth it. The virus itself would cause me to steer clear of this game if I had to download it a second time. The lack of stability, inability to play background music and difficulty in movement are just more reasons to look elsewhere.

1. Sir Tet

Download it!

Sir Tet is basically Tetris on the Zune. It's an insanely popular computer puzzle game where the object is to arrange configurations of blocks as they fall from the top of the screen such that no empty spaces remain.

Hexic was created by the same person who created Tetris. Needless to say it's a lot of fun and very addictive. You don't want to start a game when you have something important to do.

"Sir Tet" is a strange name. I'm guessing that the name "Tetris" is trademarked so they had to come up with something else.

Unfortunately this Zune game is unstable. It crashed my Zune several times.

There are several options to customize the game.

Of all the Zune games on this list, this one has the most options for playing background music. It maintains a queue in which you can add your entire music library, a playlist, an artist or an album. If only it worked consistently! I did manage to get the music to play after several attempts but it's very flakey. Also you cannot control the volume from within the game.

You have the option to change the look and feel of the blocks. You can also change the mapping Zune pad keys to actions. Unnecessary in my opinion.

Touch support for the Zune pad is disabled by default. You can enable it using the options menu. But don't! I found the game impossible to control when I tried this. The default setting is just fine, thank you.

Exit crashed the Zune, just like with every other game on the list. These games are just not happy if you decide to leave! Games, don't take it personally. We just have work to do too!

Recommendation: Check it out once you are tired of Hexic. As long as you don't meddle with the game options, the game is quite playable.

There you have it. The 5 most popular free Zune games out there today. I was most impressed with Bombtastic! for stability and Zune Hero for innovation.

See you later. I still have unfinished business with Sir Tet!

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