Not every digital version of a treasured board game is worth the purchase, but "Dingbats" for iPhone and iPod Touch retains the flavor of the original game and adds several attractive improvements, including solo play. (Plus it retails for about $2 as of early 2012, and the iPhone version can be played on an iPad as well.)
Players touch the screen to flip over one virtual card at a time -- the cards are shown in sets of 12 -- that have phrase-and-word puzzles just like the original game. As soon as a card flips over, a 90-second timer activates on the screen. If you know the answer (or want to make a guess), use the keyboard to type it in.
If your answer is correct, the card will disappear from the screen and the remaining cards in the set will be shown. If your answer is incorrect, you'll hear a ding and the puzzle card you're trying to solve will remain on the screen.
The faster you solve the puzzle, the more points you'll receive. Unlike the original game, you can ask for a clue after the timer runs out. You also can ask for in-game hints or come back to the card later, after having solved (or having attempted to solve) other cards in the set. If still stumped, you can pass (caution: you only get one pass per 1,000 points earned) or request an answer to the puzzle by email. After the game is over, you can review the cards you've solved in the app's card gallery. You also can connect the game to your Twitter account and tweet your scores.
Players can connect on the Dingbats Facebook page, where a free app offers a new puzzle each day. Web-based games from other companies, like those at Fun With Words, also offer rebus puzzles, although they do not follow the Dingbat game's timed format. (In addition, there's another app called "Dingbats" for iPad from developer Blockdots. Although fun, this is not the same game as Seller's "Dingbats." In this game, players select consonants to pair with hidden vowels to solve word puzzles. It's sort of like "Wheel of Fortune" for the iPad.)