January 2005 Archives


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (32 votes)
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A Daily Cup of TeaIt's always a happy day when discovering that Ferry Halim has released a new addition to his Orisinal line of fine Flash games. Just like Grandma's delicate china reserved for those very special guests, Orisinal games offer game play experiences for discriminating tastes.

A Daily Cup of Tea is his latest serving, an action arcade game in which you help two little mice brew their daily tea by collecting all the sugar cubes they can. The mice can run back and forth along the shelves of the china cabinet, and climb their way up to the top. The trick is to have one mouse run along a higher shelf knocking off the sugar cubes, while the other mouse follows below catching them. And there are plenty of baddies to avoid along the way: bees, books and bouncing balls.

Control is with the mice, er, mouse. The mouse controls the mice. Click the mouse pointer above the mice to climb up a shelf; click below them to climb down. Only one mouse can climb at a time, and climbing up takes longer than climbing down. Ferry has made the climbing control feel quite intuitive with a simple click on the upper mouse causing a climb up; a click on the lower mouse causes a climb down.

The game is comprised of seven levels, one for each day of the week. Knock all the sugar cubes off the shelves to move on to the next day. Bouncing balls are all you'll meet on Monday (Day 1), and these are relatively easy to avoid by themselves. The trick is to pass them on the up-bounce. Books begin to fall on Tuesday. They, too, are easy to avoid as they will fall in a straight line path. Come Thursday, bees begin to bumble in a beeline, straight across the same shelf the mice are on. These bad boys require movement up or down to avoid them. Saturday adds sine wave bees on top of all the others adding still more challenge to the task. Collect all the sugar cubes and avoid getting hit by any of the baddies to earn a "Perfect Brew" bonus score and an additional heart. Lose all three hearts and the game is over.

A Daily Cup of Tea is yet another delightful game that showcases Ferry's exceptional talent. The background art appears simple in a natural style, detailed convincingly to resemble a china cabinet, which is consistent with the theme of the game. The gameplay is addictive, as I found myself playing for hours. The multiple level design is nice, as it gives the player a break between levels to blink, and to catch a breath. The soundtrack is especially enjoyable, as is usually the case with all of his Orisinal games. It's an excellent and original design with gameplay that's fun to play. So, what are you waiting for, it's tea time! Click.


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Oh My God! The Bugs are Coming!Oh My God! The Bugs are Coming! is quite a large name for such a small Flash game, and yet the name fits the theme of this game well. Created by Tonypa, this game features lots of creepy crawlers that move across the screen with uncomfortable realism. The objective is to avoid the bugs altogether for as long as you possibly can. Once a bug bursts your bubble, the game is over.

Control is with the mouse. Simply move the mouse and the pink bubble will follow, albeit slightly behind. The lag provides fluidity of movement to the control of the bubble, increasing the challenge and the immersion experienced by the player. At regular intervals the pink bubble will expand slightly, thus making it more difficult to maneuver around the bugs. Yellow bubbles, once absorbed, will decrease the overall size of the pink one, a necessary goal if one is to last long into the later levels.

The game is delightfully simple to pick up and play, and is an excellent example of a very simple game design well-executed.

Play The Bugs are Coming

If you are interested in making a game like this, Tony has tutorials available for learning Flash game programming concepts, as well as many other games he has designed.


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BugsLately, I have been thinking a lot about games with bugs, since I have been working on ways of implementing various bug-like movement through code in Flash. And as luck would have it, the more I think about bugs, the more games I find that feature bugs. And while I still have not yet found a convincing Centipede clone in Flash just yet, this next one shares some traits with the classic.

Bugs is a game created by Hairy Bullet Games and is available to play free on hairybulletgames.com. An action arcade game at heart, Bugs features an interesting gameplay mix from that of a shooter and a strategy game.

The object of Bugs is to stop the bugs from scarfing the 'shrooms by zapping them with your sonic spidey sense. When all the mushrooms are gone, so is the game. Control is with the arrow keys for movement and the space bar for activating your sonic powers. Bugs do not harm the spider, yet the spider's sonic powers can destroy a mushroom.

One by one the bugs will crawl out of the woodwork and walk across the play field. If one runs into a shroom, it eats it and then turns and walks back from where it came. The spider may not move through mushrooms, it must go around, and it can only send out sonic waves in the direction it last moved.

There is a good deal to like about this original and appealing game. The graphics are nicely done, and reminiscent of a classic. The optional scanlines add a nice old-school aesthetic, and the retro sound effects are consistent with the game's overall appearance. I especially liked the gameplay balance of the weapon causing destruction to the mushrooms, and ultimately to the ending of the game. Also impressive is the sheer number of bugs the developers managed to animate across the screen at once with no visible drop in framerate. Bugs is a fun little game about, uh, bugs, and that's good enough for me.

Update: It seems that all good things come to an end sooner or later, and so is the case with Hairy Bullet Games' Bugs.


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Feel The MagicOne of the more popular games available for the Nintendo DS, the odd and unique Feel The Magic offers a bevy of bite-sized mini-games that make good use of the innovative handheld's features. The simple premise is that you are a boy who attempts to win over the affection of a girl by succeeding at various stunts using the touch screen. Developed and released by Sega, the game has been available since the DS launched last November.

Feel The Magic (Flash)To promote the release of the game in Japan, Sega has created this Web version in Flash that highlights a few of the mini-games featured in the game. The Web version retains the look and feel of the original, as it incorporates graphics and sound directly from the game, and the mouse control is a very close approximation to the control of the touch screen.

There are 2 1/2 games featured: unicycling, bull 'fighting', and rubbing. The last of the three is only a tease, as it fades out before the game is complete and then into a commercial for the game.

Still, it's a great way to see what Feel The Magic is about, and to try a couple of the mini-games before you commit to a purchase. Click.


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (26 votes)
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Panzo and the Alien Gel from Outer SpacePanzo the Panda bear got more than he bargained for in this Shockwave arcade action game from Japan. The title, Geru Geru Panic, roughly translates to Gel Gel Panic, a reference to the gelatinous goo that the aliens appear to be made of. Although it may seem odd, what I can tell you is that you don't need to speak Japanese to enjoy the amazing good times packed into this little gem.

The game is like a cross between Asteroids, in which the player shoots at large objects that break apart into multiple smaller objects, and Pang. Once the objects are at their smallest size, one more shot obliterates them, and they go away. In place of asteroids, this game offers up gelatinous alien blobs that bounce around the play field, and you control Panzo the Panda and his fierce little ray gun.

Control is entirely with the mouse. Simply move the mouse to aim and click to fire. An energy bar along the bottom, filled with pink when you start, depletes its energy as you fire. Upon releasing the mouse button, the bar slowly fills up again. You will need to conserve your fire power to the best of your ability, especially in later levels.

To make the game even more fun, there are many different types of power-ups that sometimes drop from the gel-blobs when hit. You will find all sorts of crazy items like: timers that stop all blobs for a moment; shields that protect you from one hit; instant refills of your energy bar; power-ups for your weapon; one-ups; bombs that split all gel-blobs to their smallest size (watch out for this one in later levels! It's not such a good thing!); and even more.

The game is nicely polished and of commercial quality. The sound effects are fun and fit the action well. The background techno tracks, while uplifting, are a bit repetitious at times, and yet the excellent sound effects make up for it. Thanks to Tonypa who sent me the link to this game, I accomplished next to nothing for the next several hours except for scoring 157,000. I just can't get past Level 12, it's insane!!! This game is fantastic, just try it and you too will be hooked.

Play Gel Gel Panic


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (42 votes)
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Set Daily PuzzleSet is a DHTML-based Web game that offers a new puzzle to play every day. The object of Set is to find the 6 "sets" of three cards each that go together.

Each card in the game has on it four (4) distinguishing features: color, quantity, symbol, and fill. Color will be either red, green or purple. Quantity will be either 1, 2 or 3 symbols. Symbol will be either oval, squiggle, or diamond. Fill will be either solid, striped, or open.

Three cards are a set if each feature is either the same on all 3 cards, or is different on all 3 cards.

There is no time limit and you can try as many combinations as you like. After finding them all, the game will tell you how long you took so you can try to better that time with tomorrow's puzzle. It's an excellent brain teaser of a puzzle, and a great exercise for the logical part of your brain.

Play Set Daily Puzzle


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (20 votes)
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The ESP GameFrom Carnegie Mellon University comes this multiplayer Java applet simply called: The ESP Game.

The game requires you to register and sign in, and then it pairs you up with an anonymous partner for a round of ten images. You have two minutes and thirty seconds (2:30) with which to agree on labels for the 10 random images pulled from the Web. When an image appears, each player begins typing words that describe or relate to the image in some way. A list of taboo words, if given, indicates the words you may not type—probably because those words were already used to describe the image. When both players type the same word, points are awarded and the next image is displayed.

In an effort to label all of the images on the Web (in English, of course), some rather brilliant folks at CMU decided to turn a dull and tedious task into a... well, slightly less dull and tedious game. Granted, there are lots of points to win and when paired with someone that's sharp, it goes rather quickly and it therefore can be fun. However, if you get paired with someone who hasn't a clue what to do, and there are lots who fill the bill, playing the game is not much more fun than watching paint peel: "Your partner wants to pass."

I wanted to like this game, really I did. There are people right now talking it up at RIT, and the idea of playing with real people, although anonymously, seemed very cool at first. Just call me silly for wanting to use slightly more exciting words to describe things than "man", "woman", "black", "white", "logo" and "ad". And yet, you had better become familiar with those words if you plan to play The ESP Game, as you will be typing them in often. That is, if you want to score any points. Still, it's an interesting idea, so give it a try and do your part in helping to label the Web.

Play The ESP Game


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BarbadosSome hot arcade action for you to heat things up with on this frigid friday. From the Yoshio Ishii house of game design, Barbados is a Shockwave action arcade game with instantly familiar gameplay.

The objective of the game is to collect all of the dots on the play field by moving your ship around the game's concentric circles while avoiding the enemy. Press the space bar to increase speed, use the arrow keys for changing lanes: left moves one lane inward, right moves one lane out. You may only change lanes in one of the four lane change zones.

The enemy travels in predictable patterns, changing its pattern with each new level. It does not come after you. The challenge is in the fact you cannot change lanes whenever you wish. So, it will take a sharp eye and fast reflexes to navigate the field and collect all the dots without crashing into the enemy.

With excellent packaging right down to the menuing system, Barbados is a well polished game with addictive gameplay that will keep you busy for a while. The soundtrack, although repetitious at times, fits the style of the arcade action well and helps give the game its commercial feel. Simple, fast action fun. Click.

Check out other games by Ishii previously reviewed here.

Net


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (70 votes)
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NetSubtitled "The game for the mind", this game definitely falls into the category of a brain teaser. Created by Pāvils Jurjān of Latvia, the game of Net is all about connections.

There is a central energy source, and the objective of the game is to connect all devices to the energy source in the fewest moves possible. Of course, if you're like me, I ignore the number of moves and just try to finish a puzzle. Connecting the devices to the energy source is as easy as clicking on a grid cell to rotate it. Rotating a cell costs one move, and you may rotate is as many times as you wish during that one move. Turn all red unpowered devices into green powered ones to solve the puzzle.

The game features high replay value due to its randomly generated puzzles. It is also highly customizable through many options that you can tweak to get just the right challenge for your taste and ability. For example, you may choose a play field grid of any size from 3x3 up to 13x11, in odd numbered increments. The game defaults to 7x7, and that seemed a bit too complex at first. I found that a 5x5 game is just about right for me. As an added challenge, you may also choose to play with borders that wrap around, which means that a powered wire on one side of the board can connect with a wire on the opposite side.

Thanks to Daniel for suggesting the game. He also suggests starting with the corners if playing a normal game, and if playing with wrapping he says you will need to begin with the sides. Net is an excellent mind bender of a game with features to fit every brain shape and size.

Play Net


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Difficult Questions About VideogamesPublic Beta has released their first book on video games titled "Difficult Questions About Videogames," a compilation of responses to several questions they asked of the games industry, academia, and beyond. Just published in November, the book aims to answer the difficult questions about video games such as: "What is a video game?" and "What is gameplay?" One of the more controversial questions asked was: "How can you tell if a video game is rubbish?"

Edited by James Newman and Iain Simons, the book contains 969 responses from 71 contributors, including many distinguished names from the games industry, such as: Warren Spector, Dave Perry, Ernest Adams, Scott Miller, Jeff Minter, Justin Hall, Nils von Barth, and Jay Bibby. Ok, so not everyone listed is well-known in the games industry, though maybe someday that will be true. =)

From Public Beta's website:

"Difficult Questions About Videogames is a unique and vital document of the state of contemporary thinking and opinion on this most pervasive, important and misunderstood of popular cultural forms.

Never before have CEOs, developers, journalists, academics and (of course) players been brought together to sweat it out over the same difficult questions.

Their answers are radical, loving, conservative, funny, mundane, controversial and emotional - what binds them together is the commitment that these questions are worth answering, because games matter."

You can order the book directly from the Public Beta site. Click.


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MonsterismFor a few years now, Pete Fowler has been creating strange and unusal creatures within the virtual world he calls Monsterism. His creature art has been transformed into collectible figures and sold around the world, appealing to a wide audience and age range. Pete strives to add a human element and personality to the monsters so there is something about them that people can relate to.

Make-a-Monster is a Flash toy available on Monsterism.net, a website that Pete and his creative partner, Simon Pike, built to showcase Pete's outstanding and original monster art. With it you can create a bevy of creatures from the world of Monsterism, as well as mix and match any attributes to create entirely new monsters of your own design. Which monster are you?

Play Monsterism


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And now for something completely different.

Bip HopBip Hop is an audio game created by Paul Farrington under his Studio Tonne name. It was given as a present to French-based record label Bip Hop as part of a collaborative project called SoundToys. The Bip Hop label specializes in sound design and contemporary electronica.

The Shockwave game features small colored icons that can be freely moved with the mouse about the interface. By placing them on the play bars that wipe back and forth, sounds are created from the samples contained in each of the icons. When the icons are placed in the correct locations, it is promised "you will get a nice surprise."

Bip Hop is a beautiful and elegant piece of software, and it is refreshing to play a game where audio is the main goal and objective.

Play Bip Hop


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Also worthy of mentioning are the blogs who have provided inspiration with various media and games links, just plain wacky ideas, or invaluable assistance.

FishbucketFirst up is the incomparable Anne of Fishbucket fame. All things magical, fun, and otherwise worthy of your time and attention get pulled into the bucket from all corners of the globe by Anne's enigmatic powers. If you cannot find something there to amaze and inspire you, then there may be no hope left. There is no other place on the Web like the Fishbucket, and there is no other soul who has things figured out quite like Anne does. Once you visit you will visit often, and when you leave you will feel fulfilled. Thanks, Anne for all your magic.

Lazy LacesThanks are also in order to Graeme and his Lazy Laces blog. It is there I have found several gems for games that have been, in turn, posted here. He also has an uncanny ability for scoping out games that are unique and original. A favorite on his site is the all-popular Flash point-and-click adventure, and the commenters are always helpful at Lazy Laces. A must visit for anyone interested in Web games.

Candy GeniusAnd I wouldn't have had all the free time lately to post if it were not for the kind assistance of Candy Genius. She has those rat bastard comment spammers figured out, and she helped me put an end to them here. I am grateful to Candy and her genius for she has helped me find more time in the day to do what I want to do, instead of deleting spam. I thank you kindly, Candy. Your Amazon wishlist just became a bit shorter. =)


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Flash GamezAnd I cannot mention any other games site without also mentioning the excellent work done this past year in Germany over at Flash Gamez. The site was created by well-known blogger Stephan Mosel, "Moe", and the site is maintained primarily by Stefan Burow. Together they have posted over 520 Web games at an average of 1.4 games per day. On January 22nd, SteBu and Moe will have been posting Flash, Shockwave and Java games to their Flash Gamez site for exactly one year.

Happy Anniversary, Flash Gamez. And, thanks for all the games links! =)


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The Games ListRick over at Bloc Media, builders of Web games and awesomely interactive Flash Web sites, has been compiling a games list of some of the best games available on the Web. Although similar to what I have been doing, the difference is that his interface is really exceptional. It's one that I wish I had come up with first, as it will be difficult to continue to upgrade this site without borrowing ideas that Rick has put into TheGamesList.

So if you love Web games as much as I do, pay his site a visit. You are likely to find some games you won't find here. In fact, his site is one of several I use to get ideas from.

Keep it up, Rick! =)


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Destination: EarthAnother game for the classics lover in you. Destination: Earth is actually a Flash recreation of a bootleg clone of the old Taito classic arcade game, Lunar Rescue, released in 1979.

The game is a mix between Lunar Lander and Space Invaders. The player first navigates the lunar lander module down through an asteroid field to land safely on a landing platform, which then rescues a stranded passenger. The player then pilots the craft back up to the mother ship through alien five-o'clock traffic, shooting any space craft that gets in the way. The goal is to rescue as many stranded passengers as you can.

This Flash version is quite good and captures the essence of the old-school arcade video game by sampling all the original sounds. A very nice conversion job by the folks at SyndicatesDomain. Click.


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A Worm's LifeOk, I honestly did not plan on posting all these Snake games, they just appeared before me—landed in the proverbial lap, I tell you. It must be due to some magical alignment of the cosmos. Nonetheless, this Snake clone one-ups the others with style. Created by the same X-Woods folks behind the previously featured Differences game, A Worm's Life features an array of elements that change-up the gameplay formula of this simple arcade game and transforms it into even more addictive, fast action fun.

The core mechanic remains the same: the arrow keys are used to navigate the worm right, left, up and down. As an alternative, the game offers a two-key option that the author suggests: use the [1] key for left/up and the [2] key for right/down. After all the practice I have been getting at these games using all four arrow keys, switching to two was difficult for me to do.

Apples are the worm's food, and each level requires you eat a set number of them before advancing to the next. While pursuing the fruit, various other items will pop-up into play adding spice and variety to the game. Bombs are to be avoided, as are walls. Running into them will cause you to lose one of the five hearts you start with. A red liquid bottle increases the worm's speed; a yellow liquid bottle reduces the worm's speed; a green liquid bottle increases the size of the worm; hearts increase your hearts by one; and gold increases your score by 100. Shields are cool in that they provide the worm protection from bombs, and allow the worm to pass through light colored walls.

A Worm's Life redefines the game of Snake, turning it into a fresh new experience. The level design features wall placement that gives each level variety. The sound effects are well designed, and the lounge music soundtrack is just my style. After the past couple of days playing the other Snake games, I found myself playing this one and I couldn't pull myself away from it. It's that good. Click.


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Radial SnakeWhile on the topic of Snake, here is a variation of the game for all those who believe snakes should appear, and move in paths, with round edges. The controls are the same in this version, arrow keys control movement left, right, up, and down. Press the space bar to start. Created by Yuliy Schwartzburg of Monsey, NY. This version of the game has a high score list that does not function properly, and is hosted on Play.vg, Darren Hewer's site that hosts lots of classic games. Click.

In the spirit of sharing source code as seen with Strille's version posted earlier, the Flash source code (.fla file) for Yuliy's Radial Snake game is available on Flashkit.com. Click.

Radial SnakeI also found an alternate, stripped down version of Yuliy's Radial Snake game on Syndicatesdomain.co.uk. I actually prefer to play this version, since there is no distracting background design and there is no disfunctioning high score list—there is no high score list at all. With it you can play the game as large as your browser window. Click.

Note: If the stripped down version of the game does not load for you the first time you click on the link, close the pop-up window and try it again. =)

And don't forget about Squid S O U P's version of Snake, an excellent Shockwave 3D version of the game.

All of these versions of Snake are technically the same game, and yet each one offers a slightly different experience. Considering each one independently, however, I prefer the simplicity of style and classic gameplay, as well as the excellent coding techniques of Strille's version.


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (38 votes)
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Snake tutorialThis version of the classic game of Snake is remarkable in that it comes with source code and a complete tutorial explaining the code by its author, Strille of Sweden. Available on his website, the tutorial is a great way for anyone to get started programming games in Flash. The code is simple and straightforward for even a novice to understand, and it features an excellent design, as well as some very good examples of maintaining game state data in arrays.

The link to the game, also from Strille's website, is an enhanced version of the one featured in the tutorial. Included is a high score list with which you can view an instant replay of any of the games in the list. Simply click the "view" link next to the score you want to see the replay for. The enhanced version also features an instant replay of your own game once you finish. Kudos to Strille for both sharing his code, and for the excellent additions to this classic game. Click.


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If you're having trouble with the comment form, try reloading the page. I renamed the comment script due to a massive attack last evening by the truly repugnant who feel they must continue their barrage against blogs. Sorry for the inconvenience.


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The students taking interactive media classes at RIT this quarter are just now beginning to work on their games, one of about 3 projects assigned during the 10-week quarter. The development environment is Flash, and the students are looking for examples to get ideas for what they might be able to build within a 2-week time frame. While the criteria for the games are rather explicit, overall they must be simple in design, yet fun to play. Here are just a few examples that I came up with...

DR3I
DR3IWhile it may look like there is a lot going on here, this game consists of only a few nested movie clips and a bunch of hit test operations per frame. Move the red dot cursor with the mouse, touch all the the black dots, marked with a plus or minus sign, without touching anything else. DR3I is an excellent game, loads of fun, and surprisingly simple to pull off. Click.

Squares2
Squares2Offering similar gameplay to that of DR3I, this game is also very addictive, is very simple in design, and could be built rather quickly. Move the mouse the collect all the black squares while avoiding all the red ones. Each square collected increases the size of the cursor slightly. Excellent features of this game include: player score prominently displayed on the stage, power-ups that add spice and variety to the game, engaging soundtrack. Click.

Bubbles
BubblesSimilar gameplay as the previous two, yet Bubbles makes use of the keyboard for control instead of the mouse. Subtle bouncy animation give life to the bubbles, power-ups change-up the pace, and the soundtrack is integral to the enjoyment. In other words, don't forget the sound! Click.

Reverse
ReverseReverse is a simple maze game with a twist: all mouse movements behave in reverse. Of course, a player could simply turn the mouse upside-down and lose all purpose of playing. Still, the concept shows that there exist many ideas for games if we can just step outside the box and switch our paradigm. Click.

Hamure-su
Hamure-suHamster Race in Japanese, the object of the game is to keep the hamster on the track simply by clicking the mouse. For the duration that the mouse is clicked, the hamster turns to the left. When a hit test returns true between the hamster and any of the inside or outside edges of the track, the game is over. This extremely simple game may be just a bit too simple for the requirements of the project, yet I am including it here as an example to show that a game does not need to be complicated to be fun to play. Click.

Kill the Pacman
Kill the PacmanAn infectiously addictive game, Kill the Pacman can be reduced to lots of dynamically created movie clips and hit tests. Use the arrow keys for movement left and right, press the space bar to jump. Land on the pacmen to keep the bounce going. Simple and very well executed. It even has an intro cut scene. Click.

Duck Hunt
Duck HuntA classic game with very simple gameplay to reproduce: just click on the ducks as they try to fly away. An RIT student, from a previous quarter's class, created a clone of this game using his own character designs. Not difficult to do. Click.

Japanese Counting game
Japanese Counting gameYes, it's an odd idea for a game, yet don't knock it until you try it. Based on a very simple concept: click on the numbered circles, in order, as quickly as you can. The game is a race against the clock with more and more numbers to click with each advancing level. Just be sure to instantiate the movie clips in reverse order, or with depths that decrement, to be sure all clips are clickable when their number is up. Click.

Bubble
BubbleThose Japanese really have a way with games, as you may have noticed. Bubble is another one of those well-executed yet very simple ideas. Use the arrow keys to guide the marshmallow around and collect the bubbles. It is not as easy as it seems in later levels. Very simple to pull off, and fun to play. Click.

Warthog Launch
Warthog LaunchMaybe a bit more ambitious than the others, yet still can be done if you're motivated. This is a game of projectiles: set the angle and the power, and then blast the vehicle into the sky. To bounce off the walls requires just a bit number crunching than a simple hit test, though not bad at all. Again, the sound effects make this game something special. Click.

Tetris
TetrisThis was my IDM project when I took the course a year ago, so I know it can be done. Manipulating the blocks will require more maths than simple shooters or the earlier games listed above, yet Tetris is a classic game with very simple gameplay to reproduce. This version was coded in Director before the course switched to Flash, yet the principles remain the same. Game was removed by request of the Tetris Company

Breakout
BreakoutAnd don't forget the old stand-by favorite, Breakout. Still a fun game to play and to build, and so much can be done with this to extend the gameplay as far as you want to take it. Click.

I hope these games helped get the creative juices flowing, though if you still need more ideas, come talk to me. There are lots of great gameplay mechanics that can be made into a game of your own original design, and there is so much you can do with just a little effort. Also, if you are unsure about an idea, run it by your instructor or any one of the tutors or TAs. We can give you an idea of what you might run up against while bringing your concept to fruition. Remember, a game does not have to be complex to be fun to play! =)


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SnowyI have been mesmerized lately by the cuteness of this little Flash platformer, and for good reason. First off, it's got the cute thing going for it, and that always works for me. The way Snowy the little bear just prances in place while waiting for you to move him around is cuteness beyond words. Second, the game is a lot of fun to play for gamers of all ages.

Snowy throws snow balls at enemies to turn them into huge snowballs. Once an enemy becomes completely covered, just run up to it and give it a kick and off it goes, knocking out other enemies in its path. Dispense with all the enemies on each level to move on to the next.

Use the arrow keys to control Snowy, left and right, and up to jump. Press Ctrl to throw snowballs and kick 'em to kingdom come. The game is simple fun with charming characters, animation and sound effects. Very easy to pick up and play, and offering lots of arcade action and fun. In fact, there is so much going on for such a simple little old-school platformer, it will keep you engaged while giggling to yourself the whole time you play. And who couldn't use a good giggle, hmm?

Play Snowy

Thanks go to Nick for pointing out that Snowy is a remake of Taito's 1990 arcade classic Snow Bros, a game that offered similar over-the-top snowball platforming mayhem.

If you enjoyed the Flash version, an expanded downloadable version is available:

WindowsWindows:
No demo available.
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (9) | Views (19)

Soap BubbleYou are a soap bubble in this action arcade game by Anders Gustafsson of Sweden. It seems that while playing with your friends, you discover a strange hole behind a bush that appears to go deep into the earth. Curious, you investigate to find that the hole is just large enough to fit through, so down you go. As you enter the cave, some rocks fall behind you and block your exit. Now the only way out is through.

Using the [arrow] keys for movement, float the soap bubble through each of the 14 levels of the game to reach the exit and guarantee your safety. The soap bubble floats ever so gently, just as you would expect from a soap bubble. Without touching any keys, the bubble will fall gradually to the ground. Pressing any arrow key increases the speed of the bubble in that direction, and for as long as you hold it down. Therefore, very light and continuous touches are required to navigate the soap bubble successfully through each level.

There are no time limits in Soap Bubble, so there is no need to rush through it. In fact, slow and steady is recommended most of the time. Since the levels are filled with a multitude of hazards, the game requires precision control to make it through safely, thus making the game rank high on the difficulty scale. The game rewards you with a cheat code every other level to use in the event of an untimely death. Just enter the code at the main title screen to restart the game one level back from where you received it.

Overall, Soap Bubbles is a very simple game to pick up and play, yet offers gameplay that will challenge even the most hardcore gamer. The graphics are plain, as you might expect from a cave, though decorated with animations that bring the cave to life. The soundtrack is atmospheric and moody, which nicely complements the other thematic elements of the game. It shows that Anders is well-versed in Flash game design, and I look forward to playing more of his games.

Play Soap Bubble

If you like Soap Bubble, you may also like his Rigelian Hot Shots. Or, visit Anders' website for even more of his games.


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (26 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (93)

HatchOn over at Eyezmaze has just released another addition to his ever-expanding collection of unique and enchanting Flash games. Hatch is an action arcade game that will put your reflexes and hand-eye coordination to the test.

To play, put your fingers on each of the keys of the keyboard representing the five colors as displayed. The game allows you to assign any keys that are most comfortable and accessible to you. It becomes important later in the game to be able to switch between them quickly and without having to look at your fingers. =)

Click Start to begin and items of the first color will begin to fall. Simply move the mouse to position the egg-ball-hatch thingy underneath the falling item to 'eat' it. Keep moving the mouse until all 40 items have fallen. Not too bad. Now the fun begins. The second level will drop 40 more items of two (2) colors. You must press the corresponding key to change colors before eating an item of that color. Level 3 has you switching between three (3) colors, and so on. At the end of the game, your score is tallied and the egg 'hatches' into something depending on how much was 'eaten'. The game saves what was hatched each game, so you just gotta hatch 'em all! It's a compelling reward system for a fun little Flash game.

While the game may appear unique, it actually borrows its gameplay core mechanic from Dennis Koble's Atari Avalanche coin-op arcade game of 1978. The same gameplay was later to appear repackaged for the Atari 2600 by Activision's Larry Kaplan in the game Kaboom! of 1981.

All things considered, On has managed to create a whole new game playing experience by adding his charming and original graphics and sound effects to a classic gameplay formula, while at the same time increasing the difficulty by adding multiple layers of complexity to it. The result is a game that is sure to delight and entertain people of all ages with On's simplicity of style and characteristic charm. Click.


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (141 votes)
| Comments (85) | Views (303)

JunkbotAnother game by the talented gameLab crew, Junkbot offers Lemmings-like gameplay in a Shockwave action puzzler that is both simple and fun to play. From Lego.

A character that fondly reminds me of the unbelievably creative and addictive ChipWits game for the original 128K Macintosh, Junkbot is always on the move, walking and looking for garbage to eat. Its movement is governed by strict rules of play: it will only step up or down the height of one Lego block at a time, and it won't step over gaps wider than one Lego unit. There are also obstacles to avoid, such as water, heat, and other moving bots. By building with the available Lego blocks, the object is to reassemble the level and guide Junkbot to all of the garbage cans so he can eat. For an additional challenge, each level has associated with it a maximum number of moves that can be made to earn a Gold card. Collect Gold cards to gain access to more buildings with even more levels.

The game features primary colored Lego blocks, appealing environments made up of pixel graphics, and a unique techno soundtrack containing lots of robotic sounds and effects. Together these elements evoke a consistent theme and give the game an engaging quality that is both playful and fun. Additionally, all of the Lego blocks in each level may be stacked together and reassembled by the player, which creates a compelling and rewarding sense of agency in the game. These qualities are elements of good game design.

Play Junkbot

And when you're finished with the original Junkbot, there's Undercover Junkbot that offers new hazards and secrets to uncover, and over 60 more levels to play.

Play Undercover Junkbot


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (5) | Views (26)

ChuckWhat might possibly be the very first new game of the new year, David Thorburn has just released his latest game, Chuck, on his Teagames.com website in the UK. The veteran game developer is responsible for BMX Backflips and other fun-filled Flash games that make use of impressive physics implementations in their Web-friendly game engines. And Chuck appears to honor that tradition with the remarkable ragdoll physics it features in the game's title role.

The game itself is a hodge-podge of 4 different events sewn together by a thread of gameplay: tossing Chuck around to score points. You are given three opportunities with each event to add to your score.

The first event has you throwing Chuck as far as you can with the mouse. Press and hold the space bar to wind up, then release it to send Chuck flying. It will feel very natural to do this, so much so that it may scare you.

The second event aims a cannon at a distant target that you cannot even see. Try your best to guess the proper angle of incline for the cannon with the mouse, and press the space bar to shoot. Adjust and shoot again. Then once more.

The third is like the first, only you get to bank Chuck off a tree as you try to land him as close as possible to a flag pole. The fourth event has you tossing Chuck around in a box full of stars. Yep, you read that right.

Ok, so I'm not real enamored with the gameplay, but did I mention the ragdoll physics? As you may know, I am a sucker for good game physics as I understand the complexity involved in implementing good collision detection and collision reactions. David's implementation is almost mesmerizing, and it serves well to create an immersive experience due to how natural Chuck's arms and legs appear to flail about as you toss him around. So what if it's only eye candy? David Thorburn has created a remarkable ragdoll physics demonstration in Flash, disguised as a game, and that's good enough for me. Click.


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (23 votes)
| Comments (11) | Views (5)

ReplicatorBrent Silby has created one of the coolest arcade games I have played in a very long time. Think retro-cool as in Galaga, Defender, Centipede and Robotron, and you'll be close to what the action is like in his latest game, Replicator. This game is 100% pure, turbo-charged DHTML! How cool is that?!

Control is with the keyboard using keys [IJKL] or [WASD] for moving the ship, and [ZX] or [NM] for firing horizontally and vertically. Hold one of the fire buttons down for rapid fire. Destroy all the eggs before they hatch into bugs. Destroy all the bugs before they replicate more eggs.

This game is awesome retro-arcade gaming goodness. The ship moves responsively while firing in opposite directions simultaneously. The action really heats-up as the levels increasingly fill with enemies. The modern techno soundtrack and retro-style sound effects greatly enhance the arcade feel and overall polish of the game. Overall, Replicator captures the essence of arcade action fun and delivers it lovingly in a browser window.

Play Replicator (DHTML)

Update: Since this review was written, Brent has ported most of his games over to Flash, so if the DHTML version doesn't run smoothly for you, try the Flash version.

Play Replicator (Flash)


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (11) | Views (9)

Paper IslandsHere is a fresh new site to keep an eye on this new year, created by Dave Jones of Transcience, the same folks behind Chasm.

Paper Islands is a fun site with a unique style and theme centered around paper: paper cut-outs, paper airplanes, origami and the like. Paper Islands features several developed characters with personalities and animations, various locales, activities, and... games.

Paper CupThe first game available, the Paper Cup, is a race of paper airplanes through the various locales of Paper Islands. To start, just pick your favorite character as your pilot, and then the race begins. Using just the mouse for steering up and down to avoid objects, and moving right and left to speed up and slow down, race to the finish against the other Paper Islands inhabitants. The race is not easy, and you will likely have to try a few times before you place other than last. But maybe that's just me. The game is charming and cute with a flair that it gets from the personalities of its characters.

The site promises three (3) new games to be released early this year, along with many other features, activities, site improvements and additions. From the excellence of their previous work on Chasm, we will definitely have to keep on the same page with Paper Islands.

Play Paper Cup


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (5) | Views (32)

Best of 2004: Top 10

For the Best of 2004's Top 10 list, I used a combination of votes received from the voting page and of the favorite games that have been saved using the Favorites feature. Unlike the other awards and honorable mentions posted previously:

...the Top 10 represents the voice of the people. My sincere thanks go out to each and every one of you who visits and participates by using the features here.


And now, the Best of 2004: Top 10 list...

10 - ten juu shi diez zehn dix

Viridian RoomViridian Room: a point-and-click adventure game in which the goal is simply to escape the room. Hidden items in the room present the challenge of piecing the puzzle together. What makes this game successful, thus raising it above others in its class, is the soulful narrative that unfolds as the player progresses through the game. Engaging gameplay balanced with immersive narrative equals one of the best and most popular games found on the Web in 2004. Click.

9 - nine kyuu jiu nueve neun neuf

Alien HominidAlien Hominid: a 2D side-scrolling shooter with an old-school flair. The game features intense over-the-top action that borders on insane, a unique and responsive control scheme, and lots of hand-drawn animations that are hilarious and fun. Originally released in 2002, Alien Hominid was later converted into a console game and released for PS2 and Gamecube, and still remains one of the best Flash shooters available in 2004. Click.

8 - eight hachi ba ocho acht huit

DHTML LemmingsDHTML Lemmings: an action strategy game, though Lemmings might be considered in a class of its own. What makes this version of the classic game remarkable is that it was developed entirely using DHTML. That means it will run in a browser without requiring any plug-ins. Trouble is, DHTML Lemmings was developed without the consent of the current IP rights holder, and therefore the legality of this version is questionable. Still, if you are lucky enough to find the DHTML version on the Web somewhere, you will be rewarded with a remarkable rendition of the game. It is the DHTML that makes this game one of the best of 2004. Click.

7 - seven shichi qi siete sieben sept

BMX BackflipsBMX Backflips: an extreme sports action game in which the player performs stunts for points to complete missions under a time limit. What sets this game apart from others like it is the fluidity of motion, physics, and control the author achieves in the game's Flash implementation. The result is an experience that is both captivating and fun, and earns BMX Backflips a spot among the best and most popular Web games of 2004. Click.

6 - six roku liu seis sechs

A Murder of ScarecrowsA Murder of Scarecrows: an action arcade game in which the player must protect three scarecrows from the ravenous ravens that attack them. While A Murder of Scarecrows shares similar gameplay with the classic game of Missile Command, it also redefines it. Excellence in game design is demonstrated by the consistency with which all of the game's elements express its theme, revealed in a poem during the game's commencement. From the artistic simplicity of its graphical style to the eerie animations and atmospheric sound effects, A Murder of Scarecrows will draw you into its world. Without a doubt, one of the best of 2004. Click.

5 - five go wu cinco fünf cinq

GrowGrow: a puzzle game solved by adding pieces, one at a time, in a correct combinatorial sequence. What elevates this game above others is its unique design of puzzle pieces that interact with each other, and the fascinating animations that result from their combination. Grow is wonder, curiosity and enchantment packaged and disguised as a Flash game that is deceptively simple to pick up and play. Unique, original and fun, this game belongs amongst the best of 2004. Click.

4 - four yon si cuatro vier quatre

ChasmChasm: a point-and-click adventure in which the player sets off on a journey to save the town of Chasmton after an unfortunate event dries up the water supply. The game features AAA quality animation and design, elaborate and challenging puzzles, and a complementing soundtrack, all in a small, bite-sized package for the Web. In light of its top-notch production values, Chasm shines as one of the best of 2004. Click.

3 - three san tres drei trois

Ultimate Flash SonicUltimate Flash Sonic: an action adventure that accurately recreates Sega's classic Sonic experience in Flash. This version of Sonic was not endorsed by Sega nor granted permission to use the name or likeness of the Sonic characters, and that speaks volumes of what the author was able to accomplish on his own. A full-featured Flash game that rivals commercial offerings, paired with the popularity of the Sonic franchise rockets this entry well up into the best of 2004. Click.

2 - two ni er dos zwei deux

TontieTontie: an action arcade game in which the player strikes numeric keys corresponding to events on the screen. Accessible to anyone with a numeric keypad, the elegant simplicity of design affords this game an almost universal appeal. Immersive and challenging gameplay is achieved through the introduction of increasingly more complex rules of engagement between the animated characters on screen and the corresponding keys used to combat them. A system of monetary award and power-ups for purchase provides the gameplay with added depth while extending the replay value of the game. Tontie is exceptional game design, the second game in the Top 5 for its author, and certainly one of the very best games we played in 2004. Click.

1 - one ichi yi uno eins un

SamorostSamorost: a point-and-click adventure game in which the player controls the main character on a quest to save his planet. Without words, the simple yet engaging story unfolds to the delight of the unsuspecting player in scenes that are beautiful works of art and interactivity. Samorost features an array of unusual characters and environments, and presents them all in a tight little package that captures the thrill of discovery and the essence of fun. If you have played this game—and it is likely you have—then you understand why it is the Best of 2004. Click.

Congratulations to all of this year's winners. And while I look forward to doing this again next year at this time, I also eagerly await another year full of fantastic games as 2004 had been. Bring on da games! =)


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (8)

What would an awards ceremony be without the requisite special categories and lifetime achievement awards? These special awards were created for giving recognition and praise to the people who have contributed much to the industry as a whole, and yet whose work did not make it into the top awards for the evening. It is also a place for squeezing in entries that would not otherwise fit into the top 10, while preserving the integrity of it still being called a Top 10 list. =)

Without any further ado, here are the special recognition awards for the Best of 2004...

Best Multiplayer game

ConquerorConqueror: a multiplayer turn-based strategy game for up to 16 players, this game features classic and familiar gameplay as in the games of Risk and Civilization, yet provides additional depth and balance those other games lack. And don't be fooled by the turn-based description, every player takes their turn simultaneously within a turn timer, then the server carries out each move randomly, yet in the order submitted for each player. Play against AI or human, the game seamlessly switches between them as players enter and leave a game in progress. Featuring an intuitive interface, and rewarding gameplay, Conqueror is addictive, immersive, engaging multiplayer fun. Click.

Best Flash 3D Puzzle game

The Dark RoomThe Dark Room: a puzzle game that is actually pseudo-3D since Flash does not yet support true 3D graphics. And that makes this game all the more impressive. The Dark Room features brilliant and original puzzle design with immersive gameplay that is simply a joy to figure out. Games like this suck me in and never let go until I have figured it out completely. The game even saves your progress in case you get stumped and have to return to it later. More games like this one, please. Click.

Best Five-year-old game we were still playing in 2004

BLiXBLiX: an action puzzle game that offers classic gameplay in a timeless package. The game is very simple to pick up and play, and yet may require a lifetime to master all of its 300 unique levels. BLiX was first introduced last century and still remains a favorite today. Excellence in design, presentation, and gameplay earns BLiX this very special and coveted award. Click.

Outstanding achievement in artistic expression

OrisinalOrisinal: this Best of 2004 list would not be complete without very special recognition of the beautiful artistry of Ferry Halim. Each of his Orisinal games provides a unique game playing experience of elegant simplicity, delicately wrapped in a package that stakes the claim that games are indeed art. Together he masterfully weaves sight, sound and touch into works of remarkable beauty. And while none of his games appear in this year's Top 10, his Orisinal site proves the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Click.

Outstanding selfless community contribution

TonypaTonypa: and where would we be if it weren't for those who selflessly share their knowledge and generously give of themselves back to the community? Tonypa exemplifies this with his prolific game development talents and with his making available all of the source code to his games under a Creative Commons license. In addition to his wonderful games and source code, he has also written many Flash game development tutorials that are of the best available on the Web. Thank you, Tonypa, for all of your generous contributions. Click.
Klas KroonKlas Kroon: thanks are also in order to Klas Kroon, whose tile-based tutorials served as the basis for Tonypa's contributions in this area. Klas is also active in the Flash game development community, and deserves similar recognition for his contributions as well. His latest game Reflex has enjoyed over 2 million hits in December alone. Click.

I will be back tomorrow to begin counting down the Best of 2004. Happy New Year!! =)

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