January 2006 Archives


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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RAF Global RescueAward winning digital marketing agency, Kerb, was recently commissioned to produce their latest effort based on Broderbund's 1982 classic game, Choplifter, and which Sega released to the arcade in 1985.

Created for Freeloader and the UK's Royal Air Force, RAF Global Rescue is an arcade action game that makes you the pilot of a Merlin helicopter on a mission to save hostages from enemy territory.

Control the copter using the arrow keys for navigation. Press [C] to fire guns and [Z] to release chaff, which is a cloud of aluminum-coated glass fibers that is used to confuse enemy radar and stop missiles. Press [space] to lower or raise the winch to rescue hostages.

Game play is comprised of six (6) missions within three (3) different environments: the jungle, the desert, and the arctic. Each mission consists of rescuing hostages with later missions requiring you to take out enemy defenses and even deploy vehicles behind enemy lines. Enemy defenses include both simple anti-aircraft fire, as well as heat-seeking missiles. You will need to use your limited chaff wisely and work quickly and effectively to complete each mission.

The Merlin helicopter runs on fuel, so you should keep an eye on the fuel gauge and make it back to base or a refueling platform if it gets low.

Analysis: RAF Global Rescue looks and plays great. The supporting menu choral music and in-game air raid siren helps to establish a rather ominous and fitting tone to this engaging war-themed game. Kerb has done an excellent job with updating the arcade classic in Flash to run in any browser, and with matching gameplay to the client. The game is relatively easy to pick-up and play right away, and yet the missions ramp up in difficulty quickly making this game a serious challenge to complete. Locations of hostages and enemies are randomized per level, which improves the overall replay value of the game.

On the downside, the main menu UI ran a bit slow on my Mac compared to the rest of the game, possibly due to the large images that are moved around the game window during menu selection.

Overall, a well-polished, truly exceptional arcade Flash game.

Play RAF Global Rescue


Rating: 4.7/5 (27 votes)
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The WandWinner of the Intel Indies film contest last week, The Wand is an animated short film by artist Nick Worthey and backed by Atom Films.

Ever wonder what you would do if you found a wand that granted an unlimited number of wishes? That is just what happens to the central character in this Flash movie that is both humorous and thought provoking.

Would it be time to say goodbye to the same old dull routine and usher in a new age of wealth and prosperity? Would you use your powers for good, or would you take a more selfish path and keep it all to yourself? Regardless of the choices you make, one thing is certain: nothing would ever be the same again.

Nick's delightful and entertaining Flash animation took top honors in the contest and earned him $45,000 in cash and prizes. Flash? Yes, please. Click.


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Please help one of my RIT classmates by answering his one-question XML survey. Cheers!

Update: Although I welcome any discussion about this topic in the comments, if you plan to take the short survey please wait until after you respond to read the comments. I wouldn't want anything that anyone says about it to influence your answer.


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Peerflix PaparazziIn what could possibly be seen as a game in less than desirable taste, this next one has all the glitz and polish of a real celebrity.

Paparazzi is a humorous picture-taking advergame for DVD trading site Peerflix in which the objective is to snap photos of celebrities to earn money. Yes, I know what you're thinking, but play along, hmm?

The photographer's angry tabloid boss is fed-up with the trash that has been pictured on the covers (aren't we all?). He wants BIG celebrity photos or else the photographer will soon be out of a job. Help the photographer by snapping photos as assigned in each of the five (5) 'adventures on the red carpet.' The better the photo the more money it earns, and you'll need to snap 12 photos and reach the target goal for each scene to move on to the next.

In addition to the monetary goal, there is an inherent risk involved with being a paparazzi: your subjects may not appreciate the photo-op and will often throw things at you. If you get hit five (5) times in a single scene before you snap all 12 photos, it's game over.

Play Peerflix Paparazzi

Analysis: The game has some strong points, though it's not perfect. I really liked the presentation and appeal of the sparkling graphics with saturated primary colors. The glitzy style works well for the game type and reasonably well for the nature of the client's business. The option to skip ("continue") past intro cut scenes is a very welcome feature, as was the viewable instructions 'tabloid' to leaf through while the game was loading: a very nice touch!

The photo capturing gameplay is well done with lots of random movement of the subjects to keep the game challenging, fresh and fun for a while. That being said, I believe there is room for improvement in the detection algorithm that determines a "good photo." It seems that as long as you capture a majority of the targeted celebrity then you will earn max value for that photo.

The collision detection between the items thrown and the photographer appears to be based on the bounding box of each and not the actual image content. And while the bounding box is the basis for Flash's primary method of collision detection, this will undoubtedly leave some crying "foul!" as happened with a previously reviewed game. There are other more expensive methods (in terms of performance) for collision detection, but with the size of the images being moved around the screen in this game, it is likely those methods would slow the game to an unplayable crawl.

The use of a stylized likeness of real celebrities paired with a silly parody of their names injects both humor and fun into an otherwise objectionable activity. Remember, it's only a game. ;)

So, yeah, this sort of thing isn't something that you should aspire to do in real life, as invading others' privacy is not only unethical, it also lowers your karma to the life form of a sponge. Still, the picture-taking genre of games has always appealed to me over those using guns, and I believe there is room for it to be taken in plenty of new and exciting directions.

With apologies to all the celebrities who visit here, including those whose likenesses were used in this game. (I know you're out there ;)

Cheers to Steve for pointing out that this game was designed and developed by his company in Boston, Pod Digital Design, makers of viral marketing and branded entertainment. Nice work, Steve!


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (94 votes)
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Combat HeavenImagine yourself but a single soldier against an army backed by an incredible assortment of weaponry and heavy artillery. Heavy metal hardware comprised of tanks and missile launchers, bazookas and aerial assault vehicles as far as the eye can see. Now imagine being plunked down smack-dab in the center of it all as these formidable forces bear down on you in wave after wave of hostility. There is little time to think, save for the will to survive.

In what seems to be an impossible scenario, there is no mercy shown from the very first level thrown at you. This is no ordinary arcade action shooter, this is Combat Heaven.

Controls are as follows: [Z] move left; [C] or [V] move right; [S] or [D] jump; [X] nose dive; press [space] or [ctrl] to change weapons; press and hold the mouse button to fire (do not click rapidly). In addition, double-tap left or right keys to dash in that direction; a very valuable maneuver.

Combat HeavenTo get started, first gear-up on the "SET UP" screen and spend the 10,000 'custom points' the game starts you off with. You can use it to increase the characteristics of your armor and boost capability. Of course armor provides a cushion that allows you to withstand attacks to an extent, and boost is a valuable feature of your armor that allows you to rocket upwards in short bursts to help escape the incoming munitions fire.

The game also features a shop where you can purchase better weapons and armor, but you won't have enough points to visit the shop for quite some time.

Once your points are spent, it's time to dive into the missions. There are 11 missions total of increasing difficulty and reward. Start with the first and work your way up. The later levels require much heavier armor and weapons than what you're equipped with initially. Even the first level will be rather difficult at first. Luckily, if at first you don't succeed, you may try, try again.

You will earn points even if you don't succeed in clearing a level, so don't feel discouraged if you do not get very far in your first attempts. Practice the controls to get a feel for how they work, and before long you'll be strong enough to reap the rewards that this game has to offer.

Here are a couple of strategies I found useful: mind the red triangles indicating incoming missiles. Keep an eye on the radar to know where the enemy is. Use your boost and jump out of the way when you hear the lock-on signal of a tank. Take out the tanks first by rushing them, as it takes some time to rotate its turret. Do not click rapidly to shoot; press and hold the mouse button down to fire continuously. Take out the aerial assault vehicles as soon as you can as they will continue to drop more and more soldiers until you do.

Analysis: Megatons of action packed in a tight little Flash package that features appealing graphics, effects and a dynamite soundtrack. Combat Heaven is an insanely great shooter with periods of non-stop over-the-top action that is intense and very gratifying. A 'custom points' reward structure offers upgrades for purchase that increases the replay value of each of the game's 11 missions. Two save game slots allow local storage for saving and loading of games. Amazing fun awaits just beyond the learning curve.

The game was created by Tonowi of Japan, with a new version (v1.2) promised to be due out in February. Update: Version 1.2 is out(!) Update #2: Combat Heaven is now back online officially at 128f.com's relaunched site, Game-Pure.

Play Combat Heaven

Cheers to Willoughby Jackson for the link.


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (35 votes)
| Comments (41) | Views (1,058)

DerekWphp ZorkI'm fairly certain there isn't a single person that will read this who has never heard of Zork, but if you haven't you're in for a treat.

Zork is a text adventure, which is a form of interactive fiction, like a cross between a novel and an RPG with some escape-the-room type puzzles thrown in.

The very first text adventure was simply called Adventure and it was fantasy based. Most of its influences came from J.R.R. Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons. The heyday of the text adventure was before computers could handle graphics, as we are used to today. Instead, intricately detailed dungeons with twisty little passages were all described with text, thus leaving much to the imagination of the player. If you have participated in forum-based role-playing then you have experienced a form, possibly even a derivative, of the text adventure. The difference is, in a text adventure you are the only player and the moderator is the computer.

In the case of Zork, it was one of the first text adventures and even spawned several sequels. Originally conceived in the late 1970's by a research group of MIT, the game was written by Tim Anderson, Mark Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling. And now, many years later, the first game of the Zork series has been ported to PHP for your gaming pleasure by someone who goes by kodrik over at thcnet.net. The game is, in itself, somewhat self-explanatory; the trick is getting the text parser to understand your commands enough to tell you what you want to know. I've prepared a list of useful things you should know before playing Zork:

Help - If you've never played a text adventure before, just type help and the game will give you a quick tutorial. I am not going to provide an in-depth tutorial about text adventures here since the good folks over at Brass Lantern have already done that for you.

N, S, E, W - If you want to move in this game, type n for north, e for east, w for west, and s for south. The game will describe the directions you are permitted to go. It will tell you, for example, that there are "Exits to the north and East."

Get (or take) - The command for taking things, such as "get key," all objects near where you are will be described to you, though you may have to poke around to 'see' everything.

Look - If you just type 'look,' you will be given an explanation of where you are and what's around you. 'Look' can also be used in conjunction with other things, such as "look at leaflet."

Login - To be able to save your game while playing so that you may continue at another time, you must log-in. Use this command with any username and password that you like and you will be added to the database.

Save - Saves a game in progress.

Restore - Restores a previously saved game.

There are many other commands as well, such as open, close, read, lift, pull, etc. Just type, in easy-to-understand language, what you think you should be doing, and you'll get the hang of it. Other than that, good luck.

Play PHP Zork

If you're really into the TA scene, be sure to check out Wulfo's review of interactive fiction by Zarf.

And, even more fun, is an unbelievable easy-to-learn text adventure creation program called Quest, which was developed by a British programmer named Ray Pang. Yes, it does require a download, but it's worth it. You can even make online multiplayer games and submit your own creations to the site. There are quite a few good ones already there; I suggest playing Mansion and The Former, in particular (the latter being submitted by yours truly). The program comes with a tutorial and this post has already rambled on for long enough, so I guess you're on your own with this one. But trust me, it's worth a look.


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Classroom Pitfall

DerekWI think we can all agree that the proliferation of Macromedia's Flash software has made good games a lot tougher to find, especially well-made ones. Classroom Pitfall is a well-made game; it may be short, but it's great. The gameplay is fairly simple and very reminiscent of the classic Pitfall in which the primary objective is to make it safely from point A to point B. The difference being that each level of Classroom Pitfall takes place in a different classroom, such as Gym or History, and the obstacles and pitfalls are objects you might find in a classroom, such as compasses and protractors.

In the beginning, you must choose a character to play as, there are five in total and none possess any skill over another; as near as I can tell they were only added so as not to exclude any gender or racial group. The characters all have the same controls: left and right arrow keys, and the space bar to jump. Each level is randomly generated and spans across seven screens; the one you start on, along with three screens that branch off to the left, and three more screens that branch off to the right. You must follow both paths to collect all the stars and advance to the next level. That means, of course, you'll have to backtrack across one side of the level, so try and choose the path with the least obstacles to start off (there is a map at the bottom of the screen, the skulls represent the hazards).

The thing I love about this game is the sheer variety and the quality of the visuals. Each level possesses its own set of hazards, and since the levels are randomly generated you may actually find new content the next time you play. The visuals are very polished; someone obviously took their time on this game, and unfortunately, I don't know who actually developed the game.

The game was made for a company called Tesco and their "computers for schools" program, which aims to help fund schools in the UK through a 'voucher' program. Anytime an item (such as gas or groceries) is purchased from a Tesco retailer, the buyer is awarded vouchers that they can donate to a school of their choice. The school then uses these vouchers to get free things from Tesco online. It's a nice little program and with that in context, the theme of the game seems appropriate.

All my digging and I still couldn't uncover who the game was made by, and the Computers for Schools site doesn't have an address where you can reach them. I did, however, find many mentions of a sequel to this game, but no place to play it. Oh well. If anyone has any information on either the sequel or the designer, or what the hey happened to either of them, it would be appreciated. Click.


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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NoahIn the year 2300, two huge meteorites shattered near Dextera's atmosphere, causing deadly debris to shower and potentially destroy the whole planet within hours.

Meteor BustersThat is the story behind Meteor Busters, a simple and beautifully designed top down shooter, and one of the first playable games from the promising Dot-Invasion studio.

To begin, enter any name and click "Play". All subsequent actions are keyboard controlled. Press the [enter] key to start a new game.

The following five ships are available. You can switch between them at any time.

  • Crash Man Ship: Fires bombs that cling onto meteors and explode
  • Second Ship: A short range but large explosion
  • Boring Ship: Shoots a bullet straight ahead
  • Laser Ship: Typical shmup laser gun, straight out of Gradius
  • Gravity Ship: Hit a meteor with this to capture it. Fire again to launch the meteor!

Your attacks become more effective as you destroy meteorites and fill up the three level power meter in the upper left corner of the screen. Oddly, the power meter is universal; if you completely level up the Bomb Ship, for instance, the Laser Ship will also be at maX power, even if you haven't used it before. This makes the game easier, but having to level up each ship individually could have added a welcome layer of strategy. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a way to recover damaged ships, so if your favorite weapon is destroyed you are out of luck.

Graphically, Meteor Busters truly shines. The sprites look better than those in most commercial games and, surprisingly, they rarely get lost on the screen despite the grayscale palette. Everything looks crisp and professional, from the superb parallax scrolling to the slight shaking of the window and satisfying spray of debris during an explosion.

Now for some complaints. The game begins with an unskippable animation that feels like it takes about ten years to complete. In reality you have to wait less than a minute before taking control, but it can be painful. There also seems to be an issue with the depth of explosions and some ships' attacks; they often obscure other meteors, meaning that you might not be sure if an area is safe to fly through before it's too late.

If you're already a fan of shmups or retro pixels, you'll probably appreciate Meteor Busters. The graphics are lovely and extremely polished and the action is fun while it lasts, though slower than hardcore manic shooter fans might like. It's clear that Dot-Invasion is a talented and dedicated group and, while I wish Meteor Busters had been a bit more ambitious, I'm looking forward to their next project. Click.

By popular demand: Now with bigger screen! Click.

Take a look at a demo of one of their upcoming projects, Forgotten Myths.


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Smokymonkeys BreakoutRequires IE: With apologies to those on Macs and non-PC computers, I simply had to follow-up the jaw-dropping visuals of Triglav with another creation by the same team. In fact, it was this captivating clone of classic Breakout gameplay that led me to the SmokymonkeyS site to begin with.

The good news is this game can be played in PC Firefox with the IE Tab extension.

Smokymonkeys Breakout is a DHTML game that features 50 different stages composed of formidable formations of various brick types: Black bricks that are imperviously permanent; grey bricks that vanish with a single hit; yellow bricks that change to grey bricks when hit; and red bricks that change to yellow. Eliminate all non-permanent bricks to make it to the next stage.

The game is not easy as the ball travels at a breakneck pace. Excercise caution when starting a new ball, as it will travel downward at an unknown angle and at full speed. You begin with just three (3) balls and earn an extra-ball every 3,000 points. Can you make it through all 50 levels? I should say not.

Beautiful, but without sound; classic gameplay with a facelift of the ancient Orient. Click.


Rating: 4.8/5 (31 votes)
| Comments (109) | Views (946)

Triglav action RPG

Triglav is a single-player action RPG in which the objective is to make it to the top of Triglav Tower, which is 50 floors high. It is an exquisitely detailed effort by SmokymonkeyS and composed in DHTML. Yes, you read that correctly: the game was written almost entirely in Javascript. However, that being said, the developers do rely a little too heavily on Microsoft's own implementation of the DOM (document object model), and therefore the game will run in IE only (v5.5+). Mac users are out of luck, sorry.

If you do have a PC, then that is a relatively small inconvenience to an otherwise exceptional browser-based action RPG experience that looks and plays a lot like Blizzard's Diablo series of games, minus the multiplayer component. Let's dig right in, starting a new game is quick and easy...

TriglavArcade or Career mode: to begin a new game you will first need to choose between arcade and career modes. Both modes feature the same gameplay, except with career mode your game is automatically saved each time you move to a new floor. A username and password are required to begin a career mode game and to reload a saved game.

Choose a character: Daggermaster, Axemaster, or Swordmaster. Each character class has unique weapons, armor and a special attack that sets it apart from the others. For example, if you choose Axemaster, you will have no use for the swords and daggers you may find throughout the game. Once you select a character, the game begins.

Control is entirely with the mouse, click and hold the mouse button down to move. As your character moves the game map will scroll to reveal more of Triglav Tower. Items in your inventory can be used or equipped by clicking on them. Only the weapons, armor, and accessories that are highlighted are equipped. To drop an item, right-click to highlight in red, right-click again to delete. Dropped items cannot be picked up again.

Combat: left click on an enemy to attack it with the currently equipped weapon. Keep clicking until it disappears. When attacking an enemy, its vitality bar will appear in yellow in lower right of the game window for valuable feedback. When the yellow lightning bolt just above that is flashing, your character may use its special attack by right-clicking. Special attacks substantially increase damage and attack range for a short burst of power. Your character must wait about 30 seconds for it to become available again.

Vitality: or health, is represented by the red bar in the lower left of the game window. All characters have auto-healing abilities by simply mousing-over the heart symbol. If you lose all your vitality your character will die and take with it some gold, experience, and a puppet item. If you do not have a puppet item, it is truly game over for your character.

Triglav side questGameplay: Hack and slash your way through each level to find the key that opens the door to the stairway leading to the next floor. Keys are generally found in treasure chests, some of which are left behind after doing away with an enemy or boss. As you progress higher in the tower enemies get tougher and more plentiful based on your experience points; even returning to a lower floor will yield an increase in the number and strength of the creatures that oppose you. Also, you will eventually come upon puzzles and side quests that require solving such as the one shown here. Most of these that I've seen follow a similar pattern: give a particular item to the NPC (non-player character) to earn a new item in return.

Analysis: My jaw quite literally dropped when I came upon Smokymonkeys' website Sunday afternoon. The graphics and effects are stunning and the gameplay is classic action RPG fare. The fact that these talented developers crafted the whole experience using DHTML—and of course some server-side scripting for game saving and stats—is astonishing to me. The game is gorgeous, runs silky smooth on my 1.7GHz PC with GeForce 4 video card, and is a lot of fun to play. The interface is equally beautiful with its emphasis of icons over text descriptions. The artistic style of the entire game is very appealing and quite polished.

Unfortunately, the game lacks background music and sound effects of any kind. Although this was at first bothersome, as I ventured deeper, ascending the tremendous tower of Triglav with all of its glorious eye candy, the missing audio became moot. Besides the lack of sound, there isn't anything else that I would complain about other than the PC/IE requirement, since that means I cannot play on my Mac—and I do just about everything on my Mac of late.

Triglav's project and art design was headed by Koizumi Tota, with design and programming headed by Nakano Sin. It is a personal project of the developers, and it was started more than three (3) years ago. And what an amazing accomplishment it is: truly one of the finest browser-based games I have ever played.

Play Triglav


(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (47) | Views (382)

Interactive FictionThis review regards a genre that I believe is a first for Jayisgames - Interactive Fiction. Or, to put it simply, text adventures. Since the world of text adventures is very big (and quite scary), I'll be focusing on the works of one particular author: Zarf. (Real name - Andrew Plotkin).

Firstly, a note about text adventures. For anyone completely oblivious, they are games played using only text commands in response to on-screen written descriptions. Personally, I adore them. However, I am aware that they aren't for everyone. To fully enjoy them and immerse yourself in the experience, I recommend playing them alone, with no distractions. It's also a good idea to set some time aside as, if you play these games online, they can't be saved. However, you can download them, but some require you to download an interpreter, so this can be more effort than it's worth.

The first of Zarf's works that I'll focus on is 'The Dreamhold'. This games bills itself as an IF tutorial, designed for people who've never played IF before - making it the perfect place to start. Although not particularly easy, it does feature numerous hints and an extensive help system. As with the majority of Zarf's games, the character that you play as is, at first anyway, sexless and ageless, with no backstory or explanation of why they are doing what they are. I enjoyed this game, although the size of the area can be daunting and, due to the fact that you have to try and create a create a map in your mind of all the room locations, navigating your way to certain areas can be tricky.

Zarf's next creation, 'Shade' is my personal favourite. It's very short and only takes place in a single room. What starts off as usual and ordinary soon develops into something quite different. It's fairly easy, apart from the end, where you think outside of the box.

The next entry is an absolute work of genius. 'Spider and Web' is about a man who stands in an alley and then leaves. And I'm not telling you any different. (Don't worry too much about your actions in this game, since you can't get a 'Game Over' until the end).

Finally, 'A Change in the Weather'. This game concerns somebody who is tired of partying and decides to go for a relaxing walk. I'll let you find out the rest for yourself. This is unquestionably the hardest game that I've posted here, and is near impossible to complete with numerous attempts or a walkthrough.

They are simply my favourite four of Zarf's games, but there's also the cave crawler 'Hunter, in Darkness', the extremely bizarre, 'The Space Under the Window', the sublime 'So Far' and a few others. And let's not forget Andrew's most recent mind-bending game, Delightful Wallpaper, where you play a ghost with a notepad who can't move physical objects. Unfortunately there isn't an online version yet, so you'll need an interpreter to play the game. The following programs will run most IF games:

Gargoyle (Windows), Spatterlight (Mac OS X), Zoom (Unix)


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (27 votes)
| Comments (67) | Views (133)

grant0The latest and, in my opinion, greatest of the Ball Revamped series has been released! Ball Revamped IV: Amplitude is now available on John Cooney's website, jmtb02.com.

Ball Revamped IVJohn has returned to the original stationary playing field from his previous scrolling version in both parts of III, and added plenty of new obstacles and power-ups in 100 new levels to keep you satisfied for a good half an hour or so. Controls are the usual arrow keys, and [P] for pause.

Although some of the obstacles are recycled from past versions of the game, there is plenty of new material to keep you satisfied. The level design is great, and as always, every ten levels introduces a new stage. This means the music and background change, and new power-ups are often added, too. My only complaint would be the looping music clips are incredibly short and get annoying quickly. Even more annoyingly, there does not seem to be a mute button, so you'll need to mute the main volume control of your computer. However, this is more than made up for by the great physics and amazing level design. Overall, an excellent addition to a great series of games.

Play Ball Revamped IV: Amplitude

Cheers to Shang and DooMerPS for suggesting this one. =)

Update: Sound can in fact be turned off from the pause menu. Thanks, Role!


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (28) | Views (64)

Back in the days of my childhood, pinball machines were the only electronic entertainment available besides television. Not surprisingly, I couldn't play enough of them. I lived for that metal-on-hardwood "knocker" sound that indicated an extra ball.

Pow Pow's Mini-GolfAnd when I wasn't playing pinball, miniature golf was a close second on my list of favorite activities. Knowing that, it shouldn't be surprising to learn about the enjoyment I had with this next game: a 3D miniature golf game that does a very respectable job at recreating one of my favorite childhood pasttimes.

Pow Pow's Mini-Golf is an impressive Shockwave 3D implementation of classic miniature golf gameplay that runs in any browser. The game even features RPG-like elements with saved character stats that can be 'leveled-up' with experience points.

Two different character avatars are available: Pow Pow and his girlfriend, Mai Mei, as well as an array of game play options that let you tailor the experience to your liking. For example, the main menu offers Single Player, 2 Player, or Online modes of play.

Single player allows you to play by yourself in Solo mode, or against the CPU. 2 Player allows you to play against another person at the same computer; and Online play let's you chat with and play against anyone else currently online anywhere in the world.

For each mode, there are two different gameplay options: Stroke or Match play. Stroke is the most common way to play golf in which the player with the fewest strokes after all holes are played is the winner. Match play awards each hole to the player with the fewest strokes, with the winner of the game being the player who earns the most holes. You may also choose to play the front nine (9), the back nine (9), or all eighteen (18) holes in the game.

Playing the game is relatively easy once all of that is out of the way, though there are a number of controls to become familiar with. When a game begins, and following the completion of each hole, you must actually move your avatar to the next hole. Simply click anywhere on the ground to have your avatar move there. Once you get close enough to the beginning of the next hole, a sign indicating where to click will become visible.

Pow Pow's Mini-GolfOnce your avatar is positioned and ready to line up for your next shot, there are four (4) interface controls available to you: View, Angle, Visualize Shot, and Putt.

View: Clicking on the arrows of "View" allow you to rotate the camera around your avatar to get a preferred perspective of the hole. Alternatively, you may press the [left] and [right] arrow keys to rotate the camera.

Angle: Clicking on the arrows of "Angle" allow you to control the angle, or direction, of your putt. The game will automatically align your angle towards the hole, but it is not always the best angle of choice for each shot; so, you will need to use this control often to get the best shot possible.

Visualize Shot: Clicking on the large white sphere will produce a trail of dots that represent the projected path the ball will travel. Use this to help line up those tricky shots.

Putt: Once you are ready to putt, clicking on the putter will bring up the power guage. Click once more to select the desired strength with which to hit the ball; and then once more to determine the shot accuracy. For accuracy, try to get stop the arrow when it is directly in the center for the best shot possible.

If not playing Solo mode, you will alternate turns with your opponent. Each time it is your turn, you must first click on your ball before your avatar will get into putting position.

Analysis: The game is rich with features that allow for a great variety of play options. Thankfully, the most common options are set by default making it relatively quick and easy to start a new game, apart from the rather long download time required. The graphics and interfaces are polished and appealing and represent one of the best Shockwave 3D game implementations I have seen. The concept of accumulating experience points to upgrade your character is a welcome addition that increases the depth of the game.

On the downside, there's only one course available to play. Yes, it is a free game, and so it's easy to look past this weakness. Also, I found that playing against the CPU was a bit frustrating due to the amount of time required for it to take its turn: The initial long pause once positioned; the little 'wiggle' to establish the correct angle; and even the dialog between the two characters became annoying rather quickly. An option to speed up the CPU and disable dialog would be a welcome option in the games settings.

Another option that is lacking is a music-off switch separate from the sound effects. This should be a standard feature of just about every game with sound.

Also, it was not clear to me how to save my character for play at another time. A "Load" button appears on the character select screen, but clicking it didn't do anything that I could tell. The absence of a companion "Save" button only adds to the mystery.

More feedback should be available to the players during the game regarding the number of strokes taken and the par for the course. Although a minor gripe, I often found myself wondering how many shots I had already taken.

Some holes have moving parts that require precise timing to get past them. Unfortunately, timing a shot with the interface provided in this game is next to impossible, thereby leaving it all to chance. On the other hand, there's always a way around.

Even with these minor issues, Pow Pow's Mini-Golf is a delightful 3D miniature golf experience in the convenience of your browser. Slightly cumbersome and yet feature-rich with enough options to appease any mini-golfer. Add to that an online mode to play against anyone anywhere in the world, and what you have is an excellent casual Web game offering from Out of the Box Software of Oceanside, California. Click.


  • Currently 3.6/5
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Rating: 3.6/5 (23 votes)
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Legend of the Pointy StickFrom Mark Arenz and his Ridiculopathy site full of ridiculousness comes this hilarious new adventure with an old-school dungeon flair.

The Legend of the Pointy Stick opens with a funnily familar main character chasing a princess around a kingdom, only the princess doesn't appreciate being followed. After violating a restraining order, you find yourself locked down deep in a dungeon with no clear way of escape. You will need to consult those who will help you, and beware of those who won't, if you are to find your way out safely. A stick for poking might also be helpful to find.

Past the maze of gluttony, through the trials of heroism, up, up, up to the surface and into the labyrinth of Princess Love interest herself. To freedom.

Legend of the Pointy StickUse the arrow keys to navigate around, first person style, one map grid at a time. Press [space] to act on things: pick up items you find, or use a weapon. Press [P] to open your inventory. There you will find some helpful information, and several maps to help you find your way.

Unfortunately, the game lacks a save feature, so if you don't finish in one sitting and must close your browser window, then you will have to start over the next time you play.

Mark reveals his warped sense of humor and style through the many characters you'll meet along the way and the mostly sarcastic responses you receive from them. The game is light-hearted and pokes fun at some classic games as well as itself. Good fun and a nice change from the usual point-and-click approach to Flash adventure games.

Play Legend of the Pointy Stick

Other games reviewed from this author include: Carnyville, Happy Flower Music Time, and Swinger. See even more Flash games available on Ridiculopathy.com.


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (76 votes)
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Dofus

hiram archibald"Gorgeous" is the only word to describe Dofus, a feast of sight and sound in the form of an up-and-coming Flash-based MMORPG created by the folks at Ankama Games. The art and music of Dofus follow in the finest traditions of anime, making the game something of a cross between WoW and Pokémon (with a dash of tongue-in-cheek humor thrown in for good measure). Players can support up to five characters on their account, form communities with other players, fight a host of outlandish baddies, and go on quests to search out the hidden mysteries of the fantastic land of Amanka. The ultimate quest: to find and solve the mystery of six magical dragon eggs, the legendary dofus.

The designers call Dofus a mixture between a video game and an interactive cartoon. It features a two-dimensional world, employing a top-down isometric presentation. And the first 'M' in MMORPG is certainly apt when describing Dofus. Players create characters from any of eleven classes and can train them up in twenty different professions. And there are literally thousands of spells, items, monsters, and map screens to discover.

attacking a bluebirdDofus features a tactical turn-based combat engine, similar to that of TAO. During a fight, other players on the same map screen can choose to jump in to form a team, and players have just so many seconds to use up their 'movement' and 'action points' to move, attack, casts spells, and heal their enemies and allies.

Dofus' designers claim the game is accessible to both casual and hardcore gamers. A basic account requires free registration, which only gives access to interact with the starting village of Amanka and its surroundings, but at least allows players to freely roam the world and enjoy its scenery. Full registration costs about $7 per month and gives full interactive access to the entire game and all its quests (which are constantly being updated, added to, and expand upon). The game's designers boast that, since all account files are stored online and it 'only' (in comparison to e.g. WoW) requires an initial download of about 42 MB, Dofus strikes a balance between content and functionality.

Analysis: Dofus truly is beautiful in its execution and presentation, and its interface is relatively intuitive and easy to pick up on (though there is a learning curve to its keyboard commands). There are few strategic online RPGs out there today, but even if the field were crowded Dofus would likely stand a head above the rest.

However, like any other MMORPGs such as WoW, Kingdom of Loathing, or Urban Dead, Dofus can be as involved an experience at you have time for. Leveling-up occurs at a decent pace, but the quests (such as collect and return 100 of four different types of items) can be maddeningly tedious. However, the hardcore gamers among us will find them worthwhile, since they will often be rewarded with quite good item(s) and/or permanent stat increases. Casual gamers, on the other hand, will still enjoy wandering about and exploiting the interactive cartoon aspect of Dofus.

But the time investment and monthly subscription fee will likely result in two quite distinct camps in the Dofus community, with a substantial gap in character levels (which might be frustrating when trying to put together a party for adventuring). Another minor complaint might be that, because Dofus is a Flash game and features a screen-based world map, other players are frequently zipping around and on or off the screen, sometime making it difficult to interact.

A more serious drawback is certain aspects of the combat system. Since the game is two-dimensional, the terrain, while beautiful, has no impact on combat. In fact, taller scenery may tend to get in the way, and character can e.g. get lost behind buildings. Also, the game's only party system for other players to join your in-progress fight. Most seriously, however, is that the brisk pace of combat makes strategy almost nonexistent. Often, there simply isn't enough time to assemble a plan between turns, and it can also be difficult to click fast enough to execute a strategy during a turn.

But dedicated players will undoubtedly be able to adjust to Dofus' idiosyncrasies for an extremely rewarding gaming experience. And the rest of us will just enjoy dropping in to revel in the beauty of the game's expansive and immersive fantasy world. Either way, Dofus is a treat to be sampled by all. Click.

Also, be on the lookout for the upcoming Dofus Arena, due for its kickoff sometime next month.

Dofus is now a finalist in the Flashforward Film Festival coming up at the end of February in Seattle.


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I am pleased to finally announce the arrival of the first-ever Jayisgames.com T-Shirts, available through a partnership with SpreadShirt.

These fine washable-wearables come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and each one with the nice and new, spanky-brand-clean and gnarly—that's for you Preston—Classic Jayisgames.com full-name logo thingamajobber. Yessireebob, yup, yup, these very same miracles of merchandising can be yours to take home and wear forever. Be ready for the global warming in these cool but very hot tease, and if there isn't a color or style available that you like or can wear, let me know and I'll see what I can do for you.

Before I could feel comfortable publishing the link to these great gift ideas, wink wink, nudge nudge, I made sure to grab a hold of one myself and wear it proudly around my room for everyone to see. That, and I had several offers for lap dances and whatnot, so believe me when I tell you: These things are HOT. =)

I will be adding new designs in the future, and if anyone has any ideas for designs, please send them my way. And with that, I'm nearly wiped out from a very long project, nearly finished, but not quite yet, for a client-server class that I'm loving but hating right at the moment. Up for two days straight working through the night, burning the candle at both ends; yes it's true, that can really be done. I've done it. In rare form indeed, and now I must sleep. Click.


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (106 votes)
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grant0To be filed under the "simple but highly addictive" category is this latest game by Max Abernethy of flecko.net. Simplistic but challenging is Cubefield, a strangely beautiful dodge-the-obstacles type of game hosted at Newgrounds.

CubefieldYou are but a grey arrow, controlled by the left and right arrow keys, travelling at a speed at which you have no control and through a gigantic plane dotted with cubes that you must avoid. Sound simple? It is until the action begins to speed up and the cubes become more plentiful. As with most of these games, your score is solely dependent on how long you survive.

Analysis: While the action does not stop until you die, the game feels very much like it has levels for a number of reasons. The first is that every so often you are drawn into a tunnel-like system from which you cannot escape. Emerging from the tunnel gives the impression of a brand new level. The second is that after a while the game changes colour scheme and style. This gives the impression of an even larger new level. Also, every so often the arrow speed increases. These all give the game the feeling of being leveled, even if there is no explicit new level indication.

The 3D is quite impressive, and the fact that the game plane leans into turns is a nice touch that helps increase the sense of immersion. Although there is no high score list, the "Top Score" feature remembers your personal best and is useful to know how you're doing, as is the press-p-for-pause function. Also, on the starting page you can press space, as opposed to needing to click New Game, to play. Little features like this help to make a game something that you might be willing to play for hours, as opposed to minutes. Max does not include music or sound effects, because as he says, it's nice to listen to your own MP3s as you game. Overall, an excellent play and highly addictive. Click.

jay adds: Although I enjoyed playing this game, the decision to omit sounds was a bit short-sighted and reduced my overall satisfaction with it. I say short-sighted because the simple inclusion of a sound-off button can accomplish the same thing for people who wish to listen to their own mp3's, while giving someone without any music to play something to listen to. Even better would be to have sound effects on a separate control from the music so that the sound effects can be heard along with any mp3 the game player is listening to, if desired. I am also disappointed that a player's Top Score is not saved locally, a relatively simple feature to add that pays a sizable dividend.

For Flash game developers interested in the 3D techniques used in this game, Max has made some of the Actionscript 2.0 source code available with an explanation of how it works on his site. Finding that page is also how I discovered that Max is (was) a neighbor of mine at the University of Rochester, just a couple of miles from me. He is also the author of Madness Interactive, an over-the-top violent game released back in 2003 and that received critical acclaim. A review of it does not appear on Jayisgames due to the level of graphic violence it contains, though you can download it, along with source code, at Max's site.


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KarmenSancho Panza is just an average guy. He works hard all day, and then comes home to his nagging wife. His children torment each other; he has stinky feet, enjoys drinking wine and keeps creepy-crawly pets. In other words, he lives a simple, average life. Simple, that is, until Don Quijote asks Sancho to be his squire. Unlike the practical Sancho, Don Quijote is a romantic dreamer, who wishes to revive the lost art of "knight's-errant." In other words, he wants to run around the country, exploring castles (the local inns) and saving princesses (bar maids.)

Sancho's IslandWith the rustic point-and-click adventure game, Sancho's Island, you have the opportunity to accompany Sancho and Don Quijote on their adventures—if you can help Sancho straighten out his family matters and prepare for the quest. You may even win an isle to rule, even though Sancho isn't sure what that is.

Enter a 17th century Spanish village, accompanied by soft music. As you watch Sancho argue with his wife, you may not even realize you are experiencing classic literature. The story, Don Quijote, written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, is considered by some to be the first modern novel.

Both the novel and the game mix a bit of adventure and satire, reflecting real life, rather than some idealistic image. Tales of chivalry were quite popular in Cervantes' day. In these tales, knights were always shining, and maidens were always beautiful. "Don Quijote," on the other hand, mocked and defied these shallow stereotypes. In the novel, Don Quijote and Sancho influence each other over time. Eventually, Sancho becomes more idealistic, and Don Quijote becomes more practical. The creators of Sancho's Island, Omepet, seem to grasp this. Even in the first chapter, Sancho, while skeptical, is won over by Quijote's enthusiasm.

The style of the game is quite comfortable. Walk around, talk to people, and explore everything. Clickable objects are usually prominent, and are named as you mouse over them. You are given a number of options for manipulating objects, (or people,) such as push, pull, talk to, open, and look at. These options often work together in surprising (yet logical) combinations. While some of the conversations ramble on, most of the puzzles are easily solvable, offering a casual experience that can be shared by readers and gamers of all ages.

Like the novel, the game has been translated into English from Spanish, leaving some of the wording a bit awkward at times. Rather than detracting from the game, however, this seems to add to its charm. But, for any glossophiles (language-lovers) out there, you might find the Spanish version of the game, to be more eloquent. (Unfortunately, I have to stick with the English version; according to a friend of mine, I can't even properly pronounce "Quijote" or "Sancho Panza.")

As a fun and unique touch, the designers have even included a bloopers section.

One note: In order to save the game, you must register with the site. This requires you to enter your e-mail address and choose a password. I would recommend this option, as the game can run somewhat long, and there are more chapters to come. According to the creators, it is the "longest online graphic adventure ever developed" and boasts an "estimated duration of 60 hours through 9 chapters." They have some way to go, however, as chapter two was just released on December 15th.

Also, if you enjoy playing Sancho's Island, and feel like reading "Don Quijote" for yourself, the entire text is available online, free from project Gutenberg.

For now, enjoy Sancho's Island, but hurry... Sancho's wife, Teserona, is waiting, and she has a short temper.

Update: The game is no longer available to play. Previously tagged as: adventure, browser, flash, free, game, macwinlinux, narrative, omepet, pointandclick, rating-g


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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BP Ultimate Rally ChallengeThis next game offers some thrilling Shockwave 3D fun, four-wheeling under the sun in the hot Sahara Desert. The BP Ultimate Rally Challenge is an excellent 3D racing game that delivers an awesome sensation of speed and realistic physics all through the convenience of your browser.

Just hop into your Volkswagon Toureg and buckle-up. Hands on the arrow keys for controls: [left] and [right] for steering, [up] to accelerate, [down] to brake. Press [space] to refuel. Additionally, keys 1-6 allow you to change the camera view, and an options screen available from the main menu allows you to define alternatives to the keys used for control.

To stay fueled you will need to pick up fuel cans along the way, which are indicated by a visible red icon that appears well before you come upon one. You will notice two (2) different types: regular old brown fuel cans (they sort of blend in with the dirt roads), and sparkling white BP Ultimate. Of course the latter will provide you with many more miles to the gallon, so try to pick up these when you see them.

The rally is comprised of three (3) stages: a South European countryside, a steep African ravine, and the Sahara desert. Each stage is roughly 10 kilometers in length and will take about five (5) minutes to complete each one. And while there are other vehicles racing with you on the courses, the rally is about staying fueled and making it safely to the finish line.

Points are accumulated with each meter travelled, and bonus points are awarded for the number of fuel cans picked up and how fast you complete each stage. A high score list keeps track of the best rallyists.

Analysis: I had a lot of fun playing this game. The sensation of speed and realistic physics creates a sense of immersion not often experienced in a browser-based racer. The realism is outstanding for a Shockwave 3D implementation, including believable slipping and sliding that comes with travelling at high speeds and on dirt roads. I especially liked the 2nd stage through the ravine with the many bumps and steep slopes that caused the Toureg to catch lots of air. Also nice were the subtle details of the tire tracks and dust being stirred up behind while moving.

The rally aspect of the game play works very well for anyone who just wants to drive and not worry about having to maintain first place all the time. It is also an excellent tie-in for the advertiser's product placement and makes the refueling concept highly relevant to the game play.

On the downside, there are several issues that are noticeable and impact the user experience only marginally. The game's sound contains audible clicking throughout, and yet this is likely due to Director's relatively poor sound support by today's standards. Seams in the skyboxes are visible which can be somewhat distracting depending on your view. The physics for collision reactions could stand some refinement, as colliding at some angles, and with smaller vehicles, appears unrealistic.

Still, those are relatively minor considering the game was created for Shockwave 3D, a technology that was initially released in early 2001 and been given only marginal improvements since. The game ran fast and furious on my Mac Powerbook G4, which isn't the speed demon that sometimes I'd like it to be; and no visible drops in frame rate were observed. BP Ultimate Rally Challenge is excellent 3D racing fun for everyone. Click.

Created by Ben Pitt and friends at Skive Creative in the UK, which, by the way, is looking for game makers to join their collective. And yes, he's the same Ben Pitt that created RobotDuck's Yard Invaders reviewed here a couple of days ago. Besides being a talented game developer he is also a very busy guy, which stands to reason. =)


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (25 votes)
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gogo Happy & SmileFrom Park Byung Sun of South Korea comes this stylized side-scrolling shooter that features over-the-top action and two (2) playable characters: Happy & Smile, a bunny and a cat. But don't let their cartoonish good looks fool you: these cute and adorable animals pack a mean punch, carry lethal weapons, and have fearsome special attacks that will fry any enemy to a crisp.

Jump right into gogo Happy & Smile by selecting to play as either Happy or Smile. There is very little difference that I observed between the two characters' abilities; each has its own unique special attacks, and yet both seem equal in overall strength and effect.

Two hands are required to play this game on your keyboard: the right hand on the arrow keys for movement, and the left hand on the [A], [S], and [D] keys for attack, jump, and special attack, respectively.

Actions are context sensitive, meaning the resulting action is dependent on the proximity of the character to its target, and on the combination of keys pressed. For example: to fire your weapon up in the air, press the [up] arrow while pressing attack [A] while far enough away from the enemy target. In closer proximity, your character will choose hand combat or a leg kick depending on the modifying arrow key used in conjunction with the attack.

Once familiar with the controls, hold onto your seat because you're in for a wild ride. The game play is very challenging and presents a rather steep learning curve at first. Those who persevere will be rewarded with one of the best Flash shooters to come along since Alien Hominid.

Yes, the comparisons are inevitable. gogo Happy & Smile will remind many of Alien Hominid at first glance with even a little Viewtiful Joe thrown in for good measure. Fortunately for this game, the gameplay stands on its own and dishes out the action by the barrels full all the while playing in your browser, looking beautiful and sounding just as sweet.

The choice of music in this game was brilliant. All of the fighting and heavy munitions are starkly contrasted by a pleasant violin concerto playing in the background. The resulting effect is reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange and works perfectly with this game.

There is far more to discover here than I have disclosed. If you find shooters any fun at all, my guess is you will thoroughly enjoy the excellent design and gameplay of this well-crafted and beautiful game created by Park Byung Sun. One of the Best of 2006, I'm sure of it.

Play gogo Happy & Smile

Cheers to Shang for the link. =)


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (22 votes)
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Flash EarthBy now you've probably heard or read about Google Earth, the stunning new global charting and mapping application that Google launched last June. It allows virtually anyone with Web access to zoom in, out, and pan through any location on the planet using satellite image feeds. Well, not any location.

Since its release, security experts around the world have been terrified of the wealth of information the application grants access to, suggesting that its use could significantly compromise a nation's security. In fact, several countries have approached Google about limiting, blurring, or covering sensitive areas and government buildings from the Google Earth bird's eye view.

That being said, it's still cool as hell. But wait, there's more. =)

Today, Google officially released a version of the downloadable application for Mac OS X 10.4 and up; it was previously a PC-only product. And speaking of Macs, how about that brand-shiny-new, dual-core Intel MacBook Pro just announced today?! Woohoo!
...but I digress.

Yes, there is definitely a direction I am headed with all this: Flash programmer-extraordinaire, Paul Neave, has concocted a Flash version of the world sightseeing app, delivering its phenomenal cosmic power in an itty bitty living space. Um, that would be your browser. Flash Earth is Google Earth for the rest of us. Click.

For anyone interested in seeing my neck of the woods, which is presently Rochester Institute of Technology... click.

Where's your head at?


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Yard InvadersThis next game is not a new game and was previously available only at RobotDuck.com, a membership only site that features an assortment of excellent Shockwave games designed and developed by the very talented Ben Pitt. Now, through an exclusive arrangement with FetchFido.co.uk, the full version of the game is available free for everyone to play.

Yard Invaders is a Shockwave action arcade game similar to Space Invaders, and yet with some unique gameplay twists.

Control your little apple-throwing buddy by moving the mouse left and right. The buddy will move in the direction of the "x" cursor. Use the cursor for aiming at the invaders that will march back and forth and slowly inch their way down towards the ground. Click the mouse button to hurl an apple towards the cursor. Some enemies will require more than one hit to take down. This is especially true in later levels, and especially bosses.

As you throw the apples, they will eventually land back on the ground. You have only five (5) apples to start with, and you must 'reload' by walking over the thrown ones to make them available for throwing again. Avoid the enemies as they fall to the ground, and some will even fire rockets back at you. Protect your little pet duck for bonus points at the end of the level, and even more bonus points for each subsequent level you keep it safe.

Analysis: The game features RobotDuck's characteristic child-like hand-drawn graphics and animation, and yet it is packed with gameplay that is surprisingly refined for the game's appearance. As is typical of Ben's work, Yard Invaders runs smooth and at a consistent framerate. As a result, the game play experience is gratifying and a lot of fun. I particularly like the classic-style boss fights with enemies that have beau coup hit points and that fire back in repeating patterns. It's an accessible game with classic casual gameplay from a developer with a lot of Shockwave experience. Click.

Yard Invaders has even inspired at least two other games that I know of: Gel Invaders, which was previously reviewed here last summer; and Rob Manuel's excellent Notepad Invaders, which is really just a Space Invaders clone; however, I can't help but think of Yard Invaders every time I play it.

Other RobotDuck games previously reviewed here: Vampire Boy.

Thanks to Paul over at FetchFido for the link to the full version. =)


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Tulse Luper JourneyAllow me to merely introduce this next game to you without a more lengthy review. I will leave the reviewing for the trail-blazing adventurers among you to populate the comments with your discoveries. A game that claims to offer 92 puzzles should keep many of you busy for quite some time to come; 18 months, in fact, is the duration of the game, which started maybe a few months ago...

The Tulse Luper Journey is an "online adventure game through modern history" that is part of an ambitious series of multi-media projects initiated by film director Peter Greenaway and based on the adventures of Tulse Luper: "a man who spends most of his life as a prisoner, mistaken as someone important - a spy, lover, artist, writer and observer."

It is being described as a "multiplayer" game, one that features 92 puzzles to solve and a community of players whose assistance you will need to seek for reconstructing the life of the mysterious lead character through pieces of a film.

"In the last century, an extraordinary man called Tulse Luper archived his entire life in 92 suitcases. It seems he was a witness to several key events in the 20th century."

It appears that the purpose of the game, and other supporting media, is to experience the 20th century Tulse Luper story through means of new media, thereby leveraging the connectedness of our 21st century society for its unique dissemination. And though it appears to have the characteristics of an alternate reality game (ARG), I did not find any mention of it on ARGN.com.

And with that I will leave you to ponder and to explore this mysterious game produced by Submarine channel.

Mature subject matterPlease note: some content at Submarinechannel and some puzzles in this game contain subject matter that may not be appropriate for all age groups. Click.

Thanks to taiseg for the link. =)


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Rating: 4.6/5 (33 votes)
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KarmenReturn to ArchipelagoIf you managed to escape the Archipelago, you may have felt a sense of relief watching the volcanic islands dwindle as you floated away. Well, you may not want to breathe easy just yet, as creator Jonathan May has recently made the sequel, Return to the Archipelago, available to the general public.

As it turns out, you didn't drift far. The volcano and rainbow beams of the last puzzle are still visible in the distance, along with a new series of islets and puzzles to explore. With pyramids and triangles abound, the riddles seem to follow a theme of threes.

While this game may challenge the geometrical and logical parts of the mind, the cartoon-like atmosphere and gentle melodies offer a pleasing and casual point-and-click experience.

At least one of the puzzles in this game involves sound, proving difficult for any tone-deaf gamers out there (such as myself.) Never fear, as there is a hint section offered from the main site for those who need it.

In addition to the Archipelago series, Jonathan is also the creator of the Dark Room and the Dark Complex, which recently scored in the top 20 in the Best of 2005.

Whether you seek a tropical escape or simply an entertaining series of puzzles, your Return to the Archipelago awaits.

Play Return to Archipelago


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You may remember playing the excellent casual game designs offered by Toshiba in its "Classic Tobby" series that were reviewed here just over a year ago: Tobby Sling Shot, Tobby Crane, and Tobby Crisis. All of the Tobby games have one developer in common: Yoshio Ishii, and his work is generally remarkable as it usually includes unique gameplay rarely seen in Flash game design.

There are three (3) other Tobby games up and available to play on the site, and each one deserves some attention.

Tobby BalanceThe first is Tobby Balance (FuraFura Tobby), a side-scrolling action game in which the core mechanic involves balancing Tobby on a stick while collecting jewels and navigating to the goal area for each level. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Using the mouse for control and as Tobby begins to tilt, move the mouse in the direction of the tilt to keep Tobby balanced on top. As the play field slowly scrolls, navigate Tobby around to collect the jewels, but don't be too hasty! Slow and steady movement is required to make it to the end of each level as there are an ever increasing number of obstacles to avoid.

A simple, accessible and unique gameplay concept combined with challenging physics and excellent level design. All standard fare for an Ishii game. Click.

Tobby Room 1048Tobby Room 1048 is a unique cross between an action platformer and a classic Flash point-and-click adventure. The object is to find all eight (8) bombs hidden throughout the hotel, and to free all of the Jelly girls in the process. All text is in Japanese, though it's not difficult to figure out at all.

Use the [left] and [right] arrow keys to navigate Tobby around the hotel, press [space] to jump. Press the [up] arrow key for actions such as entering doors and examining items—such as plants, in which you may find small torn pieces of paper with the combination to the control panel. Press the [shift] key to toggle the inventory screen on and off. When you find an item, a distinguishing "success" chime will sound. If you receive merely a dialog with Japanese text, chances are nothing happened. =)

A different take on a point-and-click, and another delightful Tobby game to while away the hours. Click.

Tobby Snow FightAnd finally, in Tobby Snow Fight (Tobby Yuki) take sides against Bully and his cronies in a snowball war to the finish.

Controls in this game are a bit more complex than usual since you are controlling a trio of characters.

Press the [X] key to select a character (or characters) to move. Watch the character icons in the lower left to see who is currently selected. Pressing [X] will cycle through each of the characters selecting them individually and then all of them as a group.

Press the [Z] to throw a snowball. The longer you hold the key down the farther it will be thrown when released.

Use the arrow keys to maneuver your peeps around to get a clear shot at the bullies. Collect the occassional power-ups with a character who is low in health to keep them in the game. Some good old wholesome seasonal Tobby fun. Click.

And while some of these games are not new, they are new to Jayisgames and contain delightful casual game experiences I like to promote here. That and I am a big fan of Yoshio Ishii's game designs. =) You can play some of his "neko" (cat) games on his ece4co site.

Update: It seems that Toshiba has taken the Tobby games offline. =(


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (28) | Views (44)

Swoop-to-NutsTime to kick-off the new year with a new game, and I really think you're going to love this next one.

Swoop-to-Nuts is a side-scrolling action game in which you control a flying squirrel gathering nuts for the long cold winter.

Use the mouse for control: move the mouse to the right of the squirrel to dive and gain speed; move the mouse to the left of the squirrel to lift up in the air, though you will lose speed. And never touch the ground.

Gathering nuts earns both points and energy, and increases the combo multiplier. Miss but one nut in sequence, and the combo multiplier gets reset. You will need to maintain both enough energy and speed to keep flying. Stars can sometimes be caught up high in the sky for beau coup points, but pursuing them is risky and they provide no energy at all.

The seasons will change as you go, and with them so will the quantity of nuts available. Maintaining a large combo during the long winter months is necessary to make it through since nuts are few and far between.

Analysis: I enjoyed playing this game very much and couldn't put it down, quite frankly. I kept telling myself "Just one more time...", over and over again. I liked the simple controls and how easy it was to keep the squirrel flying via rhythmic cycles of lift and dive. The folks at Fusionary Media did a very good job with balancing the physics of this core gameplay mechanic enough to make the game a lot of fun to play. And while the result isn't quite the level of immersion I was hoping for, it does work quite well for the game they have created.

The graphics are simple and yet nicely detailed by the subtle changes they go through as the seasons change; the soundtrack is cheerful, without being annoyingly so, and fits the character of the game perfectly. The inclusion of stars for mega-points adds a bit of depth to the game play, a tempting carrot for those looking to climb the ladder of the high score list. Overall, a charming and delightful game.

Play Swoop-to-Nuts

Thanks both to Tonypa and to Jay of Fusionary Media for the link. =)


| Comments (45) | Views (429)

Best of 2005: Top 20

The Best of 2005 is a celebration of the best games reviewed here at Jayisgames over the past year. It is not an exhaustive list of all the best games available since we can only review the games that we come to know about. If you have a game, or are part of a team that produces them, and would like to have your game considered for a future review here, then please use the Suggest a Game form to submit a link.

I'm doing things a little differently this year. For this year's Top 10 list there are ...20 games! Yes, that's right. There were too many great games released in 2005 to narrow the list to just 10. So, without any further ado, here are the 20 games you picked as the Best of 2005:

Twenty (20)

Web SudokuWeb Sudoku: a Web version of the game that spread throughout the world in 2005 and held captive the attention of millions of puzzle solvers. This version of the addictive logic puzzle is capable of generating billions of puzzles of four (4) difficulty levels, and all within a clean and accessible interface. The votes this game received may have been more for the general game of Sudoku than this particular version; none the less, your voice was heard. Web Sudoku is now among the best Web games of 2005. [review]

Nineteen (19)

PlanarityPlanarity: another infectious game that spread like wildfire throughout the Web when it was first introduced in the summer of 2005. Planarity is a simple game based on a simple premise: untangle the mess. The addictive quality of the game comes from the gratification the player receives when order is restored. It helps, of course, to have a mild case of OCD. The game's modest appearance is a testament to the fact that a game doesn't have to be pretty to be fun to play. [review]

Eighteen (18)

DeanimatorDeanimator: a creepy horror shooter inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Its well-balanced gameplay sends wave upon wave of zombie silhouettes at the player who at first is equipped with only a single revolver. A lengthy reload cycle demands conservation and planning of every valuable shot. This moody game was created in 2004 by Bum Lee for a studio class in experimental web animation at Carnegie Mellon University. Reviewed here in October of this year, Deanimator is one of the Best of 2005. [review]

Seventeen (17)

3wish Adventures3Wish Adventures: when these adorably cute point-and-click games first appeared last summer they were an instant favorite of many visitors here due to their manageable size. Each bite-sized puzzle game in the collection contains charming and original cartoon-style graphics and animation that are commercial-quality. Inventive puzzles and situations make them challenging and fun for most everyone, and put Mink's 3Wish.com puzzle games into the Best of 2005. [review]

Sixteen (16)

Prachka (Orbox)Prachka (Orbox): a recreation of the classic sliding block puzzle game, this version excels in its presentation and execution. Simply move the blue and yellow blinking box to the red goal in the fewest of moves. Special graphic effects bring a new excitement to the game, while a trail of bubbles charts your path along the way. These little graphic enhancements help to make a great puzzle game even better, and help launch Prachka into the Best of 2005. [review]

Fifteen (15)

SpybotSpybot: The Nightfall Incident: a single-player turn-based strategy game containing remarkably rich gameplay in a ultra-high tech game environment. Created for Lego.com by gameLab, the game features an engaging and unique storyline involving 'databattles' against rogue corporate software to gain control over the nodes of a network. The game's excellent gameplay, accessible and richly detailed interface, and atmospheric soundtrack are all of the best I've experienced in a casual Web game, clearly earning Spybot a place among the Best of 2005. [review]

Fourteen (14)

The Goat in the Grey FedoraThe Goat in the Grey Fedora: a film noir style detective adventure with personality and an excellent sense of humor. The game features a wide assortment of characters with which to converse, each possessing a fitting personality and extensive dialog options. The player is tasked with tracking down clues as to where the goat is hidden. A rich interactive narrative sets this game apart from most other Flash point-and-click games, and distinguishes The Goat in the Grey Fedora as being of the Best of 2005. [review]

Thirteen (13)

Heli Attack 3Heli Attack 3: an arcade survival shooter with over-the-top action and weaponry that rivals a console game offering. Gameplay consists of taking down wave upon wave of enemy helicopters with any available weapon, and there are many to choose from. Square-Circle Co. continues to impress with its ability to squeeze every ounce of performance from the Flash Player engine to accomplish its phenomenal feats of magic. Heli Attack 3 is a gorgeous game with addictive gameplay that commands attention as one of the Best of 2005. [review]

Twelve (12)

Mystery of Time and SpaceMystery of Time and Space (MOTAS): the granddaddy of all Flash escape-the-room adventure games. This classic point-and-click Web game first appeared back in 2001 and it remains a favorite to this day. What sets this game apart from others is the quality of the puzzles contained within each its 13 rooms; as well as its integrated Java chat client for adventurers looking for a little help along the way. A point-and-click aficionado's dream, and one that's still kicking it after all these years. [review]

Eleven (11)

The Dark ComplexThe Dark Complex: a gorgeous and original Flash puzzle game presented in 3D(!) Not satisfied with last year's Dark Room game, author Jonathan May set out to realize his vision for a 27-room improvement over his first effort. The result is an equally stunning and yet enormous and very challenging game that will provide many hours of puzzle-solving enjoyment. Its captivating puzzles, LED-like graphics and moody soundtrack create an excellent and immersive interactive experience, and one of the Best of 2005. [review]

Ten (10)

Death in SakkaraDeath in Sakkara: a richly detailed interactive narrative and detective drama composed of four (4) chapters. Each gorgeous episode is presented as a 1930's detective comic and contains information and clues to unearth regarding the mysterious disappearance and murder of a museum curator's granddaughter. The game successfully combines elements of point-and-click adventures with arcade mini-games to create a unique game playing experience. Created by the omni-talented folks at Preloaded, there is no mystery why Death in Sakkara is one of the Best of 2005. [review]

Nine (9)

Nanaca CrashNanaca Crash: an action game remake of the Yetisports penguin tossing games of 2004 in which the player tries to make a projectile travel the farthest. Its deceptively simple click-to-play interface makes this game accessible to casual gamers of all ages, and yet its brilliant combo system is what keeps them coming back for more. It's a simple game with great reward. Nanaca Crash became an instant classic with its immediate gratification browser-based fun, and truly one of the Best of 2005. [review]

Eight (8)

NN: an action platformer game of speed, dexterity and physics created in Flash and yet available as a free download only for PC, Mac, and Linux. The game features an advanced collision detection and physics engine that draws the player in with its qualities of immersion. A plethora of 90-second levels keeps the pace quick and the scenery fresh at all times, and a level editor is even included for creative individuals. The game saves high scores as well as a complete 'run' of a level to watch at any time. Winner of the Audience Choice award at the 2005 Game Developers Conference and for good reason: N is one of the Best of 2005. [review]

Seven (7)

The AsylumThe Asylum: a simple and yet surprisingly rich interactive narrative involving psychotherapy on cute cuddly toys. The game is played by selecting from a list of possible therapies and then watching the results unfold. The player is at times rewarded with elaborate cut scenes that reveal information about the patients and their distressing past. Originally reviewed back in 2004, this delightful game was expanded over the summer to include an additional patient, Sly, thus making it eligible for this year's awards. Packed with emotional stories that create a sense of immersion in the player, this interactive narrative is diagnosed as one the Best of 2005. [review]

Six (6)

Kingdom of LoathingKingdom of Loathing: a turn-based, text adventure RPG with a self-mocking twist. The ultimate goal in this DHTML adventure is to help in the fight against the Naughty Sorceress and save the kingdom. The real fun is in its "stunning hand-drawn images" and unusual items and monsters, such as the Can of Asparagus with a knife. The game features a very unique class system, and hundreds of offbeat weapons and armor to collect: titanium assault umbrella, bloody clown pants, a pasta spoon, etc. Familiars, or pets, are also available that will aid you in battle. With its many quests, player vs player battles, cooking and cocktail making, there is something for everyone to do, and very little reason to exclude the Kingdom of Loathing from the Best of 2005. [review]

Five (5)

Hapland 2Hapland 2: a point-and-click puzzle game with a unique and original style all its own. The second in a series of games by the genre defining author, Hapland 2 gave credence to those drawn to the original Hapland game's charm. This game includes more interactivity and more puzzles in a longer and more complex sequence of events the player must perform to open the stone portal and unleash the power within. It is every bit a sequel to a creative and innovative and phenomenally successful game that captured the hearts and minds of millions. Was there ever any doubt that this would be one of the Best of 2005? [review]

Four (4)

HaplandHapland: the point-and-click game that started a revolution. It didn't? Well, it should have. Hapland appeared as a strange and unusual interactive painting when it was first released back in early 2005 by its author Robin Allen. The notion that it could be a game captured the curiosity and attention of many casual gamers until they had it figured out and solved. Hapland is amazing and gratifying, and it is a game the likes of which had never been seen before. Similar to a point-and-click puzzle game, and yet different since some sequences of actions lead to no-win scenarios thus making a reset button necessary. The original Hapland game launched a genre of Flash point-and-click games, and lands itself squarely in the heart of the Best of 2005. [review]

Three (3)

Samorost 2Samorost 2: the point-and-click sequel to last year's Best of 2004 number one (1) game, a game that was instrumental in raising awareness of the Flash platform as a viable one for games and other creative interactive experiences. The sequel to one of the best loved Flash games of all-time lives up to the hype and lofty expectations of its predecessor and offers another glimpse into, as well as a trip through, the Samorost world and universe. Samorost 2 features many more highly detailed and stunningly beautiful interactive environments with many more puzzles to solve. An even more extensive soundtrack accompanies this iteration of the series and does well in capturing the essence of this gorgeous game. Remarkable and enjoyable, Samorost 2 is out of this world and one of the Best of 2005. [review]

Two (2)

Grow RPGGrow RPG: yet another amazingly creative and original point-and-click puzzle game in the top ranks of this year's Best of 2005. This second game in the Grow series adds RPG-like elements to the mix and gives the game a greater sense of purpose and story than the original game had. The experience of playing Grow RPG is like building a magical storybook world and helping the tiny inhabitants fight the evil menance that lurks in the sky above. Simple and accessible gameplay packaged in a unique and original puzzle game. Grow RPG follows the success of the original and earns an even higher spot this year as one of the best of 2005. [review]

One (1)

Grow CubeGrow Cube: a simple and delightful game in which the player clicks on the materials icons in sequence to add them to the cube. As the player gets closer to the correct sequence the resulting animations become more involved, elaborate, and complete. This is the third game in On's wildly popular and successful Grow games, and the third in the series to earn a spot in the top 5 games featured here. On of Eyezmaze packages wonder and excitement into every one of his games, especially the Grow games, and his games continue to delight casual gamers of all ages and from all corners of the world; this year's Best of 2005 proves that beyond a shadow of doubt. This represents the Best of 2005. [review]

Congratulations to all of this year's winners. And after going through all of the games again I realize that the real winners are you and me, the casual game players, as we have seen and played some truly remarkable titles this year.

Considering the wealth of excellent and free entertainment being made available on the Web today, let's give thanks with our hearts by making a donation or purchase that download of one of our favorite games. It will help to ensure that you will soon be playing the next game in the series.

Thanks also to all of the game developers out there eager to create and build wonderful magical environments for us to explore and play in. Your efforts will be justly rewarded.

And if you missed them, be sure to play all of last year's winners in the Best of 2004.

I'm looking forward to another great year of games and doing this all over again next year! =)

The Best of 2005 is a celebration of the best games reviewed here at Jayisgames.com over the past year. It is not an exhaustive list of all the best games available since we can only review the games that we come to know about. If you have a game, or are part of a team that produces them, and would like to have your game considered for a future review here, then please use my email address in the sidebar to submit a link.

With that out of the way, and before I begin counting down the top games of 2005, there are several games that deserve special recognition for one reason or another. Although these games did not receive enough votes to make it into the top ranks, each of them deserves a spot among the best...

(In semi-alphabetical order)

Orisinal BugsBugs: an action game of sending bugs flying in all directions by jumping up and down. Bugs is the latest, and arguably the greatest, in a long string of excellent games designed by the very talented Ferry Halim. He continues to delight casual gamers of all ages each year by releasing new games to his exceptionally beautiful Orisinal collection. Composed of stunning visuals and soothing soundtracks, every Orisinal game excels in elegant simplicity: a quality highly revered by the quintessential "casual gamer." And while none of the Orisinal games won a top spot this year, if the entire collection were allowed to be put up for vote then it would likely win best-of-show each and every year. [review]
Cave StoryCave Story (Doukutsu Monogatari): an action platform game released at the end of 2004. The game is different than most browser-based games featured here as it is available in a downloadable format only for both Mac and PC, but don't let that stop you from playing this truly magnificent adventure. The game features an engaging and immersive story that unfolds inside an enormous cave on a floating island and has three (3) different endings. Packed with approximately 10 hours of game play that includes an upgradable weapons system, a rich cast of characters, and lots of boss fights, Cave Story is one of the best freeware downloadable games of 2005. [review]
Cry WolfCry Wolf: an online multiplayer game for up to 16 players. Similar to Mafia, Werewolf and Witchhunt, Cry Wolf is a communication game that was created to promote a movie of the same name. Wolves are secretly selected at random and the sheep must identify them through cycles of sleep and debate. The wolves decide who to eliminate from the flock each cycle when the sheep are all sleeping. The game ends when either all the wolves are identified, or when the number of wolves outnumber the sheep. The chatroom-style Flash implementation works exceptionally well for this classic game, successfully preserving its very important social element. Definitely one of the best multiplayer Web game experiences of 2005. [review]
ReplicatorDef-Logic DHTML games: classic retro style arcade action games—Replicator, Swarm and DNA—created by Brent Silby of Def-Logic.com. These amazingly good original arcade games were all originally composed using DHTML only, a characteristic that would be enough by itself to put these games in a classification with the best of the year. But the DHTML is not these games' most redeeming quality: the gameplay is truly exceptional. Infectious and addictive, fast-action browser fun. Not satisfied with DHTML alone, Brent now offers Flash versions of all his games. [review]
The DoorsThe Doors: a classic browser-based point-and-click adventure and one of the finest examples of its kind. It begins inside a room with many doors through which the player must find a way to escape. The game's high production values show through its excellent graphics, well-designed puzzles, atmospheric soundtrack, and surprise ending, thus elevating it to one of the best point-and-click adventures of 2005. [review]
ShoOotShoOot: an action arcade shooter and quite possibly the first Flash game released to take advantage of the new bipmap filters of Flash. Veteran game developer, Tonypa, proves yet again his ability to create compelling and fun casual Web game experiences that are accessible to everyone. Although the game was inspired by the freeware game DUO (Windows only), Tonypa recreates the experience and serves up its addictive gameplay using Web-efficient graphics in a browser for all to play. [review]
The Seven Noble KinsmenThe Seven Noble Kinsmen: a point-and-click Shakespearean murder mystery comprised of six (6) episodic 'acts' that proved the BBC has taken Web games very seriously. The game features an immersive interactive narrative with several different endings that puts the player in the shoes a detective attempting to unearth the identity of a killer. The story incorporates details from many of Shakespeare's greatest works and weaves them into a compelling detective drama that unfolds to the delight of an unassuming player. The Seven Noble Kinsmen, and the BBC in particular for creating such a fine interactive experience, deserve this special recognition along with the best of 2005. [review]
GameDesign TennisGameDesign Tennis: an action arcade sports game of Tennis delivered in a browser through Flash. That in itself is an impressive feat, and yet the gameplay that lurks just beneath this game's simple exterior is its grand slam. The game features exhibition and tournament modes of play, both of which allow tactics such as: serve-volley, rally from the baseline, dominate with the serve, chip and charge. The computer AI is so convincing that it even appears to respond to the player's tactics. Overall one of the finest sports implementations in Flash I've seen, and it deserves a mention along with the best of 2005. [review]
Twin SpinTwin Spin: an action arcade game in which the player 'walks' a baton around the play field exploding balloons. Its simple and accessible one-button gameplay creates a compelling and addictive casual game experience that is difficult to put down. The game was so good that it received two sequels, II and III, with all three being released in 2005. Released as mini-games on Globz.com, the Twin Spin series are among the finest casual games of 2005. [review]
I also want to take this opportunity to give an honorable mention and thanks to the guest reviewers who so generously provided their support throughout 2005 by contributing reviews (in no particular order):
Derek, Wulfo, Preston, Jarod, Garrett, grant0, hiram archibald, Capuchin, Labyrinth, Xiao, and Zengief. Cheers!

I will be back in a bit with the countdown of the top games of 2005. =)

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