February 2006 Archives


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (27 votes)
| Comments (29) | Views (28)

Music BrothersThis next game from HanGame is an excellent example of why I am such a great fan of Japanese games. Music Brothers is an enjoyable game, like so many other Japanese games, due to it being cute, creative, and fun.

The object of the game is very simple, and quite addictive. Similar to another music related game, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), the object of this game is to hit the arrow keys/spacebar in sequence to match the symbols on screen. Unlike DDR, you are timed in Beat Bubbles and you are actually making the music as you go.

To make things more interesting you have a group of little jellies that represent where you are in the line. Each time you make a mistake one of your little guys runs off. If you run out of time, or lose all these bizarrely cute little multicolor jellies, the game is over.

On a few of the levels you will see an arrow inside a slider bar. My first reaction was to hit and hold down the corresponding arrow key; however, for this type you are supposed to repeatedly and rapidly tap the arrow key. Also, randomly thrown in amongst the arrows you have to hit are little blue faces for which you must hit the spacebar. Some of the faces are different, either darker or lighter, and with different expressions. The darker faces are more rare then the normal ones, and when you correctly hit the spacebar for these you are rewarded with a new jelly to join your group. There are also lighter faces with clock hands on them that will boost your time when the spacebar is hit. In addition you can get bonus points for combos that you gain by not making mistakes.

Analysis: This game is, for lack of a better word, very cute. Its graphics show the attention to detail that is typical for Japanese work, and the game overall is fairly addictive as your fingers begin to work faster and the levels become more complicated. My only concern with the game is that the levels do become complicated very quickly. Difficulty ramps up through a combination of longer levels and less time within which to complete them. Other than that minor complaint, I believe the game is great and very appealing to the eye.

There is, however, one other minor catch as there is to the entire HanGame website: It is primarily in Japanese. While the actual game play contains very little Japanese, it is the instructions and menu buttons that may present a language barrier. Here is a little help getting started: The button on top in the main menu is "Start", and the button on bottom is Instructions" (if you hit this one, the start button moves to the bottom right bottom corner). When the game ends another screen will pop up in the game with a girl and four (4) little chicks, as does with all HanGame games. Simply close this window with the "X" in the top left corner. The two buttons that hide behind the pop-up are: "Retry" and "Title Menu," respectively.

All things considered, this is a great game. And one of the best things is that most HanGame games are friendly for all ages and just as addictive to adults as it they are for kids.

Play Music Brothers


  • Currently 4.6/5
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(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (14) | Views (7)

Mercedes Benz Mixed Tape 11

It's that time again: Time to head on over to the Mercedes Benz website and download, or just listen to, the latest mixed tape that has just been released. Be the first on your block to have the freshest and the best freely available music the Web has to offer.

Listen online or download all the tracks, and share the music freely as you please. All courtesy of Mercedes Benz. Click.


| Comments (8) | Views (1)

The Escapist: Attack of the ParasitesAllen Varney has a new article up, Attack of the Parasites, in the latest issue of The Escapist online magazine where he discusses the explosive growth of the casual games market and the issues we're seeing that comes with it. He points to the rampant copying of ideas and gameplay to feed the ravenous appetite of the large game portals to shed a not-so-glamorous light on these latest dotcom darlings. Allen's pessimism spreads even to the indie casual game developers themselves who are facing an ever increasingly cutthroat environment in which to share their ideas.

Is this just business as usual? Unfortunately, it seems so. From my perspective, and while building this site over the last three years, I have witnessed a similarly unsettling proliferation of "me-too" Flash game portals that all appear to share the same content. Many of these sites think nothing of grabbing and hosting game SWFs without permission from the game authors or the sites from which they originated. One brazen site owner even claimed to me the games he/she was (stealing) were in the public domain(!). Furthermore, it becomes disconcerting to spend a great deal of time hunting down hard-to-find original pieces of work to praise only to have them plastered all over the Web shortly after publishing a review. And yet I am guilty of the same behavior even though I like to think that I am much more discerning than the others, and I don't actually host any of the games that are reviewed.

Still, the article offers a reality check for those in the business of casual games, both from portal and developer perspectives, and especially those of the mindset that casual games are the next holy grail of the games industry. Like so many industries to have come before, patterns are emerging that reveal this industry is no different in its growth and in the problems it faces. And like all bubbles, they have a tendency towards the same explosiveness that created them. Click.


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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hiram archibaldBola is a casual and enjoyable puzzle game created by the developers at Gamesheep.com, the same folks who brought us Manole and Makos. The goal of the developers who host the site is to eventually populate it with all their own games, and Bola is not a bad step in that direction.

BolaBola's gameplay is similar to that of Bejeweled, except Bola works on a hexagonal grid rather than a square grid. Players click to select and swap two glass balls in order to make rows of at least three balls in any direction. One innovation that sets Bola apart from other games of this sort is the hex-based structure: It's kind of fun to clear a set and watch all the balls above cascade down and settle into a new pattern.

A few levels in, a new color of ball is added, and then some steel balls that cannot be swapped or popped. Aside from this, an increasing quota is the only increase in challenge. In a position where no moves are possible, the field resets with a three second penalty. And even from the first stage, Bola's pace can seem a bit frantic, especially with the number of balls required to clear the stage in the alloted time; makes one wonder how the top 50 scorers managed their impressive achievements.

The graphics are nice, but nothing flashy. Some of the balls are the same color with a different picture, and only matching color and pictures make up a set. Depending on preference, this might be a little annoying, or it might just be part of Bola's challenge and charm. The sound of the glass balls popping and clinking into a new position is good, but unfortunately there's no option to allow the effects while muting the tiresome, tinny looping music. The yellow-on-orange display is also a bit frustrating, making it difficult to track the score or number of balls still needed to clear a stage. And I noticed once or twice that the computer registered no possible moves when there was at least one that I saw.

But these quibbles aside, Bola will quite possibly keep you coming back for a quick game from time to time, especially with its hex-based twist. It definitely deserves checking out, along with all the other games at Gamesheep.com. Click.


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (16) | Views (3)

NoahAvailable on Uminin's Flash Game Zone, home of several other previously reviewed works, the curiously named Brain Force is not very intellectual. No, Brain Force is purely an elegant exercise in agility, a beautiful example of how little is needed to make a successful twitch game.

Brain ForceThe playing field consists of a 6x6 grid of tiles which, randomly and at increasing speeds, flip over. You must reset each flipped tile by clicking on it before the attached timer runs down and explodes. Flipping a tile earns you 100 points. You can earn a Speed Bonus (+500) if you flip it immediately after the timer is exposed, before any dots are visible. The dangerously tempting Bravery Bonus (+2000) can be won by flipping the tile after the 10th dot on the timer appears. The game ends when a single tile is destroyed. Afterwards, your score is ranked and, cryptically, an IQ is assigned.

The rules of Brain Force are simple and the end is inevitable - you will fail. Similar to classics like Space Invaders or Qix, Brain Force is successful in spite - or because - of it's simplicity. The only goal is to do a bit better than the time before and, if you've got an itchy mouse finger, sometimes that's enough. Click.


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (16) | Views (43)

Oasis

JohnBOasis, by Mind Control Software, is a turn-based strategy game drawing inspiration from the likes of Civilization and Age of Empires. Instead of playing one campaign for weeks on end, Oasis condenses all of the same strategy goodness into short, three-minute levels. These small rounds play a larger role in the story arc. The steep learning curve has been removed to allow anyone to get hooked on a strong dose of gaming fun.

OasisYou play the future Scarab King whose father has been murdered. Egypt has fallen into chaos and an evil fog covers the land. Your job is to lift this fog, gather followers and rebuild your empire to defend against the barbarian hordes. Along the way you'll discover many remnants of the great civilization and be able to use them against your enemies.

The game takes place in a traditional overhead view and everything is handled by pointing and clicking with the mouse (with optional but rather pointless keyboard control). All civilization managing details have been simplified into a system of turns. Each level has 85 turns, at the end of which barbarians attack. During this time you must balance your strategy between defending the cities you find, uncovering land, gaining followers, and finding the hidden oasis where the magical obelisk resides.

Just like any strategy title, Oasis lets you gain technological advancements. You don't have to worry about adjusting stats or anything of the sort, simply have some followers start working in the mines. The technology bar at the bottom of the screen shows your progress. You can also find advisors, treasures and more goodies that will tempt your attention away from defending your empire.

OasisAnalysis: Oasis successfully reproduces the strategy game formula without bogging itself down with lengthy or complex gameplay. It's a light and refreshing experience to have shorter levels, and yet the sense of strategy and discovery has not been diluted.

The overall story arc is a little weak, however, and after playing a few levels I felt like I was playing an arcade game rather than a strategy title. Oasis walks a fine line between the two, and sometimes I wasn't sure which it wanted to be. The identity crisis is a small one and the end result is a very polished and rewarding experience that anyone can jump right into. I've always been a fan of the Civilization series, but the time commitment became too great when life intercedes. Oasis is a good replacement.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


| Comments (7) | Views (58)

1UpFor those who just can't get enough free game play, 1Up.com has a new article up today from print publication Computer Gaming World listing over 100* free games in its "definitive guide to the best new free games on the Web." You could do a lot worse, I suppose, knowing the quality that usually comes from the folks over at 1Up.

*101 to be exact.

In fact, you are likely to see some games that have already been reviewed here, and just as likely to see upcoming reviews here highlighting games from that list. And if you're looking for something to review and submit as part of my call for new contributors, why don't you head on over there and comb through the pickings while the getting is good. Click.

Cheers to fellow Jayisgames contributor, Wulfo, for the link. =)


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (232 votes)
| Comments (132) | Views (1,551)

The McDonald's Videogame is the newest Flash creation of Molleindustria, an Italian design team dedicated to the discussion of the social and political implications of video games.

McDonalds videogameThe game is a simulation and parody of McDonald's where you are in charge of creating profits for the company by managing the four sections of its business: Agriculture, The Feedlot, Fast Food and Headquarters.

The Agriculture Section is where soy is grown for fodder for the feedlot and where cattle are raised to maturity.

The Feedlot is where mature cattle are fattened up and slaughtered for hamburger.

The Fast Food Section is the actual restaurant itself where you control employees and sandwich production.

Headquarters is where the executive decisions are made in relation to advertising, public relations and profits.

Your job is to balance all areas of production, make profits and keep the business running smoothly for as long as possible. Occasionally consumer and public problems pop up for you to deal with due to your business decisions. The game ends once you have accumulated a debt of around $30,000.

The game provides a decent tutorial and a reasonably intuitive point-and-click interface that unfortunately doesn't compensate for a steep learning curve and high difficulty. This shouldn't stop you from giving it a try though. Overall the game is an entertaining distraction that is definitely worth it for the satire and laughs or if you enjoy a challenge.

Play the McDonalds Videogame

Cheers to Johannes for suggesting the game! =)


| Comments (26) | Views (0)

Casual GameplayDo you love casual games as much as we do? If you come to this site because you enjoy the treatments that are given to some of the most innovative and enjoyable casual games available today, then might you also enjoy writing about them, too?

With my graduate studies coming to a close soon, I am actively seeking opportunities for what can be viewed as Jayisgames 2.0. Therefore, I am looking to form a group of authors and contributors that together would like to help take what I have started here and run with it. Ideally, you will consider yourself either a game designer, developer, academic, or simply gameplay fanatic who believes that exceptional gameplay deserves to be praised and shared with others all over the world. In particular, you should be adept at writing an analysis of what works in a casual game, along with possibly what doesn't. Doing so is vitally important in providing value to those designing and developing games as well as to those who play them.

If this opportunity intrigues you then please send me an email expressing your interest and your credentials. Please include sample(s) of your writing. Use the email link at the bottom of the sidebar to the left.


| Comments (89) | Views (35)

Gumshoe OnlineGumshoe Online is a single-player online detective game created by Hiding Buffalo LTD. There are currently four cases available, with the first one, 'The Osbourne Mystery', being free to play while the others have a very minimal charge.

Note: registration is required to play even the free trial mystery.

It should be pointed out that the trial mystery is very limited and that the actual cases have a much greater length and depth. My favourite case, with respect to its story, is 'Higher Order of the Three', but if you wish to purchase only one then I'd highly recommend the most recent one - 'Something in the Water' as it's easily the most enjoyable.

Each case is made up of a number of detective-like elements. For example, you will spend the majority of your time searching around various locations looking for clues. Each location has dozens of items that can be examined and most rooms have at least one minor clue. Another fairly small section is interviewing people. This is very limiting, as most individuals have only a handful of topics that they can be questioned on, and the tolerance system is fairly useless.

Gumshoe OnlineFinally are the puzzles. These are the most enjoyable and at the same time infuriating parts of the game. There are a fairly wide variety of puzzles, from assembling a fuse box to testing a water sample. Some of them rely on math, while others are simply logic. Many of the puzzles are fairly difficult, while some of them are almost impossible, as can be seen by the extremely popular forums, the best place to ask for help with the game.

When you've gathered all of the evidence that you feel you need, you can go back to your office and come up with a solution. If you have the right solution this part is fairly trivial, but it can be annoying when you're positive about your solution and it turns our to be incorrect, as no help is given to push you in the right direction. (A similar system may also help in lowering the difficulty of some puzzles). It's vital that you save before submitting a solution, as if it's wrong you'll have to do the whole case again or just reload your save. After submitting a correct solution, you get a score based on the time (in-game) that it took you and how many clues you collected.

Despite my criticisms, I really enjoyed Gumshoe Online and felt that all of the cases were well worth the cost - I fully recommend buying at least one. Click.

Cheers to Luckdragon for suggesting the game. =)


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (19) | Views (7)

FastrScott Reynen sent me the link to his flickr-based game last month and I am only just now getting around to posting it.

fastr is a multiplayer guess-the-image-tag game similar to the previously reviewed single-player, Guess-the-Google. Instead, this game makes use of the flickr API to create a well-designed and enjoyable multiplayer experience, and one that can be rather addictive when a sharp group of people are playing with you.

Just enter a nickname and join in the fun immediately. As images are displayed one-by-one, type your guesses into the text field provided for the tag that you think links all of the images together. With each image displayed beyond the first, 1 point is deducted from the score you will receive if guessed correctly.

Each round lasts for 5 minutes with a visible timer counting down the seconds. A list of players and their scores are updated on-the-fly as the game is played.

Very nice, and lots of fun. Thanks Scott, and sorry for the delay in posting this. Click.

Also, for anyone interested, Scott has made an API available for anyone interested in extending or augmenting the functionality of fastr.


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (34) | Views (12)

TriLinksA brand new game from Tonypa just launched along with a new version of his games page.

TriLinks is a strategy puzzler in which the player must connect each set of three (3) same-colored links ("endblobs") by moving the mouse over adjacent points on the game grid. The game play is similar to the Hyper Frame Shockwave 3D game of a few months ago.

Each connecting point represents one step with 100 total steps allowed per level. Moving over blobs of the same color, or over endblobs, do not count against the number of steps remaining.

The catch is that every move of the mouse will change the underlying point to a blob of the currently selected color, even links belonging to previously completed chains thereby 'breaking' them. It is all too easy to place blobs where you do not want them, therefore caution and restraint must be exercised throughout the game.

The game cycles through each color in order, repeating if necessary in the event that a chain was broken along the way. Once all endblobs for each color are connected together in an unbroken chain, your score is increased relative to the number of unused steps remaining. Later levels award more points per unused step.

Analysis: As usual, Tonypa's game aesthetics are exemplary. The lovely piano music, sound effects and the simple, minimalist graphics are all nicely polished and very pleasing, soothing even.

The choice of using a simple mouse-over to draw the blobs, however, is puzzling to me and prone to user error. This is especially true at the very beginning of the game upon clicking the "Play" button. The mouse cursor begins in the middle of the board and the player begins drawing blobs immediately from there.

Why not use a click-and-drag mechanic? I believe that would work (and feel) much better for the player, though it may make the resulting game a bit too easy. In its present form, I find it rather annoying that it places blobs where I do not want them, which takes up valuable steps. Using a mouse-over may make the game more challenging, and yet the discomfort it causes is a detriment to the enjoyment of the game.

Overall, the game has the potential to be another classic casual game from Tonypa. We'll have to wait and see what he says about it in the comments. =)


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (132 votes)
| Comments (287) | Views (866)

WarbearsWith all the world's attention on Torino for the Olympics, it seems only fitting to highlight a game from Italy.

Warbears is a unique and original Flash point-and-click game that is played a little differently than anything I've seen so far. The gameplay is similar to Rob Allen's Hapland games, and yet there is an additional layer of complexity to it that sets it apart.

The game puts you in control of a team of Warbear agents called in for duty because of some trouble down at the local bank. The bank security guard calls up the Chief for help after he "tried nothing, but it didn't work(!)" So, it's up to you to do something. What you find is all of the bank's employees have been taken hostage by a bunch of very mean bears with very large drill bits, and it's up to the Warbears to rescue them.

Mouse over a Warbear agent to pop-up a list of possible actions. Actions are represented as icons and it's up to you to figure out what they mean and in what order to invoke them. Most of the time you will select an action and watch the animation play to completion; however, similar to the Hapland games, there are some situations that depend on timing of multiple actions in sequence, such as fighting for example.

Also like the Hapland games, there is the possibility of failure. If this happens the Chief will give you a hint as to what went wrong to help you for the next time you play. A reset button is provided to start the game back from the beginning.

Analysis: Warbears is a cute game with a great sense of humor and a lot of fun to play. I found myself laughing out loud several times from the silly southpark sarcasm injected into the game. The graphics, animations and sound effects are well done and nicely polished, especially the introduction at the Chief's desk that doubles as the game's main menu. A language selector allows the game to be played in English or Italian, with a Japanese version planned.

Overall the game presents a significant challenge such that you probably will not succeed the first time through. Having to start back at the beginning after failure is likely to turn some players off from trying again, especially if the game was almost done. That is one of the inherent disadvantages to games with no-win scenarios like this. To help ease the pain and to promote replay, unlockable bonus content is included.

Warbears was designed and created by Gionatan Iasio of Italy. Remember while playing (as well as an excellent life lesson): doing nothing doesn't work.

Play Warbears

Cheers to Tom for the link. =)

Want more Warbears missions? Try Warbears Mission 2

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (29 votes)
| Comments (19) | Views (35)

Inanimate AliceAlice is a game animator. She likes to draw and create games on her ba-xi, a small handheld device that both entertains and consoles her in times of need. Even her friends affectionately call her "the animator," due in part to the animations that she draws of Brad, her imaginary friend. Alice is 8 years old.

Alice also has her own interactive narrative titled Inanimate Alice that is written by Canadian-born UK novelist, Kate Pullinger, and realized in Flash by babel. Together they bring to life the story of a young girl growing up amidst the wireless communications of this 21st century.

The episodic story will comprise 10 chapters and span Alice's life from 8 years to her mid-twenties. The story is engaging and evocative, and the multimedia elements are all very well done. A few interactive elements require puzzle solving, more so in the 2nd chapter than in the first, and is a trend that I hope to see continue in future episodes.

Don't miss this excellent and award-winning interactive narrative experience. Catch the first two episodes now, with more to come in the months ahead.

Play Inanimate Alice

Cheers to Ian for the link. =)

Episode 3 is now available!.

  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (208 votes)
| Comments (31) | Views (169)

Katamari Damacy mini-gameAndy of Rendermouse was the first to send word of this official Katamari Damacy mini-game [originally*] hosted on Namco's Japanese website. If you're unfamiliar with the original PS2 console game, then so far you're missing out on a tremendously gratifying gameplay experience: Crazy, quirky, innocent fun.

As far as the mini-game is concerned, it appears to have been designed to illustrate the main concept of the game, which is to joyfully roll the katamari over smaller objects to collect them and make the katamari bigger so that you can then roll over even larger objects. To this end it works quite well; however, the mini-game does not even come close to the fun of the original.

When the game begins, you choose the number of katamari you wish to play with at once: 1, 2, 3, 6, or 48*. The mouse cursor becomes the King of all cosmos and the katamari follow him around the screen rolling over—or bumping into—various people and objects. *Note: the option to choose 48 is hidden inside the pyramid on the game's main menu.

This is where things begin to get strange, because I am unsure of what the actual object or purpose to the game is—if there is even one at all. You can click the mouse button to 'explode' the katamari, freeing everything picked up thus far, which basically starts you back from the beginning. Otherwise, the ball will continue to roll up everything, including the King, and eventually reveal a large watercolor painting. Oooh.

And yet the game never ends. It just keeps going and going with no clear objective, nor apparent win condition, in sight. Or else I have missed something terribly obvious.

What the mini-game did accomplish, however, was to remind me of how much fun I had playing the original. And now I must get back to my PS2, for I think I've made the King quite angry.

Play Katamari Damacy mini-game

*Update: It appears that the game is no longer available to play at Namco's website, so we are mirroring the game here for posterity.


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (29 votes)
| Comments (28) | Views (205)

SandmanAnother brand new game, this one combines the addictive qualities of pouring sand with the addictive qualities of lemmings-like gameplay. The result is Sandman, an action game in which you must pour sand to rescue as many sleepwalkers as you can.

Just click the mouse to pour sand where you want it. Use it to build ramps, slopes and bridges, and to turn the little walkers around. Beware of nightmares; however, they will respond to sand the same as the sleepwalkers do. Also, avoid water since sleepwalkers can't swim.

The game saves your progress as you complete each level. To resume at a later time, click the "load" button on the game's main menu screen. If you get stuck at any point during a game, click "Quit" and restart the level.

From Nitrome, the talented and gifted retro pixel-pushers that created the remarkably enjoyable Hot Air that was reviewed here in December. Sandman was designed by Mat and Jon Annal, with programming by Heather Stancliffe. Very nice indeedy.

Play Sandman


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

Puff BallPong with a pretty face.

That is how I'd sum-up this gorgeous game that Rich Nelson just released on his Merciless Games website. Puff Ball is a single-player arcade action game played under the sea against a computer-controlled opponent.

Gameplay consists of bouncing a puff ball back and forth until a player misses. Each round is played until one player reaches five (5) points. Every few rounds you'll have an opportunity to score extra points in a 30-second bonus round. When the computer wins a round, the game ends.

The mouse is used for moving left and right along the bottom of the top-down view. The Pong-like gameplay is made a bit more interesting by the ability to spike the puff ball when fully charged with energy. Press and hold the mouse button down to begin charging, and then release just prior to hitting the ball to spike it. If performed correctly, the computer opponent will be stunned by the ball for a few seconds allowing you an easy point.

To score additional points, fish will swim across the play field that will add to your score if hit by your volley. Stingrays will occasionally cross possessing power-ups that can temporarily handicap the computer.

Analysis: The game is very polished and looks great. The graphics are made from 3D models with subtle animations that appear especially life-like. Very, very nice. The gameplay, however, is mediocre at best. Although the game has three difficulty levels, and even on hard it's just way too easy. After reaching round 38 with over 250,000 points, I gave up and let the computer beat me unchallenged so I could finish this review and get some sleep. Otherwise, it seemed the game would go on forever.

And it shouldn't be surprising the game is too easy since the computer and the player are so unevenly matched: The computer cannot spike the ball, nor can it hit the stingrays to activate power-ups. The result is at first a game that is fun to play but quickly loses its appeal from the lack of a challenge.

Still, considering this is Rich's first game, it's an excellent effort and I am very eager to see what's to come next.

Play Puff Ball

Cheers to Tonypa for the link. =)


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (30 votes)
| Comments (68) | Views (29)

Monk's Mind gameMonk is a detective with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) in a show of the same name on the USA network. To increase exposure for the show, and to generate traffic to the show's website, a new game has been launched that focuses on the trivial and repetitive tasks that Monk might face on a daily basis.

Monk's Mind game features 32 Wario Ware-style mini-games that a player must complete, three (3) times of increasing difficulty, to win. Divided and grouped into four (4) common scenarios such as: dining at a restaurant, living at home, working at the office, and investigating a crime scene, the player faces tasks typical to these situations.

To begin, click on one of the task bubbles that appear and float around Monk's head. The associated mini-game will begin with a short description of what to do (i.e., "catch", "balance", "straighten", etc.). Use the mouse to click, drag, or mouse over the area to accomplish the goal. But hurry! The task must be completed before the stopwatch makes one full revolution.

Although there seems to be no limit to the number of times a task may be repeated until it's done right, the game does force you to constantly perform tasks or else Monk will get very upset and the game will end.

Analysis: Considering the performance issues that action games are prone to in Flash, the gameplay mechanics for each of the 32 different mini-games have all been well-executed with only a few minor annoyances and inconsistencies. For example, rubbing clean the lipstick from the wine glass was extremely difficult to complete on the 3rd iteration. Only after leaving it alone and then coming back to it later did I manage to complete it on the first try with little effort.

The repetitive nature of the game's trivial tasks was an excellent choice for a game based on an obsessive-compulsive detective. Although I prefer the rapid-fire and random delivery mechanism of the original Wario Ware, this game manages to retain much of the original's appeal.

Play Monk's Mind game

Credits for the game include (thanks Neil!):

  • Neil Voss (GLOW interactive), creative direction, game design, programming, sound
  • Charles Forman (Setpixel), technical direction, game design, programming
  • Jobe Makar (Electrotank), programming
  • Jason Whalen (GLOW interactive), art direction, photography, graphics production
  • Mike Molnar (GLOW interactive), producer


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (50) | Views (14)

NoahRemember the typing game, Letters 2, that was reviewed here in November? Well, the author, Hannu Pelkonen, has released a very significant addition to the series: Words!

WordsAfter entering your name and choosing a language, words begin to scroll from right to left. Stop the words from reaching the edge of the screen by typing them! The bottom of the screen displays your score and the high scores of previous players. Each letter in a completed word is worth 1 point, and typing a wrong letter will cost 5.

It sounds flawlessly simple. However, if you're unlucky enough to get stuck with two overlapping words that move at a similar speed, they could be unreadable for the entire width of the screen. This is rare but frustrating and a guaranteed loss.

Though lacking the power-ups of Letters 2, Words uses the same slick interface and addictive dynamic high score display that updates your rank in real-time while you play. In addition, since most typing is done to form words, Words proves far more useful for improving ones typing chops. Unfortunately, the automatic high score submission is buggy and often fails to submit a score to the server properly. A minor nuisance to an otherwise polished, enjoyable and useful typing game that features four (4) different languages: English, German, Finnish, and Swedish.

The world of typing games is small, but Words and Letters are both worthy additions. Mavis Beacon and The Typing of the Dead will welcome Pelkonen's creations with open arms... and you should too! Click.


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (28 votes)
| Comments (64) | Views (117)

BlueprintWith the winter quarter finishing up next week at RIT, I've had little time of late to spend digging up those hard-to-find gems I like to feature here. No worries. David Thorburn's amazing physics-based Teagames saves the day.

Blueprint is a brand new blue brainteaser similar in concept to the previously reviewed CCL Game and to the Incredible Machine series of games from as far back as 1993. The objective of the game is to arrange the component parts on the play field so that when the ball is released it will hit the target.

Use the mouse to drag the parts around on the grid of the blueprint background. A piece will either 'snap' into place or will turn red if it cannot be positioned where you move it. Once all pieces are positioned the way you like, click the "Start" button to set the ball in motion.

Analysis: Blueprint is an elegantly simple game that increases in challenge and difficulty as the levels progress, though levels may be completed in any order. The scoring and high score system for this game is flawed since the levels don't change each time you play. Attaining a high score is reduced to those who figure out the correct placement first, only to speed through a second time knowing the answers. Nonetheless, David's exceptional Flash physics engine has been put to good use in yet another engaging casual game for his Teagames website. Wonderful stuff.

I really do love these types of games, and yet it seems I am always left wanting more. It's as if there is potential here for a much more gratifying experience, one that includes all the various components and contraptions, but with different objectives than simply hitting a target. Something like a pachinko or a pinball machine in which I can arrange the various bumpers and pegs to yield the highest score, maybe?

When I was very young, I had a unique set of wooden blocks with grooves that marbles could be rolled upon. Corner blocks had tunnels carved within to redirect the marbles at right angles. With the entire set, an elaborate system could be built to the great reward of simply watching the marbles travel through it. Those blocks were my favorite childhood toy, and I can't help but think of the good times I had with them when I play games such as this.

Play Blueprint


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (20) | Views (18)

MakosBack in December I reviewed a game called Manole that was developed in Romania and hosted on a Romanian games site, ejocuri.ro. Florin wrote me to say that their site had received such a positive response that they decided to translate the site to English. The result is the recent launch of Gamesheep. It was there that I found this delightful action puzzler.

Makos is a game that is somewhat similar to so many other games in the very crowded genre of tile-matching puzzle games, and yet it managed to grab my attention with its adorable little forest creatures and addictive gameplay.

The game is played only slightly different than others like it: use the mouse to slide a row or a column to group three (3) or more makos together. Any grouping of 3 will do. Fill up the bar with stars to the right of the play field to move on to the next level. Press [S] to mute all game sound; press [P] to pause the game. [Edit: and now you may press [M] to toggle on/off the music. Nice job, Florin!]

The graphics and sound effects are all nicely polished and give the game an attractive charm that will likely have you coming back to play often. The only thing I would change would be the terribly short and repetitive music loop that gets annoying very quickly. I wish every Flash game developer would put the music tracks on a separate control from the sound effects so that the music can be turned off independently. Click.

Since 2001, Florin and his team of game developers at FlashTech Network have created over 250 games for many different websites, and they are now concentrating development efforts on their own site. Eventually he hopes to have the site completely filled with their own work, and I wish them much luck and success with it. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for new games they create as the work I've seen them produce so far is polished and quite impressive.

Update: Thanks to everyone who wrote in to say that Makos is very similar to PopCap's Chuzzle. I have never played Chuzzle since PopCap's games don't run on my Mac. =/


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (12) | Views (2)

Dr3i version 2

German Flash-based design firm, Mach Parat, has released an update to its excellent Flash game, Dr3i, that was reviewed here back in October of 2004.

Dr3i v2 is a new horizontal scrolling version of the action game and it's played just like the original. Use the mouse to move the red dot through the maze and collect all the black dots. Some black dots have a plus (+) sign, which will speed up the game, while minus (-) signed dots will slow down the action slightly. Don't touch the walls nor any other black object, or lose a life. You have 3 lives to make it through the maze.

A simple yet well-made game for some quick and casual fun.

Play Dr3i v2

The game appears to be designed for mobile devices, which means you should be able to surf over to the game's URL with your cell phone and play providing that your phone supports Flash Lite, though I wasn't able to verify this myself. Anyone out there with a Flash Lite device? [Edit: Ok, so that's not true since the game requires Flash 8 to play. Thanks for setting me straight, Volker.]


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (43) | Views (9)

Dodge That AnvilA finalist in this year's Independent Games Festival (IGF) in the Best Web Browser Game category, Dodge That Anvil is a gorgeous and adorable Shockwave 3D platformer with unique and original gameplay, created by Jake Grandchamp of Rabidlab.

The Eastwarren rabbits were once self-sufficient growing crops and fending for themselves until the day it started raining anvils; that's right, large and heavy anvils began to fall right out of the sky. Now all the bunnies have been forced underground and it's up to you to save them. Brave the elements and harvest food to keep everyone fed while uncovering clues about the mysterious happenings in your once peaceful village.

Dodge That AnvilThe game includes several "fields" of platform jumping within which to harvest carrots while dodging anvils and other nasties. To help you along the way, various items can be found, or bought, that grant a special ability or protection from a particular hazard. For example, an armor vest will protect you from a dynamite blast, or from the occasional exploding beach ball. Most items are single-use, meaning once you use it you lose it.

Dodge That Anvil comes with a burrow full of options and features to customize the game exactly to your preference. There are three (3) difficulty levels to choose from: Easy, Normal and Expert; as well as support for three (3) different control options: keyboard, mouse and joystick. I found using a joystick—a fairly standard Logitech Dual Action USB gamepad—with this game to be the most gratifying experience of them all. If you don't have a USB gamepad then you should find the keyboard and the mouse work almost equally well. No matter which options you choose to fit your game playing style, an excellent context-sensitive tutorial is available to teach you how to play.

Select the option to enter Field training to be stepped through the basics of the game and get introduced to the game's unique anvil-dodging gameplay. Once you've finished with your training, you will be off hopping, racing around harvesting carrots like a white rabbit.

Analysis: There is much to love about Dodge That Anvil, not the least of which is the fact that Jake has created the entire game himself. Over the course of about a year of development, the game has shaped up to be a very impressive work, and one that is a lot of fun to play.

Dodge That AnvilI love the design and detail of the rich and colorful cartoon graphics. The choice of rich vibrant color makes the game immediately appealing to a broad audience that includes all age groups. I am also impressed by the realistic physics implementation with respect to the perceived weight of the 3D models and the stark contrast between them. For example, the anvils 'feel' significantly heavier than the beach balls by way of their physical behavior and sound effects. The result is a sense of realism and immersion when playing that really makes me jump when I get hit on the head with an anvil. Fantastic!

Besides how the game looks and behaves, what is even more important to me is how it plays. I enjoyed how the player has to watch for what will soon drop on brer rabbit's head, constantly calculating and negotiating every move. This changes the usual mechanics of a classic platformer and adds a new dimension to it. The player challenge is increased through this additional layer of responsibility. The temporary removal of this added burden in a later level, in which the raining anvils are quieted for a spell, seems as sweet as licking the frosting spoon of a cake—while it lasts. But it doesn't last; and we are thrown willy nilly back to the wolves again. With DTA, Jake has created unique and original gameplay with an addictive quality somewhat resembling buttercream.

Jake has also done an exemplary job with the main menu interface and game play options. Every casual game developer should play this game if for no other reason than to see a game interface done right: Every cut scene or intro screen is interruptible; music and sound effects volume can be controlled independently; advanced video options for tweaking the display output and to improve performance; training option screen and pop-up help can both be toggled on and off independently; and many more control options than you can shake a joystick at. By setting default options for difficulty and control, those select screens will be skipped entirely. This streamlines the interface and allows the player to begin the next game quicker and easier. Very, very nice!

When I first discovered this game about a year ago, it disappeared from the Web as quickly and mysteriously as it had arrived. At that time the game was a bit unstable and it crashed often; however, I was immediately drawn to the game's stunning good looks and attention to every detail. Resembling more of a triple-A title console platformer, it was unlike any browser-based game I had ever seen.

Then, almost a year later, the game resurfaced back in late December with the announcement of this year's IGF finalists, and I was delighted at the opportunity to play it once again. Jake has been hard at work readying a final demo of the game for the contest, and the very latest version up this week (b5) is the most stable version yet. And while the playable online version of the game is indeed just a demo, the three (3) difficulty levels and four (4) different fields of play provide enough challenge to keep many a casual gamer happy until the full version becomes available. Click.

Last week, Gamasutra published an interview with Jake on their website about his experiences with the development of the game.


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (47 votes)
| Comments (62) | Views (278)

Planet NoNaMePlanet NoNaMe is a Russian Grow clone, and specifically a Grow Ornament clone as it is a bit dated with its Christmas and New Years holiday theme. Still, for anyone who adores the casual simplicity of this type of game—and judging by the results of the Best of 2005 feature, that's quite a lot of you—then you may enjoy playing this one, too.

Mediocre at best and not nearly as well designed and animated as the Eyezmaze games, Planet NoNaMe does however feature a story that most of the Grow games do not include. Unfortunately, the story that unfolds is unaffected by gameplay except when you max out all items, at which time the story is then complete. This game was created by CHiPi of Moscow.

Play Planet NoName

Sandbox of GodWith the tremendous popularity of the Grow games, it was only a matter of time before we began to see clones of its unique and original gameplay showing up on the Web. To my knowledge, there has been at least one other game inspired by the original Grow, a Windows-only downloadable game called Sandbox of God that was created with Game Maker, a free DIY Windows game development application created by Mark Overmars of The Netherlands. The game itself was created by Mr. Chubigans of VertigoGaming.net.

Sandbox of God comprises seven (7) eras from 1 million BC to 2100 AD. The game opens up to a virtually empty planet and provides many commands with which you can make it rain, drought, add animals, humans, etc., by clicking on icons one at a time. The order with which you choose commands will affect the outcome. The objective is to lead the human race into evolution and attain a high score.

I never did finish the Sandbox game, as it is considerably longer than all of the Grow games put together. However, from what I was able to observe the game appears to be a worthy download for the adventurous and Grow-game fanatic. A strategy guide is even available for those willing to take the plunge.

Does anyone know of others?


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (26 votes)
| Comments (35) | Views (339)

Google blogger, information technologist, and sometimes game developer, Philipp Lenssen of Germany, has created a "choose-your-own" adventure game called The Google Adventure that takes place at the Googleplex, which is where you've just begun a new job...

Today, you started your new job as Google Quality Assurance Assistant of the 3rd degree. That means you're now responsible for spellchecking bug reports. (Well, you're not literally responsible, as you're just assisting the one who's responsible.)

But what you really want is a career inside Google. A high-paying, fulfilling, challenging and creative job. You think you have the right skills, too.

Little do you know, at this point, of the Google Adventure that awaits you.

While there are multiple endings to this hypertext adventure, there is only one "best" ending. Can you find it? Click.

Philipp used QML, the Quest Markup Language and editor, for creating this unique and original game. Also check out Games for the Brain, a whole set of games created by Philipp, previously reviewed here.


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (16) | Views (10)

ArchoonNext up are two brand new games built with Processing from the very talented JP of France. Both arcade style action games involve using a bow to shoot arrows at floating balloons for some quick casual fun.

The objective of Archoon is to pop every balloon as they float up past the archer or down and in from the side. You cannot miss a single balloon, or the first one to reach the top of the play field unpopped ends the game.

Click and hold the mouse button down to draw back the bow. The longer you hold the mouse button the harder and faster the arrow will fly when released. The action quickly begins to speed up as your score accumulates, with additional archers appearing that fire simultaneously. Click.

BaboonIn Baboon, the balloons just float around mocking you as the arrows you shoot just seem to repel them from being hit. Although it may seem impossible at first, the balloons are indeed vulnerable if an arrow is shot just right. Use a combination of rapid fire with slow and steady shots to clear all balloons before your score counts down to zero. Click.

Both of these games were JP's first experiments with creating games using Processing after seeing the recent World of Sand games by D_of_I. He reports that although Processing is powerful, it lacks the layers and object management of the Flash authoring environment. Also, since there is no drawing environment in Processing, creating vector graphics is not as easy; however, it does support the importing of SVG graphics as well as some other things Flash cannot do.

Other games by JP: Ringmania and How's your driving?


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (25 votes)
| Comments (134) | Views (152)

FirewallA Flash point-and-click game of the escape-the-room variety, Firewall is an advergame to promote this week's release of the new Harrison Ford film of the same name.

Put your clicky finger to the test as you navigate around the room looking for clues and various items that you will need to escape. Some items can be picked up only by clicking and holding the mouse button down. Other items in the room may be clicked and dragged around. Some items can be combined with others, as per usual for games like this. Just click on the "combine" button then select each item from your inventory that you wish to combine.

The game features a solid design and interface with high production values, which is a welcome change from the many point-and-click Flash games available on the Web that are often plagued with design and interface issues. Although fairly straightforward for a game of this genre, the team at Pod Digital Design have crafted an enjoyable interactive experience and injected a bit of randomness so that items are not always found in the same places. However, the puzzles do not change, and the game is rather easy to complete and a bit short.

Several extras that relate to the movie are made available through playing the game, such as wallpapers, photos, and a movie trailer. Unfortunately, the trailer was not working when I played the game. Not a huge issue, though it would have been nice to watch it via game interface; and that being the only blemish on an otherwise flawless implementation. [Update: Steve from Pod Digital sends word that the trailer has been re-uploaded and is now functional again.]

Overall an excellent effort and a worthy diversion for 10-15 minutes of your time. Click.

Pod Digital Design was also responsible for the recently reviewed Peerflix Paparazzi game.

Cheers to Gupfee for suggesting the game, coincidentally while I was writing up the review.


| Comments (31) | Views (42)

AT&T divides into 22 separate companies; The Weather Channel airs for the first time; and three-quarters of a million protest nuclear weapons in New York's Central Park while rocking and rolling to Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Linda Rondstat, and James Taylor.

It was 1982, the year of Rio, H2O, 1999, Steppin' Out and Thriller. It was also an excellent year for video games with the classics Robotron: 2084, Joust, Q*bert and Mr. Do all being released to arcades. If you were living back in the day it is likely you are already familiar with these popular favorites. If not, then get prepared for a blast with fast action fun from the past, and all delivered within the convenience of Internet Explorer on your PC. (Requires the automatic downloading of an arcade emulator Xtra that does not support Macs, nor does it run in Firefox.)

JoustFirst up is Joust, a game designed by John Newcomer and introduced to the arcades by Williams Electronics. The medieval jousting game is played as a knight donning a lance and mounting a flying ostrich(!) to engage in battle against waves of computer controlled enemies, or even against a friend.

In Joust, battles occur by collision with the higher lance winning the bout. By winning a joust against the computer, an egg will be left behind; grab it to score points, or catch it in midair for even more pointage. Collisions with lances at exactly the same level will cause both players to bounce backward and away from each other, so continue jousting until all enemies are cleared or a player is eliminated.

Controls are very simple to pick-up and require two hands: one to control horizontal movement left and right, and the other to press the "flap" button repeatedly to make the bird fly. A joystick was used in the original arcade version for horizontal movement, and this Web version also supports a USB gamepad if one is connected. I used a Logitech Dual Action controller with excellent results. If you don't have a gamepad, no worries; the keyboard is all you really need to have a great time with this game.

Robotron: 2084And then there is the blast back into the retro future of Robotron: 2084, a frenetically paced action arcade shooter designed by Eugene Jarvis and produced by Williams Electronics. It was the very first video game to feature two joysticks for control: one was used to move the player character around on the screen, and the other controlled the direction of the laser shots fired at enemies.

Robotron transports you to a time in which all humans are endangered by the robots of their own creation, and enlists you for a rescue mission to save the last human family from extinction. Use your infinite laser power to dismiss wave after wave of the relentless robots of increasing number bent on your destruction. Save the other humanoids by simply touching them for huge point gains. You will need lightning fast coordination and reflexes to survive very long in this game of run amok automatons and brutal high-speed gameplay.

Like Joust, Robotron also supports the use of a gamepad analog stick for the game's joystick control of movement. Unfortunately, the other hand must use the keyboard for firing the laser and may take some getting used to. For example, pressing two keys simultaneously to fire, either by design or by mistake, will fire in neither direction. Alternatively, the keyboard may be used for both hands with this game.

Whether you prefer the intensity of play from the future or the more chivalrous battle of a duel, these early video game classics continue to offer addictive and highly enjoyable game play that has withstood the test of time. Now available to play within the convenience of a browser, these retro classics are yours to play free thanks to a licensing agreement between Midway and Macromedia to demonstrate the power of Shockwave for the Web. The arcade emulator applet that drives these games was developed by Digital Eclipse Software.

Update: Unfortunately, these games are no longer available to play free in your browser. :(


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Pretty Pretty Bang BangIn what may soon be a game on XBox Live Arcade, this Flash prototype was recently created and released by R. Hunter Gough ("Hunty") on his website, Studiohunty. The game was inspired by the free dojin game: Every Extend.

Pretty Pretty Bang Bang is a simple action game of avoidance, bosses, and chain reactions. It's the pretty chain reactions that occur that gives this game its name.

Control is entirely with the mouse. Move it to control a small white ball around the play field. Red balls will begin to join you, avoid them if you can. Click the mouse button to explode yourself near a red ball to start a chain reaction. Red balls will turn to green balls when they explode. Green balls are good.

The objective of the game is simply to last as long as possible. There is a clock that is always counting down. When it reaches zero (0) the game is over. However, by doing well in the game seconds can be added to the clock; and likewise, some conditions will take seconds from the clock.

Each time you explode yourself you lose 5 seconds from the clock; this is unavoidable so try to start the longest chain reaction you can with each click of the mouse. You will automatically explode if a red ball touches you, and you lose 10 seconds from the clock. So, avoid any non-green balls.

From time to time a boss will appear. Green balls attack bosses so you will have to explode red balls to produce green balls to fight back. Bosses spray purple balls around the play field, which cannot be exploded and, like red balls, you will lose 10 seconds every time one touches you. Killing a boss adds 50 seconds to the clock.

Falling stars will also appear from time to time. They, too, spray purple balls so it's best to steer clear of them altogether. The good news is stars add 10 seconds to the clock.

Analysis: The game is very easy to pick-up and can be a lot of fun to play once the rules are understood. The graphics are a bit rough around the edges, but work just fine for a game prototype. The background music is cute and cheery, though repetitive, and the exploding sound effects add a sense of satisfaction when a long chain reaction occurs. I got a chuckle each time a new boss came out as their names are ridiculous: Hairdresser Corndog and Bumbershoot Evangelist being the first two. Besides their funny names, the bosses showed creativity in style and behavior. I managed to get up to level 7's boss and then lost, because I didn't read the writing on the ball soon enough.

Pretty Pretty Bang Bang is a simple game with gratifying gameplay, bosses and all, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing the game adorned with some very pretty eye candy via DirectX.

Play Pretty Pretty Bang Bang

Thanks to Willoughby Jackson for the link. =)

Also noteworthy on Hunty's site is another game prototype, Viral Billiards. He created the game in response to a game design article written by Danc of Lost Garden. Nice work, Hunty. ;)


(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (7) | Views (2)

NoahOne day our fossil fuel economy will come to an end, and it may take many of the trappings of modern life with it. That stuffy old (though world renowned) geezer Dr. Von Leakentube, head of Leakentube Elixir, Inc, is hard at work trying to prevent the coming energy crisis by searching for the holy grail of fuel sources, cold fusion. Unlocking the secrets of cold fusion is tricky and, naturally, he needs your help. The answer lies somewhere... within... these... molecules... NOW THE GREAT WORK BEGINS!

MoleculousMoLeCuLoUs, which happens to be up for an IGF award this year, plays like a modular pachinko machine. The game takes place on a grid of slots with which you add or remove pegs using the mouse. Each peg you insert causes the beaker hovering at the top of the screen to release a drop, which falls and bounces off any pegs it its path. As lab assistant, your job is to ensure the drop lands in the test tube at the bottom of the screen. A successful capture moves the beaker to a new position.

Each level is based on a chemical compound and has a group of element slots, circled in white. To move on you must clear each element slot by capturing a drop that has bounced off a peg inserted into it. There's a limited number of drops to work with, as well as a timer; if you run out of either, it's game over. Other threats include poison barriers, slot-removing bombs and spinning "wayward fans" (huh?) that appear sporadically on the playing field. There are several additional game modes including "head 2 head challenge" (two players take turns to see who can clear the stage with the fewest pegs in the least time) and "speed round" (similar to normal mode, except the beaker and test tube are constantly moving, and without the element pegs.)

MoleculousIt is difficult to predict the path that a bouncing drop will take. As if to compensate for this, the scoring system rewards you for taking the least direct route to the test tube; 100 bonus points are given for each peg hit along the way. I had the most success, and the most fun, frantically placing and removing pegs all over the board in order to rearrange the path for a single drop in motion.

MoLeCuLoUs' science theme is almost completely irrelevant to the game play. However, if you're paying attention (and are already familiar with the periodic table of elements) you might recognize that Hydrogen and Oxygen are the element pegs in the water level, or Carbon and Nitrogen in the cyanide level. Educational? Not really, but as an aesthetic it works. The sound design is well done, with lots of atmospheric glass clinking and xylophone-like tones when the ball strikes a peg.

Gametrust has put together a solid and fairly unique title. Unfortunately the limitations of the Shockwave platform hurt the online free trial version of the game slightly, as everything feels a bit chunky and moves more slowly than one would like. The download version of the game is for the PC platform only. The free trial available at the gametrust site contains only 8 levels but it's a good diversion and, hey - the world is hurting. Cold fusion isn't about to discover itself. Click.


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (27) | Views (12)

NinjamanTake three (3) complementary University students, all with strong backgrounds in Flash; pour in their hearts and souls and mix well. Add a year's worth of caffeine and just a touch of obsession, and then bake for long hours and many long nights. The result is this very impressive ninja-fighting 2D side-scrolling platformer that performs as only a ninjaman can.

Ninjaman is old-school style classic gaming goodness and it looks just as beautiful as it plays.

Controls are customizable in this game that features attack, defend and jump moves for the little blue ninjaman in addition to the standard arrow keys for movement. Default configuration is: [D] for attack, [S] for defend, and [space] to jump. A double-jump can be performed by pressing [space] a second time while in the air. Attacks can be combined with arrow keys for some spectacular special moves and abilities:

  • [up]+[D] = Uppercut: smack enemies into the air
  • [down]+[D] (in the air) = Sacrifice: dive down onto enemies sword-first
  • [down]+[D] (on the ground) = Whirlwind: slice and dazzle enemies with a series of circular slashes
  • [up]+[right or left]+[D] = Ballista: hurl enemies with a powerful smash
  • [down]+[right or left]+[D] = Sonic Slash: thrust enemies away with a devastating force
  • [D]+[D]+[D]+[D] = 4-Hit Combo: unleash a flurry of slashes

NinjamanIt is probably needless to say the gameplay is a tad violent, though it's really not bad for a ninjagame. Enemies splatter green goo when hit, which contrasts nicely with the red splatters from Ninjaman.

Make your way through each of the game's two levels, the Beach and the Forest, by killing enemies, avoiding traps, climbing ropes, activating switches, jumping platforms, and raising flags that represent spawn points. If you lose all your health you will lose a life and return to the last flag you raised in the current level. You have five (5) lives to make it through the entire game. Click.

Analysis: It is clear by how the game looks and plays that these three guys, Adam Searle, Jason Chow, and Johnny Jei Le, have created a fun and original game of their own design that they can be proud of. The graphic style is charming and visually appealing, containing a level of polish that is rare to find. The gameplay is typical hack and slash with some classic platform level design to make it interesting. I liked the way the confrontation music comes in as Ninjaman approaches an enemy, and the cessation of it once the coast is clear.

All things considered, the game has a few weak spots. First, and even though each is considerably long, there are only two levels to the game. Second is the relative ease with which enemies can be dealt with, and the fact that you can simply run from and avoid enemies throughout each level. These issues may be addressed in a more "complete" version promised by Adam on his blog.

Still, if you play the game simply to have fun with it (and you don't try to 'game the system') then there really isn't much to complain about. Ninjaman is a great little Flash platformer with charm, character, and panache.

And for those with really fast computers, the team has created a 50 fps version for your enjoyment. I can't play that version because my Powerbook is only half-fast.

Cheers to Garrett for suggesting the game! =)

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