March 2006 Archives


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NoahThe stately grandfather of all falling-block puzzle games and widely considered the most popular game of all time, Alexey Pazhitnov's Tetris needs no introduction.

Tetris DSThe recent appearance on the Nintendo DS does the franchise proud, with solid online support and a wide variety of solo modes, despite some fundamental missteps that may frustrate long time players. Here is a breakdown of the different game modes available in Nintendo's latest Tetris game:

Standard Mode: Mario-themed traditional Tetris. There are three options in this mode. Marathon mode is no frills Tetris; clear lines as tetrominos fall ever faster. Although you are limited to 20 levels at first, endless play cam be unlocked by clearing 200 lines and watching the credits. In Line Clear mode you simply have to clear 25 lines. For those without Wi-Fi access, VS CPU mode lets you face a computer controlled player in head to head Tetris.

Tetris DSMission Mode: The Legend of Zelda's Link is the star of Mission mode. You will have to perform various tasks such as using a specific block to clear a certain number of lines or clearing a line at an arbitrary height, in marathon mode or within a time limit.

Push Mode: The only new mode available in multiplayer, Push mode is set in Donkey Kong's tower and is a two player game (or 1 player versus CPU). The well is twice as long as usual and it has no floor or ceiling; your blocks fall from the top of the screen down and your opponents blocks fall from the bottom up. There are two static blocks in the center to start building off of and that cannot be cleared. Clearing multiple lines at once will push the stack of blocks towards your opponent and, as in Standard mode, if the blocks reach the top of your screen you will lose.

Touch Mode: Like Push Mode, the Balloon Fight themed Touch mode makes use of the unique features of the DS. Unfortunately, while Push Mode is an inventive and fun game that couldn't be as successfully implemented on other consoles, Touch Mode feels a bit gimmicky. Each level begins with a well full of tetrominos. Use the stylus to move or rotate tetrominos and clear lines as you attempt to lower a crate full of balloons to the floor. A Touch Puzzle mode is also available.

Catch Mode: Metroid's Samus is featured in the creative Catch Mode. You begin with a plus shaped block that you can rotate to catch falling tetrominos. Form a 4x4 block to start a detonation timer, which clears itself and surrounding blocks. You can trigger the detonation early by pressing [X] which can be useful for destroying the life sapping Metroids that occasionally float down. The game ends if you run out of life or if your collection becomes too large to fit on the lower screen.

Puzzle Mode: In each of the 200 puzzles in this Yoshi themed mode you'll drop a predefined group of blocks into the well in whatever order and rotation you like. Logical thinking and foresight (or guesswork and dumb luck) replace the faster paced, instinctual gameplay of most of the other modes.

Wi-Fi Mode: 2 Player Versus, 4 Player Versus with Items, and 2 Player Push modes are available online. As with Mario Kart, you'll need to exchange friend codes if you want to meet a friend online.

Multiplayer Mode: Local play is more flexible, with the ability to set handicaps and teams as well as toggle items. Amazingly, up to 10 players can play locally with a single cart.

Analysis: Nintendo fans will love the appearances of famous and obscure 8-bit characters, music and backgrounds, though it is strange that such a visually nostalgic game doesn't allow you to disable certain gameplay options for a truly old-school experience. Unlike the NES and Gameboy editions that many gamers are familiar with, the next block preview has been increased to 5, and you can now store a block in reserve with the [L button]. Most importantly, you can now move or rotate a piece endlessly once it comes into contact with the bottom of the well or another tetromino. Known as infinite spin, this controversial feature makes it possible to stall forever and, though using it in multiplayer will guarantee a loss as the other player hits you with line after line of blocks, it does make single player mode much easier. However, even if the exotic modes don't interest you and you can't stand infinite spin, the foolproof Wi-Fi support makes Tetris DS worthwhile.

Of course Tetris DS is not available on the web, although you can download a demo from DS demo kiosks at the Nintendo World and elsewhere. Still, I would be remiss in leaving you without something to do after reading this far so enjoy this twist on Pazhitnov's quintessential puzzler instead.


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JohnBrollingomusubi.gifAnother great online game from DOFI Blog, the creator of World of Sand and other addictive Web toys made with Processing (Java), New Rolling Omusubi puts you in control of a lost ball of rolling rice. Use your nori wrapper like a sticky tongue to move along walls, ceilings, and blocks of ice and sand. Reach the goal as fast as you can to top your best times.

Two things you'll be doing a lot of are rolling and seaweed-tongue swinging. Use Z and X to move left and right and the mouse buttons to throw out nori. In many stages you'll navigate over treacherous land by using the grapple-roll-grapple technique. Click where you want to grab with your tongue, then let the omusubi pull itself in. While you're holding on for dear life, use the Z or X button to "lean", then quickly release and re-click the mouse button to grab a block ahead. Be prepared to fall, and be prepared to do some quick clicking to save yourself from a nasty demise.

New Rolling Omusubi also has a few elements, much like World of Sand. There are three main types of blocks: walls, ice, and sand. Each one reacts differently to being grappled. Ice is slippery and won't support your weight, while sand will disintegrate if you slam into it. Currents of wind also appear and blast you in different directions.

At the end of the game's 25 stages your total time is displayed along with a short comic bringing the game to a happy ending. The scene is in Japanese, but if you're very clever you can decipher the story on your own. If you're ancy and don't want to beat the game, you can simply press "N" to skip stages. You know, if you're a cheater...

Analysis: It's charming and very simple, not much else to say about this game. New Rolling Omusubi isn't very difficult and won't take you long to beat, half an hour if you take some time to explore. A full-featured version of this game would be great to see, one that incorporates more elements from the World of Sand game. In the meantime, the stoic simplicity of New Rolling Omusubi is a great experience on its own.

Get your rice rolling -

Play New Rolling Omusubi

Thanks to Kyle for sending this one in!


Rating: 4.3/5 (35 votes)
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NoahYou'll either love or hate the following Flash diversions from the fresh-faced wiseacres at RRRRThats5Rs.com. Accurately describing their creations as "frustrating games," Don't Shoot the PuppyRRRR often attempts to upend expectations of what a game should be, and even draw attention to the absurdity that can result from goal-based gameplay taken to extremes. A few of the games feature mature subject matter and if you don't enjoy spoilers and/or expletive-spewing frustrated gamers you may want to avoid the comments section.

How Much tests your powers of perception in a series of increasingly difficult and unlikely comparisons.

By far the longest and most intricate game on the site, the recent popularity of Don't Shoot the Puppy was responsible for knocking the 5Rs website offline last week. Figure out how to keep an adorable puppy safe from a cannon for 15 levels.

Click Once a Minute is a precision and endurance test that generated some gems in the RRRR comments section:

  • Brian Shih - "Terrible and beautiful."
  • Wyndee - "Whatever I def dont get this one it made me wanna get back to work."
  • Euge - "This game isn't very fun."

Seemingly made only to illustrate the confusion that can be caused by ambiguous instructions, Click Between the Lights is the most traditional playing and least interesting of all the games on the site.

Finally, Get to the Finish is a tense but ultimately rewarding race poking fun at one of our most beloved Web technologies. See you at the finish line!

Attention budding game developers! Ben at RRRR is looking for people to implement a proverbs game that he describes here. He is even generously offering $3 for your time! If you know Flash and want to help out why not take him up on it?


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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TroyIn my previous post I mentioned that I attended a party at GDC thrown by the CMU folks from the Entertainment Technology Center. It was there that I had the pleasure of meeting TJ Jackson, a technical director for Dreamworks and also the man behind Troy.

Created as part of the Experimental Gameplay Project under the theme of "violate", Troy was designed and built in one week as a Web-based augmented reality game. In it the player explores the topic of invasion of privacy and... um... well, if I told you any more then I'd be spoiling the game. Suffice to say that the goal of the game is to figure out how to play. It is not a long game by any means, but parts of it are sure to stump many people that give it a try; and it's a lot of fun while it lasts.

Here are a couple of tips to get started: things aren't always as they seem; and click this link only if you get really stuck with encryption.

Although most of the game can be played via the Web, one significant component of it requires the launching of a Windows-only executable, and therefore the game cannot be played on any other platform. This is an unfortunate shortfall of the game since the contents of the executable could have been created in Flash just as easily, thereby retaining the cross-platform compatibility seen with most Web-based games.

You can check out some of TJ's other games at the Experimental Gameplay site. A post-mortem of the game is also available.


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Experimental Gameplay Competition

Wow. Good times at GDC this year. The tutorials, keynotes and sessions all had their moments of awe and inspiration, and yet I have to say that it was the meetings and the parties and the schmoozings that were the highlights for me. Great things are just bound to happen when you get a significant portion of the games industry together under one roof.

During my stay in San Jose last week I had the privilege of attending a party that was thrown by the Entertainment Technology Center of Carnegie Mellon University. I received the party invitation after attending a session given by two (2) of its former grad students, Kyle Gray and Kyle Gabler, both of whom participated in the Experimental Gameplay session last year. They gave a great talk about rapid prototyping gleaned from their experiences last spring when they each set out to build a game every week for 10 weeks. To keep things interesting the games were usually based around a predetermined theme such as: gravity, vegetation, swarms, flight, etc.

Their experiences are valuable to game designers everywhere since it is often necessary to build many game prototypes before finding one that may work. The words of wisdom they had to offer the packed conference hall was excellent advice to anyone with a desire to design and build games: (I did some cherry picking here)

  • Embrace the possibility of failure
  • Encourage taking creative risks
  • Enforce short development cycles
  • Add constraints (they increase interest)
  • Gather concept art and music to create an emotional target
  • Build the toy first
  • Know when to shoot your baby
  • Complexity is not necessarily "fun"
  • Build toward a well-defined goal

Both Kyles have moved on to professional full-time positions at EA—Gabler at Maxis and Gray at Tiburon—but the Experimental Gameplay Project lives on with another group of students making games under similar constraints. Be sure to visit the site often to see what those brilliant CMU peeps are up to.

In fact, the Experimental Gameplay Project has been so successful they are opening up the fun to anyone who wants to get involved! They are holding a 2-week game design competition to build a game based on a theme they will announce on April 1st at the Experimental Gameplay website:

  • On April 1st, 2006, they will announce a gameplay theme (e.g. gravity, vegetation, flight, etc.) on experimentalgameplay.com
  • You'll have 2 weeks to design and build a game based on this theme; the deadline is April 14th, 11:59 PM PST
  • All games submitted will be posted for everyone to download and review. The winners will be selected by a panel of industry pros and the experimental gameplay community. See official rules for more info.

The top 5 competitors will receive an interview with THQ's Heavy Iron Studios. One will be selected for a paid summer internship with the company.

To enter you must register with them by creating an account at the Experimental Gameplay website.

Cheers to Kyle for the party invite and to the other Kyle for keeping me laughing throughout the presentation! You guys rock! =)

For more details about the GDC presentation, check out Raph Koster's blog where he expounds on the concept of rapid prototyping and even offers up a "game design prototype kit" to use when fleshing out that killer game design idea. Cheers, Raph!


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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DerekWThis downloadable Windows-only game is one you will likely want to keep on your system. Rumble Box is the unique child of a cool Rayman-esque main character and hordes of enemies combined together in a classic beat-em-up style game.

Rumble BoxThe game was a finalist in the 2006 Independent Games Festival, and a winner in the 2006 Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition for its outstanding physics implementation. It was designed and programmed by Patrick Hackett and Joe Bourrie, both of whom are graduates of the prestigious DigiPen Institute of Technology, particularly known for its classes in game design, animation, and engineering.

From the Rumble Box website:

"Rumble Box is a fast paced 3D action beat-em-up with a unique premise: all of the characters are made of simple objects which stay around in the level even after the character is defeated. The objects pile up, changing the gameplay landscape and altering your combat tactics. The game takes place inside a giant box, and the ultimate goal of the game is to pile up enough defeated enemies to get out of the box."

An original idea indeed. You and your enemies are all made of blocks. When you kill an enemy, the blocks fall and stay there. Pile up the enemies, escape the box. There's your quick run-down.

The faster you get out of the box, however, the more likely you are to get a bonus stage. Your completion time is added to the number of enemies you've killed, along with the highest number of enemies you've killed in a row; that score at the end determines which bonus stage you're sent to; there are five in all.

Your main character comes equipped with a full set of moves, too. Your basic attack is the [spacebar], while a more advanced attack, the [alt] button, will let you swing enemies around in a small circle by moving accordingly. This may take some time to master. You may also dash by double-tapping a directional button, and by combining this with the spacebar will allow you to perform a drop-kick.

There is a lot to the game and only so much people will read, so I'll keep this review short. There's plenty to experiment with, including a Challenge mode, so I suppose the best way to get a feel for this one is simply to play it.

Analysis: Though the game is addictive and amusing, it's definitely not perfect. One thing I really hoped for in this game was an upgrade system. The dynamic protagonist could easily have had new parts attached to him, as well as new moves, more health, a larger body, etc. If a system was implemented in such a way so that you could collect parts of fallen enemies and use them to improve yourself, I think the game would have been even more addictive.

One other thing I feel I should mention is that when the enemies start piling up, so do the polygons. The game keeps track of every individual piece of every fallen enemy and, as a result, people with slower machines might not be able to handle this one. The site recommends at least a GeForce3, but I was able to run it successfully on a GeForce2.

Other than that, the game is amazing. It is built around a truly unique idea, and short of providing an upgrade system, the developers still did a superb job. Granted, my suggestion would probably have taken a huge amount of time to implement, and so I'm not complaining that it wasn't in there. Trust me, this is one you won't want to miss.

Thanks to my dad for showing me this one. Download it!.


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (290 votes)
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Exmortis 2From Ben Leffler of Australia comes this dark and foreboding tale of the macabre that will surely send chills down your spine. One part Flash point-and-click adventure and one part interactive narrative, Exmortis 2 is the sequel to the 2004 game of the same name. It continues the story one year after the events of the first tale came to fruition.

If you haven't played the first Exmortis game, you may wish to play that one before continuing here, as the rest of this review may spoil the experience.

In the first game, you play as a man who wakes up in the woods without any recollection of how he arrived there. He makes it to a nearby abandoned house for shelter only to discover it is filled with dismembered bodies and blood all around. The house also appears to be haunted by evil spirits, which you learn are the Exmortis. Additional information uncovered tells of their leader, Lord Vlaew, a powerful being that once ruled over Earth but has since been banished for eternity to the spirit realm.

Over time you learn that these evil spirits desire a return to their former selves and therefore must kill five (5) innocent souls and mark the bodies with the symbols of the Exmortis to do so. They also need a soul-bearing human to become "The Hand," one whom must act as a bridge between realms for the Exmortis to pass. You realize at the end that you are the Hand, and have just played an important role in opening the gates and unleashing the Exmortis to wage their war against humanity for control of all the Earth.

A year has passed since that ill-fated day and billions have been slaughtered at the hand of the Exmortis as the horde swept across the Earth covering it in a crimson hue. Only one survivor remains: you. And as you flee the scene of the last devastating raid by the Exmortis, a dark figure passing in the distance follows and puts his plans in motion.

Analysis: Ben has created a feast for the senses, wrapping commercial-quality audio and visuals around a well-developed story to produce an immersing and entertaining interactive narrative. And it's an amazing feat for a single Flash developer. I especially enjoyed the attention to detail in the story elements that appeared at various points throughout the game within the many pages of a diary, newspaper clippings, and other written works. Although reading the story elements is not necessary to complete the game, the entire game play experience is indeed enhanced by Ben's excellent narrative. Also noteworthy is Ben's implementation of chapter checkpoints that the player returns to if a mission is failed while playing the game. Never was I set back far enough to make the experience feel frustrating at all. Overall the game is an excellent example of good interactive design.

Play Exmortis 2

If you get stuck there is already an Exmortis 2 walkthrough available, written by Ben himself.


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (118 votes)
| Comments (443) | Views (779)

Hapland 3

Why are you still reading this? Hapland 3 is Rob Allen's latest sequel to the tremendously popular Hapland series, and it was just released.

Play Hapland 3

For a complete walkthrough that rewards you with concept art of the game, see below.

Hungry for more Hapland?
Play the entire Hapland series...

Similar games:


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (44 votes)
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AndrewOrbox B was created by Arseniy Shklyaev—previously known as Rubilon, and now he creates games under the brand GameBalance.

Orbox BOrbox B is a game of striking simplicity and compelling puzzle solving. It is the sequel to the original Orbox we reviewed last year. Your goal is to guide your 'box' from start-point to end-point. The catch? You can only move in the four cardinal directions and you will only be stopped once striking an object. Don't worry, none of the other objects move or can hurt you, but that will hardly make your job any easier. As pure puzzle solving game with 30 levels, this one isn't the most innovative game you'll play this week, but it could very well be one of the most mind-bending.

Analysis: If you're looking for a game to play where you can just turn off your brain and relax, I'm afraid this isn't it. But if you're looking for a game that has a number of well-designed levels, scaling difficulty, and a handy password level skip system so you can play with your friends, this is the game for you. If you played the original, Orbox B retains the same simplicity and charm. It's quick, easy to learn, and browser-based. In addition, the sequel has improved the graphics and the quality of the puzzles, and there is now a much needed password system. Give it a try.

Play Orbox B

Some parting advice: space bar resets the current level if you get truly stuck.


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (320 votes)
| Comments (169) | Views (482)

JohnBThe Fancy Pants AdventuresThe Fancy Pants Adventure is an online platform adventure game created by Brad Borne. You play a hip and well-animated character who, as one might have guessed, wears a very fancy pair of pants.

The game takes a few pages from the book of Sonic the Hedgehog, namely speed and out of reach secrets. The main character dashes through open levels littered with the occasional obstacle or enemies. There are springboards to send you skyward, half-pipes to run around, and hills that propel you in many directions. The game has a fairly fast pace but is not averse to slowing down and letting you explore. In fact, there are several hidden areas you can find if you take the time to look. Did you see Brad's name inscribed in the stones?

As you explore the sleek worlds in this game, you'll come across a few items, namely floating swirls and trophies. Swirls refill your health and give you an extra life (measured in Pants, of course) every 100. Trophies can be collected and viewed from the main room of the game for info about other Armor Games flash titles.

Play all the Fancy Pants Adventures:
The Fancy Pants AdventureThe Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 3

Analysis: The first thing I noticed about Fancy Pants Adventure is that it feels like a very complete and polished game, even though there's only one world available at the moment. The stages are vast and open and just beg to be explored. The physics are very well-done and the main character is smoothly animated. You can perform some spectacular acrobatics as you launch him around the stages. The music, composed by Geier Arnold, is equally superb and fits the game's atmosphere like a glove.

Ready to try on the fancy pants yourself?

Play The Fancy Pants Adventure


(18 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (14) | Views (160)

NoahOriginally known as Chain Shot!, SameGame (pronounced sah-meh-gah-meh) was created in 1985 by Kuniaki Moribe and has since appeared on devices as diverse as the Super Famicom, several Texas Instruments calculators and even home tv recording unit Tivo. Jussi Kari's Flash-based implementation plays very smoothly, and his stripped down aesthetic suits it well.

samegame.gifLike many great puzzle games, SameGame is as brilliant as it is simple. Each level begins as a rectangular grid of colored blocks. [Left clicking] any block that is adjacent to other blocks of the same color will cause them all to disappear. Blocks are affected by gravity and clearing an entire column will cause the blocks on the right to slide leftwards, filling in the empty space. Score points by eliminating as many blocks as you can, but you'll have to think ahead and beware; since the blocks are not replenished, a few wrong moves at the wrong time can leave you frustrated and stuck. Thankfully you start with 3 different types of bombs, used to clear a row, column, or 3x3 group of blocks. You begin with one of each and only get more by completely emptying all blocks from the level. The game ends when you forced (or choose!) to use the 'give up' button at the top of the screen.

The first level uses 3 different colors of blocks; each succeeding level adds another color. Clearing the board becomes very difficult, very fast. SameGame is not a stamina test in which you can measure your progess by level number, like most falling block games. Playing for points is more rewarding. Clearing large masses of blocks will net extra points, and each level has time and click based bonuses. Unfortunately, the high score list has been broken for quite some time.

Play SameGame


  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 4/5 (40 votes)
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JohnBThe BarThe Bar is a breathtakingly beautiful point-and-click room-escape game presented by IDAC and translated by Mark Bowers. It begins with an intriguing story of a couple who promise that if they parted they would meet again in 50 years at this bar. The lovers have separated, time has passed, and here you are waiting at the empty bar. But... where is she? The Bar is a very atmospheric room-escape game that steals you with its ambience and stunningly rendered scenery then holds you with some challenging puzzles.

The Bar is an item-centric game where you must collect various objects from around the bar and use them in creative ways. You're limited to one room that you can pivot around in and search, but you'll need to turn around every corner, lift every napkin and mix every drink to find what you need.

A major part of the game is using items in conjunction with each other. Simply click on an item in your inventory and choose "About". A close-up of the chosen object appears and you can click on it for more info. To use another item with this one, just click it while in this zoomed-in mode, then click on the item you're viewing. If you've used an item for its purpose it greys out in your inventory and can no longer be selected.

Analysis: Like most room escape games, The Bar combines one part exploration and two parts frantic clicking. An oddly welcome gameplay mechanic are arrows you click to change views inside the bar. This frees the rest of the screen for mad mouse clicking sprees to find new items and crannies to peer into.

My only complaint is that toward the end a few of the puzzles are quite obscure. Only through completely random luck (or cheating) can you find out what to do next. A few puzzles seem to have nothing to do with the story, they're just problems that need to be solved in order to proceed. A bit of a disappointment, but the rest of the game is very rewarding.

Give The Bar a try.


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (36 votes)
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NoahPandAventure is a simple Flash based point-and-click game from France's Pandaf Games. When your red capped panda-partner disappears, vaguely mumbling something about a bamboo forest, there's only one thing to do: find him (and get ahold of some tasty bamboo!).

PandAventureOnce you finish picking up after up your tea, you'll exit to the world map. [Left click] the magnifying glass that appears when you hover over the panda to examine your current location. Start by re-entering the house and click the the map and radio to pick them up. You can browse your inventory in the upper left corner of the screen. Unfortunately, the radio is buggy; it should let you choose one of three different background tunes, but it often does nothing.

PandAventure looks and feels like a children's book. With the clean lines, bright colors and complete lack of text, you almost expect it to be be printed on thick waterproof pages. Although identifying locations on the map can be tricky, expert pointers and expert clickers will probably enjoy breezing through the Panda Adventure.

Play PandAventure


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JohnBSpaceCab is an online flash game created and hosted by Sporkle. This tough little game has you piloting a round spacecab through dangerous terrain to rescue lost miners from aliens. Navigate through tight tunnels, uncover secret pathways, and scream/curse every single time you crash. It's a jolly romp in space, bring the kids!

Two things stand out about this game: difficulty and exploration. SpaceCab isn't completely linear, as you can unlock different paths as you quest for more miners. You might be a little wary about some narrow passages, but squeezing through them successfully is worth the adrenaline rush.
spacecab.gif
You control the cab with the arrow keys, rotating it left or right and firing your boosters with up. The physics are precise, and your cab can't take much punishment. In fact, the slightest touch with any object will send you to the scrap heap. You have a weapon that can take care of a few baddies, but the real challenge comes from piloting your cab through tunnels.

Analysis: SpaceCab is an homage to the younger days of video gaming where the Atari and Lunar Lander dominated our screens. One thing many seasoned gamers might not want to remember is the insane difficulty level of many of these retro games. Often you had to suffer through hours of repeated deaths in the first level just to get the hang of controlling your craft. SpaceCab feels just like that.

But sometimes the game is a little too difficult. Often it's downright frustrating. It took me some time before I could rescue the first miners. What happened immediately after that? I nicked the side of a wall and exploded. Needless to say I wasn't thrilled. But once I got used to the controls I could move around with confidence.

In the end, SpaceCab is a game you'll either be determined to master your first run through, or you'll play it off and on for a few weeks. Move all breakable objects out of arm's reach before you play.

Play SpaceCab

Click the link above to check out SpaceCab. Sporkle requires a free registration, or you can log in as a guest. There are several other funny/entertaining games there, so a quick registration isn't too painful.

Thanks to Rob for sending this our way!


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JohnBodubang2.gifFiled under the Hapland/Puzzleland/Industrial Place Thingy category, Odubang 2 is an online point-and-click adventure game where timing and precision cursor clicks are your key to survival. Guide a spastic stick figure through an MS Paint world of red soil and gigantic green boulders. It's a short but entertaining game.

Your interaction with the Odubang 2 world is entirely by mouse click. If you can click on a certain area the cursor changes, usually to the hand icon (depending on your computer). These hotspots change depending on where you are, limiting your choices to the task immediately at hand. As you pick your way across the five levels, you'll quickly learn where not to click. Fortunately you aren't timed and can retry the stage as often as you like.

The goal of Odubang 2 is, of course, to make it through the stage alive. There are many creative (and unexpected) ways to die and each can happen at the slightest mis-click. It's fun to try every option just to see what will happen. The safe path through the level isn't always the obvious one, so some trial and error is needed.

Analysis: This sort of puzzle/point-and-click game is nothing new, but I feel like Odubang 2 is just slightly unique in a few areas. First of all, it doesn't take itself seriously. Don't expect brain-grinding puzzles or complex click patterns. It's trial and error clicking. Your attention is always glued to the next move at hand and that involves just one click.

Odubang 2 also uses the increasingly popular "paint program graphics" where it looks as if the author painted the levels with a one-color brush. Some see it as lazy, others as a protest to graphically-intense games of today. I see it as a fitting art style for a simple game. It works.

Yes, you want to give Odubang 2 a try. Many thanks to Gabriel for sending this one our way!

Play Odubang 2

The original game, Odubang 1, is also available. Thanks to Role for the link!


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Rating: 4.5/5 (28 votes)
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Nest of MoaiJohnBNest of Moai is an online flash game that will take you exactly 90 seconds to beat. Fortunately there's a little more to it than just one run through, and with its quirky sense of humor you'll play it several times in a row.

The goal in Nest of Moai is to move the cursor over the Moai statues to score points. The three scenes (each 30 seconds long) have different patterns of statues popping out of windows, from behind the horizon, dropping from parachutes, etc. From time to time a large statue appears that you have to rub the cursor over several times to make vanish.

The game itself is fairly straightforward, but the real winning factor is the sense of humor. Think late-night Japanese television show, complete with spunky music, a man yelling in Japanese, and flashing text all over the screen. A good game and a good laugh transcend any language barrier.

Analysis: For a 90 second game, this one really makes you want to keep playing. Any game's ultimate goal is to give you a sense of accomplishment, causing your brain to release lots of happy-making chemicals. From making a row in Tic-Tac-Toe to defeating Sephiroth, it's all about the chemical rewards. Nest of Moai pulls this off very well in a short period of time and successfully calls you back for more. And more. And more. And m— why can't I stop playing this game?!!

Give Nest of Moai a try. You've got 90 seconds, right?

Play Nest of Moai

Thanks to Corbin for the heads-up on this game!


| Comments (5) | Views (0)

GDC '06

I'm off to San Jose, California, to attend the Game Developers Conference, March 20-24. Although I will be away for a week, you can expect the other contributing authors to bring you fresh content and reviews, almost daily. In addition, I hope to provide reports from the conference of any news-worthy events that occur while I'm out there similar to last year's update after having seen presentations by Mark Healey (Rag Doll Kung Fu) and Will Wright (Spore).

If you are planning to attend the conference and haven't already set up a time to meet with me—although my schedule is already pretty full—I would welcome the opportunity to meet in person for a chat about games, the conference, future employment opportunities, business development, whatever. =)

To contact me now or during the conference, just send a message to my email address next to my picture in the sidebar so we can set up a time and a place to meet. Hope to see you there! Cheers!


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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AndrewMono is a downloadable Windows game that is described as 'one part Asteroids, one part Robotron, and one part Paint Shop Pro'. Created by the talented guys over at Binary Zoo, you play as a plucky yet resourceful mono.jpgcircular object set on changing its surroundings from black to white (or white to black, depending on mode). You accomplish this by destroying colored circles (red, green, or blue) which split in classic asteroid fashion. Upon destruction, they leave behind some of their coloring, assisting you in your goal. In addition, you can pick up power-ups to further help in your quest (pro tip: stars improve your weapons). Coupled with three difficulty modes, and the ability to import your own music, this is a well designed little game.

Analysis: There's not a whole lot more to say about this game. There are no bosses or fancy graphics, and it doesn't need them. It's a testament to what a couple guys with some creativity and talent can put together. The only real weakness is the lack of in-game tutorials, but as the controls are simple, it doesn't really need it. Just use the mouse to move and the right button to change the direction of fire.

The other downside is that a download is necessary to play, and it does require the latest directX as well. It's a pity that there is no browser based version, but if you can overcome these obstacles, then you will find yourself rewarded with a game experience that is both simple and oddly addicting. Click, then scroll downward to try it out.


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (35 votes)
| Comments (15) | Views (369)

NoahLong, long ago, before hot and cold running internet could be piped right into your home, forward thinking citizens dialed into bulletin board systems (BBS) via modem to download files, read forums, look at ansi art or, of course, to play games.

Legend of the Green DragonKnown as door games, these programs acted as a door from the BBS software to another program and often emphasized user interaction and competition. One of the most successful was Seth Able Robinson's Legend of the Red Dragon, an original and humorous RPG released when the author was only 14.

Legend of the Green Dragon (LoGD) is a free, browser based homage to, and extension of, the original. Eric Stevens has done an excellent job preserving Able's style while adding tons of new features, characters and monsters, as well as vastly enlarging the world to include multiple cities and an afterlife. LoGD is written in PHP and is highly extensible. Different servers can offer very different experiences, so this review refers only to the classic server. A large list of others is available here.

Legend of the Green DragonAll action in the game is performed by clicking links in a toolbar or using convenient hotkeys. Turns, in the form of forest battles, are doled out every 12 hours, which is equivalent to one game day. Combat is simple but effective and PvP is allowed, though you may opt out. A flawless forest fight earns you a free turn; a good or lucky session of LoGD can be like riding a wave, each battle perpetuating the next.

As a new player you'll choose from a fairly typical selection of races and classes. There is a bit of hand-holding in the form of a beginners island with a helpful fairy, but the majority of LoGD is left for the player to discover. I won't reveal much more, as the distinct humor of the game makes the learning process appealing and fun. Don't be afraid to spend money, explore strange areas in the forest, or interact with bizarre NPCs. Very little you do can cause serious permanent damage, and there is a lot to gain by finding out what various people and places are for.

Analysis: Legend of the Green Dragon is a fitting tribute to a little known classic. However, the text based gameplay, fantasy setting and multiplayer environment make it important to note that LoGD is not an MMORPG, nor a MUD. Player interaction is minimal, limited to message boards and mail. The low number of levels available for advancement and limited forest fights per day make the maligned and potentially unhealthy level grind common to many MMORPGs impossible. In fact, though predating modern MMORPGs, LoGD seems designed as a response to current trends; limited by the number of turns each day, the player benefits by spending time efficiently and defeating the dragon as quickly as possible. Rather than simply rewarding those who have the most free time, everyone is on more equal footing. LoGDs simple gameplay and fun, well-writen encounters make sure the 15 or 20 minutes spent on each session are never a chore. Look for me as Moonside on the classic server!

Play Legend of the Green Dragon


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (128 votes)
| Comments (100) | Views (197)

Phosphor Beta 1Remember the amazing, jaw-dropping, Shockwave 3D first person shooter (FPS) demo that surfaced last year just prior to GDC? The game was called Phosphor Alpha and it was created by Nick Kang of Rasterwerks. Well, he's done it again.

Phosphor Beta 1 kicks the action into high gear by including multiplayer deathmatch functionality. And it all runs within the convenience of your browser(!), provided you have a computer with a fast processor, DirectX or OpenGL installed, and with a nice video card. Here is what Nick recommends:

Recommended for playback: 1.6+ MHz CPU, 64+ MB video card, Internet Explorer 6, Shockwave 10, Enhancer Xtra required for mouselook, fullscreen.

His recommendations are not requirements, however. I was able to run this amazing piece of work on my measly G4 Mac laptop in Firefox using OpenGL. To play using OpenGL, disregard the initial "DirectX 7 not found" dialog, choose Settings, then Video, then change DirectX to OpenGL and you're good to go.

Additional bullet points that follow are direct from Nick:


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Jamal and the Wasp BunkerBrand new from Gamesheep is this charming, albeit frustrating, little side-scrolling platformer starring an adorable vegetarian spider that is able to walk, jump, and swing from its own spidey-thread.

In Jamal and the Wasp Bunker, terrible enemy wasps are suspect to the recent disappearance of inhabitants of Golden Claw Village, and Jamal sets out on an heroic adventure towards the Wasp Lair to rescue its friends.

To control Jamal, use the arrow keys for movement, [left] and [right]; press [up] to jump, and [down] to crawl. These are fairly standard controls for a platformer, and yet Jamal puts a spin on the classic formula.

Instead of providing the usual double-jump to get across larger chasms, the Gamesheep developers have equipped Jamal with the ability to shoot a thread with which to swing from and climb on.

Press [shift] to shoot a thread; hold down [ctrl] while pressing [up] or [down] to change the angle of the thread that shoots. Once on the thread, you can press [right] and [left] to get a better swing going; press [up] to climb, [down] to descend. Press [shift] again to jump off the thread.

Collect fruits while avoiding an array of enemies as you make your way through each level. Progress can be saved only after levels 3, 6, 9, and 12.

Analysis: The art direction for the game is excellent and contains gorgeous backgrounds and tile sets. The animations of the creatures are all wonderfully detailed and gives each of them character consistent with the insect theme of the game. The over-world map is a nice touch that gives the player feedback regarding progress toward the ultimate goal of the game.

Separate controls for music [M] and sound effects [S] are provided and very much appreciated; unfortunately, the single music loop that serves as background soundtrack for the game will likely have you pressing [M] before completing even the first level. A more sophisticated audio implementation is needed consisting of switching often between several different loops that serve to establish mood and for situation setting themes. Audio is an often neglected component of Flash games that can significantly affect the overall quality and value of the game play experience.

The physics in the game also needs some polish. Jamal seems to float a little longer in the air than I would like, which gives a feeling of lag to the action. I prefer platform games to have a higher gravity constant that makes jumping feel a bit tighter. Maybe I've been spoiled by Nintendo's work in this area, so this may be just a personal preference. The absence of the ability to "run" was sorely missed on long straightaways that made going for those distant fruits a bit painful.

The game is quite difficult to get through due to some very brutal level design and its less-than-desirable physics implementation. This will make Jamal and the Wasp Bunker a tad frustrating for the casual gamer; however, the more hardcore gamer may find that it offers just the right amount of sting to get caught up into. You decide. Either way, it's very pretty to look at.

Play Jamal and the Wasp Bunker


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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DaddalumaJetro Lauha, is probably not a name you're familiar with. However, most everyone who enjoys casual games has at one point played that game where you threw a ragdoll dummy down a flight of stairs attempting to cause as much damage to him as possible. . . yes? That game was called Porrasturvat, better known as Stair Dismount, and it caused quite a stir in the online community when it was released back in 2002. We all spent as least a few minutes toying with the angles and the power, laughing with glee as the dummy bounced down the stairs and landed painfully on his head. Good times.

Pogo StickerJetro's latest offering, Pogo Sticker, is a wonderfully fun and free, physics-based downloadable game in which the goal is to guide a brightly colored pogo sticking blob safely to the exit platform in each of the game's 12 levels.

The award winning game took 1st place in the Mindtrek 2005 casual game competition and 3rd in Assembly 2005 game development competition. Jetro designed and programmed the game while Sara Kapli, Antti Tiihonen and Joona Poikonen provided most of the graphics and level design. There are versions available for all three major platforms—Mac, PC and Linux.

The controls are very simple and done entirely with the mouse. If you drag your mouse to the left or right of your character, he will lean and move in that direction. The farther you drag the mouse the sharper the angle gets and the faster he moves. Clicking either mouse button will increase the power of your jumps. Too much and your character will crash into the ceiling and damage his fragile head. If you take too much damage, you die and have to restart the level. You must also restart if you run out of momentum and can no longer jump.

Restarting is not a big deal though as you can try as many times as you like, and the levels are all beatable in under 30 seconds (though this will take practice). The game comes with a timer which will record how long it takes you to beat each level. You can win green, yellow and red lollipops based on your time, and if you manage to do extremely well on a given level, you can win the highest award, the super lollipop which indicates you've beaten the best score of the developers. I've only managed to get this on 2 levels so far, despite getting what I thought were some amazing times on other levels.

Pogo StickerThe graphics are bright and colorful and deceive the player into thinking that the game is alot easier than it is. The music and sound effects are lighthearted and fun for a while, but can get tiresome, especially when you're getting frustrated from continually dying on the same level over and over and over again. Fortunately they can both be turned off easily.

Pogo Sticker is not available in a browser, unfortunately, but the download is tiny (1.1 MB), and it's a really wonderful game which is definitely worth a look.

Analysis: Pogo Sticker is great fun. When I first played the game, I was having too much fun to notice any flaws, but now that I've finished the game, there are a few things that I feel could use improvement:

1) The default mode for the game is to run in a window, which caused a big problem for me. Since the speed of the pogo sticker is based on how far you move your cursor away from him, naturally, there are times when you want to have the mouse right on the edge of the game screen. However it's very easy to overshoot and move the cursor outside of the game screen's area, and since clicking the mouse is the only way to increase the jump power, I very often found myself clicking outside of the game causing the window to go inactive or bringing other windows to the front. Fortunately, the game pauses when this happens, so you can't inadvertently die while you don't have control. Unfortunately, this is only a small consolation, as the constant pausing is distracting and usually results in your death anyway. The game does have a fullscreen mode which solves this problem, but you have to manually select this, or create your own desktop shortcut.

2) The level design is not spectacular. Aside from the bright colors, most of the levels are not terribly visually appealing. Many have entire sections which are unnecessary, and almost all of them have random constructions in odd places which don't affect the gameplay at all and are more distracting to the eye than anything else. Each level is generally fun to play through once or twice, but none of them really made me want to play again. The physics engine powering this game offers quite a large range of movement to the players, but unfortunately the levels themselves are not greatly varied and much of the freedom that the physics engine allows is wasted. For instance the pogo sticker is capable of jumping very fast and high, yet there are no levels with wide open spaces in which to make use of that power.

3) Finally, this game just screams out for a level editor and a high score board, neither of which appear to exist.

With more and better levels, a high score board, and the ability to create, download and play custom levels, this game could have had a much greater lasting appeal. As it is, Pogo Sticker is still great fun for an hour or so, perfect for a lunch break diversion. Click.


(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (19) | Views (15)

RoboclawRoboclaw is a simple game of skill that will test your dexterity of hand-eye coordination in your attempts to move a small blue sphere into a goal by controlling a 'robotic' arm.

Control the arm by using the arrow keys on the keyboard. The [left] and [right] arrow keys control counter-clockwise and clockwise movement of the entire arm assembly, respectively; while the [up] and [down] arrow keys control counter-clockwise and clockwise movement of the 'elbow' extension, respectively.

Each level presents an increasingly more challenging goal, sometimes substituting a shorter time interval with which to complete the level to increase difficulty. Many times you will need to avoid touching any walls with the sphere as you move it towards the goal.

Analysis: As with other titles created by Mobasher Iqbal for UK site, Scenta, this game features the elegant simplicity I look for in casual games. The controls, although straightforward at first, possess a learning curve that will take some practice to become comfortable with. And yet the easy-to-understand gameplay paired with a not-so-easy challenge is the perfect combination for a quick lunchtime distraction that is sure to test your skill, and your patience.

Play Roboclaw

With thanks to Marco for the link. =)


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (22) | Views (9)

Reader ReviewAlbatross18: Realms of Pangya is a free downloadable, massively multiplayer online (MMO) golfing game for the PC/Windows. I know what you're thinking... MMO golf?! Well, its not so hard to imagine, is it?

Albatross 18In Albatross18, you can create a customizable character from dozens of different base characters, clothes and even golf clubs, with more being released every week or two. You can even buy caddies(!)

Game mechanics are simple enough for anyone to understand and similar to those seen in home console golfing games. Hitting the space bar activates your power bar, which then returns across the screen to be hit a second time, determining your accuracy. Hitting the accuracy bar just right allows for a special "Pangya" shot. Pangya shots have the utmost accuracy, and allow for special button combinations to be made for extra range, among other things. If you make a lot of good shots, your power meter fills up allowing you to make, guess what, power shots! Power shots are sometimes crucial to special button combination shots.

Editor's note: this review was submitted by JIG reader, Tomoki, using the game suggestion/review form, with additional analysis provided by JIG contributing author, Andrew.

  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (48 votes)
| Comments (39) | Views (272)

El ComploEl Complo is a casual puzzle game, similar to the Grow series of games, in which several items are added to the puzzle by clicking on them, one at a time, until complete. The order by which you click on the items determines the outcome, with only one sequence yielding the winning solution. Feedback is given once all items have been added indicating the relative level of completion attained for each.

The game is really an elaborate animated political cartoon in disguise. With thanks to Sebastian and Neop for their explanations in the comments, the game is a satire about recent political situations in Mexico involving an ousted mayor (El Peje), a senator (the guy with the cigar), and a series of incriminating videos including one with a politician and a suitcase full of money. The term "El Complo" is the term that El Peje used to describe the scandal, a complot (conspiracy) against him.

Despite its propaganda, the detailed animations of El Complo contain much of the same charm we are used to seeing with Grow, and thus makes this game a fine addition to the growing list of 'recipe puzzles'.

Play El Compló

Cheers to Oliviayang and Gabriel for suggesting the game. =)


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (43 votes)
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JohnBWord SandwichWord Sandwich is a free online Flash game that adds something a little different to the word game genre. The goal of the game is to guess the mystery five-letter word.

In true sandwich style, a text field sits in-between two slots, one above and the other below. As you enter possible words they slide to one of these slots. If it moves up, it means the target word is later in the alphabet. The reverse is true for the bottom slot. For example, if the top word is "Boats" and the bottom is "Dread", the mystery word could be "Creep". Whittle away at the possible words by carefully choosing your sandwich material and you might be lucky enough to win.

Every five rounds your score is tallied and recorded. A public high-score board constantly reminds you just how horrible you are at the game. To compete with the best you'll need to play several rounds, have phenomenal luck, and really know your five letter words.

As you play, a sliding arrow gradually decreases a score multiplier. When you enter a word, it resets. The faster you enter words the bigger your multiplier will be. But don't go too fast, as you only have 50 turns to guess the word, and each guess cuts down on your score.

Analysis: Simple to play and difficult to master, the game can be highly addictive. Consider yourself warned. The combination of guesswork and alphabetic strategy (with a nice jazzy musical score) grabs you pretty quickly.

When I first started playing the game, I blindly typed in words hoping to hit the right one. It wasn't until later that I evolved some strategy. Since I'm a really nice guy, here are some tips to save you some time staring at the screen reciting the alphabet in your head:

  • Start with words toward the middle of the alphabet to sandwich your word as quickly as possible.
  • Thinking phonetically helps, but don't limit yourself to sounding out words in your head.
  • When your "slices of bread" are very close to each other, think of common letter combinations and try them out. Go through the alphabet and pair letters together to find the right word.
  • The plural "S" is your friend.

Give Word Sandwich a try.

Play Word Sandwich

Big thanks to Darren for sending this one in!


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (17) | Views (22)

BreakQuestThe very first video game ever made was a game called Tennis For Two, the idea for which was later popularized in a game that quickly became a household word. Pong, as it was called, is a very simple game of hitting a little white blip back and forth between two player-controlled paddles on opposite sides of the screen. What makes the game fun is the open-ended play that results from two different people controlling the paddles in play; in other words, Pong doesn't offer much as a single-player experience.

Enter Breakout, a single-player variant of Pong that was conceived and developed by Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak in 1976. Rather than trying to hit the ball past an opponent, the objective in Breakout is to eliminate all of the bricks from play by hitting them with the ball instead. Easily understood and simple to play, Breakout is a classic example of a casual game, and one that has spawned many other games like it. One very well known descendant of Breakout is Arkanoid, a game which introduced the concept of gameplay-altering power-ups that randomly fall from the bricks as they are destroyed. Arkanoid was released 20 years ago and is now a classic in its own right.

BreakQuestWhile the core gameplay is essentially the same: destroy all the objects in the upper part of screen while preventing the ball from touching the bottom, Nurium Games thoroughly invigorates the classic formula in BreakQuest by including 100 levels, each one with a different theme, and an excellent, flexible physics engine.

Since the rotary knob originally used in Breakout and Arkanoid is rather uncommon on modern PCs, you'll be stuck using a mouse to control BreakQuest, which actually feels more intuitive. Move the paddle by moving the mouse. [Left-clicking] fires your weapon, if you have one. Each life provides you with a spare ball, which you can release at any time with a [Middle-click]. BreakQuest also introduces a creative solution to the often frustrating last brick problem; holding down the [Right] mouse button will apply a bit of gravity to all the balls in play.

In addition to stationary bricks, you'll find a wide variety of objects including pendulums, scales and nets, all of which swing, sway and bounce realistically. 47 different power-up 'pill' types that help or hinder play, and featuring old favorites like multi-ball and glue, as well as new ideas such as sputnik (a second, smaller sphere orbits the ball) and several paddle-affecting or distorting diseases.

BreakQuest is great fun, and it raises the bar to a dizzying height for future Breakout clones. The presentation and attention to detail is top notch, as are the pleasing sound effects and visuals that include some very impressive particle effects. Most importantly, the wide variety of levels is so compelling you will actually want to unlock and experience every single one of them. At only $0.20 per level, BreakQuest is well worth a look.

With thanks to Noah for collaborating with me on this review. =)

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version.

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Order the full version.


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (205 votes)
| Comments (109) | Views (2,793)

flOw

A masters in fine arts thesis project created by Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark of the University of Southern California, flOw is a mesmerizing game of primordial life, evolution and survival. Dive deep into the wild blue to seek out and consume other organisms on your path to simple cell nirvana.

flOwBegin life as a microscopic multi-cellular organism with a semi-circular shaped 'head' for feeding and for locomotion. The organism moves by following the mouse cursor, moving as it moves and always in pursuit. Click and hold the mouse button to accelerate its movement, though doing so will make it more difficult to steer and to make sharp turns.

The starting location is at the top of a very deep pool, 20-levels deep. The top level is indicated by the game's "flOw" logo, which can be seen when the game begins. On the top level you will also find another organism with a small red dot "." in its middle. This organism can be found on all but the deepest of levels, since eating it will take you down one level. There is a similar organism with a blue dot "." on all but the top level; consuming it will take you up one level.

If either of these two creatures ever leaves the screen of the current level, small ripples, in corresponding red or blue, will appear along the edge in the direction that it can be found. Just follow the ripples as it is also an indication of where there may be food as well.

To eat another organism as food, for example one smaller than you, simply navigate your creature so that the 'food' comes within its circular 'mouth' and it will consume it. In later levels where there are even larger organisms, steer for the bright circular shaped cells within the body cavity. When an organism (including your own) loses all of these life-giving cells, it will perish.

Continue your advance deeper and deeper to discover what lies in waiting within this absolutely magnificent piece of interactive art.

Analysis: Reviewing beautiful work like this is what makes maintaining this site so rewarding. It is an excellent example of the boundless creativity that is possible with an accessible development platform (Flash).

I loved the seamless flow between game play, splash screen and credits. Brilliant. The Flash 8 filters have been put to very good use in this game to simulate depth of view and an appearance of bio-luminescence within the creatures. I especially enjoyed being able to see what is coming on the next level down, and the zooming effect when moving between levels. The creature detail is simple and yet believable and their movement graceful. The entire visual presentation is exceptionally well designed and executed.

The background music compositions by Austin Wintory are a perfect match for the smooth flowing game play, and creates a mood that is both mesmerizing and relaxing. The sound effects that are triggered while eating complement the background music with texture and depth. All things considered, flOw is an elegant, well-orchestrated composition of sight, sound, and gameplay.

It is also necessary to mention the similarity between flOw and the primordial phase of Will Wright's upcoming Spore game simply because Spore immediately came to mind when first laying eyes on flOw. And flOw did not disappoint me even with the lofty expectations I have of Spore from seeing Will's GDC presentation last year. And with almost a year since Spore first surfaced, I think it is very likely that Spore inspired flOw.

And yet even in all it's present magnificence the game is still unfinished according to discussions on the game's forum. More sound effects and a final boss are still planned to be included in the final version.

Play flOw

Cheers to Will, Wiser, Momentum, and Andrew for suggesting the game, and to Wulfo for discovering there is still more to come. =)

ARC


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

ARCA delightful game integrating sight and sound, ARC is a game of chain-reactions and music-making that will likely go directly into your Favorites list.

Stars on a circular orbit will appear and float randomly on the play field. Click on a star, quick-drag and release to 'throw' it around its orbit. Timing becomes important to collide with other stars thereby causing a one-revolution "blast." Other stars that come in contact with a blasting star will also blast, and hence begin a reaction chain.

There are three (3) different modes of play: Accelerated, Accumulated and Training. In Accelerated play, the objective is to create the longest chain of collisions possible, which the game keeps track of as your only score; there is no time limit to play. In Accumulated, you have a limited number of stars (100) with which to accumulate the largest score possible, with each collision in a chain worth increasingly more points. Training is merely an opportunity to play with slower stars without the confines of the other modes, and it offers very little feedback to warrant any real time spent within it. You might as well jump right in and start playing for scores.

Analysis: I love unique games like this. The elegant simplicity with which ARC blends audio and visual stimuli with interactivity is like sweets for the senses. Although there is not much depth to its gameplay, the casual nature of what it does offer rewards those who come back often. I wish the click-drag mechanic was just a bit more effortless to control, as it becomes frustrating at times to get the stars to behave as you might like. Simply wonderful.

Play ARC

A separate page is host to the High Score list.

Cheers to Graeme for suggesting this one for JIG. =)


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (14) | Views (32)

Breakit2Breakit 2 is a brand new game from Terry Paton in which he takes classic gameplay elements from Breakout and Arkanoid, and energizes them with stunning Flash graphics and a high-tech soundtrack. The result is a gorgeous game that is a lot of fun to play.

Simply move the mouse to control the paddle and use it to keep the ball bouncing in play. Eliminate all of the bricks on each level to move on to the next. Catch falling points to add to your score, and catch special falling bricks for temporary power-ups such as multi-ball, large paddle, and speed-up. Beware, however, as some power-ups may not be very helpful.

Analysis: What is especially nice about this implementation is the way the paddle tilts when the mouse is moved. The angle of tilt affects the direction that the ball bounces off the paddle and this helps create a sense of immersion with the physics of the game. A very nice touch. I also liked the vocoder sound effects that announce the various events in the game.

The game is not without a few problems, however. The collision detection between the ball and a brick seems to fail at times, which allows the ball to travel right through the brick unaffected. Although noticeable from time to time, the issue does not occur frequently enough to significantly impact game play. Unfortunately, the performance of the game was not playable on my measly wimpy Mac G4 and I therefore had to use my much speedier PC for play testing.

Simple and accessible, casual gameplay in a bright and beautiful package.

Play Breakit 2

Update: Terry's site is back!


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (16) | Views (1,792)

Game Design SolitaireWho doesn't enjoy playing card solitaire now and again? There are many varieties of Solitaire—or Patience as it is called by British folk—and most involve the dealing of cards into a set pattern on a table, which is then used by the player to order the cards by rank and by suit constrained within a set of rules defined for the game.

Most people familiar with Solitaire play the Klondike variety. In Klondike, the deck is shuffled and then one card is dealt face-up onto the table followed by six (6) cards face-down. On the first of the face-down cards the next card is dealt face-up followed by five face-down cards as before. The process continues until the last card is dealt face-up on the right-most pile. The remaining cards in the deck are dealt, commonly three at a time, onto a waste pile and played from there.

This is quite similar to rules of play for the latest Game Design Flash game, Card Solitaire, with the exception that all of the cards are dealt into eight (8) piles instead of seven (7); and there is no waste pile. The player moves face-up piles as in Klondike, alternating red and black suits while placing lower numbered cards upon higher numbered cards, except that the entire face-up pile need not be moved altogether. Click and drag any face-up card to move it and any cards below it. The game is won by moving all of the cards of each suit onto its corresponding foundation, starting with the ace of the suit.

Game Design's version of the classic card game is quite intuitive and I found it extremely easy to jump right in and play. The rules seemed natural and straightforward, and the drag-and-drop interface was just as intuitive. Sometimes a click-drag did not seem to grab hold of the card as expected, though the occurrence was infrequent and didn't affect my overall enjoyment with the game. A minor complaint to an otherwise elegantly simple implementation of a classic, and one that may just be the right deal for you.

Play GameDesign Solitaire


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (25 votes)
| Comments (199) | Views (437)

JohnBDumb: The Game is a free online puzzle/riddle game that requires only a browser to play. Much like God Tower and a bit like Not Pr0n, Dumb pits you against a series of riddles and puzzles armed with only your brain and Google. As you struggle through, you'll definitely feel at least a little bit dumb. Thankfully a bustling community of players are there feeling just as lost as you.

Dumb: the gameThe game has a relatively open-ended construction which allows you to move around and try different puzzles in case (when) you get stuck. A system of coins lets you unlock new puzzles and each time you solve one you get a few in return. The real treat is proving to the world just how un-dumb you are. Your DQ - that's Dumbness Quotient - increases with each solved puzzle. The higher your DQ, the less dumb you are.

Figuring out each puzzle takes a variety of skills and some luck. Fortunately there's an active Dumb community that will give you hints or the outright solution (if you're a cheater like that). Some puzzles are fairly straightforward, some require a knowledge of trivia, some are logic puzzles, and yet others are solved in an entirely different manner. Be innovative with your methods and you just might be as undumb as the rest of us.

Analysis: Every game I've played by Hamumu has an intangible sense of mischief about it. I can't quite explain it, but Dumb: The Game has that exact same feel. When inevitably compared to God Tower, Dumb is light-hearted and carefree. It's a welcome change, and most of the puzzles are just as intensely challenging as similar games.

A key difference and major plus for Dumb is the active community of players. Each puzzle has a difficulty rating based on scores given by others. That combined with the discussion forums made me feel as if I wasn't alone in this crazy world of dumbness.

And what a great name for a game. Nice job, Hamumu.

You know you're dumb enough to try Dumb: The Game.


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

BrentBack in 1980, Midway released an innovative maze game called Rally X. It involved the player driving a rally car through a maze collecting flags while avoiding enemy cars. In many respects, Rally X resembles an extended version of Pacman. Creative games tend to surface from time-to-time, and Rally X was no exception.

BajaYikihiro Naito created a similar game in 2001 called Baja, and it is an excellent 3D implementation of the traditional gameplay from Rally X. In Baja, you take control of a car and drive it around a 3D maze collecting flags. The catch is that you can only see a small portion of the maze at a time. So, in order to find the flags, you will need to keep an eye on the scanner to the right of the screen. The scanner will show the positions of the flags, but not the layout of the maze.

To hamper your efforts, the maze is also populated by four (4) enemy cars, which will try to destroy you. Fortunately, you have a defense against the enemy cars: you can temporarily blind the enemies with a smoke screen by pressing the [space] bar. There is a trade off, however. Releasing a smoke screen depletes your fuel supply.

Analysis: The Shockwave 3D graphics in this game look great and were made to appear semi-transparent when your car is behind them. This very nice touch helps keep the car visible at all times. Also, the camera position shifts naturally as you move around the maze, which allows for some nice close-ups of the car. These Shockwave 3D effects were well ahead of their time for browser-based games, as there were very few being made back in 2001. It's all pretty impressive, really.

On the downside, there are two areas that I could see room for improvement. First, the music. The background music is monotonous and gets annoying very quickly. Second, the difficulty is not pitched very well. I found it extremely easy to pass several levels without losing a life. In fact, in the end I closed the game because I felt like it would go forever without providing a serious challenge. If the difficulty increased more rapidly, then it would be more challenging and keep the player engaged for a longer period; perhaps it might also improve the game's replay value as well. Overall, I think the graphics and the feel of the gameplay make this a pleasing and fun casual game. For those that may want to spend a few minutes driving around a maze, Baja provides the perfect diversion.

Play Baja


Rating: 4.7/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (37) | Views (18)

NoahNyctalopia (Greek for night blindness) is a short, Flash-based puzzle collage by French artist Philippeloy. More than an interactive portfolio, yet less than a fully realized point-and-click adventure, Nyctalopia bills itself as "a journey into (Philippeloy's) works."

NyctalopiaEach screen requires you to complete a simple task to move on. None are particularly difficult but no two are alike. In case of confusion, instructions are hidden somewhere in each image.

Analysis: The real stars of Nyctalopia are the subtle soundtrack and, of course, Philippeloy's collages, which combine paint, photographs, maps, text and digital images into colorful, abstract landscapes. It's always a treat to find online games that eschew the vector graphics so heavily associated with Flash, especially when an alternative style is as expertly realized as in Nyctalopia. The final screen states that Nyctalopia is a work in progress and, indeed, the end comes far too soon. Click.


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (34 votes)
| Comments (48) | Views (166)

The Flowering NoseI was so very sad to hear the news about Seth.

I remembered playing the action adventure game he and Omar created, The Flowering Nose, a couple of years back when my eyes were first opening to the potential the Web offered for games. The Java applet impressed me with the old-school charm of its scrolling tile-based worlds, its quirky characters and dialog, and its addictive gameplay; and all delivered within the convenience of a browser.

And yet the moment the game begins you realize that this is no ordinary Web game. Immediately you are teleporting back to the glory days of the SNES and landing squarely within the Strawberry level. From there your task is to seek out the one last sprout, which is the one item you need to open the final gate.

To find the sprout you will first have to find a host of other items that will eventually lead you to it. Some items you will use, others you will trade with NPCs that you meet along the way. The catch is that you can only carry one item at a time.

The Flowering NoseItems are magical in this game because each item allows you to teleport to a unique level named after it. Within each level you will find a teleport device that must be activated by placing an item (any item) onto the large red "X" next to the sunflower. Once activated, you can travel to that item's level by moving onto the teleporter.

Control in the game is with the mouse. Left-click to move the Flowering Nose to the square you click on, or hold down the mouse button to have the nose constantly following the mouse. Right-click to toss flowers, which are your munitions against enemies. You can collect more flowers at any time by simply moving over them, the same way you pick up any item. Press [space] to drop an item; you'll use this technique when dropping an item on the red "X" to activate the teleporter. Press [X] to use an item, such as digging with the pick axe, or opening a door with the key.

The game packs several hours of play time, so you will want to make use of the red flag poles in the game to save your progress. Caution: do not save your game (if you can help it) on the Cherry level. I encountered a bug in which the nose got stuck every time it loaded my game from there. I had to start a new game because of it.

Yes, it's an odd game with a few minor issues, and yet it was brilliantly designed by Seth Fisher to contain amazing depth, wit and charm. This strange and beautiful game should not be missed, as it is not often that you will find a game with this level of detail presented in a deceptively simple way. It is a throwback to the video game classics of years ago; a rare find, and one of a kind.

Seth Fisher died suddenly from an accidental fall on January 30, 2006; he was just 33. His artwork and memories live on through his family, and through this wonderful game on collaborator Omar's website.

Play The Flowering Nose

Game credits:

  • Seth Fisher (FloweringNose): concept, level design, graphics, story
  • Omar Waly (RadicalPlay): engine, programming, sound and music

Java usage note: Although the game will not run on my current Mac (Panther), it should run under Tiger with Java 2 runtime version 5.0 installed. It runs fine on my PC, XP, JRE 5.0.
Bejeweled 3 laptop giveaway


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (51) | Views (152)

Industry 2It seems our hero's balloon has been shot down by the paperclip factory's anti-aircraft artillery, and it's your job to find a way back home.

That is the opening sequence that drops you into Industry 2, the sequel to last year's Industrial Place Thingy. Like the first game, this one follows the same point-and-click stick-figure formula popularized by Rob Allen's seminal work with the Hapland series of games.

At present, there are only two (2) levels to complete out of 8 or 9 the game author, James "Dangerskew" Trofe, has designed. Here is a little bit of advice to get you started:

  • In "Landing," you must make your way over to and through the door guarded by the stick figure holding what looks like a trumpet (it's actually a gun).
  • In "Elevator," the so-called elevator is the double-doored location at the top-left of the scene.

In each level, you are the stick figure that begins at the bottom left of the screen, and it is with that particular stick figure that you must accomplish the goal for the level. As is usual with these games in which you can reach a no-win scenario, a Reset button is provided with which to reset the level back to the beginning to try again.

Analysis: Although this appears to be a work-in-progress, there is already enough here to keep you busy for some lunch hour fun. The sound implementation could use some work however, as the carnival sing-song music loop gets tiresome all-too-quickly. There is a mute button provided, but an even better implementation would include a separate control to disable the game music while preserving the sound effects.

While not as compelling as the Hapland games, the Industry series is well made and will be appealing to anyone who enjoys this type of game. And with several more levels planned, there is a lot of Industry fun yet to come.

Play Industry 2

Cheers to Bryan and Shade for suggesting the game. Do *you* have a game to suggest for a review here? Use the now very handy Suggest a game form, a link to which is at the top right of every page just beneath the banner.


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (14) | Views (12)

NoahFrom Takahiro Miyazawa, otherwise known as SKT-Products, comes The Frog World. Immersing and beautifully textured, The Frog World will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played a 3D platform game in the last decade. Gathering stars in order to access new levels? Time trials that force you to go from point A to point B as quickly as possible? Frustrating clipping problems and difficult to estimate jumps? It's all there in your browser, thanks to Macromedia's Shockwave 3D.

The Frog WorldThe first thing you'll want to do is set the text to English on the title screen. The controls, which are visible below the game window as well as in an extensive help menu, are not very demanding: Use [left], [right] and [up] arrow keys to move, and hold the [down] key to zoom out the camera. The frog will do a short hop if you tap the [space] bar; hold it for more distance. [Z] sets the camera to a first person view. Although you can't move while holding Z it is especially helpful for targeting insects, which you can grab and eat by pressing [X]. Finally, press [S] while inside a portal to exit a level.

The game begins with four levels of training. You'll soon find yourself in a hub area with portals to all five Frog Worlds. You can save your progress on a leaf in the center of the room; a good thing, as there are 72 stars to collect and over a dozen individual levels to explore. You won't be exploring them all right away, however; predictably, you'll need to collect a prerequisite number of stars before entering all but the first world. Sometimes you'll find stars floating in plain sight, but just as often you'll have to eat all the available bugs, or successfully complete a time attack. Time attacks begin when you find a clock icon and end when you reach a checkpoint (or run out of time trying).

Analysis: The Frog World's style is refreshingly realistic; the scenery is more Pikmin than Mario. Wisely, Miyazawa didn't create yet another wisecracking anthropomorphic mascot to star in his game; wandering around the well-constructed environments as an actual frog provides an excellent sense of scale and atmosphere. Unfortunately, The Frog World suffers from the same problems as most 3D platform games. Clipping errors and camera problems are far too common and, in a game heavily based on jumping, it's not easy to determine how close you can get to an edge without falling off, or when you're going to be able to pass through an object versus bumping your head on it. All things considered, The Frog World is an impressive, well constructed effort, and fun for an hour or two.

Play The Frog World


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

JohnBHot on the heels of the recent apppearance of a Massively Multiplayer Pong game (which is no longer available, go figure), Plasma Pong, a downloadable Windows game, takes the old favorite table tennis formula and fills it with liquid plasma.
Plasma PongUsing fluid dynamics you can push the ball around the screen or charge for a cannon shot. The game ends up playing more like a visual experiment than a serious Pong clone, but it's worth a few minutes of playtime nonetheless.

Move your paddle up and down with the mouse to follow the ball. Press the left mouse button to send jets of plasma out of your paddle. Use it to deflect the oncoming ball and to fill the screen with colorful smoke. Hold the right mouse button to absorb plasma and attract the ball. Charge for a few seconds, then release to fire a power shot.

The riveting part of Plasma Pong is the visuals and killer musical score. The plasma looks like psychedelic liquid smoke. The dramatic presentation makes you feel as if you're doing something monumentally important. Pretend you're saving the world or something, isn't that what we're supposed to do in video games?

There are levels of difficulty in Plasma Pong, though there doesn't seem to be much of a challenge in even the highest levels. The computer isn't very smart, but then again, no one plays Plasma Pong for the challenge. Sit back and have Alt+PrintScreen ready to go.

Analysis: A simple and beautiful little title that borders on visual experiment rather than video game. It's a treat to look at, but when it comes down to gameplay there are a few gaps in the plasma.

For starters, there's no real sense of progression. Each time you score a point, the plasma clears and it says "LEVEL UP". But very little (if anything) changes. And the computer AI doesn't offer much of an opponent. A multiplayer mode is planned for the next release of the game, so hopefully your friends can offer more of a challenge.

So go ahead, give Plasma Pong a try.


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (11) | Views (12)

linezAt first glance, Linez immediately pulls you in to its attractive, minimalist display as well as its simple and accessible gameplay. A perfect combination for a casual game, and just the kind of thing I find great enjoyment in playing as well as highlighting here.

It is in fact another clone of Lines, a game that has spawned countless iterations. Previously reviewed Bloomin' Gardens and Powerballs use the very same gameplay formula.

Where Linez differs from those to come before—at least from the ones I have seen—is in its simplicity of style and, of course, the "Online Arena" part of its name. The 'arena' is merely a well-crafted, color-coded high-score table that ranks and displays not only the highest of scores, but also the most recently played games as well; and it does so with style.

Each score is color-coded to represent the range within which it falls:

  • 000-199 . . . Purple
  • 200-499 . . . Navy Blue
  • 500-999 . . . Sky Blue
  • 1000-1499 . . . Chartreuse
  • 1500-1999 . . . Yellow
  • 2000-2499 . . . Orange
  • > 2500 . . . Red

Linez Online Arena is sure to be a hit with the Sudoku crowd, even though it's nothing like it. The familiar crossword-puzzle-like appearance paired with the numbers set within color-saturated blocks will certainly be engaging to many a casual gamer. And while the game offers nothing new in terms of gameplay, the attractive presentation and compelling high score tables may be just the ticket to launch this brand new arrival into the casual game stratosphere. Click.

Cheers to David for suggesting this one. =)


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (38) | Views (48)

JohnBGridWarsGridWars is a free downloadable (for PC or Mac) old-school-style shooting game that's remarkably similar to Geometry Wars on the Xbox.

Your small ship sits in a one-screen grid and vectorized enemies spawn to attack. Use your any-directional gun to stay alive while you rake in points. Along the way a few power-ups will give you a hand, and there's always the emergency screen-clearing bomb you can unleash. It's a classic shmup with a few modern tweaks that makes it worth anyone's time to give a try.

Everything about GridWars screams simplicity. There are only a few different types of enemies, each with its own personality. The little green things chase you, the purple diamonds cluster and tail you around the board, the red circles mess with the grid (and thus the "gravity"), etc. One shot obliterates anything in your path, but the sheer number of baddies is what gives the challenge.

Controls in the game are extremely customizable which is very, very good. The best way to play GridWars is with a dual analog gamepad—one stick to pilot, one to shoot. This gives you the greatest sense of freedom. If you don't have a dual analog pad there are a number of other options, even using the mouse in conjunction with the keyboard. It's important to spend some time before you start to set up a comfortable control scheme. You'll need it.

The only real goal in GridWars is to stay alive. That is, of course, harder than it sounds. In typical retro fashion you progress by gaining points and the difficulty ramps up by increasing enemy speed and number. The soundtrack (which I will call a minimalistic electronic orchestral symphony, to sound intelligent) keeps your demeanor calm and determined, which in the end is all you can rely on.

Analysis: I am not a fan of shooters. My eyes just glaze over when I see the familiar top-down point of view with a ship flying around. But GridWars looked enough like Asteroids for me to give it a try. Strangely enough, I love the game. It's good in short spurts, as I don't really care about advancing until I scream at the vector enemies. But the whole package is very well done, even if it's just a clone of another game.

Shaving excess gameplay to reveal the core mechanics of what makes a game fun can be difficult. But the end product gives you that great sense of accomplishment with very little work. To me, that's the definition of a casual game, and GridWars does it very well.

Ready to, ahem, give it a shot? Download GridWars.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the free full version


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (74 votes)
| Comments (57) | Views (813)

CityscapeThis next game is not a new effort, and yet it has been enjoying renewed interest of late around the Web and it deserves a play through if you're unfamiliar with it.

Following the trail blazed by the tremendous popularity of On's Eyezmaze Grow series of casual Web games, two enterprising young Flash developers used that inspiration to create a sim-ilar game with a SimCity-like theme.

Created by Nick Pfeifer and Aaron Hibberd, Cityscape puts you in charge of breathing life into an otherwise undeveloped land mass by choosing the building order for the elements that make up a standard city.

Simply click on the small icons in the bottom right corner of the game window to build residential areas, industry, an airport, seaport, amusement park, etc. The order you choose determines how far each of the areas develops and matures via a process of leveling up, just as in the Grow games. Once you you are finished adding all 18 elements, you are scored out of a total 60 possible points. And just like Grow, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Analysis: The first time I saw this game about a year ago, I passed on it because I was expecting just a little bit more after having just played the original Grow. And while Cityscape may lack the intricately detailed and delightful animations that On puts into all of his games, it does present a hearty challenge with its many more elements.

Another difference I noticed between the two game designs is in the way leveling-up is handled. With On's Grow, although there exists some dependencies between elements (one requiring another to be present to level-up, for instance), each element generally levels-up on its own with each passing round. In Cityscape, the leveling-up appears to be more cause-and-effect than a passing of time. While this may be easier to implement, and even seem logical when building the rule set for a game like this, it also causes an unpleasant side effect that reduces the depth of gameplay. For example: if adding a commercial area influences the interstate to level up, then adding the commercial area before the interstate will never cause the interstate to level-up, even after it is added.

Games of this kind are difficult to design and become exponentially unwieldy with each new element added to the number available to choose from. Considering this fact and the sheer volume of possible combinations, the authors did a commendable job putting together a decent and very playable game that will appeal to fans of the Grow series, as well as to those that just like a good logic puzzle to solve.

Play Cityscape

Cheers to Dan, Matt and Kevin for suggesting the game. =)


(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (8) | Views (70)

Professor Fizzwizzle

Another finalist for this year's Independent Games Festival (IGF), this one in both the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and Innovation In Audio categories, Professor Fizzwizzle is a delight to the eyes and ears and one that will even give your brain a workout while you play. (Requires a download.)

The first offering by GrubbyGames, the Canadian-based duo of Ryan Clark and Matt Parry, presents a fun and whimsical romp around a make-believe puzzle world in which the game's namesake professor must make his way through dozens of levels and back to his lab.

The simple premise on which the game is based puts the player in control of the estranged professor who has been removed from his laboratory by the very robots of his own creation. These Friend-Bots-turned-Rage-Bots have wreaked havoc and scattered all the professor's keys and gadgets everywhere, and it becomes your job to help sort things out.

"I won't give up," said the prof;
"I'll never give in!"
"I've got to get past all the Rage-Bots within."

A straightforward control scheme makes the game deceptively simple to pick-up and play: use the arrow keys to move the professor back and forth, left and right; he can even climb up and down ladders. He is capable of so much more, and yet all his actions are handled automatically within the context of the situation. For example, if he falls down onto a barrel he can ride that barrel by using the left and right arrow keys as before.

The goal of each level is to move the professor to the exit tube (represented by the large red arrow) from his starting position. To do so requires strategy, cunning and even a bit of good timing, the latter of which injects a unique arcade element to the classic puzzle formula.

Analysis: The 2D side-view puzzle game shares similarities with other sliding-block logic-based puzzle games like Sokoban, and yet includes a wide array of special items and gadgets that together add originality and charm to the formula resulting in a truly unique game play experience. Adding to the game's charm is its saturday morning cartoon themed sound effects and music tracks composed by Michael Huang, to which I couldn't help bobbing my head back and forth each time I played. Everything about this game screams: Fun!

In fact, GrubbyGames has pulled all the stops to compile a comprehensive and enjoyable game by including: regular levels, advanced levels, and two (2) sets of levels deigned especially with kids in mind; the ability to play custom levels; a level editor with which to create your own custom levels; and even animated solutions to each of the games 236 puzzles(!) There is so much fun packed inside this very appealing and accessible casual game for all ages, I heartily recommend downloading the free trial version of the game and see for yourself. The game is available on all three platforms: Mac OS X, Windows, Linux. Download.

Or, try the online version to get a feel for the gameplay first.

Game credits:

  • Ryan Clark: design, programming, level design
  • Matt Parry: design, graphics, level design
  • Michael Huang: sound and music
  • Victor Zakharov: level design

The IGF will be held at the annual Game Developer's Conference (GDC) later this month in San Jose, California.


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (13) | Views (73)

BrentHeavy WeaponHeavy Weapon is a side-scrolling arcade game from Popcap. As with all good arcade games, the concept is simple and the gameplay is easy to pick up but difficult to master. Note: requires Java and Windows. There is no Mac version available.

You control a tank, which moves across the bottom of the screen in response to mouse movements. Planes fly overhead dropping bombs and weapon power-ups. You can destroy the planes by aiming at them with the mouse and clicking the left button. Holding the left mouse button allows rapid fire, which can make gameplay a bit easier. At various times in the game you will collect Nuclear Bomb power-ups, which destroy everything on the screen. These can be launched by clicking the right mouse button. They are rare, so you should save them until you are in serious trouble. The goal of the game is to survive an increasingly varied range of airbourne enemies until a boss appears at the end of the level.

Analysis: The graphics and animation used are well polished and pleasing to the eye. The sound effects are also well suited to the game. In many respects this game is similar to Heli Attack, with the main difference being Heavy Weapon uses mouse control for movement. This is something I thought should be different. When you are confined to shooting only in the direction that the tank is moving, difficult levels become frustrating and the fun aspect of the game slips away. Using the keyboard to move and the mouse to aim would provide the player with more control and the freedom to avoid bombs while aiming at planes on the other side of the screen.

Another aspect of the game that I thought could be better is the length of the levels. It takes a long time to get to the end of the level, and I believe the game would be more exciting, and hold interest longer, if the player could have a more immediate feeling of success. This could possibly be accomplished by providing shorter levels.

Overall, the game serves its purpose as an arcade game with addictive gameplay. The player will likely enjoy an increasing adrenelin rush as the enemies gradually become more aggressive.

Play Heavy Weapon


(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (7) | Views (14)

JohnBKing of Skeleton is a first person quasi-3D Flash game where you pilot a racer down an icy chute. Unlock longer, more difficult tracks by beating the target time, or go for the Olympic record. If you dare.

King of SkeletonThe game is based on the sport Bob Skeleton in which racers tumble head-first down the tube on a small sled. It's similar to luge, but more demanding, and maybe a bit cooler to watch. King of Skeleton stars Kristan Bromley, an athlete whom the author describes as "pretty good at [Skeleton]". In this game, that's all up to you...

Kristan stays on the lower part of the screen the entire race, showing his home country's pride atop his helmet. The game controls with just the left and right arrow keys as you slide him back and forth down the tube. The only goal is to stay on the course. Collect King of Shaves shaving gel to lube your sled and go even faster. Yes, you read it right. King of Shaves was actually Kristan's sponsor in the Olympic games, so the product placement is sort of justified.

A surprisingly interesting feature is the included form where you can challenge your friends to beat your top scores. While it's really an ingenius device to spread the viral game to your buddies, it does offer a primitive "slap in the face with a metal glove" feeling. All you have to do is click "Challenge A Friend", then enter a few e-mail addresses.

Analysis: This simple game is well done for a Flash title. It does a great job of simulating a 3D racing environment with the use of progressive shading. It feels like a real tube of ice.

The controls leave a bit to be desired mainly due to the lack of analog control. When the speed increases and turns get sharper, I felt a little out of my element trying to stay on course by frantically tapping the arrow keys.

When you fly off the track you restart at the same position, which is a nice frustration-beater. There are 6 tracks to play, each of which must be unlocked by beating the target time. There's a fair amount of challenge and fun to be had in this viral game, so give it a try.

Update: To unlock a hidden game mode (that's more difficult but a riot to play), click on the Options Menu then go to Game Modes. Enter "charlie" as your code and hit the tubes.

Ready to go? Try King of Skeleton!

Thanks go to Bryan for suggesting the link. =)

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