August 2006 Archives


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (57 votes)
| Comments (52) | Views (99)

JayClackClack is a unique and original puzzle game created by Sean Hawkes from California, USA.

At first glance the game appears to be a layout from a schematic diagram, which might easily scare you away if you're the non-technical type. And it will likely have you scratching your head wondering just what to do with it even if you are an electrical engineer. However, those adventurous souls that persevere, by poking around the surface to learn what is hiding underneath, will be nicely rewarded by what they find.

Stop! If you have not yet played Clack, do yourself a favor and stop right here. Go discover it for yourself first, and then come back and read the rest of the review. You'll be glad you did. =)

Competition first place award winnerContrary to its first impression appearance, Clack is a simple game of chain reactions, similar to a domino effect or a rudimentary Rube Goldberg machine made up of only similar parts. I'm not quite sure how to describe it best since it is a marvelously unusual design.

Mousing over the surface of the play field reveals small circular 'orbits' within which each of the mallets will rotate (when the game is put into motion.) Clicking on a mallet will change its length as well as its resulting orbit. Mallets that share a common axis with other mallets move as a unit, and yet their length may be changed independently.

The ultimate objective is to set each of the mallets in the correct starting position such that, when the 'start' button is pressed, all 20 targets will be visited.

To start the game in motion, press the orange triangle found in the lower left corner of the play field; the stop button is the orange square. You may only change the settings of the puzzle when the game is stopped.

Analysis: As I mentioned above, the first time I launched Clack I was deeply puzzled. There was certainly nothing obvious about it. And yet after a bit of poking and prodding I managed to make a few clacking noises, ...and a beep(!) I was instantly hooked. From there the game pulled me in and wouldn't let go until I had lit up all 20 targets.

This engaging and compelling puzzle game fits perfectly with what I had in mind for this competition. It was the kind of puzzle where you are given no instructions and have no idea what to do at first. And even after you do figure out what is required of you, there still remains the mystery of how.

Besides being truly delightful to discover its behavior and intricacies, the game is beautiful and it looks like a work of art to me. So unassuming, plain and simple on the surface, and then so intricately detailed once you examine it up close. Absolutely wonderful, from start to finish, and brilliant.

Congratulations, Sean on an excellent, creative and original puzzle game. I do hope that you plan to expand this design into a larger, multi-level game (with a level editor, too!) =D

JohnBJohn: Clack combines several key elements of captivating casual game design: a simple, attractive layout, easy to understand gameplay, and an absolutely riveting concept. From your first glance at the game your mind is hungry to understand what's going on. Once you figure it out, it's a joy to uncover the solution, yet that's only the beginning of the fun. My personal favorite aspect of the game is the great 'clack' noise the paddles make when they collide. It's the little things that count! A big congratulations to Sean for creating a fantastic game.

dancemonkeydancemonkey: My favorite thing about Clack is how little information you're given about the puzzle itself. You're just dropped into a strange interface and must discover for yourself not just the puzzle's rules, but even the object of the puzzle itself. The design is elegant and simple, and I agree with John about the sound: the game's titular sound is essential to drawing you in and keeping you hooked.

NoahNoah: Maybe Clack should have been called Click; the split second when the initially confusing interface clicks in your mind is very satisfying. The deceptively simple concept reveals an increasingly complex and mesmerizing series of interactions through lovely animation and striking color. Congratulations Sean!

Play Clack


| Comments (53) | Views (9)

clackJudging this competition has truly been a bittersweet experience for all of us here at JIG Casual Gameplay. Sweet because we have been graced with so many wonderfully creative and original puzzle games to play. Every last one of them deserves the usual treatment we like to give around here, so look forward to seeing each game highlighted and reviewed in the days and weeks ahead. That these amazing interactive experiences have been created in Flash for immediate delivery anywhere in the world through the window of a browser is remarkable. The calibre of games submitted is a testament to the achievements that become possible with an accessible and easy to use development platform, as well as to the near ubiquitous penetration of the Flash Player itself.

But having to narrow this playing field to just three (3) winning entries is an unenviable position to be in. The competition was very close. Sometimes too close to call and another scan through each game was required to validate or reevaluate the scores that were tallied. Four (4) reviewers total—John, Drew, Noah and myself—scored each game in detail according to a set of rubrics established for the theme of this competition. And the summary of that data lead directly to these three choices:

Congratulations to all of the winners, and to everyone that submitted an entry. A warm and gracious thanks for helping to make this first ever Casual Gameplay design competition such a memorable one and a success.

Please show your support for all of these talented game designers by casting your votes, and dollars, towards the Audience Prize, to be announced when voting ends early Saturday morning, September 2, 2006. Please refer to the Audience Prize page for links to vote for each of the games.

Thanks also go out to Adobe for generously providing the Flash 8 licenses for the competition, and to Graeme for helping to procure a black Nintendo DS.

Prizes will be awarded as follows: The author of the first prize winning entry may choose either a Flash 8 Professional license or the black Nintendo DS. The remaining prizes will be offered to the authors of the runners up entries, using a drawing, if necessary, to settle a tie.


| Comments (57) | Views (8)

Casual Gameplay game design competition guiAs you may have already guessed, scoring this competition is proving very difficult due to the quantity of quality titles submitted. Although I had hoped to have winners announced on Monday, we are taking an extra day (or two) to make sure that all entries into the competition have been thoroughly played, examined and scored fairly.

When we announced the competition earlier this month, we promised that there were additional prizes to be announced, and we were not kidding. In addition to the two (2) Flash 8 Professional licenses and the black Nintendo DS up for grabs, everyone who entered the competition will be receiving an exclusive, limited-edition JIG Casual Gameplay Competition T-Shirt! =)

But wait, that's not all.

Today we are proud to announce the Audience Prize, to be awarded to the game designer of the competition entry that receives the most votes from the JIG community.

This award will be a cash prize of at least $201.15 USD(!)

I say "at least" because we want to give everyone the opportunity to contribute to the prize, if you so choose, by donating $1.00 USD when making your vote. (Sorry, only those making a donation will be allowed to vote. Offer void where prohibited.)

No one is obligated to vote, and all we are asking for is a single dollar from each of you. All proceeds* will go directly into the Audience Prize money that I am personally starting off at $100. Of course you may donate more than a dollar when you vote, though your vote will still count as only one (1) no matter how much you contribute. We will be monitoring the incoming donations to keep this blog entry updated with the current total for a full disclosure. (*Your donation less any fees PayPal deducts prior to our receiving it. PayPal takes $0.33 cents on a one-dollar donation.) Deadline to vote is this Friday, September 1, 2006 at 11:59 PM (GMT-4:00).

To vote, simply use the PayPal ("Vote") link next to the game icon you wish to vote for. Thank you kindly for your patience, and for your anticipated contributions of support for this very talented group of Flash game developers. =)


Update (09/02/06 12:00 AM): Voting had ended! And the winner is...

Anders Gustafsson will receive $201.15!! Congratulations, Anders! And cheers to everyone that voted! =)


(Looking for the competition entries that used to be here? They have been moved to the Game Design Competition #1 announcement page for easy access via the Favorites feature.)


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The next batch of entries submitted to our competition are now up and available to play! Click.

Thank you kindly for leaving your comments and constructive criticisms for each of the puzzles. As before, please leave your comments on this entry to only the 13 entries in this batch. I'll list them here to make it easier for you...

And that concludes the entries for this competition. =)


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The first batch of eight (8) entries submitted to the competition are now up and available to play! Click.

Here is a listing of what puzzles are included in this batch:

I think I have all the bugs worked out of the UI. I've rushed to get this up, though, so please be kind with your bug reports. =)

It will be a while yet before any results are announced. There are quite a few to get through, and we want to be sure that each and every puzzle is thoroughly examined. I will be watching the comments to see what people think of each of them, and possibly taking that into consideration.

Please leave your comments for these 8 only here. Thank you!


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Our first ever game design competition deadline is upon us, just a little less than 12 hours away, and already I am inundated with unbelievably good, fantastic puzzle designs to sort through and choose from. Picking the best of them will certainly not be easy. I am working feverishly hard to make sure that you are able to play each and every one of the finalists, and depending upon the quantity of any last minute submissions received, I will (hopefully) have something up and playable for you over the weekend. So be sure to check back if you are as excited as I am about it! =D


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (54 votes)
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liquidwebtoy.jpgJohnBLiquid Webtoy is a Java-based (Processing, to be exact) application very similar to the World of Sand games we're all so fond of. Rather than playing with solid elements, however, this game is focused on two things: liquid and color. Fill the screen with water, slosh it around with your mouse and add different shades to the mix. It can be as relaxing or chaotic as you like and is a great time-waster.

Your cursor acts like a small bubble of air that will move through the water and push it around. You also have over half a dozen different elements to play around with, all of which use the physical properties of water to achieve different effects:

  • Water - As simple as it comes, spray water on the screen and watch it slosh around.
  • Paint - Mix your own color and meld it with the on-screen liquid.
  • Cloud - Gloopy clouds float to the top of the screen and fall when they get too dense.
  • Magma - The mostly-stationary magma turns water to steam (which acts like Cloud) when it comes in contact. Use it to create some interesting feedback loops.
  • Wall - Create sections to perform different water experiments on.
  • Bomb - Need I say more?
  • Duck - Rubber ducky, you're the one. Floats on top of the water and resists even the hottest magma (try that in your bathtub!)
  • BH (Black Hole) - Suck up all the matter surrounding your cursor. Way too fun.

Analysis: Webtoys really don't have a purpose, they're just fun to play around with. This one is no different and incorporates some visually fetching color mixing elements that make it interesting. If you're looking for accurate physics and intricate interactions with the elements, Liquid Webtoy won't satisfy your hunger. But it will give you a soothing visual playground where you can spin your thoughts, paint them different colors, then suck everything up with a Black Hole.

Play.


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Swinger 2: Rock & Roll ApocalypseMark Arenz has been designing games over at Ridiculopathy for years now and he has amassed an impressive selection with creative and original gameplay. He has recently released a sequel of sorts to a unique game concept he created about a year ago, and this one succeeds in improving the idea and taking it to the next level.

Swinger 2: Rock & Roll Apocalypse is an action game of skill that offers a delightful and gratifying game play experience. It begins with a humorous and frivolous introduction sequence that sets the tone and mood for a ridiculous galactic adventure.

Use the arrow keys to swing the... um, er, thing around each of the nodes to turn them all grey; the [right] arrow swings clockwise, [left] counter-clockwise. Press [space] to jump. You can also press [ctrl] to skip nodes or pick-ups, and to control movement when jumping in combination with the arrow keys.

Some nodes will require multiple visits and their color indicates that. For example, blue nodes turn grey when visited, green turn blue, red to green, and so forth. Visit all nodes on each level to activate the exit, which appears like a small target somewhere in the level.

Overall, loads of humor, loads of fun, and highly recommended.

Play Swinger 2: Rock & Roll Apocalypse

Be sure to read what we had to say about other Ridiculopathy games: Happy Flower Music Time, Legend of the Pointy Stick, Carnyville, and the original Swinger.


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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dancemonkeytooncrisis.jpgYou know that dream, the one where you're walking down the streets of London listening to the frantic sounds of Gogol Bordello, when homicidal cartoons start spilling out of the scenery?

Me neither, but thanks to Toon Crisis I know how to handle myself in just such a situation. Just make a gun with your thumb and forefinger and start blasting the little baddies!

From Killer Viral comes this excellent rail shooter, an advergame for the Sony mp3 Walkman Flash—but don't let that turn you off. Each shooting stage is wonderfully integrated with video footage of London streets, with the above mentioned Gogol Bordello providing suitably manic background music. The enemy cartoons in question are also well integrated with the background scenery, moving behind and over background objects and in and out of doors and windows as they try to take you out.

The requisite elements for a great shooter are all here: good enemy variety, weapon power-ups, and a powerful boss at the end of each stage. The game was easy and fast; I managed to finish it in my first sitting, probably within 15 minutes or so, but there is a continue option built-in if you just can't hack it. You even get a downloadable prize for finishing.

I played the game on a P4 2.4 GHz desktop system with 512 MB of RAM, and a Mobile P4 1.6 GHz laptop with 256 MB of RAM. The game ran as smooth as silk on the desktop system with the exception of some very minor frame rate issues at the final boss battle. The game had minor frame rate issues from time to time on the laptop, though nothing that really affected gameplay. Your mileage may vary, so happy shooting.

Play Toon Crisis

Special thanks to Chris, Jared and Mark for the submission.


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (9) | Views (1)

Noahskatefall.gifSkatefall is John Freeborn's tribute to one of the earliest platformers, the Atari 2600's Pitfall! With a bodacious new skateboard, online scoreboard, bonus items and powerups, 2D platforming has a new name: Skatefall Harry.

Tap the [right] or [left] arrow to move in either direction, and keep pressing the button to gain and keep up your speed. Press the [spacebar] to jump.

As a homage, Skatefall is extremely effective and faithful; the graphics and sound are perfect and the difficulty, while formidable, is appropriate. To be honest, I haven't been able to make it to very many of its 255 levels yet, so I can't say if vines and alligators make an appearance, but here's hoping they do.

Play Skatefall

Cheers to Drew and Andrew for suggesting this one! =)


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (22 votes)
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Three DegreesI have a very simple little game for you today, and it's a Java applet from Japan. Three Degrees is a variation on the classic 'click groups' puzzle game, Same Game.

The game is played by clicking on groups of the same color to eliminate them from play. Of course, the larger the group the more points awarded. But doing so also clears valuable space to fit more blocks, a new batch of which will fall into play with about every fourth click. Only by clearing very large groups (16+ blocks) can you earn a free click.

There is no "beating" this game that I could tell, the game ends when the play field fills up completely with blocks. There is a nice indicator on the bottom center of the game window that will always tell you how many blocks are in the color group under the mouse cursor. Use it to find the largest of groups available. Three Degrees is a very simple game to pick-up and play, a nice variation on a classic, and one that you will likely find yourself playing again and again.

Play Three Degrees


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (421 votes)
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Virtual Villagers: A New Home

JohnBVirtual Villagers is a downloadable real-time simulation game developed by Last Day of Work, the creators of Fish Tycoon and a number of other casual sim games. Take charge of a village of crash survivors and help them carve out a living on a jungle island. Teach them to farm, help them research scientific advancements and expand their population. It's a remarkably addictive game that's easy to play but impossible to stay away from!

virtualvillagers2.jpgYou begin with a small handful of untrained villagers. Teach them to perform various tasks such as farming, building, researching, breeding and healing. An extremely helpful tutorial guides you through the game's basics, but everything operates on a simple drag-and-drop mechanic. Want to train a scientist? Drop a villager on the research table. Need to pick berries for food? Drag someone over the berry bush. Villagers may not take to a task immediately, so sometimes you'll have to be persistent.

Once you get everything started, it's time to leave your people alone. Virtual Villagers plays out in real-time so even when the game isn't running the villagers are working hard. Each time you play you'll see the fruits of their labor and can give them new directions or just check up on their progress. You can also adjust the speed to anticipate any gaps in your playing time or to get things moving a little more quickly. Virtual Villagers is just as much about waiting as it is playing.

The strategy in Virtual Villagers comes from how many villagers you assign to each task and how you choose to upgrade your abilities. You accumulate Tech points by getting people to do scientific research. Use these points to upgrade your population's building skills, farming abilities, etc. With each new level opens more possibilities of exploration and survival. The trick is managing which abilities get upgraded first and how you use those new skills to better your village.

Now available for your mobile device! Be sure to check out our review and walkthrough for:

Your main goal is to build a thriving population, but there are also various mysteries to solve along the way. Some are fairly obvious, such as the large boulder sitting on the north end of the village, but others you must seek to discover. In all there are 16 puzzles waiting to be unearthed. As you accumulate tech points and upgrade your abilities you can explore each new mystery and see what surprises await you.

Analysis: I've had a blast playing Virtual Villagers. It's a great blend of casual gaming and strategy, which, honestly, is a tough balance to strike. Throughout the day I wonder what my villagers are up to. Are they still farming like I taught them? Any new babies in town? It's always great to come home and check up on my new family. It's great to see the little surprises, such as random events or the occasional new discovery.

Each time I fired up Virtual Villagers I only played it for ten or fifteen minutes. Really, that's all that's required. It's no different than playing a game of Solitaire just to pass the time, only now I actually accomplish something in the long run. Enticing players to return is one of the toughest jobs a casual game designer has, and Virtual Villagers does it extremely well.

Play all the Virtual Villagers games:

If the game suffers from any drawbacks it's that sometimes there just isn't much to do, especially later in the game. In the beginning you must coddle your village and make sure everyone is working hard to keep the population alive. But as you gain villagers and start farming, it's safe to leave your people alone for days at a time. The occasional random event must be dealt with, but otherwise everything runs smoothly. Of course, if the game required your constant attention it wouldn't be casual, would it?

Virtual Villagers is a great simulation game that doesn't require a lot of time but gives you the satisfaction of an intricate game. You'll have a lot of fun managing your population, teaching them new abilities and exploring the island. You'll know how addicted you are when you wake up in the morning and your first thought is "I wonder how my village is doing?"

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Cheers to Urizzato and Brieya for suggesting this one! =)


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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dancemonkeyKodama, or Tama for short, is a quirky little ball-toss game that had me quickly hooked, and it wouldn't let me go until I had conquered its final challenge... with extreme prejudice.

tama.gifThe gameplay is simple: you toss a little metal coin into a red or blue scoring area, while avoiding the black areas that will cost you one of your four lives. The screen is divided into two fields: a green field from where you grab the coin and toss, and the little maze-like area that you need to toss the coin into.

The first two levels are so simple that you literally can't fail, but after that the difficulty ramps up. It's usually fairly easy (with a couple devious exceptions) to get the coin into the 100-point red zones, but the 500-point blue zones are arranged to maximize your risk of failure.

I played this game for hours upon hours over a couple of days before finally beating level 20, which is the final level. I was obsessed with completing it from almost the first moment I played.

The graphics are simple to the point of being crude, but that doesn't affect gameplay at all. Games like this live or die on the strength of their physics, and the physics in this game seem spot-on. The coin does pretty much exactly what you expect it to do every time. Once you've played for a while, you'll know if the toss is good or not the moment you release it.

There are only four sound effects in the game: two scoring sounds, a sound for failure (think "You've all overbid!" on The Price is Right), and the soft clink of metal on metal as the coin bounces on the walls. There's a subtle effect here too: the ricochet sound's pitch and volume change based on the speed of the coin... a nice, realistic touch.

My only small frustration with the game is the finite number of chances you get to win. You may find yourself (like me) playing through many times because of stupid mistakes or bad mouse movements. I would have appreciated either a certain number of chances per level, or perhaps even ramping up the difficulty all around and giving you infinite tries to finish.

Enjoy Kodama.

PS: I strongly recommend checking out other games from the same site, which as far as I can tell is simply titled Game (going up several levels to the ultimate root site leads you to Cool & Warm, a Japanese "Game and Design Company"). The games run the gamut from strange to inspired to inscrutable. They're all original, all well-produced, and all fun.


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

Noahray-hound.jpgRay-Hound is a new downloadable game for Windows from Hikoza Ohkubo over at Hikware software. Like his previous game, Warning Forever, Ray-Hound is a simple, well executed shmup with a creative twist that sets it apart from other indie or commercial releases. Of course, also like Warning Forever, Ray-Hound is a tiny download and absolutely free.

Instead of blasting away at the turrets that make up each stage, in Ray-Hound you turn their own attacks against them. Move your ship with the mouse and capture lasers by clicking the left button; any lasers caught in the field that surrounds your ship will begin to orbit and follow you. Release the left mouse button to fling them back at the turrets. You can also perform a boost by moving the mouse rapidly in any direction. Boost into lasers to reflect them off the front of your ship. With a little practice boosting becomes extremely useful, particularly against small groups of turrets. Right click to pause the game and adjust the boost sensitivity, and press F11 to toggle full screen mode.

When the timer in the upper right corner of the screen reaches zero, your game is over. Clearing each stage of turrets (see the bottom left corner to keep track of how many remain) will add to your time, but taking a hit from a laser will subtract 10 seconds.

Ray-Hound's fluid graphics and action are fairly intuitive, although its not until after the first dozen levels that the game really picks up and becomes gloriously hectic. With no audio, no high score ranking and only two of the four main menu options available, it is clear that Ray-Hound is not complete. Still, this early build is rock solid and a great time, particular for jaded old shooter fans dying for something fresh. Enjoy!

Cheers to Lavkian for being on the mark with suggesting this one as the review was being written. =)


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (85) | Views (23)

Mystery of Castle WildenburgAn adventure game in the classic sense of the genre, as well as in a more low-tech DHTML implementation, the Mystery of Castle Wildenburg combines original photography of Germany's deep woods with the cartoon drawings of artist Aurèle Mechler, which together produces a unique visual appeal to this engaging and compelling Web-based game by Jörg Jochims.

Make your way through the deep forests on your way south to a very hidden castle that is difficult to find, Castle Wildenburg. The castle is home to a very old and mysterious, valuable treasure: the Lapsit Excillis, a jewel with an amazing power capable of extending the life of whomever possesses it. You are sent by your king to fetch it for him "by hook or by crook!" from its current owner, King Anfortas.

Sporting an easy-to-understand interface that includes clickable buttons for actions, a compass for navigation, an inventory, as well as meters showing food and water status, the game is well-designed and even supports saving and loading games as you play. Move the mouse around each scene to find hidden items and areas that can be acted upon. Click an action button first, and then the item or area desired. To move, simply click on one of the directions of the compass—provided of course you can move in that direction.

Use your old-school adventuring skills to find and examine items, talk with strangers, buy items with Taler (gold), anything you need to find the elusive castle and fetch the prize for your king.

Keep an eye on your hunger and thirst levels, for you will die if they are ignored. Good luck, and long live the king!

Play Mystery of Castle Wildenburg

Cheers to Jeremie for the link to this great find! =)

Note: This game maintains state using server sessions, which will timeout after a period of inactivity. Therefore make sure you save your game often, especially if you plan to be away from your computer for a while.

Looking for a map to help you find the castle or beyond? Look no further:Cheers to Kat for the maps! =)

| Comments (86) | Views (1)

Casual GameplayWelcome to Jayisgames' Casual Gameplay, simply the best selection of (mostly) free casual games you will find on the Web today. We have been here reviewing casual games most likely longer than any other site on the Web, since 2003. We could probably claim that we were the world's first site dedicated to reviewing casual games. But I loathe to make such a self-serving statement as that.

And yes, this is a blog. It is a reverse chronological series of entries, and each one carries with it its own discussion. Just click on the entry's title, or the "comments" link at the bottom, to read what other visitors are saying about the game being reviewed.

Now, you might be thinking, "yeah, so what?"

Well, after the last couple of years of explosive growth in traffic and usage to nearly 1.5 million page views per month, quite frankly our usage has leveled off in recent months. Whether this is due to summer holidays and outside activities, school not being in session, or what have you, I'm not sure.

But there is something you can do to help.

Our reputation for highlighting some of the best, innovative, and most unusual casual games available has reached far and wide. In fact, I believe our success in this area is one of the reasons for our growth tapering off. It may not come as a surprise to you, but this site is visited and watched by a great number of other sites that also feature games for you to play. Once we post something here it will often appear on many, many other sites simply because they saw it here and therefore know it must be good.

Unfortunately, that means any exclusivity we have for our hard work finding, testing, and reviewing these games is reduced to mere hours, and then the games are available all over. While this is great news for game developers and it pleases me a great deal to be helpful in getting the word out about their outstanding creative work, I feel that there are a great number of potential visitors that still don't know about us.

So, now you might be thinking, "How can I help?"

I'm glad you asked. =)

  • Tell your family and friends about our site.
  • Post a link to our site on your website, blog, or favorite forum.
  • When we post a review to a new game, add your voice to the discussion by posting some constructive criticism. What did you like? What didn't you like? What improvements would you like to see? Many times the developers themselves visit the review page for their game and your feedback is very valuable to them.
  • Use the "digg" and "del.icio.us" links at the bottom of each review to share it with others that use those very popular services.
  • Have a favorite game that hasn't been reviewed here? Submit a link to it using the Suggest a game form, a link to which can be found in the menu on every page.
  • If you're a game developer that appreciates what we do, please consider giving us advance notice and a link to your game so that we may have the chance to review it first.
  • If you are a game developer without a server to host your game on, consider allowing us to host it for you.
  • If you are a game designer, enter our game design competitions. In fact, there's one going on now!
  • Do you love to write about games as we do? Consider joining our team of reviewers. While this won't help the traffic situation directly, it can help indirectly by allowing us to spend more time with site improvements that may in-turn lead to improved visitor retention.
If you can think of anything else to help spread the word, or to make this a more popular destination for casual gamers, please post it in the comments. Your help is appreciated.

And most of all, thank you kindly for your visits! =)


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (41 votes)
| Comments (123) | Views (58)

JohnBdolphinolympics.jpgEver watched Flipper and were jealous about all the tricks he could do? Now you, too, can have the skill of a sea-based mammal with Dolphin Olympics. This flash game by Alan Rawkins puts you in the role of a dolphin in an infinite blue ocean. Leap from the water and perform tricks to rack up a high score and build speed for the next jump. It's a surprisingly simple idea that borrows elements from a number of games yet feels fresh each time you play.

The core of Dolphin Olympics is doing tricks to earn a better score and increase your speed. Each time you leap out of the water you can use the arrow keys to perform flips and spins. The more complex your moves and the longer you hold them, the more points you get. The crucial part is sticking your landing. If you slap the water at the wrong angle you'll lose your momentum. Nail it just right and you'll not only get a score bonus but you'll swim faster, too. Faster swimming means higher jumping, higher jumping means more time to show off your mad dolphin-trick skills. Tony Hawk, be jealous.

When you finish a two minute playing session, save your score to a global high score board to see how well you rank. You can also check out stats about your own games, such as how high you jumped, the biggest splash, etc. With a little luck and creative use of dolphin trickery, you might eventually claw your way to the top 20.

Now there's a Dolphin Olympics 2!!!

Analysis: Dolphin Olympics is a game I've found I keep coming back to play for weeks on end. Its simple, one-handed controls fit the game perfectly and there's no learning curve to bother with. Just fire up the game, do some tricks and call it a day.

Although the driving force behind Dolphin Olympics is getting a better score, I've found the little micro-bonuses urge me to keep playing more than anything. For example, as you perform tricks and leap higher out of the water, you'll catch a glimpse of the sun. Jump farther and you'll surpass the sun and reach a dark, starry sky. Even little touches like sparkles, fireworks and glowing skin gave me the warm fuzzy feeling of having accomplished something. And be sure to play the game at different times of the day for a few pleasant surprises.

Dolphin Olympics is a great pick up and play game that has enormous replay value. I'll be coming back to this one for quite some time.

Play Dolphin Olympics


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (37 votes)
| Comments (47) | Views (30)

nimianhunter.jpgI have been playing Nimian Hunter for the past few days, or at least trying to get some quality time in with this amazing and unusual new game. Created by Robert Kabwe of Montreal, the game makes use of an engine that creates the illusion of 3D in Flash, and it's very, very good.

You play the role of Nimian Hunter on a mission to feed the beast/god/demon/thing that commands you. Just move the mouse in the direction you wish to travel, lasso in hand, and click the mouse to rope the moving creatures that you find near the bright green beacons. Wait for the lock-on indicator to appear for best results.

Once lassoed, your next task is to guide the creature back to the red beacon without losing it. Trees can break the rope and release the creature if they come in-between, so navigate the terrain accordingly.

It's an unusual gameplay mechanic and one that creates a decent sense of immersion with it. Even better is the narrative that unfolds as you play, which makes this game even more compelling.

Nimian Hunter is not necessarily a long game, but it does contain a plot twist and a couple of different endings that will have you playing through at least twice.

Play Nimian Hunter

Cheers to Imok20 for suggesting this one! =)


  • Currently 4.6/5
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(0 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (3) | Views (2)

Indie SuperstarA big warm shout-out to the folks over at Indie Superstar, a Web-based indie videocast all about indie games and the studios that create them, including in-person interviews with developers.

Jayisgames is prominently featured in their latest episode, number 4, so be sure to pay them a visit and check it out!

A big Jayisgames Cheers! to Susan Lambe, Mimi Balaji, Dan Brainerd, and Ichiro Lambe at Indie Superstar. =)


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (37 votes)
| Comments (34) | Views (20)

Reader reviewBullet BillThe following is a reader-submitted game review by Hassle Free:

This game is Super Mario Brothers from the point of view of Bullet Bill 2. It is also very fast paced and challenging, especially on the higher levels.

The gameplay is pretty standard for a side-scroller. Use the arrow keys to navigate while trying to hit the breakable blocks, Goombas, and even the occasional Mario or Luigi. The challenge is to avoid the green platforms that you may remember jumping on from the original SMB games.

Analysis: Overall I think this is a pretty good game. Its graphics are reminiscent of Mario, the sound effects are quite good, and it is even fairly challenging. The later levels do get difficult, and you will likely need to memorize the entire level just to get through it. Anyway, like I said it is worth a try.

Play Bullet Bill 2

JayJay adds: One of the nice things about this game is that when you die you only go back to the beginning of the current level, and you are given infinite lives with which to complete the game. And while the game comes off a little amateurish in production values, the simple and effective gameplay won me over. Play this one while you can, since Nintendo is generally quite adamant about protecting their intellectual property.

Update: And that was just a demo(!) The real Bullet Bill is out and the links above have been changed to point to the new, enhanced version. If you're still interested in playing the demo, you still can:

Play Bullet Bill


| Comments (2) | Views (0)

Independent Games Festival 2007Seems like the summer of game design competition announcements, but if you're a game designer/developer, especially one interested in Web games, there are plenty of opportunities available to earn recognition and win fabulous prizes for your efforts.

Not the least of which (that's me trying to say this is pretty big!) is the Independent Games Festival (IGF) held each year at the Game Developers Conference (GDC). The first deadline to submit entries for next year's competition is coming up: September 8th. Among the various categories offered is a Best Web Game prize of $2,500 that is up for grabs.

So head on over to the IGF website and find out what you need to do to enter. Hey, you never know, right?

Cheers to Simon over at Gamasutra for the heads-up about the approaching deadline. =)


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (30 votes)
| Comments (28) | Views (43)

Four Second FrenzyAs many of you were quick to point out, the previous game, Four Second Fury, has been around a few months—since April of this year, to be precise—and a sequel to that game has just been released, called Four Second Frenzy. While both games feature the same fast-paced action and gameplay, the sequel offers even more mini-games than the original (50 total).

The concept is simple: using only the arrow keys and space bar, follow the on-screen instructions for each mini-game that gets thrown at you ("Avoid!", "Shoot!", "Swat five", etc.) And you have just four (4) seconds to do it in. Make it through 20 mini-games before losing all seven (7) lives to win.

The game will be immediately familiar to anyone that has played Nintendo's Wario Ware series of games, as it borrows the very same frenetic gameplay formula. The result is a game that is almost as enjoyable as Nintendo's commercial offerings, and that's saying quite a lot. This game is a lot of fun!

The larger sequel was made possible by a collaboration of 26 Flash game authors from all over the world. Together they have made Four Second Frenzy an even better game than the original ("Fury") due to the sheer variety of mini-games it offers, and by including three (3) different modes of play: Normal, Endurance, and Sudden Death.

Normal mode is the same as in Fury, except you get seven lives to beat 20 games; Endurance mode gives you ten lives to make it through all 50 mini-games; and Sudden Death challenges you to make it through as many games as you can without losing a single life.

A cheap (it's free!) alternative to commercial games offering similar gameplay, Four Second Frenzy provides all the frenzy you'll need for an enjoyable browser-based game play experience.

If you need help with any of the games, there is a tutorial available that gives hints for each of the mini-games included in the game.

Check out the entire Four Second series of games.

Play Four Second Frenzy

Cheers to Jibioko, Camjam80, RedKlonoa, and Mike for suggesting this one.


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (31 votes)
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Reader reviewFour Second FuryThe following is a reader-submitted game review by Scramble125:

Furious is defined as: "Full of activity; energetic or rapid". This next game will probably make you feel a little like a "furious" five year old with a mouth full of sugar.

From jmtb02, creator of the Ball Revamped series, comes Four Second Fury. Lacking any sort of plot, Four Second Fury launches the player into a series of 20 randomly selected, four-second mini games ranging from simple dodging games to a sort of "Simon says" type games.

The game doesn't try to be anything more than that: just a simple, quick Flash game when you have a few minutes to kill. Don't expect it to last long—you only have five lives with which to fail. And once they are gone, you will have to start a new game. This isn't really a problem, however, as you will quickly master the controls (spacebar and arrow keys) and complete the game with ease. And despite the game's simplicity, it was still able to hold my attention. I can definitely see myself putting off work for yet another Four Second Fury again.

Analysis: My only problem with games like this is that sometimes they are not as fast-paced as they set out to be. However, with Four Second Fury this is not the case. It's perfect for burning off a sugar rush.

Like I said, I loved it. It doesn't really require any more in-depth analysis. Run, catch, dodge, and defeat the final "boss" as he hurls previous mini-games at you (you'll understand when you play it). Relax and enjoy it.

The music certainly adds to the atmosphere of the game (techno anyone?). Although it is almost certainly run on a loop, the game is so fast that you hardly notice. This can hardly be said for other games much like this.

Fast and furious and great for a rainy afternoon, Four Second Fury is sure to entertain you... for about 2 minutes. And that's exactly what it sets out to do.

Play Four Second Fury

Check out the entire Four Second series of games.

Cheers also to Talps, Mike, Zengief, and Andrew for suggesting this game.


| Comments (22) | Views (5)

JIG Google GadgetI just finished making a JIG Google Gadget (try saying that three times fast!) using Google's Gadget API. The gadget displays a random selection of game icons on your Google home page, similar to what shows up in the recommended section on every page of this site. So now quick-click casual games are even more accessible and convenient than ever before.

If you would like this gadget added to your Google home page, just click the image to the right, or use this link to Add to Google. =)


  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 4/5 (33 votes)
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JohnBEgg Way is another great release from Dofi Blog, creator and popularizer of all the Falling Sand games (Hell of Sand, World of Sand, Sand Sand Sand) and the unique New Rolling Omusubi game. The goal is to guide a freshly liberated egg yolk down to a waiting frying pan. eggway.gifGravity is not your friend in this game, and if the yolk takes too much punishment you'll have to start over. Using a pen that draws temporary platforms you must guide the delicate yolk to the goal as gently as possible. And then... breakfast time!

The levels in Egg Way quickly become challenging. New objects are introduced, such as rotating platforms, walls, spikes, even balloons. All just happen to be deadly to the yolk and can usually destroy it with a single touch. A good strategy is to focus on drawing near-vertical lines to keep the momentum going without beating the yolk around too much. Gently guide it around any objects with a slow, smooth stroke, then slash new platforms to correct the path as it falls. Keep the egg away from moving objects and don't let it take too many spills, otherwise you'll be drinking your breakfast.

Analysis: I'm glad cooking eggs isn't this challenging. On the other hand, I wish it were this fun. Egg Way is a simple idea that I would love to play with the touch screen on a Nintendo DS. The impermanent nature of the lines you draw creates a good balance between strategic stroking and hectic mouse scraping. One moment I'm gently guiding the liquid mass down a platform, the next I'm whipping the cursor around trying to keep it from falling off the pan. A great mix of playing styles and a wholly addicting game. Play.


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (37) | Views (3)

Impulse

Max Tafelmayer and Thomas Kress of Munich, Germany, have previously collaborated on the impressive Robo Pinball game, which was reviewed here back in 2004. Their latest effort is this Shockwave 3D action puzzler that incorporates physics and a variety of compelling contraptions as the basis for its gameplay.

In Impulse, the basic objective is to move the white ball to the goal in the shortest time possible by placing bombs and other objects on the play field that will influence its path.

ImpulseEach level exists on a vertical plane (not a top-down view) with the force of gravity acting to pull the ball toward the bottom of the play field. Play consists of placing any object(s) allocated for the level and then starting the simulation.

The gameplay may at first be similar to other action puzzles that you have played, but what sets this one apart is its exceptional presentation and the precision of its underlying physics engine, which Max programmed himself to ensure deterministic results. For example, the game allows you to manipulate the time line by dragging the time slider back and forth to fine tune the placement of objects that affect the path of the ball. You really have to see this feature to truly appreciate the precision gameplay it allows.

In addition, various elements exist to provide challenge and depth to each level by introducing new concepts or puzzles that must be solved, or bonus points to earn. For example, in one level hitting numbered targets in the correct order before reaching the goal will subtract time from the total (lower scores are better in this game).

Analysis: As impressed as I was with the presentation of Robo Pinball before it, Impulse is even more polished and appealing. The user interface is very easy to navigate, it rivals many commercial offerings, and it includes a variety of features that serve to extend the replay value of the game. For example, the level selection menu system displays the best score achieved for each level at a glance. Once a level is selected, the last setup can then be loaded to see how the best score was achieved, or to make adjustments.

Although the game is basically played on a 2D plane, the graphics in the game are actually 3D as can be seen by using the zoom and pan features that allow you to examine the play field up close, even during a simulation or while scrubbing through the time line. This allows for a novel and unusually precise perspective to the game, and it propels it above other similar games in its class.

The demo version contains 24 levels to play while the full-version boasts over 100. The pace during the first several levels of the demo is slow and may turn some folks off as it is set up like a tutorial, but it serves to introduce the player to the concepts and controls available in the game, and to this end it does an excellent job.

Impulse has just been released under their recently founded casual game company, Taparo, and features a playable online demo as well as downloadable Shockwave projector files for both Mac and PC. I found the downloadable "enhanced" version to perform better on my Mac than the online version, but your mileage may vary.

Play Impulse

Cheers to Karl for discovering this fabulous new release! =)


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (21) | Views (14)

Ant TracksAn action puzzle sorting game filled with bugs and grubs and leafy plants, Ant Tracks puts you in control of an army of ants on their way back to the nest after a successful foraging.

Your job is to guide each ant to its proper food store depending on what it is carrying. Food stores are the long narrow hollowed logs and each is labeled with a picture of what should be deposited inside: bug, grub or leaf. Ants move like Lemmings along the maze of horizontal twigs until they arrive at a food store, at which time they hop in regardless of whether it's the right one.

Alter an ant's path by changing the direction of the red arrows along the twigs. Ants will abide by the red arrows and turn accordingly. Continue clicking on the red arrows to sort each ant to its proper destination.

Each level sets predefined goals of how many of each type of food must be collected in its proper store to advance to the next level. If you fail to meet any goal, it's game over. There are 20 levels total.

Later levels present hazards that you will have to stay mindful of if you are to keep enough ants safe and advance to the next level. Venus flytraps, spiders, and dragonflies are all hungry for ants, but the hazard that each presents can be mitigated with the proper technique.

Analysis: Ant Tracks is a magnificently beautiful and enjoyable game that is extremely well-polished. There is much about this game that I believe the developer got right, not the least of which is the ambient cricket background chirping noises and the simple and effective soundtrack that has an almost tranquilizing effect. It's very reminiscent of Pikmin, and it sets the stage for a delightful casual game experience.

The photo-realism of the images used in this game and the subtle yet detailed animations all work exceptionally well together and serve to bring the game to life. The transition between levels with the blur effect and the fern leaves is very nicely done and is an excellent touch.

The level design in the game works, but is not as balanced as it could be. For example, I found level 15 to be very difficult to get 30 of 32 total ants to their proper destination with each having to pass over a flytrap. At least a level or two after 15 seemed a bit easier. This is but a minor blemish to an otherwise excellent effort.

A quality casual game from PlayerThree in the UK, Ant Tracks is available to play only at Fingertime in the UK. Beware of pop-ups and scantily clad women in the ads next to the game when you visit. As such, this game is rated PG13.

Play Ant Tracks


Rating: 4.6/5 (21 votes)
| Comments (48) | Views (33)

Goggles Flight simAdded to the mysteriously vacant Flash flight sim category, Goggles Flight Sim dares to let you go places where you may only have heard about.

In an effort to get a job, Mark Caswell-Daniels decided to create a Flash application that integrates information collected from Google's mapping service, which he had to figure out for himself, to attract attention to his portfolio. The result is this strangely alluring Flash flight sim with which you can fly around the globe to visit destinations of your choosing.

Once flying, control the play using the arrow keys; [left] and [right] to bank, [up] to climb, [down] to dive. But don't fly too close to the ground or you will crash. Use the [A] and [Z] keys to speed up and slow down, respectively.

The flight sim is still in beta form, so be forgiving of any wonkiness you may encounter, though it seemed to work almost flawlessly for me, save for a few missing tiles here and there. Have yourself a casual ride around the world, or hire yourself a talented Flash developer. Click.

Cheers to Brandy for the suggestion. =)


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (8) | Views (0)

Noah888.jpgOne step beyond Shaolin Soccer, Lucky Eights throws poker into the already freaky mix of martial arts and organized sports. However, rather than contemplating probabilities and attempting to read poker faces, this Flash-based card game requires instantaneous reflexes and precision mouse clickage. Originally developed as a contest for Puma by Pop+Co, creators of the recently reviewed RSVP, Lucky Eights is fantastically polished with attractive graphics and sound, far above and beyond the typical advergame.

Lucky Eights uses a deck of pink, green or orange cards numbered one through eight, as well as a wild card and an evil X card. The game takes place on two rows of five cards each. All cards begin face down, but they rapidly start to flip and fly off the screen; catch the ones you want by left clicking the mouse. When your hand contains three cards they will be evaluated and cleared. Poker hands like a pair or a flush result in points and extra time on the meter in the top right hand corner of the screen. When this meter is empty your game is over, so every hand is a battle of hope versus compromise. Do you settle for the pair of fives or hold out for a flush? Wait for a rainbow triple or give up and try for something simpler? Watch out for that evil X card; not only will it ruin any hand you're attempting to build, it even subtracts time from the meter.

When Lucky Eights was originally released, users able to reach the Shudoh Master ranking became eligible to win the 88th pair of the only 888 Shudoh Tangs ever produced, a super fancy womens soccer shoe. Although the contest is now over the game is still available and well worth a look. Like RSVP, the design of Lucky Eights has a real presence that many games lack, which I attribute to Pop+Co's stated policy of producing physical prototypes of their games. Also like RSVP, there is no mute button and that music gets seriously annoying; 36 Chambers it ain't.

Play Lucky Eights


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (28) | Views (34)

Noahtringo.jpgTringo is an addictive puzzle game concocted by Nathan Keir in the beautiful bizzaro-world Second Life. Originally designed for use in-game to gamble for Linden dollars (L$), Second Life's currency, Tringo soon exploded in popularity and now appears on Nintendo's Gameboy Advance and the Web via Adobe Flash.

As the name implies, Tringo's rules are a mixture of Tetris and Bingo. Arrange a series of shapes on a 5x5 grid and earn points by constructing blocks of 2x2 or greater, which are then eliminated. Each turn lasts 10 seconds, and 7 points will be subtracted from your score if you don't manage to place a piece in time. You can also click the Skip button to begin the next turn immediately. The window above the playing field shows all possible shapes, each of which appear only once per game. The current shape is white, light blue shapes have already been placed, and dark blue shapes have not yet appeared. The window to the right shows the current shape with a circle on one of the blocks it is made up of. This is the origin point; this point of the block will appear in the grid cell you click with the mouse when placing your block.

Analysis: I haven't tried Tringo on GBA, but the web implentation is rather poor and feels awfully rushed. Asking the player to refer to the origin point for each shape is needlessly confusing and absolutely unnecessary. Floating an image of the piece you're currently placing on top of the mouse cursor would have been far simpler. Tringo also might benefit from adopting Tetris' piece preview feature.

Faults aside, Tringo is an intuitive, solid puzzle game with an interesting history and, with a board game and UK TV program in the works, a bright future.

Play Tringo

Game Design CompetitionAdobe

Update: The contest is over, and WOW! What a turnout!!

The following is a list of entries received for our first game design competition (in no particular order). Click the game icon to go to the review page for that game (some may not actually be up yet, but eventually they will all have reviews.)

puzzle1 "Puzzle 1"
...by Tonypa
puzzle2 "Puzzle 2"
...by Tonypa
sigil of binding "Sigil of Binding"
...by John-Paul Walton
submachine zero "Submachine Zero"
...by Mateusz Skutnik
gear puzzle "Gear Puzzle"
...by David Durham
free the bird "Free the Bird"
...by Bart Bonte
the alchemist's apprentice "The Alchemist�s Apprentice"
...by Lars A. Doucet
jeweldrop "Jewel Drop"
...by Nick Redmond
quadra pair 42 "Quadra Pair 42"
...by JR
liquid colors "Liquid Colors"
...by DDams
keys "Keys"
...by Rob Allen
thief "Thief"
...by Phillip Reagan
cyberpunk "Cyberpunk"
...by Rey Gazu
instruments "Instruments"
...by Elizabeth Reynolds
clack "Clack"
...by Sean
gateway "Gateway"
...by Anders Gustafsson
wired "Wired"
...by Vlad Kvitnevski
colour connect "Colour Connect"
...by Matthew Dirks
houses "Houses"
...by Sean
weight "Weight"
...by Sean
personal universe "Personal Universe"
...by Damir


Yes, you read the title right. We're hosting our first Flash game design competition!

Here's the scoop: you, casual gamer / game designer / Flash whiz, design a simple puzzle game in Flash (version 8, AS 2.0, 30fps), something that you might find in a point-and-click game, Myst, or the like. For some inspiration, check out Andrew VanHeuklon's brilliant collection of Flash puzzles called Click Drag Type. That collection was actually the inspiration behind the theme for this competition.

Use your imagination and be creative. We are looking to create a collection of the five (or more) best entries submitted to the competition. Impress us with your game design skills and you will score fame, recognition, prizes, and maybe even a pat on the back!

The Prizes

We're looking for a ton of great entries to make this compilation really spectacular. And we've got the prizes to back it up! In addition to the tens of thousands of people playing your game and seeing your name, at least the top three submissions will also nab one of these prizes:

  • A copy of Flash 8 Professional (2 copies to give away)
  • A shiny new black Nintendo DS Lite
  • More prizes to be announced!

Winners will be judged by the JIG Casual Gameplay staff based on creativity, originality, and aesthetics. You don't have to make anything complex, just wow us with a great idea or two.

To Enter

To enter the JIG CasualGameplay Game Design Contest, all you have to do is create a simple and original Flash puzzle game and send it to us. You'll need to include the .fla file so we can create a custom interface for the collection (or support our API). Entries must also be designed for a 640x480 sized stage to make things easier on everyone. You don't have to take up the whole area, but we must set a limit for entries to conform to. Also, please set the frame rate of your puzzles to 30 fps, as that will be the frame rate of the common UI that loads the puzzle swf files.

Also, by submitting an entry to the competition, you grant Jayisgames.com and CasualGameplay.com a permanent, non-exclusive license to host the game, either individually or as part of a larger collection. We will always include credit to the original author and display a link to you or your sponsor's site, if desired.

Once you have your game polished and ready to go, send it to:
flashcontest email

Deadline

The deadline for entries is Friday, August 25th. at 11:59PM (GMT-5:00).

So, start the brainstorming and get ready to wow us!

Flash Game Design CompetitionFriends of Jayisgames: Please help spread word of this competition by posting a note along with a link to this entry on your blog or website. Feel free to use this banner to link back to us. Thank you kindly!

Many thanks to the kind folks at Adobe for sponsoring this competition. Would you like to help sponsor this or future competitions? If so, please email Jay at the contact address in the sidebar.


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Rating: 4.2/5 (226 votes)
| Comments (178) | Views (2,667)

JohnBsubmachine3.jpgSubmachine 3: The Loop is a point-and-click game of exploration and puzzle solving created by Mateusz Skutnik. As the intro so cleverly notes, there are no items to collect, no diary to keep, no trash bin to check, and no spoon to, er, bend. It's just you, the machine, and an infinite metallic world to explore one screen at a time.

Each level is structured in similar fashion with puzzles to solve that unlock the main exit button. You'll usually find a map in the room to your right as the level begins, and it marks the location of clues you'll need to help you figure out how to unlock the exit. A coordinate system helps to navigate the massive world, and without it you could literally move from room to room until you passed out from exhaustion. The coordinates actually play a big part in solving the game's riddles, so if you're stuck, just look at the room number.

Puzzles range from simple to moderately complex, but none of them are utterly impossible. That wouldn't make for much of a game, would it? Nothing is ever spelled out for you, so you'll need to rely on your own powers of observation to progress. The vast, empty world free from hand-holding and lengthy tutorials reminds me somewhat of Myst, as do the machinery-related puzzles and slide show presentation. Although the visuals are extremely simple, they certainly are effective and let you focus on solving the puzzles and progressing further into the game.

The game uses passwords to save your progress, so check the top of the screen as you begin each level for the code. Also, keep a piece of paper handy to jot down notes or draw maps. Submachine 3 almost requires note taking.

Play Submachine 3: The Loop

Cheers to Stephen, Tom, and Robert, all who suggested this game while we were writing up the review. =)

We've been here covering the entire Submachine series since the very beginning with reviews and walkthroughs for all of them...

Outside the main storyline, and yet still another great Submachine, is a game created for the band Future Loop Foundation:


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

Horse RacingAnother group of talented Flash game developers that I have been keeping an eye on are Florin and crew over at gameSheep in Romania. They used to do primarily client work, but have since gone out on their own and made a name for themselves by quickly establishing GameSheep as a popular destination for free online games. One of the reasons the site is so popular is due to the original content they continue to release for their site.

Horse Racing is their latest effort, a Flash racing game that puts the player in control of one of three (3) different horses on a race to the finish line.

The mouse is used for control in this easy-to-play game. Just position the mouse cursor within the game window and your horse will match its position. Click the mouse to jump, double-click for higher jumps. The farther forward it runs, the faster it goes, but also makes it more difficult to see upcoming jumps quick enough to clear them. Running faster also depletes energy, which will soon run out when running fast, so watch the energy meter and fall back when it gets low, or replenish energy.

You can replenish energy by jumping for apples (they look more like cherries) visible in the trees that pass by, or jump for golden apples that will provide double the energy. Additional power-ups are available that can give you foresight into how far away the next jump is, Pegasus-style wings that allow your horse to fly for several flaps of the wings, or a long-jump capability that sends your horse soaring forward the next time it jumps.

Two modes of play provide for a Quick Race against a single horse at the difficulty of your choosing; or tournament play that puts you through a series of (rather long) races against increasingly more difficult horses. Start with a quick race and choose a medium difficulty.

Analysis: I have to say that a horse racing game has been in the back of my mind as something that I'd like to create myself, so I was pleased to see this one come along. Although a different design than one I'm thinking of, I feel that Florin and crew have put together a fun little game, even if it has a few flaws.

First off, the graphics are beautiful as we've come to expect from the gameSheep artists. Really nice colors and gradients, and charmingly cute horses with dopey faces. I especially liked the choice of background music and how the running-hoof sound effects are synchronized with the music. Very nice.

In terms of gameplay, it just doesn't offer the excitement that racing games should have. That isn't to say the game isn't any fun, just don't expect many thrilling photo-finishes when playing it. Think of it more as a leisurely single-player jumper than a horse race and you'll probably get more enjoyment from it.

I believe there are two reasons for this: (1) Each race is so long that there leaves very little possibility of a close race other than at higher difficulty levels; and (2) the opponent horses don't appear to jump for apples or power-ups.

Finding the right balance with a racing game such as this is likely as much of a challenge as creating the entire game engine itself. The inclusion of the Quick Race mode is therefore a very wise decision, and is the mode that most players should start with.

All things considered, not a bad game by any means. It's a cute game that offers fun for gamers of all ages, and one that provides a little racing action when the difficulty is set just right.

Play Horse Racing


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (26 votes)
| Comments (71) | Views (49)

Nearly DepartedArtist/developer John Green, in a collaboration with Pinhead Games, has a demo out of his nearly finished Nearly Departed. This humorous graphic adventure game puts the player in control of a nearly cognizant zombie with amnesia that must attempt to unravel the mystery of his own demise.

The game will be warmly welcomed by anyone fond of the old CD-ROM graphic adventures of days long passed, for it contains nearly the humor and situations of such games as Grim Fandango, Monkey Island and many other fond memories.

The downloadable demo features just a few scenes of the soon-to-be-released full version, and yet it's nearly the right size for a casual afternoon adventure game session. In fact, there are more puzzles to solve here than in many of the recent point-and-click games released to the Web.

Nearly Departed is being developed using the Lingo Adventure Scripting System and Interactivity Engine (LASSIE Adventure Studio), which uses Adobe's Flash and Director for its cross-platform magic. The graphics are beautiful and of top-notch commercial quality, as are the dialog and the puzzles to solve. I will be looking forward to the finished product being released, and I will announce it here when the time comes.

The demo is available for both Mac and PC, and can be downloaded using the links below.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo



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Rating: 4.5/5 (36 votes)
| Comments (84) | Views (164)

Haluz adventure game

The summer of surreal surprises continues with this Flash adventure game from Slovakia. Haluz is a game of the point-and-click variety that contains several scenes and a variety of simple puzzles that must be solved to advance.

What do you do when a very large bird makes off with your rooftop satellite dish? Well, use the resources around you to your best advantage and get it back.

Analysis: Haluz is a beautiful game within its class and the closest I've seen come to the stunning imagery seen in Samorost, which is without a doubt the inspiration behind this game. Although similar in appearance, the puzzles here pale in comparison and are sometimes awkward and confusing as to what must be done. For example, the very first and last scenes took me quite a bit of time before I figured out what to do. Still, if you love games like this you will likely enjoy Haluz, too.

Play Haluz

(I'm guessing the name of the game comes from the little guy that waves "hello" at you in each scene?)

Cheers to Patrick, Graeme, and Tom for suggesting this one today. =)


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (40 votes)
| Comments (31) | Views (47)

Feed MeFar, far from Skid Row, in a make-believe land (somewhere that's green,) lives a meat-eating plant in a terra-cotta pot. Now this plant is no ordinary meat-eating plant, for it can use its powerful jaws to grab ahold of ceiling or floor and pull itself along.

Feed Me is a unique platform Flash game in which the player navigates a potted plant through levels filled with obstacles and enemies in search of the exit door before time, or health, runs out.

Just click the mouse and the plant will try to stretch its head and neck to where the mouse pointer is. The same mechanic is used throughout the game to grab insects and watering cans for bonuses, as well as ceiling and floor tiles to get through all 15 levels.

Eat insects to increase the maximum length the plant can stretch, but some insects may bite back, so be careful. Grab watering cans for point bonuses that are awarded at the end of a level.

Analysis: This charming game is yet another original title from Mat and Heather of Nitrome. Their characteristic design style is evident here in both presentation and gameplay. The game features levels that ramp up in difficulty gradually thus easing the player into the game; and a map with unlockable levels that allows the player to replay any previously completed level at any time.

The game is enjoyable to play, though it is sometimes a tad awkward to control. For example, when trying to climb up onto a platform, the plant's pot sometimes hangs underneath making it difficult to get around it. As with Nitrome's other games, the minimum system requirements are skewed towards computers with higher performance capabilities, for the action seemed just a bit sluggish to me. This may likely have been by design, however, since I was able to play without a problem on my measly Mac G4 Powerbook.

The soundtrack, unfortunately, is dissonant and irritating, and I found myself almost immediately looking for the music mute button in the options menu, which doesn't exist(!) I wish there was a way to turn off the music without turning off the sound effects.

Nitpicks aside, Feed Me is another brilliant piece of work from Nitrome, and can be played free right from their website.

Play Feed Me


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (48 votes)
| Comments (46) | Views (84)

Hunt the WumpusFor the text adventure freaks—that's a term of endearment; I cut my teeth on text adventures in my younger days—this next game is a re-creation of one of the very first computer games: Hunt the Wumpus, by Gregory Yob.

For anyone unfamiliar with the game, there isn't really much to the gameplay so don't expect an enthralling interactive narrative experience the likes that might come from Andrew Plotkin, even though Zarf, himself, was inspired by this early game of yore.

The text-based adventure game is played within a series of 20 rooms connected by tunnels. Each room has tunnels leading to three (3) other rooms thus forming a dodecahedron. There is a Wumpus in one of the rooms, and it will eat you if you enter the room it is in. There are bats in two (2) of the rooms that will pick you up and fly you to a random room if you enter the room they are in. And there is a bottomless pit in two (2) of the rooms that, well, I don't need to explain what happens there, do I?

You have as your arsenal five (5) crooked arrows that you may fire into any tunnel. Save them for when you get close to the Wumpus. Should you miss, the Wumpus gets startled and moves to one adjacent room. If it moves into the room you're in, you will be eaten.

This version of Hunt the Wumpus was created by Rod McFarland in Javascript and is based on Yob's original BASIC source. So it's time to relive this bit of early computer game history and play the classic, Hunt the Wumpus.

Play Hunt the Wumpus

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