October 2006 Archives


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Rating: 4.6/5 (547 votes)
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JayPurgatoriumIn case you missed it, a few days ago I posted a rather mysterious entry with little more than some Lorem Ipsum text and a hidden cipher. Clicking on the icon took you to a page on which a few scrabble tiles lay. By solving the anagram puzzle you were rewarded with a new holiday stylesheet (I've made it so everyone has it now) and then presented with Purgatorium, a brand new game from Exmortis author, Ben Leffler, that was created especially for Casual Gameplay.

Purgatorium is a short and creepy point-and-click escape-the-room game with some rather horrific graphic visuals nestled inside. If you have played either of Ben's other horror-genre interactive narratives, Exmortis and Exmortis 2, then you may already know what to expect. In addition to the visual stimuli (from which you're sure to get a jump or two) there is a bit of a narrative that unfolds as well. The game is not very difficult so you shouldn't have any trouble getting through this one on your own.

My sincere thanks and appreciation go out to Benny for coming through in such short notice so that we all might enjoy something new from him this Halloween. Cheers! =)

Play Purgatorium

By the way, rumor has it there's an Exmortis 3 on the horizon. ;)


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Rating: 4.9/5 (27 votes)
| Comments (39) | Views (521)

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"Why's everybody gotta leave piles of skulls lying around? It's depressing." - Beethro Budkin

CapuchinDeadly Rooms of Death: Journey to Rooted HoldDeadly Rooms of Death: Journey to Rooted Hold is a downloadable game (for Windows, Mac, or Linux*) and very much a puzzle game, but unlike any other you may have played before. It is actually the sequel to the critically acclaimed DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon, and both were created by Caravel Games.

Deadly Rooms of Death is a turn-based puzzle game; one turn being the amount of time it takes Beethro, the central character, to move one square or to swing his sword by 45 degrees. Hitting an enemy causes them to vanish in a shower of blood and debris. Each time you move all enemies on the screen also move. The game starts off easily with the only enemies being roaches. They will move directly towards Beethro (if able) thereby causing them to line up for a smiting! However, things gradually get more difficult as more enemies are introduced, from roach queens, which run away and birth new roaches every 30 turns, to the Slayer, a powerful opponent equal in ability to Beethro.


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (347 votes)
| Comments (33) | Views (146)

kmart-haunted.jpgJohnBK-Mart Haunted House is a short isometric flash adventure game just begging to be played around Halloween time. Trapped inside a haunted house you must hunt for keys to unlock doors that lead outside. Along the way you'll find several other items you can trade to monsters in exchange for passage through locked gates. The fun part is you get to choose from eighteen different playable characters, each with a unique Halloween costume. The corporate tie-ins are unobtrusive and simply give you the option of going to K-Mart's website to buy costumes featured in the game.

The game's music and visuals are actually quite nice, but the controls take some time getting used to. You use the arrow keys to move but your character only walks diagonally, forcing you to remember that pressing down moves you down-right, left moves you down-left, etc. You'll have to avoid a few enemies while you search for items, such as crazy black cats and the occasional hand popping out of the floor. But, after all, this is a haunted house.

K-Mart Haunted House is a surprisingly fun game that does a great job putting you in the Halloween mood.

Play K-Mart Haunted House


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JayCrunchtimeA quick little mini-review for another Halloween-themed game, I just now dug up the link fresh from its moldy grave at Monsterland.se.

Crunchtime is a short and sweet, simple little Shockwave 3D zombie shooter. It's not a long game by any means; there are only 3 levels to the entire "experience." But it is an engaging one that will keep you occupied over a quick break for donuts and cider.

Use the arrow keys for movement while using the mouse to aim and shoot your staple gun. Conserve your shots and make them count, as it will take four shots per zombie and there are limited ammo packs available (staplers). Health power-ups are also few and far between, so keep some distance between you and those creeps.

Crunchtime is one from the vaults and more than a couple of years old. The game is not easy at first, but once you get the hang of it then it's a breeze. The prerendered graphics are gorgeous and help to make this tiny little Shockwave antique a classic. And while the gameplay experience won't likely win any awards, it does indeed fit within the spirit of the holiday with its dripping wet bloody zombies.

Update: The game is no longer available to play. Previously tagged as: browser, free, game, halloween, macwin, monsterland, pg13, shockwave, shooter, zombies


(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayTroglodite is a simple action game that's just perfect for this time of year. The Flash game was originally created by Paul Wright and posted to the FlashKit forums, then modified by Oliver Klinkenberg whom added the graphics and levels present in this version of the game.

Use the arrow keys to control the troglodite through each level of the cave. Avoid the ghosts while collecting gems to open the door to the next level.

Straight forward and simple gameplay with nice appealing graphics and sound. A lovely Halloween treat.

Play Troglodite


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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hangman.jpgJohnBHalloween Hangman is, well, a Halloween-themed game of hangman! This free flash game is about as simple as they come. And thanks to a smart-mouthed skeleton and some wacky music, it just happens to be a nice diversion for some pre-Halloween entertainment. Presented by Dimension's Edge.

In case you're new to hangman, here's the general idea. A series of blanks line the top of the screen representing a word or phrase. By clicking on the alphabet tiles you can guess letters and fill in the blanks. Select a letter that isn't in the phrase and part of the skeleton appears on the screen dangling from a rope. You also get a snide comment from the cheeky bag of bones. Make too many bad guesses and the skeleton falls, which is apparently the part he hates most.

Your score is tallied across games, so if you do really well you get to enter your initials for the global high score board. Lose once and you have to start over. So, you know, don't lose. It's a short, simple and cute Halloween-themed game that even the kids will get a kick out of.

Play Halloween Hangman


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (25 votes)
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JayBill the DemonOriginally created for the Macintosh (System 7) back in 1996, Bill the Demon is an action adventure platformer with a very nice old-school flair to it. This version was recreated in Flash by the author, James Burton, following Apple's decision to stop supporting older applications.

In the game you play as Bill, a lowly demon with a voracious appetite for human souls. To prove himself worthy to his peers, Bill sets out on a mission to the Ninth Circle of Hell to fetch the devil's autograph.

Use the keyboard for control: [left] and [right] arrows, [up] to jump. Press [space] to scream. A scream is important as it will allow you to eat a human soul (if close enough), and it will also break down some walls and stun some monsters temporarily. Alternatively, you may use the [A] and [D] keys for left and right, [W] to jump, and [shift] to scream. Suit yourself.

As you move about each circle, Bill's hunger will increase. Eat souls wisely as they will help you move deeper into hell. If Bill gets too hungry, you will lose a life and have to start back from the last checkpoint you reached. Lose all your lives and you'll have to restart the game from the beginning. Luckily, once you complete each circle you will be given a passcode with which to load the game from there.

Analysis: Bill the Demon is a great game that is a lot of fun. It certainly brings back memories of the old 8-bit scrolling platformers. The levels have been designed well and they present a challenge that will keep you entertained for hours. There really isn't much to dislike about the game other than the being set back from time to time when dying or running out of lives. Still, for anyone with even a remote interest in old-school platformers, or in demon-themed games to get into the Halloween spirit, you could do much worse than this charming little game.

Play Bill the Demon

Cheers to Bob and Mango for suggesting Bill. =)


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CDX iconGood news for point-and-click fans and for those that missed it the first go-round, all four episodes to CDX are once again online and available to play, even if you live outside the UK! (Thank you, BBC!) Be sure not to miss this fantastic adventure that includes full-motion video of live actors, selectable dialog, and top-notch production values. [review]

Cheers to F_raze for the alert! =)

Update: Apparently my note here alerted someone at the BBC that a technical glitch was allowing access to the game from people outside the UK and they have since plugged the hole. Problem is, the plugging they did is now preventing some people inside the UK from playing. Way to go, Beeb.

However, the kind and generous Preloaded folks have just made the game available to play for non-UK residents. check out the CDX review page for the link.


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (56 votes)
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foursecondfirestorm.jpgJohnBFour Second Firestorm is a collection of frantic micro-games hot on the on the heels of Four Second Fury and Four Second Frenzy. Using either the keyboard or mouse, you have just a few moments to play one of the over 175 mini-games thrown in your face. Follow the incredibly brief instructions and try to win each game. It's a fast-paced collection of micro-games suitable for anyone who wants to feel like they're on a caffeine buzz without all that coffee.

Four Second Firestorm is the result of fifty six individual programmers working over the course of seven weeks. There's a nice variety of games available, from knocking ketchup out of bottles to insulting n00bs, sharpening pencils and much, much more. There's certainly no shortage of creativity. Some games are much more difficult to figure out than others, but even if you're stuck you'll only be that way for about three more seconds.

This game is a beast to load, weighing in at just over 14MB. Fortunately for you the mini-game action begins right here with a little carrot trying to avoid falling bowling balls. Four Second Firestorm brings more great Wario Ware-style action to your browser, so be sure to give it at least four seconds of your time. After it loads, of course.

Play Four Second Firestorm

Cheers to Heather, Mike, Art, and Angelblade for suggesting this one!


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JohnBpixelblaster.jpgPixel Blaster is a simple and stylish flash-based shooter by Tom Thornton of ThorGaming. Waves of stark white ships appear in the circular playing field and attack your vessel. With a remarkably useful charge shot and two-handed controls, you must fend off dozens of enemies before plunging into an intense boss battle. The game is vaguely reminiscent of GridWars but places a stronger emphasis on physics and old fashioned ship blasting rather than overwhelming you with dozens of enemies at once.

The game's structure is very basic but sets the pace for the game quite well. Enemies come at you in waves, each one containing a set of ships that must be defeated in order to move on. Once you dispatch them you'll battle the boss, a large vessel with several layers of shielding. Afterwards you move onto more sets of enemies, but this time they're stronger, faster and more difficult to defeat.

To control your ship use the arrow keys (or WASD) to move and the mouse to aim and fire your weapon. It takes some time to get accustomed to the dual control style, but once you do it becomes second nature. A more powerful charge shot is available if you hold the left mouse button for a few seconds. Unleash it and continue to fire your weapon for a series of power shots that will destroy almost anything in their path. It's especially useful (and dramatic) during boss battles.

Pixel Blaster has a lot of little extras that make the game extraordinarily entertaining. For starters, an online high score board keeps track of the top 100 players in each difficulty level, giving you a shot at the limelight. Physics also play a subtle but important role in the game, causing your ship to drift every time you move and forcing you to adjust for shifting weapons fire. My personal favorite feature is the shaking screen whenever something explodes. It makes the game feel a bit more intense.

Pixel Blaster is a simple shooter that's a winner for its clean style, superb implementation and well-paced gameplay. It's a tough game to stop playing once you start, so consider yourself warned.

Play Pixel Blaster


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (22 votes)
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JayPod PanicPod Panic is a gorgeous little arcade Flash shooter that is simple to play and terribly addictive. It was created by Al O'Shea of Fatking.

Grab the mouse with one hand and put your fingers of the other on the [arrow] or [WASD] keys. Click the mouse to fire.

Each level presents you with an increasing number of pods, round bumper-like objects that tend to gravitate towards your ship, and a string-creature that is rather hypnotizing to watch. String creatures require hits perpendicular to its line segments, so you will have to keep moving to clear each level. You will also need to protect your orbiting shield ring, or it's eternal darkness for you.

Fortunately, you have an Intergalactic Hyperspace Pulse weapon available to you by pressing the [space] bar. But it requires recharging after use. There are also a few power-ups that can help you along the way: orange shield boosts, orange [P] firing rate increasers, hyperspace pulse boosters.

And while there isn't much more than that to this cute little game, the gameplay kept me going at it for a long while. Did I mention it's terribly addictive? Great old-school arcade fun in a tight little package.

Play Pod Panic

Cheers to Dann for the link!


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Rating: 4.9/5 (21 votes)
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JayRubiconSandbox games, level editors, and user-generated content seem to be all the rage these days, and for good reason: people love to be expressive and creative, and the games that allow this creative side to emerge often generate a great deal of buzz. Reference: Line Rider, DofI's Sand games, Professor Fizzwizzle, and Rob Allen's Super Serif Bros., to name just a few. Even Will Wright's Spore has generated an amazing groundswell of buzz due in part to its creature editors and its leveraging of user-generated content; and the game isn't even out yet.

Enter Rubicon, the latest brain-child from Kevan Davis, the creator of the previously mentioned Urban Dead DHTML zombie game as well as many other works (talk about creative!). Unlike Urban Dead, however, Rubicon is a machine-building puzzle game, level editor, and sandbox toy written in Processing, and it therefore requires that Java be installed on your computer to play.

Basic gameplay consists of moving crates to one or more targets for each level. Each crate must come to rest on its corresponding target for a green light to appear. Use the component materials provided to construct any machine that will succeed at the task. The tiny icons in the lower left corner of the game window represent the various structures and mechanisms that you may use.

Once you have built your machine, press Play to see the results. If it doesn't work, press Stop to make changes before pressing Play again. Rinse. Repeat until success.

Play Rubicon

After completing the twelve pre-built puzzles, try your hand at creating your own levels. You can visit the Rubicon Forum for sharing your levels, or post them here in the comments to share them with other JIG visitors. To share your level with others, click Save to get your 7-letter filename, and then use the filename it gives you in a URL formatted like this:

http://kevan.org/rubicon/game.php?level=filename

Rubicon is a wonder toy filled with creative potential that is limited only by your imagination. And if you're curious about the sandbox creations that are possible with Rubicon, feast on this stunning machine: http://kevan.org/rubicon/game.php?level=sizahob, a "3-digit serial incrementer" designed by Alex Fink. Or try this one by SMK.

Cheers to Craig for the heads-up about this amazing new game, and to Asterick for finding the examples to show. =)


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Cheers to Michal for having just sent this one in:

"Adobe made available a beta version of FP9 for Linux systems a few days ago. It works pretty well with most of the flash games reviewed at your site (which often did not work with the highest version available for Linux - 7). I don't know how many of your visitors are using Linux OS but even if it is 1 out of 100 it could be nice to give them that info."

And here's the link:
http://blogs.adobe.com/penguin.swf/2006/10/beta_is_live.html

I am certain there are several people here that will welcome that news. Cheers! =)


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayCrystal ClearIt isn't often that I come across an addictive browser-based Flash game with which you can play against a friend over the Web. I was pleasantly surprised to find the latest game from Gamesheep is just that kind of game. Crystal Clear is a simple casual game with gameplay similar to the classic game of Lines, and yet with some subtle differences that turn the classic into a compelling two-player battle.

The objective is to fill up your opponent's board before your own board fills up. You do this by moving tiles to create groups of five (5) or more of the same color.

Each turn you get to move a single tile. By taking your turn, three (3) tiles are automatically sent to your opponent unless you execute a combo, which can send a lot more. The larger the combo, the more tiles you give to your opponent.

Two special tiles add spice to the mix and add depth to the gameplay: a broken tile will explode when used in a combo, and thus taking out the tiles around it regardless of color; and a heart-shaped tile when moved will change the color of all tiles around it to the same color, but it will not execute the combo.

Appealing graphics and addictive gameplay, Crystal Clear is great multiplayer fun.

Play Crystal Clear


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Rating: 4.4/5 (29 votes)
| Comments (37) | Views (217)

JayFree the BirdFree the Bird is a Flash point-and-click game similar to a room escape game except that the objective is to, of course, free the bird instead. Now if you're at all familiar with Bart Bonte's previous work, Bonte Room and Bonte Room 2, you may be scratching your head wondering why on Earth would anyone want to let that annoying bird out, other than perhaps letting it go free; it has a spine-tingling screech that doesn't take long to dislike very much.

Submitted to our game design competition in August, Free the Bird is a simple puzzle game that offers a satisfying reward if you solve it by yourself. The game features the same pleasing minimalism artistic style that Bart is noted for, and it is of clever design, too. Just enough for a midday break.

Play Free the Bird


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (85 votes)
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tinygrow.gifJohnBTinyGrow is a captivating flash toy created by Shinichiro Sato of box7box.com. The game lets you create a surreal garden scene by finding and dropping different types of seeds. Thick black trees sprout at random from the bottom of the screen, each with a rotating icon in the center. Click the icon to activate one of several events to discover seeds and grow more foliage. For example, if you stop the icon on the leaf, a branch will grow from the tree and leaves will appear. Use the cursor to scatter the leaves and click on the seed pods. They'll drop and grow new, colorful plants.

Part of the fun of TinyGrow is discovering how to use each event to create more plants. You never know what will show up next, where the seeds will sprout, or what shape the plant will take when it grows. Your only input is stopping the random icon and finding the seeds. But no matter what happens, you get a gorgeous screenshot at the end of the game.

While a few more random icon events would have been great, TinyGrow still manages to trap and hold your attention for a surprisingly long time. It's creative, it's a bit artistic, and it's fun to see what sort of strangeness appears at the end. Click the link and see what your garden grows.

Play TinyGrow

Thanks to Chouteau for sending this one in!


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (171) | Views (56)

Eight Days

JayEight Days is the latest point-and-click game to be released by Anode & Cathode, that fabulous French duo that has created some of the finest casual gameplay experiences available on the Web today. Eight DaysEight Days has just been released today, therefore this is not so much a review (since I haven't been given the opportunity to play it yet) as it is an announcement. However, judging from their past successes with The Museum, The Casino, and L'expresso Empoisonné, we are likely in store for another excellent adventure.

Eight Days will also be episodic, running for 8 days with a new episode being released every two days. And they are offering 17 T-shirts to the first players "of each ranking" that finish the game. What that means may be more clearly understood once we are able to actually play the game.

Join us here, either in the comments or the IRC chat room, and help us make it through the game.

You MUST first register at Anode & Cathode to be able to play.

Play 8 Days (Chapter 1)

Play 8 Days (Chapter 2)

Play 8 Days (Chapter 3)

Play 8 Days (Chapter 4)

Warning: 8 days can hurt young people sensibility. I assume that means it's not appropriate for a younger audience. Therefore, I'm tagging this one with rating-y until I can see for myself. You've been warned. =)

Cheers to Stan, and to Edgy Swordbearer for the heads-up about it.


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (27) | Views (74)

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JohnBEmpires and Dungeons is a downloadable fantasy/strategy game for Windows created by Niels Bauer Games. It's been receiving a lot of praise for its stripped-down mechanics and surprisingly captivating gameplay. Taking on the role of a medieval emperor, you must gather resources to help build an army, both to attack your rivals and to defend your castle. Along the way you'll venture into deep dungeons, meet mysterious traders, pillage in the name of the empire and much, much more. Empires and Dungeons successfully pulls some of the best aspects from several rather complex genres and distills it into something every gamer can enjoy.

empiresdungeons.jpgSimple graphics and simple point-and-click gameplay, Empires and Dungeons is reminiscent of the classic days of computer gaming. You begin on the overworld map and explore by clicking adjacent grid squares. Icons will randomly appear on the screen signifying resources you can acquire or other events you can investigate. Your overarching goal is to gather gold and materials to build structures, hire an army, and defeat your rivals. However, each scenario drops a new obstacle in your path to glorious victory, requiring you to complete a few tasks or seek impossible treasures to reach your goal.

Much of your time will be spent crawling through caverns in the combat portion of the game. Randomly generated dungeons appear on the map, giving you the option to enter in search of gold, treasure, and battle. Defeating foes earns you respect in the eyes of your army which ultimately allows you to construct more complex buildings and hire better fighters. The gold you gather here is also important, making dungeon battles a central focus of the game.

Even with all the things to explore and do, Empires and Dungeons suffers from a bit of gameplay redundancy. Fantastic surprises don't happen every few minutes, leaving you to deal with the mundane a bit too often. There's also a lot of text that isn't necessary after you read it once, yet it still pops on screen, hampering the action and forcing you to close the window before continuing.

Although it's designed for the casual gamer in mind, Empires and Dungeons has enough content to satisfy seasoned strategy/RPG gamers. The interface is straightforward, but there's also a thorough tutorial available and help is always a mouse-click away.

Empires and Dungeons does a great job of culling the most riveting and entertaining aspects of fantasy role-playing and strategy games and compiling them into a single title. Give the demo a try and see if it's your cup of tea. If you enjoy it, the full version opens a whole new realm of possibilities, giving you a dozen different scenarios, new items, monsters, even the ability to breed dragons. Moreover, should you decide to purchase the full version, your purchase will help support this site.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

Arcade TownBig Fish Games


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (54 votes)
| Comments (50) | Views (46)

Sound FactoryJaredAll my life since I can remember, I've always wanted to compose music sung by a choir of mice. Finally, all of my relentless and agonizing patience has paid off and I can finally get my chance in Sound Factory, a game created by our friend Luke Whittaker, whose other game A Break in the Road was only just recently reviewed here.

In this charming little game, you play the role of a bored tire manufacturing worker named Dink. Dink's tired of his pathetic day to day existence doing the same old thing. In fact, he'd quit his job were it not for his eight starving children and warehouse load of credit card debt. Today though, things are going to turn around for poor Dink as he discovers his inborn talent to make music from old factory machinery.

The game is simple: unlock all of the different sound items by impressing your co-workers with music created from the items you currently have. Don't get too caught up in all of the fun though—you've still got a job to do and a quota to meet. No matter how hard you rock out, you still need to have 100 tires inflated by 5 o'clock. This doesn't seem too hard until you realize that your first and chief instrument, over-inflating tires, destroys your quota meeting product in the process!

To make things even more difficult, your boss isn't going to just let you play around all day (I couldn't believe it either, what kind of sick, twisted world do they live in?!) From time to time he'll come down to make sure absolutely no fun is being had and work is getting completed—so stop all instruments IMMEDIATELY until he leaves! Once he's in his office you can return to getting your funk on behind his back.

Sound FactoryWhat makes this game even better is that not only can you just play the sounds, but you can even compose many of the instruments—which, no joke, includes a choir of mice.

Once you have beaten a level you can take the items you've unlocked and have free reign to come back and compose away without dealing with silly things such as quotas and bosses. Also, just as you could in A Break in the Road, you can save your masterpiece and send it to friends!

Do your part in sticking it to "the man" by creating some smash tunes yourself!

Analysis: This game is just plain good 'ol fun for the whole family (they'd have to play one at a time of course). It is so immersing that you don't really even realize how much fun you're having until you have many instruments playing at once—when the floor is filled with employees gleefully neglecting their job.

The truth is, every time I thought to myself "wow, it'd be cool if I could do this," I'd discover that I could! It's a well polished game that gives you the freedom to create what you want—the kind of open-endedness that keeps people coming back. The animation and audio are crisp and the game is laid out very well.

I'm a big fan of creation in games- we take ownership of we create and in doing so we invest ourselves in the game world. By the time you snap out the game you'll be shocked to learn how much time passed. Hmm... maybe YOU should get back to work!

Bonus: I recently asked Luke, based on his experience with games that experiment with sound, what his take on audio in games was. How important is it? He was quite gentlemanly and responded as such:

"Ah, you've got me onto my favorite subject... how long have you got? Put briefly, I think a lot of audio designers would tell you that, even in full-blown console and PC games, audio has traditionally got the short straw in terms of its support from technology and from developers. It's changing now, with better tools and technology being developed, but at the time A Break in the Road was being developed back on Flash 5, all you could really do with sound was pan it from left to right or change the volume. We had to work out many tricks to get them [the audio tracks] to loop properly. Flash 8 has added many more sound channels, which is always welcome. It's up to developers now to push their ideas with sound, if we're going to see games use it creatively. I see it as a great way of giving the user a sense of being part of a game, and of having a true creative input in the path the game takes. Rather than give the player a choice of, say, four "paths" through a game, why not give them four sounds instead, and they'll each come up with something unique they can call their own. It's still possible to give a game a narrative trajectory so it's not just a musical play pen—for example, you've still got to play your tune to the crowd at the end of A Break in the Road, but along the way you've created your own story.

On another note, perhaps Web games are the best way to experiment with these ideas at present, since it seems like the big console publishers are only just starting to realize the potential of audio in games (Guitar Hero is an example). On the web we're free to try these things without needing a 100 strong development team, and who knows, perhaps the big publishers will cotton on soon." -Luke "Makes Rockin' Games" Whittaker

Well spoken.

Super Bonus: Tip: If you're having a hard time turning off all of the instruments when the boss comes out, don't forget that you can click on their icon at the bottom to toggle them on and off!

Play Sound Factory


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (28 votes)
| Comments (46) | Views (38)

JohnBnimianflyerlegend.jpgNimian Flyer Legends is a 3D action adventure game by Protopop Games. You play the role of a young dragon named Salamond on a quest to defeat seven legendary beasts. Armed with fire-breath and the ability to pick up many objects, you'll have to use your speed and wits to battle each unique foe. Nimian Flyer Legends has a remarkably full 3D world to explore coupled with a grand soundtrack. It's a surprisingly lengthy game that feels more like an epic journey than a pick-up-and-play flash title.

Nimian Flyer Legends borrows many ideas from the PlayStation 2 game Shadow of the Colossus but with a very different flavor. Each boss you fight has a unique pattern and weaknesses. Sometimes all you have to do is maneuver close and use your fire breath to win but this isn't always true. Many battles feature a series of speed rings that you must fly through in order to remain near the enemy. None of the fights are particularly difficult, but they do offer enough variety to keep you craving more. The focus is more on action than strategy, so reflexes play a large part in defeating each foe. Stay on your toes and balance attack, defense and recovery methods in order to prevail.

The pacing of Nimian Flyer Legends is a very important part of the experience. After each battle you'll spend several minutes flying through open terrain. You can use this time to eat bugs that restore health and fire breath, kick back and enjoy the scenery, or just burn everything you see. It offers a break from the big battles and also fleshes out the game, giving the illusion of a huge world to traverse.

Nimian Flyer Legends is a long, satisfying flash adventure that quenches your thirst for fantasy gaming. The dramatic presentation does a great job of drawing you in, and I found myself wanting to keep playing just to see what beautiful scenery would unfold next. Fortunately the game has an auto-save feature, so you can stop at any time and pick up where you left off. Play.

If you like Nimian Flyer Legends, try Nimian Hunter, also from Protopop.

Play Nimian Flyer Legends


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JayI've been playing a lot of games lately trying to find something to sink my teeth into enough to write a review for. And while some games definitely look promising, the time required to play through each one enough to write a decent review is the bottleneck for me right now.

So, here are links to a couple of games I'm currently evaluating; please help me by indicating in the comments which one(s) deserve(s) a review more than the others, and why:

  • Glider Web - the latest game from Mark Arenz of Ridiculopathy is 100% oldschool fun, and still in beta. Fly a paper airplane through a house and collect stars. All levels are created and rated by the community. The editor needs some work, however, so be careful or you may lose your work.
  • Bill the Demon - A great little platformer with an oldschool flair. You play as Bill the demon, out to earn the respect of your colleagues by descending the Nine Circles of Hell and getting the devil's autograph.
  • Onamis 2 - a really great looking point-and-click puzzle game from France. Got stuck early on.
  • Cultivation - a unique 'game' about social interaction in a gardening community, which features dynamic graphics that are procedurally generated. This game is for those looking for something a bit different. Downloadable for Mac, PC, and Linux.
  • Mafia Returns - DHTML RPG about the mafia. No idea how this one plays, though, as I couldn't get past the complicated registration screen. That, and RPGs are not really my specialty.
  • Snake Classic - the latest game from Arseniy of Gamebalance. Control the snake with the mouse. Simple, classic fun.
  • Subpoena Power - a well-made political platformer from NoEvil Productions that lampoons the corruption in Congress. The objective is to serve subpoenas to senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill and sort out the good from the bad. While playing I discovered some equally well-made and very amusing animations by NoEvil. Not to be missed if you enjoy political satire.
  • Darfur is Dying - A game with a purpose to educate the world about the genocide that is happening in Darfur.

Cheers for your help! =)


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (24 votes)
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JohnBPersonal UniverseAnother excellent entry into our first game design competition, Damir's Personal Universe is a unique puzzle game that lets you play with physics. Using sets of colored blocks you must build moving machines that help you complete tasks. Just as the name implies, Personal Universe gives you the materials to let you build a living universe all your own. It's filled with possibilities and offers a surprising amount of freedom to explore and experiment at your leisure.

Personal Universe actually has a lot of depth, but it can be tough acclimating yourself to the interface. Hey, we never said creating your own universe was easy, did we? Your goal in each stage is to construct an apparatus that will move a set of blocks into the green zone. You can only build within the red borders, but you can use any blocks you like. There are three shades of red blocks you can use to create solid structures. Place like-colors side by side and they "stick" together, thus letting you create massive towers that move across differently shaded pieces.

The key construction materials are the blue engine and green power source squares. When placed close enough together, blue will move toward green. If they collide they destroy each other, which is a bad thing. To harvest the movement just stick a block between them. Now instead of clashing, blue tries to move toward green but instead pushes it away. The end result is a perpetual sliding movement where blue tries to touch all nearby green blocks. By placing power sources in strategic places and building contraptions around the engine, you can create some truly unique devices.

Personal Universe features a handful of puzzles to complete, a few of which are really taxing. There's also a sandbox that lets you play with materials to your heart's content. The game really encourages exploration, so don't be afraid to try out seemingly wacky ideas. It may have an awkward learning curve, but Personal Universe demonstrates an enormous amount of creativity and innovation on Damir's part. There's a lot to do while creating your own world, and half the fun is figuring out how to turn your strangest thoughts into reality.

JayJay: As one of the most creative entries in the competition, it shouldn't be surprising to learn that Personal Universe was also an audience favorite. Receiving fewer votes than only one other entry, Damir's combination puzzle game and sandbox toy very nearly walked away with an award. The game exemplifies the unique and innovative work we love to highlight and feature here, and I am looking forward to seeing more from this up-and-coming Flash game designer. Perhaps with some encouragement we might convince Damir to give us even more to explore with this unique puzzle game.

Play Personal Universe


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Rating: 4.1/5 (25 votes)
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HuntyDraw PlayDraw Play is a unique new drawing game by "Eggy" and hosted on Gamegecko. It plays like a standard platformer, but the catch is that there are no platforms; you use the mouse to draw in the platforms for the character to walk on, and then use the arrow keys to move the player over the drawn platforms to the flag for each level.

The mechanic is innovative, but the game has a few minor flaws:

  • Collision with the spikes is based on the spikes' bounding box and the character's bounding box, rather than the spike itself. Since the spike is triangular, and the bounding box is square, this means that you'll die fairly often from touching a spike's bounding box even when you're well clear of the spike. It's also not clear in the beginning that anything that's not a spike is OK to walk through.
  • Most of the levels can be circumvented by jumping, drawing a line under the character, and repeating until you reach the top, then drawing a line over to the flag.
  • There's only so many times I can hear Pee Wee Herman's scream (the sound effect when you fall) before I have to kill.

Despite those flaws the game is otherwise top-notch and mercifully short.

Play Draw Play


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Rating: 4.8/5 (42 votes)
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A Break in the RoadJaredIf you like music (and I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that you do) then you'll probably like A Break in the Road. Created by Luke Whittaker, the game puts you in the role of a DJ recording and collecting sound samples throughout the city to mix into a one minute piece. An amazingly well-produced cut scene, complete with top-notch voice acting talent, introduces the back story and drops you right into it.

There are a lot of places to scout for good sounds: someone shaking the carpet outside, closing a garage door, people humming while they work or waiting for the train. Even if you're looking for some lyrics in your piece, just head down to the coffee shop and catch some fragments of conversation—the people there, just like you or I, speak in rhyme.

A Break in the RoadOnce you've loaded up on recordings its time to hit up the mix studio. There you can download the samples you've collected into your virtual computer, and then go back to the city for more or stay to compile your mix. Songs are created easily by simply drag-dropping any of the collected sounds onto one of 5 layered tracks. Editing is equally easy: just click and drag the samples where you want them. In about a minute, I had made the greatest song ever conceived—it urgently required that I call in my girlfriend to come and listen to it.

Once you have your masterpiece finished, you can then take it to the club and play it. A meter reads in how much the crowd is loving your song so you can see how it measures up. My first time, I got booed off the stage; but the great thing is, even if you have to suffer this humiliation you can always go back and make your song better! Not only that, but you can save the song and come back to it, and even email it to someone so they can check it out, too! I sent my revised copy to each of the major record labels in the hope of a record deal... you could also send it to a friend.

Analysis: This game is extremely well done. It goes beyond just being a simple "create a..." toy and becomes an actual game by giving you the challenge of pleasing the crowd at the club. It's a lot of fun exploring the city for sounds and seeing what you find, in a way it kind of felt like a Where's Waldo book with sound.

Aside from the great audio, the game also features fantastic hand drawn animation, artistic city backdrops, and superb voice acting—all done on a professional level. From the first second you start the game you feel immediately sucked into the world and story.

My only qualm, a very tiny one, is that I wish there were even more sounds—some of which could be hidden a littler harder. It didn't take long for me to visit all of the locations and see what was available. That said though, this is one of the best and most artistic games out there, going beyond just technical execution and becoming a form of self expression.

Play A Break in the Road

Cheers to Star for suggesting the game! =)


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (127 votes)
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JohnBfretsonfire.jpgFrets on Fire is an open source clone of the ever-popular PlayStation 2 music/rhythm game Guitar Hero. It's a free download and is available for Windows, Linux and the Mac, though the Mac version is experimental.

Just like Guitar Hero, Frets on Fire features a handful of songs and allows you to play the guitar sections with just a few keys. Instead of using a separate controller to mimic the guitar, Frets on Fire lets you pick up the keyboard and jam right in front of your desk. Best of all, a built-in editor lets you tab any song, spawning a growing community of music-modders on the web.

After choosing a song from a stack of cassettes, a wire image of a guitar bridge shows on screen running from the foreground and vanishing into the distance. Five colored blocks line the bottom, each one representing a different key. Hold your keyboard like a guitar with the fret keys by your left hand and the pick (Enter) by your right (reverse for us lefties). When the song begins, notes scroll down the screen and you must press the fret keys at the right time while tapping Enter to play the sound. Time it right and the song plays just as if you were listening to the real thing. Make a mistake and you'll hear distorted guitar noise followed by a deafening (and defeated) silence.

The Frets on Fire download comes with a few well-made songs to get you started, each one with several difficulty levels to hone your skills. The online forum features many more tunes from other players, though they won't share a space on the global high score board and usually feature just one or two levels of difficulty.

Analysis: Rhythm games add an entirely new dimension of fun to gaming: aural rewards. Frets on Fire takes that to a new level by allowing you re-create familiar tunes with nothing more than your keyboard. The reward isn't getting a high score, it's listening to the song playing on your speakers and knowing you were responsible for that. The feeling you get when you effortlessly land an impossible combination is amazing.

The in-game interface couldn't be simpler, but selecting songs can be cumbersome if you have a large playlist. The song editor is also a bit awkward and will take some practice before you can create anything decent. And while holding your keyboard like a guitar is the best way to go, Frets of Fire is just as playable on a flat desktop. Also worth mentioning is the extremely entertaining tutorial. Your host, Jurgen Guntherswarchzhaffenstrassen, walks you through the game and proves that he is, indeed, much cooler than you are.

As a warning to anyone with children: Frets on Fire is kid-safe, but like any game that encourages user-created content, not everything you download will be suitable. The tunes that come with Frets of Fire are alright, but some of the songs tagged by users may contain objectionable language.

Frets on Fire is a great rhythm game that has earned a permanent space on my hard drive.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the free full version

LinuxLinux:
Download the free full version


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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dancemonkeydisorientation.gifIf you've ever been blind stinking drunk and tried to walk from... well from just about anywhere to anywhere else, and if you enjoyed that experience, then this is the game for you. Hopefully you didn't have to contend with spikey walls and "evil shiny clones", but if you did then bully for you for being alive today to read this review!

For those of you who have never been drunk in your entire life, the Game of Disorientation will serve as a suitable trainer in case you drink from the wrong plastic cup at the next party you're dragged to.

Using the arrow keys to move Steve (I call him Steve, you may call him whatever you like), navigate from the starting point to the exit in each room of death. The first level is of course very easy and serves to warm you up. It's when the walls start pulsing and the room starts rotating that things really get confusing. There's a little green arrow that shows you the "As the crow flies" direction to the exit, but in the later levels that doesn't help too much.

As the room rotates the original cardinal directions never change, so "up" and "left" are always "up" and "left" no matter which way the room (and Steve) is currently oriented. Add to that the expanding and contracting walls, which ensure you never have a solid idea of just how tight a squeeze it is between those two spikey pillars. A few levels later the evil shiny clones start chasing you, and one touch from them, of course, means instant death.

I'm not sure what George Clinton from Parliament has to do with anything (at least I think it was George Clinton) but he got in my way at least once too.

A nice touch in this game is how after failing miserably to exit a level, your next try is dumbed down in difficulty, though not without an encouraging comment like "C'mon, you can do this". Once the difficulty gets to its lowest point the room stops rotating and gyrating, and you realize just how hard the game really is. I could barely walk through the harder levels with no added difficulty other than just... well, just walking.

The game didn't take me long to finish (four minutes and some change, though I forgot to submit my score to the high score list), but it was a stressful and fun four minutes. I really dug the soundtrack, too. I'd love to play further incarnations or variations on this game, with larger levels and more varied hazards.

Enjoy tripping out on the Game of Disorientation, an unusual game created by Jacob Grahn (aka Mr. Jiggmin). There is a bit of gore when you manage to impale yourself on a spike, so keep an eye on the toddlers.

Play Game of Disorientation

Cheers to RedKlonoa for submitting the game! =)


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayQuadra Pair 42Created as an entry for our recent game design competition, Quadra Pair 42 is an innocent looking puzzle that will quickly have you in tears. Frustratingly difficult to figure out, the puzzle was devilishly designed and developed by JR of JR Visuals in Buffalo, New York.

The objective? Complete the puzzle in the fewest of moves possible, of course. Rumor has it that it can be done leaving just 21 in the display. But the tricky part is figuring out how to solve it first.

And I'm not sure what's more impressive about this one: whether it's the fact that even after knowing the 'rules' in the game I am still able to come back to it days later and struggle to solve it again; or, the fact that the entire game was created from scratch with just a couple of hours work. It's an excellent little puzzle game. But be warned: keep a soft pillow nearby; you may need something to hit.

Play Quadra Pair 42


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Noahspheres.gifA hypnotic blend of Asteroids and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ian McLeod's Spheres of Chaos is one of the all-time great indie shmups and has long been a favorite of mine. The downloadable game is available for Windows, Linux and RiscOS, and the full version costs just $10 is now FREE!

The game begins with a triangle shaped ship floating in space with some spheres. Move the mouse to rotate the ship, and press the right mouse button to move. The left mouse button fires, while the left alt key breaks and the left control key activates hyperspace, teleporting you to a random location on the screen. Most enemies split apart after being attacked, producing several smaller versions of themselves that may even split again after another shot. The classic Asteroids strategy of minimizing clutter by completely destroying one object at a time applies here, as well... at first.

A great deal of the game returns to the familiar theme of reproduction. It is reflected in the beautiful emergent soundtrack, the patterns of particle effects during explosions, and even in your ship's power-ups. While useful on their own, certain combinations complement each other so well that you can effortlessly advance dozens of levels and earn obscene amounts of points and lives.

spheres.jpgIronically, SoC can be the most fun when it completely breaks down. When you're being flung from black hole to black hole too rapidly for the screen to keep up with your attract + attract + zap shield-powered-up ship, or when you've just cleared a level with homing + decay + beam and dozens of shots are hovering in space waiting for the next batch of aliens to spawn. These situations quickly lead to even more power-ups, and can perpetuate themselves for quite some time. McLeod calls this process "criticality" and claims to have hacks and patches all over his code to prevent it from occurring too frequently. It can be striking as the screen flares and the music crescendos in time with the game's escalating insanity.

As with the coin-ops that it is clearly inspired by, Spheres of Chaos can be played indefinitely with enough skill and luck. The simple rules quickly lead to a wide range of increasingly complex situations, although after level 100 or so you've probably seen most of what the game has to offer, such as the self-duplicating stick and flower fields, black holes in orbit around each other, the absurd and melodic mandala bosses, maybe even one of the top secret power-ups!

Unfortunately, due to its distinct style of using hundreds of thousands of independently moving pixels for many effects, still images simply don't do Spheres of Chaos justice; don't be fooled by the screenshot included here! Spheres of Chaos is gorgeous in motion, with extremely smooth animation (when played on a Pentium 3) amid literally hundreds of enemies and explosions (and up to 8 simultaneous players!). Far more than just a nostalgic tribute to Asteroids, SoC is a fascinating, unique and memorable classic in its own right.

WindowsWindows:

Download the demo
Download the free full version

LinuxLinux:

Download the free full version


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JayBig Fish HuntingAnother impressive creation from Jakub, and made available through Oystergames, is Big Fish Hunting, a stunning game of deep sea harpoon fishing.

Generally speaking, aim and shoot the harpoon at the menacing appearing fish, while avoiding the cute ones. You have limited air with which to breath, but it can be partially replenished by sticking a puffer fish when inflated. Score the most points to get your name on the high score list.

Pretty standard stuff, but this game shines in most every other detail.

As mentioned before, Jakub has put together a Flash game of amazing quality with exceptional attention to detail. From the initial preloading screen straight through to the high score list, everything about this game radiates rays of brilliant commercial quality and professionalism. Even the performance of the game ran smoothly on my measly PowerPC Mac.

I especially like the subtle details in the swimming behavior of the fish. The animation not only looks natural, but when you miss, the other fish in the area take off as if they've just been spooked. And though I am not a fan of blood in games, the smallish liquid cloud effect when a fish is impaled looks very realistic. Even the presentation of the high score list on the rock under water deserves a mention for it reinforcing the design and theme of the game perfectly.

There is beautiful work being done by Jakub Dec, of Poland.


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JayOyster ArkanoidJakub has built an impressive portfolio of gorgeous designs for Web games that can be licensed and re-branded as advergames through Oystergames of Poland. He recently sent me links to a couple of his latest games, and while each one features somewhat common gameplay, the presentation and attention to detail is of the best I've ever seen in Flash.

Oyster Arkanoid is a superb remake of the classic game that is not only very beautiful to behold, it also plays well, too. The speed is a bit slower than many Flash action games, and it's no BreakQuest; but this version plays solidly in your browser and it offers an array of features that set it apart from other games like it.

For example, I especially like the balance of power-ups, as it seems to be just about perfect with respect to risk vs. reward. The variety of power-ups is fairly decent, too, though I feel there is room for even more. The wide screen play field is also a nice touch, as is randomizing the background color of each level. The sound design adds to the overall commercial and professional feel of the entire package.

On the downside, although the collision detection seems solid most of the time, once in a while (very infrequently) the ball collides with a brick that it didn't seem close enough to. Also, the mouse pointer remains visible and this can be distracting to some. However, hiding the mouse pointer may cause a different issue since the play field takes up the entire stage of the Flash movie. This causes Flash to stop receiving mouse events when the mouse pointer is dragged outside the boundaries, and this can lead to frustration when playing Flash action games. This problem can be somewhat mitigated by increasing the size of the stage relative to the play field, thus creating a stage border around the game.

Finally, there doesn't appear to be a way to quit without reloading the game, or to mute sound volume. Even with these minor issues, the game shines with polish in its present form. Relive this classic game in your browser and with style.


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (66 votes)
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JayGrow TributeGrow Tribute is, exactly as the name implies, a tribute to the Grow series of games. It was created exclusively for AlbinoBlacksheep by IndustrialZombie.

For those familiar with Grow games, this one will feel like putting on an old favorite shoe or shirt again. The gameplay is the same and yet it presents an all-new puzzle to challenge and delight you with.

If you've never played a 'recipe' game before, it's really very easy to play, though the solution requires some puzzle solving to get right. Each of the elements along the sides are added, one by one, by clicking on them. There exist relationships of interdependence between some of the elements that will ultimately affect their growth. The objective is to find the correct order in which to add each element such that all elements reach their maximum level.

Play Grow Tribute

Analysis: IndustrialZombie has done an excellent job at capturing much of the same magic that has made the Eyezmaze Grow series of games so engaging and rewarding, though without some of the charm that On is famous for. But the difference is quite small.

I particularly liked that solving this game seemed to progress logically for me, relying less on trial and error than with some other Grow games and clones I've played. Grow Tribute succeeds at giving a well-deserved nod to the series while establishing itself as a worthy addition to the relatively new genre. Highly recommended.

Cheers to Madpeon for the link. =)


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(0 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Mercedes Benz Mixed Tape 14

Somewhat because I feel compelled to, but also because I do so enjoy the music that I just want to share it with the world. Mixed Tape 14 is out, and just in time to help make the weekend that much cozier. Enjoy.

Cheers to Douglas, Rabidcrayon, Liz and Edward for reminding me to continue with what is fast becoming a tradition around here. =)


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Rating: 4.5/5 (40 votes)
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zxoGeosenseYou've heard it before: Americans as a whole are ignorant when it comes to geography. Now, Mark Rossen may have come up with a way to make geography appeal to the average Joe American: competition.

Geosense is essentially an interactive geography test created using DHTML and Ajax. First, choose which map you want to play: United States, Europe, World, and Advanced World. The game itself is all about location, location, location. It consists of 10 or 20 rounds, each of which involves clicking on the map where you think the given city is located. You receive points for speed and accuracy, although the latter is given more weight.

At this point, some of you must be thinking "Great. I thought I left this sort of thing behind in 9th grade. Booooring." And if that was really all it was, you'd be right. However, the meat of Geosense comes in the head-to-head mode. You can challenge anyone who is currently logged in to a head-to-head match. This means you can challenge your friend/sibling/roommate/kid/coworker to an all-out, cutthroat, epic battle of geographic wits.

Analysis: Rossen has made geography really enjoyable with this simple little game. Even if you are not a whiz with all the African nations and their capitals, it's still fun to guess and see how close you were. And because the game offers head-to-head combat, you can challenge one of your buddies who you know will be just as bad as you are.

First-timers may want to play a game on their own to get a sense of the timing and scoring, but unless you're a giant map geek, you'll soon get tired of this and want to go for a more competitive challenge. However, if there's no one suitable to challenge head-to-head, you can still try to get on the high-scores list; there are top scores for the week, the month, and for all-time. Any map can also be played in Scramble mode, where the letters of the country (or state) and city are randomly revealed one by one. Scramble mode adds another dimension to head-to-head play as well; points will depend not only on geographical knowledge, but on being able to recognize the words when only a few letters have been revealed.

A word of warning: a few of the cities on the world map are pretty obscure. Many times, you can get a decent score just by knowing where the country is located, but when you are ask to locate Vlastinarskigamnoprovskiromsorgi, Russia... well, all I can say is good luck.

And be careful: you just might learn something.

Play Geosense


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Mousebreaker Flash game contestAlick over at Mousebreaker in the UK sends word of a Flash game development contest they are running now through the end of November. They are offering substantial cash prizes for the three (3) best games submitted: £2000 for first place; £1000 for second place; and £500 for third place.

Here is a run-down of the criteria for your Flash game entry:

  • New and original (Must not have appeared on another website)
  • Fast-loading (maximum 600kb file size)
  • Easy to understand, difficult to master
  • Quick to play
  • Level based
  • High score based
  • Addictive! Ideally it will have that certain something that makes people play it again and again!

The deadline for receipt of entries is November 30, 2006 at 11:59PM (GMT). Be sure to visit the Mousebreaker competition page for complete details. And if you need a little motivation, consider this: £2000 (pounds) is worth substantially more than $2000 (dollars). ;)


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(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayPhase toyFrom Andrew Allenson's Pickledonion comes this simple and elegant Shockwave sound toy that is delightfully mesmerizing and relaxing to play with.

Phase Toy is a simple sequencer that allows you to create compositions using a point-and-click interface. Just click on a cell to have the sequencer play the corresponding tone when the 'play head' sweeps over it. Click and drag to add several tones at once.

Once familiar with adding tones, experiment with adding (or removing) divisions to each section by clicking the plus (+) or minus (-) sign. Doing so effectively changes the number of tones that are played before repeating the sequence again. You can have as few as one (1) and as many as 16 in each section. Notice that the play head in the first section plays at a slower speed than the other two. This causes some interesting phasing to occur as explained by Parabasis in the comments.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to save or share compositions, but the source code is available should you feel ambitious enough to add that functionality to it. And yet even in its present form, Phase Toy still makes a nice little diversion. After all, we can all use some music to play with every now and then. =)

Play Phase Toy


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayNeon 2Alistair Maunder, of varStudios, sends word that his sequel to Neon has just been released, and that is both good and bad news.

The good news is that Neon 2 makes an appeal to Mac users, a segment of the casual games audience the first game did not support even though it was created in Flash. The bad news is this version is every bit as addictive as the original, and that is sure to mean lost productivity everywhere.

As before, use the mouse for control; press the mouse button to fire. What has changed in this version is the addition of the [ctrl] key, which will stop your ship in its tracks. Doing so allows you to pivot around to make easy targets of those pesky enemies that come crawling up your tail. Also added is a smart bomb, triggered by pressing the [shift] key when the smart bomb meter is full. Smart bombs blast away all enemies currently on screen.

Whereas the original Neon had waves of enemies that were announced prior to their arrival, Neon 2 simply sends wave after unrelenting wave of enemies upon you. Sure you can press the [P]ause key to give yourself a break, but otherwise the action in this game is non-stop.

Analysis: Featuring a couple of new and more difficult enemies, and controls that allow for more variation in gameplay, Neon 2 succeeds in taking this very enjoyable idea to the next level. Ali has done a fine job at updating an already excellent shooter and making it not only better than the original, but also into a somewhat different experience. Sure it looks similar, and yet it feels different. Neon 2 augments, not supplants, the fun and excitement of the original. Take your pick. This Neon series of games is classic arcade fun.

Play Neon 2


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Rating: 4.8/5 (36 votes)
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DerekWMuseum of Broken MemoriesThe Museum of Broken Memories is a beautifully woven interactive narrative that may even be considered a work of art.

It is a point-and-click game, yes; and yet it is so much more than that. It is available as a free download for Windows only.

The game consists of five (5) starkly different levels, or vignettes, that explore feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, anguish, loss, and the like. The images and words expressed may seem familiar to anyone that has found themselves slowly sinking into a world of depression or self-doubt. But in the end it is a soulful journey that must be experienced to appreciate the unique form of narrative that the author, Jonas Kyratzes, has constructed.

When told his creation was more art than game, Jonas responded:

"I'd just like to slightly disagree with your use of the terms game and art. The way I see it, they are not opposites at all. Games are interactive art. Art implies only a work's nature, not its quality or seriousness. Games are still a very new art form, but so once were movies. Within that great realm of possibility that is interactive art, there is space for all kinds of stories and experiences. This is a more sombre one, true—but I wouldn't say it's not a game."

Like any work of art, personal interpretation plays an important role here, as there are many images and words to browse through and interact with, and an array of emotions that will be evoked. The storyline is sometimes clear and sometimes vague, and there is much symbolism present and references to other works to support a wide range of perspectives. It's both short and fairly easy; the joy in this one is the feeling of awe upon the game's denouement.

My only complaints are that it requires a download and anyone without a PC is out of luck. For what it's worth, though, the modest wait for the game to download is far shorter than actual gameplay time, and at 100% free the price is definitely right.

Mere words cannot describe the sheer complexity of this experience. Try it out.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (40) | Views (16)

JohnBWeightWeight is a game of puzzle solving and light mathematics created by Sean for our first Game Design Competition.

A series of scales line the center of the screen connected by supports and fulcrums. A column of numbers sits idly in the corner and along the bottom is a row of controls. "Please calibrate scale 2..." is the only instruction you have at first. It might take a little clicking, but soon you'll discover you can add or subtract weights from each scale in order to match pairs of numbers on the left. The first few are easy, but as you get more scales to balance, your life gets complex. Weighing one scale pushes others up or down, so you'll need to add and subtract weight across the board to get things right.

After you calibrate each individual scale, complete chaos breaks loose. Well, not quite, but a big wrench is thrown into the scheme: you have to balance all scales simultaneously and move the fulcrums into place. Yikes. Fortunately there are markers that help you set everything up, so it's not entirely a guessing game.

Analysis: When I see the cryptic text and computer-like interface I can't help but think of another competition entry, Cyberpunk. It's only a passing resemblance, but there are some similarities in design and overall atmosphere. Sean did an excellent job creating a sleek-looking game while using nothing but a greyscale color palette.

The physics feel a bit unrealistic and this can be frustrating once you hit the final round. You'll also need to do some clicking before you figure out how to calibrate scales. To begin, click the flashing bar on the far right to bring up the - + interface. Then, add weights to shift the position of the second scale. Notice the small pairs of numbers on the left changing? Try and get the bottom pair to match, then simply click the white circle next to it and you're ready to move on. Now just keep adjusting weight on the scales and eventually all the number pairs will match.

A truly unique and creative entry from Sean Hawkes.

Play Weight


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (24) | Views (4)

JayMartin is a game design student in Karlskrona, Sweden, and instead of programming shaders (*shudder*) he decided to follow his heart and inspiration derived from the Experimental Gameplay Project and do some rapid prototyping instead.

SwallowsFor the past five weeks he has been hard at work rapidly developing ideas into game prototypes, using Flash, at the rate of one game every three days, or so. He added constraints to his designs by selecting two words from his local newspaper to serve as the theme for each game under development. The results of his "prototyprally" are creative, aesthetically appealing, and worthy of some attention. The following are my favorites:

First up is Martin's latest effort. Swallows is a game built within the theme of birds and pendulum and incorporates some fun elastic physics to play with. The objective is to keep the coconut within the dotted circle for as long as possible. You do this by click-dragging on a bird to draw a string from it to the coconut, using multiple strings and passing it between birds to move it as desired. You have 60 seconds to score the highest score you can, and if the coconut leaves the play field you lose half your accumulated points. A tad frustrating, but fun to play with anyways. Click.

HovercraftyHovercrafty is not only a great name for this next game, it is also my favorite of the bunch. It was a game constrained by the words: swamp and secret. Using just a grappling hook for control, latch onto available anchor points to swing your hovercraft around and navigate the swamp to collect as many pills as you can. A small arrow will indicate the direction of the pill. To use the grappling hook, just click on a nearby anchor point. If successful, a line will connect to it and create a means for changing direction. It can be frustrating when going fast, as the anchor points become difficult to click on precisely, though it's a great idea that I'd like to see expanded upon. Click.

FungusUsing rules similar to those found in Jon Conway's game of Life, though with a more interactive approach, this next game was constrained by the words mushrooms and power. The objective in Fungus is to grow as many fungi as you can, and to grow them as large as you can. How they behave depends on the number of neighbors they have: one or fewer neighbors and the fungus will die of loneliness; two or three neighbors and it stays alive and thrives; four neighbors and the fungus grows and gives birth; five or more neighbors and the fungus will die of overcrowding. Move them around with your mouse and arrange them for best results. Click.

Although Martin is done with his rapid prototyping project, he has moved onto a new game project that will be built over the period of the next 5 weeks. He plans to continue to update his blog with his progress, as well as add post-mortems for each of his game prototypes from this project. Keep up the great work, Martin! =)

With kind thanks to Wouter for the tip.


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

Noahsudokucraving.gifThough feared and reviled by crossword purists, Sudoku has become one of the most popular puzzles in recent memory, appearing in countless newspapers, computer games, and even Nintendo's Brain Age. The rules are simple: 3 regions of 3 squares each form a 9x9 grid, every cell of which must be filled with a number between 1 and 9. Every row and every column can only have one instance of each number, and every 3x3 region must contain all 9 numbers.

Adam Lyttle's implementation, Sudoku Craving, is just as professional as his previously reviewed Solitaire Craving. The interface is clean and precise and, in addition to keeping track of your personal performance on each puzzle, comment boards and high score charts encourage community participation and competition. Sudoku Craving is a great resource for sudoku addicts looking for their daily logic fix.

Red


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (31 votes)
| Comments (37) | Views (28)

JayRedRed offers up a brand new take on a classic gameplay mechanic in this simple and new, stylish arcade shooter that plays a little like Missile Command.

You have this turret, see, and there are lots of red orbs (of all sizes) that are storming the planet. Lucky for you, the turret has little pink nerf balls (lots of them, and in 2 sizes) that you can fire rapidly at the incoming mass of masses. You won't be able to destroy the orbs, but you can divert their course long enough to reload.

Problem is, you can only reload so fast and so you will have to use your ammunition wisely. Aim with the mouse and fire by clicking. To launch a large nerf ball, press the [space] bar; however, those will use up more ammo.

Power-ups such as shield, additional turret, and large gun add a little spice to the mix, while bosses and stronger wind serve to increase the difficulty a bit.

Analysis: Simple, straightforward, and stylish with a jazzy trip-hop soundtrack that seems to be synched with the action at first. I really enjoy games like this. Some of the most enjoyable games with addictive gameplay are based on very simple ideas, and Red is no different in this regard. But it is not without a few problems.

First off, with additional turrets the game slows to a crawl. Moreover, the extra turrets are supposed to help, but I found they generally contribute to my getting hit more often when I have one around. So my best advice: avoid turret power-ups.

Second problem is the game score is based on elapsed time thereby turning seconds into points. So, although it seems counter intuitive, you can actually score additional points by effectively delaying the game. Valarauka mentioned in our IRC chatroom that he was able to score huge points by 'balancing' a boss mass. This is probably not what the author intended, which is why I would suggest changing the scoring structure, or create an incentive to get rid of the boss mass quickly.

The last problem I noticed is a bug that I discovered after many consecutive plays: shots fired in each new game bounced off the orbs as before but would not alter their course. Reloading the page fixes this one.

The author, Case, promises this to be the first in a series of color-themed games. Not a bad start.

Play Red

Cheers to Alex for the word on this one. =)

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