December 2006 Archives


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (24 votes)
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farmhustle.jpgAdamBThe mere mention of the word "Bejeweled" sends hundreds of hunched, bleary-eyed office workers running. If you are one of the sleep deprived masses that have been hooked before, stop reading because the folks at Avocadolite Farm have smothered the Bejeweled formula in oh-so cuteness in their most successful time killer, Farm Hustle.

The formula is one you've seen before (if not, say good-bye to your loved ones now), the basic idea is to align three of the same type of animal by moving one into an adjacent square, either directly up and down or left and right of its position. The basic story is they all need to be in their pens and each square needs to have an animal hustled off of it. This means that along with making combos and so on, you also need to use each square on the grid at least once.

This addition makes for increased tension in the game play as the often luck based near random skill set frequently present in other games is all but thrown out the window. The targets of your elimination are very specific and contorting around to remove these squares is often very tough and require forethought. Fortunately the animals in the squares are non-specific and you can quite easily remove the offending square by inserting another animal in its place.

To aid you in your difficult but irresistible task of herding these cute animals off to sleep within the time limit, you are awarded with the occasional bomb which can be used to blast a few animals off into their nice warm bed.

Analysis: The classic Bejeweled formula has gotten a very cosy remake with these irresistibly gorgeous graphics. However, many of the icons are repeated, save for different colours. These changes as they appeared to me, a sufferer of mild colour blindness, rendered some animal matching very difficult. The occurrences of this did not dampen the overall aesthetic qualities of the game, or its addictive qualities.

Unfortunately lack of either online or locally saved scores prevent this particular version from becoming the Goliath it should be, when all's said and done, Farm Hustle is a beautiful and fun game worthy of play and should be enjoyed for far too long by a lot of people with far more important things to do.

Play Farm Hustle


(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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titanion.jpg

NoahYet another excellent free shmup from the inimitable Kenta Cho, Titanion (Windows) is a new take on the classic arcade game Galaga. Cho has seriously sped up the pace and intensity, but was considerate enough to leave the player a gift: the dreaded tractor beam is now in your hands.

Similar to Galaga, the action takes place entirely on one screen, with endless waves of enemies descending towards your ship. Press Z to attack, and press X to appropriate to up to ten enemy ships with your tractor beam for added defense and firepower. After using the tractor beam you'll need to refill the power meter by destroying enemies before you can use it again. The speed at which the meter fills is dependent on how many ships you currently control, which means that the meter will fill quickly when you need it the most.

Analysis: Titanion is simple and familiar, but one of the most impressive offerings from ABA Games yet. Even Cho's trademark techno soundtrack is a little more diverse than usual. I especially appreciated the buffer zones on either side of the screen, which makes hanging on to your captured ships a lot easier than in TUMIKI Fighters, an earlier ABA Game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


Rating: 4.7/5 (32 votes)
| Comments (42) | Views (50)

JayTriple JackMost everyone has a means of escape from the daily grind of work or other activities that keep our lives moving forward and productive. Some pick up a book to read, others an interactive story. And if you're a regular visitor here, it's probably safe to assume that your escape involves some form of casual gameplay.

But what if your daily chores include playing and reviewing games? Would you still wish to pick up a game to relax and unwind? The answer, at least for me, is a resounding, "yes!"

When I need to escape from the daily grind, the games I usually turn to are dominoes and poker, two quintessential casual games. For dominoes, I play Clubhouse Games on my Nintendo DS, an irresistibly good collection of 42 all-time classic card, board, and parlor games that I find myself coming back to time and time again. For poker, my latest addiction is TripleJack.

TripleJack Poker is similar to other browser-based, free-money poker sites with a few extras that set it apart from the rest. If you were a fan of last year's Last Call Poker, you will find that TripleJack contains a lot of the excitement that made Last Call so popular and addictive.

Registration is totally free and sets up an account that you can play with right away. A quick and painless email validation and then it's time to hit the tables.

Once inside you can choose to play a cash game or play tournament style at any of the tables already created. Or you can create your own. You are given $500 in chips to start with, but you can always get more if you lose it all. When you do lose everything, a "Rebuy" button will appear that will restock your account with $500. You can only rebuy once every 5-minutes, however.

Triple JackSince money is free at TripleJack, what you're really playing for is score, or rank. The points you earn are based on your average rate of profit. So, it's not about how much money you have won, it's about how fast you are able to earn it. Your score is always displayed above your avatar while you're playing so you can watch your score change in real time with every hand. It's really quite remarkable. I've watched mine grow from 0-396 points in just two days of playing.

You can choose from a wide assortment of cute little avatars to be represented by, and even change the color of it at will. After winning a hand you earn a "bomb" that can be sent to any other player at the table. Pies, anvils, balloons, and tomatoes, are all sent as cute animations that bombard the target player's avatar for a brief period of time. It's a fun way to work off some frustration when someone just nudges you out of a sweet pot with a higher kicker. There are also medals to earn that will appear next to your avatar when certain conditions or achievements are met, such as a crown if you happen to get a royal flush in a Texas Hold'em game.

Analysis: If you enjoy Texas Hold'em poker, TripleJack is one of the finest free-money sites I have seen. The background graphics, animations, sound effects and avatars are all highly appealing and the Flash-based site runs quick and smooth, even on my pokey little PowerPC-based Mac laptop.

In terms of criticisms, the betting interface could stand a little tweaking as it may take some people a bit to get used to. For example, at first I found myself clicking "Fold" when I really wanted to call, and vice versa; and I still sometimes call a large raise not knowing that someone just increased the stakes significantly. Perhaps a higher constrasting sound effect would help when someone raises, but the current bet indicator is just too small for my liking; it gets lost amongst the various other clutter in the game. Thankfully there are buttons that allow you to make your choice ahead of your turn, and there is even an advanced auto-betting mode available in the options that will really help speed things along once you're familiar with the game.

All things considered, TripleJack is great multiplayer fun for most anyone that enjoys Texas Hold'em style poker. Add to that the potential to win prizes with a paid subscription to the game and what you have is a unique new offering that may be highly addictive, so be careful. =)

Play TripleJack

Cheers (and curses) go out to Patlents for introducing me to Triple Jack!


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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eggvschicken.jpgPatrickEver wanted to fight a revolutionary struggle against tyrannical chickens by lining up eggs and firing away? If you answered no, you haven't played the downloadable Egg Vs. Chicken for Windows and Mac. A charmingly original action/puzzle game from the luminaries at gameLab (whose other excellent titles, such as Plantasia and Arcadia, have been reviewed here), Egg Vs. Chicken puts you in the role of time-traveling Eggs trying to free the un-hatched from a history of oppression.

Each level of the game holes you up in a differently shaped fortress with Chicken guerillas enclosing from every side. To hold off their attack, you have to line up colored eggs along the walls, and then fire away. The core of the game involves sliding the eggs around and organizing them for the fight. The catch is that an egg will move in a straight line until it collides with something. You simply click on an egg and gently flick the mouse to move it in one of four directions, but the process can become hectic, especially with the beaks of belligerence tapping on your walls. Theres nothing more satisfying, however, than lining up a deep stack on a corner and yoking out your foes from two sides at once.

Innovative stuff like this can't really be done justice in words, the only way to really appreciate Egg Vs. Chicken is to grab the game and start playing.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (21 votes)
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noboyuki3.jpgPatrickNobuyuki Forces 3 takes the quarter munching duck-and-fire frenzy of Time Crisis out of the arcade and drops it into your browser. Mr. Nobuyuki has retired from politics, yet he still uses his military power to influence the political world. You play a lone secret agent who sets out to stop him by mowing down hordes of anonymous masked soldiers. It's a long and intense game with tons of unlockables and extra features that make it extraordinarily satisfying.

Your operative takes cover by default, so you have to hold space to step out, take aim and fire. When you run out of ammo, resume cover and click to reload. Keep your eye out for items and dawdling soldiers during the transition clips. Clicking on these will up your stats, RPG style.

Nobuyuki Forces 3 pours on the panache in visuals and overall presentation. The graphics are 2D comic book-style with several 3D interludes and some impressive looking artistic backdrops. A smooth jazz electronica soundtrack compliments the gameplay, giving its spy theme a nice ambience.

Reader ReviewAs you kill enemies and rack up hits against bosses, a bullet indicator at the bottom-right of the screen fills with green. Once full, it will turn yellow and the next time you reload you'll get a random weapon power-up to help you out. Some of the items include a Machine Gun, Shotgun, and Double/Triple shot weapons. And then, of course, there's the extra health, life-ups, and bullet-ups scattered around the complex.

In the end, what makes this game so good is the replay factor. There are several difficulty levels and a ranking system appears after beating the game that allows you to gauge just how good you are. Also, the more ranks you obtain, the more accessories and outfits will be unlocked.

Play Nobuyuki Forces 3

Thanks to Saviour-v for sending this one in and contributing to the review!


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (549) | Views (75)

dancemonkeyriddle.gifLateral thinking is not something I have always excelled at. Some would even say you could remove "lateral" from the previous sentence and it would remain just as true. I have noticed in fact a general decline in my reasoning prowess, and I'm choosing to blame the lack of sleep as a result of having a baby... 14 months ago.

To fight my general stupidification I've been flexing my lateral thinking muscles lately with Riddles of Riddles 100. These lateral thinking web games are the work of one apparently psychotic mind, Mark Lautman. They aren't as slick or polished as God Tower or Dumb: The Game, but what they lack in graphics they make up for in deviousness and variety. In the first 16 puzzles alone, I came across binary code, a crossword puzzle, a word scramble, and a quote from... nevermind, that would give the answer away.

When you discover the answer to a puzzle you enter it directly in the URL in your browser's address bar. I was originally a little annoyed at that, but the manual entry actually sets Mark up to hand you some pretty clever wordplay based on the address bar itself. There are also occasional hints in the source code of the document itself.

Shoot, I hope that didn't spoil anything. It's so hard reviewing these kinds of games without giving too much away.

In any event, if you like feeling stupid for not finding the answer that's right in front of your nose, get ready to enjoy.

Play Riddle of Riddles 100

Be sure to check out the other flavors of the Riddles of Riddles games as well. Thanks to Xyz for sending this one in!


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Whatever it is you celebrate this time of year (even if it's nothing at all), may your days be filled with peace and love, good times and many soulful moments, now and throughout the coming new year.

Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you!!

casual gameplayadambandrewandrewwandrewyrmbrentcapuchindaddalumadancemonkeyderekwelielliottgrant0harukiohiramarchibaldhuntyianwj-pjaredjarodjasonjayjohnbeaverjohnkarmenkatemikaelms45noahpatrickreyrobthomaswulfozxocasual gameplay


Rating: 4.7/5 (25 votes)
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Elfyourself.jpgJohn BeaverEver wondered how you'd look in an elf hat, green tunic, and striped pants doing a crazy dance? No?? For some extreme holiday silliness, I recommend Elf Yourself. It's not a game, but it's festive and has great potential for amusement (and embarrassment). The principle is simple: find a photo of yourself (or you partner, boss, enemy, etc); select the facial area in the photo (there is a neat web-based tool to help you scale and rotate your chosen shot) and submit the result. You even get an option to record a voice message to go with it (although disappointingly, this is through a phone line rather than via your PC).

Once completed, you can preview the result or email it to a friend. Personally, I am a little wary of the potential for spam as the site's Privacy Policy allows the hosting site (Office Max) to use the submitted email address for promotional purposes. However, (at least using my Windows XP/Outlook combination) you can enter a dummy address which will automatically generate an Outlook message with a direct URL to your creation which you can then save and send to anybody you like.

Release your inner elf!

Play Elf Yourself


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (18) | Views (2)

FlatlandAdamBMix fun game play, plenty of action and retro graphics and the name Brent Silby may come to mind. Authour of the previously reviewed Swarm, DNA and Replicator, this offering, titled Flatland, follows the same pattern of enjoyment.

In Flatland, it is your mission to destroy wave after wave of... things. You get points. OK, the idea isn't completely original, but the design is quite interesting. At first you start off in a tiny ship which has next to no armour and a miniscule weapon. With this weapon you are intent on destroying your anonymous foes. When you do so, they will explode in an array of large blocky pixels, the collection of which upgrades your ship. The interesting bit is that collecting an odd number of them gives you an odd shaped ship until you gather more and regain composure. Think of it like snapping Lego bricks onto your craft to grow big and strong.

After the first few "practice" levels you will more than have the hang of the very simple gameplay and will also have an understanding of the upgrade system. By this time the enemies will be coming in faster and you will find your ship rapidly inflating and deflating as damage/repairs are obtained in quick and often hilarious succession.

Although the game claims to run better in Internet Explorer, I actually found myself with more problems—such as jerky animation—in IE as opposed to Firefox, though with the latter I had no music. An incidental matter which in no way hampers an enjoyable game. It's still a bundle of retro goodness, no matter the browser.

Play Flatland


| Comments (28) | Views (16)

The nominations for this year's Best of 2006 awards are now up and the virtual voting booths have officially opened!

We'll be taking your votes for the next several days up until the dawning of the new year when we present the very best in casual gameplay that we enjoyed throughout 2006. Play along or just browse through the nominations and relive those cherished moments from the year.

You'll see we are doing things a bit differently this year. This being our third annual best of the year awards, we wanted to dig a little deeper than our previous efforts. We hope you will be pleased with what we have in store. Click.


| Comments (17) | Views (4)

Link Dump Fridays 2

Harukio

Winter is here
Family coming into town
The snow keeps falling
Not making a sound
That's not really true
This is all a lie
I live in Florida
I'm going out of town
This link dump is quite short
So please,
Don't frown





Aah, Link Dump Fridays. Never has such an event been as hotly anticipated in the history of mankind. Check out our latest discoveries and see which ones you find worthy of a super sweet JIG review.

  • Valo - Draw a line to pop blocks, but don't draw too fast. It sounds quite simple, but is quite an engaging little game with it's light feel and sound. It won 3rd place in the Mousebreaker competition.
  • Papa Louie: When Pizzas Attack! - There must be something about platformers that attracts stereotypical Italians. Carry pizzas while fending off pizzas to save people...from pizzas. It really makes sense...really!
  • Phetch - The latest game from the creators of Peekaboom! Not only do you get to have some multiplayer fun, it actually serves a meaningful purpose - it's helping to create a more accessible web. The goal of the game is to describe an image so the other players can find it in a search. Do well and increase your points and rank.
  • QuestForTheRest - An exploratory point-and-click that seems to be by the creator of Samorost. That's enough to sell me. It should be the same for you.
  • Inner Play - A cute platformer where you play a bubble headed boy. Cute sounds, looks cute, cute game!
  • Pianolina - I've found an orange and its name is Pianolina. It's a little sound toy which lets you make music from tossing blocks around. It doesn't have the best controls but it is quite neat. I haven't had as much fun throwing things around since playing Elebits.


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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dodgethatanvil-full.jpgJohn BeaverIn February, Jay comprehensively reviewed a finalist in the 2006 Independent Games Festival (IGF). The demo form of Dodge That Anvil walked away with the AdultSwim.com award and has now been further developed into an enjoyable downloadable game for both PC and Mac OS X platforms (no mention thus far of a Linux release).

As well as lots of new levels ("over 40"), the full version features a save function and allows players to unlock new playing modes as they progress. It also allows you to enjoy the game in full-screen mode rather than playing in a browser window.

Graphically, there is little to differentiate between the full application and the browser version (which—as Jay indicated—is a stunning use of Shockwave 3D). The online Shockwave demo levels are still available and you can also run the download in demo mode before you part with your cash.

Go harvest some carrots! Download for Windows and Mac or play the online Shockwave version.


| Comments (212) | Views (28)

Line RiderJohnBThe irresistible webtoy Line Rider has returned, now in a delicious "beta 2" flavor! The update fixes a few rough spots in the interface and adds some much-needed tools to the mix. Those of you already hooked on Line Rider will appreciate how much easier it is to create a masterpiece with the new additions, and first-time players will see just what all the fuss is about.

Line Rider was originally created by Bostjan Cadez (aka FSK) as a project for an illustration class. Since its release in September 2006, so many people have become captivated by its simple, creative charm. All you do is draw lines for a character on a sled to slide down. There's no scoring, no set objectives, and no levels to complete. Just start playing and see where your imagination takes you!

A few of the notable additions to the second beta are as follows:

Pen - I hear it's mightier than the sword. It's your basic tool for creating floors and ceilings. Hold shift while starting a new line to switch between the two.

Line - Create straight lines with ease.

Swatches - Three line-types are available to use, each represented by a colored swatch. Blue lines are normal floors/ceilings, but red lines will give your rider a speed boost. Green lines are for decoration and have no affect on where the rider goes.

Eraser - Wipe out whole sections or tiny portions of your masterpiece.

Magnifying Glass - Zoom in to fine-tune your creation or zoom out to take in the view.

Flag - Lets you save the rider's current speed and position. The next time you click "play", the rider will take off from there.

And the good news doesn't stop there. The California-based software company inXile Entertainment has obtained the publishing rights to Line Rider. The company plans to release versions of the game on both the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii in the spring of 2007. Each version will feature the same captivating drawing concept but with a few new bonuses.

If you haven't tried Line Rider, it's definitely time to discover what the fuss is all about. Tens of thousands of people are expressing their creativity with this fun webtoy, so give it a try and see what strange things you can create.

Play Line Rider


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AdamBbrainball.gifFor some reason, at some point in history, someone decided to merge the wholesome and honest activity of playing games with that other thing... what's it called? Oh yeah, learning. Fun and getting smart at the same time never really worked out, but one designer named Alex Colket brings us about as close as we can get with his offering, BrainBall.

There are ten short games appearing on his site each day which are designed to activate a different part of your brain. These games vary from memory tasks and concentration games to logic puzzles and so on. Using your brain, you are to complete the task as best you can in the given time and thusly be rewarded with... more... smartness. Also you get a score.

The way it works is each day there are ten games; these are the same for everyone who plays them during that day. The game types are the same the next day but the content is different, leveling out the playing field for everyone who plays. Each month the games themselves are changed and the whole thing starts again with new challenges.

Not only do you get a score for each individual game, you also get a score for your overall performance on the days' games. Returning to the site over the course of the month will give you a seasonal score. Your scores for everything are stored and compared to everyone else who plays, so that learning finally gets what its always needed: healthy competition.

Analysis: BrainBall is, seemingly, very shallow but the mechanics of it are very deep. I found myself returning over again, basically because the games are so simply designed and for the most part intuitive that the game feels more like a rewarding snack than something larger and meatier that you need to commit to.

The ease with which BrainBall can be picked up and consumed without any other external forces or adherence to traditional game play structure makes this nothing more than addictive gaming. Even if it's only for a few minutes of play each day, just to keep on the high score board. If you're up for a bit of mental stimulation, Click.

More of a word game fan? Try the BrainBall spin-off WordBall!

Update: The Play With Your Mind site is no longer available.


| Comments (27) | Views (81)

sissyfight1.jpgJohnBSissyFight 2000 is a free online multiplayer shockwave game that lets you take part in a good old fashion schoolyard tease-fest. Take your slandering skills to the playground and whittle down the self-esteem of the other girls by using scratches, grabs, teases, tattles and more. The game plays out in a series of rounds and works a lot like a complex version of rock-paper-scissors. The only difference is the loser of this game runs off crying.

After setting a few options and customizing your sissy, the game begins. Each round has a timer that ticks at the bottom while everyone chooses their moves. Click on another sissy to attack her, or click on yourself to initiate one of several defensive moves. When the time limit is up, the fighting begins. If a sissy's self-esteem points reach zero she runs away in tears, leaving the rest of the pack to fight for themselves. The last two sissies standing win the game.

Here's a quick rundown of the moves and their strengths/weaknesses:

Cower - A defensive move uses to avoid attacks. Do it needlessly twice in a row and you will be penalized 1 esteem point.

Lick Lolly - Rejuvenates 2 esteem points if done successfully. (Only available twice per game.)

Tattle - Takes 3 esteem points from everybody who misbehaves during the round. If you fail, however, you lose esteem points.

Grab - Paralyzes your opponent for the round. If 2 or more sissies grab the same girl, the grabbed girl will take damage. This is also a good defensive move if you are about to be teased.

Scratch - Diminishes the sissies esteem points by 1 point if successful. If executed while the girl is licking her lollypop, she chokes and takes significant damage.

Tease - Only works when two or more sissies gang up on some poor slouch.

SissyFight 2000 is really simple and hilarious take on schoolyard teasing. Let the tattling begin!

A version of SissyFight is also available as a printable card game, perfect for getting friends together for old-school-style multiplayer gaming.

Update: The online version of Sissyfight is no longer available.


| Comments (30) | Views (1)

Help SquadIntroducing the HELP SQUAD! You'll find a new menu option on every page titled "Help Squad" that when clicked will slide open a portion of the page where the 20 most recent comments posted to the site will be displayed. My hope is that people will enlist themselves and offer to help those strugging with a game by checking the comments posted to the Help Squad frequently.

There is a lot of community activity that happens here, and you may be surprised to find that a large number of comments are posted for games that have long since scrolled off the main page. Now, you can rest assured that your recent comment posted to that game from back in 2004 is receiving much greater exposure.

At the very least, it's a quick and easy way to keep up with what's happening here at a glance. Feedback is welcome and encouraged. Cheers! =)

Update: Now with LIVE update!

Screenshot is from Nintendo's Japanese release of Ouendan for the DS, which was released here in the US as Elite Beat Agents. Great game! Highly recommended. \o/


| Comments (79) | Views (1)

Link Dump Fridays

HarukioWelcome, to the end of another week and the beginning of a sweet, sweet weekend. Here at the JIG Studios you may know us for our handy game submission suggestion form. It's easy, it's convenient, and it doesn't work with Netscape (and who does?). What you may not know is how we sort through all your nasty little submissions to find the shining gems of casual gameplay goodness.

So how do we do it? Through the Máquina del Plátano 61000! It reads each and every game submission and encodes the data along with the game in a banana, which is then released down a chute into a rather large cardboard box. Our team of reviewer monkeys swarm the box peeling and nibbling to select the best fruit of the crop. Unfortunately, due to a monkey form of avian flu, our reviewer monkeys are out of commission. So we need your help! What follows is a list of possible review subjects. Check these out at your convenience (we're timing you) and help us select the ones worthy of a quality JIG review.

Oh, and before I forget, Welcome to LINK DUMP FRIDAYS!

  • Riddles of Riddles 100! - It's one of those God Tower/Not Pr0n type riddle puzzles. Figure out the clues from images, words, source code, and handy dandy mirrors. I personally don't like them because they make me feel dumb. It starts off all fun and happy and then suddenly I'm back to 1st grade trying to pull open the door that says "push." Oh yeah, and there are 100 riddles so make your brain cry and go play.
  • Reindeer Tipping by Enigma Interactive - How would our holidays be filled with joy, love, and kindness to our fellow man if it weren't for reindeer tipping? Play as the subtly named Ebenigma Scrooge as he goes on a reindeer tipping rampage against incredible odds (aka penguins, pudding, and Santa). Unfortunately the music is annoying as sin, luckily tipping reindeer is a sin so it all fits together.
  • Chaos on the Piste by Chaos - Fun little downhill ski racing game. Did I mention the groovy title music and
    dancing snowmen? Short, quick and fun.

  • Nobuyuki Forces 3 - A 'you versus the military' shoot-out game with surprisingly simple controls, just use the spacebar and mouse. It also has some neat music that isn't quite standard for the genre. It does take a moment or two to load, though.
  • NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!
  • Xtreme Xmas Shopping - the latest from Persuasive Games. Have flashbacks of Black Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Today with a holiday shopping game that has you rushing to get the year's "hottest items" by any means necessary. Unfortunately it runs as slow as a PS3-toting old lady on my computer so I'll have to depend on you to check it out. I, by the way, am quite enjoying my Wii, thanks for asking.
  • Big Spaceship Holiday Card Creator - We found an orange! Here's a submission that's not a game but worth noting. This let make of you funny holiday card. You subtitle make for video. It quite humors. Plese check me out. Funny joke here.

Thanks for your help, the monkeys thank you!

Jay notes: Just so you know, please never take Harukio seriously, he is only here because I pity him. Also, I didn't write this note.


| Comments (13) | Views (33)

JohnBitswonderfulinternet.jpgIt's story time! Perfect for the impending holiday season, It's a Wonderful Internet is an interactive narrated storybook by nurun|antfarm. Take in some soothing music as you listen to a classic holiday tale (tongue-in-cheek style) about a geek whose life is a little too dependent on the Internet. Flip through the pages and interact with the scenery, and when the narration ends move your cursor around the pictures for some nice surprises.

George spends a little too much time playing video games on the Internet. His latest gaming session doesn't go quite so well, prompting him to scream out in anger "I wish the Internet had never been born!". And, well, he gets his wish. As George tries to go about his day he realizes just how integrated the World Wide Web has become in his daily life.

It's a Wonderful Internet is a charming holiday-themed storybook with a spry sense of humor. Kind of makes you remember why the Internet is a really good thing.

Cheers to Bigbosssnk for sending this one in!

Note: Although it seems very kid-friendly, there is an instance of some not-so-child-safe language in It's a Wonderful Internet.

Update: The interactive version of "It's a Wonderful Internet" is no longer available, so we're instead embedding a YouTube video of the experience, preserved for you.


| Comments (1) | Views (0)

eets_screen.jpgIf you've been sitting on the fence wondering if you should buy Eets, this should push you right over the top. Klei Entertainment has announced they're cutting the price of the refreshingly unique puzzle game Eets in half. How does $9.95 sound for a game that was named "Casual Game of the Year" by GameTunnel? There's no shortage of praise for the game that has been described as Lemmings meets The Incredible Machine. Our own Eets review goes mushy over its unique visuals and winning concept, not to mention the active community and bundled editor that lets you create your own levels. Now that the price is uncommonly low, it's the perfect excuse to walk around eating marshmallows and having mood swings.

Grab the demo or buy the full version.


Rating: 4.7/5 (53 votes)
| Comments (60) | Views (3,976)

PatrickFacadeFaçade is an interactive drama, download-able for Windows and Mac, that puts you in the role of a dinner guest catching up with your old college friends, a married couple named Grace and Trip. Using the mouse and keyboard, you're able to move around their apartment and manipulate objects inside. But Facade is no escape-the-room adventure game, most of the interaction involves, get this, talking to Grace and Trip.

Using a keyboard that allows expressions of about twenty-five characters—it also enforces a brief delay between expressions—you can say anything you like to the couple; and, if it's on-topic, their AI will make some sense of what you're saying and react, as if everyone was an improvisational actor. Initially everything is calm and good, catching-up, ice-skating on pleasantries, we've all been there. It doesn't take long before the facade slips and the ugly truth of Grace and Trip rears its ugly head. Unlike any game to ever come before, Facade forces you to think about social issues with no clear solution and deal with them as you feel appropriate, it challenges you with a dramatic, and most importantly human dilemma.

All this fancy drama has got me using a lot of italics.

Facade isn't without its faults. The use of a language-based interface was a bold way to go, and the game's creators, Micheal Mateas and Andrew Stern, succeed admirably at a problem that has haunted AI researchers for decades. When I say "admirably" I mean, if you type in-character, instead of dropping non sequiturs like "so Trip, I was abducted by aliens last night," then you'll get a dramatically appropriate response about 80% of the time, and the other 20% the time the system will fail gracefully. For instance, if you say something ludicrous, the couple is likely to look at you like you're a bit deranged, awkwardly shrugging it off with an "uh... yeah," and then jumping back into the previous topic. There are times when you feel like you aren't being heard, and this can be frustrating, but you can always chalk it up to Grace and Trip being self-absorbed yuppies you never really liked anyway, and then just keep playing in-character. The joys of typing in something clever and having a moment of repartee with a virtual actor, while rarely pure, do spring up from play to play, and those moments satisfy unlike any other play experience you've ever had.

I was present at a June 2005 conference where the final release version was demonstrated, it was a major moment, seeing someone type casually and get a response, but since then Mateas and Stern have kept busy tweaking the language processing. Playing Facade recently on a Mac, I can confirm the experience has been smoothed out immensely. Currently the two are seeking financing for "The Party", a spiritual successor to Facade that will offer ten fully-realized characters in a party situation. Just downloading the game, but even more so, donating a buck or two through PayPal, will help demonstrate to their potential investors that there's a strong market for this sort of play. In the meantime, download Facade.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the free full version


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Rating: 4.8/5 (211 votes)
| Comments (151) | Views (527)

bowmaster.jpgThomasAs a casual gamer, you have certainly come across titles that fall into the defend-your-castle category. BowMaster Prelude, by Jason Reinsvold of LostVectors, fits that description as well, but certain aspects elevate it above other candidates.

Unlike most other games of the genre, the player doesn't aim at attackers directly by clicking on them. Instead, the mouse cursor is used to shoot an arrow from your castle, applying force and angle by clicking and dragging intuitively. Always leaving the marks from the last shot behind, the game provides a convenient way to refine your shots as you continue to fire.

Between levels you get to upgrade your arsenal of arrows or you can buy the possibility to recruit troops during a stage. And here comes another twist that separates BowMaster Prelude from similar games. You earn experience and gold for successfully hitting an enemy soldier with the basic arrow. However, if you have recruited troops be aware that they get drafted out of the general populace. And they cost gold. If you wage a full-scale war it's a drain on your people, leaving you with precious little XP/gold to earn between stages (more people = more XP bonus/gold = more gold bonus). Thus it is imperative to find a good balance between recruiting troops and keeping the economy alive.

If you have bought a recruitment upgrade, troops will be recruited endlessly, unless you disable it. That's done by clicking the green bar above the unit's icon. There is also a variety of arrows to choose from. Some will do continuous damage to a soldier once you hit them, others will just slow them down. Some arrows can hurt multiple soldiers, others would do more damage to an individual.

And finally, your hero, the guy shooting the arrows, can also leave the castle. The A/D keys move him left/right. If you're close to your castle, pressing the W key will bring him back to safety.

Analysis: All in all, BowMaster Prelude is a surprisingly addictive game, given that I don't enjoy any other game of that variety. The Help system explains all functions in detail, including other means of aiming your arrows, which other players might find more handy than the standard control. It's still the classic castle defense game, but then again, it isn't.

Play BowMaster Prelude

Cheers to Vaidas for being the first to suggest the game. =)


| Comments (1) | Views (1)

extra toxicRemember that amazingly good platformer, Mission in Snowdriftland, we mentioned last week? The one that was organized like an advent calendar and sponsored by Nintendo? (If you didn't you should play it immediately after reading this) Well, Casual Gameplay contributing author, Thomas, had a chance to catch up with the developers of the game, extra toxic, as both he and the company are located in Germany. Here is a translation of what Christiane had to say of the company and their work:

Thomas (Casual Gameplay): How big is your company? Do you have any employees additional to the three founders [Christiane Fritsch, Steve Welz, Bogac Sariaydin] yet?

Christiane (extra toxic): No, we are (as of yet) three people, which works quite well due to shared tasks (design, programming, project management).

In your portfolio there are projects for Nintendo (among other big names). What role did Nintendo play in the creation of Mission in Snowdriftland? Was it commissioned by Nintendo, or did they 'merely' sponsor it? How much creative room did you have for game design?

Nintendo just sponsored, i.e. bought ad space for the featured games. Idea, concept, implementation, the whole project is extra toxic's brain child. Thus we had as much room for creativity as we wanted.

In your portfolio, all previous projects date early 2006. How old is extra toxic?

Our company was founded July 2005.

Have you developed other titles that would fit into the casual games category?

Not as extra toxic, but the three of us know each other for several years now, and we worked together in a marketing agency as employees. There we have developed several flash games, all of which—just like the advent calendar—have been developed from scratch, including the game idea, layout, avatars, etc.

That's very important for us. If someone commissions a game, they won't get the 15486 clone of Moorhuhn [explanation: Moorhuhn is a point&shoot arcade game, that created quite the craze in Germany a couple of years ago. It might still lower productivity in some offices. I don't know if it had a similar impact internationally.] from us, but instead a high-quality, individually designed game with lots of creativity and passion.

Experience the magic and exceptional talent these folks bring to the art of casual gameplay. Click.


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (13) | Views (4)

verbotomydancemonkeyI hesitate to ask how many of you remember Sniglets. I'm still a fairly young guy, but I'm always afraid of how any pop culture question will date me. The early eighties was not a great time for me, and I was only like 9 years old.

Sniglets are words that should be in the dictionary but aren't. If that sounds interesting, and you enjoy wordplay and word games then you'll love Verbotomy. Each day you're presented with a definition and must come up with an original word to match. If you verbin and become a verbotomist, you can save your words and build up points towards each round of play. You can also vote on your favorite entries and subscribe to an RSS feed so you can know immediately when a new verboticism is ready and waiting.

This is obviously a very casual game, requiring only a few minutes of your time each day. More fun for me than creating a new word was viewing and voting on other words. For instance I came up with a word I was rather proud of, "blamefuscate," for a definition last week, but was even more impressed with some of the other words. "Culpitize" and "whomeopathy" were great, and I still laugh when I read "stinkerise" purely for its scatalogical value. Some other favorites of mine are "flatterchatter", "memorafeeblia", and of course the utterly nonsensical "potatobomb".

This is a game with a lot of those "Now why didn't I think of that?" moments. In fact, that's a great definition in need of a word. What would you call that feeling that you should of thought of, say, the simply brilliant "namenesia" instead of your own stunningly dull "resnub"?

If you like word games and subtle word humor, then go forth and verbotomize!

Play Verbotomy


| Comments (9) | Views (7)

Get HostilezxoGet Hostile is a DHTML-based, abstract, multiplayer strategy game based on the board game Acquire. Like most great strategy games of its kind, Get Hostile packs an enormous amount of complexity into surprisingly few rules. The object is simple: finish with the most money. However, as discussed in the analysis of the game, there are many ways to do this, and not every strategy fits every game.

Get Hostile is a no-frills implementation of the original board game—there are no avatars or even any real graphics, and the only sound offered is an optional beep to let you know when it is your turn. And why should there be? This is a purist's strategy game. Essentially, the game consists of a blank grid, onto which can be placed tiles. When two tiles connect, a company is formed and the founder gets one bonus stock in the company. When two companies are connected by a tile, they merge and the larger company takes over the smaller one. The stockholders of the smaller company have the option to sell their stock, trade it in 2 for 1 for stock in the parent company, or keep it in case the company is reformed in the future. As companies grow in size, their stock becomes worth more.

However, the real meat of the strategy doesn't come in the form of "buy low, sell high." When a company is taken over, its top two stockholders receive cash bonuses equal to 5 and 10 times the current price of stock. Thus it is often more lucrative to put yourself in position to get these bonuses, especially if it only takes a few stock to become the top holder.

The rules are few but can sometimes be complex. They are available to peruse on the website—just click HELP. Also available on the help page is a movie walkthrough which explains all of the essential plays of the game, as well as a few basic strategies. Once you've watched that, you're ready to play. I recommend starting with the tutorial—it's essentially the real thing, except you get some helpful hints. Once you've mastered the basics (and it really isn't that hard) you can register or login as a guest and join a game or start your own.

Analysis: As mentioned before, the bonuses for the top two shareholders really drive the strategy of Get Hostile. A small investment in a company that is about to be taken over can pay large returns. However, all companies are liquidated at the end of the game, so being the top dog in the largest company will pay off in the long run. Your strategy will change depending on what sort of growth the companies go through—a game in which one giant company just swallows up all of its competitors will be very different than a game in which several medium-sized companies duke it out.

Once you play a few games, you'll start to realize that a major part of the strategy is whether to place your money in stocks or keep it in cash. For the most part, it's best to buy as much stock as possible—the price never decreases, so you'll always at least gain back what you invested. However, sometimes you can get stuck with all of your money tied up in stock, with no freedom to maneuver yourself into one of those coveted top positions. It will take you a few games to see how the system really works—this can be done easily by playing a game or five against just computer players. Even then, it will probably take many more games to become reasonably skilled.

The website itself can be a bit confusing at times. The HELP screen goes a long way in explaining things that are non-intuitive, but some things—such as where each of your playable tiles are—you'll just have to get used to. Also, the chart listing all the various stock prices is not in view during the game, although it is readily available via mouse.

Minor usability issues aside, Get Hostile is a very good implementation of a classic strategy game, and can provide a good changeup for those of us playing hours of kdice. Click.


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Rating: 4.7/5 (57 votes)
| Comments (500) | Views (730)

westbanner.jpg

JohnBFans of Virtual Villagers take note: the Windows downloadable Westward could be your new favorite addiction. Taking a page out of the popular village management book, Westward by Sandlot Games (the creators of Cake Mania) drops casual strategy elements into the mix for a game that's both interesting and a bit different. Rather than spending your time in one pre-made area, Westward pushes you across the unexplored old west setting up towns and hunting for riches. There's a surprising amount of depth in this game, yet very little was sacrificed to keep it user-friendly.

westward.jpgThe basic idea of Westward is simple: strike out into the wild and build settlements from scratch. Once you've shed your training spurs in the tutorial it's time to head out on your own. Your over-reaching goal is to provide enough food and water to your population to keep them alive and happy. Each citizen needs a job and a place to call home, so put everyone to work harvesting food, mining gold or bringing in lumber. As you gather more resources you can build more interesting buildings such as a Trading Post, Ranch or General Store. There are also bonus structures you'll learn how to build along the way, allowing you to explore the land and create a town bigger than you could ever imagine.

In addition to keeping your citizens happy and fed, each town you set up has a main goal you'll need to complete in order to move on. Other mini-tasks crop up as the game progresses, such as strangers wandering into town seeking your assistance. These side quests reward you with gold, food, or maybe even a new technology or two. They're great diversions from the main game and keep Westward feeling fresh and full of surprises. Tasks are stored in a handy clipboard at the bottom of the screen, so you never feel lost or overwhelmed.

Analysis: Westward takes a lot of great elements from strategy and village sim games and blends them with a little Sandlot finesse. When you first start playing, Westward seems alarmingly complex for a casual game. Once you complete the tutorial, however, you'll be surprised how simple everything is. Each time something unfamiliar comes along help text appears to give you a nudge. A lot goes on in your tiny settlement, and it will take some practice before you can keep everyone's belly full while you mine for gold and build up a surplus of supplies.

The entire interface in Westward is mouse-driven, though there are a few optional keyboard shortcuts you can use. One very disappointing omission is the common "Shift + number" macro found in most strategy games. Selecting a unit or group of units and pressing shift plus a number assigns that key to the group. If you want to zoom back to that unit, just hit the number you assigned to them and away you go. Westward doesn't include such a shortcut, forcing you to manually scroll the map or cycle through your citizens one by one. A bit cumbersome.

If you like this game, be sure to check out the entire Westward series!

A lot of players point out the similarities between Westward and Virtual Villagers. While the two may share a common theme, the games are actually quite different. Westward allows you to venture out across the wilderness and create your own towns from scratch, putting you in control of almost every aspect of gameplay. It's more building- and resource-oriented as well, letting you play a much larger role in the creation and management of your town.

Westward is a fantastic casual strategy/town simulation game. It's simple, it feels fresh at every turn, and it's unbelievably addictive.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

Westward is available to download from these affiliates:
Arcade TownBig Fish Games


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Rating: 4.7/5 (112 votes)
| Comments (193) | Views (4,135)

Jaygrow1.jpgJust released only hours ago, the latest addition to On's much beloved Grow series of games at Eyezmaze.com.

This one is titled Grow ver. 1, since it is based on one of the first concept games he created for the series. There is no score system, but rather he says to play it as you would look through a picture book. In particular, your children may enjoy playing it with you.

By clicking on one of the available options, animations unfold based on your choices. It is much less a game than the other games of the series, and yet it still offers the same charm and delightful surprises that we are used to finding in his work.

Enjoy the latest Grow from Eyezmaze.

Play Grow ver.1

Don't forget Grow Ornament, a perfect little holiday game for this time of year. Also, if you're new to the Grow series of games, be sure to play the original Grow (v.3), Grow RPG, and Grow Cube. Oh, and don't forget to play Tontie, too. There's even a special tribute to Tontie in this latest Grow game. Can you find it?

Cheers to Sean for being the first to send word about the game. =)

Still want more Grow? Play the entire Grow series of games (in order of release)...


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (7) | Views (37)

snakeclassic.jpgSnake Classic is a great new rendition of the "classic" game of Snake, created by Arseniy Shklyaev of GameBalance.

In case you've been too busy playing Halo and are not quite familiar with the "snake" genre, you start life as a tiny single dot of a snake who's goal is to move across the screen and consume other dots. The side effect of this is your body increases in size every time you grab a dot. As you grow larger and larger you will inevitably crash into yourself - which ends your game. Snake Classic takes this simple game mechanic and gives it new life with catchy music, tons of gameplay options (how many dots to grab, sound effects, etc.) In addition you get to choose what colors your snakey protagonist will have using a grid of dots that looks like something out of a kid's dream box of marbles.

You might be saying to yourself "ho hum, another snake game". However, the combination of catchy music, whimiscal graphics, and smooth motion of the snake gives this game an edge over others. The snake follows your mouse smoothly and faithfully, allowing you to do some daring corner turns and quick changes of direction. Watch out, however, if your snake friend catches up to your mouse he'll immediate whip around and bite himself. As you play Snake Classic, the levels grow in complexity as you are forced to navigate around progressively smaller and smaller doorways and obstacles, giving this game a bit of a strategic edge. You need to think a bit carefully while whipping around the screen.

All in all, a faithful rendition of the snake genre with enough variety to give you a short bit of distraction.

Play Snake Classic


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DonationCoderDonationCoder has just announced the prize list, valued over $15,000, and two-Part deadline (Dec 22 and Dec 31) for its Accessibility Game Programming Competition. Prizes include tickets to the 2007 Game Developers Conference among other goodies of interest to game developers.

Games entered must be either audio-only, or controllable with a single button. Games may be playable online (Adobe Flash, etc.) or downloadable for Mac/Windows/Linux/etc. Authors retain all rights.

For full details visit the contest page on the DonationCoder website.

Prize List:

  • Classic and Giga Passes to the 2007 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco from March 5th-9th (CMP/GDC/IGDA)
  • Two sets of the complete audio proceedings on cd for years 2004, 2005, and 2006 of the Game Developers Conference (CMP/GDC)
  • Complete Game Programming Gems Series vols. 1 thru 6 (Charles River)
  • Torque Game Engine and Torque Game Builder (GarageGames)
  • SFX Kit Sound Effect Library (Sound-Ideas.com)
  • Xtreme Bundle Sound Effect Library (SoundLabel)
  • Gamestudio A6 Commercial (Conitec)
  • Dark Game SDK (TheGameCreators)

DonationCoder.com is an online community of developers and software connoisseurs. It hosts an active discussion forum, a unique micro-donation system, and a large collection of exclusive donationware programs.


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Rating: 4.7/5 (24 votes)
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JayMission in SnowdriftlandMission in Snowdriftland is an absolutely gorgeously detailed 2D side-scrolling platform Flash game with production values that rival Nintendo's own efforts in the category. In fact, this one appears to have been commissioned by Nintendo as an advergame as it contains all sorts of delightful unlockable goodies—from screenshots and wallpapers to videos and ringtones—from several of Nintendo's latest DS handheld and Wii console offerings.

Beginning with a lengthy intro cutscene that develops the game's background story, you learn of a terrible plot in Video Game World by El Pix who has stolen important game files from a laboratory and retreated to remote Snowdriftland. Chubby the Snowman gets the task of recovering the files and off you go.

The game overworld is presented as an advent calendar with each of the days of December leading up to Christmas representing a playable level that, when completed, will unlock the files for the featured product. So far only the first 8 levels are unlocked with a new level being unlocked each day.

Play Mission in Snowdriftland

Cheers to Wouter for the heads-up about this exceptional game. =)

Update: Unfortunately, this wonderful experience was short lived as extra toxic has taken the game offline. They tell me they will continue to make exceptional games like this one, and that you may even see another game based on the game engine used for Mission in Snowdriftland.

Update (Dec. 2010): IT'S BACK!


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(17 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (23) | Views (39)

JayInanimate AliceMonths in the making, the latest installment of Inanimate Alice—Episode 3: Russia—is now available through an exclusive arrangement with the Guardian in the UK. Follow Alice as she deals with life and times, at age 13, in Russia with her parents through this rich interactive narrative realized in Adobe Flash.

Alice is a game animator. She likes to draw and create games on her ba-xi, a small handheld device that both entertains and consoles her in times of need. Even her friends affectionately call her "the animator," due in part to the animations that she draws of Brad, her imaginary friend. Since Alice is a budding game designer/animator, expect to see elements of gameplay introduced throughout each chapter, though a read-only version is also available.

The entire project is planned to span 10 episodes and chronicle Alice's life from 8 years to her mid-twenties as she grows up amidst the wireless communications of the 21st century. It is expertly written and directed by Canadian-born UK novelist, Kate Pullinger, with art and animation by Chris Joseph.

Don't miss this excellent and award-winning production. Catch the first two episodes at inanimatealice.com, if you haven't yet been introduced to the story, or hit up the Guardian for the third. And then look forward to more to come in the months ahead.

Play Inanimate Alice: Episode 3


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (11) | Views (7)

Noahbacteriasalad1.jpgBacteria Salad is the latest entry in the Arcade Wire series from Persuasive Games. Another attempt at "persuasion, instruction, and activism," Bacteria Salad is a light, humorous depiction of the complexity of the agricultural business.

Begin by clicking behind a supermarket shelf to create a farm. Farms produce crops, which grow the food that ends up on the supermarket shelves. Customers will automatically walk to and from the supermarket, looking for the vegetable in the thought bubble above their head. A happy customer is money in the bank, so you'll want to make sure you can supply enough food to keep up with demand by operating multiple farms. However, overreaching can have serious consequences. More crops makes it more difficult to root out food befouled by the animals, agroterrorists, and rain that continually appear.

Keep an eye on the supermarket shelves for tainted food, which looks like good food covered with small brown lines. To prevent it from reappearing you'll have to dig up your crops until you find the source of the trouble. Your game is over when three customers get food poisoning, so don't be afraid to ban sales of any suspicious looking vegetables with the buttons on the upper-left.

Analysis: Much like its predecessors Oil God and Airport Security, Bacteria Salad offers the player the opportunity to enact controversial or sensational real-world situations. Do you maximize production in order to satisfy demand and increase profits, or do you stay small and closely supervise your crops, ensuring the highest quality and healthiest product? Personally, I leaned towards the latter; I had a very difficult time distinguishing good food from bad, as they look very similar. Even worse, the shoppers can completely obscure the shelves, making it impossible to get a clear view of your produce at times. While not without flaws, the art, audio and theme of Bacteria Salad are all appealing.

Play Bacteria Salad


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Rating: 4.8/5 (149 votes)
| Comments (168) | Views (121)

winterbell.jpgJohnBAt long last, a new game has been released on Ferry Halim's Orisinal.com! It's been just about a year since the last game, but as always, it was worth the wait. Every flash title on Orisinal oozes with beautiful artwork and gorgeous music. They're like playable pieces of art that are astonishing to the eyes and ears and just happen to be fun to play as well.

Winterbells is a very simple wintertime game with the same elegant presentation of all Ferry's work. In Winterbells you control a snow-white rabbit who hops onto falling bells as they drift down from the night sky. Use the mouse to move the bunny left and right and time your jumps to keep moving upwards. The longer you stay hopping the higher your score, and pouncing on a bird gives you a nice bonus. It's a wonderfully atmospheric coffee break game that's perfect for this time of year.

Play Winterbells

If you like Winterbells, be sure to try more of the excellent games on Orisinal, such as A Dog for all Seasons, A Daily Cup of Tea and Bugs.


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (6) | Views (11)

instruments.jpgJohnBInstruments by Elizabeth Reynolds is one of the puzzle games submitted to our first Game Design Competition. Four instruments sit silently on the right side of the screen, each in a different colored chair. Using the corresponding controls to the left, activate the instruments to produce a green wave on the bottom of the screen. Different combinations of instruments playing at the same time produce a unique wave. You can also adjust the volume to create taller or shorter peaks and valleys. The goal is to match the green wave with the black one, so you'll need to experiment with combinations before you can get it right.

Instruments is a very simple game and there's a bit more guesswork and experimentation to it than straight-up puzzle solving. Adding actual instrument sounds would have added a thick layer of delicious musical icing to the game, making it absolutely irresistible. But even in silence, Instruments is a nice experience and a great submission from Elizabeth.

Play Instruments

For a larger version of this game, a downloadable (PC only) version with multiple levels is available over at the Experimental Gameplay Project.


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Rating: 4.8/5 (160 votes)
| Comments (74) | Views (620)

knytt2.jpgJohnBKnytt is a downloadable game of exploration and atmosphere for Windows created by Nifflas, the author of Within a Deep Forest. The game emphasizes discovery and intrigue over everything and creates a massive world with varied environments and lots of places to explore. A spacecraft kidnapped the cat-like Knytt from his home but crashes on its way back, sending pieces of the ship across a mysterious planet. Your job is to traverse the barren world in search of the missing parts and try to get back home.

As Knytt, a tiny bundle of pixels, your only moves are the ability to jump, climb walls and shine a beacon of white light in the direction of the nearest item. You won't find any enemies to fight in the game, though there are some creatures who will be more than happy to force you to start over at the last save point. The game feels a lot like Within a Deep Forest but is purposefully less complex and easier to play. The idea is to sit back and explore a beautiful world, and the game does an extraordinary job of that.

Knytt really pulls you in with its atmosphere, something Nifflas has been working on for quite some time. Most of the sounds you hear are only ambient noises combining to create a backdrop similar to what you would hear standing outside in nature. Short clips of music are played at key points during the game and really enhance the dramatic feel of exploring an uncharted planet.

Knytt does a fantastic job creating a world for you to explore while keeping gameplay very simple. Nifflas has unleashed an extraordinarily epic game disguised in a simple package. It's one of the most charming and engrossing freeware platform games available today.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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

Thanks to Nicklas and Hapk_percar for sending this one in!

Note: A few users may experience random crashes while playing Knytt. The author is aware of the problem and is waiting on an upgrade from Clickteam to resolve the issue. The crashes are rare and harmless, so don't worry too much!


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (21) | Views (9)

poid3.jpgJohnBPoid .01: The Nepho is a short flash platformer from Protopop Games, the creators of Nimian Flyer Legends and Nimian Hunter. The Nephohedron transport ship (profit class) has run into a bit of a problem. On route to Junx city the navigation system failed and the crew wasn't responding. To the rescue is a small poid, a flea-like creature you release from a slumber pod. Guide your poid through the ship and uncover the mystery behind the strange errors.

In a welcome twist to flash platformers, Poid is controlled almost entirely with the mouse. It feels much more natural than a rigid keyboard and allows for more precise, fluid movements. Finding computer terminals within the ship rewards your poid with new abilities. Usually you'll need to replace a missing fuse to activate it. The first few terminals reward you with jumping skills, while later ones perform other ship functions that allow you to continue exploring. And be sure to pick up the floating green triangles to keep your health full.

Although it's a relatively short and linear game, Poid is still a blast to play. As with most Protopop titles, a lot of fine detail was put into the visuals to create a very pleasing artistic feel. The game is still technically in beta, so don't be surprised if you come across a few minor glitches here and there.

Poid's short-but-sweet science fiction gameplay is well worth investigating. In exchange for just 15 minutes of your time you'll happily join the crowds waiting for the next two installments in the series.

Play Poid 01 - The Nepho

Thanks to Clint for sending this one in!


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (29) | Views (279)

ThreesomeThomas"You and two friends are stuck in a building. The three of you want to move to the other room(s). Can you work together reaching your goal?"

That's the rather simple premise of Threesome as described by Lightforce, aka Nick Kouvaris, who ported Oskar van Deventer's small original puzzle game to Flash. Starting with a couple of easy levels, the game gets more and more challenging, but there is always a solution.

To find it, you move the symbolic protagonists around the rooms with the arrow keys, switching between them with the [ctrl] key—Mac users will find the Command key works better. If you walk on a colored symbol, for each relevant door, one half of the same color will open. If you let your three friends cooperate well, this will allow you to reach the exit room, leading you straight to the next level.

Threesome is a nice way to while away about half an hour, while looking at a pleasant composition and enjoying a challenge that is easily described but can be tricky to solve. If there's anything to complain about, it would be the small number of levels.

Play Threesome


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Rating: 4.1/5 (23 votes)
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daipaidong.jpgJohnBDai Pai Dong is a free arcade-style flash game that takes several features from popular games such as Cake Mania and Cooking Mama and combines them in one simple title. You play the role of chef in a Hong Kong-style restaurant whose job is to cook and serve customers food as quickly as possible. Select the appropriate seafood from the right, then drop it over the fire to start it sizzling. Keep it from burning by clicking on it from time to time, and when it's ready to eat put it on a plate and drop it on the table. Then sit back and watch the money pile up!

Dai Pai Dong isn't nearly as fast-paced or challenging as other casual restaurant games out there, but its simplicity makes it quite enjoyable. By far the most difficult part of the game is cooking everything the right amount of time. It's surprisingly easy to burn the food, so keep your cursor moving and flip the food often. There are only three tables and five possible things to serve, so the game never gets too hectic.

When a dish is cooked to perfection, switch off the fire and drag it to the plate. Meals that are burned or undercooked cannot be served, so just toss them in the rubbish bin and get to work on a replacement. Discarded food costs you $100, so if you want a spot on the high score board, try not to burn anything! The faster you serve your customers the better they'll pay you and the more successful you'll become.

If you like restaurant-themed casual games (or just love seafood), Dai Pai Dong is a refreshingly easy-going entry into the genre.

Play Dai Pai Dong

Thanks go to Matty for sending this one in!


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (20) | Views (59)

puzzlesj.jpgJohnBTwo of the earliest entries into our first Game Design Competition came from the extraordinarily talented Tonypa, author of Keyway, Geartaker and a number of other creative flash games. Dubbed simply Puzzle 1 and Puzzle 2, each one is a unique take on the competition's theme of simple puzzle games that you must learn how to solve on your own. They're both excellent games and offer enough brain-bending to keep you busy for a long time.

Puzzle 1 features a series of shapes attached to a rectangle by long lines. Click on one of the shapes and it moves from the outer border to the inner one (or vice versa). After playing around with it for a few seconds you'll realize that each click shifts every line of the same color or shape as the one you clicked on. For example, if you click on a green heart, every green shape and every heart shape (regardless of color) will slide to a new position. The goal is to slide all shapes into their correct position such that all shapes turns color (they will be grey if in the wrong position), and it's certainly not as easy as it sounds. This first game is a great example of a puzzle that doesn't make sense at first but can be deciphered with a little bit of experimentation.

Tonypa's second entry is a bit more abstract. You face an 8x8 grid of colored tiles and can scroll through a larger 8x8 grid with the arrows. A row of numbers sits at the bottom waiting for you to type. As you surf through the grids your brain is frantically trying to make sense of it all. The fun of Puzzle 2 is in figuring out how the game works, so I'll save any spoilers and let you work it out on your own. Just take note of the number of squares and the colors and you're on the right track.

Tonypa has a bit of a reputation for captivating flash games, and these two competition entries really show off his talent and creativity. They both fit the theme very well and are engaging games in their own right. Puzzle 1, Puzzle 2


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (22) | Views (11)

samandmax1.jpgJohnBSam & Max - Culture Shock is the first installment in a series of episodic adventure games based on the popular comic book characters. The downloadable episodes are available to Windows users from Telltale Games. Set in New York City and starring the anthropomorphic dog Sam and his hyperactive rabbit partner Max, the pair of freelance police investigate crimes in the name of, well, boredom. There's no shortage of wit in this game and you can expect to laugh on more than one occasion.

After recovering their stolen phone from a no-good rat (literally, a rat took it), Sam and Max discover that a group of former child stars have been committing crimes around town. The little vandals are relentlessly promoting ocular fitness guru Brady Culture and his eye exercise videos. But why? After stopping by a psychotherapy clinic/tattoo parlor and Bosco's Inconvenience store, Sam and Max begin to unravel the mysterious mystery behind the strange happenings.

Sam & Max - Culture Shock is an extraordinarily classy and humorous game. The visuals look like they were culled from the pages of a comic book yet still have a fluid 3D feel. The interface is pleasingly simple: just point-and-click, no icons or cursor changes to worry about. It all boils down to a game that is largely dialogue driven with a few adventure-style puzzles patched in to keep things moving along.

Analysis: Modern-made adventure games are usually a hit or miss for me. Some are wonderfully imaginative, deep, thoughtful or just plain engaging, while others miss the mark entirely. Sam & Max - Culture Shock is easily one of the best adventure games I've played this year, largely due to the extreme dose of wit injected into each and every scene. Conversations with characters are hilarious and I found myself investigating every branch of the dialogue tree just to see what crazy things would pop up next. Roughly 90% of what you examine in the game is just for fun, but I was clicking on everything I could to see what Sam and Max had to say.

Sam & Max - Culture Shock offers great dialogue, excellent voice acting and more humor than you can shake a long thin piece of wood at. The final product is worth its weight in rabbit fur. Maybe even more. Future episodes will be released each month, so keep an eye out for more adventuring goodness.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

Cheers to Gino for reminding us about this one!


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (47 votes)
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kdiceGreat news for those who enjoyed GameDesign's Dice Wars game and thought that it would be even better if it were multiplayer. After building a successful and compelling online multiplayer Texas Hold'em game, gpokr, Ryan Dewsbury of Toronto has been hard at work to bring multiplayer action to this beloved dice-based strategy game (which, coincidentally, he discovered on this site). And I am very pleased to announce that kdice has just launched!!

There are no written instructions, but the game is so simple you can hop right in and play. Each of the seven players has a color and corresponding territory. Stacked on each territory are a number of dice. When your turn comes up, attack another player by clicking one of your territories followed by an adjacent piece of land. The game rolls the dice and the higher number wins. The goal is to take over and continue to occupy as much of the map as you can. At the end of your turn you get a set number of dice added to your stacks (at random) based on the largest number of contiguous territories that you control. The more areas you control, the bigger your dice army, but remember not to spread yourself too thin.

There's no shortage of strategy in kdice, but there's still plenty of room for blind luck. Even if your stack of dice is larger than another you can still lose the roll. Balance your offense and defense well and try to control territories in the safe corners of the map. Just don't play it too safe or you'll find the enemy closing in from all sides with massive towers of dice ready to attack.

Analysis: kdice is essentially everything you would want in an online multiplayer casual game: ease of use, simple gameplay, and strategy tempered by blind luck. The small chat box at the bottom of the screen is usually filled with people shouting strategies or trying to form alliances. It's very easy to lose an hour or more with just one sitting. You just can't stop playing.

The only possible downside to kdice is that a table must have seven players sitting in before a game can begin. You might have to wait a few minutes before playing, but as more and more people get hooked that wait will definitely decrease. Until then, take a deep breath and enter the fray.

Play kdice (multiplayer Dice Wars)

If you're a Web technology geek you may be interested to know that like Ryan's other multiplayer Web game, gpokr, this is an Ajax application that is built using the Google Web Toolkit and integrated with Flash. What's different about kdice is that it uses Jetty (instead of Tomcat) to take advantage of Jetty Continuations. Jetty's lead developer, Greg Wilkins, helped to scale kdice to more simultaneous players. And from what I've seen so far it's handling the load of players very well.

Cheers to slgalt for the heads-up about Ryan's latest multiplayer game.


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Rating: 3.6/5 (27 votes)
| Comments (14) | Views (5)

JohnBGift Wrapped is a simple holiday game from Nitrome, the creators of Scribble, Tanked Up and a number of other flash games. Christmas day has arrived and you're itching to open presents. But first you need to know which ones are yours. Look at the toy shown in the box at the top of the screen then try and find it in the pile of wrapped gifts below.giftwrapped.gif As the levels progress the number of presents increase and they can be rotated or stacked on top of each other, making your toy hunting much more difficult.

Gift Wrapped has a nice cheery pace and keeps you hopping along with remixed Christmas music. A timer also ticks down at the bottom of the screen during each round. Finding the right present faster nets you a few extra seconds you carry with you as you progress. The more gifts you correctly identify, the higher your score. An online scoreboard tracks who's the best present sleuth of them all.

Free from complicated rules or gameplay, Gift Wrapped is both a fun distraction and a good way to get in the holiday mood.

Play Gift Wrapped

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