January 2007 Archives


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Rating: 4.1/5 (584 votes)
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escapethecar2.jpgJohnBFrom Shawn Tanner of Afro-Ninja comes a bare-bones room escape game with no story, no characters, no motive, just raw point-and-click gaming. The first of what is planned to be a series, Escape Series #1: The Car puts you in the driver's seat of a parked and locked car with no apparent way out. Explore the vehicle, gather and combine items and see how quickly you can get out!

The game follows a fairly logical layout without forcing you to hunt for new places to click on every screen. There are only four main views to explore, two of which have hidden compartments to take a gander at. There are about half a dozen items and a few of them can be combined.

Analysis: As far as room escape games go, Escape The Car gets just about everything right. It doesn't venture into any new territory as far as gameplay or visuals go, but sometimes you have a hankering for a good old fashioned point-and-click game, and The Car delivers just that and not a drop more. It will only take you about 15 minutes to complete on the first run, which may seem a bit short, but it's still remarkably satisfying. One annoyance is the incessantly ticking clock at the bottom of the screen. It drove me batty. Nothing turning down the volume couldn't solve, though, as sound isn't necessary to play the game.

Take a spin in The Car, a short but satisfying title, the first in a promising series of escape games.

Play Escape Series #1: The Car

Cheers to Rydash for sending this one in!

Play the entire Escape Series...


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eetschowdown.jpgJohnBGot an Xbox 360 and access to the Live Arcade? Then you, my friend, will have a new exclusive version of Eets this year. Eets: Chowdown was officially announced for Xbox Live Arcade today, confirming the oh-so-sly hint Klei Entertainment slipped us during the Eets Caption Contest. In addition to a completely re-worked control scheme to fit the Xbox controller like a glove, Eets: Chowdown comes packed with 120 brand new levels exclusively for the Xbox 360, new items, a new scoring system, gorgeous HD graphics, and best of all, same-system multiplayer. Check out Klei Entertainment's announcement, complete with spiffy Eets wallpaper. Keep an eye out for our hungry pal on the Xbox soon.

Computer gamers be sure to check out our Eets review for more info on the PC version of the game.


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (28 votes)
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JayGameDesign HanafudaFor those who prefer a single-player experience, or at least one to practice with to hone one's skills in preparation for a heads-up match against another human opponent, and if a little Japanese text won't scare you off, then give Taro Ito's GameDesign Flash implementation of Hanafuda a try.

If you're new to Hanafuda (Koi Koi), be sure to review the cards and the rule set for this very simple Japanese card game. The most difficult aspect of the game will be familiarizing yourself with the cards and the sets of value. Once that is done, however, you're in for an enjoyable card game that is very easy to play.

In this version, simply click on one of your cards to automatically capture the matching card from the board, or to discard it if there are no matching cards.

The rule set is similar to Bryon's multiplayer version, but there are several differences to make note of. The most significant difference is the relative insignificance of the sake cup card in the GameDesign version. Pairing it with either the moon or the blossoms light card has no effect. The other major difference is the Koi Koi dialog has the "Call" and "Koi Koi" buttons reversed, with "Call" on the right and "Koi Koi" on the left.

GameDesign HanafudaBeginning with the first month, January, and for each new hand, one of the dregs cards for the current month is shown on the right with your score. Whomever captures all four cards of that month during the hand earns 4 points, similar to completing a set. Most other standard sets are recognized with their standard point scores. There are no score multipliers used in this version, and if no one earns a score before all cards are exhausted, the player with more captured cards earns 6 points.

You begin the game with 10 points. Lose all 10 and it's game over; however, earn 50 points to win the game and turn on an alternate "face-up" mode. When playing face-up, you can see both yours and your opponents cards, as well as the next card to be turned up from the deck. Win that game and it's back to normal mode again.

Analysis: As usual, Taro Ito's exceptional game design talent shines through in this implementation. The artwork is crisp and gorgeous, and the interface controls are intuitive and very easy to use. I especially like the elegant single-click selection that works in most instances. For turns where a card matches more than one card on the board, only one additional click is needed to choose which of the two to capture. The downside to this method, however, is that someone just learning how to play doesn't get the benefit of highlighted matching cards. A simple mouse-over showing matching cards on the board would address this shortcoming easily.

I also enjoyed playing through a second time with the cards all turned face-up, as this allowed for a slightly different strategy and made the game seem fresh again. Overall, an excellent piece of work.

Play GameDesign Hanafuda


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JayMultiplayer Koi KoiPlaying cards provide the means for many classic casual games, from Poker and Spades to Solitaire. The classic deck of 52 cards consisting of 4 suits of 13 cards each has been around in one form or another for several hundred years. But not all decks were composed of similar cards and quantity.

In Japan, during the 1800's, a new game was created to circumvent laws banning playing cards due to gambling and it is still played to this day. It is called Hanafuda and it uses a deck of cards similar to Western-style playing cards, except that instead of 4 suits there are 12, and instead of 13 cards to a suit, there are only 4. Hanafuda is a relatively simple game of match and capture, in which learning to recognize the cards will be the largest hurdle. Once that is done, however, the game is a lot of fun to play.

And while there are many variations of the game of Hanafuda, one of the most popular of them is called Koi Koi.

Recently, after becoming absorbed with Nintendo's own implementation of Koi Koi in its wifi-enabled casual game collection, Clubhouse Games, a brilliant young developer created his own Flash implementation of the game running on his own multiplayer server.

Bryon Vandiver's Multiplayer Koi Koi combines the same classic Hanafuda deck with a unique ranking system to bring the excitement of this Japanese card game to casual gamers around the world, and all within the convenience of your favorite browser. (Registration required.)

Update: Unfortunately, this game is no longer available to play.


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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paths2.jpgJohnBPaths 2 is a sequel to the original action/puzzle game Paths by Tyler Glaiel of Glaiel Games. While it retains the same concept and setup as the original, Paths 2 adds some much needed polish to the interface and visuals, making it a much sleeker game to pick up and play.

The idea is to draw an unbroken line leading a red ball to the goal in each level. Carefully plan your path to avoid walls and movable green objects, then hit the [spacebar] when you're ready to roll. Use the mouse to twist, slide, resize and rotate green obstacles before you begin and while the ball is moving to keep the path clear.

Improvements in Paths 2 include a much better visual package with smooth, translucent objects and a better color palette. A reset button has also been added to give players a clear method of erasing the path and starting from scratch. And of course the puzzles are brand new and feature many new types of movable obstacles to contend with.

The interesting mix of thoughtful pre-planning and fast reflexes makes Paths 2 a challenging and entertaining game. With the sleeker visuals and improved gameplay, it's a marked improvement over its already captivating predecessor.

Play Paths 2

Cheers to Ttf for sending this one in!


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JayThe recent news that Capcom's critically acclaimed hit, Okami, would be ineligible for awards this year from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, because of Capcom's refusal to pay membership fees to the organization, has been met with harsh criticism from the developer calling into question the credibility or value of awards that require developers to pay a fee to be considered. After all, are the awards really about recognizing the best the games industry has to offer? Or are they about recognizing the best from AIAS members only? If it's the latter, then it would seem the awards are being misrepresented.

The same is true for the Webby Awards by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, those seemingly prestigious awards that recognize "excellence in interactive creativity, establishing best practices on a yearly basis, and thus pushing the standards of web development continually higher." If a website doesn't pay the entry fee—ranging from $95 to $395 per website, per category—it is also ineligible for an award.

Last year I was approached by one of the members representing the Webbys inviting me to participate...

"I am delighted to let you know that members of the Int'l Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences (IADAS), the judging body for The Webby Awards, have suggested that Jay is Games would be a strong contender in the Blog -- Cultural/Personal and Games categories for the 10th Annual Webby Awards."

Still a full-time student at the time, I used borrowed funds from student loans for the entry fees (I entered in both categories recommended) since even being nominated for these awards would mean significant exposure for the site. However, not only did my site fail to win in either category, it was not even mentioned in the nominations. I can live with not winning an award; what is hard to swallow is the feeling of being taken advantage of. I subsequently wrote back to the IADAS requesting that I be removed from all future mailing lists.

It is easy to justify entry fees and membership dues to offset the administrative costs of running an organization, but when an organization fails to recognize excellence from those that do not "pay up" it puts itself squarely within the cross-hairs of criticism questioning the credibility of its so-called "awards".

Everyone needs to be recognized for their hard work, and game developers are no different. This is the foundation upon which this site was built and on which it has grown so rapidly. Our "Best of" yearly awards will never ask for nor require any developer to "pay to play". It is our gift back to the industry that provides us with the creative, original, and innovative interactive experiences that we choose to review.

I applaud Capcom for standing up for what they believe in. Their award-class development efforts deserve much praise and recognition. Praise that should be measured not by how many of these "pay-to-play" awards it receives, but by the praise and recognition it receives from the grassroots journalism by the people and for the people. Remember that the next time you're looking for a compelling game to play or website to read.

And if you haven't already done so, buy a copy of Okami for PS2. You will be glad you did.


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JayTriple JackWow! Another amazing poker night last night, but not without a few bumps as we experienced more interest than ever before. Although I was too busy for frequent head counts, I estimate we had close to 100 simultaneous players in our private Triplejack lounge(!) Unfortunately, that translated to a bit of a rocky start as many a Flash client crashed from the rush of players to grab a seat once the tournament rooms were unlocked. Next week we will have a smoother system in place to accommodate the increasing numbers coming to join us for JIG Poker Night! =)

Similar to last week, we held a series of standard, 11-player, Texas Hold'em tournaments, in which each player buys-in for $500 in chips (money at Triplejack is free). The player to win all of the chips from all of the other players at the table qualified and earned a seat at the final table. This week's qualifiers were...

  • Qualifier #1 winner: Rydash
  • Qualifier #2 winner: BIGLO5ER
  • Qualifier #3 winner: Akisuzu
  • Qualifier #4 winner: Stationary (forfeited to Orcishhordes)
  • Qualifier #5 winner: Kurq
  • Qualifier #6 winner: TrickNeal
  • Qualifier #7 winner: Slgalt
  • Qualifier #8 winner: Frenchie
  • Qualifier #9 winner: Valarauka
  • Qualifier #10 winner: dj1990f
  • Qualifier #11 winner: Coconut007

Once all the tournaments were held, these players all took their seats at the final table for a fight to the finish in one grandaddy elimination tournament. The prizes up for grabs this week to be split among the top 5 finishers:

  • (5) FREE Eets games—our pick for Best of 2006 in the Downloadable (Other) category
  • (1) FREE month Power Player subscription to Triplejack
  • (1) FREE deck of Triplejack playing cards
  • (1) FREE JIG Casual Gameplay T-shirt

With all these prizes up for grabs, the final table was exciting as usual. The redheaded avatars (Slgalt and Frenchie) took an early lead, dominating the table with their seasoned poker prowess, but Akisuzu, Valarauka, Orcishhordes, and the seemingly immortal Rydash gave the leading ladies a run for their money. Lady Luck was showing her gender bias again this week, with women placing in two of the top three prize-winning spots:

    • 5th place: Orchishhordes
    • 4th place: Rydash
    • 3rd place: Frenchie
    • 2nd place: Valarauka
Champion of Tournaments #3: Slgalt!

Slgalt joins Melman2002 and Bettyboo as those who have been entered into a JIG Poker Night Grand Prize drawing to be held on an as of yet undisclosed future date. We're still not announcing the prize yet because we're still trying to get our hands on one. But when we do, we'll announce what it is. =)

Congratulations to all the winners—even if you didn't win a prize at the final table you still walked away with more Triplejack chips than you started with—and thank you all for participating and for your patience and understanding during the rocky start we had again this week. I promise that next week's poker night will run smoother and more efficiently.

A big shout out to Jamie of Klei Entertainment for generously providing copies of his fantastic Eets action/puzzle game for prizes, and to the very kind folks at Triplejack for again sponsoring their part of the prize package for the tournament.

Next week's tournaments begin at Noon (12PM) Eastern (GMT-5:00), so please join us next Saturday in our private Triplejack poker lounge for more poker fun, prizes, and, of course, pies! Lots and lots of pies!


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JayisgamesEets gameJust a reminder that today (Saturday) is JIG Poker Night! And just as we have been doing for the past few weeks, we'll be running a series of tournaments this evening in our own private Triplejack lounge for chances to win fabulous prizes!

Up for grabs again this week: Eets games, one month of Triplejack Power Player, one deck of Triplejack playing cards, and one JIG Casual Gameplay t-shirt. But that's not all. The champion of tournaments will be entered into a drawing for a ginormous, as-of-yet undisclosed grand prize.

What will it be? Don't wait to find out. Join us for JIG Poker Night and earn your chance tonight. Tournaments will start promptly this week at 9:00PM Eastern (GMT-5:00).

To get to our private lounge, just use the Triplejack login form in the sidebar. See you there! =)


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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capsules.gifJohnBA new game from JP at Pepere.org has graced the internet today, and this time it's an ultra-sleek motion puzzle game with a built-in level editor. Capsules is a simple game where you must maneuver an orange shape around red obstacles in order to reach blue spheres throughout the stage. The levels are remarkably unique and bend the formula in every possible way. One look at the game and you can feel JP's distinct style and flair for game design. And the gameplay is elegant enough to trap almost any player that wanders by.

Capsules is a very easy game to play and a very difficult one to master. Making it through the levels requires a mixture of speed, patience, a steady hand, and luck. Sometimes you can carefully map out your path then fling the cursor across the screen to the goal. Sometimes all you can do is sit, wait and watch. And some levels you'll have to try dozens of times before you get it right. All part of the learning process. Keep in mind that the faster you are the higher your score will be!

Play through the game's official levels first by clicking the green arrow just above the game screen. After you get the hang of the physics, register at Pepere.org and you can create your own levels with the editor. Levels can be saved or shared through custom URLs, and a favorites system pushes the best to the top of the list.

Analysis: I always enjoy JP's games if for nothing more than their presentation. Capsules has a very clean, smooth look to it, almost like I'm playing the game on a computer... in the future! As usual the idea is simple but implemented with finesse. I really like the "mouse out" feature that ends the level if you move the cursor outside of the game screen. I go a little crazy with the mouse, sometimes...

My one bone to pick with the official levels is that they get a bit too hard too quickly. Yes, it's a good way to learn the game's mechanics, but it might scare off some of the more casual players on the web. Stick with it and learn the ropes, though. You won't be disappointed.

The editor and game engine for Capsules was developed with Flash 8, while a combination of Javascript and AJAX forms the level management section. It's a simple, challenging, stylish and addictive game that will only get better as the community grows.

Play Capsules

For more Pepere.org goodness, check out a few of our favorite games from the site: Ringmania, Ringmania 2, and Soccer Challenge.


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Link Dump Fridays

Harukio

A plate of gaming
Waits for your select tasting
Is it sweet or sour?

The best of the best
Will be treated to review
And the rest will rest



  • Loa and the Island Quest - Play as Loa as she goes back in time and explores an island and more in her quest to save the...universe?
  • Silversphere - Wait! No, come back! This isn't marble madness! Push crates and avoid danger to solve tricky puzzles. I like to think of it as if I'm some shiny robot dockworker on a crate pushing, puzzle solving rampage.
  • Wakerider - One of the winning entries from the DonationCoder Accessibility Game Coding Contest. DonationCoder challenged programmers to design accessible games that were either 1-switch (i.e. use only one key) or sound centric (no visuals necessary). In Wakerider, deftly pilot the boat around the course while making sure your wakeboarder in tow doesn't lose her balance.
  • Pandemic - Flash simulation game with eery similarity to DEFCON. Although, in this case you play a virus threatening to brighten the lives of little children, or wipe out the human race...one or the other, I can't remember. Say, you look a little pale....
  • Islander Boys - What the game lacks in gameplay depth, it makes up for in pure production value and fun. Fun music, a singing chorus, coconuts, GIANT ENEMY CRABS, and well...some island flavor, make for an entertaining boat trip.
  • Save the Sheriff - Suffering from Snowdriftland withdrawal? This Mario inspired platformer puts you in the shoes of a heroic pig off to save the Sheriff. Rejoice in the pixilated goodness of the west!

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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eater.gifJohnBEater of Worlds is a stylish side scrolling action game with a fun little twist: you're a blob that absorbs everything it comes in contact with. From fish to seaweed, cats, trees, humans and trucks, the world is your buffet and you're ready to eat. Gather as many objects as you can across the game's three levels and see if you can secure a space on the high score board.

This game will inevitably be compared to Katamari Damacy, so I'll get that out of the way right from the start. Yes, you do pick up objects and grow in size, but the similarities end there. Eater of Worlds is much more action-oriented and requires you to avoid obstacles and dash around the screen to grab everything you possibly can. Use the arrow keys to move left/right and nearer/farther from the screen. Tap the space bar to jump over the crazy spine-covered bad guys. Hitting one of these causes you to lose a handful of objects, so time your jumps carefully.

Each item you pick up is shown inside the blob, which if you think about it is kind of gross. Solution: don't think about it, just roll over stuff and be happy. After completing the three levels and submitting your score you get a custom URL to share with the world. Use it to challenge people to beat your high score.

The author of Eater of Worlds, Martin, was previously featured here for his series of rapid game prototypes written in Flash over the course of several weeks. Check out a few of our favorites from Prototyprally.

Analysis: I really enjoyed the pseudo-3D visual style of Eater of Worlds, though it does make it more difficult to orient yourself in the environment. Sometimes I swear I grabbed an item only to watch as it scrolled off the screen without me. Hit detection makes leaping over some of the spine enemies a bit difficult as well, but it's nothing you don't learn to compensate for.

In the first level there's a short period where the screen throbs in time with the thumping background music. The idea that the game would have some sort of musical element, even one as rudimentary as this, was exciting to me. Unfortunately it didn't pan out and the throbbing was cut from the rest of the game. Too bad!

Eater of Worlds is a unique and fun little game that shows a lot of promise to become even better. The presentation, including visual style and music, are a real treat, but it suffers from somewhat thin gameplay. Once you work through the three short levels there really isn't much of a reason to come back. Toss in a few twists and turns in the form of obstacles or power-ups and Eater of Worlds will be an eater of your time. As it stands, this is a great time waster and a clever idea that's well worth the experience!

Play Eater of Worlds

Thanks to Wouter and Maxro for sending this one in!

Note: The game might take some time to load on a slower connection, so be patient.


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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stickremover.gifJohnBMore webtoy goodness has arrived from Dofi blog, this time in a physics-based tower game called Stick Remover. The creator of the World of Sand games is famous for crafting unique online toys using the Java-based Processing language (although this one seems to be in Flash). The result is always something strange and wonderful.

Stick Remover presents you with a tower of sticks—reminiscent of Kyle Gabler's Tower of Goo over at the Experimental Gameplay Project—wobbling under its own weight. A star is suspended from the peak above a red line. Your job is to remove as many sticks as you can while keeping the star above the line. A good strategy is to start at the base and pick away one twig at a time, careful to keep the structure as symmetrical as you can. Drop the star more than five times and it's game over!

There are only five levels to Stick Remover, and you can move on to the next puzzle at any time. The goal is to rack up as many points as you can by removing sticks, so work with individual puzzles as long as you dare to build a strong score.

Play Stick Remover

Thanks to Aloloo for sending this one in!

Be sure to check out a few of Dofi's other great games: Double Wires and Egg Way.


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yahoogame.gifJohnBYahoo! Mail Ultimate Championship Games is a series of four short mini-games created to promote the improved Yahoo! webmail service in the UK. Each one has a distinct e-mail theme and is incorporated in a slick, nighttime gameshow-like style complete with videos and a futuristic neon-purple interface. While advergames are usually hit or miss, this one delivers some surprisingly entertaining mini-games without going overboard on the sales pitch.

Drag & Drop - Four colors of icons drift down from the top of the screen. Drag them to their corresponding folders, but be careful, as the folders shift positions every once in a while!

Multi Mail - Click on the "Compose" tabs that appear and type the word that is shown on the screen. You start off with simple words but progress to things like "boomerang" and "flummoxed" later on. This really tests your typing speed and multitasking skills. Can you work like a cyborg with multiple brains?

Preview Power - An icon is shown at the bottom of the screen and you must mouse-over the small mail icons above to find the matching image. It would be easy, of course, if the small icons didn't shift every time you got a match.

Keyboard Shortcuts - A sequence of e-mail related icons appear on the screen and a timer starts ticking. You must enter keyboard shortcuts as quickly as you can. Get to know the icons and what key(s) go along with them so you can stay ahead of the clock.

Analysis: Skeptical of any casual game made to promote a product, I was pleasantly surprised to see the games on the Yahoo! Mail Ultimate Championship site. Not only are they interesting, but they're a bit unique and are presented in a very stylish setting. I really enjoyed Multi Mail for some reason and played through it a few times just to confirm how amazingly talented I am. The games feel a little thin after you play through them once or twice, but the initial bang is definitely worth a coffee break or two. Click.

Thanks to Jon for sending this one in!


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Rating: 4.7/5 (27 votes)
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auntsbutlers.gifJohnBAunts and Butlers is a thoroughly enjoyable work of interactive fiction (err, an "interactive novella for the electric computer") written by Robin Johnson. The game is playable right in your browser window thanks to Robin's Javascript text-adventure engine, Versificator. Aunts and Butlers is a relatively straightforward experience but really shines thanks to a quirky sense of humor. It was also one of the competitors in the 2006 Interactive Fiction Competition, placing 16th out of 42 entries.

There really is no better way to describe the game's setting than to use Robin's own words:

Struggling to cope with a crumbling Empire, troublesome peasants, and recently some ghastly Great War that your chums tell you you slept through, it's been a tricky business lately for the English aristocracy to keep the old wolf from the old door. Especially you, the Honourable Ampersand Fodge. You've already eaten, drunk and gambled your entire family fortune, so unless you want to be in the workhouse by Christmas, you'd better get some lolly rolling in pronto.

Cue dear old Aunt Cedilla, your only unmarried elderly relative. For the past few weeks she's been threatening to come round for tea. It may have occurred to her that she's getting on a bit, so if you can squeeze yourself into the old witch's good books, she's more or less bound to leave you a tidy sum. Then maybe you'll find some way of topping her, if you can stop the rozzers from taking notice. Murder's never been your forté, but needs must and all that!

Aunts and Butlers plays like any text-adventure game where you interact with the world by typing commands into the text box. Use the cardinal directions to move (north or N, south or S, etc.) and clever terms such as "get", "talk", "use" and "kiss" to do much more interesting things. Because of its relatively simple plot and small environment, Aunts and Butlers is a good introductory game for anyone new to the world of interactive fiction. And apart from a rather stale maze sequence, the game feels fresh and interesting at every turn. Put on your tailcoat and grab the teacup, Aunt Cedilla is waiting for you in the drawing room.

Play Aunts and Butlers

Thanks to Paul for sending this one in!

For more great interactive fiction, be sure to check out interactive fiction in the JIG archives.


| Comments (16) | Views (0)

JayTriple JackAnother successful Poker Night saw lots of people here on hand for our weekly tournament of tournaments. There were just a couple minor hiccups in the very beginning with the initial mad rush to enter the first couple of tourneys, but after that it was smooth sailing through to the final table.

Similar to last week, we held a series of standard, 11-player, Texas Hold'em tournaments, in which each player buys-in for $500 in chips (money at Triplejack is free). The player to win all of the chips from all of the other players at the table qualified and earned a seat at the final table.

  • Tournament #1 winner: Satyn
  • Tournament #2 winner: JDHopeFB
  • Tournament #3 winner: Melman2002
  • Tournament #4 winner: Gadzooker
  • Tournament #5 winner: Ejg930
  • Tournament #6 winner: Totalconfuzion
  • Tournament #7 winner: Spun00
  • Tournament #8 winner: JacksonS
  • Tournament #9 winner: ShadowKnight18
  • Tournament #10 winner: Supersasha
  • Tournament #11 winner: Jennifer216

Once all the tournaments were held, these players all took their seats at the final table for a fight to the finish in one grandaddy elimination tournament. The prizes up for grabs this week to be split among the top 3 finishers:

  • (3) FREE Eets games—our pick for Best of 2006 in the Downloadable (Other) category
  • (1) FREE month Power Player subscription to Triplejack
  • (1) FREE deck of Triplejack playing cards
  • (1) FREE JIG Casual Gameplay T-shirt

Final table matches are always exciting with prizes at stake, and this week's match was no exception. Lots of spectators were in the room to watch the final event unfold (even Jamosup was there). Eventually, as players were eliminated one-by-one, it all came down to just three players: Melman2002, Jennifer216, and Totalconfuzion, which also happens to be the order in which they finished.

Champion of Tournaments #2: Melman2002!

Melman2002 joins Bettyboo, last week's champion, as those who have been entered into a JIG Poker Night Grand Prize drawing to be held on an as of yet undisclosed future date. We're not announcing the prize yet because we're still trying to get our hands on one. But when we do, we'll announce what it is. =)

Congratulations to all the winners—even if you didn't win a prize at the final table you still walked away with more Triplejack chips than you started with—and thank you all for participating and helping to make this week's event run smoothly and efficiently.

A BIG shout-out and thank you(!) to the Triplejack admins (Pezzer, 5treeter, Mel2, Dee2, 1RiverKid, and Reddwarf) for lending a hand, it is very much appreciated! Next week we'll assign one person in each tournament to be "table captain" and who's job it will be to report the winner to me when finished.

And again my sincere thanks and appreciation to the very kind folks at Triplejack for again sponsoring their part of the prize package for the tournament.

Please join us next Saturday in our private Triplejack poker lounge for more poker fun, prizes, and, of course, pies! Lots and lots of pies!


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Rating: 4.6/5 (45 votes)
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goldberg.gifMs.45Goldburger To Go is a quick, free Flash game from the PBS kids' show Zoom. You have to position various parts of a Rube Goldberg device (Heath Robinson device to us Commonwealth folk) in such a way that a burger, chips and soft drink (that's a burger, fries and Coke to the Americans) get delivered to the Zoom crew by skateboard. There are only 13 items to be positioned and the game gives you hints when you run the process unsuccessfully. It took me maybe ten minutes. I'm not recommending it because it's brain-bending, I'm recommending it because it's cute, funny and a great way to while away ten minutes, plus it will provide an excellent antidote for those of you who are going bald trying to deal with Ouverture Facile.

Play Goldburger To Go


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JayThe poker tables in our private Triplejack lounge will again open up today at 3PM (GMT-5:00). Please come join us for some Texas Hold'em poker fun, have a few laughs with us and friends, perhaps win some prizes, and enjoy lots and lots of pies!

This week's tournament of tournaments will begin promptly at 6PM. We're going to move the contest time around each week in hopes of giving more people around the world the opportunity to participate. We are also going to tweak things just a little from what we did last week, so that we can continue to offer prizes each week.

Here's what to expect:

  • We will hold a series of 'qualifying' tournaments, up to a maximum of 11 depending on the number of people we have participating. Estimated total time from first qualifying tournament through the Final Table: 2.5 hours.
  • Each tournament will cost $500 in chips to play, so be sure you have enough when it comes time to join a tournament. If your chip count is less than $500, you will not be able to take a seat. You can get restocked with $500 chips at any non-tournament table anytime your chip count reaches $0.
  • The winner of each of these qualifying tournaments will move on to the Final Table. You may play in as many of these qualifying tournaments as you would like, but once you've qualified for the Final Table, please give the other players a chance to qualify.
  • The Final Table will be seated once all the qualifying tournaments have completed. So, if you've qualified, please make sure you are ready and take a seat when the "JIG Final Table" is created in the JIG lounge. Only qualified players may sit at the Final Table, but spectators are welcome.
  • The top 3 finishers of the Final Table will win one or more of the following prizes this week: Best of 2006 winner, Eets, by Klei Entertainment, one deck of Triplejack playing cards, a Casual Gameplay T-shirt, and one free month Triplejack Power Player membership.
  • Only the winner of each week's Final Table ("Champion of Tournaments") will be automatically entered into a Grand Prize drawing, the prize(s) and date for which will be announced soon.

So grab your virtual chips and a chair and come have fun with us at JIG Poker Night! =)


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(0 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Important Competition Update!
Game Design Competition #2
AdobeArcadeTown

When we made the announcement for our 2nd Flash Game Design Competition we said that additional prizes would be announced, and we weren't kidding.

I have just confirmed with Adobe that not only are they going to sponsor this competition as they did our first one by offering two (2) Flash 8 Professional licenses (Windows or Mac) to award to the top two games submitted, they will also upgrade those prizes to the Adobe Video Bundle if either winner has made an exceptional or innovative use of either Premiere Pro for video or After Effects for animation/video within their Flash game.

The Adobe Video Bundle is an amazing package of premium software applications for Windows (there is no Mac version) including: Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Flash 8 Professional, Premiere Pro, Audition, and Encore. The entire package is worth over $2000!

The Prizes
As before, we're looking for a ton of great entries to make this competition really spectacular. And we've got the prizes to back it up! In addition to seeing your name in pixels and the millions of people that will play your game—yes, millions. Our first competition compilation has already received over 2 million plays!—we have some nice cash prizes to award this time:

  • 1st place:
    • $1,000
    • (1) Flash 8 Professional license*
  • 2nd place:
    • $500
    • (1) Flash 8 Professional license*
  • Audience award:
    • as before, determined by JIG community popular vote and worth at least $200.
*If your winning entry makes an exceptional or innovative use of either Premiere Pro for video or After Effects for animation/video, Adobe will upgrade this prize to the Adobe Video Bundle, worth over $2,000!

Although the Flash 8 Professional license is available for Windows or Mac, the Adobe Video Bundle is available for Windows only.

Entrants who do not have After Effects, Premiere Pro, and/or Flash 8 Professional can download a 30 day trial from the Adobe website.

In return for winning one of these prizes from Adobe, you give Adobe the rights to publicize information about you and your game, and what was done with its products as part of the development process (i.e., talk about the game designer, what tools were used, get a quote, etc.).

Given this new development, we want to make sure that everyone who wants to submit an entry has enough time to come up with one. Therefore, we are extending the deadline for entry submissions by two weeks...

Deadline: Friday, February 23rd. at 11:59PM (GMT-5:00)

For complete information about the competition, please refer to the competition announcement page.


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Rating: 4.8/5 (28 votes)
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ouverturefacile.jpgJohnBOuverture Facile is not a delicious appetizer at a fancy restaurant, it's an online puzzle/riddle game with loads of style. Ouverture Facile is French for "easy opening" and it works in the same style as God Tower, Dumb: The Game and Not Pr0n. Where this game really shines is in its clever use of online media to stump you in countless new ways.

See the image, find the clues, check the page's source code for another hint. You know the drill. Ouverture Facile mixes things up quite a bit and doesn't always put hints in the same place on each level. What the puzzles do have in common, however, is a big CLUE button at the bottom that gives you a hint to the puzzle's solution, plus an icon that lets you save your progress. The game also has a nice sense of humor. Try typing a few overly-obvious answers in some of the URL-altering levels, see what kind of response you get.

Ouverture Facile will keep you busy for quite some time with its unique and clever riddles. The game is available in English and French and has over 90 different puzzles to solve. You'll need an image editor and sound player that works with mp3 files, both of which are linked from the "game rules" section before you begin the game. Other than that, this is all you need to do:

Play Ouverture Facile

A big thanks to Digger, Kristy, Jasper, Tony and Luke for letting us know about this one!


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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valo-gif.gifNoahIan Snyder's Valo requires the same painstakingly delicate touch as removing a funny bone or charley horse from the classic game Operation, albeit with a much gentler, more abstract style. Use your expert pointing and clicking skills to navigate dangerous fields of red squares while clicking on or dragging the mouse over all the blue squares to earn points and advance to the next level.

Although you can simply click on a square to remove it, dragging the mouse will leave behind a black line. Interestingly, quicker mouse movements will increase the size of the line, and slower movements minimize it. Larger lines help you clear multiple blocks simultaneously but, of course, avoiding red squares becomes more difficult. Several power-up squares will come in handy: purple squares add time to the clock, green squares provide bonus points and yellow squares replenish your health. Some levels also feature packs of flying red squares, which can damage you even while you're not drawing a line. The timer in the corner of the screen keeps track of the bonus points you'll receive after clearing the level. Take too long and it can fall below zero, actually subtracting points from your score!

Analysis: I would have welcomed a wider variety of hazards and more devious level design, but Valo is successful in its simplicity. The subtle soundtrack, generated by your actions, and the stark black squiggles left behind after clearing a level create a pleasant, distinctive atmosphere. While I found the default control style perfectly usable, a '2-click' mode is also available; in this mode you click once to activate line-drawing, and click again to turn it off.Valo also offers a randomize feature which, unfortunately, merely offers the same set levels as the normal game in a random order.

Play Valo

Cheers to Ian and Sergio for sending this one in!


(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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vanishingpoint.jpgDerekWWhile I suspect that Vanishing Point is another one of Microsoft's elaborate "get people to like Vista" ad campaigns (much like their pathetic—albeit clever and absolutely hilarious—team-up with comedian Demetri Martin), I really have to hand it to them for making a superb puzzle game with depth and intricacy that is likely to astound even the most seasoned of puzzlers.

Teaming up with the fabulous 42 Entertainment, Microsoft has created a game that is one-half God Tower-esque puzzling, and one-half alternate reality game (ARG) goodness with obsession potential. Seriously, Microsoft's gone all-out on this one. They've even included some pretty outrageous prizes, which include, believe it or not, one grand prize trip to outer space.

Now, before I get started, just know that because of the game's ARG elements, Vanishing Point has a large dedicated fanbase and a plethora of puzzles that extend far beyond the scope of the flash portion of the game, far more than I could possibly cover in this one review. If you want to know more about the intimidating underwater portion of this iceberg, there's an entire wiki devoted to the game.

Before you begin you must register on the site, but it only takes a minute and it's worth it. Every week a group of twelve new puzzles will be released (four easy, four medium, and four hard) in the guise of a puzzle box. So far, two have been released, and two have yet to be released. You can play these puzzles in any order and get points each time you complete an individual puzzle. But here's the innovative kicker: to complete any flash-based puzzle, you'll (probably) need the corresponding ARG-based clue, each of which are released in real-time live events all over the globe. The first happened in Las Vegas, the second set of clues were written in the sky all over the world, and god only knows what else Microsoft's got up their sleeves for the next two events. If you're lucky enough to live near one of the countdown sites, I seriously suggest you try and visit these mind-blowing events.

Analysis: The flash puzzles are clever and of extremely high quality. Even without the incredible ARG-elements, this is one awesome puzzle game, and likely to be entertaining far after the event has ended. Conversely, even without the flash puzzles the ARG half of this game is still of unbelievable quality. Kudos to 42 Entertainment for putting out this piece of gold.

Great prizes, great fun, and it's free. They put a lot into this game, and you'll get a lot out of it as well.

Play Vanishing Point

Cheers to Deadzone and Pierce for submitting this one!


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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warpforest2.jpgJohnBThe uncommonly delicious action/puzzle treat Warp Forest now comes with several great new features, including the ability to create, save and share your own levels! Author Arseniy Shklyaev, the same brain behind Orbox and Orbox B, has added an editor that gives you the power to make your own stages. Levels are saved as a string of text that can be played by pasting it into the box on the title screen. It's simple, it's fun, and it opens a whole new world of user-made content to explore.

The object of Warp Forest is to collect all of the keys and make it back to the exit in each level. The game is similar to the Adventures of Lolo but with a distinctly original style and feeling. Move the vehicle with the arrow keys and use [D] to align yourself with the nearest axis. Press [A] to fire your main weapon and [S] to use special items you pick up. Each level introduces new enemies, items and obstacles, so take your time and experiment with each setting to make it through the level. It's an all-around great game, and now with the ability to make and play custom levels, it's an even better experience.

Play Warp Forest

Also check out our original Warp Forest review for more in-depth information, as well as hints and tips for the game's primary levels.


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Rating: 4.4/5 (42 votes)
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Mystery of Time and SpaceJohnBThe excellent point-and-click game Mystery of Time and Space has been updated with new levels! Billed as an interactive graphic adventure, MOTAS is one of the best and most expansive room escape games on the web. It was also one of the earliest, dating back to the primitive internet era of 2002, just as humans were emerging from the forest and learning to walk on two legs, comb their hair, and hire lawyers.

Every so often the game's author, Jan Albartus, tacks on a few new levels to expand the experience. Each is crafted with unique puzzles and tough challenges to overcome, and an in-game save feature lets you take a break and pick up where you left off. There's even an online level editor to make your own rooms. Start playing and get entranced by one of the classics!

Play Mystery of Time and Space

Thanks to Redab37 for sending this one in!

Since we reviewed this one a couple of years ago, you may find a treasure trove of hints, tips and perhaps even a walkthrough or two for the first 14 levels there, so don't give up! =)


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JayTriple JackJIG Poker Night keeps getting bigger and better. Yesterday saw a record number of simultaneous players in our private JIG Triplejack poker lounge, and we even awarded some of the lucky ones with prizes to take away from the event.

Here's how it worked: we held a series of standard, 11-player, Texas Hold'em tournaments, in which each player buys-in for $500 in chips (money at Triplejack is free). The player to win all of the chips from all of the other players at the table was awarded a free JIG Casual Gameplay T-shirt.

Twelve such tournaments were held, and twelve t-shirts were given out to the following winners:

  • Tournament #1 winner: Poker5495
  • Tournament #2 winner: Fredthesecond
  • Tournament #3 winner: Megsuma
  • Tournament #4 winner: GamingFox
  • Tournament #5 winner: Unstoppable
  • Tournament #6 winner: Videogamer
  • Tournament #7 winner: Reddwarf (forfeited to Dumbface)
  • Tournament #8 winner: Kazzean
  • Tournament #9 winner: TBSuperstar
  • Tournament #10 winner: Bettyboo
  • Tournament #11 winner: Fabrixio
  • Tournament #12 winner: BeeSting

But it didn't end there. Each winner then had the option to trade-in the shirt for a spot at the final table for an even bigger prize package:

  • One FREE month Power Player subscription to Triplejack
  • One FREE game of your choice from ArcadeTown
  • One FREE JIG Casual Gameplay T-shirt

And while some opted to take the t-shirt and run, five players decided to go for the grand prize package and be declared the very first JIG Poker Night Champion of Tournaments!

The match at the final table was exciting right up to the very end, with chip leader being traded several times among the players. It all came down to Fabrixio and Bettyboo going heads-up at the end, and either of them could have been victorious. However, it seemed that Lady Luck was rooting for Bettyboo as she managed to thwart Fabrixio's all-in attempt at pot domination to walk away with the championship! =)

Champion of Tournaments #1: Bettyboo!

Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you all for participating and helping to make yet another JIG Poker Night so successful and, most of all, a whole lot of FUN! Please join us next Saturday when there is sure to be something new and exciting to do, and perhaps even more prizes to win, too.

If you were a winner and decided to keep the t-shirt, and if haven't sent in your shipping address and desired shirt size yet (L, XL, or 2XL), then please do so as the shirts will be going out this week. Please use the email address at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar.

My sincere thanks and appreciation to the very kind folks at Triplejack, especially Zen Blender and all of the admins, for the very warm reception that all of us here at JIG have received from them, and for sponsoring their part of the prize package for the tournament.


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Hidden Expedition: Titanic

Ms.45Hidden Expedition: Titanic, by Big Fish Games, is a seemingly simple game of finding objects in a picture. The pictures have a mostly antique, nautical theme, and you need to find all of the objects on your list before your oxygen runs out. As you progress through the levels, the number of rooms you need to explore within the time frame increases. Hidden Expedition TitanicIf you're really stuck, you can press the Hint button, but at the price of losing some of your oxygen. You can boost the oxygen if you click on an oxygen tank hidden in the picture, but of course that depends on there being an oxygen tank available...

Whenever you pass a level, you're shown some trivia about the Titanic. Did you know that the price of a single first-class ticket cost the equivalent of $50,000 today? In addition, there are bonus puzzles between levels. You've won the game when you successfully crack the code to the King's safe and find the crown.

Analysis: This visually gorgeous game is much harder than I've made it sound. For a start, its antique theme makes it quite challenging to find things like a "hydrant" or a "telephone". (The antique theme isn't necessarily consistent—one of the "guitars" is a perfectly modern-looking Les Paul.) There are several pictures for each description, so if you've found a "snake" in one room, you can't assume you'll find that exact same object the next time "snake" appears on your list. I also got caught on "leaf lettuce", which is called bok choy where I live (I spent quite some time looking for iceberg lettuce before pressing the hint button). Finally, a "spade" could describe a number of different objects!

Some of you may find this game a little too easy—even I completed it in about an hour—but the changing list of items and the sheer loveliness of the illustrations make its replay value very attractive. It's a lot of fun to play with your kids, too. The links above allow you to play a sample online version of the game or, for a more complete experience, download the limited trial version for Windows.

Play Hidden Expedition: Titanic (free browser version)

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version.

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.
Try the Mystery Case Files games instead.

If you enjoy games like this check out other classic hidden object games such as the Mystery Case Files series, Huntsville and Prime Suspects, and Travelogue 360M, which add extra gameplay elements.


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JayIt's that time again... JIG Poker Night! (RWAR!) Fun was had by all last week at our first poker night with (at its peak) 50 simultaneous players logged into our private Triplejack lounge playing across five separate tables and tournaments. And today there will likely be even more players, so come join in the fun!

Some folks from Europe asked if we could start a little earlier, so we'll be opening up the tables from 3:00PM (GMT-5:00) on. Just be sure to sign-in using this form (or the one in the sidebar). You can also use it to register a new (and FREE) Triplejack account. If you get stuck and need immediate assistance, you can always drop into our IRC channel and ask someone in there.

This week you can expect a few randomly selected tournaments for prizes, as we have a couple of ideas up our sleeves (along with an extra Ace or two). ;)

So grab your virtual chips and a chair and come have fun with us at JIG Poker Night! =)

Update: If you have trouble logging in using the form, try using this link instead. They moved the site to a new server a couple of days ago, and it's possible the new address has not yet propagated to the name servers (DNS) in your area, yet.


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Link Dump Fridays

HarukioSenora Te'som Ram peers over her sunglasses at Dolenz. Looking for a twitch, a wandering eye. A Queen, King, and Ten of Spades lie on the worn table. Senora Ram, Dolenz and George are still in...and tension runs high. Capuchin leans back in his chair, he's folded and has little interest in money that isn't his. Senora Ram has a King and an Eight of Spades, Dolenz has...well...who knows? George takes a sip of water from a glass while Dolenz slowly reaches towards his stack of chips and no one notices the slowly advancing pile of game submission bananas overflowing from our previously trusty cardboard box!

Help save these innocent poker players from certain banana doom! We've checked them for color but who knows if the inside is truly delicious? Check out these selections from our quite frequent submissions to select which ones, if any, deserve an authentic JIG Review!

  • Swan's Room - Escape the room! I don't know what else to say here. Have you ever considered not falling asleep in shady locations? At least carry around a cell phone or maybe even a GPS if you're like that.
  • Common Knowledge - A potentially quick daily puzzle. Figure out the words from the clues, hangman style. Then use what you revealed to find the common thread.
  • Ant War - Carefully adjust your population to create a mighty colony to RULE THE WORLD, or at least the backyard.
  • "Tofu War" - Raise a struggling horde of tofu blocks and fight other foods in the refrigerator with wild attacks including Chicken Broth Explosion and Tofurky Surprise! It's a fun action/platformer/strategy/arcade-like/rummy game.
  • Brain Drop - Tricky little puzzle. Slide the rows back and forth to get the gold ball through without letting the silver balls drop. Only downside is it's quite...quite short.
  • Spikey's Bounce Around - Play as Spikey, an aptly named blue, round, and spikey creature who aspires to do what many of his ilk prefer, which of course, is bouncing around attempting to free butterflies. You get 10 launches per stage, just watch out for hornets and other spikes because they'll hurt your spiky exterior.

No, I wasn't describing some secret painting of Cassius Coolidge. But JIG Poker Night is taking place again this Saturday beginning at 3 p.m. EST (GMT-5). Use the Login form on this page (or most any JIG page) and join the fun! We had over 50 people at various tables last Saturday, and this week is already shaping up to be even more fun. Perhaps there will be prizes this week? You'll have to join us to find out.


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (80 votes)
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JayFlash Element TDFor the past couple of days I've been playing this great little warcraft-themed, tower defense Flash game and I am certain there are others that will enjoy it too, but it may not be for everybody.

Flash Element TD is a simple implementation of a defend-your-base game that features tower defense structures that are used to repel waves of attacking creatures, or "creeps."

You start the game with 20 lives and 40 gold, the latter of which can be used to buy towers. At first you may purchase only three types of basic towers, with more advanced "elemental" or "combo" towers requiring research before becoming available to you. Once happy with initial placement of your towers, click the start button to begin the wave. You may press and hold [space] to see a graphic display meter of each creep's hit points (HP).

One thing that may not be immediately apparent is that towers may be added or upgraded in real-time, even during a wave. This can come in handy when the next wave includes creeps that are suddenly faster or more resistant to attack and your defenses are insufficient. Also, wood is required for research, and you will receive one wood after every 7 waves of creeps.

Earn additional gold by killing creeps before they make their way around the entire play field and escape back from where they came. If you miss any of them, you lose a life and some gold for each creep that wasn't killed, and they come back around again. The objective is, of course, to kill all the creeps in each wave so you can continue on to the next, but your score is the total amount of gold you have earned in the game.

In addition to earning gold per creep, you will also earn interest on any unused gold that you have, so there is incentive to build a defense commensurate with the strength of the impending attack. Spending conservatively and wisely is very important.

Analysis: This game will likely appeal to people that enjoy games with strategic and elements and upgrades, such as the recently reviewed Bow Master Prelude. It's a simple game that is easy to understand and very easy to pick-up and play right away. However, getting far with it may take several attempts.

On the downside, there is very little warning about what is coming next and so a little trial and error comes into play. That being said, each wave does incrementally increase in difficulty, and some waves are labeled AIR, FAST, or IMMUNE prior to their start to give you some idea of what's to come.

The developer, David Scott, appears to be tweaking the game frequently since the game's release just days ago, and so you probably can expect to see improvements made to it as time goes on.

Play Flash Element TD

Cheers to K0sm1k for suggesting this one! =)


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Exmortis 3 screenHave you ever thought it would be fun to do some voice acting for a game and have your voice heard by millions of people? Well here is your chance!

Ben Leffler is hard at work on the third installment of his famously good horror genre point-and-click game, Exmortis, and he needs your help. There is an intro sequence that he needs recorded and he is accepting submissions from anyone that thinks they are up to the task. There may also be further dialog that he'll need you to record as he progresses with the development of the game. Here is a description from Ben, himself:

"I'm currently stepping up work on Exmortis 3 and I am putting together some opening dialogue to kick the story off. I need a male voice to help with this game. The ideal voice is deepish, maybe a little husky—I'm thinking along the lines of a younger version of Ian McKellen (ie. Magneto from the X-Men movies). The voice actor needs to portray the voice of a man who is exhausted, melancholy, at wits-end and kind of tormented... Someone who has lost all hope but can do nothing but continue onwards without seeing the point of it all..."

If this sounds like something you'd be able to do, then here is the dialog that you need to record...

"It seems like an eternity that I have roamed this void. Resigned to never again set foot upon the world which I once knew. For that world is no longer... since I was played the fool."

Once recorded, send an mp3 of your voice track to: ben_leffler@hotmail.com. Deadline for these entries is February 15, 2007. If Ben selects your voice for the game your name will appear in the credits for the game, and we'll even throw in a CasualGameplay T-shirt to show our appreciation as well!


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Rating: 4.5/5 (41 votes)
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JayFields of LogicYou might remember the previously reviewed Seen On Screen, an enjoyable collection of Flash puzzles from Bart Bonte wrapped up with a common theme: a computer monitor/screen. It was a bit of a departure from his previous games, which were primarily of the point-and-click, room escape variety: Bonte Room, Bonte Room 2, and Free the Bird. Bart's latest Flash game design is a similar collection of logic puzzles, staring the very same computer monitor from Seen On Screen, and this one can also be solved easily in one sitting.

Fields of Logic is an easy game to pick-up and play right away, all you'll need is your mouse and your favorite clicking finger. The first few levels get you warmed up and primed for a challenge that spans 16 levels total. At the end you'll receive a total time that it took you to complete the game, so there's an added incentive (and pressure) to get the job done.

All things considered, this collection is very nicely done even if it's just a tad on the easy side. But who's to say we have to struggle through every game we play pulling our hair out along the way? Sometimes we just want to have fun without frying any brain cells in the process. Fields of Logic is refreshing in that way. And besides, I'm always a fan of simple puzzle games.

Play Fields of Logic


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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cyberman.jpgMattAfter the BBC revived the classic sci-fi program Doctor Who, they began creating a number of fun games on their website, which, unlike some BBC games, I was able to play outside Britain (I'm in the U.S.). One of their games that really stood out was the Cyberman Game (a.k.a. Doctor Who Cyber Assault), which is really three games in one, all of which include some innovative thinking that I'm compelled to 'borrow' the next time I create a game.

The first (and main) game has many similarities to Risk! in that you move armies around a map of the Earth trying to conquer it. But Cyberman has a few twists that appealed to me as a fan of this kind of game:

  • Troop movement is done before the attack, allowing you to quickly double the size of an attacking territory
  • Recruitment of new troops is an alternative to attacking, and you get one new troop in each territory you command
  • Each side controls a number of bases that must be destoyed by the other player, and become focii of defensive strategy

Attacking an enemy territory then brings up a mini-game of sorts, a modified 'roshambo' (rock-paper-scissors) in which each player chooses to Attack, Defend, or Outflank, and each of those three options is strong against one of the two and weak against the other. The results are weighted with the number of troops on each side, resulting in a satisfying scenario even if you lose: instead of yelling at dice for bad rolls, you can only blame yourself.

Once you control a territory with an enemy base you have the option for a Base Attack, which brings up the third game, a run-and-shoot activity that is very attractive but which doesn't quite fit with the other parts. It could be a fun standalone game, but action segments in strategy or puzzle games always seem out of place.

Cyberman was created by the team at Fish in a Bottle who have some other fun puzzle and racing games they've made on their site.

Analysis: The Risk!-style game has some very clever aspects that I would like to see developed. The AI seemed very weak, so I would consider the game more of a 'proof-of-concept' than a finished version. The AI in the roshambo portion of the game also seemed weak. I couldn't tell whether it was learning/predicting my patterns or not, but I think it was, as those games got harder each time. Again, using modified rock-paper-scissors to resolve attacks seems a very clever twist.

The action game is very attractive and fun, although it was painfully slow (it looks like they use a scrolling vector background, which must be re-rendered each frame. Flash does much better when moving bitmaps). The levels are well-designed although there isn't a lot of strategy, making this mini-game not quite fit with the rest. It usually doesn't make sense to spend a turn in the map game on a base attack, so I was left with all the action mini-games at the end.

Over all Doctor Who Cyber Assault is interesting and new in many ways. With improved AI it could be an excellent game.

Play Doctor Who Cyber Assault


(17 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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samandmax2.jpgJohnBGreat galloping cheese goat on the back of a Victorian-era inspired automobile! The second installment of Sam & Max has arrived! Hot on the heels of Culture Shock comes Sam & Max - Situation: Comedy. The follow-up weaves a tale of a loopy talk show host holding her studio audience hostage. To the rescue are Sam and Max, freelance police. In order to gain access to the studio the duo must prove their fame by enduring countless spoofs of modern television. Will they survive the insanity of Midtown Cowboys, or will Embarrassing Idol prove to be their undoing?

Just like the first episode, Sam & Max - Situation: Comedy is packed with tons of hilarious dialogue and witty remarks from the anthropomorphic pair. Most adventure games encourage you to explore your surroundings in order to gather vital information, but Sam & Max is quite the opposite. Examining objects and items usually results in some off-kilter quips from Sam or Max. Actual information is often hidden in-between a joke or two, making clue hunting a whole new kind of adventure.

The entire presentation of Situation: Comedy is identical to the first episode, which is most definitely a good thing. The graphics are a wonderful marriage of 3D and comic book-like art that stays true to the original style while updating it for the modern gamer. You handle movement and inventory management with just the left mouse button, while a right click lets you skip a chunk of dialogue. And the jazzy musical score is so good, Telltale made a few tracks available for download.

Compared to the first episode, Situation: Comedy features much easier puzzles and has a lot more situational comedy. The jokes sometimes fall a bit flat, but that's half the charm of Sam & Max in the first place. Expect a solid 2-3 hours of play in this episode, which is the perfect amount for the casually-minded gamer.

Sam & Max - Situation: Comedy offers another big helping of excellent dialogue and humor weaved into a pleasingly entertaining adventure game. Download the demo (Windows) from the Telltale Games website and give it a try, or if you're in the U.S. you can play the game on GameTap. Be sure to start the experience with the first episode. You don't want to be one of those people who misses out on the inside jokes, do you?

Note: If you're already a Season 1 customer, follow the instructions on this page to get your Sam & Max on!


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JayCome join us for some Jayisgames Texas Hold'em Poker fun in our own private Triple Jack lounge this Saturday evening (tonight) beginning at 7:00PM EST (GMT-5:00). Just be sure to sign-in using the form to the right (and now located in the sidebar for easy access no matter where you are on the site!) You can use the same form to register a new account as well.

All you need is a Triple Jack account (it's absolutely FREE) to play with us. Depending on how well these go we are likely to have a weekly poker night, and perhaps even have special tournaments for fabulous prizes.

So grab your virtual chips and a chair and come have fun with us at JIG Poker Night! =)

Game Design Competition #2AdobeArcadeTown

Update: The contest is over. Thanks to all who entered!!

The following is a list of entries into our 2nd Flash Game Design Competition (in no particular order). Click the game icon to go to the review page for that game.

Rings and Sticks "Rings and Sticks"
...by Komix
Gateway 2 "Gateway II"
...by Anders Gustafsson
PLANned "PLANned"
...by Wouter
NOBuzzle Tree "NOBuzzle Tree"
...by Shu Wan, Cheng
Grow Word "Grow Word"
...by Tonypa
Orbit "Orbit"
...by Sean Hawkes
Tower of Babblers "Tower of Babblers"
...by Lars A. Doucet
Sprout "Sprout"
...by Jeff Nusz
Frog and Vine "Frog and Vine"
...by Matt Slaybaugh
Grow the Robot "Grow the Robot"
...by Starkraven Madd
enQbate "enQbate"
...by Aquilino Griffin
Chicken Grow "Chicken Grow"
...by Bart Bonte
Jelly Fusion "Jelly Fusion"
...by Matthew Dirks
Growbal Warming "Growbal Warming"
...by Richard Ohanian

Wooty tooty flip-bam-booty!

We're hosting our 2nd Flash Game Design !

(and the crowd goes wild! rwar!)

Here's the scoop: you, casual gamer / game designer / Flash whiz, design a simple puzzle game in Flash (version 8, AS 2.0).

Yes, the type of entry we're looking for is the same as what we called for during our first . And while the entries we received contained various interpretations of "simple puzzle game", all things considered, the simple puzzle idea proved to be an excellent choice. So we're doing it again!!

Game design competition #2 theme: growBut there is a catch. This time your game design must incorporate this theme: "grow".

You are, of course, free to interpret that any way you choose; however, the extent to which your game addresses the theme is left up to the judges to decide. Entries not meeting this requirement will be disqualified.

If you're wondering what we mean by "simple puzzle game" consider this: Think of something that you might find in a point-and-click game, Myst, or the like. Not necessarily an entire point-and-click game, but that's ok, too! For some inspiration, check out the entries from our first , and especially Andrew VanHeuklon's brilliant collection of Flash puzzles called Click Drag Type. That collection was actually the inspiration for these competitions.

Use your imagination and be creative. We are looking to create a collection of the best entries submitted to the like we did in August. Impress us with your game design skills and you will score fame, recognition, prizes, as well as a proper review of your work by the JIG Casual Gameplay review staff.

The Prizes

As before, we're looking for a ton of great entries to make this competition really spectacular. And we've got the prizes to back it up! In addition to seeing your name in pixels and the millions of people that will play your game—yes, millions. Our first competition has already received over 2 million plays!—we have some nice cash prizes to award this time:

  • 1st place:
    • $1,000
    • (1) Flash 8 Professional license*
  • 2nd place:
    • $500
    • (1) Flash 8 Professional license*
  • Audience award:
    • as before, determined by JIG community popular vote and worth at least $200.
*If your winning entry makes an exceptional or innovative use of either Premiere Pro for video or After Effects for animation/video, Adobe will upgrade this prize to the Adobe Video Bundle, worth over $2,000!

Although the Flash 8 Professional license is available for Windows or Mac, the Adobe Video Bundle is available for Windows only.

Entrants who do not have After Effects, Premiere Pro, and/or Flash 8 Professional can download a 30 day trial from the Adobe website.

In addition to all of the above prizes, your game will be eligible to recieve a bid from ArcadeTown for publishing there as well.

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

To Enter

To enter the JIG CasualGameplay Game Design , all you have to do is create a simple and original Flash puzzle game and send it to us.

Like the first , your game will appear in a collection for the site, and so it must support our specifications and our very simple API listed below. If you do not know how to do this, you will need to send us the final .fla file 48 hours prior to the deadline so we can add the appropriate support for you.

By submitting an entry to the , you grant Jayisgames.com and CasualGameplay.com a permanent, non-exclusive license to host the game, either individually or as part of a larger collection. We will always include credit to the original author and display a link to you or your sponsor's site, if desired. Please provide us with your name, shipping address, and preferred link (optional) when submitting your entry.

Also, in return for winning one of the Adobe prizes, you give Adobe the rights to publicize information about you and your game, and what was done with its products as part of the development process (i.e., talk about the game designer, what tools were used, get a quote, etc.).

Once you have your game polished and ready to go, send it to: competition2@jayisgames.com

Deadline

The deadline for entries is
Friday, February 23rd. at 11:59PM (GMT-5:00).

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

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

Many thanks to the kind folks at Adobe and ArcadeTown for sponsoring this .

Specifications and the finer details of submitting an entry follow...


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Rating: 4.7/5 (63 votes)
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warbears1.jpgAdamBIt's been close to a year, but finally Gionatan Iasio has brought us another installment in his excellent Warbears games, Warbears: Mission 2. The point-and-click puzzle games are similar to Rob Allen's Hapland series but with a distinctly unique flavor. You control four bears on a training mission to infiltrate a house set with paintball-loaded dummies. By clicking on a bear you bring up a context-sensitive menu of actions you can perform. The order in which you do things is the key to completing the mission, and one wrong step puts you in a goo-splattered dead end.

Warbears is all about playing, getting stuck, then starting all over again. There is no warning to tell you when you're about to do something stupid, so you may find yourself (as I did) restarting after a full half hour of play. Fortunately Iasio's beautiful animations and music gives the game a very comfortable mood, so you won't get frustrated. Mission 2 is much more polished than the first game with better sound and visuals and more streamlined gameplay.

For puzzle strategists and curious onlookers alike, this game provides enough of a challenge to tickle the grey matter without overwhelming you at any time. From the opening title to the four eventual endings, Warbears: Mission 2 is a well deserved sequel and a very enjoyable game.

Play Warbears: Mission 2

Be sure to check out Gionatan's original Warbears as well.

Thanks to Lily and video_game_freak for giving us the heads-up!


(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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ydkj.jpgNoahTrivia games are somewhat underrepresented here on Jay is Games and on the web as a whole, so I was glad to find that a brand new adaptation of Jellyvision's You Don't Know Jack is now playable at YouDontKnowJack.com.

Every episode of You Don't Know Jack so far has been a DisOrDat, which features two categories. Each round requires the player to determine which category a given word fits into. The controls are very simple; press 1 to select the first category and 2 to select the second. Some episodes give you the option to press 3 when the word fits in both categories, and you can always press 4 to skip a question. A correct answer earns $250 of imaginary money, while an incorrect answer will deduct $250 from your earnings.

Analysis: You Don't Know Jack has made the transition to Adobe Flash with much of the wit and attitude of its CD-rom forefathers, as well as a great deal of mature content. Surprisingly, each episode features full voiceovers, although the game is playable without audio. Unfortunately there is no multiplayer support. I also would have appreciated more questions per round; it took me over a minute to load each episode and sit through the introduction, while the game itself lasts no more than 30 seconds, and usually much less! On the other hand, with new episodes appearing daily and the ability to play previous games, there should be no shortage of You Don't Know Jack content for the quiz-hungry.

Play You Don't Know Jack


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After much deliberation and talking amongst ourselves, the JIG collective has come up with its picks for the Best of Casual Gameplay 2006 and published the results, along with the voting results from you. It wasn't easy, and we did the best we could considering there were more games reviewed here last year than any one person could have played.

If you think you could have done better, then we want to hear from you. This site has experienced tremendous growth in its few short years of life, and it will require the help of a community of casual game players and reviewers to keep it going. I simply cannot do it alone.

So, my sincere thanks go out to each and every person that contributed to the site in 2006, whether by review, comment, or donation. Everything counts in large amounts.

Let's make 2007 another year to remember. =)

Best of 2006 Results

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