February 2007 Archives


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SproutFlash Game Design CompetitionSprout is the next entry from our competition, and it was designed and created by Jeff Nusz of New Zealand. The puzzle / adventure game features beautiful charcoal drawings as the basis for its graphics and style, appearing as if taken directly from a storybook.

The 'grow' theme is quite evident in this piece, as you will see.

Play Sprout

Note: All comments originally posted here have been moved to the Sprout review page. Please use that page to post your comments and questions about the game. Thank you!


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Tower of BabblersFlash Game Design CompetitionNext up is another puzzle game that comes with no instructions. For anyone wondering about this particular detail: a competition entry will score higher with us if it requires no instructions and the user is able to derive the objective simply from the actions and behavior of the game and the feedback it provides. This is a characteristic of the examples we provided on the competition announcement page.

Lars A. Doucet is the man responsible for the Alchemist's Apprentice, a charming puzzle game of wizardry and magic from our first competition. He is also the designer behind Tower of Babblers, a puzzle game of towers and babblers. Yes, they do talk. The rest you'll have to construct yourself.

As with any 'discovery' game like this, please be kind and use spoiler tags if posting a comment about anything that may ruin the experience for someone else. Hints and tips are preferred over all-out spoilers. That being said, please do feel free to post your comments about it.

Play Tower of Babblers

Note: All comments originally posted here have been moved to the Tower of Babblers review page. Please use that page to post your comments and questions about the game. Thank you!


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OrbitFlash Game Design CompetitionOrbit is the latest from Sean Hawkes, one of the winners of our first competition back in August, designer of Clack, Houses, and Weight. It's a puzzle without instructions, it's up to you to figure out what to do. The game requires significant processing power, as there are a lot of objects moving on the screen at times. I've enabled a "quality" selector in the right-click context menu of the competition UI to help those with slower computers.

Part of the challenge, as well as the reward, of a puzzle game like this is in the discovery of what is expected to arrive at a solution. So, please, be especially careful and considerate to others when posting comments about this one. We would prefer hints and tips only over all-out spoilers, please.

Play Orbit

Note: All comments originally posted here have been moved to the Orbit review page. Please use that page to post your comments and questions about the game. Thank you!


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Grow WordFlash Game Design CompetitionGrab a paper pad and a pencil, you're going to need it with this next one. Tonypa, certainly no stranger around these parts, delivers a word puzzle competition entry that is a lot like a cryptogram. Grow Word is about the biggest hint one can give without giving it all away. Here the 'grow' theme is developed in a literal sense.

It may appear daunting at first, but work it out on paper and be rewarded with another elegantly simple game in Tonypa's characteristic minimalist style.

Play Grow Word

Is it just me, or does the highlight color change periodically? :x

Note: All comments originally posted here have been moved to the Grow Word review page. Please use that page to post your comments and questions about the game. Thank you!


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NOBuzzle TreeFlash Game Design CompetitionFrom NOBstudio in Singapore, Shu Wan, Cheng sent in this next entry to the competition: NOBuzzle Tree is a beautiful logic puzzle game that is based on a simple concept; but its simplicity may be deceiving.

The 'grow' theme implementation in this game—apart from the obvious sprouting tree blossoms—actually has a similarity to an Eyezmaze Grow game: Each puzzle has a correct sequence that will make the tree blossom in full. It is up to you to figure out just what that sequence is. Some fruits, when clicked, will stimulate others to grow. The rest you'll have to figure out on your own. A pad and paper may come in handy for this one.

Play NOBuzzle Tree

Note: All comments originally posted here have been moved to the Nobuzzle Tree review page. Please use that page to post your comments and questions about the game. Thank you!


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PLANnedFlash Game Design CompetitionNext up is PLANned, a game submitted by long-time JIG visitor and supporter, Wouter. He tells me that besides making some game engines before, this is the first game he has actually taken to the final stages, "...and I must say that I didn't know that tweaking and balancing could be so much fun." =)

Wouter incorporates the grow theme and makes it integral to the gameplay in this nice little puzzle game with an impressive presentation. Click on the diamond-shaped pieces to expand, or grow, them and create a network connecting all pieces for each level.

Play PLANned

And we've only just begun. More to grow soon.

Note: All comments originally posted here have been moved to the PLANned review page. Please use that page to post your comments and questions about the game. Thank you!


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Gateway 2Flash Game Design CompetitionCreated by Anders Gustafsson, Gateway 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the original game from our first competition. And it picks right up where the first one left off. Anders tells me he has incorporated the "grow" theme heavily into the story element of the game.

The first Gateway was the audience favorite last time, so it gives me great pleasure to announce this entry and to be able to share it with all of you.

Play Gateway II

It may be interesting to note that Anders also had a hand in helping with Triachnid.

Much more "grow" coming your way, so please check back often!

Note: All comments originally posted here have been moved to the Gateway II review page. Please use that page to post your comments and questions about the game. Thank you!


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Rings and SticksFlash Game Design CompetitionAfter a power outage with Dreamhost last night and some traffic routing issues with Road Runner today, I am pleased to finally be able to roll out the first competition entry to our Flash Game Design Competition #2!

The first entry is from Komix and it is a puzzle game called Rings and Sticks. You may know Komix from our Best of 2006 feature in which he won the Best Platform game award with Triachnid.

As you may know, all games in this competition must incorporate the theme, "grow".

Play Rings and Sticks

Much more to come, so please check back often!

Note: All comments originally posted here have been moved to the Rings and Sticks review page. Please use that page to post your comments and questions about the game. Thank you!


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Rating: 4.7/5 (21 votes)
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funeralquest.jpgMs.45Funeral Quest is a travesty of lemonade stands, sim games and common decency in general. Basically you open a funeral parlour and handle customers. The aim is to gain Burial Points (which is your ranking) and earn tags (currency), while engaging in a spot of skullduggery to advance your standing and income.

You will have four economic classes of customers, from Poor to Super-Rich, with a variety of emotions when they visit you. Your aim is to get them to buy the most expensive funeral they can afford. If you push them over their limit, they'll go to the competition. You can use Guilt and Sympathy to increase their willingness to spend, and Hard Sell and Soft Sell to increase the amount of money you'll be getting.

In the meantime, other events await your attention, such as the presence of ancient scrolls, run-down gravestones and opportunities for necroporn (in case it's not obvious, this game is not kidsafe). Doing the moral thing will always get you a small amount of Burial Points... but doing the wrong thing is not only more fun, but will either gain or lose a large amount of points. To make matters even more fun, Funeral Quest features Player vs Player (PvP) battle! Increase your strength at the University, buy up knuckledusters and body armour and beat up the competition. You even have the opportunity to hire someone to arsonize another funeral parlour. There are heaps more fun things to do, you'll just have to explore them all.

There are a number of servers that host Funeral Quest and their versions of the game may be different. I play on the Insomnia Bytes server (no longer available), which has comparatively few players and a simple version of the game, but other servers have mods which allow you to buy guns, gamble and other developments. You can also host your own server. Check out the options and have fun exploring the possibilities.

Play Funeral Quest

Update: Unfortunately, the game can no longer be played reliably. Seth Robinson's company took the game down 'permanently' in October 2008 only to resurrect it again in January 2009. Since then the servers that run the game go down often and remain offline for long periods of time.


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JayQuadradiusIt's Saturday and that means another JIG Poker Night event coming your way! We'll be setting up the poker tables in our own Triplejack poker lounge, as we do every week, and the tournaments will get underway this evening beginning at 9PM EST (GMT-5). Be sure to join us for some fun and good times, and you just might win yourself a prize or two. And just like every poker night, we have a few prizes to give away to the lucky winners, too!

Prizes up for grabs: Quadradius memberships(!) from Jimmi and Brad at Quadradius.com. This Flash-based online board game for two players is as simple to play as checkers, and yet is supercharged with power-ups that make every game a unique experience. We also have one month of Triplejack Power Player to give away, one deck of Triplejack playing cards, and one JIG Casual Gameplay t-shirt. But, of course, that's not all. The champion of tournaments will be entered into a drawing for a fabulous grand prize: a Nintendo DS Lite! Drawing to be held Saturday, May 26, 2007.

To join us for poker night, be sure use the Triplejack login form here in the sidebar, or use the registration login page, for access to our JIG poker lounge. From there make sure you visit the table named "READ ME PLEASE" for instructions on how to register using the tournament registration form.

We had another great poker night last Saturday, and I have another set of winners to report. 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: BT14
  • Qualifier #2 winner: Allornothing (disqualified)
  • Qualifier #3 winner: Sidvicious (disqualified)
  • Qualifier #4 winner: Ende
  • Qualifier #5 winner: empath
  • Qualifier #6 winner: Nineiron
  • Qualifier #7 winner: JDHopeFB
  • Qualifier #8 winner: lecarl
  • Qualifier #9 winner: Melman2002
  • Qualifier #10 winner: doylew8
  • Qualifier #11 winner: dee2

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 that were split among the top 5 finishers:

  • (3) Westward games from Sandlot!! (1) FREE month Power Player subscription to Triplejack
  • (1) FREE deck of Triplejack playing cards
  • (1) FREE JIG Casual Gameplay T-shirt

And the lucky prize-winners are:

    • 3nd place: lecarl
    • 2nd place: Melman2002
Champion of Tournaments #6: doylew8!

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 working with the registration form making this week's tournaments the best ones yet!

WestwardA big shout out to the kind folks at Sandlot Games for sponsoring us with Westward games to give away as prizes. If you haven't already played Westward, or even read our review of it, I recommend that you do. There are many great things happening over at Sandlot, so be sure to check out all of their games, too. And we also want to thank the folks at Triplejack for again sponsoring their part of the prize package for the tournament.


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It's announcements time! A lot is going on in our casual gaming world and the creative talent behind the games we love is really blossoming. Is it the crisp February air? The freshness of a new year? Either way, here's an update on a few recent events you should know about. Consider yourself... informed!

The deadline for entries into our second Flash Game Design Competition has passed. We've got lots of great looking games from a number of talented folk, a big thanks to everyone who entered! We're working frantically to get all of the entries up and playing nicely with each other, so we'll open the gates and let everyone give the games a try soon. Stay tuned!

Next on the agenda is a great mini-interview by Harold Goldberg at VH1 Game Break with Kellee Santiago, one of the team members behind flOw. The PS3 version of the game has just been released and it looks absolutely stunning. The questions touch on the design processes behind the game as well as Kellee's taste in casual games. Also check out our interview with Austin Wintory, the musical mastermind behind both versions of flOw.

icon_experimentalgc.gifThe most recent Experimental Gameplay Competition has ended and all of the games are available to play. The theme this time around was "attraction" and the winner will snag a paid internship at Electronic Arts. Experimental Gameplay games are always on the cutting-edge of innovation and show just how talented some of these designers truly are. The entries are a mixed bag of game types featuring a handful of downloadable and browser games alike.


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JohnBMore than just a doughnut (or donut, if you despise the 'gh' letter combination), the cruller is a symbol of mankind's struggle to evolve. Often topped with sugar or icing, crullers represent the twisted yet delicious journey that life as an upright mammal can be. We have to pay taxes, we have to stand in line at the DMV, sometimes we even have to watch American Idol. But at the end of the day, nothing says "good job existing" like a delicious cruller in hand (enjoyed responsibly, of course... we must maintain our trim figures). I would like to thank the Dutch for the word "kruller" and possibly even inventing doughnuts in the first place. I would also like to thank the following games in this Weekend Download installment for being just as delicious.

lylecube-g.gifLyle in Cube Sector (Windows, freeware, 1.14MB) - Ok, so it's not exactly a new game, but it's certainly one you don't want to miss. Lyle in Cube Sector is a remarkably open-ended adventure/platformer that, yes, resembles Metroid and Cave Story to some degree. What can I say, I'm a fan of the exploration games. Travel through the "wonked out lands of the Cubesector" finding power-ups that give you new abilities that allow you to explore even more. Not nearly as difficult as La-Mulana, but there's enough challenge and intrigue to keep you wanting more.

ancientempireslux.jpgAncient Empires Lux (Windows, Mac, Linux, demo) - Just like American History Lux, Ancient Empires Lux is essentially a glorified, historically-themed version of Risk. Move your armies across your territory to fortify weak areas and attack your opponent. The more land you control, the more armies you get, and the more powerful you become. With the ancient empires theme the game has a much more epic feel than the other installments in the Lux series. The interface is also a bit more polished than its predecessors. Too bad you can't play the Rome scenario right off the bat.

falafel.gifA Mini Falafel Adventure (Windows, freeware, 737KB) - That's right, delicious chickpea goodness is now in game form! An entry by LowFlyingCow in the Retro Remake's 4 Color Competition, A Mini Falafel Adventure is a platforming adventure that smells like a delicious combination of Knytt and Super Mario Bros. It's a surprisingly magnificent game with well-balanced level design and simple yet creative gameplay. Be sure to check out the other entries, they all have a little bit of awesomeness to show off.

acidbomb2.jpgAcidbomb 2: Rearmed (Windows, demo, 11.9MB) - Disarming bombs is cool when it's on TV, in the movies, or in a video game. Fortunately Acidbomb 2 happens to be one of those (I'll let you guess which). Created by Vertigo Games, the object is to diffuse each puzzle (which is a bomb) by detecting which tiles are pistons and which are safe. The game plays a lot like picross where you must use clues to narrow down possibilities. A wonderfully cerebral experience that really turns up the heat when the time starts ticking down. It's a bit complex at first, so make good use of the tutorial and you'll be diffusing in no time. The download is actually just a demo for the yet-to-be-completed full version, so in the meantime, satiate yourself with the first Acidbomb.

mezzowinter.jpgMezzo: Winter Edition (All platforms for online version, Windows for download, 3.8MB) - A cute and strangely engaging little puzzle game by ActionHead Studios. A 5x5 grid of squares sits in the middle of the screen. Your goal is to swap squares so the snowflakes are in a row/column facing each other with only one color in-between. If there's an odd number of cubes between them, an additional snowflake block is created. It works quite smoothly in practice and is a bit different than most puzzle games out there. Extremely enjoyable and challenging in later levels. The online version is surprisingly robust, the downloadable versions have even more content, plus there are penguins. Penguins that you can rescue and play with! Submitted by Dale


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Link Dump Fridays

HarukioHopscotch, jump rope, and walking on curbs, other than being loads of fun, they're great ways to learn! Patty cake gets both sides of your brain chatting, and spinning in a swing may align your view on life. After we surpass the days of playground antics, it becomes the parabolic curve of a thrown football and the steady beat of running footsteps on pavement that keeps our minds chugging. So put those papers aside, take a break from your homework and let's play!

  • Paint Roulette - For keen eyes only! Figure out what is in the hidden photos before your time (and chips) run out! It's currently in beta so if you have any suggestions, be sure to let them know. Every (quality) game you make is worth a $1 Amazon Gift Certificate, but only while supplies last!

  • Need for Madness - Car-smashing, trick-rocking, java-powered racing game! Race or waste, it's up to you! It will get your license revoked for reals.

  • Heel Over - Men, tired of seeing women tower over you like the mighty green giant with a purse? Women, heel competition hurting your sole? Knock those ladies down to size with Heel Over (Kakato Otoshi)! Carefully tap away heels to a comfortable level without loosing your head.

  • Grammar Ninja - See all that you forgotten since school. or if your in school this, is like a test. But it is fun! Their different difficulties to customize experience. Have fun; learn much! Designed by high school student talented.

  • Topolon - A puzzle like action game where you attempt to wipe out all of the viruses on a network. Clicking on a space occupied by your own blue blob will split it among all connected nodes. Clicking an empty node will suck in all connected blue blobs. It seems you must destroy all viruses (which look like pollen) and then clear your own dudes before you beat a level. Score challenge of the week, can you beat my score of 82,930? It shouldn't be too hard ;)

  • MANGO!!! - Sick of all those tangerines from last week? Try some MANGO! MANGO! MANGO!

Watch this happy space for news on our upcoming TripleJack Poker night!


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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tooncrisis2.jpgJohnBShooter fans and lovers of really odd games listen up: Toon Crisis 2: Toon Raider has been released. The rather strange online flash game combines photographs of real locations in the UK with cartoon enemies leaping out of bushes to attack you, all in the traditional click and shoot style. If you think that's weird, check out the weapon: your right hand with thumb and forefinger extended. All of this takes place while a diverse soundtrack of popular music dances in your ears.

The sequel is just like the original Toon Crisis but with new locations, enemies and bosses. Once again it's an advergame for a Sony product, but don't let that keep you from playing. The variety of enemies, difficulty level and sheer hilarity of the concept make it well worth your fifteen minutes.

Play Toon Crisis 2: Toon Raider

Read our review on the original Toon Crisis game for more info, and check out Nobuyuki Forces 3 for a very similar type of action game.


(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Mercedes Benz Mixed Tape 15

Take this not as an announcement that Mixed Tape #15 was just released, but rather as a last call to get it while you still can. While I had made a regular practice of posting an announcement here when Mercedes Benz releases a new FREE mixed tape for everyone to enjoy, I skipped it when number 15 was released in December primarily because things were already quite busy for us here.

Well, many of you have written in over the last several weeks asking why we never posted about number 15. So, in case you were holding back, I expect the generous MB to be releasing number 16 very soon, so make haste for this free music taste. And did I mention it's free? Enjoy.


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (69 votes)
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hewitt.jpgShawnHewitt is a top-notch adventure game that two developers, Casper Smith and C. Gianelloni, spent over a year creating. Their hard work is apparent: Hewitt looks and plays great and is a surprisingly long game. Aside from some fairly quirky puzzle elements Hewitt provides a solid experience for any adventure/point-and-click fan.

After having a foretelling dream of loneliness, Hewitt decides he needs to get his act together and find a gal to take to the school dance. Hewitt's not exactly the popular type though, so he's going to need as much help as you can give him. Personally, if I had to go through as much trouble as Hewitt to find a date to the dance I'd probably think twice, but that's just me. Use the [arrow] keys or [WASD] to move Hewitt around and the mouse to interact with the environment. You can examine, use, and combine the items in your inventory, but from there it's all up to you to figure out just what you need to do.

Analysis: Hewitt is a very long game, with a complex level of item interaction required to find everything and get everywhere you need. A little too complex at times. Some of the tasks you have to complete are a bit out there and require specific clues to complete, so unless you touch/examine/talk to everything, you'll probably miss a vital hint somewhere. A lot of adventure games fall victim to this common trap. I had to consult the walkthrough myself, and to be quite honest I'm not sure I could have ever made it through the game otherwise. A save feature is offered, so if you're determined to do it yourself you can always save and come back later. Also, it can be a bit cumbersome combining items, as you have to look at it, click it, move it, then hope it works out. If it doesn't, the last item you clicked on will be placed in his hands, making it annoying to attempt multiple combinations with the same item.

The overall graphics and game presentation are great. Environments have a very consistent clean and cartoony look to them, and all major interactions in the game have voice-overs to accompany them. The soundtrack is also excellent, offering several different tracks to listen to while you play, none of which get repetitive.

Hewitt is long and involved game and my hat (if I wore one) goes off to anyone that can manage the game with absolutely no walkthrough help. You can't help but admire the thought that went into the puzzle set-ups, even if it seems a bit 'too-convenient' or contrived at times. So give Hewitt a spin and help the poor guy find a date, will ya?

Play Hewitt


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JaySame Game 2: HexagonizedJussi Kari at ooPixel has just finished a new update to his version of the classic game of the same name, Samegame. And while this is essentially the same game as Samegame, there are some improvements that make this version even more addictive than the original.

Samegame Hexogonized replaces the familiar colored cubes with hexagons and adds a new bonus item to the usual mix of row and column destroyers, and bombs. Just click on groups of 2 or more same-colored shapes to eliminate them from play. You must remove all shapes from the play field to continue playing and advance to the next level.

Jussi's flair for presentation shines through in this version as well. I enjoyed the larger shapes, but I found a couple of annoyances as well. The first complaint I have is with those little white flags that pop-up to tell you how many points a group was worth. Yes, it's nice to know how many points you're getting, but after a while I don't really care. They just got in my way more than they were helpful to me and I wish I could have turned them off completely.

The other disappointment with the game is there is no sound at all. When the game launches you are greeted with a sparkling gliss effect as the ooPixel logo is displayed; but it's just a tease since that is all the sound you'll hear while playing. It's a shame, too, since the game appears nicely polished in just about every other aspect.

Same Game Hexagonized for the simple puzzle game fanatic in you. (And for Racci, too.)

Play Samegame Hexagonized


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Rating: 4.6/5 (63 votes)
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grownano2.gifJohnBIn what is probably the shortest installment of the Grow series to date, the minigame Grow Nano vol.2 from Eyezmaze is still full of charm. The mechanics are the same as the other games, simply click the items and see what happens. Items level up depending on how long they've been activated, so finding the right order is the key to winning. This time around there are just three things to choose from: a cape, a headband, and a stick. Experiment and see what happens to the guy with a huge grin and the little bird!

Play Grow Nano Vol. 2

Also give Neighbors a go, another recent minigame released on the Eyezmaze site. And then there's always the original Grow game and its pack of followers.

Cheers to Jetamo for the alert about it. =)

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


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JaySpamalot"Feelthy English ...we (breathe) in your general direction. We ave conquered ze walls of SPAMalot to infiltrate your most famous of canned meats."

Yes, it's an advergame for SPAM: the stinky French garlic flavor kind. But much, much more than that, SPAMalot is a Flash defend-your-castle Flash game with an absolutely severe Monty Python element thrown up into the mix for good humor, good times.

Just use your mouse to control the catapult, hurling cows, chickens, and mules at waves of oncoming attackers. Choose sides, either English or French, to begin the onslaught.

Accompanied by an infectious soundtrack and samples that sound as if they were taken straight from ye olde comedy series, SPAMalot will certainly entertain you (if you like that sort of thing.) Created by 4t2 Multimedia in the UK.

Play SPAMalot

Thanks Graeme! =)


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Exmortis 3 voice-over winnerAfter receiving over 60 entries to the voice-over competition for Exmortis 3, and after much deliberation over the short list of 10 that was subsequently made, Ben has finally come to a decision on who the lucky person will be...

Mr. Lucien Dodge will be the voice of the narrator for the upcoming game! The majority of other entries were of a mind-blowing quality, but Lucien's "unique interpretation of the dialogue" fit what Ben had in mind "almost perfectly."

Also because of the high quality of the other entries, no doubt Ben will be in contact with a few entrants from the short list to possibly fulfill other roles as they are created in the authoring process over the coming months.

Congratulations to Lucien, and many thanks to everyone who participated by sending in an audition recording. =)


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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thegaffer.jpgJohnBThe Gaffer is an action-based Flash game by James Green of Black Galleon. You play a chubby warehouse boss who must load boxes onto trucks that pull into the dock. Each stack is outlined on the back of the truck, all you have to do is carry the crates one by one and put them in the right place. It's a very straightforward game that keeps you hooked with its charming presentation and simple gameplay.

As you run back and forth organizing crates you might see a mouse, cat or dog wander into the room. On their own the animals usually don't interfere with your work, but put them together and you've got trouble. The cat will chase the mouse and sometimes knock you down, while the mouse can destroy crates or bite the dog, sending the poor hound running and toppling stacks of boxes. You can use the [Z] key to swat at the animals, or just make sure they're on a truck when it pulls away.

Another interesting feature in The Gaffer is... the elephant. Pressing the [E] key calls the big guy out to trample across the dock, scaring away the other animals and destroying every crate on the screen. Useful if you're overwhelmed or just sick of dealing with the little critters.

Analysis: While the concept of The Gaffer didn't intrigue me at first, the hook was the fantastic music and art direction. It's a treat to both look at and listen to. The game itself is simple and enjoyable, but the pacing is a bit sporadic. Half of the time I felt there was either too much to do or too little. Pressing [B] will make the boxes come a lot faster, which helps, and clever use of the elephant will keep things moving smoothly.

Nice artwork, great music, simple fun. If only working in a real warehouse were this entertaining.

Play The Gaffer


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Rating: 4.7/5 (22 votes)
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foolyoo2.jpgMs.45Ohayou gozaimasu! Even though it's entirely in Japanese (I don't speak a word of the language), the sword slicing game FoolYoo is fairly self-explanatory. You are a samurai and you must defend yourself from attack by demons with your trusty katana. Three different types of demons will attack you, all requiring different tactics to defeat. In between rounds, demonstrate your 1337 sushi ability by deftly slicing vegetables for soup. It is disrespectful but hilarious to cut off your sensei's clothing.

Hints on how to slice vegetables correctly and other tactics have been provided by readers in the comments section of a recent Link Dump.

Reader art begotti also commented on FoolYoo:

...my pick of the bunch is definitely foolyoo, since it's been the only one I've kept coming back to play. It's a very nicely designed game, with good humor and interesting gameplay. Probably the best samurai-slices-things game I've seen out there. I'd say foolyoo should get the foolrevoo. (ba-dum-ching.)

If your mind is sufficiently concentrated...

Play FoolYoo


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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bulletorchestra-g.gifDerekWHere's something that guarantees at least three minutes (give or take, depending on your taste in music) of fun: Bullet Philharmonic Orchestra. It's an ultra-simple, free, downloadable (PC only), barebones shoot-'em-up-inspired game with a simple concept: dodge the bullets. The game itself was designed with two things in mind: mindless entertainment, and improving one's dodging skill in those crazy bullet-spraying shmups (both of which it achieves).

After installation, put a couple of your favorite music files into the 'music' folder where you installed the game, then start it up. The game will play random files from that folder and, in tune with the music, will generate semi-random patterns of bullet spray from the top of the screen. You, the red dot at the bottom of the screen, must avoid getting hit by this onslaught as long as possible. In a way it's kind of like Rez, except you get to choose the music, and it also has been stripped away of any features that one might call beautiful.

Once the game is started, press [Z] to begin and use the arrow keys to control your dot. Anytime a bullet strays within the green ring surrounding your dot, white sparks will fly out, meaning you were 'buzzed'. When a bullet hits that red dot, sparks fly out. In other words, you would be dead in a real shooter. That's all there is to it. Get hit less, earn more points. For more challenging gameplay, use songs with high tempos, or anything one might listen to before playing a sports game.

Analysis: At just over one megabyte, this is a downloadable that even our dial-up friends can enjoy (though unfortunately our Mac and Linux friends will have to sit out for this one). My only real complaint is that every once in a while, the game won't recognize an MP3 file you give it, and while this is rare, it's very annoying. The game should work fine with any WAV or MIDI file, however. Other than that, the only thing I'd like to see is the ability to specify a music folder to get files from, rather than have to move the music to a particular folder; a minor qualm with an otherwise fantastic distraction. Give it a try.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


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If you're seeing this, then the DNS has propagated in your area and you are now reaching the new JIG server. We're running upgraded versions of several Web server applications, and so besides being a bit faster, there may also be a few hiccups along the way until we get things optimized. For example, some of the most recent comments posted since the switch over might have been lost if they were posted to the old server. Our apologies for any inconvenience. This is, of course, to better serve you as the site continues to grow. =)

Thank you, Media Temple, for helping to make the migration smooth and virtually effortless.


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blocksum.jpgBlocksum (Windows, freeware, 32MB) - This is one game that will destroy your social life. Join numbered blocks together to add their amounts and cause blocks with the same digits to vanish. As more bricks rise from the bottom of the screen, you must frantically add them together to keep the stack from reaching the top. It's more puzzle gaming enjoyment than I've had in a very long time, and the pacing is perfect to keep you motivated but not frustrate you. Nice visuals and really catchy music are extra special bonuses.

NOTE: Some comments, from when this game was first mentioned on the site, may be found on this page.


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JohnBLook ma, a new feature at JIG Casual Gameplay! Gather the children, call the neighbors, wave to the government satellites spying on your home. It's time to settle down for a few downloadable games. Each weekend paired with the Link Dump we'll show off a few of the latest must-try games from the internet. It's a lot of work to download and install games, so we'll showcase only the best titles so you can spend your time playing. Sit back and enjoy some seriously good entertainment.

railofwar.jpgRail of War (All-platform online version, Windows-only download, 10MB, demo, full version available) - An über-interesting game that combines role playing elements, shooting action, and... choo-choo trains! Build and customize your train by buying different cars to attach to the engine. Work your way through each stage firing at foes, gathering power-ups and ducking into refuel stations to regenerate. A truly interesting concept with surprisingly deep gameplay. Rail of War balances cerebral planning and active shooting quite well and gets bonus points for originality. Plan your upgrades carefully, though, as this game can be quite tough without a proper strategy. Whet your appetite with the online demo, then try the downloadable demo or snag the full version.

kiki1.jpgKiki the Nano Bot (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, freeware) - One of the most creative 3D puzzle games ever released in our corner of the Milky Way. You play a small robot named Kiki trying to repair her maker. The game is a mixture of Sokoban and Kula-World. You roll around the walls, jump on platforms and move objects around with a slightly strange, slightly disorienting control scheme. Interestingly, the direction of gravity changes with your orientation. Almost everything about the game is stellar (that's two space-related references in one paragraph!), plus it's free and available for all major operating systems. You are compelled to play. (Thanks Monsterkodi!)

sammaxep3.jpgSam & Max Episode 3 - The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball (Windows, demo, 66MB) - The third installment in the continuing episodic adventures of Sam and Max. More of the same unbelievably fun adventure gaming that I'll never, ever get tired of. Ever. If you liked the first two episodes you'll certainly love this one, especially with Ted E. Bear's Mafia-Free Playland and Casino. Be sure to check out our reviews of the first and second episodes of the Sam & Max adventure games for more info.

lamulana.jpgLa-Mulana (Windows, freeware, 6MB) - Imagine Cave Story. Are you imagining? Now picture it crashing head first into a really long Metroid-like game. Pick up the strewn pieces and put them back together inside of an old MSX computer. Now you have La-Mulana, a formerly Japanese-only sprawling adventure game translated to happy fun English by AGTP. I can't get enough of this game, it's a long and satisfying experience with well over 20 hours of tough gameplay. Great for old-school gamers who want a good challenge, love catchy 8-bit music, enjoy exploration, and who don't mind a bit of repetition.

blocksum.jpgBlocksum (Windows, freeware, 32MB) - This is one game that will destroy your social life. Join numbered blocks together to add their amounts and cause blocks with the same digits to vanish. As more bricks rise from the bottom of the screen, you must frantically add them together to keep the stack from reaching the top. It's more puzzle gaming enjoyment than I've had in a very long time, and the pacing is perfect to keep you motivated but not frustrate you. Nice visuals and really catchy music are extra special bonuses.


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JayWestwardIt's Saturday and that means another JIG Poker Night event is coming your way! We'll be setting up the poker tables in our own Triplejack poker lounge, as we do every week, and the tournaments will get underway this evening beginning at 6PM EST (GMT-5). Be sure to join us for some fun and good times, and you just might win yourself a prize or two. And do we ever have some nice prizes to give away this week!

WestwardPrizes up for grabs: Westward games(!) from the kind folks at Sandlot Games: Set out across the wild frontier on a wild west adventure. We also have one month of Triplejack Power Player to give away, one deck of Triplejack playing cards, and one JIG Casual Gameplay t-shirt. But, of course, that's not all. The champion of tournaments will be entered into a drawing for a fabulous grand prize: a Nintendo DS Lite! Drawing to be held Saturday, May 26, 2007.

To join us for poker night, be sure use the Triplejack login form here in the sidebar, or use the registration login page, for access to our JIG poker lounge. From there make sure you visit the table named "READ ME PLEASE" for instructions on how to register using the tournament registration form.

Recap of last week: We had another great poker night last Saturday, and I have another set of winners to report. The tournaments went very smoothly and I want to be sure everyone who participated last week gets a very big "thank you" for helping to make the event such an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

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: remkoduursma
  • Qualifier #3 winner: supersasha
  • Qualifier #4 winner: racket19
  • Qualifier #5 winner: dee2
  • Qualifier #6 winner: zeroster
  • Qualifier #7 winner: Akisuzu
  • Qualifier #8 winner: Tumbler
  • Qualifier #9 winner: gevonden_sok
  • Qualifier #10 winner: TATTOO
  • Qualifier #11 winner: RiNSpy

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 that were split among the top 2 finishers:

  • (1) FREE month Power Player subscription to Triplejack
  • (1) FREE deck of Triplejack playing cards
  • (1) FREE JIG Casual Gameplay T-shirt
  • (1) $10 Best Buy gift card

And the lucky prize-winners are:

    • 2nd place: Akisuzu
Champion of Tournaments #5: supersasha!

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 working with the registration form making this week's tournaments the best ones yet!

A big shout out to the very kind folks at Triplejack for again sponsoring their part of the prize package for the tournament.


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JayJust a quick update to announce that we have rolled out a new feature that will help with loading game review pages that contain hundreds of comments. For example, the recently reviewed Roomz game has over 300 comments already(!)

Thanks to Thomas, sometimes JIG contributor and PHP programmer extraordinaire, we now present each page with the 100 most recent comments only. If you prefer to view older comments, just click the "Older" link located at the top or bottom of the comment listing. Each page of 100 comments is loaded using JQuery and Ajax, so there is no page refresh necessary. However, Javascript must be enabled to use this feature.


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oshidama.jpgJohnBOshidama is a simple and elegant flash game just released by Game-Pure, the creators of Speed Cluster. The goal is to nudge a white orb to the exit point on each screen. Walls, pits and other obstacles stand in your way, forcing you plan your path and be ready for a last-second save at any moment. It's an interesting mix of strategy and fast-paced cursor shifting delivered in an astounding audio and visual atmosphere reminiscent of flOw.

Tap the white circle with the cursor to give it a push, creating a satisfying "click" sound when you do. The orb travels forward based on where you touched it, sort of like hitting a ball with a cue stick in billiards. You can't control the circle's speed or distance, only the direction.

The game is divided into levels each containing four stages. Within a level you have a set number of pushes you can use to complete the stages. If the counter hits zero, it's game over. Fortunately Oshidama saves your level progress so you can take a break and pick up where you left off.

Analysis: Restricting your control over the orb and limiting the number of pushes gives Oshidama a nice strategy element to go along with the action-based gameplay. Plan a basic route through each stage before you start tapping so you don't run out of pushes. The orb doesn't always do exactly what you intend, so be ready to adapt your route at any moment. Also be ready to swing the cursor around for a quick save from the bowels of a deep, dark pit.

Oshidama is beautifully designed with appealing visuals and a great soundtrack. The echoing "click" sound when you push the circle gives the impression that you're deep under water, which matches the music quite nicely. Easy to play and an excellent mix of action and strategy all wrapped up in a beautiful media package.

Update: Oshidama Plus and the new Time Attack mode effectively doubles the amount of pleasure you can extract from Oshidama, which is no small accomplishment considering how enjoyable the game is. Oshidama Monthly, while a bit on the difficult side, successfully builds on the formula just enough to make it feel unique without destroying what made the original game so inviting. Excellent work from Game-Pure!

Play Oshidama Plus

Wii users take note: Oshidama is playable through the Internet Channel. There's a hint of choppiness in the orb's movement, though, and making precise pushes can be a challenge. Filling your living room with the game's aural bliss is quite an experience.


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Link Dump Fridays

Harukio

Little polka dot Betty was different from the rest,
She'd tap right foot right, left foot left.
She dances all night with no bother to rest,
Her hair flowing down way past her chest.
Big red stockings, ribbon in her hair,
She couldn't sing, but nobody cared.
Little polka dot Betty was the best of the best,
But on Link Dump Friday she gave it a rest.





So which of these games deserves a JIG review and why didn't Susie tie her shoe? Feel free to answer these questions in the comments below!

  • Tangerine Panic - A quick, funny, and slightly surreal dodge game playable in a short break. I'm telling ya it's better than fruit salad. Really. IT'S BETTER THAN FRUIT SALAD! Can you beat my score of 217? (Thanks Valarauka!)
  • Alter Ego - It's half psychological learning experience, half life simulation, and half text adventure. (Thanks Sean!)
  • BrackenSack - Help Bitey bop the Fatsack with his fuzzy head. Take risks and use skill for fuzzylucious points. Be sure to also check out the Brackenwood movies. (Thanks Teonis!)
  • Phoboris - So, I was relaxing yesterday after a long day of work, and just as usual, I placed my large, expensive, electronic Bumq0ptrox in the middle of the living room floor. Of course I still have no idea what it does, but it was expensive, so it must be worth it. Suddenly, out of nowhere come these creepy little Romba robots set out to destroy my precious Bumqoptrox!!! I quickly made a sandwich, for I was quite hungry, and then preceded to smash the little Rombas to smithereens with my Tron-frisbee-slingy-thing-ohjustplaythegamedarnit.
  • Cupid's Revenge - "Hey Danny, still feeling bitter about Valentines Day?" "NO I'M NOT BITTER GO AWAY I HATE YOU!" "Glad you're feeling fantastic! Check out Cupid's Revenge, it has candy heart shooting madness!" (Thanks Rydash)

Don't forget, there's more TripleJack Poker showdowns taking place tomorrow, Saturday the 17th at 6:00PM EST (GMT-5)! We have several prizes up for grabs and a chance for the amazingly delicious grand prize of a new, fresh off the truck, Nintendo DS Lite!


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Jet SpeedJaredOften I think to myself what I would do if I was ever in a futuristic jet on a futuristic highway chasing tanker trucks, launching missiles at them, and all the while avoiding sentry and assault drones. With Damien Clarke's new game, Jet Speed, I no longer have to ponder this theoretical scenario in my head—I actually get to give it a try!

Let's be honest with ourselves, I think everyone has thought about this at some point—it's perfectly natural. But I've got sour news for you my friends, it isn't so easy. Quite often (every time) my futuristic space felon fantasy results in me and my ship exploding bit by bit all over the screen.

That's because you've got a lot of challenges: not only do you have to dodge traffic as you careen all over the road trying to launch missiles at the escaping trucks, but you also face the powerful sentry / assault drone pair. Sentries will be on the lookout on the road scanning portions of it for your ship. Should be spotted, a powerful attack drone will come at you, launching ten nasty missiles in your direction. Dodge all ten and the drone will foolishly assume you for dead and leave; catch a missile, and you can come hang out with me in futuristic space felon heaven.

Use the arrow keys to move side to side or speed up and slow down. Spacebar will launch your missiles but be careful—ammo is limited and only refilled after destroying a truck (which makes me wonder why I have this insatiable urge to destroy ammo and health trucks when I could just be civil and keep the ammo and health I already have).

After a number of trucks are destroyed, the police will hack into your ship and remove your number of health blocks and ammo available between trucks. There's no way them, trust me I've tried, so you'd best get use to using as little ammo as possible and maybe stop playing "bump the car next to you."

Jet SpeedAnalysis: Jet Speed is fun, a lot of fun. It's a simple but well polished game with fast smooth gameplay and some different challenges to keep it interesting. It also features a high score board so you can see how you compare to the other felons on the road. Don't look for my score though, it's way at the bottom.

Damien also threw in an Assault Drone training mode to help the poor saps like me with slow reflexes. Take advantage of it, the assault drones were the #1 reason I met an early end in the normal game.

Bottom line, check this game out. Not only will you enjoy it, but you'll finally answer that age old question: "What would I do if I was ever in a futuristic highway chase?"

Play Jet Speed

Bonus: Yup, I contacted Damien, of DX Interactive, yet again to get an inside scoop on this and future projects. Says Damien:

"Jet Speed was first built as a test to get particles and lens flares working with flash 6 (which was the newest version when I started this). That was successful and it looked really nice but I could never get the game to feel right. One of the hardest things about making games is getting the right balance between frustration and determination, making it ramp up the difficulty at the right pace, keeping people interested. And to begin with I just couldn't get it. So I left it there unfinished.

"Two years later I re-discovered it and thought I'd finish it. Added the drones, updated the graphics, made the music for it and built some menus. Complete game ready for the internet done in less than two months :) That's a record for me at least."

For my last review of his game, Missile Game 3D, Damien said he was working on a futuristic 3D police chase game. I asked if this was it, he said:

"Well this game can pretty much be the prequel to the 3D police chase game. Imagine Jet Speed being mashed in with the Missile Game 3D, and that's how I'm planning that police chase game to be like. So far I haven't started working on that one yet."

Doh! I was looking forward to that game. How long are you going to make us wait?

Finally, I had to ask why, on the high score board, some people with less trucks were so much higher than other people with more trucks destroyed.

"The scores are worked out by how much time it takes to blow up each truck. So the faster you are, the much higher your score will be. I don't know how some of the people got such high scores... teach me your ways!"

Can any of you get to the top and teach us?


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JohnBLike a ton of bricks falling on your shopping cart filled with bread and eggs, Virtual Villagers 2: The Lost Children has hit the web. The follow-up to the monumentally successful village sim keeps the same formula as the original but adds all new puzzles, events, collectibles and more. Here are just a few of the new features:

  • Explore a new part of the island, the west shore.
  • Dozens of unique collectibles for children to retrieve.
  • Children resemble their parents.
  • Build a sewing hut and purchase new outfits for your villagers.
  • Award your wisest villagers with totems to customize your village.
  • Care for your weak and sick in a tropical hospital.

Head over to Arcade Town to download the demo (currently Windows only). If you want to help us out here at JIG Casual Gameplay, order the full version. Soon we'll feature a full Virtual Villagers 2: The Lost Children review along with some free games to give away.

Catch up on the series with our review of the first Virtual Villagers game.

Note: All comments originally posted here have been moved to the Virtual Villagers 2 review page. Please use that page to post your comments and questions about the game. Thank you!


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (24 votes)
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dancemonkeyStained GlassAs a child I had a little puzzle with pictures of ducks. This wasn't a jigsaw puzzle though, you had to arrange the 9 square tiles so that all of the ducks' heads matched up with their tails and formed one long trail of ducks winding around the picture. You probably remember something similar, or at least I hope you do. Sometimes I have dreams about things and then can't remember if they really happened or not.

Stained Glass over at Gamedesign is a logic puzzle with a similar premise. There is an arrangement of tiles in the right-hand "window", each in four segments, with each segment potentially a different color. You must arrange colored tiles in the left-hand "window" so that all of the colors match. Hitting "Reset" obviously resets the current stage, including giving you a new mix of tiles and colors. When you finish one level you move on to the next, larger level. Sound familiar?

Don't worry! Unlike White Jigsaw, the window doesn't grow endlessly larger and the pieces endlessly smaller in a living, breathing fractal nightmare. Stained Glass has only 5 stages, and once you're done, you're done. It's a beautifully crafted, short and simple game that's perfect for waking up your brain first thing in the morning.

Analysis: I had only one quibble with Stained Glass: when you drag a piece from either window and drop it on another, it would be nice if the pieces would automagically swap places. As it is now if you try to drop a piece into any occupied space it just bounces back to whence it came. I also thought the sounds to be a little too cutesy for my tastes, and they got quite annoying by stage five. I ended up just unplugging my computer speakers and playing some music instead.

Other than that, I found it to be sufficiently interesting but not frustrating in the first four levels. The fifth level was quite challenging, but knowing it was the last kept me from destroying my mouse when I hit "Reset" for the third time. As for strategy... it's a logic puzzle! Just start moving pieces around and see what works!

Play Stained Glass


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Rating: 4.6/5 (52 votes)
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JayNeighborsOn has just today posted a new mini-game to his Eyezblog, and it is a simple little puzzle game called Neighbors.

The game is played by dragging each of the colored-top creatures to one of the 9 container pots such that everyone gets along happy and content. If you put one in the wrong spot, its neighbor(s) won't like it and will have a tizzy fit.

It's a cute game that shows off On's creative animations and charming characters that are so unique and of a style all his own. And while the puzzle game may not keep you occupied for long, it's always a red letter day when a new game pops up over at Eyezmaze.

Play Neighbours


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Link Dump Fridays

Ms.45Whether you're so ensconced in a relationship that your friends refer to you by a portmanteau nickname like "Bennifer" or clocking up so many years of singledom that you have to check to see whether there's anything in your pants, anywhere you surf on the net today is going to have hearts, lollies, cherubs and teddy bears all over it. We here at JIG are more than happy to add to your misery with a roundup of romance, dating and candy-related games.

The HookupThe Hookup - Flash mystery / adventure / gossip game. You're the new girl in town (sorry guys) and you have to dig dirt, make confidantes and win people over to your side. Information is power—the more gossip you can get about people, the more likely you are to score high in an Intense Conversation—a showdown where your success depends almost literally on 'playing your cards right'. I'm not even sure if there's an objective or if you can 'win' the game, but if you enjoy sims-style games, this is an intriguing adventure with unique gameplay and great artwork. While you're there, check out their versions of traditional puzzle games at the-n.com/games.

RNIB Blind DateRNIB Blind Date - Interesting little Flash choose-your-own-adventure game designed to be accessible to sighted and non-sighted players alike. You have a choice of dates: "Tara, a sophisticated woman" or "Geoff, an Elvis impersonator." At each point of the date you choose from three options, and you win if the date ends successfully, with your date getting smoochy. It's a simple little game without a huge amount of options, but it shows the potential for adventure and point-and-click games to be accessible to a wide audience. It's also surprisingly difficult to win.

Ren'ai Games - According to Rio's site, a ren'ai game is a game or interactive novel with a romantic theme. These games are primarly download only, and gameplay is usually of the choose-your-own-adventure style, although some are more obviously novels with limited interactivity. Rio has written several games with intriguing storylines and multiple outcomes (both good and bad). JIGsterThe game I played was Amgine Park, in which you play Gen, a single teenager whose friend is determined to get her a boyfriend. One day while out in the park, Gen meets a new boy in town whose eyes make her melt. Could this be the start of something beautiful? These games are short to play, but it's lots of fun trying to get all the endings. If you like the idea of interactive novels but think you can do better than the games offered here, there are tips for creating your own ren'ai games.

Heart AttackAnd if it's simple arcade fun you're after, don't forget about the previously reviewed Heart Attack from the fine Brits at Preloaded. It's an adorable little shooter filled with charming graphics, earth shattering explosions, and exquisite particle effects.

And that's a little something for everyone to occupy your heart-filled Valentine's day. =)


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(0 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayOne With EverythingAbout a year and a half ago we posted a logic puzzle published by Coudal Partners, the people behind The Show and the ones responsible for recording the recent live tours of both the Pixies and Dead Can Dance.

Well, they have just published a new logic puzzle, One With Everything, and this one will surely give your brain a tickle. Michele Seiler has created a puzzle that combines a hot dog eating contest with imaginary porn-star names. The names are not like you might imagine—figuring out your own name involves combining the name of your first pet with the name of the street you first lived on. Even though it's pretty silly stuff, it's probably not the best puzzle for the kids.

There is, of course, a contest associated with this puzzle and fabulous prizes will be given away to 4 lucky wieners. Visit the puzzle page for details on all the prizes.

But hurry, you must solve the puzzle and send in your answers to the Coudal Partners website by Friday, February 23rd. (The deadline on the site actually reads Friday, February 24th, but the 24th is Saturday, not Friday.)

Play One With Everything

If you love these sort of logic puzzles, be sure to check out Puzzlers Paradise, a website that will surely keep your logic in order for a long, long time. (And it's absolutely free from mature subject matter.)


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Rating: 4.5/5 (22 votes)
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roomz-j.jpgJohnBThe Roomz is a point-and-click game with similarities to online riddle games along the lines of Ouverture Facile and God Tower. One key difference is that The Roomz has a slight adventure flavor to it and, as a result, is a bit more interactive. Each room has a locked door and keypad. You must use clues inside the room to discover the password to get out. Use the magnifying glass to take an up-close peek at the scenery and use the cursor to move some of the objects around. You never know where the next hint is lurking.

Puzzles in The Roomz can be multi-faceted thanks to the "HSsystem" box at the bottom of the screen. Piecing together clues may lead you to a certain word or phrase. Type something into the box and click "Go". If you entered the right thing, a piece of paper will appear in your inventory. Read it for a clue on how to get the exit password.

The creators, Stachu and Ralfi, have added new rooms to the game fairly often and the current count is about 25. There's also a handy forum in case you get stuck (and you will). It's also a really good idea to write down solutions to each room you solve, as the QuickPass feature will let you jump to the last room you completed if you have the code.

Analysis: The Roomz is a great take on the familiar online riddle genre. The authors made good use of Flash to take it to a new level in terms of media and presentation. Interactive objects, cinema-style cutscenes, and short spurts of music make it a more rewarding experience. I also enjoyed using the magnifying lens to scope out the scenery, although in some rooms it turned into a straight-up pixel hunt.

For a satisfying point-and-click riddle game with a bit of style, The Roomz won't disappoint.

Play The Roomz

Cheers to Eileen and Ralfi102 for sending this one in!


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JaySpeed ClusterOver the years I have often said that it's either feast or famine when trying to find quality games to review. We are currently in one of those feasting periods, so roll-up your sleeves, it's time to eat. I sure hope you're hungry.

SpeedCluster, by Game-Pure, is an arcade Flash game that is remarkably easy to play: just drag cards from along the bottom row onto one of the four blue markers at the base of each column where random cards will fall. The cards you drag must be either one higher or one lower in value than the one that is falling. This forms a combo, and you earn points for additional cards that you add to a combo before it disappears out of play. You also earn time for creating combos; precious time with which to continue playing. The game ends when you run out of time.

Card values are taken from a standard deck of playing cards, 2 through 10, J, Q, K, and A. The "A" cards may be placed on top of either a 2 or a K. It's as simple as that.

What's not so simple to understand is the scoring structure the developer has created for the game, which seems to be based upon earning "C.P.". All of the points you earn during a game, along with any bonuses for maximum combos, number of cards, etc, are converted into C.P. which is automatically accumulated and saved for you each time you play. You level-up each time your C.P. reaches the next goal visible in the lower right corner of the title screen. What effect, if any, those levels have on gameplay is still unknown to me.

Analysis: SpeedCluster is a beautifully designed Flash game: simple and elegant, and with impeccable presentation. The visuals are very appealing, the soundtrack equally so, and the gameplay is highly addictive. This game succeeds on many levels.

What I'm finding hard to swallow is the choice of drag and drop for the core mechanic. Yes, it probably seems to be the obvious choice to make here, but when actually playing the game the rapid and repetitive motion becomes quite tiresome. And, on slower computers with performance issues, the drag-drop mechanic may even be too sluggish for the game to be playable. Part of the reason for this is the use of a custom cursor, which always seems to cause performance issues in the Flash games I've seen them used in, and I'm not convinced the larger cursor is really necessary for this game. Ideally, the game would benefit from a touch-screen interface, such as on the Nintendo DS.

Minor gripes aside, if your computer can handle it, this is definitely an addictive little game that will find you coming back to it again and again.

Play Speed Cluster

If you like Speed Cluster, be sure to check out the updated version, Speed Cluster 2!!

(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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zxoChilly Beach Beach HuntIsn't it such a turn-off when a game takes itself too seriously? Well, you won't have to worry about that when you play Chilly Beach Beach Hunt from the guys at ilaugh.com, the self-proclaimed "second sweetest comedy portal on earth." (Right after ZomboCom, I bet.)

You are a detective for the Canadian government, trying to discover the whereabouts of a stolen hockey trophy. Chilly Beach is a tiny backwater town with all the usual characters: the liquor store owner, the hippie, the policeman, the guy who runs the diner, and oh yeah, a polar bear who likes tea. When you start questioning people, you'll quickly discover that something much more sinister is going on. At each location, you have three options: look, talk, and take. Select one of these options and click on various items and people around the screen. It's OK to try to do everything to every possible item; you can't screw up. In fact, you can get some pretty entertaining responses by clicking on different things. Use and trade objects to get new objects, and to discover clues to what is really going on in Chilly Beach. When looking through your inventory, you can zoom in on each item to find out more about it—you'll get most of your clues this way.

Analysis: Chilly Beach Beach Hunt is very reminiscent, and probably inspired by, the Monkey Island series of games. Like Monkey Island, its strength is the humorous dialogue, not only between characters, but the responses you get when, say, you try to take the police constable. However, CBBH (if I may call it that) goes a step farther by poking fun at games like itself. For example, when you try to take an object you don't need, you get responses like "You're surprised to find that it's really just a hologram. Yeah, that's it. 'Hologram'."

Writing aside, the gameplay is nothing novel. You collect items, you use items. It's usually painfully obvious where to use the items you receive, so the game goes by pretty quickly - a half-hour seems about right. Also, even though I usually turn the music off on games that allow it, there desperately needs to be some sound—either effects when you click on things, or a little intro music when you enter someplace new; just something!

Nevertheless, the art is well-done and the characters are, well, colorful to say the least. All-in-all a decent way to spend a half-hour.

Play Chilly Beach Beach Hunt

Note that while the game itself is pretty kid-safe (PG), the rest of ilaugh.com is not.

Cheers to Mike and Esmond for submitting this one. =)


(17 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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towermoai.gifJohnBTower of Moai is a quirky flash game from Takahiro Miyazawa of team SKT, the creators of Nest of Moai. With simple gameplay and an almost frantic feel, Tower of Moai is as entertaining as it is... weird. The goal is to save scrambling moai statues stranded on top of a wobbly tower. As the moai statues move the tower bends with their weight. Use the mouse to guide the platform and try to keep it beneath the swinging ladder.

As if dancing moai and a wobbling tower weren't enough, from time to time huge objects will fall from the sky and crash the party. Moai can be squashed and the tower will swing wildly until it dumps the object.

Both Tower of Moai and Nest of Moai are short games that are simple and easy to play. Both also have an outlandish sense of humor with whimsical background music and random events that seem so out of place they're funny. Giant crab, anyone? Although the game is in Japanese, all you need to know to play is to move the mouse to swing the tower and rescue 100 moai in 90 seconds to continue to the next stage. A great five minute game you'll play over and over again.

Play Tower of Moai


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Rating: 4.3/5 (27 votes)
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oquarto.gifJohnBO Quarto (Portugese for 'the room') is a great looking point-and-click game made by Andres Calil of Me Pixa. Once again you are trapped in a room and must search the area for items to help you escape. Navigate using the arrows at the bottom of the screen and click to examine objects. Look everywhere for items — underneath, behind and inside of everything. When you start collecting a few objects you can begin to combine them and piece together some puzzles. The item interface can be a bit clunky, but it's workable. Click an object in your inventory followed by the "eye" icon to take a closer look. If you want to use an item in conjunction with the one you're viewing, click that item, then click the screen.

Analysis: The visual presentation of O Quarto was what originally drew me to the game. It has a very quiet, interactive painting feel to it. The visual cues and sound it plays when you discover an item is strangely rewarding. O Quarto also has a good sense of humor, though be warned that there are a few instances of words not quite safe for children.

As far as the puzzles go, O Quarto doesn't go to the extreme and hide things in completely undiscoverable places. Yes, you do have to do a bit of clicking, but for the most part you'll be able to find items fairly easily. Not too difficult but challenging enough to make it just right. When I first discovered the game I brought the link into our IRC chatroom for help. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Valarauka and Harukio, we managed to complete the game without any loss of sanity and/or limbs.

Great visual style, good puzzles and the possibility of a sequel, O Quarto is a worthy room escape game to spend your time on.

Play O Quarto

Looking for a walkthrough? Cheers to Wolfgang for posting the... O Quarto walkthrough.

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Rating: 4.6/5 (97 votes)
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pocoparco.jpgJohnBPoco Parco is an extraordinarily quirky Japanese title from Gungho Games that works much like the Grow series of games. Yes, you may get excited now. Click the cute little icons at the bottom of the screen to start an event. The longer an item is active, the more it will evolve as the game progresses. The order in which you click determines how the game plays out. For example, some things won't be able to level up without another object present. The fun and exploration comes from trying things in a different order just to see what happens. It's entertaining even when you don't find the "right" order.

Unlike the Grow games, the items and what they do on-screen isn't immediately obvious. The far-left item causes a mole to hop out of the ground, while the next one makes a crystal grow on the side of the island. One irresistibly adorable inclusion to the game is the ability to play with the objects that appear on the screen. Try rolling the cursor over the mushrooms or clicking on the bunny rabbit. You can even play with the characters on the title screen!

A truly excellent tribute to the Grow series that manages to stand on its own with a fun presentation and a few bells and whistles.

Play Poco Parco

And just because you know you want more: Grow, Grow Cube, Grow RPG, other Grow clones.


| Comments (46) | Views (4)

Link Dump Fridays

JohnBFlipping through my Latin dictionary, I came across a fun new word: fulgidus. It means flashing or shining. That entertained me for a moment, then I decided I might be hungry and considered making a sandwich. Did ancient Romans eat sandwiches? If so, what did they call them? The dictionary is no help. I really hope they did, because they're quite delicious.

And what exactly does all of this have to do with this Friday's Link Dump? Not one single thing. But now that you've learned a Latin word and have contemplated what kind of sandwich I wanted to make, you've earned a few good games to ease your troubled mind.

  • Swords and Sandals - What little kid hasn't dreamed of donning purple skin and a red beard and entering the arena as a gladiator? I know Harukio has. Probably Jay, too. Customize your character, buy a few items and jump into the Amphitheatrum Flavium-like ring to fight opponents with an easy click interface. Gain gold, increase your stats, keep winning. Technically this is a downloadable game, but there's an online demo in Flash, so I get to bend the rules. Oh, and the music? Priceless. (Submitted by Larkin, Ali, rockstar and Nick)
  • Something Amiss: Chapter 1 - A good-looking room escape, adventure game created to accompany a novel of the same name. You play a woman who wakes up from "routine" (note the quotation marks that denote suspicion) MRI scan to find the lab doors locked and the doctors missing. Something is most certainly amiss.

    Note: The Something Amiss servers have been down due to a high volume of traffic.

  • Vorticube - It's 3D! OMG! Use a combination of keys to move a bouncing ball in a 3D box-like world. Then focus on smashing stuff as best you can. Takes some time to get used to, but once you do, BAM, it's fun. Just one question: why isn't it called "Smashing Boxes 3D"?
  • Did you know you can find us easily with Google (en) by typing only "jay" and hitting the "I'm feeling lucky" button? You didn't? Well now you do. Although it may not presently work in all languages, we're working towards global domination. RAWR!
  • Draw Play 2 - It's just like the original Draw Play, but with a number at the end! The sequel to the "make your own platforms if you want to play a platformer game" adds a Hard mode along with a few bells and whistles. Plus, there's monkeys. Wait, spikes, I meant to say spikes. (Submitted by Ced, Terrorbyte, and maXro)
  • FoolYoo - Hooray for samurai! Fend off attacking enemies by dicing them up with your sword (cursor). In-between rounds, follow the old man's instructions and chop vegetables for a delicious soup. Mmm. Soup. Goes well with sandwiches. Although the game is in Japanese, you don't need to know the language to play. It would be helpful to be able to recognize a few kanji number symbols for the veggie chopping, though. (Submitted by Keith)

Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you thought of these games!

And don't forget about our weekly poker nights! This week's tournaments begin at 3PM Eastern (GMT-5:00) (Saturday). Grand prize drawing in May, that includes all of our poker tournment champions, is for a Nintendo DS! =)


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayPolarityBorrowing a page from the book of Ikaruga, the absurdly talented developers of Stimunation Games have just released this stunning Flash shooter that will make your jaw drop and your eyes water from ogling the screen for hours.

Polarity is a top-down shmup with enemies of two polarity types: red and blue. You control a ship that can switch between these two polarities for both offensive and defensive advantages. Fire at enemies of the opposite color for an offensive advantage since opposite color enemies will take more damage from each shot. When fired upon, match the polarity (same color) of the incoming shots to have your shield absorb them and leave you unharmed.

Control the ship using the arrow keys, or with the [W],[A],[S],[D] keys. Fire your weapon by pressing [space]. Switch polarity by pressing [B].

The game contains lots of enemies and boss fights, too. Collect coins for points, and the occasional power-up to temporarily upgrade your weapons or shields. You begin with 3 lives and 3 continues. Receive an extra life for every 100,000 points you earn.

Analysis: Just two words: absolutely gorgeous. The graphics in the game were created from 3D modeling programs, rendered and then imported into Flash and optimized. As pretty as it is, though, some of the background tiles actually look like tiles, but that's a relatively minor complaint. The frame rate is unbelievably smooth considering the detail of the art and the on-screen action happening all at once, though your mileage may vary. This is one amazing Flash game engine!

The only thing I don't care much for is the keyboard controls. I have a difficult time perfecting the polarity switching with my fingers on the keyboard, but that's just me. This game feels like a console game and it would certainly benefit from the use of a console controller. Of course anyone can use a program like JoyToKey or other similar program that allows you to map keyboard keys to gamepad buttons.

Polarity was commissioned for Wrigley's Candystand website and is, in fact, an advergame for Eclipse gum. But the advertising is done tastefully and it integrates well into the space theme of the game. The advertising is not startling, but it is rather effective. The product placement is just enough to get you well acquainted with the Eclipse logo for your next shopping trip. Overall, exceptional in almost every way. More stimulating stuff from Stimunation!

Play Polarity

Cheers to Rydash for helping with the review. =)


| Comments (14) | Views (1)

RoomsRooms updateKim JongHwa has just uploaded an update (v1.25) to his captivating puzzle game, Rooms. This latest update fixes the "bus bug" in level 13 once and for all, and it also includes a new password feature that allows you to start the game from any previously completed level. JongHwa has provided directions for using the password feature.

Links contained in our review from last week now point to the latest version. Cheers, JongHwa! =)

Note: if playing the browser-based Web version, be sure to empty your browser cache before reloading the game if you had already tried playing any previous version.


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Rating: 4.5/5 (249 votes)
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NoahBubble Islands2007 IGF finalist Bubble Islands is a new falling-object puzzle game from Dot-Invasion, the talented crew behind the previously reviewed Meteor Busters. Flash-based and completely free, Bubble Islands is fun, cute and loaded with enough content to rival similar commercial games.

Somewhat of a cross between Tetris and Puzzle Bobble, the goal is to clear as many bubbles as possible. Position your character with the left and right arrow keys and drop your pair of bubbles by pressing space. Pressing space again will swap the positions of your falling bubbles. Linking 4 or more bubbles of a single color will cause them to explode, causing everything stacked above them to fall and creating plenty of opportunities for massive combos. Bubble IslandsCertain bubbles have unique effects; Bomb Bubbles explode after dropping, destroying any bubbles within range, and Rainbow Bubbles will act as any color, linking with any available bubbles. Finally, if your opponent combos several sets of bubbles, the irritating gray Parasite Bubbles will drop onto your screen. These can not be linked with any other bubbles, but you can crack it open if you clear a bubble that is touching it, revealing another bubble in its place.

With several different play modes and tons of secrets, Bubble Island has a lot to offer. An integrated save feature stores your progress from session to session (as Marmotte pointed out in the comments), enhancing the appeal of all the unlockables. Unfortunately, the two player mode isn't available yet. Still, Dot-Invasion is as professional as ever, and Bubble Islands has an abundance of great features, characters, animation and sound effects, the whole package!

Play Bubble Islands


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Rating: 4.8/5 (81 votes)
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ShawnQuadradiusQuadradius is an online, multiplayer, turn-based Flash game that takes the skeleton of the board game, checkers, and pumps it up with a massive list of power-ups and new strategies. In fact, calling it checkers is an oversimplification that does not do it much justice.

The objective of Quadradius is to eliminate all of your opponent's pieces by jumping on top of them with your own. Basic movement in the game is restricted to one space forward or back, right or left; but this is where the simplicity ends, since power-ups can be used to get around that limitation.

As you play power-ups are randomly placed on the board at set intervals as small metallic domes. To capture a power-up simply move one of your pieces onto the same space as one. Power-ups stay with the piece that collects it, and you may collect multiple power-ups with a single piece.

Power-ups may only be used before moving a piece during your turn, and you may use any number of them. At first, power-ups like 'move diagonal' and 'move again' might seem like standard fare, but if you take a look at the game FAQ you will see the list is pretty extensive allowing for many combo possibilities. Some of the more advanced power-ups at your disposal: recruit opposing pieces, destroy opposing pieces, drop bombs, steal opponent's powers, learn copies of your own powers, and so on. Some act on entire rows, columns, or the spaces around a piece (radial), and some can even be used to raise or lower the tiles of the board to restrict movement and/or protect pieces.

Players continue taking turns until one player has captured all opponent pieces.

QuadradiusQuadradius is free to play for anyone that logs on, but you will be limited to guest status and be unable to set up any custom options for the game. Full access to Quadradius is offered through subscription plans—you can try it out for a month, a few months, or a year.

Analysis: The graphics in Quadradius are very professional looking and suit the game well. A lot of the power-ups in the game affect the appearance of the pieces and the tiles on the board, so a lot of time was spent to ensure that they not only look nice, but can be easily distinguished from other pieces by the powers they have activated (and combined, for that matter). I only have one minor complaint with the graphics—when playing a custom game with lots of pieces, the frame rate can slow down sometimes due to the massive effect that certain power-ups have on areas of the board. When someone uses a scramble column and it affects three different columns with twenty pieces each, it can be a long wait for everything to take effect.

Quadradius is a deep strategy game that is a lot of fun to play and guarantees a unique game play experience each time. As balanced as the game is there is a small element of randomness to it. Random is ok, but in some cases the random factor can throw a game off too much. Opponents can receive an unfair amount of power-ups sometimes, even when they're clearly at an advantage. Also, with the combination of certain power-ups you can clear off entire sections of the board in a single turn. Even then comebacks are possible, so it's always any one's game.

In terms of the pay-to-play model, if you're going to pay ten bucks for a yearly account, you might as well just pay fifteen for a lifetime membership. I rarely ever decide to subscribe to an online game, but Quadradius convinced me pretty fast. With a paid account you can register a username and your win/loss stats will be tracked and ranked. You can also set up custom games and change options such as board size, squadron size, squadron color, and time limits. You will even be eligible to use new power-ups, for members only, introduced on the first Tuesday of every month. Cool stuff.

The power-up scenarios and combinations I've mentioned so far hardly scratch the surface of what can occur in this game, so head over to the site and try it out for yourself. Quadradius is still a very small project run by a couple of college guys—so if you like it, go ahead and toss some money their way and enjoy the benefit of bragging rights and unlimited replay value.

Play Quadradius


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JayTriple JackWe had another great poker night on Saturday, and I have another set of winners to report. The tournaments were a lot smoother this week thanks to the handy registration form I threw together for our weekly event. Players sign-up by entering their Triplejack username and a special code we give out just before the tournaments begin, and then a table number is assigned. We'll do it just like this again on Saturday, and this week's tournaments will begin promptly at 3PM Eastern (GMT-5:00).

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: gevonden_sok
  • Qualifier #2 winner: SlaX0r
  • Qualifier #3 winner: supersasha
  • Qualifier #4 winner: Hapk
  • Qualifier #5 winner: mel2
  • Qualifier #6 winner: melman2002
  • Qualifier #7 winner: Valarauka
  • Qualifier #8 winner: wisegranda
  • Qualifier #9 winner: cascader
  • Qualifier #10 winner: spun00
  • Qualifier #11 winner: Akisuzu

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 that were split among the top 5 finishers:

vvbanner.jpg

  • (5) FREE Virtual Villagers games from Last Day of Work—nominated for a Best of 2006 award 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

And the lucky five prize-winners are:

    • 5th place: supersasha
    • 4th place: Valarauka
    • 3rd place: mel2
    • 2nd place: Wisegranda
Champion of Tournaments #4: Melman2002!

Nintendo DS LiteSince Melman2002 was already one of our previous Champions of Tournaments, we are giving the second place finisher, Wisegranda, an entry into our Grand Prize drawing for a brand new Nintendo DS Lite! Drawing to be held on Saturday, May 26, 2007.

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 working with the registration form making this week's tournaments the best ones yet!

A big shout out to Carla of Last Day of Work for generously providing copies of the remarkable Virtual Villagers game for prizes, and to the very kind folks at Triplejack for again sponsoring their part of the prize package for the tournament.


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Rating: 4.1/5 (38 votes)
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acastle.jpgJohnBCastle is a short point-and-click game from the Japanese website Usagi no Sippo (Rabbit's Tail). It takes a page from the Grow book of Flash design and lets you create a scene by clicking various objects on the screen, each time causing something new and interesting to happen. As you might have guessed, the overall goal is to raise the castle, but there are a number of small things that happen just for fun.

Castle isn't a game in the strictest sense. You really don't have much control over what happens other than finding the next hotspot. It's sort of like a cross between a web toy and a game. Usually it's fairly obvious where to click next, but a few times you'll have to go hunting for places to click. Nothing our friend the [tab] key can't help with.

The greatest part of the game is all the strange things that happen for no reason at all. Sheep that fall into holes? Dancing mushrooms? Lamp posts outside of a medieval castle? All of these things along with Castle's great visual design make it worth a few minutes of relaxed play time.

Play Castle

Note: To play, choose "Click Start" and then click the crown at the top of the screen.

Cheers to Ttf for sending this one in!


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Experimental Gameplay CompetitionA quick update to mention that the Experimental Gameplay Project has announced the theme of its new competition running now through February 19th. And the theme is "attraction" in honor of Valentine's Day, coming soon to a sweetheart near you.

Make a great game prototype, get an internship at Electronic Arts. The Experimental Gameplay Competition is a battle to seek out top undiscovered creative talent and give them a chance to rock the game industry. So, don't delay, grab your favorite rapid prototyping platform and get busy!

Flash Game Design Competition #2And now would be a good time to mention that there are just 18 days left until the deadline (February 23rd) for our very own Flash Game Design Competition. Lots of great prizes up for grabs and all we are asking for is a simple puzzle game to wow us with your creative brilliance. Be sure to check out all the details and get to work. There's still plenty of time to throw something together!

With all these great game development opportunities floating around, it's a great time to get your game design on! =)


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (183) | Views (79)

JayTomb of the MummyHere are a couple of devious point-and-click puzzle games by Alessandro Cima and available on the CandleLightStories website. The first was created as a Halloween treat, and now a second puzzle game in the series has been released. So far, according to the website, not a single person has solved it. This sounds like a challenge the JIG community can come together on and crack in no time.

Before jumping right into the unsolved mystery, however, puzzle solvers may first want to take a look at the original, Tomb of the Mummy, to get an idea of what kind of trickery the author is capable of.

In this puzzle, the objective is simply to release the mummy from its tomb. Not a simple task by any means since audible clues and timing are necessary to accomplish the goal. The puzzle also comes with a warning that it may not be suitable for younger children nor people with any health conditions that may be affected by a sudden scare. Yes, it ends with the mummy jumping out at you, but don't let that stop you from trying to solve the puzzle, as there is nothing scary about that and it is a well-designed puzzle. If you do scare easily, once the door is opened, simply look away from the screen.

Tomb of the MummySeveral of us banded together in our IRC chatroom earlier today and we were able to tackle the first one without too much trouble. The second puzzle, however, we have been unable to solve, so far. You are given this clue: You are cursed. You can move but one finger. To break free, make the golden bird. And then inside the game help continues: With bottles, words, and water from the Nile, make something dark. Set it boiling. Then find the emerald eye.

Analysis: High production values makes this series of puzzles excellent, with both audio visual elements being of commercial quality. We will have to keep watch of any other offerings to come from the CandleLightStories site. Unfortunately, these are not the most accessible of games, since at least the first puzzle mentions that listening to game audio is required to solve it, and there is one part that depends on color recognition as well. However, it may be possible to use only visual cues without audio, but there are important clues that are provided within the mummy's dialog as he pleads with you to free him. Perhaps someone will offer those up in the comments in a spoiler.

What I enjoyed most about these puzzles was the fact that they were unlike most point-and-click games I have played. They force you to think differently and to be very, very observant. Especially puzzle #2, a game that can be solved using two buttons only. Maddening, yes, but also brilliant and beautiful. An elegant mix of puzzle and panache.

When playing through these puzzles I couldn't help but think that these are exactly the kind of "simple puzzle game" we are looking for in our second Flash game design competition: Simple, beautiful, and elegantly designed. And devious. Did I mention that you will have to be very resourceful in your pursuit of the solution?

Play Tomb of the Mummy

Play Tomb of the Mummy 2

Cheers to William for suggesting the games. =)

Update: Thanks to a bunch of us all playing together in our IRC chatroom, both puzzles have been solved! Cheers to Thomas for getting us over the "1/3" hurdle of the first one, and for being the first from this site to solve it. And many thanks to NohWoman, Valarauka, W00tMa5ter, Vertigon, and Larry for pooling our collective room-jostling skills and helping to release the curse of the second puzzle! For the record, NohWoman was actually the first to solve that one.

However, at the very end, after the curse is released, you are given this clue:

"Behind this puzzle lies a single word. Can you guess what word it is?"

None of us could guess the word. Can you?

Update #2: Congratulations to SimJai for being first to decipher the word of the puzzle! =)


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Rating: 4.9/5 (20 votes)
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JaycdxRecall back in September when we first reviewed CDX, an excellent new point-and-click adventure from Preloaded and the BBC that weaves a story of intrigue using Flash video segments with live actors.

If you are located outside the UK and wish to play this fantastic piece
of work, you may now access the game from Preloaded's CDX website.

Play CDX

If you live inside the UK, please continue to access the game from the BBC's CDX website.


| Comments (8) | Views (11)

flOw

JohnBOne of the most innovative casual games of 2006, flOw, is breathtaking both as a game and as a work of art. The concept, the environment, the gameplay, and of course the music all come together to create an atmosphere that feels immeasurably deep to the senses. I recently had the chance to speak with Austin Wintory, the musical mastermind behind flOw, and got to take a behind-the-scenes peek at the creative process underlying the sounds in the game. Austin is a prolific composer who has worked on a number of great projects, including flOw and the upcoming PS3 version of the game.

Be sure to check out Austin's website for a complete biography and tons of music samples. And for more info about the game, see our review of flOw.


wintory.jpgHow did you get involved in the flOw project?

Back in the spring of '06 I got in touch with Jenova Chen, who was at the time finishing up his MFA at USC. He instantly struck me as someone with incredible vision for the gaming experience. FlOw was to be his thesis, based on his own research on the psychology of gaming. He asked what I envisioned for the game, so of course I was eager to play for him all my orchestral demos. He liked them, but from the very beginning was saying, "this is going to be a totally different aural experience, and I need a composer who can really create a hybrid of music and sound design." I had never done anything like that, so it was a great collaborative experience finding the sound of the game.


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JayisgamesVirtual VillagersThe poker tables in our private Triplejack lounge will open up early today with tournaments beginning at Noon, 12:00PM (GMT-5:00). 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!

Prizes up for grabs this week: Virtual Villagers games(!) from the kind folks at Last Day of Work, one month of Triplejack Power Player, one deck of Triplejack playing cards, and one JIG Casual Gameplay t-shirt. But, of course, that's not all. The champion of tournaments will be entered into a drawing for a fabulous grand prize: a Nintendo DS Lite! Drawing to be held Saturday, May 26, 2007.

To help things run more smoothly this week we will be requiring that you register for one of the qualifying tournaments by using the form on the registration page. But registration won't open until just before the tournaments start, so be on hand at Noon in our private Triplejack lounge to get this week's code that you will need to register. Update: the code is virtualvillagers

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


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Rating: 4.8/5 (47 votes)
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NoahClimate ChallengeDeveloped by Red Redemption and funded by the BBC, the Flash-based Climate Challenge is a thoroughly researched, compelling resource-management sim. As the "President of the European Nations" you must radically reduce your people's carbon emissions over the course of a century, while remaining popular enough to stay in office.

Sound dry? It's not. Climate Change is as fast-paced and challenging as it is thought-provoking and open-ended, and the excellent tutorial and in-game help make picking it up a breeze. The game lasts ten turns, each spanning a decade between 2000 and 2100. A turn consists of selecting up to 5 policy cards, each of which will use up or add certain resources; 'Import Food', for instance, will add food but cost euros and energy while emitting CO2. 'Require Energy Efficient Appliances' will cost euros but add energy and reduce CO2. Pursuing certain policies can unlock further cards such as space travel or planting large forest growth. As in Will Wright's Sim City, disasters can strike, draining your resources unexpectedly and forcing you to choose between a very expensive, unpopular policy or an expensive, very unpopular policy.

Periodically, you will meet with other world leaders at the Climate Change Summit and vote on setting new global emissions limits. If they don't feel that Europe is doing enough, they will be less inclined to reduce their own emissions and you will have to subsidize them, an expensive way to buy votes. Your long-term goal is to reduce your CO2 emissions to the target levels agreed upon by the global community, but you must also keep your electorate happy. Every policy has an approval rating and, if enough citizens are unhappy with your performance, you will be booted from office, ending the game. Between turns, a newspaper page provides feedback on your progress and public opinion, another appealing Sim City reference.

Climate Change is without a doubt one of the most successful serious games I've come across yet. While obviously not a crash course on the hard science behind climate change, Red Redemption has certainly met their stated goals, being to:

  • give an understanding of some of the causes of climate change, particularly those related to carbon dioxide emissions.
  • give players an awareness of some of the policy options available to governments.
  • give a sense of the challenges facing international climate change negotiators.

Climate Change accomplishes all of the above while remaining sufficiently game-like to be fun and avoiding the pitfalls of over-simplification, condescension and boredom that plague many similar efforts.

Play Climate Challenge

A wealth of additional information is available here for those interested in digging a little deeper into the science behind the game, and an interview with Red Redemption has recently been published over at Gamasutra.


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (21 votes)
| Comments (17) | Views (21)

castlesmasher.jpgJohnBCastle Smasher is a new flash game by Donut Games where your goal is to destroy a castle using nothing more than a catapult. Choose your trajectory by moving the cursor, then hold the left mouse button to start the power meter. Release, watch the catapult fling stones, then grin maniacally as the enemy fort crumbles to the ground. Think of it as a simplified and reversed version of BowMaster Prelude.

Castle Smasher is short and simple but it offers a nice incentive to continue playing: upgrades. After you raze a castle you get to choose one of three bonuses for the upcoming stage: more guards, bouncier stones, or an additional stone at the beginning of the level. Guards help fend off enemy soldiers who come your way after you break open the gate, while bouncier stones can help you get more destruction per toss.

The challenge level is just about right for a casual flash game, so expect to fall flat on your face a few times before getting the hang of the gameplay. For some reason the ball bouncing physics seem to favor right-bounces, so keep that in mind when planning your next stone fling. A good strategy is to take out the far parts of the castle first and save the closer stuff for the end. Aim for the towers and try to get several good smashes out of each stone toss.

Pull out your best knight-related jokes (Why did every castle have a bank with an automatic teller? For making knight deposits.), it's time to do some castle smashing.

Play Castle Smasher


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (59 votes)
| Comments (117) | Views (35)

JayRooms of HandMade GameOne of this year's Independent Games Festival Student Showcase winners, Rooms by HandMadeGame is a clever mix of point-and-click and puzzle elements that together create an engaging game play experience. One word of caution: the game files are huge and may require considerable time to load.

Kim JongHwa—of Seoul, South Korea—is the brilliant young mind behind this game set in a mysterious mansion with rooms that move and that contain magical items to help you make your way through. Using both mouse and keyboard, use the items you find and slide the rooms into the correct configuration to make your escape.

The arrow keys on the keyboard are used to navigate your in-game avatar through each room, up and down ladders, and through doors. Use the mouse to click on items to activate or to pick them up. Once picked up, press and hold the mouse button on the avatar to bring up an inventory select control. To physically move the room you are currently in, press and hold the mouse button anywhere on the room itself to bring up a room navigation control, and then select the desired direction.

Along the way you will find newspapers lying about. These contain helpful information about new elements of the game being introduced, so it's a good idea to take a look once you pick them up.

If you like Rooms, be sure to check out the new version Rooms: The Main Building.

As you complete each level, a puzzle piece in the shape of the final room configuration for that level is added to a picture comprised of shapes from all of the levels in the game. The indicator on the left (just above the reset switch) shows how many rooms are in the correct position for the level. You'll need to have each level in the correct configuration to fill-in the meta puzzle completely.

Analysis: Rooms is a delightful game with spectacular presentation and art direction. The video animation of the avatar is very nicely done, and the seamless movement between rooms as well as the movement of the rooms themselves provides for a decent level of immersion. The background soundtrack fits the theme of the game well, and the sound effects are spot on. It's a rare beauty of a Flash game without a doubt.

The downside to this wonderful experience is that the game files are huge and take a long time to load: 15MB for the compressed ("compact") version, and 30MB for the high quality version. JongHwa has made the files available for download to your computer, or you can use the links provided above to load the compact version into your favorite browser. JongHwa is allowing us to host the game on one of our media servers to make it more easily available to the JIG community. If you wish to view the high quality version in your browser, please first check your browser's disk cache settings since it may be insufficient to hold the entire file. Setting it to 100MB for temporary Internet files is recommended, otherwise the browser will need to download the file each time you play (please be considerate to our bandwidth). Here's a link to the browser-based high quality version.

Congratulations to JongHwa and the entire HandMadeGame team for this achievement. =)

Play Rooms(Be prepared for a long load time—33MB—and for a subsequent long delay before the game begins. Have patience and the game will appear.)

WindowsWindows:
Download the free high quality version
Download the free compact version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the free high quality version
Download the free compact version

LinuxLinux:
Download the free high quality version
Download the free compact version

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