May 2007 Archives


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Rating: 3.8/5 (26 votes)
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zxoLucky CoinsLucky Coins, the latest release from Donut Games, is a quick and chaotic game reminiscent of pinball or pachinko. The goal is simple: rack up as many points as possible by collecting stars, horseshoes, clovers and sevens, as well as hitting bumpers and moving platforms.

There are three levels, each with its own arrangement of items. To play, simply click the mouse to drop your lucky coin; from there, you must watch helplessly as the coin caroms around the level, propelled by bumpers of various sizes. However, there are magnets strategically placed around the level which will grab the coin as it passes, allowing you to redirect it in the direction of your choice—just click again when the line is pointing in your desired direction.

An alternate challenge is to collect as few points as possible, something that is deceptively difficult. For example, my first attempt at this netted 6732 points, but none of my future tries obtained under 9000.

Analysis: On your first play through Lucky Coins, you might be tempted to write it off for being too dependent on luck. However, once you play a few more games (they go by in a snap) and start to become familiar with the layouts of each level, you'll come to realize that the magnets are placed in positions that make it possible to climb back up and collect a lot of points that you may have missed. Although I won't go so far as to say that the game relies heavily on skill, you will certainly not achieve a high score through pure chance. Still, it's frustrating when your coin drops neatly past a bunch of magnets and drops into a finish slot with no chance to go back and clean up what you missed, something that happens occasionally on the 1st and 3rd levels.

Lucky Coins is solid in its presentation, from the bouncy physics to the clangy pinball sound effects. One feature I feel is sorely lacking is storage of a player's personal high score. With your personal best displayed, you would have something to shoot for even if you can't crack the high score list. There's a reason why this feature is present in other chaotic games with minimal user input (like Nanaca†Crash). A "low score list" would also be nice.

Still, props to the Donut Games team for putting out yet another fabulous game.

Play Lucky Coins


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (29 votes)
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crazymammoths.jpgJohnBAnother simple but madly enjoyable game has recently been released at Pepere.org, creator of Capsules, Ringmania, and a number of other physics-based games. Crazy Mammoths is a racing title where your only action is to jump over other players and try to stay at the front of the line. Physics play a huge part in the game, as the slope you're on tilts as you slide, forcing you to cope with changing gravity and direction. The friction is also greater when you're at the front of the pack, slowing you down and allowing stragglers to keep up with your pace.

The strategy in Crazy Mammoths comes from your cunning use of jumps. If you time it right, you can prevent other racers from overtaking your position by bumping their ice block from below. Leaping over competitors is as equally cerebral, as one false move and you might find yourself in fourth place rather than first. The tilting landscape alters your speed and direction and adds an element of excitement (and randomness) to the game that keeps you on your toes.

In addition to the normal championship race, Crazy Mammoths includes a challenge mode that offers different tasks for you to complete. One of the best features is a 4-player local multiplayer mode where you and your friends can race against each other using the same keyboard. Getting that many humans to share one keyboard is entertaining, but let them control frozen mammoth blocks racing down a slope and you have something beyond crazy fun.

An elegant release from Pepere.org that's as intriguing as it is simple fun.

Play Crazy Mammoths


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Rating: 4.1/5 (68 votes)
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JayLoose the MooseLoose the Moose is the latest point-and-click, escape-the-room puzzle game from Bart Bonte and just released only moments ago as we just received word from Bart about it.

As with most other games like it, the premise is a simple one: you're in a room, you need to get out. You will have to be observant and think logically to solve puzzles that lead you to your escape. If you get stuck, I'm sure there will be help provided in the comments before long. Perhaps even a walkthrough for those that get lost along the way.

Play Loose the Moose


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tojam1.jpgJohnBThey start with nothing, and in just three days time, a completed game sits before them. The second Toronto Indie Game Development Jam (TO Jam) was held earlier this month from May 4-6. Over 60 intrepid participants dove into the creative corners of their minds and pulled out unique games the world has never seen (and in some wacky cases, should never see). Just seven of the 20 games have been made available to play, but already it looks like the creativity tap was turned on high for the duration of the jam. It wasn't a competition, it wasn't a seminar, it was just a great excuse for programmers (and artists!) to get together and stretch their creative muscles for the betterment of indie gaming. Head over to TOJam.ca to check out the games and keep an eye on new releases.


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Rating: 4.6/5 (28 votes)
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JohnBEach time Ferry Halim of Orisinal.com releases a new game, I think I've seen the most beautiful and elegant combination of music and artwork in casual gaming history. With the latest release of The Crossing, Ferry has outdone himself once again.

You control a sliding platform at the center of the screen, vaguely reminiscent of Breakout. Instead of shattering bricks, however, your goal is to help bounding deer cross a forest stream. Slide the platform underneath them to give them ground to land on and make sure they make it across the gap. Click and drag the mouse to leave a stationary "shadow platform" for a limited time, allowing you to take care of several leaping deer at once. Your score accumulates as the deer leap to safety, but you can only miss five before it's game over. The occasional leaf falls from the trees that will add to your score or make the platform longer, so keep an eye for those drifting from the top of the screen.

The artwork for The Crossing is on par with Ferry's other releases, and the music is as soothing as ever. One minor difficulty is a lack of a visual cue where the stream begins and ends. When several deer are on the screen at once, each jumping at its own pace, it's often unclear whether or not the animal will land safely without your intervention. With practice you learn your boundaries, however, and before you know it you'll rack up a score in the millions.

Just like A Dog for all Seasons, Winterbells and every other Orisinal game, this one is simple but stunning in every possible way.

Play The Crossing


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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dancemonkeyfriendchase.jpgI love and hate this game for the same reason: it reminds me of grade school. In Friend Chase you run around a courtyard using only the mouse for movement and left button to jump. Your goal is always to collect friends by touching other people of the same color, though how many and in what combination differs from level to level. Sometimes you simply collect a certain number, in other levels you have to collect a defined number of two or more different styles of people. Some wear sunglasses, some have beards, others are wearing Lucha Libre masks... get it?

There is of course a time limit for each level, but eating food that is scattered throughout will bump up your remaining time. You can also collect "?" powerups: these seem to usually change what type of person you are or your color, though sometimes touching one will change you being dressed in black. While in black, you can touch anyone in the level without regard to color and gain a new friend, though they immediately start running away from you while you're in that state. It's time limited, so use it wisely while it lasts.

Quick tip: touching people of a different color knocks you flat on your fanny for a second, wasting time. However, touching someone not of your color but of your same style (you both are the bearded guys, say?) changes you to their color. So if you need 15 more friends to end the stage and just can't find anyone of your color around, change colors!

Analysis: The gameplay in Friend Chase is simple and delightful, and it managed to suck me in for quite a while. Each level is unique in its requirements and like a good arcade game manages to step up the difficulty each stage without ever making you feel like you have to achieve the impossible. The sound and music fits the graphics perfectly, which are beautiful throwbacks to the days of shareware. I think one of the little guys is even the spitting image of Duke Nukem.

My only complaint is in how difficult it is to tell the different 'friends' apart in levels where you have to collect a number of a certain style. I realize this may be part of the challenge, but it seems challenging enough just chasing them around, or sometimes even finding enough of one color, without having to squint (at a 19" monitor no less!) to try and figure out if you're chasing the "Bald Guy" or the "Lucha Libre" guy. Right, you can't mix up the Lucha Libre guy with anyone else, but you get my point, right?

I also like that the game manages in its own little way to demonstrate how friendships in grade school often start: you're attracted to those who look similar and repelled by those who look different. Most of us are able to overcome those initial prejudices eventually, and it's a shame the developer couldn't come up with a mechanic to simulate that as well.

Long Load Alert: there is a long Flash advertisement before the game itself loads, and since it's all in Japanese I can't tell you if there's a "skip" button. Just know that unless you speak Japanese not to click on anything until you see the game's main screen. You'll know it when you see it.

Play Friend Chase


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (26 votes)
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zxoChoiceInteractive Flash pieces have generally been designed as either games to be played or art to be interpreted. However, the line between game and art has been steadily diffusing, and there are now many offerings where it's not clear whether the author's intended focus was engaging the user in gameplay or immersing them in artful ponderings. One particularly beautiful example is Choice.

Choice is the product of the Department of Visual Communications and Design at Ling Tung University in Taiwan, presumably a product of one of the students, although I can only speculate, as I cannot read the Chinese language.

Luckily, you don't have to be able to read Chinese either to experience Choice. All you need is a mouse and your own two eyes. However, you'll probably want to engage your ears as well, for there are some wonderful ambient sounds to encounter. To begin, click the game title and then click the flashing numbers to freeze them. Write down the number that appears—you'll need it at the end. Click the numbers again and then click anywhere on the text that appears to start the game. From there, it's up to you to explore and complete the six stunning levels, each one its own fascinating milieu.

Analysis: Joye, who submitted the game, has posted translations of all the Chinese text on her blog, as well as a step-by-step walkthrough for each level. However, I would suggest only using the walkthrough as a last resort, because the experience provided by immersion into the environment is something that cannot be replicated when using shortcuts. Before resorting to the walkthrough, check the game itself for hints: click the book in the top right corner to bring up some text (in Chinese) which hints at the purpose of the level. Click the book again to highlight all of the hot spots in the scene.

In terms of game play, Choice feels a bit like an escape-the-room game of mild difficulty. However, I think you'll agree that there's much more to the game than simply the joy of completing it. The accompanying music and visual effects are top notch, but the rich text really shines in beauty, drawing parallels from a simple game to philosophy, art, and life in general. The book on level 5 offers this little bit of wisdom (as translated by Joye): A person's life time is limited, a victory or defeat at the conclusion isn't the most important thing at all, but rather playing the course. The ups and downs of one's mood and passing a test, the successful feeling of checkmate.

Play Choice


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JayThe weekend is upon us and that means another Weekend Download for your perusal. Featuring a mixture of freeware and demos, we have scoured the Web to cherry pick the finest download games that have recently become available. As usual, your purchase of any of the try before you buy demos helps support this site directly, and we simply could not continue to bring you the best in Casual Gameplay if it weren't for your kind support. Cheers!

Chalk
Chalk(Windows, freeware, 4MB) Sporting chalk-like visuals, this great looking arcade style shooter includes an innovative approach to its controls: draw chalk lines to destroy enemies against the backdrop of a blackboard. The lines to draw will depend on the type of enemy at hand. Some enemies require you to draw a line connecting all green spots, others require a line connecting ship and the bullet it fires. A quick tutorial is available from the main menu that gets you acquainted with all the various techniques. Definitely not your average shooter and it's a lot of fun to play. It's another exceptional game by veteran developer, Joakim Sandberg.

Escape from Paradise
Escape from Paradise(Windows, limited demo, 38MB) A brand new lost island adventure game in which you lead other shipwrecked castaways on a quest to build a tropical paradise by completing missions similar to other virtual island sim games. But while your villagers are off foraging for wood or food, building huts and digging wells, you can spend your time playing a wide variety of mini-games to earn power-ups and prizes. You will have to manage your resources carefully if you are to survive, and you must survive if you are to find the only one way off the island.

Snapshot Adventures
Snapshot Adventures(Windows, limited demo, 46MB) A game that combines seek and find gameplay with snapping photos of birds in the wild, Snapshot Adventures: Secret of Bird Island is an enjoyable casual game with a refreshing change of pace. Instead of hurrying your way through a level in a race against the clock, take photos of birds at your leisure that are scored by the size, centering, and orientation of the bird within the frame. Score points to earn better equipment, and perhaps even take a shot that's worthy of the cover of a magazine. Created by the talented folks at Large Animal Games in NYC.


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JayNintendo DS LiteEarlier this year we ran a series of poker night tournaments in which players would compete for a chance at the final table. We gave away lots of prizes including t-shirts and free downloadable games, such as Westward from Sandlot Games, Virtual Villagers from Last Day of Work, and Eets from Klei Entertainment. We even gave away some memberships to Quadradius thanks to Jimmi and Brad, developers of that fantastic multiplayer online board game. But that's not all.

As promised, today is the drawing for a brand new Nintendo DS Lite among all the weekly champions of tournaments. The pool of qualifying winners for the drawing are:

  • Melman2002 (2x qualifier)
  • Wisegranda
  • slgalt
  • Supersasha
  • doylew8
  • dee2
  • Pezzer
  • Nadif

This afternooon all names were put into a spreadsheet and assigned a random number. After sorting all names based on that number, a second random number from 1 to 9 was chosen.

And the winner is... Melman2002!

Congratulations Melman2002, your brand new DS Lite will be shipped out to you on Tuesday following the US Memorial Day holiday. My sincere thanks to everyone who participated in our poker tournaments and to all those who sponsored our tournaments by supplying us with games and memberships to give away. We will likely resume the weekly poker nights once the multi-table tournaments at Triplejack go live (the last time I checked, they were still in the beta testing phase).


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Rating: 4.8/5 (80 votes)
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dancemonkeyElectroCityElectroCity is a flash game from Genesis Energy, New Zealand's leading generator and retailer of electricity. Stick with me here, it's a fun little game. It is intended "to spark an interest and lay an unbiased foundation for later learning" about the issues involved in power generation, cost, and environmental impact. Sounds fun already, doesn't it? Let's set our cynicism about Big Power aside and for now call it an "edugame." It is obviously a very simplistic look at those issues, intended to give a broad overview and invite further research on the part of the player. It's also not a bad little town sim game to boot.

When visiting the website you are first presented with the option to view a tutorial entitled "How To Play". The game is not very difficult to understand, especially if you are a fan of sim games in general, but there are many facets to the interface and the tutorial may prove helpful.

When starting a new game you are presented with a random (or at least semi-random) map. You begin with a centrally located Sleepy Town with a small population, close to the beach; a river, mountains, and forests; and with a small wind farm nearby supplying your power.

Basically every single turn you collect revenue from taxes (as long as your income exceeds your expenses, naturally) and decide whether to build new town features or upgrade existing ones. You may even destroy existing upgrades if they are proving too costly, or buy and sell resources on the open market.

The main focus of the game is obviously power generation and its use, and in this area you have many options. Each turn you can prospect in one tile for natural resources like coal and gas. If you locate a resource, you can then choose to harvest that resource, and eventually perhaps build a power plant to burn that resource for energy generation. You may also build town enhancements like campgrounds, theme parks, beaches, ports, and airstrips that will make your town more attractive and bring in more people. Of course the more people that settle there the more power you need to generate. Once you decide what to do you click "End Turn" and see if your actions had any effect.

Every action in the game carries consequences in several areas. Raising taxes brings in more money but lowers your residents' overall happiness. Harvesting coal or gas is expensive and causes pollution, but opting to go with all wind power is inefficient and unreliable from turn to turn. Gameplay requires a balance of all of those factors to be successful.

At the end of the 150th turn, the game ends and you are scored based on your performance in four management areas: Energy Management, Popularity, Population (size, I guess?), and Environment; plus an overall score and letter grade. You can save your town once finished to be included in the "Finished Towns" area of the website and are given email links to send to friends and family so you can "show off" your completed town.

Analysis: ElectroCity is an extremely simple sim game that, despite having 150 turns, plays rather quickly. You spend a lot of turns clicking "next turn" just to try and build up money, or while waiting for a power plant to finish building so you have more power for your city. Unless I'm crazy it has no sound, which was disappointing. Some atmospheric sounds would have gone a long way towards immersion in the environment.

The game is effective at demonstrating the basic balancing act required when considering power generation and its effect on the environment. The graphics are simple and effective as well, evoking the feel of something like SimCity 4, and are very inviting. There are a couple of strange features in the interface, like the zoom option which gives you a close-up view of your town but offers no real gameplay benefit, so it's simply eye candy. I was also frustrated for several turns when I would come up short on power despite thinking I had ample wind farms (yes, I went all wind), but what I discovered was that wind farms are inherently unreliable due to the wind's capricious nature.

It's nice that you can also save your town (via a code that you enter when you return), and I always appreciate not having to create a new login just to play a game. That goes a long way towards my feeling that this game is a genuine attempt at education rather than a thinly cloaked marketing application. It's probably that too, but it's nice to be an optimist every once in a while.

Play ElectroCity

Cheers to Jesse for the link! =)


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Link Dump Fridays

John BeaverFor this Link Dump, I beg your indulgence for a simple quiz: I fly out of London's Heathrow airport travelling at 800mph departing at 7am (GMT), and at that exact same moment a friend leaves New York's JFK but they are on a slower flight travelling only 400 mph. At what time will the planes cross (and for a bonus point, over which ocean)?

Assume for this question that wind speed is negligible, that the planes take the most direct route, and that the planes get to full speed immediately with no delays.

Also assume that I am travelling first class and enjoying champagne, canapés, rare steak and mango, and that my friend is flying economy on a budget airline being served slop on a tray. Finally, imagine that I am far better dressed than my friend and that, on landing, my chauffeur informs me that I have won the lottery and never need to work again. My friend goes on to lead a life of destitution and petty crime.

I love that dream. Anyway...on to the link dump...

  • Deflector - A simple concept but a novel gameplay mechanic. Draw lines to shield your base from attacking enemies. Collecting power-ups will make life easier. Thanks zxo!
  • Castle Draw - Another simple concept with another novel gameplay mechanic. Draw circles forming rocks to rain down on attacking enemies. This one is also from Freeworldgroup. Do you see a pattern here? Thanks Frank!
  • Visual Acoustics - More a sound toy than a game. Choose one of 8 instruments, tweak the parameters of the instrument if desired, and then paint on the virtual sound canvas with the mouse. Remember to take a break every now and then to eat or to get some work done.
  • Clickclickclick - is perhaps the most futile and pointless activity on the Web. But I guess clicking is as patriotic as anything else these days. I clicked 3,500 times for my country in a couple of hours. Now I type with my nose.
  • Viva Voodoo! - (PG13) First in what appears to be a series of games from UK-based Digital Outlook Studios. A group of Voodoo dolls who are so utterly rubbish that they will do anything to die...sort of like an interactive Happy Tree Friends. Discretion advised for younger viewers due to multiple cartoon deaths.
  • iridethelines - is an unofficial Line Rider tribute site with some of the most creative and artistic tracks you'll ever see.

The answer, by the way, is 4.30pm (over the Atlantific Ocean).


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Rating: 4.4/5 (70 votes)
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JayMiestasCreated by Jurgis Jonaitis and Justinas Malijonis, Miestas is actually a follow-up to Menulis. Both games incorporate hand-drawn graphics and animation and create a surreal world adventure to point-and-click through. Very nice.

Following is a reader submitted review by Fuzzboxer:

The hand drawn animations and old-school Jazz music soundtrack of Miestas and Menulis set the tone for an experience that is just this side of cool. The simplicity in controls leaves you wishing for something more polished until you realize the environments more than make up for it.

The design and style is what you'll notice first as it takes over with splashes of color and foreground objects. Every element of each screen gives insight about the dream world that we have been dropped into. Utilizing nothing but the keyboard—[left] and [right] arrows move your character, press [space] to interact, [X] to cancel—your goal is to get from one screen to the next. Bits of the silent movie story are revealed in each screen for what amounts to a relaxing and engaging casual game.

Play Menulis

Play Miestas

Cheers to Graeme and Fuzzboxer for sending this in.


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Reader reviewJugglerThe following is a reader-submitted game review by David:

Juggler is a neat little diversion that I would categorize as a gravity based game of mouse dexterity. Mark Vertegaal of Cold Tomatoes obviously understands clean design and smooth gameplay, and Juggler offers just that.

The goal is simple: You control one paddle (ala breakout) while multiple balls bounce in sequence. You must maintain the balls in the air like a crazy one armed juggler. You are given four lives, and a goal of 1000 points bumps you up to the next level. With each new level comes increasing difficulties like more balls, smaller paddle, etc. Control the paddle with the mouse and try to stay air born as long as possible. A quick glance at the high score board may discourage you, but keep going. Trust me, it's worth it.

Analysis: I personally have a great affinity for accurate applications of gravity in casual games. As a juggler myself, I find that I am often attracted to gravity-based games (such as lunar lander and the like). But when a game tries to imitate gravity and gets it wrong, it sticks out like a sore thumb. And unless there is really engaging game play to make up for it, that alone can turn me away. Juggler provides that satisfying flow of gravity impeccably.

Everything from the animation of the balls, to the delicate control given by bouncing on specific locations of the pad, to the humorous level titles, makes the game a pleasure. It offers plenty of replay value and is simple to learn, though with enough of a challenge to keep you interested.

Hint: I find that nudging the balls toward one of the side walls helps a lot. Try keeping their trajectories as vertical as possible.

Play Juggler


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayDashaboojaA new release from Sean Gleeson is this original, online solitaire, 10-handed poker game of chance. Incorporating a uniquely animated, 10-armed gold statue called the Dashabooja, this new and unusual take on poker can even serve as an introduction to poker hands for those unfamiliar with the game.

The rules are very simple: 5 cards are dealt face up to each of 10 hands leaving only 2 cards remaining to the deck. The results are shown for each based on the ranking of poker hands with the better hands earning more. You decide whether to take the winnings as is, or risk it all to double your winnings by selecting the higher of the 2 cards that remain. That's all there is to it.

The presentation of Dashabooja is exceptional and really shows off Sean's talent in graphic design and interactive multimedia. The game, although a little light in the gameplay department, offers a decent diversion for anyone looking for a little solo luck-of-the-draw fun.

Play Dashabooja

Also, dancemonkey and Ms.45 think you should also check out Wichita Faro, a more complicated take on the same theme, also developed by Sean Gleeson. It's an authentic look at "one of the most popular and celebrated saloon gambling games in the Old West" (Mark Howard). As is par for the course with Sean's work, the graphics and sound are top-notch, but ultimately you're betting on the turn of a card. It's fun for a five-minute diversion, but you won't be playing too many hands before you tire of the authentic taste of the Old West. It's a game best savored in small doses.

Play Wichita Faro


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayEye DefenceDesigned for our recent "grow" themed competition, Rob Allen of Foon.co.uk sent word today that he has finally finished his entry, and we have been scrambling ever since receiving his note to come up with a prize to award him for the latest entry ever(!)

Eye Defence is an action puzzle game that will remind you a bit of the Grow series of games in that you are given several elements with which to drag and drop into play. What's different here is placement matters as well as timing, and so there's a little bit of a Hapland-esque gameplay to it as well. Come to think of it, there is also a hint of a castle defense game—Yes, here in the U.S. we spell defense with an "s", Rob spells it with a "c"; I can do both. ;)

There are 3 levels to this puzzle, and you'll have to be resourceful if you are to complete every one. (And is that the JIGster I see?)

Play Eye Defence


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Rating: 4.7/5 (425 votes)
| Comments (350) | Views (6,113)

JayHoshi SagaLast Monday we started your week off with Plupon, a beautiful and enjoyable new game from Yoshio Ishii of Nekogames in Japan. And it looks like he's been busy lately because we have another new entry to share from his prolific studios.

Hoshi Saga is a simple game of discovery. One part point-and-click and one part puzzle game, the objective in each of the game's 36 stages is to find the star. How you go about doing that is different for every stage. The task is up to you to figure out how.

There are 25 stages to explore freely as you wish, with another 11 stages that must be unlocked by completing rows and columns of stages that appear on the stage select menu. The menu also shows the relative difficulty for each stage represented by a number of highlighted stars (out of 5).

Play the entire Hoshi Saga Series:

Hoshi SagaHoshi Saga 2Hoshi Saga 3Hoshi Saga RingoHoshi Saga RingoameHoshi Saga RingoenHoshi Saga RingohimeHoshi Saga Dokuringo

Analysis: Like most of his games, Hoshi Saga combines unique interaction design with simple yet effective graphics that together form an engaging and compelling experience. Some stages are easy and that's the hook. Once you discover how simple and yet irresistible these unique little puzzle games are, you'll be coming back to this again and again until you've solved them all. Thankfully an integrated save system is employed to save your progress across sessions.

Just right to get those brain cells jumping with inspiration and excitement on a Monday.

Play Hoshi Saga

Walkthroughs for the Hoshi Saga series...

Similar games:

Cheers to Cherrymad for the link. =)


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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AdamBThe latest offering from the good folks at binaryzoo is Echoes, a free downloadable game for Windows, and it is a manic shooter—and I do mean manic. Before I get too far into this, here's a quote from the game instructions: "if you may be affected by flashing lights then please set Screen FX to off." The action in this game is fast, furious and very visually active. Binaryzoo's trademark neon graphics combined with the intense backgrounds may have an effect on some. Though, disclaimers aside, as someone who can have the graphics on full—this game is really very cool.

EchoesThe developers describe the game as being "like Asteroids" and "a bit like Geometry Wars," and Echoes is part these and wholly its own. Starting off slow, you are given an entirely too brief introduction to the game where small glowing outlined "asteroids" slowly creep across the screen. Soon, you'll reach level two, where slightly larger ones are introduced. Then larger, then larger. After that... well, I'll leave that up to you to find out.

Although not evident in the initial running of the game, besides scoring points for shooting, shooting, and more shooting of things, there are medals to win as well, called in-game "trials". These are displayed to you at the end of the game and can be recognized during play by the large "ZOOT" (i.e., Zoo Trials) that flashes about the screen. There are ten of these trials to complete in each of the three difficulty settings and completion of them all will result in 100%.

As of the current download, online scoring is unavailable though, according to binaryzoo: "The online score system will certainly happen. It is already coded and will be added as soon as our new website is finished. However the new site is being written by someone else and it is taking longer than I expected so I can't honestly say when it will be available."

Let's hope that's soon. But for now, download, play and enjoy Echoes.

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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Rating: 4.4/5 (49 votes)
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zxoPotion PanicOur favorite martial-arts-trained fruitmasters are at it again! Yes, the folks down at Ninja Kiwi have unveiled their newest offering: Potion Panic. The objective is to protect yourself from a 30-round onslaught of enemies. Your chief weapons are: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope...

Wait a tic, that's the wrong sketch. Your real chief weapons are flasks of potions that you lob at your enemies. You can control the potency of the weapon and the type of damage inflicted by altering the composition of your potion flask. Simply adjust the chains in the top left corner. Each color is adjustable from 0 to 100, and corresponds to the amount of that color you will use whenever you launch a flask. To launch, just aim with the mouse and hold down the button for power. Click again while the potion is still in the air to explode the flask (it will automatically explode when it hits something). Once an enemy is killed, you gain points and money, which you can use to replenish your potions or to purchase upgrades.

By changing your recipes, you can adjust the type of weapon your potion turns into. There are four types of weapons you can concoct:

  • Explosive shrapnel: Explodes on impact, sending shards of shrapnel flying in all directions. Can be upgraded by purchasing Destructive Detonations. Is formed when blue dominates your potion, for example 10 Blue, 5 Yellow and 5 Red.
  • Noxious fumes: Forms a cloud of gas on impact, causing damage to any enemy it touches. Can be upgraded by purchasing Vile Vapors. Occurs when Blue is in very low amounts, for example 3 Blue, 10 Yellow and 10 Red.
  • Acid goop: Makes a small explosion on impact, forming blobs of goop that stick to opponents and damage them. Cannot be upgraded as far as I can tell. Occurs when Blue is in medium amounts, for example Blue 5, Yellow 8, Red 8.
  • Flames of burning: Make fire. Fire burn. Burn hurt. A very damaging weapon that makes a good barricade against the advancing monsters. Can be upgraded by purchasing Furious Fire. Occurs when all colors are about equal, for example Blue 8, Yellow 8, Red 8.

Within each weapon type, there is a range of destructiveness. The game implies that certain monsters are resistant to certain colors, but the game goes by quickly enough that it's difficult to say for sure. The more important parameter is the potion potency, which increases when you up your ingredients.

Analysis: At first I didn't think a whole lot of this game. That's because the game instructions don't reveal what changing your potion ingredients can do, and the potion that you start out with is quite sufficient to deal with the enemies in the first 6 rounds or so. However, once I started playing around with the color ratios, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the range of weapons you really could create.

Thus, my advice for playing is to use the first few rounds and experiment with the weapon types. Find out which you like the best, and which are most effective against the different types of enemies. Remember to keep the potion ratios low to start out! You don't want to waste your money by making potions more powerful than they need to be. Once you have a ratio that you like, you can save it, which is really more like a bookmark. Click Load Potion to access your most recently saved recipe. Gradually, you'll need to increase your potency, as enemies become more resistant to your attacks.

One significant drawback to Potion Panic is the reload timer—I just don't see why it is necessary. After all, it's not like your inventory is unlimited. If someone wants to waste their potion by firing 10 shots at one little skeleton, I say let them go ahead. It's really frustrating to overshoot a monster or hit the wall and then have to wait for 3 or 4 seconds to try again.

Also, although I am normally not a fan of mouse + keyboard controls, I think this game is in a unique position to benefit from an optional keyboard control of the potion ratios. For instance, using Q&A, W&S, and E&D to increase or decrease the relative amounts of each component would be much faster I think than to get the mouse onto the little chains and adjust it that way. Nonetheless, you can hardly count lack of keyboard control as a game flaw.

One particularly delightful element is the fact that each flask's color is a combination of the blue, yellow, and red potions that went into it. Although it's the gameplay that brings me back again and again, it's the attention to details like this that separate superior games from the mediocre.

Play Potion Panic


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Link Dump Fridays

HarukioA sweet mango smoothie. Turning the pages of a favorite book. Dashing bare feet on the hot summer ground. The cool side of the pillow. The stretch after a nap. Smooth wrapping paper. A single piece of chocolate. A touch of fur. Starlit breezes. Sitting on the edge of a pool. The last drop of ice cream. Enjoy!

  • Dreams: Chapter 1 - Interesting RPG with timed, turn-based gameplay that combines hammer smashing with a shotgun. And they said it couldn't be done... (Thanks Christopher!)
  • RGB - Target shooter with elements of Hatch.
  • Pattern Game - A simple little flash toy with swirly patterns. May keep you entertained for a few minutes. If you play this for an hour than either something is dearly wrong or you have some really good music playing in the background...
  • Light Sprites - Game by one of our reviewer, Jared of Hero Interactive. It's a small world...hyped up on sugar. P.S. I LOVE RAINBOWS!!!!!!!!!
  • Micro Panda - Light up the world...WITH A PANDA! "Drive" your panda around a little 3D world, lighting trees, flowers, and more with the sheer joy emanating from your eyes.
  • Puzzle Freak - A board game with puzzles! Suggested sound volume: off. (I swear Albert cheats). (Thanks Frank!)
  • Worms - Navigate a simplistic black snake to avoid deviously fast particles that are after your muffins! (Note: there are no muffins in this game).
  • Doll Face - A somewhat dark video about...well, I'll let you see for yourself. (Thanks jbeaver!)
  • SPARKLE ESPERANTUMOR STIMULATION - A fun collaboration video from the Psst! Pass it On film project. (Quicktime.mov)
  • Jay adds: if you're over 21, you may want to check out this nicely done point-and-click detective advergame done in a distinctly film noir style. It's really an advertisement for Grolsch beer, so use your discretion regarding who plays the game. "It's Miriam...They're onto me...I had to hide the painting...I here someone is coming...Please hurry...You have to get it...If you don't find it before they do, I am dead!...You have to get it...There is not much time... AAAAAaaaahh!" Grolsch Gardens
  • Super Special Sweet Summer Sbonus Svideo! - Charlie the Unicorn - Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarlie...

See you on Williams Street...


(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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KarmenReunionFar off in a dreamy land, tiny spots of light coax a little sleepwalking boy to follow his lost kitty. Never mind the fact that the little spots of light were what frightened the kitty away in the first place... Reunion, a gentle platform game by Mike Bithell, is a delightful journey full of good intentions and imaginary figments.

With soft music, and a landscape that seems to be cut from lace and paper, the game has a soft, artistic feel that might remind you of Ferry Halim's Orisinal games. However, the similarities end there. While Orisinal games are usually small scaled and quick to load, Reunion features an elaborate maze, with intensive layered graphics which may test the limits of slower computers. Before the maze, there is a movie-like, playable introduction, in which you collect the lights, using a flying musical note.

Navigation through the maze can seem a little tricky at first. Using the mouse, you can control the flying beams of light, guiding the boy to sleepwalk, skip, and jump across the dim landscape. The game will direct you to "draw a line" in order to do this, but the actual mechanism is a bit more complex. Click anywhere on the screen and drag the flying leader light a short distance. The other lights will line up in that direction. Moving the leader along the line will determine how quickly the boy moves, or how far he jumps. For instance, to make a large jump, draw a diagonal line away from the boy, bringing the cursor to the last light on the line, then release.

As you move along, follow the kitty, who will probably bounce right off the screen. Watch out for parades of leaves, traveling on gusts of wind; these will send you back a distance. Don't worry about getting lost, however. If you lose sight of the cat, or lose your way, the spots of light will form an arrow, suggesting the direction to travel.

Analysis: In general, I found Reunion to be a very relaxing and pleasant game to play. After playing about halfway through, the constant click-and-drag motion began to tire my hand. I found that using the touchpad on my laptop was, surprisingly, much easier. (This is coming from someone who hates the touchpad.) With simple taps and touches, the touchpad seemed appropriate for the leisurely pace of the game.

It is certainly a beautiful game. But is it worth closing all your other programs to play? Only the fastest computers will be able to handle multitasking while playing this game. There is no way to save your progress, so if you need to check something else, you either have to lose your place, or be very patient. Also, the surprises and bonuses in the game are few and far between. It ends quietly, with little fanfare (and long credits.) In most games, these would be frustrating drawbacks. With a sleepy, bedtime theme, the would-be-drawbacks in Reunion seem to work.

This game makes an excellent respite for the end of the day, like an interactive bedtime story. I would recommend playing this game after you've closed everything down for the night and gotten into your PJ's. Then let Mike Bithell's soft and gentle Reunion send you off to the land of Nod.

Play Reunion


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (36 votes)
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zxoGrow the RobotSome would say the idea of using robots to take over the world is insane. However, most agree that it's completely insane. But there is one man with a vision so audaciously bold, so boldly audacious, and so intrepidly mindboggling that it just might be insane enough to work! That man is none other than Doctor Phineas Waldorf Steel, self-acknowledged insane person. If only he had some minions to do his grunt work for him—he really loathes grunt work.

Ah, gentle Jayisgames enthusiast, that is where you come in! For Dr. Steel has enlisted the talents of Starkraven Madd to take the task of growing his robot army and transform it into a stimulating puzzle game for the masses! It's a simple matter of placing the fuses in the proper slots to provide energy to the mysterious robot growth chamber. In the process, you are delighted and entertained, and Doctor Steel receives an army of giant robots to facilitate his goal of a utopian playland. Doctor Steel was so impressed with the result that he persuaded Starkraven Madd to enter it into the Casual Gameplay Design Competition #2!

Playing Grow the Robot is a simple matter of deducing which fuse slots need to be filled to light up the energy levels which power the robot growth chamber. Your job is to interpret the array of Boolean logical gates to see just where to put the fuses. I can see on some of your faces that you're perturbed by the words "array" and "Boolean," but fear not, Starkraven Madd has made the game accessible to the computer programmer and the casual gamer alike by providing a short instructional animation and by the use of special shapes for each logical operation. The rounded boxes (AND) will only activate if the two inputs to it are active. The triangles with the curved bases (OR) will activate if either of the two inputs to it are active. Finally, the small triangles (NOT) will activate only if the input is not active. Although there may be multiple ways to activate the energy levels, Doctor Steel has only provided a limited number of fuses, so you should try to find the optimal solution

Analysis: In order to be both fun to play and useful towards Doctor Steel's goal of creating a giant robot army, Starkraven Madd has designed the puzzles so that they solvable with moderate mental effort. Thus, some might find the game lacking in challenge. However, do not despair, for the creator has incorporated special elements designed to keep the player interested. One is the player's choice of two very pleasing music tracks, each lovingly created by Doctor Steel himself. So pleasing, in fact, that you may find yourself wanting to hear more of it. To do so, simply visit Doctor Steel's website.

If the player does happen to fail at a certain level, Doctor Steel does not want them to feel discouraged, and so each level has its own highly amusing animation that is shown when the player fails to grow the robot.

Though one would never question the motives of someone who is so quite deliciously insane, there are a few things about the game that don't quite sit right. The first is regarding the theme of the competition: Grow. Sure, the robots need to be grown to an epic size, but the game itself had nothing to do with growth—the same puzzles could have been adapted to fit any theme. Another concern is the lack of a skip button for the animations when you lose. Impatient players may not want to sit through the animation more than once, and having to do so wastes precious time that might otherwise be used to grow more robots. Also, the reduced difficulty of the puzzles may disappoint players seeking more of an advanced challenge, especially because the potential is there—linking gates to two or more other gates, for example. Nonetheless, I'm sure the Doctor has his reasons.

So, player, what are you waiting for?

Play Grow the Robot

Additionally, you may want to learn more about Doctor Steel by exploring his website.


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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John BeaverKongregate RacingKongregate Racing is a new game by Jacob Grahn (Game of Disorientation) and created for Kongregate, a relatively new site aimed at players and developers. Although the game is relatively simple in design, it is unusual in that it is one of a small but growing selection of casual games that are firmly designed to be multiplayer.

You begin in a lobby with other online players and a variety of available tracks ranging from "very easy" to "omygosh". To play, simply select an available (white) slot in a track of your choice and click play. You can play alone if you need to practise a track or you can wait for (or join) other players. As you collect more points through winning races, new levels become available and points are saved on your computer even if you quit. Some extra features such as the lobby chat facility are granted to registered users of the site.

The racetracks are generally mazes composed of 2D square blocks whilst your vehicle is an icon in a bubble, controlled with the arrow keys (there is a distinct watery feeling to the background and the physics that makes control more tricky than a simple road-based game). Later levels introduce blocks with different properties such as sticky, spikey, bouncy, breakable and (most annoyingly) invisible. You can slow down the opposition by blocking or bumping them but for maximum satisfaction, bash them into the spiked walls. Occasionally, short cuts and alternative routes are available and this means a bit of solo practice can be time well spent.

Analysis: The graphics appear crude by the standard of many contemporary Flash games exhibiting a lack of detail in the environment whilst the player is represented by nothing more than a static icon. However, this is more than justified by the excellent real-time multiplayer performance which (on my broadband connection) was smooth even with almost every available track being simultaneously raced by players.

The music is certainly appropriate to the game but does get annoying after a while - some variety would be nice for the different levels. The sound effects are also a little disappointing and could be more creative whilst the mute option is unfortunately an all or nothing affair. The lack of option to configure the controls will also make the game more frustrating and less accessible to some.

All in all though, this is a fun little racer with a simple premise but the added depth of being multiplayer. The different levels and the competitive element means that there is enough to keep you coming back for more (whilst writing this review, I find myself going back for "just one more race"). And at the same time, the variety created by the different surface properties and the unpredictability of real opponents means that even the most practiced player can get beaten by a complete rookie.

Play Kongregate Racing


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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dancemonkeyArtillery LiveSome of the best multi-player memories I have are from a regular weekly session of Worms: Armageddon some friends and I managed to keep for a couple of months. The gameplay is fun, intuitive, and original, and for an added bonus you can turn on the language filter and curse a blue streak in the chat window. It replaces your potty-mouth with words like "love" and "flowers." Ahh, good times.

The gameplay mechanic of lobbing bombs at your enemies is nothing new, and Artillery Live! returns the genre to its simple roots. You have a tank on a mountainous battlefield, and using a combination of angle and power must lob shells at your opponent. Unlike Worms but exactly like ZWoK!, everyone (up to four players) sets up their shot simultaneously and secretly, and the tanks all fire at the exact same time. Double-kills are not unheard of.

Once you start a game (don't miss the little box at the bottom of the main menu, where you customize your display name), you're dropped into a battlefield to await a game. This took for me, at most, ever, about 3 seconds. A big flashing arrow shows you that "You Are Here!" so you don't miss exactly who you are, and this helps because sometimes between games you flip from sitting on the right shooting left, to sitting on the left and shooting right.

In the screenshot you can (just barely) see the little angle and power meter. Grab the dot that sits on the angled indicator and drag it: run it up or down the line for greater or lesser power, and swing the bar to the left or right to adjust your angle of fire. You can fine-tune your shot with the small purple arrows, but don't take too much time. Don't forget about the effects of wind, either! You can also click the larger left and right arrows to move your tank, but you only need to click once in either direction, since your tank can basically only occupy two positions. Once you're all set you press the big circular "Fire!" button and wait a few seconds for the planning round to end, then watch the shells fly! Trash talk in the chat window at the bottom of the play screen, but don't miss watching where your shell lands so you can plan your next shot.

The game tracks your stats during the current session only, and once you die or quit lets you submit to the scoreboards. There's no sign-in, no persistent identity, no cookies, no nothing. Just hop in, play, hop out.

Analysis: Although this game has only one weapon, little movement, no login, and lacks worms, it has several things going for it that I love. It loads and plays quickly: you don't wait for long at any point to start shooting. The limited options work well within the game since you have barely enough time to aim and fire as it is. The combat is fast and frantic, and I frequently found myself losing track of time as I kept muttering "Okay, just one more round." This is one of the few games that I have bookmarked for future random, time-insensitive play. It's the perfect counterpart to that first morning cup of coffee before you really need to start work for day.

Play Artillery Live


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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zxoMindfields 2Well, it's happened again. You've gone and gotten yourself stranded in the middle of enemy territory, surrounded by mines, turrets, and electrified Tesla gates. As usual, your only hope is to get to that little flag, even though all it ever seems to do is take you to another enemy-filled battlefield. Hmmm... Your steering mechanism also seems to be stuck, so you'll have to let the terrain dictate your path. Still, you have to keep trying, because otherwise this game has no background story!

Welcome to the world of Mindfields, a pair of puzzle games brought to us by the people over at GameSheep. The recently released Mindfields 2: The Russian Tundra is essentially a continuation of the original Mindfields 2204, although a few extra elements are added to enhance the gameplay. Both work in essentially the same way: you place arrows, weapons, and shields around the level and click "Start Engine." Then you sit back and let your tank run its course, which if done correctly will lead you to your goal. There are of course enemies, but they are stationary and can be defeated by your weapons—if you are granted any. The main difficulty for these games comes from the limited supply of arrows you receive. You must place them carefully to be sure that your tank is able to visit every spot that it needs to in order to reach the goal

Analysis: When I first played Mindfields, I immediately thought of two of my favorite puzzle games: Puzzled Sheep and Warp Forest. Mindfields is more closely related to Puzzled Sheep in terms of game mechanics, but Warp Forest fans will appreciate the puzzle design of many of the levels, especially in Mindfields 2, where teleports are added and greatly increase the complexity potential.

I use the word potential because I feel like there's a lot more puzzles out there just waiting to be implemented into Mindfields. Both the original and the sequel leave you wanting more after just 18 levels apiece. Especially in the anticlimactic fashion in which the game ends: it just does. I actually had to go back and check to see that it was the end, and not just a bug that prevented me from going to the next level.

Though they can sometimes be tricky, the puzzles are in general easier to solve than those of Warp Forest, due in no small part to the "let it run its course" nature of the game. However, they should still pose enough of a challenge to give even expert puzzle-gamers a pleasant experience.

The soundtrack is nice, but it loops so often (every 24 seconds) that I ended up turning it off after a while. The sound effects are also nice, with the exception of the "damaged Tesla gates," whose repeated buzzing was so irritating and overpowering that I turned off the sound effects for the levels that contained them. And while I'm venting my complaints, I might as well grouse about the levels with more than two teleport spaces: it's impossible to tell which teleport takes you where without using a trial-and-error approach.

Minor quibbles aside, Mindfields has to be one of the best puzzle games to be featured on Jayisgames in quite a while. You definitely don't want to miss this one.

Play Mindfields 2204

Play Mindfields 2

Cheers to Teebor, Nabhan, and Gabriel for suggesting this one! =)


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (27 votes)
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JaySpace HopperEschewing the classic pixel art we are used to seeing in favor of a more spacey, out of this world appearance, Nitrome delivers yet another original and engaging platformer unlike any you may have played before.

The objective in Space Hopper is to find and collect all of the stars scattered about each level. Collecting them all will open a warp gate that unlocks the next level and takes you to it. You will need to navigate by "hopping" across a system of moving planets, orbiting moons and yes, even death stars, to find them all.

Control is with the arrow keys only: use the [right] arrow key to move clockwise; use the [left] arrow to move counter-clockwise. Press [up] arrow to jump. Jumping when another planet is close enough will catch its gravity and pull you over to it, reorienting you in the process. Some planets have different properties, so you will need to be careful and adjust your movements accordingly.

As levels progress, various elements are introduced that make the navigation and star collection more difficult. You are given unlimited time with which to complete a level, but you have only 4 hearts to your health meter. Coming in contact with an element other than a planet will most certainly harm you and reduce your health meter by 1. Use up all health and you will have to restart the level from the beginning.

There are 15 unlockable levels to this amazing and addictive game. Simple enough to pick-up and play right away, and yet just the right amount of difficulty added to make beating a level very gratifying. And for those of you looking for an even greater challenge, collect the red stars of each level in order for bonus points.

Analysis: Space Hopper is another Nitrome classic and a lot of fun to play. The gameplay and physics feel polished, and the art direction, even though a departure from the characteristic pixel graphics, fits the gameplay very nicely. I am consistently impressed to see Mat and Heather come up with something completely different each time they release a new game, and Space Hopper does not disappoint in that regard.

There isn't much to nitpick here, but I will mention that any game of this calibre should support configurable keys for control. Not everyone has the same keyboard, and not everyone is right-handed. Also, before the end of the 3rd level I was reaching for the music off button. At first I enjoyed the music, but the same loop is used for every level and it becomes annoying after a while. The same can be said for the sound effects. A little variation in sounds that occur frequently can make a huge difference and provide greater mileage for these important assets.

So button up those space boots and get hopping!

Play Space Hopper


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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HuntyDeath VillageThe other discovery is Death Village, a wonderful little game by Nigoro in which you guide a trembling little nebbish of a man around a haunted castle, using various traps and spooks to literally scare him onto the right path while being careful not to scare him to death. This playthrough video of the first level does a good job of demonstrating how the game works and how to play it. The game's title screen indicates a level editor, but it's grayed-out and looks like it's not available yet.

Play Death Village


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (50 votes)
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dancemonkeyMindscapeFrom Manuel Fallman, the wizard that brought us the excellent but not quite recent Bubbles, comes a wild platformer that's going to turn your world upside-down.

In Mindscape, you start off being greeted by a giant pink bunny that welcomes you to the "Candy Meadows", further explaining that you are in fact in a delusional state of mind (full of candies no less), and must get out before you're stuck there. That's straightforward enough (I guess?) so you're dropped into the first level and off you go.

It's mostly a typical 'jump and run' platformer with an important twist: gravity changes. A little bit at first, especially on the first level, but by level three you're walking around free-floating boxes and trying to keep your orientation as the screen flips and rotates to keep your head always pointed "up". There are occasional signs to give you a tiny clue as to what general direction you should be headed. You can collect items for points throughout the level (sometimes it's candy, sometimes pills; it changes with each level), and there are numerous trophies hidden throughout the game as well.

There have been platform games that have used a world-turning, stomach-churning mechanic before, the most mainstream example being Yoshi Topsy-Turvy for GBA. MindScape takes that idea and goes all crazy bananas with it, spinning the world around in different directions until you literally have no idea where you're going anymore. It's a blast.

Analysis: I wasn't too sure what to make of this game at first, because it starts off like a very typical platformer: you're running, you're jumping, you're collecting things for useless points, there's fighting monkeys, and it's all like "so what?"

Okay, fighting monkeys are never all like "so what?"

The point being that about 3/4 of the way through the first level I almost stopped playing, but there was a point when I walked up a wall, over onto the "ceiling", and then fell off the ceiling and back onto the "ground" with the screen swinging violently with each orientation change. That was when I truly understood what the game was about. The rest was pure, nauseating, disoriented fun.

This game is a brilliantly conceived and executed platformer of the highest level. It's a testament to the level design that I somehow never got lost, even though at a few points I was literally free-falling through tunnels with the screen turning and tilting at each intersection.

Don't get too close to the baddies though: they seem to cheat through a bit of generous collision detection, but they're easy enough to avoid.

HuntyMindscape is a side-scrolling platformer with a... twist, in that the entire level rotates as you play. There are three "worlds" with four levels each, which steadily progress from the creepily joyous Candy Meadows to the joyously creepy Center of Your Mind. The graphics are perfect for this sort of game, and the creator, Manual Fallmann, has found an excellent assortment of slightly deranged music on Newgrounds' audio section. There are also some very nice little cut scenes between worlds. It looks like there's quite a bit of replay value to this game, since the title screen has a link to a "trophy room" with six different trophies, none of which I found while playing through the game. Highly recommended.

Play Mindscape


(18 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayPluponWe here at Casual Gameplay have been fans of the work Yoshio Ishii has been doing in Shockwave and Flash for several years now. He may be best known for his Neko series of games (neko means "cat" in Japanese), though he has also created some of the best Panzo games as well. His latest effort is this beautiful and delightful game that will give your brain some stimulation as you play.

The objective of Plupon is to click on 3 falling numbers to combine them, but to progress in the game you will need to create sums of 0, 10, and 20. Sums lower than 10 simply combine to form a new droplet containing the sum; but sums higher than 10 are marked "over" and reduce the 'health' bar at the bottom. Letting the droplets escape beyond the bottom dotted line also reduces health. If the heath bar depletes entirely, it's game over.

Try to achieve the highest score you can. A nice point bonus is awarded for combining 3 zeros.

It's a very simple (and short) game that is just right for an afternoon delight. Once you have completed all 7 levels, the game is finished.

Play Plupon

Cheers to Kero for the link. =)


| Comments (33) | Views (40)

weekend_download.gif

JayIt's the weekend, Mothers Day even, and everyone here at Casual Gameplay has taken the weekend off to spend with our families. But we also realize you may be looking for something new to play, and so we'll leave you with a few choice selections of the latest casual games making the rounds on the download circuit. Be sure to let us know which of them deserves a full review.

Play with FirePlay with Fire
(Windows, limited demo, 70MB) Designed by Chris Bateman, Play with Fire is a highly unusual platform puzzle game in which you play a giant ball of fire—and burn things down. Each level presents you with a structure composed of different kinds of materials, ranging from non-burnable stone to a variety of others that burn more or less easily. Somewhere in the level is an exit, and to get to it, you have to burn things in the right place or order to reach it. Sometimes, if you do things wrong, the structure will collapse as it burns and make it impossible to reach the exit; sometimes you must move quickly as the object burns and the fire spreads to get to the exit before the structure collapses underneath you.

SheeplingsSheeplings
(Windows, Mac OS X (Intel), limited demo, 8MB) - A brand new action puzzle game from KarjaSoft in which you play as Windsor, a border collie, on a mission to reach the sheep jumping competition in Woolyville. To get there you must guide and protect your flock while overcoming obstacles such as predators, bandits, logic puzzles and stubborn sheep. There are 80 levels spanning 3 quests in this charming and cute, non-violent game for the whole family.

Mystery of Shark IslandMystery of Shark Island
(Mac/Windows, limited demo, 12MB) Waking up one morning, you are shocked to realize that you are stranded on a deserted island and know nothing of how you got there, where the island is located or what its history is. Roam the gorgeous beaches and collect beautiful sea shells, rocks and sea glass to unlock the mysteries of a lost civilization. Find the right ones and the mysteries of the lost island will begin to unravel before your eyes! Can you solve the Mystery of Shark Island?

Grimm's HatcheryGrimm's Hatchery
(Windows, limited demo, 17MB) Raise magical pets and fight monsters in an enchanting kingdom. Raising pets produces eggs that can be redeemed for cash or hatched into more pets to produce more eggs, etc. Grimm's Hatchery features 20 types of magical pets, four hatcheries, and several villages to enjoy. In addition to raising the adorable creatures, you can also create new breeds of pets and solve quests for the villagers. To keep you challenged, the game offers 3 difficulty levels and 6 areas to unlock. The game also features lots of clicking, so be forewarned(!) If you can get past all the clicking, it can be rather addictive.

The Apprentice: Los AngelesThe Apprentice: Los Angeles
(Windows, limited demo, 50MB) Play for the top spot in the Trump Organization in this unique twist on resource management-style games. Earn the most money by serving your customers as efficiently as possible, combining strategy with fast action. You'll need to know how to prepare food, how to manage your assistants for maximum benefit, how to control your inventory, and more in order to win. There is even a free Flash demo of the game you can play online.


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Link Dump Fridays

HarukioA little girl, when she was 8, wandered through a park during a family picnic. In the slick, wet grass at the base of an oak tree she found a small box. It was carefully crafted out of stiff, colorful paper and tied shut with purple yarn. The girl felt the weight of the object hidden inside as she slipped the box into her pocket, careful not to shake it. Later that day, as the sun drifted past the horizon, her mind entertained fantastic tales of the box and the mystery inside.

Seventy-three years later, this girl was now a lady. The colors of the box had faded, a corner had sunk in after being left in the rain, and the yarn was loose and frayed. Even so, the woman had never opened the box. Her good friend Matia, that the lady had known since college, asked her about the box one day. "You don't know who it's from?! Why don't you just open it? It could be something exciting!" said Matia, somewhat uncharacteristically.

The lady responded with a smile, "It could also be something shockingly boring. No Matia, I won't ever open it, although I have opened it many times before. Anytime I had a bad day, was anxious about something—like that speech, remember that?—or even just bored on a rainy day...I'd imagine what was in that box, and open it in my mind. Sometimes it was something wonderful, something that would have saved me from what ailed me. And sometimes it was something completely random, even useless. So no, I will never open it with these hands."

The two women went on to speak of other things and the box held it's secret for the rest of her life.

  • !GNITION - A simple little driving game. Navigate the tracks as fast as you can before your time runs out!
  • Saucer Attack - Run as far as you can while being chased by probe wielding aliens and jumping over the most inconveniently placed haystacks and fences.
  • Processing game - A simple one button game. Adds tempting risks to improve on the SF Cave formula. Pass through yellow and red zones for large bonuses, and chance fate by skimming the ceiling or floor to rack up points.
  • Su Puzzle - A tricky puzzle with a simple goal. Connect the three houses to the three utilities, without crossing lines. (Thanks Sam!)
  • Climb - An amazingly simple memory game that will test the limits of your memory...simply.
  • Ribbon Trail - Deftly control a ribbon of light in this interesting game. Works best on fast computers. (Thanks Nick!)
  • Cake Dance - The sequel to "There She Is!!" from last week's Link Dump.
  • S0 S0 S0ULFUL - One of the many web art pieces by YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. Text and jazz, sometimes a story, sometimes poetry. Scrapes away graphic design, video, and other fluff but remains an surprisingly engaging web art. Works best fullscreen with sound. This is family safe unlike a few on the main site. Just as a warning, it is a bit long.
  • Magical Trevor - One of the classic toons from Weebls Stuff. WARNING: This will get stuck in your head (like an unopened box) FOREVER! Have a wonderful day.

I R IN UR COMMENTZ FIXIN UR TYPOS


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (25 votes)
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dancemonkeyAutomatonAdventure games are tough to get right: they generally rely on the craftiness of their puzzles and the strength of their story, and balance is key. Hard puzzles are fine, as long as they involve some sort of logic. I don't appreciate the kind of adventure game that has you put masking tape over a mouse hole so it picks up the hair off the mouse, allowing you to use the hair and some glue to make a fake mustache to sneak into the library. What kind of sense does that make?! Who sneaks into a library? It's a public building!

From ArcadeTown and Littlenorwegians comes Automaton Part 1: The Automaton, "the first episode in an epic adventure set in a futuristic kingdom." (Someone went through the trouble of writing that elegant sentence, so I thought I'd use it). You are, of course, the Automaton, MK 4, a robot with telekinetic powers that must assist your creator, Hubert Crumpet, in his efforts to cure the Spanish Flu. You see, Mr. Crumpet has a guilty conscience over creating weapons of war for The King and wants to be sure his legacy is one of life, not death. You must help him deliver a letter to a friend across Manchester that can assist him in his endeavor, but there are naturally numerous barriers along the way.

Unlike other adventures in which you are free to move from room to room, gathering objects and clues to solve puzzles, in Automaton you remain in one room until that room is solved, then you are moved onto the next via a cut-scene. This vastly simplifies all of the puzzles, since you know that everything you need should be right under your nose.

Analysis: Automaton is a very simplified adventure game and will probably be little challenge to fans of the genre, but might serve as a nice entry point for those who have found adventure games to be tedious or frustrating (mouse mustache!). The simple puzzles and lack of free movement allow you to purely engage the puzzle at hand without nagging doubts about whether you've "forgotten something." The game is very short, so those who are looking for a "Submachine" type adventure game should take their hard-puzzle-loving attitudes elsewhere.

The artwork and music are also very well done, especially the music. If it sounds familiar it's because it was composed by Ben Houge, who has numerous game industry sound and music credits, including the PS2 version of Half Life, Arcanum, and numerous classic adventure game titles. Yes, I liked it that much so I thought I'd mention him.

If you do somehow manage to get stuck, there's even a walkthrough from the game's main page at Arcadetown. And besides the online version, there is also a freely downloadable version of the game available for your convenience.

Play Automaton


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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AdamBNinja GardnerAh, the humble ninja. Stealthy, wise and deadly. Everything I am not. Which is why I choose to play games that have ninjas in them. Much easier than actually becoming one. And most of the time you can pause for a quick break when you need one. Try doing that in the middle of a real life assassination. Bet you can't.

Either way, the first of these two ninja-themed games is Ninja Gardener, a Flash game released by Merciless Games. In this candy coloured offering, you are a delightfully plump ninja who has sown a small crop of just 20 seeds. However, before they have a chance to sprout, pesky birds begin to notice and attempt to get them. Sure, you could build a scarecrow to get rid of the birds, but that's not the ninja way. So, instead, kill them by throwing poisoned tipped spades.

Initially the bird attacks are slow and quite easy to defend against. Though the ability to only throw one spade at a time quickly reveals itself as being one heck of a handicap as, fairly quickly, the birds start to come down with near relentless determination. Keep your wits about you and use the bonus pick-ups wisely to ensure a favourable return on your plantation.

Ninja Gardener


Ninja RinseoutIn a return to classic ninja stylings, Ninja Rinseout is a flash game from OneMoreLevel which features the black clad silent killer, leaping gracefully from rooftop to rooftop, ducking behind whatever he can and waiting for the right moment to strike; taking down the opponent with one deadly blow.

To save—whom I assume is the Emperor's daughter—you must travel through ten silhouetted landscapes, sneaking up on and knifing the guards. If you are seen, the guards will be briefly alerted and, though you are a stealthy ninja, a speedy one you are not and death usually follows you in combat. Retreat and wait for the right opportunity is your best bet.

Try as I might, I can't think of many ninja games reviewed here apart from N and Ninjaman. And while Ninja Gardner and Ninja Rinseout do have their own strengths and weaknesses, they're the only two games I've seen come around lately with ninjas in them. Although ninjas are not quite as cool as pirates (I think we can all agree on that), the availability of good quality games featuring them seems to be quite sparse. So, for a ninja fix, if you need one, please enjoy Ninja Gardner and Ninja Rinseout.

Ninja Rinseout.


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (24 votes)
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JayCount OutLogic puzzle fans of Minesweeper and the recently reviewed Slither Link will enjoy this latest puzzle design from Wouter Visser, author of PLANned.

The rules of Count Out are simple to understand: derive the locations of all the golden squares on the board from the numbers given. The number on a square represents the count of how many golden squares are adjacent to that square, horizontally and/or vertically only.

Click on a square to turn it gold; click again to minimize it indicating that it cannot be a golden square. By turning all the correct squares gold and minimizing all others, the game will automatically tell you if the puzzle has been solved. If you get no such indication, then keep trying.

Choose between 6x6, 8x8, and 10x10 puzzle sizes depending on how ambitious you're feeling. Every puzzle is randomly generated with each one offering a fresh new challenge.

Analysis: Wouter's game designs exhibit an elegance, both technically and aesthetically, that we have come to expect from other great casual game designers, such as Tonypa and Taro Ito. As with other games in this class, although visually appealing, the gameplay is the star attraction. And this is as it should be. Count Out is yet another simple, compelling and enjoyable game, and is one of those puzzle games that you can come back to again and again whenever you have a few minutes for fun.

The inclusion of an undo button is a welcome feature for a game such as this. The random level generator is also a welcome addition, but it cannot control the level of difficulty in a puzzle, nor does it seem able to prevent a situation in which multiple solutions are possible. I found that some puzzles were just too difficult to solve, while others were exceptionally easy. The difficult puzzles seemed to be those in which there simply was not enough information given to derive the locations of the final golden squares. One such puzzle contained two possible solutions.

If there were a way to select the relative difficulty of a puzzle—as well as prevent puzzles with multiple solutions—that would be a significant improvement to an already exceptional little puzzle game. Thank you, Wouter! =)

Play Count Out


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (41 votes)
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Luminara

Reader reviewThe following is a reader-submitted game review by Marcus:
Too often do we come across Flash games (especially shooters) that are either too brief or too repetitive. Luminara by John Cooney is a brilliant example of how to avoid those problems.

It's simple enough: you are a dot and you fire bullets. Use a combination of keyboard and mouse for control: cursor arrow keys move your ship about; aim and fire with the mouse. And like any good game, the premise always stays exactly that simple. What gets more complex are the subsequent waves of enemies that come at you.

LuminaraRanging from meandering green boxes and laser-wielding orange triangles to ominously growing orange squares, Luminara knows how to do justice to the concept of "increasing difficulty". It never gets too hard, but it never lets up on you either. There are no intricacies to level design, but the seemingly endless combinations of enemies and numbers is more than enough variation.

But to make sure that the game doesn't turn into a mindless exercise in "click-move-repeat", John has thrown in an absolutely wonderful host of power-ups, ranging from a boost in your bullet size to a powerful auto-lock laser that literally shakes the entire game environment to its foundation.

Despite being such a graphics intensive game—the sheer number of objects rendered at any given time is mind-boggling—the game engine handles the challenge well, automatically adjusting quality as needed to cope with the number of pixels moving about the play field.

The music that accompanies the game is also a huge draw, hectic enough to get you excited but not loud enough to make you turn off the speakers. Sound effects are finely balanced, as well.

Luminara is deceptively simple, needing no instructions to pick-up and play. But the minimalism here shouldn't be chalked up to paltry design or shoddy work. Instead, it's the practiced minimalism of good game design at work.

Play Luminara


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JaySpeed Cluster 2Game-Pure has just released a sequel to its fantastic Flash-based single-player interpretation of the classic card game of Speed.

Speed Cluster 2 upgrades the audio-visual presentation while maintaining the same engaging game play that made the original so compelling and fun.

Unique to this version are changing background audio and visuals as you level-up your game, providing something new to distract you while playing. Whether this is a good thing depends entirely on your personal preference and ability to multitask. If you're one of those that simply needs lots concurrent stimuli, you're likely to prefer this version.

On the one hand I do like some of the audio choices. I enjoyed it so much that I even kept the game open and playing while writing up this review. That being said, the song that comes in with the second level is quite irritating to me, and yet it just made me want to play faster to get beyond it. The changing audio and visuals makes the experience somewhat reminiscent to playing the original Lumines game for Sony's PSP, though not as well done.

Still unchanged, however, is the use of the insidious Flash custom cursor which, although aesthetically pleasing, does more to degrade the experience than add to it (Update: I just received word from Game-Pure that after reading our review, a new version of the game was made to allow you to select a normal cursor on the title screen! Arigatoo gozaimasu, Game-Pure!). Also unchanged, as Uri Arad pointed out in the comments, is the fatiguing click-drag interface. Still, I can't stop playing this game in all its iterations, which indicates the annoyance as minor when all things considered.

Play Speed Cluster 2

Cheers to James for the alert about the new version. =)


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (26 votes)
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Patrickgame, game, game and again gameGames can do two things really well. They can be Fun, and they can be Not-Fun. Lots of games are Fun and Not-Fun in a mediocre way, and some games are amazingly good at being Fun. But when a game is great at being Not-Fun, the deep play of the mind comes tumbling down the mouse.

Like Ayiti: The Cost of Life, but in a totally different aesthetic, game, game, game and game again is not fun to a point of exquisite craftsmanship, but then turns around and surprises you with a sort of pleasure you didn't quite expect. The game combines the simple platform mechanics of Mario with sketch/crayon/scribble graphics (hanging together nicely) and post-post-modern lyric poetry. Great audio and video Easter eggs are scattered throughout.

Surreal does not adequately describe the buzz you'll get off this digital jungle juice. Belief systems are your enemies, storms of blue scribble with a chocolate center, patrolling in pre-programmed patterns. Levels are worldviews, representing addiction, religion, consumerism, Buddhism, and the design takes the psychological metaphors of Psychonauts down to 2D, leaving you charmed and bouncing to the subconscious rhythms of thought-space. If that sounds pretentious, you better just play game, game, game and again game.

Play game, game, game and again game


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weekend_download.gif

JohnBOnce again we've scoured the internet from top to bottom (you wouldn't believe the things we've seen...) to find the best casual games you can "download" onto your "computing machine" and play with an input device such as a "lettered slab with keys" and/or a "mouse". If technology continues to progress at this blazing speed, before long we'll utilize motion-sensitive devices to allow us to "control" our games "remotely"! Wii! That'd be fun!

whattick1.jpgWhat Makes You Tick
(Windows & Mac, freeware, 30MB) - An adventure game created by Matthias Kempke using Lassie Adventure Studio. It's similar in style to the online game Something Amiss, but with a more complete story and a superb 1800s atmosphere.

loonyland2.jpgLoonyland 2: Winter Woods
(Windows, 8.6MB) - An action-RPG from the creator of Dumb: The Game and Dr. Lunatic Supreme With Cheese. Loonyland 2 is a big RPG with tons of quests, items, achievements and character abilities to unlock/upgrade. It's surprising how deep of an experience it is, yet you never feel overwhelmed. Plus, it's funny. In a funny sort of way.

acidbomb2.jpgAcidbomb 2: Rearmed
(Windows, freeware, 25MB) - Featured on a previous Weekend Download, Acidbomb 2 is out and fully armed. Use visual clues from navigating the bomb's grid to determine which tiles are dangerous. Mark them, watch the timer tick down, and hope you didn't miss one. A brainy cross between Minesweeper and picross that definitely shouldn't be missed. A full commercial version of the game was recently announced, so grab this always-free version and get pumped up for more.

sumotori1.jpgSumotori Dreams
(Windows, freeware, <1MB) - Weighing in at an unbelievably small 96k, this quirky game pits two sumo wrestlers against each other in a clash of titans. The controls are a bit awkward and there isn't much to the game, but a little shoving goes a surpisingly long way in this fun diversion.

"When ragdolls get brains hilarity is sure to ensue." -L0ser

"It'll make you giggle until you vomit :D" -Bryan


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Link Dump Fridays

HarukioI've been getting thousands of emails from loyal JIG-goers asking me, "why the lengthy, random Link Dump Friday introductions?" Well actually, most of the emails are proposals and rich Nigerians offering cheap meds from Canada, but that's beside the point. Anyway, due to the imaginary backlash, I will now vow to keep things short, concise, and free of redundancy. These short introductions will not bog you down with words, sayings, poems, words, or scary and unnecessary punctuation. Instead, they will be free of repetitiveness and confusing sentence structure. Free of which they will be. Please see section 3-b for more detailed explanations.

  • Red Team - Pilot two demon chickens through treacherous and slowly differing caves. Does your right hand know what the left is doing?
  • Gravity - Navigate your smiley-faced alien through multiple missions centering on working with the laws of gravity.
  • S3QUENC3R - A reverse Simon Says game played with numbers on the numeric keypad.
  • Straight Dice - When faced with a grid of multicolor dice, most people run away screaming. In this case, try clicking the dice to match three or more consecutive numbers. By the Bloons creators over at NinjaKiwi.
  • Circlo - A somewhat interesting twist on the puzzle bobble genre.
  • There She Is!! - One of my favorite flash animations of all time. It's a few years old but still good. Stay tuned for part two coming next week!

And now, a treat for you! (All the previous stuff was distracting fluff). A recipe for Cold Mango Soup! Wait, I seem to have misplaced that one. Instead, I present to you a recipe for Cold Strawberry Soup! Here is what you need:

  • 2 cups strawberries minus the icky green parts
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt, hopefully fresh
  • 1/2 cup sugar or less...or more
  • some orange juice (remember, cool people like pulp)
  • no bees, no bees at all

Also try adding cinnamon if you're feeling happy, or sour cream if you're slightly bitter. Please note, all ingredients are optional, as you can have strawberry soup or not have strawberry soup. Stick all ingredients in a blendy thing with a blade and then eat it with your mouth (the soup, not the blade).

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late" -Ralph Waldo Emerson


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Nobuzzle TreeJohnBNOBuzzle Tree, an entry from NOBstudio in our second Flash game design competition, is a smooth logic puzzle game with a strong hint of Eyezmaze's Grow series. A row of icons sit beneath a bare tree. Clicking one causes some limbs above to grow and branch out, sprouting miniature fruit in the process. The goal is to experiment and find the correct order of activating the icons to make the tree grow to fill the screen.

All it takes to learn how to play this game is a little bit of attention. The instructions feel a bit cryptic, but the idea is simple. Let's say you have three icons: a heart, a leaf, and a circle. Assume the solution to the puzzle is to click in that order. Click the heart and that branch grows. Next, click the leaf and both the leaf branch and the heart branch will expand. Finally, activate the circle to complete the puzzle. If you try clicking an icon out of order (the circle after the heart, for example), only that icon's fruit will grow, giving you an obvious clue that you've made an error. With a little trial-and-error and a sharp eye, you can solve most of the game's puzzles in just a few attempts.

Analysis: Apart from making you want to say "NOBuzzle? YESBuzzle!" over and over again, this game has a way of getting under your skin. In a good way. The gloriously simple interface is attractive and well-designed. Everything has an off-kilter look that makes the environment feel dynamic and artistic. The ambient noises are also a nice touch.

NOBuzzle's down side is that it will either be frustrating or too easy for most players. If you get the hang of the game's mechanics early on, don't expect much of a challenge. If you don't, however, this may be one of the most maddening games you've ever played. If the emphasis were on forming a strategy (as opposed to guessing or learning a formula), these two extremes could be balanced out.

My favorite feature in NOBuzzle Tree is when you complete a puzzle and the tree suddenly blossoms to fill the screen. For some reason, it's one of the most rewarding moments I've experienced in casual gaming and a testament to the beautiful design direction taken by NOBstudio.

A simple game with a beautiful presentation.

Play NOBuzzle Tree

zxoHats off to the designer for this interface—from the art to the ambient noises, to the Grow theme, there's not a thing I would change—well, maybe the instructions page. However, the gameplay falls far short of where it should be. Each puzzle is solvable after one test run, even the later levels where fruits don't trigger all other fruits before them. If anything, those levels are easier, because you can switch the order of fruits that are at the same growth phase.

As I mentioned in the comments for NOBuzzle Tree, there's one very simple change that I feel would add a lot more challenge to the game. Like the first few levels, each fruit would trigger every fruit before it. However, the number of fruits to pass the level would be set below the maximum number attainable—as in the later levels. Thus if you caused either too few or too many fruits to grow, you could not pass the level. In fact, this is originally how I thought that the game worked, and I spent a good 20 minutes working out a strategy that could be used to solve any puzzle like this. If you're careful, you'll still only need one test run to solve it, but it takes much more thought and analysis to figure out a solution.


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (49 votes)
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zxoSlither LinkAnother Link Dump Friday favorite, Slither Link by Luke Harrison will tickle the fancies of you logic puzzle fans out there. While Luke gets the credit for making this polished Flash version of Slitherlink, the actual puzzle was invented by the Japanese publishing company Nikoli. Nikoli is also known for popularizing Sudoku, and publishes a number of other similar logic puzzles.

Slitherlink, like most logic puzzles of its ilk, is built on a few simple rules, but can be devilishly devious.

  • Rule 1: Lines are drawn on the edges of cells. In this version of the puzzle, just click the edge to draw a line. Click again to erase it.
  • Rule 2: Numbers inside a cell indicate how many edges (out of four) are drawn in the final solution. If a cell contains no number, you are free to draw as many lines as you need around it (keeping in mind Rule 3), but if a cell has a zero in it, you may not draw any lines. When you have the right number of lines drawn around a certain cell, it will turn bright. Be careful, though, as the cell will turn bright even if the lines you drew were not the correct ones!
  • Rule 3: All of the lines must be incorporated into a single non-intersecting loop. That means NO loose ends, NO figure eights, and NO DICE trying to use two or more closed loops to solve the puzzle.

Analysis: Luke has put together a nice flash implementation of Slitherlink, and has provided 75 puzzles for you to solve. He's even grouped the puzzles by difficulty. The interface is straightforward and professional, with lots of pleasant curves instead of harsh boxes. There's no music, but there are some minimal sound effects when you draw or erase a line, and a little melody plays once you solve the puzzle. That's a smart choice by the author—music would only serve to distract the player from the real meat of Slitherlink. The only thing I would add is a way to mark which segments should NOT be drawn. These are just as important to keep track of as what lines you should draw, if not more. Something as simple as a second click that brings up a little "x" would suffice. For now though, you'll just have to rely on your memory. Update: As Anders points out in the comments, you may place crosses to mark segments with the combination [space] + left mouse click. (Thanks, Anders!)

So if you enjoy or have ever enjoyed puzzles like Sudoku, Minesweeper, Nurikabe, Fillomino, or any others like them, give Slitherlink a try. Go on. It won't bite. I promise.

Play Slither Link


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayRed UniverseWith the latest Pokemon game consuming far too much of my idle time lately—and this coming from someone that is definitely not a fan of most RPG games—it has been difficult at best finding something new and compelling to post. However, here are a couple of tidbits to keep you occupied for now (and to buy me a little time for more Pokemon...)

Best of Show award winner at the recent Flash in the Can event in Toronto, RED Interactive Agency's Red Universe is an engaging piece of self-promotional work. Choose an avatar and enable chat to interact with others online at the same time. Note: language used by others may be inappropriate for some age groups.

And while there is not a lot to do in here, the funny avatars and the ability to walk around (and fly!) while chatting with others was entertaining for quite a while. Your mileage may vary. Enter Red Universe.

VR Defender Y3KAnd does the world really need another Tower Defense game? I played VR Defender Y3K for the better part of the day yesterday—yes, I have been expending much effort to find something worthy to share—and yet I am still not convinced whether it deserves a full review. It's a bit more abstract than other TD games, using a variety of colored symbols to represent viruses traveling through a network that must be stopped. It is extremely difficult (even on Easy) getting upwards to wave 20 and beyond. It took me many tries, but my highest so far is wave 34. Is the game unbalanced, or am I just rubbish at this?

Suggested settings (via options menu): turn down the background brightness and the music volume all the way—why, oh why, if there are 3 music selections to choose from does the author provide 3 tracks that all sound the same?! And for crying out loud, please(!) Flash game developers listen up: do not use custom cursors in Flash if it is not necessary! It slows down the cursor and makes it feel like I'm moving my mouse through mud. Geesh.

Play VR Defender Y3K

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