June 2007 Archives


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Venice Deluxe

JohnBVenice is an arcade-style action puzzle game that takes some of the best elements of Peggle and Breakout and combines them into something new (and utterly fascinating). You control a ship floating on the waters of Venice. Various items appear atop your vessel, such as stars, coins, jars and hearts, and it's your job to fire them into the empty slots hovering above. Fill all the gaps in the objects to cause them to vanish and continue your quest to save the sinking city.

Venice DeluxeJust like any successful casual game, Venice is extremely simple to play. Move your craft back and forth using the mouse and fire items by pressing the left mouse button. You can use curved and angled obstacles to ricochet items and fill out-of-the-way holes lingering at the top of the screen. If you miss, however, the object will fall back to the water and you'll lose a life. Catch falling items in order to keep your ship afloat!

The key to activating power-ups and getting a good score in Venice lies in chain reactions. The empty spaces placed on movable objects are all over the screen, but if you manage to fill a gap near the top, a chain reaction is born. Venice DeluxeFor example, fire a star piece and fill a hole at the top of the screen and it topples down, filling multiple star gaps below. Doing this often sends power-ups leaping out (such as Cupid who helpfully places items high on the screen) which can make your game a lot easier.

Analysis: Venice has its fair share of magic to dispense to hungry casual gamers, but it falls just short of that special something that compels you to never stop playing. It's an immediately captivating game that, unfortunately, hits a slight gameplay lull after half an hour of playtime. It isn't until 15 or 20 levels into the game that the challenge picks up. At that point the level design suddenly gets very creative, things get really interesting, and Venice pulls you in like quicksand on a cheesy Western.

The backdrops of old Venice are gorgeous, but the game's effects could use a little more spice. Compare, for example, the dramatic music and zooming effects of Peggle. And while the ricocheting and object-spinning keeps things active, Venice comes off as a bit stiff at times and could use a little dynamism in the visual department.

Although Venice isn't as outrageously addictive as some recent PopCap releases, it still has that magic that pulls you in and won't let go.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (9) | Views (106)

Ms.45Travelogue 360: RomeTravelogue 360: Rome is the second in a series of 3D hidden-object games by Big Fish Games (the first was set in Paris), and it is a great introduction to the genre. If you're already a hidden-object expert, you may find the search a tad easy, but the visuals are exceptional and worth the virtual trip to Rome.

The basic gameplay is simple: Find objects in a screen crowded with images. The names of the objects can be a bit vague, so "mouse" could refer to the mammal or the computer peripheral, which is all part of the fun. What makes the Travelogue games a bit more challenging (and unique!) is the amazing 360 degree view—you are positioned at the centre of an image and, using your preferred navigation method (keyboard, on-screen pointers or on-screen compass), can look up, down and behind you for the requested object, and even zoom in to identify items. Travelogue 360: RomeThis particular game immerses you within some of Rome's most impressive palaces, hotels and even cosy old antique shops and delicatessens. If the 3-dimensional search intimidates you a bit, you can turn off "Expert Challenge" when you're creating a profile—it will cause the list of objects to highlight the names of items that are in your current field of view. Unlike the Hidden Expedition games, the list wraps, so be sure to scroll down to make sure you're not missing anything.

Travelogue 360: Rome - The Curse of the Necklace is held together by a mystery plot. You must find letters and news items related to the disappearance of an entire family—related vaguely to terrorism, insanity and the search for eternal youth. Travelogue 360: RomeThis is the weakest part of the game since you will always find the requested objects. There is, therefore, little challenge to solving the 'mystery'. In addition, the plot doesn't really make that much sense and isn't tremendously compelling. Fortunately, I'm here for the gorgeous visuals, not the plot, and it doesn't really disturb the gameplay—it just doesn't add anything to it.

As you solve each different location, it is added to your travelogue, allowing you to go back and look at the scene without the hidden objects added. When you complete each scene, you'll be rewarded with a Fun Fact about Italian life and history. In between scenes, you have to complete a mini-game, which may be a jigsaw puzzle, card game, spot the difference, word search or object-find by silhouette.

Travelogue 360: RomeOne limitation to the game is that there is limited ability to make it easier or harder. In response to complaints about the highlighting in the word search list, Big Fish has introduced the "Expert Challenge" feature where you can turn highlighting on or off. But even in timed mode, the countdown is nowhere near as challenging as it is in games like the Hidden Expedition series. I am also less than thrilled by the mini-games—I do like Spot the Difference, and the Italian solitaire game is an interesting way to keep with the theme, but I find the jigsaw puzzle too easy and the silhouette game is not very difficult when similarly shaped objects are two millimetres wider than each other.

Hidden object games can be a bit generic in their offerings, but if you've never played one or you're a total addict, Travelogue 360: Rome - The Curse of the Necklace is a gorgeous place to start.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

Travelogue 360: Rome is available to download from these affiliates:
Big Fish Games


| Comments (29) | Views (147)

Link Dump Fridays

ArtbegottiThere are three words in the English language that end with the letters "gry." They are "hungry," "angry," and I forget the last one, but worrying about that isn't really the best way to make friends at a tennis court. Just take my word on this one.

  • Up Beat - No, this isn't a game where you get back at the school bully. (Think about it.) It's like DDR, but for your fingers. Unfortunately, you probably can't lose weight with this one.
  • F-18 - Airplanes are fun. Missions are funner. Dogfights are funnerer. Wheeeeee!
  • Warbears: Puzzle Mission - Speaking of missions, the latest Warbears mission is a puzzle game and a departure from what we've come to expect from them. Is it review worthy? You decide.
  • Nodes - Ever have one of those days where you just can't drag those nodes so the beams light up all of those little circles? If you have, this puzzle might bring back sour memories.
  • Mixed Memories - From the fine(?) people at RRRRThats5Rs.com, a simple memory game. Except it's from the people at RRRRThats5Rs.com. Twist ahoy...
  • Shirt Fold - Okay, now THIS is a surefire way to make friends at a tennis court.

Try these games out and tell us what you think! In the meantime, we'll resume our game-playing scavengry.


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (47 votes)
| Comments (22) | Views (111)

flashxed.jpgJohnBMarcel Volmaro's Flashxed, while centered around a basic match-three (well, two) formula, manages to breathe a little life into the familiar puzzle theme with a new mechanic: block dragging. You're presented with a set of bricks with colored orbs sparkling inside. Using the mouse, drag blocks left or right one at a time, keeping in mind that gravity tugs them down at the earliest possible chance. If two or more blocks of the same color touch, they smash and crumble away. The challenge comes from knowing when to keep blocks around to serve as place holders to slide stranded colors to their peers. It's extraordinarily perplexing at times, but that challenge is what makes it so fun.

At the bottom of the screen are a few buttons you'll become familiar with very quickly. You have a limited number of moves to solve each puzzle; this is displayed on the far right. Exceeding the limit results in a lower score. The Undo button takes back your last move, allowing you to use a little trial and error without resetting the entire board. An interesting addition is the Solve option that, strangely enough, solves the puzzle right before your eyes. You'll lose points, of course, but get to keep your sanity, which is infinitely more valuable.

Flashxed has a simple mechanic, visceral sound effects that make you feel the block dragging deep in your gut, and a polished presentation. There are literally hundreds of puzzles to complete as well, giving you plenty of reasons to scratch your head in bewilderment. And best of all: it's a very forgiving game that lets you play and experiment without any real penalty. It's just about everything you could want in a simple, casual puzzler.

Play Flashxed

Cheers to John for sending this one in.

About the dialog box that pops up when loading the game: This information taken directly from Adobe's website explaining how Flash games and movies store data on your computer:

"By default, Flash Player allows each site to store only 100KB of data in a local shared object on your computer. If a site needs more than that, you will see a dialog box requesting that you allow more space."

What the game is asking to do is completely harmless. Since the default is only 100KB, this particular game needs up to 1MB of space to store your saved data for all of its thousands of levels, and so that is why the dialog is coming up.


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (208 votes)
| Comments (494) | Views (1,484)

JayPhitA lecturer at The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University in Software Development for Games, Jeff Wofford has been working in the games industry for over 10 years. He has also just released this addictive little Flash puzzle game that plays like a cross between a tangram and a sliding block puzzle.

The objective of Phit is to fit all the pieces of each puzzle into the lower yellow 'tray'. You do this by dragging each piece into place. The restriction is that there can be no other piece in the way. If there is, you'll have to move the other piece out of the way first.

This combination 'tangram meets Rush Hour' is an interesting hybrid game design that adds just enough to the sliding block genre to make this game a whole lot of fun. There are 100 levels to complete and Jeff has included easy access to all of them. Although the game will save your progress as you make your way through, you can also skip to any level you like from the main title screen. Also included is an unlimited Undo and Redo feature that may help if you get stuck in a tight spot.

A simple idea made into an addictive puzzle game with a great presentation, and enough levels to keep you busy for a very long time.

Play Phit

Cheers to Lee for the link! =)


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (31) | Views (66)

JayRed White YellowTakahiro Miyazawa of SKT Products in Japan has created a brand new Flash action puzzler that offers a unique twist to the new generation of falling block games popularized by Q Entertainment's Lumines.

In Red White Yellow, the objective is to create groups of the same color in quantities of 6 or more by dropping the falling blocks into place. However, like its name suggests, Red White Yellow is also the order in which you must clear groups from play. If you create a group of the wrong color, the blocks will become shaded and will remain that way until you clear a group from the other color(s) first.

To help you keep track of what color you need to clear next, a small indicator at the top of the display will show the current color. The outline of the entire play field will change to the target color as well.

Control is customizable in the game. You may use the keyboard, the mouse, or a combination of both. I found it most intuitive to use the mouse to move the blocks left or right, the mouse button to rotate, and to press [space] to drop a block into place. Alternately, the arrow keys may be used instead, using [space] or [down] to drop. Use the options menu to further customize the controls to your liking.

Once you get going you will find that the game rewards you for combos, which are achieved by consecutively removing multiple sets from play, in order. There is a small pause once you clear a color before the next color gets activated, and while a short sound clip plays in reward of your accomplishment. Taking advantage of these short pauses allows you to rack up the combos quite nicely. You'll get a feel for doing this once you've played a game or two. The more familiar you get with the gameplay the more likely you will be able to get 'in the zone' with this title. It's really quite addictive.

One of the most engaging aspects of playing Lumines is that the background soundtrack is heavily influenced by the action of the game play. Red White Yellow offers a similar aural experience, and features, at present, 2 different 'sound packs' to choose from at the beginning of play. While it's not quite as seamless nor of the same depth and variety as Lumines, the sound implementation in the game is exceptional and I'm looking forward to even more sound packs to be added.

A very pleasant surprise find today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Play Red White Yellow


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (106 votes)
| Comments (33) | Views (314)

desktoptd2.jpgJohnBOne of our favorite desktop tower defense games, Desktop TD by HandDrawnGames, has just received a substantial upgrade. Along with kicking the visuals and audio up a notch with new sounds and a better interface, Desktop Tower Defense 1.5 includes several new (and expanded) challenge modes to twist your brain in a knot and/or induce frustration. New towers, such as the Boost unit that increases damage nearby towers dish out, helping you combat new enemies such as the morph and dark creeps. The game is also available in five languages, including English, Spanish, German, French and Italian.

Great new additions to an already amazing game.

Play Desktop Tower Defense


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (15) | Views (40)

lightsprites.jpgJohnBFrom Hero Interactive comes a physics-based "hit the target" game, Light Sprites. Light Sprites also happens to be the happiest, most rainbowiest game ever made. It contains more dancing sheep/pandas/people per kilobyte than any Flash title ever created, including the ultra-cute Grow clone Poco Parco.

Gameplay in Light Sprites consists of tossing colored orbs from a cloud to hit matching targets on the landscape below. To throw an orb, click on it with the mouse and pull back to increase power, just like a slingshot. You can throw several orbs with one toss by gathering them with the cursor before you release. Hit targets as quickly as you can to score points. You earn bonus points for hitting every target on an object and for taking out several targets with one throw. If you hit a target with the wrong colored orb, bad things will happen in the form of ... lightning! On the other hand, when you get a match, happy dancing people/animals will appear, which is always better than lightning.

Analysis: Light Sprites is a simple hit the target game wrapped in a sugary sweet coating that makes it an absolute joy to play. After logging just a few minutes your brain will become enamored with the short sound bytes characters utter such as "I like rainbows.". Yes, it's that cute. You've been warned.

The most rewarding aspect of Light Sprites is the connection between hitting targets and the scenery. Background objects playfully spring from the bottom of the screen, each with a few targets on its surface. As you hit targets, dancing characters appear in their place. Hit every target on the object and something special will happen such as flowers growing on the ground or a barn appearing at the top of the hill. Forget getting a high score, just hit the targets to see what crazy things pop up on the screen.

Presentation aside, Light Sprites has a smooth and easy-to-learn control method that doesn't require much skill to master. Aiming isn't too sensitive and you really have to pull back on the orbs to give them any power. Most of the time you'll just pick and drop orbs like berries from the cloud. Not much challenge, but Light Sprites is made to be enjoyed, not conquered.

With its sugary sweet music and visuals, Light Sprites is an excellent diversion from your daily grind.

Play Light Sprites


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (30 votes)
| Comments (26) | Views (169)

JayRat Maze 2Those dirty rats! I'm referring to PixelJam, a group of highly skilled Flash game developers who have just released a sequel to their previously released Rat Maze game titled, not surprisingly, Rat Maze 2.

The scenario and objective remain the same: You are a mouse in a maze and you must collect all the pieces of cheese in the shortest time possible. Use the arrow keys for movement to zip around the maze. Running over a cheese is as good as eating it, so no time is wasted collecting them all.

While both games are similar, Rat Maze 2 offers the player a little more challenge and variety by introducing balls that must be rolled into place and letters of the game title to find. Getting the balls into place will open doors and grant access to a few choice morsels. Just bump into the balls when you find them to get them rolling, but you will also have to locate where they belong.

Tip: turn scroll "on" in the game options menu to have the background scroll as you move, keeping you in the center of the screen at all times. This helps by allowing you to see a bit more of the maze at a time, but not by much. Also in the options menu are switches for playing the original Rat Maze, as well as for changing the soundtrack or the appearance of the rat.

Analysis: I'll admit that I passed on the original Rat Maze when it was first released. There just wasn't enough there to compel me to play for very long. And to be honest, not a lot has changed with the sequel. Still, they are both well-made games with a few secrets to find along the way, and the addition of the balls to knock around and letters to find makes Rat Maze 2 a bit more engaging than its predecessor. Both games suffer from not being able to see more of the maze, though, and finding that last bite or two of cheese can become quite frustrating. If there were an indicator pointing in the direction of the nearest cheese then perhaps this game would be a classic. The simple, retro appearance and infectious soundtrack goes well with the gameplay, and offers a surprisingly realistic experience of being a rat trapped in a maze, if that's your thing. ;)

Play Rat Maze 2

The folks at PixelJam are also the creators of Gamma Bros., an amazingly good Flash arcade space shooter reviewed here almost exactly one year ago.


| Comments (3) | Views (27)

JayJuly Oshidama MonthlyGame-Pure has released an update to their Oshidama series, this one is a collection of levels for the month of July. There are 6 fresh new levels to play and you can compare your relative success with them against others who have tried. As with the June collection, mousing-over each screenshot in the level select menu shows how many have tried the level ("challenger") and of those, how many were able to clear it.

More gaming goodness from the talented folks at Game-Pure.

Update: Oshidama Monthly is no longer available.


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (293 votes)
| Comments (308) | Views (926)

JayBloxorzOften we have to scour the Web to find engaging and compelling online Flash games to feature here, and sometimes you do that for us by using our handy online game suggestion form. The following game was submitted so many times during the past couple of days that it wasn't difficult for us to decide whether to feature a review for it. And after playing through the game, I have to concur that it is indeed an excellent new puzzle game.

Bloxorz is a simple idea for a puzzle game that is beautifully executed. The objective is to tumble a rectangular block through each stage and deposit it into the square hole at the end. Using a series of bridge-opening switches, teleporters, and block-splitting switches, solve the puzzle each stage presents to move on to the next of the game's 33 levels.

Use the arrow keys for control to tumble the block around the play field, but don't let it fall off the edges. The round switches can be just rolled over to trip, but the "X" switches require a little more weight, so you'll have to stand the block on end to trip them. The 3rd type, the "[ ]" switches, split the block in two, which can then be moved independently from one another. This introduces an interesting twist to the tactics you will need to employ to solve these later levels. To switch between block fragments, press [space].

Each level provides a password that allows you to resume a game by loading the game from that point. It would be nice if the game just saved your progress along the way, but a password system is welcome in absence of an easier interface for accessing levels. You will find a complete list of passwords in the comments, thanks to reapaninja, as well as a complete walkthrough for all of the levels, thanks to firenz.

From Damien Clarke of DX Interactive, the same developer responsible for the exceptional JetSpeed, Silversphere, and Missile Game 3D games. Bloxorz is addictive, compelling, and contains everything we love in an engaging Flash puzzle game.

Play Bloxorz

Cheers to Benoit, Regy, Martijn, Peter, Rhcpaul, Rick, Chakrit, Alexandre and Larry for suggesting the game. =)


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (27 votes)
| Comments (122) | Views (562)

KarmenChocolatierSometime in the mid 19th century, scandal tore apart the great Baumeister chocolate empire. Tempers flared and factories closed, leaving the world desperate for a decent bite of chocolate. To paraphrase cocoa guru Benard Shintero, "nobody knew the truffles they'd seen."

But now the year is 1880, and with your help, hope and the chocolate supply can be restored. In Chocolatier, the latest career-simulation and strategy title from Playfirst, you play an apprentice chocolatier. With a little assistance from Evangeline Baumeister (either in the form of detailed instructions or a little starter cash and a few recipes) you can produce and sell delightful treats, beginning with the ever-popular chocolate bars.

ChocolatierEventually, as you make your way around the world, buying ingredients, making trades, and collecting recipes, you can move on to fancier chocolates, including mouth-watering infusions and gourmet truffles. While giant steam-run machinery does most of the hard work for you, there isn't time to sit around and eat divine sweets. In order to make your way to all the corners of the globe, you'll have to restore the Baumeister reputation. To do that, you'll have to solve a mystery by collecting clues and making bribes (with what else? Chocolate, of course!)

Even when family squabbles are wrapped up, you may still find yourself looking to complete the magnificent recipe collection, or trying to attain the highest rank of Master Chocolatiers across the World Wide Web. (You can submit your score to the list at any point during the game by clicking "pause", but be forewarned: the competition is fierce.)

In the beginning, Chocolatier doesn't seem very challenging. As you are sent on quests to find new recipes or hints, you are given rather exact directions. Even the chocolate production seems like a breeze with only a few ingredients in each bar. Once you set the production rate with one round in a factory, that factory will continue to produce as long as you supply ingredients. At first, the lure of the next sweet concoction may be just enough to motivate you. If they could add a scratch-and-sniff, or better scratch-and-taste technology to the game, you'd never want to stop. Still, as the game progresses, even without tasty samples, you may find yourself wrapped up in the story as the clues become more elusive. You'll also find yourself juggling ingredients for a number of factories, filling special orders, and planning complex trips around the world. You may even find yourself bringing chocolates to the queen of England!

The smooth, detailed graphics give this game a wonderful atmosphere. The music changes as you travel around the world, adding a bit of spice and variety. Sometimes, the animations in ambient scenes may slow the game down a bit, which can be a little frustrating if you're trying to hurry on to the next destination. Time isn't a pressing issue, though, unless you are in the middle of factory production. The next week only arrives after you move to the next port, or make chocolates manually.

If you are both a chocoholic and a fan of career-simulation/strategy games, you won't want to miss the casual gaming delights of Chocolatier.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

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


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (22 votes)
| Comments (43) | Views (429)

Professor Fizzwizzle and the Molten Mystery

JayPuzzle fans rejoice! A sequel to the critically acclaimed action puzzler, Professor Fizzwizzle, is here and it's HOT! Just released by Grubby games, Professor Fizzwizzle and the Molten Mystery picks up where the first game leaves off and presents over 200 fresh new levels to sink your puzzle-loving teeth into.

Professor Fizzwizzle and the Molten MysteryRyan, Matt and new addition to the Grubby Games team, Mike, have held true to what made the first game so enjoyable and added several new items that increase the possibilities and potential in level design exponentially. The result is a game that one-ups the original and rejuvenates the series.

In Molten Mystery you will find 3 unique sets of levels that differ by their relative difficulty: Kids levels, Normal levels, and Advanced levels. Woven through each of these sets is an optional story mode that slowly reveals the namesake molten mystery via comic strip story boards between levels. The story, however, is not the highlight here, for it's the gameplay in Professor Fizzwizzle that is the main attraction.

The level design in this iteration is just as devious as ever. This is not a game that you will rush through in an hour or two, as some levels may require more than that just to figure out a solution. If you get stumped on any level and want to move on, simply click the "Show Solution" button to have the game solve it for you.

New to this version of the game is a step counter that counts the number of steps you take to solve a level. Think you've solved a level in fewer steps than anyone else? You can now submit each of your level scores to a global high scores list. The game saves and remembers the number of steps for each level and you can even submit your overall score for each of the 3 difficulties.

Professor Fizzwizzle and the Molten MysteryAnd the level editor is back allowing you to create your own levels and share them with your friends. You can also upload them to the Grubby Games site and share them with other Profizzle wizzes. This ensures that you won't be finished with the game even after you have solved all 210 levels the game comes packed with.

There is just so much packed into this game, if you're a puzzle fan you owe it to yourself to check it out. Download the demo today for your operating system of choice: Mac, Linux, or Windows.

And to reward you for reading this far, Ryan sent along 5 codes to give away the full version of the game and we'd like to give you an opportunity to win one of them. All you have to do is download the demo and name one of the items you can use when designing your own levels, along with a comment about the game for the developers. There are 36 items in all, and try not to name one that's already been named (unless, of course, they all have been identified). We will pick 5 names from those who follow directions. Good luck and have fun playing!

Update: The contest is over. Congratulations to Ariel, Harry Lee, Divy, JoeMomma, and Mordecai for all winning full versions of the latest Professor Fizzwizzle game courtesy of Grubby Games. Thanks to everyone for participating!! =)

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

Professor Fizzwizzle and the Molten Mystery is available to download from these affiliates:
Arcade TownBig Fish Games


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (14) | Views (90)

KarmenBurger IslandHey surfin' dudes and dudettes! Have you heard about that bodacious betty who has been bagging burgers over on Mount Tikikola beach? Patty Melton, the new owner of the fast food sensation, Burger Island, makes the most totally radical lunch on this side of the Pacific, and she needs your help!

In this new downloadable game from Sandlot Games (creators of tasty treats, such as Cake Mania and Westward) you can help Patty and her stuffy maitre d serve up delicious treats such as Hot Lava Fries and the Aloha Shake. But first, you'll need to learn the art of the basics, and fry up a hamburger and some fries. Don't delay, and don't forget the ketchup, because the residents of Tikikola beach are an impatient bunch.

Burger IslandWhen you first start, Patty's snobby maitre d will walk you through the steps of food preparation. (Do not burn ze fries!) Even if you choose to skip his instructions, it is easy to figure out what you need to do. As customers enter the restaurant, their orders appear across the top of the screen, with the necessary ingredients listed. Add the correct ingredients in order, and in time, and start racking up the cash.

When you've completed a round, you can take the money you've earned to buy new recipes from a masked Tiki chief. Eventually, you and Patty may earn enough money to remodel the restaurant. In the meantime, comic book-style pages describe Patty's story, offering entertaining breaks in between rounds of cooking.

Analysis: With the comic book theme and a catchy surf-rock tune playing in the background, Burger Island is clever and casually entertaining, ...for a while. As recipes become more complex, the customers also become more impatient. (The thermometer-shaped timers indicate how close they are to leaving. By the double digit levels, they aren't sticking around long.) As it becomes harder to keep track of the orders, the game quickly becomes more challenging. If you enjoy having your concentration skills pitted against the clock (and you would like a side of fries with that) be sure to check out Burger Island.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

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


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (26) | Views (486)

ArtbegottiCountdownI fashion myself as a game show fanatic. I enjoy watching footage of gameshows past and present, and from here and abroad. So just imagine my giddy delight when a game show news blog announced the arrival of wedigtv.com, and its collection of broadband game show re-creations from England. The crew at WeDigTV spent hours contacting the original shows' hosts for recording sessions and digging up archive footage to bring you games that almost exactly reflect what appears on TV.

Countdown is based on one of the longest running game shows in the world. Currently hosted by Des O'Connor and assisted by Carol Vorderman, this show features two contestants battling it out in a game of letters, numbers, and "the crucial Countdown Conundrum." Each round is played against a giant 30-second clock, while the famous Countdown music plays. (Think "Jeopardy!" theme music.) In this version though, the clock is 45 seconds long, but that's not noticeable enough to deter from gameplay.

CountdownThis broadband version lets you play two letters rounds, two numbers rounds, and the final conundrum round. In the letters rounds, you select nine letters, choosing between consonants and vowels. After the letters are presented, the timer starts. Type in or click on the letters to make as many words as you can find. Keep in mind that the goal is not to make more words, but to make the longest word that you can. After time is up, select one word you'd like to submit, and see how many points you'll earn, plus a suggestion for a longer word that could be made. More points are given for a longer word, and that elusive 9-letter word is worth double points. And don't forget British spelling... it's "colour," not "color!"

In the numbers rounds, you select six numbers from a board of 24 tiles. (The top four tiles in the diagram are the "big numbers," 25, 50, 75, and 100. The remaining three rows are two each of the numbers 1-10.) Your goal is to come as close to a randomly-selected number as possible, using the four basic operations (add, subtract, multiply, and divide). When inputting your solution, click the circle to cycle through the possible operations, then choose the two numbers to fill in the blanks. Remember that you do NOT need to use all of the numbers to reach the target. Once, I hit the target number 108 simply by adding 100 and 8.

The final round of play is the conundrum, which is a jumbled-up nine-letter word. Buzz in when you think you know what the unscrambled word is, and quickly input the solution. This round sounds simple, but plays a significant role in a close match-up.

On all of WeDigTV's games, the contestants are represented by pink or blue outlined figures. (You always play as pink.) The footage has been excellently re-edited to fit these colorful people in the game, but at points, the camera is left on them for too long, creating little awkward pauses.

To add to the awkwardness, the game also pauses for commercial breaks... and yes, there are real commercials. (Hey, ya gotta pay the bills somehow.) As of yet, there are only a few companies sponsoring ad time, but the commercials all include an interactive bit to them to keep you interested. Take note though, on rare occasions, the game has been known to "hang" coming into or going out of these commercial breaks, so you may need to restart your game.

Five other interactive game shows are available on WeDigTV, including British versions of "The Price is Right," "Family Feud," and others. If you register with the website, you can have your scores entered into a high scores list, and be eligible for some prizes. (Note: I have not checked on the availability of prizes, so the offers may not be available to American players.)

Important note: These games heavily rely on video footage to present the action. Therefore, a broadband connection is recommended (if not required) to play all of these games.

Of course, to end this review, I think it's only appropriate to say (sing it along with me), "Da-da, da-da, da-da-da-da! (BOOOM!)"

Play Countdown

Update: It appears that the above link for the Countdown link still works, but going to wedigtv's new homepage leads you to a new beta version of the site, combining all of the games in a more TV-like atmosphere, with each game on its own channel. There are still some glitches to work out (such as the game hanging in the middle of play), but these kinks should be worked out eventually. Also, be sure and check out the two newest game shows, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" and "Deal or No Deal!"


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (47 votes)
| Comments (75) | Views (579)

JayRing Pass NotRing Pass Not is an original new puzzle game by indie game developer, Sandhill Games.

The objective: fill the magic circle with tiles by matching adjacent tiles by their color or symbol. Score bonus tools and power-ups by completing special combos of tiles. Collecting these tools will help you advance further in the game with its 30 unique levels of increasing difficulty.

Two modes offer different styles of play depending on whether you want a quick game against the clock, or a more casual game without time limits. The production values of this beautiful game are top notch with the developer even composing the music for it as well. My only complaints were the use of a Flash custom cursor that makes moving tiles feel as if dragging them through honey; and there is presently no way to save your game midway through.

Play Ring Pass Not

RGB


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Rating: 4.7/5 (213 votes)
| Comments (247) | Views (3,201)

JayRGB graphic adventureRGB is another great-looking room escape game by Japanese developer neutral, author of the previously reviewed Sphere. Not only is this game great looking, it plays exceptionally well with several puzzles that will perplex and confound you, though that won't take you long to solve.

Use logic to solve the mysteries that await you in this room of RGB that includes a standard point-and-click interface with inventory, as well as two different ways to escape. Like its predecessor, the graphics really pull you into the game and give special meaning to "graphic adventure," a classic description for games of this type.

Unfortunately, as the name implies, color perception is required for a couple of puzzles in this game, so you may experience difficulty getting out of the room if you experience colorblindness. An integrated save feature allows you to pick up the game later if you cannot finish in one sittting, and there are both English and Japanese versions available to play.

Play RGB


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Rating: 4.5/5 (125 votes)
| Comments (113) | Views (221)

JayStarshineRicochet shooting stars across the sky to light the heavens and unlock levels in this dazzling new action puzzler by Jared Riley and Eric Ottati of Hero Interactive.

Starshine is a game of rays and angles in which the objective is to light all of the stars to advance to the next level. You have but a single shooting star in your arsenal to fire from anywhere along the outer edge of the circular field of play. The path your shooting star will take depends on the type of stars it comes in contact with.

Control is easy and intuitive. Moving the mouse will move a small white dot constrained to a circle surrounding each level. Position the dot where you wish to fire from, inward toward the center. Click the mouse to shoot the star and watch the result.

As you position the cursor while aiming, small arrow cues may be available to help you become acquainted with the behavior of each type of star, and the resulting angle(s) of deflection; but they will not appear in all circumstances. Think of them as hints, and nothing more.

Once successful in lighting all stars of a level, the next level is unlocked and your progress is saved automatically for you. There are no time limits nor lives to lose, and there are 50 levels to complete in the game.

Analysis: While there will likely be the obvious comparison to one of Ferry's Orisinal games, the similarities are only skin deep. Starshine is an original puzzle game that is a bit deceiving at first. What appears to be a simple game of angles of deflection reveals additional complexity with each new type of star that's introduced. Soon the player is immersed in intricate and divergent paths as stars split into shards like fireworks in the sky. Keeping track and making sense of all those paths soon becomes difficult, and the challenge of completing a level looms large.

While playing I wished for more and better cues to help me know where the stars would hit and deflect to. Jared tells me that it's part of the game to learn the different types of stars and the effect they will have. Maybe it's just me, but I got lost easily with all those stars lying about and it was rather difficult for me to gauge where all the bits would travel. Instead of being able to predict the best angle to fire from, I resorted to trial and error to solve a level more than once. Your experience may be different.

All things considered, Starshine is a wonderful and unique new puzzle game to conquer, with enough challenge to sharpen your mind and brighten your day with.

Play Starshine

Update: A new version is now up that addresses some of the issues we noted. Specifically, additional arrows provide better clues as to the path of the star; and pressing [space] will activate 'retry' to help expedite the process. The main menu and more games buttons were also moved to the bottom of the screen.


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (402 votes)
| Comments (395) | Views (1,405)

JayOnslaught 2Many people have written in to ask why we haven't featured Gaby Vanhegan's entry into the recent onslaught of tower defense games. The fact of the matter is we had heard that development of the game was continuing and that a new version was soon to come. And since there has been no dearth of games in this genre of late, we decided to wait patiently and feature the new version when it was released.

That day has come. Onslaught 2 is now here.

Okay, so you're thinking "Oh no, not another tower defense game. What makes this one any different from the rest?" One word: Combos.

As with other tower defense games, you earn cash by obliterating the attackers that creep their way around any one of several maps available to play. With the cash you can purchase additional turrets or upgrade existing ones. But it is the Combos that add a level of depth to this tower defense game not present in other games like it. The combinations are many, and the resulting strategy becomes deep.

Some have said this is the best tower defense game of all those to come before. What do you think? Sound off about the game or about your strategy for success with it in the comments.

Play Onslaught 2

Cheers to John, Alek, Capuchin, Timothy, Ch00k, Cameron, Brent, Mike, Malcolm, Chipicha, and Max for suggesting the game, and to Gutspiller for word about the latest release. =)


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (11) | Views (67)

JayBada BoingMark Arenz over at Ridiculopathy has just released a brand new game, Bada Boing, and it's based on a very simple idea: Bounce a ball off a trampoline to hit targets and score points. Using the mouse just click, drag, and release a ball from the unlimited supply to 'throw' it. It's really quite intuitive to play.

Included are 4 different game modes incorporating the same addictive gameplay mechanic.

  • Time Attack: the name of this mode is a little deceiving since all 4 modes are played against the clock. To play, simply bounce balls at the target with rings representing different values. The center bullseye is worth the most points, of course.
  • Hoop Dreams: your targets in this mode are 3 moving basketball hoops with backboards. Bonus points are awarded by earning combos when making more than one basket with a single ball.
  • Simon Says: similar to skee-ball at a carnival midway but with an indicator pointing to one of the tubes to shoot for bonus points.
  • Smash! (pictured): my favorite of the bunch and somewhat similar to Bloons. Smash all targets in play to get a fresh set. Bonus points are awarded for larger combos made with a single shot.

Besides the bonus points to shoot for, power-ups will appear at random offering point bonuses, point multipliers, and additional time on the clock.

Analysis: When I was a kid I had a physics toy similar in concept to this game called Bing, Bang, Boing, so I like the idea a lot. It's a fun game with a bit more potential than realized here, however. As I mentioned above, at least one of the modes is very similar to Bloons, the brilliantly executed balloon-popping game by Stephen Harris at NinjaKiwi. This game would benefit from additional modes of play that are not time-dependent, but rather give the player a limited number of balls with which to achieve a high score, similar to how Bloons works.

Also, the power-ups put the game slightly out of balance, as it reduces the high score list to the random few who get a long string of time power-ups that could effectively extend the game indefinitely.

Still, it's an enjoyable game and a fresh new offering from Mark, and perhaps we'll see some updates to the game that will kick it up a notch.

Play Badaboing


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (14) | Views (29)

AdamBDeadtree DefenderI'm assuming we all know that in 1415, King Henry V of England found himself stuck, essentially, between a rock and a hard place. I also take it for granted that we know the French army had blocked his advance to Calais, and the only other option being to retreat back to the heavily fortified town of Hesdin. It's likely common knowledge that the very outnumbered King had an estimated 80% of his army composed of archers. And it's probably unnecessary to point out that the attack from the archers pretty much obliterated the French in record time. So I'll skip all that stuff and get right to it.

In Deadtree Defender, a Flash game from Skyrocket Interactive, take control of a single archer whom, joined by two automated team-mates, are set to the seemingly impossible task of defending a withered, leafless old tree against an increasingly large opposition.

Use a combination of mouse and cursor keys for control. The mouse controls the angle of trajectory as well as the range and speed of the arrows you shoot. The longer the mouse button is pressed before release the faster and farther the arrow will travel. Use the cursor keys to move your character by walking, ducking, jumping, and climbing your way around the structure to avoid being hit by enemy projectiles.

Beginning largely ahead of your enemy on a three tiered structure, you rain down a white storm of arrows onto your slow and unprotected enemy. However as the levels advance you will find that your opponent is not as simple as you once assumed. Controlling basic knowledge of carpentry skills, rudimentary construction techniques and a certain understanding of classic timber-frame design, in short time they have what appears to be the foundations of a structure. Soon enough, they've mastered their own version of split level design and have even added an open veranda... and they don't stop there.

The game is split into three sections—easy, medium, and hard—and these 3 difficulty settings are all part of one continuous story. In easy mode the enemy will start on an open plain and begin building its defences and, at a certain point into it, you'll be declared the winner. Switching to medium mode will have them start out in the building you've just seen them construct and they build on top of that. Hard is similar but with a bigger fortification, which they still build upon even more.

You may notice the enemy's methods of attack do not change. The rock throwers throw rocks and the Medusas still throw snakes, always. However, since they will always begin in the bottom right and as their base grows you will have to re-evaluate how you aim, where you aim and how long you draw for.

Unfortunately, the replay value of this game is arguably low once completed, but you may find yourself revisiting the same scenario over again during play with a slightly more complex and expanding army to defend against. It is a wonderfully silhouetted and gorgeous game.

JayOye, another defense game. This one is indeed beautiful and the way the enemy builds its structure as a means of increasing difficulty is a nice approach. The gameplay is a simplified version of the Bowmaster games that made this type of game popular, but the lack of feedback as to the power with which I was firing arrows made the game just a bit too frustrating for me.

Play Deadtree Defender

Thanks to Redklonoa for the link!


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (63 votes)
| Comments (148) | Views (1,103)

JayThe ShrineA missile is launched and it is up to you to solve the mysteries and rituals of The Shrine and save the world.

In this amazing and well-produced point-and-click adventure by Aztec, you will encounter lots of items to find, hidden rooms, and various contraptions to activate and control.

Move the mouse around each scene to locate positions to click. The mouse cursor will turn into a hand to alert you that something may be there. This helps prevent the pixel hunting frustration found in many Flash point-and-click games. Instead, the difficulty in this game comes from using the items you find to solve puzzles and reveal hidden clues about the true nature of this mysterious place.

Although a walkthrough will surely be posted here soon, do yourself a favor and don't give up on this excellent adventure. It isn't often a game of this quality appears on the Web to play for free, and there is a deep, rewarding experience contained within it to keep you challenged for at least an hour or two. Unfortunately there is no way to save your progress in this otherwise exceptional game.

Play The Shrine


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Rating: 4.6/5 (28 votes)
| Comments (66) | Views (595)

Alice Greenfingers

KarmenHere, among the roses of red and strange mushrooms, we find Alice. Is she visiting the Queen of Hearts? No, it isn't that Alice. Meet Alice Greenfingers. She doesn't have time for chasing rabbits and general nonsense (save the occasional gnome); she has to take some tomatoes to the market while the demand is still high!

In this brand new release from Arcade Lab, you can help Alice sell the fruits of her labor. You can also tell her when to labor, or where to plant the fruits in the first place. Alice Greenfingers is a hybrid cross between a simulation and a strategy game, with a very relaxing atmosphere. Simply by clicking in the appropriate place, Alice will do all the work, sowing, harvesting, and selling, while you choose how to spend the hard-earned cash.

Alice GreenfingersThe garden can be as organized or as eclectic as you like. You can pick and sell in a mad frenzy of profit, raking in the dough, or you can slowly shape your dream garden, stopping to smell the roses. In this downloadable game, it is your call: You set the pace. Even if Alice lags behind, your clicks are noted, and Alice will dutifully follow when she can.

Unlike many simulation games, you begin without any money. Instead, you have a shovel, a bag of tomato seeds, and potential. A kindly old maid will give you tips as you begin, suggesting just where to begin. This tutorial cannot be skipped, unfortunately. (You will at least earn a trophy for the effort.) Once you have covered the basics, you can explore at will, even moving fixtures such as the storage house and water pump by clicking the hand icon in the lower right.

Alice GreenfingersA variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers become available as your garden grows, along with farm animals and decorations, which can add to your unique design. Most items will help you earn more profit, while a few lead to rewards and bonuses, earned over the course of 30 days.

The pleasant folk-like background music and retro graphics lend a very nostalgic feel to the game. After hearing the soft strings and flute, you might find yourself reminiscing about adventure games of yore, and expect an armor-clad adventurer to stop by and purchase a bunch of tulips for his distressed damsel. While Alice likely won't have any medieval adventurers dropping by her market stand, she does have a strong customer base. In the market window, you can watch the flow of shoppers as they purchase the various items you've put up for sale. A statistics window will also show you the market trends, so you'll know just when to hold on to your cabbage and push the grapes.

While Alice Greenfingers is addictive enough to provide many satisfying hours of casual gameplay, it isn't without quirks. For instance, when the 30 days in the season end, you can continue fiddling in your garden. The announcements stop, however. So, you may find yourself with a few hens laying eggs all over the place and no one to buy them. Rewards and trophies are only given during the 30 days, as well. So, if you're trying to hit that magic $5000 mark, be sure to do it by day 29.

Finally, there was one part that puzzled me. You have cows, and you have a shovel. Why do you still have to pay for the fertilizer? Ah, don't mind me; I'm just full of manure. Instead, go play Alice Greenfingers.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

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


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (7) | Views (208)

genericdefense.jpgJohnBContinuing the defense theme of a string of recent releases, Generic Defense Game takes a few select elements from tower defense titles and shooters, and then slaps on a thick coat of parody paint. Instead of fending off hordes of ghastly beasts from far-off fantasy lands, you will protect Pac-Man from ghosts, keep your lunch safe from insects, and defend ramen noodles with a machine gun. It's a very basic game with swappable elements that make the core gameplay ripe with entertainment.

Generic Defense Game is divided into eight sub-games, each with its own theme. The basic gameplay for each game is almost identical: use the left mouse button to fire at enemies and, if you're controlling a mobile shooter, the [WASD] keys to move. You also earn points during play to purchase weapon upgrades between levels. The differences lie in what you're defending, what you're defending it with, what you're defending it from, and the scenery around you. Blasting ghosts with a turret is essentially no different than shooting ants with bug spray, though one will likely be a bit funnier than the other.

A great feature of Generic Defense Game is that you can create your own generic defense game! Set the mode (shooter or turret), the enemy, and your starting weapon, then choose a special weapon, defense objective and set the map.

Generic Defense Game doesn't try to win you over with claims of new features or deep, unique gameplay. Instead it takes an already solid formula, breaks it apart, sprinkles on a little humor and turns you loose to have fun.

Play Generic Defense Game


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Rating: 4.8/5 (32 votes)
| Comments (31) | Views (286)

momentummayhem.jpgJohnBMomentum Missile Mayhem plays like a combination of a tower defense game and a physics-based strategy game such as Bowmaster Prelude. Waves of enemies come piling in from the side of the screen. Your weapon, a Gravity Launcher Installation, is capable of firing projectiles in any direction and speed. The launcher works just like a slingshot: grab the missile and pull it back, then release to send the projectile flying. Prevent as many enemies as possible from reaching the other side of the screen, but be wary of explosions near your launcher. Collision physics play a huge role in this game, so keep the tanks ricocheting and you'll stick around for another wave.

Each round begins with enemy units rolling in from the right side of the screen. Tanks receive more damage from collisions with each other than from your shots, so try banking missiles off the leader and experimenting with the game's physics for maximum damage. With each unit you destroy, you earn experience points that increase your tech level. Use these points to buy equipment upgrades at any point during the game.

There are a number of items, upgrades and stats you'll need to keep track of in Momentum Missile Mayhem. For starters, before firing each shot, take a look at the Stability gauge at the bottom of the screen. The more velocity you give your shots (i.e., the farther back you pull the mouse), the higher the chance that the shot will misfire and explode near the launcher, damaging it in the process.

From the title screen to the main game, Momentum Missile Mayhem looks extremely complex, but don't let the gauges and numbers scare you away. At its core, Mayhem is a simple game that gradually builds on the complexity as you play. Upgrades flesh out the experience in later levels, while several survival-style game modes give you an extra challenge after you complete the main scenario.

Analysis: The overall design of Momentum Missile Mayhem is superb, from the concept to the visuals and the killer metal soundtrack. It's also amazingly addictive, I was surprised how well it pulled me in and how long I played the game.

Momentum Missile Mayhem has some of the most impressive collision detection physics I've seen in a casual game. The missiles you lob at incoming tanks have a different affect depending on where they hit the enemy. Glancing blows send them spinning with little damage, but get a few tanks careening at each other by bouncing them off the walls and you're in for a good time. This central mechanic is so well done that the rest of the game couldn't help but be impressive.

The only issue I take with the game is the opacity of the laser aiming mechanism on the gravity launcher. The red line is often so faint that it's difficult to tell which direction you're pointing. Aiming sensitivity is fairly high, and I managed to fire off a few shots in the wrong direction because of it. This encourages you to take the game at a slower pace, but in titles like this, losing a few seconds can mean game over.

Momentum Missile Mayhem is an adrenaline-packed title that takes itself very seriously. There's a lot of strategy and customization built into this game, so be prepared to sink your teeth into a deep and immensely rewarding casual online game.

Play Momentum Missile Mayhem

Cheers to mkelican for sending this one in!

Note: Momentum Missile Mayhem can be taxing on some older systems and laptops. The game's creator recommends keeping quality settings low or downloading the game to your hard drive for a smoother experience.


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (15) | Views (350)

JohnBblobular.gifLoco Roco tickled our casual funny bone when it was released for PSP last year. Unfortunately the price of admission was much higher than the simple click required for browser games. For those of us unwilling to drop several hundred dollars for a PSP, Free World Group has just released Blobular, a game remarkably similar to Loco Roco in both gameplay and visual style. Now you can get a taste of the Roco without going Loco with your cash.

Your goal in Blobular is to collect items in each stage within the given amount of time. Instead of moving the blubbery ball directly, tapping the [left] and [right] arrow keys rotate the game world clockwise and counter-clockwise, sending the character tumbling through the landscape. It's difficult to get the hang of the indirect control method at first, but moving the environment quickly becomes second-nature. Think of yourself as a minor deity meddling in the affairs of the blob people and it's even more entertaining.

Your blob can also split into several smaller blobs once you collect enough food, allowing you to collect items at a faster rate and squeeze through small cracks in the landscape. Enemies make an appearance in later stages as well, forcing you to inject a little caution in your blob tumbling.

Analysis: Visually, Blobular copies Loco Roco's style remarkably well and maintains the fresh, spunky look throughout its stages. The music is a remixed tune from Super Mario World and gets on your nerves after precisely 10 seconds. The "music off" button became my best friend.

The level design is a bit quirky and I feel it could benefit from some refinement. Collecting some of the items becomes an exercise in luck (or frustration) rather than skill. I spent far too much time trying to grab a lone fruit hovering on the edge of a tiny platform than I should have. Even with several blobs bouncing on the screen, I still managed to miss it. It's the same helpless feeling I get when playing pinball or Breakout, though fortunately it didn't happen too often.

Blobular is a well-made Loco Roco clone that lets casual gamers experience a unique game without the hassle.

Play Blobular


| Comments (27) | Views (33)

Link Dump Fridays

Harukio
It's summertime! Days are long, and intros are short.

  • Pac Adventure: Dracula's Castle Your basic little collect the items, avoid the baddies quest. Surprisingly decent! Note, this has nothing to do with Pac-Man, it just seems to be an excuse to remix the music.
  • The ReDistricting Game - The political game of re-districting! Be sure to watch the overly dramatic intro!
  • Ollie's Dance Experience - A pixely DDR game with a variety of music and some immature language in Ollie's quest to get his roller skates back.
  • World of Dreams - An interesting platformer with flying pigs. Or as I call it, flying breakfast! Mmmm...bacon...
  • Trolley Racer - Race in shopping carts! Don't try this at home (because you shouldn't have a shopping cart at home).
  • Fingerjig - It's like writing an essay made by monkeys, but with points! Practice your typing skills with this slick game. Note: Because one part of this game tests the typing speed/accuracy of your right and left hand separately, dvorak users might have a disadvantage. (Beat my score! 579,439)
  • Kenya Deluxe - I present to you the video link of the week: You may of seen it before, and it IS a classic, but have you seen it in Fullscreen HD 9600i Silver Platinum Deluxe?! It's Weebl's Kenya vid...huge-ified!

Do any of these games grab you by the fingers and yank you to a world of casual gaming fantasy? Or are they all yawn-worthy duds? Let us know which link dump games you feel are worthy of a full fledged review!

Game Design Competition #3NitromeAdobeArcadeTown

Update: the competition is over. Thanks to all who entered!!

Following is a list of entries into our 3rd Flash Game Design Competition (in no particular order). Click the game icon to go to the review page for that game.

A Bark in the Dark "A Bark in the Dark"
...by Bart Bonte
Gimme Friction Baby "Gimme Friction Baby"
...by Wouter Visser
First Place &
Audience Award
Super Earth Defense Game! "Super Earth Defense Game!"
...by Carl Foust
JIGorbit "JIGorbit"
...by DDams
JIG Logo Creativity Award
Speck Oppression "Speck Oppression"
...by Komix
Timebot "Timebot"
...by David Durham
Parley "Parley"
...by Matt Slaybaugh and Joe Versoza
Replay 2 : The Sequel "Replay 2 : The Sequel"
...by Caleb, R. Emmett and longhorn54
Rerun "Rerun"
...by Andrew VanHeuklon
Runner-Up
ReMaze "ReMaze"
...by Felix Reidl
Honorable Mention
Time Raider "Time Raider"
...by Rey Gazu
Space Pilot "Space Pilot"
...by Alex Kaplan
The Turtles of Time "The Turtles of Time"
...by Dom Camus
A Good Hunch! "A Good Hunch!"
...by Philipp Seifried and Markus Mundjar
Yalpeyalper "Yalpeyalper"
...by Tonypa
Music Dodge "Music Dodge"
...by Daniel Gutierrez
Paracaidas "Paracaidas"
...by Scheletro
Robot Goal "Robot Goal"
...by Ja.Games
Karma "Karma"
...by Zapak Digital Entertainment Limited

Wooty tooty flip-bam-booty!
We're hosting our 3rd Flash Game Design Competition!

(and again the crowd goes wild! RAWR!)

Here's the scoop: you, casual gamer / game designer / Flash whiz, design a game in Flash—minimum requirement: AS 2.0; AS 3.0 is also fine—that incorporates our theme (see below). It doesn't have to be complex nor large in scope, in fact since you will have only 4 weeks to complete your design, simple ideas are probably the way to go.

Game design competition #3 theme: replayHere's the catch. Your game design must incorporate this theme: "replay".

You are, of course, free to interpret that any way you choose; however, the extent to which your game addresses the theme is left up to the competition judges to decide.

Also, your game must not have been in general release (publicly available to play on the Web) prior to the deadline of the competition (see below).

Entries not meeting the requirements will be disqualified. See below for a list of additional specifications including stage size and a couple simple API calls your game must support.

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

The Prizes
As before, we're looking for a truckload of great entries to make this competition really spectacular. And we've got the prizes to back it up! In addition to seeing your name in pixels and the millions of people who will play your game, we have some very nice prizes to award:

  • 1st place:
    • $1,000 (courtesy of ArcadeTown)
    • (1) Flash CS3 Professional license (courtesy of Adobe)
  • 2nd place:
    • $500 (courtesy of ArcadeTown)
    • (1) Flash CS3 Professional license (courtesy of Adobe)
  • Audience award:
    • as before, determined by JIG community popular vote and worth at least $200 (courtesy of ArcadeTown).

In addition to the above prizes, your game will be eligible to receive a bid from ArcadeTown for publishing there as well. Several games from our previous competition received a generous sponsorship from ArcadeTown, and they are on board once again with their support for the indie Flash game development community.

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

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

Game Design Competition #3NitromeAdobeArcadeTownLike previous competitions, your game will appear in a collection for the site, and so it must support our specifications and our very simple API listed below. If you do not know how to support our API even after reading the specifications below, you will need to send us the final .fla file 48 hours prior to the competition deadline so we can add the appropriate support for you.

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

Once you have your game polished and ready to go, send it to: competition3@jayisgames.com

Deadline
The deadline for entries is
Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 11:59PM (GMT-4:00).

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

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

Our warmest appreciation and kind thanks to the sponsors of this competition:

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


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (35) | Views (128)

Overhead ConsistencezxoToday, we bring you the follow-up to Overhead Persistence, the mouse-control game that's so fun to play, you can almost forget that it's frustratingly difficult as @#$^%, and if that blankety-blank cursor hits the bleeping wall ONE MORE TIME I'LL...

Err, pardon me there. What I meant to say was: yes, the just-released Overhead Consistence is another mouse maze game, but please bear with me... this one's good, even if you don't normally go for manual dexterity games. If you don't believe me, go check out the aforementioned Overhead Persistence, reviewed here in March. Has JohnB ever steered you wrong?

Upon starting the game, you are presented with 5 houses which you need to pass: Tutorial House, Candy House, Forest House, Pixel House and Haunted House. Each contains a series of levels for you to navigate through. When you complete the last level in the house, you are rewarded with a significant upgrade. Although they are arranged according to the level of difficulty, you can complete them in any order that you wish.

Overhead Consistence falls mostly in the same vein as its predecessor, sharing the same flashy graphic style, and the same basic goal. However, it does offer a few twists. I won't go into exact details for the gameplay (although I will warn you to keep your keyboard handy) because it would spoil the rewards that you can receive by collecting Intelligence Items.

Collecting Intelligence Items is probably the most improbable reward system you could conceive of, and when I first read the description, I thought "This is about the stupidest idea I've ever heard." And yet, once I started playing the game it began to make a lot of sense. The way it works is this: as you play a level, a progress bar gradually begins to fill up. Every time it fills up, you get intelligence items, which allow you to access hints, game tidbits, bonus levels and special cursors. The crazy part: even if you just sit there and do nothing, the bar fills up! This may seem a little strange, but the idea is to reinforce the "Consistence" theme - you get rewarded for taking things slow and enjoying the graphics and the upbeat jazzy music. Most importantly, it means you gain something even while you fail 30 times trying to pass a level, taking the edge off of the frustration this type of game inevitably causes.

So take it from me, a guy who prefers thinking games and has all the manual dexterity of a nicotine-starved marmot: this one is worth the effort.

Play Overhead Consistence

Created and submitted by James. Cheers! =)


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (148 votes)
| Comments (135) | Views (770)

Vector TD

JayThe latest tower defense game from David Scott, creator of the unbelievably addictive Flash Element TD and Flash Circle TD, has just been released at Candystand and this one follows a more abstract design for creeps (called "vectoids") as the recently mentioned VR Defender Y3K.

Vector TD combines vector-styled graphics (remember the original Asteroids?) with the tried-and-true gameplay of David's other successful games to deliver one of the most polished TD games yet.

Vector TDChoose between 4 "normal" difficulty maps and 4 "harder" maps. Press Load Map, and then begin laying out your strategy by purchasing one of the available towers. You begin with just $250, which won't get you very far initially. But, as with most games of this kind, you earn money with each creep that your towers dispense with; money that can be spent in real-time to purchase new or upgrade existing towers.

There are 4 main types of towers: Green, Red, Purple, and Blue. Each type works a bit differently on the oncoming vectoids, and each color even has strengths and weaknesses depending on the color of the vectoid. Most are laser based weapons that emit a damaging beam of light; however, the more advanced red towers send out rockets that seek their targets, and the blue towers emit rays that reduce the speed or stun the vectoids in their tracks. You can even change the attack mode of each tower, selecting between "close", "strong", and "weak". This setting instructs the tower on which nearby vectoid to target first. Learning how to make use of the different tower types most effectively is all part of the game.

Interest also plays a vital role in this game earning you dividends on any money you have remaining when a new wave begins. You even have the opportunity to increase the interest rate you earn via a simple bonus point system, earned when killing the bonus power cell vectoid in each "Hard Grey" wave. There are different options to choose from besides increasing interest, however, including additional lives, or increasing the strength or range of the towers the power-up is placed near.

Lots of options, pretty graphics, addictive gameplay. I only wish there were more sound to the game.

Play Vector TD


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (30) | Views (324)

nannymania1.jpg

JohnBCasual games have the unique ability to turn boring, stressful and un-fun tasks into entertainment. Nanny Mania by ToyBox Games follows a formula similar to downloadable games such as Diner Dash and Cake Mania where you play a working woman going through the daily grind in order to make a living. The Mayor of Suburbia and his wife are too busy to cook and clean up after their growing family, so it's your job to straighten furniture, do the laundry, and perform all the little tasks that need to be done during the day. Boring in real life, but Nanny Mania is so well put together you'll have a blast.

nannymania2.jpgKeeping things tidy is remarkably easy: just click on the objects with a yellow outline. You can do things in any order you like, though it's always best to do tasks close by so you don't spend your valuable time running across the house. A checkmark appears on items you've clicked, allowing you to set up a queue of tasks and operate more efficiently. Some tasks have several stages to them such as gathering laundry, putting it in the washing machine and then into the dryer. These are linked together by flashing yellow outlines, keeping the interface as simple and easy to use.

As you enter the house each day a number of chores are waiting for your nanny-like attention. Start gathering the laundry and tend to multi-stage tasks first, then take care of smaller things in-between. As the family moves about the house they create more work for you (especially babies knocking everything over), so keep an eye on everyone as best you can. The day comes to an end when you complete your chores before the time limit runs out. If you're efficient, however, you can finish much sooner than that and earn bonus points.

Analysis: Nanny Mania has a great visual style that feels like a cross between Virtual Villagers and The Sims. The animations are fluid, especially those of the nanny, and sound effects help clue you in on tasks that need to be completed. The interface couldn't be simpler and makes things like cleaning the aquarium far less tedious than one would think.

On the down side, Nanny Mania gets repetitive due to a lack of variety, both in types of chores and in scenery. Something as simple as changing houses would have completely revived the game midway through its 150 levels. The game's difficulty increases as you progress (though it's always a bit too easy) with more family members creating more messes for you to clean. Timing these events to keep things straight gets hectic, but after a few stages you get the distinct "been there, done that" feeling. Even playing as new characters late in the game (the mom and the dad) doesn't change much.

Despite the lack of variety, Nanny Mania is one of the better casual resource management games out there and scores high marks in every other department. Repetition hits after an hour or two of play, but rumored expansions could easily cover up the only blemish on the game's pristine appearance.

Try the online Shockwave version.


WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

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


| Comments (42) | Views (27)

Link Dump Fridays

HarukioA simple man once said, "I will not let words get in the way of my message." He then proceeded to smash a grapefruit on his head, prance around wearing socks too small for his hands, and draft a declaration of independence for the ocean and all the little fishies.
So as to follow the words of this great man, here is your link dump!

  • Monster Master - A card battling game highly reminiscent of Magic: The Gathering and other similar games minus the silly mana, and costly crinkly booster packs.
  • Dawn of the Bods - Why are you reading this description?! Shoot the zombies! GO GO GO!
  • Candy and Clyde - A WarioWare-like game with the choice to play goody-two-shoes or the sneaky creator of havoc.
  • Xeno Tactic - The latest tower defense game. There are still a couple of issues left to fix in this beta, but its mission-based gameplay and slick Starcraft-like interface makes it a must play for TD fans.
  • Gojirama - Phear da typing of the RIZARD!!! Groovy graphics but slow gameplay.
  • Brain Stopwatch - Are you a minuteman? Because you better know your seconds for this! (groan).
  • Flute Hero - Even more metal than Guitar Hero (because it's all metal baby!).
  • LOQUACIOUS EYESICLE WILD-BITES - A beary strange tale. (Quicktime Mov)

I just got back from HOBY and boy are my arms tired! (Charlieeeeeee)


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (24 votes)
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shuffle.jpgJohnBSimple is as simple does, and one of the latest games from Shockwave doesn't stray far from that concept. Shuffle is a combination of curling, marbles and billiards played with two rows of colored balls. You take control of the red team and must knock the yellows off the screen before the computer does the same to you. Grab a marble and drag the mouse to choose your throwing angle and power, then let it fly and watch the yellow marbles tumble off the screen.

At first glance, Shuffle doesn't seem to have much depth. In many ways it doesn't, but there is some strategy beyond "roll the marble as hard as you can and knock stuff around". Rebounding physics play a large part in the game and can help you take out several yellows with one throw. Try banking a shot off the corner of a marble to see what I mean. And learning to tweak the strength of your throw is a key skill, otherwise you'll overshoot and lose a marble each time you take a shot.

As the game progresses marble arrangements shift and stack the odds in the computer's favor. The difficulty doesn't increase much, however, and the skills you pick up early on should be enough to keep you in the game.

Analysis: Shuffle is well-designed with easy controls and attractive visuals. No flaws in the presentation, but the game itself leaves a little to be desired. Your attention will only be held for a few games before you crave something with more depth. This could have been remedied with new marble layouts, more difficult stages, obstacles, or even a new game mode or two. Instead, Shuffle relies on one basic concept and stretches an entire game around it. It works like a charm, but only in short bursts.

Shuffle is a great game to fire up for a few rounds when you're itching for instant gratification.

Play Shuffle

Cheers to Mark and Zeroster for the link. =)


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (141 votes)
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JaySubmachine: Future Loop FoundationJust when you thought you had seen the last of the Submachines for a while, Mateusz Skutnik comes around full circle and delivers another installment in one of the best point-and-click room escape game series on the Web.

Submachine: Future Loop Foundation features music from a band of the same name (Future Loop Foundation) and it sets the mood very nicely for another enjoyable adventure. The game features the same crisp original hand drawn graphics we have come to love from the series, as well as more engaging puzzles to challenge your mind with.

In words from the author himself: "Expect the unexpected. 50 days after releasing Submachine 4: the Lab here is a brand new submachine for You to play. It was made especially for the Future Loop Foundation, so don't be surprised if you find elements pointing to that band and their latest album, "Memories from a fading room" within the game. Basically it's out of the main story line, but there are a few elements that could lead You to some interesting theories about the meaning of the submachine itself."

Play Submachine: Future Loop Foundation

The game is also available from the Future Loop Foundation website where completing the game makes available tracks from the band's album.

Play Submachine at Future Loop Foundation

We've been here covering the entire Submachine series since the very beginning with reviews and walkthroughs for all of them...

Outside the main storyline, and yet still another great Submachine, is a game created for the band Future Loop Foundation:


| Comments (4) | Views (24)

oshidamamonthly.jpgJohnBSince we last featured Game-Pure's atmospheric orb-nudging Oshidama, good things have transpired from the developer. For starters, Oshidama Plus has replaced the previous version and adds a great new Time Attack mode. The game is played in the same manner as before — use the mouse to nudge an orb (like playing billiards), avoiding pit traps and walls as you snake your way to the goal. Instead of fighting against a limited number of pushes, your only objective is to complete each level as quickly as possible. Oshidama isn't a game of speed, however, so you're still forced to temper your moves with a helping of forethought.

Brand new from Game-Pure is Oshidama Monthly, a mutation of Oshidama that's heavy on the challenge. The game features several puzzle levels packed with gravity wells, shape-shifting pits, movable platforms and areas that change the size of your orb. At the beginning of each level you get a random time bonus and must make it to the goal before the counter reaches zero. It's more action-oriented than Oshidama Plus and features some really tense moments, so don't be surprised if you have to give each stage several tries before you make progress.

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

Play Oshidama Plus

Update: Oshidama Monthly is no longer available.


| Comments (19) | Views (94)

JayNitromeBy now everyone should have received the latest stylesheet featuring the pixelrific goodness of Nitrome. The banner and supporting graphics were all created by the very talented Mat Annal, and we couldn't be happier with the way everything turned out. Thanks Mat!!

We had a chance to catch up with Mat during the project to ask him a few questions about the upcoming Hot Air 2 and what makes Nitrome tick...

(Casual Gameplay): Nitrome began with just a few people: you, Heather Stancliffe, and Lee Nicklen composing music. How have each of your roles evolved since you began working together?

Mat (Nitrome): We've had to become a lot more organized as there tends to be more to do outside of actually creating the games now than there was originally. We're all still involved in the games development work though it's just that we get less time to do it in so we've had to speed up!

One of your earlier games, Sandman, listed Jon Annal as a co-designer. Does Jon have any involvement these days, and if so, what?

Jon's one of my brothers and he's helped out on 4 of the past games and he's also done a lot of the art work on Hot Air 2. He's just started a new job with the folks at Preloaded so I'm not sure how much he will be able to get involved with things, but I'm sure you'll see his name in the credits again at some point.

Nitrome churns out games at a rate of almost one per month, yet each one is original. How do you keep the fresh ideas flowing and avoid the temptation of cloning?

We've all worked for various design agencies where it's hard to get an original idea passed with a client so it's nice to have the freedom now that we do our own thing. Coming up with new ideas has never really been a problem for us although deciding on which one to go for can sometimes take a while.

How long do you usually spend working on a single game? Do you focus on one title at a time or rotate projects on a daily/weekly basis?

In general we just work on one game at a time and we try to spend a month on each game...we do have the occasional side projects that we take on at the same time though so then it involves a bit of juggling.

Is there a lot of play testing, tweaking and refinement, or is the final product usually what you intended from the beginning?

We usually have a pretty set idea of what we are trying to achieve with the core concept and that usually ends up playing how we envisaged but we try not to pin the actual levels or elements down too tight early on and they usually evolve quite a bit based on what we think the game plays like when we have the basic controls working.

Have you ever had an exciting game idea that you just couldn't implement?

We've never had a project we gave up on because we couldn't get it to work (although we've came close) but we do sometimes have to drop features due to time constraints and we have a lot of ideas that we don't attempt because we know they wouldn't be practical to try and do in the time frame or in Flash.

Where did the name "Nitrome" come from?

I'd like to say something interesting like 'it's a clever code for..' or 'It came to me in a dream' but it's actually much more boring than that...we basically wanted a made up word that didn't mean anything so that 'A' when people heard of Nitrome it could only be about us and 'B' so that we could get a dot com domain and rank highly in search engines under it which we thought would be important for a games site.

We've been teased with Hot Air 2 for some time now. New features, boss fights, and lots of interesting improvements. We're dying to know when this game is actually going to be released!

Yeah apologies for everyone that has patiently been waiting...It's not been intentional that it has taken so long. It's been done as a side project and as such whenever anything comes up it gets left. As things keep coming up we finally got round to taking on more staff...and now that's happened we are finally getting back to it so it shouldn't be too much longer as there's not much left to do. I'm not going to give a date though as I don't want to curse us with it :-)

----
Thanks, Mat! Although it seems a long time in the making, I'm sure Hot Air 2 will be well worth the wait. Good luck with all your projects, and keep the excellent games coming!

Be sure to check out all of Nitrome's games.


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (44 votes)
| Comments (50) | Views (378)

dancemonkeycastlewars.jpgWhen I was kid we played an awesome game called Crossbows and Catapults, in which you would build a little castle with individual bricks and place your Vikings (or whatever) all over the structure. You would then either lob or shoot caroms at your opponent's castle with the objective, of course, being nothing less than total annihilation. That was the best game ever. The only thing that could have improved the game was maybe the ability to rebuild your castle from time to time and oh, I don't know, dragons!

Enter CastleWars, a turn-based card battle against either a computer or live opponent where you try to either build your castle up to 100 or blast your opponent's to rubble.

After choosing the number of players (or the Net Play option), you're presented with an initially confusing screen full of icons and numbers. It's really very simple! Starting from above your castle and moving from the top of the screen downwards:

  • Builders and Bricks - bricks build things, and your stock of bricks goes up each turn by the number of builders you have.
  • Soldiers and Weapons - same relationship as builders to bricks. Weapons are used for attacking your opponent.
  • Magic and Crystals - detecting a pattern here? Crystals do various things, from attacking your opponent to enhancing your stores of resources.
  • Castle and Fence - straightforward. Build your castle to 100 and you win. If it reaches zero you lose. Your fence is your first line of defense. It's cheaper to build up than your castle, but contributes nothing directly to winning.

Each turn you can either click on a card in your hand to play it, or [ctrl]-Click to discard a card. Each card has a cost in resources associated with it, determined by the symbol in the upper-left corner of the card and the number in the upper right. The effect of that card is listed below the card's icon.

For instance, "Crush Weapons" is a fairly common card. It costs 4 Crystals to play and diminishes your opponent's stock of weapons by 8.

Once you play a card you automatically draw a new one and the turn is passed to your opponent. Play continues until one player's castle reaches 100, or until one player's castle is reduced to nothing.

Analysis: CastleWars is a fun and challenging game I'll return to again and again. The graphics and sound are basic without being too amateurish, so let's just say the developer didn't let attention to graphics and sound get in the way of the gameplay. They do, however, get the job done and didn't detract from my overall experience. There are a few nice touches, such as the clouds slowly rolling across the background.

The gameplay can get tedious, from time to time, simply because you and your opponent may find yourselves in a seemingly endless seesaw battle. You build up, she knocks down, you save up for a massive blow, she steals your resources, in comes the dragon... you get the picture. There is a balancing act required in your strategy that is fun to experiment with. You can go crazy and just build up your castle as quickly as possible, go crazy and just attack your opponent as ferociously as possible, or just plain go crazy and try to balance the two.

It's also nice that the developer thought to include two-player versus in addition to Internet play. I find it a lot more fun to demolish my opponent when he's sitting at the same keyboard. Trash talk has so much more value when tossed in the person's face. You try trash talking in a chat window and everyone hits the "/ignore".

Jay adds: There appears to be a timing bug when playing Net Play against an opponent: If you click a card too quickly upon it becoming your turn, the card is discarded without its effects being recorded. This happened to me enough times for it to be a rather annoying bug, and I hope the developer, Mads S. Lundemo (M0rkeulv), fixes this soon in an upcoming version since I have been really enjoying playing this game with friends for the past few days.

This is a unique and enjoyable game that we here at Casual Gameplay will be playing a lot more of in the future.

Play CastleWars

Cautionary note about Net Play: If you choose Net Play, the chat room lobby you are dumped into to find an opponent has often contained very offensive remarks. You are hereby forewarned.

Cheers to Fuzzboxer for the link! =)


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (39 votes)
| Comments (43) | Views (60)

zxoAmberialGravity: beneficial force of nature or oppressor of humankind? In the world of Amberial, it is both. In this unique platform game created by OddGoo, you play the part of a bouncing ball free to move about your world wherever you wish... horizontally. Unfortunately, you are not endowed with the ability to jump, so you must rely (primarily) on gravity and inertia to navigate vertically. However, what goes down never comes back up quite as far, and you may find yourself stranded on a low-lying platform with no recourse but to roll away into one of many conveniently placed death-traps.

Navigate your way to the goal to complete a level and unlock the next one. However, don't forget to search around for the golden 'A' first—collecting these on each level will unlock three bonus levels, located on the far right of the level map. To help you along your way are a variety of moving platforms, springs, launchpads, and other instruments of locomotion. However, it seems that for each one of these, there is also an instrument of death—red lava, red spikeys, red lasers, red bubbles... noticing a pattern here? In general it's a good idea to avoid anything red.

Analysis: With its dark levels, its unforgiving enemies and its constraint of being subjected to the whims of gravity, Amberial stylistically resembles Saltacol, a game reviewed here in 2004 (and one well worth playing if you haven't yet). However, for movement mechanism, think more along the lines of Within a Deep Forest. In contrast to these games though, Amberial presents a much less frustrating set of levels to advance through. Each is no more than a few screens large and is completable in a reasonable time, without oodles of restarts.

You'll definitely want the sound on while you play: Amberial contains a number of different soundtracks for different levels, ranging from intense to eerie chill, and all of them are high-quality. The music, along with the graphics, the level design and the moderate difficulty help make Amberial precisely what people are looking for in a casual game.

Play Amberial

Cheers to Martyn and Nerml for the link. =)


  • Currently 4.3/5
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(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (83) | Views (735)

Hidden Expedition: Everest

JohnBPlanning a trip to the top of Mt. Everest? Bet you wouldn't consider packing a neck tie, seashell, butterfly or a baseball, would you? Similar to the Mystery Case Files series, Hidden Expedition: Everest (a follow-up to Hidden Expedition: Titanic) takes the tried-and-true object hunting formula and whisks it away to exotic locations. You play one of several teams of explorers racing to be the first to climb the snowy mountain peak. The path is blocked, however, and the only way up is to locate a mysterious adventurer who knows of a hidden passage. Head off to South America and search the land for clues leading to this strange traveler.

Hidden Expedition: EverestTo play Hidden Expedition: Everest, all you have to do is find the objects listed at the bottom of the screen. It's no easy task, however, as they're hidden in some remarkably cunning ways. Each scene is packed with strange items tucked into every conceivable corner: toothbrushes disguised as clouds, swords masquerading as fish in a basket, butterflies perched in a pile of leaves, and so on. Stay focused and work on a group of three or four objects at a time to stay in the game. A limited hint system will narrow the search down, but you only have three, so use them wisely.

As you hunt for items in the jumbled scenes, keep an eye on the moving arrows at the bottom of the screen. The other teams are working as fast as they can to find objects too, adding a little bit of pressure to your eagle-eye hunting. There are also a few extra items to find, such as gems that will give you an extra hint and an hourglass that stalls the other teams for a few seconds.

As you progress in the game, your eyes get sharper and your brain gets faster at locating the hidden items. Fortunately the game increases the number of objects you must find and stashes them in more devious locations, keeping the difficulty fairly balanced in later stages. Interspersed throughout the game are bits of facts about the famous Mt. Everest, dispensed by mountaineer Ed Viesturs. Viesturs took real life expeditions to Everest and shares video and photography as you play (such as during the opening sequence).

Analysis: Just like the Where's Waldo books from days of yore, the Hidden Expedition series plays on our deep-seeded desire to find hidden things in everyday situations. Not only is it fun to explore a scene and examine the tiny details, but the satisfaction you get from noticing a well-hidden toothbrush on the wall of a Mayan temple is grand. Almost like finding your missing car keys in the freezer (don't ask).

Hidden Expedition: Everest plays it safe and keeps the formula almost identical to its predecessors. The interface has been jazzed-up a bit with new visuals and sound effects, but the core mechanics are similar. One down-side are the mini-puzzles you're forced to complete every few levels. Tasks such as piecing together a map of South America or assembling a skeleton try and break up the intense item hunting, but in the end they feel tacked on and rather pointless.

Even for die-hard Hidden Expedition and Mystery Case Files fans, Everest will still charm you with its can't-lose gameplay. Newbies to the object hunting scene should also give Everest a look, as it's a bit more forgiving than other games in the series. Addiction at its most basic form, you'll be surprised how quickly the time passes when you're looking for an airplane in a small rural village.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version.

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Order the full version.

Hidden Expedition: Everest is available to download from these affiliates:
Arcade TownBig Fish Games


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (62 votes)
| Comments (138) | Views (740)

JayShochu BarThe Gotmail team of Japan has just released their latest point-and-click adventure, and I am pleased to report this one has an English version available.

The Shochu Bar takes place in a familiar setting for anyone who has played the other gotmail games, but the story here is a different one. This is the story of a woman who was considering leaving her boyfriend for good. The bar owner asked if she would come back the next night for he had a special message to give her, and that perhaps it might help her make the right decision. The next night the woman came back to the bar, and that is how the game begins.

A tutorial exists for those unfamiliar with how to pick up items and examine them in your inventory. A nice soundtrack plays in the background as you scour the seemingly empty bar looking for clues. A delicious and formidable challenge awaits you.

Play Shochu Bar

Cheers to Owen for the alert about the new release. =)


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (143 votes)
| Comments (255) | Views (1,834)

zxoPowder GameHa55ii, creator of the previously reviewed Liquid Webtoy, has put forth another addictive webtoy: Powder Game. It bears a similarity in essence to the World of Falling Sand games, but takes it a step further with the introduction of wind and air pressure.

Most of your favorite elements from the World of Sand are present here, with a couple of new ones, too. Powder, water, and fire are pretty self-explanatory. Seed will grow a little shoot if brought in contact with powder (curiously, water is not necessary). Gunpowder will cause an explosion if contacted by fire. Ice does not get blown around, and water will turn to ice when it touches existing ice. Fire melts ice.

What's really cool are the wind and fan elements. Placing wind causes a temporary breeze to blow around, and placing fan causes the same effect except permanently. These winds blow around and around, spiraling hither and yon and causing a lot of chaotic feedback. You can add wheels that act like windmills and turn in the direction of the prevailing wind.

What I find most fascinating is that the winds are actually modeled by creating a difference in air pressure: low pressure shows up blue in the background and high pressure shows up green. This creates some beautiful shifting aurora-like patterns; static images do not do this game justice. Air pressure is also affected when gunpowder explodes, meaning that you can actually make a chamber that is pressurized relative to the rest of the screen by setting off some gunpowder in a sealed chamber of block.

Another neat idea is to create a system of fans, water, and ice. High winds cause the ice to turn to snow, but the winds also blow the water into the ice. It's fun to just watch the two competing forces go at it, freezing and unfreezing, making icicles and melting them. And every once in a while, igniting some gunpowder to shake things up!

I'm sure there are many more fascinating systems just waiting to be discovered. So what are you waiting for?

Play Powder Game

While you're over at dan-ball.jp, check out a couple of ha55ii's other toys: Compasses and Planet simulation. Both are good for brief diversions, but probably won't keep you interested for more than 10 minutes.

Note: These webtoys are Java applets, and therefore require a working Java runtime environment on your computer. You may download the latest Java free using the 'get Java' button in the sidebar.

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