Rat Maze 2
Those 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. ;)
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.