November 2007 Archives


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Rating: 4.8/5 (334 votes)
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theasylum.gifJohnBThe Asylum: Psychiatric Clinic for Abused Cuddly Toys finally has another cute little patient to treat: Dub the Turtle. Just like the previous toys, Dub has a problem and can't be his normal cuddly self. It seems something happened to him with his previous owner, and now the poor turtle can't stop exercising!

Using your masterful skills as a psychiatrist, work your way down the checklist of therapies and get to the root of Dub's problem. Dream analysis, an interview with a sock puppet, musicotherapy and more are all at your disposal, and each one reveals a little more about the toy's history and current mental state. Can you help Dub take a chill pill and stop skipping rope?

JayJay - If you have never played this game you are in for a real treat, as there are now 5 animals to cure and each with its own engaging story to tell through nicely animated cut scenes. The Asylum delivers one of the most emotionally moving interactive narrative experiences I have ever encountered in a Flash game. And it still remains one of my all-time favorites to this day.

Play The Asylum

Cheers to thecritic and moo for sending this one in!


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Link Dump Fridays

JohnBA healthy smattering of link dumped games this Friday, many of which are from developers you already know and love. The creators of Warp Forest, Bloons, and Submachine each have a new game available to play, and as luck would have it, they're all different genres than the titles that the developers are famous for!

  • zeba.gifZeba - A brand new release from Bloons creator Ninjakiwi combines old-school top-down puzzle gaming with fire, acid and ice! Move the little critter around the grid and tap the spacebar to fire. Your goal is to eliminate every material from the screen, and it's not as easy as it sounds.
  • wogger.gifWogger-Mini - The series of Samorost-esque point-and-click adventure episodes recently hit a milestone 100 installments. That's... a lot of pointing and clicking.
  • missiontomars.gifMission to Mars - From the Mr. MothBall, Covert Front and Submachine series creator comes another great-looking platform game starring a weirdo alien collecting keys to unlock doors on Mars. Or is he an anteater in a spacesuit?
  • fireflies.gifFireflies - A soothing game of luck and skill where you try to explode fireflies using the allotted number of shots. Your weapon bounces off the jagged walls, but aiming and hitting all the randomly floating bugs is almost more chance than skill. And does anyone else think it's sad to blow up fireflies?
  • touchbubbles.gifTouch the Bubbles 2 - From the creator of Warp Forest comes a musical puzzle game where you must repeat the melody using a series of bubbles. If you have a good ear for music you'll have an easier time with the game, otherwise it ends up being more of a guessing game.
  • conceptis.gifConceptis - Few websites do free online/printable number/picture pizzles as well as Conceptis. Try your hand at weekly sudoku puzzles, or get fancy with kakuro, battleships, slitherlink, hashi, and half a dozen varieties of picture-forming puzzles. Some can be played online and all can be printed and solved with a good old fashioned pencil.

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Rating: 4.5/5 (28 votes)
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PatrickThin IceThin Ice is the latest game from the Nitrome factory assembly line of casual gaming goodness. In this game you control a skater (of the wintery variety, not a Sk8ter) that is somehow threatened by the extended family of the yeti from that Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer claymation movie. You may recognize the characters from the previously reviewed (and excellent) Frost Bite. By skating circles around these strange creatures you cause them to sink into the pond, where they presumably die of hypothermia. Freeze all of the things that are different from you to win and move on to the next charmingly snowy level, but don't fall into the holes cut into the ice yourself or you'll lose about 25% of your health meter.

The game's interface is fluid as a snowflake that melts before you can show anyone: Simply click the mouse to skate and move the mouse to adjust the direction that your skater moves. This results in a really gentle adjustment that allows you to lace beautiful patterns all around. While you're sinking beasts into the lake, you can also pick up treats like ice cream and letters that spell "BONUS" which gives you points. Elegant and pristine with very nice pixel art filling out the sides.

Thin Ice is an enjoyable concept executed in classic Nitrome fashion, but it fails to provide an experience without a few minor kinks. In this case, the speed with which your trail recedes is equal to the speed of your skater. I guess the designer thought that making the two speeds equal would create balance, but it actually creates some frustration. Often I found myself chasing the trail in order to close a circle, something that might easily be tweaked by adjusting a variable in the code. Likewise, the physics feedback from colliding with a monster could be tuned down.

Overall, this is another fantastic experiment gone mostly right.

Play Thin Ice

As noted in the comments, Thin Ice is a game with roots in another game of the same name released in 1986 by Mattel Electronics for the Intellivision. The gameplay mechanic of creating loops around enemies and objects dates back to the arcade game Quantum by Atari, from 1982. Notable Flash games more recently that employ a similar mechanic include gameLab's Loop and Ferry Halim's Floats.


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Rating: 4.7/5 (20 votes)
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KeroBeetle WarsBeetle Wars is a great looking shooter disguised as a war between super powered insects. You are but one little super powered beetle and have the potential to possess an assortment of miraculous talents, available via purchasable upgrades. Select the ones you like with the hard-earned cash you earn by defeating your foes.

Your goal is simple: Kill all the other beetles and insects around you without dying; how you achieve that goal is not so simple. With 18 levels to complete and 19 different skills to choose this game gives you a lot of choice as to how you want to define your winning strategy. It has a good mix of passive, offensive, and defensive abilities to suit almost any strategy you can come up with. Although you have 19 different skills you can choose from, you will first need to save up the gold to pay for them and even then you can only take 6 with you into each battle. You start out with a simple ranged attack but it isn't too long before you are able to afford some of the better skills

You may need to play some levels a few times in order to save up for some of the skills you need to beat the later levels, but with a variety of different level types, this shouldn't really be too much of a problem. Although I did find the difficulty curve to be quite steep, and the gameplay a bit slow to get rolling, this game is definitely worth the trouble.

The game does save your progress so it's perfect if you just want to play a level or two on your coffee break, or sit at home and plow through the whole game. And even after you're done you can play through again trying a completely different set of skills.

Play Beetle Wars


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Rating: 4.5/5 (102 votes)
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JayGuest HouseFrom GUMP, the creator of Rental House comes another well-produced, point-and-click, room escape game.

Guest House puts you in a similar situation as most games of its type: click the mouse to select items; double-click to examine items in your inventory. Once you begin to move about the room and examine the various items and objects that await your puzzle-solving skills you will see that this is no ordinary room escape game.

Like his previous efforts, GUMP's latest escape game has a nice Viridian Room feel to it, both in style and quality. The only thing missing is a little narrative to thread everything together.

Play Guest House

Cheers to Megaera for the alert about this new release. =)


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Weekend Download

JohnBDid you know that today is the 328th day of the year? You only have 37 days left to ponder the events of 2007 before you leap into the future and begin living the life of a 2008ian. Hope you have your hoverboots ready.

aveyond.jpgAveyond (Windows, 24MB, demo) - With the release of Aveyond 2 scheduled for December 5, it's time to brush up on your role playing skills by diving into the original. Created by Amaranth Games, the same studio that gave us Grimm's Hatchery, Aveyond is an old-style console RPG set in a fantasy world. No surprises there, but the plot, gameplay and pacing draw you in like few other games can. Some way it's like Westward, some say it's like every Super NES RPG ever released, but just about everyone agrees that it's a whole lot of good game. Aveyond isn't aimed at casual gamers, so expect to sink some time into it before you're thoroughly hooked. You can also download the demo or grab the full version of Aveyond from Big Fish Games.

fastcrawl.jpgFastCrawl (Windows, 45MB, demo) - Miss the satisfaction you get when leveling-up characters and completing an epic RPG but don't miss the 80+ hours you must sacrifice to do so? Try FastCrawl, a deliciously old-school role playing game that strips away the learning curve and presents a thoroughly enjoyable game perfectly suited for a coffee break. You can also download and order FastCrawl from Arcade Town.

route960.gifRoute 960 (Windows/Mac, <1MB, free) - You are a driver. You have a car. You have to drive said car through horrible mountain terrain. As fast as you can. Slam down the [X] button to blaze your way across stunningly rendered Atari-age graphics and pump up the volume to hear mid-80s arcade sounds that should be extinct. Route 960 is so retro, you'll laugh. Seriously.

deathworm.jpgDeathworm (Windows, 3.5MB, free) - Oddly enough, this simple little game has been making waves in the indie gaming community for quite some time. Similar to Dolphin Olympics in playing style, you control a sandworm that swims through the ground and surfaces to eat people, animals, and more people. Sure, it's a bloody game, but it's small and simple enough to actually captivate you. And who can get that music out of their head?

headoverheels.gifHead Over Heels (Windows/Mac/Linux, ~15MB, free) - A remake of the original game, this isometric adventure is tough as nails but just as rewarding (assuming nails are very rewarding). Jump, walk, carry objects and grab items as you work your way through the puzzles in each room. Regular JIG visitors may recall the Flash game K-Mart Haunted House and its resemblance to this classic title.


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Link Dump Fridays

JohnBWoozy from the post-holiday food rush in the U.S., Link Dump Friday attempts to set its mind on other things. Namely, free online games. Trains have nothing to do with food, so they're fair game for today, as are Japanese numbers, being dumb, and brains. Well, brains could count, but not really. Something's missing, though. Just one more game to complete the day. How about... AH! This skydiving game has nothing to do with food, this Lamb Chop — oh, wait, nevermind.

  • sango.gifSan*Go - What would happen if a word search puzzle married a match three game? They would live happily ever after and create little baby games such as San*Go. Japanese for 3*5, your goal is to create as many three to five letter words as possible on the grid by swapping letters. Once a tile has been moved you only have three turns before it locks into place. It takes some time to bend your brain around the concept, but when you get the hang of it, look out, addiction. Created by Studio Cypher, the same team behind Entropic Space.
  • dumbwords.gifDumbWords - From Hamumu comes another game along the lines of Dumb: The Game, only this time the game really is dumb. All you have to do is guess what the most popular answer to the daily question will be. That's it. You have to register for a free account, as scores are tallied and good guessers receive prizes.
  • railz.gifRailz - A simple logic puzzle game, Railz challenges you with bulding loops of railroad track by swapping pieces with empty spaces. After you swap a tile, a new piece is thrown in its place. Unmovable tracks toss wrenches in your plans and force you to be flexible. And hey, look! There's a 'Z' there instead of an 'S'!
  • braindrain.gifBrain Drain - A riddle game along the lines of God Tower and Ouverture Facile, only this one keeps things light-hearted and slightly whimsical. In addition to scouring the depths of your mind for clues, you'll also have to experiment with using the keyboard and mouse to solve puzzles a little more viscerally.
  • lambchop.gifLamb Chop Drop - Created to benefit the Make a Wish foundation, Lamb Chop Drop is as simple as the name implies. You control a little sheep who has just leaped from a plane. Collect as many stars as you can to increase your score, and grab "?" bubbles to spice up your fall.

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Rating: 4.7/5 (50 votes)
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JohnBTwangBelieve it or not, Nitrome has just released another new game just days after Headcase and Pest Control. This one is for the MTV Arcade and it's called Twang. As the sound of the title implies, Twang is all about flinging a ball by pulling on nodes that connect pieces of platforms together. The resulting slingshot motion sends you flying around the stage hoping for a safe place to land.

Twang is entirely mouse-driven, simply grab the smiling nodes and pull back in any direction. The angle and intensity of your tug makes all the difference, so if you want to go high pull straight down, but if you want to move forward, give the node a little nudge in the opposite direction. With practice you can get the subtle nuanced flinging to send you almost anywhere you desire.

Analysis: While Twang shows the same level of polish and style as other Nitrome games, I can't help but feel it comes off as a little random. Blind luck is always a part of gaming, but in Twang every toss rolls the dice and gives you very little control over the outcome. It's the same sort of feeling I get when playing pinball. Practice, as always, curbs the randomness, but it's still a little too uncontrollable for my taste.

One of the best things about Nitrome games is the variety of new obstacles and creatures that appear as you progress through the levels. Twang is no different, introducing a number of fun twists just when you start to get used to everything.

Worth its weight in rubber bands (maybe twice over!), Twang is a fun and wacky game of platforming physics. And you just gotta love that twanging sound.

Play Twang

You can also play Twang at the MTV Arcade.


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(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JayLet's Do Lunch logic puzzleIf you're a regular visitor here, then you probably love casual games and puzzles as much as we do. Most of the games featured here are browser-based, but once or twice we've featured a puzzle or two that require the old-fashioned method of pencil and paper. The logic puzzles from Coudal Partners are what I'm referring to, and they've just published another one, called Let's Do Lunch, for the Thanksgiving (US) holiday.

The Set Up: Four movie actors are in a cafe, sitting together at a square table, like the one shown here with the seats numbered. They are discussing their most recent projects while waiting for their salads. Each has just returned from a different location where he or she was shooting a different type of film, one of which is a costume drama.

From the information provided can you figure out where each person sat, his or her full name, the location he or she had just returned from, and the type of movie each had shot?

There is, of course, a contest associated with this puzzle and fabulous prizes will be given away to 6 lucky winners, the top prize being an authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza. Visit the puzzle page for details.

Play Let's Do Lunch

If you love this type of logic puzzle, be sure to check out Puzzlers Paradise, a website filled with logic puzzles just like this that you can print out, or use an integrated Flash interface for solving them. Good stuff. =)

Best wishes, from all of us here at JIG, for a happy and safe holiday.


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Rating: 4.6/5 (111 votes)
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GriffPest ControlWe see clones of classic casual games everywhere—games with blocks that fall and lines that clear. But the ones that really shine through are those that build on a classic formula and make something new out of it. Chain Factor is one of the those games.

While the game may seem intimidating at first, with its grid of all sorts of numbers and the occasional boulder, it is actually deceptively simple. The game is played by dropping numbered discs into a grid, one by one, attempting to clear other discs off. A disc is considered "cleared" when it is in a row or column the size of the number on the disc. For example, if you placed a disc labeled 3 into a row of three discs, the disc of 3 would be cleared.

The downside to this creative approach is that it's virtually impossible to understand unless you know how it works. Luckily, there is a helpful FAQ available to explain how the game works, but the lack of an in-game help menu does create a slight barrier to new players.

The graphics in this game are not very impressive, but they are stylish and they maintain a sleek, chic look. Every disc is color-coded depending on it's number, but the colors are so similar that the effect is lost to some extent. Even the optional special powers have creative black-and-white logos.

Mentioning the powers brings up another point. This game, while simple at first, has an underlying layer of vast complexity. Special powers, available for use in Power Mode and Survival Mode, have to be unlocked, but not necessarily by you.

Now available for iPhone/iPod Touch!

There is a password for each stage hidden... somewhere. In the media, on the highway, anywhere they can stick it and get away with it. These passwords then have to be entered three times to unlock a new power. Interestingly enough, you don't have to supply any passwords yourself; once three people in the world find and enter the password for any one power, that power will be unlocked for everyone to use. Every new power unlocked adds another twist to the Power and Survival Modes, and, until all of the powers have been unlocked, the new powers should give you a reason to go back and play again.

Analysis: Chain Factor is a beautiful game. Aesthetically, the environment is clean and modern. The game play is novel and manages to offer something that I've never seen before. The way the powers are unlocked is also an innovation to appreciate. This game is what you get when you manage to pack a fresh idea, a great developer, and a whole lot of fun together into one game.

Play Chain Factor

Cheers to Spectre, Kevin, Gregory, Ian and Dave for suggesting this one. =)


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Rating: 4.8/5 (73 votes)
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PatrickPest ControlPest Control is the latest from Nitrome, makers of the recent HeadCase and YinYang. You are the exterminator, your job: kill the bugs. You run through a wide variety of scenarios including different kinds of bugs, all timed, with slightly different win conditions. It's WarioWare with a swatter, and it (mostly) works.

The game is split into several levels that each have nine scenarios to beat. Each scenario involves a different kind of insect. For instance, in one you'll need to swat 40 flies in 30 seconds; in another you'll need to swat the bees without getting hit by their stingers, all in less than 25 seconds. The gameplay is simple: you control the position of a swatter with the mouse, and when you click, it swats. You must complete every challenge to unlock and advance to the boss scenario for the level, and you can replay them in any order to try for a higher score.

The game is not perfect though, both psychologically and in the gameplay balance. The bee levels in particular really get me, I was stung by 11 bees back in September while walking my dog through a marsh, the feeling still haunts my nightmares; if you've ever had an unpleasant experience with any member of the Arthropoda sub-phylum you'll be able to face those repressed memories here, probably to therapeutic benefit. Then there's the gameplay, because each section is a distinct version of the game, there is a need to give each a deal of balancing and play testing in order to keep the difficulty curve consistent and avoid any nagging issues. A terrible example of this is level 4-1, where you must swat down the fireflies while they're unlit. The problem there is they stay unlit for inconsistent time periods and without warning return to their harmful lit states. There are less dramatic examples of disproportionately difficult sections, particularly later on, that impede the player from enjoying a smooth flow to completion. Topping it all off, the chronic clicking involved in some of these levels can be exhausting, which might just compound with the disgust of dealing with all those bugs, but nobody said the job of an exterminator would be easy.

If you've got the stomach for it, I recommend you suit up and play Pest Control.

Play Pest Control


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Rating: 4.7/5 (327 votes)
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anikasodyssey.jpgJohnBAnika's Odyssey: Land of the Taniwha is a beautiful point-and-click adventure by Tricky Sheep similar in style to Sprout or Samorost. In fact, it was designed and programmed by Jeff Nusz (Sprout), with art by Tom Robinson.

You begin with the innocent task of gathering water from the well. As a great eagle swoops from the sky and absconds with your rabbit pal, the bucket becomes a stool that allows you to jump the fence and begin your adventure!

Control is entirely mouse-driven and centers around clicking hotspots on the screen to enable various events. Your cursor will change when you hover over a clickable spot. To look around the environment, simply slide the mouse to the edge of the screen and it will gradually scroll in that direction. The game is largely exploration-based, so it's important to pay attention to your surroundings.

anikasodyssey2.jpgPuzzles are mostly confined to hunting for the next point to click or discovering which order to trigger the events. There are a few more traditional riddles to solve, however, but nothing too difficult. The game is heavy on charm and light on frustration, almost like an interactive storybook.

Anika's Odyssey manages to tell a simple but engaging tale with nothing more than images and sound. The visuals are absolutely beautiful, complete with layered backgrounds that give the illusion of depth. The music is equally enchanting and, when paired with the story of a young girl on a quest, conveys the rather innocent sense of adventure Anika must feel herself.

It's funny, it's cute, and there's a host of zany creatures just waiting to be discovered. Anika's Odyssey a little bit of storybook magic.

Play Anika's Odyssey


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Rating: 4.4/5 (25 votes)
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mindbender.jpgzxo Talk about your misnomers! With a name like The Mind Bender, you'd think you were in for an epically long and devious puzzler. Instead, you get a simple, breezy platformer that should make for a nice break from the some of the more intense offerings we've reviewed lately.

Let the soothing oriental soundtrack whisk your worries away as you navigate your way through each level using the arrow keys. Using mouse-over-matter techniques, you may drag the wooden boxes to places that help you get over obstacles or keep you from landing on the dangerous spikes. Just click the box to form a telekinetic tether and drag it where you need it to be. While it is being transported, the box will blow an electric blue, and you'll be able to pass right through it if you wish, but it turns solid again once it comes to rest (unless you're in the way).

Besides spikes and boxes, the only other special block type is a glowing green barrier. You can pass through it, but blocks may not. There are no moving blocks or platforms, no keys to collect, no coins to seek out, just you and some boxes. This necessarily limits the variety of levels, but The Mind Bender does a good job of exploring the possibilities nonetheless. It also makes the mouse/keyboard duality of controls bearable, since at no time are you under any pressure to use both in rapid succession.

It's OK to zone out while playing The Mind Bender — it's really not that taxing on your brain or your fingers, nor is it trivially easy. Instead, it hits the sweet spot in between, in the realm where it's possible to put yourself halfway onto autopilot while you decompress. Think somewhere in between Solitaire and Ball Revamped.

Or just play it for fun. That always works, too.

Play The Mind Bender


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Rating: 4.4/5 (87 votes)
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prismcore1.jpgKeroThe third installment of the Core series, Prism Core, has just been released by John Feltham of Arcade Cabin. The game is similar in concept to the previous two in that you must figure out how to power the core using the various tools from around the room. This one proves to be somewhat more difficult than the previous games, however.

You are given a choice between three items to start you on your way: an instant camera, a genetic print out, and a power core. You will need different items for different reasons depending on which item you choose. For example, with the power core the game will tell you that you do not need the beaker on the table. This implies that with each item you may have to come to a different solution or that you will have to come to the same solution in a completely different manner. Either way is a very unique and welcomed twist on the escape the room genre.

Play all the Core Series games:
Sphere CoreCube CorePrism CoreSoul CoreTower Core

Analysis: My biggest concern with this game is that I found it much more difficult than the previous two and had a lot of trouble getting going. This may not be an issue at all, perhaps my way of thinking is just different than the method of problem solving required by this game. All in all this is a great addition to the series and I definitely recommend checking it out.

Play Prism Core


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Rating: 4.9/5 (107 votes)
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GriffBattle for Wesnoth is a free, open-source turn-based strategy game originally designed by David White. It's similar to games like Fire Emblem, Advance Wars and Shining Force in that each player commands an army of units, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Battles take place on a hexagonal grid and layers take turns moving armies and issuing commands.

battleforwesnoth.jpgThe first major feature that sets Battle for Wesnoth apart from the competition is the presence of simple online play. None of this joining 187.13.122.23 and opening ports 2000-2500 only to find the servers are down. Instead of forcing players to host or join games, Battle for Wesnoth has its own dedicated server where anyone can play. The online experience is very easy to use and works seamlessly. Online games can even be saved and loaded at a later time, so even if someone loses their connection the battle will continue.

If you aren't into multiplayer there's a vast amount of single player gaming to be had. Whereas a typical tactics game might offer you a few campaigns, Battle for Wesnoth starts you out with no less than six. Ranging in size from a few hours to several days worth of play time, each campaign could stand alone as a game on its own. Not only that, but literally dozens more user-made campaigns can be downloaded for free right from the game's title screen. This adds near-limitless gameplay to an already robust title.

Also available for iPhone/iPod Touch:

Battle for Wesnoth is also very friendly to users who wish to create their own maps. The rich editor (included in the game) allows you to use any element you've seen in a campaign in your creation. Artistic types can grab a separate program called CampGen to make an entire campaign, including customized units!

Analysis: Coded by many different programmers and featuring community-made graphics, campaigns and music, Battle for Wesnoth shows what a collaborative effort can accomplish. It also manages to streamline a complex game genre into something casual players can enjoy. Battle for Wesnoth is free and is available for Windows, MacOS X and Linux.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the free full version

LinuxLinux:
Download the free full version


| Comments (77) | Views (23)

Weekend Download

JohnBThis edition of Weekend Download serves as a firm reminder that some video games used to be painfully difficult. None of this coddling, tutorialized hand-holding gameplay you find today. Back then you were tossed in a blocky four-color world and had to fend for yourself. Brutally difficult games may be a thorn in the side of modern-day casual gamers, but it will help you appreciate the experience programmers have collectively gained over the decades.

dinerdashhometown.jpgDiner Dash: Hometown Hero (Windows, 21MB, demo) - After returning from her adventures on a cruise ship, Flo finds her hometown is a bit run-down. What better way to spice things up than by serving good food? Diner Dash: Hometown Hero uses the familiar time management formula and tasks you with seating customers, taking orders, serving food, collecting tips and clearing tables as efficiently as you can. The twist comes when the power goes out, quirky customers demand special treatment, or when Flo hires an assistant and competes for tips. Upgrade your restaurant and customize its look as you progress, then upload it to the Diner Dash website for others to play. A brand new multiplayer mode lets you compete against friends to see who the best diner dasher is!

tojamthing.gifToJam Thing (Windows/Mac/Linux, ~5MB, free) - An almost trance-like single screen shooter, ToJam Thing is all about inflating and popping floating red bubble things that meander about the screen. When they burst they release collectables that increase your score. They also let loose poppers that will cause other red bubbles to explode, causing chain reactions. The game ends when the song ends, but there's a nice boss fight to cap off the experience.

untitledstory.gifUntitled Story (Windows, 8.4MB, demo) - An exploration-based platform game with a charmingly childlike hand-drawn visual style. It gets pretty difficult, but the level design is excellent, and there's a lot of different things to do. If you've played Seiklus, it's a bit like that, but with a ton of boss fights. The download is a demo (a rather substantial one), but you can get the full game for as little as one dollar, if you want to support the author. (Thanks Psychotronic!)

iwannabetheguy.gifI Wanna Be The Guy (Windows, 39MB, free) - Think you're good at video games? Let this one prove you wrong. Forged in the fires of old-school platforming, I Wanna Be The Guy is brutally difficult to the point of being unfair. To make through each stage you'll die no less than two dozen times, each the result of a cheap game mechanic you could never have predicted. Trial-and-error is your weapon, and with time you can whittle away at the levels by experimenting and hoping you don't get squished. Game is in pre-alpha stage, so expect glitches here and there, and we'll slap on a PG13 rating for lewd humor and gory pixelated death scenes.

banananababa.gifBanana Nababa (Windows, 2.5MB, free) - Continuing the "you're not good enough to beat this game" theme, Banana Nababa is another old-school flavored platformer with a high level of difficulty. The difference is you only battle bosses, none of that stage stuff in-between, as you climb the tower. Each of the six foes are tougher than the last and you'll have to use a little experimentation to learn each one's attack patterns and find a weakness. If you're into challenge, Banana Nababa is definitely the way to go.


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Rating: 4.6/5 (128 votes)
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Coffee ShopJohnBLike an updated version of the classic Lemonade Stand game, Coffee Shop puts you in a young entrepreneur's shoes with the power to make or break your budding business. Buy ingredients, adjust your secret recipe, and set the price per cup to sell as much coffee to passers-by as you can. Strike a balance between customer satisfaction and profit and you're on your way to java-induced bliss.

Before each business day begins you'll have a chance to stock up on supplies. To make and sell coffee you need four ingredients: cups, coffee, milk, and sugar. You can adjust your coffee recipe to make a creamier, sweeter brew that customers might enjoy. The more you use in each cup the fewer people you can serve, so experiment to find a comfortable in-between.

Adding even more variety to the mix, customers have different preferences for their cup of joe, so you won't be able to please everyone all the time. And on cold days more people want a warm drink than hot days, so be sure to drop your price when the sun is blazing. Customers let you know what they think about your brew with icons floating over their heads. Keep a running tally of the overall opinion and adjust your recipe and inventory the next day.

Analysis: Coffee Shop is an excellent update to the old Lemonade Stand game some of us were hooked on back in the early days of computer gaming. The brief tutorial makes everything seem much more complicated than it really is, so read through it and dive right in. You can always adjust things later.

Excellent visual design and well-balanced gameplay, the only slight bone I have to pick with Coffee Shop is if you run out of ingredients and your stand closes, you have to sit there and wait out the day. Of course that kind of rubs in the fact that I didn't buy enough coffee to feed the hungry masses, so maybe the forced wait has a purpose after all.

A polished and highly addictive game. Makes you crave coffee, which can be a good or a bad thing.

Play Coffee Shop


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (545 votes)
| Comments (37) | Views (298)

GriffPapa's PizzeriaThe genre of casual resource management games is a true hit or miss genre that either appeals to you or it doesn't. If it does, then you are one of the people who has contributed to the wild success of Diner Dash, Cake Mania, and the like. And if it doesn't... this may be the game to change your mind.

Papa's Pizzeria, by Flipline Studios in Ohio, is more than your average resource management game. While a typical entry in the vein of Diner Dash would require little more than clicking on various hot spots to make and deliver the food to customers, Papa's Pizzeria gives it a more personal touch. Rather than clicking on an order and then on a station for topping the pizza, only to watch the pizza top itself, you must actually top the pizza yourself.

The basics of the gameplay are simple: Just swap through four stations, each an important part of the pizza-making process.

  • The Order Station: This is where you will take orders from when a customer approaches the counter.
  • The Topping Station: Once you have an order (or two, or three) queued up, this is where you will go to prepare the pizza. Topping is easy--simply drag and drop various toppings onto the pizza, according to the customer's specifications. Here's where some tricky bits come in--the customer not only decides what toppings he wants, but also where they should be put. For the best pizza, the toppings will need to be roughly evenly distributed around the area of the pizza he wants the toppings on.
  • The Baking station: Once you finish working on the toppings, you can send your pizza directly to the ovens, where it will cook. It's up to you to take the pizza out when it's been baking for the right amount of time.
  • The Cutting Station: After taking the pizza out of the oven, it's sent straight here. By drawing lines from end to end of the pizza, you cut it into pieces, according to how the customer ordered it to be cut. Then, when you are satisfied, you can finish the pizza, sending it out to the customer.

Your performance at each of these stations directly determines what score--or rather, how much tip money--the customer awards you when you pass the pizza along to him.

There is also a major element of time management present in this game. From the moment you take the pizza off the oven, you will be virtually locked into cutting it and serving it--which takes time. Perhaps too much time, if any of the other pizzas in the oven are ready to come out.

To help balance the amount of time it takes to serve the pizza and the amount of time it takes to stick the pizzas in the ovens, after topping a pizza, you get the option of saving it for later--very useful for when you finish a pizza but can't put it on the oven yet due to bad timing.

Analysis: What makes this game stand out from Diner Dash, Cake Mania, Miss Management, and the other notables of the genre is the presence of skill-based challenges. Not only does your skill at handling the various stations affect your tip--it also determines how quickly you can get done with the pizza itself.

The presence of these skill-based challenges really fleshes out the game beyond a simple challenge of what to click and when. That, combined with the excellent graphics and pleasant (if repetitive) music makes this an excellent game, both for the resource-management buffs and those of us casual gamers just out for a good time.

Play Papa's Pizzeria


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Link Dump Fridays

KeroThe holiday season is approaching so everyone knows what that means: hoards of enemies that never seem to stop coming, training new troops, adding new turrets to your base, cannons with legs, stealing crops from your local agriculture community, and messing with the forces of gravity... All the usual stuffo. Oops. Did I say the holiday season? I meant LINK DUMP FRIDAY! Wooty-tooty!

  • AoW_Icon.gifAge of War - draws elements from a complex strategy game and puts puts it into a much simpler format for the casual gamer. With only one base to defend on a 2D plane, it's very simple to keep track of everything that's going on. And with the ability to advance through different time periods the game utilizes 16 different units and 15 different towers very effectively. Did I mention you get special powers? Because you do.
  • twilightheroes.gifTwilight Heroes (previously reviewed) - is a rather old-school browser RPG where you make choices, explore, find items and gain abilities by clicking links, sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure story, but much more interactive. By day you're an under appreciated worker in a droll job, but when the sun sets you put on that crime fighting mask and patrol the streets. You develop super powers as you play, such as telekinesis or super strength, all depending on the class you chose when creating a character. Build your crime hideout when it's dark, but don't forget you have work the next day.
  • Cannon_icon.gifCannon Runner - is actually TWO games for the click of one. One is a simple but entertaining shooting game where you move your line... thingy... around and shoot stuff such as targets and cannons firing at you. Over time your weapon levels-up and becomes more powerful. The second is a more complex game that puts you in the place of a cannon that has legs. Your goal is to simply reach the end of each level. However, your cannon can't jump, so you must use your attack to propel yourself in the air as well as shoot enemies that are trying to stop you.
  • Garden_Icon.gifThe Guarded Garden - is similar in concept to Pac-Man where you must run around eating as many carrots as you can while avoiding the dogs that chase you. You lose health over time and when you get attacked. You can run by holding space but this will deplete your health reserves. How many carrots can you has? Om nom nom nom.
  • Sola_Icon.gifSola Rola - the Gravity Maze - is a unique puzzle game in which you need to get two blobs — Wiz and Waz — to their respective buttons. Their space ship is off-course and they're bored, so they decided to play with their ships gravity maze. Use the left and right arrow keys to rotate the stage and the blobs will roll around as blobs tend to do. The puzzles start out fairly simple but do get progressively more difficult.

Well this about wraps up this week's Link Dump Friday I hope these games can tide you over until JIG Poker Night, tomorrow at 3:00 PM (GMT -5:00).


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (63 votes)
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headcase.gifPatrickHeadcase is the latest platforming fiesta from Nitrome, creator of Hot Air 2 and Skywire. Set in a world of lush pixel art where gravity is fickle and your head is huge, you play a superhero dream-avatar (yes, that's about right) with a big 'up' arrow on your helmet. You stick to walls, ceilings and floors, allowing you to move around platforms as if you were an insect. You also have the ability to jump/fly in a straight line, kind of like Superman.

The controls are about as simple as you can get: Walk back and forth with the [arrow] or [W] and [D] keys, and jump with the [spacebar]. Enemies can also be dispatched using this head-bashing method. Not only can you jump from wall to wall and floor to ceiling, but walking to a corner causes you to change orientation. This works very smoothly and, when topped off with the spacebar gliding, gives the game a very relaxed flow that's hard to match. Kind of like Sonic the Hedgehog on a slow day.

There are 25 levels to work through and the difficulty progresses quite smoothly. Be prepared to get squashed more than few times on your way to the end.

Nitrome fans will recognize many elements of the game's design, from the catchy music to the visual design and even the level select screen. Headcase is another game with artwork by Simon Hunter and programming by Aaron Steed, as was the previously reviewed Nanobots.

Its good to see a game that doesn't try to say too much but simply presents an unusual beauty in the idea that anything is possible.

Play Headcase


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (95 votes)
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warbears3.jpgJohnBWarbears is back with a brand new adventure in Warbears Mission 3: An Oceanic Problem! Training has ended and the 'bears are tasked with an important job: save a group of hostages from a vile band of "animal creatures that can talk". Gionatan Iasio has infused this game with the same stylish presentation as before, and the signature Warbears humor is back and better than ever.

Each character in Warbears has a set of context-sensitive moves that changes depending on your location and what events have transpired. For example, Agent Ryoh loves to use his katanas, and depending on what's nearby his actions will be different. Activating these moves in the right order is the key to beating the game. In other words, just start clicking, lose the game, then start all over again. This trial-and-error gameplay is reminiscent of Hapland and the Grow series of games.

Dive right into Warbears: Mission 3 and let the string of failures begin!

Play Warbears: Mission 3


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (105)

worldofsolitaire.jpgJohnBSolitaire is as solitaire does, but sometimes a version of the classic card game appears that makes it feel fresh and interesting all over again. Enter World of Solitaire, a sleek and highly customizable DHTML version of solitaire (no Flash, just Javascript) created by Robert Schultz of Cosmic Realms. It's the next best thing to sitting down with a deck of cards, only now you can sneak in a game or two while you're at work.

Everyone and their uncle knows how to play at least one version of solitaire. World of Solitaire includes 22 varieties of the single-player game. That's... that's a lot of solitaire. From the classic Klondike to Scorpion, Pyramid, Yukon and others you probably haven't even heard of, the whole gang is here, complete with instructions on how to play.

Aside from the sheer number of games available, what makes World of Solitaire actually worth playing is the options palette. Don't like the table background? Change it. Don't like the look of the playing cards? Choose a new theme. Want the cards to animate faster, a sharper-looking deck, or the computer to auto-play obvious moves? Go for it. Customize to your heart's content, but don't forget the timer is running and there's a game to be played.

A simple game everyone loves can be ruined with poor design choices, but in the case of World of Solitaire, it can rise to a new level. Forget about that game of solitaire buried on your computer and revisit the classics in style.

Play World of Solitaire


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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moonmasterrahkon.jpgPatrickMoonMaster: RahKon is the latest from Lost Vectors, creator of BowMaster Prelude. Gone is the resource management and medieval setting, but in its place you'll find a space-themed setting along with a similar physics engine under the hood. You play the role of a ball on the moon shooting rocks and a UFO with your lasers. Simply hold the left mouse button to fire and use the arrow keys to move around. The goal? Try not to get smashed to pieces.

Physics are the central focus of MoonMaster, and you'll spend most of your time fighting with them to reign control of the ball. Any object that's bigger than you will damage you, as will bombs, fire, and lasers. Crushing rocks that are smaller than you causes you to grow, keeping your delicate core safe from harm. Then, just stay alive as long as you possibly can.

Analysis: MoonMaster: RahKon is a pretty solid pet rock. However, I kind of wish there were more to this game on the high-level, the same way BowMaster Prelude allowed you to improve your castle defenses over time. Having advancement based on timing is also kind of a drag on the game's pacing. Instead, you should complete a level when you score a certain amount of points. Tuning up the rate at which obstacles fall down would make the game run at a brisker pace as well.

Keep in mind that MoonMaster: RahKon is still in early beta, so changes and improvements will likely occur over time. Until then, have fun bouncing and shooting!

Play MoonMaster: RahKon


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (58 votes)
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JayExcitIf you have ever wanted a game to look more like work so that you could play in the office without fear of someone glancing over your shoulder and seeing particle effects shooting toward all edges of your computer screen while you're dodging asteroids and flying monkeys, then this is for you.

Excit is a puzzle game similar to the previously reviewed Orbox and Orbox B, which were both clones of Roadblocks, set on top of a page from a spreadsheet. The game includes a variety of extras that make each level increasingly more difficult and compelling to play. A level password system allows you to continue a game at a later time, and though the game asks for your name to start with, there is no integrated save system in place.

The game was created by Krystian Majweski and team from Creative Units, a German company that does development and research of computer games. It was designed as a small viral Flash game for a company that was bought up before the game was published, but the authors have made the game available to play anyways, since it is a finished piece of their work. And it's quite nice, too.

Play Excit

Cheers to Wouter for suggesting this one. =)


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (21 votes)
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KeroEther CannonEther Cannon is a new action shooter from Luke Paakh of Pop Ethos. You control a space ship which is the last hope of... Well it doesn't really say, but it seems urgent.

It's a beautiful game, the particle effects in it are just brilliant, and the action it delivers is (mostly) smooth, polished, and pretty refreshing. The game does a great job of delivering lots of fast shoot-em-up fun without ever reaching a plateau; each time it begins to feel as if you've had the same weapon for a while, or haven't seen a new enemy type in a few levels, something new is thrown into the mix. Even in the very last stages of the game it introduces new enemy types to challenge you to change your strategy, so you can out maneuver and outwit your enemies.

Use the arrow keys to move and the mouse to aim and fire. There are 21 levels in all, most of them consisting of 6 waves each. Each wave pits you against an array of foes out to destroy your ship using a variety of tactics. During these waves enemies will occasionally drop Ether, which you will need to collect to upgrade your ship, and you are given the chance to spend your hard earned Ether between levels.

There are three upgrades to choose from:

  • Engines - Upgrading your engines will improve the maneuverability of the ship, as well as the ship's overall speed.
  • Shields - Upgrading your shields will increase the rate at which your shields recharge, as well as increase the total shield power. This upgrade is essential in later levels.
  • Turret - Upgrading your turret will increase the damage it deals. As an added bonus the type of bullets your ship fires will also be upgraded every so often.

Analysis: With there being only 3 upgrade choices, I found that after a while I was just dumping loads of points into my turret with no real noticeable increase in power, as if I'd reached the max, but it didn't tell me. A few different options would have been nice, maybe choosing different weapon types that were already featured in the game, and focusing on one, such as the spread weapon, and further developing that. The biggest gripe I had with the game was that there were no quality settings, and being a flash game that uses loads of particle effects, this is a must. I found that in the later levels of the game with loads of enemies around it was almost impossible to aim properly due to the lag caused by all the effects. A simple quality adjustment would fix this issue.

Apart from a few minor issues this is truly a great game, and I highly recommend taking the time to play Ether Cannon.

Play Ether Cannon


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (31 votes)
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ambivalence.jpgJohnBThe point-and-click room escape game Ambivalence is a member of a crowded genre. Fortunately it's just different enough to be worth your time. Instead of walking around a room turning over objects and poking your nose in every corner, your only goal is to unlock a very secure-looking door that sits right in front of you. The fun twist is that you play from both sides of the door, switching views with the click of a button. Items you find on one side do not transfer to the other, creating a unique collaboration-style atmosphere where you are your own partner.

Use the mouse to click items/areas you want to examine or use. The "About Item" button lets you examine and interact with objects in your inventory, while the "Change Side" option flips you to the other end of the door. The puzzles in Ambivalence are fairly straightforward, although there will be a few times you'll be scratching your head. You'll also have to keep an eye out for hard-to-see items and hatches, and a few times you'll just have to get lucky and click the right pixel.

Despite its minor shortcomings, Ambivalence is a satisfying and engaging entry to the point-and-click family of games.

Play Ambivalence


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Rating: 4.5/5 (32 votes)
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Reader reviewRagdoll InvadersThe following is a reader-submitted review by Weirdguy:

Ragdoll Invaders was created by Matteo Guarnieri of Rag Doll Software, a one-man indie developer based in Venice, Italy. He has brought us wonderments like Ragdoll Avalanche, as well as the downloads N-Ball and Ragdoll Masters. Avalanche is basically an endurance test involving large amounts of falling spikes and you. It sounds frustrating, and it is. But now YOU CAN FIGHT BACK!

In Ragdoll Invaders, the falling spikes are replaced with lasers and explosives, but lo and behold, your floppy ragdoll stickman is replaced with... another floppy ragdoll stickman. But wait, there's more! His arms, unlike the other stickman, have been replaced with DUAL CHAINGUNS. Which have unlimited ammunition. This pretty much makes any game flipping hardcore.

The main reason why you have guns for arms is because the lasers and explosives are coming from large spaceships which want to take over your planet, but for some reason seem more intent on trying to destroy you first, even though they could easily fly to the other side of the planet and avoid confronting you for months. Although I could understand why they would rather destroy you first: the place seems to be grey and totally featureless, and it would seem less dull risking dying by your full automatic arms than conquering a planet with nothing else on it. Not like it matters to you. You have guns for arms. It makes everything cool.

Of course, why you get such an insane weapon from the start of the game is quickly discovered when you find the downside to being a floppy ragdoll stickman — your lack of control over your limbs causes your arms to flail wildly when you are firing your guns, making it difficult to actually aim while attacking. It isn't really that much of a problem, though, because this also causes you to spread your fire through the entire area, showering everything with death.

Your main objective is to not die from the enthusiastic efforts of your otherworldly assailants, who are more than happy to fire at you with simultaneously reckless and aimed attacks, making your job quite a bit harder than you expected it would be considering that you have dual chainguns for arms. This gets even more crazy when increasing amounts of opponents want to get in on the action at the same time, and eventually you end up having to take on a whole army of them. Good thing you brought both of your guns, eh?

The gameplay might get a bit repetitive for some, but this occurs in most arcade shooters anyway, and the challenge to see how far you can get is the real reason why folks play these games. But it's always nice to see a new take on an old concept. Especially when you have guns for arms.

Play Ragdoll Invaders


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Weekend Download

JohnBBy far the biggest, most first-paragraph-worthy news of in the downloadable world this week is Sam & Max are back. Not only are they back for another season of episodic adventure games, but the highest rated release from season one — Abe Lincoln Must Die — is now free. Free as in download it now. No excuses. We've also got a healthy portion of other great games to download, including an almost-too-cutesy casual game, Nanda's Island, that came out of nowhere to steal my afternoon. Don't you just love games that are... good?!

nandaisland.jpgNanda's Island (Windows, 15MB, demo) - A surprisingly fun casual game, Nanda's Island stars a panda bear who mastered the rain dance and is trying to restore life to a barren island. As Nanda plants seeds and summons rain clouds, you must draw lines and guide the water to the flowers. Special plants such as fountain flowers fire water upwards, allowing you to feed seeds across barriers. It's a great-looking game that feels a little slow-paced at the beginning but quickly warms up to be a superbly entertaining title.

samandmax201.jpgSam & Max season 2 (Windows, demo/free) - Sam and Max made a triumphant return earlier this year with a series of six episodic adventure games that contained more jokes per minute of gameplay than allowed by law. Fortunately for us they're back for another season in Sam & Max: Ice Station Santa. To celebrate its return, Telltale Games has also released episode four of the first season Sam & Max: Abe Lincoln Must Die for free! If you've somehow missed these quirky, off-beat adventure games in the past, you simply can't pass this one up. No game can make you laugh this hard. Legally.

finalvision.jpgFinal Vision (Windows, 11MB, freeware) - Take Final Fantasy, then toss it in an indie blender with a simple (but colorful) platform game. What do you get? Final Vision, a short but tantalizing mix of run and jump gaming with experience point collecting and... chocobos! The storyline is quite flimsy, so don't expect to be wow-ed with prose, but the game itself is a treat to play.

marblearena.jpgMarble Arena (Windows/Mac, ~25MB, freeware) - Hey Marble Arena! Switchball called, it wants its game idea back! Well, not exactly. Marble Arena is an arcade-flavored marble rolling game where you dart around colorful levels collecting stars and playing with basic ball physics. It's an excellent time-waster that comes with cheesy steel drum background music to boot!

enigmo2.jpgEnigmo and Enigmo 2 (Mac/Win, 20/30MB, free/demo) - Enigmo and its sequel are puzzle games where your goal is to move liquids to their appropriate containers using a number of contraptions (springs, accelerators, sponges, etc.). Enigmo 2 tosses you into outerspace and introduces plasma and lasers for you to manipulate along with a host of new tools. The full version includes a level editor, and you don't need me to tell you just how much fun that is all by itself. (Note: Windows versions are available here: Enigmo Deluxe Enigmo 2)

Note: All games have been confirmed to run under Windows 7 and are virus-free. Mac users should try Boot Camp, Parallels, or CrossOver Games to play Windows titles, Linux users can use Wine. If you know of a great game we should feature, use the Submit link above to send it in!


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (33 votes)
| Comments (55) | Views (508)

Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate

JohnBMystery Case Files: Madame Fate is a brand new hidden object game just released in the Mystery Case Files series. This installment drops you in a carnival where the fortune teller Madame Fate has seen something troubling in her crystal ball. At the stroke of midnight she will be killed, but which carnival character will commit the act? Maybe it's the bearded lady? Or is it the strong man? The sword swallower? Gather clues about the carnies by finding hidden items and solving puzzles throughout the dark and mysterious circus.

mysterycasefilesmadam.jpgThe item hunting genre should be familiar to most casual gamers by now, and Mystery Case Files is one of the most widely-recognized names out there. You are presented with a number of different scenes, each with dozens of objects cleverly hidden amongst the clutter. A list sits at the right showing what items you need to find. All you need to do is check the list, hunt for the item, and click when you find it. You have a generous time limit that gets depleted if you click too fast, so keep your cool and use your limited hints wisely.

To keep the object finding from becoming stale, Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate tosses a few other puzzles your way from time to time. Most are word-based brainteasers that have you unscrambling tiles or creating words from a set of letters. You'll also have to decipher the occasional riddle (similar to those found in Forgotten Riddles: The Mayan Princess) and manipulate objects on the screen to match the solution. For example, the list item "hole in one" may refer to something golf-related, or it may have something to do with the bullet laying on the desk and the gun pointing at the number one. Why not drag the bullet over there and find out?

mysterycasefilesmadam2.jpgOne interesting new feature in Madame Fate are stages within stages. Certain scenes will have a glowing area you can click on to enter a brand new area with hidden objects to find. It doesn't change the gameplay very much, but it does add a nice adventure flavor to the mix.

Analysis: When considering a new entry in a well-established genre, the main question that arises is this: does it bring anything new to the table? The answer in this case is a resounding "yes". Madame Fate boasts a great new setting that's filled with intrigue. Who doesn't like a good old fashioned carnival, complete with a bearded lady? The actual item hunting is standard fare, but the Mystery Case Files series has always featured top-notch production values. The word puzzles you have to complete are fairly easy, but they serve their purpose well and break up the pixel scrutinizing at just the right time.

More hidden object puzzles is almost always a good thing, and the Mystery Case Files series does it extraordinarily well. It doesn't get better than this!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


| Comments (25) | Views (2)

Link Dump Fridays

JayFriday is a day of much rejoicing as it signals the end of another work week and the arrival of a glorious fun-filled weekend soon to come. It is also an indication that a Link Dump Friday feature may appear at any moment on JIG, and it doesn't get much better than that. Commence fun and frolicking. So get out your banana peeler and limber up your clicker-finger, and let us know which of these selected games deserves a proper JIG treatment.

  • Click Maze 2Click Maze 2 - An avoid-the-walls maze game in which you click to move the small red pill through the maze to the goal in the fewest number of clicks possible. Similar to the original Click Maze but with a much requested improvement: the cursor is unaffected by walls and objects. It's somewhat like Tonypa's Pixelfield, but not quite as nice.
  • Elv is Black: Save da HoleElv is Black: Save da Hole - Chase the bunnies by clicking the mouse, Elv will follow. Then just drop them into the hole for points. Keep the hole open for larger combos. Push the big monster by jumping over it. Collect power-ups. Commence fun and frolicking.
  • MentalMental - A puzzle game similar to Warbears in which you must get 3 different characters out of a mental health hospital. Use items to perform tasks individually that will ultimately help all of them to escape. Oh, and do it as fast as you can, too.
  • Blockslide 2Blockslide 2 - An action puzzle game in which you must navigate the android toward the goal by moving or destroying boxes, and other gameplay elements. Tyler says this is "by far the best puzzle game" he's ever made.
  • Newton 2N3wton - Based on Newton's 3rd Law, "for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction", knock your enemies out of the arena before they knock you out. Trouble is, while your turret behaves according to Newton's 3rd Law, your enemies do not.
  • JayJIG Poker Night - In case you haven't heard, JIG Poker Night is back(!) every Saturday. So grab your chips and a chair and join us every weekend for some classic Texas Hold'em poker fun at Triplejack, where pies are a certainty, perhaps some surprizes, too. ;)

(18 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (15) | Views (6)

mrmothball2.gifPatrickMr. MothBall 2: Cotton Carnage is a charming shooter from Polish artist Mateusz Skutnuk, author of both the Covert Front and Submachine point-and-click series of games. You control a white mothball trying to shoot down evil red mothballs in an adorable penciled world with pastel shading. The game is a spiritual sequel to Mr. MothBall platformer entered in our 4th game design competition.

You control the mothball man by moving the cursor around the screen and clicking the left button to fire. The single-screen gameplay is nicely staged and starts out with shooting a few red mothballs and works up to annihilating whole groups of foes that cover the board. You grab the occasional power-up while dodging and shooting your way to a high score, though an online leaderboard isn't part of the deal just yet.

Once your health gets low enough you're given a respite to gather energy, then it's time for the boss battle. Except that's just a prelude, then the real boss battle begins. Even though it's a short and simple game, Mr. MothBall 2 is paced so it feels much more meatier than it actually is.

Analysis: The game's control scheme, while easy to pick up, is also the game's chief weakness. When you fire the bullets go in whatever direction Mr. MothBall is facing. It requires some care to make sure they go the right way. Turning shots bi-directional would make the game more fluid and solve this control issue. There's also a major glitch where the game doesn't recognize the final blow against the boss that lets you win the game. This happens only occasionally, but when it does, it's no fun.

A short but sweet game from one of the most creative designers on the web, Mateusz Skutnik.

Play Mr. MothBall 2: Cotton Carnage


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Rating: 4.2/5 (38 votes)
| Comments (139) | Views (47)

JessCube CoreI fell asleep in the hair salon. The shampoo was too relaxing.

And so begins Nigepico, an unexpected gift from the Gotmail team, which has previously given us such excellent escape-the-room games as Strawberry Tomato and Il Destino. Nigepico, though one of Gotmail's earliest efforts, has never before been translated into English (and so, like a previously unseen rerun of a favorite show, might be new to you!). You awake to find yourself in a deserted hair salon and, as might be expected, must find keys, solve puzzles and discover codes that lead to your escape. While Nigepico is not quite as sophisticated as, say, The Shochu Bar, it is nonetheless more than worth your time.

Play Nigepico

Thanks to Kristin, Katie, Alex and Bigbosssnk for submitting this one. =)


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (131 votes)
| Comments (62) | Views (380)

JayCube CoreCube Core is an attractive point-and-click, room escape game that recently made the rounds, created by John Feltham. It's not a very long game and it is quite logical to solve, though in at least one part you will have to be extra observant to catch a clue or you will be looking for a walkthrough quicker than you can say "Area 51". I wasn't so fortunate, perhaps your experience will be different. Regardless, this is one of the better escape games to have surfaced in recent memory, and is actually the second from the author.

Play all the Core Series games:
Sphere CoreCube CorePrism CoreSoul CoreTower Core

Play Cube Core


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (43 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (263)

JaySphere CoreSphere Core is the first game in the series of "Core" adventure games created by John Feltham. Not quite as well-crafted as the successors in the series, but John does a great job with creating a mysteriously ominous atmosphere within which to play. Some pixel hunting is necessary as case out the room in search of the titular power cores that define series. Also, some quirky interface issues are present, which may cause some players frustration. For example, when using a screwdriver, touch the screw with the cursor pointer tip, not the tip of the screw driver as one might intuitively attempt. Short and sweet, this decent point-and-click lays the groundwork for the core series concept. (See what I did there?)

Play all the Core Series games:
Sphere CoreCube CorePrism CoreSoul CoreTower Core

Play Sphere Core


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (30 votes)
| Comments (78) | Views (54)

Reader reviewTwilight HeroesThe following is a reader-submitted review by Gar:

The sunset has started over Twilight City, causing the residents to lock their doors and quiver in fear. Except for you. After getting robbed, your apartment broken into, and finally mugged, the cracked and broken line finally gets drawn. Coincidentally, it gets drawn around about the same time as you come into possession of some sort of super-power.

Thus begins your attempt to clean up Twilight City in the browser-based Twilight Heroes. It's a free RPG from Quirkz Media that recently announced its open beta. Taking place in the corrupt and rather seedy Twilight City, you get the opportunity to take back its night by tossing around hoodlums in the act, earning money (read: "Chips"), and seeing how long you can keep at it before fatigue causes you to run out of turns, five minutes of game time making one turn.

While Twilight Heroes does have a system and some mechanics based off of the previously reviewed Kingdom of Loathing, the game is very new and hasn't had sufficient time to fix every bug, take off in its own path, and so forth. It does have a slightly irreverent sense of humour and a similar "power" rating of equipment, though it's all of a more contemporary setting. Playing both games will give you more of a sense of familiarity with the whole HTML setup, but isn't necessary to understand either on its own.

So far, the only problem is that it's new and is in the process of getting fleshed out. It has a promising look to it, and a noir comic-booky feel interspersed with some silly humor.

Vigilantes, watchmen and freelance police unite! A city needs saving and villains need defeating! Twilight Heroes... away!

Play Twilight Heroes


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (25 votes)
| Comments (35) | Views (219)

ArtbegottiTiles of the UnexpectedOne of the problems with being a music major is that your listening repertoire becomes somewhat restricted to the realm of the "art song." Last week, I was quizzed on the differences between Dunstable's "Quam pulchra es" and Du Fay's "Nuper rosarum flores." Good fun. Of course, that doesn't mean that I can no longer recognize such names as the Gorillaz.

From the Gorillaz' website comes Tiles of the Unexpected!, a game which puts a new spin on a familiar genre. Like a cross between SameGame and Mahjong, the challenge is to clear all of the tiles from the board. Click on any set of two or more adjacent, identical tiles to clear them.

Ready for the catch? There are two layers that you are playing with. Removing tiles from the top layer reveals the tiles in the bottom layer. Removing tiles from the bottom layer creates a space into which the tiles above will fall. If a tile that falls into a gap forms a new pairing, they will automatically disappear, starting up the combo mechanism in this game.

Combos in this game give you a double-whammy of goodness. In addition to bonus points, creating a combo gives you a bomb piece. If you ever run out of matches on the board, bombs let you remove a single tile from the game. Use your bombs strategically, so that you can create new matches and hopefully, more combos!

With three levels to tackle, this game brings an addicting twist of strategy and luck to the run-of-the-mill tile-clearing challenge. If you're like me and need a break from studying Lieder, give Tiles of the Unexpected! a shot.

Play Tiles of the Unexpected

Thanks to Ian for the recommendation.


| Comments (21) | Views (3)

pixel artist wantedAre you good with pixels? Are you good at creating eye-popping, awe-inspiring graphics, icons and logos? Do you live and work in the US? If so, we have some freelance opportunities for you. Please inquire at the email address to the right. Thanks!


| Comments (27) | Views (33)

Weekend Download

JohnBThis edition of Weekend Download is the most love-filled edition ever. There's so much love below, you might think it's Valentine's Day. But it's not, it's just a whole lotta love. For example, tons of people love Dwarf Fortress. Tons. That collective love is now focused here on this very page, and if you download and play, you'll experience some of that love, too. Dr. Daisy Pet Vet is all about the pet love. Just look at those cute animals! And the kitty, she's reading a magazine! The energy orbs in Ballhalla love each other so much all you have to do is click them and they get all cozy with each other. And to top it all off, Mr. Heart just straight-up loves you. Very much, I hear.

drdaisypetvet.jpgDr. Daisy Pet Vet (Windows/Mac, 25MB, demo) - Resource management has never been so adorable! Dr. Daisy Pet Vet puts you in the shoes of, surprisingly enough, Dr. Daisy, the pet vet! It doesn't depart from the time management formula we've grown to love in Miss Management or Cake Mania 2, but the setting is fresh and animal lovers will gush over all the cute puppies and kitties. When a pet comes in, check it in at the desk, then wheel it over to an exam table. Start your exam with another click, treat the animal and send it on its way. Making pets feel well kinda gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside, doesn't it?

ballhalla.jpgBallhalla (Windows, 25MB, demo) - Meet Professor Quark and his matter transporter. In order to open portals to mysterious new lands this contraption needs energy. By clicking orbs that are sandwiched between orbs of another color they get sucked in, causing the original ball to get heavier. As you pull in orbs and make heavier pieces of energy, the bucket that holds all everything starts to tip. Make orbs as you can as heavy as you can while trying to keep the container balanced and hope the sweeper comes by and removes the weighted pieces soon. It's frantic, it's fun, and it's a little different than most of the puzzle game offerings out there.

dwarffortress.gifSlaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress (Windows, 5.4MB, free/donationware) - First released in late 2006, Dwarf Fortress is an ambitious, massively detailed game that blends real time strategy with role playing and "god-game" elements. It gives you an entire world (and I don't use the word loosely) to interact with, complete with named landmarks above and below ground, thousands of creatures living persistent lives, an economy, weather, seasons, and a complete world history, all generated fresh for each player. But even that description doesn't do it justice. It has a decidedly old-school look and attitude, so don't jump in expecting flashy, in-your-face... anything. But still, it's an amazing feat of gaming brilliance. Dwarf Fortress recently received a massive update, giving you no excuse not to join the legions of addicted fans around the globe.

mrheartloves.gifMr. Heart Loves You Very Much (Windows, 0.5MB, freeware) - Winner of my own personal "Best Name for a Video Game EVAR" award, Mr. Heart is an original action/puzzle game entered in Kokoromi's Gamma 256 showcase. Guide Mr. Heart to, well, the heart locked inside the walls of each level. The controls are explained as you play, but expect to do a lot of stage rotation and wall pushing to complete each puzzle. And remember: Mr. Heart loves you.

roachroundup.jpgRoach Roundup (Windows/Linux, ~5MB, freeware) - Everyone who likes roaches, raise your hand! Ahh... that's what I thought. If you despise the crunchy little buggers like the rest of us, Roach Roundup is the game for you! Using lamps placed around the screen, you must frighten the roaches to the trap where they meet an untimely doom. It's a puzzle game that relies on timing, though you won't get your reflexes in a bundle. Great visuals, a catchy musical remix, and you get to rid the pixel world of bugs.


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (162 votes)
| Comments (81) | Views (172)

Jay3D Logic 2Anyone that has been visiting this site for a couple of years will likely remember the amazingly popular Hyperframe from 2005, a 3D logic puzzle of connecting same-colored blocks on a 3D cube with unbroken non-intersecting lines. Shortly after the release of Hyperframe, a copycat clone of the game was released under the name 3D Logic featuring exactly the same gameplay with spruced up graphics. We didn't review the original 3D Logic since it seemed like such a blatant ripoff. Although we haven't seen any updates to Hyperframe since, there is a new version of the clone now available, created by Alex Matveev and appropriately titled 3D Logic II, and it's just as well-done and addictive as the original Hyperframe was, and then some.

Simply move the mouse to rotate the cube and connect both squares of the same color by just mousing over the clear squares in between. You will need to connect all same-colored squares to move on to the next level.

Play 3D Logic II


| Comments (31) | Views (7)

Link Dump Fridays

JohnBThis week's introductory paragraph was eaten by my dog. Of course, I don't have a dog, so that makes my excuse a bit awkard. Hopefully the game feast below will distract you from my folly.

  • pactxt.gifPac-Txt - It's all the goodness of Pac-Man, now in text adventure form! If you thought eating pellets and being chased by ghosts was fun, wait until you do it from a command prompt. It's a textually amazing treat!
  • splume.gifSplume - A polished and creative take on the match-3 Bust-A-Move puzzle genre, only this time a gooey physics engine is tacked on. Fire cute little orbs to the top of the screen and try to stick three of the same color together. Later levels introduce some very wacky puzzles to complete. You have to install a small plug-in and some users report occasional mouse locking during play, but it's worth it to experience the fresh take on an old game.
  • treasurecutlass.gifTreasure of Cutlass Reef - The pirate's life isn't for me, but it's fun to pretend, right? Treasure of Cutless Reef puts you in charge of a pirate ship on the high seas battling other ships for survival. And for gold! Defeat wave after wave of foes and use your plunder between levels to upgrade your weapons.
  • wiipicross.gifWiiPicross - Picross is one of my favorite puzzles, and WiiPicross brings it to the comfort of my Wii-enabled living room. The game features large, blocky graphics that are easy to select with the Wiimote. With over 1,300 puzzles to date, I won't be bored anytime soon. Even if you don't own a Wii, WiiPicross plays just fine from your web browser.
  • invisiblebeard.gifThe Invisible Beard of Contemplation - An online riddle game similar to God Tower and Ouverture Facile, all you have to do is fill in the blanks with the answer to the question. Sounds easy, right? Not exactly. Clues come from the strangest places, if you can find them, that is.
  • practicechapped.gifPractice Chapped - Side-scrolling beat-em-ups such as the classic Double Dragon and Final Fight are a dying genre. Practice Chapped looks to reclaim a corner of the field with a great looking anime-styled brawler. Sure, it's mostly tapping the [J] key as fast as you can, but veteran Battletoads fans will appreciate the nostalgic nod. And everyone will appreciate the strange sense of humor.
  • frantic.gifFrantic - A rather good-looking 3D first person shooter right in your browser window. For the most part, Frantic ditches traditional level layouts in favor of waves of enemies versus you, guy with a gun. Collect power-ups and dispatch the alien enemies to a rockin' soundtrack, or use your own tunes to provide the score.

(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (7) | Views (5)

PatrickHostThe first full release from Diverge Creations, Host is a multiplayer fighting game where you play a deranged mutant. It has great art from the same chap who worked on Gish, it's easy to pick up and a fair bit of fun.

The gameplay is simple, you control your parasite with the [left] and [right] arrow keys for movement, jump with the [space bar], fire a projectile with the [S] key and attack and/or eat the hearts of your enemies with the [A] key. Your parasite's condition is represented by an icon off the top, it includes your name, your health bar represented in the red, and the down-time between ranged attacks represented in white. The goal is to defeat other parasites and rack up five kills to win a match. When you defeat an opponent, its heart falls out; eating the heart regains some health but also makes you larger, which makes you easier to hit.

Despite only having four verbs (five if you include the cannibal feedback loop of heart-eating) the game has a satisfying amount of depth due to the complexity of the physics. In addition to the usual jumping around, the parasites slide along the ground due to momentum, so the end result is a very smooth feeling where nuanced timing makes all the difference. You can also follow-through with a one-two combo of launching a point-blank projectile before a melee attack. My primary criticism though is that this level of depth is not in a league with other multiplayer games that keep you coming back to over a long period of time. It's not Street Figther or even Virtua Fighter. Some added depth might be found with a time-release mechanism, where holding down the projectile key longer leads to a bigger arc on your shot — then it becomes like a streamlined, real-time version of Worms, which could be both deep and instantly gratifying.

The game runs off the MMOcha server platform, which seems to be a great technology for Flash-based multiplayer games. The interface to join games is very smooth: you can skip registering an account and jump right into a currently running game and go at it. If you're willing to take a bit more time you can customize your parasite, maybe give it heavy metal hair or buck teeth, or register an account to have your win-record compiled to a leaderboard. Here as well, though, I feel like some kind of long-term commitment scheme is missing; you can try to climb the board, sure, but beyond that what reason is there to commit? I'm sure the clever guys at Diverge can figure out something as time goes on, and I'd like to see it.

If you've ever wanted to eat the heart of someone 5,000 miles away, play host to Host.

Play Host

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