By 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?!
Nanda'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.
Sam & 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.
Final 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.
Marble 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!
Enigmo 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!