December 2007 Archives


| Comments (36) | Views (4)

JayIt is difficult to believe another year has passed, but we have tons of games and reviews to show for it. And what better way to celebrate the passing of another year than with a look back to give credit where credit is due by giving props to those special titles that stood head and shoulders above the rest.

This is our fourth annual "Best of" the year feature and, like each one before, we invite you to participate...

Vote for the Best of Casual Gameplay 2007

On behalf of everyone here at JIG, HAPPY NEW YEAR! \o/

Be sure to check out our previous "Best of" the year features:


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (103 votes)
| Comments (62) | Views (109)

Hammerfest

PsychotronicThe Caverns of Hammerfest, by French developer Motion Twin, is an expertly crafted love letter to classic arcade platformers like Bubble Bobble and Snow Bros. If you've ever wondered how the intensity and the heartbreak of those old arcade cabinets could be translated into online gaming, look no further. Do you remember what it was like to scream "NO!" at the screen when you lost one of your precious lives that you paid for with your very own 25 cent piece? Do you miss that feeling? Do you long for it?

HammerfestThen Hammerfest is your new best friend.

You are Igor, a plucky snowman whose carrot-nose has been stolen by an evil magician named Tuber, who has also enslaved an entire race of intelligent, "super-vitiminized" (the translation is a bit strange in places) fruit. To regain your precious nose and free the fruit-people, you must battle your way through over 100 levels of pitch-perfect platforming action, collecting a massive variety of items and rediscovering just how bad you are at video games.

Control Igor with the arrow keys and space bar. [Up] jumps and [space] lays bombs. Dropping a bomb while Igor is in the air will give him an extra boost that can help him clear gaps or reach slightly higher platforms.

Each level features an assortment of bewitched fruit monsters who you must destroy in order to move on. Igor fights indirectly, mostly by dropping his standard ice bomb in a place where it will catch an enemy in its explosion. The blast will encase the baddie in ice, sending it sliding across the floor, taking out any other enemies it collides with on the way. Your goal is to send it over the edge of a platform and off the bottom of the screen.

Some levels feature colored energy gates that will grant you different types of weaponry, like a proximity bomb that explodes on contact or a spring bomb that propels you high into the air.

The conscientious and thorough training level will explain all this and more, so I highly advise playing through it before you tackle the adventure proper, if only to familiarise yourself with the controls before you have to deal with time limits and killer fruit.

HammerfestDisclaimer: You have to pay in order to get the most out of this game. A 5-Euro investment (about $7.50 USD) will get you an immediate 25 credits and another 4 credits every week for the rest of your life, and you can get more games any time you feel like paying for them. Although you can get 5 free credits once every 24 hours by resetting your account, this erases your progress completely. You will be working with extremely few extra lives, and you will never encounter any of the more powerful and interesting items.

Even the free version is a stellar game, with tight controls, engaging animation, and challenging gameplay. But the item quest system is what transforms Hammerfest from an excellent nostalgia trip into something diabolically addicting.

You see, there are hundreds of different items in Hammerfest, from mundane snack foods to exotic things like totem poles and rainbows. Some items simply increase your score, some give you temporary superpowers, some call down surreal 3-eyed star-gods to pulverize your enemies. One rare item even gives you a beard. And every weird, silly, boring, or surreal thing you collect goes into your Fridge, where you can show it off to your friends and rivals.

HammerfestMeanwhile, when you collect certain combinations of objects, you complete one of a long list of quests, all of which change the overall game in some way. For instance, tracking down 5 telephones will give you a 25% bonus when you buy additional credits (I recommend you complete this quest before shelling out your first 5 euros). Most quests will merely unlock a new group of higher-scoring treats, but some will grant you an extra life at the beginning of each game, or even give you permanent power-ups.

In this way, Hammerfest evolves and expands over time. Even though the levels themselves are identical from game to game, the range of events gets wider as the list of available items grows. It doesn't exactly feel like a new game every time you play, but when the last rare item you need to complete a quest appears, strange things can happen to your brain. When you find yourself hurling Igor into certain death just so you can collect, say, a hamburger, you'll know you're hooked.

HammerfestAnalysis: Motion Twin pretty much nails every aspect of this game. Hammerfest would have been a hit on par with Bubble Bobble back in the day, and if you've ever played Bubble Bobble, you know what a compliment that is.

The gameplay itself has a surprising amount of depth, once you start learning what the various items do and setting up combo attacks. Each level is distinct and entertaining, with just the right mix of puzzle elements and all-out action. Igor handles like a sure-footed dream, and enemies telegraph their attacks with comical facial expressions, so you have no one to blame but yourself when you die.

The animation is packed with details. None of the fruit creatures have legs, so they all jump, spin, and roll depending on their mood. A furious, hopping, homicidal strawberry is really a sight to behold.

The only problem with Hammerfest — and this won't be a problem for everyone — is the continue system. There isn't one. You have to start back at level one every time you play, and with over 100 levels, that can be a little frustrating. But the upside is that the quest system will keep updating the game as you hone your skills, so the trip down through the caverns never plays out quite the same way twice. And when your lives are genuinely limited, getting to a new level feels like a real achievement. You can't bully your way through this game, no matter how much money you blow on it. You have to be good, or get good, and it feels fantastic when you cross that threshold.

I can't recommend this game highly enough.

Enter The Caverns of Hammerfest

Note: Hammerfest is made for a French-speaking audience, so the English version of the site is somewhat under-served. The French and Spanish sites have a full set of expansion levels and a number of other perks, such as names for each item in the game, and it's anyone's guess when or whether those features will be updated on the English server. So if you speak French or Spanish, or if you absolutely have to have the complete Hammerfest experience, sign up on one of those servers. The English version is still 100% playable, mind you. It's just missing some content.

Update: MotionTwin recently changed things so you now receive 1 free game per day but they do not stack. They also removed the buy X games get X per week for newer members.


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (165 votes)
| Comments (117) | Views (805)

JayGamedesign Escape gameRoom escape game lovers are in for a treat as Taro Ito weighs-in with his rendition of the point-and-click art form popularized by such games as MOTAS and the Viridian Room.

Escape game is a simple and effective game of its genre with all the usual mechanics, but without the pixel hunting that often accompanies games like this. Use your best clicking finger to find items, combine items in your inventory, and to solve the few puzzles that await. While most puzzles are straightforward, you will have to think outside the box with at least one of them.

Altogether a short game, but a rewarding one if you can figure out the one difficult twist yourself. It's not too difficult to figure out on ones own, though. The entire game will take you approximately 30-45 minutes.

Play Escape game


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (27 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (81)

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

JohnBOriginally released on PSP and DS more than a year ago, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords blends a match-3 game with an old-school fantasy RPG. As you roam the overworld you complete quests, earn gold, gain experience, buy equipment and upgrade your stats just like any role playing game. But when you encounter an enemy, a Bejeweled-like tile swapping game appears. Match gems to cause damage and collect mana to cast spells to help you defeat your foe. It's a remarkably well-balanced game that's as easy to pick-up and play as it is to continue playing for hours upon hours. And it's one of the most addictive games I've played in a very long time.

puzzlequest3.jpgThe story behind Puzzle Quest is a standard fantasy tale where you're on an adventure to save a medieval land from ruin. You begin by creating a character and choosing one of four classes, each with a strength and weakness that translates into gameplay. Warriors, for example, are best at dealing and absorbing damage, while wizards excel at casting spells to mix-up the board during battle. Go with a warrior the first time around and don't be afraid to start new games to experience Puzzle Quest as a different class.

After your character is created you set out into the world. The game takes place on an overhead map with towns connected by pathways that branch out in every direction. Move to a castle or town and a number of options appear, the most important being the quest menu. Accepting quests not only progresses the story line but introduces new areas to explore and earns you experience, gold or items. After a few training quests the game opens up and you're free to take and complete quests as you see fit.

The heart of Puzzle Quest is in battle, and the role playing elements wrapped around a simple match-3 backbone is nothing short of enthralling. Each fight pits you against an enemy taking turns swapping tiles on the board. Four colors of gems are on the grid along with coins, stars that give experience, and skulls. Match three like-colored gems to gather magic points (mana) that allow you to cast spells. There are dozens of spells you can use in combat with effects ranging from direct damage to moving/destroying gems on the board, inducing status changes on the enemy, and much more. The extremely robust spell system is just one of the draws of Puzzle Quest battles that makes it a deep and rewarding experience.

Gaining gold, experience and mana from tile swapping is all well and good, but we're here to defeat a vicious enemy! Spells often deal damage, but most of the time you'll do it more directly by lining up three or more skulls on the board. Special red skulls add five to the damage amount, while armor and weapons you can equip (as well as your statistics) can increase that number even more. The enemy has armor to curb damage, though, so each round of combat is almost as intricate as a straight-up RPG if you peek under the hood.

puzzlequest2.jpgPuzzle Quest features a world of optional content you can explore at your leisure. You can capture monsters to learn their abilities, and some can be used as mounts to help you move across the map. Temporary party members join you from time to time, each lending a unique ability to combat. You can also research abilities and spells, forge new weapons, and lay siege to towns to help increase your gold. The possibilities are practically endless, making Puzzle Quest a rewarding and deep experience from every angle.

Fortunately for casual gamers, Puzzle Quest never forces complexity on you. Side quests, extra spells and additional games are available but not necessary to progress the story or beat the game. Upgrading your stats each time you gain a level is easy, and managing items and spells is a cinch. At its heart Puzzle Quest a match-3 game with RPG elements tacked on, and everything progresses smoothly as you gain experience by defeating enemies.

Analysis: With such enormous addictive powers, there is very little to take issue with Puzzle Quest. The writing and dialogue are a bit trite, but honestly no one plays Puzzle Quest for its story, so it's forgivable. Random battles, which appear as enemy icons in your path, can be a bit too frequent, forcing you to do battle more often than you might like. Some of the opponents are also extremely tough, but you're never penalized for losing. And you'll swear the computer-controlled enemies get a little too lucky with multi-chain combos sometimes...

There's so much you can do in this game you'll practically never get tired of it. It's easy to pick up for a few coffee break battles, but the long-lasting role playing elements keep you clamoring for more. It's the kind of game that will appeal to almost every gamer, so don't let the fantasy setting, role playing elements or even the match-3 game turn you away. Puzzle Quest is very, very good.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (31 votes)
| Comments (47) | Views (310)

Farm Frenzy

JohnBFarm Frenzy, from Alawar Games, weds an arcade title with a resource management sim for a game that's as much thought and planning as it is fast mouse clicking. Gameplay revolves around planting grass to feed animals, which in turn drop goods for you to use. These goods can either be sold for cash to improve your farm or turned into higher-value products to rake in even more gold. As you progress through the game's 45 stages you can buy more animals, get new buildings and upgrade existing structures, all while keeping a lookout for bears that drop from the sky!

farmfrenzy.jpgThe game begins with a few geese wandering a small patch of land. Click the ground to make grass grow, allowing the geese to eat and lay eggs. Click the eggs to put them in your storehouse where they can be sold for precious cash to run your farm. It's a simple loop of generating money to buy better/more things that will in turn create even more income. From time to time a bear will drop in and knock animals out of the farm. To cage the beast and protect your animals, click on it as fast as you can. When it's trapped, click again to send it to your storehouse, ready to be turned into profit.

Instead of hawking basic goods for a few pieces of gold, why not turn them into something more profitable? Build an egg solids plant to turn eggs into powdered eggs which are worth twice as much. But if you build a bakery you can turn the powdered eggs into baked goods that are worth even more. Balancing what you sell with what you upgrade is just part of the strategy, and later in the game the number of structures (and thus uses for each basic good) increases. Each stage's buildings are pre-determined, so you can't create things willy-nilly. This serves to streamline the experience to keep the game from getting too complex.

To complete a level of Farm Frenzy you must meet a set of goals such as collecting ten eggs or owning five animals. The goals get loftier and more numerous as you progress, but they always serve up just the right amount of challenge. Unlocking new levels often requires specific building upgrades that must be purchased beforehand. You may not be able to progress until you have a level two bakery, so stop by the shop and spend your hard-earned stars to keep the game moving along. Sometimes you'll have to replay previous levels to earn the cash.

farmfrenzy3.jpgEvery risk has its reward, and every danger has its foil. Later in the game you'll be able to balance out some of these aspects with new purchases, such as buying a dog to keep bears at bay or a cat to help gather goods on the field. These help soften the action element of the game, as when you're trying to store items and create more expensive products a bear (or two) can make things a little too click-heavy.

Analysis: There is very little holding Farm Frenzy back from being a superb game, but it's not without a few minor flaws. The mix of arcade action with time management is good, but oftentimes it's a little too heavy on rapid clicking for my comfort. Things can get frantic with several bears roaming the farm, a full stock-house, and hard-earned goods flickering on the screen ready to vanish. If you manage your money well and buy smart upgrades this can be somewhat alleviated.

The pacing in Farm Frenzy also feels a bit stretched, almost as if the developers purposefully stalled gaining new buildings and upgrades just to fluff out the game. The beginning is especially slow moving and you probably won't own animals other than geese for the first hour of the game. Fortunately these minor quibbles far from ruin an otherwise fantastic, easily enjoyable game.

Gradual advancement, upgradeable structures, and a little action to keep things from getting too stale. Farm Frenzy pulls a number of disperse elements together to create a game that will keep you coming back for more.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

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


| Comments (15) | Views (1)

Link Dump Fridays

ArtbegottiI hate having cold feet. Once in a while it helps to put on an extra pair of socks. But what about those days when it's 6 degrees Celsius? That's when I put on a third pair of socks. What about 6 degrees Fahrenheit? I'll try throwing on an electric blanket. If that doesn't work, I'll go for some thick boots. And what about 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon? Well, as you can tell, I'm now stretching for a joke, so we'll heat up some hot chocolate, throw another log on the fire, and enjoy this week's Link Dump Friday!

  • icon_rigby.gifRigby - Grand prize winner in the recent MochiAds competition, Rigby is a game of ball physics where your only goal is to bounce and hit (or avoid) the squares without touching the ground. Kind of like one of those games you play arranging leaves on the sidewalk while waiting for the bus.
  • icon_juggletrouble.gifJuggle Trouble - Hitting a target with a ball is a cinch. Hitting a target with a ball while juggling more balls? That's where it gets a smidge more difficult.
  • icon_yali.gifYali - Because I know that there's gotta be someone out there who still believes in the power of Java, here's a nice online version of the weight-shifting board game.
  • icon_shapewars.gifShape Wars - Circles, squares, and triangles? Oh my! (Let's not even mention the pentagon, that's where things get ridiculous.)
  • icon_scribblestates.gifScribble States - Remember that episode of "Friends" where they tried to write down the names of all 50 US states within six minutes? Well, how about drawing them?
  • icon_slapthenerd.gifSlap the Nerd - See the nerd? Slap the nerd! See the non-nerd? Don't slap! It's as easy and non-politically correct as that. Note: We here at JayIsGames do not condone nerd slapping. Mostly because we'd be the ones getting slapped. (Thanks, jbeaver!)

  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (60 votes)
| Comments (18) | Views (29)

PatrickThule TrailThule Trail is a re-imagining of the grade school classic, Oregon Trail, as an advergame for Thule Sweden, makers of outdoor sports equipment carriers and accessories. But instead of playing a family of 19th century immigrants, you play a group of 20 somethings road-tripping to a music festival. Instead of going to Oregon, you're going to Santa Barbara. The game takes its name from the 20th century occult society that sought the road to Atlantis; the music festival you travel to is called Atlantis, so it works. The rest of the game follows suit like a friendly slacker.

The interface is retro, like the 8-bit music, trying to cop the Oregon Trail feel. You select from a menu by typing in a number and pressing enter, this is how you select items to buy and things to do, when to rest, and so forth. While driving, pressing [Enter] takes you to a menu where you can take stock of your situation, rest, check the map, stop for gas, whatever. Along the way you're given the option to participate in random events — like hitchhikers — and there are also scenic side stops to check out. Most notably, you can enter "competitions" like snowboarding or mountain biking, and win cash to spend on the road. These mini-games are basically the same: move left and right, avoid obstacles press down to go faster and get across the finish line before time runs out. There's also a hunting mini-game where you shoot tacos and pizzas, and a traffic dodging mini-game towards the climax, as you approach the festival.

The game comes on a bit strong with its writing, all the idioms recall those naive days of the late 90s when California was better known for its culture than its natural disasters and predatory politics. As a friend, Paul Eres (Immortal Defense), commented, "the game takes itself so unseriously that it's too serious about its own unseriousness." Some of it, like the "pins and needles!" outbreak, are pretty funny, but overall it comes off as too intentionally unfocused for its own good.

But, its an Oregon Trail re-make. You ought to take a trip down the Thule Trail.

Play Thule Trail

(In case you're scratching your head over a feeling of deja vu, Thule Trail was featured in a recent Friday link dump.)


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (44 votes)
| Comments (45) | Views (37)

Reader reviewAreasThe following is a reader-submitted review by Captain:

Having grown up in the heyday of DOS, I know my way around a command line, but there's just something inherently satisfying about seeing what you want and clicking to interact with it directly.

So I was initially a little thrown when I first played Areas, a simple-looking but ultimately complex, addictive and atmospheric shmup by Ridiculous. There is no text to be had in the menus, only icons, which are easy enough to figure out. And you don't click on them, or anything, throughout the game. If you want to interact with something, mouse over it and be patient, and it will unfold for itself.

But if that were the only trick up this game's sleeve, I wouldn't have been justified in using all those glowing adjectives in the previous paragraph. The gameplay itself is a great blend of action and strategy (and maybe a little luck).

A kind of spiritual successor to Gimmie Friction Baby in both gameplay and atmosphere, Areas pits you (a ship) against an army of ever-expanding white circles. If you destroy a circle, it may leave behind one of the titular areas. Shoot your gun or pass your ship through one of these areas to receive a temporary bonus. In early levels, the areas do the run-of-the-mill stuff like making your shots bigger and shielding you from the inexorable, crushing encroachment of the circles. As the game progresses, though, the areas get more creative and more varied, keeping the gameplay interesting and ramping up the difficulty.

I don't want to give away too many variations, as part of the fun of the game is discovering what new areas you have to work with on the next level, but I will say two words to whet your appetite: Laser shotgun.

Analysis: The black-and-white, line-based graphics work perfectly with the gameplay. The music also greatly enhances the game's atmosphere... for about ten minutes, after which you're grateful for the ability to turn it off.

I did have a few minor criticisms. Since the controls are all based on the mouse, you move the cursor further from your ship to move, closer to your ship to shoot and directly on top of your ship to pause. But the lines between shoot, move and pause aren't clearly defined, so there's initially a lot of shooting when you want to move and pausing when you want to shoot before you get the hang of it. Aside from that and a few nigh-unwinnable levels (level 10 and I still aren't on speaking terms), this seems like a game destined to make a lot of people late for a lot of meetings. The designer has certainly mastered Zen and the art of "one more game."

And without any clicking, too. Who would have thought?

Play Areas


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (38 votes)
| Comments (25) | Views (5)

zxoCat on a DolphinWell, it's really happened. It's official. D_of_I has gone off the deep end. You could see it coming when he had eggs falling through a maze into a frying pan. Then came the bizarre Cat With Bow Golf, clearly the work of a madman. Now, in his delirium, he's paired that insidious cat with an equally pernicious dolphin to create an unlikely team in his latest release: Cat on a Dolphin.

Yes, it seems the cat has gotten bored shooting his bow and poling himself about and wants to travel across the ocean in search of new adventures. The problem is, he can't hold his breath for very long, so he enlists the help of a dolphin to provide the locomotion, while he hangs on for the ride of his life!

Each of the 8 levels in this excellent one-button game consists of 2 regions: a track of blue water surrounded by gray air. There is no "seabed", which can be confusing when you first start. The dolphin can only swim along the water, but the cat will run out of air unless it leaves the water from time to time. As a result, the dolphin must toss the cat up into the air to recover and then catch him when he comes back down — not always an easy task, considering the dolphin can only move forwards and never backwards.

Getting the hang of the purpose and of the controls is not very intuitive, so I'll go through a little primer here. As mentioned before, Cat on a Dolphin is a one-button game. In this case, the purpose of the button is two-fold: when the left mouse button is held down, the dolphin swims forward and the cat grabs hold of its fin, if it is close enough to do so. When you release the button, the dolphin stops swimming and the cat lets go, retaining whatever momentum it gained from the dolphin. Release the button when you need to fling the cat up into the air to catch a breath. However, you'll want to re-press the button to keep the dolphin moving forward in order to catch the cat when it comes back down. If the cat remains in the water for too long, his face will turn pink, then red, and eventually he'll drown.

You want to avoid that.

The dolphin will follow the path of the water automatically — there is no need to steer. However, you will need to take care sometimes not to overshoot the cat — it's impossible to go backwards to catch him. The difficulty arises with the various paths that the dolphin must take. Level one starts you off easy, with a series of wave-like peaks which make it easy to throw the cat. Soon, however, the path becomes the primary challenge — you'll have to figure out how to navigate the cat through loops-de-loop and how to throw him with very little topography to help you out.

As usual for D_of_I games, there are those jittery, jangly physics at work. And — also as usual — those physics are the star of the show, along with the gameplay. D_of_I does one-button games a service by breaking away from the rotate-to-aim-click-to-fire mechanism usually employed by the genre. The artwork takes second, fifth, extremely low priority, and the sound is non-existent. Still, it's not like we've been led to expect anything more from previous D_of_I games.

So join in the insanity, and play Cat on a Dolphin.

Play Cat on a Dolphin


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (105 votes)
| Comments (73) | Views (152)

JayWarbears Xmas AdventureYou may have heard about the Warbears before. They are a comical group of terrorist-fighting bears that embark on humorous missions and adventures in a unique point-and-click style of gameplay. Created by Gionatan Iasio of Italy, the Warbears have been on several missions so far, but their first "adventure" was just released today to celebrate the holiday.

It's Christmas time in Bedtime City, and Warbears Adventures: An A.R. Xmas stars Kla and Steve, as Kla stops by Bob's for some holiday shopping and to pick up a few packages on order. But Steve has a secret mission in mind. The results are unpredictable as usual and a whole lot of fun. Enjoy this new holiday release and

Play Warbears Adventures: An A.R. Xmas

Link Dump Fridays

GriffThe holiday season is a time of joy. It is brought into our lives through the gifts we give and receive. And it should be fun. Over the years, we've seen a lot of great holiday and winter-themed games come and go, and here we are to suggest a few to give you all some festive cheer.

  • GrowGrow Ornament - Decorate a Christmas tree in the classic, eyezmaze style. Depending on what order you add ornaments and decorations, the tree will grow differently. Use a combination of trial-and-error along with logic to find the right order and make the perfect tree.
  • WinterbellsWinterbells - An Orisinal game that is guaranteed to make your heart all warm and fuzzy. Hop on the falling bells and see how high in the sky you can go.
  • GiftGift Wrapped - Around this time last year, Nitrome popped out their first mini-game. This game requires you to quickly match the gift-wrapped packages to the presents within.
  • Bellman StarsBellman Stars - A delightful holiday Flash game to get into the Christmas spirit. Decorate the trees by dropping stars from above and landing them on the tree tops. Simply click on a star at just the right moment for it to fall onto a tree or a present. Simple holiday fun.
  • SnowmanSnowman Salvage - Don't let those snowmen melt! The premise of this game is simple—click your snowmen to make them grow—but as a wide variety of enemies begin to make your snowman melt, the action heats up to turbo speed.
  • The SnowriderSnowrider - It is beginning to look and feel a lot like Chrismahanukwanzakah up here in the northeast, with snow accumulations that guarantee many of us a beautiful white Christmas this year. And with all the snow we've been getting, it would be an excellent time to build a snowman, or simply stay indoors and play this charming Flash game instead.
  • Snow Plow GameSnow Plow Game - Take to the streets in this Snow Plow game and help the city of Boston clean up after a Nor-easter snow storm. It's your job to plow the streets clean by taking control of a city plow. Collect snowflakes and presents for bonuses. A cute and fun little seasonal Flash game.
  • Make-a-FlakeMake-A-Flake - Who hasn't enjoyed the simple pleasures of cutting paper into snowflakes on a cold winter day? With Make-a-Flake there is no mess to clean-up and you can even undo cuts gone wrong. This Flash toy is a fun way to express your creativity and get into the spirit of the holiday season.
  • SnowDaysSnowDays - Another simple snowflake maker that is very easy to use. Cut designs into a paper snowflake with a flick of the mouse—making your snowflake as simple or ornate as you like. Plus, the snowflakes people have made can be seen falling within the game itself—and you can even leave comments on other people's snowflakes.

(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (123) | Views (14)

ContourPatrickContour is a clever re-imagining of Marble Madness by Sean Hawkes, creator of several games entered into previous Casual Gameplay competitions such as Orbit and Clack. An isometric grid is placed over the playing field that holds a ball and a white exit square. Click on individual tiles to raise the ground from that point, causing the marble to roll downhill. The goal is to move the marble to the exit tile by raising and lowering the floor, a feat that requires both intelligent planning and fast clicking.

Contour is made even more interesting with varied level design, and integrated level editor, and a number of unique tiles that spice up the gameplay. Competition Best Use of Theme Award winnerGreen squares will accelerate the marble, while red tiles slow you down. Purple tiles teleport you from one area to another, and brown blocks act as walls to keep the marble from rolling off the field. The only way to lose is to get thrown out of bounds, fall off the grid, or get stuck in an infinite loop (something of an achievement in itself), in which case you can simply use the reset option to clear the map. Defeat is always a temporary set-back and, in this case, is usually kind of fun.

Analysis: It's become a pattern for me to close reviews by eviscerating the hopes and dreams of the game developer by point out a crippling interface, mechanical or balancing issue. In Contour's case, I've got nothing. This game does precisely what you'd expect it to do, and it does it well. Whenever you fail you feel like the failure was your own and take some pleasure in that ownership. When you succeed, your agile tact and geometric cleverness ring like choir bells. Sean Hawkes should keep making games, he's quite good at it.

So good, in fact, that the judging panel for our 4th Casual Gameplay Design Competition gave Contour the nod for the best use of the "ball physics" theme.

JohnBWell-made from tip to stern, Contour oozes polish and creativity just as thickly as Sean's other games. As Patrick said, this game does exactly what it set out to do, and it does it extremely well. My favorite part is turning order into chaos to complete each level. Raising the grid distorts an otherwise perfect pattern, and by the time I've worked the marble to the goal, so many squares have been raised and lowered the resulting scene is a bit of a mess. A functional mess. A mess I made.

Also, don't forget Contour has an integrated level editor thus extending its replay value considerably. A wide variety of levels, including an 18 hole golf course(!), are available in the comments. Just copy and paste into the game to play them.

Play Contour


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (82 votes)
| Comments (101) | Views (402)

aquaria

JohnBAquaria is a beautifully detailed game of exploration from independent developer Bit Blot. You control the restless young Naija, a curious underwater dweller who sets out to discover her world. The ocean is teeming with mysterious caverns to explore, strange sea creatures (some friendly, some otherwise), and troves of ancient secrets buried by time. Aquaria is as much about interacting with and exploring the environment as it is telling a story. And it does both with a level of beauty rarely seen in independent games.

aquaria1.jpgThe controls in Aquaria are simple and can be customized to your liking, but the default mouse setup usually works best. Simply point-and-click where you want Naija to swim. Tapping the left mouse button gives you a boost or lets you kick off walls for a little extra speed, while the right mouse button brings up the song menu. With these songs, Naija can use the mysterious force called the Verse to alter her environment, learn new abilities, attack foes, and even change form.

Playing Aquaria is a much deeper experience than a romp through your typical video game. Every aspect, from the music and artwork to the setting, level design, and gameplay, is crafted around exploration, discovery and intrigue. You'll spend most of your time swimming through caverns exploring the undersea world. There are loads hidden caves to find, some of which offer treasure, others nothing more than a beautiful piece of scenery. Just about every inch of the in-game world is screenshot worthy, making this quite possibly the best-looking independent game ever released.

aquaria3.jpgWhile anyone can immediately pick up Aquaria and start to play, it takes some time for the experience to really sink in. You won't be truly hooked until an hour or so in when the story and gameplay really begin to heat up. And if the simple premise of exploration isn't enough to draw you in, Aquaria includes a number of extras to entice you back for more, such as an in-game cooking system that lets you combine ingredients to create more powerful items. The full version even includes a level editor!

Analysis: When it comes down to it, there really are no major faults in Aquaria. The whole experience is conveyed extraordinarily well from every possible angle. You can nitpick it, of course, and find a number of minor points that some players take issue with (such as Naija's slow swimming speed or the similarity of the colors on the song grid). But really, if the Knytt/Metroid-esque style of exploration game appeals to you, picking up Aquaria is a no-brainer.

While the game itself may not be a revolution, the individual accomplishments in game design add up to something that's truly a grand experience. The sense of wonder and amazement never stops in Aquaria, and each moment of discovery is as fulfilling as the last.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (67 votes)
| Comments (21) | Views (120)

PsychotronicSushi Go RoundWho ever guessed that customer service simulators would become a major video game genre? "Man, that sure was a hard day at work. I think I'll relax by pretending to cater to the whims of capricious socialites! Whee!" It doesn't make sense. But here we are, surrounded by games like Cake Mania and Papa's Pizzeria, games that teach us about the joys of hard work, multitasking, and pandering to spoiled customers in order to get fatter tips.

Sushi Go Round carves out its own niche in the crowded field by taking customer service out of the equation. You are the chef, rather than the harried waiter, and all that matters is getting food to the patrons of your humble sushi shop in a timely manner. You don't even have to carry the food out to them. You have one of those newfangled automated sushi joints, where a conveyor belt brings the sushi round, and the customers feed themselves.

Convenient!

The problem is that the conveyor belt goes only one way, so there's always some guy stuck at the end watching his food get snagged by people who just sat down ahead of him. You'd feel sorry for him, if he weren't blaming it on you.

Each customer has five stars indicating her level of happiness (...with the service, not in general. If one of your customers happens to be depressed in his personal life, it's not your responsibility. Just feed him.) The more stars a customer still has when she gets her food, the larger tip you receive. If she waits so long that her stars disappear altogether, she departs in a huff, leaving a ding in your reputation and a sad song in your heart.

Check your recipe book at the beginning of each level to find out how to make the different offerings on your menu. To fill an order, click on each necessary ingredient, then on your rolling mat. Swish, swack, and the finished platter goes out on the belt.

You'll run out of ingredients fast, so as soon as you have some cash in hand, pick up the phone and order refills. Your supplier will restock you in a few seconds, or instantly if you pay the rush fee. If you plan ahead, you shouldn't have to rush too many orders.

You may also order sake, a Japanese wine made with rice, and temporarily cheer up a frustrated customer by dragging it to his place setting - thus teaching us the valuable life lesson that a drunken customer is a good tipper. See? It's educational!

All the while, find yourself weirdly seduced by the psychotropic background xylophones. It is an extraordinarily short loop of music, yet it does such a good job of soothing you through the constant press of hungry customers, I suggest you leave it on. It's all part of the game's hypnotic rhythm. Rice. Nori. Fish egg. Roll. Ding ding a-ding ding ding a-ding ding. Rice. Nori. Fish egg. Roll. Ding ding a-ding ding ding a-ding ding.

You could almost dance to it, if you had two seconds to spare. But you don't. That girl in the pink kimono just ordered a dragon roll, and you're fresh out of eel.

Analysis: In a sea of Diner Dash copycats, Sushi Go Round manages to feel like its own game. Bold, large-pixelled artwork grants a distinct charm to both the food and the wide-faced patrons. The customers are unusually one-dimensional for this type of game — their taste in seafood is their only personality trait — but focusing on the rhythms of the kitchen is its own kind of pleasure. Keeping track of the various recipes helps you feel connected to the work, and learning to execute them rapidly and efficiently may even give you a sense of pride.

But compelling as it is, Sushi Go Round is a game of repetition and endurance. The authors have limited the number of levels and put in a proper ending, but no way to save your game. You should be able to finish the whole thing in less than a half-hour, but whether you play it again will depend on your willingness to get sucked in for another full stretch.

Play Sushi Go Round


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (106 votes)
| Comments (83) | Views (141)

Scramble125Who doesn't love Trilby? All debonaire and gentlemanly in that pin-stripe suit, it's enough to melt even the chilliest of hearts. He's a fine character to introduce us to the Chzo Mythos, a series of four point-and-click games (Windows, freeware) in which the player is offered the chance to unravel the mystery of... well, that's really for you to find out.

chzomythos.gifThe suspense began in 2003 with the release of 5 Days a Stranger, a game that drops the player (via gentlemanly thief Trilby) into the Defoe manor — a typically cliché manor. Although cliché manors usually instigate cliché troubles, these games are anything but cliché.

Each game will put you in control of a different character. Controls are primarily mouse-based, though some keyboard shortcuts are offered. The interface of each game differs slightly. Developer Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw seemed to experiment with the controls over the course of development. You will guide each character through spooky mansions, hotels, and even a space ship, to find clues that unravel the storyline and to figure out just what the heck is going on. Fear not, for you will also find a variety of characters with subtle personality differences (sometimes ranging from dismissive to laughably deranged). The result is a long and satisfying adventure.

chzomythos2.gifThe Chzo Mythos is story-heavy, so it may not attract everyone. And, as previous posts have suggested, these games are quite creepy (particularly Trilby's Notes) and ooze with atmosphere, and thus are not for the faint of heart — youngsters beware! This goes doubly for some adult themes sprinkled throughout. However, Croshaw obviously put a lot of effort into the backstory for his games, and it shows. He demonstrates his ability to send chills down the player's spines without "pop-and-scare" tactics. Still, you may not want to play in the dark.

Fans of the mouse will enjoy the interface and gameplay. Others might find it a little frustrating. Make use of the keyboard shortcuts, and you will probably cut back on your frustration and profanity usage. And as long as we're discussing frustration, you may want to save early and often. Certain parts of each game may require you to react suddenly and without warning in a situation that can end in your character's death. But endure these shortcomings and you will be rewarded with a rich gaming experience that keeps you on your toes.

If you've played The Art of Theft and are interested to see what happens to Trilby later on in his career, download the rest of the series!

Analysis: The Chzo Mythos (or the 'Trilby' or 'Defoe' series) encompasses exactly the type of gaming experience I love: rich in narrative and deep in atmosphere. The series engaged my curiosity and compelled me to continue playing through two full days that it took to reach its conclusion. If you care to peak into the psyche of the game characters you meet, then I recommend you explore the adventure that awaits you in this series. My guess is you'll be pleased you made the effort. For the best experience, I recommend that you play the games in order of release:

  1. 5 Days a Stranger
  2. 7 Days a Skeptic
  3. Trilby's Notes
  4. 6 Days a Sacrifice


| Comments (32) | Views (1)

Link Dump Fridays

JohnBIt's Link Dump Friday, special hyper mega Christmas holiday edition! Spread a little end of the year wintertime cheer with these festive games, most of which involve presents and/or destroying things!

  • flashempires2.gifFlash Empires 2: Christmas Crusades - Who says Christmas has to be about fuzzy happy lovey stuff? Flash Empires 2 is a tower defense game where you must defend Santa's workshop from hordes of minions sent by his evil brother. Place troops, towers and other helpful toys to stave off the waves of reindeer and elves. Evil reindeer and elves.
  • santaexpress.gif.gifSanta Express - Deliver presents to good little boys and girls while dumping sacks of coal on the naughty ones. You control Santa's sleigh as it slides around the top of the screen, tapping the [spacebar] when you're ready to drop your gift. Watch the wind direction and speed, and be careful in later levels to keep presents away from the grumpy little monsters.
  • santascannon.gifSanta's Cannon - It's time to deliver presents again. Instead of that stupid sleigh and reindeer combo, you get to use a cannon! Load the correct present into Santa's cannon, aim, and fire. The more you deliver, the higher your score.
  • icon_pimpmysleigh.gifPimp My Sleigh - Just in time for sleigh-pimping season comes this fun advergame. Design your sleigh and submit it to the gallery, then race it down snowy hills loaded with presents, snowmen, trees, and... dynamite?! (Thanks, art begotti!)
  • icon_goldminerholiday.gifGold Miner Holiday Haul - The Gold Miner series of games continues with this limited edition, special collectors version, holiday extravaganza in which the loot you're after is made up of... presents. Just send out your grappling hook and haul in all the lovely wrapped packages, Christmas cookies and happiness that you can.
  • icon_christmasescape.gifChristmas Escape - And what would Christmas be like without a little holiday point-and-click room escape game? Your objective is to find all the presents hidden all over the room that you're trying to escape from. And why are we trying to escape from a room filled with presents, anyways? From the Sphere and RGB developer, Neutral. But hurry! It looks like they're going to take it down after Christmas. (Thanks, Stephen!)
  • icescape.gifIcescape - (PG13) Less of a holiday game, more of a winter-themed room escape title. You're trapped in a research base on the arctic circle, and it's mighty cold outside. Find items and search the room for a way out! But be careful, blood and gore present means keep this away from the impressionable ones.

  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (143 votes)
| Comments (393) | Views (326)

Scramble125SeedI've never had much of a green thumb. Most of the plants I try to care for either die from neglect or get eaten by something mysterious, and I've learned to accept this. But Newgrounds contributor, Andr01d, refuses to let a plant-incompatible guy like me suffer.

Seed is a soothing, botany-based diversion that lets you cross-breed several different kinds of flowers into pretty mutant hyper-flowers. Simply select a flower species from the menu and it will spawn into one of five available locations in the dirt. Click on your creation to clone it, or click-drag and drop on another flower to crossbreed. Doing so will spawn a third flower into an available spot in the dirt. To delete a flower, hold [shift] and click on it. You may have five flowers only onscreen at a time, so additional crossbreeding or cloning when all spots are occupied will cause one flower to be deleted at random — so clone your favorite creations often. As an alternative, you can just let evolution decide all of this for you; this option gets very interesting if you have several species of flower in play.

Of course, it wouldn't be much of a game if you couldn't share your creation with others. Just drag your flower into a box in the upper right-hand corner to see its "DNA," the code you can copy and paste for others to view. I've seen some very interesting creations from simply crossbreeding the same species over and over again — so experiment freely and see what appears!

Analysis: Seed is a small game, but it'll keep you engaged for a while, particularly if you share your discoveries with others and try out their creations, too. Challenge yourself to create the largest, smallest, or most colorful flower you can. Right now the options are limited as there are about nine initial flowers, but the author has indicated he may add more later. For the moment, it's an intriguing little webtoy.

Play Seed


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (256 votes)
| Comments (22) | Views (35)

PsychotronicVector RunnerSure, nowadays 3-D technology doesn't impress us without realistic bump-mapping and 19 layers of translucent skin textures. But in the days of Tempest and Blaster, 3-D was all about making geometric objects fly quickly at your face. Hearken back to those adrenaline-happy days with Vector Runner, an arcade action driving game concerned purely with the sensation of speed.

You control a humble blue cube on its journey down a futuristic highway, dodging deadly pyramids of various shapes and sizes. The arrow keys steer the cube left and right, but its velocity is out of your hands. Wherever you need to be, you're going there fast. If you can catch them as they shoot by, colored cubes will give you extra points, restore your shields, or even grant you temporary invulnerability.

That's the whole game. The top ten high scores start at 105,000. Good luck.

Analysis: Undoubtedly, the in-house production team at Dig Your Own Grave drew heavy inspiration from Max Abernathy's Cubefield, but where Cubefield could be meditative or even psychedelic, Vector Runner focuses strictly on speeding up your heart rate. From the woosh of the passing structures, to the lurching tilt of the screen when you move, to the way the camera dips closer to the road every time you accelerate, every detail makes you feel lucky to be alive, considering how ridiculously fast you are traveling.

Aesthetically, Vector Runner is exactly what it needs to be. The relentless techno backbeat fits the pace of the game perfectly, but you can turn it off in favor of your own tunes if you like. The visual effects are stunning, in a retro-vector-graphics sort of way. There is nothing quite like having an EMP mine white out the screen just when you're about to enter a massive rush of pyramids.

There are actually not very many obstacles to avoid, compared to Cubefield and other games of this type, but that is where the game traps you. It is easy to become complacent, once you get used to the steering and pass safely through a couple of tricky situations. You're rocketing along, taking short, controlled turns, only risking your life for the most convenient bonus cubes. You're in control. Now is a good time to blink, or maybe take a deep breath.

And that's when you die.

Play Vector Runner


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (21 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (9)

samuraihighjump.gifJohnBAnother simple game oozing with personality has just been released by Game-Pure, creators of Bound Bear and Combat Heaven. Samurai High Jump answers the age old question: if a samurai warrior had a big bamboo pole, how far and how high could he jump? It's up to you to find out in this Monkey Kick-Off-style arcade game.

You begin with the samurai running with a long bamboo pole in hand. After knocking a few redshirted extras out of the way, the word "click" will appear, at which time you should click the mouse button. Doing so plants the pole in the ground, causing a strength meter to appear. Click the mouse again to choose your jump's power, then click a third time to select the angle.

With each leap you must clear a bamboo pole that sits just to the right of the starting point. With each successful jump the pole is raised. You can keep jumping and earning points as long as you don't smack the pole (or stumble before leaping), but you can only fail three times before it's game over.

Simple, of course, but fun thanks to Game-Pure's signature graphical style and rather odd sense of humor. That, combined with the absurdity of the concept (samurai warriors, long bamboo poles, and the high jump?) makes the game a grin-inducing experience well worth a coffee break or two.

Play Samurai High Jump


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (36 votes)
| Comments (23) | Views (20)

PsychotronicDesktop ArmadaPaul and Dave have a dream. Their dream involves nothing less than producing "a new era in online casual gaming," and with powerhouse showpieces like Desktop Tower Defense and Flash Element Tower Defense to their credit, they just might achieve their goal. Under the name Novel Concepts, they recently launched The Casual Collective, a social center for multiplayer gaming based around Paul and Dave's game designs. Play there for free, or spend a few dollars to upgrade your membership and enjoy special privileges, like additional game modes and loftier social status. An upgraded membership is only $5 (or $1 if a member signs you up), but if you register a free account, you can still enjoy most of what the site has to offer. The Casual Collective comes with a full set of networking options, including leader boards, chat rooms, and member groups. Be sure to join the jayisgames group, so you can easily find other JIGsters!

If you're just there for the games, though, I suggest you check out Desktop Armada, a tour de force of action strategy that successfully combines the grand sweep of naval warfare with the joy of pushing around a plastic tugboat going "TOOT TOOT". Take command of your very own fleet of model ships and send them across a forbidding wooden ocean to destroy the enemy base, while the opposing commodore tries to do the same to you.

First you'll probably want to play through a few of the single-player missions, which can be found on the Games Menu behind the blue button marked "Desktop Armada Missions". Six training challenges will walk you through the various ship types and options. Once you're feeling confident, you can either head over to the multi-player room (the purple "Desktop Armada" button) or tackle the "Medium" missions, which will trounce you soundly and make you feel bad about yourself. In the future, perhaps we can look forward to "Hard" missions that actually reach through the screen and throttle you, but for now, Paul and Dave are going easy on us.

Desktop ArmadaThe game itself is compact and accessible. Four ships are at your disposal: the speedy Patrol Boat, the well-armored Destroyer, the long-range Missile Boat, and the giant Battleship. To launch an attack, simply choose one of your six ports, click on the "build" button for the appropriate unit, and watch your new warship sail into battle.

You have no control over your ships once they launch, which makes Desktop Armada a game of planning rather than reflexes. You are free to concentrate on overall strategy as your tiny fleet rushes to its destiny.

Each port has four preset paths assigned to it, indicated by the thick blue line drawn across the screen, and which you can cycle through either with the [A] and [D] keys or by clicking on the origin of the path. When you build a new ship, it will follow whichever waypoint schedule you have selected. Clever use of attack routes can send ships on flanking maneuvers or join several units together in a powerful formation.

When two opposing ships meet, they fight. Certain ships have a natural advantage over others, so it will pay off to learn, for example, that an hulking battleship can be taken down by a handful of nimble patrol boats. If you favor a particular type of unit, you have the option to upgrade it. Tougher ships are more expensive, but if you plan to win on the backs of destroyers, you'll want to have the best destroyers around.

If you want to, you can control every aspect of the game by mouse, but there are plenty of useful keyboard shortcuts. I ended up using my left hand on the keyboard to switch between ports and choose attack routes, while my right hand on the mouse built and upgraded ships, but you may find another layout more convenient.

Analysis: Desktop Armada's artwork follows in the footsteps of Desktop TD: clean and handsome, with an emphasis on conveying information effectively. Simple shadow effects and pleasant wood textures effectively illustrate the concept that this is a tabletop game come to life.

Desktop ArmadaSliding bars let you adjust the sound effects and the mournful background music, but these are probably the weakest part of the package. The only sounds are miniature explosions and the pew-pews of cannon fire, leaving the player's direct interaction with the game completely silent. There should be a sound when you click a button to build a ship, another sound when the ship launches, a sound when you switch between ports, etc. Without those audio cues, it can be easy to lose track of what you're doing in the heat of battle.

In every other regard, Desktop Armada could serve as the blueprint for casual strategy games — it's fun, accessible, and dynamic. The philosophy behind every aspect of the game is to provide limited options with unlimited possibilities. You will quickly develop cunning strategies, only to discard them when you encounter an opponent with better ideas. Your upgraded patrol boat swarm may dominate one game, but be decimated by a pack of missile boats the next. Some approaches are stronger than others, but there is no single attack plan that cannot be thwarted. The action is constant, due to a clever income system that discourages stalemates by rewarding you for keeping boats in the field. And with a typical game lasting around 5 minutes, even after a total rout you never have to wait long to dust yourself off and try again.

Gameplay runs smoothly, even when your opponent has a weak internet connection, thanks to sophisticated programming that continually makes adjustments to the frame rate and graphics quality. The Casual Collective is still young, so it's not always possible to find a game at odd hours, and much of the competition is made up of seasoned beta testers, but the only solution to these issues is to spread the word and get your friends playing.

So I'm doing my part with this review. Desktop Armada is an elegant game of remarkable depth; an excellent pastime for casual gamers and real-time strategy nuts alike; and a sign of great things to come. Paul and Dave may take over the world yet.

Play Desktop Armada


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (24 votes)
| Comments (19) | Views (26)

Artbegottitony-b machineIf you're like me and suffer from "Funky-Chicken-itis" and are looking for a tool to help you shake yo' groove thang, might I recommend a little dance music? The Tony-b Machine is a cool techno-music webtoy to give you just the right beats. Simply slide the sliders and push the buttons to crank out your own thumping creation.

The Tony-b Machine can be run entirely with your mouse or keyboard. The middle row of keys selects the melody note (as shown by the keyboard), the top row shoots out a sound sample (some might sound familiar), some bottom-row keys change the tonal key that the bass and accompaniment play in (a, d, or e minor), and the number keys change rhythms, add percussion, and fill your computer's room with smoke and flashing lights. (Not really, but that'd be cool.) Hitting other key combinations triggers more awesome samples to suit your techno fancy. You can even record your mixes to play back and edit your jams!

Analysis: While it's obviously not something you'd want to use on a paid gig at a nightclub, the Tony-b Machine has enough bells and whistles to make it good wholesome fun and with a quality beginner's interface. Granted, there are some basic functions that I felt were missing from this system (changing tempos, more freedom with chord movements, switching to major keys, etc.), but still a fun toy to play with. I spent a good chunk of time fiddling around trying to make a techno version of "I'm a Believer."

So if you're ready to get your groove on, get the party started with the Tony-b Machine!

Play the Tony-b Machine


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (31 votes)
| Comments (27) | Views (33)

PatrickMAD: Mutually Assured DestructionMAD: Mutually Assured Destruction is a souped-up rendition of Missile Command with great art by Brian Baum and clever resource management design by Nic Daniel. Shoot missiles in an attempt to intercept other missiles, just like in the classic arcade game, but with a twist: Each missile you fire garners some resources that can be spent to upgrade buildings.

Control is simple: just click where you want to shoot. Use the number keys (1-4) to activate your secondary buildings' special powers, or click directly on the icons. Press the [space bar] to pause the game and open the upgrade menu.

Your first building acts like a generator for the other buildings, and when activated will transfer its own shield power to your other buildings. Upgrading will give it capacitors that store energy rather than transferring directly from its own shield resources. The second building uses an EMP (Electro magnetic pulse) device to disable missiles. Upgrading this building will dramatically increase its effectiveness. The next building slows down time allowing you to aim much more accurately and take some of the pressure off. Upgrading this building uses less energy when slowing down time, thus slows time longer. Lastly there is a flak cannon that shoots randomly into the sky (hopefully) taking out or at least disabling some missiles for you. Upgrading this building increases its general effectiveness. Note that all buildings are extremely vulnerable to attack after use since they use their shield energy to activate their powers.

Analysis: The real issue with this game stems from the secondary functions not being automatic or implied. If your investment in time-slowing, for example, were re-balanced to work well on a periodic basis, without you having to manage it personally, it would make a lot more sense. As it stands now, you have to baby-sit a wider area while at the same time deciding when to use your secondary shots, and as the game is currently balanced this is a dominant strategy. You need to invest in the most expensive upgrade, improving shield recharge and reload rate, in order to survive. Losing those secondary buildings is actually a blessing in disguise, as there is less area to babysit.

If you like intense gameplay and great art, and if you don't mind that the RPG elements are somewhat imbalanced, you should definitely get M.A.D and play Mutually Assured Destruction!

Play Mutually Assured Destruction


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (38 votes)
| Comments (46) | Views (26)

PsychotronicJack FrostThe years have been unkind to Q*Bert. Known in early 80s video arcades as a pyramid-conquering hero, the lovable foul-mouthed trunk-beast has now been relegated to a memory. Thankfully, Nitrome has not forgotten the little guy, and he finds a new home in their latest game, along with dozens of his weird nerfy brethren. The spring in his step is gone. He trudges now, with a resigned look in his eyes and a persistent sneeze. The land of Jack Frost is no place for a creature who is 50% nose.

Jack Frost, scowling star of the final game in Nitrome's informal 2007 winter trilogy (after Thin Ice and Snow Drift), is happiest when he is cold. Your job is to turn 40 levels of autumn-colored blocks and ladders into an arctic wonderland. Control Jack with the arrow keys: [up] to jump, [left] and [right] to walk, [up] and [down] to climb. Simply step on blocks or climb ladders to freeze them. (Don't be fooled by the help sign on the first level. You have to freeze all the floors AND the ladders to finish a level.) Q*Bert will try to stop you, along with about a dozen other types of critter, but you can fight most of them by bouncing on their heads to temporarily encase them in a solid cube of ice.

Park a friend on the WASD keys, and the two of you can spread wintry devastation simultaneously. The 2-player mode is staged on the same set of levels as 1-player is, and you both work towards the same goal, but there is a competition aspect to it. At the end of a level, whoever has turned more blocks to his/her own color wins the round, and the game keeps track of who is in the lead as you progress. Co-op play is rare in the video game world, and even rarer in free online games, so Nitrome gets major points for including this option.

Analysis: Jack Frost's sluggish pace and occasional collision bugs are the price of admission to a Nitrome party, but there's not much else to complain about. If the character sprites are small, it is only so that more of the level can be shown on screen at once. The chirpy music can be turned off if it isn't to your taste, and the graphics are up to Nitrome's usual high standard. I would have appreciated another background or two over the course of 40 levels, but Mat Annal's enemy designs are colorful and distinct, and there are tons of winning animation details. You have to love it when a tongue creature gets stuck on an icy patch or when a nose creature sneezes.

What really sells this game, though, is the interactivity. Jack can use frozen enemies as stepping stones to reach higher areas. When you change a block to ice, enemies will behave differently towards it. Some will skate on it, some will breathe fire to melt it, some will merely pause to sneeze and suck back up a booger. But they react to the change you've made, and that makes you feel like an active participant in the game world. Jack is more difficult to control on the ice, and while that can be frustrating (and confusing - isn't Jack made of ice already?), it eventually just becomes part of your strategy as you try to solve levels without backtracking over the slippery patches.

If only Mr. Frost would smile once in a while. That grimace seems permanent. Let's hope his game can get a smile out of you.

Play Jack Frost

Jack Frost is also playable at MTV Arcade.

Note: The nod to Q*Bert is more than a throw-away gag - Nitrome is giving oblique credit to the block-changing mechanic that was popularized by Gottlieb's character back in the day.


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (93 votes)
| Comments (58) | Views (194)

freerider2.gifJohnBAah, the sweet smell of webtoys in the morning (and afternoon/evening/night)! Pete from OneMoreLevel has just released Free Rider 2, a sequel that continues the more interactive spin on the Line Rider formula. Using a large tool set you can sculpt, edit and decorate the environment any way you choose. When you're done, take to the arrow keys and drive your rider through the stage. It's webtoy-meets-level-editor kind of experience, and it's even better than the original.

The tool set in Free Rider 2 lets you draw solid lines, background scenery, create curves (which are really just a series of small, straight lines), add power-ups, and perform basic editing tasks such as erasing or saving your work. Everything you need to craft any obstacle or path your imagination can conjure is there and is remarkably easy to use. After you have a basic level worked up, use the [arrow] keys to lean forward or backwards and [up] to move your vehicle in that direction. Gravity and physics are both your friend and enemy in this webtoy, and if you tip over and crash you'll need to reset the rider and tweak your level a bit. There's no real goal (or winning or losing for that matter), just play with the editor and have a good time!

Free Rider 2 presents a much smoother editing experience than the first game, and with the addition of the curve and background tools, expect to see some sharper-looking levels from Free Riders around the globe. Also be on the lookout for the new vehicle types that radically change how levels are designed and played. The usual bike rider is present, but there's also a unicycle, a truck, a helicopter, a hot air balloon, and a squidgy little cube that can't be destroyed. Each vehicle has a different purpose and feel (the helicopter can fly, making your average bike-centric level a bit... easier) and exponentially increases the amount of fun you can have with the simple game. Other new additions in this sequel include the ability to alter gravity, add slow-motion to certain areas, create boosts, and add bombs to the mix.

The most powerful part of any Rider-type webtoy is the community. Level creations can be copied and shared with anyone using a string of code, and the Free Rider 2 forum is packed with custom levels you can try. Look under the right-hand toolbar for your creation's code and to enter codes from your friends.

Bigger and better without sacrificing any of its simplicity or charm. Free Rider 2 is another slice of line-drawing creativity at its best!

Play Free Rider 2


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (78 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (35)

slidon.gifJohnBBrand new from Yoshio Ishii of Nekogames, creator of the Hoshi Saga series, comes a simple mahjong-based puzzle game called Slidon. With a little mouse-based grace, your only goal in Slidon is to push tiles around a grid to form matching pairs of two or more. When like tiles meet, they vanish. You have a limited number of moves to complete each stage, so keep your tile shoving in check and study the board carefully.

To slide tiles, click and hold the left mouse button above one and move the mouse a bit. Arrows will appear in the direction(s) you can slide the tile, just move the cursor over and release. For tiles to disappear they must come to rest next to each other, meaning you can't send one flying past its match and expect it to disappear. And you can only slide tiles that aren't locked in by other pieces on the board.

The real fun begins when you factor in the delete option at the bottom of the screen. Each level lets you remove a limited number of tiles by simply pointing and clicking. You can only destroy tiles you can slide, so forget about digging to the bottom of the pile. It comes in handy in a pinch and adds a bit of unique strategy to the game.

A good puzzle game with an elegant presentation. There are only a handful of levels now, which is unfortunate, but it's a lot of fun while it lasts.

Play Slidon


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (22 votes)
| Comments (24) | Views (45)

pajatso.jpgJohnBPajatso is a Flash interpretation of a traditional Finnish gambling game that dates back to the early 1900s. The object is to flick a coin into one of the winning slots. If you succeed, the machine drops a few coins from the columns below. If you miss the coin rolls and adds itself to the stack. It's a fun and simple game perfect for frittering away a few minutes of your time.

This incarnation of pajatso is just about as bare-bones as you can get. To throw a coin, hold the [left arrow] key and release. The longer you hold it, the farther the coin goes. That's it for the gameplay! There's no music (other than title music and a victory fanfare), and the only sound effects are from coins dropping into the tray below. While the game does keep track of coins you throw and money you earn, there's no over-reaching goal, just mindless coin-flicking entertainment.

UPDATE: Pajatso now has a mellow ambient music playing in the background while you feed the machine your tokens.

The game is simple, but there's one little catch that can frighten players away: the entire game is in Finnish. Don't worry, though, as the only time you'll need language is when you click on menu items. Here's a quick rundown of the game's modes so you know what you're getting yourself into.

Harjoittelu - Practice: Play as much as you want. You can see your turnout ratio in percent in the upper right corner.

Rahapeli - Moneygame: You start with 5.00 mk and keep playing as long as you have coins left. Winnings go straight into the playing pot.

Turnauspeli - Tournament game: Start with 40 tokens and try to win as much as you can. When your 40 coins are gone, the game is over.

And in the game interface there is a button uusi peli for a "New Game".

A simple little time waster that's well-made and strangely fun.

Play Pajatso

Cheers to Vike91 for recommending this in our IRC channel (UPDATE: and for alerting us to the new version!) and Thomas for reminding us!


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (27 votes)
| Comments (47) | Views (412)

fairway-ban.jpg

JohnBFairway Solitaire is a new casual card game that (miraculous as it may seem) blends solitaire with golf. Don't let that trick you into thinking it's a dull game filled with white gloves and whispering announcers. Fairway Solitaire is as funny, bright and entertaining as any casual game out there. And with its slightly new take on some familiar themes, it's worth heading out on the green and sinking a few holes.

fairwaysolitaire1.jpgSeveral rows of cards sit face-down on the screen with the bottom ones turned face-up. A deck with a single key card at its side rests at the bottom. The goal is to eliminate cards by placing them on the key card, but you can only remove cards that are one above or one below the key card value. For example, if the key card is a five of hearts, you can slide a four or a six of any color or suit on top of it. Move as many cards as you can before clicking the deck for a new key card. When the deck is depleted, the round ends. The game holds your hand for a number of rounds (or "holes") to get you warmed up, but you'll get the hang of things very quickly.

Fortunately for us, Fairway Solitaire doesn't keep things that simple. Golf-themed obstacles are par for the course in this game, so get used to running across sand traps and water hazards while clicking playing cards. Each obstacle causes a different problem, such as locking a row of cards until you play a buried card, but it's always something creative and a little bit fun. You earn cash for removing cards from play as well as achieving "long drives" (playing six or more cards on the key card without shuffling the deck). With the cash you can buy accessories and clothing to give you an extra edge on the green.

Fairway Solitaire isn't afraid to mess with its own rules. Sometimes every card in a row will be face-up, while other times there won't be rows at all. This works both for and against you, as sometimes removing one card turns over two, but you must play both of them to reach the card below. Ultimately, though, your fate is one part skill, two parts luck of the draw.

Analysis: If you ask me, both golf and solitaire have a reputation for being a bit bland, and I've never been a big fan of either in a casual game format. You can't argue with what Fairway Solitaire does with a golf-themed card game, however. Its fun, light-hearted atmosphere never forgets the odd combination of games that make up the experience.

Beyond gameplay, Fairway Solitaire has a very satisfying presentation. The visuals are crisp and pleasing with a nice blend of golf settings and a cartoon-like art style. During the main game there is no music, just the sound of the wind in your ears and birds chirping in the distance. Playing cards, clicking menu buttons, etc. also produce very crisp sound effects which, on some deep level, are strangely satisfying. And the announcer is a perfect mix of cheerfulness and humor.

Much more than the sum of its parts, Fairway Solitaire is a bright, interesting and wholly fun casual game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


Fairway Solitaire is available to download from these affiliates:
Big Fish Games


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (23) | Views (8)

PatrickOnce in Space is a downloadable puzzle-platform game for Windows, created by Hempuli, that delivers both content and charm. Set in deep space, you are a lone astronaut trying to collect stars and reach the flag on different constellations of rock. You can change your gravity orientation by walking around corners, and you must be facing the arrow direction of a star in order to collect it. The first level eases you into the game's mechanics pretty easily. Use the [arrow] keys to move left and right, [shift] to jump and [control] to change gravity when near a red corner.

onceinspace.gifThe music (composed by Nifflas of Knytt fame) and particle effects take a simple geometric concept and deliver it as a holistically soothing trip through the cosmos. Unfortunately this aesthetic is thwarted by an atavistic design decision. In this case, atavistic means taking a step back on the evolutionary ladder, pushing Once in Space back to the early days of video gaming.

Giving the player only three lives, lost when you step off into the void or collide with plasma, makes sense from a traditional perspective because it prevents the player from running through the puzzles by dying and re-spawning after getting hard-to-reach stars. But the mechanic of killing players and removing some of their progress is a hold-over from the quarter-munching days of arcade machines. Now, when many games are free, this is not only useless, it's almost malignant and takes what should be a smooth, relaxing, mind-expanding experience and throws in the probability of frustration loops. Doing the same tasks over and over again until they become menial isn't what games are about any more. You begin to wonder why the game isn't called "Many Times in Space".

Overall, however, Once in Space is a great way to spend some of your Saturday afternoon. The music, atmosphere and overall concept are enjoyable, and if you're extraordinarily skilled or have a high level of patience, you'll love it even more.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (63 votes)
| Comments (29) | Views (14)

PsychotronicSnow DriftI don't know what Nitrome has against penguins, but our little tuxedoed friends really get the raw end of the fish-burger this time. Not only do they get chucked off of icebergs by the hundreds, but some rambunctious foxes are using them as ammunition in a prototype penguin launcher. If you're having trouble visualizing that, it's like a missile launcher, but with penguins. Fiery heat-seeking penguins.

Such is the life of arctic waterfowl in Snow Drift, a refreshingly fast-paced and straightforward platforming adventure from Nitrome, creators of a recent avalanche of Flash games, including Thin Ice, Twang, and Pest Control. Your mission is to guide a smug yeti with gelled hair through 20 levels of icy slopes, lavender skies, and pointy obstacles. Control your yeti with the arrow keys (or WASD for southpaws): [left/right] to walk, [up] to jump, and [down] to slide. Hold the down arrow during a slide to accelerate. The sliding ability is the game's hook, and most levels are designed around it. Just tap the down arrow on an icy surface to begin the slide, and our yeti hero will careen down slopes and plow through threatening creatures unharmed. But be warned — there is no jumping on the heads of your enemies here. Sliding is your only weapon, and it only works on ice. If you encounter a homicidal (yeticidal?) fox standing on snow, you're out of luck. Jump over him and never look back.

The penguins serve as the omnipresent collectible in Snow Drift, like Mario's coins or Sonic's rings, but rather than collecting them, the yeti callously knocks them aside like peeping ten-pins. This simple dynamic says as much about his character as his self-satisfied expression or his adorable toddling walk animation. He's a casual bully out for a good time, barely noticing the victims of his freewheeling rampage. Bravo for anti-heroes.

Analysis: Snow Drift doesn't serve up many surprises. It's a simple platform game with an unusual attack method, and that's about it. The controls are good but not great. The only way to stop sliding is to jump, and that means if there's a penguin missile right above you, and you need to stop yourself from skidding into the drink, well, you're going to take a penguin between the eyes. I wish they had included some bonus collectibles for replay value, as they did in Frost Bite, Hot Air, and many of their other games. There's no particular reward for exploring the more open levels, so the experience can sometimes feel too much like a linear obstacle course. There are also some rare but frustrating collision-detection problems. Once I fell down through a solid platform, and several times I slid too fast into a wall and glitched right through the floor. Thorough play-testing is often Nitrome's weak point.

But their strong points are here in force — detailed and likable pixel artwork, snappy tunes (with the option to turn them off), and a reasonable amount of level variety. The way the main character moves smoothly and easily through his environment makes Snow Drift a pleasure to play. There is nothing wrong with a standard platform game if it is executed well, and Nitrome has executed this one like pros. Well worth a look.

Play Snow Drift


| Comments (12) | Views (2)

Link Dump Fridays

JohnBThis week's Link Dump Friday is dedicated to viruses. Yes, those pesky little creatures that invade larger organisms, hijack their cells and force them to make more of the virus to continue the biological shenanigans. Fortunately a little video game of sorts plays out and the immune system kicks in, sending forces to destroy the invaders with really cool sound effects. It's kind of like a tower defense game, only with sneezing.

  • vectortdx.gifVector TDx - A sequel to one of the most stylish tower defense games Vector TD, only a bit more difficult. Each tower type is strong against certain colors of enemies (called vectoids) and you must place them on the map to maximize their efficiency.
  • thuletrail.gifThule Trail - A new take on the old Oregon Trail game, you play as the driver of a car with a group of friends trying to avoid mishaps and keep yourself amused on a road trip to the Atlantis Music Festival. While on the road, you play various mini-games to earn more money and run into some hilarious situations, some of which involve crazy hitch-hikers. Even the graphics and music emulate that old 80s game with style, and expect an inside joke or two for Oregon Trail fans.
  • dumbwords.gifT.A.G. - Another "dumb" game from Hamumu, in T.A.G. you make up an acronym and then vote on what other players have entered. Each day is a new game, and the best acronyms earn points. Similar to DumbWords in style, but with a little more creative slant.
  • ladybird.gifLadybird - A logic game where you must place numbered tiles on the grid so that each facing digit matches. Not a new concept by far, but the presentation and replay value makes it worth a round or two. Plus, there's a ladybug.

  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (57 votes)
| Comments (36) | Views (1,000)

Reader reviewPicture LogicThe following is a reader-submitted review by Lillian:

Judging from the comments for the recent review of Armor Picross 2, it seems that many in the JIG community really like picross, and I do, too! Sometimes I'll delay working on economics homework just to play a game (or two or three or four) of picross. And there are so many online implementations of my favorite game, and all with a different interface. So, which one to choose? For some, the question may be difficult to answer. But not for me.

I choose Picture Logic from Isomura Kai (TONAKAI interactive), developer of the previously reviewed Out File #1 and #2 escape games and the arcade game, Rapture Capture. So far, Picture Logic is my favorite implementation of picross (aka 'nonograms' or 'fill in squares with colors'), and the interface is simple: Click once for a color square, twice for 'X' square, and click again to clear. Plus, you can click-drag to quickly fill in those pesky lengths of boxes. My only complaint is that playing on a laptop can really cramp your fingers.

Each puzzle will show you the percentage of people who solved the puzzle, so you have a rough guide of puzzle difficulty. Lower percentages means harder puzzles, so watch out beginners! Some nice extras: When you finish a puzzle, the game will save your progress and checks it off!

The site is in both Japanese and English, but unfortunately the English portion is quite lacking. To get the full picross experience you will have to look at Japanese words. There are almost 200 puzzles now, so you won't finish them all in one go (unless you are addicted to picross and cannot stop playing). There is also something for creating your own puzzles, but because I can't read Japanese, I cannot help you there.

All things considered, if you love picross puzzles like me, you owe it to yourself to

Play Picture Logic

Do you have a favorite site for picross? Please don't post a link to it here in the comments, submit the link (or even your own review) using the "Suggest a Game" link in the menu above, instead.


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (36 votes)
| Comments (152) | Views (132)

JayBon VoyageThe famous Gotmail team of Japan has just released another point-and-click, room escape game, and this one is titled: Bon Voyage.

If you've played other games from the Gotmail team, then this one may seem familiar to you, but it really is a new game. It may appear familiar at first glance because Bon Voyage uses the same art assets and setting as Gotmail's previous game, Strawberry Tomato. In fact, some remnants of the previous game — such as the small pictures on the wall that contained clues from the previous game — are still there, but they don't respond to mouse clicks.

Use the usual point-and-click skills to locate clues and find items to help you escape. Some pixel hunting will likely be necessary as well. Fortunately, the game includes an integrated save mechanism and a music mute button. Go forth and conquer, and leave some helpful hints, tips and a walkthrough here in the comments if you can. And if someone can come up with a better review, I'll edit what I have here to include that, too.

Play Bon Voyage


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (42 votes)
| Comments (103) | Views (32)

dancemonkeyBallistic WarsLet me just come right out and say it: Ballistic Wars, by Wan Hazmer and team at Easy Only! Games, is like Advance Wars with balls. I mean that as a compliment! Thanks to the improvements to the initially submitted version of the game (improvements made based on reader feedback), Ballistic Wars is a fast-paced, turn-based strategy puzzle game that is one of my top favorites from our 4th Casual Gameplay Design Competition. The original submitted version even earned the 3rd place prize ($500)!

Work your way through 15 challenging levels against a mad professor bent on blowing up, well, just about everything. Competition third place award winnerClick on your "troops", represented by camouflaged balls of varying sizes and special abilities, to launch attacks against the opposing forces. Infantry can only attack directly: click on the unit, set direction and speed by moving the mouse, then click again to set the ball shooting off towards your foes. Any opposing unit hit subsequently by ricochet will also be damaged by your attack. Other friendly units can attack directly like infantry or use their special ability.

Units with special abilities include: a sniper that can shoot from afar and send foes reeling; a panic tower that uses its ability to push all units away; and my favorite, the ice cream truck, which makes everyone come running (for ice cream, of course!). Ballistic WarsThe final unit is a tank, which has no special ability but deals massive damage and can take a beating. It's also slow as molasses and the size of an elephant.

Each level poses unique challenges. Some involve simple brute force attacks to reduce your enemy's hit points, others require careful planning and clever use of the environment. The levels are designed more as puzzles to solve rather than as a more traditional war game, so be sure to inspect the level carefully before making your first move. The margin for error on some levels is razor thin.

Analysis: The developers of Ballistic Wars were clearly inspired by Advance Wars, and have done a wonderful job of paying homage to that great series while presenting us with a truly unique game that stands on its own. The presentation of the story, the animation when activating a special attack, and the background music are all minor elements borrowed from Advance Wars that contribute nicely to the rest of the game, which is entirely original. The wonderful character design and animation was by Daim, and Leenyin took care of all the interface design for the game.

Using balls as military units in a billiards-style turn-based war game is a brilliant use of the ball physics theme from the competition. It's also one of the most purely fun games in the competition. Some of the other entries are equally brilliant, creative, and well-produced, but few are this much fun to play.

As much as I love the game there is some room for improvement. Each level is carefully planned and some are very challenging, but somehow few of them are very satisfying. I enjoyed playing the game itself but didn't feel a real sense of accomplishment upon finishing a level. There is clearly one intended solution to most levels and I never felt like I was able to exhibit any creativity in solving them. The background music is a nice touch but never changes, and gets very repetitive. I was also wishing for more unit variety, both for my units and for the opponent's side. With the limited time given for the competition I imagine programming a challenging opponent AI would have been a tall order for anyone.

Despite these quibbles, Ballistic Wars is a standout entry from the competition, and will hopefully be further developed and granted a sequel.

Play Ballistic Wars

zxozxo - Anything reminiscent of Spybot: The Nightfall Incident has to be good, right? Right! Except for a few small usability issues (which were fixed in the update), Ballistic Wars is exactly what I look for in a casual game: easy to learn, heavy on strategy, and lots of fun! OK, so the strategies were made pretty obvious, but this move did allow more people to get hooked on the game. Easy Only Games has set the bar high for themselves, but I have no doubt that the sequel will be simply phenomenal, with more unit types, and more difficult and open-ended levels to pass.


| Comments (76) | Views (18)

The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2 Preview

JohnBBy now, everyone has heard of The Fancy Pants Adventure. If you haven't, it's only one of the most polished, whimsical and entertaining Flash-based platforming games released in the last few years. Creator Brad Borne has been hard at work on a sequel for some time. A demo was released earlier this year, teasing us rabid fans with new moves and stages in store for the next installment. But we can never get enough!

fancypants22.jpgJust a few days ago Brad was kind enough to furnish us with the latest build of The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2. As soon as we stopped clapping our hands and salivating with glee, we dove right in. The game isn't 100% complete yet, but from what we played it's well worth the wait. Here's a little preview info to get you revved up for The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2!

The game begins innocently enough with a round of snail shell golf. After running and bouncing the little guy to the goal, the mayor of Squiggleville appears to give you your prize: an ice cream cone! That was great. Game over, right? Nah. Just when you're about to enjoy your tasty treat, a rabbit appears and snatches the cone from your hands. It's either give up now and go home, or jump after the rabbit and start the game. Which do you think we'll choose?

The overall layout of The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2 is essentially the same as before with the old familiar doors making a triumphant return. Geier Arnold's music is back as well and it's as catchy as ever. Of course it wouldn't be a Fancy Pants game without boatloads of hidden secrets, including Brad's fun little easter eggs stashed around every corner. Even though you'll want to blaze through the levels as fast as you can, stopping to smell the roses has its charm, too.

fancypants2.jpgThe Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2 remains the same game at its core but features loads of tweaks, improvements and additions to make it even better than the original. For starters, Fancy Pants Man seems to move a bit quicker and his jumps are higher than before. Looks like somebody has been hitting the gym in-between games. Some of the new moves that were featured in the World 2 demo, such as hanging from ledges and grabbing onto wires, are back, and the wall jump power-up is now a default move.

Probably the most obvious improvement in the new game are the visuals. Everything jumps right off the screen with personality, even the backgrounds have fun little pictures that will make you smile. The animations are more detailed and the frame rate looks like its been given a boost, lending a much smoother look to the entire game.

Content-wise, expect even more worlds to explore than in the original. And what's this? What are those strange doors with names above them? Could it be, are there levels designed by other people just waiting to be played?

Nearly everything in The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2 has been tweaked and refined up a notch. Same great Fancy Pants flavor, only now with more punch. You can be sure we'll make a huge announcement when the final game is released. Until then, play the original The Fancy Pants Adventure game, the demo of World 2 that's been up for a while, you can even play a beta of World 2 that Brad has up at his site, Borne Games.

Lots of Fancy Pants available to get psyched for the imminent release, hopefully due out before Christmas!

Update: Fancy Pants Adventure World 2 is HERE!


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (57 votes)
| Comments (39) | Views (199)

armorpicross2.gifJohnBI. Love. Picross. It isn't as number-heavy as sudoku, doesn't rely on obscure trivia like a crossword puzzle, and the combination of left- and right-brained activity achieves a perfect harmony. And when paper and pencil puzzles won't cut it, there are dozens of online incarnations of the popular game, including a few downloadable picross titles that offer more puzzles than I could ever dream of completing. Then along comes Armor Picross 2 with its shiny graphics, easy-to-use interface and countless sets of puzzles. In other words, a little slice of picross heaven.

If you're unfamiliar with picross (also called nonograms), here's the scoop. Each grid is surrounded by sets of numbers that correspond to a column or row. The numbers are your clues to which tiles on the grid need to be filled in and which should be left blank. For example, if a column shows "4 2" at the top, that means there's a group of four squares filled in, followed by at least one space, and then a group of two filled squares. The challenge is finding out where the filled groups begin and how many blank spaces to put where. If it sounds confusing, don't worry, it's simple. Just start playing and within a few seconds you'll get the hang of it.

Your main activity is filling in squares or marking them with an 'X', both of which are achieved with the mouse in this game. To fill a square simply click on it, and to mark an X hold shift while clicking. You can also click and drag to fill whole rows at once, but be aware that Armor Picross 2 won't confine your moves to the row you started drawing on, so a steady hand is required.

Armor Picross 2 does notify you when you make a wrong move, which picross purists may not like. Each puzzle gives you five chances to mess up without clearing the puzzle, but there are no hints, so it almost balances out. Besides, if you're a picross pro, you won't make mistakes in the first place, right? Puzzles are timed but there's no limit and therefore no need to rush. Just sit back, organize your thoughts and get your picross on. There are plenty of puzzles to keep you busy for quite some time.

Analysis: The two major sellings points for any computer version of picross are puzzle variety and interface. Armor Picross 2 nails both of these. The click/shift-click method is about as simple as it gets (seeing as how the right mouse button isn't used), so you won't fumble and make the wrong move by accident. The visuals are big, sleek, and easy to see, even in later levels when the board is dozens of columns wide. When it comes to online picross games, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better implementation than this one.

Play Armor Picross 2


| Comments (27) | Views (7)

Weekend Download

JohnBYay, a second weekend download! Woo hoo! There were so many games to feature this weekend, we had to split it into two parts to accomodate them all. Also, I had to clone myself, and if anybody asks, that was a necessity, not a fun weekend project.

fairwaysolitaire.jpgFairway Solitaire (Windows, 48MB, demo) - The exciting worlds of golf and solitaire finally meet! Well, that doesn't sound exciting, but mixing the two games turns out to be a heck of a lot of fun, as Fairway Solitaire illustrates beautifully. Piles of cards are stacked on the screen with a deck and a key card facing you at the bottom. The object is to move cards from the screen that are either one above or below the key card to remove all pieces from play. Each course is a new challenge with obstacles and card types that appear to throw a wrench in your game. The presentation is nothing short of superb, and the game's sense of humor makes it all the more entertaining.

aquaria2.jpgAquaria (Windows, 65MB, demo) - After what feels like ages, Aquaria has finally been released! Walking away with the Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the last Independent Games Festival (IGF), Aquaria is a gorgeous 2D game of underwater exploration. The artwork and music are nothing short of stunning and the game itself reminds me of titles such as Knytt, flOw, and maybe a little bit of Cave Story. We'll have a full review next weekend after we've spent more quality time with the game. Until then, download and enjoy.

jojofashion.jpgJojo's Fashion Show (Windows, 35MB, demo) - Ok, yeah, it's a game about a fashion show. But it's from the folks at Gamelab (Miss Management, Plantasia, etc.), and that's enough in my book to give it a try. Dress models based on their personal taste or the season and send them out on the runway. You earn points for creating complementary outfits and for adhering to their styles. Think of it as a cross between a time management and a dress-up game, but better. It may sound unappealing to your inner manly-man, but I have to admit, it's kind of addicting.

aveyond2.jpgAveyond 2: Ean's Quest (Windows, 34MB, demo) - The long-awaited sequel to last year's game, Aveyond 2 is a simple yet engrossing RPG that's easy to get into and hard to stop playing. You play the role of Ean, a changeling, and Iya, a song mage, who live in a far away land called the Vale. One day Ean wakes up to find Iya is missing and no one seems to know who she is. And for the first time, snow covers the ground. Embark on a massive journey with over 100 areas to explore, tons of quests and a captivating storyline. It's some of the best role playing the indie scene has to offer.

wizball.jpgWizball (Windows/Mac, ~25MB, free) - A remake of the classic C64 shooter, in Wizball you fly around blasting enemies and powering-up yourself much like every other shooter out there. The key difference with Wizball is you're also trying to color in the world with paint drops you collect. It can be an incredibly challenging game at times, but patient players are well-rewarded.


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (8) | Views (2)

monkeyisland.jpgPatrickNot to be confused with the classic adventure game, Monkey Island is an action-puzzler involving a monkey and not one but several islands. The game's controls are easy: just roll the mouse to change the direction the monkey faces, click to jump, and hold for a longer jump. Hop from island to island collecting bananas in this simple yet refreshing title.

Getting from island to island can be tricky, which is why a zoom button at the bottom corner of the screen is there. Click it for a quick aerial view of the stage so you can scope out the scenery.

The levels scale up with some variations, such as moving islands, shrinking/growing platforms, and ice islands. You'll also come across coconut and pineapple point bonuses. The gameplay can get a bit frustrating due to the lack of an ability to turn in mid-air. Slip-ups like that can quickly lead to a game over, but fortunately the game is so bouncy and happy you won't feel like breaking your mouse.

Overall, a good way to spend fifteen minutes.

Play Monkey Island


| Comments (42) | Views (16)

Weekend Download

JohnBTrilby: Peril at the Static Art of Rocks'n'BOMB is our featured game this weekend. Or... something like that. Gameplay involves placing bombs on the screen to guide a gentleman thief through each level (stealthily) while finding hidden objects along the way. Don't forget to grab an emerald while hopping through the confusing mass of animated static!

agathachristie.jpgAgatha Christie: Peril at End House (Windows, 59MB, demo) - A hidden object game with a refined sense of style, Peril at End House takes the Agatha Christie mystery stories to a whole new level. The puzzles are superb, the mini-games are fun, and the storyline is well-integrated into the game, making almost everything you do part of the experience. Some of the items are misleading or hard to find, which is unfortunate, but that doesn't even begin to tarnish a great item finding experience.

trilby.gifTrilby: The Art of Theft (Windows, 2.5MB, free) - Slink. Slink. Slink. I'm a thief! And so is Trilby, and Trilby practices the art of thievery like a gentleman. Sneak through buildings and evade guards by hiding in the shadows as you score loot on a number of heists. An old-school visual style makes it feel like a classic, but the gameplay itself is polished and extremely engaging. Well worth the small download!

rocksndiamonds.gifRocks'n'Diamonds (Windows/Mac/Linux, ~4MB, free) - A tile-based puzzler that takes a page from games such as Sokoban and Boulder Dash to create a charming little game. Work your way through each stage collecting jewels and blasting rocks with dynamite. Simple, of course, but loads of fun from the moment you start playing.

static.gifLost in the Static (Windows, 3MB, free) - In what could just as easily be described as an endurance test for the eyes as an adventure platformer, Lost in the Static is an experiment that plays on the brain's ability to interpret visual input. Everything is made of animated static, from the floors to the "lava" and even your character. Explore the 2-color world and hope you don't go blind before the end. The site warns that if your eyes get "all woggly" or you experience nausea, stop playing. And that's very good advice.

puffbomb.gifPuffBOMB (Windows/Mac, ~1.3MB, free) - One part Incredible Machine, one part Eets, PuffBOMB is a simple game where the only goal is to blast the adorable main character(s) to the end point of each stage. Bombs are your tool of choice, and you'll need to find just the right spot to place them in order to win.


| Comments (29) | Views (3)

Link Dump Fridays

JohnBBetween cave exploring deer, circles that explode at the slightest touch, and a version of Tetris that was never meant to exist, this week's Link Dump Friday deserves a one-word description: kaboom.

  • tetrical.gifTetrical - The most confusing incarnation of Tetris ever made, Tetrical pulls the old favorite block stacker into the world of 3D, forcing you to rotate and pile pieces in an isometric point of view. Not only are the dimensions larger, but the pieces are wackier and stretch well beyond the four-block limit. Yikes.
  • cirplosion.gifCirplosion - Hold the left mouse button to expand the circle and let it go before it touches the edge of the screen or one of the bouncing marbles. Then, slide the resulting shadow over as many balls as you can and click to destroy them. You have a limited number of "cirplosions" to use as well as a time limit, creating some very tense moments.
  • zippercave.gifZipper's Cave Maze - Your standard old-school "collect keys to unlock doors to go to the next level", only this one features superbly detailed artwork and sound effects. Created for National Geographic Kids, you'll also come across a few dinosaur-related factoids, and as everyone knows, dinosaurs are cool.
  • laserbubble.gifLaser & Bubbles - A quirky little puzzle/arcade game where you must destroy all the bubbles on the screen using a grid of lasers. Think picross with less cerebral action and more bubbles going kaboom.
  • gemtower.gifGem Tower Defense - A rather unique tower defense game that uses gems instead of machines. It's a bit complex at first, but the basic idea is that you place rocks which turn into "towers" that can be combined with nearby gems as well as upgraded. It's sort of like alchemy. The game is still in its early stages and thus lacks sound effects and overall polish. But it's an interesting take on the TD genre.

  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (35 votes)
| Comments (165) | Views (15)

JayAbsolute Awesome Ball GameI'm an old-school pinballer from days long gone by. Yes, the days before video games and even before the arcade; days when "rec hall" usually meant the presence of a pool table, a juke box and (if I was lucky) a glorious pinball machine. So, you can imagine my delight when the "ball physics" theme of our recent competition produced a couple of enjoyable pinball games, and one of them even walked away with the 2nd place prize ($1,000 and Adobe Flash CS3 license).

The aptly named Absolute Awesome Ball Game (AABG) by Felix Reidl is truly awesome because it manages to capture the thrill of discovery Competition second place award winnerthat we look for from pinball games and delivers that in an addictive, unique and appealing package, though it might not be very apparent at first. The game requires a bit of patience and perseverance before seeing any visible progress, but those that stick with it are in for a very pleasant and enjoyable ride.

The main objective is to succeed at each of 10 mini-games contained in the game. The mini-games appear based on conditions that must be met using the balls in play. Figuring out how to make them appear is part of the discovery element to the game, and part of the reward for your efforts, so I won't spoil any of those details in this review. Before you even think about finding the mini-games, however, you will have to sort out how to light up the board and to earn points, which is a necessary first step to making any real progress in AABG.

Absolute Awesome Ball GameThe playing field starts off dark and unassuming with the only clues being a list of "Combos" around the hole on the left side of the play field, each one comprised of 3-colors (read left to right). These represent collisions that you must make with balls on the play field, in order. For example, blue-green-pink means a blue ball must collide with a green ball and a green ball must then collide with a pink ball, and all during a single shot.

Shooting is straightforward and intuitive using a combination of mouse and keyboard: Select the desired ball to shoot by clicking on it; click-drag with the mouse to select the power of the shot; move the mouse to adjust the angle of the shot; press [space bar] to fire. You may only shoot balls that are highlighted with a white ring around them.

Absolute Awesome Ball GameYour first plan of attack should be to get a few different colored balls available on the play field with which to make combos, and then begin to chip away at the combos you see listed. Once all combos in a color-group are achieved, something special will happen. Make your next plan of attack one of scoring points, because with points come bonus balls, and more balls make everything in this game just a whole lot more fun.

Analysis: With its rather modest (initial) appearance, and gameplay that is a bit slow to ramp up in excitement, it might be easy for some to pass on AABG altogether. But those who dig a little deeper than what's on the surface will find an extraordinarily addictive game underneath. AABG succeeds in delivering the thrill of discovery and the reward structure of pinball games, and delivers all that in a unique Flash game that is packed with fun.

Improvements that I'd like to see in a future version include: (1) Better feedback to the player regarding the completion of a combo in progress. There is presently no feedback regarding combos until after one is completed, which yields a point value appearing over the 2nd collision once the combo is achieved. I believe this may be the single most important issue that divides those who "get it" and those who don't. If the feedback issue could be improved upon, I believe the game could enjoy an even greater audience. (2) An integrated save mechanism is also needed since a single game can last for many hours, or even several days. As it is now I have to leave the game window open and come back to it for a couple hours at a time. This works because I can leave my computer on 24/7, but it may not be as convenient for others. And, (3) a colorblind option to improve the game's accessibility to those with difficulty differentiating color. A simple symbol or texture option for the balls and color indicators on the board would be a welcome improvement.

All things considered, Absolute Awesome Ball Game is highly addictive, a wonderful achievement, and a fantastic entry into our "ball physics" competition earning it the 2nd Place prize. Thanks and congratulations Felix!

dancemonkeydancemonkey - This game was a bit of an enigma, more so than any of the other games I played in this competition. The ball physics theme was one of the strongest in the competition, and I just love pinball. I have to admit though, to this day I'm still not sure I quite know what the heck I'm doing when I play. Don't get me wrong, the game is fun, and I can tell something is going on. I can even tell that there's some underlying logic to it all, though I've never quite been able to figure out exactly what that is. The game was never dull though, and trying to decipher the game's underlying rules is clearly three-quarters of the challenge. Absolute Awesome Ball Game is exciting and interesting, and is never the same game twice!

zxozxo - If pinball is your passion, then Absolute Awesome Ball Game should be right up your alley! You won't realize it at first, but there are loads of features just waiting to be unlocked if you have the skills and the patience (with an emphasis on the patience). Unlike pinball, you don't need to have good aim or reflexes to become a master, just a good sense of angles. I found the physics unrealistically elastic, but that's actually a plus for AABG, providing even more of a pinball feel and helping facilitate those necessary ball collisions.

Play Absolute Awesome Ball Game


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (40 votes)
| Comments (488) | Views (41)

JaySecret NumbersTonypa is back with a new puzzle game and this one will surely give your grey matter a work out. In the spirit of Web-based riddle games, Tercessrebmun (or Secret Numbers) is a Flash game in which you must figure out the password for each of the game's 30 levels. Each level presents a series of characters from which you must derive meaning and clues that point to a single numeric answer. Enter your answer in the space provided (by replacing the "CODE?" text) using positive integers only and no other symbols. Some are straightforward and some are definitely not, but all solutions can be derived using logic and ingenuity. Wikipedia may even help with a few of them.

This game is best played in small groups of people, like the one we had in the site's IRC channel over the weekend as we worked through most of the levels in the game. Tony even showed up to give us a few helpful hints as we played, so don't be afraid to ask for a hint or two in the comments! Or come visit our IRC channel for some real-time assistance!

Play Tercessrebmun


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (123 votes)
| Comments (61) | Views (470)

Ms.45You Are LuckyYou Are Lucky! (or "Untsuku", thanks Graig and tom!) is a gorgeous little game, created by Shuichi Oshida ("Ossy"), that is a cross between a point-and-click game and one from the Grow series. The aim is to uncover all ten of the characters (who look a bit like WarBears with pastel coloured poop on their heads). Unlike Grow, you don't have a list of items to check off — simply click things and see what happens. Mostly, the sequence seems to be fairly logical and linear (I can't give details without spoilers), but it's entirely in Japanese and I'm not sure if being able to understand the text makes any difference. It's often hard to tell if you've backed yourself into a corner, although you will know when you've lost — unlike Grow's generous "booby prizes", you'll get an embarrassing "Wa-wa-wa-waaaaaaa" sound and the logo "YOU ARE LUCKY!" in huge letters.

It's a gorgeous, fun and challenging game that's filled with charm, and I've only managed to uncover eight of the characters. Won't someone please tell me how to reach the acorn?

Play You Are Lucky


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (38) | Views (6)

Patrickwhenorcsattack2.jpgWhen Orcs Attack is a tower defense game that towers over other tower defense titles. The first game made by Mr. Joy (a.k.a. John Frisby, WOA, pronounced "whoa!") uses the powerful Unity engine to give you 3D characters and particle effects right in your browser window. Not only does When Orcs Attack play smoothly, but this is a huge technical step-up for web games.

The basic gameplay is like other TD games: lay down towers to take out swarms of enemies before they get from point A to point B. Just click an icon to select a tower, click somewhere to build it, then watch the fireworks ensue. The genius of When Orcs Attack is that the interface is simple to start with but offers lots of power to players who want to use it. You can set how towers prioritize targets, cast spells like Teleport which sends enemies back to the start, upgrade and sell towers, and lay down walls in clever patterns. The ability to alter the maze gives When Orcs Attack more tactical depth than most tower defense games out there. When Orcs Attack carries its tongue-in-cheek theme of justification well, complete with a theme song that makes you think of a Fox reality program.

Analysis: Replete with several modes, including crossroads (two armies to contend with), capture the flag, pachinko, as well as the classic maze defense, When Orcs Attack is an homage to the genre itself. It's a nice complement to Immortal Defense, which gave TD games a philosophical slant. When Orcs Attack justifies the genre with a self-consciously simple premise and fleshes it out with a so-generic-it's-sweet aesthetic. All in your browser window, which I'm tempted to say trumps any artistic factors. Tower Defense fans, here is your dulce de leche.

Play When Orcs Attack

Note: When Orcs Attack requires a plug-in in order to run in-browser, kind of a hassle, but I recommend you make the jump. There's also a download if you want full-screen. The game is open to design adjustments based on the data that John logs from people playing, and improvements will be made into the future.

The download version of the game is a time-limited demo of a full version that goes for $24.95.


| Comments (27) | Views (8)

Weekend Download

JohnBWeekend Download is here! Caution: Weekend Download may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. Weekend Download contains a liquid core which, if exposed due to rupture should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at. If Weekend Download begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head. Weekend Download may stick to certain types of skin. When not in use, Weekend Download should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration. Do not taunt Weekend Download.

protector.jpgProtector (Windows, 73MB, demo) - A gorgeous 3D shooting game that puts you in the seat of a stationary turret floating in the stars. As meteors and mines zip in your direction you must destroy them before they crash into the planet or damage your turret. The unique 3D map shows you from which direction baddies are coming and forces you to find (and oftentimes zoom in) and destroy them one at a time. While the action takes some time to heat up, eventually you'll level-up your guns and encounter faster, tougher enemies that will force you to choose between your own safety and the planet's. Hint: choose the planet. A fun and intense game that's a real treat to look at and to play.

chromatron.gifChromatron (Windows/Mac, <50KB, free) - Chromatron is a series of wonderfully evil puzzle games. The laser-and-mirror concept is familiar to many (see Reflections and Aargon), but Chromatron has some unique pieces of its own to twist your brain around. Until recently the original game was a free sample to entice players to buy the sequels, but now all four games are free for download. (Cheers to Shep and Dan for sending this in!)

holdoffred.gifHoldoffRed (Windows, <2 MB, free) is a simple shooter game with some RPG elements that give it a suprising amount of depth. You are a heart that needs to defend itself from woes by shooting them. You gain levels with points you receive from shooting your enemies which you can use to upgrade your health, energy, or damage. Keeping a good balance between the three stats is extremely important in surviving later levels. With 8 unlockable special attacks, and several unlockable modes, this game will keep you coming back for more, and is perfect for a quick round or two on your coffee break. (Thanks, Kero!)

tuttles.jpgThe Tuttles: Madcap Misadventures (Windows, 100MB, demo) - An arcade platform adventure game with a touch of zany. Oh, and there's a flying van you get to pilot! You'll recognize a few of the voices in the game, including Bob Saget, Dave Thomas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dave Coulier, and William Shatner. Best of all, 75% of the game's purchase price goes to Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation and benefits seriously ill kids and their families. It's a great little platformer made for a great cause.

jumper.gifJumper Redux (Windows, ~2.3 MB, free) is a challenging platformer from the maker of HoldoffRed and An Untitled Story which puts you in the place of a robot who is trying to escape a science lab. The levels in this game do get difficult quickly, but none are impossible. With two modes to choose from, Original and Redux, there's loads to keep you occupied and frustrated for days (or weeks if it takes you as long as I did). And with multiplayer mode you can even race against your friends online to see who can finish the fastest or with the least deaths. (Thanks, Kero!)


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (4) | Views (10)

Weekend Download

Reader reviewThe following is a reader-submitted review by Ben: BrettspielWelt is a free online board-gaming community based in Germany but open to players from around the world. We have previously reviewed online versions of several board games, including Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne, both of which can be found on BrettspielWelt. Board games are a much more popular pastime in Germany than in the United States. Many excellent titles, ranging from casual fun to serious strategy, have been developed in there, and BrettspielWelt (which translates as Boardgame World) samples some of the best!

brettspielwelt.jpgBrettspielWelt features too many games to review or even mention them all here. A complete games list, with links to the rules and interface details for each title, is available on the website. Specific games that are in the casual spirit of JayIsGames include Can't Stop (a fast-paced, high-risk dice game), Lost Cities (a strategic card game for two players), and Trans America (a rail-building game), among others.

The BrettspielWelt interface is packed with extra features that you won't have to worry about if all you want to do is play. It's a good idea to start by checking out the help section and the introduction page. When you log in you will find yourself in the Game Manager from which you can choose any of BrettspielWelt's 60+ games. Unfortunately the current version of the Game Manager hasn't been fully translated yet, so the interface will be mostly in German regardless of your language preference.

You access BrettspielWelt through a Java client that can be run in your browser as an applet, or downloaded. I recommend downloading the stand-alone client, as it can be customized, is more stable, and, once it downloads the necessary graphics files, starts much faster. Once the client connects to the server, you will be prompted for a name and password. If you register, your username will be reserved and BrettspielWelt will keep track of your gameplay statistics, but there are no restrictions on regular gameplay for unregistered guests. To log in as a guest, simply leave the password field blank. If you enter a username that is already in use, you will be prompted to choose another one.

The stand-alone client can be extensively customized by editing the file brettspielwelt.prop. In particular, you can set it to automatically log in with your name and password, and set your language preference. Registered BrettspielWelt users can participate in a community-building meta-game, gaining virtual wealth and prestige by playing games and investing that wealth in virtual towns, cities, and guilds.

Analysis: The interface is incompletely translated at the time of writing, making things a bit rough around the edges if you don't speak German. You can set your language preference to English, if it isn't already, by typing "/language en" in the chat frame in the main window, but not everything will be in English. Also, after you log in a few chat windows may appear with an annoying sound effect. Don't close them, they'll only reappear. Instead just minimize them and forget they even exist.

Each individual game has its own, unique interface, some of which are rather counter-intuitive, and none of the games has an undo function. However, the variety and quality of games available more than makes up for any technical shortcomings, and the BrettspielWelt community members are generally friendly and helpful. Visit BrettspielWelt and try as many games as you like!


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (57 votes)
| Comments (61) | Views (184)

Reader reviewDr. DokkoyThe following is a reader-submitted review by Beth:

I am a big fan of point-and-click games and recently I enjoyed playing the escape games from Aztec. Now, as luck would have it, a sequel to the previously reviewed Escape from Octlien has only just been made available. The game is called Dr. Dokkoy and it is just as satisfying as the first game. It has the same simple controls that the other games have, and answers more questions left from the last game. Unlike most point-and-click games, this game has an engaging story line. If you haven't played the other games first, it is recommended that you play them in order:

  1. The Shrine
  2. Escape from Island
  3. Escape from Octlien
  4. Dr. Dokkoy

Like most games of its type, items are still found throughout Dr. Dokkoy, but it does not need the disclaimer that you may break your mouse from pixel hunting. I have searched other game sites and this has not been posted anywhere (yet). Therefore, there is also no walkthrough (There is one now! Thanks to Radamanthys!). So, let the discussion begin!

Play Dr. Dokkoy

Recent Comments

 

Display 5 more comments
Limit to the last 5 comments

Casual game of the week

Dead Reckoning: Silver Moon Isle

Browser game of the week

Bump Bump

Mobile game of the week

Ingress

Your Favorite Games edit

add
Save links to your favorite games here. Use the Favorites editor.

Popular on JiG


The Room

Virtual Villagers: Origins

Submachine 9: The Temple

Surgeon Simulator 2013

The House 2

Papa's pastaria

Fireboy and Watergirl 4: The Crystal Temple

Fireboy and Watergirl 3: The Ice Temple

Moonchild

The Royal Trap

Loren the Amazon Princess

1931: Scheherazade at the Library of Pergamum

Magical Diary

Heileen Series

Visit our great partner: maxcdn!

Monthly Archives

Legal notice

All games mentioned or hosted and images appearing on JayIsGames are Copyright their respective owner(s).

All other content is Copyright ©2003-2014 JayIsGames.com. All Rights Reserved.