Here at Jay Is Games, we are keenly interested in the development of HTML5 and how it will affect the future of browser-based gaming. If you haven't heard, HTML, the code-like scribble that determines the basic look and structure of nearly all web sites, is getting a major upgrade that will sport a number of features promising to make proprietary plugins like Flash unnecessary in many cases. One such feature that is already available is the Canvas element, which allows for the real-time drawing and animation of shapes, which makes it a plausible tool for creating games.
For example, check out this port of the arcade classic Asteroids by Doug McInnes. If you've never played Asteroids, or an Asteroids-like game, the goal is to pilot your deltoid spacecraft around the void of space, blasting large lumbering asteroids into smaller, faster, projectile-like asteroids, then blasting those into dust before they breach your hull and destroy you. Controls are basic: [left] and [right] arrows to rotate your ship, [up] to thrust, and [space] to fire space bullets. If you travel across one side of the screen, you will warp to the other side, as a reasonable depiction of the infinity of space. The game is all about controlling inertia so you don't glide into the hurling space rocks before you can maneuver into position and shoot them. Destroy or be destroyed is the only law against the impersonal Asteroids.
If you have played Asteroids before, you will find nothing new here, but a novel reimagining isn't really the point. The point is to see if HTML5 is robust enough to recreate an arcade classic. Which it can! The graphics are primitive, but they behave the way they should. Animations are smooth, controls are responsive, and hit detection is unassailable. It all just works.
One reason HTML5 is getting a lot of press is because Apple's iPhone and new tablet gizmo, the iPad, don't support Flash, for Apple is betting on non-proprietary alternatives like HTML5 to fulfill Flash's role. It's a little ironic then that this version of Asteroids will load on an iPhone or an iPad, but won't be playable, since it relies on keyboard control. Also, if Explorer is your browser, you won't be able to play, since Explorer doesn't support Canvas yet.
But if you can, check this Asteroids port out, if only to see the beginning of a new direction in online gaming.