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Super Meat Boy


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Rating: 4.8/5 (116 votes)
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Super Meat Boy!

DoraOoooohhhh... Who's in a hard platformer for all to see? SUPER MEAT BOY! Fleshy and red and daring is he! SU-PER MEAT BOY! If you like challenge and things that go "squish!", then Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes have what you wish! SU-PER MEAT BOY! SU-PER MEAT BOY! SUUUUPEEER... MEAT BOOOOY!

That's right, kiddies, everyone's favourite blob of the red stuff is back in this quirky, tricky follow up to 2008's original. Fans want to know; is it worth your time and cash? Short answer? Yes. Long answer? Awwwww yissssssss.

Super Meat BoyThe story in Super Meat Boy is pretty simple. You have Meat Boy, and his girlfriend, Bandage Girl, who loves him. You also have Dr Fetus, who nobody loves, and decides to abscond with Bandage Girl. As Meat Boy, you'll do anything to get your adhesive beloved back, and you set out to rescue her... no matter how many times you're reduced to a pile of gory chunks in the process. Which will be a great many times, since the level design in Super Meat Boy tends to be, as a rule, spite made manifest.

The game offers you both keyboard and gamepad control options, and both I and the game recommend the latter. Frankly, if you can manage to beat the game with a keyboard, you're a better person than I am, Charlie Brown. The game is divided up into themed worlds comprised of short but fiendish levels, and the goal at each (except the boss stages) is always to rescue Bandage Girl, wherever she may be. Just be careful since a single hit for Meat Boy from either foe or hazardous environment will kill him and force you to restart the level. You'll need to run, leap, wall-jump and bravely dash your way through every obstacle, and at the end of each stage you get to see a video of all your level attempts trying (and probably failing) at once.

Super Meat BoyOf course, Bandage Girl doesn't have to be your only goal. As you squish your way through the game's 300+ levels you'll find warp zones that'll take you to other games, bandages you can collect to help unlock new characters with special abilities, and once you've beaten a level you may want to check out its more challenging Dark World counterpart... if you can find it. Buckle up, buttercup; we're in this for the long haul.

Analysis: Let's be honest; you can't make a platformer that the average gamer is going to fail approximately one billion times at without also making it inventive and charming. People would be lined up outside your door with torches and pitchforks otherwise. Super Meat Boy isn't just punishingly difficult, it's extremely imaginative. Each level constantly throws new twists at you, such as forcing you to play a level entirely in silhouette. It's a great incentive to keep playing and see what it comes up with next. The visuals are simple but clean and appealing, and the soundtrack is fantastic. It's also funny, in a way that manages to be both dark and completely absurd. It's the sort of thing you know you should probably feel bad about for laughing at, but can't quite help yourself.

Super Meat BoyA frequent response each time a new level loads is probably going to be, "How in the world do they expect me to do that?" At first contact, most stages of Super Meat Boy tend to resemble a haphazard fever dream of buzzsaws and other dangers. But sit a moment and observe your surroundings and one of Super Meat Boy's best features will start to shine; there is always a method to the madness, and once you figure out how to approach a particular stage running through it is usually very fun. Level design isn't just clever; it's downright Machiavellian. Dance, meaty puppet, dance!

Of course, if you're not into the sort of relentlessly aggressive, split-second-twitch gaming Super Meat Boy offers, this probably isn't the game for you, since that's mostly all it offers. There are very few levels in the game where standing still for more than a split second is ever a good idea, and it's fairly easy to work yourself into a jittery lather. Frankly, I was rarely sure if I was ever too caffeinated to play, or not caffeinated enough; there were absolutely times when I needed a time out. These are times when Meat Boy's tendency to explode if he's within a hair's breadth of a hazard are really grating, coupled with how springy he is. There were instances where I literally thought, "There's just no way. I absolutely cannot pull that off." (Though of course I eventually did.)

Admittedly, Super Meat Boy isn't going to be for everyone, and to be honest, it isn't trying to be. Fans of high-difficulty games will love the challenge, and anyone can appreciate the sheer amount of effort that's gone into making this game with its no-room-for-error stages and signature cheek. Super Meat Boy is absolutely insane, frantic, disgusting (but cute!), and at times incredibly frustrating... and personally, I loved every second of it. If the idea of a fetus in a giant robotic tuxedo and monocle flipping you off before the opening cinematics are over doesn't scandalise you, you might want to give this one a try.

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Walkthrough Guide


(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)

Super Meat Boy Tips and Tricks

  • You can change your trajectory in midair by pressing direction. Holding the run button whilst doing this will change it even more.

  • If in doubt, assume it kills you.

  • Fans can be useful for getting extra height or distance, but if you touch the fan blades they will kill you

  • Some blocks can be destroyed, either by contanct from you or by being hit by a stray missile.

  • Some levels lead to hidden Warp Zones, which you reach by finding purple portals in normal levels. Retro warp zones contain extra bandages.

  • You can unlock characters in 2 ways: by accumulating Bandages and by finding and completing special Warp Zones.

  • Character Unlock Warp Zone Locations:

    1. Commander Video: Level 1-12, top left of the map, jump over Bandage Girl to reach.

    2. Jill: Level 2-8, get over to the third "wall" spanning the whole level vertically. The warp zone is inside the top of this wall. You can move through one of the semi-solid blocks near it. Must be done quickly, as it dissappears at about 16s.

    3. Ogmo: Level 3-16, jump on the first static platform and wait. Eventually the warp zone will appear on it.

    4. Flywrench: Level 4-18, ride the platform briefly jump up to where the creature spawner is and run through the wall behind it. The warp zone is hidden out of view.

    5. The Kid: Level 5-7, get over to the right side of the level quickly, jump over the saw blade and slide down the outside of the right wall. The portal is about halfway down.

  • Some bandages require the use of unlockable characters and their special abilities.

  • You can unlock an alternate, harder, dark world version of every level by getting an A+ time. Press shift when standing on it on the map screen to go to the dark world version of that map. Complete the whole Dark World for an alternate ending.

  • The time goal for A+ is displayed during replays and on the map screen next to a flag icon.

  • Secret "glitch" levels can be unlocked by replaying levels in complete worlds and randomly finding a "glitching" Bandage Girl. If you die, you can replay by selecting the yellow square that appears on the map screen once the glitch level is unlocked.

40 Comments

StephenM3 Author Profile Page December 5, 2010 6:29 PM

I think the phrase "punishingly difficult" is misused here. It's difficult, definitely, but it isn't punishing in the slightest. Punishing is where too many deaths will send you all the way back to square one. Punishing is where every time you die, you have to wait 30 seconds for the death sequence before taking another shot.

Meat boy subscribes to the modern indie philosophy of packing in as much of the least punishing difficulty as possible. Most levels are really short, deaths are instant, and lives are infinite (except in some of the warp zones). If you slip up, you'll be able to try again within two seconds to half a second, at no penalty.

And keep in mind that there is a difficulty curve. Most people can make it through the early levels without breaking a sweat. The second half of world 1 will start to challenge you, but by the time you've reached world 5, the world 1 boss will feel easy as pie. And that's what makes games like this so great: you get better at them, in a way you can really feel. Returning to an earlier level after you've improved yourself on hard levels feels great, shows you exactly how far you've come. There aren't many modern games that allow you to improve a skill like this.

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The main point is that when you die, you know it is your mistake. That is proper challenge. I just finished the games last boss (all done with a keyboard), and I am still addicted to the game. I've died about 3500 times already.

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I had more than enough of this awful formula as a flash game. I would be willing to pay money to have this not exist.

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Super Meat Boy is waaaaaay better than the original flash game. Dismissing SMB because you didn't like the flash Meat Boy is like refusing to get a huge chocolate cookie from a cookie jar, because the last cookie you got was not chocolate-y enough and kinda tasted like meat.

Actually scratch that, I'm terrible with analogies. Super Meat Boy is awesome, and it's more than worth the $15.

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I pre-ordered this game on Steam (33% off) having finished all Flash versions and am amazed at the sheer quantity and quality of levels. This game is *hard* but then I'm a perfectionist chasing all the A+ ratings in both the normal and dark worlds and a completionist chasing all the bandages.

My only real issue is that it's still quite buggy but then, those issues are being actively fixed. I still don't feel the keyboard controls are tight enough though but that could be an fps issue (again, they're looking into this). Bottom line is you'll die a lot, but it's frustrating when a key sticks just a milli-second too long. Because, milli-seconds are important when trying to complete each level.

My recommendations would be to run this windowed (especially on a non-NVidia/ATI laptop). Also, be aware you can use A and S instead of Shift and Space. That definitely made things a lot more responsive. Just be aware that the inter-level key to move forwards is A not S where as to start a game it's the other way round. Very frustrating to be kicked out of a world no-death achievement run by pressing the wrong button.

Bearing everything in mind though, I give this 5/5. Oh, and I'll refrain from calling it epic, but I will use "highly addictive"

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StephenM3 Author Profile Page December 5, 2010 9:25 PM

@jrodman

Edmund McMillen did the art for both games, but this game has an entirely different programmer. The guy who did the flash game, that was his first game ever. Tommy of Team Meat, he is a professional and did very very well. The flash game took a month or two, they spent three years on this game.

Basically: The controls of the flash game were clunky and annoying. The controls in SMB are the smoothest and tightest platformer controls I've ever seen.

They aren't even remotely comparable, other than having the same characters, and being platformers.

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Hey jrude, are you sure you wanna do that, 'cause I think the game is great both flash and multiconsole. If you hate it so bad, I'm willing to vote your guts out >:[]

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So, I'm either completing this game (for Wii) next or Donkey Kong Country Returns. Both games are punishingly difficult platformers. This one looks to have more gameplay but less variety, taking a longer time to complete but being less engaging throughout. I haven't played either of them though so those are just my impressions; which should I get first?

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StephenM3 Author Profile Page December 5, 2010 9:53 PM

This game isn't coming out for wii for a while. There's only one programmer, and he has to finish fixing the bugs for the Windows release, create the level editor + level hub, and port the windows version to Mac before he can start on the Wii version. And since the game ended up being too big for WiiWare, they have to figure out how they're even going to do the wii version at all.

I think I spend a little too much time following them on twitter.

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Sorry, that question was a little tactless. I'm definitely getting both. It's pretty interesting though; the similarities of these two games really highlight their differences and their different source material.

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Stephen: That's unfortunate. I also heard they were having space issues with WiiWare earlier but thought they were resolved.

Sounds like I'm getting a gamepad, and this game, for my PC. (After finals.)

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How DO you actually use a gamepad with this game?

I got it to pick up my gamepad, but the buttons are all kinds of wrong and I can't find an options to change them?

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@JIGheist: The game was rude to me. In comparison, my response is merely factual.

@Dora: Yep, everyone's free to like the games they do. And everyone's free to not.

@StephenM3: It's good to hear the new product has tightened up controls. But that was only part of the problem. The obnoxious level design, the completely unfair approach to game design all added up to an experience I resent.

"This game punched my wife" is the territory we're in.

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I have this on Xbox (looks nice on a big screen), and although I did hit a difficulty wall, I still like to pick it up for a few minutes when I'm in the mood. The level design is very unforgiving, but it feels more like one continuous effort rather than a string of failures, thanks to the instant respawns and eventual replay of all my tragic deaths.

Funny thing: there's hardly an article on SMB on the internet that doesn't have hecklers. It's interesting. There are plenty of commercial indie designers with roots in Flash games, and they don't attract this kind of attention. Something to do with Edmund McMillen's outspoken personality, I guess, plus the disproportionate amount of news coverage the game has gotten.

I wonder about the kind of personality that needs to heckle an independent game maker, or a stand-up comedian, or a youtube video, or whatever. It's easy to just categorize them as "insecure idiots", but maybe it's just a natural reaction to feeling left out.

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@jrodman,

when you finally get rid of the guy who's forcing you at gunpoint to play this game, I suggest googling for some "hidden object" games, or perhaps even those games for little kiddies they host on Yahoo. I hear they are quite relaxing and they hardly ever punch your wife.

@folks_who_actually_have_some_sense,

This game is made of awesome, pure and simple. Love the gameplay, love the retro hommages, love the sick sense of humor. However one thing seriously bugs me. Why doesn't it allow the user to redefine keys? I know the game smirks at anyone who doesn't use the gamepad but seriously.. "space" for jumping? It's not only awkward, on my keyboard it actually clashes with the "shift" key making the game almost unplayable.

Other than that, this game seems to be made of win. But this "no redefine" issue is a bit huge for my blood, and I hope they fix this in the next patch or something.

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Fuzzyevil Author Profile Page December 6, 2010 2:36 PM

You can use A and S instead of space and shift. Much easier IMO.

Not helpful now, but later they said they will patch in the ability to rebind keys.

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@jrodman:
I personally wouldn't mind complaints, but only if they're justified. Really, what does saying "This game is the worst game EVER!" Accomplish? Please for the sake of me, and the rest of us here at JIG, justify your arguments.

Sincerely,
Carnax

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I played through this on xbla and it's great. Playing through light world was pretty easy, dark world becomes torturous around the 3rd stage but the challenge of trying to complete it keeps me coming back. My only issue with the game is that there is no sprint toggle and my hand cramps up from holding it down for long times. Great game if you love a challenge!

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Oh, and by the way, this game is AMAZING. It is fast, it is hard, it is gory, and it is awesome. The instant respawn time makes it so your only punishment for failing a level is getting to try again (and that isn't much of a punishment, now is it?). The controls are the tightest I've ever seen in any platformer, ever, and even without a gamepad all the levels are beatable (at least the ones I've beaten). The bandages add just the right amount of challenge, as well as offering a great reward (who wouldn't want to play as the Minecraft guy or Captain Viridian (both great games, by the way)). The warp zones offer something different, levels that are easier (well, supposed to be easier), and give you a limit on lives. The boss battles are unique and fun, and they are always challenging when you first encounter them.

There's so much more I could say, but I think I've done enough ranting.

-Carnax

P.S. Now THAT'S justification!

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repairmanman Author Profile Page December 6, 2010 6:58 PM

has the code for tofu boy and goo ball been released yet?
and is there any confirmed time for "teh internets" becoming available?

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repairmanman Author Profile Page December 6, 2010 7:04 PM

is there any way to update my game? i got it a while back, and there seems to be new things added, but i can't update it, and steam only lets me buy it again

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Wildbreeze December 6, 2010 9:11 PM

So, terribly excited at having something good to play... Scroll down to find it's a download. :( *sighh*

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@Repairmanman, to play as Tofu Boy just type "petaphile" in the character selection screen before you enter a level, and then pick Meat Boy. I don't think they have released the code for the Goo Ball yet, though.

Also, by default, Steam updates the games automatically, so you shouldn't have to do anything. Just to be sure, right-click Super Meat Boy, click on Properties and take a look in the Updates tab ;D

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@Syntax, I am playing the game in full screen on an ATI laptop with great fps. You need to change a setting in the launch options so the game runs in low detail, that way you can crank the resolution like I did.

I beat the game with my keyboard, switched over to a PS3 controller for the hard stuff.

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@Kirkpad Cheers for that. I've been getting very decent fps on Nvidia laptop from the start but yeah... found the controls unresponsive to say the least, and had a better time in windowed mode. Since I first got the game (and learnt about A/S instead of Shift/Space), there have been a few updates which has fixed the earlier issues I had with the game.

This game definitely deserves to be played in full-screen :)

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repairmanman Author Profile Page December 7, 2010 8:17 AM

for some reason steam isn't recognizing my game, i had to put it in as a third party game, i probably don't have that update then(because i tried petaphile)

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repairmanman Author Profile Page December 7, 2010 12:48 PM

i just realized what my problem was, thank you for the help though

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I'm missing one bandage from the Hospital levels. I got them on:

Light World: 1,2,4,10,18,20 plus 4 in warp zones 5 and 7

Dark World: 3,5,6,7,14,16,19 plus 2 in warp zone 8

Can someone please tell me where is the missing one? I've replayed all the levels twice and no sign of it... :(

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Oops.. meant the Salt Factory levels.

And I've found a guide which lists all the levels that have bandages. Very useful when stuck. :)

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Super Meat Boy Tips and Tricks

  • You can change your trajectory in midair by pressing direction. Holding the run button whilst doing this will change it even more.

  • If in doubt, assume it kills you.

  • Fans can be useful for getting extra height or distance, but if you touch the fan blades they will kill you

  • Some blocks can be destroyed, either by contanct from you or by being hit by a stray missile.

  • Some levels lead to hidden Warp Zones, which you reach by finding purple portals in normal levels. Retro warp zones contain extra bandages.

  • You can unlock characters in 2 ways: by accumulating Bandages and by finding and completing special Warp Zones.

  • Character Unlock Warp Zone Locations:

    1. Commander Video: Level 1-12, top left of the map, jump over Bandage Girl to reach.

    2. Jill: Level 2-8, get over to the third "wall" spanning the whole level vertically. The warp zone is inside the top of this wall. You can move through one of the semi-solid blocks near it. Must be done quickly, as it dissappears at about 16s.

    3. Ogmo: Level 3-16, jump on the first static platform and wait. Eventually the warp zone will appear on it.

    4. Flywrench: Level 4-18, ride the platform briefly jump up to where the creature spawner is and run through the wall behind it. The warp zone is hidden out of view.

    5. The Kid: Level 5-7, get over to the right side of the level quickly, jump over the saw blade and slide down the outside of the right wall. The portal is about halfway down.

  • Some bandages require the use of unlockable characters and their special abilities.

  • You can unlock an alternate, harder, dark world version of every level by getting an A+ time. Press shift when standing on it on the map screen to go to the dark world version of that map. Complete the whole Dark World for an alternate ending.

  • The time goal for A+ is displayed during replays and on the map screen next to a flag icon.

  • Secret "glitch" levels can be unlocked by replaying levels in complete worlds and randomly finding a "glitching" Bandage Girl. If you die, you can replay by selecting the yellow square that appears on the map screen once the glitch level is unlocked.

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If you want to re-map keyboard controls:

Find a file named "buttonmap.cfg" (if you installed this from Steam it should be in the '(STEAM_DIR)\steamapps\common\super meat boy' direcrory) and edit it with a Text Editor. Be sure to use lowercase letters for re-mapped keys, for example:

keyboard
{
up="up";
down="down";
left="left";
right="right";
jump="s";
special="a";
}

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To put it succintly, this game wants you to fail. They want you to experience heaps and heaps of failure and they revel in it.

Tasting failure can be really effective in heightening the player's interest and involvement in t he player's experience. Tasting it maybe once in a game experience. Or twice. Around three times the effect wears off and gives way to annoyance. Super meat boy wants you to fail thousands of times.

Even if you are willing to look past this, there's going to be a point for many players where you hit a skill ceiling. The game designer believes this is good. You can work and work, and eventually slave away at the game to meet this arbitrary and annoying challenge.

My view is that I have a job to strive at. This idea of making me fail is stuck firmly in the 1980s. This idea of makine me work for payoff is stuck in the early 1990s. Game design has moved on. First, catch up, then try to advance it in an obvious or non-obvious direction. If you can't even do that, then you fail.

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Acidifiers Author Profile Page December 31, 2010 5:28 PM

@jrodman, The rating and comments show that most people enjoy high-skill level games. It works. People like it: the game is enjoyable and it is not annoying. Except for a few people, and it's alright to enjoy more hollow victories, but don't say this is a tried and failed formula. It has succeeded here and now and before, and it will continue to.

The chance to fail is what makes succeeding worth anything.

I don't see how failing is meant to be "effective in heightening the player's interest and involvement in the player's experience." That sounds fluffy.

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@jrodman,

have you tried entertaining a notion that people have different tastes and like different things? And that it's slightly egoistic to project your own subjective opinion to none other then the entire gaming population?

Super Meat Boy has a very specific target audience - people who enjoy 2D platformers, and people who enjoy challenge. And not only that, the designers took specific care to avoid the pitfalls of 80's games - mainly that the "failing" that you have issues with actually punishes the player as little as possible. The levels are short, the progression is non-linear and the skill ceiling for reaching the end of the game (on 'normal' game) is pretty darn low. So if one is not inflicted with OCD and simply cannot imagine finishing the game but not reaching 100%, I'd say SMB has a surgically perfect learning curve and difficulty, one of the best I've seen.

I'm absolutely irked when I see modern gamers feeling they are entitled to master each and every game they can get their hands on, and finding each game that doesn't allow them to finish it 100% in a few sessions faulty. It's not enough that there are truckloads of games on offer today and that it's so easy to find a game which suits their own taste; these folks seemingly cannot fathom the mere existence of games they actually fail at. So instead of accepting their own shortcomings, they turn it around and it's the game that fails. Accept the fact that the game is too hard for you, and move on. Simple as that.

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Oh, I just realized that's the same guy who claimed Meat Boy punched his wife. A way to waste a post there....

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I like this game in general, but I think the warp zones have a couple issues.

First, there's no way to leave and resume a warp zone on the same level you left, even in the ones without lives. This was the worst in the IWTBTG zone, where I couldn't leave the later levels without losing all the work I put into the previous ones, but I wanted to do something other than keep playing the game until I was done with the level. Normally I would alt-tab out or something, but that crashes the game altogether. I think there should at least be a "suspend" option, or something.

I can see, maybe, how that wouldn't be as good for the warp zones with lives, but to be honest, I don't really like the life system in the first place. Forcing players to replay the earlier levels doesn't really add much to the game. It's particularly annoying because in the rest of the levels, you always respawn right away at the beginning, so clearly the developers thought this was a good idea. Then they threw that out, apparently for the sake of the retro parody, which is cute for five minutes, but annoying for the rest of the game.

Heck, even in the glitch zones, the only loss you suffer is that you have to wait through a couple more screens, but I think even that is kind of frustrating compared to the usual mechanic where, you know, you don't do that.

This post probably seems pretty negative, but only because I'm talking about a pretty annoying part of what is otherwise a really good game with no major shortcomings (other than the redefining keys thing, but that got resolved, sorta).

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Incidentally, the unlockable characters are great. I especially like

Naija, from Aquaria.

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