May 2011 Archives


  • Currently 3.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.2/5 (49 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (64)

JamesWaterslide InfernoWater slides are usually accompanied by tales of swimwear malfunctions, poorly-executed exit tumbles and the sure knowledge that the further you have to climb, the better the trip down is going to be. But the people at This is Pop have decided that the whole exercise needs a bit more edge. Maybe a few flames. You must be 'this' flame retardant to ride the Waterslide Inferno, a tricky action arcade game.

The goal is to go as far as you can by moving left and right using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys. Water bottles quench the heat, but flames aggravate things. Get too hot and you will burst into flames. Get to close to the edge and you leave the slide. Ultimately there is no winning, other than beating other people's high scores. It doesn't get simpler: you have to keep sliding down an endless waterway, grabbing bottled water to keep things cool, avoiding the edges (or get flung off in cataclysmic fashion), as well as dodging the flames and the various previous sliders... who are now on fire. Collect coins as they appear to build up your multiplier and increase your high score, while keeping an eye out for hapless flaming sliders and on-screen warnings that will alert you to upcoming sharp turns in the slide.

If you have to ask why there are fires on a waterslide, well, clearly you have never heard the sad tale of Dormant Volcano Waterpark and the gypsy that cursed it. Maybe you should be asking yourself why you'd want to take one last ride down something known as a "death pipe" instead. Waterslide Inferno is not without its glitches. More than one JIG tester noted that the hit-detection is hap-hazard, with some flames seemingly unavoidable while water sometimes slips past by the hair of a pixel, though this is something that gets easier to get a feel for with time and play. Still, it's fun; fast-paced, quirky, and challenging, with an appealingly silly visual style. Besides; there aren't nearly enough games with water slides in them.

Play Waterslide Inferno


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (110 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (384)

bloopers.jpgJohnBBloopers is a short physics game of destruction similar to Crush the Castle, Angry Birds, Sieger, and countless other browser-based diversions of a similar type. Here, you play the role of little black blobs who own a really great cannon. One day, one of the blobs sees a lightbulb. He goes insane with rage, immediately smashing the bulb's delicate glass exterior. Only when the light has been extinguished is the blob happy, and thus they set out across the land, using physics to destroy lightbulbs that plague their very existence!

Ok, so that exaggerated storyline may be a bit over dramatic, but you get the picture. Getting rid of the bulbs requires you to knock down a number of strange buildings, each constructed with different materials that must be knocked over, broken, pushed out of the way, or blasted to smithereens. At first you only have one type of basic blob to use, but eventually you gain access to large kamikaze blobs that explode seconds after impact. Much more useful for breakin' stuff, wouldn't you agree?

To get the blobs moving, simply click and drag the cursor over the cannon. Pick a direction and slide outward to choose velocity, then release to fire. You have a limited number of blobs for each level, and oftentimes you have to clear the path to the bulbs in several steps, so be conservative and plan your moves carefully.

Bloopers is a small game, it's a simple game, and it's not the most challenging game in the 'verse, but it's got charm and a whole lot of entertainment value, and that counts for something. A great one to bring the kids, even the smallest ones, in to have some casual gaming fun!

Play Bloopers


| Comments (7) | Views (71)

The Vault

TrickyNot many people know that JiG originally started as a tournament conceived by mysterious businessman J. Bibson, in the attempt to find the world's most powerful game reviewer. Participants came from all over the world in the search of everlasting fame: Chiktionar-Li, Australian kick-boxing champion and ASIS agent searching for her mentor's killer... Dorag, Canadian Muay Thai practitioner and Bibson's right-hand-woman... myself, Tryu-Kee, wandering ronin, always searching for a new challenge... not to mention a score of others, some requiring exceedingly complicated codes to unlock. We were all set to start the first round at the JiG docks... but then a new Eyezmaze game came out, we all got distracted, and decided to start a website instead. And so, we peer into archives of said website as the JayIsGames Vault features some highly-ranked casual fighting games this week.

  • Etherena BetaEtherena Beta - Etherena Beta might only have two characters to fight with, but they're original, their move-sets are varied, and it's still a step up in variety from Fox Only, Final Destination. This Smash Brothers-inspired brawler has very little to distract from the punching and the combo-ing and the Hadouken-ing. Still, the insane number of arenas, challenges to complete, and fighting modes to unlock will keep you playing for quite a while. Increases in processor speed have made the game a bit more frenetic than it was, but it remains one of the few online game that's worth cramming in a second human player at your keyboard. The world of Etherena may never get out of Beta, but it matters not since Arayah has made something darn near perfect as it is.
  • Rose & CamelliaRose & Camellia - A game about aristocratic women executing complicated slapping maneuvers? And it's from Japan? I never would have guessed. Even without that dose of WJT-ness, though, Rose & Camellia would still be incredibly unique: A flash fighting game that's (1.) mouse-driven with (2.) an entirely female cast who (3.) stay completely clothed and (4.) actually become slightly-unpretty if they lose? Madness! Rose & Camellia is willing to confront the tropes of fighting games head-on, and it makes for a combination that's hilarious and a little disturbing, brutal and silly, simple and complicated, goofy and serious. The plot, the graphics, and the music create an off-kilter world of nobility that's wonderful to spend some time in. Nigoro has crafted some fine games in its time, but this is definitely my favorite.
  • XiaoXiao 9: Fight ManXiaoXiao 9: Fight Man - I'm not sure what's more impressive: that Zhu Zhiqiang made this Final Fight-styled stickman beat-em-up back in 2002, or that it holds up so well to this day. The XiaoXiao series was and is a revolution in flash animation, with Zhu managing to give his stick-figures a sense of fluid movement that may have since been equaled, but never surpassed. Even with the flash community having years of stickman-innovation behind it, Fight Man still ranks near the top. Perhaps a little minimalist by modern standards (Xiao-Xiao literally translates as "Small-Small", after all), it is still incredibly fun to have Stick-Guy punch, kick, throw and bash its way across the desktop to the final confrontation with the Big Pink Boss. While playing, notice the computer screen in the background: that's a screen-shot from XiaoXiao 3. Any young 'uns out there who haven't watched it are really doing themselves a disservice. Zhu has since disappeared from the web, and we miss him. Even nine years later, I still hold out hope for XiaoXiao 10...

While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (60 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (53)

Joshragdollparashooter.jpgHere they come! Quick, run to your turret! Man, the sky's full of em'... Fire at will! Yeah! Eat lead! Uh oh, they're still coming... helicopters... parachutes... must keep firing... Oh no, they got through! They're forming a pyramid... arrrggghhhh!!! Yep. Don't you love classic games from 1981? That was when a game called "Sabotage" first came out for the Apple II, paving the way for a whole series of Paratrooper-style games on numerous platforms (including the original iPod). A popular version for the PC was 1982's "Paratrooper," and that's the inspiration for the Basilis Team's latest release, Ragdoll Parashooter.

The gameplay in Ragdoll Parashooter is simple. You control a stationary turret at the bottom of the screen and must stay alive as long as possible. To do this, move the mouse to control a crosshair, and click to fire an unlimited stream of bullets at incoming paratroopers, helicopters, and transports. Your turret also holds a limited number of powerful shotgun shells, rockets, and grenades, which you can toggle with the [1-4] keys. If paratroopers make it through to the ground, they run over to your turret and eventually form a human pyramid, climbing into your turret and ending the game. Thankfully you can lob a limited number of grenades to take them out, but the waves just keep on coming...

As a follow-up to a classic game, Ragdoll Parashooter keeps the fun elements of the original while adding other new features to keep modern players satisfied. Gone are the days of low-res, pixelized bad guys - now there are neat looking graphics, animations, and of course, ragdoll physics when you shoot the paratroopers. Sound effects and an epic soundtrack also accompany your attempt at survival. Levels are not endless either - there are six different environments to tackle and a series of minigames where you take out a series of enemies off-screen with various weapons. All this is coupled with upgrades and achievements to keep you playing.

Overall, I enjoyed playing Ragdoll Parashooter, and if you're a fan of classic Paratrooper-style games, you will too. Be warned, however: this is not an easy game. Things can get overwhelming very quickly, and you may find yourself low on special ammunition right when you need it (especially grenades). This is compensated somewhat with ammunition drops, though it's hard not to shoot them instead of letting them fall to collect them. Paratrooper purists will also note that you cannot shoot the parachutes themselves to make the paratroops fall to their doom. Regardless, there's much satisfaction in mowing through the waves of enemies and seeing things go boom in a spectacular fashion. On your next break, Ragdoll Parashooter is certainly worth a shot.

Play Ragdoll Parashooter


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (84 votes)
| Comments (13) | Views (203)

siegius.jpgJohnBIf history has taught us anything, it's that history is neat and can make great content for video games. Case in point: Siegius, a casual real-time strategy / defense game from Juice-Tin (That Gravity Game, A Knight's Quest) that takes place during Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul way back in the mid-50s BC. Send units out to attack the base of the Gaul commander Vercingetorix. He's streaming soldiers as well, so you must balance defensive units with long-range fighters, melee combat specialists, and unique spells, clearing the battlefields as you march your way to victory! Hopefully!

Siegius takes place on a flat playing field with three corridors to place units: high, low, and middle. You can buy and place fighters on any of these areas and they'll automatically run from your barracks, swords at the ready. As soon as they encounter an enemy on the same corridor, they'll attack. Depending on the attacking and defending units' strengths and weaknesses, the victor will continue forward while the loser goes face-down in the dirt. Harsh!

Your units range from peasants who can mine for gold to close-range soldiers, healers, archers, defenders, and more. Each costs an amount of gold to summon and must recharge before you can send them again. You have to watch your opponent's moves and calculate your retaliation carefully, as sending units on the wrong section of the battlefield or failing to take into account unit type will cost you both time and gold.

Spells can also be used once unlocked, and Siegius is fairly forgiving about the frequency in which you can use them. Before each battle you are allowed to outfit your inventory with soldiers and spells, so pick the ones that you like best (or that, you know, work well together), and head out to battle.

Siegius doesn't do anything fantastically new or inventive, but the presentation is spot-on, and the game itself quite gripping. Each level is filled with epic drama flavored with a touch of internet-style humor. The strategy and action mix is excellent and very well-suited for casual players who aren't looking for an extra-challenging game to vex them for hours.

It takes some time to unlock all of the warriors and spells, but each level gives you something new, so there's no shortage of motivation to keep plugging away, stage after stage. Settle in and get ready to conquer some Gauls. Again!

Play Siegius


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (26 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (130)

The Heist

JohnBDescribed by its creators as "MacHeist to go", The Heist is a brand new iOS release that packs four types of puzzles together in a thrill-filled world where you play a spy trying to crack open a safe. From the fake phone calls, the heavily-secured steel door in front of you, and the real prize waiting for you at the end, The Heist is a challenging collection of puzzles that pulls you in with flawless execution.

theheist.jpgThe Heist is divided into four puzzle types, each with fifteen levels that unlock in groups as the safe cracking progresses. First up is a slick traffic jam puzzle that challenges you to move wooden blocks around so you can slide a fuse to complete a circuit. Next, it's sudoku with colored symbols instead of numbers, followed by a block sliding sokoban clone. Finally, connect wires to each other with a sliding puzzle game. Pretty basic stuff, on the surface, but the touch screen implementation is phenomenal, especially in the sokoban game.

You can work on the puzzles however you like, skipping between games or hopping over levels to a certain extent. To get the safe open, however, you'll need to barrel through the stages like the super-smart puzzle solver that you are. Show that safe no mercy, because there is a real prize waiting for you at the end. What is it? The Heist's website promises something that's "all yours, totally free". Sounds like my kind of thing!

Analysis: Puzzle collections of this ilk are quite common for casual gamers to come across. But in the case of The Heist, it's the package that makes it something special. The alternate reality game-style presentation is superb, and receiving fake phone calls makes you feel as if you were opening a real safe all by yourself. The puzzles, while small in number, are fantastically challenging, so don't think for even a moment you can breeze through the game without getting stumped many, many times.

The MacHeist comparison is a surprisingly apt one, as The Heist really does feel like a real world puzzle solving challenge. If you're not familiar with MacHeist, it's a semi-regular ARG event that presents participants with a series of puzzles that lead to clues that reveal discount codes for Mac software unveiled at the end of the heist. The mobile incarnation of the event has simpler puzzles and something of an alternate reality game feel to it, and as mentioned above, there's a real prize waiting for you inside the vault!

The Heist doesn't have impressive numbers to wow you with, but the game itself is nothing short of a delicious must-own challenge. A real world prize, excellent puzzles to complete, and a cool spy-like presentation that draws you in with a pseudo-alternate reality game. It's a winning game no matter how you look at it!


| Comments (2) | Views (27)

Mobile Monday

JohnBIngredients. Can't make anything without them. It's kind of a broad sort of statement to make, but hey, you come here for games, not for philosophical musings. Each game below uses a number of ingredients to make what we call "fun". This "fun" is an enjoyable thing you can experience with your mobile device, thus consuming ingredients which would be distasteful on their own in their properly made form.

current-iphone.gifCurrent (Universal) - If you're a fan of puzzle games, then we're a fan of you! This futuristically-styled puzzle game works a lot like the classic Puzzle Bobble with a few extra things thrown in for good measure. You are the pilot of a small ship trying to save the ARC from the dangerous Hexog. To keep the current flowing, you must draw in and fling pieces to create matches on the hexagonal grid. Sounds simple, of course, but once the enemy AI kicks in, you're in for an amazing puzzle experience.

fireflyhero.gifFirefly Hero (iPhone, iPod Touch) - One part puzzle game, one part cute fireflies, this adorable title is all about collecting little start on the screen. Tap one of the lights and the firefly is attracted to it. Tap another light and the firefly heads in that direction. Use the lights to guide the tiny bug around obstacles to gather every shining star on the screen. Later, things like spiders get in your way, forcing you to be smarter and faster with the directional changes to make it through. A cute, satisfying puzzle game with ample amounts of action and reflexed-based gameplay.

storminateacup.gifStorm in a Teacup (Universal) - Imaginative. Challenging. Cute beyond measure. And involving tea. Storm in a Teacup has the three main ingredients necessary to make a good mobile game (tea being the most important). Control Storm (who rides in a teacup) as you work your way through several dozen levels in this physics-centric puzzle platform game. Collect sugar cubes in each level and avoid angry thunderstorms along the way. A lot of imaginative powers, puzzles, and stirring action sequences make this great-looking game from Chillingo a fantastic addition to your little touch screen companion. The free Storm in a Teacup Lite is also available.

NOTE: Games noted as 'universal' have designed for iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone devices alike. Games listed may not be available outside of North America. Prices are subject to change and are therefore unlisted. Please see the individual game pages for purchasing info.


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (371)

grinnyp_antiqueroadtrip2_banner.png

GrinnypIt seems like every casual game that comes out lately is an adventure/hidden object hybrid, possibly involving something supernatural. But what is a gamer to do when they don't want to deal with all of that wandering around or ghostly presences? What can they do if all they want is a lot of hidden object finding interspersed with some fun mini-games? Well, they should check out Boomzap's Antique Road Trip 2: Homecoming wherein they will find all of the hidden object madness they could possibly want and more.

grinnyp_antiqueroadtrip2_screenshot1.pngAntique Road Trip 2: Homecoming is the story of a young couple, Grace and James, their newborn son Colin and their amazingly cute puppy. In the original Antique Road Trip USA they spent a ton of time traveling around the country, finding and selling antiques to fix up their own lovely antique store. Now all they want is a break, so they head to Montana to visit Grace's parents and enjoy some long-awaited relaxation. Pity that Grace's parents decided to go and get an antique store of their own. And, of course, they need some help with it.

Grace and James take turns traveling around Montana, Wisconsin, and the Louisiana/Mississippi area scouting out locations and selling antiques to impatient customers. This is where Antique Road Trip 2 parts ways with most classic hidden object games. Rather than a large list of items to find the player must deal with customers who enter in small groups, each wanting one or more items in the area. Each customer is on a timer and the longer it takes to find the item the less patience they have (and the less money you make). Once a customer leaves you can take his or her money and watch them get replaced with another customer with another demand. And sometimes they won't outright let you know what they want, instead they will feed you a series of hints and you will have to figure out what item they really need.

grinnyp_antiqueroadtrip2_screenshot2.pngIf the madness of playing a hidden object game crossed with a time management game wasn't enough, Boomzap has ramped up the difficulty by creating several layers of gameplay within one scene. There are areas that, if you find them, can be clicked to find hidden stashes of stuff that customers need. There are other areas that also have hidden stashes, but first you must figure out how to unlock them and find the tools to do so. You might need to find a ladder in order to reach a loft, for instance, or have to tranquilize a lioness in order to steal her gold tooth. No, not kidding. Towards the end you will get customers with specialty orders that require you to find multiples of an object (stamps, cards, etc.) which, when you try to put them together, trigger mini-games inside the hidden object scene. All of this is happening, of course, while more customers are coming in and making more demands.

Items that the customer request will be in white text if it is readily available and visible in the scene, green text if it is hidden somewhere in the scene, and in red text if it is one of the aforementioned multiples. That cute puppy the couple adopted (which is one of several breeds that you can choose at the beginning) is also a refilling hint feature. And hidden within the cluttered scenes are little dog bones which, if found, make his refilling timer refill immediately. Occasionally there are also rounds where you just find multiples of one thing, like cute kittens or frisky puppies. And between scenes you can go back to the antique shop and spruce it up by buying the trophies and other items that you have found along the way, until it is bright and spiffy and filled with antique goodness.

Analysis: It's nice to take a break from the spooky adventure hybrids and just enjoy some hidden object finding without all of the story and angst. Pure hidden object gaming has sort of taken a back seat to adventuring these days, and it's nice to see finding random objects and mini-games come front and center again, especially for those tired of wandering to and fro in search of...well, whatever it is.

grinnyp_antiqueroadtrip2_screenshot3.pngBoomzap has taken the time to make Antique Road Trip 2: Homecoming quite an enjoyable ride, from the lovely graphics to the amusing sound effects whenever you find a live animal inside the hidden object scenes. The mini-games, although familiar, are fun and challenging twists on classic match-3, hidden match 2, jigsaw puzzles, etc. The hidden object scenes are bright and colorful, the cut-scenes and dialogue are amusing and thankfully short, and there are a lot of fun details to be found within this amusing game. One of the best is the ability to collect pieces of wardrobe for your cute little canine companion so you can dress him up as an aviator, as Uncle Sam, and many others.

If you like hidden object gaming but don't want the time management elements the game comes with two modes: timed and untimed. For those who just want to relax and take their time the untimed mode is perfect, and for those looking for a challenge then go for the timed mode and deal with the increasingly fractious customers as you hunt for their treasures. With the choice of playing modes and the amusing, family-friendly storyline Antiques Road Trip 2: Homecoming is casual gameplay that is fun for all ages, if what you are looking for is fun of the finding objects kind.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 3.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.8/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (500)

Rescue Team

JohnBWhen tornadoes strike Greefield Island, who you gonna call? The rescue team, of course! Clad in the finest orange overalls and wearing the highest-tech helmets available, the handy crew sails in, hammers at the ready, willing and able to clean up the debris covering the island and repair each and every building along the way. A time management sim in the vein of My Kingdom for the Princess II and Roads of Rome II, Alawar Game's Rescue Team aims to take its own slice of the road repairing, house rebuilding pie, one level at a time!

Rescue TeamRescue Team is all about telling workers what to do, and there's plenty for your small crew to accomplish on each level. Each map is filled with a nest of roadways that are blocked by piles of wood, debris, or broken roadways/bridges. In order to get to the houses, sawmills and cafes that need repairs, you must clear the streets so you can pass. However, you can just send workers out to do their thing whenever you please. Each task costs a certain amount of gold, wood, and food to accomplish. Managing these three simple resources is where the game's challenge comes from, and you can't rely on random resource drops to fuel your mighty team of rescue workers!

Each level in Rescue Team has a set of goals you must meet in order to pass. Usually this is something simple like "collect three gems", "rescue two survivors", or "build three houses and earn lots and lots of gold". Pretty basic stuff, and nothing that will make you put on your challenge-defeating socks to accomplish. Getting the gold in each level will take some practice, though, so don't expect to master the game in one sitting!

Between levels you get to spend your points on fixing up a house that's in dire need of repair. Broken windows, shattered doorways, busted car exteriors — you name it, this house has suffered it. You can't always fix a chunk of the property with each visit, as some of these repairs are prohibitively expensive. But after a while, you'll have everything patched up and like new, which is a satisfying sight to see!

Rescue TeamAnalysis: Rescue Team is a fine example of walking the well-laid expectations of an established genre. The game is careful to stay in the middle of the road, never taking any chances with gameplay tweaks, never attempting to push anything extraneous on to the player. Instead, Alawar chose to give us exactly what we expected: time management, simulation, and resource management with a smattering of quick-clicking. It's enjoyable, and it's never frustrating, which is sometimes exactly what you want from a casual game!

There's no tutorial in Rescue Team, but the game starts slowly enough for you to get the picture. There are three areas to play through with 60 levels in all. Plenty for several solid hours of fun, much more if you're determined to get the gold in each stage. The good part is you can't really "fail" in Rescue Team, only get a lower score, making this very accessible to first timers and the younger members of the casual gaming collective!

Unfortunately, Rescue Team lacks the depth or fine-tuned gameplay its genre buddies possess, leaving it feeling a bit flat about midway through. If you're new to this sort of game, it's actually not a bad introduction to the repairing/building time management genre, but the missing depth and gameplay variety hurts the experience if you're already a fan of games like this.

Despite its relative simplicity, Rescue Team swings in with a fine time management/simulation offering. It's straightforward and fun, two things that meet the minimum requirements for a casual game, without anything weird or wacky to bog down the rest of the experience!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

dc5_bookofwater_b.jpg

GrinnypWe've just finished a complete walkthrough (with images) for Dream Chronicles: The Book of Water! Be warned: contains major spoilers, so proceed only as a last resort.


| Comments (9) | Views (53)

Weekend Download

JohnBWhat's that? You want games to play? Games that let you climb around in caves or smash into pixel orc dudes? Well... we'll have to think about it. Ok, we thought about it, and we decided we'll think about it some more. In the meantime, play some games where you can climb around in caves and smash into pixel orc dudes.

openclonk.jpgOpenClonk (Windows/Linux, 26MB, free) - A successor to the original shareware series Clonk, this creative sidescrolling action/mining/simulation series includes a ton of tools, multiplayer support, and very open-ended gameplay. Travel through user-made levels as you gather items you can use to reshape the land around. Grappling hooks, bombs, shovels, loam bridges — the list of items goes on and on. The ability to hang and climb on just about every surface adds to the open-ended fun, too! Naturally, multiplayer combat is part of the experience, and depending on the people you play with, your mileage will probably vary. A great open source project that's a lot of unbridled fun!

pilotcrashcourse.gifPilot Crash Course (Windows, 5.24MB, free) - A small, arcade sort of game that would feel right at home on a mobile platform, this rough, experimental title is all about one thing: not crashing. Bounce on the critters below to keep your ship in the air. Hit different creatures to go higher, then bounce off of birds to gain some extra air. You don't always have complete control over your movements, which is somewhat frustrating, but the look and feel of the game is a tad whimsical, and it's fun for an afternoon break when you just want to see some awesome pixel art.

intensestaring.gifIntense Staring Simulator (Windows, 2.4MB, free) - As a sociopathic misanthropic school student, you really hate people. No, seriously, hate them. So, to make them go away, you stare at them. Or, rather, parts of them. Hover the cursor over each person to see which areas you can take a closer look at. Get three right and you make them go away. Get three wrong and everybody loves you and you lose the game. Interesting, yes? Simple visuals betray the game's slightly more complex sociological concept, but it's still all about that awkward feeling you get when you stare at someone's glasses for five minutes straight.

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


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (10) | Views (867)

Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the Mississippi

DoraThe Ghost Busters must be pretty mad at you, since these days when there's something strange in the neighbourhood, it seems like you are the one who always the one who gets the call, whether you want it or not. After helping the unquiet souls of Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, you probably thought you deserved a little R'n'R. Unfortunately, you don't get to rest on your laurels for long before undead Mark Twain shows up. But don't worry, he doesn't want to eat your brains, he just wants you to give him a helping hand in Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the Mississippi, the third installment in everyone's favourite hidden-object adventure series from Mumbo Jumbo about dead writers harassing you to do incredibly dangerous tasks.

Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the MississippiIt seems ol' Mark Twain (real name Samuel Clemens) not only had a knack for spinning a good tale... he may also have had certain unique cognitive abilities. In his youth he worked on a riverboat, shooting for his boat pilot's license, and one fateful evening had a premonition that would haunt him for the rest of his life. Of course, now that his life is actually over, he can't remember what it was. Now you're stuck in the past on a riverboat with a host of ghostly travel companions... and something very dark and very unfriendly who graduated with a Masters in "makin' things go all freaky and whatnot while big mean things flash by the windows". Even once you get off the steamer, things don't start getting any easier for you, and as you travel around the world (and back in history) you just might end up solving a mystery that stretches back to a conspiracy hundreds of years old. Just make sure you strap on your boots so the jump scares don't spook them right off of you.

Devil on the Mississippi doesn't have any alternate modes of difficulty, and the game offers a lot of little visual nudges in the right direction; items you can pick up give off faint little green glowies, places you can use an item you're carrying give off little blue-white glowies when you mouse over them with the object in hand, and while your skeleton cursor unfortunately doesn't have any glowies of its own, it will change to indicate whenever you're over an area transition or place you can interact with. Keep your eyes peeled for four-leaf-clovers, which will unlock a special play mode, and ravens, which are much more important to you at the present time because they're needed to get hints. Click on the raven sitting atop the lantern in the bottom-left corner during regular gameplay and you'll be pointed towards the next step in your current objective, or you can use a hint during a hidden-object scene to find the item of your choice. Don't use a hint right away, however, since just clicking on an item name in your list will cause the corresponding silhouette to appear in the lantern, and might just give you the clue you need to track it down.

Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the MississippiAnalysis: At this point, if you're at all familiar with their work, when you hear a game is made by Mumbo Jumbo you probably expect it to be well done, and they definitely don't disappoint here. Beautiful artwork, highly detailed and animated environments, not to mention a fantastic use of atmospheric sound for most of the soundtrack, makes Devil on the Mississippi one of the most highly polished games in the genre. While you might spend the first half of the game more than a little confused as to what's going on and how all the clues and scenes are supposed to tie together, the story actually does a surprisingly good job of doing just that, even if there are times it feels like the game is trying a bit too hard to stealth-educate you about Mark Twain's career and a certain other literary giant.

Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the MississippiCompared to its predecessors, however, the third installment in the Midnight Mysteries series doesn't feel like its quite as tightly designed. There are more mildly irritating fetch quests from characters who feel like they only exist to derail you from the main plot long enough to pad the gameplay a little more, and some of the puzzles are, frankly, a little boring and downright repetitive; one don't-touch-the-walls maze game is repeated four times in a row. Of course, that's not to say it's bad, since I wouldn't be sitting here with you recommending it if it was. Devil on the Mississippi is, in fact, good. Not perfect, but very good nonetheless. The puzzles that are more complicated than the rest are refreshingly challenging because the game doesn't hold your hand, and while the story can be a little hard to follow at first due to a heavy reliance on communicating with the player through found clues, it's actually the sort of grand-scale historical mystery George and Nico probably would have been great at solving.

The game is fairly lengthy at around four-five hours depending on your playstyle, and for once the extras the Collector's Edition come packed with actually feel like welcome bonuses and not pieces the game needed to be coherent. There has clearly been a massive amount of love and effort put into Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the Mississippi, and the end result is a satisfyingly meaty adventure with a lot to see and do and a creative twist on alterna-history and edutainment. It's another creepy, gorgeous romp that will send you travelling through important points in history. In the end, after so many dangerous encounters, otherworldly beasts, and uncontrolled time-travel, I just have one question remaining... when do I get my sonic screwdriver?!

A Collector's Edition of this game is also available. It contains a bonus chapter to play, wallpapers, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (160 votes)
| Comments (41) | Views (403)

DoraSilly SausageWhile you might ordinarily be suspicious about clicking links called Silly Sausage, failure to do so in this case would mean missing out on Nitrome's latest arcade game. Following the world's most adorable stretchy puppy (I guess it was about time Choo Choo Bear got a canine foil), your goal is to help him contort himself through mazes and around hazardous obstacles, guiding him through pipes and pathways in search of treasure. Use the [arrow] keys to make your new elastibuddy str-e-e-etch out in any direction, but the catch is as soon as you release the button, he'll snap back into normal shape. Fortunately, he can stick to certain bits of the landscape (you'll know it happens when he grabs onto the object with a "thwack" sound rather than just bumping into it), and this will give you a new spot for our puppy to return to as his landing base. You'll need to grab all the gems on each level to open the portal to the next, but keep an eye out for hazards, since three hits means you'll need to restart the level.

Silly Sausage is another retro game for the Nitrome Entertainment System (the first being Super Treadmill), but this is the first to feature the much-coveted "Game Muscle" bonus cheat cartridge, which will let you input those cheats as passwords via the main menu... provided you guess what they are, of course. There are thirty levels to conquer with your amazing powers of being really pink and really elastic, and it doesn't take long for the difficulty to ramp up. Nitrome's attention to detail in recreating that old-school arcade-sy feel really shines in everything from the level design to the sound effects, and it goes without saying that the graphics are both beautiful and adorable. The downside is that making sharp turns can be frustrating to get the hang of when you're trying to maneuver the puppy's pudgy body in a narrow space, and it becomes even more so when failure means smooshing your face up against spiky death. If you're like me (and Happy Gilmore) and only get more frustrated each time things like this happen, Silly Sausage feels like less a cheerful, relaxing nostalgic romp and more like a twitchy, nerve-shredding gauntlet.

Still, if you've got nerves of steel to go with your fabulously fleshy and stretchy torso, Silly Sausage is a gorgeously retro and challenging experience. The more you play, the more elaborate levels become, with pipes, switches, sawblades, and much more standing between you and sweet gem-studded glory. So loosen up those muscles and warm up with some yoga, because you've got some contortions to get to!

Play Silly Sausage


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (256 votes)
| Comments (110) | Views (3,704)

TrickyWasted YouthWell it finally happened. After years of cheating, fighting and swirly-giving, you've been expelled, and your parents aren't happy. The only thing standing between you and juvenile detention is St. Frost's School for Slackers, Troublemakers and Idiots. The students are a bunch of violent sadists and amiable dunces, the teachers aren't much better, and the last new student had a nervous breakdown two months in. But hey, you ruled one school before didn't you? How different can this one be? It's all about doing the right things for the right people, right?... Such is the premise of Wasted Youth Part One, the new sandbox adventure-RPG from GPStudios.

Presented in a slightly-isometric top-down perspective, you walk around St. Frost's using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, holding down the [shift] key to run. When you wish to interact with something, or talk to someone, hit the [spacebar]. [P] brings up the pause menu, where many of the games functions can be found, including the inventory screen, the mission screen, your map, and the "Pigglymon" cards that are the game's secret collectible. Generally, gameplay consists of receiving missions from people, then solving puzzles or retrieving items to complete them to progress the story. There are a number of optional classes and side-missions, not to mention a host of unlockables, easter eggs, and elements that serve no purpose other than to present you with a snarky comment. Will you climb to the head of the class, or will your life be naught but an unending series of wedgies?

Wasted YouthAnalysis: Let's get something out of the way: even if Wasted Youth wasn't directly inspired by Bully, there are some distinct similarities that can't be ignored. Indeed, Wasted Youth might accurately be described as Bully for the casual audience... as written by a typical 1999 message board. By the standards of flash gaming, there's a distinctly classical feel to proceedings, and not just in its slightly-MSPainty graphics: Wasted Youth revels in a misanthropy that I recall from my youthful interactions with the web. Is it strange that I feel a sort of nostalgia for a time when the internet consisted mainly of complaining about teachers and using java applets to do harm unto Barney the Dinosaur? I don't know, but this game manages to capture a certain sense of immaturity the web once had, and I mean that as a compliment.

I can imagine that Wasted Youth will divide opinion, mainly due to its sense of humor. It is a game that is decidedly juvenile. I don't mean that to be a positive or a negative, merely a statement of fact. After all, to paraphrase Ferris Beuller, Wasted Youth might be childish, but then again, so is high school. The characters in this game are profane in speech, with a distinct preference for toilet humor... In other words, they're high school students. There's nothing wrong with liking your humor a little crude: if you do, you might like Wasted Youth, but if you don't, this game probably won't be for you. In addition, the tone is quite abrasive, even insulting to the player. Personally, I always find it kind of hilarious when a narrator seems to hold you in contempt (especially when, as in this game, the player-character seems to deserve it), but others may find it tiring.

Humor concerns aside, there's a lot to like. The developers have succeeded in crafting a setting that's open and active and worth exploring. They've filled it with characters that, while not realistic, are at least varied in their archetypes. I personally liked Xerxes, the slightly-insane, darkness-spewing goth. The dude just cracked me up every time he made an appearance. The story that holds this open-world together is loose, but intriguing enough to have kept me playing (if only to see what jerk would be getting what comeuppance.) Really though, the appeal here is the massive amount of content to explore... even if said content-mass did cause a little browser slowdown from time to time.

I think it'll only take a couple of minutes to figure out whether or not Wasted Youth is for you. Me? I liked it, and I'm glad that the developers put together such a large world to play in. According to the makers, this is only part one... I hope that there's not too much of a summer break before the next installment

Play Wasted Youth


| Comments (23) | Views (95)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraIt's you! I thought you'd never come! I was just sitting here, all alone, and I was like, "When is that person going to come by? That person is just so incredibly froopy, and talented, and the way the sun sparkles off their hair when they smile over their shoulders at me in Copper's Field makes my breath catch in my throat!"... uh... maybe not that last bit. But you're still here, and that's still awesome, so the least I can do is provide you another batch of games to start your Friday off right! Let's... let's just pretend that didn't get all awkward, okay?

  • Tobe's Hookshot EscapeTobe's Hookshot Escape - If Zelda has taught me anything, it's that hookshots are awesome, especially when used irresponsibly. This little arcade platformer game features hookshot use under entirely merited conditions, but it's still fun. Climb up through an endless cavern, avoiding the unseen horrors that lurk beneath the Bottom of the Screen (aieeeeeeeee!), and other perils while you leap for little glowing thingies and a high score. If you want more adventures with Tobe and his rockin' fluffy hair and you have a Windows 7 phone, you can check out the mobile version or keep your eyes peeled for a commercial release coming in June!
  • StarcedeStarcede - How I wish I was a starfighter! But since everything electronic I touch dies with a little digital squeal of pain and betrayal, it's probably best I live out my hopeless dreams vicariously through vertical shooters like this flashy little number. Less "bullet hell" and more "why, yes, these bullets are quite ripping today aren't they, old chum?", it's a simple but well done little blaster with upgrades and a pleasing amount of things that go boom.
  • Pogo RampagePogo Rampage - Pogosticks, like the hula hoop, lawn darts, and razor scooters, are one of those childhood toys I just somehow lacked the basic coordination to make work, so this little arcade game about mindless pogo-related violence is extremely cathartic. Pogo-dominate helpless pedestrians and heavily armored vehicles dressed like Lee Adam Harold's Butch for points to spend on various upgrades. Also just for funsies. Now, of course, any kids out there in the audience should never, ever do this sort of thing even if you manage to get your hands on an experimental government pogo-stick, but for the rest of us? Hey, we're adults, mass destruction with children's toys is totally our basic instinct, and we'll get to it right after we stay up past our bedtime and have ice cream for breakfast.
  • Shiver Me PiecesShiver Me Pieces - Isn't it nice that we can play puzzles in our browser now and not have to deal with pieces going missing down the couch or being eaten by the family cat? (I try not to blame him; it's not his fault his brain works like a Rube Goldberg machine that breaks halfway through.) Plexus brings us another sea-farin' installment of jigsaw goodness with this slightly more challenging arrangement of pirate-themed pieces. Unlike a regular puzzle, the pieces are cut out all willy-nilly with little apparent rhyme or reason, and you can't smoosh them together to make them fit. Maybe that'll be a feature in the next one?
  • The Blocked TunnelThe Blocked Tunnel - For years, I hated pickles. Then last year I had what might have been Zeus's own Cuban sandwich at a festival and my feelings changed. Then yesterday I played this odd little point-and-click puzzle game with a withered little protagonist that looks suspiciously like a creepy, mobile pickle... and I think I've been put off them again. But that's not to say you shouldn't enjoy the sketchy, appealing art style as you guide out hero through this short little game to solve the mystery of a blocked tunnel.

  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (85) | Views (192)

You Are Games

Letters in Boxes #1

ArtbegottiNeed a little puzzle diversion? Hop in line and get ready to strain your brain! Welcome to Letters In Boxes, a new puzzle series from us here at JIG that's black and white and read all over! [Let's not make that a catchphrase, thanks. -Ed.] If you can work your way through the wordy woes, you could win a wonderful prize!

Here's how to play: Below, you'll find a small word puzzle. If you click on the puzzle, you can bring up the image in its own window. Follow the directions in the puzzle, and with a bit of mental knowhow, you should come up with an answer. To see if you're right, move up to the address bar (for example, this first puzzle's filename is http://images.jayisgames.com/lib1start.jpg) and change the name of the file to the answer you've found (make sure you keep it as a .jpg filename). If you're right, you've found the next puzzle! If not, you'll probably get an error message. Sorry, we only wish we could put a picture of a sorrowful walrus on every possible incorrect filename.

Letters in Boxes #1 - Puzzle 1This batch of puzzles contains four puzzles to solve. On the fourth puzzle, you'll find the email address for sending your final answer. We'll hand out a prize to the first correct entry we receive, plus four additional randomly-selected correct entries. You must be at least 13 years of age to enter. Only one submission per participant, please. Offer void where prohibited. Your deadline for submitting your answers is Monday, May 30th at 11:59 PM (GMT-5:00). Good luck on cracking these devious ticklers, it could pay off for you in the end!

Update: Congratulations to these five winners! :D

  • phatjak69 ...First!
  • majack
  • Pirho Tau
  • Grizix
  • Ryan
All five winners were given a choice of prizes, and all prizes have been delivered. Congratulations and thanks for playing with us! Look for another Letters in Boxes again soon!

  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (117 votes)
| Comments (39) | Views (675)

Grinnyp14Locks14 Locks is a new Unity platform based game developed by Bart Bonte (of Factory Balls and Sugar, Sugar fame). Why 14 locks? It's not like 14 is a lucky number, at least not in European cultures. Nor is it considered an unlucky number, or a magical number, or anything like that. 14 isn't a prime number either, so there's a pretty big mystery right there. Then again, is 14 Locks a room escape game? Is it a puzzle game? Well, it's a bit of both, really, with a little bit of platforming thrown in as well.

All you need to do in 14 locks is make your way through a series of rooms, finding and opening the doors from one to the other. Sounds simple, doesn't it? However, each of these doors is locked, you see, and you must depend on your exploration and observational skills to find out the three digit combination for each lock. Move around the space using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys and use your mouse to move your observational point of view. 14 Locks is in true 3D, so using the mouse gets you swooping 360 degree in every direction views, which can be a little nausea inducing at first. Eventually you will (hopefully) discover both the combination and the location of the doorway out and move on to the next room.

Although the movement and viewpoint controls are pretty easy to learn 14 Locks could have benefited from some more control features. You can exit out of the game but there does not appear to be a way to save your progress, forcing you to start over. For those who get motion sickness from the dizzying movement, it would have been nice to be able to save and come back later. The music is pretty funky and amusing, but it is nice that you can use the [m] button to mute it after a while. And playing the game requires that you have the Unity plug-in for your particular web browser.

There's not a lot of substance to 14 Locks. It's not strictly an escape game (not a lot of pointing and clicking and very little puzzle solving), but it is still fun to navigate your way through the imaginatively decorated spaces, each one becoming more elaborate than the last. According to Bart Bonte himself this was simply an exercise for him to learn Unity. Exercise or not, he has still created something that is pretty exciting and amusing to play. Take your time and enjoy exploring this fantastic three dimensional world of rooms and corridors that Bart has created.

Note: This game can be nausea inducing. Those who are prone to vertigo or motion sickness should be very careful and take a break if necessary.

Play 14 Locks


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (82 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (205)

TrickyJack in the BoxThis is Jack. This is Jack's spring. This is Jack's amusing hat. This is Jack's box. Jack wishes he were in his box. Jack needs you to guide him to the box. This is Jack's friend. Jack's friend also has an amusing hat. Jack's friend will follow Jack's movements. This is the additional element of strategy added to Jack's puzzle-platforming game. In short, this is Jack in the Box, made by Jack's creator, Ali Bati. And if you think it won't be more fun than chasing a weasel round a mulberry bush... brother, you don't know Jack.

Jack in the Box is played with the [arrow] keys to move and jump. In each level, your goal is to transport the right number of Jacks to the box. There are several different types, but since you're a Jack of All Trades, you control them simultaneously. First there is the standard Jack, which moves like the standard platform-hero that he is, pushing boxes, jumping like a jackrabbit, and jack-hammering down on enemies by your command. Then, there is the Rebel Jack who, while following the same jumping-jack rules, resents your attempts to hi-jack his movements, and will travel the opposite direction of your input. Then there is the Propeller-Jack, whose weight slows his movement but can fly by holding the [up] key. Finally, there is Old Jack, who will not awake until the [down] key is pressed. Watch out for the jack-knifing spikes, the robots that'll jack you up with electricity, and the flames that require you to be quite the Jack-Be-Nimble to avoid. Complete all 30 levels and the jackpot is yours!

Jack in the BoxAnalysis: Jack in the Box is quite a good time, even apart from the ease with which it inspires puns for the erstwhile reviewer. The mechanics recall such earlier releases as Tealy and Orangey, and the FireBoy and WaterGirl series, with its complexity falling in-between its predecessors. For me, at least, the controlling-multiple-characters at once gimmick is still novel enough to be quite intriguing. We as players have the expectation that one input = one character, and games like these throw said expectation for a loop. The multitasking at its base means that careful movement strategy, often taken for granted in platform games, becomes of the highest importance. I love seeing how different authors have explored the twist... especially if they are of Jack in the Box's quality.

Beyond the conceptual level, Jack in the Box gets a lot of the little things right. The animations are bouncy, the controls are responsive, and overall, the production has quite the professional sheen to it. I particularly liked the goofiness of the character designs, with their stick-figure heads and springy bodies... even if I do keep seeing Jack's collar as a circular necklace of teeth. Or are they supposed to be teeth? Eh.

The main strike against Jack in the Box is that it sometimes tries to combine too many elements, leaving the most appealing ones fighting for room. The best levels in the game are the ones that focus on the specific interplay of Jack and Rebel Jack. This leaves Propeller-Jack and Old Jack just seeming a little superfluous. The game is made no worse for their inclusion, but they felt like a distraction from the core concept. Also, I would say that Jack in the Box tries a little too hard to give itself an attitude: the creepy music and snarky comments seem a little forced in the face of the cuteness of its graphics. Yeah, I cracked a smile at some of them, but really I think it limits its appeal to a younger audience more than it will open it to an older one.

What should appeal to all audiences is Jack in the Box's solid puzzle design. In most levels, I got the feeling that a specific solution was expected, but the engine gives enough freedom that you never feel forced into linearity. The level-editor looks quite promising. While I haven't had a chance to play many user-created levels, I can very much imagine Jack in the Box being a game that would benefit from the perspectives of multiple designers. In short, Jack in the Box's levels exploits its premise in all the right ways, and I think it will be very cool to see how the causal gaming community does the same. Get to it, ya jackanapes!

Play Jack in the Box


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (141 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (91)

DoraDragon Age Legends: Remix 01EA2D... Pixelante... by their powers combined... they are... Dragon Age Legends: Remix 01! Indie and Industry combine to bring you this fast-paced side-scrolling hack-and-slash action game set in the Dragon Age universe. If you're not a fan of the series or aren't familiar with the source material, don't worry; all you need to know is that you're controlling one lone hero against a vast army of the "darkspawn", hellish creatures and corrupted men and women who will do anything to stop you. Like being really big, really strong, and maybe even... really fire-breathing? If you're expecting an RPG you might be disappointed, but if you've been looking for some action, look no further, Warden.

The game is controlled entirely with the mouse; the hero moves in the direction of your cursor, and clicking on an enemy will let you introduce yourself with some heavy weaponry to the face. Click above your hero to make him jump over enemies and other obstacles, and depending on which attack style you select, your mouse movements also execute a variety of special moves that require mana. When in Ranged mode, for example, click and drag rapidly away from your character to unleash a blast that can attack enemies from afar. Both health and mana regenerate automatically, but if things are getting hairy, try to keep your eyes peeled for random item drops that can not only refill these two vital bars, but also provide temporary bonuses or extra experience points. Whenever you see a tent, just click on it to pop inside and spend any experience points you have on upgrading one of the various attack styles you can switch between.

Things will get more challenging the farther you go as the darkspawn begin rolling out the big guns to try to stop you; hurlocks give way to shriekers, teleporting cultists, archers, mages, and all manner of unpleasantness. (I tried to explain to Jay this was why I was late to work. He's so unreasonable.) Not to mention, of course, what everyone looks forward to in a hack-and-slash game... the boss battles. Loosen up your mouse wrist, because the limbs are going to be flying all over the place.

Dragon Age Legends: Remix 01Analysis: Indie and In-dus-tree, create together in har-mon-ee! Combining talents is a beautiful thing, and it's clear Evan Miller of Pixelante Game Studios was a great choice to create a "remix" of an existing game; Dragon Age Legends for Facebook. (You can read more on the whole process behind this here link.) The result? This game is just plain fun, combining pure hack-and-slash with satisfying boss battles and some great enemy design and animation, complete with dynamic camera. As a fan of ye olde school(e) side-scrolling hack-and-slashers, however, I can't help but feeling destructible scenery is missing here to really complete the cathartic carnage, although I guess admittedly there aren't a whole lot of trash cans to throw and neon signs to blow up in Ferelden. (Maybe in Dragon Age 3? Bioware, EA, are you listening to me?! I'm giving away free ideas here!)

The combat system is simple to pick up and incredibly fun to fly around the screen with. Gesture-sensitive controls are hardly a new concept, but a lot of games that incorporate them tend to overcomplicate it by adding too much flourish, which is hard to pull off reliably when the gameplay gets frantic. By contrast, the movement and attacking here feel fluid and natural, and I never once felt as though I was flailing around like a first-year Hogwarts student with an uncooperative wand. There is, of course, rather a lot of clicking, and your clicker finger is going to get a bit of a workout, especially once you discover it can be fairly easy to stun-lock larger bosses by treating their faces like a set of bongo drums in mid-air.

The only other potential issue is that even on the higher difficulty settings, the game isn't that challenging for most of the time, owing largely to the regenerating health that means you're essentially unstoppable as long as you run around the screen letting the enemies chase you like a Benny Hill movie whenever your health is low. However, for what it is, Dragon Age Legends: Remix 01 is an exceptionally well-made piece of arcade action and It isn't a very long game, most likely running your average hacker-slasher about half an hour, but if action's your bag you'll enjoy the time you spend with it and emerge feeling like you're ready to kick names and take butt. (I always felt names were overrated.) It's smashing good fun and a great example of what happens when two powers combine their talent for the greater good of pulling off sweet combos and stabbing darkspawn in the face.

Play Dragon Age Legends: Remix 01


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (786 votes)
| Comments (34) | Views (2,486)

DoraSissy's Magical Ponycorn AdventureSometimes I'm pretty sure developers are trying to kill me, especially in this case, where Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure is so adorable and funny I just want to keel over. Created by five-year-old Cassie and her father (33 year old Ryan), this adventure game is silly, wonderful, and sunshine in your browser. The game follows Sissy, who "friggin' LOVES ponycorns", and hey, who doesn't? After all, they're ponies and unicorns. You can't lose! But Sissy doesn't have any ponycorns, so she's going to go get some with your help. No, it's alright, you don't need to have your eyes checked; you read all that correctly.

Playing the Ponycorn Adventure is simple; just click to move and interact. The biggest issue you might encounter is trying to figure out just what you're looking at from time to time, but click on an object and Sissy will tell you what it is... even if the explanation is just as strange. In short order, you'll have a bunch of jars to put your ponycorns in when you find them (it's cool, I poked some holes in the lids), and you'll have to help Sissy travel through rainbows and solve the rather unique puzzles on the other side using little-girl-logic. If you don't have a little girl handy to help you, or if you were never one yourself, don't worry... just click around, bust out a few random magical powers, and BAM! ponycorns. Awwwww yeah.

Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure is sweet, funny, and maybe the best surprise to come across my desk in a while. It's not complicated or challenging, but it put a smile on my face, and for that it gets a massive high five. The dialogue is cheerfully absurd, the mood is light, and even though the whole thing should only take you around five minutes to play, it's definitely time well spent. Sometimes you want to save the world, program robots, or solve complex logic problems. Other times? You just want to leap astride your ponycorn and ride on off into a rainbow.

Play Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure

You can also play the game at the Untold Entertainment website. If you enjoy the game and want to help Cassie continue with her education, you can also donate to her education fund at the Untold Entertainment website.


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (308 votes)
| Comments (87) | Views (2,853)

joyeThe Adventures of RedWhen you're hungry, there's only one thing better than a delicious muffin, and that's a delicious FREE muffin. So when a little yellow creature mysteriously named Red spies a sign advertising a free muffin, nothing's going to stop him. Of course, this muffin turns out not to be so much a "free as in no strings attached" muffin. It's more of a "free as in you must first complete a gauntlet of puzzles while pointing and clicking your way around a mysterious castle" kind of muffin. Made by Rob and John Donkin, The Adventures of Red serves up some classic challenges and a few twists of its own.

You use the mouse throughout, clicking to move Red around the screen and to manipulate objects. When you mouse over a hotspot, your cursor will change. Most of the time you simply click on things to interact, but occasionally you'll need to drag something. If that's the case, the game helpfully pops up a little bit of text reading "drag me". At first, you'll be on your own to figure out where you are, but if you keep your eyes peeled you'll eventually pick up map pieces which will assist in navigation. There are also some bonus pieces, such as 20 little gems for your "gotta collect 'em all" impulses, not to mention a number of snazzy hats.

Most of the puzzles are likely to be old hat (pardon the pun) to any puzzler or point and clicker worth his pixels, like the Towers of Hanoi and spot the difference. But everything is presented in such a gentle, relaxing style that it's like going to a party where a bunch of old friends are going to be, but you don't know which ones. Part of the pleasure is recognizing everybody. "Ah, there's Rotate the Tiles Into a Picture by the chips and dip! And is that good ol' Repeat the Flashing Light Pattern doing a cannon ball into the pool? Oh, Repeat, what a card you are." One could also point out that the puzzles didn't get to be classics for no reason. I still found a challenge or two lurking in the muffin mansion.

The gentle music, adorable art and amusing storyline contribute to the general feel of a game made for a relaxing break and stress reliever, not one of those games where the stress relief comes from how relieved you are to be getting back to flipping burgers or flipping houses or flipping through the air on the flying trapeze or whatever it is that you do in normal life. Only one puzzle remains unsolved: why is a little yellow creature called Red? One for the ages, my friends.

Play the Adventures of Red


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (72 votes)
| Comments (25) | Views (210)

Weekday Escape

GrinnypLet's get this out of the way first; I have no idea what Sakudatu means. The start screen of the game shows "Saku" in Katakana, and "datsu" in Kanji. Beneath that it appears to read saku saku dasshutsu, again in Katakana and Kanji, and frankly my Japanese translation skills are slim to nonexistent. Sorry, did that appear totally out of left field? You'll have to excuse me, I just finished playing the latest room escape from Detarou, Sakudatu (or whatever) and I'm still feeling a little concussed...

SakudatuSakudatu is, of course, a (sort of) classic room escape, but only if you consider a classic escape a room filled with characters straight out of a Pirandello play, placed in situations that look like a Magritte painting that has been run through a blender. Quite frankly the word surreal doesn't even begin to cover anything that comes from the mind of Detarou, especially this little doozy of an escape that has one way out and three ways to die. It is up to the player to wander around the room, bask in the scenery, solve some actually logical puzzles and, if they are very careful about following instructions to the letter and employ a modicum of common sense they will make it out the other side alive and with their sanity intact. Maybe.

You move around this bizarre room with the standard bars and arrows at the edges of the screen, and items can be examined, picked up, or interacted with a click of the mouse. Detarou has even included the use of a changing cursor to indicate hot-spots which can be nice, because practically nothing else in this place makes any sort of sense. Despite the craziness going on in every nook and cranny of this odd-shaped room the puzzles themselves are pretty logical and heavily color-based. Considering, though, how easy it is to die it would have been nice to have some sort of save feature, especially for those who want to see how many endings they can find.

Anyone who has played a Detarou game knows that the imagery involved can be bizarre or inexplicable. However, unlike in Gold Door Escape you won't be bombarded with strange Christian iconography. In Sakudatu the imagery is more...personal. We're talking half-naked taiko drummers, what looks like the splash page of a yaoi doujinshi, and a very suggestive biker to name but a few of the bizarre characters populating this amazing location.

Is it entertaining? Most definitely yes. The puzzles are fun if a tad too easy and the madness going on all around merely enhances the escaping experience. If the bizarro world of Detarou is to your liking then you are in for one tasty treat with Sakudatu. Just do me a favor and, if you figure out what the title actually means, let me know, would you? It's going to keep me up nights otherwise, just like that biker...

Play Sakudatu


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (106 votes)
| Comments (76) | Views (248)

DoraAlone in the ParkThere ain't too much I can say about this game except that the answer is blowin' in the wind. Or inside a brain fruit. Or a women's public toilet. And you might want to shake down any children you find just to be safe. And harass a goat or two. Maybe take down some migrating falcons? Katharine Neil of Cheap Drunk Games brings you one very odd little tale with Alone in the Park. A mysterious letter arrives in your mailbox one day and invites you to track down pieces of a map scattered around nearby Spiegel Park to find a hidden treasure. What could it be? Unreleased Pokemon sketches? Vintage lego sets? *gasp* TIM HORTONS COFFEE?! What are you standing around for?

The game is primarily a text adventure with some visual representations and inventory management. An icon appearing in the central window where your location is displayed usually means an object or person to interact with, which is done by clicking on it. You can drag items in your inventory over one of these icons to try to use the two together, or to ask someone about whatever you're carrying. The titular park, it turns out, is rather a large place, so you'll be doing a lot of traveling between the numerous locations, which is done by simply clicking and holding on the map screen, whereupon you'll trundle in that direction. If you find yourself at a loss as to what to do, try activating "hint mode" from the game options, which makes items in your inventory that are relevant to your current location glow slightly.

As you'll soon discover, despite the title, you are not, strictly speaking, alone in the park. All manner of people are milling about in the various locales, taking in the sights, chaining themselves to trees, and owning unreasonable teddy-bears. Most of them will be able to help you find the missing pieces of your map if you ask... but only if you do something for them first. It might be as simple as tracking down a missing ring, or it might be as complex as chasing down one of the most belligerent goats on the face of the planet. Just make sure you save your game by clicking on the appropriate button when you need to take a break from the demands of your new "friends", since this game is fairly large.

Alone in the ParkAnalysis: There's no question that while the presentation is unique and appealing, the star of the game is definitely Katharine Neil's writing, which is snarky when it needs to be and breathes life into both her cast of characters and bizarre situations. As is the case with all humour, the jokes in Alone in the Park can be hit or miss depending on your tastes. Some of it I found very clever, while other segments gave me the impression it was trying a bit too hard to be both ridiculously surreal and wink-wink-nudge-nudge-offensive. During our evaluation of the game, fellow word monkey joye made the suggestion that "the narrator is supposed to be unlikable; it's one of those post-post-modern hipster things where no one is likable". Which is a valid observation and stance, but in my case I would offer that someone who is unlikable on purpose is still unlikable and probably not someone I'll willing to hang around with even if the experience does level up my Hipster Hoodie.

Which is not to say the game isn't entertaining and worth playing, of course. If you've ever wanted to make a love connection for a pseudo-Goth shut-in, experience spiritual enlightenment from a goat, or help a woman stuck in a public restroom, Alone in the Park will provide. The cast is essentially a set of archetypes exaggerated to the extreme, and the end result is a game that feels like a sort of mecha-parody of itself and everything from other games to pop culture as a whole. The biggest issue may be with the puzzles in that most of them wind up being extended fetch-quests, which can be potentially frustrating considering that your primary mode of discovery and travel is "wander in big loopy circles until something pops up", which, considering how big the park itself actually is, could take a while. The biggest frustrations will probably wind up being the bird and the teddy bear, for sheer confusion and repetition respectively. (Although seeking out higher ground can help.)

In the end, possibly the word that best describes Alone in the Park is "different". It's not the only word; the game is also silly, creative, cheeky, crass, and entertaining. But it isn't something that will appeal to everyone. Of course, that's hardly a bad thing; give me a Dark City over a Sin City any day. For all its flaws, Alone in the Park is still an impressive bit of work and will appeal to adventure gamers with a sense of humour willing to take a bit of sass with their experience.

Play Alone in the Park


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (61 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (104)

TrickyzOMGies 2I share an opinion with Gabe in that, if there's one thing I loathe, it's those darn dirty zombies. Not just for their intentions re: my brains, but also how it seems that, as of late, some developers have used their antagonistic qualities to prop up less-than-inspired game design. Every so often though, a game comes out that features the undead in a way that feels fresh and interesting. That game is run and gun shooter, zOMGies 2 from Jim P and LongAnimals.

To be clear, this is not one of those games for which you need to play its prequel to appreciate: there are zombies, there is running, and there are flamethrowers. If you can understand that combination on a conceptual level, you're pretty well set. Using the [arrow] keys to move and the mouse to point and shoot, you sprint down the deserted city streets, blasting various kinds of zombies and exploding barrels while collecting virus antidotes. If zombies get too close, they'll take a munch out of your health, though it can be replenished with a good ol' fashioned street-burger. Spy a car, and you can jump into it for a brief driving section where you can run over zombies for as long as your collected fuel holds out. Surviving each wave unlocks new weapons, but suffer too many bites and the night is over.

zOMGies is zombie action like it should be: fast, frenetic and fun. It also has quite the difficulty curve: it starts off at "hard" and gets pretty nigh well brutal round about level three. This is more than fine however, as the impressive cartoon visuals and explosive weapon collection make for a fun time whether you are winning or not. The game isn't perfect: the protagonist's narration, while funny at first, only has a limited number of comments programmed in so it gets repetitive pretty quickly. Also, I would have liked it if there was a more prominent indication of when I was losing health: the screen flashing red or something... you know.. something that made it clear that something was chomping on my shoulder, since the fast-paced movement often made it hard to tell.

That aside, zOMGies 2 is quite the break from the rut that many recent zombie-horror games has fallen into. It reminds us how scary the undead are and how much fun pointing a shotgun at them can be.

Play zOMGies 2


| Comments (1) | Views (25)

The Vault

TrickyI think that one of the signs that I'm getting old is my increasing inability to comprehend the appeal of the latest hot must-have toy of the season. Truthfully, this mental deficiency started early in life: my sister's Furby seemed positively demonic to me, and, in my mind, the proportions of her Bratz dolls fell deep into the Uncanny Valley. This has continued to the present day: Silly Bands? Zhu Zhu Pets? Paper Jamz? I just feel like I'm missing something. No matter... I have the plethora of webtoys in the JiG Vault to keep my increasingly crotchety personality at bay. Below are three of my favorites, which I think will be fun for both the young and the young at heart.

  • AcrobotsAcrobots - Of the three we feature this week, Acrobots is probably the toy I'd most want to see a physical desktop version of, to place next to the ol' Newton's cradle and miniature Zen garden. We've featured Vector Park quite a bit in these Vault articles, and all you need to do is to manipulate a collection of their three-legged Acrobots to remember why. Acrobots plays like an interactive aquarium with its hopping, bopping, magnetic creatures and the various controls on the side to influence their environment. Despite how my mind tells me that all of their movements are controlled by some intricate physics engine, I can't help but see flashes of playful personality in how they push off of each other and build larger Acrobot-ic structures. Acrobots may have no larger goal beyond amusement, but it is the perfect game to keep in the corner of a multi-monitor display, or just to pull up whenever you need a smile provoked. I may not be entirely sure what all the controls on the side do, but they're fun to mess with all the same.
  • PianolinaPianolina - A great proportion of webtoys try to capture the joy of music creation, but few succeed in the way that Pianolina does. The concept is so simple: set different colored boxes in motion within a square box. Each time one hits a surface, it bounces and makes a different tone depending on its color. Hit another box, and it makes a chord. From this simple premise comes music of surprising depth. They aren't sounds that you could reproduce in any formalized structure (to do that sort of thing, you'd need one of the pianos sold by the game's sponsor, Grotrian), but that is sort of the point: the internet is just the place to create instruments that would be impossible to realize outside of a computer screen. Pianolina is not a tool for writing a great symphony, but it will recreate the feeling that comes when, just sitting at a keyboard tapping at random, you come upon a small sequence of notes that just sound good together.
  • The ABC GameThe ABC Game - A strange mix of alphabet book and post-apocalyptic wasteland, Norweigian developer Orgdot's The ABC Game feels like something that parents would love to play with their more-astute toddlers. Whether or not you have one of the latter on hand, it's a good bet you'll love the gorgeous art and letter-based character designs. It's combination of simple hidden object gameplay and simple point-and-click puzzling won't tax the mind, but is more than made up for by the joy of looking at the pretty pictures that jump up across the beautifully surreal landscape. I'm not sure how well The ABC game serves as an educational tool, but going from A to Z has never been so satisfying... and if it reminds you that Norway has a few more vowels to deal with, all the better.

While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (114 votes)
| Comments (13) | Views (251)

DoraHelp the HeroHeroes are overrated. Sure they take care of your odd rampaging Robo-Ogre, but they tend to be pretty full of themselves, and in general their inventories tend to be messier than my grandmother's handbag. (Is... is this lint on this Werther's Original or.. ?) Fortunately, you don't need organisational skills when you have cheap labour, and that's where you come in! Just imagine; all the menial tasks your heart desires with none of that pesky recognition or appreciation junk! Such is the case in Help the Hero from Antony Lavalle and Armor Games' super team of talent. In this quirky puzzle game, you follow in the hero's footsteps (literally) and make sure the great(?) and honorable(?!) Count Thrashwoode is properly outfitted for battle by gathering up all the treasure he uncovers.

RPG subordinates these days seem to be taking a cue from Leon Scott Kennedy circa Los Plagas, because all item management is handled by arranging as many items as you can on a grid that represents the hero's limited inventory space. As your hero adventures, he gathers items that scroll by at the bottom of the screen; click and drag them to your inventory, and use the [arrow] keys to rotate the item while you're holding it until you can figure out a way to fit it in. You likely won't be able to carry everything he finds, so try to prioritize based on item type and what you know about the monster he'll be coming up against. Before battle, you'll be given a chance to outfit your hero with the equipment he's gathered, boosting various stats, or sell off what you don't need to upgrade the hero's number of equipment slots or inventory space. The Count fights automatically, but his success depends on whether you've chosen the proper types of items to equip him with.

With its stellar presentation and clever premise, Help the Hero is a welcome change from the flood of samey games out there. From the passive-aggressive remarks made by the apprentice, to the old-timey theatrical soundtrack, and to the quirky character designs its a joy to behold on virtually every level. (Although you will feel somewhat cheated the first time the curtain falls on a battle.) Unfortunately, once you've played the first stage, you've basically seen everything the game has to offer apart from a few enemy design and a snarky comment or two. There's a lack of variety to the gameplay that means the longer levels get, the more they seem to drag, and it feels like throwing in a different sort of minigame in there, or even just altering the background with each stage so that you have something to look at, would have done a lot to keep the game feeling fresh. Still, it's a clever take on an RPG puzzle game, and a peek behind the curtains at what would probably be a pretty handy feature. (Do you know how much I would pay for an assistant like that for Commander Shepherd and crew?!)

Play Help the Hero


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (898 votes)
| Comments (13) | Views (1,193)

papastacomia.jpgJohnBFrom Papa's Pizzeria to Papa's Burgeria to the latest time management game Papa's Taco Mia, Flipline Studios consistently produces great-looking games that walk a delicate line between challenging and straight-up entertaining. The newest in the growing series of restaurant sims puts you in the managing shoes of a taco joint. Take customer's orders, grill up the right kind of meat, stuff the tacos, add the toppings one by one, and present each order to the customer for their evaluation. Make neater tacos, rake in bigger tips, and outfit your restaurant with the best equipment available as you work your way to a taco-making master!

Papa's Taco Mia takes place in three main areas: the ordering floor, the grill station, and the building counter. As customers file in, you must manage your time spent between these locations, always keeping an eye on cooking meats or impatient customers while trying to keep quality at the maximum. Click on a customer to take his or her order, then head to the grill to get started. Each order is placed on a ticket that can be organized on the line at the top of the screen. Drag the ticket to the right to get a large view so you can see exactly what the customer wants on their taco!

To make the meats, you'll need to drag and drop each type onto the burners below. Meat needs to be flipped and sometimes chopped, each according to a circular timer around the pan. It's safe to leave meat alone for a bit while you take orders or add toppings in the build station, but if you overcook or forget to chop it at the right time, you'll end up with a poor grill score when it's time to collect your tips.

After the meat has been placed in the correct taco shell, take it to the build station for the real fun. Toppings must be placed in the order the customer requested them. Because as everyone knows, a taco just isn't a taco if the beans are above the onions! Click and drag each topping and gently spread it across the taco by swiping the mouse back and forth. The neater your work, the higher your score will be, so don't be afraid to take a little time to make sure your food is top-notch.

papastacomia2.jpgAfter all has been prepared, it's time to take the meal to the customer. Each person has particular preferences and will judge your work based on how quickly you took their order, how accurate you were on the grill, and how neatly you stacked the toppings. The higher your percentage in each area, the more cash you'll get as a tip. Tip money can be used in the in-game store to buy useful items like doorbells that alert you when new customers enter or timers that keep your apprised of the meat situation on the grill, even when you're away!

Analysis: The entire series of Papa's games are well-known for their high-quality visuals, well-balanced gameplay, and smart blend of speed and precision. Papa's Taco Mia doesn't change that formula too much, switching the type of food being prepared but keeping just about everything the same.

Unlike many time management or simulation games, Papa's Taco Mia doesn't move at a very fast pace. In fact, very little changes from one level to the next. New customers request new taco builds, more people stream in at a faster rate, and different meats are unlocked after a certain amount of time, but the gameplay remains largely the same, despite the upgrades that can be purchased in the shop. Don't step into this one expecting a fast-paced click-a-thon. Instead, look for some deep time management gaming with a side of tummy-grumbling food preparation.

The only real down side to Papa's Taco Mia is the sense of sameness fans of the series won't be able to shake. The food is different, the method of preparation is different, but so many aspects of the game are the same as Papa's Burgeria and Papa's Pizzeria that Taco Mia feels stale much more quickly than it should. The gameplay is still as well-tuned as ever, but when it comes down to it, a taco isn't all that different from a burger. Not in the browser gaming world, anyway!

Despite a hint of sameness, Papa's Taco Mia is a fantastic follow-up to Flipline Studio's previous restaurant simulation offerings. It's got strategy, it's got time management, it's got crazy customers with crazy taco orders, and it's got everything you'd need to stay addicted for hours on in!

Play Papa's Taco Mia


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (1717 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (336)

Joshspitecannon2.jpgHow often do you get a chance to shoot lemur heads out of a cannon towards a bunch of colorful geometric shapes with alarmed eyes and gaping mouths? Not often enough, that's for sure. That said, do you wake up each morning with a yearning to inflict pain on anthropomorphic circles and polygons just for spite? If so, we have the perfect game for you.

Spite Cannon Reloaded is a significant expansion of Tomf's Spite Cannon from 2010. In this projectile physics puzzler, you control a cannon (a very spiteful one, apparently) to fire cannonballs at a series of cute-looking shapes to either destroy them or make them fall off the screen. You aim and shoot with the mouse, and you don't need to worry about shot power, since every shot is equally strong. While shots cost money, you earn additional cash by damaging and destroying the different shapes on screen. You spend extra money in the upgrade store, where you can increase your cannon's firepower, select different cannonballs, and unlock other bonuses.

If you're looking for a truly casual game experience, Spite Cannon Reloaded should certainly satisfy. Its levels (an impressive 80 instead of 30) are quite simple to pass, the graphics and tone is light-hearted, and the upgrades are appropriately silly. The game has quite a bit of charm and personality, and feels just right as a fun break game. Spite Cannon Reloaded is not without its faults - some levels can't be beaten without visiting the upgrade screen and switching ammunition, but thankfully it's possible to skip troublesome levels with a little earned cash. There's even a bit of replayability thanks to the included level editor and ability to copy and paste level codes to attempt a challenge from the greater community. All told, Spite Cannon Reloaded is a nice game you shouldn't ignore out of spite.

Play Spite Cannon Reloaded


| Comments (1) | Views (34)

Mobile Monday

JohnBHow about a little RPG action to start your new week? Knew you'd agree! But not just any old RPG. No sir/ma'am/other! We've got platform RPGs, puzzle RPGs, roguelike RPGs, and maybe some other sub-genre that hasn't been named yet. Cookie RPG? Mmm, delicious...

dragonslasher.gifDragonSlasher (iPhone, iPod Touch) - A stylized 2D action adventure game that feels like Another World with swords, evil enemies, traps, and loads of upgrades. Travel through town and dungeon as you search for treasures in a series of increasingly-difficult stages. Loot everything you can, kill the enemies you encounter, and return to town to buy upgrades, purchase new magic spells, and much, much more. DragonSlasher is one part action, one part role playing game, but all parts intense.

legendsofyore.gifLegends of Yore (Universal) - Many studios have tried to recreate the classic RPG for the mobile platform. Legends of Yore may be the first to succeed in its simplicity. Part dungeon crawler and part roguelike, this stark-looking title allows you to choose between three classes (warrior, archer, sorcerer) and drops you into a vast world to explore. Loads of weapons to find, plenty of land to trudge through, and great touch screen controls make this one a clear winner, even if you aren't the biggest roguelike fan this side of Moria. Also available from Google Play Android Games as well as a browser version.

crystalsoul.gifCrystal Soul (iPhone, iPod Touch) - One part puzzle, one part RPG, and a similar feel to Knightfall, this nice-looking game manages to blend strategy and role playing elements into an experience that never feels too cerebral. Choose your character and work your way through almost two dozen levels, chopping down enemies that inhabit the hexagonal grid. Gather mana to use special abilities by eliminating groups of like enemies with a single blow, and work your way through the mess to gather treasure and coveted crystals. Using your character's skills becomes key to surviving in this game. The tutorial leaves a lot to be discovered, so be prepared to spend some time with this title before you really "get" it through and through. The free Crystal Soul Lite is also available.

NOTE: Games noted as 'universal' have designed for iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone devices alike. Games listed may not be available outside of North America. Prices are subject to change and are therefore unlisted. Please see the individual game pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (149 votes)
| Comments (34) | Views (1,323)

Terraria

corygalliherMany kids used to spend their time at the beach building sandcastles. Not me, though. I built sand empires. I constructed little sand fiefdoms which I could rule over my sand lords from my sand throne. Believe me, it was awe-inspiring. Terraria, a new action-adventure-creativity game from Re-Logic, is perfect for a sand emperor like myself: it offers the thrill of discovery mixed with the chance to meticulously construct your own little village, city or empire. And before you think it: yes, it's a lot like Minecraft, only in 2D.

terraria.gifControl your character with the [WASD] keys, press the [spacebar] to jump, and wield your currently equipped tool with the [mouse]. There are a variety of tools available — pickaxes allow you to dig in the ground, axes let you chop down trees, swords help you fight off monsters, and so on. Later on you can obtain even more interesting gear like grappling hooks and firearms!

With this gear you'll set out to accomplish your goal, which is... pretty much whatever you want it to be! You can focus on constructing a fantastic town, in which case you'll attract NPCs who offer services like shopping and healing. You can explore the land which will lead you to mysterious dungeons and vast underground cave systems. You can collect items and use them to summon boss monsters to battle for valuables. There's really no shortage of things to do!

Terraria is presented in 2D in a style similar to a few old-school Super Nintendo RPGs. While the action can be a little small, it's generally easy to pick everything out from the screen after some time getting used to everything. The game boasts some endearing music and sound effects as well — for instance, the main theme is bound to get stuck in your head for days.

terraria2.gifAnalysis: It's pretty easy to compare Terraria to Minecraft because, well, that's exactly what it is — multiplayer features included. The similarities are clear and even the creator of Minecraft has acknowledged Terraria, giving it a bit of early attention just a few weeks before its surprise release.

Terraria takes the sandbox formula a bit further, though, by boasting a feature list that dwarfs Minecraft's even at launch. Perhaps most importantly, Terraria is available through Steam, making it much easier to obtain the game and eliminating the chance of the game becoming nearly unplayable should a main server on the developer's end go down — a problem that has plagued Minecraft for months.

Terraria is also much more of an actual game than Minecraft. There are dungeons to explore, many more varieties of monster and boss to fight that offer rewards for their defeat and NPCs to attract to your town. The exciting sense of exploration is still a key part of the game, but in Terraria exploration tends to be a lot more rewarding. You never know when you'll stumble across a treasure chest full of goodies or some valuable ore!

The real question is if Terraria has the longevity to stand alongside Minecraft. While you can create as many worlds as you want, in Terraria each is bordered on the far left and right unlike in Minecraft where they are effectively infinite. Time will tell if this means that players will eventually run out of things to do and grow bored with the game.

In terms of game design there are a few minor flaws. It's easy to be swarmed with massive amounts of monsters in Terraria, so players who'd rather focus on construction than combat might get a bit frustrated. Since the individual "blocks" that make up the world are smaller, it's also a little more difficult to be precise when building or mining. With practice, though, this becomes less of an issue.

Terraria offers such a variety of experience that both Minecraft fans and those who have never touched that game can find something to enjoy. Hop on in, chop down some trees and start your own empire. Plus, your work won't all get ruined when the tide rolls in!

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (30 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (326)

Bistro Boulevard

JohnBTime management game? We don't think so! Bistro Boulevard is a casual restaurant simulation from Fugazo, creators of the World Mosaics series as well as Fiction Fixers. In an unusual departure from the norm. Bistro Boulevard is focused on you as the manager of a restaurant. Hire staff, train them to cook ingredients, formulate recipes, and seat customers, all with a few clicks of the mouse. Your staff does all the drudge work, leaving you to focus on the important parts of the business!

Bistro BoulevardBistro Boulevard's storyline is pretty much what you would expect from a game of this nature. Your goal is to improve the quality of a restaurant so you can open more restaurants and revive a once-thriving center of foodie activity. You start with an American food restaurant, serving customers and meeting a long list of goals using as many business days as you need. That's right, no level-by-level structure here. Instead of plodding about one pre-set stage at a time, Bistro Boulevard is focused on you meeting goals. You can use as few or as many business days as you like to achieve those goals before it's on to the next restaurant. Italian food, anyone?

Gameplay is focused on managing your restaurant, not delivering food to customers. Before you open for business, you'll spend a bit of time in the menu screens buying decorations, new tables, chairs, sprucing up the wallpaper, or managing your staff. Waiters and cooks need to be hired, paid a salary, and trained to do their jobs better, all of which costs cash to do. Too few cooks or servers and your customers will get upset having to wait too long. Too many and you'll waste money on paying people to stand around.

Recipes are a huge part of the game as well, and you get to formulate simple dishes based on customer cravings. Before the round begins, check out the menu to see what people have a hankering for. Cheese, potatoes, and chicken in demand? Try adding chicken pot pie or potatoes au gratin to your menu. Each chef has strengths with certain types of food. Give a chef who is good at cooking meat the meat dishes and the quality will be better, prompting customers to part with more of their cash.

Bistro BoulevardAnalysis: There seems like a lot of stuff to manage in Bistro Boulevard, but at its core, this is as casual as a simulation game can be. Your main concerns are food quality and speed of service, both of which are maintained by hiring and training the proper type and number of staff members. It's all about lining things up and hitting the "go" button, in a way, as managing the behind-the-scenes data is what makes or breaks your restaurant business.

Guessing recipes is surprisingly fun, and getting to match them up to customer demands and chef strengths ends up being the best part of the game. During the actual business part of the day, you don't do much but seat customers and watch your people work, analyzing potential weaknesses and formulating a plan to rectify the shortcomings during the next managing session.

Visually, Bistro Boulevard has a very clean look, with loads of fluid animations (but strangely stiff-faced humans) that have a smart cel-shaded look to them. You'll have plenty of time to check out the graphics, of course, as you won't be doing much while food is being served and tables are being cleared.

Bistro Boulevard takes a lot of the most popular qualities of casual simulation games and time management games and combines them in an elegant way. It's a game that knows how to draw you in and keep you interested in playing day after recipe-guessing day!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (188)

Emma and the Inventor

JohnBEmma and the Inventor is a wonder-filled adventure/hidden object game from Tricky Software. A relative newcomer to the casual downloads scene, the studio makes a great impression with a game that is not only easy and inviting to play, but one that has been carefully put together with attention to the small details. The end result doesn't shatter records or break the genre's mold too fiercely, but instead delivers a supremely satisfying game with good puzzles, excellent artwork and music, and frustration-free gameplay scene after glorious scene.

Emma and the InventorEmma's excited because she gets to visit her eccentric grandfather who has a house out in the country. When she arrives, he doesn't seem to be there, and after a bit of investigation, she discovers he's been up to his old mad scientist-like inventing tricks again! This time, Grandpa Jenkins has constructed a magnificent machine that, unfortunately, went haywire and scattered itself in pieces. Not only that, but grandpa was sent to some sort of nether dimension and is now reliant upon Emma to rescue him.

Don't let the canned storyline fool you, as Emma and the Inventor is packed with charm, and once you start playing you really won't mind the predictable plot. The game is built on an adventure core with inventory items and puzzle solving holding up the backbone of the experience. In order to move from scene to scene, you'll need to unlock doors, move past gates, and gain access to hidden areas by solving puzzles using items you find scattered here and there.

You'll also find pieces of items throughout your journey. Sometimes they'll make sense, sometimes they'll make you wonder, and other times they're there just to complete a larger item you'll use later. Emma and the Inventor has one of the best-looking inventory systems in any casual game, featuring a classic typewriter-style lever that swaps trays to show you three categories of items. Not only does this allow you to keep less-frequently-used objects out of the way, it's an extremely satisfying mechanic to play around with!

Emma and the InventorOn occasion, you'll be entertained to a hidden object scene or short mini-game. Neither are too difficult, and even if you're not an object finding nut you'll have a good time picking out items in the short hidden object scenes. Mini-games are fairly standard with a selection of picture puzzles and the like, but again, the difficulty isn't too high, so even if you're feeling grumpy about solving a jigsaw puzzle, two minutes later you'll be staring at the victory screen.

Analysis: Emma and the Inventor is a quiet sort of game that could easily slip under anyone's radar. Don't let it, though, as you're in for an engaging experience that cautiously gets everything right in a hidden object adventure release. Tricky Software didn't take too many chances with the game's design, but it never feels formulaic or derivative in nature. Just simple, charmingly simple.

The visuals are superb, with warm fall-like colors and a steampunk design aesthetic around every corner. These machines never feel cold and distant, though, and you really feel like you're staring at the world through Emma's somewhat innocent eyes, curious at every contraption you see and always wondering what strange thing grandpa has in store for you next.

Ready for the game's only shortcoming? Length. As with what seems like every hidden object game released in the last few years, Emma and the Inventor aims for only a few hours of entertainment. It's a good ride while it lasts, of course, but two to three hours is barely enough to feel like you've gotten started, let alone played a game from start to finish.

A small release from a studio not everybody has heard of doesn't necessarily spell success, but in the case of Emma and the Inventor, you should dive right in without hesitation. It's easily one of the most charming and satisfying hidden object adventure games on the market.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


| Comments (8) | Views (42)

Weekend Download

JohnBAnother Ludum Dare competition is about to end, and the resulting slew of games are, as usual, numerous, creative, and wacky. The three day event encourages solo game creators to dream up and craft a game in just 48 hours. The only other constraint is that entries must adhere to the chosen theme, which was pretty unusual this time around: It's Dangerous to go Alone! Take this! See the full release list of all 352 Ludum Dare 20 games, then vote on your picks on the Ludum Dare website. And then, check out some of our favorites below!

singlehandedly.gifSINGLEHANDEDLY (Windows, 3.3MB, free) - One part Mega Man, one part Contra, one part OH MY STARS THIS GAME MAKES MY FACE HURT. You're armed with a laser gun that can get rid of enemies or be used to get a small boost while in mid-air. You can also perform small rocketjump-type hovering maneuvers in mid-air, allowing you to cross large gaps that are usually filled with lava. Your ammo and health are limited but can be replenished over time or by nabbing pick-ups by defeating enemies. And speaking of enemies, these guys are aggressive. You won't have an easy time navigating these highly-pixellated corridors, but the difficulty is just one of the game's many charms.

myrktorch.gifMyrktorch (Windows, 3.44MB, free) - A great-looking, simple, and short platform game by Gustav Kilman that uses torch lights as a central mechanic in the game. Your only real moves are walking left and right and jumping, but the enemies seem to have a different plan for you. Grab a torch from the old man near the beginning and watch your foes sizzle in the light. Each ghost you kill cuts the light's power a bit, but you can refill it by finding burning torches throughout the game. The controls are somewhat tight and unresponsive, and the gameplay itself is missing some of the bells and whistles some players may be accustomed to, but this artistic platform game is still a good one to run through.

benefitsoflifeinsurance.gifHave You Considered the Benefits of Life Insurance (Windows, 1.2MB, free) - Well, have you? Because if you haven't, maybe you should. This simple-looking game is high on strategy and puts you in the shoes of a life insurance salesman purchasing gifts for your trophy wife. Earn money at regular intervals by clicking on the hapless little humans. The more you "sign up", the more cash you get, meaning the more things you can buy from the bottom of the screen. Holes open at random in the ground, however, and if one of these people falls down, you lose a huge chunk of change. You can close the holes for a fee, but otherwise it's a game of managing your own impatience and greed. And it's crazy amounts of fun for doing so!

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


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (35 votes)
| Comments (21) | Views (1,831)

princessisabella2-b.jpg

GrinnypA long time ago, in a land far, far away, lived a lovely princess by the name of Isabella. Isabella was not your typical princess. Rather than spending her days languidly awaiting rescue by a handsome prince, Isabella took matters into her own hands and strode forward to unlock the curse, fight the evil witch, and rescue her intended prince herself. Now, a year later, the same witch is back and wreaking havoc again. The castle is again cursed, Isabella's true love the prince is missing, and worst of all, the evil hag has kidnapped Isabella's new baby for some nefarious purpose. In Princess Isabella: Return of the Curse the titular heroine is back and badder than ever in this fantastical adventure/hidden object hybrid by Gogii games. Oh, it is on, witch!

princessisabella2b.jpgA bewitching animation at the beginning of Princess Isabella: Return of the Curse lays out the story in broad strokes — accompanied by a haunting version of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" — and is guaranteed to pull you right in. The horrendously cute (and fantastically annoying) fairy guide from the first game immediately shows up and the player is off and rolling. With the help of your fairy companion (and another surprising addition along the way) it is up to the gamer to find their way out of the castle and through the kingdom, searching for the witch's lair and removing the curse upon the land along the way. You must find the missing prince, defeat the witch, and rescue baby Bella, all of the usual tropes of a classic (yet twisted) fairy tale.

Exploration is as simple as the click of a mouse as Princess Isabella: Return of the Curse plays out like a classic point-and-click adventure game. There are objects in each scene that may become useful later; some found immediately, some found within classic hidden object scenes, and some objects which can only be retrieved with the help of your companion(s), who have special powers that allow them to reach items that you are not able to. These objects will go into a handy scrolling inventory to be used at a later point in the game, whether it be to break a curse, rescue a villager, or unlock a helpful character whom the witch has frozen with another curse.

princessisabella2d.jpgYou will also pick up useful bits of magic left over when you break a curse, mini-spells that can transform the world around you in helpful ways. The useful and logically designed control system also includes a changing cursor to indicate areas of interest, a scrolling "task" screen which helps you remember what needs to be done, a useful diary that keeps track of information learned, and your companions themselves who among their abilities count the talent of a recharging hint feature. Rounding out the experience are a plethora of puzzles and mini-games that must be solved as well, although they can be skipped after a certain amount of time.

Be prepared, also, for other fairy tale icons to pop up unexpectedly, their stories intersecting with your own as Isabella fights her way to her ultimate goal. Can she rescue her family and save the kingdom in time? Will there be a happily ever after? Only time will tell.

Analysis: The first game in the series, Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse hit the scene back in 2009 with a stunning array of fun puzzles and exceptional graphics, setting a standard that has not often been topped. Well, Gogii has definitely topped it with this amazing sequel. Attention has been poured into every detail of Princess Isabella: Return of the Curse, be it the backgrounds, voice acting, characters, storyline, animations, and gameplay.

princessisabella2c.jpgSome might miss the over-the-top baroqueness of the original castle, but the scenery this time around is still magnificent with each view having two different versions: the cursed and the cleared. Enough cannot be said about the ravishing graphics, from the control designs to the adorable animations and everything in-between. Princess Isabella: Return of the Curse is at once lighter (with much more sarcastic humor than the original) and darker (with the intense storyline of a kidnapped child) than the original. The darkness is especially ramped up with the musical accompaniment which weaves classic childhood songs into its themes. Once you've finished the game you may never listen to "Mary Had a Little Lamb" the same way again.

If there is one complaint that can be leveled against Princess Isabella: Return of the Curse it is that, like so many other adventure/hidden object hybrids on the market today, it is rather short. Playing time will depend upon the experience of the player, the choice of mode (easy or difficult), and whether or not you decide to spring for the Collector's Edition with its extra gameplay. On average the gamer can probably look forward to about three hours of solid gameplay, although the hefty "extra" gameplay in the CE will probably add another hour or so. For those debating whether or not the extras in the CE are worth it, in this case they most definitely are. The "extra" gameplay is extensive and includes some fantastic challenges and puzzles, along with a chance to revisit parts of the original lovely Baroque castle from Princess Isabella: A Witch's Curse.

With its darker and more powerful storyline and haunting music Princess Isabella: Return of the Curse still delivers the goods of involving, entertaining, challenging gameplay. The ability to chose two different modes of play makes Princess Isabella fun for both beginners to the field and seasoned adventurers looking for a challenge. Beautiful beyond belief and exciting to play Princess Isabella: Return of the Curse is a definite hit. Now how long do we have to wait this time around for a sequel?

A Collector's Edition is also available. It includes wallpapers, concept art, the music soundtrack, an amazingly hefty extra adventure that blends into the regular gameplay seamlessly, a wonderful animated teaser for the planned sequel, and a built-in strategy guide. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition


| Comments (35) | Views (264)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraWhat do you get when you combine intolerant letters, zombies, blue-green frilled thingies, ducks, and emotions personified?... seriously, I'd like to know, because it's really stinking up my microwave and I'm having a hard time scraping the paste off the walls. Did you know microwave warranties specifically mentions "wanted to see what would happen" as things they don't cover?

  • Zombies RunawayZombies Runaway - Gotta love that; it's not just the title of this little action platformer, it's good, solid advice. Especially since you're a little girl. That's, uh... not meant to be an insult. In this game, you are literally a little girl, who is apparently looking for the flower of life to stop the zombies from coming back to life every night. (Remember that one quest in Breath of Fire? Like that but less depressing.) You'll need to light torches to see your path and watch out for the undead lurking in the dark.
  • Inverted YInverted Y - Part interactive art, part surreal platform-ish adventure, this strikingly designed little game tells the sad tale of a lower case y tragically born inverted and mocked by his fellow letters. Will a visit from a higher power and a special ability change his outlook on life? Or is he doomed to an existence of writing sad poetry on Deviant Art? While it may be odd and a little heavy-handed, Inverted Y has a neat style that makes it worth experiencing. Bill Nye was wrong! Clouds aren't made of condensed moisture, they're made of the word "cloud" densely packed over and over!
  • Dimension DiverDimension Diver - Isn't it nice when a game comes along and taps into your deepest desires? Like, for instance, being a little blue-green frilled thingy. Ever since I was a child, I've wanted to be a little blue-green frilled thingy. I even took little blue-green frilled thingy courses at the local college, but I just wasn't cut out for it. Thanks to this arcade platformer, however, I can finally experience the fulfillment of being a little blue-green frilled thingy, denied to me for so long! If any moment in my life ever called for a dramatic slow-clap, this would be it.
  • Duck Life 3Duck Life 3 - Being an avid reader of certain articles over at Cracked, I've come to learn that the animal kingdom, while wonderful and vast, is also horrifying and disgusting. Ducks are no exception. Thankfully, this little simulation is merely entertaining and weird, despite featuring some potentially freaking genetically modified duck hybrids. (Ewww.) Once again you're training a hapless duckling up to compete against other ducks by managing its stats and playing a bunch of little minigames. The ducks at Universal Studios aren't quite as rigorously trained, although they are quite skilled in the art of "begging for Cinnabons" and "being loud and smelly".
  • Lynn LoveLynn Love - Emotions are funny things, and not just because they live in freakish storybook town in houses specifically tailored to be monuments to their own egos... oh, wait, actually that is mostly why. In this strangely captivating little point-and-click adventure you play the titular heroine who stumbles across some nefarious goings-on in the town where all the emotions dwell. Despite some awkward dialogue and pacing, it's a lot of fun to just explore and take in the unique designs for all the emotions and their themed homes.

  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (581 votes)
| Comments (81) | Views (11,432)

MikeCastaway 2: Isle of the TitansYou ever walk into a room, only to forget what it was you came for? Ever do the same thing, only on a deserted island full of cute technicolor monsters and cryptic talking statues? This is what happens to the towheaded hero of Likwid Games'
Castaway 2: Isle of the Titans. The sequel to last year's Castaway, Castaway 2 is an addictive action-RPG with plenty of hacking, slashing, and island-bound amnesia.

After you name your hero, move him about the island with either the [arrow] or [WASD] keys. You can interact with the environment in a number of ways with the [spacebar], including attacking, picking up and using items, and chatting with various stoney shopkeepers and quest givers. When you've learned some cool RPG skills, you can drag them to the quickbar at the bottom of the screen and activate them with the number keys [1-6]. Use your mouse to navigate the various game menus, including those for your inventory, stats and skills; useful for powering up as you gain levels.

Even without the totally optional Premium Content the game offers, there is a lot to do in Castaway 2. In addition to the typical RPG fare of killing monsters, taking their gear, and leveling up, there is also a great deal of exploration, helpful pets to collect, and items to craft. Pets are friendly monsters you hatch from eggs collected throughout the island. Crafting involves collecting raw materials from monsters, shops, and the environment, and combining them to make something new and useful. With so much going on, it is a good thing that the in-game tutorials are so helpful and clear. Collect resources, kill monsters, level up, and figure out why the Titans have brought you to their island.

Castaway 2Analysis: How much you like Castaway 2 will depend a lot on how much you like mindless hack-n-slash RPGs. The story is not particularly deep, and while some enemies require strategic positioning and skill usage to defeat effectively, the overall gameplay is not very complex or tactical. But as an addictive timewaster, Castaway 2 is tough to top. The soundtrack is inviting, the graphics pleasant and colorful, and the monsters fun and cute (almost too cute, as I wondered why the Titans were so keen on me dispatching so much unique, adorable wildlife). The wide number and variety of missions you receive, from killing monsters to finding and creating unique items means you will never want for something to do. Castaway 2 is the sort of game where you tell yourself you are going to stop soon, except you just need to find one more iron ingot, so you can craft the Magical Monster-Bopper of Bopping, and hey, where does that gate lead to? It's not the sort of game you can pick up and drop during a coffee break (unless you're more disciplined than I), but for such simple gameplay, it's engrossing.

Fans of the original Castaway will find much they like from the first game, plus many improvements. The somewhat confusing isometric map has been replaced by a more straightforward square grid, which works a lot better with keyboard controls. The game auto-saves between screens, so you no longer have to worry about backtracking to town every time you want to save your progress before a dangerous battle. And while Castaway 2 still involves a lot of grinding, the steeper power curve moves things along, and the addition of crafting and crafting missions adds variety to the monster killing.

Castaway 2 isn't the deepest RPG around, but it's perfect for casual fans of the genre. The Isle of the Titans has a lot to do and a lot to see, and will keep casual RPG players well occupied. Just don't let it suck you in too much, or you might find that you suffer some light amnesia of your own.

Play Castaway 2: Isle of the Titans


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (79 votes)
| Comments (13) | Views (251)

DoraDeath WormThe say size isn't everything, but that only applies if you aren't a massive, carnivorous, desert-dwelling hell-worm that needs a steady diet of camels, civilians, ambulances, and jaguars to survive. Oh... sorry, did I say hell-worm? I meant to say Death Worm! Play Creek's surprise hit 2007 indie download gnaws its way into your browser with 15 levels, 30 different enemies, achievements, and a whole lotta explosions. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Turns out steering a Death Worm is only slightly more complicated than riding a bike; use the [arrow] keys to maneuver and build up momentum, popping up out of the ground to snatch your unwary prey, and burrow down deep within the earth to reach even higher when you burst out next. While your foes start off small-time the ante is quickly upped as everything from tigers to soldiers to helicopters and detonators roll out to put an end to your feasting. Which would be discouraging if not for the fact that you're a Death Worm, and can upgrade your abilities between levels and even gather power ups to let you put on a burst of speed or spit freakin' fireballs. (Still not as freaky as Goblin Sharks, though.) To pass each stage you'll need to meet the requirements, usually "eat some dudes" and "eat even more dudes".

Once you've mastered the controls, you're golden. Death Worm isn't actually that difficult, apart from a few frustrating levels where you're required to devour a certain amount of enemies without taking damage (and the count resets if you do). It's actually fairly easy to coast along beneath the surface and peek just the top of your head up to snack on some poor sap, then duck back down before anyone else can react. Of course, that's if yer yella. Death Worm's real entertainment shines when you rocket out of the ground and rack up big combos for higher scores, sending limbs flying and causing helicopters to careen out of control into a pack of terrified tigers. Compared to its original release, Death Worm has undergone a significant visual upgrade, but still retains that fast-paced monster worm action that captured the hearts of men and women everywhere. Sometimes you want complex strategy or a deeply moving story that changes your personal outlook; Death Worm has neither, but it does have the ability to swallow you whole, so maybe you shouldn't tell it that. For awesome arcade action, Death Worm satisfies.

Play Death Worm


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (57 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (74)

TrickyLangmanI have to admit, if I was ever sucked into a Tron-like computer world, I don't know if I would be able to handle the games they would force me to play. Since getting my motorcycle license, I think I could manage a draw in light-cycles, but Deadly Discs? Solar Sailor? Brawls at the End of Line club? I think I'd be de-rezzed pretty quickly. On the other hand, should the Master Computer challenge me to a game of hangman, I think I could take him. Such is the scenario presented by Langman, the new unity platforming word game from Von Lehe Creative. Oh... and while this might be a spoiler: ETAOIN SHRDLU is a good place to start.

Langman is controlled with the [arrow] keys and the [spacebar]. You move your figure around around the dark, box-filled landscape. When on a box with a letter on it, you hit the [spacebar] to select it as a guess for the puzzle hanging over head. If correct, it will light up and be added to the puzzle. If incorrect, they will drop out of place, and one of your "guesses" will be removed from the counter. Watch out... should you drop with it, you'll lose another guess. Other boxes without letters (and a couple of other shapes) will merely fall upon being selected. Sometimes these boxes will drop into the bottomless pit below, but if they land on something, they can then be pushed around to help or hinder your progress. A combo of correct guess adds to your guess counter. Collect bombs to blast boxes out of your way with the [B] key, and should you find yourself in an unwinnable position, an [R] key will reset the level. Complete the puzzle, and you'll move on to the next level. There are 16 in all. G--D L-CK!

Imbued with the greenish glow and beeps of retro-computing and the 3D aesthetics of the Unity platform, Langman is a treat for the eyes, ears and the mind. The concept is clever, the number and variety of puzzles is impressive, and while the game's mechanics are frustrating from time to time, it is the good kind of frustrating that makes you want to keep playing until you've beaten it. It's far from perfect: the randomness of the puzzles means that each level is easy or hard depending on chance (and indeed, a few seemed impossible at first without a bomb on hand) the physics are off just enough to be an annoyance, and the game doesn't really have a sense of depth beyond the novelty of combining such disparate elements. That said, the combination of run and jump with Wheel of Fortune works far more than it doesn't, and will make for an intriguing distraction for word and action game lovers alike.

If you enjoy the game, you might be interested to know that you can download the free soundtrack from the developer's site.

Play Langman

You can also play the game at Kongregate.


  • Currently 3.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.4/5 (190 votes)
| Comments (25) | Views (103)

joyeSuccessful ExperimentWhen I was a kid, occasionally for my birthday or Christmas or whatever I'd get a science experiment kit. It doesn't matter that the "experiments" mostly proved already known principles like "you can make a potato into an impractical battery" and "if in a fit of scientific zeal you use all the potatoes in the house that mom was planning to make for dinner you're going to get it". These things didn't matter, because it was all FOR SCIENCE! A magic phrase indeed. Oh sure, you could say that Successful Experiment by Toffee Games is just another physics-based puzzler where you fiddle around with balls and targets, but just check out that sweet laboratory set you've got as a background, and the Einstein-look on the logo character. You're fiddling around with balls and targets for science.

You're presented in each level with an eight-ball and a green flag, and your goal is to get the ball to the flag, via ramps, water hazards, bridges, and whatever else is around. Your only tools of manipulation are bowling balls, basketballs, and bubbles. Bowling balls are heavy, but sink; basketballs float in water and are medium-weight; bubbles float upward. You are given a certain number of each kind of ball and must figure out how and when to release them to guide the eight-ball to the flag.

There are only 18 experiments in the game, and they must be beaten in order, which is a bit of a drawback as the difficulty level seems to go up and down. Some levels are more focused on careful placement, others on planning, others on timing, and the most fiendish of all require all three. The physics is handled well, and I really like how there usually is more than one solution for an experiment. You're usually given more balls than you need, and as long as you get the eight ball to the flag, the game accepts it as a solution, so you can do things in an absurd and inefficient way if you prefer. It's a fun little coffee break game for when you want to drink your coffee and play a game... for science.

Play Successful Experiment


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (120 votes)
| Comments (15) | Views (124)

TrinnBlaBla When the arts meet modern technology, the results can get a little blurry between "game" or "experience". Is it any less a work of art because you can interact with it? Is it any less a game because there is no real goal? The answers to these questions are open to personal interpretation and Bla Bla, "a film for computer by Vincent Morisset," is all about personal interpretation.

The multiple chapters of Bla Bla could be labeled as many things, but it is probably best categorized as a webtoy. Bla Bla consists of six interactive scenes that encourage you to explore what can be seen, heard, and clicked until time runs out. Most of these scenes center around one character and the range of his emotions, reactions, and communications with the surreal world around him, which you control. If you want to linger on a particular scene, all you need to do is click the hourglass in the lower left corner and you'll be free to play that chapter indefinitely.You can directly navigate to the other chapters or backtrack to previous chapters simply by clicking a number at the bottom left of the page. There is also a mute button for those who prefer silent films, but sound plays a big part of the changing environments; using the mute feature could potentially alter your appreciation of the experience. I highly recommend checking out the additional content, including a brief description of the creators' process in the production of Bla Bla, as well as some great photos and concept art.

All in all, Bla Bla is a beautiful creation that can simultaneously be mindlessly toyed around with and deeply analyzed from an artistic perspective. What I found most interesting was that although Bla Bla is presented on a technological medium, many of the pictures and figures are hand-drawn or made through stop-motion animation. The combined effect of modernity and tradition produces a unique aesthetic and a visible human touch to the gameplay. Although the content of this game is exceptional, it would be nice to see the substance fleshed out a little. There are often only a few available actions in each scene, so that even the ninety second timer seems too long. By the time I finished the last chapter, I was left with the feeling that I'd ordered a 12 oz steak at a restaurant and had been given a low-carb salad instead. However, it's certainly to the game's credit that the only complaint I could think of was how much I wanted more. Visually appealing and mentally stimulating, Bla Bla packs a great amount of introspective thought into just a few minutes of gameplay.

Play Bla Bla

(Viewer Advisory: While the content of this game is safe and appropriate for people of all ages, it has been known to have adverse affects on nearby cats.)


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (106 votes)
| Comments (28) | Views (123)

Weekday Escape

GrinnypIt has been months of waiting with our intrepid heroes in limbo, searching for any sort of word that their epic struggle against a vast mysterious organization will conclude happily. Months of pacing and nail biting, months of searching the net for any scrap or clue as to what the outcome will be. Are we talking about the long-awaited X-Men prequel? The last episode of "Lost"? No, silly, we're talking about the other epic struggle that has taken over the internet, that of Wan and Nyan the jumping dog and punching cat to find the last ten punches needed to get their last gold stamp and their promised really special grand prize. What, you haven't been waiting on the edge of your seat for the conclusion to Cogito Ergo Sum's vast panorama of a room escape, Stamp Rally Escape 3? No? Just me?

Stamp Rally Escape 3Regardless, Wan and Nyan are back again for the grand finale of the Stamp Rally Escape series. To catch up those who may have not seen the first two, here's a brief summary: A postcard delivered by a bouncing mailbox from the mysterious RIDLRIDL Corporation has come into the possession of our intrepid heroes and it poses a challenging quest, the quest for...green stamps. Okay, it sounds rather lame, but seriously, it's an epic quest! In each game the jumping dog and punching cat must use their abilities and their brains to find the ten green stamps which, at the end of the game, they trade in for a precious gold stamp. They know, you see, if they complete the task and turn in three gold stamps they will win a really cool prize. Seriously. I mean, that's what RIDLRIDL promised and a mysterious and anonymous company that contacts you via fourth-class post cards in your mailbox wouldn't lie, would they?

You move around the small room with the aid of arrows at the edges of the screen and simply click on anything that you would like to examine a little more closely. Click on a stamp and it will helpfully stamp itself on your card that is a permanent feature in your inventory. Pick up anything that isn't nailed down, use whatever you can find in the room not only to escape but to find those precious stamps, solve a few puzzles and before you know it the grand payoff is here. And the grand prize is...well, that would be telling, wouldn't it? Suffice it to say that there is a grand prize, although what that prize is depends upon whether you've found the "regular" or "happy" end of the game. Hey, at least there's an end. I was almost expecting something like "you need to collect 30 more stamps..."

Items that you pick up goes into an inventory on the right side of the screen, click once to use an item or twice to examine it in close up. There's a handy mute feature for the sound effects but no background tune playing, so you might not even notice the feature. There is also a handy save button which is nice if you're hankering to see both finales. This is all basic room escaping stuff with one exception, a changing cursor, which would have been nice and eliminated the minor amount of pixel hunting contained within the game.

Analysis: At last, the blessed relief of a conclusion to this epic saga has arrived! Cogito Ergo Sum has really brought this charming tale to a strong finish with Stamp Rally Escape 3. The puzzles are logical, amusing, numerous, and sometimes color-based. The prize for the "regular" end is just as disappointing as expected, while the prize for the "happy" end is actually pretty darn cool and something most folks would be pretty happy to win. The characterizations of Wan and Nyan are even more vivid with the cat practically jumping out of his skin with impatience to finish the task while the hapless dog suffers embarrassment for his overeager friend. While Cogito Ergo Sum's escapes have always had personality, Stamp Rally Escape 3 has almost an overabundance of it.

The design of this mysterious room is pretty standard for Cogito Ergo Sum: Light, pastel colors, traditional Japanese fixtures, flat, cartoony background and characters. You will also be faced with an "Engrish" translation that is actually better than usual for their games. With such amusing characters, crazy antics, fun puzzles and the like Stamp Rally Escape 3 is a pretty good game on its own and a nice way to end the series.

Do we find out more about the mysterious RIDLRIDL corporation and why they chose to challenge two domestic house pets to this epic craziness? Sadly, no, although you still get a pretty gratifying ending, even the "regular" one. The puzzles flow nicely from one to the next and the animals' special talents for jumping and punching are on display front and center several times around the room. All in all a nice, satisfying conclusion to the series, leaving the room escaper happy and content, at least until Cogito Ergo Sum's next epic trilogy.

Play Stamp Rally Escape 3


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (71 votes)
| Comments (11) | Views (41)

corygallihercoryg_samegamefighter_screen2.jpgBeing a heroic adventurer isn't the glamorous lifestyle it's made out to be. Carrying all those items is a drag, you have to camp out even when it's pouring rain, monsters are always trying to murder you, you rarely get a chance to do laundry so you end up wearing the same underwear for weeks on end...it's actually a pretty tough life. Thankfully we have games like Samegame Fighter, a new puzzler from Mamono Sweeper creators Hojamaka Games, to keep our rose-tinted glasses firmly attached to our noses when it comes to the adventuring lifestyle. Samegame Fighter cuts out all the nasty parts of adventuring (and most of the other parts, for that matter) and distills battling monsters to a matching game similar to Puzzle Quest or Dungeon Raid.

Just click on an icon to collect it and all similar icons adjacent to it. Different icons do different things. Swords and axes both deal damage to the enemy. Shields reduce enemy damage by a value equal to how many shields you match for three turns. Potions restore health or grant a bonus to max health if you grab them while topped off. Finally, purple orbs boost your attack damage on your next turn. This might sound simple, but there's actually a fair amount of strategy involved; some enemies, for instance, ignore defense with their attacks so you'll need to focus on dealing damage as quickly as possible before they overcome you. Other monsters have powerful defenses themselves so you'll need to collect orbs before attacking to make significant progress.

All of this is brought together in an appealing retro style, though I would suggest you turn your speakers down before playing as the sound effects can be grating. The battles get fairly tough as you proceed and there's a certain element of luck involved in the game, but generally there's a strategy to follow in each fight that will lead you to victory and the key is figuring that out. Samegame Fighter is a solid choice for those of us who'd love to be heroes but enjoy changing our underwear regularly.

Play Samegame Fighter


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (83 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (214)

DoraBearboy and the CursorWhen they're not menacing Stephen Colbert, bears, if pop culture has never lead us astray, can usually be counted on to be found looking for honey. When Bearboy finds the biggest honeycomb of them all and promptly loses it to the Wasp King, he thinks all is lost until a hero arises; you. Well, not you. I mean, let's be honest... those pants? That shirt? Not exactly heroic. But your cursor is another story! Bearboy and the Cursor by HeadFizz is a puzzle platformer about friendship in the face of enormous adversity. Or, rather, what two people who don't really know one another can accomplish when they don't have anything else to do and are too lazy to make other plans. Awwww.

Bearboy is controlled with the [arrow] or [WASD] keys, and the cursor is controlled with... please tell me I don't have to tell you that. Your job is to guide Bearboy safely to the portal at the end of each level, grabbing all the bits of honey along the way to improve your score. While Bearboy's standard run-jump controls are what you expect, you'll have to learn to use your cursor to complement his movements and help him get past obstacles. Certain blocks, for example, only become solid when you mouse over them, while others need to be clicked to be removed. Bearboy isn't the sturdiest critter in the woods, and a single hit is enough to send him back to the start of the level, or the star checkpoint if you activated it.

Bearboy and the Cursor is a beautiful, cheeky little game that will put a smile on your face when it isn't making you think you need to take your keyboard and your mouse to couple's counseling. The control combination can take some getting used to if you don't have a lot of practice performing two tasks at once, and for some people, this will be a deal breaker. If you can get past the difficulty, however, and unite the warring passions of Left Hand and Right Hand, you'll find a beautifully made little game that will strike a chord with anyone who has ever laboured under the yoke of oppression from a wasp. Or had to hide in the bathroom shrieking, "Is it gone yet?!" while their husband chased it around the living room with a mason jar and a piece of paper. You know how wasps do.

Play Bearboy and the Cursor


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (217 votes)
| Comments (22) | Views (651)

ChiktionaryA Knight's Quest: Quest for MilkWhat's more important than going to the store to buy milk for your mother, especially when she's cooking your favourite meal? And how do you go about getting that milk when the only store in the village sells everything but milk? When you're a young Knight it's all about quests, and A Knight's Quest: Quest for Milk by Juice Tin will lead you on a sweet, kid-friendly journey of exploration and adventure to get that milk for your mother, and achieve the ultimate prize of a steaming bowl of freshly made turtle soup.

The controls are simple; use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to move around the village, and the [spacebar] to interact with objects and each of the characters you encounter along the way. There's no inventory, as items you collect will automatically be used when needed. You'll be more concerned about the tasks that are set before you, and you can easily access the task list by clicking on the icon in the bottom right of the screen. Your goal is to get milk but to do this you will need to engage in dialogue with villagers, ask the right questions, and complete tasks to aid your progress... and of course there are a whole bunch of characters just waiting to tell you all about themselves.

As an adventure, the bulk of the gameplay in A Knights Quest lies in the exploration and interaction with characters. The actual gameplay of solving puzzles and completing tasks would be quite brief if not for the amount of clicking and ground you have to cover. Luckily, there's a lot of lovely detail in the graphics, and the conversations your Knight will have with each character are unique, with plenty of humour thrown into the mix. As a treat, you might encounter the occasional (albeit subtle) references to some well-known games. What's also nice is that on completion of your quest you can replay the game by accessing the 'Secrets' menu which will literally present you with easter eggs, in the form of... well, easter eggs.

Some may be familiar with Juice Tin's platform game, That Gravity Game, but this is totally different. With smooth, easy to use controls, sumptuous detail and pop-culture style humour, A Knight's Quest is a lovely diversion that won't necessarily extend your cerebral capacities, but rather will entertain, amuse and remind you of the importance of respecting your mother and helping others, even if it's simply in the pursuit of milk... that costs well over $650.00. And that's the low-fat variety. Without diamonds in it.

Play A Knight's Quest: Quest for Milk


| Comments (4) | Views (32)

The Vault

TrickyThe Bard tells us that brevity is the soul of wit. That goes for games as well as JiG Vault introductions. So let's jump right in to this week's collection of hits that are as sweet as they are short.

  • Winterbells - Gorgeous visuals, an evocative soundtrack, and gameplay that manages to be both soothing and twitchy at the same time. All that and bunnies! What more do you need? Winterbells, a simple idea platformer by Ferry Halim, may not entirely be May-appropriate, but engaging atmosphere and addictive mechanics are limited to no season. Even if your high scores may require scientific notation to post, you'll find Winterbells well worth the two minutes it will take to master.
  • PurgatoriumPurgatorium - Unlike many of it's horror game brethren, Purgatorium, a game Exmortis creator Ben Leffler made especially for JiG, wastes absolutely no time getting to the scares. Unrelentingly creepy and atmospheric, it has just the right amount of narrative to be psychological, and just the right number of jump scares to set you on edge for every second of its short length. Don't expect difficult puzzles or an uplifting ending: only a small peak into the mind of a master of Casual Gaming terror.
  • Set Daily PuzzleSet Daily Puzzle - Set: Probably the only game for which it takes longer to explain the rules than to get completely and utterly addicted to. It's the visual-perception card game that best rewards sharp eyes and quick reflexes, and it transfers to the internet like a dream. Who knew trying to find trios of all-similar or all-different features could be so fun? Whether you prefer this prize-offering dhtml version on the Set home page, or the streamlined java-equivalent on the New York Times site, Set makes for an engaging daily brainteaser that'll get your mind working in no time at all.
  • BloxorzBloxorz - Our final gem this week is the largest of the four: a puzzle game with 33 levels total. However, Bloxorz is a game best played in short bursts, so I think it qualifies. Lord knows the members of the Junior High computer class I once substituted for would speed through every minute of break trying to get to the next password... until the bell rang and they reluctantly returned to spread-sheeting. This geometric mind-bender takes a simple goal (tumbling "blox" into certain positions), and twists it into some truly devious puzzles. With its pseudo-3D aesthetic and smooth animations, DXInteractive has made a classic that deserves a spiffed-up remake for the 3DS.

While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (283 votes)
| Comments (6) | Views (204)

GrinnypCitySiege2:ResortSiegeHot on the heels of the news about a certain special forces unit and their now-infamous raid comes a cute little platformer/turn-based shoot-em-up action thriller that allows the average gaming Joe (or Jill) to attempt to emulate Seal Team 6, or, at least, some other Seal or Green Beret team in a mission of utmost importance that doesn't actually involve known, wanted terrorists. Created by thePodge Games, City Siege2: Resort Siege lets you create your own fabulous team of warriors and sends them on exciting missions in an unnamed (and rather fragile) resort city to rescue the good guys, wipe out the bad guys, and create as much havoc and destruction as possible while doing so.

Gameplay begins with a handy tutorial and one single soldier, a private with a rifle. Control your soldier's movement with the [WASD] keys and control the shooting with the mouse and a simple point and click. Your objective, should you choose to accept it, is to clear the screen of all of the bad guys while rescuing any VIPs, picking up as many stars as possible, and trying not to kill too many civilians along the way. Each time you complete a mission you gain both money and stars which can be used to buy new types of soldiers or equipment such as bazookas, tanks, helicopters, and even a lady spy who can sneak up on the enemy and plant bombs. Use the stars to upgrade your soldiers and watch them progress through the ranks and gain speed and killing power. Eventually you will have enough soldiers to form a team of five to assault a level, and switching between soldiers is as simple as clicking on them individually or using the number keys from 1 to 5 to switch it up depending on the situation.

CitySiege2:ResortSiegeAlong with convenient scenery which you can jump over or around or even conceal enemies, are buildings, garages, beaches, and the like which can have both somewhat expendable civilian hostages, certainly not expendable VIPs, and hostile soldiers who at first are conveniently looking the other way, allowing at least the first shot if you can manage that to hit them in the back. Perhaps not Marquess of Queensbury rules to be sure, but war is...heck after all, and it's get the bad guys before they can get you. Also concealed in the scenery are sandbags, some wrapped in barbed wire, and other items such as fuel drums and nuclear material that, if shot, can cause some spectacular explosions and damage to the surrounding structures. But be warned about going all Rambo on the explodables; while some civilian casualties are considered acceptable despite costing you money in "reparations", VIPs can be lurking nearby and if they die you cannot clear the scene and must start over from scratch. You can also kill your own soldier if they are too close to the explosions or collapses. Later as you gain more money you can buy add ons such as an air strike which wipes out everything in a given area, extra medical supplies to heal your little soldiers on the go, and mechanics who can repair your armored items such as tanks and helicopters.

With 30 levels of screens to clear and three slots in which to save games City Siege 2: Resort Siege offers a lot of replay value. Go back to replay levels to get that elusive perfect gold medal score or to rack up enough money to build up a very impressive force with which to take the later, tougher scenes. You will get a mission briefing at the beginning that includes a handy small map showing the general terrain and the locations of both VIPs and bad guys, allowing you to make decisions about which five soldiers/pieces of equipment are best for that level as well as a general idea of what you will run into enemy-wise.

With its cute, cartoony visuals, throbbing music track, fast-paced action, and Super Mario-like platforming City Siege 2: Resort Siege is a wild ride through the world of special ops and hostage rescue. So while you can't be a member of Seal Team 6, which doesn't actually exist, anyway, try City Siege 2: Resort Siege and live out your wildest commando team fantasies of saving the day, killing the bad guys, and reducing some random unnamed resort to complete rubble.

Play City Siege2: Resort Siege


  • Currently 3.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.8/5 (90 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (93)

TrickySoviet Rocket GiraffeThose gosh-darn Giraffe-neck-extending Russkies are at it again! No longer content to simply stretch their ungulates up through the stratosphere, now it seems that they won't be satisfied until they've gone across the horizontal horizon as well. Yes, it's Soviet Rocket Giraffe (Go Go Go!), an amusing new launch platformer hybrid from Jmtb02, a guy who knows a little something about launching animals into space. And while some of the elements are more than a little familiar, there's no finer forgotten chapter of the space race than this, comrade.

A mesh of the mechanics of Canabalt and Tiny Wings, the explosions of Toss The Turtle , and the pure insanity of Aggressive Alpine Skiing, Soviet Rocket Giraffe tasks you in the role of a giraffe test-subject forced to grind and leap his ever-longer neck over the sky-roads of the Soviet Empire. For Science! Once your head is launched, you move across the landscape, trying to get as far as you possibly can. The up [arrow]/[W] boosts you up for a jump, while down [arrow]/[S] sends you diving and grinding into the sky-pavement. Travel far or grind long enough to earn double jump-boosts, also activated with up [arrow]/[W]. Points are scored for well-timed jumps, distance leaps, and getting as far as you can without crashing.

The fact that Jmtb02 is so well-regarded in the flash gaming community (an honor which, let's face it, is only slightly above being well-regarded in the stamp collecting community) seems like it must be kind of a mixed blessing. He has released so many innovative, even revolutionary, games that one that is merely short, familiar and fun seems to suffer by comparison. However, if Soviet Rocket Giraffe feels a little superficial, it is by no means not enjoyable. This is a game that you play for twenty minutes on a work-break, chuckle at the humorous rankings and animations, repeat several times to see all of the rankings, then return to work satisfied with your snack-sized portion of gaming consumed. Sometimes, that's all you really need.

Play Soviet Rocket Giraffe (Go Go Go!)


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (35 votes)
| Comments (88) | Views (949)

Siege Hero

JohnBHappy peasants harvesting grass. Peaceful people admiring the clouds. Then the bad guys come along and start sieging and such. You don't need much of a story when it comes to physics-based chain reaction games, but in the case of Siege Hero, from the creator of Sieger, you definitely need to know you're the one fighting on the side of good! This highly-polished iOS game features gameplay similar to Crush the Castle, Angry Birds, and even Implode!, although the sum of its well-made parts adds up to something much more intriguing.

siegehero2.jpgEach level in Siege Hero is set up with a clear view of an enemy fort, complete with wobbly platforms, towers, and witless soldiers. Your job is to tap the screen and launch a projectile to crack the building, allowing gravity to pull everything down to the ground. Your main throwing tool will be rocks, and they're surprisingly good at hacking away at wood and stone blocks. Later on you'll get things like bombs, fire potions, and barrels of oil to toss, making the destruction even bigger and more impressive than before!

For warriors trained in sieging, these guys really are pushovers. To defeat the bad guys, simply knock them to the ground or whack them hard enough with pieces of debris. The more efficient you are at causing carnage, the more points you'll receive. You get bonuses for saving peasants, having ammo left over at the end of the round, and for smashing things like lamps, treasure chests, and pottery that populate many levels. Earn a high enough score and you'll get a gold crown for the level. Gold crowns unlock a number of bonus treasure stages. They're more challenging and entertaining than the main game and well-worth fighting for!

siegehero3.jpgAnalysis: Siege Hero is everything we like to see in a casual mobile game: high production values, a control scheme built for touch screens, and easy pick-up-and-go gameplay. The difficulty level is well-tuned for quick sessions but also allows you to go back and try for a better score, something that adds replay value and challenge only for gamers who care to experience it. Smart design decisions are around every corner of this game, making it a must-have if you own an iOS device!

Destruction is the central focus of Siege Hero, but it isn't all bombs and collapsing buildings. The game requires a modicum of thought, planning, and trial and error in order to succeed. The difficulty level isn't all that high, and if you don't care for gold crowns and bonus stages, you can breeze through the game's 63 levels in no time. Getting a good score, however, actually takes some practice. You can't just stumble into epic hero status, you know.

We've seen Flash games ported to mobile devices before, but Siege Hero is much more than that. It was built for the iOS platform in mind and incorporates lots of tiny design choices that makes it well-suited for small touch screens. Physics puzzle games have always had a safe home with casual gamers, and Siege Hero is easily one of the best on the entire iTunes App Store!


| Comments (1) | Views (93)

Mobile Monday

JohnBGravity is something we deal with every day. From pulling that cup of coffee off the table (I swear I didn't push it!) to making our hair flat despite the gratuitous amounts of blow drying we've done, that unseen force of nature exerts its control over every single particle. Naturally, playing games that help us defy gravity gives us a sense of power. So if you're feeling a little slow this fine Monday, grab one of the games below and see if playing with physics can't cheer you up a notch!

clevercontraptions.gifClever Contraptions - Simple physics games work well on small mobile screens, and Clever Contraptions delivers exactly what it promises. Use inventory items to complete simple objectives in each level of the game. Sometimes you need to guide a ball to a basket, other times you have to be a bit more creative and nudge, smash, or press things. No matter the objective, you can drag and drop tools onto the field and rotate them as necessary. Press play, watch what happens, then pause and adjust as necessary. Plenty of levels to keep you puzzling for quite some time, and the free Clever Contraptions Lite lets you get in on the action without parting with your cash.

chalkball.gifChalk Ball - A great physics bouncing game with a lot of attitude and style. It's your job to keep the ball bouncing using lines you draw with your finger. Chalk isn't exactly permanent, though, so you've got to stay on your toes (fingertips?) to make sure your chalk ball stays afloat. Refill your chalk meter and grab other power-ups that float by in the great chalky orb clouds, but be careful to avoid the not-so-power-filled power-ups, as they can make your life rather miserable. The game's sense of humor is great, and the main story mode is actually interesting, unlike most other bouncing/jumping games on the market. The free Chalk Ball Lite is also available.

pumpkinsvsmonster.gifPumpkins vs. Monster - A very nice, very unusual sort of puzzle game that feels like a mix of Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes and Plants vs. Zombies. Undead sort of monsters slowly crawl down from the top of the screen. Shielded by a small fence in the middle, you must slide and align pumpkins in groups of three or more to create a projectile. Make a match, flip the group upwards, and watch them crash into the baddies! You occasionally find bonus pumpkins as well as coins, earning a few when you create combos, and cash can be spent in the shop between levels to buy a few items that help you in a tight spot. The game looks great, plays smoothly, and despite suffering from a small lack in variety when compared to the games it emulates, is loads of casual mobile fun.

NOTE: Games listed may not be available outside of North America. Prices are subject to change and are therefore unlisted. Please see the individual game pages for purchasing info. Games have been confirmed to run on Android 2.2 on an HTC Incredible.


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (58 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (1,385)

Weekend Download

JohnBLume is a new puzzle adventure game from State of Play, creators of a few browser games you might know, such as A Short History of the World and A Break in the Road. The visual style is by far the game's most standout feature, as everything you see was created out of paper and cardboard before getting filmed in high definition. The awesomeness doesn't end with the graphics, though. Lume features some solidly challenging point-and-click puzzles that will cause even seasoned room escape veterans to stop and think on more than one occasion.

lume.jpgGrandpa is being his predictable old grandfathering self when suddenly the electricity goes out! He heads into the village, thinking something foul must be afoot, leaving you to solve a series of puzzles in the old man's tricky little house. It seems like everything here is sealed with a puzzle lock or bolted down by a riddle-ridden door. Fortunately for you, there are clues all around the place for solving each puzzle. All you have to do is find them!

The mouse is all you'll need to pilot this fantastic adventure, so simply point and click to the places you want to go or objects you want to interact with and the game will take care of the rest. You'll need to investigate everything you can get your cursor on, including seemingly inconsequential items stashed around the background bits. Having a piece of paper handy (you know, in real life, on your desk or something) wouldn't hurt, as there are a few instances when it's a good idea to write things down for later reference.

lume2.jpgAnalysis: Lume takes the best of point and click gaming, sprinkles on a dash of room escape-style puzzles, and layers on that amazing visual presentation that must be seen in motion to truly appreciate. The riddle-based puzzles will remind you of Big Brain Wolf, Eden's Quest: The Hunt for Akua or, if you're familiar with the Nintendo DS, the Professor Layton series.

The game takes place on a sort of 2.5D plane, panning and tilting from time to time to show some depth of the world instead of confining the space to two flat dimensions. A video on the game's website gives you a good idea of what to expect, and it will make you crave for more stop-motion animated games of this nature. Where's that new game from Platypus creator Squashy Software, Cletus Clay, anyway?!

Lume ends after around two hours of gameplay, which is quite a long stretch considering the genre and difficulty of this game. The budget pricing makes it an easy pill to swallow, not to mention the fact that every minute of gameplay is better than the last. This is also the first in a planned series of releases, so with any luck, we'll get more Lume before too long!

Lume has wonderful visuals, a superb soundtrack, and an excellent variety of puzzles ranging from lock-and-key to inventory to riddle solving. The difficulty is high enough to provide a good challenge without making you feel frustrated, and everything about the game beckons you to keep playing from beginning to end!

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version



(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (111)

Dark Ritual

JohnBFrom crooked law agents to psychic detectives to run-of-the-mill agents who find themselves in tough situations, most of us feel like we've got a good grip on the fictional portrayal of the justice system at this point in time. Dark Ritual plays with this familiarity a bit, introducing two FBI agents at the very beginning of the game, one of whom has a sister that has mysteriously vanished. The pair sets out to locate her, uncovering top secret plots, a mad scientist with an Incan mind control concoction, and plenty of mysticism along the way. It's a stunning hidden object thriller from Vogat Interactive (Shades of Death: Royal Blood, Gravely Silent: House of Deadlock), and you won't be able to pause until you've ran through to the end!

darkritual.jpgDark Ritual (no relation to the card from Magic: The Gathering, in case you were wondering) plays out like an adventure game with several key hidden object segments. You are free to explore a few scenes and pick up a few items, taking note of certain key areas that, if you're playing in casual mode, will sparkle. Poking your FBI nose around will reveal some obvious puzzles, and in order to solve those puzzles, you'll sometimes have to head to hidden object land!

Hidden object scenes are generally short and feature the usual selection of cleverly-stashed items to find. When you've cleaned up your list you'll notice at least one of those objects are important and stash it in your inventory. Once you're back in the main portion of the game, use the item to solve a puzzle and continue onward! If you ever get stuck, the hint system is more than adequate, even in advanced mode.

darkritual2.jpgAnalysis: Filled with good visuals, mysterious plotlines, and a few touches of cheesy dialogue, Dark Ritual is a hidden object game just about anyone can enjoy. Its design is straightforward in almost every way, from its hint system to the mini-games, adventure-style construction, and hidden object scenes. No real surprises to uncover, just an interesting plot about a missing FBI agent's sister and a few ancient legends that seem too true for comfort.

Later in the game you get more freedom to walk around and explore the four main areas you've already visited. This also means you'll repeat some hidden object scenes, which is a bit of a letdown but not too disappointing. This lengthens the game to make it a bit longer than most hidden object titles (four hours in all), and the environments are so well illustrated you really don't mind seeing them a few more times.

Dark Ritual doesn't go for mold breaking at any point. It just delivers solid hidden object gaming with nice visual imagery and a good storyline that will carry you through from beginning to end. If there's any down side to the game, it's that it comes off as a bit too generic, but if you're not looking to reinvent the hidden object wheel, there's nothing wrong with investigating some strange dark rituals now and again.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


(19 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (3) | Views (452)

grinnyp_dragonkeeper-b.png

GrinnypDragon Keeper is a game that tells the tale of a handsome prince who needs to rescue a fair maiden who has been transformed into stone by an evil witch. Yes, we've seen that story many, many times before, but this time around the stale old tale has been transformed by Running Pillow into an amusing and fun little time management diversion in which you need to raise baby dragons to help win back the princess and the kingdom.

grinnyp_dragonkeeper_screenshot4.jpgYou begin, as these stories are wont to do, with the tale of the prince heading for the castle and his marriage with the lovely princess. Of course, an evil witch intercepts him along the way and warns him, "hey, buddy, don't do it, she's cursed!" And, of course, our hero ignores this advice and beats feet for the castle post-haste, only to have his special day interrupted by said witch and a bunch of curses which result in a stone princess, a sealed and enchanted castle, and our hero banished to the lands where dragons roam. Not to fear, though, for the dragons are a crafty bunch and know an opportunity to score some free babysitting when they see it. Mama dragon will happily supply said prince with the tools he needs to storm the castle, defeat the witch, and rescue the princess and in turn our hero will raise several generations of dragons (along with trolls, gremlins, and cave imps) to produce the gems the dragons crave to make some pretty lovely trinkets.

Mama Dragon will walk you through the process in a very handy tutorial, but it's pretty simple indeed. You begin with an egg which you must help hatch into a lovely little baby dragon. Once the little guy is up and running you must feed him and protect him from a variety of adventuring types (knights, wizards, thieves, etc.) who want to kill him or steal the gems he produces, or both. All action is accomplished by simple mouse clicking from feeding the babies to fighting the "bad" guys to picking up the little fellow's waste product (i.e. gems of various colors and shapes). Yes, Dragon Keeper is a game whereby you feed baby dragons and they excrete out gems for you to collect. Even more hilarious is fighting the "bad" guys, as each hit from your sword divests them of pieces of their clothing and weapons until they flee wearing only their undergarments, leaving everything else behind for you to collect for extra money.

grinnyp_dragonkeeper_screenshot2.jpgThe action plays out in a similar way to the Farm Frenzy series of time management games with some differences. Dragon Keeper is not as...well, frenzied as Farm Frenzy, as actions like manufacturing jewels from your precious stones is done at night while all the little critters in your cave are sleeping (or hilariously sleepwalking). Each island you visit has a certain number of goals you must meet to get pieces of various magical weapons, and days run on an amusing little clock that starts at dawn and ends at midnight. Within the rather short day you must care for your dragons (and other helpful creatures), feed them, protect them, and collect every gem your chest can hold. At night you can forge those gems into various pieces of jewelry which you then sell for money to buy more (and different) types of dragons, other cave dwelling creatures who will help clean up the place, defend the babies, pick up gems, or feed everyone with one click. Each time you meet mama dragon's goals she will either give you a piece of a magical artifact (to be used in battle later against the evil witch) or unlock new types of dragons, creatures, or other useful items. If you succeed in the end you show that you have the right stuff to be both a dragon daddy and a brave rescuing prince.

Analysis: It's nice to see such a clichéd fairy tale being turned into a cute and fun little time management game like Dragon Keeper. The animations are hilarious, especially when the baby dragons first come out of the shell (wandering around with either little baby caps or pieces of the shell still stuck to them). The action can become fast and frantic, but not so much that this game is out of reach of the young or old, making Dragon Keeper literally fun for the whole family.

grinnyp_dragonkeeper_screenshot1.jpgThe story scenes are told in a beautiful, hand-drawn watercolor series of cut scenes, while the main action in the caves is bright, colorful, cartoony, and pretty detailed. What really pulls it all together though is the amazing series of tunes that play both during the day and night. You'll recognize some familiar tunes such as "Greensleeves", "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies", and a jaunty little Celtic tune that anyone who has played any of Tonypa's recent Flash games will recognize as coming from Kevin MacLeod, the amazing composer that provides the musical accompaniment for Dragon Keeper.

Perhaps the only complaint about Dragon Keeper is the fact that there are only four islands to visit and four main tasks to accomplish, along with the really short days. However this is a time management game we are talking about, so you can go back to the islands after you've finished the goals to continue to grow your cave population, or you can go back and wipe the slate clean and try to accomplish everything in expert time, or you can just start the entire game over again and challenge yourself to do it again more efficiently. Basically a lot of replay value to be had here.

So despite the short length of Dragon Keeper you're in for hours upon hours of addictive fun for the whole family, wrapped up in a cute little bow. Although more serious time management fans might scoff at the easier gameplay, Dragon Keeper succeeds in being a smart, amusing game that can be enjoyed by folks from 8 to 80. Time to try some serious adventures in babysitting.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


| Comments (21) | Views (512)

Weekend Download

JohnBPart of what makes Weekend Download so fun is sharing games that aren't yet complete, are just concepts, are experimental, or are just plain weird. They aren't epic journeys that will consume entire days of play time. Instead, each little nugget of freeware gold does one thing particularly well. And even if it isn't perfect, we still like to share, allowing more people to play crazier games and giving the creative game developers a little more attention!

reworkthedead.gifRework the Dead: Evil (Windows, 77.1MB, free) - A tense sidescrolling survival-horror game with loads of blood, tons of shooting, enemies ambushing you from around corners, and an atmosphere that keeps you on your toes. Move with [WASD] and aim with the mouse, keeping a constant eye on your ammo supply, which tends to deplete itself rather quickly. Doors must be opened manually, and you'll find a fair number of control panels, lockers, and movable objects to mess around with, many of which can be used to get rid of those pesky enemies. Rework the Dead is as much about strategically getting rid of the bad guys as it is shooting everything that moves, so, like any good survival-horror game, play it cool, aim true, and don't get scared.

pon.gifPon (Mac/Windows, 16MB, free) - Pint-sized adventure games gained firm ground in the casual/indie realms after the release of Knytt. Pon, from developer Bov, is one such game, combining a charming art style with exploration-based gameplay, complete with an inventory system, simple puzzles, and a day/night cycle that synchronizes with your computer's clock. As Pon, you are on an epic journey to find medicine to heal your ailing relative. As you walk around this pixellated 2D world, you'll encounter a few items and characters you can interact with, many of whom have small requests to make of you. Pick up items, wear different sets of clothes, and hop around the world, careful not to fall to an untimely end. A new version of Pon was just released, and more updates are planned in the future, so keep an eye on this great-but-getting-better game!

onedayoutside.gifOne Day Outside the Time (Windows, 2MB, free) - A tiny little 3D maze game made over the course of five hours using a limited color palette. Move around using the [WASD] keys and jump with [spacebar]. Climb up steep ramps by jumping repeatedly, and look around with the mouse to find new areas to explore. Step in the undulating squares to save a respawn point, and do so as often as you can, because you'll fall on more than one occasion! The game is far from polished, so don't expect a studio-quality experience here, but considering the constraints with which it was built with, it's an interesting bit of game to experience.

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


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (21 votes)
| Comments (49) | Views (647)

Dark Dimensions: City of Fog

DoraEvery town has one; the pretty girl everyone seems to love... maybe a little too much. Lillian had a lot of admirers, but she also had enemies, and all it takes is the two to collide to set off a chain of events that will even impact you, over a century later. Dark Dimensions: City of Fog is a creepy and captivating hidden-object adventure game from Daily Magic Productions about love, obsession, hate, and forces best left undisturbed. How did Lillian die? What is the true source of the mysterious fog that appears to have warped the reality of the town? Whose cuisine reigns supreme?!... oh... uh. Sorry. Got carried away there.

Dark Dimensions: City of FogWhen most of us hear about deserted ghost towns, we're content to take amusing photos of ourselves in the mayor or sherriff's office and call it a day. But not you; the only survivor of a horrific car accident as a child, you've since felt a "connection" to the spirit world, presumably a bit like Christopher Walken but a lot less inherently creepy looking. (I love you, Chris!) You've become obsessed with rumours of "dark dimensions", places on earth where extreme suffering has left a sort of permanent psychic wound large enough to swallow and distort whole towns. It may sound like something Sylvia Browne would force you to pay 5.99 a minute to listen to her make up, but when a mysterious letter brings you to an exceptionally shady looking town in the middle of nowhere, things start sounding a lot more plausible.

While Dark Dimensions plays largely like a typical hidden-object adventure, with play revolving around clicking to interact with things, it does have one thing that sets it apart from most other titles in the genre. While a few hidden-object scenes are straight-up scavenger hunts where you work from a simple list, most actually contain a handful of item puzzles within themselves. Items on your list displayed in gold are things you'll need special tools to find or obtain, and those tools are usually items that you'll also have to track down within the scene and use in the appropriate place. The hint and skip buttons also make an appearance as you'd expect, but the latter takes a fairly long time to charge, so you'll need to be really determined to skip over any puzzles troubling you. Click on "help" in the lower right corner for an explanation of whatever puzzle you're currently looking at.

Dark Dimensions: City of FogAnalysis: Ah, I love the smell of murder in the morning!... well, uh, I mean, not literally of course, since that would be gross and probably get you on a government watch list or three. But there's nothing like a good tale of spite, betrayal, and otherworldly forces to get your imagination spinning, and Dark Dimensions: City of Fog offers this in spades. While some aspects of the plot will probably sound familiar, the game keeps you going with enough twists and clues to keep you guessing. What's great is that while you can rely on the in-game journal to clarify plot points and clues for you, there are hints and bits of story everywhere in the game, from photos and memorials and newspaper clippings, which helps the town feel more real. There are a few instances of what might be called "jump scares", but they're usually fairly tame and relatively easy to spot. (Seriously, what do you think is going to happen if you click on the dark tree hollow with glowing red eyes inside?)

City of Fog is absolutely beautiful too, with a clean visual design and rich colour palette that really makes you feel like you're in a place completely sucked dry of joy and basic human goodness. (... that's a compliment.) The environments do a great job of passing along that sense of supernatural with subtle details so that when combined with the haunting soundtrack, areas never lose their creepy vibe. The hidden-object scenes themselves are beautifully drawn, and have a clean design that not only makes them appealing to look at, but keeps your object hunting from taking a detour at "muddy distorted object junction". (Don't drink the water there.)

Dark Dimensions: City of FogAdventure game logic still rears its head occasionally; at one point, for example, you need to find a specific tool to reach a ladder overhead... even though at the time you may already have a ladder you could use to reach that one in your inventory. On the whole, however, the gameplay is quite good despite a bit of backtracking and repetition; getting into the habit of having to go back through areas you've already visited to see if any new item or old hidden-object scene has "reactivated" is a little annoying, but hardly a dealbreaker. The mini item puzzles within the hidden-object scenes go a long way towards keeping you engaged; it's not exactly a new mechanic, since other titles have made use of it sparingly before, but it helps break up the tedium of staring at a picture for extended periods of time.

Dark Dimensions: City of Fog will probably run most players around five hours or so depending on their play style. (You know, whether or not you're dirty rotten puzzle skippers.) With the quality on offer here in every department, that's hardly a raw deal, and fans of the genre who were looking for a game built like a rock, but infinitely more appealing. It doesn't break any new ground and it isn't particularly scary, but it's exceptionally well made in virtually every aspect and if mysteries are your bag, you owe it to yourself to give the demo a try. Highly recommended.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter to play, wallpapers, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition


  • Currently 3.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.4/5 (67 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (120)

TrickyStunt CrazyYou can keep your CGI mippy-maps and digitally inserted explosions. In my mind, what the best movie stunts need is non-negotiable: An actual dude, in an actual car, making actual jumps (possibly with an actual dude hanging from the rear axle with an actual whip). I suppose then it's a little contradictory that I turn to computer gaming to recreate this real-life experience, but Stunt Crazy, the new physics driving game by The Podge definitely has the right spirit... and a ton of stuff that goes boom. Can't forget that.

In each of 24 maps, you are presented with a stunt to complete for a certain genre movie, and a certain map in which to complete it. Generally, you use the [arrow] keys or [WASD] keys to control your ramp-jumping vehicle, crashing into buildings, collecting bonuses, exploding barrels, and generally being awesome. You collect red, yellow, and blue movie reels to complete your stunt objectives, and by doing so gain cash, fame, and points, based on the ultimate box-office take. These can then be used to add new upgrades for your vehicle, unlock new levels, or design a customizable stunt-show for extra money. [Z] fires missiles to destroy building, holding [X] fires up a stunt-rocket that can blast you around the arena, and [C] launches a crash bomb for quick direction changes. And... ACTION!

Stunt CrazyAnalysis: Stunt Crazy ultimately feels like a fusion of the Hedgehog Launch and Indestructotank series, and is a lot of fun for being so. However, almost paradoxically, the combination is nowhere near as immediately accessible as said predecessors. This is a game with a steep learning curve when it comes to the controls and mechanics, and only really gets enjoyable when you manage to get the hang of it. What kept me persevering is Stunt Crazy's light-hearted tone. The spoofy film names, dead-pan stunt descriptions and snarky newspaper headlines did a lot to make me want to keep going and see where my stuntman's career would take him. A sense of humor cannot make a bad game good, but it will make the player give it the benefit of the doubt. In the end, I stuck out the initial awkwardness (which, after all, might just be on this side of the screen), and I'm glad I did. Stunt Crazy is solid and only gets more over-the-top and explodier as the levels progress from sci-fi, to horror, to western, to fantasy. Ever wanted to do backflips all over a frontier town in a Conestoga wagon? Now's your chance.

I think that Stunt Crazy suffers a bit from the problem not uncommon to many upgrade-based games. Most games have the natural progression of being easy at first, then more challenging as time goes on. Here the evolution is flipped: the game is difficult without any upgrades, and only becomes easier and easier as you buy them. Certainly skill has something to do with it, and Stunt Crazy's does balances itself with levels that get ever more complex as time goes on. Still, I hate the feeling of not wanting to start up a game on a certain computer, solely because the version of game I like, the game for which I've upgraded the mechanics, is saved on another one. Does that makes any sense?

Anyways, despite the balance issues, and car tires that fly off if you so much as look at them the wrong way, Stunt Crazy is a lot of fun. It has a sleek art style, some cool arcade-rock-sounding tunes in the background, and the various multiplayer and sandbox creation modes are quite cool. I really felt accomplished when I was able to snag a tricky low-hanging reel, or was given a fictional stunt award. This game may drive you crazy like nothing else, but once you get into it, you just can't help yourself.

Play Stunt Crazy


  • Currently 3.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.5/5 (46 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (89)

TrickyThorZounds! A movie-tie-in advergame that is a 16-bit platformer and doth not suck? And one that doth has been made by retro king Big Pixel Studios! Yea, verily! I personally may be a bigger fan of the Distinguished Competition, but any game that lets you control a Norse God that flings lightning and hammers around is certainly worth a look. Yes, it's Thor: Bring The Thunder, just released on the main Marvel site. Indeed, I've heard that the company has just released a 150 million dollar movie for the sole purpose of promoting this game. Was it a waste of money? By Odin's beard, I say thee nay!

Thor: Bring the Thunder has you play through 4 campaigns of 11 levels total, coming into contact with some of Thor's greatest friends and foes, including Sif, Enchantress, Kurse, Jane Foster, Absorbing Man, and others. Guide Thor with the [arrow] keys around worlds like Asgard, Midgard, and other realms, defeating baddies as you go. [Z] launches a short-ranged but powerful hammer smash, and [X] for a less-powerful, but much longer ranged and cooler hammer throw. Collect enough lightning bolts, and a full-screen lightning attack can be released with the [spacebar]. Gather apples for extra health and points, but watch out for spikes, trolls, and other villains. SO SAYS THOR!

Thor: Bring the Thunder calls to mind old-school DOS platformers, in terms of general play mechanics, impish charm, and slightly-frustrating difficulty. Indeed, the Odinson could give both Commander Keen and Halloween Harry a run for their money when it comes to slippery jump timing. Gameplay is fast, furious, and fun, with levels that are just long enough to keep you wanting more. Fans of the character will appreciate the various nods to the comic throughout, and even those who aren't will enjoy the Megaman-styled graphics and epic score (though the latter does clash with the chirpy sound effects). While some of the features are a little pointless (Survival Mode gets repetitive fast), overall, Thor: Bring The Thunder makes for a short, sweet experience that made me as happy as reading a good Walt Simonson romp.

Play Thor: Bring the Thunder


| Comments (35) | Views (50)

Link Dump Fridays

Dora2011 marches onward, and another Link Dump Friday rolls around for your enjoyment. Do you ever wonder what happened to all those old Link Dumps? Do you think the site archives are the only thing keeping them from being devoured into inky, starless blackness in the gullet of the Langoliers? Probably. Incidentally, this is probably why I'm not allowed to tell children bedtime stories anymore.

  • P.i.gP.i.g - Zillix offers up this puzzle platformer courtesy of Ludum Dare, starring an individual trying to escape from a lab, using a gun that... shoots... portals... hmmm. Kinda sounds... familiar.... NAAAAH. I'm sure it's nothing. Okay, so the influences are probably a little obvious, but P.i.g. is short, cute, and made in just a few days. I'll tell you how many games I've made, and the number is somewhere between "zero" and "zilch".
  • KulkisKulkis - [WARNING: Loading screen background contains rapidly flashing colours that may not be good to be viewed by people with certain conditions.] The best toys are the ones you can get for twenty-five cents out of those vending machines at supermarkets. (I passed one just today that offered no less than fifty different painted rubber duckies.) The best toy you can get out of those are those tiny, hard rubber balls you can hurl at a hard surface with all your might and watch go ricocheting around the room with the force to break noses. Now imagine you could telekinetically control the speed and the direction, and you'd have this retro arcade game... kinda. It's all the destructive fun of the real thing, minus having to hide under the porch from your grandmother after you break her favourite flower vase. (She still can't prove that was me.)
  • Nyan Cat FLY!Nyan Cat FLY! - I feel like I should be mad at someone for the time I spent on this when I was supposed to be working on three other reviews. (Sorry boss.) This simple arcade avoidance game is the sort of thing you decide is silly within thirty seconds, and are still playing five minutes later even though "there's no point to it". Well, other than to experience the love-it-or-hate-it flashy phenom that is Nyan Cat, I guess. You control a... cat... of sorts... hurtling through space, collecting treats and avoiding vegetables for as long as you can. Why? Dude, seriously; this is the internet. When have we ever had a reason for our obsession with preposterous cat memes?
  • Blow Things Up 2Blow Things Up 2 - I like to consider myself a pacifist who thinks that even fake creatures should be treated with love and kindNAHAHAHAHA oh man, I can't even finish that with a straight face; I totally love blowing things up, even cute things like the ones in this physics puzzle game. Blast all the Things offscreen with well-placed bombs, while saving certain Things from Thing Oblivion, relishing in their plaintive wails as they drop out of site below the bottom of the screen. Never has genocide with explosives been so adorable!
  • Drawing RoomDrawing Room - Oh no. Oh no. You guys, I am so bad at escape games, you guys, and now here's one with drawing in it too! It's like I have my own personal nemesis out there creating traps for me. But I'm sure you'll have no issues. In this very red little game, you're trapped in a room with no doors, windows, or furniture... just line drawings representing all those things, and some puzzles to solve.

  • Currently 3.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.8/5 (126 votes)
| Comments (17) | Views (156)

checkpoint.jpgJohnBCheckpoint is a quick-fire arcade platform game that's as much about avoiding things that make you die as it is getting killed. Created by Hero Interactive (Bubble Tanks, Storm Winds), Checkpoint goes the extra mile and taunts you with running commentary on each level, reminding you why you're a terrible gamer, questioning your every move, and laughing at you when you fail. On top of that, you're being timed and your deaths are tallied, so if your ego isn't crushed by Hero Interactive throughout the course of the game, just wait for your pitiful final score at the end!

Use the [WASD] keys to move, tapping [W] to jump and [S] to crouch. You can jump off of walls as well as slide along the floor, performing smooth acrobatics just like the classic browser game N. Those moves won't make things any easier, though, as this is a game about speed and stepping on your own dead body to reach that coveted checkpoint!

All you have to do in each of stage is make it to the glowing checkpoint at the end. Usually there's a door blocking your way, forcing you to climb around to reach a key. Standing in your way are dragons, snakes, spikes, sawblades, and all manner of dangerous things that will make your bescarved self bite the dust faster than you can say "I have a scarf!" Deaths are tallied, but don't let that discourage you, as sometimes you need to die in order to proceed.

Giving running commentary the whole time are lines of text at the top of the screen. Generally, the words of "encouragement" are less encouraging and more taunting in nature. Sometimes, though, you'll receive a hint or two about how to progress. One such example is using your own dead body as a platform to cross dangerous spikes, or even using your corpse to hold down buttons so you can pass. Even though it hurts, pay attention. And try not to let your feelings get hurt.

Checkpoint gets really creative with its level design later on, introducing more and more ways to kill yourself and use your own death as a means to progress. The difficulty is higher than most casual browser games, though not so impossible that you won't be able to complete it in one short sitting. If the punishing sting of character death is your thing, Checkpoint is a rather epic arcade game that never lets up on the action!

Play Checkpoint


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (69 votes)
| Comments (94) | Views (271)

SonicLoversoniclover_button_screenshot.gifThe human psyche is a peculiar thing. We have a subconscious desire to follow instructions, as a certain famous psychological experiment supposedly involving electric shocks and remembering word pairs has proven. But we also have a desire to disobey them. Who hasn't seen a sign marked "KEEP OFF THE GRASS" and found themselves with an urge to tread all over the forbidden greenery? Or looked at a door marked "AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY" and wanted to investigate what was on the other side? Or spotted a button marked "DO NOT PUSH" and almost immediately entertained the notion of pressing it?

Why am I beginning the intro to an escape game with a lecture on psychology, you ask? Because it's a central premise of Button, FonGeBooN's latest. This is a developer we haven't heard from in a long time, which usually means they've been working hard on something really good. In this case, that's true.

As with most escapes, Button is set in a room filled with all manner of doodads and puzzles: a few paintings on the wall, a red couch, a grandfather clock mysteriously missing its hands, a bookshelf... and a tempting red button behind a metallic hatch beside the door, helpfully marked "DO NOT PUSH" in both English and Japanese. To examine, acquire or manipulate objects, click on or drag them (don't forget about dragging! You'll have to do quite a bit of it!). If you've got something in your inventory, inspect it by clicking on the notched corner, or use it by clicking in the box itself.

Analysis: Button is a treat. Graphics-wise, it's a huge leap up in realism from FonGeBoon's earlier projects, and is comparable to the work of Neutral or Place of Light, albeit with a load of Engrish. The sound effects aren't half bad, either.

The puzzles are a bit on the difficult side, but 99% logical. When I first played the game, I got stuck several times, taking many breaks. Somehow, every time I came back, I got a new breakthrough and was able to make a little more progress. I ultimately wasn't able to finish without help, though.

soniclover_button_screenshot2.gifAs you may have guessed from the title, one of the major focuses of Button is the "DO NOT PUSH" button. I won't say what The Button does, but I will say that it will neither help nor hinder your escape (it won't blow up the room like some red buttons do). How you treat it, however, will affect the ending. Are you a reckless cheetah who goes straight for The Button and pushes it at the first opportunity? A cautious mountain goat who dillydallies and solves puzzles elsewhere before ultimately deciding to give in to temptation and try The Button- but not without saving first, of course? A cowardly mouse who never once dares to touch The Button, for fear that it will destroy your life? No matter what your personality, the ending will differ in subtle ways accordingly.

This aspect makes this game part escape game, part personality test. (After I finally beat the game, it told me I pressed The Button six times, and was cautious enough to save before doing so. Is that to be expected from a Gemini?) It also gives the more short-fused player a convenient way to let off steam when stuck at a particularly difficult puzzle, especially if you pretend you just launched a missile at some foreign country.

Button is definitely worth playing, so give it a shot. Let's see how YOU behave when placed in the same room as The Button.

Play Button

NOTE: FonGeBooN's server has a weak capacity and has been overloaded recently, which is why we waited a few weeks to feature this one. You may get a 503 error when you try to play Button. Don't give up, just wait a while and try again.


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (64 votes)
| Comments (16) | Views (432)

Babylon Sticks: Screamers comic

This is another custom casual gameplay comic created exclusively for JIG by Babylon Sticks creator, James Francis. Follow Babylon Sticks on Twitter: @babylonsticks.


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (201 votes)
| Comments (40) | Views (1,379)

DoraLegends of YoreI love roguelikes. It seems like I shouldn't. I complained non-stop the entire time I was playing the otherwise games (and sequels) because the dungeons were so plain and predictable despite having randomly generated layouts. And yet, here I am, becoming Bee Eff Effs with Kevin Glass' retro roguelike RPG, Legends of Yore.

Everything in the game is handled by clicking, so if you're a dolphin, you're in luck. Just click anywhere onscreen to move there, and click on enemies and items to interact. (With pain and by picking them up, respectively.) You can also move with the [arrow] or [WASD] keys, if you so desire. There are three classes to choose from; warrior, archer, and wizard. The warrior is your standard meat-shield melee class whose rage increases with every hit, while both the archer and wizard can attack from afar. The wizard can only attack as long as he has "charge" remaining, represented by the green meter which gradually refills, and the archer can skip turns to fill up his "zen" blue meter, which makes his shots stronger and more accurate. The whole game is turn-based, so enemies won't move until you do, which lets you plan out your attack or your escape route. On each floor of the dungeon, you'll need to find a key in order to proceed deeper for a chance to be smote by bigger and meaner creatures. If you die, your only option is to reload from your last save.

The goal? Adventure as long as possible and try not to get reduced to a red pixel smear on the dungeon floor. Currently in its infancy as far as development goes, so far the moment the epic story of revenge, lust, betrayal, and heroism is limited to what you make up in your head. (If you want to call yourself Kvothe, for example, that's between you and your keyboard.) Whatever class you choose, you'll start out in a tiny town apparently built by the same city planners of Sunnydale since it sits right on top of several very big, very unfriendly dungeons. (I guess I can see how "pit of demonic undead and lethal vipers" sounded like a good idea at the time... ) The town itself has your basic amenities; healer, blacksmith, item merchant, grog seller, and of course "wise old RPG dude who will tell you things".

Legends of YoreAnalysis: If you like roguelikes but are looking for a more casual approach than most offer, Legends of Yore will be right up your alley. The nostalgic visuals and simple to grasp gameplay makes for easy, fun, "one more turn" style gaming. While it lacks a great deal of depth, as a "pick up and go" example of the genre, Legends of Yore really excels. It's important to note that Legends of Yore is currently in its early stages, with future updates planned to incorporate more content like quests, more towns, actual story, so on. Which isn't to say it's not worth playing right now, just that what's there is addictive, but simple. There's little difference between one dungeon floor and the next except for the colour of the tile set, and you won't run into any real surprises just yet.

As of this writing, one complaint you might have could pertain to the fact that the classes don't really feel as fleshed out as they should. It seems like the game might have been better suited to have initially only released one class with a bunch of tailor-made items and the like, and roll out the others as updates are made. Similarly, only having one fully designed unique dungeon from the get-go and releasing others in the future might have been better than having a few virtually identical, smaller dungeons. It would have allowed for a more in-depth experience. Still, all of those issues are things that can, and probably will, be addressed in future updates. The developer has been keen to receive feedback and suggestions as to how to further improve his game, and if things keep progressing, we'll wind up with one truly stellar casual roguelike experience. After all, who hasn't wanted to be a legend of yore?!

... what? What do you mean, I don't know where yore is?! It's the... the place where you... get the things that... are... yoreful... d'ooooohhh, just play already!

Play Legends of Yore


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (119 votes)
| Comments (16) | Views (93)

corygalliherminerbot.jpgBeing a robot is tough. If Killbot decides that he wants to stop killing and love instead, well, tough diodes. He's only programmed to kill. He can't even campaign to try to get new programming because that's Activismbot's job. Minerbot is another example - he's programmed to mine and that's what you'll be doing in this new arcade strategy game created by 31eee384 for the Ludum Dare 48-hour game design competition.

Steer Minerbot around with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys. Minerbot can dig through ore without a hitch, collecting it as he goes, but to rack up real points you'll want to press [Enter] to fire ore collectors. An ore collector will automatically gather all the ore of a given color from an area over time, but you have a limited regenerating supply of these tools so you'll need to use them carefully. Different colors of ore are worth differing amounts of points. You'll want to focus on gathering large amounts of valuable red ore, while worthless white ore is unaffected by your collectors and slows down Minerbot significantly if you have to burrow through it. You're being timed, so the key is to use your collectors to dig out "tunnels" of valuable ore that you can travel through to avoid having to dig through white ore.

Minerbot features a distinctive minimalist art style that might be confusing for the first couple runs. Once you get into the groove of the game, though, there's definitely an addictive quality to watching a collector hollow out a massive expanse of ore. The action's accompanied by a hopping techno soundtrack. All in all, Minerbot is a great way to waste a few minutes here and there. It's not the next epic journey through an alien world, but it's not like Minerbot is programmed for epic journeys. He's programmed to mine and mine he does. Even Activismbot can't protest that.

Play Minerbot


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (139 votes)
| Comments (31) | Views (263)

corygallihercoryg_testsubjectgreen_screen2.pngScience is truly wonderful. If it weren't for science, for instance, we wouldn't have freeze-dried ice cream, that most wonderful of treats. We'd have to content ourselves with normal ice cream like the ancient neanderthals did. We can also thank science for Test Subject Green, the brain-twisting sequel to Nitrome's puzzle platformer Test Subject Blue.

As before, you play as Test Subject Blue, a little blob of enzyme riding around in a prototype mech suit and completing tests for a benevolent scientist. The [WASD] or [arrow] keys are used to steer Blue around and jump, while the [spacebar] fires Blue's blaster. The blaster is handy for self-defense but is fairly slow to fire, so it's often easier for Blue to just avoid enemies. The goal in each level is to grab a key and head to the exit. Naturally this is harder than it sounds. The most common obstacles that complicates your task are green portals that follow an odd sort of physical logic; entering through the bottom of one will pop you out of the top of another, for instance, and vice-versa. Likewise, entering through the left of one will lead to the right of another. Figuring out how these portals work is crucial to success.

After the benevolent scientist is taken out of commission by a shady rival, however, the obstacles are ramped up a bit. Lasers are fairly commonplace after the first few levels, for instance, and generally you'll spend a lot of time figuring out how manipulate them to make your way through. You'll also battle a variety of green enzyme minions that drop from the ceiling, fling chunks of themselves at you and generally make problems.

coryg_testsubjectgreen_screen1.pngAnalysis: Nitrome fans have come to expect quality from the developer and Test Subject Green does not disappoint. The puzzles are difficult without edging into frustration platformer territory and while Blue can be killed in a single hit, none of the enemies or obstacles feel cheap or unfair. Patience and a steady hand will always win the day here.

There are few complaints to be had about this game. There's not a huge amount of variety in the gameplay, especially if you've played Test Subject Blue, but by the time the game begins to wear out its welcome you'll be finished with it. It's a well-polished and complete title. Test Subject Green features the adorable cartoon art style and animation that Nitrome is known for. Blue in particular is lovingly animated; it displays a variety of adorable quirks as you hop around, such as slamming itself against the side of its suit to fire the blaster. The game's story is told through short blurbs between each level; it's not Shakespeare but it certainly works.

Platform fans are bound to enjoy Test Subject Green while puzzle lovers won't be punished for a lack of twitch reflexes. It's an excellent hybrid of the two genres made possible through the power of science, much like astronaut ice cream is a delicious fusion of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. Aren't you glad we live in this modern world?

Play Test Subject Green


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (142 votes)
| Comments (42) | Views (536)

Weekday Escape

GrinnypYou know, for such a narrow genre, room escapes actually contain a plethora of types. There are long and complicated escapes (anything by Neutral), there are short and breezy escapes (Robamimi), there are the classic four-wall one room escapes (Tesshi-e), there are room escapes that seem more like complete adventures containing a multitude of places (Dr. Stanley's House 2), there are scary escapes (The House 2), there are fun escapes (anything by 58 Works), there are goofy escapes (Minoto), and there are room escapes that are so bizarre as to defy description (I'm looking at you Detarou), but here at Weekday Escape we haven't featured many escape games that are potentially fatal. At least, that is, until we came across Kotorinosu's deadly Dangerous Gen-Kan Escape 2.

Dangerous Gen-Kan Escape 2Dangerous Gen-Kan Escape 2 plays like the love-child of early Petithima design (single view escapes) and the Dismantlement series of point-and-clicks (i.e. the dangerous explosions). Yes, as with adventure games of yore, we're talking an escape where you might want to save before completing an action. That is, if you don't want to die and go back to the beginning. In Dangerous Gen-Kan Escape 2 there is only one way out but many ways to die! Well, perhaps many is an exaggeration. There are at least two ways to die that I've managed to stumble across, there may be more.

What you get with Dangerous Gen-Kan Escape 2 is a quick-and-dirty escape. No elaborate set-up, not a lot of space to explore in this single view of a room, giving new meaning to the phrase dead simple. Packed within such a confined space is a lot of puzzle solving goodness, though, a treat for any room escape fan who enjoys exploration, logic, and trying not to blow up. To be fair we're going to assume that most of you are in the latter category. There's no real navigation here, simply click on an area of the room for a close up and use a bar at the bottom of the screen to go back to the main view. Items that go into your inventory can be use with one click and viewed with a handy little magnifying glass that appears in the inventory window.

The tension is ratcheted up with the throbbing 70's cop show music (minus the wah-wahhhh guitars). Fortunately there is a handy mute button to turn it off if it becomes too much, right beside the very handy save button. You may find yourself using that save button often, at least you should. You can even go back and wipe out your previous saved data if you'd like to go back in and try it again, this time exploring how many ways you can die.

For such a simple game a lot of attention has been paid to the details. Crisp, clean, beautiful graphics greet the player along with the funky soundtrack. The controls are pretty intuitive as is the (very limited) navigation. The only thing that might be missing is a changing cursor, but in such a small space there are a limited number of options as to where to click, so there won't be a lot of pixel hunting involved. Beautiful to look at and with such a classic approach to escaping (i.e. getting yourself dead if you do something dumb), Dangerous Gen-Kan Escape 2 is not only a perfect mid-week break but a fantastic nod to the past oeuvre of point-and-click adventure gaming which spawned today's room escapes. Come on, you know you want to play, even if you do blow up.

Play Dangerous Gen-Kan Escape 2


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (53 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (293)

Joshsiegerlevelpack.jpgWhen the great Sir Isaac Newton set to writing his Principia Mathematica in 1685, it's fair to say he had no idea that future generations would take his ideas and create electronic games employing his principles of physics to destroy virtual castles on desktop computers. Yet that's just what they did, and last year, legions of players were able to get their castle destruction fix thanks to a unique projectile tossing game called Sieger. Unlike other titles like Crush the Castle and its ilk, Sieger featured a precise first-person system where players targeted a series of structures that shattered and splintered like so much balsa wood. The game proved to be quite popular, leading Anton Fedoruk of Warspark to answer the demands of players around the world for more with the new Sieger Level Pack.

For those unfamiliar with the original game, the object of Sieger is to destroy all the bad guys by taking out their structures with carefully-placed mouse clicks. Once structures are damaged, gravity, mass, and momentum usually does the rest, much to the esteemed Sir Isaac's satisfaction. You earn points and medals by being careful and efficient with your shots, avoiding fragile hostages and conserving your precious ammo. Beyond the standard game there is a robust level editor, and a community to share and play levels with.

At its core, the Sieger Level Pack includes 40 additional levels that take advantage of a series of new projectiles and materials. While the original Sieger featured a set of 29 castles based on different historical eras, each new castle in the Level Pack is now themed, sometimes giving you a hint to its completion by its name. In addition to Sieger's standard, explosive, and diseased projectiles, a new triple shot brings more pain to your targets. And no longer are these targets made of mere static wood, stone, and steel - now levels include slippery ice blocks, rolling boulders, and explosive boxes and barrels for maximum chain reaction devastation. The castle builders of Sieger have even discovered a strong glue for connecting blocks, and have designed basic engines to create moving contraptions.

On top of the additional gameplay, the Level Pack's editor (called the castle builder) is also enhanced this time around with a cleaner interface and extra functionality. Instead of grouping building materials by era, they are now nicely separated into material types. It's much easier to rotate things, and you can add pin and motor joints to create interesting levels like never before. There's even a nice "settle" option to help clean up your levels, and you can layer items in front or behind each other to make architectural perfection.

siegerlevelpack2.jpgAnalysis: At first glance, the Level Pack doesn't feel very different from the original Sieger, but that's actually a good thing. The developers have chosen to keep what works and not deviate much from that formula, adding nifty features to an already solid game. The sounds and graphics are pretty much the same, though the backgrounds look a bit more varied and detailed. What I really enjoy is the pack's new chain reaction effects courtesy of the explosive boxes and barrels, which lead to some ridiculous levels of destruction that are quite satisfying. I also like using the new triple shot weapon, which is very effective at taking out moving machinery.

Difficulty-wise, I feel that the levels are akin to the original, offering sufficient challenge without leading to frustration. While there are a few castles that seem to require some amount of trial and error, you probably won't be too upset at having to replay a level since watching the animation and physics play out each time is a bit of a guilty pleasure. You may even surprise yourself at your ingenuity (or sheer luck) at getting an entire solid structure to fall like a house of cards with a single shot.

Overall, the Sieger Level Pack is a nice extension to one of the better casual games out there. Its content and features should appease projectile physics fans until a true sequel emerges. And while you might not find mouse-click destruction as a chapter in Newton's Principia, you can still thank the physicist for his contribution to another fun chapter in casual Flash gaming.

Play Sieger Level Pack


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (98 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (108)

corygalliherdiamondhollow_screen1.pngSince the dawn of time, man has collected. From the day the first humans started picking up mammoth bones because one might make a better club than another to the modern Pokémon craze, collection has ingrained itself in the human psyche. Diamond Hollow, a new arcade platformer created by Arkeus for the 48-hour game development competition Ludum Dare, plays right to this compulsion by encouraging players to load up on diamonds like it's going out of style as they try to climb to the top of an endless cavern.

Use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move your little diamond-grabbing dude around while using the [mouse] to aim and fire your weapon. You can shoot in any direction regardless of the way you're moving, which is not only convenient but a lifesaver when you're being assaulted by turrets on the walls and ceiling and pesky slimes on the platforms that you're trying to climb on.

Colored diamonds are strewn throughout the cavern and enemies that you blast will also explode into piles of bling. You can collect these to spend on upgrades for your character after each death. There are a wide variety of upgrades available that will improve traits like your speed, jump height, weapon damage and resilience to knockback. As you improve your character, it becomes easier to climb higher and in turn gather more valuable diamonds to improve your character even further.

diamondhollow_2.jpgAnalysis: You might not think that an enjoyable and complete game could come out of only 48 hours of development time, but Ludum Dare entries tend to be solid and Diamond Hollow is no exception. This isn't a pretentious art game or a brain-wracking escape, this is down-and-dirty arcade action through and through and it succeeds spectacularly on that level.

The most enjoyable aspect of Diamond Hollow is the upgrade system. Without it, the game would be, well...hollow. The ability to upgrade your character keeps you pushing to grab more and more diamonds and climb higher and higher just to see how powerful you can get. At the same time, this might be the game's biggest flaw, because your character can get pretty darned powerful. By the time you've played five or six rounds you could be able to leap nearly the screen's height, double-jump, defeat early enemies in a single shot and fire bullets at a hilariously fast rate. The enemies become more damaging but not any smarter or more difficult to avoid, so it's easy enough to rack up crazy heights and diamond hauls after a few upgrades. At that point the game is essentially a high score competition to see how far you can get, which may or may not appeal to players who enjoyed upgrading.

Your character is also a bit too weak early on, especially since most enemy attacks pre-upgrade will launch you back into another zip code and send you careening off the side of platforms, but the upgrades come quickly enough that this isn't a huge issue. By the time you've played long enough to get upset about seemingly cheap deaths, you've racked up enough diamonds to remove the problem.

Diamond Hollow is one of those games that takes a fairly simple concept and runs with it. This is no-frills platforming at its finest and any fans of the genre should give it a shot. The upgrade system keeps the game fresh for awhile and after the upgrades run out perfectionists can still aim for the top. Diamonds are a gamer's best friend, after all, so start looting!

Play Diamond Hollow


| Comments (5) | Views (67)

The Vault

DoraThis week's selection of Vault titles don't really have much in common apart from being awesome. I mean, unless you want to take the 2.99/minute call-in psychic route. I sense that these games were... made by a... a person... who... ate food... slept in a bed... and... had... letters in their name? Wow! I'm so accurate I'm scaring myself!

  • BloonsBloons - Who would imagine the combination of one monkey, a whole mess of pointy objects, and a lot of balloons would spawn a dynasty and capture the hearts of people everywhere? Well... Ninja Kiwi, apparently. (I like to imagine it started in a laboratory somewhere with lots of lightning and cackling, "They called us mad! MAD!") Now a immensely popular series, Bloons began life as a simple physics game of skill that could have stepped right off a carnival midway. The object is simply to pop all the balloons onscreen with a limited number of darts, which is easier said than done as the stages and obstacles become more and more complex. It's a simple idea made incredibly addictive... though... I don't personally understand how a monkey hurling pointy bits of metal willy-nilly is necessarily a step up from the ones that fling poo.
  • Trapped SeriesTrapped Series - People love point-and-click adventures almost as much as they love escape games, but rarely do the two ever meet, and even rarer still in this unconventional, top-down isometric manner. Rodrigo Roesler's trilogy follows a man who wakes up beside a stranger's corpse one morning following an argument with his wife that sent her packing. While somewhat slow moving, both in plot and in actual gameplay, the series' unusual design and cleverly conceived puzzles make it a winner even four years later, blending surreal mystery with a play style that makes me all misty and whatnot for the days of SNES-incarnated Shadowrun. Only with less inscrutable dog totems and more
  • Banner Game by Rob AllenBanner Game by Rob Allen - When he's not doing unspeakable things to hapless little stick figures, Rob Allen is busy making magic happen right here on our site whenever we've been very good little boys and girls. (Which, as Jay will tell you, only happens once in a very long while. Darn it, Jay, I keep telling you the coffee machine set itself on fire! All I did was watch!) This charming, compact little point-and-click puzzle is played entirely with the mouse, offering no other instructions and leaving you to figure out both the objective and the means of achieving it. While you could just consult a walkthrough, this little game is infinitely more satisfying if you just experiment, clicking on everything onscreen and trying different combinations for yourself. Which, incidentally, is how I get through most of my life. Instruction manuals are for suckas, amirite?!

While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (2221 votes)
| Comments (67) | Views (5,503)

Doodle God 2

TrinnIs your idea of fun making smaller lists into bigger ones? Then there's cause for celebration, my fellow neurotics! The tireless listers at Joybits have brought us Doodle God 2, the newest addition to the beloved time-vampires: Doodle God and Doodle Devil.

Those familiar with the previous games will recognize the nearly identical structure and mechanics. Filling the role of benevolent creator, players are instructed to mix and match a vast universe into existence. This task is actually much simpler than it sounds. In order to attempt a combination, one must simply select a group to view a drop-down list of its elements. Then, select an element from one group and click another component to add them together. Failed attempts will cause both elements to shake angrily at you and successful combinations will add a new element to your lists. Who knew deities had it so easy?

While the concept itself is fairly simple, compiling an entire list of all the elements is not. The staggering number of possibilities is something only a skilled mathematician could tell you, but I can say that you will try a multitude of combinations, and you will fail. A lot. If trial-and-error based gameplay is not your cup of tea, then you won't even want a sip of Doodle God 2. However, players who enjoy the glorious moment of "100% complete" will revel in the addicting allure of this game.

Of course nothing is ever perfect, and Doodle God 2 is not without its minor faults. Some players have already noted that the hint system is somewhat less helpful than before. In previous versions, hints were suggested by showing two groups that had components remaining to combine. In the newest Doodle God, hints are offered by revealing an undiscovered element, but not showing any way to actually create this new element. Additionally, there are combinations that only work in the third episode, even though both components are available in the second. This can lead to some mild confusion, but the relaxing background music and often humorous combinations will quickly lighten your mood.

Doodle God 2 may not revolutionize the alchemy game industry, but it is a solid and enjoyable puzzle game that calls out to the inner obsessive collector in all of us. I learned at least one new combination today: Messing with Elements + Obscure Logic = Fun!

Play Doodle God 2


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (81 votes)
| Comments (14) | Views (193)

JamesZombie KnightWhen a mighty warrior is turned into a zombie, he does what any self-respecting one-man army would do: find a good armorer, learn a few skills and go pound revenge into whoever needs it in the action brawler/arena combat game Zombie Knight from Evil Space Chicken.

In Zombie Knight you face off waves of enemies that come at you from both sides of a battlefield, if by 'battlefield' we presume a flat horizontal area that scrolls around half a screen to either side. It's a 2.5D plane, just like a brawler game (Double Dragon), so you can move up and down to flank enemies. Moving is done with the [arrow] keys (double-tap to dash) while [A],[S] and [D] let you block, strike and use your skills. Skills are bought with gold and can be as mundane as a dash attack to spawning your own monsters or bringing down lightning bolts.

It's a straight-forward brawler; block and punch you wave through the bad guys, using your skills as special attacks. Each such attack drains your blue energy bar, which you replenish with vials dropped by fallen enemies (it also slowly recovers). Ditto for health boosts and gold. But Zombie Knight is not focused on making you a fast-fingered brawler. The combat is very rudimentary, so there is little edge in simply becoming a master of it. Instead, stacks of equipment stack things in your favor (say that fast three times, while bashing orcs). A helm might give more health or energy, boots could improve your critical strike rate, shields might improve block or add to your armor count. But it's not entirely explicit to the item type. A shield does not always bring armor or defence improvements with it, but might instead make you better in attacks or ensure you have plenty of energy to go around.

Zombie KnightThis the game embraces fully: stats are easy to compare and the new gear reflects visually on your character. Once you defeat a level, you gain some bonus armor and unlock that region's shop, always worth perusing to make sure you maintain the cutting edge of what the magic-medieval-military-industrial complex has to offer. At times your character will seem invincible (especially once the monster spawn skills are used), but your undead knight will soon have a tough fight as the difficulty scales up in appropriately brutal fashion. Older levels can be replayed, but this will only gain gold, and you'll have plenty of that in no time anyway.

The art is crisp and characters are nicely animated. Gamers looking for a more robust combat system will be disappointed; Zombie Knight conforms to the bare essentials of a side-scrolling brawler. Much like an iron-age Batman, our knight believes that you get further focusing on equipment than strangely metaphysical stuff like assigning points or learning the correct combo. This does make the game tough near the end, but it boils down to a balancing act between keeping your small army going and outwitting the flanking enemies. Not that you have to spawn monsters; going solo is as simple as choosing the appropriate skills.

Ultimately the story mode just serves to arm you for the Survival mode's never-ending waves of enemies, all notches on a Mochi high scores board. But even if you just want to spend a few hours where you can indulge in mindless violence, but pretend you are delving in stats formulas and real-time strategy, join the ranks of the Zombie Knight.

Play Zombie Knight


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (126 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (195)

vampireskills.jpgJohnBAah, to be young again. To experience the thrills of the imagination. To not pay income taxes. To prowl about the night hypnotizing people, utilizing my super strength powers, flying like a bat, and unleashing telekinetic powers that can do virtually anything I desire. While that may not exactly be the childhood of anyone reading this review (or writing it, for that matter), in the point-and-click puzzle game Vampire Skills, you take on the role of a young vampire (is that even possible?) learning to use his skills. And yes, it's about as whimsical as it sounds!

Click a power from the inventory bar at the bottom, then click its opaque icon when it flies to the active part of the screen. Your powers can do everything from invisibility to super strength, charming the ladies, resurrecting yourself, even hypnotizing hapless guards into banging themselves in the face with an axe.

Puzzles are largely order-based, so all you have to do is determine which available powers to use to reach the target at the end, then click everything in the right order. Pesky piece of garlic in the way? Try using your telekinetic powers. You can experiment, and the game won't let you make fatal mistakes, so you can experience some genuine worry-free fun.

The visuals vary in quality, as some areas and animations look smooth and professional, while others appear rushed and stilted. It's easy to overlook, though, as the game's tongue-in-cheek setting cultivates a forgiving player.

Vampire Skills is a unique sort of point-and-click game, and despite its short length, trial-based gameplay, and relatively low level of difficulty, it's charming enough and captivating enough to pull you through to the end.

Play Vampire Skills


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (8) | Views (218)

Pulse: Volume One

JohnBReady for a rhythm game that will make you feel like a musical mastermind while potentially sending your synapses into a frenzy? Pulse: Volume One has that power, and this iPad-exclusive from Cipher Prime, creator of Fractal and Auditorium, has both the visual package and musical variety to lull you into a brilliant trance of dot tapping and circle watching.

pulsevolumeone.jpgPulse is a musical rhythm game that takes place over the course of eight levels, each featuring one song that's between one and three minutes long. All you have to do is watch the colored pulsing circle as it grows from the center of the screen and tap the orbiting dots as they light up. Simple, yes? Absolutely. But also challenging, especially when you start seeing late-spawning circles and have to contend with multiple simultaneous circles to tap!

Each song has its own rhythm and sound, ranging from slow and creepy ballads to faster techno-style beats. No matter the genre, your goal is the same: follow the rhythm with your synchronized tapping. The music and gameplay line up so well, you'll often feel like you're playing the music (as opposed to the music playing you), which almost immediately kicks your ego into high gear. "Look at me!", it seems to say, "I'm awesome and can make these spiffy sounds by just tapping my fingers on this here iPad!" Your ego's exclamations may vary.

pulsevolumeone2.jpgAnalysis: Pulse sets a number of milestones for the folks at Cipher Prime, including their first self-published iOS game, their first true music rhythm game, and their first game made using Unity. The same high standards for audio and visual design hold true, though, so you can still expect to find a dazzling feast of graphics to treat your eyes while, quite naturally, an ocean of sound fills your ears.

Rhythm games walk a narrow line that's easy to fall from. Just ask the dozens of music titles that tried and failed to create a substantial and meaningful experience. Either the gameplay has little or nothing to do with the music, or the music relegates itself to the background, providing a mere distraction during slow moments of the game. In Pulse, neither is true, as it provides a rich rhythmic world that's just as much about the sound as it is the touch. Reaching out and physically touching something that seems to make music at the same time is a masterful sort of feeling.

Initially, the first volume of Pulse featured only eight tracks, with the promise of more content on the way. Cipher Prime delivered on that promise and has more than doubled that number via a series of free updates, adding new features like social score sharing and difficulty ratings. Even if you just blaze through from beginning to end, Pulse offers at least an hour of solid gameplay. Part of the fun is going back and beating your previous percentage records, gradually working for that 100% on every stage. You even begin to develop favorite songs, just like when listening to a music album. So, if honing your scores is your thing, Pulse's replay value is great. Otherwise, the visual and musical package alone is worth checking out, just to see how wonderful of a job Cipher Prime has done. Also worth noting is the ability to download music from the game on Cipher Prime's website, something you'll most certainly appreciate once these tunes get wrenched into your head!

Cipher Prime has plenty of updates planned for Pulse in the near future, so if the concept intrigues you, it's well worth picking the game up now. Get your hands on an iPad and download Pulse. You won't regret it!


| Comments (0) | Views (93)

Mobile Monday

JohnBSome of our favorite mobile games have a rich visual presentation, are easy to pick up and play but hard to put down, and have cute things that smile at us for no apparent reason. A couple of this week's featured titles do exactly that, and the other one's got lasers, so it wins points for being awesome in a different sort of way!

coindrop.jpgCoin Drop! (universal) - Like pachinko games much? How about Peggle? (Trick question! Everybody likes Peggle!) This arcade sort of game from Full Fat feels like Peggle with a more pachinko slant, and its too-cute visuals, smiling coins, and challenging levels make it a massive hit with players of all ages, genders, political leanings and preferences for pie filling. Tap the screen to drop a coin onto the board below. It will bounce around various obstacles, pinging pegs, nudging itself off of springy platforms, and interacting with everything it comes in contact with until it plunks into the pits below. Gather all of the bad pennies, rescue the captured coins when applicable, and try to hit every peg for extra points. A great casual game that gets even better when you go back and try to improve your scores.

boxknight.jpgBox Knight (iPhone, iPod Touch) - Sokoban variants are nothing new to us awesome gamer folk, but Box Knight aims to bring a great visual presentation and smooth gameplay to a rather sparsely-represented puzzle genre on the iTunes App Store. Swipe the screen to move the knight around the isometric levels. Push crates around the maze to place them on switches to open the doors. Work fast and work efficiently to get a better score, and marvel at the panels that drop and raise themselves again after a few moments. A simple puzzle game, for sure, but entertaining and good looking all the same.

lazors.gifLazors (iPhone, iPod Touch) - A laser bouncing game of a slightly different sort, Lazors challenges you to move several types of blocks to bounce a beam to the goal(s). Solid blocks bounce the light in a predictable pattern, while dark ones absorb light, immovable blocks are stuck in place, and so on. You can only place blocks on certain tiles, limiting your options even further. Puzzles are carefully designed to make you think while experimenting a little, and the challenge is quite high, even for this cerebral genre. The free Lazors Lite is also available.

NOTE: Games noted as 'universal' have designed for iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone devices alike. Games listed may not be available outside of North America. Prices are subject to change and are therefore unlisted. Please see the individual game pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (99 votes)
| Comments (37) | Views (6,058)

The Tiny Bang Story

JohnBBest of Casual Gameplay 2011When Amanita Design's Samorost or Machinarium meets a smart, non-formulatic hidden object game, The Tiny Bang Story is the beautiful result. A point-and-click puzzle game at heart, this charming release from Colibri Games will hook you from the start, keeping your eyes busy and your cursor mobile from the opening screen all the way to the very end. It's a stunning and very memorable game that will make you wish more games followed its careful design concepts.

tinybangstory.jpgThe bucolic Tiny Planet was just hovering happily along, looking all peaceful and serene with its babbling brooks, patchwork machines, and scattering of quietly content inhabitants. Then an asteroid shatters and drops its pieces across the planet, splitting it apart into a massive jigsaw puzzle. Now, it's your job to put everything back together, traveling from location to location, picking up jigsaw pieces and assembling machines to help you rebuild the world.

Each part of The Tiny Bang Story is filled with hand-drawn art, depicting imaginative contraptions and scenes that could have been pulled out of the most dreamy children's book ever released. By clicking on things you can discover puzzles, indicated by the cursor changing to a gear. When you find an incomplete part of the stage, a small inventory icon will appear on the side of the screen. These icons show a number along with the item you need to find. So, for example, you might need to locate ten gears, 15 lightbulbs, one wrench, etc. Find the items, return to the screen with the puzzle, and put things back together to see what happens!

Finding items is the main focus of the game, but don't confuse The Tiny Bang Story with your run-of-the-mill hidden object release. Items aren't hidden, camouflaged, scaled to ridiculous proportions, or turned almost invisible. Instead, they're hidden right in front of your eyes, rotated and scaled to fit logically into the scene. Look across several areas as you search for the many items you need. And don't forget to click the blue bugs to charge your hint meter!

tinybangstory2.jpgAfter you've found the puzzle pieces and beaten the level, you'll return to the main view of the planet to assemble the jigsaw puzzle. If you've played a casual game before, you'll probably expect a simple sort of jigsaw where pieces snap to each other when they're within breathing distance, right? Not so, here. This is a for-real jigsaw puzzle, and it requires you to take some time to solve. But, you know what? It's stupendously enjoyable!

Analysis: The Tiny Bang Story is a relatively low-key game, but it's that subtlety that makes it so very very good. There's no dialogue, no text to read, no cutscenes or other gimmicky inclusions to force-feed you anything. It's just a simple story and simple gameplay, all baked together and prepared with mountains of love and attention. It's obvious Colibri Games spent a lot of time getting The Tiny Bang Story just right. When you try out the demo, you'll see how far that goes in making a game like this stand out from the crowd.

The Tiny Bang Story never hands you the answers, so you actually have to put in some legwork to get things done. Items don't jump out at you, puzzles don't solve themselves, and even the hint system requires a bit of work. In order to charge the button, you must collect floating bugs that hover around the screen. This discourages players from spamming the hint key and makes everyone slow down and experience this wonderful game for all it's worth.

Games like The Tiny Bang Story aren't a common occurrence in the video gaming world. So, when you see something this beautiful, this engaging, and this playable, grab it right away. The Tiny Bang Story is a phenomenal game that everyone should experience from beginning to satisfying end!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (358 votes)
| Comments (47) | Views (1,544)

Hoshi Saga Ringoen

GrinnypTechnically, stars are giant burning balls of hydrogen gas around which solar systems are formed, but for the human race stars have always been something magical. We look up at them in the night sky and see pictures within their formations, see them as direction in the darkness, we even wish upon them. However the greatest use of stars in human imagination may be the finding of them in the Hoshi Saga series of point-and-click puzzle games. Okay, so that may be a bit of hyperbole, but I'm excited because Yoshio Ishii of Nekogames has just come out with 25 new levels of star hunting goodness in Hoshi Saga Ringoen, the sixth in the Hoshi Saga series!

Play the entire Hoshi Saga Series:

Hoshi SagaHoshi Saga 2Hoshi Saga 3Hoshi Saga RingoHoshi Saga RingoameHoshi Saga RingoenHoshi Saga RingohimeHoshi Saga Dokuringo

Hoshi Saga RingoenAs with previous Hoshi Saga games, the objective in each level is to point, click, or drag (or all three) the beautiful scenery in order to locate the stars. The puzzles themselves are not terribly difficult and are extremely fun to figure out, whether you need logic, fast reflexes, or just really good eyesight. While there are 25 different scenarios to solve, only 16 of them can be accessed immediately. You will need to solve the first four levels in each row across to access the fifth level in that row, and you will need to solve the first four puzzles in each column down to access the fifth as well. Still not nearly as difficult as the first games in the series, the puzzles in Hoshi Saga Ringoen will still fill you with delight as you make your way through the game. Whether you are new to the series or a veteran this is a fantastic way to spend mother's day reaching for the stars. You know, after you at least call your mom.

Play Hoshi Saga Ringoen

Walkthroughs for the Hoshi Saga series...

Similar games:


(17 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (10) | Views (499)

Snark Busters 2: All Revved Up

JohnBWelcome to Snark Busters 2: All Revved Up, a bizarre, colorful, steampunk-ish world of broken hidden objects, magical mirrors, and mischievous chandelier-breaking cats! As Jack Blair, famous Formula 0 racer, you follow in the footsteps of your grandfather who was not only a better driver, but a better Snark Buster as well! He disappeared after driving through a tunnel in his last race, however, but somehow you find a letter of his that entices you into finding him by searching for the elusive snark. The sequel is every bit as whimsical and engaging as the original game, Snark Busters: Welcome to the Club, and it's a treasure of an experience from beginning to end!

snarkbusters2a.jpgSnark Busters 2: All Revved Up ditches boring text-based lists of items in favor of the "find pieces of a few items based on their color/shape" mechanic. So, for example, instead of hunting down a pump, you instead refer to the inventory slots at the bottom and search for items matching the general shape and design of pieces chopped through the item's icon. Find them all and the object can be used to solve a pressing puzzle nearby!

Most of the time some pieces of an object will be red, indicating its present unavailability. By completing parts of other items, opening doors or otherwise exploring about, you might just uncover one of these shards, making it a good strategy to keep an eye on the inventory bar at all times. The ultimate goal of each area is to obtain a medallion that will open the portal to the next set of levels.

A forgiving hint system makes Snark Busters 2 easy to play and eliminates any sort of frustration you might encounter. The occasional mini-game/mini-puzzle also crops up, but they're short, not too challenging, and can be skipped after a few moments. They always fit the theme of the game, too, so no crazy gimmicks to worry about here.

snarkbusters2b.jpgAnalysis: Snark Busters 2: All Revved Up has one big strong point: its environment. The world of Nodnol is quite unusual, never falling too close to traditional steampunk fare or diverging into the realm of pure fantasy. Everything is slightly whimsical in nature, encouraging you not to take any part of the game seriously, leaving you feeling light, interested, and fully engaged in the bright and wacky world you have the pleasure of interacting with.

Compared to its predecessor, Snark Busters 2 lives up to almost every standard set by the 2010 release. Gameplay is quick and enticing, the setting and story are lighthearted and fun to follow, and the puzzles are smart without being too difficult. The plot feels a bit on the thin side, on the other hand, and doesn't feature nearly as much activity or character growth as the first Snark Busters. Story isn't the central focus of the game, but it's always nice to have a deeper reason to play a game apart from finding items hidden in a Victorial fantasy world!

You won't need knowledge of the original Snark Busters game to play the sequel. In fact, very little connects the two titles apart from a couple of brief references to Kira, the main character of the first game. This doesn't really affect the quality of Snark Busters 2, so whether you're a newbie or a veteran, feel free to dive right in!

The hunt for the snark continues in this whimsical hidden object game with a wonderful, fun setting. It's easy to pick up and play, interesting to run through to the end, and a treat to look at the entire time!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (104)

grinnyp_mysterychronicles_banner.png

GrinnypAh, L'amour! Love makes the world go round, and makes us do funny, funny things. But there's a dark side to love as well. Obsessive, compulsive, forbidden. It's the latter themes that are explored in Mystery Chronicles: Betrayals of Love, the gorgeous new adventure/hidden object point-and-click story designed by Lazy Turtle games, creator of the somewhat similar 2010 release Eternity. Where would we be without love? According to this little gem, we might be better off.

mysterychronicles.jpgThe time and place of Mystery Chronicles: Betrayals of Love is turn-of-the-century France (that's turn of the 20th century, or 1903), and the game is a story of love, passion, and murder. A countess has been discovered in a local river by a fisherman who immediately becomes the prime suspect. It is up to you, the hero, to aid the gendarmes in the investigation of this dastardly crime and discover the perpetrator. Could it be the fisherman, fishing where he had no right to be? Could it be the shifty stable boy with his ripped jacket and mysterious stash of cash? Could it be the Botanist who lives down the lane and grows a wide variety of deadly poisonous plants? And what has happened to the victim's husband who has gone missing at the same time? Is he the perpetrator or another victim of a deadly spree? Solve the mystery and all will be revealed.

You arrive at the estate via a fantastic early automobile and must then wander in and around the castle of the count and countess searching for clues and other useful items which will help the case come to a successful conclusion. Included is the standard changing cursor which indicates areas of interest, items that can be gathered, and places that can be explored. Hidden object scenes help further your case, each one yielding an important inventory item which can be used later. Amusingly enough, not everything you pick up goes into your inventory to be used. Instead, many objects that you find serve no other purpose than as clues that point to this or that subject. Click on characters to speak to them and get a suspect card which explains why you are suspicious of their actions or motives. Eventually you will find three clues for each suspect as you wander the stunning grounds and the equally fantastic interior of the castle. Accumulate useful objects, solve some puzzles (actually, lots of puzzles), question each suspect, and you will eventually learn the entire sad story of the countess.

mysterychroniclesAnalysis: Yes, there are a ton of Adventure hybrids out there, so what distinguishes Mystery Chronicles: Betrayals of Love? The game pays particular attention to something that is often lacking in many of the hybrids on the market, the mini-games and puzzles. This game is chock-a-block with puzzles from beginning to end. The puzzles, while not terribly original, lend a nice balance to the hidden object scenes and keep the action from becoming the usual "find an object, play a hidden object scene, find an object, etc." gameplay present in many of the hybrids out there. Aiding you along the way is your handy detective's notebook which keeps track of suspects, clues, and other vital pieces of information along with a refilling hint timer which can be used either within hidden object scenes (to help find an object) or in any location (to give a hint as to what needs to be done next).

While the castle itself may seem a little small and bijou, the grounds surrounding it are extensive and you will find yourself spending a lot of time wandering around from place to place as you attempt to find out who murdered the poor countess. This is not a bad thing as the artwork is, frankly, stunning everywhere you go, with special attention paid to the hidden object scenes which are so nicely lit and realistic that it is almost like looking at a photograph. The action takes place in the late afternoon/early evening and the slanting sunlight and beginnings of dusk (the muted sky, the lingering mist) give the entire game a spooky feel which is enhanced by the accompanying soundtrack and the presence of a couple of supernatural sightings. Hand-drawn cut-scenes and interstitials complete the mood and bring the tale of the countess to life.

mysterychroniclesOn the downside, the story in Mystery Chronicles: Betrayals of Love seems a little rushed towards the end and leave a few threads dangling. With such fantastic locations and a compelling mystery, everything could have been fleshed out a bit more with either more characters added or more information about the ones we meet be available. And although the story has a fantastic Victorian detective mystery feel (think Murders in the Rue Morgue or any Sherlock Holmes story) the sudden appearance of ghosts seems a bit jarring, especially the second one which turns into a deus ex machina that brings the unfolding storyline to a crashing halt. And like all casual games of this genre it could benefit from being a bit longer both in terms of story and locations.

On the plus side, and this is a big plus side, what you get is a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. No "to be continued...", no "extra" or "hidden" chapters for a collector's edition, nothing like that. Mystery Chronicles: Betrayals of Love tells a complete tale which unfolds alongside the dazzling scenery of the castle and its surrounding grounds with each clue you uncover and each vista you explore adding to the entertaining experience. Will you find out what happened to the countess? You will indeed, and have a great deal of fun along the way.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


| Comments (7) | Views (72)

Weekend Download

JohnBMore games need to be abstract. Just about every art movement comes with its own brand of creators putting their minds to their respective canvases and creating things that don't quite make sense. Games, on the other hand, tend to be more logical, linear, and easy to understand. Why not break down a few barriers and twist the user's experience around a bit, like this week's feature Cintourmind does?

onecuriousnightfall.gifOne Curious Nightfall (Windows, 18MB, free) - A short, beautifully-illustrated 2D platformer that almost borders on being a non-game. You play the role of a girl who discovers a magical pouch left by the Bird King. She decides to return it to its owner, and by doing so she'll need to run through almost three dozen different areas, each filled with wonderful imagery and simple but curiosity-calling objects. You can walk, run, and jump, but that's pretty much the limit of your interactions, and after just twenty minutes or so you'll most likely finish the game. But experiencing the smooth animations and the deep environments is well worth the download.

cintourmind.gifCintourmind (Windows, 5.3MB, free) - A 3D maze game described as a "trippy monochrome first-person" experience. And, well, that's exactly what it is. Move around in the free-form world as you look to gather the shards of a man's shattered mind. Walk with [WASD], jump with the [spacebar], and look around with the mouse. Nothing looks as solid as it really is in Cintourmind, as the colors shift each time you take a step. In order to know what's "real" and what isn't, you have to move around a bit, allowing your brain to compare patterns and discern the correct way to go. A very interesting experience, indeed!

quaintbrush.gifQuaintbrush (Windows, 15.6MB, free) - Dude with a spiffy top hat plus paintbrushes with different colors plus platformer physics equals fun time! An ordinary platformer by most standards, Quaintbrush gives you a paint brush capable of drawing on the screen in several different colors. Depending on the color of icon you collect, when your character moves across the painted areas, he has different abilities. Red paint, for example, lets you double jump, while yellow paint allows you to run faster. Painting objects also has an affect on them, so you can slow, speed, or otherwise hinder their abilities with the splashy-click of a button. Reminiscent of the 3D painting game of a similar nature, Tag: The Power of Paint, whose developers were hired to work on similar elements in Portal 2.

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


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (27 votes)
| Comments (16) | Views (822)

Mystery Trackers: Raincliff

DoraOh, those wacky university students! All the time getting in trouble with their keggers and their pranks and their wild spring breaks and their vanishing in a remote ghost town riddled with echoes of violence and panic! What will they get up to next?... well, uh... nothing, unless you can save them in Elephant Games' hidden-object adventure, Mystery Trackers: Raincliff.

Mystery Trackers: RaincliffA bus full of university students and their driver has gone missing near the town of Raincliff, and since the town has been mysteriously deserted for years, questioning the locals is out of the question. As the master detective who unraveled the crazy mystery surrounding Void House in the previous game, you seem like the perfect choice to bring the missing people home safely. But when it quickly becomes apparent you're not alone in the snow-blanketed town, you might wish you had reinforcements of your own. Who do you call in when knives start hurling themselves at you in an empty diner? Ghostbusters or Gordon Ramsay? Things only get stranger as you begin to uncover a very strange and very unique family secret, but will you be able to get to the bottom of things when it seems like someone is trying very hard, very often, to kill you? Geez, what'd you do? Post on a forum about how Picard was the worst or that you preferred Highlander 2 over the original? You monster! You deserve it!

Can click? Can play! Raincliff offers three difficulty settings to choose from when you first start the game, mainly pertaining to whether interactive areas are highlighted and how long the hint/skip button takes to charge, but whatever challenge you sign up for the gameplay is the same. You'll move throughout the town hunting for clues, solving hidden-object scenes and gathering items to solve puzzles. If you're completely flummoxed as to where to go next, try the hint button; the adorable, well-dressed toad helper is back, and if you give him a click, he'll actually tell you exactly what your next step should be. If you're a film buff, you can also click on the projector icon to watch any cutscenes you've already witnessed.

Mystery Trackers: RaincliffAnalysis: I loved Mystery Trackers: The Void, which I thought was an underrated gem with a remarkable amount of creativity and goofy charm. In comparison, Raincliff is somewhat more restrained, with less demonic teddy-bears in mailboxes and more seemingly straight-up ghost town shenanigans. While the basic concept of missing students in a snow-logged deserted area may sound familiar, Raincliff refuses to go the predictable route and instead holds some great twists and unique ideas. Is any of it realistic?... well... no, of course not, but if you're looking for realism, you're in the wrong place. Raincliff is a beautiful game, and exploring the town is made all the better with the detail in every scene and the moody, atmospheric music that knows exactly when to pick up and die down.

There are still some niggling flaws that hamper the game somewhat, with perhaps the biggest being how much backtracking there is. The town and the surrounding areas are large enough, but the game sends you packing to and fro over them so often it quickly gets tiresome. There's also a noticeable degree of "adventure game logic" at work that Raincliff's predecessor lacked, with some of the item uses being unintuitive or downright silly. Perhaps most disappointing, however, is that all the puzzles are fairly standard and, to be honest, a little bland; most of them are just variations on "put these thingers in the proper order" or "move this dealiebobber into this doohickey".

Mystery Trackers: RaincliffFortunately, Raincliff gets a lot right as well, mostly due to the same imaginative and original approach to its story its predecessor had. Rather than dumping pages and pages of story information in a journal, Raincliff marries the narrative and the gameplay by having things revealed in cutscenes and notes found throughout the game. You're constantly kept on your toes as you come under siege by the mysterious forces in the town, and the result is a surprisingly cinematic experience that mixes equal parts adventure and mystery. Despite some genuinely creepy and weird moments, players who prefer games without jump scares can play with confidence here.

All told, the game will probably run most players between four to five hours, with the included "bonus" chapter tacking on another half-to-full hour of play time. I'm actually a little conflicted about that extra, because in what's becoming a frustratingly common occurence for Collector's Edition games, that chapter adds a lot of context and perspective to the rest of the game and actually wraps up the story much more neatly. It's not quite as severe as Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker in terms of what gets left off, but players who wait for the standard edition will miss out on a big finale and be left with an extra plot hole or two.

Despite a few bumps in the road, Mystery Trackers: Raincliff comes highly recommended. It's fun, surprising, creative, and wonderfully weird, offering up a big mystery and adventure to boot. The series is shaping up to be one to watch and consistently offers up some of the best quality and bang for your buck in the genre. Try the demo before you buy, but try it all the same; Raincliff is one strange town you should definitely pay a visit to.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter to play, wallpapers, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (394 votes)
| Comments (38) | Views (1,554)

MikeThe I of ItSince I no longer watch children's programming, I rarely think of alphabetic characters as dramatic protagonists any more, but the letters of the alphabet really have a lot of personality and narrative potential. Do K and S resent C for horning in on their territory? Is it agoraphobia or contempt for the other letters that compels Q to stay at home unless U is close behind? What sort of twisted inter-literal love triangle makes I go before E, except after C? And what happens when a formerly happy literal couple decides to call it splits? This last is the premise behind The I of It, a unique puzzle platformer from Gameshot, in which the "t" of the word "It" runs off, prompting "I" to set forth on a quest find him.

You control the bereft "I" with the [arrow] keys or with [WASD]. "I" can move left or right, but cannot jump. It can, however, stretch and shrink by moving up and down. This allows "I" to get to places otherwise inaccessible, by shrinking to fit small passages, or by stretching to grab a ledge with its top serif. Other features, like moving platforms and unusual gravity, help "I" to navigate various obstacles and hazards, in its quest to reunite with "t".

"The I of It" is short, but that's okay! With a few exceptions (the dart-throwing level comes to mind), each level explores the mechanical concept of the game in a unique and interesting way, so the whole package feels like it is just the right length. A large part of the fun is in the presentation. True, the simple line art and loungy soundtrack are not award quality, but the central conceit is quite clever; namely, that the game is really a storybook, which is perhaps appropriate for a game with literally literary characters. Each level begins with a dramatic phrase ("Suddenly,..."), and a properly (if synthetic) storybookish narrator kindly introduces new puzzle elements and pardons character deaths. It's a cute idea and makes an already enjoyable concept more charming. Play "The I of It," to rediscover how nice a character a letter can be.

Play The I of It


  • Currently 3.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.5/5 (39 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (98)

BradDon't PanicBefore you ask: no, Douglas Adams has not come back to life to design a "Hitchiker's Guide" flash game. That's a dream that will have to stay a dream (well, except for this), but don't go away. If you stick around you'll get to enjoy Don't Panic, an excellent defense shooter from Ralph Damiano.

The concept of Don't Panic is simple. You play a king...or, at the very least, someone who is a crown enthusiast, and you must defend your fortress against a mad scientist and his robot minions. This king moves by using the [WASD] keys, just like most kings. Click the left mouse button to fire your weapon at the robotic invaders. To select a certain weapon you'll use the #1-6 keys. All six weapons are unlocked from the start, so don't be afraid to switch to something more powerful early. Finally, if you need some heavy firepower, walk back to your cannon, hit the [spacebar], and you'll be ready to to turn your invaders into craters. If you get overrun by enemies, don't worry too much; you can replay the level with all money you collected during the round.

Naturally, you'll need money to fund your war. Every enemy you defeat will drop some gems which you can gather up by moving your mouse over them. At the end of each level you can visit the store, which is important because you'll need to buy ammunition for your weapons, since only the default gun has unlimited ammo. This can get expensive, so spend your money wisely. You can also purchase reinforcements, AI controlled units that'll help you defend or repair your base. And of course, there's weapon mods; these are items that you can buy to add to your weapons that'll give them a damage boost or help you earn more money. Oh, and if 14 levels aren't enough to get your defense fix, there's also a survival mode.

Don't PanicAnalysis: Don't Panic isn't an especially original game, as about every core element can be found elsewhere. However, the quality of Don't Panic is not so easily found in other titles in the genre. Unless defense shooters just aren't a genre you like, then you'll find very little wrong with this one.

Don't Panic does something not enough games do: it doesn't let you fall into a routine. In a lot of a defense games, you can upgrade a weapon and depend on that weapon. In Don't Panic, one weapon alone won't get you through the level. Even if every shot is precise, you're going to run out of ammo. Then, you have to be ready to fight with a new weapon and that one won't last. You have to be ready to adjust quickly and that's what makes the game so fun and addictive. The importance of ammo makes the upgrade screen not just a screen where you click to get stronger, but a place to plan for the current and future battles. You need ammo, but reinforcements and mods could help you save ammo. Even in between rounds, Don't Panic keeps you on your toes. But, even if things get rough for you, the game is on your side. Being able to retry with all the money you earned during the round and all of your health restored gives you incentive to keep playing and helps you along.

The rounds are well designed. You're constantly being attacked, so even at the start of a level there's an urgency. It's not uncommon to be attacking a line of armored enemies that are drawing uncomfortably close to your base and then notice a group of small quick units getting even closer on the other side of the screen. These situations give the game a charge, and even if your base is healthy you can get sucked into trying to stop every last robot. A game like Don't Panic could get repetitive, even with only 14 levels, but the excitement of close-calls and too-close-for-comfort scenarios will make you want to keep playing.

Don't Panic isn't a flashy game, but it looks good. The game is filled with bright colors and your king and his subjects are odd looking creatures. It's a bit of a shame that you mostly see these wonderful creatures from the back or side as they fill up the roof of your fortress as reinforcements. Don't Panic is a well-designed game on all fronts. Ralph Damiano has made an incredibly fun and exciting game that doesn't let you rest on your laurels, but also takes measures to make sure you're still enjoying it. Each level can get you as excited as the one before.

Play Don't Panic


| Comments (33) | Views (42)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraHappy Friday! What are your plans for the weekend? Something fun and exciting, I hope, since this week's Link Dump Friday contains not one but two melancholy little art games that may make you want to lay down and stare bleakly at a blank wall for a while unless you've got something sufficiently cheerful to pick you up again afterwards. Also in attendance are imprisoned man-eating animals and sociopathic wizards, so... hm. Not... the friendliest Link Dump ever, I suppose. But, ohhh! Wait! I do have candy, and I won't even ask you to get into an unmarked van for it! (The van is in the shop and I can't fit two people on an unmarked skateboard, which just doesn't have the same vibe anyway.)

  • And Everything Started to FallAnd Everything Started to Fall - Life. Don't talk to me about life. This little interactive art piece blends platforming with don't-stop-now arcade gameplay to chronicle one person's journey from cradle to grave in a series of simple pixel pictures. The goal is to stay ahead of the bottom of the screen and keep climbing upwards as your life unfolds before you. The controls are a little awkward at times, and I wouldn't call it uplifting, but, hey! Ladders! Who doesn't like ladders, amirite?
  • Flying CandyFlying Candy - Candy! Gotta love it. Tooth-destroying, belly-bulging sweetie of my heart. And chain-reactions! Gotta love them too. This follow-up to Icy Gifts contains all the hypnotic, addictive gameplay of the original, with power-ups, flashy visuals, and bobble-eyed critters. It's not particularly deep or complex, but it will hold your brain safely and gently for you while you fill the screen with colourful explosions and your skill with gratifying sound-effects. Really, isn't that about all most of us need on a Friday morning anyway?
  • Running WizardRunning Wizard - Retromundi knows the real reason there are no more wizards around isn't because they're "made up", but rather because their natural predators finally caught up with them. You know what I'm talking about. Castles. I mean, think about it; how many castles do you see these days? And how many wizards? Mm-hm, that's what I thought. You can try to keep this wizard alive as long as possible by vaporising castles as they appear onscreen, but it's only a matter of time. It's actually kind of... inspiring. You go, wizard! You run! You run and you don't stop! Don't let THE MAN keep you down! You never stop! *sniffle* Never! *sob*
  • Royal BeastsRoyal Beasts - Did you know about the Tower of London? It turns out it wasn't just a horrible prison for misbehaving djinni, it also house the royal menagerie! Just think about it, all those majestic creatures locked up behind those walls, so far away from home!... Which is kind of sad, I guess, except for the part where all the animals have the best rap faces, which takes it right back around to being awesome. This collection of minigames features each iconic beastie and some edutainment facts, but mercifully does not include a section where you pay to see a dog or a cat fed to the lions. London, man.
  • Appy 1000MGAppy 1000MG - This beautiful but phenomenally depressing and unsettling bit of platforming gameplay meets interactive art was made for Ludum Dare 20 by Sébastien Bénard. You play an adorable robot in a colourful world, who wakes up on a ledge with no memories and sets out to explore and remember... or maybe not. I love art games as much as the next person, but sometimes I think all of these developers need more hugs on a daily basis because dang. The gameplay is potentially a little frustrating, and as one of my fetching coworkers points out it may be possible to actually wind up missing enough of the terrain past a certain point that you can't finish the game without reloading. Still, it's worth playing for how short it is and how effectively and shockingly it rips the rug out from under you. Just make sure you have some Spongebob Squarepants on hand or something afterwards.

  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (93 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (180)

TrickySave The PrincessI kind of like that the damsel to be rescued in Save The Princess, the new puzzle game by nonamez and SilenGames, has an actual reason to be helpless, if that makes any sense. Most gaming princesses tend to just wait around to be saved by various plumbers, Hyruleans and Persian Princes. However, once you've been turned into a non-anthropomorphic frog, it's difficult to be proactive. Besides, the prince here seems so happy to be off on a magical adventure filled with heroism and cake, that it would seem cruel not to let him have his royal-rescuing fun.

Played with the mouse on your standard tile-based puzzle grid, your goal in each level is to collect the magic potion and deliver it to your amphibian paramour. Generally, the prince will travel in a straight line, unless directed by arrows or distracted by the cakes that you can put on the playing field. Also, there are "one way" blocks that can be placed to prevent him from returning back the way he came. Collect stars for extra (and slightly hilarious) achievements, but watch out for spikes and getting caught in an endless loop!

Save the Princess is adorable, almost bordering on precious. It has just the right mix of colorful graphics and logical gameplay that makes me think that it would be the perfect game for parents and children to play together without either getting bored. It is quite short: there are 21 levels in all, but the first 7 are pretty introductory. If you are looking for more challenge, I'd suggest checking out Talesworth Adventure, an inspiration for Save the Princess and one a couple steps more devious, instead. However, despite the light difficulty, Save the Princess has an attractive presentation and should make you smile as you play. It's a game fit for a prince!

Play Save The Princess


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (140 votes)
| Comments (16) | Views (381)

DoraCursed Treasure Level PackAll that glitters is not gold. In this case, it's a fantastic hoard of gems that everyone and their sneaky ninja wants to get their hands on. What's a poor, defenseless Gem Keeper to do? Why, build crypts full of terrifying ghouls, temples to unholy forces that can scorch the earth, and dens packed with malevolent beasties, of course! Cursed Treasure Level Pack from Gem Masters Iriysoft offers up another dose of the same action-packed gameplay found in the original. It's more of the same addictive, strategic tower-defense gameplay we know and love, and will help scratch that itch for calling meteoric hellfire down on your foes we know you've been having.

The premise for newcomers is thus; you've got a rad volcano secret base packed full of gems that everyone wants because... well, because they're gems the size of your head most likely. Everyone from lowly peasants to sneaky ninja to overpowered champions wants your gems, and they'll stop at nothing to get them unless you use the various towers at your command (dens, crypts, and temples) to blast them into vapor before they cart your gems away. Success depends on figuring out the best locations for your towers to not only take advantage of the terrain and any bonuses, but rack up enough kills that you can upgrade them to become stronger or even unlock a new ability. Allow all your gems to be pilfered and it's game over, but save just one gem to the end of the stage and you'll win, gaining experience and skill points to spend on passive abilities that increase your offensive and defensive capabilities in a variety of ways. As before, surviving to the end of the stage by the skin of your teeth can be easy, but achieving the highest rating (obtained by not even having a single foe touch a gem) is the true challenge.

There are only fifteen levels, and if you played the original you'll probably have a sense of deja vu, since apart from the various level designs not much has changed. As the stages progress, you'll have to contend with more waves packed with more enemies and figure out how to make use of the increasingly miserly terrain to place your towers. If, like me, you loved the original, then you'll probably welcome this pack of official stages to grind and attempt to score a perfect rating on. But at the same time, the lack of anything new to speak of makes that grind all the more apparent, and if you've already perfected all of the original levels than being asked to do it all over again might not put a spring in your step. It sort of makes one wish there was a level editor available for us to create and share our own stages, because boy howdy, the hurtin' I know you guys could put on a Gem Keeper with the proper tools at your disposal. But if you've been dying for another excuse to destroy destroy DESTROY all invaders, you could do much, much worse than this assortment of challenging stages. Cursed Treasure Level Pack offers up another dose of addictive, evil overlord-sy power with the same brilliantly simple and strategic gameplay that made the original take home the gold in Best of 2010 Strategy Games.

Play Cursed Treasure Level Pack


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (53 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (53)

Babylon Sticks: Don't Rock The Balance comic

This is another custom casual gameplay comic created exclusively for JIG by Babylon Sticks creator, James Francis. Follow Babylon Sticks on Twitter: @babylonsticks.


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (52 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (74)

GrinnypWord Up Dog!Yo, yo, yo, check it out! Dis be da tale of a dog, yo. Not just any dog, but a dawg from da hood. 'Cause the dawgs in the hood are always hard, come talkin' that trash and they'll pull your card, knowing nothin' in life but to show some wit, diggin' bones and spellin' words! Word Up Dog! by Sarah Northway is a fun arcade-style word puzzler with enough attitude for da hood, y'all!

Sorry, won't do that again. A cross between platforming and puzzling, Word Up Dog! is the adventure of a hapless suburban dog who finds himself all up in da underground wit' no way out but to clock some bones and chill wit' a variety of homies who will help or hinder progress as he cruises deep down to find a way out and smack up a few words along the way. Okay, I promise to stop with the gangsta slang, cause there's nothing more pathetic than a middle-aged middle-class lady trying to be street. Seriously. Word to your mutha!

The titular dog was chillin' in his crib until he got hungry you see, so he starts digging in search of some bones. However, each square of dirt he digs costs bones, and if he runs out then he's stuck. Once he gets to a certain point the tunnel collapses and he can't go back to the surface, so he must find a way to collect enough bones to dig his way out by exploring the vast underground area. Fortunately he also digs up letters which he can use to spell words that he can trade in for more bones. As he explores he will also find some animal friends who will help him out with hints, larger light areas, wild cards, teleportation, and even dynamite to negotiate those rocky areas. The first taste of these treats is free but use more and, well, it'll cost ya. Occasionally you will also run across silver or gold letters that, when used, will increase the number of bones each word earns.

Word Up Dog!Movement is accomplished in three ways, using the [arrow] keys, the [WASD] keys, or simply pointing and clicking with your left mouse button. The dog will move through open spaces or dig through soft dirt, although he cannot dig through rock (this is where the dynamite comes in). Buried in the dirt or sitting in the open pathways are letters or bones, simply run across them (or dig across them) to pick them up. You can hold up to eight letters at a time, and if you want to spell a word that doesn't include one you can click and drag it from your inventory onto any open path where the dog can come back later to pick it up again if you so choose. Each word you form grants you a certain amount of bones based on the size of the word and bonuses will pop up offering extra bones for specific requirements, such as an eight letter word, or a word that starts with the letter "F".

There are two modes offered in Word Up Dog!, an arcade mode that is on a timer and an infinite adventure mode that allows you to play as long as you wish. In arcade mode when you finish up a level and want to go deeper you will encounter a really tough junkyard dawg who will demand payment in bones to pass and continue to the next level, so make sure you seriously hoard those bones and don't spend them all on bonuses. The game is over when you run out of time or if you run out of bones, although you can beg more bones from one of your homies, the Mine Cart Monkey, presuming you can remember where he is and you have enough juice to persuade him.

Analysis: With its combination of cute, cartoony visuals and Compton homeboy attitude, Word Up Dog! is amusing in a white-bread, middle-class, trying to be gangsta kind of way. The juxtaposition between the gangsta speech and attitude of the denizens of the deep with the pretty, child-like graphics make for an entertaining way to sharpen both your platforming and vocabulary skills. Sarah Northway has created one addictive puzzler with Word Up Dog! that will keep bringing you back again and again to try to make more complex words or beat the levels faster.

Word Up Dog!Gameplay is easy to pick up with a short but comprehensive tutorial at the beginning of the game. With the three-pronged controls the game is easy for lefties, righties, or those who don't want to lose their grip on the mouse lest some homie come by and gank...seriously, I need to stop that. Perhaps the only complaint about Word Up Dog! is that the short music clip gets old pretty fast, but there is a handy mute button to silence it once it gets annoying. The rest of the control structure is fantastic, with the ability to pull up help in the middle of the game, the ability to save several games and come back later, and the ability to change from the fake gangsta rap language to the Queen's English (or to French or German if you are so inclined).

Simple to learn with a lot of vocabulary complexity to be found, Word Up Dog! is casual gameplay that can suck you in and give you hours and hours of enjoyment. This fun, amusing, challenging game of spelling is entertainment for a wide range of ages, from those youngsters who want to improve their mad spellin' skillz to the older folks who enjoy a vocabulary challenge. So check out Word Up Dog! and tell 'em your homie GrinnyP sent ya. Word.

Play Word Up Dog!


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (234 votes)
| Comments (53) | Views (426)

DoraAlphalandEver stop to think about the transition of a game from testing phases to final product? Probably not, but Jonas Kyratzes might give you pause with Alphaland, his new experimental platformer. It starts out simply enough, as Jonas himself has asked you to test his new game, which at the moment consists of rather rudimentary graphics and a single objective; just walk over and grab the token on the screen. Use the [arrow] keys to move, and press the [up arrow] or [spacebar] to jump. Before you can even accomplish Jonas's simple task, however, you find yourself slipping through a crack into a place you were never meant to go. Explore, experiment, gather tokens and "power-ups", and keep searching for the end... whatever the end may be.

Alphaland's biggest failing might be that it won't grab enough people from the very beginning; unless you're familiar with his work and the knowledge that "it's a Jonas Kyratzes game" is enough to immediately engage you and lift your expectations, you'd be forgiven for thinking there's not much to the game and immediately dismissing it after a few minutes. Early gameplay is very simple, but you can't really shake the feeling that you're lost, and that alone may be frustrating enough for some players to quit. It's hard to criticize it from a technical angle when the game itself is so simple, except perhaps to say that some of the jumping through more crowded or narrow areas might become frustrating because of how blocky everything is. If there was a sound-effect for colliding with the scenery, you could have changed the name to "BONK! the game".

Instead, Alphaland's strength lies in its subtle mood and slowly unfolding, sparsely revealed narrative. It's strictly "show, don't tell", and by doing so has created a piece of work that will live or die for a particular player on the story or emotions they take away from it because the gameplay is so very simple. Whether you find the tale heavy-handed or uplifting is entirely up to you, and you won't hear me say boo about it. As for myself, perhaps the greatest compliment I can offer Jonas Kyratzes as a storyteller is that despite my cynicism and initial reaction to the gameplay, I reached the end and found myself actually tearing up a little. (No, no, it's okay. I went and bullied one of the neighbour's kids until I felt tough again.) Obviously, as the informercials say, results are not typical, but Kyratzes has undeniably once again managed to create another game designed to make you think and, more importantly, make you feel.

Play Alphaland


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (88 votes)
| Comments (17) | Views (165)

Classic Nurikabe LightArtbegottiEvery month for about half a year now, we've seen the fine folks at Conceptis Puzzles roll out a new sampler of puzzles in their Conceptis Light series. But did you know they've introduced a new puzzle type on their site? Enter Nurikabe Light, an appetizer-sized portion of an unusual logic puzzle challenge.

Unlike most of the number-based puzzles featured on Conceptis, the goal of Nurikabe is to make a network of connected black squares. You can mark a square as black by clicking on it, or marking it as empty (represented by a dot) by double-clicking. There are four basic rules to remember when solving these puzzles:

  1. All black squares must be orthagonally connected (not diagonally).
  2. The black squares cannot form a 2x2 block.
  3. A square with a number represents an "island" of empty squares, where the number indicates the area of the island.
  4. The islands are not orthagonally adjacent (diagonally is okay).
Nurikabe varies from most logic puzzles in that the end result is a very abstract construction, unlike the clear pictures that you might get from a Pic-a-Pix or Link-a-Pix puzzle. As such, Nurikabe requires a lot of attention to those four magic rules to get the correct formation. Also keep in mind that in this version, all that's required for a puzzle to be considered "complete" is that all the black boxes are in their proper locations; marking the empty boxes isn't necessary, though it helps. It might take a bit of fiddling to get a hang of the rules and develop some strategies, but once you do, this puzzle can be seriously habit-forming.

It's not your typical numbers-in-boxes challenge, but don't let that scare you away. Once you wrap your mind around the concept of using the empty boxes as the clues for filling in the black squares, you're on your way. This first batch of Nurikabe Light features a number of simpler, smaller puzzles to help you learn the ropes. Give them a shot, you might discover a new puzzle addiction!

Play Classic Nurikabe Light


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (109 votes)
| Comments (38) | Views (435)

Weekday Escape

GrinnypOne fateful April day back in 2008 Tesshi-e debuted on the room escape scene with a simple game, Mild Escape. Ever since then on the anniversary of that first game the hapless player of Tesshi-e's games — our famous unknown protagonist -- goes back to that same town and opens that same door in order to reminisce about days gone by and of course escape another room. This year Tesshi-e marks their anniversary with the fantastic Mild Escape 4, now with bells and whistles you couldn't have imagined if you've ever played that first game.

Mild Escape 4Unlike with last year's anniversary game, Mild Escape 3, we now know the back story thanks to Idahhh's fantastic English translations. Change the language at the beginning of the game before you hit the intro and you'll feel a little nostalgic as the camera pans down a flat, two dimensional cartoony wall to the door that started it all. Once inside the space you must point and click your way around the room, investigating every nook and cranny, picking up everything you can find, and solving a few puzzles in order to escape. This is all classic Tesshi-e involving the use of found objects, the combining of objects, sharp observation, and puzzle solving.

Navigation is either by bars at the sides of the screen or clicking on certain areas that look interesting for a closer look. Inventory control is its usual marvel of efficiency and although there's still no changing cursor the clickable areas are pretty obvious which cuts down on the pixel hunting. Tesshi-e has added a new control called the "function" button, which allows the player to pull up a menu allowing them to save the game, restart, or even change the language mid-stream, very helpful for those who forget to change the language at the beginning and find themselves stuck in the Japanese version of the game (or vice versa). The puzzles are a nice mix of logic, math, and color and we can be very extremely grateful that the "wobbly picture" puzzle is nowhere to be found this time around.

Analysis: Tesshi-e games have improved tremendously from three years ago, when they were composed of fairly basic room escape components. Now we see all the bells and whistles of the larger escape games by designers like Neutral. With the addition of the function button to the mix Tesshi-e now has everything except a changing cursor, and frankly it's almost not needed.

The visuals just get more stunning every time you play a Tesshi-e game and Mild Escape 4 is no exception. Seriously, I want to live in Tesshi-e's world where beautiful spaces like this with fantastic nighttime views exist every place you go. The music is a rather familiar upbeat tune, but the handy mute button is always available. The puzzles are tricky and fun and a nice mix of different types. And of course you have the regular and the happy coin escape also so prevalent in their work.

Basically there are only two things keeping Tesshi-e from launching to the level of designers like Neutral or Place of Light: The puzzles while amusing, varied, and fun are still a little on the simple side; and although you hardly need the changing cursor one would be helpful in a couple of places. Some sort of floating text for the color puzzles to aid those with visual problems would also be nice. But these are extremely minor nitpicks indeed.

Frankly, though, you'd really have to search hard to find anything wrong with Mild Escape 4. Challenging, amusing, easy on the eyes and ears, with simple intuitive controls, you're looking at a near perfect classic one-room four-wall escape game, wrapped up in an anniversary bow. Perfect for the mid-week break, Mild Escape 4 is everything you could want in a room escape and more. So let's tip a glass to the past and enjoy the present as Tesshi-e takes us down memory lane with a fantastic anniversary present.

Play Mild Escape 4


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (68 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (519)

MikeFlagstaff: Chapter TwoDon your armor, prep your spells, and grab your favorite fluffy towel; Flagstaff: Chapter Two is here! The next installment of Joel Esler's cute and silly RPG offers the same relaxed dungeon crawling as the first chapter, plus new enemies, new powers, and a new hero to play.

If you played Flagstaff: Chapter One, then the mouse-based controls of Chapter Two will be familiar. On your turn, click a character to control him or her. Click on the tile you want the selected hero to move, or pick a power and click on the character(s) you wish to target. You can only move your hero so many spaces a turn, and powers can usually only be used within a certain range, but Flagstaff intuitively shows you where these limits are. You can also move all your heroes at once, and you can speed up character movement by clicking again as they move. Once you have done everything you wish to do, click the "End Turn" button and see how your enemies react. As you defeat foes, you can level up by selecting a new power for one of your heroes, or by upgrading an existing power. Explore, kill enemies, level up, and figure out what is behind the dungeon's infestation.

Environments in this chapter of Flagstaff are the same randomly generated stone-walled dungeons as Chapter One, but there are some new faces this time. In addition to the classic Knight-Ranger-Wizard-Priestess quartet, you now can also play as the King, who offers an interesting mix of pugilism, leadership, and towel-based powers (really!). Several wizardly "sauciers" offer a bit more challenge than the fragile skeletons and guards of Chapter One, and a boss fight lends some variety to the standard hacking and slashing. Still, if you select your powers well, the game shouldn't put up too much of a fight. Flagstaff remains more about the silly story and casual pace than about seriously challenging veteran RPG players, but the design is cute and distinctive, the heroes all have interesting and balanced powers, and the pace is perfect for a light bit of dungeon crawling. Chapter Two builds on the promise of Chapter One, and tantalizes for the next installment of the Flagstaff series.

Play Flagstaff: Chapter Two


  • Currently 3.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.4/5 (44 votes)
| Comments (19) | Views (61)

ChiktionaryDelizaSome things in life are purely about experience, like bungee-jumping and rollercoaster rides. And there are games with no apparent meaning, that draw you in simply to enjoy something different, like Deliza. This point-and-click curiosity is essentially an advergame without the hard-sell elements, diffcult to define yet an experience in its own right.

An intrinsic element of Deliza is the three-dimensional viewing, requiring a simple click and hold of the mouse to scan each screen and giving you even more than a 360 degree panoramic view. Although the navigation is fairly static in that you basically feel you're standing in one spot in each screen, there's so much to look at as you move your mouse and examine the detailed environment from the sky to the ground and all around you, in an almost virtual reality type experience. The aim is practically secondary to the viewing; locate items to progress through the game, and like the navigation there's not much room to move. Progression requires that you click on everything possible, and often even re-click on items later to uncover clues and further items. Objects to be collected or clicked on are discernible by a silvery-blue glimmer and a tinkling sound, so it helps to have the volume up.

The viewing by moving the mouse around the screen can be a little disconcerting, perhaps even a little disorienting. But don't despair as there are navigation arrows to the bottom of the screen that you can click to limit any potential motion sickness. Clicking on items will either add them to the inventory at the left of the screen, or open small screens. Either way, the clicking can sometimes feel delayed which may be a frustration for some, but perhaps reminds us to slow down and enjoy the experience of feeling like we're in a virtual extra-terrestrial environment. Items in the inventory will automatically allow progress so no need to click or drag objects to use them.

Although Deliza can be considered to be almost purely experiential, there are inherent challenges. Take a wrong turn and you're stuck, or complete the game without actually finding all that can be found. Thankfully, the atmosphere of sights and sounds makes it less of a chore to start over. And on an extra-terrestrial planet where there are four seasons in one day, it's actually quite delightful to explore more than once. There's not a whole lot more that can be said, other than repeating that Deliza is an experience more than a game. With beautifully detailed 360 degree plus environs with sound effects to match, it's a pleasure to spend time exploring the offerings. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but hey... neither does bungee-jumping.

Play Deliza


| Comments (3) | Views (99)

The Vault

DoraThey say laughter is the best medicine, but I don't believe that. Medicine, naturally, is the best medicine, but it's closely followed by creative expression, a sprinkling of adventure, and intellectual stimulation. And Hawaiian pizza. And '80s music. And Bugs Bunny cartoons. All of these things keep life interesting and worth living, so it's no surprise that this week's installment of the Vault takes a look back on some of the best examples we've featured.

  • Click Drag Type 3Click Drag Type 3 - Are you go with puzzles? How about visual riddles? Unless your response was "Awwwwww yissss, lemme at dat biz-niz," then you might not be prepared to take on Simple Andy's collection of obscure, mind-bending stages. The instructions are right there in the title. All you need to do is figure out how to implement them and not eat your keyboard in frustration. I've always been a sucker for unusual puzzles, especially the ones that get your brain churning with minimal in-game direction, and Click Drag Type more than fits the bill, and packages them all up with a clean design and interface as well. All of this sort of makes me wonder if Simple Andy isn't going to wind up a more family-friendly (but more infuriating) version of Saw's Jigsaw... it's going to be a dark day for me if it happens, because I promise you that without a walkthrough I am never, ever getting out of one of his traps.
  • Time RaiderTime Raider - Lara Croft is a small fry. The hero of Rey Gazu's clever puzzle-platformer raids time. Do you know how hard that is? It's all wibbley-wobbley and junk! Created for our 3rd Casual Gameplay Design Competition where the theme was "replay", this quirky, morbid little game puts you in control of three heroes (well, technically just one) attempting to traverse a deadly tomb filled with traps, each moving along a different section of the screen. You can only control one hero at a time, and figuring out how to proceed, in what order, and avoid all the many fatalities that potentially await you is often as darkly funny as it is occasionally frustrating. It requires a lot of trial-and-error and a lot of patience, and yet it engages and makes you grin far more than it makes you rage quit... which isn't to say it isn't challenging, of course. Because it is, seriously. But if, like me, you blurt out a single, shameful laugh when someone hurts themselves in front of you before you can get it under control, you'll enjoy this.
  • A Break in the RoadA Break in the Road - I don't have a musical bone in my body, unless you count the cacophony I subject the car to when Lady GaGa comes on the radio and nobody is around to hear me mess up the lyrics. Despite this, I was instantly smitten with Luke Whittaker's brilliant and stylish musical creativity game/webtoy/experience when I first encountered it in 2006, and remain so to this day. Your goal is to explore the different urban environments in the game, searching for bits of sound, be it drops of water on metal or snippets of an argument, that you can use to edit together into a musical sensation that'll make the crowd go wild at a popular club. More than just being a superbly well made piece of experimental melody making, from its striking art design to its unusual concept, it's a game that reminds us all to pay a little more attention to what's going on around us and take pleasure in unexpected ways.

While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (115 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (422)

JamesMy Little ArmyAttacking the base is a time-honoured military tradition amongst gamers. In the same veing, losing your base is simply an unspeakable blunder. Such is the world of the base attack/defend title: spawn a stream of soldiers towards your nemesis (conveniently planted on the far side of the screen), all to dethrone him from his oversized riding beast. He's doing the same to kick you off your giant monkey/limbless panda/royal riding turtle. Such are the tribulations for warlords in Artlogic's action-packed real-time strategy game My Little Army.

After choosing your preferred difficulty (easy, medium, hard — each with a different character and storyline, but still the same game), you set about defeating your enemies on the battlefield, which is represented by a two-dimensional horizontal plane. Your character, seated on a giant animal, is on the far left and on the opposite side sits the warlord whose fall will mark the end of the level. To wage war you spawn soldiers via four different icons at the bottom. You can also cast spells to aid your fighters or do damage to the enemy. Spawning soldiers require mana, which you slowly regenerate, while a unit cap makes sure you don't swarm the battlefield.

Each mission awards golds and new items. Back at the home base you can change your army; applying new class types for improved attributes and giving them better weapons. You can also buy new spells, weapons and classes at the shop. In addition to the story missions there are random bonus missions where you can make more gold and get a chance to test your army (one, called Friday The 13th?, had zombies in hockey masks with chainsaw swords).

The trick to victory is to manage when you spawn soldiers and how you spend your mana. Archers and magicians need to be covered, but they often can swing the battle for you. Warriors, your front line, must be well armed and easy to deploy. But every upgrade you make to a unit renders it slightly more expensive. On top of that, casting spells is useful, but you might land yourself in a mana deficit; not where you want to be when a boss starts to stumble towards you after flattening your forces.

My Little ArmyAnalysis: My Little Army is clever strategy fun that wears its real-time nature on its sleeve, made from cutesy graphics and carried forward by purely-for-decoration storylines. You might even be fooled by thinking that this makes the game easy. See if you feel that way when a giant Jason is stomping your Khan Kong's face.

My Little Army makes this genre more playable. Attack/defend games tend to overdo things and make even early levels a bit too demanding. Not here, though if you do not pay attention to your hero and army stats, you'll soon be scraping yourself from the ground. It's a great example of how the base attack/defend genre should work.

Where the game needs a bit more work is in the nitty-gritty of arming. Although the help screens do well to illuminate the basics of the game, some parts of the buying/arming side, specifically the quantities and how they impact your decisions, could use some demystifying. Combat, in comparison, is straight-forward, but if you can't get to grips with the logistical side, you eventually start to lose. It would be sad if that isn't due to the player, but the game not making concepts more understood.

So My Little Army is not perfect, but it looks good and plays well. Its themed levels and impressive amount of units, enemies and weapons, not to mention the wacky character design, deserves a nod of acknowledgement and a bit of your gaming time.

Play My Little Army


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (205 votes)
| Comments (34) | Views (9,362)

DoraGrow Nano 4What do you get when you mix cake with eyeballs, hearts, and fanged box monsters? Grow Nano 4, of course! On of Eyezmaze brings you this itty-bitty installment in the popular Grow series of puzzle games about adding stuff to other stuff, like Top Chef by way of a Beatles music video narrated by Hunter S Thompson and drawn by the world's most adorable children's book illustrator. Just click on the icons and try to figure out the correct order to use them in; the goal is to literally grow a very special little creature, which will only happen if you can figure out when to use what so everything has a chance to "level up" properly. It's the age old question; what came first, the cake or the creepily fixated eyeball-mounted-on-a-hunk-of-rock? Scientists need to know!

With only four ingredients, Grow Nano 4 isn't the biggest entry in the series, but since it was made just to highlight a weird and wonderful beastie created by a fan of the games, we can forgive it. Besides, just because it's short doesn't mean it's easy; like all Eyezmaze titles, you'll have to think outside the box (literally this time) if you want to figure out the correct order of ingredients. It's more than a welcome surprise, and should serve to tide you over until the next hefty Grow game arrives. Until then, it's clear that On knows just the recipe we need for fun!

Play Grow Nano 4

Still want more Grow? Play the entire Grow series of games (in order of release)...


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (88 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (379)

TrickyPlexus Puzzle: Hollywood Gone WildLights! Camera! Puzzle! Everyone's favorite sawer of jig, Plexus, is back, with a new mind-bender of a visual workout: Hollywood Gone Wild! This time, the subject is the literal zoo that is the film industry as some animal auteurs have gathered to film the latest boffo-box-office, fun-for-the-whole-family, critical-darling, summer blockbuster! All the pieces are here for a smash hit, but they need you to put them into place. Roll 'em!

Like the previous Plexus puzzles, Hollywood Gone Wild doesn't quite follow the traditional jigsaw formula. Each element of the picture is complete in its own piece, meaning that its much more about lining borders up correctly than predicting the incredibly chaotic overall picture. First, using the mouse, you click on the piece you wish to move/rotate. Once clicked, use the [arrow] keys to rotate it to the preferred alignment, then drag them into place to join pieces together. The board starts as a mess of animals and pieces, but with your help, the production is sure to come together at the last minute.

Hollywood Gone Wild has a great deal of challenge, but only a bare-bones amount of sparkle. The animal actors and techies are drawn hilariously, and the completed picture is quite satisfying (and forms a more coherent scene than other Plexus puzzles), but there's nothing on the screen that wouldn't be there if you were completing the puzzle on a card table... an incredibly crowded card table. Still, if you like jigsaws and want an engaging fifteen minutes of vexation, Hollywood Gone Wild proves you oughta be in pictures!

Play Plexus Puzzle: Hollywood Gone Wild


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (71 votes)
| Comments (15) | Views (937)

Sword and Sworcery

JohnBBest of Casual Gameplay 2011Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery is, in one sentence, a gorgeous piece of playable, explorable art with a phenomenal soundtrack and overall design that begs to be experienced. We'll call it a point-and-click adventure (a touch and touch again adventure?), but really Sword & Sworcery is all about satisfying your curiosity in a visually striking world and doing one-on-one battles with a few discontented beings. It's a game so stepped in atmosphere and setting you'll feel like it's as epic as The Lord of the Rings, all compactified into your mobile device.

swordandsworcery.jpgTouch, rotate, and read, those are the actions you'll undertake in this stunning little game, and that's all that's necessary to build a world steeped in unspoken legend and mystery. Apart from its soundtrack and some ambient/non-ambient sounds, Sword & Sworcery is a quiet game that never throws anything in your face. It begins quietly, it continues quietly, and the whole time you're playing you'll pick up on its distilled sense of silence that amplifies the game's setting. To walk, simply double tap where you want to go, or tap and hold to move at a constant step. If you see something you think looks interesting, double tap it to check it out. You can also zoom in and out a level by pinching the screen.

Combat is also a part of Sword & Sworcery, and it's handled in such a way that it adds excitement without breaking the game's delicate silence. At any time, you can rotate your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch to enter a zoomed-in behind the shoulder mode. A sword icon will appear, and if you have encountered a foe, a shield icon will also show up. Tap the shield to block, the sword to attack. Watch your opponent's move and counter-attack when there's an opening. Combat isn't too difficult, but it adds a necessary element of danger to the game.

The challenge in Sword & Sworcery comes from solving some simple puzzles that are largely experimental in nature. Battles also become more prominent as the game progresses, but they never take over the heart of the game. As for the story, we'll let those details unfold themselves when you play, as it's not worth spoiling even the slightest bit of info for the sake of a review.

swordandsworcery2.jpgAnalysis: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is truly a rare game, and when a playable piece of art like this comes along, we'll trip over ourselves to play it as soon (and often) as we possibly can. You can tell from the screenshots that the game's artwork is something special, but once you play it, you realize how well put-together the whole thing is. The soundtrack, Sword & Sworcery LP: The Ballad of the Space Babies by Jim Guthrie, contains over an hour of music, and the minute you hear it in the game you'll want to own the score, too!

If you recognize the art style or the name Superbrothers from before, you're an observant and loyal reader with an eye for good games! Back in 2009, we featured Alpinist, a short adventure-style game released by part of the Superbrothers team. It's been a while since that gorgeous little game was released, but when you play Sword & Sworcery EP you'll forgive them for the long wait.

Yes, we're gushing all over this game like a kid at an ice cream store, but Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is worth every word of praise we can throw at it. This is a game you'll want to soak in, not skim across, so settle back in a nice and dark room, grab some headphones, and start Sworcerying.


| Comments (4) | Views (39)

Mobile Monday

JohnBExciting? Check. Thrilling? Sort of the same as exciting, but check. Calm? Check. Actioney but with some puzzle elements? Er, check. Pie? Check. Well, check yesterday, but there's some left over in the fridge. Help yourself (it's chocolate), then help yourself to some awesome Android games, too!

returnzero.gifReturn Zero - Racing games on mobile platforms can be hit or miss. This one's a big hit in a big way. It's simple, it's stylish, it's challenging without being frustrating, and beyond all else, it's awesome. Tilt your phone to steer your futureship (totally made that word up) left and right. Race through the blueish fields to stay in the game, and tap the arrows on the left to switch from racing low to high. You can also hold the button on the right to enter super slow-mo mode, allowing you to calibrate your path and get back on the right track. But, you know, since this is a racing game, you don't want to do slow-mo too often! A great game even non-racing fans will enjoy. Return Zero Free is also available.

stonesoftranquility.jpgStones of Tranquility Lite - Aah, here's a nice change of pace. Instead of racing around futuristic worlds or frantically matching puzzle pieces, how about we just stack some stones by a waterfall? Stones of Tranquility isn't a game as much as it is an experiment in calming your mind. There are no achievements, power-ups, explosions, or any of the other fare us gamers are accustomed to. Instead, you simply tilt the phone to move a platform to catch stones as they fall. Stack them all successfully and you move on to the next level. If you fail, it's cool, just give it another shot. A good way to relax, and a fun, good-looking stress-free game to boot! The free Stones of Tranquility Lite is also available.

spinballs.jpgSpinballs - A matching-style puzzle game with an unusual sort of twist. You are given a series of orb-topped discs that can be rotated clockwise or counterclockwise with a single tap. The goal is to rotate as many of these discs as you can to create groups of like-colored balls. Line a few items up, tap the button at the bottom of the screen, and see how many simultaneous matches you made. It's quite a challenge to go for the big matches, as with each turn you can destroy a group, sort of like working with a Rubik's Cube. The free Spinballs Lite is also available.

cordy-android.jpgCordy - "Impressive" is the first word you'll utter when you see this game in motion. Cordy is a gorgeous platformer from Silvertree Media that utilizes 3D environments forced into a 2D perspective that frequently rotates as you move about the levels. It resembles LittleBigPlanet in a number of ways, but the action is simpler and less collection-based. Use the on-screen controls to move, hopping and running across the beautifully-animated terrain, collecting items to power-up your battery that activates portions of the stage. If you don't have a newer phone model, this one might give your processor a bit of a strain, so be sure to set the graphics to "simple" instead of "HD" in the settings menu. A dozen levels are free, but you must use in-app billing to unlock more stages.

NOTE: Games listed may not be available outside of North America. Prices are subject to change and are therefore unlisted. Please see the individual game pages for purchasing info. Games have been confirmed to run on Android 2.2 on an HTC Incredible.


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (22 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (189)

Capsized

JohnBA space ship. An explosion. An escape pod. A crash. It's just you and an alien planet replete with jungle creatures who aggressively attack you, lone guy in a well-equipped spacesuit. Capsized drops you in an unfamiliar world and gives you just a few tools to survive. Fortunately, a grappling hook and a number of guns happens to be amongst these tools, the former of which is handy not only for swinging around and pulling yourself up ledges, but for grabbing and moving obstacles. Other than that, you really have to rely on your wits in this gorgeously-illustrated but challenging physics/action game.

capsized.jpgCapsized is an intense action game, and you'll realize this the first time a lizard digs through a pile of debris, knocks over a boulder and charges straight for you. Most of the gameplay is focused on exploring complex levels in a dangerous alien world, pushing your way through corridors and climbing up vast expanses just to see what's on the other side. Most of what you find will be enemies, but there are plenty of power-ups to come across, with loads of new weapons and ammunition to power your tiny little array of guns.

The grappling hook is arguably your most important tool, and by firing it onto walls and ceilings you can pull yourself around the world with surprising accuracy. Use it to gain higher ground, hold yourself against a certain spot, or to swing across dangerous gaps. Lots of things in Capsized are movable, such as stones, logs, or bits of debris. Latch onto them and you can tug them around the stage. Using these objects to explore the world and to fight enemies is a tough tactic to master, but you simply must do so in order to succeed. And survive!

While Capsized may look lush and feature a lot of physics-based environment manipulation, don't be fooled. This is an action/shooting game at heart, and even on lower difficulty levels, you'll die on many occasions, not to mention the adrenaline rushes you'll get when enemies attack you without remorse. Your character comes equipped with a health meter and several lives, allowing you to get rammed by a nondescript spine creature or step on an exploding plant without having to start all over. But even with that, you'll be caught by surprise a number of times as enemies leap out of pods or push through physical barriers to attack you. You've got guns, but sometimes they just don't do enough. Don't these alien foes know we don't want to be on this planet just as much as they want us to leave?!

capsized.jpgAnalysis: Capsized is the best of retro gaming with the best of the modern aesthetic spackled right over top. It's an intense game on a number of levels, throwing blood-thirsty enemies in your face at every juncture, challenging you with physics puzzles, and putting loads of power-ups all around you but forcing you to figure out a way to retrieve them. Exploration is key in the game, but with each step you take you're likely to encounter a nest of alien enemies, and sometimes you're just to scared to have that happen!

The visual style of Capsized is phenomenal, with backgrounds, foregrounds, and character art far exceeding the quality produced by most indie studios, let alone big super-funded development teams. Hand-drawn art is always a great choice, and Capsized utilizes it well. The music by Solar Fields is also well-placed, serving up an atmosphere that lulls you into a deceptive visual submission. Before a land anemone the size of a horse drops on your face.

Capsized features a dozen missions with big, non-linear environments, unique objectives, and a scoring system that tallies points based on your speed, efficiency, and thoroughness. You can go back and replay missions to max out your score, and you'll be surprised how motivated you'll be to do just that. Capsized also features extra arcade modes to unlock, including local multiplayer modes, survival mode, time trials, and "armless" fighting. These go a long way to adding to the replay value of an already well-stocked game!

Capsized is a great-looking action game that gives "intense" a new meaning. Not for the quiet gamer or anyone who screams when a bird flies at the window, the challenge level will certainly give you a reason to keep playing, if the excellent visuals or intriguing physics-based puzzle design doesn't. And, if you're worried Capsized is too intense for you, try it on easy mode and you just might fall for it all the same!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo (via Steam)
Get the full version (via Steam)

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


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (306)

Amanda Rose - The Game of Time

ChiktionaryThe concept of travelling through time has ignited the imaginations of many, and the resulting tales present with a myriad of possibilities. But more often than not, there's a time machine involved. Amanda Rose: The Game of Time, developed by Renergy, takes the idea of hurtling through a time-space continuum one step further by way of a small stone in an unfolding cube found by our heroine, Amanda, at the site of a plane crash. It's not an easy ride though and after several days of unconsciousness, she awakes to an adventure that will take her through the wild west of America to the amazing lost city of Atlantis. Of course there are multiple hidden objects to be found to help her on her way.

Amanda Rose - The Game of TimeAmanda Rose: The Game of Time takes the hidden object adventure hybrid standard up a notch with gorgeously-detailed scenes, high quality artwork and a high level of puzzle solving to locate items. There are also puzzles to solve aside from the searching, and while intricately detailed to look at, they're not overly challenging. The main goal of the game is to help Amanda Rose locate her missing father, and to do this she undertakes a variety of tasks to help the characters she meets during her journey.

Each scene requires a double level of hidden object seeking. The first level of objects are fairly straightforward to locate, hidden somewhere in each detailed scene. The second level requires a bit more puzzle-solving on your part as these items are hidden within locked chests and safes, or can only be acquired after completing certain tasks. Some items need to be combined in order to progress, which is easily achieved in the inventory and signified by a "plus" symbol next to objects.

Facets of the game that are there to help include a journal that records notes and codes as well as serving to remind you which tasks need to be completed, and a hint meter which is slow to recharge, but helpful in pointing the way. What's nice about the hint meter is that it often doesn't point directly to difficult to locate objects, but really does serve as a hint system.

Amanda Rose - The Game of Time Analysis: Some games really make you feel valued as a consumer, and this would have to be one of them. The work and care invested in Amanda Rose is immediately evident with gorgeously detailed scenes to explore as an almost seamless adventure unfolds. The gameplay is interspersed with comic-style graphics and dialogue, which fills out the overall game quite a bit, and can be skipped entirely, but the artwork is so beautifully executed that it's a pleasure to watch the story unfold. There's additional dialogue from Amanda Rose's character, which at times feels unnecessary as it points out the obvious.

With the quality artwork and amazingly detailed scenes with expressive characters that look almost three dimensional, the game starts with all cylinders firing. Unfortunately, the momentum slows in the last three or four chapters, which are shorter in duration and gameplay, as the artwork looks less detailed and the games, both hidden object and puzzles, start to feel less challenging to the point of being underwhelming. But the design, sound effects and intricacy of detail makes this point forgivable.

Gameplay is very linear; objects need to be found and puzzles solved before you can progress to ensuing scenes. Much of the challenging gameplay lies in the hidden object games, as the puzzles are more or less based on sliding tile puzzles, and as such are not a strong element of the game despite being beautiful to behold. When all the items are found in a room, the game lets you know which saves a whole lot of fruitless pointing and clicking. The game itself plays for approximately three or more hours, but that is entirely dependent on how much dialogue you wish to skip.

Amanda Rose: The Game of Time is a magnificent example of developers investing so much work and care into their games, and Renergy has created a beautifully detailed game. From beginning to end, this is a game that will captivate you with its imagery, sound and imaginative tale, and one you'll remember for quite a while after you've finished playing.
 
WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

Recent Comments

 

Display 5 more comments
Limit to the last 5 comments

Casual game of the week

Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence

Your Favorite Games edit

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

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.


Visit our great partner: maxcdn!