When 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.