Things have been pretty tough this spring on Tricky Farm in JayIsGamesVille. First, I wasn't able to get enough invite responses to save ol' Bessie. Then, after forgetting to check in every seventeen minutes, the whole sorghum crop dried out. Worst of all, the only gifts my neighbors have been sending have been "Plague O' Locusts" mystery packs. Oh well. At least, I know I can always look to the JIG Archives for a bumper harvest of fun. This week, we have some gateway strategy games that are sure to take your mind off any agricultural trouble.
- Proximity - Proximity, by Brian Cable, came out in 2004. It looked as primitive then as it does today, but the first time playing it, I just knew that it was something special. A simple turn-based game of numbers, tiles, and placement, Proximity takes some of the best aspects of Risk and Go, then reformulates them into something special all its own. An HD version of it placed in Microsoft's Dream Build Play competition, and would eventually be released as a launch title for XBox Live's Indie Games, and its long awaited sequel was released there last year to great success. It is one of the few casual games for which I would gladly overpay a sketchy online German Import/Export business to get a physical copy for Family Game Night, and it is a must-play for all fans of European-style board games and/or hexagons.
- Climate Challenge - It may be a little late for Earth Day, but there should always be time for a serious, nuanced look at environment science, especially when it's this enjoyable. Climate Challenge, a simulation developed by Red Redemption and funded by the BBC, is one part Sim City, one parts,Ayiti: The Cost Of Life, and just a dash of Diplomacy to keep things interesting. Informative without being preachy, and factual without being dry, Climate Challenge tasks you with balancing the often contradictory goals of a cleaner environment, a strong economy, and high personal approval ratings. Offering all the challenge inherent in any game that tackles issues with no easy answers, Climate Challenge's fast-paced, thought-provoking gameplay would find as worthy a place in a classroom as it would on your favorite games list.
- StarShine - Good morning, StarShine! JayIsGames says hello! A sparkling puzzle game by Hero Interactive where angular rays are just as important as those of astral bodies, StarShine requires just enough trial-and-error to be happily frustrating, and just enough strategy to make each solution supremely satisfying. The starry fireworks of StarShine are as beautiful as the complicated patterns you'll be launching by the final level. Good thing there's such soothing music and visuals, since juuuuust missing the final star of a level cannot be good for your blood pressure. In short, StarShine is pretty, challenging, and pretty challenging. Check out its sequel too!
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!