June 2012 Archives


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Rating: 4.7/5 (30 votes)
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Where's My Perry

JohnBWhere's My Perry? is a brand new physics puzzle game from Disney Mobile. Utilizing the same set-up as Where's My Water?, this updated and expanded version sets things in the Phineas and Ferb universe where Perry the platypus has to work his way through underground tubes to investigate a series of mysteries (some of which may or may not involve moustaches). The catch is that the power doesn't work for these tubes, trapping Perry in booths until you can guide water to the intake valve. It's a very similar experience to Swampy wanting his bath water, but with new gameplay elements and puzzles, you'll be happy to join in on the much-improved fun!

Where's My PerryGetting the gooey liquid stuff to the power spout is a simple matter of removing soil and letting gravity do the rest. By dragging your finger across the screen, you can get rid of any amount of dirt you see fit, freeing up space for the water to flow. When the liquid gets going, it can do things like power movable blocks, set off celebratory confetti gadgets, fill and collect water gnomes you'll need to get the best score for each stage, and finally, power that transportation tube so you can move on to the next puzzle!

New in Where's My Perry? are certain Crazy-inator beams that can turn water into steam or ice. Naturally, ice sets still, often forming necessary platforms, and steam rises to the top of the screen, forcing you to invert your dirt removing strategies and come up with convoluted plans to clear a path upwards. Many of the later stages require you to convert water back and forth between states, setting up multi-stage puzzles that can take some time to wrap your head around.

Where's My PerryAnalysis: Where's My Perry? is far from a simple re-brand of Where's My Water?. In addition to the slightly new look, a number of new gameplay elements have also been added (namely, the steam and ice beams), not to mention new levels, new cutscenes, and plenty of character cameos from the Phineas and Ferb cartoon. The re-skin doesn't really add or subtract anything from the experience, but if you're a fan of the cartoon, you'll definitely get a kick out of seeing the characters do their thing on your mobile device.

The puzzles in Where's My Perry? are simultaneously more devious than in Where's My Water? and easier to solve by accident. Staring at a level and plotting out your moves, you might think it'll be next to impossible to solve the puzzle in front of your face. That is, until you stumble across the solution without even trying. This is likely an intentional design feature due to the younger crowd that will be drawn to the cartoon rebranding. Don't think there's no challenge to Where's My Perry?, though. There are still plenty of levels and plenty of obstacles to overcome, especially if you want to shoot for collecting all of the secret folders and gnomes!

Where's My Perry? is a smartly-done redesign of an already amazing game. It keeps everything intact that made the original so perfect while adding new elements, more complex puzzles, and more stages to complete. Really, the only bad thing about the game is the slightly awkward name!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (33 votes)
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Thomas Was Alone

JohnBOn the surface, it's easy to put Thomas Was Alone in the puzzle platform genre, citing games like The Lost Vikings when you discuss the gameplay mechanics and mentioning VVVVVV as a possible source of lo-fi indie inspiration. But after you've spent some time with the game, you suddenly realize it's much more than just a platformer. Thomas Was Alone is an interactive, character-driven puzzle experience with a beautiful audio visual presentation and gameplay controls/physics that were no doubt fine-tuned with fastidious precision.

Thomas Was AloneOne morning, Thomas woke up to realize he existed. This was quite an unusual thing, seeing as how he didn't exist before. He's alone, which is something, but he's also quite good at falling. Not only that, but he seems to be able to fall in the opposite direction, something he'll call "jumping". Before long, Thomas meets Chris, a shorter, heavier rectangle who can't jump quite as high (but gets along just fine all the same, thank you). Soon, Thomas meets more friends, each with their own unique shape and special ability, ranging from the tall and thin John to the surprisingly buoyant Claire. The newfound friends have to work together to make it through each level, hopping on top of each other's heads and taking turns climbing across the dark landscape as they avoid dangers and press switches to transform the very layout of the land.

To move about in Thomas Was Alone, use the [arrow] or [AD] keys, with [up] or the [spacebar] to jump. You can switch between characters using [Q] and [E], or jump straight to one using the [number] keys. Simple controls, indeed, and once you get the hang of fast switches, you'll be well on your way to mastering the subtleties of single player cooperative quadrilateral gameplay!

Thomas Was AloneAnalysis: Thomas Was Alone isn't merely a technical piece of precision goodness, it's also a well-written game, stylistically speaking. Imagine if Douglas Adams wrote children's fairytales and you'll get the basic tone the writing takes. Thomas and his friends all have very distinct personalities, likes, dislikes, thoughts, and attitudes towards each other. Not only that, but through the narration, the dynamics between the group grows as the game progresses, something you rarely see done with such eloquent brevity. Publishing the game without the brief pieces of texts would turn Thomas Was Alone into just another puzzle platformer to throw on the pile (albeit one with a nice presentation and some excellent gameplay). With just a little bit of characterization, the game suddenly springs to life, endearing itself to the player as they, too, become part of the team.

Apart from the wonderful presentation (with soundtrack by David Housden), gameplay in Thomas Was Alone is just as solid. Characters move in different ways, each with his or her own weight and speed. Chris feels so heavy, somewhat matching his personality, and John moves as if filled with air. The puzzles are smart and quickly get more intricate, and while they do tend to repeat a bit over time, you never really mind, as the game has already managed to charm you through and through, so a few repetitive jumps are no mind.

Thomas Was Alone is a little indie masterpiece that does great things with narrative and minimalist artwork. It's not just a platform puzzle game, it's a story of some little self-aware blocks who are on a quest to figure out what this whole "existence" thing is and why it's so utterly fascinating!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version (Desura)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version (Desura)


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Infected: The Twin Vaccine

DoraSix year old Theresa and her twin sister were the first to catch the virus. Theresa survived. Her sister didn't. Now, with people dead or dying and the city both evacuated and quarantined, the only hope for a cure might lie in finding the missing little girl who started it all in the plague-ridden town... provided you can avoid being horribly murdered by the menacing, masked hulk of a man who wants to find Theresa for his own ends. And you're alone, unarmed, and apparently kind of a pencil-neck. So, you know... good luck with that. Gogi Games delivers a remarkably creepy and engrossing hidden-object adventure with a medical thriller storyline in Infected: The Twin Vaccine. Will you be able to find Theresa, your only chance at a cure, before the virus mutates and spreads across the globe? And isn't this a job for virtually anyone else? Wolverine? Rebecca Chambers? Courage the Cowardly Dog?!

Infected: The Twin VaccineIf you're worried about being vastly underqualified and unprepared to conduct an investigation in a hostile environment crawling with disease, don't worry... turns out all you need to know is how to click. Unlike most games of this genre, Infected is fairly unique in that all of its hidden-object scenes are small, contained puzzles. Each item that you're asked to find has a use in that same area, usually to gain access to another, and when you've finally found and unlocked them all, you'll get an item that relates to your quest. If you need a little direction, click the hint button to get pointed towards your next objective, or to find a random object on your list. As an added bonus, the difficulty of the game is customisable, allowing you to tweak how quickly the hint and skip functions recharge in addition to whether you want the tutorial or help text. The end of the world was never so user friendly!

Analysis: Professional-calibre voice acting? A straight-laced medical thriller horror story? Hidden-object scenes that make sense and don't feel like pointless busywork?... Sweet Celestia, am I dead? It's rare to find a casual download game willing to play it straight, when most would rather inject some forced lightness, goofy dialogue, or out of place humour in order to try to appeal to a broader audience. The Twin Vaccine, however, creates a story-driven experience full of tense scenes, plot twists, bloated corpses, and disease-riddled animals. Hooray! On the downside, most of the environments you'll visit tend to be rather drab, if beautifully rendered, but I suppose that's one of the consequences on setting your game in a plague-ridden city quarantine. David Bromstadt probably isn't going to be able to do much for you even if he is willing to get airlifted in, and he's amazing.

Infected: The Twin VaccineThe decision to try to make hidden-object hunting feel like a more carefully considered part of the gameplay rather than a random assortment of junk and time wasting is a welcome one. It's nice to feel like you have a goal and are actually solving mini puzzles instead of mindlessly clicking on pictures, and for the most part, it's integrated very well. The rest of the gameplay is fairly standard stuff, with the usual assortment of bizarre locks and puzzles sprinkled about so that it looks like the Umbrella corporation built everything. Which is, y'know, kind of apt given the subject matter. On the whole, even if you do tweak the difficulty, chances are you'll find the game a bit on the easy side. It's a bit less about using your brain in most cases, and more about being smart enough to use the square peg in the square hole when it's presented.

If you're sick of fantasy and want a casual game that delivers a more serious storyline with a plot more grounded in reality, then Infected: The Twin Vaccine should be a demo you make a date with. The main game will probably run most players around four hours or so, and the bonus chapter, which acts as a sort of prelude, adds another hour or so to that. Despite the short length and comparatively simple gameplay, however, The Twin Vaccine is still easily recommended for its high amount of polish and exciting story that makes for a remarkably engrossing evening's play. Just remember... you have to dunk a few flaming basketballs to make a plague-riddled omelette. Or, uh. Something.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, 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
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Rating: 4.7/5 (481 votes)
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Strike Force Heroes

TrickyIt was just supposed to be another mission. Just another rebel force in another of the dozens of country you team has been sent to. That was before the explosion. Before the plane crash. Before some your squadmates started acting strange. Maybe the facility over there will have some answers. Of course, even if you find those answers, you'll still have to worry about getting out alive... Strike Force Heroes, by Sky9 Games, is an action arena shooter that proves that the best way to unravel a shadowy conspiracy is by blasting everything in sight

Strike Force HeroesYour soldier moves and jumps with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, and aims and shoots with the mouse. You equip your two weapons prior to each level, switching between them with [shift]. You can choose before four different classes, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and special weapons: Medic, Commando, Assassin, and Tank. Successful enemy kills with a class will gain experience and cash, unlocking new weapons and abilities for purchase. In particular, there are "kill-streak" abilities, activated with [ctrl] or [E], after killing a sequence of enemies without dying. Ammo and Health Packs are scattered around the various levels, to replenish your stocks. Each level has various win conditions, be it a certain number of individual or team kills, holding specified points for a certain period of time, capturing the enemies flag, or working as a team to face off against a single juggernaut of an enemy. Good luck, soldier!

Analysis: Juice-Tin, part of the Sky9 team, was co-creator of the Raze series. It is no surprise, then, that Strike Force Heroes plays a lot like them. Indeed, a fair description would be "Raze... NOT IN SPACE". That's a good thing for fans of the genre though. It keeps the frenetic action and streamlined gameplay, while at the same time, addressing how generic its predecessor felt at times. Most notably, by keeping things on Earth, there an appreciably larger variety of arenas to fight in. Even if, in most cases, it's a matter of aesthetic differences and platform placement, it's still much more enjoyable to have a choice of battling in a jungle village, a disintegrating aircraft, or a secret underwater lab, than a choice between a bio-mechanical alien landscape, a bio-mechanical alien landscape in a canyon, and a bio-mechanical alien landscape with a little ice on it. The aesthetic is sleek, even a little cartoony, but that serves well to keep characters and locales distinguishable. Also worthy of mention is the soundtrack, largely consisting of riffs and remixes on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home". While it sometimes comes out a little tinny, the choice of music does much to enhance the militaristic flavor, while allowing natural musical transitions from level to level, and style to style.

Strike Force HeroesOf course, with all attempts at innovation come a few missteps. The ability to change to a different kind of soldier, with its own choice of equippable weaponry unlocked as you play, works well as a mechanic. Yeah, it gets a little odd in story mode when your named Medic comes back to life as a Commando. Still, it's a fair price to pay for sidestepping the "whatever player gets to the best weapons first, wins!" problem that has plagued death-matches since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, the different classes don't feel quite balanced yet, which means, when it comes to XP gains, some classes may get left behind. (Then again, it may just that this review was never meant to be a Tank.) Also, speaking of balance, the difficulty in campaign mode takes quite a leap near the end, which may leave player grinding earlier levels for quite a bit. Finally, the lack of online multiplayer is a shame, though at least the programming is smart enough to ensure your AI teammates don't spend their time firing into walls. Much.

The best part of Strike Force Heroes is its wealth of content and options. 65+ weapons, a hefty story campaign and challenge mode, a host of achievements and unlockables, and an impressively customizable quickplay mode combine to make a game that all fans of arena shooters will find engaging. Pwning CPU newbs has never been so satisfying.

Play Strike Force Heroes


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (25 votes)
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The Story of Red Cloud

JohnBThe Story of Red Cloud is a massive adventure-style mod for the sandbox building game Terraria. Citing inspiration from The Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls, the mod takes a massive step away from its source, knocking out most of the creative aspects in favor of traditional combat and exploration. This isn't the Terraria you've grown to love, nor is it a happy romp through a flower-filled land of bunnies (though there are bunnies). The Story of Red Cloud is a challenging game filled with secrets to find, items to hoard, dungeons to explore, and gruesome deaths to narrowly avoid.

thestoryofredcloud.jpgNew to Terraria? That's just fine! The Story of Red Cloud doesn't require any knowledge of the original game, though if you're familiar with the set-up and controls it will certainly help. For starters, you need to own a copy of Terraria, which isn't a big deal now that the game can be found for a low price. Once you have the game and install the mod, simply move with the [WASD] keys, use the cursor to aim, the [left] mouse button to attack and the [right] mouse button to interact with things or use your secondary weapon.

Exploring the impressively large world of The Story of Red Cloud, you'll find a number of different environments to poke your nose in, ranging from towns to swamps, temples to mountains, and maybe even some underwater bits, too. You can interact with chests and barrels and the like, gathering items to add to your collection and keeping the best equipment for your own use. Enemies are all over the place in this game. It seems like half a dozen of them are on your tail at every turn. You can fight them off most of the time, but what you really want to do is stand back and deal with the situation logically. Combat can get you into trouble, and death can be a big setback in The Story of Red Cloud, especially if you nudge the difficulty level up to include permadeath!

thestoryofredcloud2.jpgMajor changes from Terraria to The Story of Red Cloud include a narrative-driven plot (though it's light on text), almost 200 new items, weapons, and pieces of equipment, eleven new bosses, a dozen unique dungeons, a custom soundtrack, and a hand-crafted world where paths are carefully laid out to lead you to towns, dungeons, caves, and hidden secrets.A lot will be familiar to anyone who has played Terraria, but even more will be brand new.

Analysis: The Story of Red Cloud may be a mod of Terraria, but it plays and feels like something completely different. There's no crafting or building or house decorating, but you can place a few blocks, destroy some blocks, and fight plenty of foes. This is an action adventure game at its heart, so even though it looks like the friendly world of Terraria, it's an entirely new experience. The inspiration drawn from Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda really does it justice, so if you're familiar with those games, you'll know what to expect here.

thestoryofredcloud3.jpgThe Story of Red Cloud was created by Tim Hjersted along with a number of folks from the Terraria modding community. We don't often feature reviews of mods on JayIsGames, largely because they tend to require convoluted set-up procedures, but The Story of Red Cloud is a notable exception. A handy installation guide comes with the download, so once you have your copy of Terraria ready to go, you can get the mod up and running within just a few minutes. All you have to do is install a mod manager and a launcher, then copy some files to folders you create. It isn't as awkward as it may sound, and it's a safe process that won't destroy any existing data you have. Plus, The Story of Red Cloud is totally worth the effort!

If you can deal with the high difficulty level and play the game cautiously, you'll find very little to fault with The Story of Red Cloud. Combat isn't as precise or engaging as you might expect, as it is built on Terraria's loose model of attacking, but you quickly adapt to the inexactness of swinging a sword or firing a bow. Before you know it, you'll be dealing multiple blows with a single swing, like a boss!

Good mods can be a rare thing, and completely new adventures of this nature are even less common. The Story of Red Cloud takes the soul of Terraria and sticks it in the body of a challenging action adventure game stuffed to the brim with items, enemies, and areas to explore. It distills the best bits of the genre and expands them to epic proportions, so you get more of the things you love without having to deal with terrible storylines, awkward gameplay gimmicks, and the like. And, while Terraria was obviously not made for a game of this nature, somehow it all works out well in the end.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version
Get Terraria (required to play)

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


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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DoraFinding EdenWhat makes a hero? Is it someone who keeps fighting, even when everyone around them insists there's no point? Or is it someone who is willing to give the most precious thing they can just for the promise of a better tomorrow? Made in just under a month as a half hour lunch break game, Sailerius and Hirei have crafted a short but remarkably atmospheric action adventure release with Finding Eden, a thoughtful game about friendship, the end of the world, and sacrifice. The story follows two young girls struggling to stay alive after an unspecified disaster befell the world and left it stripped of Mana, with virtually everyone left sleeping husks littering the street... except for the sinister Harvesters who are always on the girls' heels. With their own Mana, their life force, constantly dwindling and scraps being harder and harder to come across, is it worth carving out an existence in this bleak world... or can they find something worth giving everything they have for?

findingeden2.jpgMove with the [arrow] or [WASD] keys, and interact or attack with the [spacebar] or [enter]. Combat is real time, so make sure you stay on your toes and keep moving whenever Harvesters are after you. Luckily, both girls have special abilities you can trigger using [J] that can seriously help out in a dangerous situation, but using them takes precious Mana. You can recover health by sleeping in any bed, but doing so causes you to lose a bit more Mana with the passage of time, and the only way to replenish it is, occasionally, from fallen enemies, or by harvesting it from glowing sources found scattered throughout the areas. You can save your game after sleeping, or any time you like by hitting the [ESC] key to open the menu.

Finding Eden is... a bit weird. On the one hand, it's an exceptionally well done example of how you can tell an effective story with an evocative setting within serious time constraints. The areas are beautifully designed, and the soundtrack perfectly chosen. Combat is interesting, but feels underdeveloped and a little awkward to the point where you can often just run past enemies, though the few boss battles you'll encounter do liven things up a bit. On the other hand, you're definitely going to be left with a lot more questions than answers at the end. You'll want to know more, and in a way, that's the biggest compliment you can pay a storyteller. Our two heroines are easy to care for, and while the time you spend with them might be short, it's worth making the time if you can appreciate a story that wants you to decide the ending for yourself.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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grinnyp_fiercetalesthedogsheart_banner.png

GrinnypOne of the main tropes present in hidden object hybrids these days is that someone gets kidnapped by mysterious forces and you must rescue them, be it a prince, a princess, children, a whole town, or some random guy off the street. However, Fierce Tales: The Dog's Heart by Blam! Games (creator of The Keepers: Lost Progeny) goes in a completely different direction. You see, your cute little puppy is kidnapped by mysterious forces, and you must rescue him before it's too late. It may not reinvent the hidden object wheel, but it's still a pretty darned good adventure waiting to be played!

grinnyp_fiercetalesthedogsheart_screenshot1.pngThe Town of Houndspoint is one that really, really loves their dogs. Unfortunately and rather suddenly, not all of the dogs are returning that love. A strange pack of savage dogs has appeared and is ravaging the town, killing at least one resident and dognapping other faithful companions on their way through. It all seems like a rather abstract problem to you, the hero, until the calamitous canines make a run at your house and kidnap your cute little puppy Pippa. All you need to do is track the dogs and discover the secret behind the pernicious pack before the entire town is wiped out.

Gameplay is of the point-and-click variety with changing cursors to indicate areas of interest and navigation, hidden object scenes which disgorge one useful item, a nice scattering of mini-games and puzzles, a bottom loading inventory, and a refilling hint timer. Glints, gleams, and glimmers of light highlight areas of interest if played in casual mode, and the usual articles, letters, scraps of paper, etc. are everywhere telling the story as you wander a town suffering from the doggie equivalent of shell shock. Helpful residents of town (not all of them human) are around to answer questions or give more clues to solve the central puzzle of what is happening to man's best friend.

grinnyp_fiercetalesthedogsheart_screenshot2.pngAnalysis: With Fierce Tales: The Dog's Heart, Blam! Games has created a beautiful, engaging tale that is sprinkled with more than a bit of humor. Yes, the story is one that has been done before, but rarely this stylishly and with as hefty an amount of gameplay. Bonus points for no ghosts, demons, or other supernatural beings wandering about. More bonus points for being a canine-rescuing hero!

Background visuals are stunning and bathed in tones of blue and brown befitting the night-time setting of the adventure, enhanced by a rousing soundtrack and some pretty nifty animations. Voice acting is competent and not a large intrusion, merely serving to move the story along rather than acting as filler to make the game seem longer. What really stands out is the rather snarky humor that pops up in unexpected places, keeping the story from becoming too overwrought and angsty.

Gameplay length is fantastic and will clock in at five hours or more just for the main adventure (in the Collector's Edition, the bonus adventure is also pretty hefty). Hidden object scenes are the usual list o' stuff but do involve some interactivity to keep them interesting, and the mini-games and puzzles are fun and engaging although on the familiar and somewhat easy side. Three modes of play ensure that a wide range of players can enjoy the mayhem, although it might be a bit too intense for those under the age of eight. Rounding out the experience is a handy interactive map, a feature that is welcome to keep track of all the places that have been explored.

With its meaty gameplay and rather amusing twist on the standard "damsel in distress" theme Fierce Tales: The Dog's Heart is a definite must for those who love adventure hybrids, a genre that has too often, it must be said, gone to the dogs.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It includes wallpapers, music, concept art, extra gameplay, and a built-in strategy guide. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions, 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 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (111 votes)
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elleVintage MemoryAs with anything good, there's something about a TomaTea escape game that goes beyond description. But you know one when you see it—logical puzzles that lean heavily on code-breaking, the ever erudite "no clue" messaging and settings that look like an artistically rendered feature spread from House Beautiful—all marks we've come to associate with the designer whose icon is a plump red veggie-like fruit.

So let's look back at Vintage Memory, a relatively vintage TomaTea game. While the light-up cursor, found in newer TomaTea releases, is absent here, both design and distinct (though not always obvious) clues mean you won't miss that extra guidance. Of course, there's a bit of misdirection involved, especially with multiple 4-digit codes to break, and it's not quite as seamless as more recent TomaTea productions. Yet, Vintage Memory is still a fun, mildly challenging escape—with all the classic TomaTea features to make it memorable.

Play Vintage Memory


  • Currently 3.9/5
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Rating: 3.9/5 (44 votes)
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TrickyChunkadelicHere at JayIsGames, we're always in the mood for a cavalcade of pixelated arcade fun. But, you know what? Sometimes we like it to get... a little funky. Enter Chunkadelic, developed by Noel Berry and Chevy Ray Johnson for the Full-Indie 48-hour Game Jam. It's one third Atari, one third microgames, and one third discotheque. That adds up to a work that's 100% a love letter to retro-gaming... A love letter with an atypical amount of strobe-lighting, but a love letter none-the less.

Chunkadelic takes you through a series of 9 minigames, each one inspired by a classic of gaming, ranging from Asteroids to Xevious. All are controlled with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys. While specific instructions aren't given, the inputs should be intuitively familiar to most gamers. (An exception seems to be the Super Mario-inspired level, which has proved a stumbling block for some players. For the record, you must alternately tap [left] and [right] to build up the speed that will allow to leap over pipes with [up].) Admittedly, Chunkadelic relies heavily on its spectacle. However, it is pretty good spectacle, so it genereally works out well. The feel is quite reminiscient of the Space Invaders Extreme series, so much so that it wouldn't be surprising if it was a direct inspiration. Overall, Chunkadelic is kind of ephemeral, but it's hard not to be entertained by it's prettiness. Turn off the lights, turn up the sound and get groovin'

Note: This game contains bright colors and flashing lights. In fact, it might be better described that this collection of bright colors and flashing lights happens to contain a game. In any case, those prone to seizures should probably avoid.

Play Chunkadelic


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraSorry to disappoint all you hardcore extreme couponers out there... not only do we not have any Vitamin Water for you, but you don't have to clip anything to win a free game this week... just be your normal charming self! This week's Link Dump Friday somehow wound up a lot more ghoulish than expected, and with all these zombies and fleshy mutants and potent psychological drama shambling around, you'd think we'd be nervous, but honestly, this is pretty standard for us here at JiG HQ. Besides, ever since Jay punished me by making me watch that Jersey Shore marathon, nothing scares me.

Lone SurvivorCONTEST: Prizes, Terror, and Emotional Trauma If you want horror that's both disgusting and cerebral, then Jasper Byrne's surreal adventure Lone Survivor is an easy recommendation. It follows you, as apparently the only person immune to a disease that turned the rest of humanity into vicious beasts... at least, you think that's what's going on, and judging by the pills and hallucinations, there might be a bit more at work. We're giving away three copies and all you have to do for a chance to win one is leave a comment telling us the game hero (or villain!) you would most like to survive the end of the world with, and the three things you'd take with you to ensure your survival. Rules: Entries must be submitted by July 6th, 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT-5). Winners will be notified by e-mail shortly thereafter. Winners are selected randomly. One entry per person only. You must be at least 18 years of age or older to enter. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

The Walking DeadThe Continuing Adventures of BRAAAAAAAAAAINS! I kind of loved the first installment in TellTale's brutal adventure series based on the source material The Walking Dead, and if you felt the same way you'll be just as excited as I am to know that Episode Two: Starved For Help is releasing this Friday, June 29th... or, in other words, the day this article goes live! TellTale defied expectations with their gory but surprisingly tense and heartfelt game, and they've given themselves a tough act to follow. Will they succeed? Only time will tell!

Eyes of the ForestThe Trees Have Eyes Survival horror via RPG Maker 200? Hmmm, and hmmm again! Developers Outhouse Studios thinks it can be done, and with the July 15th release of Eyes of the Forest, they might just do it! The game, set in Victorian Europe, follows Samuel, despondent ever since his wife's death, who answers a letter from a colleague in Germany claiming to have discovered "something big". Apparently, nobody told Samuel he was the protagonist in a horror game, or suggested that maybe a place named Rottgarten is a terrible place to visit, and things go about as good as you'd expect. Promising full 3D cutscenes, multiple karma-based endings, and several hours of play, it looks like it could be a great way to creep yourself out for an evening... although hopefully those typos in the screenshots get cleaned up before the release!

LuftrasersVlambeer: Enemy of Boredom and Producitivty Vlambeer has this really terrible, wonderful habit of releasing "just one more turn" games like Super Crate Box that you kind of live in perpetual dread of being reminded of, since you know the moment it happens all semblance of responsibility will go out the window as you lose your time to it all over again. So you should be excited but nervous about Luftrasers, an improved version of the original. Adding upgradeable ships and more enemies is just the tip of the iceberg and could turn the original top-down arcade shooter into a serious contender. Keep your eyes peeled for this one!

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!


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Rating: 4.3/5 (52 votes)
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DoraHot Air JrNormally when someone says you're "full of hot air", them's fightin' words. I say normally, because if they're talking about Nitrome's Hot Air series, it's actually a compliment because they mean to say you're full of vibrant whimsy, colour, and fun. Hot Air Jr. is the latest installment in the rubbery action avoidance adventure series about a relentlessly cheerful balloon adrift in a relentlessly dangerous world. This time, you're chasing after the evil giant spiky villain who has absconded with the family balloon dog. You have no choice but to journey across a wide variety of hazardous levels, featuring everything from malicious fans to enormous swords, in search of the pilfered pooch.

To play, click and hold on the screen to start your propeller cursor whirling, which you can then use to direct our blue hero around the screen and (hopefully) safely around hazards. Your goal is to collect the stars in each level and make it to the landing pad at the end without being popped, stomped, thwomped, or otherwise deflated... which is harder than you might think, since all manner of malicious baddies are out to make life difficult to you, with the scenery itself often being hazardous to boot. Take it slow and steady, plot your course, and make sure you activate any checkpoints you see scattered throughout the levels! Since you can only withstand a single hit, checkpoints will save you from having to restart the entire stage over if disaster strikes. Each level is unique and accessed from a central hub where you can take care of other important business... like the latest in unlockable balloon fashion!

While Hot Air Jr. represents another gorgeous chapter in Nitrome's long history of top-notch releases, it's also a fantastic and welcome example of a developer opening their ears to feedback from the most important people... their fans. For a lot of people, checkpoints are the difference between ragequitting and another try, making Hot Air Jr. much more accessible and less frustrating. More than that, however, it just feels better. Control is tighter and altogether more responsive compared to the originals, allowing you to be able to really soak in the clever stage designs and quirks that make the game great. That said, you shouldn't expect the game to be easy, since even with the checkpoints and more responsive controls you'll still need steady hands and quick reflexes, as well as a keen eye to spot patterns in the stages. If you're looking for a challenge with a lot of style and variety, and have the patience to master it, however, Hot Air Jr. is a great way to spend your afternoon soaring among the not-particularly-relaxing clouds.

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Rating: 3.6/5 (90 votes)
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Magic Island Escape 3SonicLoverIt's not clear how the scenario of Magic Island Escape 3, an atmospheric escape by Kamikaze Worm, came to be. Maybe you washed up on the island after a reef sunk the cruise ship you were on. Maybe you were dumped here by fairies as a form of purgatory. Whatever the case, you're here now and you need to escape.

Navigation, and everything else for that matter, is done by mouse click. Click the edge of any screen with an arrow to navigate, and click on things on the environment to interact with them. Your inventory is displayed at the bottom; click on an item to select it for use, then on the environment to use it, or on the "handle" hand to deselect it. To combine two inventory items, click "combine" followed by the two items in question. Your ultimate goal is to escape the island, and to do so you need to activate the magical portal arch by finding and using four colored keys.

Magic Island Escape 3 is short but sweet. The game itself won't last very long as long as you're observant and think logically, but the puzzles are fairly intuitive and well-designed, and the atmosphere is downright lovely. Every screen looks like an oil painting, and the audio loop is soothing without being invasive. There's even a changing cursor, and although the game lacks a save feature, it's short enough you shouldn't need it. Got fifteen minutes to kill? Put them to use escaping an island, by all means.

Play Magic Island Escape 3


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Rating: 3.8/5 (68 votes)
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TrickyThe Magnetic CatScientists have spent years and millions of dollars to turn a regular cat into The Magnetic Cat. (Why? Uh... For science!). His frizzy ferromagnetic fur allows him to stick to all sorts of surfaces, and, as the scientists unfortunately discovered, to easily escape from secret government labs. Now, he wants nothing more than to settle down with a family, but there's still 30 levels of obstacles in his way. A puzzle platformer developed by GrimToyz, The Magnetic Cat has an attraction all its own.

Move The Magnetic Cat with [WASD] or the [arrow keys], with [up], [W] or [spacebar] to jump. With the mouse, click metallic blocks to magnetize them. Magnetic blocks attract The Magnetic Cat horizontally and vertically, and using this force will allows him to avoid obstacles. Keep in mind that while magnets can keep The Magnetic Cat clung to the ceiling, metal blocks are slippery, and magnetism is not enough to keep you from sliding down walls. Click a magnetized block once again to demagnetize it. You may magnetize up to three blocks at a time, but the more blocks currently magnetized, the smaller the range of their attraction will be. Later levels will feature Metal Crates and Keys affected by magnetism, along with the usual collection of spikes, lava, slicing saws, and acid pits.

The Magnetic Cat should prove a treat for all fans of puzzle platformers. The central magnet mechanic is well-conceived, and the levels are designed well enough to allow multiple equally-satisfying solutions. The implementation could be a little bit better. While individually clicking and unclicking boxes works fine for most levels, it's kind of awkward when the puzzle requires specific timing. It would feel more natural for, when three boxes are already activated and another one is clicked, the least recent one to automatically deactivate (while still allowing you to click and unclick boxes manually). Also, there should be a way to deactivate the magnetized boxes that have crossed the border of the screen without resetting the level, either by allowing free-scrolling or by the afformentioned suggestion. That said, these minor issues are easy to get used to, especially when balanced against the game's charms. Have fun with Magnetic Cat watching you cogitate!

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You Are Games

Reader ReviewThe following is a selection of favorite games compiled and reviewed by JIG community member, Luthy:

I love and play a variety of types of games. Some players only play escape-the-room games (and are really good at them), some only play arcade games (and are likewise excellent at them). I tend to play whatever strikes my fancy at the time, and so while I'm not as good at any of them, I get to enjoy a wide variety of games. In choosing my favorites, I've tried to represent a variety of genres, with a variety of different looks. What I think binds these games together is more a feel, or a sense of whimsy and nostalgia. I'd love to jump into any of these games and live there for a while, and all of these games have the potential to make me feel. None of them are super-challenging, but I don't necessarily consider difficulty to be a hallmark of quality. I hope this small collection of games can make your day just a little bit brighter.

  • Treasure Adventure GameTreasure Adventure Game - This game has already gotten a lot of press, but I had to include it because it's one of the best games I've ever played. (No, really.) Despite the pixelly art, this is one of the most immersive worlds I've ever had the pleasure of playing around in. You play a boy who has forgotten his past, and wants to go on an adventure. Gather up a few items on your home island (you can't sail without a, well, sail!) and head off. Along the way, you'll discover an important quest, fight monsters, meet all kinds of creatures and embark on many sidequests (who doesn't want to save a poor sick mouse)? All in all, the game offers hours and hours of questing fun, and the best part is, you always feel at least semi- in charge of your own destiny. There are enough different paths to take through the game that you are never going to feel bored. And something about the world is strangely touching — just try playing this game and not feeling a little wistfulness at the fact that it doesn't actually exist. (I want to live in the boy's little house by the sea!)
  • Escape from the LodgeEscape from the Lodge - Tesshi-e has produced hundreds of escape games, but Escape from the Lodge was the first of theirs I ever played. To this day, having played the vast majority of them, I consider it one of the best. The visuals are clean and attractive, as always, but the stand-out feature of this escape game is the puzzles. Some are easy, some are more challenging, but they are all consistently logical. Nothing requires a ridiculous leap to come to (with the possible exception of the construction aspect, if you aren't expecting it, as I wasn't the first time — but a little experimentation should make that simple to figure out as well). The ambience is fantastic, the music sets the mood perfectly, and what's not to love about having a cup of coffee under the stars? Talk about a sense of peace! Like many Tesshi-e games, this one does have a Happy Coin ending, but unlike most, I actually prefer the regular ending to this one. Try them both and enjoy!
  • Bloom DefenderBloom Defender - Bloom Defender is far from being the best tower defense game out there. It's not even the best with a "cute" aesthetic (can any game ever beat Kingdom Rush in that category?). But protecting your little Mother Tree from the corrupted spirits is strangely compelling. As in any tower defense game, you have a choice of tower types, but where Bloom Defender stands out is its elemental system. Your defenders have to do their jobs, of course, but you also have an arsenal of spells that you will be deploying pretty constantly — a freezing ice spell, a burning fire spell — and these spells have different effects on different spirits. If you freeze a fire spirit, great! They're weak against ice. But if you try to freeze an ice spirit, well... they'll speed right up, making defending against them even more difficult. Burn a fire spirit? Better watch out, it restores a bunch of health. Bloom Defender is pretty easy to pick up, but provides hours of fun battling corrupted spirits until you get your spell timing juuuust right. The whole world is cheery and lighthearted (you don't kill evil spirits, simply cleanse them) and did I mention your defenders are trees? Enjoy the colorful graphics and engrossing gameplay.
  • The Book of Living MagicThe Book of Living Magic - Have you ever had one of those dreams that is so surreal and fantastical that even as you're dreaming you half-know it can't be real, but is at the same time internally coherent to the point where you wonder how you could have possibly made it up? The Book of Living Magic is a point-and-click game that's just like one of those dreams. (There's a man who lives in a bottle? Well, why not?) Journey to the Land of Dreams (it all makes sense now, huh?) and search for the Book of Living Magic. As you travel, don't forget to click on everything — literally, everything you see on screen — because 99% of the things you click on have unique descriptions, which are illuminating and often hilarious. You could finish this game in no time, but you'd miss out on so much. Ultimately, The Book of Living Magic is much deeper than it appears, and offers a look into dreams and reality, and the impossibility of a "mundane" life. Lighter than some of the creator's other works, it still maintains just enough darkness to make it realistic (inasmuch as a game with hand-drawn marker graphics can be realistic). This game is practically the definition of whimsy. If you liked the book The Phantom Tollbooth, you'll love this.

While we welcome any comments about this particular selection of games, we do ask that if you need any help with individual games, or wish to comment on the games featured here, please post your questions and comments on the respective game's review page.


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Rating: 3.7/5 (97 votes)
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TrickyFirst Person TutorThere are those that say that standards of spelling and grammar are vital to proper communication; that without following them, untold consequences of miscommunication will result. Others hold that only the content of ideas that matter, and that fascist adherence to arbitrary rules misses the forest for the trees. However, Witherworth University Professor Nathaniel Paynuss takes a third tack: that proof-reading is meant to be a weapon to get back at those snotty collegiate brats making fun of him on "The Face Book". In First Person Tutor, an, uh, "educational" arcade word game developed by Big Blue Boo Labs for the 7 Day FPS Game Jam, you play the role of beleaguered TA to the evil professor, held captive by a huge pile of student debt. You have a stack of papers to mark, and a score of professorial grudges Paynuss would be happy to settle by GPA proxy. You know what you need to do.

Using the mouse, scan the submitted paper and mark off all spelling and grammar mistakes by clicking. Move up and down the page by directing the mouse, or use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys. Each mistake spotted will lower the student's grade by a certain amount, with quick spotting leading to combos. Your boss will be vaguely satisfied with handing out a C-, but true success will only come by delivering a total failure. The inherent premise of First Person Tutor should appeal many on the internet, but its dark satire of college politics should give it wider appeal. The papers cover a nice variety of Wikipedia-swiped topics, though one suspects that the more esoteric errors true grammarians may spot may not be recognized. (Curse you dangling participles!) Still, the concept is so unique, and the presentation so polished for a Game Jam work, that players will be surprised how fun it is to get a high score by giving out low ones.

Play First Person Tutor


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Rating: 3.7/5 (76 votes)
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elleRaincoat EscapePlaying an escape-the-room game isn't all about the literal puzzling through four walls and a locked door—the figurative escape is just as meaningful. For that, we look to games that leave us feeling bright and sunny, with a tap in our toes and a tune on our lips. That's exactly what Fuwayara's Raincoat Escape does best with its oh-so-cute story, chimey music and gentle puzzles; it'll chase away those dark clouds in no time.

Like most escape games, play Raincoat Escape by clicking around the room, finding helpful clues and deciphering them into puzzle solutions. Objects you pick up are kept in the inventory sidebar where you can select to use or examine more closely with "about item". Although the cursor does change, the design is clean enough to eliminate pixel hunting on its own. Being on the easier side, Raincoat Escape makes a perfect short intermission—like a big ray of happy—in your day.

Play Raincoat Escape

NOTE: The game might take time to load. If you get a white screen, please try refreshing the page.


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Rating: 4/5 (49 votes)
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MeaghanBounzy 2When you see the name Bounzy 2 you may not at first realize what you're getting into as you click on the title. Maybe it's about bunnies or really awesome bouncy balls attacking space. Alas, you fluffy loving person you, this physics projectile game (made by Petre Vlad and Rocanten) is filled with some zombies who are in need of a good old fashioned bullet to the head. Your mouse will aim your gun, grenade, or missile, and you click to shoot the projectile off. Bullets bounce off silver surfaces and can explode barrels upon contact. Grenades and missiles are useful for zombies that are either impossible to reach with a bullet or need a little extra fire power to kill. If you're lucky, you might even encounter stages with mechanisms that can be triggered to bring your undead foes to an even nastier end. Oh, and watch out for chickens. We hate chickens.

While the missile mechanic feels a bit touchy at first once you practice more it becomes much simpler and reliable. As if 60 innovative levels full of zombie exploding fun wasn't enough, there are achievements to be earned and chickens that you can kill. Even though the zombies don't make any vicious attempts to eat your brains you won't be without a certain level of gore to accommodate your desire for carnage. A zombie plus an enclosed space plus a grenade equals a very messy clean-up for some poor janitor.

Play Bounzy 2


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Rating: 3.8/5 (96 votes)
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Weekday Escape

GrinnypEven more difficult than creating an exciting, logical, entertaining full size room escape is the art of creating a mini-escape, one that has less locations and puzzles yet still encapsulates the challenge and excitement of a larger game. Robamimi manages this balancing act in their One Scene escape games, and TomaTea can as well as with their 5 minute escapes. Isn't it lucky, then, that TomaTea has just released another? Say hello to Blue Sunset.

Blue SunsetSimilar to their previous 5 minute escape, Waiting for the Sun, Blue Sunset doesn't have a deliberate theme like their larger escapes have. What Blue Sunset does contain are features common to all TomaTea escapes: lovely serene backgrounds, charming music, challenging puzzles, a gently glowing changing cursor, easy navigation, and a lock on any puzzle where you haven't yet seen the clue. With a nicely balanced mix of logic problems, use of found objects, and at least one color-based puzzle, Blue Sunset is a perfectly delectable mini-escape treat.

Play Blue Sunset


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Rating: 4/5 (127 votes)
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ChadSoldier DiaryAs a child, do you remember those polyurethane bags of green, plastic army men that you could purchase for around a dollar at any drug or discount store? Being part of pop culture as they are, they have shown up a few times over the years in all sorts of modern media, and BeGamer's newest point-and-click puzzle, Soldier Diary, is the newest entry into the milieu. You are a footsoldier in the heroic green army, currently detained in prison by the evil red army. Use your cunning, skills, and logic to click around the area, so you can alert your allies to send help, and get you out from behind enemy lines.

If you are familiar with BeGamer's offerings in the past, you will probably find that these puzzles are a bit more slick and polished, offering a bit more of a mental challenge than some of their prior games have. Part of that complexity is that on some levels, your avatar can get shot, and die, so keep your head down, and your thinking cap on. If you find yourself at a place where it seems that the next logical step is to jump, or climb, make sure you look closely at your surroundings. If you are looking for a five to ten minute diversion, then you will probably enjoy Soldier Diary. If for no other reason, play it in memory of all the other green army men that have fallen in the line of duty, and met their gruesome end from being melted with a magnifying glass, in the rays of a summer sun. You CAN get this soldier back to safety.

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NetDNA Content Delivery Network servicesSponsored post: One of the key components to maintaining the quality of the user experience here at Jayisgames.com is using reliable backend hardware and services. That is the reason why we have partnered with the talented team at NetDNA for managing our content delivery needs around the globe.

Since rolling out our Flash game portal a year ago, the need for a fast and dependable content delivery network (CDN) has never been more crucial to keeping the site up and running smoothly. NetDNA's services and customer support meets or exceeds our expectations every day, and it is because of them that our pages, images and Flash games load quickly regardless of where you are located throughout the world.

If you own or manage a game portal, or other website that serves large quantities of video, image and media files, I recommend you look into NetDNA's services. Their excellent support staff is available 24/7 should you ever need them, and their data rates are both competitive and affordable.

You deserve the peace of mind of a fast and reliable content delivery network, and you need look no further than the team at NetDNA.


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Rating: 4.1/5 (62 votes)
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TrickyPhoton BabyDoctor Photon isn't entirely sure why he agreed to babysit. He has a lot of research to do, and isn't particularly great with kids. At least the tyke seemed to settle down once he got his hands on that mysteriously glowing octahedron. But, wouldn't you know it, a vampire bat broke through the window and abducted both kid and crystal to the local spooky castle. Years of research could go down the tubes if he doesn't get that crystal back! And, uh, the tot might get hurt too! Grab your Photonic Laser Blaster, and get ready to bring a little light to the creatures of the dark in Photon Baby, a genre-busting platformer by Jeremias Babini.

Move the Doctor with [WASD], and move and click the mouse to aim and fire a photonic blast. You beat each level by defeating all the enemies within it. However, each monster can only be defeated by a certain color of blast, assigned by reflecting blasts off of various surfaces. These include mirrors upon which you can change the reflecting color by crouching down next to them with [S]. [Spacebar] is used to redirect the blast towards your mouse crosshairs for more precise aiming. Later levels will require you to bounce your blasts off of multiple mirrors to get the proper color, and the RGB formulas required will be displayed when one pauses the game with [P]. Watch out for transparent surfaces, spikes, bouncing skulls, and the entire cast of Universal Horror!

Drawing inspiration from all manner of genres, Photon Baby is a unique little creation. The pixelated graphics and comically ghoulish atmosphere is reminds one of the 16-Bit classic Zombies Ate My Neighbors. However, Photon Baby's gameplay owes just as much to laser and gravity-based physics games, though with a decidedly more actiony slant. Truth be told, sometimes the different play-styles compete rather than cooperate, making for a few especially busy levels later on. That said, there's nothing quite as exhilarating as when a developer has genuinely thought through their game's premise, and are willing to explore it from every angle. That individual levels might have come from entirely different games, but still feel a natural progression, is to Photon Baby's credit.

With its climatic boss battles and entertaining ending sequence, Photon Baby is a very satisfying game from start to finish. It's a work that attempts a lot, and generally succeeds, especially in capturing the particular challenge and charm of a mid-nineties arcade hit that never was. If you're the kind of gamer who wished Halloween lasted all year, Photon Baby is sure to bring a little color to your day.

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The Vault

DoraDeep inside all of us, there's a brilliant tactician yearning to break free and conquer the gaming world one carefully placed unit or well thought-out move at a time. But even if, like me, you're a little more Leeroy Jenkins than Sun Tzu and you'd need an excavator to find any secret lurking strategists in your psyche, that's no reason not to enjoy the games that get you thinking! Here are three of our favourite strategic titles you don't need a degree to get addicted to.

  • Lock 'n' RollLock 'n' Roll - James Prucey and Sean Hawkes' fiendishly simple puzzler is something you try to forget... not because it isn't good, but because if it gets its hooks into you, it's one of those effortlessly addictive little gems you might find yourself orbiting back to when you should be taking care of other priorities. All you have to do is place dice down in certain row combinations, such as colour or number, and keep going for as long as you can without locking up the board. Sounds easy? Sounds easy, yeah, sure, but Lock 'n' Roll's simple premise and gameplay delivers a remarkably compulsive challenge that's just perfect for endlessly procrastinating.
  • Super Energy ApocalypseSuper Energy Apocalypse - Basically, Lars A. Doucet does terrible, wonderful things to your free time, and this entry into our 5th Casual Gameplay Design Competition is a prime example. I mean, come on... strategy... upgrades... zombies. Yes, it seems the world has (once again) succumbed to an undead apocalypse, but that's only an issue if you don't have upgradeable turrets and massive heavy weapons at your command. And really, what sensible household doesn't? With a fantastically camp design and clever gameplay that revolves around corpses and pollution, it's easy to see why this real-time strategy game can suck you in for a good long time.
  • Bubble Tanks Tower DefenseBubble Tanks Tower Defense - Tower defense games aren't always welcomed with open arms, but Hero Interactive managed to crack the code for wonderfulness in this squeaky clean title. With its clean visual style and soothing soundtrack, it doesn't look particularly threatening, but make no mistake... there's a challenge to be had here. Unlike most tower defense games, Bubble Tanks allows you to place your defenses virtually anywhere you like, allowing you to manipulate the environment and the flow of your enemies to your advantage... if you're clever enough, that is. Levels get harder and more elaborate as you progress, and you'll have to make careful use of your upgrades and precious bubbles to succeed. It's a surprisingly robust game with a lot of depth that makes it the perfect choice to sink into for a while... not unlike a warm bubble-bath!

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!


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Chrono and Cash

JohnBMobile developer Orangepixel has made a name for itself by crafting unique action arcade games that go to great lengths to tickle that nostalgic gaming bone of ours. Two of our secret favorite examples include Stardash and Meganoid. With the team's latest release, Chrono & Cash, a single-screen loot gathering game that challenges you to grab the gold while avoiding the baddies that constantly stream from the doors. It's a bit like the original Mario Bros. (not Super Mario Bros., mind you) mixed with a little Super Crate Box, and it's a great fit for an on-the-go arcade fix.

Chrono and CashThe idea is a rather simple one: get the loot, don't get hit, continue until you die! Each stage is laid out with multiple collectible valuables, be they bags of cash, rare gems, or other themed treasures. Using just a few virtual buttons for moving left and right and jumping, you must work your way up the platforms, dodging enemies that pop out of doors along the way. Some of these bad guys are pretty rough, and some stages have traps in addition to mobile enemies, so if you think you've got an easy task ahead of you, it'll only take a few levels to prove you wrong.

Chrono & Cash is strongly rooted in arcade-style gameplay, giving you a few lives to work with and allowing you to progress through the levels only if you can stay alive long enough. There are challenges you can complete along the way, such as gathering the gold in the proper sequence or beating a level without getting hit, and the rewards are both points-based and cosmetic item-based, giving you a dual sort of incentive to keep plugging away. Apart from this, your own personal drive is what will keep you playing Chrono & Cash, as it's definitely a high score-oriented game. But it's an inviting, easily playable, and wonderfully varied one at that!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Rating: 4.2/5 (32 votes)
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The Act

JohnBTaking a few cues from classic animated games like Dragon's Lair and Space Ace, The Act from React Entertainment puts you in the clumsy shoes of Edgar, the humble window washer who has to save his job, rescue his brother, and pretend to be a doctor, all while doing his best to get the girl in the end. How does he do all of this? Not with style or finesse, but with blind luck. And a little help from your iPhone swiping skills!

The ActThe Act both looks and feels like a classic cartoon, complete with over the top physical gags, a clueless protagonist, and crazy situations that you'd never find in real life. At certain points in the story, the action switches from movie to a game scene. Here, your goal is to help Edgar make the best of his current situation, whether that be wooing the lovely Sylvia or cooling the temper of an angry boss. When the action begins, pay close attention to Edgar's movements and how each character reacts to his mood. Body language is key!

You accomplish all of these tasks by balancing Edgar's show of emotions between timidness and brashness. Swiping left on the screen makes Edgar back off from the situation, often inviting the other character he's interacting with to step forward. Swiping right encourages Edgar to be bold, a move you have to carefully meter lest you frighten the other party away. If you fail three times in a scene, you have to restart it. You don't lose any progress, but if you want Edgar's day to be as perfect as possible, failure is not an option!

The ActAnalysis: The Act is short, featuring only about half an hour of gameplay, not including any replays you might be inclined to do. This might make you turn your nose and look elsewhere for a longer experience, but don't mistake brevity for a lack of quality. In its short time on your screen, The Act will capture your attention and turn you into a detail hound, scrutinizing the characters you see while you root for Edgar the underdog. And even when the end credits roll, you'll sit back, appreciate the experience, and hope React Entertainment delivers more in the future!

The Act takes a huge risk by ditching any sort of heads-up display, leaving you alone with invisible controls that directly affect Edgar's interactions with the world. While this makes things a bit more like guesswork than precision gaming, it also allows you to focus on the characters themselves, reading their body language and trying your best to be a socially aware cluemaster. This "blind" gameplay does have a few drawbacks, especially in those scenes where you'll fumble and fumble without knowing exactly what to do, but in the end, The Act is a better experience because of its invisible input. Interacting with people is not an exact science, and The Act mimics the real life interplay of emotions quite well, even in its quirky cartoon setting.

The Act is a game you want to experience at least once. The animations are fluid and detailed, the story is quirky and interesting, and the gameplay elements, while minimal, are subtle and meaningful. It's not an in-your-face modern gaming experience where you get to smash buttons to destroy things, but it does manage to convey subtle emotions and encourage you to interact with virtual characters appropriately, adding a wonderful layer of immersion that's quite rare in games today.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.

Pocket Planes: Trade for airplane parts here!

We have created this special page for community members to swap and trade aircraft parts and Game Center friend codes. Feel free to post requests for parts and replies to existing comments for trading on this page only.

If you are looking for our Pocket Planes Strategy Guide, Hints and Tips Walkthrough, or our Pocket Planes Review, or have general questions or comments about the game not related to trading parts, be sure to visit that page and post your comments there instead.


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (119 votes)
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MeaghanDraw a LineDrawing has always been a nice way to pass time, whether it's for art or simple doodling during a dull class. Now games are taking that doodling boredom and channeling it into games that everyone, even your decrepit granny, can play. So to help advance your drawing prowess I present to you Draw a Line, an addictively cute physics puzzle game by Fun Instinct that allows for quite a bit of innovation. Just hold down the left mouse button to draw a line around the faces, and then hit "Go" to see if your walls and paths meet the needs of each little person without touching one of them or itself. There are the happy faces that want somewhere nice to sit and can also collect bonus stars, angry faces that want to get off the screen at all cost, and sad faces that desperately want a fellow sad friend to be next to them. (Misery loves company.) It may start off simple, but soon you'll have gravity and bubbles to contend with in your quest to please everyone.

The only negative thing I can possibly think to say is that there are no unicorns in this game. All kidding aside, something I found frustrating about the game was the need to collect twenty-four stars in order to unlock the hard levels. Still, this is a minor squabble since collecting stars isn't difficult, it merely requires more creativity with your line drawing. Draw a Line is the perfect way to cure the doodle craving in all of us, as well as add some cheer with all the smiles.

Play Draw a Line


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Oscura

JohnBOscura is a dark and shadowy mobile platform game created by Chocolate LIberation Front. The silhouette-based visuals might remind you of games like LIMBO, but Oscura is much more grounded in action, preferring exaggerated leaps over more limited, realistic physics. Some of the levels feature horribly frightening phantasms, not all of which come in the form of moving enemies. But the visual design is one of Oscura's strong points, and you'll find it's both a graphical treat as well as a platform player's dream.

OscuraA lighthouse burns in the darkness, keeping the Dark Creatures at bay with its ray of light. But when the power crystal explodes, sending shards across the island, the invisible terrors that once lived in the shadows step forward. Controlling a spindly little character with a glowing hand, your job is to collect fragments of light so you can chase evil from the land. As soon as you see some of the nightmares that are running amok, you'll be sure vanquishing them is a very good idea. Your powers are fairly limited, but you do have a useful time-slowing ability that can be unleashed to help you work through difficult parts of a stage.

Oscura features a good (albeit short) set of levels that focus on action and item collection. The enemies are largely meant to be avoided, and some of them even give chase, which is a terrifying ordeal every time it happens. The game relies on atmosphere and mood, and because of its luxurious visuals, it absolutely succeeds on both fronts. It might come as a surprise, but Oscura is one of the rare platform games that works well on a buttonless mobile device. Part of this is the game's overall design, but part is the unique control set-up that is more user-centric instead of plain old virtual buttons. You can swap the controls in the options menu, but the default settings work wonders once you get used to them.

Oscura is best played in the dark. With a stuffed animal nearby. And a flashlight, just in case you really start wondering what's hiding behind the shadows in your room.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 3.9/5
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Rating: 3.9/5 (23 votes)
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Dragon Flight

JohnBThe number of "just one more round" games on mobile devices has increased dramatically since Jetpack Joyride gained its popularity (see the browser release Chuck the Sheep for another fine example). Each one features short stages, upgradeable abilities, in-game currency that can either be collected while you play or boosted with in-app purchases, and simple gameplay that grabs you within seconds of starting. Dragon Flight is one such game, though instead of going the route of sidescrolling arcade game, developer NextFloor plops you on a dragon for a vertical shooter that even casual fans can enjoy and (eventually) master!

Dragon FlightTo play, all you have to do is slide your finger back and forth on the screen, maneuvering the dragon to spread its auto-fire attacks around and to avoid enemies and dangers that slip by the bullets. Baddies come in horizontal waves, forcing you to punch a hole in their defenses so you can slide by. Defeating enemies gives you coins, gems, and occasionally temporary power boosters such as double shots, distance boosts, and so on. You also have to be on the lookout for meteors, as they can't be destroyed and will put an end to your flight faster than you can say "dragons are better than meteors"!

Each time you play, fight, and die, you visit the game's shop where you can purchase items in exchange for coins. In-app purchases allow you to fill your purse with very little effort, though it's worth noting that one or two of these boosters goes a very long way. Enemies gradually get tougher as you survive the waves and travel further in the sky, and the dangers get more frequent and more difficult to avoid.

The comparisons to Jetpack Joyride and its ilk are inevitable, but Dragon Flight is far simpler than these games. There are only a few power-ups you can invest in, only one of which is a permanent upgrade. Also lacking are challenge missions to complete, it's just wave after wave of enemies over a variety of backdrops. A little more repetitive than you might expect, but the same level of pure addictiveness is still present. As an added bonus, even if you're not a fan of shmups, you'll enjoy Dragon Flight. It was made for the casual mobile player!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Mobile Monday

JohnBCthulhu saves the what now? Something about a penny arcade? Er, well, yeah, close enough. Lots of strategy and RPG news in this edition of Mobile Monday. Not exactly the traditional mobile genres, but with portable devices rapidly turning into "serious" gaming machines, we've got to get a little more serious about our mobile games, don't we?

frozensynapse-p.jpgFrozen Synapse slides along - The stylish indie strategy game Frozen Synapse is on its way to iPad, and developer Mode 7 says the port is moving along at a nice pace. Fans of the Mac/PC version of the game have almost universally praised it as the most perfect tactical game in existence, and that's saying something when you look at the long line of strategy games that have come before it. Look for Frozen Synapse iOS later this year, touch screen ready!

cthulhu-p.jpgCthulhu Saves the (mobile) World - Zeboyd Games is on a roll. Getting ready to release the third episode of Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness in just a few days, the team (along with TinkerHouse Games) has also readied a new mobile port for us to devour. Cthulhu Saves the World is on its way to iOS and Android platforms very soon! The game is a straight-up retro RPG party with 16-bit era influences all over the place, putting you in control of a crippled Cthulhu trying to become a hero. It's every bit as fantastic as Breath of Death VII, and having a mobile port is a dangerous thing for your productivity. The release is set for June 28!

cubemen-p.jpgCubemen goes portable - Launching earlier this year, Cubemen took tower defense gaming to an interesting level, ditching most of the fluffy story elements we've come to expect from our games and instead opting for a purely tactical gaming experience. Recently, developer 3 Sprockets launched Cubemen for iPad 2 and above, and to make it nice and clear for you, if you own the appropriate device, this is a game you want to play. It pretty much features everything you could want from a tower defense game, including multiple modes for single player and multiplayer support that spans platforms!

Got some delicious info on an upcoming mobile release, current event, or other tasty news tidbit? We want to know! Send an e-mail with "Mobile Monday" in the subject line to johnb AT casualgameplay DOT com. We'll sift through the submissions and feature our favorites on a Mobile Monday article! Keen!


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Astronot

JohnBDeep within the spaceship, a lowly garbage worker tosses clumps of trash into the incinerator. Outside, asteroids begin pelting the hull, eventually causing the ship to crash on an uncharted planet filled with strange creatures. And now you, lone survivor, must explore and fight your way through an intricate maze-like world as you gather power-ups, fight bosses, and collect every little green square you see. In Wade McGillis's downloadable and mobile game Astronot, you get a good strong dose of pure retro metroidvania-style platform adventuring, and you'll love every minute of stranded torture it brings you.

AstronotThe controls are very simple, no matter which version you prefer. Move left and right, either with the [arrow] keys or the virtual buttons on mobile devices, jump with [up], fire your little peashooter weapon with [X], and pause the game with [ESC] to check out stats or fiddle with the options. If you go for the download, you can customize the keyboard to work with your preferences, but even with a touch screen's controls, moving around the alien world is no sweat!

Astronot plays out like a typical metroidvania game, allowing you to roam an impressively large world filled with branching paths, interconnected tunnels, enemies, and traps. There are a few bosses to battle with and a handful of power-ups to collect as well, though you'll find they are few and far between, making most of the game feel bare and frightening, just like you'd feel if you were stranded on an alien world. The sense of danger is quite real, and since your moves and weapons are limited, your wits end up being your main tool for survival. These aliens do some serious damage, and it's not like there are recharge stations planted at the end of every tunnel.

AstronotAnalysis: Astronot is an experience in minimalism on every front, from the plain pixel visuals to the background music which is basically just looping clips of chip tune sound effects. The gameplay itself is similarly stark. Instead of giving your character every ability under the platform adventuring sun, you're limited to the extreme basics and must rely on your own skills to stay alive. Even better, the game lacks any sort of map, so if you want to see the end of the game in one piece, you'd better have a good memory.

The downloadable versions of Astronot are mostly identical to the mobile port, though the controls are more responsive thanks to the presence of physical buttons. The full version also comes with a level editor, with the promise of an in-game method for sharing user-created stages in the future. The mobile versions have a shrunken screen to accommodate the virtual controls, which, while not really detracting from the game, gives it a somewhat cramped feeling.

Astronot fills a very specific niche: nostalgic players who want a challenging game where the main point isn't constant power-ups or a high five every time you do the equivalent of taking a digital breath. For this reason, not everyone will find a welcoming home with this game. It's definitely designed to give fans of the genre a more atmospheric and intelligent challenge.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers

JohnBWhat could be worse than some cretin named Big (who also happens to be your brother) stealing the pair of mystical underpants left by your departed grandfather? Nothing, as far as the folks at Black Pants Studio are concerned. With the team's first release, the sandbox-oriented action and physics game Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers, we get to see just what happens when you give a guy a raygun, a grapple-device, and unlimited rockets, then turn him loose in a sun-parched ruined desert world to find his pants-thieving brother. To put if briefly: a whole lotta rocks will get sliced, tossed, juggled, and destroyed.

tinyandbig.jpgIn Tiny and Big, you control Tiny, a goggle-wearing protagonist with a few helpful stone-manipulating tools at his disposal. For starters, there's the laser, a weapon that can be used to slice just about any rock surface you see in the game. Think of it like Nitrome's Ice Breaker games, only in 3D where you have to manipulate those rock chunks in order to progress. To help you push stones around, you're also armed with rockets, which latch on to and shove stones at your discretion, and a grapple tool that allows you to nab and tug movable rocks wherever you please. Those are in addition to your basic walking, jumping, and pushing skills, which Tiny uses at every single turn just to move through this ruined, pillar-filled world.

Bounding around the world, you'll complete stage after stage of puzzles that are equal parts head scratching and reflex testing in nature. Although the setting remains largely the same (a bright, desert world), you'll run through outdoor environments, ancient temples, and even carve your way through a giant statue's teeth. Further diversifying the slice-n-jump experience, Big shows up from time to time and decides to lob heavy objects at you, forcing you to deal with both the terrain and your troublesome brother at the same time. You'll need to master quick-draw raygun skills to survive, and a little luck never hurts, either!

tinyandbig3.jpgAnalysis: Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers is nothing short of a creative, charming sort of game. The levels are filled with secrets and collectible items, including "boring stones" to hunt down, cassette tapes that add to your soundtrack collection, and hidden rooms with some surprising secrets inside. Tiny and Big creates a grand sense of freedom since you can slice and manipulate most of the game world, but there's also the added challenge of running through the stages to earn achievements, many of which encourage you to be thrifty with your raygun and work quickly to cross the terrain.

One cannot simply review Tiny and Big without gushing over the graphic novel-style visuals. The hand-drawn scenes look absolutely stunning, even in motion, and the characters are almost parodies of themselves, a fact you might have guessed from the game's initial story set-up. The music is also spectacular, and you can even buy the soundtrack, which features tracks from over 15 different bands!

tinyandbig2.jpgTiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers does suffer from a few tiny setbacks, but nothing that ultimately scars the overall experience. For starters, note that the game ends after half a dozen levels (not including the tutorial or the arcade mini-games you can unearth), meaning you could blast through the experience from beginning to end in about three or four hours. That's longer than many casual games these days, and Tiny and Big is priced accordingly, so you definitely don't feel like you missed out on something when you reach the end. You just want more, because what's there is so utterly grand. A quicksave function would also be a nice addition. Even though the automatic checkpoints are frequent, when you're hunting for items to get that 100% ranking, you can't always re-do some of the crazy stunts you pulled off the first time around.

Although the quality isn't quite as polished as Grandpas Leftovers, if you're curious about the game's mechanics and want to try a demo of sorts before you buy, Tiny and Big: Up that Mountain is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. It's only one level long, but it'll introduce the concept of laser cutting and grappling so you can see how serious the development team is about getting the gameplay just right.

Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers is an imaginative, quirky, and captivating game. It falls on the short side, which is unfortunate but not a deal breaker, but there's plenty of incentive to replay levels or just treat the whole thing as one big creative sandbox. Cutting, tugging, and rocketing gigantic stones is just as much fun as you'd imagine it would be!

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version
Get the full version from GOG.com (includes bonus downloads)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version



  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (29 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (598)

Cinders

MeaghanLong has it been dictated that a woman in a fairy tale had better be either beautiful, meek, humble as apple pie, or a mix thereof. Someone hates her, a prince wants to save her, and some sparkly fairy dust is going to cause some type of dilemma. Throughout it all, this princess is going to hmmm and sigh but ultimately go along with the ride because, hey, she's a damsel in distress and you best not forget it! Fortunately for us, MoaCube didn't just forget it, they threw it out of the proverbial tower turret to the alligator infested moat below. In the team's dazzling visual novel Cinders, they charge headfirst into the outdated and come out the other side with brand spanking shiny and new.

CindersWhile this game is based on the story of Cinderella, MoaCube has given her a rebellious streak and a tendency to wax philosophical. Cinders is a modern day story book with the addition of choices and a few new faces to the cast of this beloved fairy tale. Each decision will effect personal relationships and your ultimate ending, as well as possibly earn you trophies. In the dialogue when you come to a point of speech that has been affected by a previous choice, a flowering vine will appear in the upper right corner. At any time during your play you can hit [esc] or right click to bring up the menu where you can save your game, change screen size, adjust sound and music volume, and quit to the menu. Hitting the [up] arrow key rewinds the text, while [ctrl] skips through previously viewed passages.

Analysis: It's important to emphasize the novel part of the visual novel description. Cinders is much like reading a book, only you have a myriad of choices and the ability to change the outcome of your happily ever after. While there are a whopping 120 instances where you get to choose your own path, sometimes it feels like it's too few and far between and only occurs in chunks after mass amounts of text. Don't start thinking that there's not much room for maneuverability though. There's multiple different endings and personal relationships that can be built through the course of the game.

CindersNow, first and foremost, it's absolutely necessary to mention how unbelievably gorgeous the scenes are for this game.From the town to the forest, artist Gracjana Zielinska has given players a stunning and breathtaking backdrop to be mesmerized by as you guide Cinders through her chaotic struggle to find freedom and independence. To further the beauty of this game is a soundtrack crafted by Rob Westwood that heightens every point, whether low or high. The story, while not new, takes an amazing twist with having Cinders being more than an unwilling slave in her own home. Instead she faces the perils of adulthood and learning the difference between the joy and price of freedom, the cost of duty, and what independence really means in a world of sacrifice and secrets. It makes all those CW teen dramas look pale and whiny in comparison.

Even if you're not the biggest fan of the fairy tale side of things, or you aren't always keen on a female protagonist, push aside your aversion for a moment or two. Cinders offers hours of game play, and with a fair amount of possible endings, you'll find yourself going back to see all the paths you could have taken. All those what-if moments you have in your own life don't exist here because you can go back and fix any mistake you want. Now, there are no singing mice and there's sure as heck no bippity-boppity-booping, but that's part of the great lesson of the game. When do you let go of the fantasy of childhood and replace it with the harder lessons of being in reality? Maybe Cinders won't be the only one having an epiphany after the end of this game.

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


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Shaban

elleWhen you lose something valuable, how far will you go to get it back? In Peta Game's Shaban, a shepherd travels across vast ravines, haunted forests and snow-capped peaks to rescue his kidnapped flock. Along the way, he is daunted by the three invidious thieves who stole his sheep in the first place. Now, the little herdsman must repair destroyed conveyances, help villagers in rampaged towns, and fend off the villains outright attacks upon him.

ShabanYour role in this beguiling puzzle adventure game is to help the winsome pilgrim in his sheep recovery quest by solving a slew of thorny puzzles all while enjoying the hand-drawn watercolor surroundings and comic strip style narratives. Move about by pointing and clicking wherever you want to go—an arrow cursor indicates the entrance to a new scene, but otherwise, almost anywhere you click, the characters will follow. The cursor also changes to indicate interactive areas, anything worth a closer look, and items to pick up. A drop down inventory at the top keeps your possessions organized until you're ready to use or combine them.

The story mainly follows the young sheep herder but, for added cuteness, there are times when you play as his pet goat. In fact, some puzzles are only doable by the goat while others are more human friendly. You'll know this by each character's reaction to the puzzles they encounter. The puzzles and mini-games employ the same charm and artwork as the rest of the adventure and include such tasks as uncrossing wires, reassembling torn pictures, solving codes and completing fragmented object searches. There is little in the way of help, though; the "hint" button is just that: a subtle hint. Except in the case of the arcade-type mini-games, there is also no way to skip these puzzles. Even so, it doesn't take long to get the hang of things, and soon you'll be looking forward to the next challenge.

ShabanAnalysis: Because both the sheep herder's story and the puzzle instructions are conveyed almost entirely through visuals, there is a meditative feel to Shaban. Most the appeal is in the game's unique style, beautiful design and endearing characters. The story and the gaming elements overlap so that the puzzles convey as much story as any narrative would. Similar to Albert Lamorisse's The Red Balloon, without the intrusion of verbal elements, the experience of playing Shaban becomes more absorbing and poignant.

Even the puzzle instructions (a.k.a. "hints") give little in the way of textual explanation. This might prove frustrating to those who are unaccustomed to this type of gameplay, but at the same time it will be a refreshing delight to those who like figuring things out on their own. Lateral thinking and keen eyesight are also leaned on heavily here. The reflex-based mini-games seem a bit out of place but are good for adding action to the adventure. The exception to the fun, from this reviewer's perspective, was an overly difficult fishing excursion, but it was nothing the "skip" button couldn't solve.

Another good way to describe Shaban is to compare it to Machinarium and The Tiny Bang Story. Still, it has a few more rough edges than those titles along with a distinct hand-made, artisan feel to it. While extremely appealing in both overall design and the unassisted challenge to the puzzles, Shaban tends to vacillate between awkward quirkiness and a quirky charm. Players who are impatient with the slow presentation or who take less stock in aesthetic qualities might not see its appeal. Give it a demo first, see what you think. This is a game that caters to those looking for something uniquely creative, uncommonly gorgeous and simply adora-baaahh!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (110 votes)
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KimberlyKamikaze PigsWar, what is it good for? Well, if it's pigs at war, it might just be good for some bacon. Mmmmm, bacon. Play Kamikaze Pigs to see pigs in uniform in this chain-reaction game by MostroGames. You start the action by clicking your mouse to cause an explosion that roasts a few pigs. This can cause planes to crash or tanks to shoot among other things, which in turn hit other units on the board causing them to explode or shoot in some manner. Your goal is to clear as many units off the screen as you can with just that one click. The more you kill, the more stars you earn. The more stars you earn, the more bacon, er, upgrades you unlock. Some stars are also earned by colliding into them on the screen. Besides stars, you also need cash to purchase the upgrades. The amount you earn is based on how many pigs are destroyed.

You can go back to the map at any time to try to earn more stars on past levels. It can be difficult to get every star on a level and I personally found the bosses particularly challenging. It is therefore nice to have to option to reset your upgrades to try different strategies. With 40 levels and tons of upgrades to keep you busy, Kamikaze Pigs throws a deliciously quirky twist into the chain-reaction genre. And I think it only fair to warn you that the game may cause a serious bacon craving.

Play Kamikaze Pigs


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (39 votes)
| Comments (18) | Views (115)

ArtbegottiPuzzlesIt's best not to ask what those weird laser-emitting bricks in increpare's twisted Puzzles are supposed to represent. They might be mobile conveyor belts with razor blades on the edges that are deadly to the touch. They might be idols for pasta-based deities that inflict death on anyone who touches them with a murderous marinara attack (tuck your napkin in before you approach). Quite frankly, we just don't know.

What we can tell you is this: You've got to move from the entrance to the exit using the [arrow] keys. You can push blocks around the map, and you can even push multiple blocks at once. However, if you touch one of the laserbrick beams, the game will go grey, the exit will disappear, and you'll have to return to the starting point to reactivate the exit. But before you rush back to the start, perhaps there's something you could do to make your run easier the next time around, winkwinknudgenudge. There are eight levels to traverse, and discovering how objects react to the laserbricks is part of the mystery in these mind-bending Puzzles.

Play Puzzles

WindowsWindows:
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(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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JohnBeasyquest.gifFrom the world's favorite developer of quirky indie games, bentosmile, the EasyQuest series is a set of three tiny action RPG-style games that take place in the same setting with the same creatures and the same basic goal: save the world! You do this by defeating enemies that are weaker than you, running them over until they bite the dust. With each hit, you suffer damage, too, so you have to balance your attacks and seek healing potions only when they're absolutely necessary. It's a game of watching the numbers and being aggressive when it's a smart thing to do, and despite each game's short length, they're still a set of quests you'll love to undertake!

The first EasyQuest game puts you in the role of a sword-wielding hero, the second a slime, and the third a mage. Regardless of your character, the basic idea is the same: fight your way to the final boss, a really big enemy that sits in the same patch of forest in each installment. In order to beat the big bad guy, you'll need to have leveled all the way up, a feat accomplished by defeating every enemy in the game. Naturally, there's a strategy and an order to doing all of this, but if we talked too much about that, you'd miss out on the delicious 20 minutes of game time the EasyQuest series has to offer!

Play them in any order and beat them whenever you have a free chunk of time. EasyQuest is short, simple, and guilt-free entertainment when all you wanna do is beat up some bad guys and feel like a hero.

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version (EasyQuest)
Get the free full version (EasyQuest II: Slime's Revenge!)
Get the free full version (EasyQuest III: Mage Story)

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


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Dark Alleys: Penumbra Motel

DoraCongratulations! You're officially the worst babysitter ever. When Monica, the little girl you're supposed to be driving to her grandmother's house for a friend, gets kidnapped by evil forces in a gas station, you find yourself embroiled in one very strange family with a tragic past that just won't stay dead. Dark Alleys: Penumbra Motel is ERS Game Studio's first pure adventure game that attacks its horror with such high camp and magic ghost dogs that it never really becomes scary, but is still a gorgeous and engrossing creepy experience to sink into. Just remember kids... if you absolutely must go into dark gas stations by yourself, for the love of whatever don't wear pigtails, carry a teddy-bear, and skip as your primary means of transportation. It's like wearing a big sign that tells the universe "Please kidnap me!"

Dark Alleys: Penumbra MotelPenumbra Motel has three difficulty modes to choose from, though the gameplay is relatively constant throughout. You'll explore the area, gathering items you need to solve various puzzles or get past obstacles. Your diary will keep track of current events and goals, as well as any important clues you'll come across for future reference, and the handy-dandy magic television on the opposite side of the screen will let you get a hint when you're stuck or skip puzzles. Turns out the area has a rich history of military heroes, cultural significance, and murder, and some spirits don't lie quietly. If you want to rescue little Monica, you'll need to put on your thinking cap to solve a wide variety of problems and bizarre puzzles. Or maybe you could just pick up another kid from somewhere and her parents won't notice. Kids are like goldfish, right? You can't really tell them apart. It would save you a lot of trouble, and drastically reduce your odds of "bloody murder by vicious old man ghost".

Dark Alleys: Penumbra MotelAnalysis: Unless you're the sort of person who is scared by Halloween masks and wondering who was phone, Dark Alleys: Penumbra Motel is too over-the-top goofy and gleeful to be scary. From the big, overly dramatic "evil dark lord" laughter to the seething masses of darkness and eyeballs blocking doorways, this game is a trip. Largely a pretty good one at that. The story is morbid, but so packed full of evil, wacky mysticism you really only have to worry about the occasional jump scare. The area designs are seriously creative, and a real joy to explore. Flickering lights, rich use of colour, otherworldly occurrences all combine to create an atmosphere reminiscent of a particularly surreal Tales from the Dark Side episode, and it's a lot of fun to experience even if it never feels particularly deep. It's the perfect choice for people looking for a really casual gaming experience with the sort of polish ERS delivers, but without all that hidden-object hunting you might not care for.

Since Penumbra Motel is essentially a straight-up adventure game with nothing so tedious as a hidden-object scene to bog you down, the gameplay moves at a brisk pace. Unfortunately, that also means you'll encounter a lot more frustrating adventure game concepts, like gathering up multiple items for a single task that shouldn't even be an obstacle to begin with, obscure object uses, and a lot of backtracking. Luckily, the game features a lot of puzzles and some fairly imaginative versions of them, leaving you challenged but rarely outright stymied. As an experimental foray into the world of straight adventuring, Dark Alleys: Penumbra Motel succeeds more than it fails and delivers a cheesy, highly detailed, cinematic experience fans of schlock horror will enjoy. As always, try the demo and see if it whets your appetite before you buy, but if you're a fan of ERS and are looking for something to fill four hours or so, you can do a lot worse than this campy adventure.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, 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


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Rating: 4.6/5 (287 votes)
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DoraClickPLAY Quickfire 1Hurry hurry hurry! You didn't think that just because this site is called Casual Gameplay you get to relax, do you? Constant vigilance! You'll need it, along with a quick mind and quicker fingers to tackle NinjaDoodle's latest ClickPLAY puzzle challenge, ClickPLAY Quickfire 1.

The goal, across a series of vastly different and weird levels, is to click the play button after completing each objective put before you. The faster you solve it, the more points you receive, but some levels also demand you finish them before the clock ticks down. It's another speedy, incredible adorable puzzle challenge from the masters of the genre, and while some players might not be fond of working under pressure, the slick design and clever concepts makes for a rewarding workout for your brain. Perhaps once you have completed it, you will have attained... unagi. In the meantime... HUT HUT HUT!

Play ClickPLAY Quickfire 1


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Rating: 4/5 (86 votes)
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MeaghanThe Suspense IIFor some reason the public has an inclination towards a fascination with death. Some prefer gore, while others are moved by an emotional, but dignified passing. Enter The Suspense II, a platform adventure game by Black Square where you can switch between life and death to possibly escape your own fate. Using your [arrow] keys to move, traverse each level to find the key to unlock the door to move on. In order to get this key you will have to switch between the realities of life and death by pressing [S]. As you go along you will meet people that you may greet by pressing the [spacebar], which also allows you to grab crates and move them, as well as use levers.

The most difficult part of this game is timing. During several levels you will have to switch between the two realities quickly in order to hop on a moving platform, and oft times this can be tricky to accomplish. However, it's not impossible and once you hop off that platform and retrieve a key you realize that by golly, you're awesome. The subtle difference between the worlds is pleasing to the eye and manages to be dark without feeling as if you entered a haunted house. Honestly, death never looked so good or seemed so fun.

Play The Suspense II


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Rating: 4.1/5 (43 votes)
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10 Gnomes in Porto PetroGrinnypGnomes are solitary, mysterious creatures who are rarely glimpsed nowadays. These shy magical beings may still roam their habitats of Scandinavia, Siberia, and Majorca, but very few are ever sighted, so it is a lucky person who can find one. What, you didn't know that gnomes lived in Majorca, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean? Okay, so maybe they're not native, maybe they're just invading. Or, you know, on vacation. At any rate, if you play 10 Gnomes in Porto Petro, the latest point-and-click gnome adventure by Mateusz Skutnik, you will hopefully find one or more of these delightfully reclusive imps.

Yes, the gnomes are back and apparently looking for a break from the bleak cityscapes they've been inhabiting in the previous installments of 10 Gnomes. Instead you are faced with a lovely wilderness in which to navigate, clicking on areas to examine in closer and closer detail until you come across one of these creatures who are so carefully hidden. A 10 minute timer means that finding a gnome or two (or a random troll) is an exercise in patience and hidden object finding skill. Once again Mateusz Skutnik has provided an addictive and gorgeous little puzzler with the standard lovely black and white visuals set against a creepy soundtrack as you race to find all of those vacationing little folks before time runs out. Rejoice, for here is another adventure in advanced gnome finding.

Play 10 Gnomes in Porto Petro


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Rating: 4.2/5 (101 votes)
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TrickyRelive Your LifeThough one should strive to live without regrets, considering all the different paths a life might have taken is an inherently intriguing concept. What if I went to a different school? What if I had caught that train that I missed? What if I chose chocolate instead of vanilla at the ice cream parlor? Some games, like Alter Ego, attempt to analyze the psychology of our decisions and their consequences. By contrast, others like Relive Your Life, an interactive movie by FrozenFire, will start by fending off a competing sperm, before failing to acquire a preferred toy at recess kicks off a chain of events that leads to a nation-wide resurgence in nude bear-wrestling. And it'll rhyme too!

In each "stage" of Relive Your Life, the narrator will describe your status before transitioning to a decision or simple keyboard-based Quick Time Event minigame. Depending on your choices or minigame success, your life will evolve in different directions, eventually leading to one of twenty-nine different endings. Relive Your Life is a uniquely surreal and amusing experience with a nicely expressive stick-figure aesthetic. One can't help but think that Relive Your Life would be a stronger work if it was presented in a pure "choose your own adventure" style, rather than including the somewhat-forced minigames. Still, on the strength of the prose and Egoraptor's top-notch voice-acting, you'll want to Relive Your Life time and time again.

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Link Dump Fridays

DoraWhile the rest of my erstwhile fellow writers and even my employer have fallen prey to the productivity black hole of adorableness that is Pocket Planes, I remain committed to your entertainment! Yep, no procrastination or distractions for yours truly. 100% dedicated to you guys! So that's why this week we've got another contest for some fiiiiiiiine digital indie entertainment on top of the usual batch of previews.

Offspring FlingCONTEST: Kids! How Do They Work? Ah, childhood. Running around pretending to be ponies. Imagining your pillow fort is a spaceship. Mom tossing you around hostile, dangerous environments like a squawling beanie baby. Gooooooood times. Kyle Pulver's indie platform adventure game Offspring Fling! is a gorgeous bundle of gaming love, and we want you to get the chance to play it! To win one of four free copies, just play the free flash demo and leave a comment telling us what you liked about it! Rules: Entries must be submitted by June 29th, 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT-5). Winners will be notified by e-mail shortly thereafter. Winners are selected randomly. One entry per person only. You must be at least 13 years of age or older to enter. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

The Basement CollectionVomit, Time Manipulation, and SPAAAAAAAAACE! It's a squishy, squelchy, star-swinging blast from the past! Edmund McMillen and Tyler Glaiel are combining forces to release the tentatively titled Basement Collection. Due out on Steam for a measly $3.00USD, it'll include updated versions of fan-favourite McMillen titles Aether, Spewer, and Time Fcuk. Why would you pay for games you can play for free? Well, because you like supporting the developers who give you things for free, and also because these titles will include achievements and new content in addition to a sparkly new makeover. Sounds like value to me!

The VillageSHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY Ichi developers Stolen Couch Games are gunning for your free time in a serious way with the upcoming action adventure simulation tentatively titled The Village. Dubbed as a combo of The Sims, Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, and even a sprinkling of The Legend of Zelda, the game is about life on an island full of strange characters. It looks gorgeous, and though firmer details such as platform and more specific gameplay are missing at this date, if they can deliver on the concept with that sense of style, they might just have a serious winner on hand. Stay tuned!

Environmental Station AlphaMana From Metroidvania Heaven Hempuli has a knack for creating really clever games, so you should be excited about the upcoming Environmental Station Alpha, a classic retro Metroidvania game for Windows. It's about a floating space station original designed to preserve "unique environments" but was abandoned decades ago... though as you start receiving signals from the station, it becomes clear you need to investigate despite the danger. Though he might be worried that the game "isn't innovative or original", it still looks absolutely fantastic and should scratch the itch for some solid Samus-styled gaming. Development on the title is temporarily at a standstill, but the newly released trailer should serve to get you good and excited for it, and then we can all be insufferable and annoying together until it's released.

On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3On the Precipice of Release When it looked like gaming pop culture icons Penny Arcade would never finish their stellar comedic RPG adventure episodic series after their alliance with Hothead Games fell apart, my heart broke into a billion little pieces. Then Zeboyd Games came along and suddenly the world seems bright and colourful again! The third installment of On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is releasing Monday June 25th on Steam, and as an added bonus first week purchases will even get a copy of Zeboyd's Cthulhu Saves the World. For fans of the series, this is great news, and if you like sly, dark humour, turn-based battling, and magical pee weapons you'll definitely want to check this out.

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!


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Rating: 4.4/5 (143 votes)
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KimberlyZombie at the GatesIf you were king and zombies were approaching, the logical approach would be to send out your army to wipe out the threatening horde. Not if you're the king in Zombie at the Gates, a defense game by Ridlake. If you are this particular king, you decide the best defense is to collect resources to upgrade your castle to a flying castle and float away from the monsters. All by yourself.

Your king starts out with a measly stick to fend off approaching zombies, as well as a stomping attack that can stun your opponents for a short time. Use the [arrow] keys or [A] and [D] to move around. Your ground pound is done by tapping the down [arrow] or [S] key twice quickly. Your weapon is used to attack, but also to harvest rocks, wood, wool, and money out of surrounding resource nodes or crates. As you wander the castle grounds, zombies pop up out of the ground and attack you. Finding the balance between killing them while also collecting resources is the key to the game. The round ends when you kill the last zombie, even if you haven't had a chance to collect everything. The more you collect, the faster you can get out of there!

The zombies get tougher as you go along, so it's a good thing you have the option to upgrade yourself and your weapons. When did zombies learn to wield spears?! You can eventually get a sword instead of a stick, and a bow is available for ranged attack. The king himself can also be upgraded with a faster walking speed and health. The playing field increases as you progress as well, with safe spots in the middle you can duck into if you get overwhelmed.

Your castle upgrades automatically depending on which resources you pick up. Eventually it does get a couple of arrow towers, but they aren't as much help as you'd like them to be. The controls feel a bit clunky until you get used to them, but shouldn't slow you down for long. The cut-out graphical style looks amazing, and the sound effects and music are wonderful. While not super difficult, nor very long, Zombie at the Gates will nonetheless satisfy any zombie killing craving you might have had.

Play Zombie at the Gates


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Rating: 4.2/5 (56 votes)
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BryanGAREGARE: Sapphire Mechs could definitely be an interpretation of what Kevin Flynn had done to 'The Grid' between the events of Tron and Tron: Legacy. In all of its neon glory, it is a mission based topdown shooting adventure where you play as a mech pilot straight out of military academy to fight an enduring war on the digitized planet, Vitirs-47. You control your mech with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, aim and fire with the mouse, and activate abilities and bombs with the [ctrl] or [R] key and [spacebar] respectively. War never changes, but the enemies do! Your success is based on eliminating everything in your path, completing mission objectives, and building up enough resources to upgrade your suit fully to match or outdo the competition. Enlist today if you think you got the stuff.

GARE: Sapphrie Mechs succeeds in giving the player plenty of options with mech parts to customize their play style which also opens up unique special abilities based on those parts in battle. If you are running low on cash, you can hop back into old missions to farm up the funds and try to collect all the stars scattered throughout the grid-like environment for more incentive. The ambient trance music streaming through this neon blue environment adds a bit of artistic value to a world overrun with digital destruction as well. Prepare for a ton of 'derezzing' enemies and march the path of war in this combative casual experience.

Play GARE: Sapphire Mechs


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Rating: 4.6/5 (59 votes)
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TrickyDROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 3Beethro Budkin has had to face all sorts of challenges crawling through the first eight floors of Dugan's dungeon. However, any monster exterminator worth his gil knows that payment is only granted once every creature is gone. So steel yourself, Beethro, for you stand on the very precipice of levels nine through twelve, and they're filled with Deadly Rooms of Death of all kinds! Caravel Games' series of turn-based puzzle-strategy games gets just a little bit more hair-pullingly complex in DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 3.

Beethro moves with the [arrow] keys (though utilizing the diagonals of the number keypad is recommended if you have one), and swings the Really Big Sword clockwise or counterclockwise with [W] and [Q]. Explore each level to find the exit, opening doors by triggering switches and killing all manner of ants, wingwraiths and evil eyes. Each switch can be clicked with the mouse to reveal how it will affect the environment. With every move you make, the baddies will respond with a move of their own (and watch out for those diagonals!). Even more so that previous installments, many of the puzzles in this episode rely on tactical prediction of enemy behavior. Still, there is nothing quite so satisfying as mowing down a hoard of roaches that have foolishly moved exactly where you wanted them to. Those new to the series will probably want to start with an earlier episode to get the hang of the mechanics, but fans of the games should rest assured that DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 3 is an excellent continuation of an excellent flash port of an excellent series.

Play DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite
Episode 3

You Are Games

Reader ReviewThe following is a selection of favorite games compiled and reviewed by JIG community member, AlternativeDave. It is also one of the winning entries from our previous call for submissions for community favorites, for which AlternativeDave will be showered with gifts and prizes. Thank you to everyone who participated and for sharing your favorites with us! Look for more community favorites in the coming weeks.

  • A Grain of TruthA Grain of Truth - In a grain of truth you'll take control of Myosotis, A traveller roaming her world collecting stories in a search for her lost, mysterious past. With the ultimate goal being to find the 'Wise Man' who might be able to shed some light on your story, you'll meet strange, fantastic creatures, discover the secrets of clouds and still have time for a game of Mahjong! Whilst the aforementioned 'Wise Man' is a carbon copy of a certain green Jedi master we're all familiar with the rest of the game is totally original, wonderfully drawn, beautifully written and incorporates puzzles that are challenging but logical. Set in the fictional realm of The Big Old Tree That Dreams the Rudowscy brothers have created not just a game to point-and-click around but a whole world. Whilst the cliff-hanger ending will have your mouth watering, it's been 2 years since the first instalment of the adventure, so maybe pop the kettle on...
  • Submachine 7Submachine 7 - Confused? You should be! Seven games in to the Submachine series and we are still no wiser to the world we are functioning in, How we came to be here or why we are here at all. In Submachine 7 you'll guide our faceless protagonist, typical of Mateusz Skutink's games, closer to the elusive Murtaugh and the answers you're looking for. Whilst older instalments of the series may seem crude in comparison, Submachine 7 is crisp to look at with a narrative moving at more pace than it has done previously. The sound effects also create a great moody atmosphere best listened to with the headphones on but whilst the puzzles are challenging (to put it mildly) at times it's frustrating to feel you're pixel-hunting rather than using any logic. Submachine's creator is notorious for keeping quiet about release dates for his games, but if you can't wait to just stumble across Submachine 8 there's a helpful guide as to his progress here!
  • The Dream MachineThe Dream Machine - Whilst later Chapters of The Dream Machine need to be bought for a pocketful of Euros, Chapter 1 is free online, and the perfect way to introduce you to the world of Victor Neff. After waking Victor from his odd dream of a desert island we find He and wife, Alicia, have moved into a new apartment, but all is not as it seems in this strange, old building. As the story unfolds we find it's not just Victor who's bothered by his new surroundings, as a hastily destroyed note from the previous tenant makes clear. The other residents also have a touch of the surreal about them, and that's not to mention your new Landlord, who becomes conveniently unreachable as the plot thickens. Whilst using clay as a platform to make the game has caused some issues with character movement, the design and creation of Victor's world is impeccable. This combined with an intriguing story, deliberately slow moving plotline and tough puzzles makes for a 'dream' of a game.
  • Gateway 2Gateway 2 - As anyone with a mobile phone, laptop or iPod will tell you it's not hard to form an emotional attachment with a machine, and such is the case with the Anders Gustafsson's Gateway 2. As we guide our chunky, metal advocate around robot limbo we observe from a distance a small family (also mechanical). Through our hero's eye's we learn the story of controlling mother and a daughter who just wants to be left to her own devices. When seemingly empty threats are carried out it is up to the title character to piece together events so that others can move on. Although some puzzles seem to be a bit repetitive you'll plough through them happily to develop the story and find out the fate of our players, and although the ending might make you feel a bit flat, you'll enjoy the journey getting there.

While we welcome any comments about this particular selection of games, we do ask that if you need any help with individual games, or wish to comment on the games featured here, please post your questions and comments on the respective game's review page.


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Rating: 4.1/5 (74 votes)
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BenEvil ForestForests aren't born evil, you know. Their dislike of heroes can usually be traced back to one traumatic event. In this case, it was the arrival of an evil necromancer, who brought the forest with him courtesy of a magic crystal. Naturally, it's up to you to stop both necromancer and forest in Evil Forest, an action RPG platform game from SeethingSwarm.

Use the [arrow] keys for movement, and [A], [S], and [D] for attack, jump, and action respectively. On each level, your goal is to clear out all the monsters, at which point a portal to the next stage appears. There's loot to collect along the way, and you'll need to make sure your character is suitably powerful because in a game with permadeath, you can't risk going up against more powerful foes.

Wait, permadeath? Well, this isn't your typical action RPG, as the game borrows some key elements from roguelikes. Each of the 50 stages is randomly generated, and yes, should your character be overwhelmed by an enemy, you'll be starting the whole game again. With a boss every 10 levels, and few ways to regain health, there are plenty of ways even a wary player might find his character running low on hp. On the plus side, the short, randomized levels mean replayability is rarely a chore, and with plenty of loot to find and nods to games such as Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac throughout the game there's often something new to see on a second attempt.

While merging so many genres seems like overkill, Evil Forest comes together nicely to make for an enjoyable experience. Alone, none of the mechanics stand out as spectacular, and movement especially feels sluggish early on. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and Evil Forest takes enough from each genre to appeal to fans without alienating players used to a different type of game. If you've ever wanted a faster paced roguelike, or hoped for an action RPG that favored skill and planning over grinding and unlimited respawns, Evil Forest is the perfect compromise.

Play Evil Forest


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Rating: 3.8/5 (57 votes)
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ElleThe Top Hat ClubSome of us can pull off the hat look, some of us just looove hats, and some of us really want to get into the cool new hotspot that everyone is frequenting. It's no fun being left out. If you want to join The Top Hat Club then you better well have yourself a top hat. In this platform puzzler by David Durham, such an accomplishment is both simple and tricky. There's the hat, right within—sort of within—well, not always just within reach. Besides the typical platforming feats that you need to perform, a number of obstructions, such as disintegrating tiles, villains tossing barrels, and button-triggered walls will block your path.

Using arrows or [WASD] to move, pick up, and enter, and the [spacebar] to jump, your goal is to reach the club entrance with hat firmly on your head. Oh, did I say firmly? Any little bump can knock it off, but if you can act quickly and with agility, you'll saunter through the twenty-five stages unscathed. Whether to you it's easy or challenging, you'll be charmed by the "old school gaming values," vintage-style celluloid graphics (film reel jitters can be offed via "options") and many other player pleasing touches which bespeak quality production all the way—so give it a hats off and join in the fun!

Play The Top Hat Club


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Rating: 4.8/5 (105 votes)
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TrickyDROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 2Oh, Deadly Rooms of Death! Not since Divine Divinity has a redundant name heralded such awesomeness! The easy part of Beethro Budkin's quest to rid King Dugan's dungeon of terrorizing baddies is over, as he descends to floors 5 through 8. But even an expert smitemaster like Beethro may be stymied without a little guidance from you. So ready your Really Big Sword and enter DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 2, another great installment in Caravel Games' series of turn-based puzzle-strategy games.

Move Beethro with the [arrow] keys (though utilizing the diagonals of the number keypad is recommended if you have one), and swing the Really Big Sword clockwise or counterclockwise with the [W] and [Q] keys. Explore each level to find the exit, opening doors by triggering switches and killing various serpents, goblins, and the dreadful living tar. Each switch can be clicked with the mouse to reveal how it will affect the environment. With every move you make, the baddies will respond with a move of their own (and watch out for those diagonals!). New players should probably start with Episode 1, but there's nothing in the plot or mechanics that would prevent those looking for immediate challenge from jumping right in. Good luck! And seriously... Watch out for that living tar.

Play DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite
Episode 2


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Rating: 3.5/5 (83 votes)
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Weekday Escape

elleAlthough the title might sound scary, this is just an ordinary escape game, with absolutely no dying involved. Yet, without a friendly invitation from a Mr. Whatshisname, nor any other explanation for why or how, Kiteretsu's Death Nine leaves you trapped inside an unassuming room with no apparent way out—and the drop from that balcony is a very long way down. Thus you must rely solely on your code-breaking, clue-sniffing abilities to reach your freedom. Hmm, if you put it that way, perhaps it is a little unnerving.

Death Nine EscapeIn the typical escape-the-room fashion, play Death Nine by searching for hints and items that you can put to use toward opening the boxes, cupboards and doors that impede your triumphant exit. Navigate by clicking the grey bars on the sides and bottom of the screen; study clues and pick up items by pointing-and-clicking on them. Highlight an object in your inventory to use it or select "about item" to take a closer look at it.

Without a changing cursor to signify interactive areas, keep a keen eye out for the visual indicators instead—click any object, or part of an object, that might be worth a second look. Pixel hunting is not needed, though; nothing is randomly hidden along a blank wall but do check out that slightly smudged spot right...there. A number of puzzles will require a notepad, screen grab, or eidetic memory to solve, so stock up on one or all and you're ready to begin.

Death Nine is not long or involved, and the graphics are not the most exciting we've seen here on Weekday Escape, yet it does offer a number of thinky puzzles to stretch your mental muscles on. What frustration might build up in the effort to make sense of it all will quickly dissipate when you reach the end, as a nice relaxing reward waits for you there. If you have the patience and are happy enough with sleuthing your way through, you won't be disappointed. That is unless, drawn by the title, you were expecting something more bloody—the sequel to Kill Eight, perhaps?

Play Death Nine


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Rating: 4.1/5 (85 votes)
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MeaghanEmpires of ArkeiaIsland paradises are always such perfect targets for the renegades and devious of heart to rampage and pillage. Sadly, you can't exactly build a fence around an island so what do you do in order to keep your people safe? As Empires of Arkeia, a strategy based defense game by Sam Raski, teaches us, you deploy a heck ton of different warriors to beat back the throng of blood thirsty raiders ranging from humans to orcs.

Your command is to save the villages on an individual island then repeat until you have reclaimed the floating nation. You can review stats and choose your fighters in the Barracks tab. These stats are upgraded with experience points by going to the Academy. To view opponents you've already faced you can go to the Library tab. Once you choose a city and press fight you will be taken to a linear battlefield. On the battlefield you will choose your fighter by either pressing their corresponding number or clicking on their portrait then hitting one of the five green arrows to send them out. Each unit costs a specified amount of gold, but if your blue morale bar is full then you can send out a wave of your chosen fighter from each pathway for free. You gain gold constantly throughout the fighting, and the battle is done when all enemy units are dead.

The addition of so many upgrades is both a blessing and a curse. It's wonderful to have such diversity in the benefits for your fighters but the amount of experience points you need can feel daunting when you're trying to get through a difficult level and need an extra boost. Gaining new units after completing fights is a creative way to not overwhelm with too much at once and give the player time to get used to fighting style advantages. Due to the fact that the fights are randomly generated, this game allows for a high amount of replay to test which strategy you like most and to find which combination of upgrades most benefits your fights. If you're feeling deprived of some fantastical fighting then here's a great game to dive into.

Play Empires of Arkeia


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Rating: 4.5/5 (30 votes)
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Resonance

KimberlyGreat, you've been called into work early. Well, at least you finally talked to that cute girl on the subway. This small victory is cut short however, when you get to the lab only to find your brilliant physicist boss has been the victim of a mysterious explosion. Was it an accident, or is someone after his Resonance research, which has the potential to change the world? Perhaps someone is trying to prevent the research from reaching the light of day? Enter Ed, the mild mannered scientist, and Anna the intelligent doctor with a troubled past. Meet Ray, the nosy investigative reporter, and Detective Bennett, the good cop... or is he? Fate pushes these four unlikely heroes together in Resonance, a classic style point-and-click adventure by xii games and Wadjet Eye Games, of Gemini Rue fame. Can the gang solve the mystery and recover the research? Or is one of them responsible for the crime?

kimberly_resonance_screen3.pngAny adventure game fan will be familiar with the basic controls of the game. For those new to the genre, simply click to move your character around the screen, click on an object to try to pick it up or otherwise interact with it, or right-click on an object for a detailed description. Click the inventory button to see what your character is holding, or to grab an object to use it to interact with the environment. Unique to Resonance are the the long and short term memory options. When your character has an important conversation, it will be stored in the long term memory. You can open this menu and revisit these conversations at any time, or click them during a dialog to talk about them with other characters. Short term memory works in a similar way, only you drag objects that may (or may not) be important, from the environment into the short term memory slots in order to bring them up in conversation with others at a later point in the game. Also singular to the game is the ability to play as all four characters, using another menu at the top of the screen to decide who you'd like to be.

Analysis: Resonance takes old-school, wraps it in a great story, and spits out a wonderful game with unique mechanics. The graphics wouldn't be out of place in any of the old Sierra adventure games in all their pixely glory. The memory options add a dimension and difficulty that a lot of point and click adventures are missing these days. The game is fully voice-acted, which is done well and really brings the characters to life. Detective Bennett is voiced by Logan Cunningham, well known in gaming circles as the voice in Bastion. The story is not totally linear, which is nice if you get stuck. If you do find yourself out of ideas, you can have the four main characters ask each other what they think should happen next. This can give you vague hints as to what you are supposed to accomplish next and how. The option of changing characters keeps the gameplay fresh, and there are parts of the plot that can only be completed by certain characters. Also several important scenes can be solved in more than one way. This is made even more interesting by involving some tough moral and ethical decisions in your choices.

kimberly_resonance_screen1.pngThere are achievements included with the game, accessed through the main menu, but you aren't made aware of when you accomplish them, so they aren't really a driving force in the game. To get all of them would require playing the game through a second time, as some are linked to the different ways to solve puzzles. It would be nice to be able to change the resolution from the option menu, as I had an issue with it fitting on my screen without changing my monitor's resolution. There were also a couple times when I loaded and wished I could skip through a cut scene I had already watched. But these are minor complaints. The music throughout is very atmospheric, and adds to the moodiness of the game, while the unraveling story line will keep you coming back to find out what happens next. There is also a handy auto-rewind system, should one of your characters not make it through a tricky situation. So no worries if you're not a save-all-the-time freak like me.

All in all, Resonance is an excellent game, as one would expect from Wadjet Eye. It is challenging enough without being frustrating, and captures the nostalgia of the original adventure games perfectly, while adding a modern touch. Did I mention there are two endings depending on your choices? And that the game conveniently auto saves before the final scene so you can go back and experience them both? There is a lengthy demo available, but with over ten hours of gameplay, it's definitely worth the purchase price.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Get the full version from GOG.com (includes bonus content)

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


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (126 votes)
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TrickyDROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 1In 1997, Webfoot Technologies released a little game named Deadly Rooms of Death. A turn-based puzzle-strategy game, it quickly became renowned as a first-rate dungeon crawler. As the 3D age begun, Webfoot would drop support for the top-down game, but graciously allowed original developer Erik Hermansen to remake it in an open source model. This game, officially re-dubbed DROD, and released by Caravel Games in 2002. Since then, the company, in conjunction with a vibrant fan community, has published numerous quality sequels, upgrades and level packs. And now, in 2012, another milestone has been reached, with the first game in the DROD series, King Dugan's Dungeon finally receiving a port to the browser. So join Beethro Budkin, exterminator extraordinaire as he clears out every evil critter in DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 1!

Episode 1 consists of four floors of monster-fighting action. Move Beethro with the [arrow keys] (though utilizing the diagonals of the [number pad] or its laptop equivilant is recommended), and swing his sword around him clockwise or counterclockwise with the [W] and [Q] keys. Explore each level to find the exit, opening doors by triggering switches and killing various cockroaches, goblins, and other baddies. Each switch can be clicked with the mouse to reveal how it will affect the environment. With every move you make, the baddies will respond with a move of their own (and watch out for those diagonals!). You must use the layout of the rooms to your strategic advantage, and get them before they get you. Scrolls will reveal new information, stepping on a red x-tile will save your progress as a checkpoint, and [R] can be pressed to restart any room from the beginning. New elements are introduced over time, and much of the joy of the game comes from seeing how they combine to make new types of puzzles.

With its emphasis on exploration and puzzle-solving, King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 1 is a perfect gateway for those intimidated by turn-based strategy, while still fun for hardcore genre fans looking for the challenge of finding optimal solutions. As an intro to the series, quite of bit of time is spent on the tutorial, which is to be expected even if it is a bit of a slow start. Stick around though, and you'll fall in love with the game's cunning design and impish sense of humor. One drawback worth mentioning is access to the high score charts is limited to paid Caravel Game members, though if you become that addicted, it's certainly worth it. So c'mon, try it! After all... the first one's free... (Mwah-ha-ha-ha!)

Play DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 1


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (670 votes)
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BryanZombotron 2All good things must come to an end, and our mechanical zombie fighter from Ant Karlov's previous title went out just like the Wicked Witch of the East did... flattened like a pancake. Zombotron 2 puts you in the combat boots of a hapless soldier who crash landed right on your predecessor from the first Zombotron and is in a whole lot of trouble. To find a way out of this undead nightmare, you must run and gun (and sometimes explode) your way through hordes of zombies and spider creatures in this physics-based zombie shooting extravaganza. The new guy might not know what is going on, but your foes do and they are out for some new blood... YOUR blood.

Best of Casual Gameplay 2012Standard [WASD] keys are used for character movement while your mouse is used for all your shooting needs, from aiming to pulling the trigger. The rest of the game is set up exactly like its prequel with health, ammo and money in the upper left corner, but now with revamped graphics. You swap between the two carried weapons with the [Q] key, reload them with [R], and interact with most buttons and objects using [E]. When you are high and dry with no ammo, just use the environment to the take out enemies' with falling debris and explosive canisters. Everything you loved about the old game has risen again and has been supercharged with richer and more interactive gameplay in mind.

Zombotron 2 still falls prey to the same sluggish controls as the first, but the renovated UI, additional weaponry (like melee combat and assault rifles for starters!), and brand new spider enemy variants will help you forget all about it. The difficulty definitely got turned up this time around, too, with health draining and your body exploding gruesomely from these new overbearing spiderlings and toxic spitters. The later levels are riddled with just such danger, but the game as a whole goes for a more RPG style progression. The action game star ratings were ditched and the mission objectives for each level were moved into a more global role that can be completed at your leisure. It may take away from the replay value a bit, but it will help you to focus more on the hero's story and how the heck you are getting off this plagued planet. Trust me, the action is nowhere close to being lost in this excellent sequel and fans of the first are sure to find a rotting friend in this zombie survival game.

Play Zombotron 2


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The Vault

Tricky Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls of all ages! Come on down to JayIsGamesLand! The Casual Gamesiest Place on Earth! Sure, we may not have much in the way of thrill rides or funnel cakes (though I hear the "John & Dora Ice Spectacular" is not to be missed). However, we do have some wonderful games in The Vault this week: a gorgeous piece of interactive art, a high-stakes hacking puzzler, and a platformer that's sure to steal some of your time. All of the fun, and none of the sunburn!

  • Small WorldsSmall Worlds - The winning entry in CGDC 6, Small Worlds, by David Shute, is, without hyperbole, an artistic masterpiece. While technically an exploration platformer, such a classification doesn't nearly capture the pathos and discovery contained within the experience. Without spoiling anything, the concept of revelation is central to Small Worlds: tiny rooms become sprawling locales, blocky graphics transform beautiful architecture, serene landscapes reveal sinister history. The fact that such revelation are told nearly entirely without words only adds to the impact, aided in no small part by Kevin MacLeod's amazing score. There are a thousand ways to interpret Small Worlds, and all of them are wonderful and horrible. Anyone who hasn't played it yet, should budget fifteen minutes and be transported.
  • ExploitExploit - As a game creator, Gregory Weir has demonstrated his innovative skill time and time again. His willingness to play with the conventions of Flash gaming form and content is perfectly displayed in Exploit, a tile-based puzzle game. Exploit may have an interface about as advanced looking as an Apple ][, but telling the story in E-Mails somehow makes the game's taut espionage story even more gripping. The turn-based puzzles are complement the plot quite well. While likely having little-to-know resemblance to actual hacking, they'll certainly make you feel like you're ready to take on The Gibson. Though the world of technology is no longer the daunting place it once was, Exploit masterfully builds its tension on how there is still something ominous in how the internet has added so much abstraction to our lives; how code and firewalls dominate our everyday actions in ways we're never quite sure we comprehend. Of course, when code forms itself into something as awesome as Exploit, the digital future becomes a bit easier to take.
  • ChronotronChronotron - A number of games have used the Replay Theme where multiple copies of a character work together to reach a platforming-level goal. (I think there was a competition about that somewhere...) Still, Chronotron, by ScaryBug Games, is one of the most refined, and preventing time paradoxes adds a fun layer of challenge. The titular Chronotron is a wonderfully-clunky little guy; sorta like if WALL-E had gotten hold of a TARDIS. The timer in the bottom left makes planning your movements natural, and the "Rewind" mechanic keeps things from getting too frustrating. Overall, Chronotron will get you thinking laterally and get your mind moving in all sorts of dimensions.

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!


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Alexandria Bloodshow

JohnBLooking at the title of Alexandria Bloodshow, your mind might fly all over the place wondering what genre the game represents. Sounds like a great name for a first person shooter set in ancient Egypt, right? Well, that may be, but in this case, Alexandria Bloodshow is actually a tactical card combat game that succeeds the even more unusually named SAMURAI BLOODSHOW: les vagues blanches, les nuages rouges. Yeah, that's right! Once you put the names aside, though, you'll find a couple of excellent slow-paced strategy games that will remind you of Plants vs. Zombies in some surprising ways.

alexandriabloodshow.jpgIf the sound of a tactical card game makes you want to head for the hills, pause for just a moment and consider this: Alexandria Bloodshow is simple to play, and the complexity only builds up later in the game. By that time you'll be well-equipped to handle it, so you'll never feel overwhelmed, undereducated, or just lost. It's about as casual as a tactical card game can be, and for that alone, it's worth checking out.

Alexandria Bloodshow pits two ancient armies against each other on the field of battle: the Greeks and the Egyptians. By assembling a deck of warrior cards, you'll fight wave after wave of opponents, each of whom is out to capture and kill your king. Tap a card and move it to the playing field to place it, staying aware of the horizontal lines of attack enemies tend to follow (see? Plants vs. Zombies!). Different units have different strengths, so you'll want to spread your forces out and layer them so their attacks can overlap if at all possible. And keep in mind you can level up units by placing cards on top of them. But don't go too overboard, as your deck carries a limited stock of troops!

When everything is in place (or before, depending on how much time you take organizing your troops), the waves begin, with enemies pouring in from the right side of the screen and your fighters meeting them when they're in range. You constantly gain gold in Bloodshow, and gold is used for drawing new lots of cards and for moving units on the screen. Battlefield obstacles often make things more interesting, and the leader of your forces charges a three-tiered ability that can often turn the tides of battle.

alexandriabloodshow2.jpgAnalysis: Just like its predecessor, Alexandria Bloodshow is full of over-the-top creatures, epic battles (think Greek gods vs. Egyptian gods, or mythological animals, if you like!), and deeply nuanced gameplay that pulls inspiration from a number of sources. It may not have the cuddly critters or pretty colors you find in most mobile games, but the artwork is impressive in its own right, sporting the same paper scroll look culled from SAMURAI BLOODSHOW.

The basics of Alexandria Bloodshow can be learned in just a few minutes, but like any good strategy game, it takes time to master. Building a deck becomes a real challenge once you obtain more units and more cards, a process that takes more time than you'd think. And with 120 different cards to gather, you're in for a serious afternoon of deck management.

The only real downside to Alexandria Bloodshow is its pacing. The game moves along at a sluggish speed, from the slow battles to the oh-so-gradual progression of moving through your chosen campaign, unlocking new cards, and winning battles that are more varied and more difficult. Sure, there are times when you can't make the waves come slow enough, but it takes time to get to that point. The game doesn't try to throw any hooks out there early on to grab more gamers, it simply presents what it's got and lets you make up your mind on your own.

And finally, rounding out the game's set of features, Alexandria Bloodshow comes with several multiplayer modes, both online and local in nature. Assuming you can find an opponent who is interested in intelligent play, this is a great way to extend the game even further, finding some clever opponents to pit your deck against to see which ancient race of card-based folk are the most powerful!

You won't catch the game on grandma's iPhone, but Alexandria Bloodshow is a smart underdog of the mobile strategy game world. It's got lasting appeal, deep tactics, and enough gameplay to keep you fighting for hours on end.


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Commander Pixman

JohnBCommander Pixman is in trouble. Or, rather, the aliens whose base he has just crash landed on are in trouble! Armed with a gun and a good pair of jumping boots, you have the honorable pleasure of escorting Commander Pixman through over 135 levels in this retro-inspired action arcade game, destroying aliens, evading traps, and making pixel-perfect jumps time and time again. And if you fail, you get to watch your flub a second time on instant replay!

Commander PixmanUsing the on-screen controls, move Andrew "Pixman" Blazkowicz through each small level, firing on aliens to clear the path, tripping and subsequently avoiding landmines, hopping across moving platforms, skirting around spikes, utilizing portals, and all sorts of other exciting things you would do on an alien world. The action is surprisingly intense, especially for a thick-pixeled retro world, but because it comes in such short bursts, you never get frustrated, no matter how many times you die and repeat a level. You even have the option of skipping trouble spots!

One Minute Game's challenging platform release is sort of an odd fit for the mobile market, as the game demands responsive, real-world controls for both precision and tense moments where you squeeze a gamepad. With virtual buttons, the experience isn't quite the same, and there's even a slight delay in movement you'll have to learn to adjust to. Still, for an action-heavy game on a mobile platform, Commander Pixman gets things just about right, and with the frequent updates and massive number of levels to complete, it's one game you won't get tired of anytime soon!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an HTC Incredible. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 2.9/5
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Rating: 2.9/5 (36 votes)
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TrickySenso RabbitMatt Lepus was just an ordinary mammal until one day, a tragic accident involving a truck-full of chemically-altered produce left him blinded. However, finding his other senses to be enhanced to super-lagomorphic levels, he did what any other bunny would do: use his powers to safely grab all the carrots from the local minefield. Such is the tale of Senso Rabbit, the titular star of Mighty Ducks Entertainment's debut action-puzzle game.

Move Senso-Rabbit around the minefields with the [arrow keys]. The goal is to collect as many carrots as you can, then return to where you started, avoiding hazards along the way. As he walks, Senso Rabbit's SONAR will pulse to determine if there are mines in his vicinity. If a green, yellow, or nuclear orange circle pops up in Senso Rabbit's sense range, that means a mine is underneath, and activating it will cost a chunk of Senso Rabbit's health! [Spacebar] will chuck a carrot in the direction you're facing, handy for setting off a cluster of mines that would otherwise be impassable, and should you find a laser visor, [ctrl] will fire a beam perfect for clearing obstacles out of the way. There are boxes to be pushed, switches to be activated, a veritable hrair of enemies to antagonize and, of course, achievements to earn.

Right off the bat, Senso Rabbit scores points for its unique, even innovative, premise. Only one other game about MineSweeping immediately leaps to mind, and that one doesn't have any bunnies in it at all! Do keep in mind that the gameplay here relies a lot on strategically planning a safe path through the field. Players in the mood for something twitchy might want to give this a pass. That said, those of a methodical mindset will find Senso Rabbit strangely addictive. Hop on over and give it a try, Doc!

Play Senso Rabbit


  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 4/5 (56 votes)
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BryanMy LaboratoryThe great alchemy phenomenon kicked off by Doodle God is still going strong, but why simply play around with fire and water when you can undertake the colonization of an entire planet? My Laboratory for iOS lets you do just that, following the same basic rules as other alchemy-based games where you drag and drop elements to make brand new things. You start with the four most basic elements (air, earth, fire, water) and work towards building over 200 unique creations, from the small to large, simple to not-so-simple. The plug and chug through all of the possible ingredients will give you multiple hours of unexpected logic puzzle excitement!

While it does model itself after games like Alxemy, Jerome Gangneux and crew at weheartprojects adds a wordless story told via comic-style art to provide clues for new elements. It may take away from the mix-n-match exploration of games like this, but it is an insightful aspect to aid the not-so-logic-minded gamers out there. The touch screen interface is as easy to navigate as an old photo album, but with the added functionality of an alphabetic search so you don't have to flip through pages of old components. My Laboratory is a wonderful addition to anyone's mobile game collection, especially if you have a taste for casual puzzles, logical solutions, and the building blocks of creation!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPod Touch 3rd Generation. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Life Quest (mobile)

JohnBLife is tough. Games, though, are fun, so when you mix the two, you get... fough? No, wait, you get Life Quest, the life simulation game recently ported to mobile iOS devices by BigFishGames! As soon as you graduate from high school, the world is yours to command. Once you get a job, earn some money, float above your rising pool of debt, and somehow come out ahead, that is! But since it's all fun and games in Life Quest, you get to kick back and enjoy an experience not unlike The Sims meets a time management game, which is to say, you'll spend a whole lot of time getting very little done! (Just like real life, no?)

lifequest-m.jpgAfter jumping through the initial tutorial hoops, Life Quest turns you loose in a city full of promise. There are buildings to utilize throughout the town, such as universities, apartments to rent, restaurants, clothing stores, furniture outlets, and much more, much of which is locked at the beginning of the game. Your goal is to live life to its fullest by outdoing your classmates as they present you with challenges. The game takes place in daily increments where you'll try to earn money, then use that money to do the things you need (and want). As soon as one task is done, the next classmate appears with bigger and better goals in mind. You won't have to worry about managing too much in Life Quest, as there are very few stats to keep an eye on, and progression is largely automatic and a simple byproduct of your daily activities.

Where Life Quest really shines is its plethora of options. You can tinker around all you want with this game, customizing your character, picking just the right job (assuming you're qualified for it), picking out clothes to wear, getting appliances and buying groceries, etc. It really is its own little simulation world, but with a nice rivalry-fueled incentive to keep outdoing everyone you knew in high school. This does lead to a less character-centric approach to the game, however. Even though you'll spend a lot of time focusing on who you are and what you do, the goals are always about outdoing someone else, not meeting and beating your own personal life goals. But hey, that's what real life's for, right?

Life Quest was an excellent game when it was released for the downloadable casual games market, and the mobile port effortlessly brings that experience to touch screen iOS devices. Have a little virtual life in your own hands, no matter where your real life takes you!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Mobile Monday

JohnBWhen you've got the Wild West in your future and trains in your past, you've got to start wondering if something went screwy with the space time continuum. I mean... Marty? Got any ideas? Tachyon particles went where now? Well, no matter which alternate universe we've stumbled into, there's a lot of cool stuff on the horizon for the mobile market, not to mention nifty things in the very recent past!

pockettrains.jpgPocket Planes vs. Trains - Are you playing Pocket Planes as much as we are? If not, check out our review to see exactly why you're missing out on some serious fun! Here's a neat fact about Pocket Planes: the game was originally going to be Pocket Trains! Developer NimbleBit released some screenshots (mock-ups, really) showing the land-based game being as cute as ever. The reason for the switch? Trains are limited to tracks, whereas planes can fly anywhere (except Mordor, one cannot simply fly there), creating that open-ended feeling of exploration the team was aiming for. We don't know about you, but having Pocket Trains in addition to Pocket Planes doesn't sound like a bad idea. There's just something timelessly attractive about trains.

piglantis.jpgAngry Birds under the sea -
Remember the other day when you were thinking "I should be playing more Angry Birds"? Excuse time has arrived! Rovio recently rolled out the "Piglantis" update to Angry Birds Seasons featuring 30 all new levels to torture pigs in. Even more impressive is the new underwater physics engine that allows you to pop birds in and out of the water in a realistic way. It's impressive to see a feature like this roll out with an update, so be sure to check it out and see if you approve!

squidswildwest-p.jpgSQUIDS goes westward - The RPG-meets-tactics-meets-cephalopod game SQUIDS meet with serious approval when we featured both the mobile and downloadable versions of the release. The sequel, SQUIDS Wild West, is still in production, set for release within the next month or two. But we got our hands on a preview version, and we can confidently say, you want this game as soon as possible. The backdrops are simply gorgeous, putting most other wild west games to shame, and the game's mechanics feel like they've been tuned to an even finer grain of perfection. You can grab an early look by downloading the latest update for SQUIDS, featuring three levels set on a Wild West map.

mtg2013.jpgMagic the Gathering to iPad - Fancy yourself a bit of Magic the Gathering? The CCG from yesteryear is still going strong, with new sets and new video games coming out at a brisk pace. Some very exciting news is that Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is headed for iPad, supporting Retina Display resolution and playing as close to a real life card game as you can get. It looks absolutely beautiful and is shaping up to be an end-all resource for MTG fans to get their fix in a digital form. Duels of the Planeswalkers is due out this week!

Got some delicious info on an upcoming mobile release, current event, or other tasty news tidbit? We want to know! Send an e-mail with "Mobile Monday" in the subject line to johnb AT casualgameplay DOT com. We'll sift through the submissions and feature our favorites on a Mobile Monday article! Keen!


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Haunted Hotel: Charles Dexter Ward

MeaghanFrom movies to books to video games, the "creepy" seems all-pervasive. Put an individual or group in some deserted, out of the way place with lots of shadows and eerie sounds and you've got the recipe going strong! Luckily for you, assuming you're the type that likes creepy things, Specialbit Studio has quite the joyride for you! In the hidden object puzzle adventure game Haunted Hotel: Charles Dexter Ward, you get rewarded with the creepiest of creepy: a deserted hotel in a bayou out in good ol' Louisiana. I wouldn't stick around for any jambalaya if I were you.

Haunted Hotel: Charles Dexter WardYour brother has been missing for seven days, and the cops don't seem very concerned, insisting that he simply "ran away". You return home one day to find a mysterious box with a rather imposing demonic figure on the lid accompanied by the initials J.C. What lovely thing rests inside? Just your brother's necklace that he never takes off. Obviously things have gone horribly wrong, and it's up to you to rescue your brother from a swamp infested wasteland. Good luck, and watch out for alligators!

Haunted Hotel is peppered with hidden object scenes as well as puzzles and mini-games. Your cursor is plenty helpful as it changes when you hover over specific areas, and depending on which of the two difficulty levels you chose, your hint button is either readily available or slowly recharging. As you mosey around the hotel property you'll discover notes and letters that will unravel the story of what has happened to your brother. The game plays through three days where you have no map to guide you, so be sure to pay close attention to your surroundings.

Haunted Hotel:Charles Dexter WardAnalysis: The most phenomenally well done part of Haunted Hotel: Charles Dexter Ward is the cut scenes. When you come across a game with live actors, more often than not you get someone who doesn't know how to speak like a normal human or grossly exaggerates their character and it ruins the whole experience. Haunted Hotel avoids that folly and enchants with a seamless delivery, something you'll be quite thankful for once the game gets its hooks in you!

A point of frustration arises with the absence of a map. It's not that it's hard to remember which way to go, but in a hidden object game, there's always a good deal of backtracking. A visual reminder (or a blatant signal) that an area needs to be visited is always appreciated, so when it's not there, suddenly it's sorely missed. Haunted Hotel also does something unusual by using mini-games to open doors, a departure from the "find a bunch of keys for all the locks" philosophy of most casual adventure games.

Game plots are much like fashion and music: nothing is truly original anymore. From kidnapped family members to enchanted fairytale creatures, it's all been done at least a hundred times before in one form or another. Don't fret though because despite the repetition, Haunted Hotels delivers a well-developed game with intricate puzzles and dazzling graphics to make you forget, quite easily I might add, that you've probably done heard this story before.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains bonus gameplay, an art gallery, 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:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Splice

ArtbegottiYou know those times when you're bored with doing laundry and you take the clothes hangers and tried to dangle them off one another so they all stay balanced? Well, Splice isn't quite about hangers. But you've got to fiddle with the balance of cellular structures in a similar way! In this beautiful puzzler from Cipher Prime, each string of cells is a mystery waiting to be spliced into something amazing.

SpliceIn each level, you'll find a handful of cells that need to be shuffled around to fit inside the outlined pattern with a limited number of splices. For the purposes of this game, a "splice" is defined as the physical movement of a cell or group of cells from one location to another. So, by clicking and dragging a cell from one end of the strand to another, you've used up one splice. As a rule, each cell can have up to two "child" cells, so you're limited as to how many branches you can make at a time.

Rearranging the cellular strands starts out simply enough, but ramps up in difficulty when you're handed new cells that let you manipulate the structures in different ways. Starting from the central cell and moving outward toward the extremities, you'll notice a ring that stops at each special cell. Clicking the central cell (or right-clicking) activates that cell's special power, be it splitting itself in two and making copies of everything attached to it, or making everything hanging on it disappear from play. Activating these cells does not count toward your splice total.

If you think you might've made a mistake, you can fast forward and rewind your actions with your mouse's scroll wheel or by tweaking the timeline on the right. Each level is cleared when your cellular strand fits in the outline, without any unused special cells attached. Remember that your pattern must much identically; there's no sympathy for symmetry in this game!

SpliceAnalysis: At its heart, Splice is a very simple game. The average level takes only five to seven moves to solve, and you have a limited number of options available to you at any point in time: splice some cells one way or another, or activate the next ring of special cells. However, the difficulty lies in finding the perfect combination of splicing, splitting, and purging. You could think of Splice as a series of Eyezmaze's Grow games, but set on a cellular level.

After a certain point, you are able to make splices where you can leave a segment of cells floating separately from your strand. This is a strange mechanic, since having the option of dumping cells in the middle of nowhere makes the game just a tad easier. Mind you, each detachment and reattachment still costs you vital splices, but it feels like a bit of a cheat when you can discard extra cells at the end of a level just by dragging them out into the void.

Despite this loophole, Splice still bears a fierce mental challenge to overcome to even be able to use that cheat. There are 49 levels available in the main game, with a handful of extra-hard puzzles to tackle in an epilogue. All of them are presented with an incredibly soothing whoosh through the petri dish as a piano serenades you with what is probably my favorite Cipher Prime soundtrack yet (sold separately). So there you have it, a fantastic puzzle with a great atmosphere. A round of Splice beats a coathanger windchime anyday.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo (via Steam)
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Download the demo (via Steam)
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(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Royal Detective: The Lord of Statues

MeaghanHere's the good news: you get to go to a small European village for free. The bad news? Well... there's this tiny issue of horrific and angry statues randomly coming to life and carting off the villagers for who knows what reason. Also, you have the good fortune of being the most prominent detective around! That means you get to go deal with those statues and puzzle out what in the heck is happening. Elephant Games has returned to us with a wonderful new hidden object puzzle adventure game Royal Detective: The Lord of Statues, so put on your bowler hat and get ready to do some mystery solvin'!

Royal Detective: The Lord of StatuesYou have been summoned to the snowy town of Martlet. A once upon a time gorgeous town that was filled to the brim with statues, made by a sculptor named Gregory Amadey, that you would swear were alive. Funny story is now they are alive, and they're not so happy. They're after someone and you need to find out whom it is they seek. Lucky you huh? However, it's not only finding out who managed to make these stone giants real. For example, who is Princess? Is she simply the ever-smiling child that Amadey took in? Also, why are some of the statues rocking the fiendish red eyes while others are glimpsing out of emerald peepers? Time is of the essence, Royal Detective, but no pressure or anything.

Unlike Dorothy you don't have any ruby colored heels to click together so you'll have to make due with clicking your mouse to grant your wish. And to also hunt down some clues throughout the town. There are three levels of difficulty ranging from sparkly fun to no sparkles and no helpful hints from your companion Rupert. Add in some achievements and twenty-six miniature figures to be collected and you have yourself quite a hefty case on your hands. To help in your adventure is your cursor, which will change depending on what you hover over, and a slew of statues with specific abilities. The most convenient of your tools are your map. Any place you have visited will have a blip on the map and when pressed you will be instantly transported back to the spot, making going back and forth that much simpler.

Royal Detective: The Lord of StatuesAnalysis: Elephant Games always releases heavy hitters, and Royal Detective is a stellar addition to their already abundant repertoire of awesome. Though the idea of an inanimate object coming to life isn't necessarily original, they manage to pack in a few twists and turns to at least spice up the tried and true plot. When you see the Elephant Games title there's always a certain level of expectation and I'm pleased to say they've upped the ante quite a bit.

One of the few drawbacks present in the game is the slow movement speed of the cursor. In this digital age of being a gamer one of the biggest hum bug moments comes when there's something that feels laggy. Oddly enough the lag doesn't seem to occur in any of the hidden object scenes. The hidden object scenes at times feel a bit cluttered, but that is more pleasant challenge than a subtraction from enjoyment. The only other mild inconvenience is length of time between when you finish a puzzle and when it vanishes from the screen. However, none of these things really impedes the greatness of the game as much as allows a cynic to scrutinize a little more.

Royal Detective: The Lord of StatuesI'm happy to say that the positive aspects of the game are like a flood gone wild. They're everywhere and epic. The graphics are stunning to say the least, and it's a great reminder that live action isn't the only way to make a fantastic hidden object game. It's rare to find a casual game that takes the time to invent new and crafty puzzles, but Royal Detective steps up to the plate and hits a home run. I was especially tickled by the puzzle where you have to match the mythological creature to the appropriate country of origin. The story line is enthralling, especially because you're given the information by your handy helper Rupert.

Truly, this game packs quite a wallop. You're guaranteed several hours of enjoyable gameplay that is made all the better because of the gorgeous scenes. Fans of Elephant Games will not be displeased by this testament to their ingenuity and dedication to provide a great experience for their players. If players of the game are lucky, Elephant Games may even have just found themselves a new game to turn into a series. I for one wouldn't mind seeing more of the Royal Detective.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains bonus gameplay, an art gallery, 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


(17 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Fallen City

TrickyTo quote the intro of Fallen City, Channel 4 and Big Robot's educational puzzle/real-time strategy game: What is a city? It is a machine; a machine for living in. But all machines can break down. The inhabitants of Fallen City (Angries) have become distracted by their individual lives and dreams and have let the once gleaming metropolis fall into disrepair. Frustrated by their inability to live the lives of fame and fortune they were told could satisfy them, many of the Angries fell into boredom or rage... and the city sunk ever deeper into its gloom. But broken machines can be fixed, right? A few Angries with hope to spare know that a few friends and a little dedication can work wonders. But they'll need your help to get the Fallen City back on its feet, to once again become a place where life is worth living. So roll up your sleeves and put that Broken Window Theory to the test!

Fallen CityFallen City is all about commanding Angries to do the things that need to be done, namely cleaning up this disgusting city. Click on anyone with the left mouse button to select them, then right click somewhere else to put them to work. You can select several areas to work on in a row and the Angry will clean them in a sequence. Angries can find new skills by uncovering books or by cleaning certain condemned buildings, renovating them, and staffing them with other Angries. You can use these skills to inspire other workers, open new areas, or to calm down the rampaging purple Really Angries. Once you find, clean, and staff the stage's key building, the level will be complete and you can move on to the next dingy part of town!

Analysis: Fallen City is unlikely to win any awards for subtlety of message, but really, that's part of its charm. The idea of cleaning up a city, block by block, building by building, admittedly sounds very grindy when put on paper. However, the concept of turning a drab space into something lively and energetic is an inherently appealing premise, as anyone who's every played Animal Crossing can attest to. Actually, a better comparison may be to the most addictive of Facebook social simulation games (and indeed, it wouldn't be hard to conceive of a port): a game in which your every action serves to make your virtual world a little bigger and a little brighter, so much so that it's hard to tear yourself away. Of course, it's to Fallen City's benefit then that it is both completely free and way prettier than the vast majority of WhateverVille games out there. But don't think for a moment that means the game is a simple walk in the park.

Fallen CityFallen City's setting and inhabitants are the obvious stars of the experience. The city design feels similar to the one in de Blob, which is a good thing, though it has a bit more of a English suburb feel to it. The ruined buildings are properly twisted and Dickensian, while the clean areas gleam without feeling too artificial. It was a nice touch that the sound design subtly changes to be more pleasant, the more repaired the city is, i.e. bursts of static and ominous barking dogs transformed into pleasant chatting. The Angries themselves are a joy to behold, packed with such humorous character in their design, whether they're dancing, chatting in their language, or kicking back and having a cuppa. Channel 4 had better be starting on plush versions, stat.

A few negatives are worth mentioning. For a game that centers itself around coming together and rebuilding a community, there seemed to be precious little interaction between the Angries themselves. You control only one at a time, and while it's cute to see the others Angries laze about, watching a refurbished TV or quietly smiling, it would be really cool to be able to direct a cluster to clean a path down an alleyway or, better yet, see them do it of their own accord. Also, the control scheme may be a little too complicated for its presumably young target audience. A movable camera is infinitely preferable to one you can't move, but with so many 3D buildings to block the field of view, one feels that a more elegant solution must be available.

Even if it is a little blatantly presented, one cannot fault the message of Fallen City: that the state of our city affects the state of our lives, and its health is linked to our own. Our space takes care of us, as we must take care of it. Undeniably, this is a over-simplified view of the many problems that afflict our infrastructure, but it is still a correct one. After all, if, after spending a few hours on Fallen City, a couple of players decide to spend an afternoon picking up trash in the park, making it a little more beautiful, nobody's gonna, y'know, mind.

WindowsWindows:
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Shifter

MeaghanShifter. The word conjures up images of werewolves or some other type of were-creature. Or maybe somebody's been watching too many episodes of Grimm? Jennifer Klement obviously has a different interpretation of the word, and she displays it well in the point and click adventure escape the town game Shifter. If you've needed a good break from the summer festivities or you've been looking for something different to try out, then take a peek at this beauty!

ShifterWelcome to the town of Aberdan! You wake up and experience the joy of seeing nothing but strangers all around you. As you'll find out, the countryside is embroiled in war and the guards have been commanded to keep the city gates closed at all times. This is quite the problem for you, seeing as how all you want to do is get out! Your ticket home is your "shifter" ability along with keen conversational skills that lure bits of information out of each stranger.

At the bottom of the screen is a bar with a number of different buttons. Most of your interactions will involve just three of these: the chat bubble to speak to townspeople, the inventory button, and the clone button. To clone a person you must know them well enough to answer three questions correctly. You can't fake your way through this one, you've actually got to do the talking, listening, and talking again in order to learn what you need to know. Getting people to talk is fairly simple, but you'll have to switch between times of day to get different bits of information along with exhausting every branch on the conversation tree multiple times.

ShifterAnalysis: Shifter takes a familiar idea, escaping a designated area, and gives it a twist. Much like going to a salon and getting a new haircut, you're still the same you, but boy howdy you look purdy! The cloning aspect also ensures you read the dialogue carefully, something many of us happily skip over in most modern games. The most enjoyable part of the game are the characters. Each has his or her own personality, there's no overlap of traits, and they're so endearing it's hard not to want to know more about them and the lives they lead.

Shifter is, unfortunately, not a very long game, but that neither hurts its innovation or entertainment value. Unlike most games in the point and click or escape genres, conversations are absolutely key to beating the game, along with having a piece of paper handy to write down information (or just memorizing it if your brain is up to the task). For a game that's so focused on reading, you'll be surprised to know that Shifter isn't nearly as text heavy as many of its counterparts. You ask a few questions, get some information, talk to the next person and repeat. No walls of text or pseudo-novels to digest. And these people seem perfectly willing to talk about their lives to a complete stranger, even though you tell them nothing of yourself!

One can only hope that there will be more of Shifter in the future or that the unique cloning feature will become more prominent in the genre or allow for more interactions with the environment. Still, it's fun to see how fast you can make your escape even after having done it once, twice... okay five times. But hey, there's nothing wrong with wanting to better your sleuthing skills!

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Escape Goat

JohnBWhile chunky pixel goats are nothing new to the indie gaming scene (see Llamasoft's iOS release GoatUp), MagicalTimeBean has done something special with Escape Goat, a retro-inspired puzzle platform game that recently made the leap from Xbox Live Indie Games to Windows-based PCs. And you're going to be glad it did, as Escape Goat is an exceptionally entertaining game that strikes a perfect balance between challenge and frustration, reflexes and puzzle solving, and, well, goats and sheep.

Escape GoatIn Escape Goat, you utilize the power of goat jumps, goat head bashes, and goat button pushing powers (a.k.a. just touching them) to move groups of blocks around the single screen levels so you can proceed to the exit. A sleepy little mouse is there to help you out, deployable with the press of a button to squeeze through small gaps and hit out of the way switches for you. Some stages feature a magic hat that allows you to teleport to your mousey pal, a trick that will allow you to pull off some great stunts in that level. There are also keys to find, skulls to activate, and other traps to trigger, but finding those is half the fun (and half the 'oops I just died' moments, too).

Because of the open-style level layout, you'll miss out on progressive difficulty and may have to use trial and error to find the next stage that suits your playing prowess. The challenge never really becomes overwhelming, though, and the mix of platforming and puzzle solving ensures you never get frustrated. In fact, Escape Goat is pure enjoyment from beginning to end, especially when you start playing around with the level editor! It's got a sly sense of humor, a goofy story, and a lot of great micro-moments where you'll sit back, stare at the screen, and pat yourself on the back for making a good game buying decision!

WindowsWindows:
Play the demo (browser)
Get the full version

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


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Haunting Mysteries: The Island of Lost Souls

DoraIf your cursor is an ominous grinning human skull, can you really be surprised when your plane takes a nosedive into the ocean? In Fuzzy Bug Interactive's hidden-object adventure Haunting Mysteries: The Island of Lost Souls, you manage to avoid a watery grave by floundering ashore onto a nearby island. Of course, the laws of video games dictate that all unmapped islands at sea have at least one (1) malevolent curse and more than two (2) tortured spirits with unfinished business, so chances are you're not going to kick back somewhere with a mug of hot chocolate until help arrives. It seems the island's previous inhabitants had a bit of a tragic history, and one lonely bride has been mourning her beloved and hiding from the vicious spectre of the man who killed him ever since. Can you put a centuries old betrayal and murder to rest without becoming another casualty of the world's worst case of obsession?

Haunting Mysteries: The Island of Lost SoulsThe Island of Lost Souls offers two difficulty modes to choose from, but the gameplay should feel immediately familiar to anyone who has played another game of this type before. The cursor will change as you move it around the screen to show places you can interact with or area transitions, and you can click to add items to your inventory. During regular gameplay, the hint option will highlight any places on the current screen you can manipulate to progress, and in hidden-object scenes it randomly displays one of the items you're looking for from your list. Puzzles will attempt to bar your way towards escape and uncovering the truth, but with the option to skip them if you wait a few moments you probably have a leg up over your otherworldly antagonist that he didn't appreciate. You know, if these evil forces really don't want us to succeed in stopping them and exorcising their dastardly influence to the great beyond, maybe they should stop granting us the ability to completely bypass their overly complex locking mechanisms? Just sayin'.

Haunting Mysteries: The Island of Lost SoulsAnalysis: There's no getting around the fact that Haunting Mysteries: The Island of Lost Souls isn't particularly original in its gameplay or story, but what's surprising is how enjoyable it is in spite of it. Despite the morbid subject matter, the game itself isn't oppressively dark and manages to strike an admirable balance between a handful of surprisingly effective creepy scenes and the brisk pace of the adventure gameplay. Item uses are logical, puzzles are simple but creatively presented, and the supernatural elements that continually crop up as you explore serve to keep you from losing interest. Ghost typewriter? Skull-faced madman? Awwww yeah, now you're speaking my language! Though the plot has been done before, The Island of Lost Souls carries it through in the gameplay in a way that makes you feel like you're having an impact on it, and serves it up with some lovely visuals to boot. Though am I the only one who thinks that the waves at the beginning of the game look like they're made out of meat?... yes?... huh. Thanks a lot, subconscious, my psychiatrist will have a field day with that one.

Unfortunately, that visual style makes its frequent hidden-object scenes a pain. Combined with a tendency to hide enough of an item that you might not even know what you're looking at when you're staring at it, you'll probably wish the game didn't make you do quite so much scavenging. The bigger downside, however, is that Haunting Mysteries: The Island of Lost Souls just isn't very long. Most players will sail through it unimpeded in under four hours, smashing easily through puzzles like a particularly nerdy Hulk on the rampage. The Island of Lost Souls is perhaps best recommended for players who want something light and easy to sink into for a single evening's play, or those of you with a fondness for fatal love triangles and secret mechanisms. If you want a lot of challenge or longer gameplay this might not be for you, but for a great casual experience with gameplay nowhere near as dark as tends to be popular these days, Haunting Mysteries: The Island of Lost Souls is worth checking out.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, 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


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Rating: 4.2/5 (115 votes)
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TrinnMyosotis Chapter 2In the first chapter of Myosotis, your search for Lily drew you to an eerie hotel where your struggle for answers only led to more questions and tragic results. In Myosotis: Chapter 2, a point-and-click adventure by Mike Morin (aka ImpendingRiot), the body of your true love lies stone cold dead before you. Beside her still corpse, a box flashes suspiciously while the words of a blank-faced scientist literally hang in the air: "You can still save her." Now, your journey transitions to chasing the past as it quickly becomes clear that you're being tested for more than just your patience.

Play the entire Myosotis series:
Myosotis: Chapter 1Myosotis: Chapter 2Myosotis: Chapter 3

Click around the screen to interact with objects or to send Rick moodily trudging over to inspect them. Solve the puzzle in each room to unlock the next door. Pay close attention to subtle signs and frequent word play, as the answers range from fairly obvious to quite devious. Depending on how long it takes you to decipher those clues, it's a relatively short distance from start to finish. Much of the time spent is centered equally around building Rick's story of lost love and buried memories as it is to actual gameplay. The melancholy tone and bleak, muted atmosphere — which is enhanced perfectly thanks to the haunting melodies by Hania Lee — bristle with emotion and create a compelling force to discover what lies behind every door, even the ones that may hurt to reopen.

Play Myosotis: Chapter 2


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Rating: 4.6/5 (156 votes)
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Pocket Planes

JohnBFrom NimbleBit, the creators of Tiny Tower, comes the next game that's going to occupy bite-sized pieces of your time for the next several months. Pocket Planes is the team's latest offering in the casual simulation department, putting you in Best of Casual Gameplay 2012charge of airports and passengers, planes and people, and challenging you to make it run smoothly and swiftly so you can, well, do it all on a much bigger scale. It's the perfect formula for a "just one more level" kind of game, and if you were one of the many souls who fell victim to Tiny Tower's amazing level of addictiveness, Pocket Planes might just hook you twice as hard.

Pocket Planes begins with a very brief tutorial that shows you a few of the basics, allowing you to pick your starting location on the map so you can build your pocket empire from there. The central focus is managing different airports where you load planes with cargo and passengers then send them across the map to deliver the goods. You get paid for your efforts, of course, and this money can be used to purchase new airports in new cities, upgrade your fleet, buy new planes, expand your number of slots to hold new vehicles, and so much more.

pocketplanes.jpgPocket Planes takes place in real time, so when you see a plane will reach its destination in four hours, that's four hours in the real world. For this reason (and for financial reasons), you'll want to keep a lot of planes running different routes, ensuring you always have someone around to fill new jobs that appear. This also means Pocket Planes is a game of waiting, since you won't always have tasks to complete or cargo to load up. But you know the drill: set the game down, do something else, then come back for more!

Analysis: Oh, Pocket Planes, how do you manage to be so—oh, empty plane in Naples, lots of cargo to load up. Back in a moment. Where was I? Yeah, Pocket Planes' ability to steal tiny nibbles of your time all throughout the day. It's the same sort of formula found in games like Smurf's Village or We Rule, only with planes and people instead of farms and crops. And like you would expect, NimbleBit has everything balanced down to the pixel, leaving no gameplay element unrefined or out of tune.

pocketplanes2.jpgThe in-app purchasing system is worth talking about. We all know how easy it is for developers to mess up this part of the game, but since NimbleBit got the formula exactly right with Tiny Tower, you have nothing to fear. In Pocket Planes, you can use real world money to buy both coins and bux, both of which are used for purchasing new items in the game. Bux can also be used to speed things along, so if you're really tired of waiting for your plane to fly across the Atlantic, toss a few bux its way and watch the magic happen. It's never compulsory to buy anything, and a little patience can always take the place of spending money, as both bux and coins are earned throughout play. But, you know, if you don't want to wait, the option is always there, and you'll be surprised how quickly you head to the in-game bank to get things done!

Pocket Planes is also stocked with NimbleBit's usual sense of humor, allowing you to paint planes any combination of colors, dress pilots in crazy costumes, and deliver things like a shipment of axes, important crime scene evidence, or a Tardis. There's never a stale moment, even when you've got all of your planes out and about on business, as the in-game Bitbook lets you peek in on the passengers' thoughts like the good little voyeur you are!

Looking to join a Flight Crew for the extra challenges and rewards? Come and fly with us! Enter JAYISGAMES as your Flight Crew via the in-game menu.

Eventually, the world of Pocket Planes gets bigger and bigger, so instead of managing a few airports and a few planes, you've got a hangar full of retired vehicles and have to scroll around the world map just to find your destination. At that point, the game doesn't get overwhelming, it just gets larger. You'll have more things to do, more things to manage, but also more income pouring in and more options at your disposal. Nothing is ever forced on you, not even acting on available jobs or stocking up flights, so even if you put the game down for a day or two, you can pick it right back up and start where you left off!

It's easy to summarize Pocket Planes by saying this: it's similar to Tiny Towers, but better in many ways. And if it's good enough to challenge one of our top mobile games of 2011, you can bet it's got a lot of great things going for it!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Rating: 4/5 (67 votes)
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Kyhkyh_totalrobostruction_title.pngDo you like robots? Silly question, everyone loves robots! Even the type used for world domination? No, especially them! Well, has Robot House Games got just the game for you folks! It's Total Robostruction, a simple arcade action game of robot construction injected with boss battles to break up the gameplay. Create your wicked army as you climb up the ranks of an evil corporation.

Use your mouse to drag body parts to the robot dummies while keeping an eye on hidden bad guys and every gamer's nemesis: the timer. The completion of each level allows you to win back some more time; the more matching body parts you use, the more time you earn. It's all about your quick fingers in this fun little title, which will have you craving your own robot part conveyor belt.

Play Total Robostrution


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ArtbegottiCola Bear FloatAs a lifelong Pennsylvanian, I can tell you all about bears. Bears make up about 12% of the population of Pennsylvania, which accounts for our giant 20 electoral votes in elections. Bears enjoy fishing, ping-pong, and foreign cuisine, but they don't eat too much junk food (source). That's why when a bear spots a soft drink factory being plopped into his neck of the woods, he always feels compelled to take action. Cola Bear Float is a high difficulty platformer where you've got to exploit gallons of fizzy drinks to get to the next level.

To reach the goal at the end of each level, use the [arrow] keys to move your grizzly self left, right, and jump. However, some jumps might be beyond your natural jumping abilities (bears are not good jumpers; chalk that up as another bear fact completely fabricated for this review). That's where the soda comes into play! If you've recently grabbed a glass of soda, you can make a double-jump by hitting the [up] button again at the peak of your jump. You can even make a triple-jump or a quadruple-jump if you'd like, just keep an eye on the soda meter at the top of the screen. (You can get four midair jumps from one soda.) Occasionally, you might come across a glass of super fizzy soda pop, which floats you up toward the ceiling! To get back down, burp three times with the [down] arrow.

Cola Bear Float borrows a lot of its visual elements from the Give Up, Robot series of games, but without the seizure-inducing colors. There are 49 levels to tackle, which vary from agonizingly hard to pleasantly easy, though the level of difficulty you inflict upon yourself could change depending on how devout you are in your goal of grabbing all the coins and rare bonus sodas along the way. The overly-generous hit detection can be a bit irritating when trying to dodge spikes and laser beams, but they can all be conquered with a bit of practice. There's soda justice to be administered, and it won't happen if you don't bear with the challenges in the soda pop factory!

Play Cola Bear Float


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MeaghanCover Orange Player's Pack 3I have to warn you from the start: Nursery rhymes aren't going to offer any protection. There will be no anti-rain dances that can help either. Those poor little oranges who thought they might get a smidge of sun are about to be rudely interrupted by a bout of the most lethal rain I've ever seen. I think what they need is some help from you, oh mighty player, in Cover Orange Player's Pack 3, an addition to the popular physics puzzle Cover Orange series by Johnny-K (with the addition of Anton Koshechkin and Maxim Yurchenko).

This new level update plays exactly like its predecessors. You must tease out a solution of how to keep your orange safe with the help of some pretty random objects. The name of the game is truly your greatest indication of your goal; Cover Orange. You have to make sure that delectable fruit is protected so that none of the spiked rain touches that soft, porous orange skin. While there's nothing new to make this game seem more sparkly to veterans of the series, it's still packed with enough brain teasing to delight even the most jaded of players. Timing and proper positioning are your key allies in defending the citrus packed morsels. While it seems counter intuitive to want to help pieces of food consider this your good deed for the day. It's the perfect excuse to sit and play a fun game!

Play Cover Orange Player's Pack 3


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraThis week we have poisonous tea, dapper murderous mechanical monsters, murders... and sand castles! See, and you said I didn't know how to throw a party. We're also giving away copies of Jonas Kyratzes' stellar surreal bookish adventure. And if that doesn't tickle your goat You Are Games has you covered with the Community Favourites Edition, so head on over there for details and your chance to win your choice from a myriad of prizes all for telling us about the games you love.

The Sea Will Claim EverythingWhat's in a Book? Prizes! Anyone who still tries to tell you games can't be art needs to be slapped soundly across the muttonchops, then sat down and be made to experience the emotional wonder that is anything made by Jonas Kyratzes. The gorgeous and engrossing adventure The Sea Will Claim Everything is Jonas' first commercial release and all you have to do to win one of six free copies is leave a comment on this article telling us what your favourite Jonas Kyrtazes game is and why. Rules: Entries must be submitted by June 22nd, 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT-5). Winners will be notified by e-mail shortly thereafter. Winners are selected randomly. One entry per person only. You must be at least 13 years of age or older to enter. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

The MoonlightersRobbery Gets Classy Lights... camera... action RPG! Rad Dragon Games' upcoming PC and Mac title The Moonlighters looks like it's going to be a real piece of work, and we mean that in the best possible way. Take control of a group of disgruntled entertainers who, on the waning edge of their fame, decide that after so many years of performing burglaries and heists for audiences in big productions, they could probably do it for real. The game looks and sounds spectacularly swanky, and with the promise of a story that changes depending on your influence, this could be a serious contender. You don't have to steal my money for this one, guys... I'll give it to you!

Indie Game: The MovieI Have To Celebrate You Baby After two years of hard work, James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot have finally unleashed their efforts upon the world. Their documentary, Indie Game: The Movie, has arrived, and it not only follows the stories behind some of your favourite games like Braid and Super Meat Boy, it also provides a look into what it was like for these people to "create in a digital age", and how challenging and rewarding it can be to be an indie developer. Of course, not every developer will have the same experience, but it's an interesting and even emotional look into the creative process for the people who work for your entertainment. Available for 9.99 USD on iTunes, Steam, or DRM-free from the official site, it's definitely worth checking out and supporting the people who work for your entertainment. Congratulations, guys... you did it!

Sir, You Are Being HuntedLike a Bloodthirsty Mechanical Sir It shouldn't be much of a surprise when a developer calling themselves Big Robot wants to make a game about robots, but when that game is also about robots in dapper English gentleman attire hunting you through the countryside for sport things start to entire nightmare territory. The upcoming Sir, You Are Being Hunted is much less a first-person-shooter than it is an open world survival/stealth exploration game, as you search for pieces of a machine you need while being stalked by the robots who want to shoot you for funsies. You don't stand much of a chance against these mechanical monstrosities in a firefight, so the emphasis is more placed on hiding, sneaking, placing traps, and so forth, all across a huge procedurally generated landscape packed with villages and the like. This looks like it could be a lot of fun, so start polishing your blunderbuss now.

Son of NorTo Protect and Serve and Build Sandcastles StillAlive Studios is thinking with sand, man, with their upcoming action RPG Son of Nor. In a dynamic desert world you can shape to your will, you play a mage struggling to protect what remains of his kind, and apparently the way you do that is by terraforming and blowing things the heck up. You can fight with magic, or manipulate the sand itself to your advantage, and if the computer AI isn't proving competitive enough you can saddle-up with up to four buddies in online co-op. The game tells you "the world is your weapon", but you'll also be solving puzzles and unlocking powerful new spell fusions as you play to boot. This one looks like a lot of fun, and you can look forward to it on PC and Mac when it releases.

Break Chance MementoTime Travel and Murder Cyanide Tea has already released two great free visual novels, but later this year you can delve into their first commercial release, Break Chance Memento. The story centers on a family tragedy and an unresolved murder. Four years after his twin sister's death, Shuuki Amamiya's life takes a horrific turn once more when his oldest brother turns up dead as well, and a mysterious stranger promises he can learn the truth... if he can find out how to travel through time. It's a darker story than the developer's celebrated title Ristorante Amore, with two playable characters whose vastly different storylines intersect and influence each other on subsequent playthroughs since they happen at the same time. The game looks great, and will be available for PC, Mac, and Linux for 15.00 USD when it's released, though there is a demo for you to check out right now!

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!


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Robo Quest

JohnBCute adventure game get! Robo Quest is an adorable point and click adventure created by Glauzer and Adm244 using Adventure Game Studio. One could easily compare it to Machinarium in general layout and style, but the story, setting, and artwork are something else entirely. It's a short experience but an uncommonly engaging one, and you'll fall in love with the little robo's plight from the moment you see him napping!

Robo QuestAs the game begins, you see our robot pal's floating island/house puttering through the skies. Then, t crashes into a land mass, setting off alarms and waking the robot from his recharge station. The crystal that powers his ship soon shatters, so he has to head out in search of a replacement. And fast, too, or he'll be late for the party! The controls are fairly standard for a point and click adventure game, just click on objects to use or examine them and slide the mouse to the top of the screen for the inventory and game menu.

One creative feature in Robo Quest is the use of modules. Double click the robot and you'll get a close-up view of his front panel. Here, you can activate or deactivate modules to give him special abilities, such as super strength to lift heavy objects. There are some puzzles you'll need modules to solve, so if you're stuck, turn on the muscles and see what happens.

Robo Quest is a simple game of logical puzzle solving and a charm-filled atmosphere. The text mentions a "full version" of the game, but at the time of writing only this free version exists. With a little hype and a little luck, maybe the developers will be inspired to create more in the future. Either way, Robo Quest is sure to tickle your adventure spot and make you crave more of the same!

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version
Get the free full version (mirror)

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


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Rating: 4.4/5 (27 votes)
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TrickyLovePunks: The GameThe Roebourne, Australia children's group, LovePunks, first formed when, with the support and technological training provided by the Yijala Yala cultural arts project, they wrote, directed, and starred in their own zombie movie. With the basics of production well-learned, the team decided that their next project would be a platform video game. And so, after five months of filming and photoshopping, the result is here: LovePunks: The Game! After selecting your character, move across the landscape using the [arrow] keys, avoiding obstacles and interacting with the environment. If a zombie comes along, fire a love-shot at them with the [spacebar]. Points are scored by activating animations, and there are 53 in all to find.

LovePunks: The Game is strange, crazy, bizarre, and absolutely wonderful. It has all the energy and vitality that you would expect from a creative group of 9, 10, and 11 year-olds, and they were clearly having a blast putting it together. Though its showcasing of the photo-realistic animations makes gameplay feel a little aimless, overall it is a singularly unique piece of interactive art. The group has other projects on the way, so until then, stay tuned, and stay LovePunk'd!

Play LovePunks: The Game


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Rating: 4.6/5 (53 votes)
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Hitori LightSonicLoverLet's see... if I shaded in that 4, I'd have to circle the 2 next to it, which would in turn mean I'd have to shade the other 2 next to that. That's a no-no because it and the 4 would isolate the circled 2, so the 4 must be circled. Circling that 4 means the 4 down there has to be shaded, so I'll circle the... phew, I'd better take a break. The latest Conceptis Light puzzle suite, Hitori Light, certainly is a mind-bender.

In it, you're presented with a square grid of seemingly random digits ranging from 1 to the grid's size, many repeating throughout. Your job is to shade or circle every square in the grid according to three important rules. Click on squares to cycle them between circled, shaded, and undecided. What are the three rules? I'm glad you asked...

  • One: no two circled squares with matching digits may exist in the same row or column.
  • Two: no two shaded squares may be directly adjacent to one another (touching corners doesn't count).
  • And three: no circled square or group thereof may be completely isolated from the rest by shaded squares (again, touching corners doesn't count).

It takes a very particular kind of mind to come up with the genius puzzles given such a seemingly arbitrary set of rules, a kind of mind many just don't have (*achoo!*), but there must be at least half a dozen such minds working at Conceptis to come up with a whopping 30 puzzles across three grid sizes, to say nothing of their previous Light projects like Nurikabe Light and Sym-a-Pix Light. Each puzzle is fairly entertaining and has its own unique solution, and it's easy to start formulating strategies based on specific patterns of numbers that turn up often (for example, what does it mean when you see three of a number consecutively in a row or column?).

Looking for a mind-bending distraction for a few minutes of your time? Then come shade and circle some squares. I know I am.

Play Hitori Light

You Are Games

JayIt's time for a new You Are Games challenge, don't you think? We have lots of free games and prizes to give away, but we want you to jump through hoops before we'll part with them. So here's what we'd like you to do:

This time we're asking you to come up with 3 or 4 of your favorite games that have been reviewed here at JIG, and write a short paragraph for each describing what about the game you enjoyed to cause it to be among your favorite games. Any game qualifies as long as it was reviewed or featured here before AND you were not involved in the production of the game in any way. Spelling and grammar matter as well as writing something interesting and entertaining. We'll feature the best entries in future You Are Games articles, starting next Thursday!

The authors of the winning entries will be given a choice of prize packages including Humble Bundles, gift certificates, game coupons, Steam codes, and even game swag. Don't worry, there's plenty to give away and we'll be sure to find something to your liking. But don't do it for the prizes, do it for the fame and recognition you'll get from having your own article on JIG! Or, if that's not enticing enough, do it because you want to share with others your impeccable taste in games!

Entry LinkIf you need an example of what we're looking for, take a look at any article from The Vault. Each of those feature short paragraphs and the icon from the game. We'll take care of formatting it and adding any necessary HTML markup (if you need help with that), all you need to do is write the words. When you're finished, just email your selections to the address on the right, and be sure to include your commenter display name (or a name you wish to be credited as).

  • All entries submitted become the property of Casual Gameplay.
  • You must be at least 13 years of age to enter.
  • Writers on the JIG staff are ineligible.
  • Void where prohibited.

The deadline for entries is Tuesday, June 19th at 11:59 PM (GMT-5:00).


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Rating: 4.7/5 (253 votes)
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elleSugar, Sugar 2How's that sweet tooth doing? Double-up on the sugary goodness with this superfine continuation of Bart Bonte's popular particle physics game series. Sugar, Sugar 2 brings more of what you love and adds in more cleverness, too.

Taking a simple concept and running with it, the game does a stellar job of gently easing you into gameplay, in case you're a little rusty since the last time or two you played with sugar. Just use your mouse to create a sugar pathway to make sure enough of the sweet stuff, which trickles from the letters in the title, gets to where the game wants it. Simple perhaps, but it's not too far into these 30 additional levels that the trickiness ensues as you have to take different colors and other sneakiness into account.

If you've tried it, you know: it's fun to tackle the imaginative obstacles—such as teleportation and gravity switches—found in each puzzling scenario. Just like the previous two Sugar, Sugars, make sure your patience level is turned up on a high setting...those little particles take time to reach their destinations! Unless you're a geometric artistic master, you'll probably be utilizing that "reset" button quite a bit, also.

Still, the drawback of this style of gameplay is an acceptable flip side to being able to trace your own path, draw your own boundaries, and toy with the endless possibilities. If you're not used to this kind of freedom, it may be uncomfortable at first, yet the instructions given for each new element will ensure you're not flummoxed by undefined objectives. Besides, there's a such deep satisfaction that comes from this kind of problem solving amongst the very chill jazz beat of the music and monochromatic block graphics, it's easy to let yourself get addicted. Go on, heap on more sugar!

Play Sugar, Sugar 2


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Rating: 4.7/5 (1654 votes)
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ChadPapa's WingeriaJust when you might have thought that everyone's favorite digital restaurant mogul was resting on his pixellated laurels, Flipline Studio's Papa has returned with the latest spicy addition to his culinary empire. Papa's Wingeria is hiring, and only your mastery of time management and a dexterous control of your mouse stand between you and stacks of buffalo wing-scented dollars.

Try your best to satisfy your customers as best you can, because customer satisfaction also equals customer loyalty; the more consistent you are with your food and efficiency directly influences their tipping habits. As you earn more money, you will be able to buy upgrades for your restaurant that will increase your efficiency, and therefore, fatten your wallet. Additionally, with each customer, you have the opportunity to earn golden tickets, which can be used to play mini-games that can earn you clothes for your worker, or posters for your restaurant's lobby, that not only decorate the environment, but can also have an effect on your customers, such as improving your waiting score.

Just like all of Papa's eateries, your mouse is the only control you will need to run this wing joint. The four stations that Papa has set up for you to manage this time are: the order station in the lobby, and the fry, sauce, and build stations in the kitchen. Your customers have discerning tastes when it comes to their wings. Your basic rule of thumb in the kitchen should be 'fry them, sauce them, toss them, and plate them'. If you have worked for Papa before, you will notice that changes have been made to the quality control in the kitchen. The fry station uses a click-and-drag method to determine how many items you drop in the fryer at one time, and you can monitor the doneness of your wings by a green bar on the left of each fry basket. In the sauce station, click and hold the left mouse button to make sure you add the correct amount of sauce to the equivalent amount of wings you need to prepare, and then you should attempt to click the mouse at the correct time during the mixing process, in order to ensure the best sauce coverage. Pay close attention to your presentation when you reach the build station, by separating each wing from another with vegetables, if your customer orders them, like carrots or celery.

Analysis: Other than the controls in the kitchen that we previously discussed, the only other change to this version of the game is the 'clothes' feature, which allows you to dress up your character as you like, take a virtual picture of your sharply-dressed avatar, and optionally save it.

The entire series of the Papa's games has proven that it has staying power as a gaming franchise, and because of that, the downside of this game is also an upside. Flipline Studios isn't reinventing the wheel when they put another one of these games out, but that's because they don't have to. They follow the simple rule in the old colloquialism, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And, for us fans of the series, that is a good thing.

Play Papa's Wingeria


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Rating: 3/5 (23 votes)
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DoraUltimate RobotoruWould you like some cheese with your shooter? Berzerk Studio and Adult Swim's Ultimate Robotoru comes with a big gooey helping of it, and a whole lot of arcade action besides. Control your continuously blasting Gundam-ish avatar with the [WASD] keys (or the mouse) and use [1] to [5] to activate your super special flashy attacks when their power bars are full. Baddies will come at you in waves, between which you and your nemesis will deliver some, uh, exposition (I guess) in a way that effortlessly parodies the poorly translated games of the early years. Destroyed enemies automatically grant you cash, which you can spend on upgrades at any time simply by clicking the button. Ain't technology grand? If you die, or if you decide to stop playing, you can just pick up the game again at the last wave you started.

Strange, frenetic, and over-the-top, Ultimate Robotoru is at heart a straight-forward side-scroller, but wraps it up in such a great gleaming package that its hard not to enjoy it. For some people, the game's relative simplicity combined with the heavy reliance on humour centered on poor translation, means the game will wear out its welcome quicker than others. It also would have been nice to have a larger screen and playfield to zip around on. But for an injection of giant robot rampage combined with ginormo swords, orbital lasers, and classic arcade action, you should make a lunch date with Ultimate Robotoru. MAKE YOUR TIME.

Play Ultimate Robotoru


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Rating: 4.1/5 (83 votes)
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Weekday Escape

elleWhen it comes to picking out your perfect escape from the weekday, what qualities do you look for in a game? Here's my short list—appealing graphics, smooth gameplay, no pixel hunting, logical puzzles, an enjoyable story and lots of fun. A smidgen of challenge is also nice, to make me feel super smart but, on their own, clever puzzles can't beat out clever presentation. Sprinkle in heart-warming characters and charm, and I'll take that any day over something more slick and crafty yet without any heart. Cogito Ergo Sum's latest has all the essentials—plus the sunny personalities of Wan and Nyan—which is why it wins this week's escaping place of honor with It Happens Escape Game: Beginner Course.

It Happens Escape Game: Beginner CourseAs the game starts out, Wan and Nyan are invited to an escape game tournament as "Most Valuable Escapers." Here in this special room, ten hints in the form of mission cards provide guidance and, as the game master states, this course contains many of the elements typical to the "average" escape game. That means usual point-and-click gameplay is in effect: examine everything you can, employ helpful objects, collect clues and decode a few locks until you've made your way out.

Just as you'd expect from something labeled "beginner's course," additional help is offered anywhere you might have doubts. That makes this a great opportunity for anyone who has shied away from the venue after experiences with more abstruse selections. Since you also expect more than one ending from Wan and Nyan's escapades, this has two. Don't skip the start screen and play for both endings because the interaction with Wan and Nyan is this game's greatest allure.

Even though it's disappointingly brief and any inkling of puzzle difficulty is squelched by the tutorial aspects of the game, It Happens Escape Game: Beginner Course is intelligently made. Where the game lacks in challenge or length, it compensates very well with a smart theme and substantially sound design. The smirk at the "Who's Who List" spam mails, and their irrefutable flattery, is characteristic of the Cogito Ergo Sum wit we so love. And really, who can resist Wan and Nyan's charisma? Not me! They can always be counted on for a smile—and that's what escaping is all about.

Play It Happens Escape Game


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Rating: 3.8/5 (84 votes)
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ChadKing's GameThanks to the huge success of games like Angry Birds and Crush the Castle, the physics projectile genre is one of the hottest in casual gaming. Smokoko's King's Game puts a twist on the familiar catapult destruction... because your targets can fire back on your castle!

Controls are fairly standard for this game style; press and hold the left mouse button, drag for power and angle, and release to fire. When using ammunition such as buckshot, or a bomb, a second click of the left mouse button will activate its' deadly properties. To zoom in and out of the battleground, use the mouse wheel. King's GameObviously, it is always your most desirable option to decimate your opponent as quickly as possible, but in this game, it can become a necessary strategy. The AI is a fairly accurate shot, and doesn't miss that often, even on the beginning levels. Your goal will not only be to destroy your enemy's structures before they demolish yours, but you also want to aim to collect items (e.g. cheese or bread), when available, in order to finish different collections. When they are completed, you will earn extra powerups that range from score bonuses to ammunition upgrades.

The pre-level animated comics, and the characters in the game, are seemingly reminiscent of Fisher-Price's "Little People" that you may remember from your early childhood. The sound design is equally successful, from the crunch of the projectiles crushing the wood, to the high-pitched celebrations and taunts that your little king and his subjects will evoke upon each victory. King's Game is not only a great departure from a standard building destruction game, but also a wonderful reminder that virtually breaking stuff is a lot of fun!

Play King's Game


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Rating: 3.9/5 (65 votes)
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TrickyNotebook Wars 3Attention all doodlers! Drop your pen and strap yourself to the keyboard, because Francisco Ferreres is here with another in his series of hand drawn, top-down, vertical scrolling shoot-em-ups, Notebook Wars 3. The game lets you take your preference of flying and firing with the mouse, or, if you prefer, the [WASD] keyboard controls with [K] for shooting. Be prepared for the margins to run red, green, and blue with pencil shavings once more!

Like Notebook Wars 2 before it, Notebook Wars 3 focuses on refining and extending the series' classic formula of shooting baddies, blasting bosses, collecting cash and buying upgrades. There are a number of new enemies and weapons to play around with, certainly, but the draw of the series has always been its unique aesthetic, which remains just as awesome as before. The developers have added two major features, though, and both of them are well-appreciated. Keyboard controls are new and will be appreciated by certain players, and there's also Frenetic Mode, which speeds up the sometimes-sluggish pace of the game considerably, fixing the most common complaint about the original. The combination of consistency and subtle improvements make Notebook Wars 3 a game that shooter-lovers, and fans of the previous installment especially, will find noteworthy.

Play Notebook Wars 3


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Rating: 3.8/5 (42 votes)
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Quiet, Please!

JohnBOriginally released on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace, Nostatic Software has recently brought its thoughtful little puzzle adventure game Quiet, Please! to Android and iOS devices, allowing you to explore (and shut people up!) on the go. It's a great fit for the small touch screen and will remind you of old school adventure games like Maniac Mansion, both in terms of gameplay and overall puzzle design.

Quiet, Please!After an annoying day at school, you just want to go home, have some peace and quiet, and take a nap. Unfortunately, everybody is making noise! The neighbor is mowing his lawn, dad's watching TV, mom is talking on the phone, the kittens are being a nuisance, and your little brother is, well, being your little brother. What's an angry/resourceful young girl to do? Why, make everybody shut up, of course! Move around the game's sidescrolling levels with the arrows at the bottom of the screen, and use the "interact" and "item" buttons to work with your environment. You have limited inventory space, you'll need to do a lot of exploring and experimentation to get items where you need them and figure out how they contribute to a noise-free home.

Quiet, Please! has a very old school feel to it, from the subtle sense of humor to the fantastic 2D design. The setting and story are also something every one of us can identify with (yes, I'm talking to you, neighbor who uses the leaf blower every day even though there are no leaves on the ground can't you see I'm trying to write a casual game review here?!!). The interface is simple but manages to get a lot done with just a few buttons. And really, all you need are a few buttons, as most of the more complex interactions are taken care of by the game. Getting some blissful quiet requires a lot of work and a lot of puzzle solving, but it's the sort of work you'll love doing!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an HTC Incredible. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Monster Physics

KimberlyMonsters. There are so many monsters out there. Whether you love them or hate them, you're stuck with one in Monster Physics, a colorful physics puzzle game by Dan Russell-Pinson, author of Collider and the Tipping Point series of browser games. And if you're saddled with a monster, might as well have fun with it by using it in your experimental physics inventions, right?

kimberly_monster_physics_screen1.pngYou start the game by making a profile where get to create your very own monster who will be your companion throughout the game. Once you've made your creature as cute or hideous as you'd like, you'll jump right into the excellent tutorial. Before each level starts, you'll be given a goal for that level. Scroll around the screen using two fingers to see what you have to work with, then start building your machine!

Push the gear on the upper right to enter build mode, then just drag and drop from the various menus to create anything you wish. If your first invention doesn't work, don't worry, you can try as many times as you need until you figure it out. You can also skip levels if necessary. The difficulty ramps up slowly, giving you plenty of time to figure out how everything works. After you've created something, push play and you're off! If you've got some sort of motor or propeller on your invention, it doesn't automatically start up on its own, you get to control it yourself! If you like experimenting with different parts, there is also a sandbox build mode that lets you design anything you'd like, and save it to show off to your friends later.

With so many parts to choose from, there are many different ways to solve each level in Monster Physics. This open-ended design is one of the things that makes the game so much fun. Without a set way to win, you are free to experiment and even go back and win levels in different ways. The one drawback is the game never gets too challenging. The physics feel spot on, however, and it's impossible not to like the bright, cheery graphics. Whether you are new to physics games or an old pro, everyone can have fun building creative machines with the large variety of parts available. Have fun discovering what you can invent with a monster at your side!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad 2. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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The Vault

ElleHey there! How's it going? Come sit down, relax, and let's talk shop. Let's talk about Jay Is Games. You like it here, right? Me, too. It was about four years ago I stumbled upon this really cool site looking for help on my favorite game at the time, Westward II. And, wow boy! did I find help—oodles and oodles of fantasy, surreal and simply odd little adventures that carried me away from stress and doldrums anytime I needed an escape. So here I am, sharing just a small smattering of what makes me looooooovvve this place. What is your Jay Is Games discovery story?

  • Charger EscapeCharger Escape - With a long history of producing amazing games with fantastic art, Pastel Games is rather well known in these parts. Amongst an eclectic selection of point-and-click adventures, this is the escape-the-room that made me a forever fan of anything by Matsuz Skutnik and team. In this case, Barbara Jarosik captures the spotlight with an uplifting story and artwork in a soothing pastel palette, and it's not just for pony lovers. Don't scoff and think this is not for you. Beyond the first ordinary glance is a light challenge of thinking through clues and puzzling together pieces, without any of the dreaded pixel hunting that can ruin many an escape. Better yet, it has an ending that will break through all cynical exteriors. So get acquainted with—or revisit—a sweet little fantasy brimming with enough "Awwwwww, cute!" to warm anyone's heart, even these guys.
  • ParkPark - This game's longevity depends on how quickly you'll discover—and tire of toying with—the slightly odd and totally clever little animations strewn throughout. Vector Park's larger fame-bringer these days lies with their popular iPad game, Windosill, but Park, one of the earliest offerings from this creative outfit, shows the same talent for surreal artistry built into a cleanly-designed "just click to enjoy" pageant. Maybe you're going to ask, "What's the point of this game?" That's a reasonable question especially considering there's no list of achievements to rack up nor any clear ending point; just stop when you think you've found everything to find. Play this as a self test: if you're not grinning in delight at the discoveries therein, maybe your sense-of-wonder-meter needs a tuning.
  • Grow RPGGrow RPG - If you're like me, you've been watching ON's blog for signs of progress in the latest Grow project. Well, we need to stop being like me! Let's leave it to Jay to wait and watch this favorite for us. In the meantime, we get to go back to the Eyezmaze version of a fantasy adventure role playing game; build up your skills, battle dragons and monsters, and be richly compensated by the king. It's exceedingly simply, too—just drag an element to the center of the globe—no grinding, no multiple deaths or epic fails. But still that walkthrough is tempting, very tempting, when seeking the best (the only) way to max out all your stats. If you don't hit perfection straight away, or even if you do, it's just as fun to go back and try a new combination. A good maxim to follow in any situation, especially when traversing the pages of JIG.

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!


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The Sky is Falling

JohnBFiled directly under the "yes I'm old enough to remember the games this game was inspired by" category, The Sky is Falling from Ovine by Design is a retro arcade game that would have to revert to lines scratched in the sand to be any more old school. It's built around a simple mechanic that gradually gets more difficult as you play, offering up a crazy premise and a lot of gameplay mastery that only comes with practice, practice, and probably some more practice!

The Sky is FallingThe basic idea is this: the sky is falling, a boulder is rolling, the stalagtites are crumbling, and you are running. Armed with nothing more than an excellent pair of calves and an infinite supply of spanners, your character steadily plods from left to right, wrapping around the screen over and over again as the ceilings collapses. By tapping the screen, you can throw a spanner straight up, colliding with the hanging stalagtites and chipping them down a bit with each successful hit. The lower the ceiling gets, the more likely you are to crash into one of those rock outcroppings, so the goal is to keep the path clear until ceiling meets floor, then skedaddle to your rescue 'copter/hot air balloon/UFO on the outside.

Like most of the great classic Atari-age games, The Sky is Falling is a game heavily steeped in repetition (the good kind), gradually increasing difficulty, and mastery of a simple mechanic. The levels vary somewhat as you progress, but the basic gameplay remains stubbornly the same, allowing you the pleasure of amassing a gigantic high score you can boast about to your friends. And, if you ever end up in a real cave being chased by a pixellated boulder, you'll have the real-world skills needed to make it out alive!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an HTC Incredible. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Catapult King

JohnBOh, hapless fantasy-themed castle and tower owners. When will you learn it's never a good idea to build structures out of easily-toppled, non-secured materials? You'd think surviving through like Siege Hero and Crush the Castle would have taught someone a lesson, but here again the daft occupants of multiple castles stand, waiting to be toppled to the ground. Catapult King from Wicked Witch Software is the latest in a long and respectable line of physics-based destruction games, this time taking the action to an up-close 3D first person mode so you get the best seat in the house to watch the destruction rain!

Catapult KingThe princess is happy and free, prancing atop a verdant hillock. Then a nasty dragon comes along, drops a cage on her, and summons some knights to keep you away. Unfortunately for the fire-breather, you've got a rather spiffy catapult (glorified slingshot, really) capable of lobbing projectiles in a serious way. Tap the loaded rock and pull back, then maneuver the shot so it'll go precisely where you need it to go. Out in the distance sits a stack of crates, boards, stones, bricks, etc., and atop them are some pretty lewd knights who insist on taunting you to no end. Wouldn't it feel great to send them falling to the ground? Well, go for it!

Naturally, these knights aren't so helpless they can't build a tower that won't fall after a few rocks hits it, so as the levels progress, you'll encounter more distant structures, stronger materials, densely-packed layouts, and even some unconventional stages where the knights are spread out over bridges and other horizontal terrain. The goal always remains the same: knock everyone down, taking out as much of their buildings as you can. But you'll have to adjust the catapult's angle as well as utilize one of several visually impressive magic attacks that cause major destruction, all with the tap of your touch screen!

Catapult KingAnalysis: The physics-based destruction genre is a highly-competitive one, especially after Angry Birds came along with its pigs and such. Instead of going head-to-head with the rest of the pack, though, Catapult King tacks something new onto the experience with its 3D first person perspective. Sitting behind the catapult, panning, zooming, and rotating the camera, and flying along as the stones damage structures adds a lot of depth to the otherwise flat genre, and words cannot describe how much more exciting it is!

The usual battery of scoring conventions and star rankings are available for stages in Catapult King, allowing you to go back and perfect your destruction to prove your mastery over the game. Being both fast and thorough earns you more treasure and points, but you also get bonuses for things like direct hits or keeping the tower constantly unstable.

As with many big mobile games these days, Catapult King features an in-app purchasing system to supplement gameplay. Fortunately, though, the purchases sit alongside the game perfectly, never forcing you to buy them, and doing nothing but adding to your ultimate enjoyment if you do choose to indulge. Purchases are restricted to magic packs, fortifying your mana pool with more points to cast your apocalyptic-type spells. You don't have to buy anything to beat the game, but it honestly adds a lot of fun to the experience while making some stages far easier to complete.

Catapult King brings something new to the physics castle-toppling genre, and it does it in an exciting, visually awesome sort of way. There's also a nice sense of exploration thanks to the freely-movable camera system. The game is packed with over 60 levels, multiple projectile types, Retina display support, and more levels promised with future updates. It's a free package you really shouldn't refuse, and it's more fun (and less illegal) than taking the catapult out and pummeling weak structures yourself!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Ichi

BryanThe developers at Stolen Couch Games have captured that child-like kindergarten drawing time feeling with the one-button puzzle game Ichi, a mobile port of the downloadable version available for Windows and Mac systems. It is only the team's second commercial creation for the iTunes App Store, but they understand that quality is much better than quantity. If the simple visual style makes you think "oh, this game will be a piece of cake!", well, my friend, you'll think twice when level 'some-odd-number' comes around and you can't master it!

IchiThe idea is pretty simple: gather all of the yellow rings on the screen by manipulating on-screen objects to keep a ball bouncing in the right direction. Actions like rotating objects, making them disappear then reappear, and drawing lines to bounce off of are done by tapping or dragging the touch screen. The challenge that makes this puzzle game so engrossing is that you are graded on how many taps you use. Sure, you can feverishly tap with your greasy little fingers for a B or C rating, but with proper timing and finger restraint, you can ace levels with an A in fewer taps than you thought. This wonderful, little puzzle game is sure to keep children and adults alike distracted for many free moments to come.

Ichi does the casual puzzle genre right by making the game simple to pick up and play while incorporating enough levels to make the minimal purchase price worth the investment. The graph paper and crayon graphics along with the easy-going background music will keep you relaxed, much like your typical daydreaming sessions in class. Just as easy as doodling in your notebook, the accessible level editor will keep your device and mind busy after you complete the 72 included levels of the game. Not only that, but you can share your creations with anyone over Wi-Fi! A must have for a anyone who enjoys a quick puzzle with a sometimes devious solution!

WindowsWindows:
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Mac OS XMac OS X:
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NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPod Touch 3rd Generation. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (23 votes)
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Monsters Ate My Condo

BryanA certain giant nuclear lizard and his fellow monster nemeses have had exclusive raging rights in Japan, but has their reign finally come to an end? Adult Swim along with PikPok Games is contesting the monster mayhem supremacy with an arcade-style puzzle game for Android and iOS called Monsters Ate My Condo. As it heavily parodies the Showa (aka monster) era of movies, you need to appease the behemoths by feeding them condo buildings for super high scores until your apartment tower topples over. Your building may fall and the game will end, but you will keep coming back for more of this frenzied arcade action.

Monsters Ate My CondoMonsters Ate My Condo brings a Jenga-meets-Bejeweled experience to the mobile space where you swipe sections of buildings toward either side of the screen. Monsters wait on both sides and will react positively or negatively based on the color of the condo sent to them. If the condo does not match the color of the baddie, they will get angry and throw a tantrum that will unbalance your tower. More condos will fall on your building as the game chugs along, so it takes a quick finger and agile mind to survive the action.

Combinations of the same colored condo sections will form special condos that bestow even more points when fed to monsters. These pieces also will activate the monster's ability which can either increase points or help to save your tower from demise. Being able to use the monster's abilities and swap them out effectively adds even more depth to this wild mobile game.

Monsters Ate My Condo has a lot of variety and is a surprisingly immersive arcade/puzzle game that can satisfy just about anyone's playing preferences. Endless Mode was made for your high score beating needs, while Time Attack Mode tests your puzzle solving skills with a two minute swipe-fest. The simple controls and zany nature of the game hides difficult the mechanics can become in later levels. It's much more than a mindless condo-flinging game with monsters, and your fingers might not hold out against the might of the mad tower mayhem!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPod Touch 3rd generation. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Mobile Monday

JohnBNew games, updated games, and more accessible games! In case you were running low on reasons to bring your mobile device with you everywhere you go (deep sea diving, spelunking, meetings with your mobile game addictions therapist), here's a few new tidbits of info to keep you champing at the mobile bit!

forma8-p.gifStylish old school platformer in the works - From Mixed Bag studio, forma.8 is a newly-announced iOS adventure platform game that looks like a delicious cross between Another World and Metroid. The team behind forma.8, based in Tourin, Italy, is dedicated to producing a visually beautiful game with strong old school-style sensibilities. There will be no virtual buttons or other distracting visual elements in your sight, just pure game. It looks fantastic, and we're excited to see more! forma.8 is due this winter, so there's still some waiting left to do!

scribblenauts-p.jpgScribble some more - MORE SCRIBBLENAUTS!!! That is all, now go play the game some more! Scribblenauts Remix for iOS has just received a handy new update that adds 30 new levels, new playable characters, and something called "World Pass" that can be purchased in exchange for free expansions and content update for free, forever. Anyone who purchased a DLC pack for the game in the past is automatically enrolled in World Pass, and as everyone knows, Scribblenauts is one game that's worth all the money and praise we can throw at it!

dungeonvillage-p.gifKairosoft returns to iOS - Bummed when Kairosoft's latest game in the "Story" series, Dungeon Village, was released only on Android? Well now you can stop your bellyaching, as the ever-popular simulation/RPG is available for iOS devices as well! As the mayor of a struggling fantasy village, it's your job to rid the nearby hills and dungeons of monsters to everyone can live peacefully. How do you do that? By luring adventurers, selling them equipment, and keeping them alive! For the full scoop, check out our Dungeon Village review!

Got some delicious info on an upcoming mobile release, current event, or other tasty news tidbit? We want to know! Send an e-mail with "Mobile Monday" in the subject line to johnb AT casualgameplay DOT com. We'll sift through the submissions and feature our favorites on a Mobile Monday article! Keen!


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Tesla's Tower: The Wardenclffe Mystery

DoraBeing related to a famous scientist is only a good thing if he isn't credited with robbing the world of colour and the ability to enjoy music. It was decades ago that Nikola Tesla's ill-fated experiment flooded the world with "Ether Radiation" before he vanished, and people still can't decide if it was an accident or an act of malicious genius from a budding supervillain. Marie Tesla has spent her life trying to unlock and reverse her great-great-grandfather's mistakes, but she's not having much luck... until the day Tesla starts talking to her through a temporal rift and coaxes her back in time, that is. Tesla's Tower: The Wardenclffe Mystery is a high-adventure hidden-object game from Persha Studio that combines excellent cinematic camp with a great light-hearted mystery for a time-travelling adventure you should definitely check out. Plus, it gave me an excuse to make a banner image with ghost/bubble Tesla talking on the phone. Win! What are you waiting for? Allons-y!

Tesla's Tower: The Wardenclffe MysteryIn order for Marie to uncover the truth about what really happened all those years ago, she'll have to team up with her wayward ancestor to unlock the secrets of his inventions and go back in time. It turns out not everyone appreciated what Tesla was trying to achieve, and treachery might be afoot! As Marie with, eventually, your trusty sidekick holo-Tesla (yeeesssss), click around to look for clues, solve puzzles, and gather items. If anything in your inventory can be combined, it'll happen automatically, and you can click the glowing orb on the bottom-left when it's fully charged to point the way to your next objective, or find a random item in a hidden-object scene. Marie's journal will keep track of objectives as well as offer up a handy map should you get lost.

Tesla's Tower: The Wardenclffe MysteryAnalysis: With its heavy emphasis on light-hearted adventure and goofy time-travelling story, Tesla's Tower stands out from the usual sea of darker themed games and shouldn't be overlooked. It's not particularly challenging, both because of a generous hint function and clean area/puzzle designs, but it engages and entertains at a pace not usually seen in hidden-object adventures. Tesla's constant chatter and animation makes him a likable companion, and the mystery you'll solve constantly evolves with characters, plot twists, near-death experiences, and more. It's just a shame it doesn't offer anything as substantial in regards to the gameplay, which is by itself fine and dandy, but never really does anything to surprise you or differentiate itself from any other title in the genre. But, man, come on. Mystery solving with Nikola Tesla? Beautiful visuals? Murderous scientific conspiracies? This is just the ticket if you're sick of grim, dark games and want something fun and energetic instead.

The large amount of dialogue and straight-forward gameplay might put some players off, but Tesla's Tower: The Wardenclffe Mystery is still worth checking out. At around four hours or so for a playthrough, it's a satisfying length, and the focus on plot and characters is refreshing. Most importantly, however, it's something different, and if you prefer games with a greater emphasis on more traditional adventure gameplay with a sprinkling of hidden-object scenes, you should probably check out the demo here. It's just plain fun, and though it might lose points with history buffs for its science-fiction treatment of Tesla or not mentioning the source of his genius, it's a rich, engaging experience of the type I'd like to see more of in the future.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Kingdom Chronicles

MeaghanReady to get dragged into an undeniably captivating strategy and resource management building game? Kingdom Chronicles by Aliasworlds casts you in the role of humble do gooder John Brave, resident unlikely hero hero. I know what you're thinking, been there done that. But wait! It's not only about being sexy and knowing it while having damsels in distress swooning in their tallest tower prisons. I promise.

Kingdom ChroniclesJohn Brave arrives in his native land after a long voyage to discover the sinister Moomrabac has nabbed the throne from King Edward and locked him away, and poor Princess Jane has been snatched and imprisoned as well. So, unlike us regular people who would probably scamper off somewhere to drown our sorrows in some unhealthy substance or another (hello cookie dough), John Brave takes it upon himself to right the wrongs of the treacherous Moomrabac. Town by town, quarry by quarry, troll by troll, it is your good fortune to be in charge of fixing the problems for those who would otherwise grumble about autocracies and being oppressed.

At the beginning you're presented with a map showing the winding path you must travel to rescue the realm. Similar to games like My Kingdom for the Princess, Rescue Team, and Roads of Rome, you need to guide groups of workers to gather items, including logs, food, gold, and stones, build buildings or clear the road of troublesome debris. Resources you gather can be used to repair or upgrade structures in each level, allowing you to erect lumber mills, houses that earn rent, town halls, stone quarries, and so on. Later, you even have to fight off barbarians and hire clerks to collect rent!

Each level comes with a set of tasks you must complete in order to proceed. The faster you complete the stage, the better reward medal you'll get. The strategy comes from choosing which order to perform tasks, as it's not always a completely linear path from A to B. Should you clear the stones from the road first, or go ahead and set up the farm to create food? How about guiding the workers, which tasks should they focus on, and how efficiently can you direct them? It's a little bit of simulation and a little bit of time management, and it all falls together in a perfectly handsome way.

Kingdom ChroniclesAnalysis: The "building" genre has become more and more crowded in recent years, with a few very big series taking off and attracting everyone's attention. So how do you make yourself stand out in a world filled with Build-a-lots? You do it by making smart design decisions. Kingdom Chronicles was created for players and fans of the simulation building genre. Things like workers pausing after completing a task in case you have another job for them or the extra-handy queueing system that allows you to chain together actions so you can focus on the game, not where your minions are, really make a difference. The handful of little gameplay tweaks along with the game's flawless presentation add up to something very big in the end.

Kingdom Chronicles has that "just one more level" ability to keep you clicking until way past your bedtime. With several hours of content available it's easy to immerse yourself in this world that seems to be abound in resources. The game pacing is perfect for beginner and expert alike because it starts off easy but increases in difficulty towards the end, especially for those who really want to make it through with all gold medals. Different achievements add another layer of fun because getting that little medal mid-level fuels on that resource collector in you. The cartoon graphics are endearing and the plot lines are worth reading if you need a good chuckle.

For those newly introduced to this genre or those who are seasoned veterans, Kingdom Chronicles is a fun reminder of how good a resource management game can be. Sure, you may feel like you've collected that stupid log more times than you can count, but then you upgrade your quarry and bam!, you're back in full swing. If you're looking for a game with a silly narrative and gameplay that will keep you glued to your computer screen for longer than you should ever admit to then look no further!

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains bonus gameplay, an art gallery, 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
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Rating: 4.5/5 (46 votes)
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Rite of Passage: The Perfect Show

elleKids, when mom tells you to come home before dark, do it. If your piano instructor is inexplicably late, don't wait for hours after sunset in the woods-shrouded playground. That nice man there with the puppets and the candy? Yeah, he's a creepo. Best of Casual Gameplay 2012Run away. Little Amber didn't heed the warnings and now she's one of four children who have already disappeared. Parents are at a loss, covering the small town of Everlake with "have you seen me?" posters to no result. So what to do? Police are always so helpless in hidden object adventure games, but you are rather sleuthy for a music teacher, and who better to decode artful locks and overcome thorny barriers to save the day? Equipped with both bravado and keen shrewdness, pass into Mad Head Games' dream world of magic, mystery and surrealism in Rite of Passage: The Perfect Show.

Rite of Passage: The Perfect ShowThe game employs the standard conventions of hybrid gameplay—follow your cursor to explore breathtaking settings, search through bright yet busy hidden object scenes, and match your wits against a diverse assortment of mini-games. When you begin, you're offered a choice in gaming assistance: casual, for sparkling search areas and quickly filling hint/skip timers, or expert, which abandons the sparklies and is slow to offer help.

The surreal environment of Everlake, with its whimsical cut-out artwork and warehouses topped with giant doll heads, might remind you of the Drawn series. While there is an even balance between completing tasks, sleuthing, searching and solving, there are so many places to go and things to see that emphasis lies in the adventure of it all. Hidden object scenes are well-rendered yet cluttered and, along with the usual list of odd items, include a smattering of fragmented items and interactivity. As you go, pieces of the story will be revealed to you in a number of ways. One, a very enjoyable puppet-show mini-game, depicts the antagonist's background story and his descent into evil sorcererdom. These shows also serve to divide the game into five acts, providing both structure and the necessary rising action toward the climatic final showdown.

Rite of Passage: The Perfect ShowAs all those details you uncover begin to add up, glance at your journal to review what you've learned and also to get your bearings on what to do next. Helpfully, the journal is divided up—one section stores clues and plot details while another section keeps tabs on your objectives, both completed and still undone. As you pick items up along the way, bottom-loading inventory bar safely keeps your increasing collection of trinkets and tools.

Analysis: New development team, Mad Head Games, have as their initial offering an impressive production that will leave you looking forward to more of their games. Every scene in Rite of Passage: The Perfect Show is rich in interest-grabbing details, secrets to uncover, and puzzles to solve so that a game that is, by the clock, slightly on the shorter side, ends up feeling like an epic journey. The dimensional effects of the multi-layered graphics make real an environment that blends fantasy with ordinary. You rarely encounter other characters but, when you do, it's a treat because of superior voice acting and a skillful blend of live action with computer generated imagery. It's hard to find any fault in such amazing graphics though, if pressed, I'll admit that sometimes proportions are off; poor Amber's arms are chimp-like as she rocks her doll, for example, and your neighbor lady looks as if she had a bad series lip injections as she talks. These are tiny things, though, in a production that is exceedingly high quality.

Rite of Passage: The Perfect ShowPerhaps another shortcoming is the game's failure to answer all your questions about why and how this place exists. There's no explanation for why the theater district is locked by a life-sized wooden soldier brandishing a giant key; instead, such oddities better explain how all has gone so awry. That this game is able to make you so interested these answers is a mark of its magic and ability to keep you enthralled. Despite your unrequited curiosity, there's really an abundance of information here and no true magician will give away all his secrets. Just sink into the surreal experience and let go of lifelike pragmatism.

Don't be mislead by the title, Rite of Passage: The Perfect Show, thinking it's overly spooky or horrific. Stylistically, it's hard-to-define in any other way except "quirkily preternatural." David Lynch's Twin Peaks can't top the strangeness of Everlake, and that's either immensely delightful or incredibly maddening, take your pick. Does this make you frustrated as your search for answers only unearths more questions? Or are you in awe of the wonders you behold and the deep satisfaction of playing town hero? You may never fully understand the obsession to perform the perfect show, but you'll be too busy to care.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains bonus content not found in the standard edition. 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

OFF


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (373 votes)
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DoraOFFIf you're looking for a free indie RPG that's a little... different... you might want to try Unproductive Fun Time's surreal and unsettling OFF. Recently translated from its native French, the game follows you and The Batter, a stoic slugger whose goal is, he says, to "purify" the land of spectres and phantoms. With the help of an enigmatic and somewhat suspicious toothy cat, you'll travel through the Nothingness to such wondrous places as the Meat Fountains of Alma, to the labyrinthine library of Bismark and beyond, and pack you full of ghosts, profanity, puzzles, and nightmare fuel in the process.

Use the [arrow] keys to move around, the [spacebar] to interact, and hit [ESC] to open the menu. Battles are turn based in the most traditional fashion, with characters attacking in turn once their action bar fills up. If you don't feel like manually handling each battle yourself, you can just select the "Auto" option and your heroes will beat on their enemies as they see fit. As you level up, your characters will learn more moves ("Competence") that can help in battle, and, of course, you can find the obligatory, if somewhat disdainful, item merchant who will sell you not only more curative items, but better arms and armor to boot. You can find floating boxes that will restore your health and save your progress, but only the red ones will allow you to teleport to another Zone by returning to the Nothingness.

OFFAnalysis: OFF is a weird game. I mean, seriously. Imagine a giant laboratory with beakers bubbling away, distilling games like Earthbound, Killer 7, Baroque, and maybe a little bit of Stephen King and Peter Straub's Talisman, and the roiling, unsettling liquid they combine to make might look a little like this. The characters and landscapes you visit are bizarre to say the least, and the way you're thrust into them with no explanation or warm-up is more than a little disorienting in a way that can frustrate some players. The unique mythology you see peeking through in the conversations and designs is absolutely fascinating, however, and if you're a fan of surreal, introspective stories where what you know is only part of a bigger mystery you'll definitely want to check this one out. From its swanky and stellar original soundtrack by Alias Conrad Coldwood, to its unusual concepts and strange character designs, OFF feels like its own unique creature in ways few games rarely manage.

OFFThe downside? Apart from a healthy dose of solid, clever puzzles, it really does feel like OFF's unique story and concept is struggling to carry the gameplay at times. Unless you grew up gaming in the '80s and '90s like I did and are just used to it, random battles are the smelly, lurking, unwashed convention goer of the gaming world, and OFF has a lot of them. The auto-attack is actually surprisingly adept at handling nearly any encounter, including boss battles if you're sufficiently leveled, but it definitely gets tedious when all you really want to do is find out more about the story and the universe it lives in.

Which is, by the way, seriously worth doing. OFF isn't for everyone, but if it gets its hooks into you you're going to love the off-kilter journey it takes you on. Although the core gameplay is rarely as immediately compelling as the story and the people and places that live in it, OFF is an unexpected diamond in the rough for a particular sort of person. It's definitely worth a look, and a listen, and a thought or several if you don't run for the hills after the first Zone. It's something you can find yourself mulling over, and shows that there's still a lot of creativity (and creepiness) to be found in the simplest of RPG titles yet.

(Note: You may need to copy several font files from the OFF folder to your system's font directory. For a more detailed explanation, see our guide.)

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (25 votes)
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Home

DoraWow. Haha, what were you doing last night? You don't even remember, do you? You lost your wallet, and... huh... this isn't even your house, is it? Do you even know who lives here?... no? Well... that's awkward. But hey, it could be worse. At least there aren't any bodies aro... oh. Oh. Oh dear. What have you been doing? And do you even want to know? Home by Benjamin Rivers is a psychological horror adventure game that also doubles as a murder mystery... one where you decide the outcome.

HomeUse the [left] and [right] arrow keys to move, and the [spacebar] to interact with items that highlight when you stand in front of them. As you play and explore, the game will ask you questions about what happened. Did you go into the attic? Did you take that knife? What was in the basement? Why can't I hold all these limes? When you're presented with a choice, hit [Y] or [N], but give it some thought first, since all decisions are final and greatly impact the way the story unfolds. Use the down [arrow] to advance the text, and tap the [right] arrow if you don't want to wait for it to scroll into the dialogue window. If you're carrying an item, you'll automatically be given the opportunity to use it in the appropriate location. That's all you need to know. Unfortunately, you can't save your game, but you can quit by hitting [ESC].

Analysis: For a game with such old-school graphics, Home can be surprisingly scary, especially if you play in the dark with headphones like the game recommends. The soundtrack consists of ambient noise that greatly enhances the atmosphere and even leads to a few jumps as you'd expect, but Home is far from being all about cheap frights. It's smarter than that. It suggests things, both through its narration and what you see, and lets it marinate in your brain so you form your own conclusions about what happens. There's a great sense of dread that only increases the more you uncover as you play, which lets Home be scary and tense through subtlety and implication rather than a lot of outright gore and violence.

HomeFor some players, Home's super simplified, slow-paced gameplay might be a bit too frustrating, especially since you're expected to play through the whole thing in a single sitting. It's also on the short side, with the average playthrough lasting somewhere around an hour or more. Where Home excels, however, is in the carefully plotted revelation of its story, and how much of it can change based on how thorough your explorations are. During my second playthrough, I was surprised to see how much I'd missed, and what a big impact finding it had on the experience and even my interpretation of the story. (Make sure to visit the URL at the end of the game credits to share your experience and read the interpretations of other players... after you've played it yourself a few times, of course.) Unfortunately, the current release is a little buggy, with the game occasionally seeming to have trouble keeping track of its many possibilities to the point where it sometimes doesn't register that you've seen or found certain things the way it should.

For its tiny price tag Benjamin Rivers' Home is one of the cleverest, creepiest little bits of interactive storytelling you can experience over and over. While it lasts, it grips you hard, and Home stands as a testament to the sort of great stories a developer and a player can tell together when they try.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

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


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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GrinnypWho knew that real estate development could be so entertaining? It must be so, otherwise we wouldn't be celebrating the release of yet another time management game that involves building, renting, and demolishing houses. Well, sort of houses, the kind you hear about in bedtime stories or Disney movies. The Build-a-Lot empire just keeps rolling along, doesn't it, even in imaginary lands. Brace yourself for more construction fun with Hipsoft's seventh entry into the series, Build-a-Lot: Fairy Tales.

grinnyp_buildalotfairytales_screenshot1.pngThe basics of the build-a-lot series are simple: you begin with a location that is in need of development. The local mayor (whether that mayor be human or a big, bad wolf) lets you know what needs to be done, i.e. they need cottages. You then manage resources (building materials), workforce (construction fairies!), and time to get the needed construction done before the clock runs out. Houses you build bring in rent or can be sold outright, and the money can be spent for more materials or labor in order to get the job done. Each scenario has its own unique requirements and there are a lot of scenarios to work through with five main sections: a tutorial, the storybook levels, the expert levels, the quickplay levels, and the casual levels.

Rather than being grounded in basic construction as all the rest of the Build-a-lot games have been, Build-a-lot: Fairy Tales is, well, set inside the world of fairytales. The mayors of each location come right out of children's stories such as the big bad wolf, the nutcracker, the frog prince, etc. The residences to be constructed are equally fantastic, featuring dens, gingerbread houses, fantasy manors and the like. Buildings to help alleviate materials or labor costs are also available, a dwarves foundry to help lower the cost of building materials, and a toadstool to incite the fairies to work faster for lower wages. Town improvements such as wishing wells show up to enhance real estate value and appeal.

grinnyp_buildalotfairytales_screenshot2.pngAnalysis: Yes, Build-a-Lot: Fairy Tales is basically Build-a-Lot: On Vacation (the sixth in the series) with a fairy-tale skin, but what a fantastical skin it is. Unlike Build-a-Lot: Elizabethan Era, which was the Build-a-lot standard with slightly different visuals, this world takes the basic time management of the series and elevates it to a new level with actual storylines and the delightful graphics, characters, and animations.

HipSoft has jettisoned the now somewhat stale backgrounds of basic grass, trees, and streets, and created a cornucopia of visual delights, from the meadows to the mountains, from the fantasy town of the nutcracker to the deep forest. Each area has amusing supporting characters gracing the sides of the screen, along with incidental sounds that perfectly match the location (love the bleating goats and sheep of the mountains). Each of the mayors has been given true personality as well (why precisely is the big bad wolf fixing up the meadows? why does the nutcracker want to escape the town so badly?) making the experience richer and more satisfying. Simple things like the construction workers, represented by hard hats in the rest of the series, have been upgraded to beautiful butterfly-fairies. Even the now standard build-a-lot music has been upgraded, meaning that everywhere in the game is a feast for the eyes and ears. Best yet, houses no longer just fall into disrepair. No, a flipping FIRE BREATHING DRAGON appears and torches your property instead, one of many delights to be found as play continues.

grinnyp_buildalotfairytales_screenshot3.pngThe gameplay is completely in line with Build-a-lot: On Vacation, with the wooded lots, the ability to "enchant" (i.e. stage) the homes, and the like. For those who loved the sixth in the series here are a multitude of new levels of gameplay. The enchanting graphics and storyline are tailor-made to help introduce the younger set to the series, all the while maintaining the high levels of gameplay we've come to expect from HipSoft's flagship series. There's even more of a story through line as you go from one area to the next, with call-backs to previous mayors (for instance the delightful flying ship you built for the nutcracker has a habit of flying through later scenes).

For those who have been complaining that the series never seems to update their backgrounds, well, here you go. With the intricate and challenging gameplay, fantastical backgrounds, and most importantly an actual story Build-a-lot: Fairy Tales may be the best of the bunch, rather than a stale re-skinning of something we've seen before. For those who love the series and those who've never tried it, here's an imaginative gift from HipSoft wrapped in bright shiny paper and an elaborate bow.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


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Rating: 4.5/5 (191 votes)
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ChadPsychoutFind the key, get to the door, advance to the next level. Sounds like your everyday platform game, right? Well, it could be, but not in this puzzling instance. Strap on your straitjacket, and step into the psych ward of Funcrow's Psychout, where not everything is necessarily what it seems. Level by level, the laws of physics will continually change; sometimes gravity is controllable by a press of your finger, and sometimes you can scale a wall, and cling to ceilings just by walking. See an insurmountable trap? As long as you embrace your insanity, the challenge just might be easier to overcome than you initially thought.

You control your little psychotic with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys. During gameplay, you will encounter red-knobbed action levers, that have different uses on different levels, and you can activate or deactivate them as necessary with the [S] or [down] key. Impish graphics and music straight from a madman's circus add to this whole experience, as well as a few obvious gameplay nods to classic games like Pong and Super Mario Bros. Escaping from this asylum probably won't take you as long as would to break out of a real mental hospital, but it will provide you a fun little diversion from the everyday world of sanity.

Play Psychout


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Rating: 4/5 (107 votes)
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JeremyStick figure Badminton 2It's great when a game sets out to do something and just nails it, whether it's story, design, or controls. For Stick Figure Badminton 2 from Effing Games, it's the physics, which will satisfy even the most picky players.

Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move around the court, while pressing [S] or [spacebar] to hit the birdie. The game features a nice assortment of opponents with different playing styles and if you prefer the human touch and don't mind sharing a keyboard, you can enter two-player mode with a friend. Regular badminton players will appreciate the smooth way the game handles smashes, drives and drops and non players will get a great introduction to the game that will make them want to go outside in the sunshine and play for real. How many other flash games can say that?

Play Stick Figure Badminton 2


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Rating: 3.7/5 (41 votes)
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TrickyCubeWhen it comes to checking out what your roof looks like, I think we can all agree that Google Maps is the best. (True that, Double True!) But beyond satellite zooming, it has a lot of other features that the makers wished to advertise. And, luckily for us, they went to those awesome advergamesters over at B-Reel to put something together. The result is Cube: A Google Maps Experiment. An HTML5 arcade webtoy, Cube takes maps from locales across the globe, then converts them into levels akin to those tiny metal marble maze toys. Moving your mouse about the pseudo-3D map to tilt it, you must guide your Google Sphere to the marked locations as quickly as possible.

Cube's design doesn't try to hide its advertising roots, for better or worse: The developers are obviously hoping that prettiness will help balance out slightly ephemeral gameplay. Still, the concept behind it is very clever the game is quite visually appealing in that Googley futuristic way, and the sound design is top-notch. Likewise, the features of Google Maps highlighted are well-integrated into gameplay, whether it's a traffic overlay showing which paths will give you a boost of speed, its subway guide that lets you teleport from tube station to tube station, or restaurant reviews giving you a list of Vegas hot spots you need to hit. In any case, as a game, Cube is smart fun, and as an ad for a tech company, it sure as heck beats watching Zooey Deschanel talk to her phone. Update your browser's WebGl, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!

Play Cube: A Google Maps Experiment


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraLook at you. Sitting there. All bright and brimming with the potential for limitless possibilities. Imagine if you got up, right now, and did something. What, you ask? Who knows! That's the whole point. You have within you the endless capacity for wonder and brilliance that means with a little bit of productivity, energy, and application, you could create something that endures long after you're gone, or changes the lives of countless people. So allow me to ruin that with a series of addictive games that will have the day flying by in a wave of glassy-eyed self-indulgence and electronic entertainment before you can accomplish anything. You're welcome! (And you can tell Loki I said that's how you take over the world.)

Dinos in SpaceNature Finds a Way... For Prizes! If we ever need to get depressed and reminds ourselves how vastly more intelligent you guys are, all we need to do is post a review for a logic puzzle programming game and watch the brainiacs come crawling out of the woodwork. (Remember Manufactoria? You guys are MACHINES.) Well, here's your chance to win another opportunity to train your brain through entertainment! Dinos in Space is a great indie programming puzzle for PC and Mac with a sense of humour, and all you have to do to win one of five free copies is leave a comment on this article telling us what your favourite logic puzzle game is and why. Rules: Entries must be submitted by June 15th, 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT-5). Winners will be notified by e-mail shortly thereafter. Winners are selected randomly. One entry per person only. You must be at least 13 years of age or older to enter. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Retro City RampageI HEARD YOU LIEK OLD-SKOOL Yes, that was a Mudkip reference... I'm playing Emerald again, deal with it! If you love nostalgia and grew up with what the kids these days are calling retro games, you might want to turn your peepers to the upcoming Retro City Rampage by Vblank Entertainment due out later this year for Windows and consoles. The game claims to be a parody of open-world action gaming in an 8-Bit experience, and packs a goofy crime-ridden story where you're out to stop the EVIL GOOD GUYS (yes, all caps) from ruining your beloved Theftropolis City. With driving, shooting, and tons of pop-culture references to boot, all in one gloriously authentic old-school package, it looks like this game might be gunning for your free time in a serious way. You can even pre-order it from Good Old Games or the official site. Honestly, who doesn't love beating up tiny defenseless civilians and stealing tanks?

Who Took The AppleWhat is This "Real World" You Speak Of? When was the last time you played outside, with real people you liked and physical objects? Well, if you're a grown up, you should check out the free four-player card game by the Copenhagen Game Collective Who Took the Apple? All you need is an apple, a bucket, four beers, and three other people besides yourself. And to download and print out the free .pdf, of course. The rules are simple; players take cards with actions on them that will, eventually, lead to someone taking the apple and winning... though since the game is played backwards, it might take some doing. It's a silly, fun game perfect for a lazy, hot afternoon with friends, and might I recommend using your favourite bottles of soda if you're too young to drink?

Fiends From Dream ValleyThe World's Shiftiest Looking Ponies Wish you could take your favourite ponies on a really epic adventure? Then be sure to keep your eye on The Fiends From Dream Valley, an upcoming side-scrolling platform action adventure. When several strange ponies show up at an event for Princess Celestia, things go very wrong and Twilight Sparkle wakes up on the edge of the Everfree Forest. There's a playable Flash demo on the official site, but for the full experience and some remarkably professional-sounding voice acting, you should probably download the demo since sounds have been omitted from the browser version to save space. It's still a little buggy but it looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous. Here's hoping it survives its own ambition and sees completion one day soon... it's already been in development for a year of hard work!

Project TriTriforce Not Included Here's an intriguing new project for all you first-person puzzle lovers. Project "Tri" is an upcoming title by Rat King Entertainment where you will be able to create triangles to solve various environmental puzzles. The game is apparently heavily inspired by Portal, as well as Thief and Zelda. Sounds like a clever basis for an action/adventure to me! A lot of details are still up in the air as development is in its infancy, but it looks like it could be a great time for anyone who likes first-person gameplay and using their head. Check out the official site for more videos and screenshots, and give the developer blogs a peep if you want to follow this one and show your support!

RoommatesLove and Final Exams Are in the Air As a big fan of visual novels, I can't help but keep my eye on what's happening over at Winter Wolves, and though this game is far in the future it looks like another stellar simulation to come. Roommates will follow you as either Max or Anne at college, each with their own agenda, and will have you balancing your job and studying with growing relationships (and even romances) with your roommates. Each character has four different romance options, and if you're gay or bi, you'll be glad to see that this game is going to continue Winter Wolves' welcome tradition of including romantic possibilities for both preferences as well as heterosexuals. Winter Wolves always delivers incredibly gorgeous and professional looking titles, and while this one might be far away in the future, if you're a fan of the genre, much like cutie marks, you'll probably have to say, "But ah want it naaaaaooow!" In the meantime, why not check out Loren the Amazon Princess or Winter in Fairbrook?

Did You Know Gaming?Oof! Right in the Nostalgia! Link time! If you love obscure gaming factoids, you might want to check out Did You Know Gaming? The Tumblr continually updates with snippets about games from Minecraft to Mario that reveal little secrets or surprising details about their development that range from the intriguing to the bizarre. For example, did you know Twilight Princess' strange NPC Ooccoo was named after the colour code for Link's tunic in the very first Zelda game? Or that players enjoying pirated copies of the SNES classic you should all have played called Earthbound received a very ugly surprise? While some of the "facts" lean more towards fan speculation than anything else, it's still a great browse to find out about all the weird Easter eggs and history of the games you know and love.

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!


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Rating: 4.3/5 (53 votes)
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BryanVehicles Level PackIn a world where traffic and urban emergencies run rampant, there is group of anthropomorphic response vehicles looking to set things right. Vehicles Level Pack puts you in the driver's seat of cartoon cars that need to move obnoxious black SUVs while reaching their designated emergencies in this physics puzzle game. You click on the cars to get their wheels spinning and click again to brake in quite a hurry. Shift into overdrive by the pressing [spacebar] key and then clicking to use the automobile's special ability. The emergency vehicles need to use a lot of teamwork and timing to solve the city's problems and have easy-going casual time.

This game is the third installment in the Vehicles series of games and has improved upon the visuals quite nicely. Although nothing new has been brought to the car physics formula, the levels have a little more parking space for extra cars and more creative puzzles for you to solve. There are 35 levels ranging from introductory to skill level to test your driving aptitude on and they are perfect for physics gaming beginners. The wide-eyed, cartoon vehicles and their quirky car conversations even seem more appealing to a younger audience or older gamers with an appreciation for silly puns. Those jokes may only exist in the pre-made levels, but the built-in level editor will keep the municipal mayhem rolling long after you gold star the regular levels. Grab a key, turn the ignition, and start cleaning up the city in this neatly done physics game made for a quick lunch break escape.

Play Vehicles Level Pack


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Rating: 3.5/5 (72 votes)
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ElleThe Little Mermaid: A Modern RetellingFeeling a little unsure, at a loss for words, or just outright shy? That's how one anonymous office worker feels as he watches the new hire Julie pass by his desk each day. But will he ever gather the courage to voice his feelings? Look to the title of this modestly designed interactive narrative for your hint.

Playing The Little Mermaid: A Modern Retelling involves moving your character around the screen, clicking on options such as "read email" or "talk to Ed" where they pop up. Much of the action is in the dialogue, so be sure to not skip any of it. Click on the bottom corners to enter the next scene or start the next act, when it's possible, although there is little direction for how or when to do these things. If you get stuck at the edge, it means you can't go that way—just go the other way instead. Acts begin and end unceremoniously while the "restart" button tempts you to retry, to double-check that nothing was missed, and may cause more questions about possibilities that don't seem to exist (for example, there appears to be only one ending). Because it's not especially clear on where to go or what is the right response, you tend to roam about without much sense of purpose. Maybe that mirrors what it feels like to be secretly in love?

Despite its lack of clarity in directions, The Little Mermaid: A Modern Retelling feels very well put together, especially considering it was created in only 58 hours for TOJam 2012. The title soundtrack by Kevin MacLeod is very pleasant; meanwhile, the office chatter and street noises add to the ambiance but also grate on the nerves ("music off" mutes all). The artwork of John Bilokrely, Derian McCrea and Ming Iu—who also did the coding and design—is minimalistic yet aptly conveys the expressions and emotions of each character. It's remarkable how much is communicated by the turn of a head or the slump of a shoulder. The artisan effect of the graphics and game mechanics also fits with the thematic elements. If you're familiar with the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, it's easy to see the parallels between it and this game—mainly the protagonist's unwillingness or inability to speak up for himself. On the other hand, there is a note of satire, perhaps unintentional, in the ending homily that is either irksome or humorous or merely disappointing.

The Little Mermaid: A Modern Retelling will strike a chord with anyone who's experienced the frustrations of shyness, especially in our modern socially-networked culture. Whatever your social aptitudes, though, you'll find a poignant and thoughtful experience within these rough edges—Hans Christian Anderson had a few of those, too.

Play The Little Mermaid: a modern retelling


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Rating: 4.3/5 (119 votes)
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elleTomaTea: Long Time AgoA Long Time Ago riddles were solved at great risk of peril upon failure; one slip-up often meant thousands of deadly beetles pouring down on your head, that is if legends of pyramids and mummies and Indiana Jones movies are to be believed. TomaTea's puzzles pose no such threat to your mortal longevity, which is a relief. Even so, the mental gauntlet in TomaTea's enigmatic escape-the-pyramid game might hold some jeopardy of its own—a horrible face-palm gone wrong disfigurement or a tongue-biting injury? It's possible!

Finding yourself trapped inside the limestone walls of an ancient Egyptian room, click around on all you see, taking detailed notes with your papyrus scroll and mineral paints—or maybe just open Notepad—to work out the solutions. You can view items in your inventory by selecting "i" for more info or utilize an item by highlighting it and clicking where it should be used. If you're uncertain where that is, employ the escaper's tried-and-true "try every item everywhere and with everything" method. TomaTea will tell you when you're not ready to solve a code but is much less expressive than Robamimi who offers plenty of verbose hints. The scarcity of textual directions encourages experimentation although the visual indicators are all present; no puzzle here is without its clues plainly accessible. While a few clues are cleverly inconspicuous and mixed with some misdirection, Long Time Ago is not especially long or arduous, only momentarily tricky.

The glowing cursor also helps, indicating interactive areas although it won't decipher hieroglyphics or tell you where to go next. So, if you do get flustered, think "How would Indy handle this?" instead, putting your deductive reasoning and lateral thinking into full force (if you need extra motivation, have a friend stand behind you making "whoosh whoosh" sounds so you can picture a tribe of angry natives on your tail). What is it with escape game designers playing ancient mind games, anyway? Tell that sphinx to "Bring it!" because your figurative bullwhip is on your hip and you're ready!

Play Long Time Ago


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Rating: 4.5/5 (113 votes)
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ArtbegottiSnakes On A Cartesian PlaneA wise philosopher named Samuel L. Jackson once asked, "If a snake eats a pellet in the forest, and no one is there to control the snake, does it actually earn a point?" He then said something else we can't repeat here and there was a whole movie about it and yada yada, you know the rest. But as for the former quote, you might be tempted to consider the strange possibilities of puzzling variations on a snake game with Netgrind's Snakes On A Cartesian Plane.

You probably already know the rules of a snake game. [Arrow] keys move the snake, eat the food, avoid your own tail. But what if you're a sea snake, and you've got to dive underwater to catch your food? What if you're a mamushi and the food you eat becomes hazardous to you later? Between time limits, contorted controls, and crazy warping, you'll find 28 different variations on the same basic snake principle to tackle. Clearing certain milestones will unlock other snakes, so keep on playing until you discover why all those snakes are on that Cartesian plane.

Play Snakes On A Cartesian Plane


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Rating: 4.1/5 (89 votes)
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Bryan3 Slices 2If you had a burning passion to cut up fruit for sheer pleasure, then why not give slicing up quadrilateral shapes a go in Gaz Thomas's new physics puzzle game, 3 Slices 2. As a sequel to the well received 3 Slices, you need to trim out a certain percentage of the red and blue blocks off the screen in a total of three, count 'em, THREE swipes. You chop apart the blocks by clicking and dragging a line across the polygons while physics handles the rest. Watch them slide, tumble, and float off screen to fulfill your goal as your decisive slices can go from careful, puzzle gaming success to a hack 'n' slash failure fest.

The cozy, casual sequel contains another twenty levels of puzzle action that will hinder even the best puzzle solvers. With no repeated puzzles from the first game, players can expect an exciting experience that you will surely appreciate. Not only will red blocks fall down under gravity's weight, but blue blocks defy gravity and float up to bring more complexity to these tough puzzles. A second play-through for 100% gold target percentages on every level will lead to more brain strain and replay ability. The enjoyable gameplay everyone liked from before, such as secret 1900% clear rate challenge, is still there but updated with new obstacles to keep both your attention and the game from going stale. When you need to cut yourself a break from your busy day, give this pleasant puzzler a look.

Play 3 Slices 2


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Rating: 4.6/5 (182 votes)
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Weekday Escape

elleWhen one is very good, you're not going to pass up on more, especially when a Robamimi escape game is concerned. Take One Scene 3, for example. This charming single scene—pretty enough to frame and put on display—is an ample offering of puzzles and code-breaking all taking place along a single wall.

Robamimi: One Scene 3As nice as it is to gaze upon, though, your goal is to "escape" and it's such an irresistible compulsion to explore, play with and solve until you reach the end. Like in most other games of this genre, gameplay centers on finding puzzles and useful bits of information through scanning the scene for interactive areas to point-and-click on. That's just about everything you can behold, which means the changeable cursor is almost unnecessary.

Robamimi is a favorite of ours not only for the gorgeous, 3D-quality graphics, but also because of the relaxing affability of the game interface; a notepad to work out your solutions is the only thing not provided. Clues are cozily nestled amongst the surroundings, not sequestered into obscurity, while the hint function provides reassurance that you'll never be stuck. An intuitive inventory function is also easy to use, so clues and items won't be fumbled. All this kind helpfulness is a bit of a flaw, if anything could be called flawed in such a beguiling design; as much as you'll enjoy playing One Scene 3, you may feel shorted the opportunity to truly rub some neurons together.

Just as One Scene 2 was a step up in style and gameplay from One Scene, this third installment is even more impressive. Besides all the quality features that show Robamimi's enthusiasm for creating great-looking, fun escape games, One Scene 3 has a unique charisma that sets it apart. The reveal at the end and the happy, waltzy music, similar to what you'd hear in a Hayao Miyazaki film, add to this fantasy effect. I think you'll agree—although it's short, this is the best one scene from Robamimi to date. So stop reading and go enjoy some more!

Play One Scene 3

Not loading? Try the alternative link: One Scene 3.


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Rating: 4/5 (53 votes)
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JeremyThe Sagittarian 4: BergerA favorite TV show with multiple seasons is a lot like a well-written episodic game. You follow characters through adventure and loss, happiness and sorrow. When good times come their way, you're up in the clouds with them and when they die, a piece of you dies as well. Of all the game genres out there, interactive fiction is arguably the best at really drawing out the emotions of the player in this way, and Hyptosis' Sagittarian adventure series is one of the best. Combining great artwork, funny and well-developed dialogue, and even a dynamic soundtrack, it's an experience that really sticks with you. And now fans and newbies alike can rejoice in the latest installment, The Sagittarian 4: Berger, which picks up from one of the four possibilities that ended the last episode.

Like previous installments, Part Four follows a group of survivors in a world taken over by the undead, starting as a visual novel and branching off into a choose-your-own adventure after awhile. Pick from two or three options to continue the story. If you die, you can go back a little ways or start over from the beginning. Unlike previous games in the series, however, Part Four is more focused in its story line and you can tell that Hyptosis is trying to keep the series from branching off into too many alternate realities and becoming muddled. Also, though we skipped the other titles due to their content, this installment really deserves to be played.

A more significant difference in Part Four, though, is that more is on the line. The small band of survivors are no longer strangers, but friends. Some are even lovers. Can we protect these people we've grown so close to over the last four games, or will we have to send them to their certain death for the good of the group? It's a choice that even great novels don't give you, stuck as they are in a single authorial vision, and it's what makes interactive fiction, and the Sagittarian series in particular, more than just a game, but art as well.

Play The Sagittarian 4: Berger


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Rating: 4.5/5 (75 votes)
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TrinnPattsun MarchIt's safe to say by now that Detarou has lovably weird down to an art. Nowhere else but in those strategically crafted, surreal worlds could you catch yourself thinking "Well of course that swarthy ballerina has my cable, but what color was the monkey again?" Even more strange, yet endearing, characters (and the return of an evil panda lurking behind their amusing facade) await you in Detarou's escape game, Pattsun March.

In tradition with the Detarou canon, puzzles follow a bizarre sense of logic for the most part, and you'll have to rely heavily on your problem solving skills. Being able to observe your environment, translate those often absurd elements into necessary clues, and apply them to practical use are the keys to open the many locked doors in this maniacal morsel of a room escape. Keep your eyes peeled for helpful hints and a wary cursor over that save button ready for potential hazards. Once again, you are assisted by the handy-dandy changing cursor, but the clean design makes it hardly necessary while there is nary a pixel hunt in sight. So put on your smarty pants and equip those thinking caps, folks. If you want that oh-so-rewarding feeling of finding all three endings, you're gonna need 'em!

Play Pattsun March


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Rating: 3.4/5 (85 votes)
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JeremyNutty ManiaIs your work day making you a little... crazy? Kooky? Off-kilter?... What's the word I'm looking for? Oh well, while I figure this out, go and play FlashRushGames' Nutty Mania, a new physics game that will calm even the most frazzled 9-5er with its silly premise and relaxing puzzles.

Just adjust your mammoth's trunk to the right trajectory to maximize your nut gathering and collect your well earned stars, depending on how many little furry projectiles you used. But, don't be fooled, this cute little diversion won't be just any old walk in the park. You'll have some interesting obstacles to overcome (dinosaurs!) and some clever physics to navigate (portals!). Nutty Mania sports 42 levels to explore and even features a level editor, which will keep you entertained for many coffee breaks to come. No need for artificial sweeteners... this game should suffice.

Play Nutty Mania


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The Vault

DoraThemes? We don't need no steekeeng themes! I'm a rebel, baby, yeah! And this week I'm bucking tradition to bring you three games that are just plain good and good for ya. Admittedly, you might say that they're all adventure games. And they're all point-and-clicks. And heavily puzzle-centric. BUT THAT'S ALL. They share nothing except those inconsequential similarities! Yeah, that's right. Nobody controls me. Deal with it.

  • SynapsisSynapsis - robotJAM has always been known for really great point-and-click adventures, and with this sleek little 3D surreal mystery it's easy to see why. Fiddling with a suspicious golden cube left on your desk results in you being sucked inside, and what follows is a gorgeously designed adventure into the subconscious. The imaginative areas you'll visit combined with the sparse, "build your own" approach to the narrative makes this one of the more immediately intriguing games you'll find. There's even a sequel when you're done with this one! It's a great example of minimalist storytelling and creative sets coming together to deliver a memorable experience.
  • Matt Sandorf: Journey to 
Endless EntertainmentMatt Sandorf: Journey to Endless Entertainment - Need a little humour in your adventure? (No humor; we have only proper English enjoyment here.) Then you'll want to dish up RabbitTell's clever little advergame about a fellow desperate to see one particularly famous band who seems rather surprised that the government types whose secret facility he snuck into have taken offense and jailed him in a dingy closet. What follows is a weird, silly, and definitely funny little gem that makes up for some slightly obtuse puzzling with a charming presentation and goofball concept. You might find yourself reaching for the walkthrough, but if you like sly humour and dry one liners, this is one to check out.
  • Bamba Snack Quests 1 & 2Bamba Snack Quests 1 & 2 - Bamba Quest understands what motivates you. Namely, delicious snacks and malicious squirrels. In this advergame, you'll play a toddler who sets out to retrieve his favourite goodies from one of those evil backyard rodents and winds up travelling far and wide to do so. Each chapter represents a little puzzle you'll need to solve in order to progress, and they're more than a little unusual to say the least, a lot like the game itself as a whole. The combination of hand-drawn artwork and photography works remarkably well, however, and the end result is a clever, quirky little batch of games you can enjoy at any age and language.

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!


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Rating: 4/5 (128 votes)
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Escape the Room: Limited Time

DoraMost of us don't generally wake up with a mystery to solve, and when we do it's usually of the boring "Why am I wearing someone else's shoes and why is my hair fuschia" variety. But for the star of Escape the Room: Limited Time, a free Android escape adventure by Gameday Inc, it's a bit more sinister than that. He regains consciousness on a hospital gurney with a burning pain in his chest and a brand new scar to show for it. His kidnappers appear to be two young children calling themselves Black and White whose only information to offer is that he better get a move on and find his way out... before the newly implanted bomb in his chest explodes. It's a race against time if you want to solve the mystery and survive "the game". Who are the other people you encounter locked up with you in this maze of bizarre rooms, and what have you done to deserve playing this twisted game with Black and White?

Escape the Room: Limited TimeGameplay is simple, as you'll see from a comprehensive tutorial at the start of the game thanks to one of your prepubescent kidnappers. (Just because they surgically implanted a bomb in your chest doesn't mean they don't care.) The game consists of a series of locked rooms to conquer, each one unique and standing as its own "level". Just tap on an icon at the bottom of the screen to choose as action such as "take" or "examine", and then anywhere onscreen to interact. Clues and helpful items can be hidden anywhere so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for sneaky details or suspicious looking furniture. All your items are stored in your inventory where they can be combined, disassembled, more closely examined, and so forth at your leisure. Well... okay, not really at your leisure since taking your time is a good way to wind up spontaneously rearranging your innards.

At the start of each level, the bomb in your chest is reset, and the longer you spend trying to solve each room, the more the representative green bar will shrink and change colour to let you know you're dangerously close to repainting the walls with your insides. Fail or set off a booby trap, and you'll have to restart the room unless you have an object to turn back time to before your unfortunate decision. If you're really struggling, there are several optional in-game purchases you can make for items like "The Hand of God", which instantly solves puzzles, that can really help when you're down to the wire. These aren't necessary to complete the game, of course, but will probably start looking really tempting the harder the going gets as the levels progress.

Escape the Room: Limited TimeAnalysis: Limited Time really is an absolutely gorgeous little game that packs a ton of quality and intrigue into a relatively small package. Though the writing occasionally feels a little stiff and awkward, it still manages to weave a remarkably solid bit of adventuring and a great thriller tale in with some really substantial escape-the-room gameplay. It's definitely not early Stephen King and you'll probably think a lot of the plot sounds kind of familiar if you watch schlocky horror thriller movies at all, but it's cheesy, fantastic fun that really adds a whole layer of entertainment to the game to make it feel like a cohesive adventure instead of just a series of random puzzles. Which are, by the way, pretty darn good. The difficulty level ramps up gradually and you'll need to use your brain for a lot more than you would for other titles that just simply have you use objects on other items.

Unfortunately, without the ability to zoom in on the screen manipulating tiny or slim objects can get frustrating, especially when picking up really small objects can be annoyingly precise. I played on an HTC One S, which isn't exactly known for its small screen, and still ran into issues grabbing small items, particularly the jigsaw pieces. The timer is also obviously going to be a turnoff for some players, though it usually feels generous. Without any sort of cursor to change when you pass over an interactive area, you'll need to check everything out and essentially "toss the room". This is, admittedly, exactly what you'd do if you were in the protagonist's situation, but it does make that tendency finicky hotspots that much more painful at times.

Despite an occasionally clunky design and a forced time limit, however, Escape the Room: Limited Time is easily recommended for patient point-and-click fans who love a good cheesy thriller story. It isn't perfect, but it's a remarkably beefy experience packed with puzzles and mystery that you can easily sink into whenever you have a spare moment. The slick, professional design, clever rooms, and engaging mystery makes this a flawed but ultimately fun free title that's well worth checking out for its pricetag of nada.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an HTC One S. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Little Things Forever

JohnBDo you enjoy hunting for tiny items? Picking out hidden objects? Finding small things contained in much larger things? Fresh from Klick Tock, creator of ZONR, Little Things Forever is an updated and expanded follow-up to the original Little Things, offering up thousands of tiny items to find as you hunt your way across puzzles unlocking new shapes to pick apart. It's a great improvement over the original game, but it's also precisely what we like about casual mobile releases: quick fun, lasting appeal, and endless content.

Little Things ForeverLittle Things Forever is essentially a hidden object game without all the pretense. Instead of trying to come up with excuses to present you with rooms crowded with items, Little Things simply hands you with a screen full of stuff and says "now find some stuff!". Each level starts out with a picture, and that picture turns into a collection of smaller objects. You can zoom and scroll your way around the screen as you see fit, doing whatever it takes to find the items listed at the top of the screen. Sometimes you'll be timed, sometimes you'll just have a short list to locate, but all the time you'll be scanning hundreds of tiny items trying to find the one bit of pixels you need to win!

Completing levels earns you puzzle pieces that unlock new macro shapes to solve. When you complete sets, you also get to work on a small jigsaw-style puzzle where you have to complete a picture by swapping and matching tiles on the screen. There are also achievements to strive for, just in case you need some additional excuses to head back and play.

Little Things ForeverAnalysis: Little Things Forever streamlines the process of hidden object finding, folding everything up in a gorgeous little package that's pleasing to look at and enjoyable to use. Watching shapes slide and zoom as you complete levels and start new stages is strangely satisfying, especially since you know you're about to become intimately familiar with everything contained in the borders of the macro item!

If there's any sort of drawback with Little Things Forever, it's that the game focuses so intently on one gameplay element, and some players will be looking for more. It's a nice contrast from the "everything and the kitchen sink" philosophy of game design, but apart from unlocking new shapes and completing different puzzles, there aren't any major surprises waiting around the corner.

It's simple, rewarding, and a perfect bit of relaxing enjoyment that's perfect for short sessions. Little Things Forever is a little slice of casual gaming bliss. It's also a great game to share with a friend!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Tiny Heroes

JohnBDefense games are as common as smudged screens on the iOS mobile platform, but developer Simutronics has done something creatively different with Tiny Heroes, a game that has as much personality as it has evil minions at your disposal. Putting you in the role of castle owner, you must place traps and send out baddies to thwart the deluge of heroes who are after your gold. You'd think a few sawblades and a Gork or two would be enough, wouldn't you?

Tiny HeroesSo here it is... your very own dungeon! With the loot safely stored away, you can finally kick back and watch Dr. Who. Except, not. Just outside your castle, groups of heroes are ready to attack, sliding their meaty hands all over your gold. You're not about to let that happen, so it's time to set some traps to keep your loot safe! Tap a unit in your inventory to select it, then tap the screen to place it in your castle. There are dozens of things you can place, ranging from spike traps to spiked smashers, ballistas to magical towers, even mobile baddies that deploy and seek out heroes on their own!

You'll have to deal with a number of different types of heroes, including archers, thieves, warriors, and the like. Each has its own set of abilities you'll have to account for, such as thieves disarming your precious traps. But if you place your offensive units cleverly, you should have every square of your castle covered from just about every type of attack. Placing units costs mana, but you can always plant more crystals to keep your mana pool topped up.

Tiny HeroesAnalysis: Tiny Heroes is the perfect combination of serious defensive strategy and quirky humorous fun. The characters, units and heroes are funny while still being dangerous, and the whole thing comes across like a cartoon television show, complete with a bumbling villain who, in this case, just happens to be the not-always-but-sometimes-bumbling you.

Level design is quite clever and forces you to do some serious thinking in order to pass. This might make Tiny Heroes feel like a difficult game, but if you put your mind to it, you'll see the logic behind the widely varied set-ups and schemes. New units are unveiled at a steady pace, and before long you'll have to decide which ones to carry into battle, as your inventory space is pretty limited.

Simutronics is neither new to the defense genre nor to the field of humorous semi-parodies. Its well-known iOS tower defense game geoDefense has been around the scene for quite some time, winning hearts and players over with its well-tuned gameplay and nice visual presentation. The browser RPG Fantasy University, on the other hand, shows off the studio's talent with fantasy parody, the second element in Tiny Heroes that makes it such a captivating concept to indulge yourself in.

Tiny Heroes is a grand little defense game that has enough content to keep die hard strategy fans appeased but isn't so complex that casual players won't be able to jump right in. There are over 50 levels to play along with challenges, achievements, retina display support, and expansion campaigns available for purchase. Plus, you get to be the bad guy, which is always a nice change of pace!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPod Touch. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Rating: 4.7/5 (101 votes)
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TrickyHanna in a Choppa 2With its sleek iconographic aesthetic, twitchy gameplay, and impish sense of humor, Chris Underwood's Hanna in a Choppa quickly became a favorite here at JayIsGames. In fact, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say it's right up there with Stunt Copter and Comanche in the rotocraft gaming hall of fame. Now, after four years, and plenty of crossed fingers, the physics puzzle action returns in Hanna in a Choppa 2! Of course, the name is a bit of a misnomer, since it seems Ms. Hanna has earned quite a few more pilot's licenses this time around...

Using the [arrow] keys to fly, and [Z] and [X] to rotate (no mouse support this time around), you must guide your craft throughout each level's twisting maze of walls and objects, with the ultimate goal of landing at the flag. Some levels are straight exploration or maneuverability challenges, while others have puzzles that require solving before the flag is unlocked. Generally, your choppa is strong enough to handle a few wall bumps, but a glancing blow will ruin your chances at a perfect rating, and colliding too hard means game over. Pressing the [spacebar] will activate your winch manipulator, just the perfect thing for moving objects. As you progress, new aircraft will be unlocked, from the hover-friendly UFO, to the small-and-quick, but difficult to maneuver jetpack, to the slow-but-sturdy hot air balloon, and so on, each with their various quirks and skills to master. With 32 new levels to enjoy, though, you're unlikely to be coming in for a landing any time soon.

Play all the Hanna in a Choppa games:
Hanna in a ChoppaHanna in a Choppa 2

Hanna in a Choppa 2 proves that it is indeed possible to improve on perfection. As before, the cunning level design and satirical writing work together perfectly, without either feeling to be an imposition on the other. What's really great about Hanna in a Choppa 2 is how eager it is to please every segment of it's potential audience. Do you like the physics gameplay? Then you'll love how each level can be replayed with all the different vehicles, creating a host of subtly different, but equally intriguing challenges. Are you a Uber-Completionist Achievement Hunter? Well, Hanna in a Choppa 2 has unlockables and secrets to spare. Are you here for the humor? Then prepare to feel really smart as you click on each of the plentiful puns, parodies, and references to play the "Where's It From Bonus Quiz", where getting the joke gets you some neat rewards. Never played the first game? All the levels from the original are here, revamped for 2012 with all its new vehicles and all new secrets. (Sadly, said original levels are not unlocked from the start, which feels a rare misstep.) While the original set the benchmarks high, Hanna in a Choppa 2 flies above them, making for an instant classic. This is one Choppa that you need to get your browser to, stat.

Play Hanna in a Choppa 2


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Amoebattle

GrinnypIt's dangerous in the primordial soup, a place where infected organisms roam hungrily looking to consume or destroy anything that crosses their path. At least, that's the scenario behind the fantastic Amoebattle by Grab Games, a real-time strategy gem created for iOS devices. Inside, at the microscopic level, it's a constant state of warfare, and war is heck.

grinnyp_amoebattle_screenshot1.pngAmoebattle begins with a briefing from a friendly robot, the AMI, who lets you know what is going on in this strange world. You begin with a basic amoeba and pretty soon are directing microbial troops into battle against other, more violent (and infected) types. As each scenario progresses you, aided by your faithful robot companion, will learn how to navigate, how to direct your eager microbes, how to mutate them into more powerful forms, and how to add to their numbers. One of the great joys of the gameplay is how simple and smooth the touch screen aspects have been configured, allowing you to select some or all of your organisms, explore, and direct attacks in pretty complex patterns. Along with learning new forms to mutate your troops into you can earn new types of probes that slow down or poison the enemy as they attack.

There are twelve different campaigns in Amoebattle, each one longer than the last. While the first few are fairly easy and mostly deal with training and becoming familiar with the controls, the later scenarios quickly become difficult and long-lasting, severely testing strategic skills and creating a lot of gameplay. Nine different types of amoebas ensure that gameplay is surprisingly complex, especially in the later levels. The visuals are stunning and reminiscent of watercolor paintings, lending an almost surreal feel.

As a nice introduction to the RTS genre or for more experienced players, Amoebattle is definitely a good choice. Gorgeous visuals, intuitive controls, complex gameplay, what's not to like? Other than wandering around and being attacked by infected organisms, that is.


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Block Rogue

DoraIn Buzz Monkey Software's deceptively simple and devilishly addictive little fantasy-themed sokoban puzzler Block Rogue for iOS and Android, you're setting yourself up for adventure, boulders, beasts, lasers... and that's the good news! You awaken on the floor of a mysterious tomb unable to remember who you are or what you were doing, but a helpful magic mirror on the wall informs you that you were searching for a powerful magical tome with one big side-effect: amnesia. With no way out but forward, you'll have to utilize your incredible brain and block-pushing skills to press all the switches in each room to keep moving onwards. In each stage, the magic mirror will have something new to tell you about yourself and your task, but with 325 potential puzzle rooms to solve and a randomized option for endless other variations, you might be trapped down here a while.

Block RogueJust swipe to move your hero one space in that direction. The goal in each room is to press all the switches with blocks and the like to open the paths to the next rooms. If you mess up, you can choose to undo your last move, or reset the entire room. Pretty simple, right?... riiiight up until they start adding the switches, the rolling boulders, the lasers, the niggling notion that maybe magic talking mirrors are a little suspicious... Each room has two doors to choose from when you finish it, and although you'll only have to beat twenty-five of them in a single playthrough, there are a whopping 325 rooms to encounter. Well... actually a bit more than that since Block Rogue features the option to get randomised puzzles, which extends the replayability of this one by rather a lot.

Block Rogue is one of those little gems of puzzle gaming in that it succeeds so brilliantly at what it sets out to do. The gameplay is easy to grasp with adorable cartoon visuals, and introduces just enough new elements at the right pace as you progress to keep things challenging no matter what difficulty you're playing on. Repetitive? Probably. If you're not enough of a sokoban fan to play a game that consists entirely of them you might want to pass this one by. But if you want a whole lot of gameplay bang for your buck and the ability to play a polished and gorgeous little puzzle title effectively forever, then this one is definitely worth checking out.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an HTC One S. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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miniquests.gifJohnBTiny world, tiny problems, right? More like "not right". Er, yeah. Anyway, Mini Quests is a pint-sized adventure/puzzle game by dishmoth available for Android devices and as a Java Applet for browsers. The chunky-pixeled isometric game puts you in control of a little guy out on an adventure, trudging through the fantasy lands as he hunts for treasure and fights/puzzles his way out of various scrapes, like you do!

Tap the corners of the screen to move in the mobile version, and swipe to fire your weapon in the direction you're facing. Browser players can use a number of keyboard combinations, including [WASD] to move and the [spacebar] to fire. Move across the overworld map and tap the dungeon level when you encounter one. Once inside, you'll encounter a puzzle per room, each containing a fair selection of buttons to press, enemies to stun or destroy, rotating laser statues of death, floors that drop into lava pits, and so on.

Mini Quests, as the name might imply, is a fairly short game with just a few dungeons to work through and a small world to explore. The puzzles are pretty standard for the genre, but that doesn't mean they aren't just as intriguing or challenging to solve. It's the perfect bit of casual entertainment for when you don't have the time for a solid RPG but still want to go out and be an adventurer!

Play Mini Quests

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an HTC Incredible. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Mobile Monday

JohnBIt seems like nostalgia is hitting mobile game developers hard in recent weeks. Several classic series from the good old days of video games have been flirting with iOS and Android markets, making appearances in the form of official and unofficial ports, for free and for a little cash. Aah, the things we'll do to have every game we've ever loved on every device we can ever own!

Mobile MondayFaux Theme Hospital killed - Not too long ago, an unofficial paid port of the terribly awesome simulation game Theme Hospital appeared on Google Play. Android gamers snatched it up quickly, right before the developer changed the name to CrazyHospital and split the game into multiple, separate downloads, presumably to evade lawyers. Well, the game has been pulled for unknown reasons (but, really, duh), so for the time being, we'll have to be content with the downloadable version of Theme Hospital recently released on GOG.com.

Mobile MondayFinal Fantasy Dimensions for iOS/Android - Square-Enix recently slipped a quiet little note past journalists that said a new Final Fantasy game is headed for iOS and Android devices: Final Fantasy Dimensions. The game is said to feature 2D pixel art, a job-driven character growth system, and a "classic story of light and darkness". Sounds like Final Fantasy to us! Sleuthy-type folk have intelligently surmised the game will be a port of the episodic 2010 Japanese cell phone game Final Fantasy Legends. No matter what it's going to be, the game is set to be released in a month or two, so the wait won't be that unbearable.

Mobile MondayHalo team's Marathon on iOS for free - Bungie, the team behind the really rather awesome first person shooter series Halo, started their foray into the first person shooter realm with a few non-Halo games, some of the most notable of which are the Marathon series. Now, with the company's blessing, Daniel Blezek has ported the entire Marathon trilogy to iOS, complete with competent touch screen controls and a lovely price tag of free. How's that for awesome nostalgia?

Got some delicious info on an upcoming mobile release, current event, or other tasty news tidbit? We want to know! Send an e-mail with "Mobile Monday" in the subject line to johnb AT casualgameplay DOT com. We'll sift through the submissions and feature our favorites on a Mobile Monday article! Keen!


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Red Rolling Hood

MeaghanOnce upon a time an independent company by the name of Holymountain Games decided that it was time to spice up that old school Red Riding Hood story. What they came up with was Red Rolling Hood, a puzzle platformer with a fearless red hooded heroine still determined to save her dear old granny. You would think by now that granny would have wised up and maybe purchased a lock on her door or a sawed-off shotgun. Either way she still hasn't learned her lesson about big bad wolves and it's up to you to rescue her.

Red Rolling HoodThe default mechanics for the game uses the [spacebar] for jumping and the [ASD] keys for moving left, right, and down. Hitting [enter] will let you use a gravity well when you're standing on top of it. Gravity wells are the main mechanic of the game and allow you to turn the screen left or right depending on which direction you choose. Many of the puzzles will require you to shift the world in order to obtain golden apples and to reach your grandma before that mean wolf snatches her away again. Pressing [Z] will adjust the camera angle, and if you get yourself in a tricky situation and want to restart the level, simply press [R].

With four seasons packing a whopping 24 levels each (that's 96 in total) you're guaranteed several hours of gravity shifting, spike avoiding, grandma saving entertainment. The world turning puzzles range from simplistic to challenging without giving you the impression someone is playing a cruel joke with a game that's impossible to beat. Red Rolling Hood packs enough complex puzzles in with its bargain price tag to make it worth your time, especially if you're always wanted to kick some butt as Little Red Riding Hood!

Play Red Rolling Hood (demo)

WindowsWindows:
Play the demo
Get the full version (Desura)

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


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Rating: 4/5 (106 votes)
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ArtbegottiThe PowerIt's amazing what you can find when you search for ancient artifacts. For example, one of our Weekend Download features from 2008 has been recently re-released for your browser-based enjoyment. The Power is a Metroidvania-like shooter where you play as an artifact collector who stumbles onto an unknown planet. What is The Power that runs the planet, and what does receiving The Power mean?

Use the [arrow] keys to move around the neon-lit world and [up] to jump. To start, you only have your beam gun to protect yourself (shoot with [X]), but over time you acquire mines, missiles, and other gadgets to aid your exploration. As you explore the many layers of the planet, you'll run into many difficult boss fights (sometimes without any warning), so be sure to save at the pink S stations whenever you can. If you can weather the challenge and stick it out through a long and arduous trek across the mysterious planet, you just might discover what having The Power means. Get exploring!

Play The Power


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Rating: 4.6/5 (181 votes)
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JeremyWentworthFrom the twisted minds at ClickShake (Steve Castro and Jay Ziebarth) comes this polished little gem of a point-and-click adventure game about a space kitty named Wentworth who is on a super serious mission to plant a sapling on an alien world to see if it will grow. Which he does and then goes home. Oh, wait a sec, no he doesn't! In fact, nothing goes right, and you'll have to help him on his mission if he's ever going to see his comfy space cabin again, or have a litter box to call home.

The content of Wentworth is mild compared to other games in the ClickShake catalog, but the multiple drug references means this otherwise funny and enchanting little point-and-clicker may not suitable for your littler ones. For the rest of you consenting adults, Wentworth will prove to be the cat nip you've been craving all week.

Play Wentworth


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Rating: 4.6/5 (44 votes)
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Loren the Amazon Princess

DoraSometimes heroes aren't made, they're born. But what happens when the person suddenly responsible for the destiny of a world doesn't want anything to do with it? Loren is the beautiful, powerful, and extremely sheltered princess of the Amazons. Her prowess as a warrior may be staggering, but she has a lot to learn about the world... though she isn't really interested in doing so. But when her mother the queen vanishes, Loren is determined to track her down, and her first foray into the world beyond the castle walls might wind up being both legendary... and eye opening as she changes to become the heroine the land needs. Loren the Amazon Princess, a deep and involving tactical RPG clothed in a visual-novel style fantasy adventure.

Loren the Amazon PrincessAs either the human male Saren or the female elf Elenor, you begin the game as little more than a glorified servant to Loren, having spent your entire life a slave to the Amazon empire. At the start of the game, you'll be given a series of choices that determine your class and starting abilities before you and your taciturn princess set off to rescue the queen. Of course, in short order you quickly discover there's more going on in the world than Loren's mother disappearing, not that Loren cares about it. But whether she likes it or not, she's about to be thrust into the role of hero against an ancient, vicious enemy. Her decisions will unite and decide the fate of the entire world... and maybe even remove her own blinders and make her realise what matters and what doesn't in the grand scheme of things.

Loren is, for the most part, played like a visual novel. You'll click to travel to locations, watch events unfold, and select your choice of response from a list whenever you're given one. For the most part, this comes down to deciding your character's overall tone when talking to people, and it goes without saying that not everyone likes a smug, smarmy jerk. Loren herself tends to make most of the big decisions, however, so as the player your most important job is keeping everyone alive. This doesn't just include buying and equipping everyone's armor, weapons, and accessories like a fussy toddler pageant mom, but also handling the distribution of stat and skill points as your party levels up.

The combat is, by and large, a big portion of the meat wrapped around Loren's bones, and depending on the difficulty setting you choose can either be a walk in the corpse-strewn park, or satisfyingly challenging. It's turn based, and you can see the order in which characters and enemies will attack, allowing you to carefully plan out your actions. This is a bit more important than you might think, since many character abilities depend on others being activated first by someone else, or by a particular status effect being active on whatever enemy you're targeting. Since you can adjust the difficulty whenever you want, you'll never get stuck, and the ability to just pass on any fight that isn't plot-required means random battles are only a factor when you want to grind some levels.

Loren the Amazon PrincessAnalysis: Despite the lengthy cutscenes and dialogue, a hefty chunk of the enjoyment you'll get out of it comes down to the game's satisfyingly complex combat and the freedom to make it as challenging or simple as you like at any time. This isn't to say the story and writing aren't good, because they actually are more than competent. The plot falls into standard "big evil with destined hero" territory, but the huge and likable cast combined with the thought put into the plotting and progression to make this one to sink into. Provided you have nothing against an exceptional amount of T-and-A, that is. Even turning the censor option on doesn't make the characters look as if they're wearing anything approaching sensible armor, which, yes, is somewhat of an issue when they're otherwise presented as completely serious and competent warriors... who apparently don't feel the need to protect their soft, squishy torsos from blades or arrows. Surprisingly, the romantic and sexual scenes you'll see late in character romances are, by contrast, extremely tasteful and both tenderly and coyly written that imply rather than reveal for a more meaningful experience.

Jokes aside, Loren is actually a very lovely game if the ridiculous clothing and proportions aren't a killer for you. Characters are beautifully drawn and designed, and enemies in particular can have some great artwork representing them. Unfortunately, the visual novel style presentation means you lose out on a lot of the impact of some very important scenes. It's somewhat disappointing to read about a frantic, pitched battle or an emotional moment when all you get to see is the same character portraits stuck in the same positions staring at you like puppets against a bland background. I would dearly love to have seen a few more hand-drawn pictures depicting all those important events, and it certainly seems like stunning artwork would have been more than up to the task and delivered a more cinematic experience.

Loren the Amazon PrincessAdditionally, Loren has a rather surprising amount of romance options for the character to choose from, and for different sexual orientations as well which is a welcome addition. These courtships play out surprisingly realistically and with some real feeling and emotion that means it's easy to get wrapped up in the people your character is coming to care about. The problem is that apart from Loren, the only characters who get any real development or expression are the ones you're actively trying to romance. The rest simply wind up feeling like they're just there to drive the plot along, which is a little disappointing since there's so much rich backstory and characterisation behind each that could have added a lot to the overall story if it weren't locked away behind the romance. Fortunately, the announced expansion promises to add more quests and background story for the cast, which should go a long way towards rendering that complaint moot. In the meantime, however, I'm left feeling like Dora and I never got the chance to really connect, and somehow I think she and I could have been the bro-est of bros.

If you make active use of the freedom to save whenever you like and in different slots, the replay value for Loren mostly comes down to chasing the various love interests down. Luckily, there's an expansion on the horizon called The Castle of N'Mar, which will include three new characters (two of which are romanceable by both genders), new locations and plots, and more. As she stands right now, however, Loren the Amazon Princess is still a surprisingly deep experience with tactical combat, memorable characters, and a lengthy adventure you can lose a long time to without realising it. While how much you enjoy the complex combat will be a large factor in how much you enjoy the game, players looking for a high-fantasy adventure with a ton of love and hard work put into it will definitely want to check this one out. Just be careful about cozying up to Loren... there's something about having a girlfriend who could rip your arms off like a Wookie when she's angry that's a little frightening.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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

LinuxLinux:
Download the demo
Get the full version


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Bundles of Bundles

JohnBAs you've no doubt noticed, indie game bundles are the new "it" thing, sort of like the modern equivalent of slap bracelets or the musical stylings of Harvey Danger. How long this trend will last we're not sure, but in the meantime, everyone with a bunch of string and connections in the indie gaming market are gathering games together for new and exciting bundles. Here's a look at a few of the big bundles currently running.

Bundles of BundlesHumble Indie Bundle - The first bundle that really got everyone's attention, it can be argued that the latest Humble Indie Bundle is neither humble nor indie. Not that that's a bad thing (or even a quantifiable thing). Games include Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Psychonauts, LIMBO and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP along with soundtracks for each. If you pay more than the going average, you also get the indie RPG Bastion. As always, the HiB features a mix of Mac, Windows and Linux platforms with a pay-what-you-want model. Your "donation" can go towards a few different charities or the devs themselves. Bundle ends June 13th.

Bundles of BundlesIndie Royale Bundle - The Indie Royale Graduation Bundle packs together some very interesting choices for indie games, many of which haven't appeared in bundles or major sales. Games featured include The Void, Dead Pixels, The Ship, 1000 Amps, LaserCat, and two bonuses, AirMech and Ichi. Games usually come with Steam and Desura unlock codes as well as direct downloads for Windows and occasionally Mac platforms. Bundle ends on June 4th.

Bundles of BundlesBundle in a Box - Yep, Bundle in a Box is still going on! Debuting Jonas and Vera Kyratzes' The Sea Will Claim Everything, this adventure-themed bundle includes Gemini Rue, Ben There, Dan That!, Time Gentlemen, Please!, 1893: A World's Fair Mystery, and if you pay more than the going average, Metal Dead and The Shivah. A few bonus soundtracks and booklets are also included, along with direct downloads and unlock keys for Steam and Desura. This bundle also ends on June 4th.

Bundles of BundlesThe Indie Gala - A huge bundle that includes a dozen games, most of which are new to the bundle scene. The Indie Gala follows a slightly different model than the other bundles, allowing you to choose your donation and, depending on how much you pay, you unlock different groups of games. You'll need to pay more than $5.99 to get everything (including a few extras), but that's still a tiny price for so many titles, and chunks of the proceeds are donated to charities. Games include Beat Hazard, Battle Mages, Puzzle Kingdoms, and Space Empires 4 Deluxe. The Indie Gala ends June 9th.


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MeaghanSequesterThe existence of life after death is a tricky debate that has spanned across the world and across time. Are we spirits? Are we angels? Do we become trees? Does my spirit linger around to haunt my poor younger brother in his dreams and request he find my soul? Maybe not me but the girl in Sequester, an experimental puzzle platform game created by Tony (Antony Lavelle), is pleading with her brother to brave Limbo and its eerie entities, gather her soul, and give her peace at last. A tall order, especially for a little kid, but caution be damned! If he can't do it then what other hope is there?

You start the game in your bed. The [arrow] keys are all you'll need in terms of movement. Press [left] or [right] arrows to move left or right and use your [up] arrow to jump. When you reach a door press the [down] arrow and you'll exit the level. There are levers through the game that you must stand on to trigger. Each lever will responsible for a different colored cloud that is solid until you hit the lever. You'll know when a cloud is no longer solid because it won't sparkle. Spikes and getting caught by the dead souls means death and you will start the level over again. The game is one large cube that allows you to run left or right through open paths to come upon a new area of exploration. Falling also allows you to get to the next face of the cube. Your biggest goal is to get to the doorway and move on to the next area.

Fans of Cardboard Box Assembler and K.O.L.M will feel a small touch of nostalgia when seeing the style of Sequester. While it is very similar to both games Sequester is not as packed with the need to obtain items (like legs, or random gems) as it is about accomplishing a goal. At times all the falling into the unknown can be irksome, but it's nothing that can't be handled if you pay attention to your surroundings. With a story that will make you want to call up your sibling (or possibly that best friend who might as well be a sibling) and profess how much you care about them this game is a poignant reminder of how quickly life can be taken and how important it is to cherish the moments you do have. With equal parts eerie and touching, Sequester is not a game that will easily be forgotten. Nor is the lesson that you shouldn't touch dead things.

Play Sequester

Thanks to Unknownymus, Zach, Asaf, and Adom for sending this one in!


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MeaghanJeff's Rubbish AdventureI'm sure a very small number of people have ever dreamed of becoming a sanitation worker. However, if you have ever harbored an unfulfilled desire to clean up the dirty streets and be a hero to the environment, here's your chance! Jeff's Rubbish Adventure, a platform adventure game created by Andrew Furniss and Olivier Davies, has wrangled poor Jeff the sanitation worker into being your vessel for environmental clean-up in the grimy city of Lusio. So grab your goggles, your leaf blower, and a hefty portion of hand sanitizer because this is gonna get messy. I said it and I meant it.

Your ultimate goal is to make Lusio a cleaner place and you do this by visiting five different areas within Lusio and eradicating all trash. Each place can be revisited to earn more money. You will use your [left] and [right] arrow keys to go left or right, and the [up] arrow to jump. You're armed with a handy dandy leafblower to battle sea gulls, rats, and swarms of flies so make use of the [space] bar to blast them. Water and glass shards are less abrasive foes to keep an eye out for. If you're running low on health there are first aid kits sprinkled through each level and you need only press your [H] key to use one. Each level is littered with trash bags, glass, paper, and metal goods, all of which must be placed in the correct recycling box for the most amount of money. At the end of each level whatever trash you have remaining will be thrown away in a trash can. After a level, if you have enough money, you can purchase windmills to help clean up the city.

I'll be the first to admit that the idea of cleaning up a bunch of trash doesn't seem all that appealing, but Furniss and Davies have craftily transformed a thankless job into a wonderful game, and possibly the next best "keep the world clean," propaganda since The Lorax or Dustforce. Though the graphics aren't flashy and it would be fun to have a tool other than just a leaf blower, that doesn't detract in any way from the overall greatness of this game. The music and sound effects alone make this well worth your while but partnered up with multiple levels that can be played through over and over and an exertion free way to feel like you're making a difference. Jeff's Rubbish Adventure is the dirtiest (and most entertaining) time stealer that you'll find with a G rating.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


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DoraRizzoli & Isles: The Boston Butcher width=I feel kind of bad for these ladies. Nobody can ever be happy to see them, since every time they show up, it usually means someone's dead. Sometimes a lot of someones. That's kind of a worse reputation to get stuck with than the gal who double-dips at parties. Rizzoli & Isles: The Boston Butcher from PastelGames drags you out for another fun day of murder, motives, and mystery to solve a case point-and-click adventure style down at the docks. Turns out when a body with severed hands turns up dumped, people don't immediately think "natural causes". Click around to gather the clues in each area, making use of the detective-type tools at your disposal, and don't be afraid to stick your badge in someone's face for answers. Bonus points if you scream "I AM THE LAW" while doing so. You'll have to sleuth your way around the city and return to headquarters frequently to combine evidence to make your case stick when you eventually find a suspect.

Play all the Rizzoli & Isles games:
Rizzoli and Isles: The Masterpiece MurdersRizzoli and Isles: Boston Butcher

Make no mistake, The Boston Butcher is a gorgeous game. The artwork here is top-notch in a rich oil painting sort of way that really makes you want to sit back and let all the details sink in. Of course, you'll probably have to since that lovely artistic style unfortunately also tends to get in the way of easily identifying points of interest on site, leading to a lot of frustrating pixel-hunting as you wave your cursor over the screen like you're dowsing for water. There isn't a whole lot of direction given, so your best bet is to frequently just talk to everyone, double-check everything, and blast blood spray like you're trying to seal up your beehive hairdo. The Boston Butcher is a bit of bite-sized investigation that might require a bit much of the proverbial eagle-eye for some people, but it's an intriguing and gruesome little mystery that'll help you get your serial-killer fix for the day. Or you could just wait for Dexter to get around to it, but where's the fun in that?

Play Rizzoli & Isles: The Boston Butcher


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ArtbegottiWereBox 2Suppose you've already got one successful physics puzzle under your belt. How do you follow that up? Do you add zombies? Big explosions? A gripping action-packed storyline? More zombies? In WereBox 2, you've got to harness the power of mutating boxes, all while trying to figure out where the plot is!

Like the previous WereBox installment, you've got to knock all of the red shapes off of the screen by transforming boxes into balls and vise versa, and letting gravity, ramps, and dynamite take care of the dirty work. However, all non-red shapes must remain on the screen to pass the level. Click on a shape (including some red shapes) to change them from a box to a ball, and again to change them back. Keep in mind that you can transform a shape while it's moving, which will help when you need to set up a box in a specific spot. Meanwhile, the developers are trying to sort out an existential crisis over what the game should look like, making for a quirky romp from one setting to the next. If you're ready to get the red out, grab a hairpiece and get going!

Play WereBox 2


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TrickyBomb RunnerDo you like mini golf? Sure, we all do! But it can seem a little unexciting, especially when it's put right next to the go-karts and the skeeball. So how can you jazz it up? Well, if you're Core Studios, you put it in space! And add explosions! And trance music! And lens flare! You'll find all that in more in Bomb Runner, a physics arcade game. Admittedly, Bomb Runner doesn't call itself minigolf, but it's what any game with a central "Use the mouse to drag on a ball to determine its direction and speed, attempting to reach a target in as few shots as possible" mechanic can't help but look a lot like. To be fair, the sleek metallic aesthetic and numerous targets to hit, make pinball just as much of an inspiration.

With 24 levels (including three surprisingly fun boss fights), and its comprehensive achievement system and upgrade shop, Bomb Runner has quite a bit of replay value, even if, near the end, some of the shots seems to require as much luck as skill. Still, Bomb Runner is an entertaining diversion that's well above par... or below par... Which one is the good one again?

Play Bomb Runner


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraJune is set to convert you into a real-life 20% cooler incarnation of Indiana Jones with two particularly amazing indie games set for release on the same day. Of course, that's not all that's on the horizon. We've also got some good old fashioned childhood trauma (which is always good and good for ya), a huge interstellar journey, and, of course, yet another giveaway!

ResonanceCongratulations, You Win Terror! You know Wadjet Eye Games, right? If you like adventure games at all, you definitely should. Especially since they've combined their Wonder Twin powers with xii games for the upcoming techno-thriller adventure Resonance, which weaves a complex story about four different (but playable) characters in search for a vault left behind by a dead scientist. The game is due out on June 19th, and we want you to play it when it hits! That's why we're giving away three copies (to be delivered digitially June 19th 2012 upon release) through Good Old Games! To enter for your chance to win, just leave a comment on this article telling us which three characters from any game you would most like to go on an adventure with and why. Contest rules: Entries must be submitted by June 8th, 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT-5). Winners will be announced shortly thereafter. One entry per person only. You must be at least 13 years of age or older to enter. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. (Update: Congratulations to our winners: bandsix, Lin, Clipartman! Thank you for playing with us. :)


Among the SleepChildhood is Terrifying Chances are, you don't remember much about being a toddler other than all that diaper changing your family guilts you for. There's a good chance, however, that it was probably a pretty weird and unsettling experience at times. After all, you had no idea what was going on around you, and everything seemed strange and unreal. But what happens when something otherworldly really does happen to that young and impressionable a mind? Due out next year for PC and Mac, Krillbite Studio's "interactive experience" Among the Sleep aims to answer that question. The first-person game follows you as a two-year old put to bed one evening who wakes up late and night to discover... things have gone wrong. How much of what you are seeing is something genuinely horrific and how much is just the misperceptions of a child? You can check out the captivating and eerie gameplay video over at the official site, and follow the developer's blog for more progress. This one looks like it could be something special, and supremely creepy as well as captivating.

Tiny and Big: Grandpa's LeftoversGrandpa's... Underwear? Kids these days. All having adventures with their lasers and their grappling hooks and their wacky platforming to find their Grandfather's underpants. Amirite? Due out June 19th, Black Pants Game Studios' Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers follows nerdy inventor Tiny whose arch nemesis Big has stolen his Grandpa's bequeathed underpants and leads him on an action-packed journey to the forsaken desert. The game is available now for pre-order from Good Old Games, and if you're a fan of comic-styled adventure and humour, you'll definitely want to check it out and keep your eyes peeled for our review!

StarboundBuild Your Own Time Suck It's been a while since we talked about Starbound from Chucklefish, so let's do so again. Due out towards the end of summer this year for PC, Mac, and Linux, the sandbox adventure game is about you as one of the only survivors of the destruction of your homeworld, saved from becoming lost in space when your escape pod collides with an abandoned space station. What makes Starbound neat is that everything about every planet you'll visit is procedurally generated, from the landscape to the weather and gravity to the behaviours of the fauna and more. The game is ultimately story-driven, but you'll be free to explore, build up your ship and crew, and even colonize a new home world you can terraform to your liking. The developers just recently published the game's first playable race, the Avians, but the entire site is packed with fascinating information and gorgeous screenshots. Keep your eyes peeled for this, and join me in the bushes as I camp this one out.

Build a BundleBuild Your Own Time Suck If you like all these pay-what-you-want bundles of indie games but often find that you aren't really interested in all of the games offered in them, the Build a Bundle might be for you. Choose at least three but up to twelve of the twelve titles available, such as The Ball or Nikopol, and set your price. The minimum is a measly $1.00USD, but surely even one of these great titles is worth more than that! Plus, 20% of each dollar goes to polar bears... saving them, I mean, since I don't think polar bears are after money when they maul people. The ability to pick and choose what you want from the selection is a great idea, and definitely makes this one sale worth checking out.

Games for GirlsGender Does Not Dictate High Scores If you're of the female persuasion and play video games of any sort, you've probably been dragged into a debate about women and gaming at some point whether you want to or not. The concept of female gamers as being separate somehow and having hardwired different tastes from their male counterparts simply because of their reproductive bits is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, so Kotaku's recent article titled She Tried to Make Good Video Games for Girls (Whatever That Meant) was an interesting read. It focuses on Brenda Laurel's failed Purple Moon company, which dedicated itself to working with the idea of games for young girls. Making games "for" girls and women has always been a tricky concept, since the idea of what females like is, obviously, huge and varied. (Though I tend to believe we just like good games.) What do you guys think? Are there any particular indie or browser games out there you would consider as being more geared at females, and why?

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!

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