August 2012 Archives


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (393)

Gothic Fiction

DoraYou know, admittedly I'm not a parent, but I don't think having your child admitted to a school that looks like it's auditioning for Most Haunted and Structurally Unsound Establishment of the Year is such a great idea. But maybe the heroine of Gothic Fiction: Dark Saga, ERS Game Studio's latest horror adventure, knows some parenting technique I don't... like having your daughter kidnapped by the bloodthirsty spirit of a witch is a great way to encourage fiscal responsibility or teach her the importance of... safe driving, or whatever. That's what you do with kids, right? But assuming you want to rescue this one, saddle up for an easy but cinematic, stylish, and fantastically over-the-top cheesy adventure that fans of late-night budget horror movie marathons will love.

Gothic Fiction: Dark SagaSo, the witch. As you might have surmised, she's not particularly friendly, and her spirit has been wreaking havoc as she prepares for a dark ritual... and dark rituals are rarely a good thing. If you want to stop her and rescue not only your daughter but other restless souls, you'll need to track down all the pages of a mysterious tome, gather mystical energy in a jar (FEAR THE COLD EMBRACE OF MASON GLASS, FIEND), and stop the witch from completing her centuries-old evil plan. Though considering we're talking about "dark forces" that can be combated with night lights, you probably don't need to panic too much. The witch is also thoughtful enough to allow you to pick up a magic map that clearly shows your location and all the objectives in each area, so maybe she isn't so bad after all. Click around to solve puzzles, gather clues, and deal with movie-quoting malicious monster plants. You know... regular stuff. You can swap between the game's three difficulty settings at any time under the options menu, and the hint and skip functions you know and love also have your back.

Gothic Fiction: Dark SagaAnalysis: If Gothic Fiction: Dark Saga could talk, it would say "Wheeeeeeeeee!" From presentation to story, this is simply a gloriously over-dramatic little gem with the sort of ghoulish style you'd expect to find from something starring Elvira. The somewhat cartoonish vibe given off by the design, which is redolent with monster eyeballs, ghostly apparitions, and radioactive green limbs, might not appeal to everyone. But if you want solidly entertaining with a great flair for the dramatic? Consider making a date with this game. The design is flashy and creative, the story moves along at a brisk pace, and there's a lot to see and do. Like outfit a knight with magic fireflies. A little silly? Sure. But also a lot of fun. You'll get to wield magic weapons, rescue and get help from creepy ghost girls, and more. That's basically my ideal weekend right there.

What the game doesn't do is necessarily a whole lot of innovation, with familiar tropes and puzzles and gameplay as a whole that don't provide much of a challenge. The constant barrage of CGI and flashy effects are also a bit much at times unless you're the sort of person who walks into a room stuffed with flashes and fog and goes, "This isn't particle-effect-y enough. It could be particle-effect-y-er." Though the game is littered with items everywhere for you to find, there aren't actually any hidden-object scenes to play, which is good news for fans of more adventure-centric experiences.

The low level of difficulty means that it almost feels as if Gothic Fiction: Dark Saga is really aimed at the most casual of the casual game fans, but there's enough to see and do that you'll still be busy for quite a while... around four hours or so. You'll want to try the demo before you buy as always, but if you want a flamboyantly ghoulish adventure game with a gentle challenge level and high production values, give this one a try. And, uh... maybe if the only school available in your new town is constantly lit by dramatic thunderstorms and always echoes with malicious, untraceable laughter... consider homeschooling?

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 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (231 votes)
| Comments (11) | Views (898)

DoraKnightmare TowerJuicyBeast wants you to save some princesses at the cost of slaying your productivity in their addictive new arcade launch game, Knightmare Tower. Using the [arrow] keys or the mouse to move and attack, launch your knight up a tower packed with enemies to slice-and-dice, earning gold for upgrades to help you climb higher and rescue princesses along the way. Slicing up enemies will help keep you bouncing upwards, but take three hits or fall into the lava when it catches up with you and you'll have to launch again. Complete "quests" by meeting certain achievement criteria and you'll get even more gold, which is probably a good thing since that rickety rocket-powered barrel isn't exactly the most glorious of "trusty steeds" we've ever seen.

It's easy to make a simple arcade game, but making that simple arcade game addictive and fun is a lot harder. With its adorable, cartoony monster giblets and "just one more launch" style gameplay, however, Knightmare Tower is hard to put down. Though it's definitely heavy on grinding and repetition, the grin-inducing style and fast-paced, easy to master gameplay make it a winner for players looking for something snappy and casual to fill some time. If you have the reflexes for the chaotic action and aren't afraid of a little grinding, especially if achievement-based incentives fill you with glee, Knightmare Tower is weird in a wonderful way and will eat up all the time you give it. So leap aside your barrel (watch for splinters!) and keep on shootin' for that big ol' princess bonanza in the sky.

Play Knightmare Tower


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (9) | Views (159)

DoraEerie Estate AgentAfter so many games that let you play as a hero, you might think you're prepared for anything. You're wrong. Can you handle a class so powerful, a job so potent, that Dungeon and Dragons once rejected it on the grounds of it being unfair to every other class and monster in the game? Dare you take up the mantle of... real estate agent?! Choice of Games and Gavin Inglis join forces to deliver Eerie Estate Agent, a text adventure about closing deals and quieting spirits. In an estate agency lorded over by a formidable permed and tweed-suited boss referred to in hushed tones as "The Crocodile", sales are everything, at any cost... especially if you want to stay employed. You've got six months to prove you can generate cash for the company, but when the property you're handed to demonstrate your worth turns out to have some rather otherworldly problems, you'll have to figure out what keeping your job is worth to you.

Unlike other Choice of Games titles, Eerie Estate Agent only has you managing a handful of statistics. You'll want to do your best to stay in the Crocodile's good graces, keep an eye on how cut-throat you're willing to be, and how hard you're working in general. Of course, you'll also need to work on generating cash, and managing how well your personal life manages alongside the demands of your job... after all, all work and no play makes you go something something. However, here the point of the game is less about "winning" and more about playing and choosing the responses and reactions that work for you. How do you deal with a rival coworker? Are you willing to do anything regardless of the consequences to anyone else to close a sale? Do you investigate that strange door to the cellar? Though the game automatically logs and saves your progress for you, you can't save and reload manually, so consider all decisions final and give a little thought to their outcomes before you click.

Eerie Estate Agent is one of those rare text adventures whose breezy, engaging dialogue is so effortlessly glib and chatty it's a little enviable. Despite some genuinely creepy moments, it's funny without ever feeling like it's trying hard to be so, balancing humour both dry and dark. While it lacks a great deal of character customisation, the decision to avoid a lot of stats to worry about is a smart one, since it lets you sink right into it like a good book. In a way, it feels a lot more like a traditional Choose Your Own Adventure novel than you might expect, so chances are you're really going to wish you could save and reload whenever you like just to see where different choices take you.

Of course, how much you see depends on how hands-on you decide to get as an agent, and depending on how you play your cards, Crowther Terrace might have more than one tenant throughout the course of the game with drastically different experiences. Players looking for a more serious narrative or the simulation aspect of other Choice of Games titles might be disappointed, but with a comparatively more light-hearted tone and adventure, Eerie Estate Agent is one of those games you can't help but want to play through in one sitting. There are a lot of different endings to find, and a surprising bit of randomisation to boot. Compulsively playable, cheeky, and charming, Eerie Estate Agent showcases Gavin Inglis's writing talents admirably and delivers a fun and occasionally freaky adventure.

Play Eerie Estate Agent


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (74)

Blast-A-Way

JohnBIllusion Labs wants to send you on an adorable quest to rescue lost boxies while you play with colored bombs and blow up everything in sight! And it's a quest you should gleefully accept, as the team's latest mobile offering Blast-A-Way is packed with all the right gameplay elements seasoned with sweetly delicious art style that makes you feel like you're four years old playing with blocks in your room. Only, you know, now you've got bombs.

Blast-A-WayOne bright but cloudy day, the Boxies, being the curious little critters they are, decided to climb to the top of the Sticky Bomb tower to check out, well, the sticky bomb. Turns out that wasn't such a great idea, and when the bomb goes off, all the little boxies get scattered to the winds. That leaves you and a few grown-up pals to puzzle your way through a series of gorgeously-rendered 3D levels, using bombs and teleporter orbs to move around and collect lost boxies. Somehow, it makes the fact that you're blowing up things with bombs seem so cute and cuddly!

Tap a big boxie and drag to set a walking path which the selected character immediately begins to follow. When you pick up a bomb, tap and hold where you want to throw it, then release when the moving arc selector points to the type of throw you need (shallow, high and sharp, etc.). The bomb flies from your hand and does its thing, destroying blocks of the same color, bouncing off of other blocks, and knocking things all around the stage. There are different types of bombs to use, including bombs that go off on impact as well as sticky bombs, and later you get cool things like teleportation orbs and a sort of reverse bomb that repairs destroyed blocks. Things get pretty intricate pretty fast, showing that this game isn't afraid to flex its puzzle-power muscle.

Blast-A-WayEven though you don't have to grab every single boxie in every level, collecting them is the only way to unlock new worlds, so you'll quite naturally want to "catch 'em all", if you get my drift. Later stages also introduce multiple characters you can control, using each one to open passageways and remove blocks so the rest of them can walk about more freely.

Analysis: Blast-A-Way has a very sunny, ilomilo meets iBlast Moki 2 vibe to it, and if you've played either of those two games, you'll know that's high praise indeed. Irresistibly playable is a good way to describe it, as the satisfaction of blowing up "toy" blocks while figuring out exactly how to work your way through each level is so very very fun, and Blast-A-Way offers enough challenge and content to be worthy of your time investment.

The controls, while sufficient and easy to adapt to, leave a little to be desired, owing largely to the lack of physical buttons on the iOS platform. Drawing paths for your characters to follow is fine, but it isn't nearly as precise or responsive as actually moving the guy with a separate analog stick. Sliding, panning and rotating the camera is accomplished with one and two fingered swipes, so there's no problem there, but aiming bombs with a flat screen in a 3D world does require a little practice.

If you don't mind the relatively high price tag (worth it considering the high production values and 80 levels to complete) and you're a master at manipulating all sorts of games with a touch screen, Blast-A-Way will give you nothing but color-filled bliss for hours and hours on end. And even if you're a fan of physical buttons in games, you'll have a hard time saying no to a game that's put together as smartly as this one!

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.


| Comments (3) | Views (9)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraI, uh. Had a whole opening planned here. It was pretty clever. Lots of jokes, carefully constructed like a dwarven masterwork, a little cutting pop culture commentary, a truth about the universe that would have changed your life... yeah. It was pretty awesome. But then the first news item on this entry happened and I... uh... bye!

Defender's QuestLike You Needed Another Excuse to Play Again Level Up Labs unleashes with a sword of +10 against productivity with this anticipated Gold release of their smash-hit RPG/adventure/tower defense hybrid Defender's Quest. The game, which strikes a near-perfect balance between serious fantasy and some of the funniest humour around, is one of those rare titles, indie or otherwise, that I find myself drawn back to play compulsively again and again. The update is free, though if you haven't already bought the game, the price is now $9.99USD... and trust me, I can't recommend it enough, so try the free browser demo. The full changelog can be found here, but this is basically a huge update, with tons of new content, artwork, and even a new game mode on top of a bunch of bug fixes. You can't go wrong, and as soon as I'm done with you fine smelling folks, I'm hitting it up myself. See ya!

Sir, You Are Being HuntedRelease the Mechanical Hounds! We've talked before about Big Robot's upcoming first-person open-world survival game Sir, You Are Being Hunted, and now we can finally take a look at the first trailer! Though somewhat light on action, it showcases some fantastic landscapes and really highlights the eerie, oppressive (and somewhat surreal!) atmosphere of the game. About what you'd expect in a title where you're a human being hunted for sport by dapper robots and their hounds! Sir, You Are Being Hunted hits next year for PC, Mac, and Linux, and we couldn't be more excited. Check out the forums for even more details, and start whipping yourself into robot-fighting shape now.

In Verbis VirtusFus Ro ABRACADABRA! Indomitus Games is betting you love yelling at stuff, because they're hard at work on something neat. In Verbis Virtus is a first-person action puzzle adventure where you play as a wizard who speaks incantations to cast spells... literally! You need a microphone to play, since it's your voice that must correctly pronounce and trigger the magic you want to cast. It's a clever idea, and one can only hope someone will eventually mod in a little Hermione Granger to nag us on our proper pronunciation ("It's levi-O-sa, not levio-SA"). If you've got a mic, give the demo a try, and we can just pretend you haven't been waiting all your life to incinerate someone with a word.

Knock-KnockWho's th-OH DEAR SWEET CELESTIA! Ice-Pick Lodge's upcoming survival horror "hide-and-seek" game Knock-Knock has already been successfully funded on Kickstarter, but there's still time to donate, and the game is so neat in concept we had to share it with you folks. You play a hermit with a house in the woods which is, at night, beset by all manner of horrible creatures, and it's your task to stay alive, and sane, until sunrise by finding ways to keep them out, avoid the ones already inside, and maintain the house that you get to build yourself! The style is gorgeous and the concept deliciously ghoulish, and with ports for iOS and Android planned if they reach a certain point, you'll definitely want to invest some time in checking this one out.

Worlds BeyondEverything Old is New Again Like retro RPGs? So does Bridge Unit Orzo, and they're hoping you'll help them make their classic sci-fantasy RPG title Worlds Beyond become a reality! Within the story, the universe has collapsed into nothingness, leaving only a few people trapped in one remaining pocket of existence, wondering if there are others out there... until the day Cody and his friend Kira uncover a conspiracy surrounding a new technology. The vibe is distinctly old-school, with combat and gameplay inspired by everything from the early Phantasy Star series, to Final Fantasy, and even Super Mario RPG, which is kind of like shooting a nostalgia-laden dart straight into the heart of any gamer pushing 30. They're asking for $20,000.00USD, with $1,406.00USD raised and 36 days to go as of this writing, and a donation of $10.00USD is enough to get you a digital copy of the game once it's released. It looks fantastic, so check it 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!


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (25 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (727)

Granny Smith

JohnBGranny Smith is lounging about with apples in her eyes when suddenly a whippersnapper of a thief skates by and robs her trees bare. Naturally, granny immediately heads out to get her fruit back! This would be a rather boring game idea until you consider the following: the apples are strewn from country to city and beyond, and both granny and the kid are on rollerskates! Granny Smith, from Sprinkle creator Mediocre, is kind of a stunt game, kind of a physics game, and most definitely a racing game. But where it really scores big is in simple playability and that magic formula that makes you want to keep playing no matter how many times you die.

Granny SmithYou have two basic moves in Granny Smith: jumping, and latching on to wires with your cane. When you press the jump icon, granny leaps and rotates clockwise in the air. You have to time your presses right so she lands on her feet. Score the perfect landing and you're golden, but flub the dismount and you'll not only fall behind, but you'll lose precious coins as well. Coins are useful for buying power-ups like banana peels and baseballs, or for skipping levels that are giving you trouble. You can even spend coins to unlock a few new characters, though you naturally gain access to them once you complete certain stages.

Analysis: Granny Smith plays like a wonderful intermixing of stunt and racing genres, and it doesn't rely too heavily on either to provide its thrills. You're limited to rotating clockwise, meaning you have to plan ahead if you want to land correctly or be in position to grab power lines and the like. One mistake and you'll wipe out, which doesn't put you too far behind, but it's enough to make you think before you over-rotate. Once you get into loops and reverse leaps, you'll begin to see just how far this simple spinning mechanic can get you!

Granny SmithPerhaps the most satisfying part of Granny Smith is its breakable environments. Many walls, floors, and ceilings will crumble when granny or the thief comes a-knockin', an event that slows you down a little but is often the only way to proceed. You can use these strategically to slow down the thief while you skate by unhindered, but it's so much fun to crash through a brick wall that you'll usually reserve that right for yourself. Granny got some skills.

Granny Smith's level design is a definite strength, and after the first dozen or so stages you'll start to see how creative developer Mediocre got with the layouts. Reverse loops? Check. Trapeze bars tucked into lines, on ledges, and at the end of buildings? Definite check. Falling on your face and starting over again quickly becomes a part of the experience, but there's just something about Granny Smith that makes you want to keep trying until you get it right. And besides, the worst that'll happen is you'll spend a few coins to skip the level. Everyone's a winner!

Another great looking release from the Sprinkle crew, one that provides hours of entertainment without a steep learning curve. Be sure to check out your vintage-style replays after completing a level. Great for admiring your talent (or luck) on skates!

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 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (47 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (1,001)

DoraThe Last Stand - Dead ZoneSo who were you before the world ended? Fry cook... preschool teacher... dashing gaming journalist with fabulous, flowing curly locks? Well, none of that matters anymore, since zombies don't really care about your yearly income or hair care products. Who you were doesn't matter so much as what you are now... a survivor, and, potentially, a leader and hero. In Con Artist Games' real time action-adventure simulation The Last Stand - Dead Zone, you're scrounging out an existence in the remains of Union City.

Dead Zone is a little bit of everything, except Christopher Walken, unfortunately. You're in charge of a struggling compound that might not look like much now, but could become a bustling hive of humanity if you can scavenge supplies and defend it both from the undead horde and greedy raiders, in addition to attracting more survivors. Food, water, and other supplies like weapons and building materials can be gathered by sending your survivors off on missions, which you can choose to play yourself, or have automated. Since everything takes place in real time, you might have to wait a whole for your crew to return if you sent them far away, so think twice about who stays behind. Certain classes are better at healing, fighting, or finding things quickly, so pay attention to who might make a better meat shield and who is better suited to rooting through piles of rotten food and rusty nails.

The Last Stand - Dead ZoneWhile in your compound, gameplay mostly consists of a top-down style management simulation, directing your crew to tasks like clearing rubble or harvesting supplies from gardens or water collectors. From here, you can manage equipment, upgrade structures, and build everything from objects of comfort like beds and showers, to important security features like walls and blockades... as long as you have the supplies. If you want to venture outside, hit up the city map for a look at nearby structures and what you can scavenge from them, choosing a team and sending them out. If you choose to play the mission yourself rather than automate it, you'll have to manually direct your teammates to task. They'll attack anything that comes in range, but you'll need to move them around the map and tell them what to scavenge. Need to finish something more quickly, or just get a bit of extra help? Fuel is a special currency you can purchase through optional in-game microtransactions or potentially find freely on missions, and can be spent on everything from refilling supplies, to instantly accomplishing tasks, and more.

Analysis: Dead Zone is perhaps one of the best looking flash games around, but it's not just another pretty rotting face. The Farmville-esque approach to timing and progression won't appeal to everyone, but with considerably more depth to its structure and overall gameplay, Dead Zone manages to avoid the trap of feeling like it's pushing busywork on you. Tweaking the layout of your compound is surprisingly addictive, and you'll need to put some careful thought into your defenses to get the most out of your security. Watching your blockades successfully keep attackers at bay and seeing your compound gradually flourish into a site teeming with activity is immensely satisfying.

The downside? There's not quite enough to do just yet. The more you play, the more repetitive it feels, with an overall lack of variety to the missions and fetch quests that will eventually tempt you to automate all of them. You kind of wish for a bigger emphasis on story to entice you to keep playing, like in Union City, and if side-quests had more of an unfolding narrative over missions I might never have put it down. Of course, since the game is in Beta as of this writing, you can only expect more to come, and new locations and environments are already on the horizon. The Last Stand - Dead Zone still has a few kinks to be ironed out, but is already one of the most impressive free simulation games around. Though if you're like me and have difficulty keeping potted plants and sea monkeys alive for more than 48 hours, you might find this one a bit of a challenge.

Play The Last Stand - Dead Zone


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (59 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (103)

Cargo Bridge 2JohnBMovers over here, cargo over there. Can you guess whose job it is to make sure everything gets across the screen safely? Well, it's the movers' job, but since you control their actions and are also responsible for bridging gaps in this sparsely-platformed world, the task essentially falls to you. But that's ok, since Cargo Bridge 2, Limex Games' sequel to the 2009 browser game Cargo Bridge, is all about smart physics and crazy building goals. Construct sturdy pathways from one side of the screen to the other, all without going over budget.

Cargo Bridge 2 gives you two basic modes to work in: blueprint, and testing. In blueprint mode, use the mouse to select girders and other building materials, then draw them across gaps in the ground, carefully connecting everything to the fixed nodes. Once all is secure, enter test mode and get the movers working. Click on the left or right side of each mover to send him walking in that direction. Assuming your beautiful bridges don't collapse on the walk to the cargo, each mover automatically takes hold of something (be it a crate, a lamp, a stuffed animal, or an elephant) and awaits your instructions. When you're ready, send each one back across, timing their moves so you don't overtax your structures and everyone and everything makes it back to base in one piece.

Cargo Bridge 2 isn't just a glorified level pack build from the original mold. It includes a number of new features that smooth out the interface and add new features to the game. The power-up shop features usable items you can activate while building, including longer connections and the ability to spend beyond your monetary limit. Very useful for those levels you just can't seem to wrap your head around. There's also a K.I.S.S. award for each level, an achievement of sorts that rewards you for keeping your structure below eight girders.

Best of all, Cargo Bridge 2 includes a level editor along with access to community-created stages. In other words, you'll never run out of bridges to build or holes to fall into! Time to sit down and brush up on your girder laying/cable attaching skills, it's going to be a long and entertaining ride!

Play Cargo Bridge 2


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (92 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (231)

ArtbegottiColor Link-a-Pix Light Vol. 2Social gaming is all about finding someone just like you, reaching out, and making a connection. Conceptis Puzzles' Color Link-a-Pix Light Vol. 2 isn't exactly a social game (in fact, it's really not a social game at all, it's just a lovely metaphor), but you can use the same idea in this logic puzzle bonanza. You've got to find two similar numbers (both in quantity and color) and click and drag to join them together. The number represents how many squares are in the path joining them (endpoints included), meaning pairs of 2s will be adjacent to each other, 3s will have one space between them, and 1s can be colored in without making any connection at all. There's only one way to pair off all of the numbers, and finding the correct connections will result in a snazzy picture for your efforts.

This new puzzle pack contains ten vibrant Link-a-Pix puzzles to solve. It might not be as many as the previous Conceptis Light installment of Color Link-a-Pix puzzles, but the size of each puzzle has been upped to a larger 25x25 grid, meaning there are more links to build and more detailed images to uncover. Take some time to reach out and make some connections with this fresh batch of puzzles.

Play Color Link-a-Pix Light Vol. 2


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (257 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (1,159)

DoraKingdom of Liars 1In the first installment of the new point-and-click dark fantasy adventure from Hyptosis, Kingdom of Liars 1, your career as the newest member of the Hernessian Guard doesn't exactly begin with the best of omens. Then again, you are now living in what they call The City of Rats, so you probably weren't expecting a cakewalk to begin with. Click to interact, and pay attention to the way your cursor changes to denote people to speak to, items of interest, or objects to pick up. Once something is in your inventory, just click to select it, and then again wherever you want to use it.

Kingdom of Liars is a short but fascinating little game that really showcases how far Hyptosis has come in his work. The way descriptions pop up when you mouse over items and the cursor changes over certain areas eliminates a lot of random clicking, letting you just scan around to take in all the little textual details. The artwork is pretty darned gorgeous, with imaginative, eerie designs, and since it this game exists in the same world as some of Hyptosis' other titles, fans will welcome the chance to explore a bit more. The downside? The game is so linear it's easy, with the last and really only puzzle perhaps posing a bit of confusion due to some awkward wording. Kingdom of Liars is full of creative ideas and boasts a much tidier user interface than we've seen from the developer before, and though it might be over before you're done with your coffee break, represents the start of an intriguing new mystery.

Play Kingdom of Liars 1


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (173 votes)
| Comments (83) | Views (861)

Jahooma's LogicBoxSonicLoverBrightly colored shapes and arrows. Classical music. Devious programming puzzles. What do they all have in common? They're all key ingredients in Jahooma's LogicBox, a rather apt name for a game involving lots of boxes and logic and made by a developer named Jahooma.

The tutorial on the first level does a pretty good job of explaining things, but here's a summary: place circles and squares on the grid so that whatever input goes in comes out with the appropriate alterations and/or in the appropriate directions according to the given rules. To accomplish this, place circles and squares on the board by dragging and dropping with the mouse. Everything is click-drag-drop: drop components on and off the grid, drag their arrows to change their output direction, click "go!" to test your solution. Mouse over the description on the bottom to find out more about any component, or the goal at the top to learn more about what you're trying to do. The three smaller buttons beneath the Go button let you pause the simulation, change its speed, or advance it one step at a time.

Best of Casual Gameplay 2012Like SpaceChem and Robot Unlock before it, Jahooma's LogicBox is a game for programmers, and a good one at that. The tutorial does a great job of explaining things, although the ability to skip it would have been appreciated by the less patient. The graphics and audio are entertaining enough to keep you around, yet minimalistic enough not to distract you. At 18 levels including 4 challenge levels, LogicBox is a little short, but Jahooma promises much more to come. The difficulty curve is perfect and does a good job of making sure you learn what you're supposed to. There's a lot to learn, too, such as memory loading/saving and even recursion, and some completed levels even reappear as components in later levels! One word of warning... components are differentiated by their color, so this might not be a game for the colorblind.

Overall it's not a game to be overlooked, so put your programmer's hat on and come fulfill your daily colored shape quota. What are you waiting for?

Play Jahooma's LogicBox

Thanks to Satori for sending this one in!


  • Currently 3.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.5/5 (38 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (9)

TrickyPina PonyCall it base sentimentality, but sometimes what we really need is a game where a pixelated pinata escapes a birthday party, then races through a magical candy kingdom, collecting gummi bears and dodging sugar-hungry bat-wielding toddlers. Gameshot apparently has recognized this Jungian urge and delivers with Pina Pony, a retro jump and run platformer that's about as cute as it comes.

Pina Pony offers a number of different control schemes.You can choose to move left and right with [A]/[D] or [left]/[right], and jump and double jump with the [spacebar], or use the mouse to move and click to jump. A one-button jump-only mode is also available. In the game, you constantly move forward Canabalt-style, jumping over spikes, gaps, and enemies. Collect sweets to earn points, and green arrow icons to add to your supply of double jumps. Watch out for those Question Marks though. They'll turn your whole world upside down! Pina Pony is a little bit slight, with the only goal being a high score. However, it has such a joy and fun lack of irony to it, that it's hard not to glue a smile to your face as you bounce along. Like a bag of Skittles, Pina Pony may not fill you up, but it's fun and colorful, and definitely a sweet snack.

Play Pina Pony


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (155 votes)
| Comments (21) | Views (245)

Weekday Escape

GrinnypAh, sunflowers, nature's miniature suns. These lovely blossoms have been hugely popular since the Spanish brought them back from the new world in the 16th century, and they can be found everywhere, from the most popular paintings of Vincent Van Gogh to the symbol for Veganism. The sunflower is a symbol of light, and the title and theme of this week's room escape is derived from that lovely flower, Sunflow.

SunflowOnce again Tomatea treats us to a beautifully decorated room bathed in sunlight and the aforementioned flowers. Both items are more than decorative themes though, as they play a vital role in solving the plethora of delightful puzzles to be found in the space. Tomatea's unique changing cursor, which gently glows when a clickable area has been found, has never been more appropriate than in Sunflow. Navigation is the usual bars on the sides and bottom of the screen, and the basic game design is of course up to the high standards of the designer with an intuitive inventory and a lovely musical accompaniment.

A save feature would be nice but it is not completely necessary in a game as short as Sunflow. The puzzles are logical and progress quite nicely, although since a few are color-based the game might be difficult for those with vision problems. Whatever the time of year or the time of day, though, check out Sunflow and bask in the glow of room escaping done right, the Tomatea way.

Play Sunflow


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (34 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (12)

DoraQuietus 2Come on, baby, don't fear the Reaper. Mainly because he's your only ticket into heaven after you squandered your last chance, and your materially rich but miserable life has gotten you booted right back down to the ol' H-E-Double-Hockeysticks once again. But in Connor Ullmann's challenging infernal platformer Quietus 2, you've got another shot at the pearly gates if you can safely escort a lost soul who doesn't deserve to be there out of the depths. Man, why can't the Reaper ever ask you to do anything simple, like alphabetize his comic collection or pick up his mom from the airport? I can't help but feel like he's exploiting the power dynamic in this relationship a little.

Use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move and jump over obstacles, heading for the exit to go further down on either side of the screen in each stage. If you get hit, you'll be bumped back to where you fell down and have to try again. If you played the original Quietus, then much of this is going to look and feel very familiar to you. Though the visual upgrade is nice, lending a sort of earthy menace to your surroundings, so many of the obstacles are the same you'll probably get a sense of deja vu. Like the original, Quietus 2 is also hard, with the darkened visual scheme not helping much, and if you aren't a fan of high-difficulty platforming then with its lack of interwoven story the game might be a bit too frustrating for you. With a lot of patience and some quick, light fingers, however, Quietus 2 can provide a gorgeous looking, morbid little challenge for gamers looking for something responsive and difficult. Will our hero make it out with a newfound appreciation for his second second chance? Well, you know what they say about leopards and spots...

Play Quietus 2


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (140 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (1,323)

DoraDecision 2: New CityAfter you single-handedly wrangled the first metropolis after its zombie infestation, you might have considered kicking back with your favourite iced beverage and the entire run of Babylon 5 on DVD for a little R&R. But no. You have to show the rest of us up and do it all over again in FlyAnvil and Denis Kukushkin's action-packed shooter strategy game Decision 2: New City. Come on, dude, we're pretty sure even Bruce and Shaun would take a few days out from their last apocalypse for some downtime, but here you are, back on the road, ready to bring another city to heel with your mighty fist. Crawl your way through a dangerous city bit by bit, eliminating the monsters within each section and establishing security measures so that this tragedy never happens again. You know, until the series turns into a trilogy.

Move with the [arrows] or [WASD], and aim and shoot with the mouse, mowing down anything that comes your way... which will be quite a bit, and frequently. Each city section needs to be brought under control by taking on different missions like recon or simple extermination that lower the danger level in each place. Perform well, and you'll get a hefty cash reward that you can spend on the substantial upgrade tree for both weapons and your own unique abilities. If all this sounds a little familiar, well, that's because it is, since Decision 2 plays a bit less like a fully-fledged sequel and more of an expansion pack to the original game. It's basically the same thing, though sadly lacking most of the overdramatic but well produced cinematic elements.

"More of the same" isn't necessarily a bad thing. Decision's strength has always been in marrying the familiar, straight-forward zombie action with enough upgrades and mission elements to keep it from feeling mindless... if not necessarily from feeling a little repetitive. This time through, however, you'll encounter some new enemies, and the upgrade tree has branched out quite a bit with some new abilities to boot. The lack of a minimap is a bit frustrating in big areas, but the game does feel as if it's been tweaked a little in regards to both responsiveness and brightness, which is welcome on the ol' ocular orbs. Decision 2: New City adds enough new tidbits to its original zombie stew to make it really feel like an improvement, and fans will welcome the chance to grind some monsters into paste while making corny action-hero quips about "taking out the trash". Maybe, this time, after you've done you can take a nice, long vacation to someplace relaxing. I hear Raccoon City is nice this time of year. That place is always deadsville.

Play Decision 2: New City


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (61 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (12)

TrickyStar DropsMallow didn't mean to rip his sister's Best Friend Bear. He just wanted to play with it a little too! She should really learn how to share. But now she's up in her room crying, and Mallow feels just awful. Fortunately, there's a sale on Best Friend Bears at the local emporium. What's more, they accept shooting star gems as currency, and Mallow's little planetoid is constantly pelted with them! It's time to get to work. Star Drops, an upgrade-centric action game by Plixik, will have you flying pretty close to the moon, and playing amongst all sort of stars!

Use [right] and [left] to move clockwise and counter-clockwise around your radially-gravitied planet. Your goal is to collect as many gems as possible in each round before time runs out, so grab them when they hit the ground, or jump with [up] or [spacebar] to snatch them out of the air. You can only grab so many before having to return home and deposit them. Hitting jump while in the air will turn you into a shooting star, just the thing for smashing large meteors into more easily collected bits. Power-ups will freeze time, increase the rate of stars falling, or improve your speed and jump abilities. Between levels you can purchase upgrades, all the while saving up for the Best Friend Bear of Mallow's sister's dreams. Star Drops is a fun and quirky little game that manages to balance fast-paced action with soothing music and visuals. Certainly the ethereal soundtrack and planet-running mechanics reminds one of Super Mario Galaxy, but Star Drops is cute, flashy, and plumber-less enough to be its own creation. It's a little slow to start, but after a few upgrades to Mallow's speed and jumping, Star Drops really begins to shine, and you'll want to play right to the end.

Play Star Drops


| Comments (0) | Views (4)

The Vault

DoraYou know what you need? A quest. I mean, sure, you may be sitting there, all enjoying life with the only obligation on you at the moment being the capability to inhale and exhale, but a little crushing pressure to save the world is just the ticket! Heck, it's even better if you're grossly underqualified. No no, don't thank me. Just enjoy!

  • Great Dungeon in the SkyGreat Dungeon in the Sky - Rocket Ninja Games adds a liberal spread of platformer jelly to your tasty roguelike sandwich when they served up this little gem. The goal is to take down four dragons and eventually the dungeon boss, but chances are you're probably going to die and have to start all over again somewhere along the way at least once. Sound frustrating? Well, maybe you should use this as an opportunity to try again... this time as one of the monsters or classes you killed before and thus unlocked for play. With fast-paced action, a lovely retro vibe, and a truly massive amount of unlockable characters, each with their own special strengths, weaknesses, and abilities, this is one little game you might find hard to put down.
  • Quest for the CrownQuest for the Crown - What can be said about Questwood Studios' soaring, enriching epic RPG adventure that has not already been said? Beloved by our readers and filled with unparalleled drama and action, this evocative tale of hard journeys and redemptions has won hearts and minds across the internet. It also dispenses cotton candy straight from your browser into your lap every five seconds. Why, it almost sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? If you get stuck, make sure you read up on the many tips and tricks our clever readers have shared in the comments.
  • Gemcraft Zero: Gem of EternityGemcraft Zero: Gem of Eternity - GameInABottle struck gold with their original fiendishly addictive tower defense game in 2008, and in 2009 they should us that they're more than capable of doing it all over again... and then some! Gems, as you might have gathered, are your power in this title, and different colours have different abilities that you can combine or plunk in towers and traps to destroy the incoming waves of beasts. The game boasts a substantial upgrade tree, and the enormous amount of achievements to get and levels to grind somehow manages to plug directly into that part of your brain that goes "hahaha, no, we're not getting anything else done for today". It's one of those rare titles that even has the potential to win you over even if you're not normally a fan of the genre, and still stands as one of the best examples of both tower defense and sequels done right today.

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


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (29 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (8)

Rbots

Kimberly Something's gone horribly wrong in the robot factory and the robots have lost their heads! How will they ever put on their dance show now? Yep, that's the premise of Rbots, a one-button action game from Meetreen Games.

RbotsIt's your job to navigate the heads through the underground workings of the robot factory, which is filled with perils you must avoid. It's unclear why a factory would have the need of so many saw blades, but that's beside the point. Touch and hold the screen (or hold the [spacebar] or mouse button) to propel yourself using directional gravity wells that pull or push you along. Let go to deactivate the wells, which will cause the head to fall whichever way is down at the moment. Complete all the levels in normal mode and the robot will be reunited with its body!

Rbots is a simple mechanic executed well. Beyond the normal mode, there is an energy mode where you have limited energy, and speed mode where you can only activate one gravity well at a time. They add variety to the gameplay, though they do reuse the same maps. The one touch play makes it easy for anyone to pick up and play, and the robot heads have enough personality to make you actually want to save them. There is a free browser demo to check out, or you can purchase the full game for your iOS device. Rescue the heads and you'll be rewarded with a dance you won't soon forget. The show must go on!

Play Rbots (browser demo)

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.


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (50 votes)
| Comments (6) | Views (22)

The Haunting of Magnolia Manor

JeremyNo one respects the rights of ghosts these days. Whether it's a bunch of drunken teenagers with a Ouija board or wannabe "ghost hunters" from no-name basic cable channels, no self-respecting ghost can find a moment's peace. Well, for the undead and their sympathisers, the moment of catharsis has finally come, with Kelly Weaver and Jimmy Hinson's action-packed little real-time strategy game, The Haunting of Magnolia Manor.

The Haunting of Magnolia ManorNew occupants have taken up your old haunt and you'll need to use everything in your ghostly arsenal to repel these "meat bags" from your manor. Just click a room to place your initial phantom and his ghoul friends and then hit "GO" when you're ready to do some serious scarin'. You'll only have a limited time to frighten all the inhabitants, so you'll want to memorize all the hotkeys (numbers 1-6) to activate your different abilities, like scare, possess and ectoplasm (yum!), and to summon up your best ghoulish friends, who, unlike what you might have been lead to believe by reading a certain Harvey Comics hero, are most definitely not friendly.

The Haunting of Magnolia Manor has a simple premise, but does what all the best realtime strategy games do: provide a fast-paced, action-packed, knucklebiting good time...at least, if you still have knuckles to bite.

Play The Haunting of Magnolia Manor


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (27)

GYRO

JohnBGYRO is a simple game of reflex-based color matching created by Submachine Factory. It's one of those games that are perfect for short bursts of play, providing ample amounts of challenge to train your reaction times and hand-eye coordination. Simply drag and rotate the circle on the screen (or use the bar at the bottom for fine control), moving it so its three color slices catch the appropriately colored particles floating in from outside. Capture more and you'll increase your score multiplier, but get one wrong and it resets. Now your only goal is this: score as many points as you possibly can!

GYROIn addition to simple viral neutralizations (which is apparently what you're doing by catching discs), GYRO also throws various power-ups your way, including bombs and health-restoring orbs. Catch the wrong disc on the wrong color and you'll notice that piece of the circle starts to fade. If it reaches the center, your game ends. The longer you keep going the higher your score will go, and if you enable the online leaderboards, you can get some serious competition going on.

GYRO offers several unlockable bonuses for earning certain amounts of points, including alternate 8-bit sound effects and a special high stakes pro mode. You can even switch on color blind mode, which is a rare feature we're always glad to see included in games that are focused on color-specific gameplay. To top it all off, GYRO is an enormously stylish game, proving that the developer didn't just slap some code together and call it complete. So if you're in the mood for a little distraction that can lead to a serious addiction, don't be shy, give this free game a try!

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.


| Comments (0) | Views (90)

Mobile Monday

JohnBWell, we now have a 1.17 million pound machine roaming around the surface of Mars. What better way to celebrate than with a new Angry Birds update? Ok, so there are better ways of celebrating, but since half the planet is already playing the game, might as well remind them what's going on in the outside world (er, galaxy), right?

finalfantasyd-p.gifFinal Fantasy Dimensions will be way too expensive - When it comes to mobile pricing schemes, Square-Enix has always considered itself outside of the normal economy. Every release it has ported to iPhone/Android has been at least three times as much as any other high-end game, and to make matters worse, most of those are ports of games released over a decade ago. It's a rotten attitude, and it doesn't look like it's going to stop anytime soon. With the August 31 release of Final Fantasy Dimensions, expect to pay, at minimum, $28.99 / £19.99 / €22.99 for the game's four chapters. The price is a bit more if you buy the chapters individually. That's right, a port of an old cell phone game that looks like it was made in RPG Maker is getting released in separate chapters for a painfully high price tag. Might we suggest some fine free indie RPGs instead?

angrybirdscuriosity-p.jpgAngry Birds get curious - Two of the world's favorite things, Angry Birds and the lovely new Mars rover called Curiosity, are now a bit more united. Rovio Mobile recently updated Angry Birds Space to include 20 new missions that take place on Mars and feature NASA's space traveling, data sending pal. Just another reason why science is the coolest thing ever!

eufloria-p.jpgEufloria for iPhone - Earlier this year, the fantastic real time strategy game Eufloria HD worked its way to iPad. It's a great fit for the large screen mobile device, but sometimes you just can't fit an iPad in your pocket. Worry no longer, as a completely portable version of the game, titled simply Eufloria, is now available for iPhone. Check out our review for a full account of just how fantastic this minimalist game is.

minecraft-p.gifMinecraft iPhone wallpaper - Just something fun for iPhone owners who love Minecraft (a large demographic, we're sure). Reddit user fireshaper has created a handsome iPhone wallpaper featuring frames and blocks from Minecraft. Several other users stepped in and made some improvements/additions, even creating a higher-res retina version. Just be careful Apple doesn't throw a lawsuit at you for changing your wallpaper. (We're kidding, of course. And sorry, Samsung.)

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!


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (104 votes)
| Comments (117) | Views (300)

Jigland

JayRob Allen is back with another banner game for you to enjoy. This one we're titling "Jigland" and it's similar to the others we have featured. If you've played our previous banner games you'll know that it includes a variety of puzzles and mini-games to complete all the letters of the Casual Gameplay logo. The game is located right within the banner at the top of every page of this site, when the appropriate stylesheet is activated.

Jigland

Just click on it to load the game and play.

We'll have a walkthrough published here for it soon, but do yourself a favor and puzzle through it at your leisure, you'll be glad you did. It's not going anywhere, so take your time with it, and most of all, have fun! :)

You can visit his site at foon.co.uk.

Thanks, Rob!


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (78)

Witch Hunters

DoraHave you ever heard the saying "your ears must have been burning"? Usually it describes someone who turns up coincidentally when they're being discussed. Turns out if you speak the name of a witch aloud their ears must spontaneously combust, since no sooner does your Grandma drop the name of the sinister old hag whose school she once fled does the lady herself appear in the room. (I guess don't gossip around ravens wearing tacky jewelry?) You may have been able to save Granny from Madame Flemet's (carefully choreographed to be as dramatic as possible) attack, but it was at the cost of your own youth, and unless you want to settle down with a purse full of Werther's Originals and some needlepoint, you'll need to track down and face the witch on her own turf. Top Evidence Studio's Witch Hunters: Stolen Beauty is a gorgeous hidden-object adventure that might be a bit too by-the-numbers for some, but delivers a fun experience that manages to be somehow elegant and gleefully cheesy at the same time.

Witch Hunters: Stolen BeautyFunnily enough, it doesn't seem like anyone got suspicious that the headmistress of a prestigious girls' finishing school was looking just as fresh-faced as the day it opened a hundred years or so ago, so Madame Flemet's had ample time to perfect her technique of sapping the youth and vitality out of her young charges. Not to mention turning the remains of the school into a veritable fortress of puzzles, tricks, traps, and hidden-object scenes. Everyone knows witches are all about carefully hiding important items in meticulously arrange junk piles, after all. I mean, Madame Flemet may have just cursed you into wizened-ness to satiate her own malicious energy, but that's no reason not to play fair, so you've also got three difficulty settings to choose from as well. Hunt for clues, solve puzzles, and, hey, you never know... you might just unlock a little magic of your own.

Witch Hunters: Stolen BeautyAnalysis: If there's anything particularly negative to say about Witch Hunters: Stolen Beauty, it's that it's hard to deny a lot of its concepts feel pretty familiar, and the gameplay doesn't do too much to spice things up from what you've come to expect from this style of title. . It's an absolute knock-out, with the stunning artwork and clean lines you've come to expect from Top Evidence Studios, and players looking for a game that doesn't deliver an oppressively grim experience will find a lot to love here. It's just a little spooky without ever really feeling morbid or dark, and has a hefty dose of the same sort of charm you'd expect to get from a fairytale related by your grandmother. Or maybe Roald Dahl's grandmother.

But though slow to start and not exactly what you would call a big risk taker, Witch Hunters: Stolen Beauty is one of the most gorgeous games you could ask for if you're looking for a relaxing evening's play. The addition of spells that you can use to uncover items or perform certain tasks is a neat idea, and with the addition of other victims of the witch's curse who you can help, you're given great incentive to stop Flemet once and for all. The hint function is debateably helpful on certain occasions outside of hidden-object scenes, and story fiends will wish for a journal to keep track of all the notes you'll find. People who want their Collector's Editions to have a lot of bells and whistles will want to try the demo, but with its gorgeous design and substantial gameplay, it makes for a tasty bit of low-key entertainment for hidden-object adventure fans to make a date with.

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:
Also available: Collector's Edition


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (27)

The Trouble With Robots

Jeremy Oh, how I long for the halcyon days of tabletop gaming. The gathering together of friends and commiserating over cans and cans of Mountain Dew and pretzels. But, alas! If you are reading this and happen to be over the age of 22, you have probably found this nostalgic little pastime hard to organize. If you're over 30, than, well, it's just about impossible. That's why I love games like Digital Chesnut's The Trouble With Robots that combine card game elements with strategy and defense, along with cool graphics and awesome battles with a minimum of fuss and muss that even the most aged and busy gamer can enjoy.

The Trouble With RobotsIn the medieval fantasy world of Trouble With Robots, robotic lifeforms from outer space have come to turn the world of Middle Turf upside down, destroying old villages and replacing them with futuristic highways and strip malls. You'll have to build your best deck full of spells, powerful trolls, dwarves, and elves (not to mention angry pitchfork wielding peasants!) to stop the invasion and bring peace back to the land.

At the start of each level, you choose a set cards to use during the battle to come. Cards range from basic "create two elves" or "summon three peasants" to mid-range cards that will supercharge your stats and give short-term upgrades to your melee score or ranged weapons. Finally, there are the really powerful cards, ones that can be used more than once that involve magic and can be combined with other cards to make some pretty satisfying combos.

Each level yields stars that go towards unlocking more cards for your deck. Even if you play a particularly hard level over and over, you will still get some stars for your trouble. And The Trouble With Robots thankfully gives you a number of bonus levels (marked with blue on your in-game map) that, while nearly impossible to beat, will earn you lots of stars.There's also a fairly compelling story behind each stage, filled with the usual trappings of invasion dramas: the fledgling resistance, struggling for its very survival against vastly superior foes, quisling peasants who join the invaders instead of fighting, and even interspecies dwarf-elf love! Thankfully, the story elements are brief and to-the-point. They're even pretty funny, and don't detract much from the straight-up battling, which is at the heart of the game.

Analysis: Don't be afraid to play on Hard right from the beginning, the game is just challenging enough not to be frustrating. Also, the choice of cards, forty in all, is great. There were only a few that were "meh"-worthy, and even those would appeal to certain gamers (those that like to play with trolls, for example), and aren't bad in their own right. It can be pretty exciting waiting to see what the next card will be and the game does a great job of upping the ante with each new one. The Trouble With Robots is a lean little card battle game that picks a few elements and does them right, rather than trying to juggle more than it can handle, leaving you with a satisfying experience that you can come back to and improve, even if you are a gamer on a time-budget.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (22 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (120)

One Epic Knight

JohnBIt may be One Epic Knight, but it's several hundred different runs. From Simutronics, the creator of the inverted defense game Tiny Heroes, this tongue-in-cheek third person running game puts you in the golden greaves of a knight destined to run through a dangerous dungeon time and time again. The place is filled with dangerous spikey things, broken floors, tricky stairs, cuboid blobs, and much more. It's an absolute riot to play, so taking a jog or two through the halls is definitely a good idea.

One Epic KnightWith simple swipes of the screen, make your knight shift between the left, right and middle sections of the hallway, avoiding obstacles as neatly as you can. A trail of coins often tempts you into moving when it isn't absolutely necessary, but the goal is to go as far as you can without taking a hit. Items like swords and shields can be picked up along the way, allowing you to thwart enemies and breakable obstacles respectively, and you can also take daring leaps and slide below low-hanging dangers, just like any self-respecting adventurer should be able to do!

After you make a few runs in One Epic Knight, you'll have enough cash to purchase an upgrade or two. Buy potions to give you one-time bonuses like an extra life, or invest in permanent upgrades that allow items to grant you more uses per pickup. You can even save up for some crazy costumes, like a chicken suit. All of this can naturally be sped up using the in-app purchase system, but then you'd be killing half the fun of this never-too-serious game. Go on, stretch out those calves and go for a run. What's the worst that could happen (apart from a gruesome rock-induced death)?

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 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (186)

Spell Sword

DoraWant to get a taste of the whole "predestined hero" thing without signing on for a 40+ hour commitment? FireFruitForge and Everplay's newly free iOS action-packed hack-and-slasher Spell Sword combines a little bit of platforming with a little bit of fantasy storytelling for one fast-paced addictive experience. Our Hero is an apparently clueless berk who manages to snag himself a fabled sword and promptly sets out to unleash it's true potential. Namely by stabbing lots of things in the face before they can do the same to him, which is incidentally how I also unleash my true potential. With tons of magical cards to power up and upgrade and a whole lot of vicious monsters queuing up for a beatdown, it's a fast-paced challenging experience for fans of RPG-lite experiences that fit in bite-sized timeframes.

Spell SwordUsing the arrows on the lower-left side of the screen along with the jump and slash buttons on the right, it's up to you to meet the requirements for each short stage across every area you encounter. You might be asked to destroy a certain amount of enemies within a time limit, gather a number of magical cards, or simply try to survive for a handful of waves. Just stay on your toes, because there's a wide variety of enemies with different abilities looking to eat your precious flesh, to say nothing of the environment hazards you'll need to be nimble to turn to your advantage. Your tools for success are naturally the magical sword for your standard stab-stab-ow-my-flesh shenanigans, as well as the various magic cards you'll unlock which, when picked up as they appear, will both unleash a spell on your enemy and imbue you with different elemental powers. Win, and you'll get rewarded with equipment or rupees, which can also be gathered in each level and then spent on increasing the potency of your spell abilities or on unlocking newfangled items to wear.

With a stunning sense of design and tongue planted firmly in cheek, Spell Sword is a gorgeous, silly little gem with a ton of action. It sort of feels like Super Crate Box's zanier, more RPG-obsessed cousin, and if you enjoy snappy, short arena-style fighting levels, this is well worth checking out. The downside is that it definitely feels a little repetitive as far as "missions" go, and at least on an iPad, the controls aren't really as Johnny Bravo HOO-HA-HOO fast and jumpy as you might like to really navigate all the hazards that will wind up onscreen. Additionally, the recent transition from free-to-play means that unless you enjoy grinding for the ridiculous amounts of rupees needed to unlock the better equipment, you'll probably resent the new microtransactions encouraging you to buy more. If you don't mind the grind, however, and love a challenge, then Spell Sword's beautiful style and frenetic gameplay is crooking a come-hither finger to you. It's fun, it's frantic, and it's free, so check it out and duel an enormous slime monster on pendulous platforms over a pit of despair today.

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.


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (54)

Theatre of Shadows

JohnBVogat Interactive, creator of Guardians of Beyond: Witchville and the Reincarnations series, knows how to make a stunning casual adventure game. The Theatre of Shadows: As You Wish is another excellent example of this, combining a rich story with serious puzzles, creative mini-games, and gameplay that gives you surprising freedom to roam. It's a challenging and well-illustrated steampunk-style adventure, and it's a journey you're not going to forget anytime soon (hint: living shadows and evil puppets!).

Theatre of ShadowsYou are Elu, the Hunter of Darkness. Bound by legend, you must appear to help anyone who calls your name. Today that person is Donna, wife of Nicholas and co-owner of the Theatre of Shadows. Nicholas was fond of puppets, and he put on some amazing shows in his time. As it turns out, though, the puppet he used to draw crowds had a few magical properties nobody knew about, namely the ability to rip open of a portal that allowed an evil spirit to roam free. Oops! Now, it's your job to find Nicholas, rid the demon from his body, and seal the portal to stuff those evil shadows back into their hiding place.

Each chapter of Theatre of Shadows is filled with a dozen or so scenes and around twice as many puzzles, all requiring skilled use of inventory items you find scattered throughout the area. Hidden object scenes are kept to a minimum, and when you do encounter them, they're short, relatively easy, and feature a few interactive elements that liven things up considerably. There's a lot to do and a lot to solve before you gain access to new environments, and you'll have to leave many puzzles unsolved as you open new areas, a small design choice that makes the game feel much more open and free. Some items even have multiple uses, so if it's still in your inventory, you'll need it later. A hammer can always come in handy!

Theatre of ShadowsAnalysis: Don't let the familiar-sounding story trick you into thinking Theatre of Shadows is your standard casual adventure game. Really, it shares more in common with traditional adventure games of decades past than modern releases, especially when it comes to puzzle design, level layout, and overall difficulty. It still feels very much like a casual game, but the experience you'll walk away with hints at much more.

The Theatre of Shadows: As You Wish forces you to actually pay attention to what you're doing. You can't just go around, picking up items and randomly clicking on things until puzzles work themselves out. Instead, you should keep a mental catalog of everything you pick up, noting possible places to use them in the near or not-as-near future. That takes some of the casual feel out of the experience, but it makes for a much deeper, more intriguing game.

Mini-games play a strong role in Theatre of Shadows, and for the most part, they're unique diversions you'll be eager to complete. Even when they're not, assuming you didn't choose the Extreme mode of difficulty when the game began, you can skip them and continue with the rest of the game. The in-game hint system is also bent on giving you a hard time, telling you there's "something" that needs to be done "in this general area". Isn't that the definition of a hint, anyway? At the very worst, some of the puzzles stray off into iffy territory with mildly questionable solutions, but it never comes across as frustrating or out of place, just challenging. The good kind of challenging.

The Theatre of Shadows: As You Wish is a rare casual adventure game that aims to recreate the style and depth of a larger, not-as-casual adventure, the kinds of games we used to salivate over a decade or so ago. Now, with a modern layout and Vogat's usual smart sense of storytelling and pacing, you can get all the flavor of a sturdier adventure without having to quit your day job to play it!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (67)

JeremyCubistryLife is full of winners and losers, and if you're like most people, you always seem to fall in the latter category. Not so with Sangwoo Hong, Keyboardminer, and Pixelminer's surreal little mahjong-like puzzle game, Cubistry.

Simply click on one kind of tile, then another of the same type to make them both disappear in a flurry of casino-style visual gratification. Rotate the 3D cube to get a better view of the blocks you can eliminate. The bright visual effect alone will be sure to stimulate your brain and keep you clicking away until the screen is empty, but if that's not enough motivation, there's always the race to bet your previous high score. Not necessary, but fun if you're up for a challenge!

Purists will of course scoff at something this simple, this unloseable being called a "game". But when you've got something as entertaining and relaxing as Cubistry, there really isn't a better way to describe it. Fight for a high score or sit back and do some matching, either way, a lot of fun is waiting to be had!

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

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


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (39)

Force: Leashed

TrickyOriginally developed by Kepuli Games for the 7 Day FPS Challenge, then polished up to win 2nd in the Assembly GameDev Competition, Force: Leashed is a first-person gravity-based physics puzzle game. It combines the structure of the Quake engine with the mechanics of Auditorium and the overall design sense of Portal (if GLaDOS never spoke and handed out gravity guns). And despite the title, Jar Jar doesn't show up once. That's gotta be worth half a point right there.

Force: LeashedThe goal in each level of Force: Leashed is to manipulate streams of constantly firing rockets into specified targets. You do this by picking up and placing colored crystals which serve as gravity-modifying attractors. Because in the land of gaming, crystals can do everything! Move with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, and look around by directing the mouse. While carrying a crystal, right clicking will adjust its placement height, while the mouse wheel will adjust its distance from you. Crystals only affect rockets of the same color (except white ones which affect all), and later levels will feature "winds" and other elements which will similarly affect the rockets' trajectory. It will often be necessary to "bounce" these rockets off of color-changing walls. Don't expect a lucky shot to get you by: activating a target requires a stream of consecutive hits, denoted by the advancement of lights at the top. And it's incredibly satisfying to light those things.

The developers describe Force: Leashed as a "gravity fiddler", and that's a pretty accurate description. Certainly, anyone who has played a 2D gravity puzzler knows the equal joy and frustration of moving objects just a tiny bit at a time, eventually leading to the moment where it all spectacularly goes right. Let me tell you though, in three dimensions, it's all the more thrilling to see all the rockets and wells and trajectories swirling around your perspective. There's a real sandbox quality to physics puzzles that really becomes apparent when depth is added to the equation. At 11 levels, Force: Leashed is fairly short, and its sparsely grungy visual and audio design not nearly as pretty as Auditorium's, but it's an impressive technical achievement and, more importantly, a whole lot of brain teasing fun.

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the free full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the free full version


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (33 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (988)

grinnyp_awakeningtheskywardcastle_banner.png

GrinnypOnce upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a princess named Sophia who was having a horrible, very bad, not good day. Poor Princess Sophia woke up in an abandoned castle to discover that (a) she'd overslept by about 100 years, (b) all the humans including her family had booked for places unknown, and (c) there was no local wi-fi. Being the intrepid Princess that she is, Sophia immediately set out to find the rest of humanity along with a decent half-caf mocha latte. Yes, our favorite non-magical princess is back in Awakening: The Skyward Castle, the fourth and final installment of Boomzap's popular adventure hybrid Awakening series.

grinnyp_awakeningtheskywardcastle_screenshot1.pngWhen we last saw our heroine she was flying towards the floating city where humanity now lived on the back of a flying unicorn (just go with it). Now she has crash-landed, injuring the poor unicorn while doing so, and must find help for her fantastical friend from the locals. Unfortunately, they all seem to have disappeared or been turned into stone, so once again she must travel the length and breadth of the land in search of what went wrong and to fix it using only the power of her wits and her traveling companions: a pyromaniac pocket dragon and an irritating owl named Randolph. At this point you have to wonder what is up with all of the magical inhabitants of this place that they are in constant need of rescue from someone who doesn't even have magic, merely the power of her own logic.

As with most hybrids, Awakening: The Skyward Castle contains a mix of hidden object scenes, mini-games, and puzzles to solve along the way to smashing most of the Sleeping Beauty cliches. Hidden object scenes themselves require a lot of interactivity to complete, and the mini-games and puzzles are a nice mix of both familiar and original designs. What sets the Awakening games apart, however, are the inclusion of one particular type of puzzle that will be played over and over again throughout the game. The first three games featured mahjong (Awakening: The Dreamless Castle), card games (Awakening: Moonfell Wood), and tangrams (Awakening: The Goblin Kingdom). This time around you'll be faced with a series of nonograms, aka picross games. As with the earlier games in the series once regular gameplay has been completed there is a feature allowing you to play nonograms as stand-alone puzzles from the main menu.

grinnyp_awakeningtheskywardcastle_screenshot2.pngAwakening: The Skyward Castle contains all of the usual controls associated with a well-designed adventure, including a changing cursor, a bottom-loading inventory, a handy notebook to keep track of the story and clues, and a refilling hint feature that also works as a skip feature for the mini-games. The notebook is divided into two sections, one which keeps track of the actual storyline and clues, and another which holds a running tally of goals to help the player keep on track. A nice separate feature is a map of the amazing floating island which can be used for one-click navigation back to places you've already been which helps minimize one of the great complaints of today's point-and-click adventures, namely the constant wandering back and forth. Gameplay hints come in several different flavors, from a plethora of sparkling lights to highlight areas of interest to advice as well as the aforementioned refilling timer and a quick and easy tutorial at the beginning of the game.

Analysis: Much has been said in reviews of the previous games of the series about the gorgeous scenery, the lovely music, the whimsical characters, etc. but two things really make Awakening: The Skyward Castle and the previous games in the series really stand out: the depth of gameplay available and the absorbing storyline. After playing one of Boomzap's intensively puzzle-heavy games other hybrids tend to feel like all story and no substance, with gameplay sacrificed upon the altar of pretty or scary. The four Awakening games pack so much gameplay punch that all other adventure hybrids suffer by comparison.

grinnyp_awakeningtheskywardcastle_screenshot3.pngAs Princess Sophia travels through a luscious background of hand-painted fancy while interacting with some interesting characters, she also illustrates why the story shines through as much as the gameplay. Sophia is at what would seem like a huge disadvantage, a non-magical character in a magical world, yet she perseveres through all the obstacles in her path using not magic, nor her looks, nor help from a handy prince charming, but through the application of her brain. Princess Sophia's advantage is her smarts, a nice message neatly conveyed against a backdrop of flaming dragons, flying unicorns, and snarking goblins. Stay in school, kids!

Boomzap has paid particular attention to the puzzles and mini-games within Awakening: The Skyward Castle, featuring a nice mix of the familiar and the new. The hidden object scenes are nicely interactive and very engaging, and even the familiar mini-games feature some nice twists to make them feel fresh. Best yet are the three modes of play which cover a wide range of adventure gaming skills. The relaxed mode is chock-full of sparkles, hints, advice, and a quickly refilling hint timer. The Normal mode features far less sparkles, a slower refilling timer, and less narrative advice. The difficult "Dreadmyre" mode features no advice or sparkles and no mini-game or puzzle skipping.

There are a few minor issues to be sure, especially with the tight clickable areas in the hidden object scenes. This is a very minor complaint and doesn't detract at all from the stunning gameplay available within Awakening: The Skyward Castle, which brings a satisfying conclusion to a fantastical series. With its meaty story, hefty length, and vast array of puzzles Awakening: The Skyward Castle is one of the best adventure hybrids this year and a definite must play.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It includes wallpapers, 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
Order the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition

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


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (21 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (226)

Supermagical

JohnBSurprise! Bust-a-Move (or Puzzle Bobble, if you will) is creative and fresh and fun again! Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team's Supermagical takes the familiar matching-based marble popping puzzle formula, quite literally turns it on its side, then adds a smattering of level-based progression, item upgrades, shops, mini-games, and even a hidden object diversion. The result is a colorful and charismatic game that feels like a brand new experience, no matter how familiar the gameplay might be.

SupermagicalThe Magic World has been invaded, but Nina the novice witch is ready to do her part to send everything evil back to the underworld. Sporting a fine pair of round spectacles, Nina steps forward to repel invading minix, the mindless color-coded foes that threaten to advance like no one has ever advanced before. Along the way she'll encounter her sisters, each quite diligently following the path of one of the seven deadly sins, and deal with them by cleverly answering questions. This witch is more than just a book of spells, you know.

Nina's abilities are rather limited at first, but she's very good at aiming and launching spare minix from her platform. Slide the gem to aim your shot, then release to fire. Just like Bust-a-Move, you can eliminate groups of like-colored minix, dropping "loose" pieces and watching as they get destroyed by almighty bursts of lightning. Complete a round and you're set free on the world map. From here you can access Nina's workshop, a tower with rooms for spell mixing, helper swapping and more. The shops are also found on the world map, varying their inventory depending on which spot you're standing. This means you've got to travel all over the place to find the items you need, adding a nice, adventurous sort of feeling to the game. And don't forget hunting for bags of gems hidden in the land surrounding each town!

SupermagicalMatching minix isn't always a straightforward matter, as the grumpy little things will adopt different formations and send out things like unmatchable gray minix. As the game progresses, though, Nina gets a little better at using magic, allowing her to do more than just change the color of fired minix with pieces of candy. Some helpful friends show up with fantastic abilities that can be unleashed at the cost of a magic soda. With their help, you can eliminate whole rows and color groups, or just push back the enemy with the tap of the screen. You can even purchase ingredients and brew your own spells, which will take some time to do, but the results are so worth it.

Analysis: It might be a small point to raise, but for me, Supermagical feels like a game that came from the Game Boy Color era. That's a compliment of the highest order, mind you, as that device and that period in handheld history is home to some simple but wildly creative releases. Supermagical has that almost retro feel to it, but it's modern in almost every other respect, building around a basic concept and providing ample diversions from the main game.

Mini-games are a surprisingly fun part of Supermagical, and you're treated to one every few levels (more often if you buy tokens). The card matching game is simple but rewarding, and it will remind more than one gamer of the card game found in Super Mario Bros. 3. Defeating bosses is also a mini-game of sorts, as you have to answer questions correctly or deal with a minix attack. Oh, and then there's the piñatas. Every game should have breakable piñata items!

Here's what you should take away about Supermagical: it's got a lot of things going for it, and very few (if any) drawbacks. Gameplay that will appeal to a wide audience, a crazy sort of story with witches and magic and blobby things, mini-games and bags of coins to find, it's just a good game to get your hands on right away!

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.


| Comments (1) | Views (4)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraWhat's this? What's this! There's projects over there! What's this? A chimp with facial hair! What's this? Zombies storming lawns and ponies wake up JiG there's awesome in the air!... what's this?!

The PlanSuddenly, a Wild KRILLBITE Appears! They may be hard at work on their upcoming title Among the Sleep, but indie developers Krillbite Studio recently announced that they've got a small free side project in the works for release on PC and Mac later this year. Details are scarce and enigmatic, but The Plan will be "an experimental self-discovery videogame exploring issues of death and meaning", which sounds pretty intriguing, especially coupled with those gorgeous bits of artwork. Among the Sleep is definitely still headed our way, but Krillbite points out small projects like this can help keep them feel fresh and explore new ideas, and frankly, we're for whatever keeps the awesome indie releases coming. More details as they develop!

Deozoa: Legends of EdenAdorable, Trainable Death Machines It may not be an original concept, but the open-for-Kickstarter RPG Deozoa: Legends of Eden looks like it might be enough fun that you won't mind. Planned for an initial iOS and Android release with PC and Mac to come later, the game promises eight hours of story-rich classic RPG gameplay, 10 recruitable companions, and 100 monsters to catch and train as they grow to adulthood. Sounds familiar, right? Still, it looks like a tremendous amount of fun, and the vibrant, eye-catching style is a real treat to behold. Plus, you can train a mustachoid monkey called a Mustachio. I don't know what else you could want. $15.00USD gets you a copy of the game when it releases (planned for November 2013) and you can hit up the Kickstarter page to learn more.

Plants vs. Zombies 2Round 2... FIGHT! Can PopCap make lightning strike twice? Looks like they're betting on it with the announcement that Plants vs. Zombies 2 will hit in Spring of 2013. The original, a stunningly addictive defense game, was an instant hit way back in 2009, and is still widely regarded as one of the best casual games to this day. The news of a sequel is great, and though details are currently bare, should really get fans excited. The bad news is that one day after this announcement was made, Plants vs. Zombies creator George Fan was laid off from PopCap Games along with a substantial amount of other employees. What this means for the series, and the motivations behind it, are unclear, so keep your ear to the ground for more details as they germinate.

The Basement CollectionReady... Set... BASEMENT! Edmund McMillen fans, mark your calendars, because The Basement Collection is hitting Steam August 31st! For the princely sum of $4.00 USD, you'll get a total of nine retooled and updated versions of games like Spewer, Aether, Meat Boy, and more. Not to mention two secret games and tons of development extras for each title! If you like Edmund's work, this is a great opportunity to show your support for it, as well as to play Spewer again because, well, Spewer is great and everyone should play it. Provided you can tear yourself away from The Binding of Isaac of course.

Broken Sword: The Serpent's CurseNico and George, Together Again Revolution Software's huge point-and-click adventure series Broken Sword has one of the most impressive pedigrees and dedicated followings around for good reason, and if you've been wanting another installment, now's your chance to get it off the ground. Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse has just hit Kickstarter, and it's already looking fantastic, centering around a stolen painting that winds up just being the tip of a huge, supernatural mystery conspiracy. The minimum donation to receive a copy of the game (PC or Mac) is $15.00 USD, and you can check out a video of some of the work done so far over at the official page. More deadly conspiracies with my favourite journalist and lawyer? Count me in!

Don't Save the WorldAdventure? Who Needs It! Let's say you like RPGs... but let's also say, for the sake of argument, that sometimes being the hero is a little frustrating. All that expectation and pressure... what if you could leave that up to someone else and live your own life? No, not like handing someone else your copy of Dragon Age, more like Sakura River Interactive's upcoming Don't Save the World, where you can choose to save the day... or decide to settle down and live alongside the townsfolk instead by opening a shop instead, which changes the game into a management-simulation. Indie darling Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale took a similar route, but with the promise of expanding your enterprise, crafting your items, more in-depth characters and more, Don't Save the World might prove to be the best of both worlds if they can back up their words. Currently in funding stages at Indiegogo, where $10.00USD will get you a digital copy of the game, this might just be a project you want to pay attention to.

Welcome to PonyvilleWelcome to Self-Insertion How many bronies does it take to make a visual novel adventure? Just the really talented ones! Filly Gamez has been working hard on Welcome to Ponyville, a game where you live out a day to day life in the world of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and are nearing release of Act 1. The game promises a lot of freedom, not only in allowing you to create your character, but in how you choose to interact with the world around you, and will feature a lot of stories and endings... some light-hearted, some serious, and some... well, surely no "grimdark" ever pops up in Ponyville, right? While some of the audio quality in the teaser trailer is a little poor, there's clearly been a ton of work put into this, and looks like it's shaping up to be a huge adventure indeed. And speaking of ponies...

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!


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (23 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (494)

Dream Builder: Amusement Park

elleYou have just acquired your very own amusement park! Nevermind the story behind how or why this long-held dream has finally become reality, it just has. Now you can't wait to dig in, to build the most fantastical new rides, finger-sticky concessions and amazingly popular attractions in Dream Builder: Amusement Park. As you create, not only do you get to build to your heart's desire, you'll also earn the hearts of your customers in this colorful and addictive building simulation from Fugazo.

Dream Builder: Amusement ParkYou begin at a desk where a map of four landscapes beckons your creative magic. To start, only "Sunvale" can be clicked on; the other park levels open as you gain trophies, and that's where the game really gets going. Time to design the most appealing amusement park you can imagine all while strategizing and carefully planning to best appeal to your visitors! This includes choosing which buildings to research and construct first, where to place your rides and attractions, and to whom to market your park. In addition, you're given challenges in the form of magazine goals; meet certain requirements to not only earn a feature in a popular magazine (thus gaining more park attendance) but also to get trophies and prizes such as hearts, coins, new research options and buildings.

As you achieve goals, others will become available, leaving you to decide which direction to take. Initially, money and hearts are not easy to come by, so it's possible to back yourself into a corner. You might want to play more than one profile until you've uncovered the secrets of amusement park success. Speaking of uncovering secrets, in a sort of Doodle God experimentation, find special combinations of buildings to make star zones and earn even more profits. Or, if you're at a loss, you could always buy the zoning secrets from the research menu. When you've completed your first park (or sooner, if you wish), you can move on to one of the other three parks, provided you have enough trophies. Each has a distinctly different theme with new goals, star zones and many unique buildings to discover.

Dream Builder: Amusement ParkAnalysis: Since this is the same developer that brought us Film Fatale: Lights, Camera, Madness! you know you're in for some good quality fun, even a bit of campiness. Fun is definitely what Dream Builder: Amusement Park does best. As there is no penalty for removing and rearranging items in your park, it opens up a world of possibility and amounts to great replay value. Even so, Dream Builder: Amusement Park lacks some polish, especially in terms of user features. The absence of those little—and not so little—extras found in iconic titles such as Sim Theme Park or Rollercoaster Tycoon means fans of those games could feel underwhelmed by the offerings here. You'll miss the ability to turn the game map to peek behind buildings or to zoom in and capture the expression on a visitor's face; those things help validate your creation and reinforce your designing efforts even if their absence doesn't detract from overall gameplay.

Most importantly, though, the enjoyment of planning, building and re-designing until you've reached the ultimate amusement park perfection is never amiss. The addition of magazine goals means a unique style of challenge that you can't get from those other building sims. It also allows an unmatched amount of freedom to design your every whim without consequence of bankruptcy or vomiting children. Once you've finished all goals, you're still free to continue refurbishing and building. In this way, Dream Builder: Amusement Park becomes a giant sandbox not to be missed by anyone who loves theme parks, building and creating.

If your if-ever-I-find-a-genie-in-a-bottle list of three wishes is topped by "I'd put Disneyland to shame" (because, obviously, wishing for more wishes is cheating), then stop rubbing rusty old antiques and build your dreams on this instead.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 3.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.8/5 (77 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (37)

JeremyBreakfastIt's always interesting when a flash game comes along that makes you look at things in a whole different light. Who knew, for example, that the ordinary day-to-day activity of making breakfast was frought with so many pitfalls and hidden dangers? In Breakfast, a strangely compelling little onebutton cooking game by Gio-M, you awake after a one night stand with your chances of a second date depending completely on your ability to make a high quality breakfast. To do so, you'll need to press the [spacebar] at the precise moment necessary to chop, blend, and boil your ingredients in the best way possible to satisfy your lover-in-waiting.

Breakfast is a short little timewaster, made as it was for the recent Mochi one-button game contest, but there are three different endings to strive for and its interesting setup, old-school arcade feel, and humor will draw most players in. If all goes well, your lover will be able to say the same about you. Well, except for the old-school arcade part.

Play Breakfast


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (60 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (16)

DoraKitty PunchKitty Punch is an arcade game that's... uh... somethin'. From Hot Chick Games, the creator of such mind-bending wonders as Kissma, comes a game that has nothing to do with hitting cats and everything to do with a grown woman dressing up in a furry cat suit and...

...

... sorry, just checking to make sure I'm not dreaming. Or hallucinating.

Our, uh, heroine follows your mouse as you move it side to side on the screen, and the object is to get as many whacks into the little yellow cat toy dangling from above. The more you hit, the higher your score gets, and once the time runs out you'll be awarded medals based on how well you've done. From time to time, a fish will drop, and if you hit that, you'll enter a random bonus mode that is... well, unique, and will apply a whole lot of strangeness and combo bonuses to your experience. Kitty Punch is about as simple as you get, but the over-the-top weirdness of it is kind of a joy to behold, and you'll want to play a few times just to see the different fish effects you can encounter. The positioning to actually hit the toy occasionally seems to be a little fussy, but Kitty Punch is a ridiculous, fun little experience that just wants to force some bright colours and surreality into your day. Even if you... don't really know what just happened after. Or why. Probably best not to ask.

Play Kitty Punch


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (88 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (51)

MeaghanEscape from the Room with Three MedalsThe old saying "less is always more," is being put to the test in the latest escape the room game by Hottategoya. In Escape from the Room with Three Medals you will prove your clicking prowess by looking through a sparsely furnished room for the medals that will assist in your inevitable freedom. To look more closely at an item or pick it up, just click it. There's an inventory bar at the bottom of your screen with objects that can be accessed at all times. Click on an item then hit about item to get a closer look.

Arrow puzzles and lock boxes await both the casual and expert escape artist alike. The puzzles are cleverly plotted and will make you smack your forehead in a Homer Simpson-esque "Doh!" moment upon solving. Not only is this latest installment in the Hottategoya catalogue a rewarding brain teaser, but it's also quite the delight for a modest escape game.

Play Escape from the Room with Three Medals


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (44 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (12)

JeremyBilliard Blitz Pool SkoolFancy yourself a pool shark? Do you like wearing snazzy vests, love the feel of blue cue chalk on your hands, and, if someone were to take a peek at your Netflix queue, would they find that you've watched The Color of Money about a million times? No? Yeah, well, me neither. But give me the chance to play a sleek little pool simulator like Billiard Blitz Pool Skool by Richard Hoddinott in the comfort of my own home on a lazy afternoon with no one but my cat and the mail carrier to laugh at my ridiculous shots? Oh hell yeah. That blue chalk is probably toxic anyway.

The mechanics of Billiard Blitz Pool Skool are elegantly simple. Just line up your cue stick, watch the white direction indicator, ram up the power bar for more umph, and slide the spin control to your prefered setting for a little extra pizzazz. Oh, it all seems so easy. But, before you start filling out the paperwork to legally change your name to Minnessota Fats, you best brush up on your kiss, kick, and kill shots if you want to rack up some bonus points and make it to the final challenge.

Billiard Blitz Pool Skool keeps it neat, simple, and does exactly what you'd expect. Unless, of course, you expect it to propel you into a full blown career on the professional pool circuit with your own line of merchandise and movie tie-ins. For the rest of us, Billiard Blitz Pool Skool will provide more than enough relaxed fun to satisfy us for the day.

Play Billiard Blitz Pool Skool


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (44 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (32)

TrickyGloidRobots do a lot of things. Some robots fight aliens. Some robots shoot beams when they roar. Some robots want kitty. But Gloid? Gloid just knows how to levitate, and when all you know is levitating, you learn to master it pretty quickly. Gloid: The Levitating Robot was developed by Playnamic Studios as an experiment in fusing puzzle platforming with physics-based levitation mechanics. It's a whole new kind of movement, and it makes for a novel kind of game.

The goal in each level is to direct Gloid to the Green Portal, collecting stars along the way. Use [arrow] keys or [WASD] to move Gloid. Gloid does not jump, however. Instead, his levitation device pushes him away from any nearby walls, horizontal or vertical. Gloid's "Levitation Range" is determined by holding [up]/[down] or [W]/[S]. Adjusting your range will determine how hard Gloid is pushed from the walls (and just the walls). A larger range will give you more propulsion to leap around obstacles, like deadly red crosses and shooting purple triangles, whereas a smaller one will give you more maneuverability to get through small gaps. Adjustment is key, such as in situations where you must increase your range to propel yourself over a platform, than decrease it so you are not pushed away by a vertical edge. Arrowed force-fields will push you around, helping or hindering your progress, activating switches will change the level layout, and portals will teleport you to new locations.

Around each level, you will find colored wisps, which will follow you once you pass over them. Colored gates will require you to have collected a certain number of the appropriately colored wisps to pass. Should you not have enough, the gate will display the number of wisps you need. Some levels contain "nests", which may contain wisps and, if touched, will change the color of your wisps. Press and hold the [spacebar] to call out any wisps from inside the nests. You have four lives to complete each level. This is denoted by the rotating hexagon at the start of the level, that gradually turns to red with each life lost. There are 25 normal levels, 10 hard levels, and 5 bonus levels, and they're sure to keep you busy for quite some time.

Gloid's controls aren't entirely intuitive. After all, when most players try to jump towards a platform, they don't expect for the platform to try to push back. However, once you get used to the mechanics, it becomes quite the entertaining puzzle game. Gloid has a certain futuristic minimalism to it that is very appealing. The simple swirling animations of the sprites are very lovely to look at and, for something that's just a box with eyes, Gloid has a fun bit of expressiveness that makes the game easy to like. Overall, Gloid could stand being much more explicit in its documentation, but it's an interesting twist on familiar platforming mechanics and is worth sticking to.

Play Gloid


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (146 votes)
| Comments (20) | Views (1,098)

Weekday Escape

elleWe all have our own version of paradise, don't we? For some, it's a mai tai in one hand, a good book in another, and sun-warmed sand at our feet. But for a certain JIG subset, it's a bit different: a cold half-drank mochachino on the desk, the happy hum of a computer in front of us and another lovely game from Robamimi. Aw, yes! The Seeds of Eden is a welcome sight to all us devoted escape game fans as well as to anyone looking for a brief diversion from the mundane world.

The Seeds of EdenAfter selecting your preferred language (Japanese or English), click start and you'll be transported to a vine-shrouded courtyard garden. It's pretty, but what you really want is to see what's beyond those high stucco walls. To do that, uncover the clues needed to solve a short series of puzzles and find the key to that forbidding metal door. Your pointer will change when an obtainable object or interactive area is within clicking range, but you should also rely on your eyes to seek out interesting spots and useful information. The interface is very intuitive, making finding your way around and utilizing objects quite easy. Robamimi continues to be user-friendly with a "Hint" and "Save" button in case you ever feel stumped.

As you explore this tiny garden, the mood and setting elicit a sense of Hermit Rabi and Wonder Fountain but on a smaller scale. Depending on your experience with playing this sort of game, your stay in this miniature Eden can be disappointingly brief, especially considering that none of the puzzles require stretches of logic or lateral inferences. Nevertheless, it's always a joy to play a Robamimi creation: they're always infused with a bit of indescribable magic that takes you away from the moment, even if only temporarily. The magical allure of The Seeds of Eden is in its slightly surreal surroundings and pixie-like melody which coax your imagination while you unhurriedly unravel the riddles set before you. The teasing scene at the end might tempt you to daydream a bit more, as well. Proust is known for his quip, "The only paradise is a paradise lost." Yet, in this case, it's an Eden escaped!

Play The Seeds of Eden

Not loading? Try the alternative link: The Seeds of Eden.


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (27 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (21)

coryPlatcoreThere's a certain point in some games where you feel like you've reached "the zone"... achieving what seems like superhuman speed and skill, pulling off stunts that you can't believe you managed, having people laugh at you because you're staring slack-jawed at the screen while playing and so on. Platcore, a new action avoidance game by Chris Jeffries, pushes you to achieve this by threatening to destroy you with lasers, guns and the laws of physics. These are surprisingly good motivators, as it turns out!

Run around with either the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, using the top key of each control setup to jump and the bottom key to crouch and slide. You also have a limited-use shield that you can activate with the [A] key which renders you invincible but is only recharged between levels. Your goal is to keep your little Platbot alive amidst a barrage of unpleasantness, including lasers in many varieties, guns in many varieties and smashy things in one especially painful variety. Taking hits reduces your health, being smashed kills you instantly and dying leads to you using a different Platbot. Levels tend to last around five minutes each and progression leads to nastier traps and avoidance-based boss battles.

There are also golden cogs raining from the sky to grab; these grant experience which represents your time with a particular 'bot and currency which can be spent cosmetic upgrades you can puruchase between levels. These cosmetic upgrades add a surprising amount to the game. A customized Platbot is easier to get attached to than a random 'bot thrown at you after a death and you're more likely to go the distance with something you built yourself. Your fancy 'bot is gone if you die, after all, and what's the fun in piloting something from the randomized scrap heap?

While it can be frustrating, particularly if you lose a favorite 'bot to some smashers, Platcore's addictive gameplay is simple, snappy and satisfying. The addition of new traps and boss battles as you proceed through the stages help keep things fresh, and while each individual level may be long this only serves to add to the tension and desperation that powers the game. Platcore is definitely worth a look for action and avoidance fans.

Play Platcore


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (212 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (1,514)

GrinnypGarouWhat constitutes art and what should be hanging on a gallery wall has been a matter of raging debate probably since mankind first wandered into a cave and started spitting charcoal on a wall. ("You call an outline of your hand art? This picture of a bull, that's art!") An art gallery can be a place of wonder, of amazement, or of confusion depending upon the pieces and styles featured, and it can also be a cracking place to stage a room escape, as evidenced by Garou, the latest effort from 58Works which takes place in an empty gallery full of...well, interesting works.

Every piece displayed in Garou serves a double function. On the one hand, the artwork is their to be appreciated. On the other, each piece represents a fantastic variety of puzzles necessary to solve your way out of the space, featuring a wide array of logic, color, shape, and spatial reasoning. Navigation is the usual arrows at the bottom and sides of the screen, and a handy changing cursor keeps the pixel hunting to a minimum. The inventory controls are intuitive and easy, and all that seems to be missing is a save function.

Garou is typical 58Works, a fun blend of beautiful graphics and challenging puzzles, all taking place in a somewhat eerie space with no musical clip to detract from the logic. While not as long as some of their efforts like Evolution or Dooors, Garou is a distracting and challenging escape and yet another hit by the designers. Atmospheric and entertaining, Garou is definitely not to be missed by escaping fans, and is available to play either online as a flash game or free for your iOS device. Whether it can be considered art is, as usual, in the eye of the beholder.

Play Garou

Thanks to Cyberjar88 for sending this one in!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPhone 4. 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 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (156 votes)
| Comments (14) | Views (135)

KimberlyAcorn StoryWe all know and love the classic story of a boy and his dog. But what about a boy and his magic acorn? And what if the acorn has gone missing? See how that story pans out in Acorn Story, a charming puzzle platformer by George Kobyakov. Use the [arrow] keys to move side to side and to jump to explore your surroundings. Use the [spacebar] to manipulate crates and levers to solve the puzzles and exit each level.

Acorn Story could be the gentler younger sibling of Limbo, which obviously inspired it. While the graphical style is similar to that of Limbo, Acorn Story's art is very enjoyable and holds its own. The piano soundtrack is relaxing and helps set the mood. While it's not very long (nor terribly difficult) at eight levels, you'll love the atmospheric gameplay while it lasts. Plus, you have to find out what happens to the acorn!

Play Acorn Story


| Comments (0) | Views (1)

The Vault

DoraThose despairing eyes, those trembling hands, that stink of fatigue and frustration... yep, no doubt about it. Either someone made you play Desert Bus all the way through, or you need a vacation. Fortunately, The Vault has all sorts of destinations for you to visit, and we're not going to make you use your imagination... not when there are developers willing to toil and do all the work for you! This week, pack your favourite belongings (I'm not sharing any of my ponies) because we're hitching a ride with games that take you to some very different locales. It's like a staycation, with the biggest air quotes possible around the word!

  • Learn to FlyLearn to Fly - Don't mess with penguins. Seriously, don't. They may be all the way in the snowy poles, but aside from being able to call in backup from Sea World (have you ever seen a gang of seals reenacting The Warriors on your front lawn?), they're also wicked good at holding grudges, and doing something about it. In Light Bringer's adorable launch game, you play a ticked-off penguin who, after having read something about himself he didn't like on the internet, decides to build a series of contraptions to carry him all the way to the author's house. It's as cute as pie, and though it lacks the glut of upgrades and obstacles usually stuffed in most launch games, Learn to Fly features some of the best skill-based gameplay around... and an ending you'll get a chuckle out of to boot.
  • A Small FavorA Small Favor - Well, if I'd known you wanted to go to space, I would have just gone ahead and sent you to the moon for a thousand years or so, but I guess if that's too hardcore or you think it might lead to some festering resentment or something, we can saddle up for an intergalactic point-and-click adventure with Jay "Zeebarf" Ziebarth. Clad in his signature glorious artistic style and packed with all the weirdness you've come to expect, this little adventure will put you in the shoes of an alien assassin who's just going to do a little favor for someone... involving murder, naturally! Boasting all the clever puzzles and imaginative environments that are Zeebarf's calling cards, this is a stellar interstellar adventure well worth tackling. Plus, since you're an assassin and not a bounty hunter, this job is 100% guaranteed not to end in eternal torment within the digestive juices of a Sarlacc!... probably. Maybe. ... no promises!
  • Submachine: Future Loop FoundationSubmachine: Future Loop Foundation - You know whenever Mateusz Skutnik is steering your tugboat you're going to have a good time, and doubly so if you're bound for Submachine territory. Existing outside the main continuity you explore within the rest of the series, the game was made for the band of the same name to help promote their music, but also provides a surprisingly engrossing journey into the surreal world you've come to love... provided you can find a way out of your cell, of course. Thick with atmosphere and imagery, it provides both a great way for newcomers to the intimidatingly lengthy series to dip their toes into the sort of intrigue and mystery it provides, but also a solid dose of puzzling and exploration that fans will love to dive right into. Few games have captured imaginations and lead to as many wild theories as the Submachine series, and if you haven't experienced it for yourself yet, this is a great snack to see if it's to your taste.
  • AlchemiaAlchemia - Springtail Studio is made up of some really interesting minds, and a trip within them in this gorgeous animated point-and-click adventure is just the way to round out your time. What looks like a simple forest evening takes a turn for the surreal when a dozing shepherd's meal is stolen by a robotic flying lizard, sparking a strange adventure and an unlikely companionship. The mood is fairly mellow, but also filled with an almost unparalled sense of mysticism and fantasy as you explore and think creatively to overcome obstacles. Though the extended version offers significantly more gameplay, this free browser version shouldn't be overlooked as a simple "demo", and will provide you with one of the loveliest (and weirdest!) adventures around for your time.

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


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (126 votes)
| Comments (13) | Views (28)

JeremyJumping LineIt's hard to be 2D in a 3D world, which you'll soon find out if you play Jumping Line, an austere little platformer from Henning Steinbock. But don't let the minimalist atmosphere lull you into a false sense of security, because you'll need to do all your best wrist exercises from that mandatory carpal tunnel workshop your boss made you attend last spring if you're going to be limber enough to keep this line on track to ultimate victory.

Just move your mouse cursor (no keyboard required!) to direct your line up and down the paths of this perilous faux-3D landscape and keep an eye out for little black pads scattered about, they'll save your progress and keep you from going all the way back to the beginning. Oh, and you might want to go to your local ophthalmologist and check that your depth perception is up to speck, because if it isn't you'll find yourself jumping on platforms that aren't quite there.

Keep all this in mind and you'll find that Jumping Line is a great example of a simple idea done well that will appeal to all the oldschool gamers out there who don't need a lot of bells and whistles to have a good time and break a satisfying gamer sweat.

Play Jumping Line

Thanks to Itt and Fahad for sending this one in! :)


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (27)

Bitless

JohnBBitless by Nicholas Rapp is like Space is Key meeting up with a platformer. It's a tough but funny, unforgiving but strangely compelling arcade game you play simply by tapping the screen. You'll be mocked by the narrator, you'll be tricked into messing up, and you'll die more times than you'll admit, but you'll keep playing simply because you can. And because you must. Getting hooked on Bitless is almost like acing an exam just because your friends said you couldn't do it. That'll teach them to spout mildly non-supportive jargon at us!

BitlessIn Bitless, your character runs to the right all on his own, so all you have to do is jump. Tap to jump, tap and hold for a long jump, tap multiple times to wall jump. You're going to want to avoid touching anything that isn't a wall, and even then you have to be careful, as some walls aren't quite what they seem. Don't fall in the pits, don't stare at the eye blocks, and just because your character is constantly going right, don't assume the exit portal is that way. Changing direction without meeting your doom is just another of Bitless' crazy tricks you'll learn to do.

There are four worlds in Bitless, each stocked with over a dozen levels and a boss. You can skip around and complete stages with some flexibility, but you have to complete most of a world's levels before you can continue. Beating a stage is an exercise in precision, and since each move you make directly affects how you'll make your next moves, there's absolutely no room for error. Made that first jump a little too soon? Too bad, you'll never leap over that next pit. Have fun starting all over again!

Despite being frustratingly difficult, Bitless will own your afternoon from the minute you start playing. Simple design and simple visuals come together to make a game that has the ability to inspire you to perfection via a careful mix of mocking and counter-encouragement. Have fun!

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
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (71 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (238)

BenHandheld Video GameThe chunkiness and weight of an original Gameboy will be familiar to anyone who's ever played one. Who knew the characters didn't much enjoy being put through an endless gauntlet of spikes and terror? Following the dialog in Folmer Kelly's retro platform game Handheld Video Game should clue you in on that, as, despite early enthusiasm, the little nameless main character wants nothing more than to escape the endlessly repeating levels he's trapped inside.

Using just the [arrow] keys to move and jump, guide your character through the 8 bit levels and perhaps help him find a way out entirely. Perhaps. You might prefer to keep playing. Most games would suffer a lot without their main character. Cute and simple, Handheld Video Game plays well as any 8 bit game of the Gameboy era, but the fourth wall breaking twist is a nice touch that sets it apart from others. It's short but worth the 5 minutes it takes to beat.

Play Handheld Video Game


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (3) | Views (39)

Wizschool

DoraGetting paired with brash, bossy Alicia as your mentor on your first day at Elandryl Academy, where young witches and wizards are taught, seems like getting the short end of the stick. She's loud, rude, lazy, and likes making you do her work for her. Just when you're starting to think she might not be so bad, however, Alicia's impatience with her schoolwork and her thirst for bigger and better powers could wind up spelling trouble not only for you and your newfround friends, but the entire kingdom as well. Gee, never saw that coming. Wizschool by OWLOH is a stunning match-3 RPG hybrid for your iOS or Android in the tradition of Puzzle Quest that will serve as a fantastic introduction to the genre for casual gamers but is just as beautiful and addicting to us grumpy old veteran gamer farts.

WizschoolWhile Alicia and her trio of buddies will drag you along with them from place to place on their adventure, gameplay boils down to the various match-3 sequences. Mixing potions involves swapping icons around on the grid so that you match enough of the appropriate items to get all your ingredients, while playing poker sees you and an opponent taking turns to try to get all of your required symbols first. Winning helps you level up, which increases your attributes, so you'll want to do your best to be stronger for the battles. During these, you and your opponent will take turns swapping scrolls, potions, and skulls to attack each other or heal. If the timer isn't your cup of tea, try switching on to the "casual" setting of difficulty so you can play more at your own pace without feeling like you're under the gun. The more you play, the more potions and magic elements you can unlock to equip, which will give you bonuses that can help out. You'll even get gold you'll eventually be able to spend at a shop to beef up your stats in various ways, or you can just spring for some coins via an in-app purchase if you don't feel like grinding.

While there's no denying that as far as the gameplay goes Wizschool lacks the freedom to explore and complexity of Puzzle Quest, Wizschool's vibrant presentation and simpler, more easily accessible gameplay combined with the premise means it may cast its net wider and appeal to a broader audience looking for something lighter. The game is a knockout, with beautiful environments and imaginative character art (despite a surprise amount of cheesecake evident in the female designs), and the story remains bright and engaging despite a few small typos and familiar concept. It's effortlessly addictive, the sort of thing you can pick up "just for a minute" and look up to find an hour has flown by. On the downside, the time limit feels out of place, grinding is inevitable, and if you're playing on a small-screened device the scrolls during battles can be difficult to tell apart at a glance under pressure. The developers, however, have shown a remarkable willingness and desire to listen to feedback, and the balance and overall experience is constantly improving as a result. Though the corny, goofy premise and characters won't appeal to everyone, for fans of snappy match-3 style gameplay and lush design, Wizschool is well 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.


| Comments (1) | Views (2)

Mobile Monday

JohnBOk, ok, let's get this out in the open right now. There's a new Mega Man game coming to iOS. It's not what you think by a longshot, but its name is just... well it's atrocious. It has to be explained in order to be pronounced correctly, which is a mistake a marketing expert should have pointed out. We're looking at you, Fage yogurt company.

xover-p.jpgMega Man social RPG in the works - Yes, that headline is real. While you probably wouldn't expect the blue bomber to appear in an RPG, let alone a socially-focused one, Capcom recently announced that very thing is true. Mega Man Xover (that's "crossover", not "exover", like you'd think) allows you to build your own Mega Man and then take your abilities out on the town, heading through the various worlds and finding the various enemies from the entirety of the Mega Man series. What exactly these social elements will be is yet to be seen, but if Capcom doesn't botch the game, it could hold promise, especially for us nostalgic gamers out there.

gasketball.jpgGasketball downloads high, sales low - A little over one of your Earth weeks ago, we reviewed Solipskier creator Mikengreg's newest mobile release, the arcade physics game Gasketball. The game has been downloaded over 200,000 times since then, but the team reports a sad, sobering fact: very, very few people opt for buying the full game via in-app purchase. The going theory is the value of the deal isn't clearly stated, so the team is working on an update that clarifies things once and for all. In case you've downloaded the free game and are wondering what the IAP is for, you can unlock 100 new levels along with ten new objects to play around, either in one big purchase or on a piecemeal basis. Either way, playing the game is a great idea, as it's mountains of fun!

bagit.jpgBag It! gets seedy - The cute and creative puzzle game Bag It! has had quite a bit of success since its initial release. And for good reason, since it's a great way to practice your grocery stacking skills! A new update adds a brand new mode to enjoy: Seedy's Booty. This endless matching frenzy challenges you to pluck items from a belt and match them in the bag below, hoping to score as many points as you possibly can. New social features also allow you to compete with friends to earn coins you can spend on power-ups! Also new in the update are improved 3D visuals, allowing those milk cartons to really pop off the screen!

googleplay-p.jpgGoogle Play update rumors - Rumors are circulating that a big update to the Google Play store is coming soon, introducing a few features us Android gamers have been wanting for a long time. The most promising is a wishlist feature, allowing you to mark games for grabbing at a later time. Gift cards are also going to be supported, so instead of passing out your credit card information, you can grab a gift card and help control your spending. Now where is our "new Android games" browsing option, Google?

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!


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (15)

Jack Lumber

JohnBJack be nimble, Jack be— oh, forget that old number. Jack Lumber is a path drawing arcade game from Owlchemy Labs. Jack's granny has been kidnapped by a walking tree, and in order to rescue her, he's got to do some serious chopping, Fruit Ninja style! Jack's big and burly and very handy with an axe. Not only can he chop down trees, he can apparently channel lightning to aid in his epic quest. It's time to mow through the forest, murderlizing everything wooden until you get your granny back!

Jack LumberA series of logs flies into the air, spinning out of control and quickly sinking to the bottom of the screen. Tap and hold your finger to slow time to a crawl, giving you a few precious seconds to draw a path. This path is the path Jack's axe will take, so you'll want to move through each log from end to end, making a clean cut as quickly as you can. As soon as you remove your finger, Jack gets chopping, your score gets tallied, and more logs fly your way.

Chopping logs isn't always a straightforward task. In addition to the usual array of standard logs, you'll also encounter L-shaped logs, crossed logs, one-way logs, logs you have to chop multiple times (we're presuming they're oak), and plenty more. So, instead of just freezing time and drawing a line, you're also plotting a precise path through the air, all within a few small seconds of time. Kinda makes you feel awesome, doesn't it? Like Thor the lumberjack astronaut or something.

Jack Lumber is a simple game, but it's got a lot of attitude and style. It's precisely one of those titles you pick up, play around with for a while, then find yourself coming back for more again and again. Gotta collect more woodland animals, gotta do more lumberjack chores, and gotta rescue grandma!

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.


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (3) | Views (123)

Unmechanical

JohnBIt all begins with an innocent little robot drifting through a leaky cave. It all ends with... well, a lot more than that. Talawa Games' Unmechanical is a physics-heavy action puzzle game where you control a round 'bot flying through an underground factory, trying to find his way back to the surface. It looks like something unsettling happened here not too long ago, judging from the rockslides and blocked passages and all. But you don't have time to hover and ponder, you just want to get out. And as you soon discover, you're not exactly alone down here...

UnmechanicalYou have one ability in Unmechanical: a short anti-gravity ray. This beam emanates from your underside, activating with the simple press of a button. With it you can tow certain objects around the level, carrying and placing them on switches, dropping them down chutes, using them to block moving objects or bridge gaps, and so on. It's more than simple "drop rock A on rock-shaped slot B", and you'll have to do some experimenting with some unusual biomechanical contraptions to figure out exactly what needs to be done.

Analysis: Shh. Don't tell anyone, but Unmechanical is actually a pretty great game. Wait, on the other hand, do tell everyone. Nothing about this simple outing screams "triple AAA title omg buy it twice", but then again, good indie games don't always need fireworks in their press releases or explosions on the title screen. They need a simple but smartly executed idea, they need intriguing puzzles, and they need to look good. Unmechanical meets those listed requirements and takes a few steps beyond, and there's no reason it shouldn't occupy a space on your virtual games shelf.

UnmechanicalThe puzzles in Unmechanical built around familiar mechanics everyone should recognize. They walk a careful line between trite and intriguing, oftentimes stepping too far into the former's territory. Subsequent areas always make up for the predictable puzzles, though, so you'll find yourself quickly forgiving the game and falling right back in to loving it to pieces.

Unmechanical features about five hours of gameplay, give or take depending on your l33t gaming skillz (I apologize for typing that). There are two endings to discover, and even though the plot is somewhat thin, you'll still want to view them both. The challenge level is on the easy side, but the game goes to extra lengths to provide a sparse but atmospheric experience, so extreme difficulty wouldn't be very apropos.

Unmechanical is quiet and unassuming, but it's a game that succeeds at what it wants to do. The emotional connection you feel for the main character comes out of nowhere, but you'll be rooting for him the entire time. Don't let anything stop you from giving the game a try, you just might find yourself enjoying, like, a lot, and stuff!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version (via GOG.com)

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


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (23 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (1,131)

Horn

BenIt's always seemed inefficient to trap mammals inside robots. It didn't work for Dr. Robotnik, which should have been a lesson to everyone. Nevertheless, in Horn, an epic third person RPG adventure from Phosphor Games, the robots themselves decided to start converting humans into their own kind. While its a bit unclear why that happened, its up to you, an amnesiac blacksmith's apprentice, to sort it all out.

HornSomewhat similar to the later Legend of Zelda games in basic layout, Horn is an expansive game with plenty of exploring to do. Tapping the screen allows you to interact with nearby objects as well as move around the environment. Most items that need your attention are marked by icons, so your path is usually easy enough to follow. Additional controls are made available as you jump large gaps or navigate narrow ledges. Once a battle starts, swiping prompts Horn to slash in that direction with his sword. Roll buttons allow you to dodge enemy blows or get in position for damaging attacks against a weak point. Potions and stun bombs round out your arsenal, although these are expensive to resupply, and are best used sparingly. And before you think it, yes, the battles are a bit reminiscent of Infinity Blade 2. Which is a good thing.

Crafting is also a part of Horn, although it's little more than an upgrades shop instead of a proper crafting system. Blueprints for new weapons need to be found in the world before anything can be crafted, and crafting itself costs cores and pygite, which also must be collected. There's an in-app purchasing option for boosting your crafting currencies, but it's totally optional and really only put there for the lazy. If you have some patience you'll find plenty of cores on your own, and if you want more, there's an arena created solely for earning cores via combat.

HornAnalysis: There's a lot that Horn does very well, not to mention a lot it does well on the mobile platform. The 3D graphics alone are worth a mention, and while most locations look similar early on, once the sun comes out the drab ruins almost sparkle in the warm light. Naturally, more locations open up as you progress, and they're great things to behold when you finally have access. Exploration is a fun part of any well made RPG, and there are plenty of secrets to find in this game. A downside is that most hidden areas rarely contain anything other than a chest of pygite, but saving up for late-game upgrades is never a bad idea.

Horn can make it too obvious where the path forward is hidden. In some areas the level design is fantastic and you're led to your objective without realizing the game is gently pushing you along. Other times a trail of tool tips precedes you, and too often you just follow them to the stage end. Even the secrets are marked clearly. The advantage is that it's hard to get lost, but you never feel quite like you're exploring by yourself. That said, many players will appreciate the simplicity, especially as the camera can make navigation awkward.

Dialogue is also a downfall of this otherwise lovely game. It seems to be aiming for comedy, but conversations are drawn out rather than punchy. Even the best visual joke is deployed so early that the effect is lost. Additionally, reserved and unenthusiastic voice acting leaves the impression of of a low budget sitcom with the laugh track removed. The grand sense of progress usually distracts you from these shortcomings, as collecting blueprints, taking down huge enemies, or even just picking off the small flying enemies to earn extra cores feels like another step of the adventure. No matter how flat the story is, seeing it unfold as you play gives meaning to your journey.

For those looking for an intricate, moving plot, Horn may not be quite what you want. But everything else comes together to create a grand experience well worth the price of admission. Horn is easily one of the top 3D RPGs on mobile devices right now. Grab your sword, hero, and prepare to take back your land from the Pygon. Because, well, nobody else is around to do the dirty work!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (135)

Twisted Lands: Origin

JohnBTwisted Lands: Origin starts with a bang, and it never lets up. The third game in the Twisted Lands series, the story goes back to the beginning and tells the tale of the terror that stormed the island of Tormente. It's an intense casual adventure whose focus is strongly centered on story and hidden object scenes, creating an interesting sort of action/puzzle duality that keeps you moving along at a rapid pace.

Twisted Lands: OriginThings start off with a chase scene through the forest where a bunch of monster-looking things are after you. That's just great! Oh, and what? The crew of your ship is missing? Probably not a big deal. Boats pretty much operate themselves these days, right? Oh, well now there's something. A specter of a girl following the ship just under the water. And the entire port town is populated by ghosts? That's... that's just great! But that's not why you're here. Joaquin Huerta has asked you to search for her daughter, Teresa. So despite the ghosts, crazy storms, and evil guard dogs, you've got a job to do, detective.

Structured more like Twisted Lands: Insomniac, Origin sets you loose to explore small areas with new places blocked by puzzles you'll need to solve. Hidden object scenes are most often the manner in which you'll proceed, solving a few of them to gain key items necessary to remove obstacles in your path. The formula is very straightforward, with little room to get lost. And if you do, a friendly hint system is always ready to point you in the right direction.

Twisted Lands: OriginAnalysis: It's always difficult to pull off a successful trilogy of games, but Alawar Stargaze knows how to keep your eyes glued to the screen. Through Twisted Lands: Origin's interesting mix of action storytelling and hidden object scenes, there's barely a moment to catch your breath. It's one of the more cinematic hidden object games out there, as even the music sounds like it was pulled from an action flick.

Twisted Lands 3 does suffer from some of the traps many hidden object games fall for, including subject puzzles that require just the right item to solve, even though half the items you just found would logically serve just as well. You'll never get stuck or be confused as to what to do, your mind will just wonder "Why can't I use the hammer I just saw?". The voice acting is also rather underwhelming, though it's passable for a casual adventure game.

Twisted Lands: Origin is a great exercise in exciting storytelling, something rarely seen in modern adventure/hidden object hybrids. Best of all, you don't need a thorough knowledge of the previous games to have a good time, just hop on board and get ready for a ride.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (69 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (26)

TrickyRobotic ArmRobot wants dots! Okay, the star of Robotic Arm, a simple idea puzzle game by Amidos might be missing his torso, head, and legs, but his desires are no less poignant. Each level features lines connected to filled and empty circles, surrounded by yellow dots. The filled circles serve as rotational joints: clicking one will rotate the connecting arms 45 degrees clockwise (save for the one in the center, which is fixed in place). The level is completed when each and every unfilled circle contains a yellow dot. Each level has a minimum number of moves to shoot for, but as there is no penalty for undoing or redoing moves, it's worth experimenting.

Robotic Arm's eerie music and starkly minimalist, almost abstract, aesthetic might turn some people away. You can never find a cartoonishly snarky AI when you need one. No matter though: Robotic Arm offers a cunning test of spatial logic that should appeal to any fan of mechanical manipulation puzzles. Maybe the Robot Apocalypse won't be so bad after all!

Play Robotic Arm


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (53 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (298)

Happy Street

JohnBSo, what's your neighborhood like? Is it filled with happy, friendly people who wear strange hats, ride tricycles, and spend their days wandering between the fruit stand and the sunglasses hut? Did you build most of the things on your street? Is your neighborhood in 2D? Well hey, even if it is, the casual simulation game Happy Street from Godzi Lab (creator of iBlast Moki 2) is an all-around wholesome and addictive experience. Set up a shop here, pick up an apple there, get a bird to poop on your friend's head. All in a day's play in your ever-expanding village of pseudo-commerce!

Happy StreetHappy Street follows a similar sort of set-up as games like Tiny Tower, We Rule or Pocket Planes. The premise is that you are in charge of a friendly little town, placing and moving shops, keeping them stocked, and gathering coins and flooz so you can expand your village and discover new environments. As long as everything is running smoothly you'll have a steady income and can continue to build new things. You'll meet a lot of different characters during your little journey and encounter a fair number of fun events, like the fiesta you can throw where everyone spends coins like they're going out of style.

In addition to the building and citizen management, Happy Street also throws some light item collection elements at you, giving it an almost Wandering Willows sort of feel. Pick up mushrooms, for example, and you can cook things with them. Find a chunk of the moon, an apple, or a pile of bird poop and, well, who knows what might happen. You also have to keep a casual eye out for any villagers who happen to be sad. If a gloomster steps in front of you, you can usually set things right by building or moving a few shops around. The villager management elements are minimal and actually quite enjoyable when they do arise (such as birthday presents!!!).

Happy StreetAnalysis: Happy Street enters itself into a crowded market of casual mobile sims. Every developer with two programmers to lock in a room has their own version of these village building, coin collecting, thing upgrading games, so it isn't exactly shocking to see another one appear on the market. Happy Street, though, is a different kind of experience. The flat, horizontal nature is a comfortable setting for anyone who has spent time with video games. And the casual simulation elements are very loose and enjoyable, never frustrating or never a hassle, just pure joy.

Happy Street does come packed with a few features that may make some players roll their eyes. Fortunately, none of them are real issues that get in the way of enjoying the game. For starters, you're encouraged at every turn to share things with your real world friends via Facebook and Twitter. It's easy enough to ignore, but doing so rewards you with items and materials, which is often a big help. In-app purchases are also available, allowing you to spend real money in exchange for flooz, the little gems that help speed things up, expand your village, and so on. You'll be tempted to drop some cash here and there, and the available packages range from acceptably priced to outrageously what the heck. Still, you aren't forced to buy, it just makes things move along at a faster clip.

Casual, colorful and addictive, Happy Street is a rare village building game that almost completely eliminates the feeling of doing chores just to keep coins coming in. There are plenty of little surprises to find as well, making every moment you spend with the game an absolute treat!

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 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (69 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (71)

DoraThree Cats and Forty ThievesChoko-Chai knows that when it comes to solving escape puzzles, cats rule and humans drool, so you've got three on hand to help out in Three Cat and the Forty Thieves. Our three feline friends witness an infamous troop of thieves opening a cave with magic words to hide their treasure and decide to sneak in for a peek, only to discover the door closes behind them. But these ain't your ordinary pussycats... they can do more than simply freak out at nothing, lick themselves noisily, and pretend they don't understand what "no" means. They're ready to help you help them get out!

Just click around to look for clues and gather items, relying on the changing cursor to help point out interactive areas, and click "about" once you've highlighted an item in your inventory for a closer look. If you get stuck, consider getting a little help from your friends by clicking the fat cat icon in the lower-left corner of the screen... if they can do anything, all three cats will pop onscreen, and clicking on whatever you need assistance with will make one of them do the work for you. In, uh... unusual ways.

Through the use of a few clever ideas and sneaky clues, Three Cat and the Forty Thieves manages to serve up a cute and quirky escape with an approachable level of challenge for almost anyone. There are a few mildly frustrating bits due to one odd viewpoint transition hidden in a strange spot, as well as one puzzle that might require some trial-and-error unless you add up all the clues, and you'll definitely want to save your game at least once since the game has a bug or two chittering around the upper levels. As a bit of crafty, cutesy midday escaping, however? Three Cat and the Forty Thieves is just the right size of weirdness to enjoy.

Play Three Cat and the Forty Thieves

Thanks to Cyberjar88 for sending this one in!


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (130 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (1,122)

JeremyRoute 401 MotelThe fatal flaw of many adventure games is that they are too complicated, or seem to think you have days and countless Friday nights to spare in the completion of unintuitive or unfair puzzles. Well, at least Ori Brusilvsky understands your pain and created Route 401 Motel, a fun little point-and-clicker that most of us mere mortals can finish and enjoy in the span of a couple of coffee breaks.

You play a lucky young man who has just inherited a motel with a lovely scenic view of Route 401. The only hitch is that an entire family of yahoos with questionable hygiene are squatting in your lovely new property and you'll need to find a clever way to give them the boot if you want to start running the place. Just click around to explore, using the map on the bottom left to switch locations, and racking up items in your inventory on the bottom right.

Route 401 Motel keeps it simple with just four locations to wade through and streamlines the whole experience as much as possible, so that the distance between "I know what I can do with those batteries!" and actually doing something with them is short. That doesn't mean there aren't any challenges, of course, but some of your more seasoned adventure gamer friends, the ones who you suspect have no life and family obligations to speak of, might scoff at. But for the rest of us who have started so many adventure games only to quit in defeat days later, Route 401 Motel will be a fun exercise in maybe, actually, you know, winning. Just be careful not to slosh coffee all over your coworkers when you do your "I actually won an adventure game!" victory lap around the office.

Play Route 401 Motel


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (55 votes)
| Comments (6) | Views (14)

TrickyImpale 2The titular star of Kyle Rodgers' Bread Duck is a duck who is a loaf of bread. Frankly though, it's just as likely that he's a loaf of bread that happens to be a duck. It probably doesn't make much of a difference. After all, if you're one to quibble about the specific phylum of creature that setting out to rescue Bagel Kitties, then games on the internet might not be the right hobby for you. But if kitty-based gaming is something you're into, then this retro-styled puzzle platformer should prove quite intriguing.

Bread Duck moves and jumps with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys. In each level, there are pieces of bread to collect, flying bread knives to stomp on, and switches to activate to further your own progress. More importantly, though, there are Bagel Kitties that you need to help get to their kitty home. These kitties walk in a straight line, and have very little sense of self-preservation, so you will have to clear the way for them. As they can walk through kitty doors that you cannot, this often means following along with them, though if they are too slow for you, holding down [Shift] will speed up the kitty's walking. Sure, rescuing them is technically optional, but could you really live with yourself if one ended up sliced?

Bread Duck is charmingly off-beat and gloriously reminiscent of a high-quality DOS shareware game that never was, particularly in its graphics and charming chiptune soundtrack. Escort-based games can sometimes be frustrating, but the kitty's consistent behavior, along with the speed-up button, makes things more about clever platforming than babysitting. Strangely, Bread Duck has a palpable Lemmings feel to it, despite the different genre. Maybe it manages to tap into the same gamer's instinct for protection and survival. Maybe it's just the adorable pixelation. Whatever the case, Bread Duck is a ton of quirky fun, and checking it out is the yeast you should do.

Play Bread Duck


(18 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (133)

DoraSkywire VIP ShuffleHow're your eyes? How about your trivia? Feelin' all pop culture-y today? You're going to need it for Nitrome's latest word game Skywire VIP Shuffle, featuring all new itty-bitty stars and characters rendered in stunning pixel-o-vision. Once again, you'll be treated to a host of tiny celebrities, real or fictional, whose names you'll have to guess by typing them into the spaces onscreen. Get it right and you can proceed, but if you're struggling, you can click the spotlight in the upper-left corner for a hint, or click the panda with his creepy "I roomed with Slenderman in college" grin to skip the stage you're on.

If you're like me and are terrible with names, relegating everyone except the most beloved characters to "that guy from that show" status, Skywire VIP Shuffle is a bit of a nightmare... though admittedly a fun one. It's surprising just how well some of the characters are represented, and how iconic their designs can be that Nitrome can represent them here with just a few pixels and have them immediately recogniseable with only small details like Bruce Willis' dirty tank top. That said, the randomised progression of levels feels like kind of a weird gimmick to choose, especially since it doesn't add anything, and it can be a little frustrating at times when you're trying to remember a character's name only to realise that this time the game just wants the title of the show they were on, the movie they starred in, and so forth. Still, if you're ready to prove you've got Simpsons Comic Book Guy levels of pop culture recognition and you love it, Skywire VIP Shuffle is another gorgeous dose of wordplay trivia to sharpen your eyes and your brain for the day.

Play Skywire VIP Shuffle


| Comments (7) | Views (3)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraMy little Link Dump, my little Link Dump, aaa-aa-aaa-aaaaaah... We may not have flashy pictures on our butts, and we've never saved the universe from John de Lancie (... that we can discuss... ), but here at JayisGames we do have action, adventure, platforming, and more served up daily by the developers you love! This week, Wadjet Eye Games teams up with another developer to serve up one stellar looking title, an iconic RPG from the '90s hits your PC, the woods get even more dangerous, and you and your buddies will soon be able to team up to destroy... everything!

PrimordiaThe Post-Apocalypse Was Never So Pretty Wadjet Eye Games and Wormwood Studios are teaming up to take you beyond the end of the world in the upcoming stunning point-and-click adventure game Primordia. The story follows a robot named Horatio who just wants to be left to live alone and free, but finds himself reluctantly pulled into adventure once his power source is stolen and he's forced to leave home to find it. Oh, and apparently you get a "sarcastic floating sidekick named Crispin" to boot. The game is due out later this year and looks absolutely amazing, and it should go without saying that if Wadjet Eye is attached to it then you know the quality is going to be out of this world. You can find out more on the official site, and check out some amazing artwork and screenshots while you're at it. This is one to be ready for.

Final Fantasy 7The RPG With the Elaborate Cross-Dressing Puzzle RPG fans, start your engines, because the iconic Final Fantasy 7 is now available for download once again for Windows. The story follows a mercenary named Cloud who is hired by the radical group AVALANCHE for a mission to destroy a reactor sucking the life out of the planet for the Shinra Corporation, though Cloud soon discovers he's going to be a hero whether he likes it or not, and the fate of the world hinges on mistakes and mysteries set in motion decades ago. Though it shows its age visually, since it was originally released for the Playstation waaaaay back in 1997, Final Fantasy 7 is a huge game and a lot of fun for fans of traditional turn-based JRPGs, and if you buy it before September 12th you can pick it up for $9.99 USD.

Castle CrashersThey Didn't Forget About Us! If you've always wanted to get your hands on the 2D side-scrolling action game Castle Crashers but couldn't or wouldn't play it on XBOX (2008) or PS3 (2010), then get ready to kick up your heels because the game is finally coming to PC via Steam. If you like to play with friends and cause a lot of carnage, then this game is definitely going to be for you, and you'll want to keep your eyes open for a price and release date in the future. Rampage through gorgeous 2D environments with big heads, big weapons, and cute animal companions? I'm so there!

RoutineI(n Space, Nobody Can Hear You OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT Do you like indie games and being terrified out of your wits? Well, Lunar Software's upcoming first-person exploration adventure Routine might be for you... if you can handle it. You're sent to an abandoned moon base to discover why everyone has disappeared, and since this is a horror game, it probably isn't because they all decided to go out for chicken nuggets. You know, because games set in abandoned space stations always work out so well for the protagonist. Details are scant, but lacking a Heads Up Display so as to not spoil the immersion, no hit points or medikits, and the threat of perma-death hanging over your head, this could be one seriously intense experience.

Mercenary KingsGorgeous Pixel Explosions If you love pixels, action, platforming, and building things, you might want to give the Kickstarter for Tribute Games' upcoming Mercenary Kings a speculative gander. Estimated to be released in May of 2013, the game stars you as King, the world's best mercenary, sent to an island to destroy the criminal organisation responsible for the deaths of your former teammates. Tribute Games not only crafted the official game for Scott Pilgrim vs The World, but also the gorgeous Wizorb, so you know they've got the talent to back this one up, and the artwork they've released is already gorgeous. They're asking for $75,000.00 USD, with $31,887.00 USD so far and 28 days to go as of this writing, and while you can donate any amount you want, a minimum of $15.00 USD is required to actually get a copy of the game once it's available.

SlenderNow With More Bowel-Loosening Fun! Parsec Productions' free first-person horror adventure game Slender is short and relatively simple, but also absolutely terrifying. Based on an internet-crafted myth, you must search through dense woods at night for eight pages of a missing manuscript, all the while being stalked by an unknown, increasingly persistent enemy. I was actually originally planning to make you guys a "Let's Play" video of my first run through when I was writing my review, but it contained so much squealed profanity and moments of embarassing cowardice I had to scrap the idea. Since that initial article, the game has already received several updates, including one that has a few different unlockable modes if you actually beat the game, and still has a lot more planned. If you want to know more, and even help out with ideas and feedback, you can now take part in the official development forums. Because everyone knows the best fear is always a team effort so you have a lot of people to blame and punch after.

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!


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

Flip's Escape

JohnBIt's escaping time! Flip's Escape is an arcade follow-up to The Last Rocket, an iOS puzzle game also by Shaun Inman. The goal is to fly as far as you can, passing light years of space in just a few seconds. Crash and you start back at the beginning, but not without earning some coinage and achievements in the process. One look at the clean pixel visuals and you might think you're in for an easy ride. But flight after flight, failure after failure, you'll realize you've got a lot of skills to sharpen before you get anywhere.

Flip's EscapeNarrowly escaping the destruction of the ship as it was pulled into a star, the little rocket Flip is now on the run. A searing stellar shockwave has burst from the crash, and the only way to survive is to start flying. Flip slides back and forth on his own, constantly moving away from the danger advancing from. Asteroids fly in from the top of the screen, and the only thing you can do to avoid them is tap the screen to put on the brakes. Stopping naturally puts you in closer proximity to the shockwave, so you want to use it sparingly. But, you know, not so sparingly that you turn yourself into an asteroid sponge.

Tiny stars fly around asteroids as they slide by, and if you're in the right place at the right time you can grab them. Stars function as a sort of health meter and also build up to give you a warp boost, which does pretty much what you would expect. In addition to stars, you'll also find gems from time to time, usually by smashing open asteroids. Gems function as currency in the game's simple shop (er, the Spacemouse Rocket Repair Shop) and let you buy one-use items, hull upgrades, or friends to help you out. You can also get packs of gems from the Spacemouse Mining Concern, a little in-app purchases store available from the main menu.

Flip's EscapeAnalysis: Flip's Escape aims for that quick style of gameplay where you can get a few rounds in while sitting in the waiting room at the dentist's office but always have something greater you're working towards. The goals are rather lofty, and apart from besting your own personal goals and nabbing some achievements, you'll have a lot of playing to do before you can purchase anything substantial in the store. When you do, though, things get a little bit more exciting.

Apart from gathering stars, tapping the breaks, and wishing that stupid shockwave would go advance on someone else, Flip's Escape doesn't throw very much at you, which is arguably a good thing in the grand scheme of things. While traveling at warp you can tap the screen to increase your speed, but there's very little (if any) visual feedback while doing this, so even while you're tapping away like a crazed prospector, you feel a little silly. But who cares? An extra light year is an extra light year!

Also worth mentioning are the game's music and sound effects, both created by Matt Grimm. Flip's Escape goes for that old school 8-bit aesthetic, from the pixel visuals to the gameplay itself, and the chip tune-esque soundtrack is a perfect fit.

Ready to start your run? Flip's Escape is a simple but exciting with plenty of rewards to be had, both in the immediate and in the long term. And if you fall in love with Flip (as well you should), give The Last Rocket a try for a very different sort of mobile gaming experience.

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 3.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.3/5 (374 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (25)

TrickyImpale 2Let's be honest. If you had both a medieval-style cannon thing and an unlimited supply of the undead to serve as ammo, you'd probably spend most of your time trying to launch them into various spikes, hooks, rotating saws, crushing anvils, and shocking tesla coils. Don't even try to front: we all know the mischief you caused with the trebuchet you constructed in physics class. Fortunately, Mibix has come out with Impale 2, a puzzle game that gives you gory zombie-flinging action without the intensive clean-up afterward.

Position the mouse to determine the cannon's direction and launching power, then click to fire. Each level has various obstacles that need to be activated by flinging a zombie against them. Some obstacles, like saw blades, are immediately fatal, while others, like the trapazoidal fire vats, require you to dump the zombie in from the top. Sometimes you will have to manipulate the environment to line up a good shot, but knocking an unactivated device off the screen may cause you to fail. While you won't run out of ammo, the fewer zombies you use, the more points you'll score. Impale 2 is great for a little simple, immature fun. The way the zombies flair across the screen is hilariously ragdolly, and, call it macabre, but a well-timed splatter is very satisfying. Impale 2 could use a clarifying instruction screen and a little adjustment to its hit-detection, but overall, its 70 levels of horror make one wish for Halloween to come early this year.

Play Impale 2


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (48 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (12)

BenDynamite SnakeWalking away from an explosion? Instant coolness. So what does a snake need to modernize his game and regain some street cred? Explosions, of course. And in Dynamite Snake, a retro arcade puzzle game from FrameCoders, you're in control of a snake who spends his life slithering coolly away from explosions. Unless he moves too slow, in which case his face gets blown sky high.

Your goal is to guide the snake to the exit on every level, using the [arrow] keys. Each segment of his body explodes after a second or two, so there's no time to spare. To complicate things, levels are packed with bombs, coins, destructible blocks, and so on, most of which can be interacted with by having part of your body combust next to them. Maximum score on each level is awarded for collecting every coin and causing the most destruction possible.

Fans of high-octane puzzle games will enjoy Dynamite Snake. Snake veterans might feel the title is misleading, as the only real similarity to classic snake is, well, the snake. Really, Dynamite Snake is a collection of clever puzzles with good looking pixel art that happens to have a snake theme, and that's never a bad thing. Unless you're Indiana Jones, in which the whole snake thing might put you off.

Play Dynamite Snake


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (159 votes)
| Comments (24) | Views (617)

TrinnMust Escape the Pet ShopOh, sleepy escapers, won't you ever learn? You've point-and-clicked through so many challenges and freed yourself from so many prisons only to fall victim to the clichd curse of narcolepsy once again. In this room escape by Selfdefiant, you dozed off while petting a kitten at the Little Critters pet store and woke up to find yourself locked securely inside. It's unlikely the owner will appreciate discovering someone hiding out with their fluffy merchandise, so you're left with only one option: you Must Escape the Pet Shop! That is, if you can keep yourself awake long enough.

Use the mouse as your guide to inspect and interact with the areas, items, or animals in each room. Directional arrows at the sides of the screen allow you to turn left and right, and a changing cursor helps to identify important objects. Your progress is saved automatically (likely in anticipation of your unpredictable sleeping habits), but it probably won't take you more than a few minutes to finish given the game's relatively short length and the low difficulty of its simple and logical puzzles. Fluffy animals and bright, cartoony graphics offer a kid-friendly experience and just enough mental stimulation before your next power nap.

Play Must Escape the Pet Shop


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (41 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (12)

JeremyDrift Runners 3DDrift Runners 3D, the newest installment in the racing series by LongAnimals and Biscuit Locker is out, and that means it's time to strap on your seatbelt, pretend your automatic is a stick shift, and start doing donuts in the supermarket parking lot. Or you could just sit within the safe confines of your comfy home office with the speakers turned up high.

Just use the [arrow] keys to steer and hit [CTRL] or [SHIFT] when you want your car to drift around the turns. Each successful drift you do adds to your chain and gives you increased boost, which you'll need if you have any hope of passing the finish line before time runs out. Complete the timed races to unlock the "cows and cones" levels and earn some serious coin for your upgrades and the chance to buy snazzier new vehicles.

All of this will be familiar if you played Drift Runners and Drift Runners 2, but the big difference is the move away from an impersonal top-down view to a in-your-face third person perspective, which really puts you in the race. Also, the cars in Drift Runners 3D are a lot easier to handle, unlike the barely controllable anarchy of the previous games. But, don't be fooled simpler gameplay and more streamlined menus don't make for an easier game. You'll have to practice if you really want to get your drifts just right. Just remember to do it on the computer and leave the real life drifting to the scary looking guy with the bowie knife and tattered backpack that hangs out on the interstate off-ramp by your house.

Play Drift Runners 3D


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (28 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (21)

You Are Still a BoxJohnBMonths after discovering You Are a Box, Games Northwest is happy to report that You Are Still a Box. And you've got some work to do. The remarkably brain cell deficient Nabbles need to get to the exit, but since their only ability is walking and turning around when they hit a wall, you've got to help them avoid stepping into traps. As a box, you're just the moderately-animate object to do it, though you're going to need a little help along the way.

On their own, boxes in this game are basically good for two things: sliding left and right, and providing a stable platform. Most of your time will be spent catching the Lemming-like critters on your head, then moving to stay beneath them while they traverse spike-laden territory. A few power-ups make things a little tricker, such as the balloon that gives you limited flight, and the arrow that allows you a single jump. Once you puzzle out how to get the Nabbles to the goal, you'll find yourself distracted by slices of cake. Three appear in each stage, and if you're a perfectionist, you'll want to grab them all.

Later stages in You Are Still a Box get pretty tricky, emphasizing good reflexes and perfect timing above the light puzzle aspects of the game. Both the mobile versions and the browser release are the same game, providing around 20 levels of Nabble-saving entertainment. You've certainly got your work cut out for you!

Play You Are Still a Box


  • Currently 2.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 2.9/5 (77 votes)
| Comments (46) | Views (59)

Weekday Escape

GrinnypA playground is a place of wonder, magic, and tons of knee scraping fun. During the day a crowded playground filled with laughing (and falling) children can be a beautiful (albeit noisy) thing to witness. However, at night, something seems to change and what was once innocent fun becomes quiet, moody, and mysterious, something to be avoided even. Unfortunately for you, you've become locked into one tonight and the creepy doll-thing at the gate seems disinclined to help you out in Park Escape.

Park EscapeDassyutu, creator of The Ninja, has captured the eeriness of a playground at night, not helped at all by that very strange doll which seems to follow you in every scene as you investigate your way out. Navigation in the park is accomplished with bars at the sides and bottom of the screen, but will seem a bit strange at first due to the fact that it can take about 10 turns to see the whole park and get back to where you started. The puzzles are a fun mix, mostly use of found objects and observational skills involving colors and shapes. There is almost no dialogue, but what's there is in English, so no worries.

If there is a downside to Park Escape it is the lack of a changing cursor, which means that with the dark backgrounds there is some pixel hunting, and while the puzzles are logical, they don't flow as well as they could. These are minor quibbles, though, and Park Escape is a great little mid-week break. The set-up seems a little Stephen King after a while, and you might find yourself looking nervously over your shoulder, especially if you play with the lights off. Can you find your way out before you become totally creeped out by that doll-thing and the lack of sound? Give it a try!

Play Park Escape


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (54 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (36)

BenPlanet JuicerSpace mining comes with certain dangers. Top of the list is the constant threat of attack from natives, who just don't seem to appreciate your need for the minerals on their planet. There's a constant need to defend mining operations that many people never see, and in Planet Juicer, a side-view tower defense game from Yellow Bouncy Ball, you're in charge of keeping the mine safe.

You don't get to do the mining yourself, though. With gameplay following the lead set by the popular Plants vs Zombies, it's up to you to defend lanes of attack against various monsters, across three different planets. The game is entirely mouse controlled, using clicks on the field to place or upgrade towers, and the icon at the bottom of the screen to open the lab. In the lab you can research upgrades, which persist across worlds once unlocked. At the end of each world a boss shows up to test your build, so it's a good idea to get research done early and the more powerful towers ready before the final wave.

Planet Juicer is shorter and easier than other games in the genre, and the strategy is less involved as a result. But visually the game stands out with cartoony graphics and colorful animations, and there's little downtime during waves, meaning it never feels too easy. Pacey and well presented, Planet Juicer is a colorful bite-sized treat for defense fans, with the boss battles a particular highlight. You get to fight Master Splinter. Need I say more?

Play Planet Juicer


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (226 votes)
| Comments (37) | Views (117)

JeremyStable BoyRemember adventure games, back when processors came in megahertz and computer cases sported turbo buttons? Well, LonLonRanch does, and to prove it, he's come up with a charming little retro throwback called Stable Boy, with controls as simple as its premise. Just click your mouse to move, interact, and explore this cute little medieval kingdom while pressing [A] to throw deadly pieces of rotten cabbage at your foes, and [S] to check "ye olde stash." If you're going to find out what happened to your village, you're going to have to explore and talk to everyone... especially if you want to discover more than one ending.

Where the game really shines is its pixerlart and humor; it's more Monty Python than King's Quest and you'll get more than one chuckle at all the silly Ren Faire tropes. You'll also die a bunch of times, but thankfully you'll be transported back a few moments before your death, so you'll never have a reason to tear your cloak or rip your corset in frustration. It's simple, silly fun that makes for a perfect escape from your daily existence... especially if you've always wanted to live a glamorous life of mucking out stables.

Play Stable Boy


| Comments (0) | Views (5)

The Vault

DoraRobots are awesome, aren't they? And I'm not just saying that because I have foreknowledge of an impending mechanical uprising and am trying to ingratiate myself to our future cold, unfeeling rulers. Nosir! It's because when robots are around, it's almost impossible to predict what sort of game you're going to get out of them. This week's Vault cracks open on three wildly different bot-themed titles who only have two things in common... greatness and some fine lookin' chassis.

  • Bureau of Steam EngineeringBureau of Steam Engineering - Robots are smart. So if you pick up a Zachtronics game, you'd better be packing some serious mental processor power. This logic puzzle looks simple, but with the goal of properly building a series of robots complete with valves, power, pipes, and other parts so they function as they should, it definitely ain't easy. Don't let the fact that they call games like this "games for engineers" scare you off, however, since the crafting and planning put into each stage is both remarkable and exceptionally satisfying to solve. Besides, let's be honest... this is about the closest most of us are ever going to get to being Grant Imahara.
  • Give Up RobotGive Up, Robot - Robots are tenacious. You'll have to be too if you want to survive this challenging, punishing grappling-based platformer by Matt Thorson. Fast-paced, flashy, and frenetic, your goal is to guide your robot through a series of psychedelic hazards while being constantly berated by a computer that doesn't seem to think much of you. You'll definitely have to be quick on the keyboard if you want to survive, and players who enjoy more casual (and less rage inducing) platformers might wind up twitching uncontrollably after a few minutes, but the unique design combined with its fantastic gameplay makes this a welcome treat for the more fail-friendly gamers in the crowd.
  • Robot Dinosaurs That Shoot Beams When They RoarRobot Dinosaurs That Shoot Beams When They Roar - Robots are... uh... somethin'. Alright. We'll be honest. This hilarious shooter is not what you'd call "serious gaming" by any stretch, except perhaps with a maniacal grin and the biggest air-quotes imaginable, but darned if it isn't entertaining as all get out. You control one of two dino-robots from outerspace on the hunt for... er... dinoforce, who also blast laser beams from their mouths when they roar. Literally, since firing your laser unleashes a bizarre vocal shout that peters down ridiculously the more your power dwindles. It's simple, it's strange, and if you want something fun and funny with extremely limited replay value, you should definitely check it out.

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!


(18 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (5) | Views (696)

Organ Trail: Director's Cut

DoraIt's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. Well... I mean... aside from the fact that we haven't eaten in days. And the crippling sense of doom I feel from knowing we ran out of extra gas a long time ago. And the knowledge that there are only half a dozen bullets left for the next three hundred miles. Oh, and then there's this bite on my leg I got the last time we stopped that has me feeling kinda... itchy... tasty... but you know, other than that, peachy keen! Organ Trail: Director's Cut is the iOS/Android edition of the popular retro zombie apocalypse simulation by The Men Who Wear Many Hats, and it's here to deliver you the road trip from you-know-where. When the end of the world rolls around and society is in shambles, will you and a group of friends be able to make it all the way across the country, scavenging supplies as you go, on the promise of a sanctuary where the disease hasn't reached? Well... why not? I mean, when has an end-of-the-world zombie scenario ever had an ironically bad ending?

Organ Trail: Director's CutLike its browser-based initial incarnation and source material, your goal is to gather a group of your best friends and travel across the country, though here less about settling America and more about hoping that the rumours of a last bastion for humanity are true. The car drives itself, so it falls to you to manage not only your basic supplies like scrap and parts needed for repairs, but other essentials like food, gas, and ammunition to boot. If you run out of something, you can try waiting on the roadside or in a landmark to trade with travelers, or try your hand at scavenging. If you choose to scavenge, you'll have to fend off undead monstrosities while scurrying to pick up the supplies that appear. You can also adjust the pace at which you drive and your rations if you're worried about food or fuel, but if Lady Luck decides to throw a wrench into your plans, or you can't resist checking out whatever's going on in the distance off the road, having a big stockpile of canned beans might not help you.

Organ Trail: Director's CutChock full of references to every zombie flick from The Evil Dead to Shaun of the Dead and pop culture aplenty, Organ Trail: Director's Cut is a quirky, darkly humorous, and off-beat love letter to retro gaming. Scavenging winds up feeling tedious, largely due to how awkward the touch-screen shooting is and how monotonous it gets (occasional attack by mutant zombie dog notwithstanding), and it makes you wish there were more of the random text-based off-road encounters to balance it all out. In general, the longer you play, the more you'll notice how repetitive the game is, and how much success comes down to luck, and those of us who are old and creaky enough to have played the original Oregon Trail when it came out will nod grimly, but also with an odd sort of satisfaction.

After all, in a way, those same elements are exactly part of the weird, hypnotic appeal of The Organ Trail's predecessor, and if you enjoyed that but felt it could do with some more brain-eating, there's a good chance you'll find a lot to like here. The fantastic soundtrack by Ben Crossbones perfectly brings to mind classic '80s horror films, and the pixelly artwork looks great in general. The mobile Director's Cut offers a vastly different introduction and setup over the browser version, in addition to a lot of other tweaks, improvements, and enhancements like an easier to navigate interface, improved artwork, and many more random occurrences to deal with. You'll definitely want to try the free browser version to see if its your cuppa, but for fans of classic retro gaming, Organ Trail: Director's Cut is one bloody good road trip for the doomed-to-die-an-ironic-heroic-death zombie movie star in all of us.

Play The Organ Trail (browser)

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad (1st Gen.). 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.


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (41)

Super Mole Escape

JohnBCan we use the phrase "high octane" without also referencing monster truck events in the same sentence? If so, we would officially like to add that to our description of Super Mole Escape, a new upgrade-fueled arcade game from Grumpyface Studios and Adult Swim. Playing as one of seven characters (most of which have to be unlocked to use), your job is to tilt your iOS device back and forth to swim through the dirt and escape the mole cops. Bustin' out of prison isn't always as easy as getting a poster of Rita Hayworth and a small rock hammer, you know.

Super Mole EscapeSuper Mole Escape is built around the same idea as Jetpack Joyride. Once you pick a character and start digging, your job is to go as far as you can, collecting gems and avoiding anything that might slow you down (or eat you). At some point you'll make a mistake and the cops will nab you, ending the run and allowing you to tally your gems and upgrade your character or buy more power-ups. There are also achievement-style missions to complete each time you start digging, such as collecting certain amounts of gems or performing other neat-o feats.

Where that "high octane" stuff kicks in is when you start grabbing groups of gems for speed boosts, then chain them together for crazy cool dashes. Not only that, various power-ups give you some more speed, and you can even get things like an epic drill suit that lets you, well, do some epic drilling. Combined with all of the other dangers down below, you'll find there are plenty of things to keep your attention as you play level after level of this game, hoping you'll finally earn enough gems to make something of yourself!

Super Mole Escape keeps it simple but isn't afraid to pour on the attitude. There's even a multiplayer mode to extend the octane-ness as well as some optional in-app purchases to speed up the gem collection. A lot of fun from a little game, and definitely one of those mobile titles that keeps you hooked for weeks on end!

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 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (91 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (121)

JeremyRelic of WarWWII was a serious historical event. Relic of War by Toge Productions, on the other hand, is a fun alternative-history strategy game with paranormal elements, isometric Wolf 3D aesthetics, and Nazis in miniskirts. Beneath the questionable storyline, however, is a solid strategy game that will have even the most snooty of history buffs cheering for more ectoplasm and mutants!

There are two episodes in the game, one for Axis and one for Allies. Right off the bat, you'll be presented with a generous upgrade tree and a handful of possible units. In each stage you get medals to put towards upgrades, which are well balanced and not too expensive. You also have some fun support options, like air support, medkits, and more advanced stuff later on. The [spacebar] cycles between the Units and Support menus, and the number keys call up air support and soldiers, while [WASD] scrolls across the screen, [Z] calls for retreat, [X] gives the stop order, and [C] blows the bugle and calls the charge!

Relic of War is beefy with options like the ability to individually micromanage your troops or let them "auto move." The added option is more a hindrance than a help, though, as the one-route-to-victory nature of the maps doesn't require a lot of detours. Mouse scrolling on larger levels is not as smooth as it could be and most players will want to keep "auto-move" clicked and commit the more useful keyboard controls to memory, clicking the few times its really necessary. Relic of War is clearly a flash game wanting to be a full-fledged real-time strategy adventure like the kind you passed around clandestinely on floppy disks and burned CDs in school. It would be nice if more games set their sights so high.

Play Relic of War


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (7)

BuniBon

KyhBouncy! Bouncy! Hippity hop! There's a fair amount of words to indicate a bunny moving around, and the protagonist of BuniBon, developed by Ludosity's Regnslöja, does them all! In this simple idea arcade game, you'll steer the little fuzz ball through 72 single-screen levels bouncing around hazards to collect the blue orbs. What will you find when you've beat all the bosses and completed all the levels?!

kyh_bunibon_screen.pngMove our nameless hero by tapping either the left or right side of your device to direct him toward that side. The duration of your tap indicates the distance of his hop. What you can't control is his vertical height (except when there's a springboard). When/if you find a level too frustrating, the level map allows you different paths through them, offering you several choices so that you're not just banging your head against the wall over a single level (instead, it's over multiple levels!). Get yourself to a square with the boss symbol and face an enemy requiring multiple hits to the head to defeat. Kill all the bosses to face the end boss in the purple, electricity region. And, of course, a little something special awaits those daring enough to beat all the levels and not just blaze through to the bosses.

Regnslöja has created something special in his simple, mobile action game. The high difficulty is balanced by the short levels, and the open options for the order you play the levels in make it even easier to handle the difficulty. Plus, with the introduction of new elements to avoid in each region to keep the levels interesting, there's little to complain about BuniBon. Help me, BuniBon Bunobi. You're my only hope!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on a Droid Razr. 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.


| Comments (0) | Views (7)

Mobile Monday

JohnBMore Minecraft is never a bad thing. With the main version receiving some nice updates in a recent rollout, the pocket version also gets its share of the updating fun. Not to be outdone by Minecraft, Mobigame is running a sale and looking for some attention for its well-known (and well-awesome) games, and DotEmu has some discounts for retro-loving Android gamers!

minecraft-ios.gifMinecraft mobile gets update - Minecraft: Pocket Edition, the mobile version of Minecraft available for both Android and iOS, has always lagged behind its bigger brother in terms of features. Sure, you can place blocks and dig and stuff, but most of the items, crafting recipes, enemies and other cool things have yet to make an appearance. The latest update to version 0.3.3 fixes some of those omissions, adding support for the bow and arrow along with the skeleton and spider enemies.

dynamitejack-p.jpgMobile Jack? Dynamite! - Galcon Fusion developer Phil Hassey unleashed a lovely stealth-based action game not too long ago called Dynamite Jack. The game eventually worked its way to iPad, but with the latest update, Dynamite Jack is now a universal app, supporting both iPad and iPhone-sized devices. Even better, Hassey is giving away the PC/Mac version for anyone who grabs the mobile game. Simply follow the instructions on his website and you're good to go! The deal could end any day, so start grabbing while the grabbing's good.

fez-p.jpgZynga wants Fez - According to a recent tweet from Fez creator Polytron, the game-gobbling publisher Zynga recently expressed interest in porting the game to mobile devices, likely in an attempt to draw more serious gamers to its table. Polytron politely refused the offer, so don't go checking your iPhone for the game anytime soon. Besides, we're waiting for our PC/Mac port first!

mobigame-p.jpgMobile game iOS sale - All humans enjoy a good round of Edge or Edge Extended. All plus more humans enjoy the same round for 70% off! Mobigame is running a week long summer sale and discounting its iOS titles so you'll have something to do while avoiding the heat. Both Edge titles are on sale along with Cross Fingers and Zombie Tsunami available for the low price of free! Sale ends August 19th.

another-p.jpgAnother World, R-Type for cheap! - Oh! What's this? Some blasts from the past going on sale? You won't hear us complaining (we do that in private, anyway). Publisher DotEmu is discounting its Android versions of R-Type and Another World for the next week, slashing 67% off the price of the former, and 82% off the price of the latter on the Amazon App Store. In other words, you can get two games that time has proven are awesome for a price that only a turn of the 20th century carpetbagger would complain about. Sale ends August 20th!

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!


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (52)

Be Richest!

KimberlyAh, money. Scrooge McDuck has it, Jed Clampet has it, and now you can join their ranks in Be Richest!, the third installment in the Be Rich series. Divo Games continues to let you feel like you are one of the tycoons of the world in this casual sim management game. The city has been left in ruins as an evil thief of an official has taken off with all the city funds, leaving rioting citizens and run down buildings in his wake. It's up to you to use your finely tuned building skills to bring the town back to its former glory.

Be Richest!As in the previous games, you go through the map neighborhood by neighborhood, meeting different goals in each scenario. Use the menus on the bottom of the screen to choose what you'd like to build, then click to place it on the map. You can click multiple times on any building that is being constructed to speed up the construction process. Hovering over your selection tells you how much income and how many people each building provides. As you play along, your selection of housing and commercial buildings increases. You can also bulldoze buildings or junk laying around in open lots, as well as sell your houses using the various icons on the right of the screen. You earn money and reputation points after each level, which eventually let you purchase super upgrades that give you various gameplay bonuses.

Unlike in the Build-a-Lot games, you have to keep an eye on your population. The people living in each area have certain commercial demands (grocery stores, entertainment, etc.) and you must make sure you provide the buildings they need in order to keep them happy. If the needs aren't met in a timely manner, houses may be abandoned, costing you time and money to fix them back up. Some level goals involve getting a certain population number as well. The appearance rating is also important. If the number gets too low, you may be dealing with rat infestations!

While Divo hasn't reinvented the wheel here, there is still plenty to enjoy. Being able to help projects along as well as clicking to scare away intruders (such as thieves, rats, or paparazzi) adds an additional franticness to each level. The only downside to that is in my ferocious clicking, I often ended up unintentionally causing an upgrade to a nearby building. Each section of the map has a small storyline running through it to keep things interesting, such as building a movie studio, or researching ancient ruins. The lack of a level timer can be frustrating if you are trying to get a gold score on each level, but you can replay each level as many times as you'd like. It is very cool that the world map reflects what you have actually built in each neighborhood, and after you win a level you are able to continue playing to make it as aesthetically pleasing as you'd like. You know you want to be the next Richie Rich, (Richest Rich?) so get building!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


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

ROCKMAN

JohnBWho doesn't love climbing mountains? Clamoring across stone, breathing in the pristine air from high above the land, defying all sensible concepts of human strength and endurance so you can grab bags of gold floating in the sky. Sure, our experience with climbing real mountains might be limited, but we're pretty convinced ROCKMAN (no, not that Rock Man) from TwO Bros. Games is a realistic simulation of the sport. If it's not, well, we'll want a full refund on that CD box set of square dancing music we just ordered.

ROCKMANROCKMAN is all about acrobatics, loot collection, upgrades, and exploring every nook and cranny of each level, almost like a metroidvania title but with a distinctly arcade slant. Move around in ROCKMAN using the [arrow] keys, then tap [X] to jump, [Z] to use utilities, [C] to interact with things or to heal yourself, and the [spacebar] to latch on to surfaces. Most of the time you'll be running around with the [spacebar] held tight, but it's the thrilling leaps into the sky that will get you to new ground. Or, get you a comfy spot in the cemetery. Your overall goal is always to reach the summit of the stage, but there are also a number of people standing around waiting to challenge you to flag collecting races. Gather all the gold you can, do your best in the races, and head back to the map when you're ready to unlock some new territory to explore!

You can grab and hold on to any surface in ROCKMAN, but you'd be surprised at the places this doesn't get you. Like, across horizontal spaces, or around twisty sky caverns. Still, if you can see it, you can eventually reach it, all you have to do is keep collecting gold so you can unlock new levels, then search those levels for an upgrade. The first upgrade, for example, grants you a wing suit that allows for limited gliding. This makes some areas immediately accessible, but as is the case with games this focused on exploration, that will only whet your appetite for more, more, more!

ROCKMANAnalysis: Much like TwO Bros. Games' previous offering, Climb to the Top of the Castle, ROCKMAN features a rustic hand drawn visual style that looks simple but gives the game a great aesthetic. There's also a nice toe-tapping soundtrack consisting of old country and blues music, not to mention a washboard song or two. It's a bit reminiscent of what RunMan: Race Around the World did with its music, utilizing public domain songs to create a very distinct feeling. You can almost smell the mountain air of the early 1900s Appalachians!

ROCKMAN's basic design has you completing sections of stages over and over again to accomplish goals and gather as much loot as you can. Gold can be used to buy things in the store, but its main purpose is to unlock new stages to complete. Honestly, this is where ROCKMAN seems to falter a bit, as you do have to do some grinding in order to amass the cash you need to proceed. It's in direct opposition to the game's otherwise free and open sense of exploration, which is why it stands out so sharply. If you don't mind a little repetition, you'll get through this game just fine.

Other than expensive levels, ROCKMAN is a solid (he he) experience that invokes the old school feeling of uncovering secrets and finding new treasures around every corner. There's a lot to find and a lot to do in this game, and accomplishing things is an exercise in way-too-cool mountain climbing acrobatics. Best of all, ROCKMAN is available as a pay-what-you-want game, meaning you can donate as much as you like to experience the thrill of hanging upside down over a choppy sea, crying because you can't hover in mid-air to get a bag of gold.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version (pay what you want)

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


| Comments (3) | Views (53)

Summerbatch

JohnBForget bundles, the real good stuff now comes in batches! Summerbatch: Volume One is a collection of indie adventure games from developers who have a habit of creating and releasing free games. Name your own price for this nice collection, scoring five adventure games for yourself (four and an action game, technically) and sending some monetary thanks to these very fine developers. And for every £500 raised, £50 goes to charity! As if you needed another excuse to grab the batch.

Here's what's included in Summerbatch:

Barely Floating - a point and click comedy adventure by Stemshock Interactive.
Jailbreak - a prison escape action game from Virtual Illusion.
Nancy the Happy Whore - another comedic adventure game, this one by Technocrat Games. Fun fact: you can choose Latin as the default language!
Patchwork - a fantasy-styled adventure game from Ivan Ulyanov.
Piss - a sci-fi themed point-and-click adventure from Ben Chandler.

Each of these games offers up several hours of entertainment with some fantastic writing and lovely low-res artwork. It's also worth noting that a few of them feature orange rated content, but you probably guessed that from their titles. Any one of these games would be worth a few slips of gold-pressed latinum on their own, so investing in the entire batch is absolutely a good idea!

WindowsWindows:
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
| Comments (2) | Views (196)

Mega Man: Day in the Limelight 2

TrickyIn the year 20XX, Dr. Wily has been defeated by Mega Man (again). He escaped capture (again) and life returned to normal, his eight robot masters returning to storage until the day their circuits may be modified to aid society. As it turns out, that day is today! Dr. Wily wasted no time attacking once again, unleashing a super virus that has disrupted Mega Man's systems and turned computers across the globe into enemies of humanity. With no other options at his disposal, Dr. Light releases the eight robot masters, hoping their virus-free circuits can defeat Wily once and for all. So begins Mega Man: Day in the Limelight 2 by Fusion Team, a retro platforming action adventure that's sure to bring a twinkle to the eye of any child of the 8-bit generation.

Mega Man: Day In the Limelight 2Day in the Limelight 2 plays like any classic Mega Man game, only now you're in control of the bosses instead of Mega Man himself. Choose a level from the stage select screen and you'll enter the level of a boss from Mega Man 3. Move with the [arrow] keys, jump with [Z], and fire your weapon by tapping or holding [X]. Complete each level by defeating the boss and you will unlock the player robot for use in all other levels. You can switch player characters in the pause menu or automatically with the [C] and [V] keys. Each robot has their own strengths and weaknesses, so experimentation is key. There are secret items to find, new abilities to unlock, and, of course, a climactic battle at Dr. Wily's Castle!

Analysis: Mega Man: Day in the Limelight 2 is unabashedly a fan game. It's a game made by Mega Man fans, for Mega Man fans, and those who are not Mega Man fans probably will not be swayed by its prodigious charms. That doesn't stop it from being a deliciously entertaining game, though, and for those who are still on the fence, know this: this is a polished, well-crafted work which succeeds in capturing the charm and feel of the NES outings, and it makes for some glorious retro fun.

Mega Man: Day In the Limelight 2Though the Mega Man series is known for its platforming difficulty, it's not really Mega Man: Day in the Limelight 2's central conceit. Make no mistake: there are tricky jumps to maneuver and enemies aplenty to fight, but game challenges you to adjust your expectations of standard platform-hero guy action in order to control assuredly non-standard robot masters working their way through non-standard puzzles in non-standard levels. Surprises are around just about every corner, even if you've memorized every inch of every Mega Man game ever!

Outside of any supposed subversiveness of concept, Mega Man: Day in the Limelight 2 features robots shooting things with lasers and blowing up evil scientists. That's a pretty easy sell, in and of itself. It's about as close to the NES experience that you're going to get, without having to blow into a cartridge slot.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


(19 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (151)

I Miss the Sunrise

MeaghanIf you've ever wanted to feel small and inconsequential in the span of the cosmic world, look no further than the night sky. With galaxies spanning across the known universe, the imagination can barely begin to explore the possibilities of where we are and where we might go. Outer space, to put it simply, is freaking huge, and that magnitude can inspire quite the creative streak when channeled correctly. Luckily for the hidden astronaut in all of us, developer Deltree has brought the world the stunning sci-fi strategy RPG game I Miss the Sunrise.

I Miss the SunriseI Miss the Sunrise is the prequel to Deltree's previous game, The Reconstruction. The universe has gone into all out galactic battle after the Shine, and there are angry individuals called Lessers that love making things complicated. Who are these diabolical things, and why are they so determined to destroy everyone? You haven't the slightest clue, seeing as you have no memory of anything at all. You awake weaponless and naked after being freed from a gel container, greeted with the choice "join us or else." Under the circumstances, it's pretty easy to figure out the better option.

I Miss the Sunrise is controlled entirely with the keyboard, using [enter] or the [spacebar] to make choices and the [arrow] keys to move. When you start the game you get to choose which character race you want to be: humans from the Sol subspace, Augmented Humans, or Lacertians. Each race has strengths and weaknesses that affect your performance in combat. After selecting race, name, and gender, you'll be turned loose to explore the space station, talking with people and developing the first signs of your character's temperament.

I Miss the SunriseThe space battles in I Miss the Sunshine are quite a bit different than what you might be expecting from an RPG. Each starts off with a map populated by nodes. By spending movement points and investigating these nodes, you'll slowly uncover enemy encampments and engage in turn-based battles. Choose your pilot and select from a handful of tactical actions to take, the main skill varying depending on which character you're controlling. Replacing the standard all-in-one health bar are three separate bars, one representing the pilot, one the hull, and one general ship systems. If any of these bars empties, that character or enemy is defeated. Not exactly whacking stuff with space swords, but the added strategy (and novelty) goes a long way.

Analysis: I Miss the Sunrise offers an RPG experience unlike most other role playing or strategy games out there. Much like going through an amazing book, you navigate the treacherous world with only a few people telling you the truth and the rest plotting how to use you for their own gain. All the while, you're doing your best to stay afloat and keep the world safe, even if you don't have enough memories to feel any affection for the world you're saving.

I Miss the SunriseI Miss the Sunshine is pretty heavy on the dialogue, much of which is spent trying to explain the status of the galaxy you're inhabiting. The story that unfolds is well worth all the speech bubbles you'll race through, so don't go too crazy with the [spacebar] tapping. Apart from that, this sci-fi adventure is one that will have many aficionados of the genre feeling a sense of anxious jubilation at such a well-crafted game. You can build your own weapons, there are side quests littered throughout your space station stay, there are multiple levels to get through and friends to make along the way. It's rare to find a game like this that can last for hours without feeling monotonous, but all the small additions show that Deltree understands the desires of the common gamer who is always demanding "moar content!" Bizarre as it may be, the infinity and beyond statement feels fitting for I Miss the Sunrise through every second of saving the universe.

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
| Comments (8) | Views (31)

Burble

JohnBYou've got bubbles. You've got letters. And you've got a powerful need to spell some words, all while swapping orbs against the clock. That's the basic premise of Burble and its newer cousin Burble Select, a word game meets marble popper experience from Charlie Dog Games. Using the power of your hand, drag and drop letter bubbles to switch position with other bubbles, all while the chain of orbs slowly advances down the path. Your goal is to spell four letter and above words, eliminating bubbles and postponing your Level Lost! for another day. Act fast and hope your vocabulary is as flexible as it is comprehensive!

burble.jpgIn addition to the main mode, Burble comes with a few additional modes that change the rules of the game's levels. There's a standard endless and extra challenging mode to try out, but the most intriguing is puzzle mode. This rule set turns off the timer and only advances bubbles when you make a swap. That translates into an extraordinary economy of moves on your part, making words with as few motions as you can. It's almost like playing chess, just with 26 pieces (and still no way to get rid of that pesky Q!).

More recently, Charlie Dog Games released Burble Select (Android only at the moment), an updated and expanded version of Burble that keeps most of the core gameplay intact but makes one crucial change: instead of swapping bubbles, you simply tap them. This allows much more freedom in your word creation, as you can move around the screen to add any letter you like. Arguably, this lowers the difficulty a bit since you aren't constrained by proximity, but sometimes your synapses don't the extra workout, right?

Both Burble and Burble Select are great blends of two different genres, and the best part is that neither game attempts to accomplish more than it sets out to do. No crazy mini-games, no forced storylines, just simple and satisfying word game fun!

Play Burble (browser)

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.


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (5) | Views (233)

Mystery Heritage: Sign of the Spirit

DoraEvery family has dirty laundry they don't want spread around, but when yours is cursed by a vengeful witch's spirit who has been systematically murdering every male descendant, well... that's kind of hard to keep under wraps. Especially when the locals start going missing as well, and they start wondering if sacrificing the latest unfortunate fellow to move to the family estate might not work wonders for their misfortune. In the hidden-object adventure Mystery Heritage: Sign of the Spirit by Urse Games, you are a detective who has been called in to look for the Williams family's lawyer who vanished while visiting the estate. Is it supernatural murder most foul? Simple human greed? Or is the truth behind the disappearance and that family's "curse" much more complicated?

Mystery Heritage: Sign of the SpiritWell hey, luckily for us, we've got an ace detective like you around to sort things out! Boy, it sure is a good thing you're an actual, licensed detective with years of experience who's qualified to handle such a dangerous case, and not just some random berk who downloaded a casual game on the interwebs! So get cracking, ace! Click around to search for clues and items of use, and rely on your handy-dandy magical eye-gas-releasing owl (it's complicated) to get a hint or skip a puzzle if you're stuck. As a totally real and not fake detective, you should also be prepared to solve hidden-object scenes, handle dead bodies, reassemble ancient locking mechanisms, disarm rabid dogs, and not get murdered yourself. Oh, didn't we mention? Seems like there's a lot of interest in your investigation, and not all of it is helpful... or part of the physical world.

Mystery Heritage: Sign of the SpiritAnalysis: Mystery Heritage: Sign of the Spirit is, to be frank, kinda gorgeous. The artwork and environmental design is stellar, despite consisting mostly of static images, and the use of rich, saturated colours makes each area a joy to behold. The plot, while still having a few wrinkles you'll see coming and blaring fanfare from a mile away, has a few twists and turns that mean it isn't the same old boring "ancient family curse" yadda yadda you've heard before. You'll interact with several different unique characters, and on the whole the voice acting is actually pretty darn good... which is a relief if you're painfully Canadian like me and hearing bad voice acting tends to make you feel both embarrassed on behalf of the actor and then guilty for doing so. (In Canada, this is known as the Shame Cycle.)

The downside? Back-tracking, and lots of it, complete with some repeated hidden-object scenes. Perhaps the biggest criticism you could levy against Sign of the Spirit, however, is that it's familiar. If you play a lot of these types of games, you'll recognise certain puzzle types and even plot tropes, but on the other hand, this also makes this an excellent introduction to hidden-object adventure games. It's beautifully designed, intriguing, fun, and just a little bit spooky. At around three to four hours or so for an average playthrough, you may want to try the demo to see how fast you blaze through it, though the three difficulty settings are there to forcibly slow you down if need be. Though it doesn't take any risks, Mystery Heritage: Sign of the Spirit is a beautiful and fun bit of gaming that can serve as a great springboard into the genre, or just a relaxing evening's play for fans who don't demand a whole lot of innovation.

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:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (98 votes)
| Comments (15) | Views (125)

BenNuclear PlantDo you know who you were? Nobody. Except on the day after the end of the world, you were still alive. And in Ppllaayy's shooter defense game Nuclear Plant, you have the chance to be somebody, entrusted as you are with growing one last seed into a tree capable of restarting life on the planet.

You need to grow the tree yourself, fighting off waves of enemies to buy yourself time to run the incubator. Move with [WASD] or the [arrow] keys and aim and fire your weapon with the mouse. In between waves, research upgrades by holding [S] in front of the lab, and activate the incubator the same way. Guns can be purchased in the shop, though it's not clear who you're buying from.

Nuclear Plant doesn't do much that Dude and Zombies didn't, but the post apocalyptic world is brought together through desolate scenery and an army of mutants and monsters out for your blood. It's short but the pacing is perfect, the weapons feel like worthwhile upgrades, and the game reaches a satisfying, though dark, conclusion. It may not teach you any real survival skills, but as a coffee break sized apocalypse, Nuclear Plant will grow on you.

Play Nuclear Plant


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (40 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (82)

DoraFruitsDo you like match-3 puzzles? Like... a lot? Enough to play one hundred levels of them while your every move is scrutinized by tiny judgemental eyes? Well good news, everyone! Edvent and Gibton's Blocks will scratch that particular itch and then some. Click and drag to swap blocks onscreen into rows of three of a kind so they vanish, or fall into place to allow for matching. Once all the blocks have been cleared, you'll pass to the next level, but you'll only earn a star if you win within a certain number of moves, as represented by the little green dots at the top of the screen. Why would you want stars? Well, because they're used to unlock more levels. Why stars? Well, because, as a wise man once said... it is always stars.

Blocks is, to put it bluntly, simple. Cleanly designed and implemented, but simple nonetheless, and potentially fairly familiar for those of you who used to play games on graphing calculators too. If you don't mind a game that treats your success with childish exuberance and doesn't provide a whole lot of variety, however, Blocks delivers the sort of slow, thoughtful puzzling that looks great and will quietly fill up any time you give it. It's the sort of solid, dependable little game you can take home to mother... provided your mother always wanted you to settle down with a bunch of mute, immobile pixels. Which I guess, for some people, is probably a step up.

Play Blocks


| Comments (2) | Views (4)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraThere's no giveaway this week, my little Jiggernauts, and there won't be until the 10th Casual Gameplay Design Competition comes to an end, but that doesn't mean we've skimped on the content this week. From ponies to plants, slingshots to spaceships, zombies to zombies eating your face while your so-called teammates loot your equipment, we've got you covered.

Additionally, here's a question for you guys... Kickstarter projects! Namely, do you want to hear about them? With the success of Double Fine's funding and the staggering amount of cash generated by the Ouya console, more and more developers are turning to Kickstarter as a potential means to help their gaming creations see the light of day... or sometimes, see the light of day sooner, or just in a more elaborate fashion. Some players see these projects as a great way to help contribute and get in on the ground floor of something wonderful, while others regard them with distaste and distrust. So we want to know if you'd like to see links to new and interesting Kickstarter projects here every week, or if you'd rather we avoided them all together. Well, community... what sayest thou!?

Starship CorporationThe Galaxy, Profit, And You Having heartbreakingly discovered last night that I probably don't have what it takes to be in Starfleet in any responsible capacity, my hopes for galactic employment turn to the upcoming Starship Corporation by David Murent. Billed as a real-time strategy game, you'll be creating and running a business that specialises in building spaceships from the ground up, in everything from layout to weapons, and then training crews and more to pilot them for you. You'll have clients, and even be able to reach out to other players for trade or to conquer them. While the game is asking for funding to help with certain aspects, players will soon be able to check out an Alpha build to see if its come-hither eyelash fluttering is something that they'd like to get to know. Check out the official site for much more detailed information, and then get ready to practice your best "I have no idea how all those toxic antimatter generator building materials were dumped near that preschool, your honour" businessman face.

DAYZThe Apocalypse Stands On Its Own Two Shambling Feet The ARMA II: Combined Ops mod DAYZ, is kind of an impressive thing, turning the realistic action-strategy war game into a terrifying open-world multiplayer survival game set after a zombie apocalypse, where you and other players can team up to scavenge supplies and stay alive... or turn on one another. If, like me, you've been intrigued but can't see buying a game you aren't interested in just to mod it into something else, surprise! Bohemian Interactive is teaming up with the incredibly talented DAYZ development squad to turn the title into a standalone game. Details are scant right now, but this is great news for fans and potential fans, as well as a fantastic success story for modders everywhere. I look forward to eventually surviving the apocalypse with you all... especially Raini.

Super Angry BirdsGet Your Fling On Everybody loves Angry Birds! I know this because my mother-in-law keeps telling me about it and I can't go out to Universal Studios for the weekend without wading through a wave of new merchandise. The physics puzzle has been a huge hit, but you know you've made the big time when people start building controllers for you. Two incredibly clever students at the Cophenhagen Institute of Interaction Design have built a working slingshot-style USB controller for Angry Birds that allows you to aim, choose your strength, shoot, and even activate any special powers the bird has... all using a realistic device! It looks great, and you've got to assume that as a developer inspiring that sort of creativity is pretty flattering. Of course, not to be outdone, the folks at Disney Research have developed a way to turn plants into game controllers as well. Sheesh, you guys are smart and fancy!

The Sea Will Claim EverythingThe Demo Will Claim Productivity If you've been intrigued by Jonas Kyratzes' amazingly engrossing adventure The Sea Will Claim Everything but were leery of making a monetary commitment without trying it first, well, rejoice! A demo has finally been released, allowing you to dip your toes into this particular foray into the Lands of Dream and decide if its for you. For our part, we can't recommend it enough... it's a big, imaginative, surreal journey backed by Kyratzes' usual heart and style that is well worth experiencing.

DimiriaShort Leather Skirts, Kitty Ears, And Adventure Like dark fantasy RPGs? Sure you do. That's why you're interested in the upcoming indie title Dimiria by Softnetix Entertainment. Expected to hit later this year for both PC and Mac, you play as a hero out to rally a group of companions and decide the fate of the world when the realm of Dimiria is thrown into chaos after rumours that a portal to another world has opened and reignites a war. It's looking great so far, and potentially the sort of thing you could lose a lot of time to... especially if you've always wanted your own cat-girl assassin. Head on over to the official site to gorge yourself on screenshots and details, and keep your eyes peeled for an official release date!

Fighting is MagicLoving, Tolerating, and Lessons Learned If you've been following the development of the upcoming My Little Pony: Friendship is magic fighting game Fighting is Magic, then you might have gotten excited to hear an Alpha build of the game was leaked last week. Mane 6, the development team behind the game, was understandably upset, and after an initial rather blunt open letter, they've released a more comprehensive statement explaining why. In addition to explaining their feelings on the matter, they talk about where the game stands now, their future plans, and why open development isn't something they plan on entertaining. If you've seen the preview videos, then you know this game is already shaping up to something phenomenally impressive for a fan game, and hopefully you're willing to resist the temptation of the Alpha and wait for the finished product to arrive.

Steam Bandits: OutpostTaking On What You Think You Know About Casual Games Obsidian Entertainment has a lot of talented people working for it, but when Jason Fader and his team were laid off from the company, they decided to do what every newly unemployed creators do... re-create their own indie development company, Iocaine Studios, and tackle the concepts of casual gaming and pay-to-play models by releasing their own titles. In an in-depth interview with Kotaku, Fader talks about how certain types of "casual games" are giving the genre a bad reputation, as well as his own distaste for the "pay-to-play" model popularised on social sites like Facebook by Zynga. The fledgling studio's first three titles will all be very different in terms of gameplay, but unique in that they'll all take place within the same persistent universe so you can interact with players in one game while you're playing another, which sounds very neat indeed. You can read the whole interview over here, and mark this new studio as one to watch.

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!


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (6)

Gasketball

JohnBGames centered around the sport of basketball seem to be making a comeback, and we're not talking about sports simulations, either. Titles like BasketBelle and Dude Perfect marry new mechanics to the old concept, creating experiences that are about as much like basketball as Homerun in Berzerk Land is like baseball. Now, Solipskier creator Mikengreg has released Gasketball, a physics-heavy mobile arcade game that's all about shooting and scoring baskets under some unusual circumstances. How unusual? Try reverse gravity triggers, teleportation platforms, pinball bumpers, and sawblades!

GasketballEach level in Gasketball places a number of platforms and obstacles on the screen, all standing between the ball and the goal. By tapping the ball and dragging your finger you can toss it from its starting point, sending it bouncing through the level to cause destruction, gain points, and hopefully swish through the net. It's not too dissimilar from pinball, only the focus is squarely on tightly controlled accuracy and perfect shots. You are given five balls to use for each section of a stage. Go over that limit and you'll severely hurt your score. If you manage to earn gold stars in every level for a section, you'll unlock some nice bonuses. Getting the gold, though, isn't something you'll be able to do right away. Or after a few days of practice!

Stages begin with one of the screen's obstacles surrounded by a red aura. When tossing the ball, make sure it hits that object first, otherwise the shot won't count. After that, you just have to figure out how hard to throw the ball and in which direction. Easy, right? Refereeing the whole game is a flying robot equipped with tutorial text and a sharp-firing laser. Most of the time he's just in the way, but if you find a shot didn't go as you planned, you can give it a tap and the robot will clear the board so you can start again. As you probably guessed, you'll be deploying that ability on a frequent basis!

GasketballAnalysis: Gasketball is crazy amounts of fun. Its depth mainly comes from finely-tuned physics and learning to get your shots just right. It takes a steady hand to throw in the right direction with the appropriate force, a skill you can only master after many, many failed shots. Trial and error gives way to competence, allowing you to go back, replay previous levels, and aim for a better score. Replays are always fun in this game, as no shot follows the same path as the one before!

There are dozens of stages in Gasketball, and while the layouts don't vary too much, there are enough differences to make each shot a new learning experience. Single player modes include the main game along with practice mode, a blank canvas sort of section where you can build screen layouts to be as brutal as you wish. Multiplayer is also included, featuring a game of horse that allows you to challenge opponents with your own setup, and a quick round of local split screen one-on-one.

Gasketball is creative, it's whimsical, and it's so very much fun. The main download includes a handful of free levels, the rest of which can be unlocked via in-app purchases. There's plenty of space allotted for future updates, including new modes, new bonuses, and additional stage packs. Gasketball may not revolutionize mobile gaming, but it will keep you thoroughly engaged for hours upon hours!


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (291 votes)
| Comments (21) | Views (72)

DoraSky GardenBarnslig knows the perfect cure to midday blahs is a soft, melodic soundtrack, atmospheric sound effects, and simple, engaging puzzling in the Sky Garden. To play just click on each tree to turn it into water, without drowning any trees you haven't clicked on yet. A clicked tree becomes a river that extends in all four directions on the grid around it, and will block any other river from passing through it, allowing you to carefully protect un-changed trees with the very thing that would otherwise kill it. If you've got a shovel, clicking on the ground will dig up a single square of the terrain, which will also prevent water from passing over it. Of course, as time progresses, you'll find yourself faced with more things you'll have to take into consideration in order to properly saturate the landscape.

Is Sky Garden simple? Asbolutely, but almost elegantly so. It's the sort of straight-forward puzzling that engages your brain without burying you in different elements and concepts. The mellow presentation is top-notch, and players who want something to relax them even as it kicks their brain on ever-so-gently will find something almost hypnotically compelling about clicking their way through the stages. The simplistic concept and "hey, just chillax, dude" vibe might make this one too straight-forward for some, but Sky Garden conjures up a pleasant, cleanly designed little puzzle experience perfect for ruminating on the endless march of time and nature with. Or, y'know, just relaxin'. Whatever floats your boat.

Play Sky Garden


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (45 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (83)

DoraFruitsWhen good fruit goes bad, sometimes the only solution is a beatdown, but why should you have to get your hands dirty? In Fruits, the latest physics puzzle from Conmer Game Studios and Anton Koschekin, you have to make salad out of a bunch of surly (but tasty!) fruit baddies by making them collide with each other so they burst. You can click on a fruit to make it bounce up and down, which is enough to bash through some obstacles, but you'll need a little cunning in addition to brute butt force in order to win. As the stages get more elaborate, you'll need timing to get rid of all the fruits, and new elements like moving contraptions, balloons that can carry or propel, and more get introduced. Seems like a lot of trouble where a mallet and a maniacal gleam in your eye might get the job done faster, but I'm just your friendly neighbourhood word monkey... what do I know?

Fruits doesn't reinvent the wheel, or even the smoothie, but it does manage to bring a surprising amount of elements to the table for an otherwise simple physics puzzle that combine to make something really entertaining. The set-up for some levels can be remarkably intricate, and watching them go off in a perfect chain reaction for victory is definitely more than a little cool. As with any physics game, sometimes you'll find a fruit falls or rolls juuuuuust slightly out from where you need it to be, which is doubly annoying during stages that require careful set-up and timing. On the whole, however, Fruits is a simple concept that feels like the textbook example for the perfect coffee-break sized physics puzzle. It's bright, it's well designed, it's fun, and more than a little weird. What more could you ask for? I mean, aside from a blender, some honey, and a little ginger... what? What?! It's what they would have wanted!

Play Fruits


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (29 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (17)

DoraRectRotJan Rigerl's puzzle platformer RectRot should be simple. Get all the blue keys, then get to the green glowy exit. Easy as pie, right? Just use the left and right [arrow] keys to move along all surfaces counter-clockwise and regular ol' clockwise, respectively, and hit the up [arrow] to fire a bolt of energy. If you fire straight ahead, you'll move back one space, but if you fire while your face is pressed against a wall, you'll be flung backwards until you hit an obstacle. You can navigate platforms and hazards by rolling along square by square and using force instead of a jump, right? Sure you can. Easy! So then why am I crying?

Admittedly, RectRot is one of those games that will only really confound those of us who went to the Leroy Jenkins Academy of Not Planning Ahead. Analyzing your environment and thinking your moves out will get you much farther than toddling around randomly, so wrapping your brain around the controls is extremely important. Its simple premise combined with the smart level design and gradual introduction of new elements makes it a surprisingly engaging little puzzler. While the lack of bells and whistles means it won't appeal to a broader audience, it's the sort of thing you can pick up and plunk a couple levels in whenever you have a few free minutes, especially since it's also available on the Amazon App Store for Android and Nook devices. Want some smart puzzling? Then get in touch with your inner cycloptic laser-firing cuboid and give RectRot a try.

Play RectRot


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (184 votes)
| Comments (47) | Views (599)

100complete.gifJohnBA game you can beat in five seconds? That's not a coffee break game, that's a thinking about taking a coffee break game. Fortunately, Nolan Labs' action/exploration game 100% Complete features more than just a few seconds of gameplay, though if you want to get technical, you can reach the end simply by heading right and using the door. If you want to actually accomplish something before winning, though, you'll need to get to exploring. Yay!

Much like Achievement Unlocked, the world of 100% Complete is packed with secrets, most of which can be found by pushing on certain blocks. There are 50 objects to find, each of which adds 2% to your score. A few of the objects also grant you new abilities, like the beanie hat that lets you fly or the glasses that let you see secret blocks. Otherwise, you've got to be thorough to locate the hidden items, and that means poking your nose against every wall, checking every block, and revisiting passageways multiple times to ensure you've mined them for all they're worth.

100% Complete is a short and simple game that doesn't try to do anything grandiose. Its straightforward premise is to allow you to find items and work towards perfection. Your level of enjoyment will depend on how dedicated you are to getting good scores, so if story or level progression matters to you, this game likely won't satisfy your itch. With a few more ability-bestowing items, some more interesting ways to hide items, and a little less repetition, 100% Complete could have been the kind of game that stops the figurative presses. As it stands, this simple game jam creation is just a fun diversion for anyone interested in finding a few lost tacos and getting points for it.

Play 100% Complete


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (114 votes)
| Comments (11) | Views (49)

Weekday Escape

DoraAlright, look. I'd like to know how you keep getting yourself stuck in these situations. I mean... you know I love you and all, but no matter where you go, you keep getting yourself trapped in places. I wasn't going to say anything, but after you got yourself locked inside the bathroom at McDonalds and had to find your way out using clues you claim you found written inside the toilet... I'm thinking you might have a problem. And now that you've been hanging around with Hottategoya, it's happening again with Escape From the Room With Three Keys 4! Look, I'm not mad, just... find your way out and... we'll talk, okay? I'm sure there are support groups for this sort of compulsion. Or at least an episode of Maury in it.

Escape From the Room With Three Keys 4There's no changing cursor to help you find interactive zones here, but this short and sweet little venture probably won't have you crying out for it. As you may have surmised from the title, you'll need to get each of the three keys hidden behind tricksy-false locks in the storage cupboard to get out, and a keen eye will notice some fairly obvious clues right off the bat. Click to zoom in on certain spots, move the cursor to the edges of the screen to reveal any navigational bars, and click to pick up keys when you find them. Which you will, since this game is the very definition of "short and sweet", with straight-forward puzzles that can be conquered mightily just by connecting the figurative dots in your surroundings. Escape aficionados who have leveled up to the point where their mere glances makes puzzle locks fall apart in terror will likely find this one a bit on the easy side, but if you want a simple, clever stretch session for your brain this is an easy choice to get the cogs turning. And then the next time to go into a place... any place... maybe make sure the door won't swing shut and lock behind you? Please? For me? I worry.

Play Escape From the Room With Three Keys 4


(18 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (4) | Views (37)

Space is Key (mobile)

JohnBWhen sliding through a blocky two color world, keep one thing in mind: Space is Key. Actually, if you're playing this painfully challenging arcade game on your iOS device, that title isn't as true. With the browser versions of Space is Key and Space is Key 2, all you do is tap the [spacebar] to jump, hence the name. On a touch screen there is no spacebar, so instead, your finger is key. That's a bit of an awkward title for a game, though, so instead of brain thinking, we'll game playing!

spaceiskey-m.gifWith Space is Key, you control a sliding cube that moves from left to right, right to left, then left to right again. Head through each section of the grouped levels and tap the screen to jump, timing your moves just right to clear the obstacles in your way. Grab the star to proceed to the next area, and nab the shiny cubes to activate/deactivate parts of the environment (or, you know, don't touch them because they'll destroy you). When you die, and you will indeed die many, many times over, you'll start the section again immediately. It's this non-stop action that makes Space is Key such an intense and satisfying game.

Space is Key is all about pixel perfect timing, and we don't use that phrase lightly. If you miss by just the slightest hair, you'll die. Worse yet, you'll barely realize you're dead when you're back at the start of the hallway, sliding along like there's nothing wrong. As you progress through the stages you'll find a few elements switched up, most notably your cube's speed. It gets more and more difficult in later levels, but for some masochistic reason, you'll be compelled to keep playing to the end. Maybe just so you can see how many times you died throughout the whole thing? Either way, Space is Key represents just the kind of painful difficulty we like!

Play Space is Key (browser)

Play Space is Key 2 (browser)

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.


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (209 votes)
| Comments (40) | Views (288)

TrickyASCIIvaniaWe love our metroidvanias here at JayIsGames! But would we still love them if, instead of controlling a scifi bounty hunter, or a badass vampire slayer, we played as the alphabet? Answer: Yes! And ASCIIvania, an exploration platformer by Gharding3, is the proof! At the start, you will be prompted to enter your name, the first letter of which will be your starting "character" (presumably, the Trickys of the world will have an easier time than the Jays). Using the [arrow] keys, move around the world, exploring, acquiring new powers, and opening new areas. In this case, though, the strongest power is wordsmithing.

Aligning your character with incomplete words will eliminate them from the screen. Grey words will regenerate, while white words will disappear to create a permanent passage. As time goes on, you will acquire new characters that you can transform into by hitting the respective letter key. Collect all 26 letters and claim victory! ASCIIvania's basic premise is so killer that it's easy to forgive its flaws. Particularly, the dictionary for accepted words is a little wonky, but at least it tends towards accepting odd words rather than rejecting legit ones. As a metroidvania, ASCIIvania is clearer documentation, a map screen and a mute button away from excellence. As is, though, it's still an enjoyable and unique, if not quite transcendent, time-waster. A lot of fun is here for the ASCII-ing!

Play ASCIIvania


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (197 votes)
| Comments (31) | Views (2,475)

Legend of the Void 2JohnBA day in The Void just wouldn't be complete without some bandits, skeletons, necromancers and wolves attacking you. Following the first Legend of the Void game without skipping a scene, Legend of the Void 2: The Ancient Tomes by Obelisk Games is an intense, item-heavy browser-based role playing game that takes a very serious approach to the genre, aiming to emulate the experience of a full-fledged console or PC RPG without all the overhead. The result is a great sequel that continues right where the first game left off, dumping you in a world packed with monsters on a quest to, well, just stay alive.

At the beginning of Legend of the Void 2, you find yourself dumped inside The Void with no idea how long you've been here. You do notice, however, your traveling companion Rogan is missing. You discover it's been many days since The Black Gate erupted, and things have gone a bit amiss, what with the monsters everywhere and general terror throughout the villages.

Legend of the Void 2 is a top down experience that can be controlled with the mouse or a combination of the mouse and keyboard. Move through each small area interacting with people, searching paths for loot, and gathering up as much treasure as you can. You'll make frequent stops to re-equip yourself with new items or just manage your inventory. Inevitably you'll encounter enemies, but since a good bulk of Legend of the Void 2 is combat oriented, you can expect a smart, intense sort of ride.

Battles are turn-based and alternate with your party and the enemy swinging at each other with all they've got. Attacks, spells, and other abilities are stashed in the menu bar at the bottom of the screen, simply click on the skill you want to use followed by the enemy you want to attack. Many moves require mana points to use, limiting the frequency in which you can roll them out. All skills need a few turns to recharge, so unleash your strategic hell accordingly and you'll be staring at the victory screen in no time.

Legend of the Void 2Analysis: Legend of the Void 2 doesn't feel like a browser RPG, a statement intended as a compliment in every way possible. From the setting to the story, the lavishly complete equipment and skill screens, and the impossibly long list of items you can find and use, you get the sense there's a big world to be explored. It's a bit overwhelming at first, but after a few minutes you get the hang of item management and skill updates and are ready to take on the world.

Combat is a good chunk of the game. Enemies aren't afraid to hit you with their sharpest swords and most stinging-est spells, so you have to keep on your toes, watch your party's hit points, and use your skills and items accordingly. Special tomes give you abilities once charged, giving you a lift if the battle drags on for more than a handful of turns. And if it's all a bit too much to handle, you can change combat difficulty in the options menu, switching it from "casual" all the way to "legendary". Be careful with that last one!

The only shortcoming with a game this hefty is the inevitable learning curve, but Obelisk Games managed to smooth that out as well as can be expected. Legend of the Void 2 may not grip you right away, but it only takes three or four minutes to start your addiction, an almost imperceptible amount of time when compared to most role playing games. After that, it's all looting, exploration, combat, and even more combat. A superb sequel and a standout RPG in its own right, if you're looking for something a little more serious and a little more challenging than the norm, you've found it!

Play Legend of the Void 2


| Comments (0) | Views (2)

The Vault

DoraLook. It's okay. We get it. You're a big, bad, awesome gamer who likes big, bad, awesome games... but sometimes all you want is something simple, bright, effortlessly engaging and packed with vibrant colours, sound effects, and high scores. Like watching a lava lamp or a Winamp visualisation, there's just something both relaxing and galvanizing about turning on a game that deluges you with the sort of instant gratification you can get from a simple concept done well and engaging. Here are three games that might look plain at first glance, but serve up big entertainment by knowing just how to wring as much bang for their buck as possible out of their small ideas.

  • Katamari Damacy Mini-GameKatamari Damacy Mini-Game - Cleaning up would be a lot more entertaining if it involved gathering everything into a giant, sticky mass and simply rolling it over everything in your house. And then right out the door, because why stop with small-scale ridiculousness? Originally designed by Namco to illustrate the strange-sounding premise behind their now-massively successful Katamari Damacy series, this little arcade game is simply about creating giant balls of stuff, starting small until you're larger than other things you can then roll over and add to your own mass, until you've eventually added people, animals, cars, and more to the mix... and then on and on forever. It's exceptionally simple, but with its adorable design and bouncy retro soundtrack, it's the sort of thing that puts a smile on your face as effortlessly as it fits neatly into snack-sized gaming breaks.
  • Jungle MagicJungle Magic - Match-3 games are sort of the original gaming time waster, although saying that to me kinda implies it's something you regret doing, which Ryz and Eloku's gorgeous little puzzler definitely is not. Your goal is to drop all the magic pieces in each stage to the bottom of the screen and assemble artifacts, which happens by swapping tiles around, making lines of three or more, and then sitting in slack-jawed wonderment as the massive chain reactions occur. It's not mindless, however, since blindly moving pieces around can lead to getting the magic items you need stuck, so you'll want to carefully plan things out in order to proceed, especially since you can move tiles while other reactions are happening. Jungle Magic is relatively low in terms of complexity, but its excellent design combined with its deceptively thoughtful and yet fast-paced gameplay makes this one title that can be hard to put down.
  • FlashxedFlashxed - Puzzles are great, and simple bite-sized puzzles? Even more so! Marcel Volmaro's little gem of a title wants you to clear the board by matching together coloured blocks, which vanish when they touch another of the same hue, and begin the game stacked in odd formations you need to figure out how to best slide the apart from. What makes this so fiendishly addictive is the game lists how many moves it should be possible to solve each stage in, and trying to figure out just how that number is attainable is part of the delicious challenge. The presentation is spartan but lovely, and the sheer volume of stages combined with the easy-sounding premise makes this one of those games you can find yourself gravitating back to whenever you have a spare moment. It would also be a perfect fit for iOS and Android, but if all you had to do to play it was pull it out of your pocket, you might really be in trouble as far as productivity goes.

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


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (89 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (221)

DoraFlood Runner 4Bryan Devlin wants you run, run as fast as you can in the action-packed arcade game Flood Runner 4, where a high score is only one glorious upgrade or hard-won achievement away. Use the [arrow] keys to run and jump and don't stop. There's a flood a comin', as you might have surmised from the title, and it's going to catch up with you one way or another, so you might as well put on a good show. Nab golden tokens to earn experience points that will grant you new abilities, avoid hazards like monsters, spikes, and giant t-rexes that will hurt your limited health, and land on things like banana peels or launch pads for a boost. Some enemies can be dealt with by leaping through or on them, but if you get caught in a pinch, follow the onscreen prompts quickly to lay down a beating on your foe and keep running. If Olympic training were like this, folks, we'd see a lot more ties for first place.

The Flood Runner series has come a long way since the beginning, and the team behind it has done a great job of keeping the fan-favourite simple and addictive gameplay intact while adding enough to keep it feel fresh without being cluttered. The decision to dole out abilities like the double-jump and glide based on experience does make it a bit of a grind for a high score over skill, and a bit less immediately gratifying, though this does give the game a bit more replay value so newcomers won't feel like they've seen everything in the first two minutes. Though Flood Runner 4 is as simple as it gets in terms of gameplay and objective, the amount of surprises to see and bells and whistles to set off makes this the perfect candy-coated gaming snack for players looking for something light and fun. After all, at the end of a long day don't we all want to come home, slip into something comfortable, and forget about work by being chased around by a giant hungry dinosaur until we drown?

Play Flood Runner 4


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (478)

Pocket Heroes

BenFor many people, a perfect RPG has retro graphics, tile-based movement, and a high difficulty curve. Those people are probably already clicking through to get Pocket Heroes, a co-operative role-playing game from F5 Games that can't quite decide if it wants to be a roguelike or a tactics RPG.

Pocket HeroesPocket Heroes is multiplayer only, so before anything else can happen, you'll need to form a posse. Your party can consist of up to four people, and since you can't play solo, you'll either need friends with the game or be willing to risk stepping into a group of random players. There are four characters to pick from, broadly covering the usual range of classes found in games of this ilk: a tank (mech), magic wielder, rogue, and all-rounder (the paladin). Ensuring everyone starts on the right track, the first quest doubles as a short tutorial, although veteran roguelike players will find themselves way ahead of the pop-up tips.

Each turn your character has a range of actions available, from movement to attacks to magical powers. More skills are unlocked as you level up. All actions other than movement cost AP, and magic costs both AP and MP, limiting your most powerful spells to when they're sorely needed. The goal on any level is to get from point A to point B, where there's a shop and a place to rest, taking out any enemies you encounter along the way.

Once you've played your turn, you're at the mercy of your team. It's essential to work together, and one person charging ahead or ignoring team strategy will cause problems. Similarly, a greedy teammate who hoovers up all the loot will leave everyone else underpowered. Experience is shared, so the healer won't get left behind, but beyond that the game doesn't offer any incentive to work together other than the knowledge that if you don't, your group will find the going difficult.

Analysis: Pocket Heroes ends up as more of a tactics RPG than a roguelike, but there's enough of each for fans of either genre to enjoy. The going is slow, tactics RPGs aren't known for being quick to play in the first place, and each turn is less of a full bite and more of a crumb. Even with dedicated teammates, speed rounds aren't possible, the game just doesn't play or sync at that sort of pace. And if your team does get wiped out, it's back to content you've already completed, since levels are static instead of randomly generated.

Pocket HeroesTeamwork is key even outside of battle, and one person not holding up their end of the bargain can cause major problems. Respawns cost gold, which is in limited supply unless you get more through in-app purchases, so anyone struggling with basic strategy will quickly find themselves out of the game. The problem is that dead players still have to take their turn each round, even if they're unable to do anything, and until they do, play is held up for everyone. A frustrated player who gets killed early on in a level and has no investment in the group effort is likely to stop the game progressing at all simply by not caring enough to keep passing their turn. Worse is the fact you may have spent real money to buy additional respawns or equipment, which are on a per game basis and could therefore be rendered useless by one uncooperative player.

On the other hand, co-op role playing games of this type are rare, and once you get into the thick of battle, Pocket Heroes is every bit as enjoyable as any other tactics RPG. The short turn length and drawn-out games are advantageous to those who don't have the time to invest in a full length RPG or who just want something to check in with in the same manner they might check their e-mails during a day.

If you have reams of patience, prefer your RPGs to be co-operative, and have at least one other friend that feels the same way, Pocket Heroes has enough content to keep you entertained for a while. As a gradual, group effort, this is a fine role playing game and planning strategies or sharing loot is as enjoyable as ever. Just don't expect to beat it over the course of your lunch break.

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.


| Comments (0) | Views (4)

Mobile Monday

JohnBShortly after this edition of Mobile Monday materializes on the internet, NASA's Curiosity rover will crash through the thin atmosphere on Mars on its way to an extraordinary landing. Even if you're not a space buff, you should check out the crazy things this little rover has to do in order to land securely. Go ahead, read up. These mobile game news bites aren't going anywhere!

Flip's EscapeThe Last Rocket rides on - Shaun Inman's got a nice surprise in the works. If you enjoyed the pixel-perfect puzzle game The Last Rocket, you'll probably recognize the set-up for this new, more arcade-like release titled Flip's Escape: The Last Rocket Side Story. Picking up where The Last Rocket left off, it's time to dash through space as you make your escape. Pick up items, upgrade yourself, and keep flying forward as you do your very best to stay away from the sun. The mad dash is coming to iOS devices "soon", so in the meantime, read up on Flip's previous adventure and see if you can see that game's story to its completion!

God of BladesGod of Blades makes reading more awesome - Ladies and gentlemen. White Whale Games presents God of Blades, a frighteningly gorgeous physics-based sword fighting adventure that represents some of the best elements of pulp sci-fi and fantasy. The combat is detailed but fluid, featuring tons of weapons and plenty of intricate moves you can pull off to defeat your foes. But it's more than just a game. God of Blades was conceived as a re-interpretation of a series of lost paperback novels released between the 40s and 70s. The rich fantasy universe has since been erased from our collective memory, so you have to go on your own quest to absorb more stories in real life. Even cooler, you can unlock special swords for visiting real world libraries! Watch for God of Blades, along with a trilogy of original pulp fantasy novels, later this year.

WizorbWizorb goes mobile - In case you were too hip and mobile-oriented to catch the game's original PC release, Wizorb has now bounced its way to iOS devices, bringing with it all the colorful 8-bit Breakout-meets-RPG action you can handle. The mobile port works so very well with the touch screen, and even the less arcadey parts play well. Check out our Wizorb review for more info on the game, or just head over to the app store and grab the mobile version straight away. No matter your choice, there's a lot of bricks that need to be broken...

HornHorn Zelda-ifies Infinity Blade - Due to light up our mobile devices later this month, Horn from Phosphor Games can be neatly described as Infinity Blade 2 plus a little Legend of Zelda. Using the Unreal Engine, you get to move around in a full 3D world, attacking huge monsters with detailed and in-your-face combat. When you're not duking it out, though, you get to experience the game's narrative, inspired by the Old English tales of King Horn, as well as search the countryside for neat things to use. It sounds pretty impressive if you ask us, and we can't wait to get our hands on it in just a few weeks!

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!


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (26 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (1,523)

Kairobotica

JohnBFor the loving masses of Kairosoft fans out there, allow us to summarize our thoughts on this game with just a few words: Kairobotica is an insta-buy. There, now you can spend the extra time patrolling planets, defeating evil snack foods, felling fowl robots, and leveling-up your own 'bots in the hyper-addicting RPG simulation hybrid manner that Kairosoft does so well. If you need a little more convincing, or you feel that reading this author's work is a joy unto itself, by all means, sit back and learn all about one of the best Kairosoft releases yet!

KairoboticaLike Game Dev Story, Dungeon Village, and the other "Story" games that before it, Kairobotica puts you in charge of a tiny pixel community and gives you the power to form it as you see fit. Gameplay is divided between managing your colony and working with the Kairobot Corps, a "state-of-the-art brigade of mass-produced guardians of galactic peace", a.k.a. tiny yellow-faced machines that specialize in RPG-style combat. By increasing the size of your home turf, you can improve your machines in a number of ways, allowing them to fight off the monsters that have infested this corner of the galaxy, all courtesy of the moderately evil Doctor Mochipon!

Your flying colony can travel between worlds, parking itself near a planet so your team can go on patrol, complete missions, and entertain the locals with your many wond'rous sights. Use the touch interface to set up houses and factories to get your game started. Houses hold kairobots for your combat force, while factories replenish them when they die. As soon as a mission is available, head out on patrol. The side view combat will be familiar to anyone who has played an 8- or 16-bit RPG. Select attack options from the menu and your party of robots will carry out your orders. When they take damage, their number is reduced, but when you win, you move on to the next section, ready for a bigger challenge. Make it to the end and you'll get some nice mission bonuses, but if you're defeated, you'll have to start all over again.

Through combat you'll gain gold, experience, items and more, and you'll take those earnings back to the colony to improve things. One aspect of the game is increasing tourism to your flying space wonder. You'll accomplish this by upgrading buildings (which also helps out the combat side of things), creating special structures like gift shops or pastures, and by using items on squares to increase their "fun" rating. The more a planet's people like you, the better your amity score will be, the higher their population will climb, and the more you'll earn from these continually evolving species.

KairoboticaAnalysis: Make sure you have a few hours free before you download this game. It has the ability to draw you in and not let you go until your phone's battery starts bellyaching. The learning curve is shallower than many Kairosoft games, but the complexity is still there, it just doesn't get introduced until later. The way Kairobotica expands is quite elegant. The more planets you have access to, the more missions you can complete, the more upgrades you can buy, the more random events you'll encounter, and the more fun you'll have.

The interface for Kairobotica is Kairosoft's standard pseudo-non-smartphone layout that has always felt a bit cramped for some player's liking. A round d-pad menu can be shown or stashed, and using it to control the game is often a more precise way to go. Either way, managing your robots or checking in on the latest space tourist sale isn't so difficult, and before long you'll handle it without a second thought.

If pressed to explicate any shortcomings, it would be worth mentioning that Kairobotica's battles can be a bit slow-paced, especially if you decide to undertake extra patrols just for the experience. Combat isn't as much about tactics as it is about number superiority, and the only tough decision you'll make is deciding when to retreat to heal your forces. Otherwise, you just sit back and watch the battles play out.

Kairobotica shares a lot with Epic Astro Story and its other Kairosoft cousins. But the adventure is something new entirely. Epic in scope but personal in nature, your flying colony will be your home as you see what strange and desolate planets are out there in the universe. Just load up on helper robots, remember that donuts can be evil, and get ready for a long and satisfying game. We weren't kidding when we said it was an insta-buy.


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (64 votes)
| Comments (11) | Views (134)

elleNobushiCertain 1980s teen comedies notwithstanding, if ever anyone had weird down to a science, Detarou does. Their uncanny ability to simultaneously captivate interest, elicit giggles and leave us teetering near repulsion make Detarou escape games the reigning champions of strange diversion. Take Nobushi as a case-in-point: gratuitous amounts of Detarou's idiosyncratic oddness are dressed up with some "Saitou Get" collecting fun to equal peerless puzzling enjoyment.

While the raison de jouer is amusement, your objective is to solve multiple brain-teasing puzzles and get out with the best possible ending (there's three to choose from), all ten collectible figures in your possession. Use the bars at the edges of the screen to move about and let the changing cursor help you identify active spots where clues and other goodies might be stashed. The neat design aids your search and provides a surreal setting to look at, just for the sake of looking. There's so many random oddities to sieve through, you might be diverted from the actual informative tidbits.

What is silly to some, though, can be off-putting to others. If you're unwilling to poke and jiggle a pudgy belly or handle keys that were moments ago inside someone's mouth, then Nobushi will undoubtedly make you squeamish. Nobushi might also trick you in a way that some would call unfair. You'll want to make frequent and ready use of the "Save" button because Detarou is up to no good when it comes to tempting you into the "bad Panda" ending. Of course, that's all part of what makes this Detarou experience so satisfying. When it comes to brain stimulating entertainment, Nobushi is a knock-out!

Play Nobushi

Game not loading? Try this alternative link.


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (50 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (3,613)

Adventure Bar Story

DoraThey say a spiky-haired, giant-sword-wielding hero marches on his or her stomach, so running a restaurant in an RPG should be fairly easy and profitable. But spunky Siela finds out it's anything but when she learns the family business is tanking and her sister is considering selling it to a slimy corporate shill. In Adventure Bar Story for iOS and Android, Siela is determined to save her family's restaurant, even if it means running the place herself... which includes everything from managing the establishment and designing menus, to tracking down ingredients in the wild and doing battle with monsters along the way. Part simulation, part traditional turn-based RPG, and all goofy adventure, it's a breezy, casual title that may not be deep enough for die-hard story fans, but could be extremely hard to put down for the unwary casual fan who wants to dice goblins by day and serve risottos by night.

Adventure Bar StoryTo make your restaurant successful, you'll need to take part in two distinctly different modes of play. Once each day, Siela and her party can venture into the world map's dungeons and gather ingredients they find laying around, and take part in traditional turn-based combat to defeat monsters and earn more things to cook with. Unlike most other RPGs, however, you'll only gain experience points to level up by eating, so you won't want to neglect the kitchen! By returning to the bar, Siela can cook from recipies she's already learned in the kitchen if she has the required items, or try to make something from scratch. Once you've created a dish, you can add it to the menu by talking to Siela's sister, and open the restaurant for the evening. You can only sell what you've cooked, however, so be sure to make multiples if you think a dish is going to be a bestseller. You can take the profits to buy adventuring equipment, new dishes, cooking tools, and a lot more from the store in town, or sell excess stock.

In the beginning, you won't have much to sell, but as time goes by and your success and strength grows, you'll be able to travel to farther destinations with more exotic ingredients. If the food you make is especially delicious, you might even find it draws some unusual characters to your bar that can help you out. If you want a leg up, you can purchase jewels via in-app purchases as Siela's storekeeper friend Fred nags helpfully reminds you that will allow you to buy special import items or unlock a recipe without having to guess at the ingredients, but this is entirely optional.

With its blend of charm, light humour, vibrant graphics, and addictive gameplay, Adventure Bar Story is the perfect springboard into the RPG genre for the new generation of casual mobile gamers. As indie juggernaut Recettear has proven, there's just something immediately quirky and fun about running the sort of establishment you'd frequent as a player character in another title, and Adventure Bar Story is no exception. The controls are simple despite some clunky menu navigation, the gameplay is fast moving and "one more day/recipe" addictive, and it combines into a sort of perfect storm that might make it hard to resist for casual gamers. The downside? Well, if you're really into RPGs for their story, you're going to find the somewhat awkwardly translated and simplistic narrative here a disappointment, and the gameplay might not be deep enough for some players to keep it from feeling repetitive. If you're looking for a quirky and easily accessible RPG with a liberal dash of restaurant management, however, Adventure Bar Story is a huge adventure you should definitely make a reservation with.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad (1st gen). 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.


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (5) | Views (251)

Beware Planet Earth

KimberlySomewhere in the American Midwest, something strange is afoot. Crop circles are appearing. Cows are disappearing. All signs point to an alien invasion! "Beware Planet Earth!" is a zany tower defense game from indie developer Lightmare Studio. It's up to you and your friend Barney (who has unfortunately locked himself in the outhouse) to repel the ugly green monsters before it's too late.

Beware Planet Earth!Luckily for you, Barney is a genius with machines. You give him the materials, he'll make you up some slick defenses. The most basic (and essential) piece of machinery is the cog factory. It bakes up gears that you have to collect, and which act as the currency you need in order to place the other machines along the trail. Barney devises an array of attack machines, made available to you over time. Using just your mouse, drag and drop your towers to open spots in the field. You'll have to strike the right balance between cog machines and towers so you have enough supplies, but also enough firepower to hold the aliens back. After you place a tower, there is a cooldown period before you can place that particular tower again, so you need to plan for that as well.

The aliens follow a set path toward your cows each level. There are often multiple crop circles where the aliens beam in, though the paths always converge eventually. You have a set number of slots for towers, and before each level you select from a variety of towers to fill those slots. More choices and slots become available as you progress in the game. You get the chance to see the map and which enemies will be approaching before you choose which towers to use. This allows you to plan accordingly, and choose the best machines to suit each challenge.

You have a set number of cows to defend each level. If an alien breaks through your defenses, don't worry. Even if they manage to pick up a cow, they have to carry it all the way back to the crop circle in order to abduct it properly. This gives you time to rescue it and let it mosey its way back to the field. And if they do get one or two of your animals, don't despair. As long as you have one cow left at the end you'll be able to move on to the next map.

Beware Planet Earth!The main story is comprised of the four seasons, each with unique attributes that try to hinder you in some way. As you play, challenge modes are unlocked and playable from the main menu. These consist of a pre-determined number of cogs available, as well as limited selection of towers. And for those who thrive on achievements, there are plenty of those to go around.

Besides the towers, you have also managed to collect a laser gun dropped by one of the invaders, which you can now use against them. This zapper is vital to the gameplay. Use it for destroying hay bales, to make more room on the field, to destroy alien shields, or to super charge your towers, among other things. It overheats easily though, so save it for when you really need it. There are also various types of bombs that are placed directly on the path that can help weaken the enemies or save you in a pinch.

Analysis: If you think a lot of what I just described sounds like Plants vs Zombies, you'd be right. Lightmare has drawn several gameplay elements from the PopCap hit, and lists the game as an inspiration on their website. But you'd be dead wrong if you think this is just a clone. "Beware Planet Earth!" has plenty of originality, as well as its own sense of humor. The integral role of the laser gun alone is enough to set it apart from others in the genre. While normally a mouse-only gamer when possible, even I was wishing for a hotkey to grab the laser in tight situations. But the franticness is part of the fun.

Some may think the game is too easy, and while the early levels are fairly simple, it does get more difficult as you go along. If you still think it's a walk in the park, the developers tell us there's a Veteran's Mode on its way, which will be a free update when it is complete. This mode promises to challenge even the most experienced defense gamer.

The towers have a lot of personality, and the profiles of the aliens and your interactions with Barney will make you chuckle. The atmosphere of the game is early sci-fi, complete with a theremin in the soundtrack. If you loved Plants vs Zombies (and even if you didn't), this game is worth taking a look at. There is a free demo, so there's nothing stopping you from checking it out. Someone's gotta defend the beef!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (41)

WarGames: WOPR

JohnBThat's right, it's a licensed game based on a 30 year old movie! In Be-Rad Entertainment's WarGames: WOPR, the War Operation Plan Response computer is hacked by David Lightman who proceeds to engage in games against the artificial intelligence. Things get a bit out of hand, though, and the struggle nearly sets off World War III. In the movie it's all about man versus machine, and you know exactly who wins. In the game, you play as the computer fighting against those do-gooding humans as you attempt to fill the world with freshly launched nuclear missiles. And what better way to play out that attack than in an RPG-inspired puzzle game?

wargames.jpgEach round of WarGames pits you against an opponent as you attempt to outwit him/her by being a tile-matching virtuoso. By dragging over the pieces on the screen, you can construct snaking lines of three or more of the same type. Depending on which tile you matched, different things will happen. You'll want to attack your opponent by matching nuke tiles, of course, but you also need to keep your health high by matching health icons. Satellite pieces add up to a special ability you can unleash, while cash tiles increase your booty (not that booty) that allows you to use special abilities.

Did we mention you're being attacked during all of this puzzle matching madness? Your opponent will target certain tiles, each one marked with a turn counter and a damage number. Once the turn counter reaches zero, that move is initiated, and if the piece happens to be a nuke, you could be in for some serious damage. By matching these target tiles with large chains of pieces, you can whittle down their power and get rid of them before they activate. It's not always an easy thing to do, but it really adds to the urgent, tense feeling that pervades this sometimes frantic puzzle game.

Unlocking, equipping, and using special techs is one of the best parts of WarGames: WOPR, and you get to manage two separate inventories full of bonuses. The Tactics equippables stash themselves in a small bar at the bottom of the screen and can be used during the round by spending a little cash. They often directly damage the enemy or rearrange bits of the board. Mods, on the other hand, are passive abilities that give you bonuses for making matches or increase certain stats. All equippables can be upgraded using RAM, and RAM is earned by winning matches or by dipping into your wallet and indulging in the game's totally optional in-app purchasing system.

wargames2.jpgAnalysis: Puzzle hybrids are all the rage now, owing a lot of their popularity to the Puzzle Quest phenomenon several years ago. More recently, games like 10000000 have graced the mobile market, showing us that matching-based puzzle games are far from dead, especially if you add a bit of long-term progression to the mix. WarGames: WOPR does exactly that, and the release gets the formula absolutely right. Gameplay is smooth and intuitive, challenging but ultimately solvable. You get instant gratification annihilating those pesky humans in one-on-one play, but as you unlock new techs and mods, you get to increase your powers to do some really crafty things. It's epic, world-ending fun. Literally.

The more levels you complete (there are 41 in all), the more pieces of the launch code you'll collect. Bonus stages come by from time to time, mixing things up by changing the level goal to something slightly different. The "poker" round, for example, challenges you to move certain pieces to the bottom of the screen before time runs out. And then there's the super nuclear missile that will deal 9999 damage to you as soon as the turn counter runs out. Good luck defusing that goliath of a bomb.

The goal of WarGames: WOPR is to destroy mankind, which doesn't exactly put you in the role of hero (depending on how you view humanity). You never get the sense you're the big bad evil one, though, so the tone stays fairly benign. Besides, it's just a game, right? It's not like this game is meant to teach some far away computer how to defeat us at puzzle games so it can eventually rule the world. *nervous laughter*

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 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (111 votes)
| Comments (25) | Views (1,468)

DoraSlenderIf I were allowed shed all semblance of professionalism to write what I really thought, my review for this game would just consist of "nope nope nope nope nope nope nope" and some choice bits of shrill, panicky, improvised profanity. I've just been playing the nightmare adventure game Slender, by Parsec Productions, who apparently hate sleep so much they decided to make sure nobody can ever close their eyes again. Based on an internet-birthed urban legend (we hope), Slender stars you as a faceless, foolish explorer armed only with a flashlight, lost in the woods at night, searching for eight missing pages. Use the [WASD] keys to move, the mouse to look around, and hold [left shift] to sprint. Just click to pick up any pages you find, and right-click if you think turning off the flashlight will help you somehow. You might be lulled into a sense of security by the quiet evening and the familiar sounds of nature. The more pages you gather, however, the more it becomes apparent that you aren't alone. If you do happen to make contact, look away as quickly as you can, but you may only be delaying the inevitable. It sees you. It wants you. It will reach you wherever you hide. I hate you, Parsec Productions.

Slender is an exceptionally simple game, but it wields its atmosphere and pacing with such formidable intensity that even those unfamiliar with the original story will be creeped out. As of this writing, Slender is in beta, and to be frank, it sort of shows, since the model for the titular being isn't particularly scary if you really stop to look at it (though this is planned to change), and the gameplay is fairly bare even if the pages do appear in random locations each time. Its slow pace combined with the disorienting landscape and how hard on your eyes it can be also means it won't be for everyone. Played with the lights off and headphones on, however, and Slender's use of increasing tension and the sense of lost vulnerability it manages to create makes it far and away scarier than many big budget titles out there. If you like slow, creeping, unexplained horror, then this one's for you, and you're welcome to join me in my protective pony pillow fort after.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the free full version


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

The Big Big Castle!

DoraLooking for a career change with physics, puzzles, and the constant threat of beheading as you caper beneath the unreasonable demands of unstable clients? Put in your application for master builder with Beep Games' The Big Big Castle! In this silly, vibrant little iOS title, it's your job to build towering, precarious structures from a hodge-podge of blocks, beams, toppers and more, all to satisfy the unreasonable demands of the people paying you. At least, theoretically paying you, since they seem more interested in keeping you busy and distracted than cutting you a check. But when the work is this fun, who cares? Though familiar in concept, The Big Big Castle! is big, big fun, and frequently very funny to boot. It's almost enough to make you not mind being constantly belittled and threatened by your eccentric employers. Hooray!

The Big Big Castle!Play is simple. Just drag pieces from the box at the top of the screen and stack them however you like on the playing field below. You can make adjustments by dragging pieces around even after they're placed if it looks like your structure is weaving a bit too much for your taste. To nab the mysteriously floating gold coins, just stack material over top of them to add them to your score. Sometimes you'll encounter pieces or people held aloft by balloons, which you can tap to drop to your structure, but if they fall too far it might be fatal.

Each stage will have different requirements for you to meet, usually revolving around reaching a certain height or safely housing the understandably nervous balloon-buoyed folks within it, and the more you play the trickier things become as your client's demands get more and more elaborate. Although only the initial kingly set of levels is unlocked, you can get more by spending coins, which can themselves also be nabbed via in-app purchases if you're sick of slowly saving up and want to splurge on more material in the store.

The optional "Destroy!" mode, which lets you blow up constructions of your own or other players, can be entertaining, but feels token and sort of pointless. Earning coins is also so slow that if you're trying to save up the huge amount required to unlock other level packs you're going to need to replay stages over and over unless you feel like spending some money... almost to the point where you might prefer if the game had charged you a flat fee and not bothered with the coins at all. However, The Big Big Castle! is the best kind of casual, mobile game possible. It's funny, it's vibrant, easy to get into, and hard to put down. Though the gameplay really isn't anything physics puzzle fans won't have seen before, the presentation, humour, and quick levels makes it the sort of thing you can find yourself reaching for whenever you have a few spare moments. It's polished and accessible in ways that diehard phuzzle fans and newcomers alike will appreciate, and is more than worth the space on your device.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad (1st gen). 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.


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (406)

Redemption Cemetery: Grave Testimony

DoraWhen you're in the wrong place at the wrong time and wind up witnessing a crime the criminals would rather unsurprisingly be un-witnessed, you find yourself abducted and buried alive. Fortunately for you, these thugs chose the wrong cemetery to bury their secrets in. In this latest installment in ERS Game Studio's hidden-object adventure series, Redemption Cemetery: Grave Testimony, fate decides to intervene in your gruesome end. But is this a power you really want to be indebted to? And does fate really want its champion to be someone who doesn't have the sense to climb out of an unlatched car trunk, or grab the gun sticking in your face out of the waistband of your merrily oblivious would-be murderer's pants? Seriously, what's wrong with you? You don't need magic birds, you need a Darwin Award!

Redemption Cemetery: Grave TestimonyTurns out just because the gangsters who wanted to done you in got done in instead doesn't mean you're in the clear. The island they've taken you to is kinda sorta cursed, and to escape you'll need to pay a toll to one very unusual ferryman... three soul stones from three restless souls. As it happens, he isn't completely heartless, and lends you his pet crow, who can be paid with mystical runes to perform tasks for you that your meaty, earthbound self would otherwise be unable to complete. Search the island for clues, solve puzzles, and try not to meet the same fate as your kidnappers. Items in your inventory with a small green plus beside them can be dragged together to be combined into something new, so stay resourceful. With the help of some guilty ghosts, you'll be able to travel back in time to various locations, hopefully saving yourself as well as another innocent who wasn't quite so lucky. And hey, who doesn't love time travel? It's so... wibbly-wobbly! Just be careful, since not everyone wants you to escape the great beyond.

Analysis: As a series, Redemption Cemetery has come a long way. ERS always makes stunning games, but the first installment, Curse of the Raven, fell prey to ridiculous amounts of backtracking and repetition on top of a story that took a back seat to everything else. Grave Testimony does a great job of not only liberally spicing up the gameplay with twists and turns in its wonderfully ghoulish gangster plot, but also trying valiantly to keep the gameplay itself interesting and varied... and mostly succeeding. The tone is definitely campy throughout, and the whole "magical crow" concept never really feels like more than a gimmick, but it's hard not to get drawn into it. It's creative, it looks great, and it feels like it's having a lot of fun with itself.

Redemption Cemetery: Grave TestimonySome of the puzzles feel like busywork and are sort of eyebrow-raisingly odd, but should at least be applauded for attempting to avoid the cookie-cutter familiar types in hidden-object adventures. And speaking of hidden-object scenes, the approach of making them mini-puzzle areas in themselves is a clever one that, combined with how sparingly they're used, helps to keep them from feeling tedious and brainless the way others might. You'll still have to do a fair amount of back-tracking, however, and the game's habit of making an item vanish from your inventory after a single use only to turn around and force you to find almost exactly the same item all over again for another use can get obnoxious. Oh well. At least I'm smart enough not to hire henchmen who wouldn't drink a mysteriously appearing sleeping-pill laden cup of coffee just because it was there. Who's laughing now, game?!

Redemption Cemetery: Grave Testimony is a great choice for a little late evening lounge gaming, best enjoyed kicked back and with a bucket of popcorn. It's a decent length at over four hours for your average playthrough, and the wide variety of puzzles combined with the comparatively scarce hidden-object scenes will make this one much more appealing to straight-up adventure fans. Ghoulish, goofy, and full of otherworldly murders, it's definitely worth checking out the demo for this one. And maybe the next time someone tosses you in their car's trunk with the intent of driving you somewhere to bury you alive but doesn't latch it... hop out, huh? What's a little road rash compared to sleeping with the worms? Kids today, I swear.

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 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (91 votes)
| Comments (17) | Views (3,493)

DoraCLOPHORSES. How do they work? Well, if you're the unicorn star of Bennett Foddy's arcade skill game CLOP, the answer is probably going to be, uh, not very well. Unicorns, as you know, are drawn to pure maidens, and Sherrod has promised our equine hero that there's one on the other side of the hill over yonder. Too bad horses aren't that good with hills. Use [H], [J], [K], and [L] to move each of Clop's legs in turn, and try to navigate the increasingly difficult obstacles in your way. It starts out easy enough once you develop a rhythm, but as anyone who's played QWOP will tell you... it ain't that simple.

Like all of Bennett Foddy's games, CLOP is just as much about skill and reflexes as it is getting a good rhythm going... and having a good sense of humour. It's simple, silly, and frustrating, and not quite as inherently hilarious as QWOP could get, though the set up and overall design are a definite treat. Best enjoyed with a good dose of self-deprecating humbleness and maybe a buddy at the keyboard to share in the hoof-duty and your defeat, CLOP is a weird little diversion that might require some patience and fast fingers to master, but it'll be worth it when you feel the wind in your glorious, sparkly mane. Might I suggest an appropriate soundtrack?

Play CLOP


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (175 votes)
| Comments (14) | Views (610)

DoraSuper Adventure PalsIs there anything more adorable than a boy and his tiger? Well, how about a boy and his giraffe? There used to be a pet rock in there too, but the jealous Mr B has stonenapped him, so now it's up to you and your trusty reticulated steed to get him back! Jay Armstong's quirky, bouncy platforming adventure Super Adventure Pals combines sword-swinging and RPG elements with a heavy dose of cuteness and absurdity for a weird and wacky title that's good and good for ya despite a few bumps in the road.

Super Adventure Pals has two control options for you to choose from in the form of [WASD] for movement and the [arrow] keys to perform actions, or vice-versa. In your quest to save your rockin' pal, you'll have to travel around the land defeating enemies and hunting down quest items for yourself or the hapless villagers you meet. As you defeat enemies, you'll earn experience points, and eventually level up which will allow you to upgrade either your strength or your health. Health, as you might expect, is kind of important since none of the baddies seem to care that you're a little kid and will happily pound the snot out of you, but as long as you're carrying potions they'll automatically be used when your health drops below a certain point. Use the gold you'll find strewn around to buy more potions, or bombs that you can hurl at enemies, and replay stages to earn diamonds that can be spent on more useful magical items.

No two shakes about it, Super Adventure Pals feels like it's expressly made to make you smile, from the goofy story and dialogue to the giggle-inducing character designs and bouncy soundtrack. The quests you'll undertake are all simple fetch-quests for the most part, but it feels like anything else would get in the way of the simplified approach to the RPG elements that makes it so much fun to hop right into. Super Adventure Pals's greatest flaw, however, will be the lack of customiseable controls. Neither option's choice of action keys feel particularly intuitive and will take some practice to get used to, and it seems like allowing players to rebind keys to what they're comfortable with would cut out the frustration some are going to feel that's going to hurt the experience for them. As a result, as simple in concept as the combat is, it's going to require a bit of finesse and practice to keep from getting backhanded off platforms. Super Adventure Pals is well worth playing through if you have the patience to wrangle the controls, and provides more than enough grins and cheers along the way.

Play Super Adventure Pals


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (65 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (78)

DoraDigital Upgrade: DecodedNormally creepy childlike disembodied voices accompanied by distorted and vaguely unsettling images don't install a lot of confidence, but this one seems to know you. And hey, if you can't trust a mysterious shadowy being, who can you trust? In Iluvas Games' match-3/Tetris-y puzzle game Digital Upgrade: Decoded, matching and subsequently obliterating the cute little critters onscreen is the key to unlocking the memories of the strange entity that beseeches you. Use the [arrow] keys to rotate and drop the bundles of creatures onscreen into stacks, aiming for lines or grids of three or higher. As you play and your score climbs, you'll not only unlock memories and story segments, but points you can spend on upgrades or single-use power-ups that can help you clear the screen.

Play all the Digital Upgrade games:
Digital UpgradeDigital Upgrade: Decoded

Digital Upgrade: Decoded is weird. Mostly in a good way. The original, Digital Upgrade, was a fairly straight-forward match-3 title with a cheery, goofy design and concept, and Decoded expands on the original gameplay by tacking on not only a story, but more power-ups as well. While the design change is striking and lovely, and definitely impressive overall considering how cartoonish and simple the first one, how much the rest of the changes really add to the experience is debatable, and depends on how much you prefer your match-3 puzzling to be simple and streamlined. Taken on its own, the gameplay is sort of hypnotically addictive but feels detached from the interesting, though awkwardly implemented, story you're supposed to be unlocking. Allowing you to purchase and control the use of your powers will definitely help you get out of tricky situations, but at the same time sort of detracts from the fast-paced instant gratification you usually get from seeing matches burst and your score climb. In the end, Digital Upgrade: Decoded is a beautiful and addictive little game despite some underdeveloped additions to its core concept. Would the third time be the charm? Maybe, but until then, this is still a lovely little procrastination device that's just the right size and style to fill a break or three.

Play Digital Upgrade: Decoded


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (36 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (29)

fogandthunder.jpgJohnBIf video games are any indication, the world we live in is filled with dungeons stocked with progressively more difficult enemies and convenient puzzles designed to help us descend further into darkness. Tequibo's Fog and Thunder doesn't try to hide the fact that it's built around the feeling of being lost in a roguelike RPG, but the action-oriented gameplay is different than what you might expect, as it employs light-based mechanics that affect everything from enemies to exits to your own special abilities. Where's a good pair of night vision goggles when you need them?

Use the [arrow] keys to trot around in Fog and Thunder's top down world, walking through the shaky tiles as you hunt for triangle-shaped keys. Use [z] to deploy a sonar wave, pushing enemies away and uncovering secrets hiding in bits of the environment. You can also tap [x] to toggle how much light you emit, allowing you to sneak around without alerting enemies. More importantly, the [c] key allows you to change the tile you're standing on to a white tile, a spot of ground that both defeats enemies and recharges your light meter at the bottom of the screen. Each time you deploy a sonar or white tile, this bar depletes. Only by standing on a white tile can you recharge it, and most of the game will be spent setting and using these tiles as intelligently as you can.

Moving to deeper levels requires finding keys, charging them with light, and making your way to the exit. You'll also come across pieces of environmental decoration that can often hide items or enemies, the latter of which are probably already swarming your position. Fog and Thunder uses some familiar mechanics (Lock 'n' Chase, anyone?) in new and interesting ways, and building its entire premise on the use of light means no matter what you do, some element is tugged out of balance, setting new events in motion and creating a world that's constantly shifting around your actions. It's a simple game, but a wholly entertaining one that will keep you engaged on that long lunch break of yours!

Play Fog and Thunder


| Comments (14) | Views (10)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraWho loves you? We love you! Although apparently not as much as the developers in this week's previews do, because they're the ones making content for you. Not that we wouldn't if we could! We just don't have the talent... or the skills... or the time to get the skills... or the time and the attention span to get the skills... but we can point out the people who have crafted themselves into the Hattori Hanzos of gaming!

Analogue: A Hate StoryCONTEST: Love Does Hate If you've played her games, you know... Christine Love is practically peerless when it comes to crafting characters and storytelling. Her first commercial release, Analogue: A Hate Story is as profoundly insightful as it is disturbing at times. You play the role of an agent sent to recover the logs of a spaceship, previously missing for thousands of years, and between two vastly different Artificial Intelligences you'll gradually uncover the truth about the ship... and human nature. So naturally we want to give you a chance to experience it! To win one of three copies, try the demo and leave a comment on this entry. Rules: Entries must be submitted by August 10th, 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.

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
Winners are as follows:
Akarroa
dra.alet
furyofachilles
Thank you for playing, and you will be notified via e-mail!


Baldur's GateCome, Boo! There is Evil Whose Buttocks Has Not Been Kicked! Baldur's Gate is without question one of the finest classic RPG experiences you can have, but if you're thinking of picking it up, you might want to wait for September 18th when the Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition hits. Featuring an estimated six hours additional playing time, three new characters (which are unfortunately a separate purchase if you pick the game up for iOS) and much more including support for community-made mods, it looks like the perfect way to spend the $20.00USD it'll run you. Plus, it's almost in time for my birthday, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with everyone's favourite surly Thayvian wizard, giant space hamster, and no-nonsense taking half-elf druid.

BlackSoulDang England, You Scary If you like survival horror, newcomer XeniosVision has a project you might be interested in. The upcoming BlackSoul stars Ava and Sean, two different people venturing into a quarantined village for entirely different reasons as they search for the truth and presumably try not to have horrible things happen to them. Though there will be things to fight, the game stresses that you'll need to use your brain as well, which should make adventure game fans happy. It sounds a bit like Resident Evil 2 met Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare in a romantic, dimly lit bar, and it looks absolutely gorgeous to boot.

Everybody's Gone to the RaptureOpen-World End-of-the-World thechineseroom's smash-hit indie adventure-ish game Dear Esther is undeniably a gorgeous, rich narrative, but arguably more "interactive story" than actual game. Well, the upcoming "spiritual successor" Everybody's Gone to the Rapture promises to deliver just as deep a narrative with more meaningful and in-depth gameplay. It's an open-world type title where you have just one hour to witness the events in a sleepy little village before the world ends, and the decisions you make and the people you decide to influence (or not) will have a big impact on the story. You can read more about the concept in an interview over at BeefJack, and look for the game to come out in summer of 2013 for PC. My plan for the end of the world? Pajama bottoms, mushroom ravioli, and re-runs of Star Trek and Friendship is Magic. If I have to go, I'm going comfy and nerdy.

Tiny Barbarian DXTiny, Manly Adventures If you loved last year's platformer Tiny Barbarian, prepare to swoon over its itty-bitty six pack all over again with the upcoming Tiny Barbarian DX! TinyB will set out on a much bigger adventure packed full of new enemies, treasures, damsels and more, all completely reprogrammed and optimised for your gaming pleasure, because developer StarQuail loves you that darn much. You can check out a few screenshots and pick up the original game over at the official site, and I recommend stocking up on baby oil to make your bronzed torso glisten in advance, as there's sure to be a rush.

Princess Panic!Double Your Heroine, Double Your Fun WARNING: Linked site contains some profanity and content rated "O"
Josh Lesnick, creator of the popular online webcomics Wendy and Girly, is dipping his toe into video games with the upcoming 2-D yuri platform RPG adventure Princess Panic! The game stars Princesses A and B, who rule neighbouring kingdoms, and both discover one morning over breakfast that the other has been captured, and so set out to rescue one another, without really knowing who, if anyone, needs rescuing! As of now, the game mostly exists in concept, though several people have thrown their talents into the pool and without a doubt anything that features Josh Lesnick's signature brand of absurdist humour and knack for surprisingly touching storylines is bound to be entertaining. You can browse the official site to learn more about it and take a gander at the lovely concept art (provided you don't mind a bit of profanity and some risque humour), and keep your eyes peeled for more developments to come. Princess B is already my favourite.

What's in a Game?Spoiler Alert: It's Circuits and Ground-Up Pixies You've heard about Indie Game: The Movie, right? Well, it might be time to look at things from a broader perspective. Or at least, that's what Colin Snyder and team think! Get ready for What's in a Game?, an upcoming documentary featuring everyone from Anna Anthropy to Tim Schafer discussing games from every angle, including how culture, commerce, and more have influenced gaming's metamorphosis on the journey from arcade to living room. The creators want to inspire you to make games as well as play them, and considering the wildly diverse people who will be sharing their experience and opinions, there's a good chance it'll do just that.

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!


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (57)

Flight

DoraIf you've ever played Telephone before, then you probably know you can't rely on other people to carry along simple messages without turning them into hilarious garbled innuendo. However, most of us generally trust our Christmas wishes to make it through intact... but most of us don't rely on paper airplanes to ferry them to the North Pole. In the iOS version of the original browser launch arcade game Flight, a little girl's wish to bring her mother home for Christmas takes a global detour and gets more than slightly misinterpreted along the way. Through simple, addictive, touch-screen gameplay, you'll journey around the world touching the lives of a variety of unusual characters in even more unusual ways. Lifted from your browser and onto your iOS to go wherever you do, Flight is a gorgeous, clean little game that takes a simple concept and soars with it.

FlightEach stage is set in a different country, and each day you'll get a chance to hurl your paper airplane a little closer to its destination, picking up the currency you need for upgrades along the way. Tap and hold on your paper airplane to pick it up at the beginning of each level, and swipe and release to throw it. Initially, all you'll likely be able to manager is a sad little arc that peters out after a short distance. Luckily for you, the stars you nab turn into cash (it's magic, we ain't gotta explain nuthin') you can spend between launches on various things that increase your performance or even give your paper airplane some suspicious un-paper-airplane-like capabilities. Purchasing an engine, for instance, will allow you to tap the screen and deliver a fiery burst of fuel to send you higher, or you can splurge for handling abilities that will let you tilt your device to direct your plane as long as the fuel holds out.

While you can purchase the money for upgrades via in-app purchases, Flight never feels like it's steering you towards that option the way a lot of other mobile games do. You'll have to do a little grinding to earn cash, of course, but with a little thought towards the upgrades you buy and a deft touch during the launch sequences, you can easily earn everything you need to complete the game without spending a game. Which you'll want to do, even if you completed the original browser version, because Flight is as gorgeous and addictive as ever. It's remarkable how compulsively playable the simple concept is, and the polish and dreamy, lush presentation makes it the sort of thing anyone can enjoy. If you've played the original, you'll probably find the iOS incarnation mostly identical apart from the touch-screen play, a few upgrades, and a somewhat different style. Flight is an absolute perfect fit for iOS, and the imaginative design and simple gameplay will ensure it gets its hooks into absolutely everyone. If you're looking for a fun, casual, and whimsical little title, look no further and book your ticket to take Flight today.

Play Flight (Flash version)

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad (1st gen). 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 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (77 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (38)

reachingfinality.gifJohnBDon't you just hate it when you're sleeping soundly and a lost soul enters your body and politely requests you help it get back to the afterlife? In Cory Martin's lovely little action RPG Reaching Finality, you're one such lucky person, helping out a spirit by fighting your way through forest and dungeon armed with little more than a pitchfork and a fancy straw hat. Not that the hat does anything other than make you look cool, of course.

Move around this top down world using the [arrow] keys and use [Z] to read signs, check points of interest, or scroll through text. When you nab a weapon, use [X] to smack things with it. When you're ready to save (which, if you've ever played a game that's even remotely RPG-ish in nature, you know you should do at every opportunity), simply press [P] or [enter] to bring up the menu and record your progress. Apart from that, Reaching Finality is all about walking, enemy killing, heart gathering, and door opening!

Most of Reaching Finality's gameplay involves searching through mazes to find keys and bonus items, the former of which are necessary to proceed, and the latter just make you a little more bad to the bone. The game has a somber sort of mood, even though the visuals are bright and cartoonish. The gameplay isn't as serious as the story might indicate, and you won't find too much of a challenge carving your way from beginning to end. In fact, the only real downside to Reaching Finality is that it features a little to much aimless wandering. Few clues are given as to which path leads forward, so you'll probably walk back and forth quite a bit in this 30-45 minute game. But, if you don't mind a bit of ambulation, Reaching Finality is an enjoyable and surprisingly complete action RPG!

Play Reaching Finality


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (133 votes)
| Comments (35) | Views (276)

DoraTropicoolSo if you were stuck on a tropical island, what three things would you bring with you? Unless you answered, "TomaTea, an escape game, and puzzles", you're not going to be ready for Tropicool! You're stuck inside the world's mellowest beachside property this time, with only a cool pitcher of your favourite iced beverage, some wicker, and a sublimely laid-back guitar riff for company. Presumably you want to go outside, but I don't know why, since there's a giant flaming ball of fire in the sky, bugs in the sand, and other people out there. But if you must, you must, and to get out you'll need to solve a plethora of puzzles and use your noggin to find a way through the locked door. The cursor tip will glow when you're over an area you can click on, and the black bars that pop up at the edges of the screen when you mouse over them can be used to switch directions or perspectives.

With a larger emphasis on puzzle solving than MacGuyvering, Tropicool is the sort of game whose atmosphere and more cerebral challenges invite you to play it while sunk back low in your chair as a fan turns lazily overhead and the music washes over you. You really will need to look everywhere for clues to attempt the cabinet of curiosities, since the game will tell you that you have no idea how to solve something (which seems kind of presumptuous) unless you've viewed something that pertains to that particular puzzle. The many different angles you can view the environment at can mean hunting for a lot of little glowing cursor areas, but the little book of clues you'll pick up early on provides a clever source of hints on how to go about things. If you consult it frequently and pay attention to your environment, however, you'll quickly discover that this little escape gem isn't as baffling as it seems, and you'll be kicked back on the seaside in no time. The perfect puzzling getaway for your day, Tropicool doesn't break the mold or bring in any bells and whistles, but instead just serves up a beautifully designed little escape. And that's a-ok by us.

Play Tropicool

Thanks to Cyberjar88 for sending this one in!


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (34 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (6)

KimberlyHappy Dead Friends Players PackYour Dead Friends are back with 60 fan made levels in the fantastic Happy Dead Friends Players Pack. In this puzzle game by Gluk, there is only one simple rule: No free hands.

Okay, yes, it sounds easy enough to use your mouse to move the creatures around the grid until they are all smiling. But these dead friends often have more than two hands, or get chained in place, and some have no hands at all and simply want to be left alone. With the same great charm as the original, the players pack will leave you searching for someone who will hold your hand. And if 60 levels isn't enough to satisfy your hand holding needs, check out Joining Hands, the game that inspired the Happy Dead Friends games.

Play Happy Dead Friends-Players Pack


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (63 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (120)

Weekday Escape

elleWelcome to your first day of ninja training school. Before we get started, let's go over a few basics. These are little known and widely misunderstood ninja fun facts: ninjas have an affinity for hiding in unusual places, ninjas are dangerous when startled, ninjas' favorite color is green and ninjas often spend their free-time playing No1Game's Find the Escape-Men: In the Ninja House. Now is your own special opportunity to train essential ninja escape game tactics.

Find the Escape-Men #35: In the Ninja HouseAs you begin your journey from impercipient novice to acutely adroit, you must first test your ninja spotting senses by finding the ten escape men in and about the ninja house. You will be provided very few aids in this task, no changing cursor, and thus must rely solely on power of observation, puzzle-solving skills and an ability to creatively utilize found objects. Grey bars along the edges of the screen indicate when and where to turn and numerous clues are scattered about for your scrutiny. Check inventory carefully for hints and possible tools to guide you in your quest.

Occasional frustration may ensue as not all answers are found in the obvious and those who abhor hunting for pixels should refrain from entering. As ninjas do savor trickery, expect some misdirection and fruitless leads. Also be warned that your sensibilities could be offended by the more disreputable inhabitants of the ninja house. Of course, this venture could heighten your humorous instincts as well. If it is amusement you seek and an insatiable longing for more Ninja in your day, applications for admission to the Ninja factory are now being accepted. Test number one: find and use the "play" button.

Play Find the Escape-Men in the Ninja House

Recent Comments

 

Display 5 more comments
Limit to the last 5 comments

Casual game of the week

Danse Macabre: Moulin Rouge

Your Favorite Games edit

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

Popular on JiG


The Room

Virtual Villagers: Origins

Submachine 9: The Temple

Surgeon Simulator 2013

The House 2

Papa's pastaria

Fireboy and Watergirl 4: The Crystal Temple

Fireboy and Watergirl 3: The Ice Temple

Moonchild

The Royal Trap

Loren the Amazon Princess

1931: Scheherazade at the Library of Pergamum

Magical Diary

Heileen Series

Visit our great partner: maxcdn!

Monthly Archives

Legal notice

All games mentioned or hosted and images appearing on JayIsGames are Copyright their respective owner(s).

All other content is Copyright ©2003-2014 JayIsGames.com. All Rights Reserved.