July 2013 Archives


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Droidscape:Basilica

JohnBDroidscape:Basilica is a sci-fi puzzle game from Kyttaro Games that's got a few tricks up its sleeve. It casts you in the role of Bishop 7, a small robot who happens to be humanity's only hope to survive a new Dark Age. By drawing paths and then controlling the 'bot's progression, you can gather key cards to open doors and work your way to becoming a hero!

Droidscape:BasilicaDroidscape:Basilica divides gameplay into two sections: drawing and piloting. At the beginning of each level the action is paused while you create a path for Bishop 7 to follow. It runs out of walking energy pretty quickly, so be economical with your moves, even when you go after that extra gem in the corner. Once you've got it, hit the play button and Bishop starts moving. Using the slider at the bottom of the screen you can make the robot move forward or backwards, timing its steps to avoid enemies and other dangers. Levels require a lot of planning, and even then you won't always get it right the first, second, or seventh try.

About those tricks Droidscape:Basilica has tucked under its sleeves. For starters, you'll notice the graphics look a bit different than most games. That's because everything in Droidscape was modeled by hand out of clay, then animated using stop-motion technology. Claymation games are rare enough, but seeing one that isn't all colorful and sugar-coated happy is even more unusual! Droidscape:Basilica also has a HeadTwister feature that lets you use your device's front-facing camera to control the game by moving your head around. It's experimental, but it's interesting, we'll give it that!

Beyond its technological tricks, Droidscape:Basilica presents an absolutely solid puzzle game. Creative level design and a slightly different action slant to the gameplay makes it worth checking out. And once you get hooked, you'll be pleased to see it's quite the challenging puzzler!

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.


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Crypt Worlds

DoraEvery once in a while after playing a game I need to lay my head down on my desk and stare at the wall while I try to sort out just what it was I just experienced, and that's basically Cicada Marionette's bizarre fever-dream indie adventure game Crypt Worlds in a nutshell. In theory, you're playing a hero chosen to recover magical artifacts needed by a goddess to stop the resurrection of an old god. In execution, you run around, pee on things, and worship McDonalds parodies with wavering skeleton men in a deliberately low-res bizarro realm filled with talking televisions, pilgrims, and an infernal realm of nerds. Look, I don't know either. And I'm not sure if I genuinely enjoyed it, or I'm just too confused and disoriented to make sense of the world anymore, so now you have to play it too.

Crypt WorldsUse [WASD] to move around, the number keys to make selections in dialogue, and click on things to interact when up close. There is no combat, but if you... sigh... (no, I can do this, stay strong Dora)... If you have some urine, gained by collecting items and represented by the little yellow meter in the upper-left corner of the screen, you can right-click to pee on things. Hitting [ESC] will close the game, but don't worry... the next time you open it, you can continue right where you left off. You only have 50 in-game days to recover all the artifacts, which sounds like a lot, but finding them all is anything but straightforward.

Crypt Worlds is... well... it's something, that's for sure. It's going to be a polarizing experience, because just as many people will disdain it either for its deliberately low-res mish-mash aesthetic and patronizing send-up of tropes and gameplay concepts, as there will be people who love it for those very reasons and enjoy it as a result. There's certainly a fair amount to see, a weird potpurri of Earthbound's Moonside, first-person fantasy adventuring, and something like Hotline Miami meets Killer 7 for an experience filled with the weird, the funny, and the downright disturbing. It's bloody, it's gross, and it often doesn't make a lot of sense, and at times you can feel like you're having fun despite it, but, well... you sort of have to see it for yourself. Ultimately, I laughed, was perpetually unnerved, and often surprised, and for me at least, that makes it worth talking about. Even if "talking" in this instance typically means confused grimacing, gesturing wildly while you gape and make wordless sounds, and dead-eyed stares.

WindowsWindows:
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Mac OS XMac OS X:
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LinuxLinux:
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  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (37 votes)
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Alchemystery

Starchild Kids, today we are going to learn about alchemy, a wonderful (albeit sort of fictitious) science of turning metal into gold, wood into glass and your free time into thin air. Get ready to put your arcane knowledge to the test in Alchemystery, a puzzle game in which your powers of transforming materials will bring you fame and fortune or, failing that, at least a hefty amount of fun.

Alchemystery Your task for the day is to guide balls through maze-like levels, collect all the coins, and then find your way through a door to the next stage. Numerous challenges stand in your way, as the levels are beset on all sides by traps in the form of pools of water or acid, magnets and fire. Balls are made of various materials, each with their own properties: wood can float but will burn, iron is attracted by magnets, but sinks, and so on. On top of that, you'll have to pay attention to the size of the balls, since some sneaky coins might be hidden in narrow passages. In each level, you start with a ball made of a certain material; you will either be allowed to transform it, or you will have to find a way to manipulate other balls to reach your goal. Either way, thinking ahead is essential, as you must plan your steps carefully and execute them quickly one after the other. It's not exactly a Rube Goldberg machine, but at times it feels like one.

Alchemystery Alchemystery is definitely more beautiful than your usual browser puzzle fare. The attention to detail adds a lot of charm and creates an unmistakably magical atmosphere, what with the carelessly strewn crystals and esoteric symbols. The gameplay is refreshingly new and well implemented, with good physics and mostly straightforward levels. The only possible downside is the difficulty in getting all three stars, as the timer will rob you of a star at the smallest hint of hesitation. On the other hand, this might be an advantage, if it incites you to play it again in order to get better results.

Alchemystery is the right stuff for those who want more out of their browser games. It's polished and pretty as well as clever and demanding, and is an utter pleasure to play. Too bad there are only twenty-one levels!

Play Alchemystery


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (129 votes)
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(Haretoki) Sometimes Sunny Fit

elleIn a room filled with devices that tease, contraptions that taunt, and a décor that is strange, as if made in a funky plastic factory, Haretoki traps you in a playful and spirited escape game that's sure to simultaneously delight and frustrate. Like other games in Haretoki's repertoire, Sometimes Sunny Fit feels as if you're stuck inside a funhouse and every dial you turn or mirror you shift does nothing more than distract you from your entrapment. Here, there are items that might baffle until you put them to use and puzzles that seem impossible until the subtle logic of the clues click together into a satisfying "Aha!" moment. Solve enough puzzles, though, and the key to freedom is yours.

(Haretoki) Sometimes Sunny FitWith no textual references to explain what you're doing or why, you're left to point-and-click your way around the room, experimenting with the quirky contraptions that line the walls with seemingly no rhyme or reason. There is no changing cursor yet there are no pixel hunts. Even so, the trickery is much larger than what a few elusive pixels would provide.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty is looking past the red herrings to answers that are actually quite clear once you see them, although the abundance of puzzles makes it troublesome to decide what to do next. Luckily, a "save" button allows you to step away and clear your head. Don't get discouraged—as clever as this room is, you can outsmart these dodgy devices by using some tricks of your own, thinking outside the box and giving good consideration to the larger structure in which you're playing. If you haven't already played them, it might be best to warm up with Sometimes Sunny Reverse or Sometimes Cloudy Challenge to acquaint yourself with Haretoki's unique charm and sense of humor. Sometimes Sunny Fit is high on the challenge scale but the payoff is worth the headaches. "This is totally cool!" was never uttered with more truth.

Play Sometimes Sunny Fit


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (92 votes)
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Pretentious Game

Starchild The good thing about being an adult is that you get to make your own decisions. The bad thing is that you have no one to blame for them but yourself. Pretentious Game, Pretentious Game 2, and Pretentious Game 3 by Keybol all take a close look at difficult life choices, heartbreak and the pursuit of happiness (or, if you're in your twenties, it takes a look at a typical week). During the course of the three episodes in the series, you will be in charge of various characters. Your goal stays the same, though: solve the little platform puzzles that present themselves with each new screen using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to walk, jump and reach either another person or the other side of the level.

Pretentious GameEach screen comes with a line or two of the characters' inner monologue which ties in beautifully with the actions you have to take, and often provides important clues. Even though the game design is as simple as can be, it's surprising to find out how well it can reflect emotional states as well as hide tricky puzzle solutions. Pretentious Game isn't difficult at all (though there might be a few levels you'll have to replay several times), and all three games are definitely short enough not to outstay their welcome. However, the main feature is the story, a dramatic tale of love, loss and trying to find yourself. It's engrossing, even surprising at times, and playing characters with different points of view helps make the whole series a lot more cohesive and complete.

Pretentious Game is deceptively simple, but ends up reaching farther and deeper than it might seem at the start. It's easy to like it, even if you don't particularly identify with the protagonists, as the visual style and the puzzle aspect make for an enjoyable experience.

Play Pretentious Game

Play Pretentious Game 2

Play Pretentious Game 3


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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What's the Sentence

JohnBIt's time for a simple, soothing word game. What's the Sentence from Tinyworks Games is a straightforward game that combines anagrams with famous quotes. A baseline of six letter tiles rests at the bottom of the screen. Above are several words with blank spots in place of letters. Tap the word you want to work with, then tap your inventory to start filling them in. Repeat the process until the famous quote is complete!

What's the SentenceThe only thing that seems slightly out of place in What's the Sentence are in-app purchases. A hint button at the bottom of the screen can clue you in on a letter as well as reveal star tiles, which are essentially obscured letters in your inventory. Hints cost coins, though, and the rate at which you earn them is far outstripped by the cost of a clue. It's a little lopsided, but completely non-intrusive and certainly not compulsory.

What's the Sentence keeps gameplay straightforward and never deviates from its original intention. There are no lengthy tutorials or awkward diversions, just 70 levels of incomplete quotes to fill in, one letter at a time!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the Nexus 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.


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

DoraShoot first and ask questions later, largely because the hordes of the undead in Bryn Snoden and Jake White's low-res zombie action adventure indie game PiXLDeAD are more interested in gnawing on your skull than a little of the ol' parley. Though currently only in Beta, the first installment in this post-apocalyptic title is now available to download, and if you're a fan of conspiracy theories, flickering lights, and crowbar-on-zombie action, it's still well worth playing. And, I don't know... what are those, bubble-blowing wheelchair Doctor Octopus zombies? Yeah, okay. Alright. Who says 8-bits can't be atmospheric?

PiXLDeADUse [WASD] to move around, and hold [left-shift] to run or [left-ctrl] to crouch, while [spacebar] jumps and the mouse is used to aim and attack. When you get more than one weapon, you can use the mouse scroll wheel or [1], [2] and [3] to swap between them. [X] is used to interact, whether its opening boxes or doors, or shaking down a zombie corpse for more ammo. You can't move when a zombie has hold of you, and your screen will slowly turn red as you take more and more damage, though in this case time literally heals all wounds since sucking your thumb somewhere safe for a few moments replenishes your health. If you do die, you'll be booted back to the start of the last area you transitioned into. As the game begins, you're apparently being evaluated for membership into a post-apocalyptic society by the blonde woman monitoring your progress on your head-mounted camera. A routine run for supplies into an abandoned warehouse leads you on a chase to an old hospital with a secret when you discover the clues to a conspiracy.

Old school may be the new, uh, new school these days, but even working with simple sprites PiXLDeAD manages to pack a lot of atmosphere into the experience thanks to heavy use of lighting and a fantastic, tone-setting soundtrack. For the most part, its simple throwback gameplay works well, though getting stuck on scenery or grabbed by the silent zombies can be frustrating. The game is at its best when blending in story and subtle world-building with its action, so it's sort of disappointment that the last third of the game is such a long slog through bland corridors just popping zombies one after the other. By the end of it, the tension was somewhat lost on me as I bulldozed impatiently down hallway after hallway, snatching up keys and just trying to get through it all as quickly as possible... only to be hit by a big, fat "to be continued" just as it seemed like the story was really and truly about to begin.

The game raises far more questions than it does answers, chief amoungst those being "who the heck are you, what's happening, why am I carrying around all these toys, and am I going to get a vending machine for all these coins at some point?" I wouldn't call it scary so much as a zombified spin on classic first-person shooter adventures, and despite my quibbles, the whole story is just enough carrot over stick to keep me glued in place from beginning til end and eagerly anticipating the next installment. Which, hopefully, will start filling in the pieces in a big way. Our blonde cohort doesn't even have a name. Can PiXLDeAD follow through on its potential? That remains to be seen, but potential (and zombies, and the shooting thereof) it does have in spades, and is well worth the hour or so it'll take you to blast your way through to the end of the beginning.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


  • Currently 3.5/5
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Rating: 3.5/5 (69 votes)
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Nature Strikes Back

HopefulNebulaNature Strikes Back is Dreamgate Company's latest game, and though at first you may see a physics-based projectile game and write it off as an imitation of Fragger, Nature Strikes Back stands on its own merits. The gameplay is simple: you play as a plant with a set number of seeds, and your goal is to destroy all the evil polluting people so the world can turn green again. Move the mouse to aim, and click to launch.

Nature Strikes Back Each level of Nature Strikes Back introduces a new challenge or combines existing elements in new ways. Though you have a limited number of seeds, there are three types of seeds. Yellow ones split into three when you click, and brown ones explode. (One can never go wrong when explosions are involved.) There are laser traps, and automated drones that will kill polluters on contact, and two levels of armor for the polluters to wear. But the most important feature of the game — the one that gives it its "just-one-more-level" quality — is that the seeds ricochet off of walls and obstacles. While the amount of blood is perhaps a little excessive, the game doesn't linger on the gore, and the end-level animations where the whole level becomes overgrown with plants is lovely. Plus, you get to play as a plant that looks an awful lot like the one from Little Shop of Horrors, so what are you waiting for?

Play Nature Strikes Back


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The Vault

TrickyLet's face it: there's a certain masochistic edge to the summer season: Heat waves. Mosquitos. Sunburn. Anything involving community theater. So what better way to relax than this week's Vault's collection of ultra-tough-but-fair works from the JayIsGames archives, sure to frustrate you into a happy afternoon? We've got action, arcade, and platforming works that may be punishing, but boy, they hurt so good!

  • Soap BubbleSoap Bubble - So many high-difficulty games fail to justify why exactly it is that touching an errant blade of grass will cause the player-character to explode into a ludicrous amount of giblets. Soap Bubble, a 2005 exploration game by Anders Gustafsson, though, makes it inherent in the premise, playing as you do an anthropomorphic soap bubble, clearly the most fragile of the fragile. A watershed release in the avoidance genre, Soap Bubble offers a suprisingly atmospheric collection of techno-organic environments to not-run-into. Here, slow and steady will win the race, but the clear focus is on a quite pleasantly stressful journey.
  • Double JeuDouble Jeu - Clicking the Union Jack in the bottom left of the title screen of Double Jeu, a 2006 arcade game by Zanorg, translates the English title as Irritating Game, which, as far as I can tell, is actually the name of the series of which it is an installment. Frankly, I wish they'd kept the "Game Over" translation, since that's definitely a screen you'll be seeing a lot of. Approximately a simulation of playing ping-pong with one hard, while balancing a ball on a paddle with the other, commenter Kristofski probably puts it best by describing the Double Jeu experience as "like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. With one hand." But, if you're anything like me, you're not going to be able to take the game's snarky score assessments lying down.
  • GilGil - What kind of spotlight on difficult games would be complete without featuring a platform game with a protagonist who may or may not wanna be the guy? Well, not this one, for sure! Truthfully though, that Gil, the titular star of Animals Play Games' retro deathfest, merely wants his light-bulbs back from evil robots, to keep his light house running. That makes it quite easy to want to stick with him through the quite challenging hopping and bopping he needs to do. Infectiously charming, especially once it grants you the chance to play around with the jetpack, though be warned: total victory will require pixel-perfect play on the part of the persevering player.

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


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (26 votes)
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Shadowrun Returns

DoraTake the elves, orks, and magic of high fantasy, the mystique of Native American folklore, and blend it with a futuristic yet still modern day-ish technothriller cyber-punk setting and you've got Shadowrun. While its tabletop incarnation has been chugging along contentedly for years, a lackluster 2007 shooter was the last attempt at making a videogame... until Harebrained Schemes decided to serve up Shadowrun Returns, a turn-based strategy RPG game that also serves as the toolset to make and share your own adventures. Make anything from the cyberspace-trotting Dekker to the spirit-summoning Shaman, to name just a few classes, or you can create a custom class of your own by blending the skills as you please. A machine-gun wielding troll combat mage, perhaps? When it comes to a life in the shadows, chummer, anyone can be a hero... or a villain.

Shadowrun ReturnsFor the uninitiated, Shadowrun is set in the future after a new age begins that has melded the world of the fantastical (dragons, magic, elves, and so forth) with our modern world at the same time as technology takes a massive leap forward. With so many new cultures and factions warring for their piece of the good life, it's understandable that life is dangerous, and when you need protection or just something done, you look for "Runners", essentially hired mercenaries, people with special talents and abilities who handle all sorts of work for a fee. In the included campaign, you're a Runner who's down on their luck in the worst way. A phone call from an old contact you haven't heard from in months should mean another chance at work, but instead sends you off on a journey to Seattle to uncover the truth behind a murder... and a conspiracy. During regular play, the game is a top-down adventure where you click to move places and to interact with people or things when an icon is displayed above their head.

Shadowrun ReturnsCombat, which makes up the meat and potatoes of the game for the most part, plays out in a fashion similar to recent release X-COM: Enemy Unknown. You'll move characters around the battlefield freely within their range when it's their turn, and make use of various objects for cover. Each character in your party has Ability Points (AP) that determine how many actions they can take per round, from running to attacking and so on, and you can use them however you like. Unlike most RPGs, in Shadowrun improving your character comes down to spending Karma points you earn to increase attributes and earn new skills. You'll need them and a game plan to solve a murder... and maybe save the world. Charge in guns blazing? Sneak in through the back? Steal an enemy uniform and bluff your way in? Or jack into the security systems and turn their own defenses against them?

Shadowrun ReturnsAnalysis: I admit it, I liked both the 1993 SNES and 1994 Sega Genesis Shadowrun games, although saying as much in front of tabletop fans usually invokes an expression like I just said I enjoy farting in children's faces. And you know what? I'm not sorry. (Unless you're still on the farting thing, in which case it was an accident and I'm so sorry.) They were intriguing, creative adaptations of complex source material with campy, fun stories that blending techno-thrillers with dark fantasy in a way that made you want to know more about it. Shadowrun Returns, then, is basically the same thing, though almost more like Neverwinter Nights in its execution in that while it does come with a campaign, you're primarily buying the toolset to make your own, and the potential that comes with other free player-made campaigns down the road. The toolset itself isn't as immediately intuitive as, say, Neverwinter Nights, and at the moment is a bit limited in what you can create and customise due to a small amount of areas and "props" to flesh them out with.

The combat is, by and large, both satisfying and challenging. With the sheer amount of skills and ways to use your environment for cover, it feels like success is more dependant on having a plan than bulldozing your way through with power alone. At the same time, the Random Number Generator seems to hate you a bit, and I still seemed to spend an awful lot of time missing attacks even with high to-hit ratings. Explain to me how someone can miss hitting a basilisk the size of a dump truck when it's right in front of them and they have a shotgun and a 99% chance of hitting? The save system feels pointlessly restrictive and chances are far more people are going to hate its autosave-only approach than will like it. Accidentally click on the wrong dialogue choice? Zig when you should have zagged? Computer lose power or you just need to stop for a while? Hope you like starting the entire stage all over from the beginning.

Shadowrun ReturnsIt helps that the included campaign is both intriguing and well-written in addition to featuring a cameo that made me squeal with delight a little. But while it's an interesting mystery, it's also extremely linear. You're moved from one location to another as the story demands, unable to go back, and with only a few sidequests or real payouts, cash is always an issue. It feels like it's working hard to showcase everything the setting has to offer, but suffers a bit from not allowing you enough chance to explore and use your character's unique abilities. There are only a few areas where you're given any significant choice as to how to proceed, which is a shame since that choice is so important to the experience. Though the 3D character models can look odd against the environments, by and large its a gorgeous game packed with the distinct look and appeal of the Shadowrun universe. The soundtrack is limited, but punchy, featuring a few remixed homages with snatches of tunes from the original games as well, which is a nice touch.

The main campaign will probably take most players over ten hours to complete, but if you're picking up Shadowrun Returns, you're also picking up the tremendous potential that comes with it by being able to download all future fan campaigns free via the Steam workshop. There's definitely room for improvement, such as the restrictive save system and a tendency to be jerked around by the hit percentage in combat, but Shadowrun Returns is nevertheless an engrossing experience that captures the feel and fun of its source material. I realise that this review has gone on a bit long, but, well, it's sort of a hard thing to cover in a pithy fashion when you're dealing with something with a rich history and fanbase that also has the potential to bring in a lot of new blood. The bottom line is that where it matters, Shadowrun Returns is fun, challenging, and hard to put down. Its style and source material is a leap and a bound away from the dull, cookie-cutter fantasy or modern-themed games out there, and if you give it a chance, you might just find yourself hooked.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version


  • Currently 3.7/5
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Rating: 3.7/5 (53 votes)
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Find the Escape-Men 58: in the Studio

DoraIn the latest little-green-man-centric escape game from no1game, Find the Escape-Men 58: in the Studio, you are but a humble painter who doesn't believe he (or she! or they!) has enough to make the woman of their dreams happy, so you head to the studio, determined to make a masterpiece for the ages... or at least for your bank account. That's what love is about... dollah dollah bills, y'all. In your quest for one of two different endings, all you have to do is click around to navigate and interact with items, solving puzzles and tracking down all the itty-bitty green creepers hiding throughout your studio.

Like all of no1game's titles, it's cleverly crafted and to the point, though it might lack enough real creative wiz to make it particularly memorable or difficult. At the same time, like the staggering number of games in this quirky little series that have come before it, it's cute, silly, and the perfect enjoyable size to brighten your day without commitment... even if this does just add to my increasing phobia of being able to do anything in my own house without being creeped on by little green men hiding in my bathroom.

Play Find the Escape-Men 58: in the Studio


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (22 votes)
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CAVE! CAVE! DEUS VIDET

Starchild Hieronymus Bosch was an Early Dutch Renaissance painter, and that's pretty much all we know about him. Apart from the fact that he was a weirdo, because his paintings are some of the most insane things you'll ever see. Don't believe me? Google him, I dare you. So, when creating a Bosch-themed game, We Are Muesli decided to make it a hallucination-filled, transcendental, multimedial, interactive-arty visual-novely experience. It was only fitting.

CAVE! CAVE! DEUS VIDET Now, there's this geeky teenager who goes by the name of Hoodie and is interested by Bosch. He gets lost in a Lisbon museum which holds Bosch's trippy Triptych of the Temptation of St. Anthony. While sitting in front of it, he is approached by a mysterious stranger who, like all good strangers, offers him candy. And by candy I mean two objects which will, depending on Hoodie's choice, take him to different, but equally unbelievable places. Therefore, you'll probably want to play the game twice, because both paths are well worth exploring (and also quite short). One of them will acquaint you with aspects of medieval life in a Q&A type of gameplay; the other will teach you about human depravity by asking you to search through the triptych and its wealth of impressive (and disturbing) symbolic figures. This, combined with the extreme minimalism of the game's graphics and the slightly unhinged music, makes for a thoroughly unusual experience, one which is at the same time about art, history, life choices and whatever else you read into it.

What you will take away from this game is largely up to you. The interpretation of art is a personal affair, and CAVE! CAVE! DEUS VIDET. doesn't want to nudge you in any particular direction, but simply to point out things you may not have noticed or known about. If you happen to like Bosch, this will be a very rare treat; if not, you might finish the game blinking at the screen and scratching your head. Either way, something will stay with you, something new and perhaps a bit unsettling, but something that could make you think and feel. And that's what art is all about.

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the free full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the free full version


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Mobile Monday

JohnBEver wanted to play QWOP, just with heavy machinery instead of a super-fit runner guy? We've got that! How about taking a walk in outer space with nothing but a slab of glass between you and an endless abyss? Got that, too!

training-p.gifNow in HD: Astronaut Spacewalk - Astronaut Spacewalk is now bigger. Literally! The hyper-detailed simulation is now available for iPad, putting all the fine controls and beautiful outer space scenery in perspective. It's the closest most of us will ever get to taking a no-tether trot in outer space. The delightfully complex and detailed game gives you a screen filled with controls and a few simple missions to complete, then sits back and watches while you climb the impossibly high learning curve.

pixel-p.gifAndroidified: Pixel Defenders - The matching and merging puzzle defense game Pixel Defenders has finally made its way to Android devices! Developer Social Titans has eloquently blended genres with a healthy dollop of charm and pixels for the addictive match-3 puzzle defense game. Pixel Defenders Puzzle is one of those cute little mobile games that really seems to get the whole point of being a cute little mobile game is to be instantly playable and fun whenever you get the chance.

extreme-p.gifFree game: Extreme Forklifting - How extreme are you feeling? Extreme enough to drive a forklift, picking up pallets and placing them on targets? Because that's exactly what happens in Extreme Forklifting, guaranteed to be "Probably the best forklift game you'll play all year"! Controls are detailed and sensitive enough to make you feel like you're playing the QWOP equivalent of the warehouse management world, but somehow it all comes together to create a fantastically entertaining game. (iOS / Android)


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (26 votes)
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Nightmares from the Deep: The Siren's Call

elleSarah Black thought her adventuring days were behind her when she stopped the pirating Captain Remington and rescued her daughter from his clutches. Yet the curse of Davy Jones isn't finished and, when a stranger arrives at her museum with a mysterious artifact, our Ms. Black is soon again battling sea monsters and fish people, bribing a cursed dwarf for more stories, and diving through enigmas to save a mermaid in Nightmares from the Deep: The Siren's Call, a cinematic and thrilling hidden object adventure from Artifex Mundi.

Nightmares from the Deep: The Siren's CallYour role in the quest means traversing the town of Kingsmouth, exploring secret passages, talking to townsfolk (those who are still alive, that is) and solving the mystery in order to save them from Mayor Murray's spreading corruption and murder of innocents. A smart map takes all the burden of this exploration off your hands; it will show interactive areas and, with a simple click, allow you to travel to any scene where you've been before. When you begin, select the tutorial to discover all your options for gameplay—they're many.

Throughout the game, you'll encounter a wide variety of beautifully-rendered minigames and hidden object scenes. The presentations of these hidden object scenes are a happy find for those players looking for something new and different; styles range from silouettes, fragments, puzzles-within-puzzles and interactive list-style. Yet if all that variety is still not enough to stave off the ho-hums, you can switch over to Mahjong and skip the search altogether. Additionally, three sets of collectibles in an optional quest and a built-in achievement system ensures that gameplay isn't overlooked during all the action and storytelling sequences.

Nightmares from the Deep: The Siren's CallThe Siren's Call lives up to expectations set by the first of the series, Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart, with very few exceptions. Everything that makes a great adventure appealing is here: crime and curses, true love and pirates. The sweeping storylines that grab tightly and hold your interest are back by the barrel full in a perfect balance of plot, puzzles and hidden object scenes. The difficultly settings allow customized challenge so that those who'd rather focus on the entertaining adventure aspects can do that while those seeking slightly brainier challenges will likewise be satisfied. Where this sequel doesn't quite live up to its predecessor is in the crispness of the graphics; even so, the environments are remarkably gorgeous and layered with atmospheric effects that make the overall experience nothing short of stunning. With superb details and high quality production values, The Siren's Call is a casual gaming blockbuster, one that should not be missed by adventure fans on sea or land.

Currently only the Collector's Edition of this game is available. It contains bonus content not found in the standard edition: a bonus game, built-in strategy guide, wallpapers 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

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


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (280 votes)
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Acid Bunny

TrickyOnce upon a time there was a cute little bunny born with a tendency for uncontrollable behavior prompted by intense acid flashbacks, the latest of which has resulted in Mr. Bear's decapitation. Fortunately, all he needs to revive Mr. Bear is a needle and thread. Unfortunately, Acid Bunny's bunny brothers are out today making trouble, and you know they won't make things easy. Acid Bunny from Seething Swarm is an action-platformer that revels in offensiveness, almost as if its ashamed of the adorable heart beating underneath. Please be aware that this game contains material many would find offensive, including drug use and suicide.

Acid BunnyMove, jump, and double jump with the [arrow] keys, exploring the world around you, collecting the 24 spools needed to resurrect Mr. Bear. There are enemies to be bopped, or your can throw carrots at them with [A]. There are various vehicles and items you can ride, which you'll enter automatically, using [S] to dismount. There are also mushrooms to collect, which will allow you to see the magical portals that will take you to bouncy minigame land... There may be some subtle symbolism there.

The opening cut-scene of Acid Bunny has a level of pitch-black humor to it that would make even Jhonen-Vasquez-on-a-troubled-day say "Man, that got a little dark". Frankly, it seems a bit of a miscalculation going for so much shock value early on, since what follows is a quite creative open-world to explore with a good amount of collectibles, minigames and puzzles to interact with. Yeah, you'll still be bopping the head of the occasional pill-popping fellow bunny, but at least it won't be quite so friggin' bleak. Still, while only those looking off the beaten path should take an Acid Bunny trip, they'll find it well worth the ride.

Play Acid Bunny


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Experiment 12

ArtbegottiIf don't find yourself waking up and bursting out of a top-secret high-security testing facility on a regular basis, you're probably not spending your Saturdays properly. The result of a twelve-developer jam-style game creation chain, Experiment 12 is a twisted adventure to discover the truth behind your imprisonment. Each short chapter in this collaborative game gives you a tiny piece of an intriguing story set by (developer tags ahoy) Terry Cavanagh, Ian Snyder, Jack King-Spooner, Zaratustra, Richard Perrin, Michael Brough, Robert Yang, Alan Hazelden, Benn Powell, Jake Clover, TheBlackMask, and Jasper Byrne.

Experiment 12Experiment 12 combines a mix of puzzle and platform levels made in Flash, HTML5, Game Maker, and Unity, each built in a period of three days. In most levels, you can move around using [WASD] or the [arrow] keys and deploy an occasional action with [space], though one level does require mouse input. We're trying not to give away too many of the details of the plot here, but it's interesting to see how the story grows based on each successive developers' interpretations of the events before them, and how they build on what they've been given (sometimes directly lifting assets from earlier levels) to make a satisfying and compelling tale. Could chain games be a new trend in storytelling and game development? That's an experiment worth exploring, starting with this intriguing collection.

WindowsWindows:
Download 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
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Blitz Block Robo

JohnBBlitz Block Robo from Nexus Game Studio is an action puzzle game that's all about speed, speed and more speed. It keeps gameplay simple with one or two basic mechanics and a few wrenches thrown into the mix just to make sure you don't get too comfortable. Easy to play, extremely challenging, and plenty of replay value. Sounds like an ideal mobile game to us!

Blitz Block RoboEach round of Blitz Block Robo drops you in a grid with a bunch of colored robo squares dotting the field. Tap and slide squares to move them around the screen. Move at least three of the same color together and you can double tap them to make them disappear. Problem is, new robo blocks are constantly appearing, meaning you won't have time to celebrate every match you make. Just keep sliding!

There are three levels of difficulty in Blitz Block Robo, but only one game mode to use them in: play until you fail. The robo block types are plenty to keep you on your toes, though, so you won't really want multiple modes of play. Multiplier bots increase your score, for example, while glitch bots freak out the entire screen. You'll also run across multi-bots, row-bots, blitz bots, dead bots and boom bots, but we'll let those be pleasant surprises when the moment comes.

Blitz Block Robo has just the right amount of variety built around a solid core to be a captivating mobile addiction. Easy to pick up and play, but with enough challenge and content to keep you matching for weeks on end!

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.


(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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InFlux

JohnBInFlux from Impromptu Games is a puzzle adventure game starring a shiny little orb-like protagonist. This orb has but a few basic powers at its disposal, but somehow it manages to solve all sorts of puzzles as it makes its way across forest and through puzzle rooms. InFlux is a straightforward third person puzzle game. No strange pretenses, no strange gimmicks, just some genuinely challenging puzzles that will get your head churning.

InFluxHere's how things work in InFlux. Rolling around as said orb, you have two basic abilities you'll use to manipulate objects in the world: push away, and pull towards. By repelling and attracting certain objects (usually outlined with a fine blue aura), you can clear paths and move things around. Just think of it as the mystical powers you had at your senior prom, only if you're like us, without the "attract" ability.

You'll roll through beautiful natural landscapes in InFlux, serving as a slightly more actioney portion of the game. Here, you'll find the charge and dash ability comes in handy, and your attract and repel powers are mostly useful for nudging boulders out of the way or pulling doors open. Reach the end of a nature section and you'll find yourself in an abstract test chamber of sorts. Here, puzzles are far more intricate. You'll often need to rotate the entire level by weighing down blue buttons, all with the goal of getting a glowing marble to an out-of-the-way goal.

InFluxAnalysis: If it helps, think of InFlux as kind of a blending of Q.U.B.E. and The Ball, only just the most basic style elements of those games. Really, InFlux is far more zen in design, opting for straightforward puzzles with a light sprinkling of action and story elements. The result is a much different feeling while you're playing the game. You won't feel rushed and you won't feel frustrated, you'll just have a furrowed brow as take in the sights and wonder how the heck you're gonna do what you need to do.

A suitable amount of intrigue also drives InFlux into your subconscious. The game starts with little fanfare, just dropping you into things and nudging your little orb self into the wild. You slowly start to encounter things like the glass houses and suspicious constructions in nature, all without a single living creature in sight. HMMMMMM. Your imagination can really get carried away, but man nor woman shall fault a game for stirring the inner muse from time to time.

The only real downside to InFlux is that it doesn't have that "shine" that makes it stand out and get attention. Casual indie gamers could easily pass it over if they just glance at it sidelong. It's their loss, of course, but it means the game might not attract the audience it really deserves.

If you're in the mood for a little quiet puzzle solving, InFlux is the place to go. It's an extremely satisfying game that will have you mesmerized from the moment your little metal sphere falls from the sky.

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

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Coming soon!
In the meantime, try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


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Weekend Download

JohnBSince it's the weekend, why not download some stuff? Come on, it's not like you were actually going to clean the kitchen or cut the lawn or finish that book on quantum physics you've been leafing through in the bathroom.

Invader InvaderINVADER INVADER (Windows, free) - An experimental arcade/strategy game made for the No More Sweden game jam by Arvi Teikari, a.k.a. hempuli. Flying your little ship around, your job is to destroy the giant invaders by pecking holes in their hull so you can gain access to their soft innards. Once you've taken out a few turrets and have cleared a safe space, disembark and walk around the inside of the invader, seeking out computer terminals and eliminating them to disable the big ole baddie. It's a delightfully engaging concept that, even in its unfinished state, will capture both your attention and your imagination.

Time SquidTime Squid (Windows, free) - A crazy and precise arcade game from Lazy Brain Games that's about as forgiving as hand grenade. Pilot the tiny squid through single screen levels as you attempt to make it to the goal in as few attempts and as quickly as possible. Try it, see how fast you fail. Also see how many times you keep trying! Even though it was inspired by the game of gold, don't think for a second that it's slow-paced, dull, or in any way involves those awful pants golfers always seem to wear.

project ARKproject ARK (Windows, free) - A tiny little adventure made by Suntoad Games for Game Boy Jam. You play as a .NOAH, a machine who goes out to explore a world of rare animals. Explore the delightfully green and less-green world as you converse with certain critters and scratch your head over others. Giant tortoise that turns into a, uh, "frog"? Check! And that's not even the weirdest thing you'll run across!


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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A Ride into the Mountains

JohnBA Ride into the Mountains is an artistic take on a retro arcade game created by Lee-Kuo Chen. You play as Zu, a young man who lives in a remote cabin whose only purpose is to protect an ancient relic from harm. When something happens to said relic one morning, Zu grabs his bow, hops on his horse and heads out to investigate.

A Ride into the MountainsRiding through forest and field, Zu must shoot down demons while avoiding their attacks. Tilt the mobile device back and forth to move left and right, and tap and drag on the screen to take an arrow, aim and fire. The difficulty comes from riding and firing at the same time, often utilizing the focus ability bestowed later in the game. Demons come at you from all angles, and as you'll see you're not always riding on a flat surface with the sky in perfect view. A Ride into the Mountains adopts a lot of dynamic camera movements that make it feel like a playable piece of cinema.

If you're familiar with the likes of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, you'll immediately feel at home with A Ride into the Mountains. It's the perfect distillation of those games, packing everything into a portable size that's easily playable in small chunks of time. Beautiful music, breathtaking scenery, a touching story, and some boss battles that are surprisingly intricate. A Ride into the Mountains really is a miniature masterpiece.

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.


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (56 votes)
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Hello? Hell... o?

DoraHello? Is it me you're looking for? Once you've played Ryuuchi Tachibana's eerie indie horror game Hello? Hell... o? (translated by Vgperson), you'll probably hope the answer to that is nooooope. You play a depressed young man whose days seem to drag by in his lonely, isolated apartment, dull and unchanging. Use the [arrow] keys to move and [spacebar] to interact, and don't be afraid to try everything since with thirty-seven different endings, there's a lot to find. You'll have to look beyond the ordinary monotony of the protagonist's existence and keep playing every time you end the game, because there's a lot more to this story than meets the eye, and this apartment is anything but ordinary.

Hello? Hell... o?To say this game is an odd duck is a bit of an understatement, and for some players its unusual means of progression is going to involve too much trial-and-error without much feedback to know if you're actually making headway. In a lot of ways, it feels like a short story Stephen King would have written, or an episode of The Outer Limits, and slowly piecing everything together from the increasingly unnerving changes happening in the tiny apartment is remarkably effective as a means of creating tension. Considering how small the area you're in is as well as how short a playthrough to get an ending can be, sometimes as little as seconds, replaying rarely feels like a chore. You know... unless you hate jump scares. It sort of feels like a freakish spin on Every Day the Same Dream, and equally as open to interpretation, though whether it's as successful is up for debate largely because Hello? Hell... o? seems like it requires a lot of interpretation.

When you get the Happy Ending, you might be tempted to stop, but (and here's where it get difficult to talk without ruining everything) considering booting the game back up even when it doesn't appear you should. The game's abstract approach to progression and repetitive nature won't appeal to everyone, and at least one of the endings is so silly and out of place it almost destroys the mood, but Hello? Hell... o? pulls some exceptionally clever tricks to both tell its story and toy with your perception of it to make it unique and well worth checking out.

Free installation of the RPG Maker VX Ace RTP is required to play.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (98 votes)
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Dyna Boy

TrickyDyna Boy, what is the secret of your power? Well, presumably an absorbent mixture of diatomaceous earth and sodium carbonate soaked in nitroglycerin and formed into paper wrapped sticks. That then goes boom. But trapped in a dark and mysterious mine as he is, beset by cave creatures of all kind, who could begrudge him a little detonation? Dyna Boy is a retro platform game by Neutronized where things start explodey and just get explodier.

Dyna BoyMove, climb, and jump with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, making your way to the exit of each area. There are pieces of dynamite to collect, which you can light and drop with the [spacebar] (which also throws a stick when jumping) to clear obstacles, defeat enemies or unearth bonuses. Keys can be collected to unlock doors and bonus gems for extra points. While Dyna Boy has a certain familiarity about it, especially in comparison to other games by the developer, its smooth and intuitive gameplay make it easy to lose yourself in it, especially with some of the physics puzzles offered in the later levels. Platformer fans are sure to have a blas-... a good time through all 15 levels of Dyna Boy.

Play Dyna Boy

Link Dump Fridays

DoraSometimes you don't have a lot of time, but that's no excuse for not getting your doctor recommended amount of gaming! After all, you don't want to come down with AllWorkAndNoPlayMakesReaderSomethingSomethingItis do you? So make sure you fit some electronic entertainment into your day with these itty-bitty beauties!

  • The Hornets Would Like to TalkTHE HORNETS WOULD LIKE TO TALK - Hornets and I don't typically get along very well, as evidenced by the time one flew up my sleeve and got stuck there when I was on the monkey bars when I was six. But maybe after playing this silly, shouty Twine game about the little buzzers airing their grievances, I'll feel differently. ... mmmmmnope, still probably going to lock the bathroom door and wait for my husband to come home from work to deal with it the next time one of them comes down through the vent again. At least it's funny.
  • Monkey GO Happy GuessMonkey GO Happy Guess - Part puzzle, part Pictionary, the latest installment in the Monkey GO Happy is both on the simple side and drastically different than what you might expect, but that's already. Solve word and picture puzzles to spell out what the game really means and earn coins to buy your monkeys and bit of happiness. Which is silly, because money can't buy... is that a trampoline?! Awwwww yeah, lemme at that business!
  • Find the Escape Men 57: Eel2Find the Escape Men 57: Eel2 - It's hard to believe there have been a whopping 57 of these tidy little escape games by no1game. I mean, doesn't the notion that there are tiny green men hidden all over your house, your car, the places you go, watching everything you do... sort of squick you out a bit? In any case, here you are stuck in a room with a surly electric eel, so why don't you root around and see if you can track down any of the little green men while you're at it? For once, uttering those words isn't going to get me a visit from the men in white and the special hug jacket!
  • Rooms of Picture Completion Puzzles 26Rooms of Picture Completion Puzzles 26 - Hottategoya is practically synonymous with "short but sweet", and this latest is no different. If you're hoping for a typical escape game where you wander around solving puzzles with screwdrivers you made out of bits of junk littered around the place you'll probably be disappointed, since freedom here just depends on rearranging cutup pictures, but hey, as long as you get out that door, who cares how it happens?

(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Sky Tourist

JohnBSky Tourist from Three Legged Egg has finally done something new with the physics platform genre made popular by Doodle Jump! Instead of hopping or flying or running or crawling, you maneuver a boy dangling on a wire suspended between two rocket ships. By changing the rockets' locations in relation to each other you can slide left and right, collecting cubes and taking a more extended look at the great stuff the universe has to offer!

Sky TouristPetey is in the mood to check out some sights. Sneaking past his mom and dad (who are watching a show about a giant bear who destroys buildings with laser vision), he hops aboard his homemade traveling device and sets out to gather souvenirs. In 75 levels across three worlds you'll help Petey by adjusting the left and right rocketships with your thumbs. Slide them up and down to increase or decrease Petey's ascent speed. Move them in opposite directions to slide him in a particular direction. You'll want to avoid the unfriendly locals and pick up as many cubes as you can, as well as take some pictures of things that are worth remembering. You know, like a tourist!

Sky Tourist is filled with great things to see, and once you get the hang of the tethering control mechanism you'll kind of want to use it in other games, too. The difficulty doesn't really spike too much, always offering checkpoints and backtracks so you don't get too frustrated with the inevitable failure. The music and artwork are both fantastic, adding a shiny cherry atop the already delicious game. It may be a little simple in design, but Sky Tourist will give you new reason to pick up your mobile device and start climbing to the sky!

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.


  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (46 votes)
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Survive Quest

SonicLoverRemember the 90's, when blocky graphics and bleepy sound were among the best available on home computers, and adventure games were all the rage? Survive Quest, a slice of retro by 2BAM, is an attempt to recapture those days. Use the mouse and/or keyboard (click "Help" in the lower right for the exact controls) to help poor Captain Copy Mayhem escape his malfunctioning ship before it crashes, preferably without dying in the process. There are several ways to screw up and bite the space dust, every one of which forces you to start from scratch, although the game is short enough that this isn't TOO much of a setback. The puzzles are a little on the illogical side and some deaths are impossible to avoid on a blind run, but these flaws just serve to perfect the old-fashioned Sierraesque atmosphere. Survive Quest is a small bite of the past that many 90's computer gamers will love... or hate... or love to hate.

Play Survive Quest


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Lums

JohnBLums is the story of a bunch of Lums and a bunch of Vampires. It's a physics puzzle game that takes a unique angle on the Crush the Castle / Angry Birds formula of tossing things to destroy structures. Instead of pigs or snooty royalty, though, you get to shed a little light on some grumpy vampires. Watch 'em burn!

LumsTo the left are a few bouncy mushrooms along with your arsenal of Lums. Tap to set your first Lum in motion, launching itself into the air and heading towards the strategically placed vampires on the right. Instead of just watching the destruction commence, Lums gives you the chance to control what's going on. Swipe the screen while Lums are in the air to manipulate (to a certain degree) where they go. Guide them through each stage to destroy shelters so those spotlights can reach the vamps!

There are five types of Lums to use across nearly 50 stages, each one unlocking as you complete certain levels and earn stars. The difficulty progresses at a steady, even arc and presents you with only a small selection of Lums to use each round. There aren't many chances to cut loose and just destroy stuff, but Lums is a game of precision and skill, not random flinging. But, you know, if you're tired of sitting and taking out vampires one by one, try deploying a nuke!

A great game with some absolutely gorgeous artwork (those lights! those shadows!), Lums is captivating from the get-go. Once you get a taste of sizzling vampire you won't stop until they all see the light.

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.


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (126 votes)
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Cat Around Asia

Starchild The Internet is full of videos and pictures of cats eating everything from corn to watermelon, and it's all pretty adorable. But you don't often get to meet a cat so dedicated to gastronomy that it will travel around the world to taste as many different delicacies as possible; and when you do, you should take some time to help it achieve its goals.

Cat Around Asia In Cat Around Asia, by Alma Games, we meet our feline friend for the third time, after Cat Around the World and Cat Around Europe. You'll travel through six countries, from Turkey to Malaysia, and play five levels in each country. The goal is to get the food to reach the impatient kitty via various physics puzzles. It's a good thing that the kitty is fussy and will only eat round food (much easier to play with a dumpling than Peking duck). Use your mouse to click on different elements and try to get all three stars on your way. The levels are straightforward, well structured and, most of all, a lot of fun. Compared to the previous title, Cat Around Asia is more versatile – the stages are bigger, there are new props, and the game feels more polished in general. Add a mouse and a cycling monkey, and the whole thing would be weirdly reminiscent of an Incredible Machine spin-off.

Cat Around Asia isn't groundbreaking, but it's entertaining and clever, which makes it a nice afternoon diversion. Plus the kitty meows in the most endearing way.

Play Cat Around Asia


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (52 votes)
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Symbiosis Greenland

KimberlyAlas, although you thought you got rid of all the evil alien crystals when you finished playing Symbiosis, little did you know they were silently hiding, unemployed in Greenland, for the right time to strike again. Can your little plants brave the snow and defeat those purple baddies again? Play Symbiosis: Greenland, the next installment of the strategic tower defense game, to find out.

Symbiosis GreenlandThe rules are the same as in the previous game. Click or press [space bar] to place your plant on the board, then click it again if you'd like to change it's state. There's three to choose from: growth, attack, or defense. The closer a plant is to an enemy, the faster it will attack. Click on the spells to cast them. Optionally, there are keyboard shortcuts assigned to these tasks. Press [P] for pause, and [esc] to cancel any action. Get used to hitting the pause key, as you can adjust your plants and cast spells while paused, which can be vital to your strategy. Click a plant and drag to another plant to link those plants in symbiosis. The farther apart the plants, the greater the benefit to the attack and defense strength of the charged plant.

It's enjoyable but not necessarily challenging as you play through the levels for the first time. The difficulty comes in when you go back and ramp it up to try and pass the special challenge each level presents. Each time you pass a level you earn experience. When you level up you get skill points to use for upgrades. If you can't pass a challenge, earn a level or two and try again, or try rearranging already earned skill points. It would be nice to see something new in the gameplay, as Symbiosis: Greenland is essentially the same game as it's predecessor. But it worked well the first time, so it's hard to complain about an expansion. Now go and save the world again, please.

Play Symbiosis Greenland


  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (64 votes)
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Chick Hide and Seek 10

elleSummertime. Lounging in the backyard, cooling off in the pool, eating shave ice and watermelon. Sounds like the perfect setting for a game of Chick Hide and Seek 10! Yuri has more seek and find cuteness for you in an escape game with puzzles that tease slightly without being too tricky. Ten tiny chicks are hidden from view and you're "it!" So look around, inspect objects, use tools and solve puzzles to coax them all out of hiding—you'll need their help if you want to unlock the gate and discover each of the two endings. The hardest part is discovering a few sneaky baby birds who are not in obvious hiding spots although a changing cursor eases up on the pixel hunt. Playing Chick Hide and Seek 10 won't take much of your time and is not very filling, but it is refreshing and you're sure to turn up a smile or two along the way.

Play Chick Hide and Seek 10


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Kagi Nochi Tobira 2013

JohnBYes yes YES. The Kagi Nochi Tobira series is back! The iOS and Android escape game Kagi Nochi Tobira 2013 from Daisuke Suzuki is one of the more polished "100-style" escape games out there (move over, 100 Floors), adopting a simple art style and puzzles that are both creative and challenging. Time to grab your mobile device and binge play.

Kagi Nochi Tobira 2013Your only goal in Kagi Nochi Tobira 2013 is to find the key and use it to open the door. Sometimes you'll have to slide items around the screen, sometimes you'll have to use multi-touch to manipulate objects simultaneously. The game's 20 levels are balanced between puzzle- and reflex-centric in nature, but the difficulty is balanced so you'll never sit and stare at the screen for too long.

Kagi Nochi Tobira 2013 is a free download for both Android and iOS, but there are small ads at the bottom of the screen. Unobtrusive, but present, just so you know. The difficulty also seems lower than previous games in the series, and you might blaze through everything before you realize it. Fortunately there's a star ranking system that gives you an excuse to replay puzzles for a better score.

Other games in the series:

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the Nexus 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.


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Mystery Trackers: Silent Hollow

DoraAdmittedly given my choice of supernatural mystery solving teams to join it'd be a hard decision between the Ghost Facers or the Scoobies, but being a Mystery Trackers detective sounds pretty sweet too. In Mystery Trackers: Silent Hollow, the latest installment in Elephant Games' fantastic hidden-object adventure game series, you're called back to headquarters only to discover both it and the entire surrounding town are under attack, and your fellow agents appear to be afflicted with some sort of paranormal mind control. You'll need to explore, gather items, and solve puzzles if you want to get to the bottom of things, but with your trusty sidekick Elf, a handy map that allows you to travel and spot objectives, and some super powers of your own, you seem ready for anything. Which is a good thing, since a terrifying foe from the agency's past is going to throw everything in your path, and even turn your friends against you.

Mystery Trackers: Silent HollowWhile a lot of people may prefer the more serious, dedicated approach to storytelling taken in the wonderful Mystery Case Files games, for my money, I'll take the gleeful, wildly creative and entertaining stuff you find in every Mystery Trackers game any day. Silent Hollow is, in a lot of ways, even more over-the-top than its predecessors, though in mostly good ways. It makes it look like being a Mystery Tracker is basically like being James Bond, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Buffy, and Myka Bering all at once... complete with your own Hogwarts Express. Heck, they even throw in some Bioshock/Galerians-y abilities via a magical syringe gun while they're at it. Although voice acting is largely fairly well done, it's sort of unintentionally hilarious combined with the way the characters stare at you without moving their mouths, especially considering it's fairly clear many performances involving more than one actor were filmed separately so reactions sometimes don't fit or are off timing. The complete absence of music most of the time is also a weird choice, which makes it all the more jarring when it does kick in.

While Silent Hollow's gameplay doesn't really deviate from the "find this, use it there" formula, it keeps things from feeling stale by wrapping all of it in imaginative settings. It isn't exactly what you call difficult, regardless of the setting you choose at the beginning, so chances are you'll fly through the game... especially given that actual puzzles are both on the simple side most of the time and relatively few and far between. Adding extras like Agent and Pet dossiers is a clever touch of world building, as is the story of the agency's founding, told through a little interactive puzzle sequence. Though the gameplay isn't anything new or even challenging enough to hold you back, Mystery Trackers: Silent Hollow earns a solid recommendation for its sheer enthusiasm, style, and charm that make it stand out head and shoulders above the lion's share of cookie cutter, unimaginative hidden-object adventures, and something you'll enjoy every step of the way.

Note: Currently, only the Collector's Edition is 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

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


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (70 votes)
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Soom

DoraThe opening to Vanya Gorenkov's puzzle platforming game Soom opens with a scene that may make some people cringe, as the protagonist dives off a cliff into the ocean with the intent of ending it all. Instead of dying, however, he finds himself in a strange black and white realm, guided by a strange automaton to gather the shattered pieces of his soul, which is the same thing that happens to me everytime I watch any episode of Star Trek involving Data and his quest for humanity. Use the [arrows] or [WASD] keys to move and jump, nabbing all soul pieces to win the level. The catch? You can also click any white square and drag it to fold, pull, or push your environment around you to bridge gaps or otherwise get past dangers. Got that? Now throw in portals, lasers, switches, and enemies, and you have yourself a recipe for some extremely dangerous soul searching. If you make a mistake, just hit [Z] to undo your last environmental change.

SoomSoom's biggest drawback, apart from the perhaps intimidating number of gameplay elements piled on to keep track of, is the fact that it doesn't just hold your hand for the first ten stages... it leads you step by step, cooing gentle reassurances and compliments the whole way. It gives the false impression that the entire game is this way, instead of just explaining each new gameplay element and allowing you to figure out how to pass the level yourself. In the words of Stuart, I CAN DO IIIIIIIIIT. Trust me, once Soom takes off the gloves and stops babying you, things get significantly more difficult, testing both your reflexes and your brain. Initially, it feels like Soom would have been better as a straight-up puzzle game instead of adding in the more reflex-based platforming challenges, but more often than not a little experimentation will reveal that the solution is almost always more puzzle than platform.

As mentioned, that comes back to remembering exactly what your planes-trotting hero can do. Swap scenery, go through portals, move things, delete things... the list of mechanics and the ways to use them is significant, and often I found myself stuck solely because I'd forgotten I could, say, remove blocks of the scenery, or that portals mean you can go "outside the white" without dying. It's a lot of balls to keep up in the air, but if you can manage it, chances are you'll find Soom a neat little puzzle game well worth checking out apart from some dreamy, floaty jumping. It's a bit disappointing that after the initial setup Soom essentially drops all pretense of storytelling like a hot potatoe, and it seems like there was more potential to better marry narrative with gameplay for something truly memorable. But with a lot of ingenuity and an atmospheric presentation, Soom is still worth a play for fans of atmospheric reality-warping puzzlers.

Play Soom


  • Currently 3.7/5
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Rating: 3.7/5 (40 votes)
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Oozy

DoraWhen the Life Flower is stolen by a rotten wizard, it's up to our puzzle-solving, blob-spitting, adventure-having... uh... caterpillar... guy... to save the day! Like Oozy and the Tower of Wulu, Oddity Games and ESP Animation deliver a beautiful top-down mix of arcade-like action and puzzling daring-do in Oozy: Tale of the Life Flower. Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move, and hit [spacebar] to spit out one of your limited numbers of bubbles. You can see how many you have left in the upper-left corner, but don't worry... once a bubble is destroyed, whether by an enemy or you chomping it down yourself, you'll gain it back to regurgitate again.

OozyTo get past most stages, you need to destroy the glowing orbs generating the barricade in front of the exit, which means laying down chains of bubbles that lead to them so you can activate an explosive chain to destroy each orb. Just avoid any and all enemies or you'll have to restart the level, so make sure you figure out how to trap them or make their own movement work against them... especially when it comes to boss battles! Largely, the game is gorgeous, with colourful character design, fluid animation, and lovely environments, with the exception the yellow blocks that perfectly match the ground they sit on in the first set of stages, which can make things hard even when you're not colour-blind. It doesn't help that the one-hit KO can be especially painful when it comes to boss battles and you're whittling something's enormous healthbar down only to be destroyed because its minion breathed on you.

Get around that, however, and Oozy: Tale of the Life Flower is an engaging mix of puzzles and action with a polished presentation. It does take it a while to offer any significant challenge or vary the levels beyond "now do it all again, but rearranged", but the gameplay is both smoother than its predecessor and actually more forgiving without the timer. For a game about a bug smothering its foes to death in gobs of its own spit, it's cute, fun, and a fine little addition to your roster of coffee-break games. Just make sure to catch all the optional squids if you want the true ending!

Play Oozy: Tale of the Life Flower


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The Vault

TrickyWe're all really excited here at JayIsGames since the final countdown has started for the debut release of our new TRICKYA game console. Built on the framework of that crate of bootleg iPads that I got from a guy who knows a guy cutting-edge technology, the TRICKYA console will let you play all of the wonderful works we've featured in The Vault and many more, just as soon as we scratch off the serial numbers line up dedicated third party support. Till then, try to slake your summer thirst with this week's selection of quality driving, launch, and fighting titles from the JiG Archives.

  • Pizza CityPizza City - One of the first attempts to "demake" the open-world concept, and still one of the best, Pizza City, a 2008 drive-em-up by Pixeljam, has all the raucous action and humor of its GTA and Crazy Taxi inspirations, wrapped in an engaging pixelated package. Delivering pizzas has never caused so much property damage (outside of a Neal Stephenson novel, at least). Sure, the physics will have you slipping your vehicle around town like the roads are covered in ice, but that just means that more bank robbers and street mimes are going to meet their bonus-granting end. Friggin' mimes.
  • Hedgehog LaunchHedgehog Launch - There had been games about chucking cute critters into the air before, but jmtb02's 2008 Hedgehog Launch codified the concept into the stratosphere. The launch game that launched the launch genre, Hedgehog Launch's addition of upgrades, a clear final goal, rocking sound and visuals, and just a touch of scientific satire makes for an action game that's been sequeled and emulated, but never quite paralleled. It will make you believe a hedgehog can fly.
  • Chaos Faction 2Chaos Faction 2 - Chaos Faction 2, a 2010 brawler by Dissolute Productions, features some of the most furious fighting ever found in a browser window. Definitely a game for those who play Smash Brothers with all items turned on, the game isn't going to appeal to the strategic minded Evo champions, but its huge amount of character customization, gameplay options, and unlockable weapons makes for a lot of fun. A hyperactive kind of work, Chaos Faction 2 will force you into that special brand of cognitive dissonance where your whole body somehow becomes tired from moving your fingers so fast.

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!


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Oh Noes! Robots!

HopefulNebulaWhat's better than an endless horde of angry robots bent on taking over the world? Defeating that endless horde of angry robots! This is just what you do in Oh Noes! Robots!, a simple but challenging arcade shooter from Tiltr.

Oh Noes! Robots! In Oh Noes! Robots! you play as a tiny person who's escaped to their ship and is surrounded by waves of advancing robots. You move around a 4x4 grid by tapping where you want to go, and fire by tapping outside of that square in the direction you want to shoot. Each laser you fire is the same color as your ship. If the robot you hit is also the same color, the robot goes boom, never to be seen again. If not, then the ship and the robot swap colors. You can use this to great effect by lining up multiple robots of one color and then getting rid of them all at once. You can also collect power-ups to use later; these can eliminate lots of robots at once or help arrange the robots so they're easier to kill. If you can't make a move, tap the [+3] button to summon more robots, or just wait until more start appearing. But if even one robot makes it to your area, it's game over for you.

Oh Noes! Robots! is a simple idea that's been implemented very well. It's one of those games that's exactly what it says on the tin: it doesn't add extraneous features or complications. The control scheme is easy to learn, the graphics are as polished as retro-style pixel graphics can be, and the power-ups keep it interesting. There are multiple difficulty levels to suit your reflexes. The only thing missing is a handsome man with a bow-tie and a police box to keep you company.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the LG Optimus L9. 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 3.4/5
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Rating: 3.4/5 (28 votes)
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TalesofTerratos

kyhEtienne Bedard puts the elements under your powers in his match-3, defense hybrid game, Tales of Terratos. Sure, you're no Captain Planet, but with fire, water, air and earth at your magical beck and call, you're sure to defeat the league of evil, elemental creatures pouring out of the pestiferous portal.

CircusEach of the 25 levels involves matching tiles that correspond to either a particular element or ability. Earning enough of an element allows you to either cast a helpful spell, like healing, or summon an elemental. Elementals can be placed on one of five rows. Once created, elementals travel toward the enemy's side unless they run into an enemy. And then fighting ensues! Victory is achieved once your opponent's barrier is destroyed, allowing you to move onto the next level. Between battles, you can spend the arcane points you earn on upgrading your spells and elementals.

Bedard has created a match-3 hybrid that has a good balance of playing the match grid and paying attention to the action portion of the screen. It's not enough to just charge up the elements and cast spells willy-nilly; you have to pay attention to the field so you know where your elementals are needed. On the down side, the game needs a higher difficulty curve to be more of a challenge. If you're a match-3 expert and able to upgrade your spells quickly, the levels can become decreasingly frantic as your elementals are able to make easy work of the enemies. Despite this, Tales of Terratos is a game with quirky, cute graphics (courtesy of Etienne Jean) that will occupy your brain, eyes and hands with fun back-and-forth action.

Play Tales of Terratos


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Mobile Monday

JohnBA Firefly game. Read that again: a Firefly game. It's an exciting prospect, even if it's a full 12 months away, but it's also a bit scary. Because, you know, despite being based on the best thing ever, what if it's not the best game ever?!

dale-p.gifWe dig it: Dale Hardshovel HD - Dale is out for some serious treasure, but like most things related to archaeology, that involves a lot of puzzle solving. Usually in the form of sliding things around to make platforms so you can match artefacts together. Dale Hardshovel blends spatially-aware objects with an intriguing (and intense) puzzle set-up. The trailer says it all, and despite the game's somewhat simple appearance, it hides a whole lot of challenge. (download)

colossatron-p.gifGiant robotic snake... from space - Halfbrick studios, those folks that made Jetpack Joyride, have announced a new game! Colossatron: Massive World Threat puts you in control of a gigantic robotic snake from outer space whose sole purpose in life is to destroy everything in its path. Instead of actually controlling the snakebot, you play a simple matching game that beefs up its defenses and forms new attacks. It's difficult to say in words, and maybe even a bit difficult to understand in video form, but it's Halfbrick and it's got a gigantic robotic snake from outer space. Instabuy, right?

firefly-p.gifDidn't take the sky from us - See? This boat's still flying. Recently announced by Fox Digital Entertainment, Firefly Online is a mobile game (iOS and Android) set to launch next summer. All that's known is gameplay is focused on recruiting people and leading missions to gather loot you can trade with other people. That's... really about it, but to be totally honest, all they had to do was say "It's based on Firefly" and you'd have our attention. Firefly Online isn't set to launch until next summer, though, so don't hold your breath! (trailer)


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (149 votes)
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WRRRMZ!

KimberlyEver since the days of Mario, games seem to have some sort of obsession with mushrooms. The adorable little worms in the puzzle game WRRRMZ! by Ian Snyder, seek to keep this obsession alive. Using your mouse, the object is to touch each mushroom only once to light it up, and get your head to the next worm hole. The trick is you have to stretch the worm out to its full length, or it doesn't count.

WRRRMZ!Don't let the cute lull you into a false sense of security. The puzzles get pretty darn tricky, so it's nice that there's a skip button. Later levels introduce purple mushrooms which must be touched at least twice, and blue worms, who don't like to be touched by other worms, both of which ramp up the difficulty. If you can manage to solve the first 45 levels, some bonus levels will unlock for you. A reset button would be nice, and often the phrases the worms say when they get near the hole don't disappear, so the screen can get cluttered in what is otherwise a clean, simple interface. WRRRMZ! is a delightfully unique puzzle game that you'll be tangled up in in no time.

Play WRRRMZ!


(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Take Action to Escape

JohnBTake Action to Escape is a mobile escape game from Mobest Media (Quick Escape - Jail, Endless Escape) that wants to remind you you'll never escape unless you, you know, actually do something! Similar to escape games like DOOORS and 100 Floors, you're presented with a series of single-screen levels littered with a few objects and a door that's locked tight. By tilting, tipping, shaking, sliding and staring at your device, it's your job to uncover the key so you can head to the next level!

Take Action to Escape is a bit on the easy side when it comes to mobile escape games, and the in-game ads can be a bit distracting from time to time. It's hard to argue with the price of "free", though, and with 60 levels to play at the time of writing, there's enough to keep you busy for several hours. So go on, take action to download!

Love unlocking doors? Check out more mobile room escape games for iOS and Android!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the Nexus 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.


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Flyro

JohnBFlyro is an endless flying game with a whimsical cartoon exterior created by Brute Farce. Flyro the bird lives on a beautiful island that attracts all sorts of tourists. Far to the north is Mouseville, home of an evil mastermind who was convinced Birdtown was stealing his tourists. One day this Moustermind came up with a plan to freeze the tropical bird paradise. Flyro wasn't going to have it, and recalling her more-than-ordinary birth that involved a volcano, she sets out to heat things up with a little bit of fire power.

FlyroControl Flyro by holding your finger on the bottom of the screen. Slide back and forth to avoid heavy, non-burnable obstacles while collecting coins and flame tokens. When something wooden your way comes, release the screen and Flyro lights on fire, burning whatever is in her path. Spicing things up are a series of missions in the style of Jetpack Joyride and its ilk, challenging you to pull off some stunts while flying through the skies.

Flyro is an unassuming game on the surface, but it's got just the right combination of simplicity and style to make it stand above its contemporaries. The controls are simple but effective, allowing you to navigate the world without frustration. The variety of obstacles you'll encounter ranges from simple sky barrels to spring-loaded boxing gloves and electricity halls, neither of which are particularly good for birdy's health. With difficulty that scales based on your skill level and a complete absence of any sort of pay-to-win gimmick, Flyro is a clear winner no matter how you look at it!

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.


  • Currently 3.4/5
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Rating: 3.4/5 (80 votes)
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I Feel Free

ArtbegottiWhat would you do to feel free? I Feel Free is a Metroidvania-style platformer by TrueFire that's all about finding your way to freedom. Starting as a blob with no distinguishable features, you've got to collect power-ups in order to develop your abilities and access new areas, like a shorter version of the exploration game K.O.L.M..

I Feel FreeYour intially ovoid character can be moved back and forth using [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, and eventually you'll be able to stun enemies and glide using [Z] and [X]. As you collect power-ups and grow body parts, you'll gain the ability to jump across chasms, bounce up walls, and stick to ceilings by your head, which has to be one of the more bizarre superpowers out there. Once you make yourself into something more, something complete, you'll have the opportunity to escape the tiny dungeon, but you may be tempted by the additional accomplishments of collecting trophies scattered around the world (most of which have to be collected when you've gathered all the power-ups, which is a shame). Though this game isn't as long or complex as other Metroidvanians out there, you can still fill a coffee break or two by picking a difficulty you're comfortable with (the only notable difference between levels is how many checkpoints you're given) and go on a journey to end your restlessness and feel free.

Play I Feel Free


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Weekend Download

JohnBWeekend Download is back! Because there's always one more game we'd like to share, our weekly indie freeware round-up (well, mostly freeware) has returned, supplying you with more options than the usual "cut the lawn" or "spend time with your family"!

Megaman UnlimitedMegaman Unlimited (Windows, free) - A completely free and completely faithful fan game that emulates the style of old Mega Man games. Seriously, it's like traveling back to the NES era because you forgot to play one of the original releases. Eight new robot masters are waiting for you, including Tank Man, Yo-Yo Man, Comet Woman and Rainbow Man, each with their own weapons to collect and stages to fight through. Rush is along for the ride with a few new abilities as well! There's a save and load function so you don't have to fuss with passwords, but be warned that the difficulty of Megaman Unlimited is as high as the games it was based on. Translation: you will rage quit.

TessalationTessalation (Windows, free) - Tessalation is a single player co-op adventure that's all about messing with the flow of time. Tessa is a bit of an unusual girl. Her head is a cube, for starters, but she also has the ability to travel through time. That probably doesn't make her very popular at school, but since Tessa can do pretty much anything she wants by making time-shifted copies of herself, who needs a crummy friend?! It's a short, challenging and surprisingly impressive game, especially once you realize you have to play basketball with your own time clones!

Sword of the StarsSword of the Stars: The Pit (Windows, demo) - Sword of the Stars: The Pit is a turn-based RPG that borrows a lot from classic roguelike games. Instead of dragons and goblins and potions, though, The Pit takes place in a sci-fi universe with security stations, robots, and assault rifles! There are 30 levels to fight through, each stuffed with monsters, items, traps and, well, more monsters. But don't lose heart! The Pit is all about seeing how long you can survive. There's even a tasty DLC expansion titled The Pit: Mindgames, just in case the main game wasn't punishing enough!

Mr. KittyMr. Kitty Saves the World (Windows, free) - Ready to rage? Mr. Kitty Saves the World is ready, too. This game is an endless runner. You're running from a giant kitty. You jump over things so you can stay away from kitty's open mouth. While you're running the screen does crazy glitchy things, and most of the sound effects were ripped directly out of that nightmare you once had where you were trapped in the dishwasher with John Tesh and Yanni. Have fun.

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


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

Reader ReviewIt's hard being an android. Especially after crash-landing on an unknown planet with a directive that you and your AI friend conveniently forgot. Fortunately for the android in PlanetScape, a procedurally-generated resource-management game, the necessary materials to reconstruct your pod are below the surface of the hostile planet.

PlanetScapeYou begin with your pod, your encyclopedia of a friend, and a few construction blocks. The [arrow] keys are naturally used to get around the planet, while [spacebar] uses your current tool/block. [Z] opens your limitless inventory (making storage blocks a thing of the past), and [X] displays your skills, each of them growing the more you use them. Once you've made a nice, cozy, Ghoul-free home, you can begin drilling down into the planet, each layer filled with more valuable resources. Enemies become stronger, however, and lava and acid will need to be sealed, dwarf-style.

I only have a few, minor complaints about PlanetScape, one of them being that the enemy's intelligence is about equivalent to a goldfish's, as they face against walls more often than chasing you. They leave something to be desired when you can stand two blocks away and blast them to your heart's content. Another problem is the astonishingly small amount of hotkeys for immediately placeable/usable items. if you want to use an item that isn't on your four-item hotbar, you have to go through your inventory while vulnerable to the enemies that don't have an attraction to walls. This is a very easy way to die. Besides these two very small problems, this game perfectly feeds my jittery mining habits that Minecraft has forced upon me. And let's face it, what's more soothing than grinding away on an inhabitable planet?

Thanks to Piers Gilpin for the review!

Found a sweet game you think deserves some attention? Write a review, send it in, and we might feature your article!

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

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


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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White Room

elleIt's always a pleasure to encounter a game designer with a signature style. Whether it be cute characters or strange themes or quirky scenes, when we can distinguish a game's creator by its attributes and idiosyncrasies, the resulting familiarity invites greater immersion. This is just as true for White Room Escape because Noprops' teasing personality is ever present, even in this stark, minimalist design. So, look closer in this monochromatic setting to find a satisfying abundance of clues to decipher and puzzles to solve before you can make your escape.

White RoomNavigation is perfectly intuitive: just tap around the room on anything that bears further investigation and use the arrows to change views. What is less intuitive is how to solve the puzzles because noprops characteristic subterfuge is all around. Red herrings and slight of hand tricks might divert you from solutions, but if you're diligent about exploring all areas and items, you'll soon enough find success. This trickery could frustrate some players—logic is at play here yet it doesn't quite operate by reality's standard. While a bit less surreal than noprops' 3 Small Keys, there's still a feeling you're in a magician's parlor, as his special guest, and the end result is an entertaining delight.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the 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 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (222 votes)
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The Last Door: Chapter 1

DoraA letter from an old friend brings you to his sprawling estate... only to find it empty and seemingly abandoned. As you begin to search for clues, you soon discover that your old friend had become a very different person in recent years, and this quiet old house, and your own past, might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet. So begins The Last Door: Chapter One, the first installment in The Game Kitchen's point-and-click adventure horror game series. Click to move around and interact with things. You'll usually have to examine items before you can take or use them, so make sure to click on something again if your icon changes from a magnifying glass to a hand to stuff it in your pocket or otherwise interact. You can also combine items in your inventory by clicking on one, then the other you wish to use it with.

The Last Door: Chapter 1At this point in time, apart from a few finely executed jump scares, The Last Door is more unsettling than genuinely scary. It has some great moments that will send chills up your spine, and the game's fantastic moody atmosphere, aided by the subtle use of sound effects, makes it all the more effective... provided you're not put off by how slo-o-o-wly you have to plod everywhere. (Fortunately, this is addressed in the second chapter.) It helps that the gameplay is both, by and large, fairly logical and well-paced. It's always nice whenever a game gives you an excuse as to why you can't use a particular item to accomplish a task, and Chapter One is both short enough and smartly constructed that as long as you explore and examine everything, you'll usually always know what you need something for when you get it.

As of right now, The Last Door offers far more questions than answers, and it does feel like Chapter One serves as one big hook for the next. It's a slow, thoughtful sort of horror, more focused on character and pacing than anything else. It's a welcome reminder that horror can do more than just startle, and be far more effective at times without copious blood or violence. To say the first chapter ends on a cliffhanger is a bit of an understatement, so it's sort of disappointing that the big shocking reveal is something that's given away within the first moments of the game, but it definitely ends with a bang that's executed with style. It's not exactly what you'd call challenging, and its pixelated art style might not be for everyone, but The Last Door: Chapter One is a profoundly creepy start to what's shaping up to be a compelling horror story clothed in an adventure game.

Play The Last Door: Interactive Trailer

Play The Last Door: Chapter One

Thanks to Mandy, buding, and Cami for sending this one in!

Though Chapter Two has been released, it's currently only available to people who donate towards funding the next chapter in the series, and will be released freely for everyone when Chapter Three is released in September of 2013. The series will follow this release model until it's finished, and we will wait to cover each chapter until you can play it freely. "Enhanced" versions of each chapter containing sharper visuals and translation options are available on the site. More information is available here.


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraThis is my jam! Specifically, game jams are my jam! This Link Dump Friday features four games created for various themed online competitions, and trust me, that's about all they have in common. Embrace the strange.

  • BayouBayou - Like You Must Escape, Paul Andrew McGee and Sam Gross created this slow, unsettling little gem for the Minimalist themed Ludum Dare competition in just three days, proving once again horror is sometimes more effective the less you give it to work with. Armed with just a single harpoon, you're steering through a cold, wet swamp with [WASD] and looking around with the mouse until it becomes apparent that you're not alone. Right-click to aim, and left-click to fire, but with only one shot you need to make it count. The limited field of view means it's hard to see what's going on, and the pace is probably too slow for what it is, but it's still a remarkably chilling little game with a striking visual style.
  • Where is the Button for Love?Where is the Button for Love? - Eric Butler's gleefully silly MolyJam game is practically begging for an expanded sequel. Playing as a mom who built a mech suit she now finds herself trapped inside, you must manipulate the controls to figure out how to tenderly hug your daughter without, uh, obliterating her. It's a premise that seems perfect for a much bigger game, and though what exists now feels like basically a one-off note, it's still worth checking out. This is basically a simulation of what all my interactions with children feel like.
  • Age of UmpiresAge of Umpires - Way back in the olden days of 2012, Ludum Dare held a "You Are the Villain" themed composition, and Tom7's quirky sports game took it in an unusual direction. You can either play and win at a simple hockey game as the US or Canada... or you can play as the referee play straight or crooked, trying to eject players to help your team with without raising too much suspicion. The old-school visuals sell it well, and as a straight-up (though simplistic) sports game it's actually fun in its own right. You know, if you like sports. ... eating hot dogs at a baseball game counts as liking sports, right?
  • Raspy HillRaspy Hill - The crew behind Pohung Chen's MolyJam entry know their product is best summed up with a resounding, Lana-esque "NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOPE" if you don't like horror. And even if you do, it's pretty harrowing, as you flee down a disorienting, static-laden slope from an oncoming tide of creatures. It seems like the sort of thing that would be a level in a game, rather than a game itself, but the atmosphere and overall mood is so menacing and tension-laden that its effectiveness isn't really hurt. It's the sort of thing that has that dreamy, surreal nightmare quality that makes this the sort of thing sure to stick in your head while you're trying to fall asleep, simple or not.

(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Face Noir

KimberlyIt's tough being a P.I. Especially during the great depression when there's never enough cash to go around. Explore the dreary streets of New York City during the depression era in the beautifully atmospheric adventure game Face Noir, from Mad Orange. You play Jack del Nero, an ex-cop turned private eye. An anonymous phone call in the middle of a stormy night leads to you being falsely charged with murder. With a police chief determined to see you behind bars, how can you clear your name?

Face Noir Point-and-click to make Jack walk or to investigate objects. Right click to change the mouse icon for different interaction choices. Mouse over the top of the screen to make the inventory bar appear. Alternately if you visit the options menu, you can change to a 3-D type inventory in which case you hit the [spacebar] to open your inventory. You can examine any items you pick up, or try to use them with each other or objects or people on the screen. If you are having a hard time finding all of the hot spots, press [F1] or click the question mark button next to your inventory. This is a nice feature as it allows the background items to blend in while eliminating pixel hunting. You can also click through conversations if needed.

Analysis: Face Noir does an excellent job at immersing you in the game world. There are interactive close up scenes which let you feel more involved in the action. For example instead of just clicking a switch to flip it, you may have to use the motion of your mouse to push the switch in the right direction. While the animation is nothing to write home about, the detailed backgrounds are lovely. The grimness of each scene helps you feel like you are there, and the soundtrack is worthy of any noir film. As you examine your surroundings, you pick up clues that help you later in the game. During certain conversations or scenes the screen will pop into detective mode. Here you have to pick out the two clues relevant to the situation in order to make a deduction about things. It really forces you think like a detective and is a unique concept I haven't seen implemented before.

Face NoirThe very linear gameplay can be frustrating at times. Occasionally your next move may seem obvious, but there will be one other little thing the game wants you to do before it lets you move on. So don't automatically assume you can't do something later just because you couldn't do it before. The voice acting and dialog overall are good, but they definitely have rough patches along the way. Jack's back story is slowly revealed as you play, which is just one of the intriguing mysteries in the game. Despite a few flaws, Face Noir is quite an adventure, and one that will draw you in if you'll let it.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Get the full version (part of the #IndieSupport Bundle)

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


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (186 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (46)

Circus

kyhIt's all fun and games until the pickle-clown ends up in the pool... and even then, it's still fun and games. Strange, but true, this sums up Meetreen Games' latest title, a physics puzzler called Circus. You control the aforementioned pickle-clown as he bounces, flops and rockets his way into a pool of water where his 'friend', the alligator, eagerly awaits his arrival. But your effects aren't direct, he moves on his own and is helped out by the trampolines, unicycles and other clown paraphernalia that you are charged with placing on the level's screen. The more bouncing mister pickle does, the higher your score! Yippee!

CircusCircus is not a game for those looking for a challenging puzzle game as the difficulty is tempered by the limited number of areas you can place each piece. What it is, in fact, is an amusing distraction with a fun character, a lively background and 30 levels of physically punishing physics puzzling. Sure the pickle ends up a little worse for wear, but it's worth it just to be in the spotlight with a cheering, adoring crowd. It's every pickle-clown's dream.

Play Circus


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (61 votes)
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The Peacekeeper

TrickyPeace! Houh! What is it good for? Well, something apparently, as the various factions of Berzerk Studio's new defense shooter game, The Peacekeeper, want it, and are willing to slaughter everything in their path to get it. You play as the titular Peacekeeper, stationed in your Peace-Ditch as the last member of the Peace de Rsistance, to ensure that your enemies don't show up and hog all the peace. Point and click to fire at the waves of invading enemies. You'll duck down into the ditch whenever you are not firing, so defensive timing is of the essence. Likewise [up/down] and [W/S] will roll you around the ditch to avoid more close-up weapons. Killing enemies and completing achievements grants you cash, which can be spent on upgrades in-between waves, including special weapons activated with the number keys. Complete all thirty waves of the campaign without becoming a member of the Peace-Corpses, and the bonus Endless Mode becomes unlocked.

The PeacekeeperA visceral burst of just-mindless-enough entertainment, The Peacekeeper is a bloody good time. Both lasers and limbs will be flying all over the place as you plow through ALL the bad guys, and the Time Crisis-like cover system adds a natural and intuitive peace of strategy to the carnage. Round about the low-twenties, the waves start getting a little repetitive, but the humor in the enemy chatter should keep andrenaline junkies going up to the killer final boss. In short, for fans of over-the-top action, The Peacekeeper is definitely a piece that's a keeper.

(And if you want to laserblast this reviewer for typing that last sentence, he totally understands.)

Play The Peacekeeper


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (30 votes)
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Dusty Revenge

JohnBDusty is out for revenge. You can tell because it says so right in the title! Dusty Revenge is a wild west-themed action game from PD Design Studio that effortlessly blends a sidescrolling beat-em-up (think Castle Crashers) with a simple platform game, turning the whole genre mix on its head by dumping in a lot of guns and artwork that would make even Shank blush. It can be a bit over the top on occasion with its cheesy story and quick combat tactics, but the overall tone keeps you interested in beating up enemies until your lengthy bunny ears are soaked in blood.

Dusty RevengeIn Dusty Revenge you can deal with the bad guys in pretty much any way you please. You have a few basic moves that include firing pistols, pulling out a shotgun, jumping, rolling, dashing, and unleashing light/heavy attacks. Chaining these together is where your combat strategy will come into play. Simple combos allow you to knock enemies into the air, kick them around the screen, or simply get in a few extra hits before they can recover. The best part is that gaining levels unlocks even more combos, making your frantic button mashing pay off with a svelte array of attacks that actually deal damage!

Progressing through Dusty Revenge's scenic levels is an exercise in precision brawling. There's a limited amount of space to traverse, forcing you to stay on your toes and avoid damage whenever possible. The occasional chest offers health and experience orbs, but most of your time will be spent hopping from platform to platform, interrupted only by a staged fight with a bunch of baddies (or an evil boss).

The storytelling trips over its own ambitions from time to time, falling into the trap of forcing some sort of dark tone but coming off as clumsy instead. The controls also take some time to get used to, even if you use a gamepad. Dusty's signature style of badassery and juggernaut revenge is the perfect complement for the endless combat and gunplay. The real juicy parts of the game take a little time to kick in (why isn't the bear with the massive gun there from the beginning?!), but once they do you'll realize this is much more than a simple sidescrolling punchfest.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (20 votes)
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Ittle Dew

DoraNostalgia is sort of a cheap shot when it comes to gaming, because some people will play anything if you tell them it was inspired by something they loved and played before. But it's not enough to simply toss out names from your childhood. That's not what makes a game good, and it's no guarantee that what you're playing is in any way as fun and cool as those titles were for all the right reasons. Fortunately, Ludosity's indie action adventure game Ittle Dew gets it. A gorgeous, silly, engrossing game that's filled with subtle nods to the gaming greats of yore without ever losing its own style or remembering exactly why you loved those games in the first place. (Coming to Linux, iPad, and Android tablets this fall!)

Ittle DewThe game stars the titular heroine Ittle Dew, a brash, barefoot, adventure-seeking young lass who likes to hit things, and her snarky flying magical fox companion, Tippsie. When Ittle finds herself shipwrecked on a strange island, all she cares about is finding as much adventure and excitement as possible, and fortunately for her, this place has it in spades. Move with the [arrow] keys, advance text or make selections with [enter], and use [Z] to swing your stick. Don't worry, you'll find more hero-appropriate items soon! If you get stuck, hit [T] to get a hint from Tippsie, and keep track of where you are on the map with [M]. Ittle will have to travel all over the island, exploring not only the enormous castle but the island proper, which is packed with dungeons (including a "master" one) and secret areas.

Ittle DewThough there is combat, many enemies require some puzzling and thought to defeat over simple stabbin'. As it happens, instead of an entire pile of items, your arsenal will consist of just a few, such as a fire sword or portal staff, that can be used alone or together to manipulate your environment in different ways. The game's focus on thinking over typical action-adventure hack-and-slash means that it's never mindless, and virtually every single room is its own contained puzzle. If there's a downside, it's that challenging though some of them may be, the bulk of the puzzles tend to revolve around pushing blocks in some shape or form, which wears a little thin as the game goes on. Fortunately, the limited item inventory adds another layer of thought when you find yourself forced to come up with ways you can use your items together to get past obstacles instead of just immediately knowing one area is for ice, another is for teleportation, and so forth. The boss fights

Ittle DewIttle Dew is one of those games whose style seems distilled from pure rainbows, unicorn smiles, and sass. It's unrelentingly cheerful, and the creative enemy and character design really shines. The willingness to be both goofy and thinky is something we could do with more of in gaming in general, since it often feels like most titles draw a line in the sand between humour and challenge instead of attempting to marry them as successfully as Ittle Dew does. It may be on the short side ultimately compared to its inspirations like Zelda or The Secret of Mana, but the sheer amount of optional puzzles, collectible cards, and "professional shortcuts" means aiming for 100% completion, much less a high-ranked speed run, you'll still find it a satisfyingly meaty game. With challenging puzzles, memorable characters, boss fights, secrets, collectibles and much more, it's just the ticket for action-adventure fans with a sense of humour and fondness for surly, weapon-wielding girls in animal costumes.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version

Thanks to Daniel Kaplan for suggesting this one!


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (55 votes)
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Blocks & Lots

ArtbegottiWhat does it take to be happy with where you live? That all depends on what you want your city to do for you. In Blocks & Lots, a nifty educational puzzle about city zoning, the Planning Commission of Solano Heights needs your help wrangling the stakeholders in the city's development and finding the layout that best suits everyone's needs... if there is one. Created by Jared Sain with input and advice from Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, Rosten Woo, and Dr. Pop!

Blocks & LotsIn each of the game's six levels, you must submit a plan to the city council that meets the requirements listed at the top of the screen. You'll start out trying to please just JT, the furniture factory owner, but you'll quickly be juggling the desires of other stakeholders, such as Tulip Groves, the conservationist, and Jerome Washington, the university president. Click on the "i" symbol next to each character to find out what they want to accomplish with the rezoning. If you can spot a potential solution, select a zone type from the top-left and click the units of the map to apply the zoning there. Be sure to pay attention to the stakeholders' faces as you make each change to see whether they approve or not. When you find a working plan, submit it to the city council to pass the level.

The goals of the stakeholders generally do not overlap, especially with the zoning constraints initially set by the game. Eventually, you'll be able to solve a conflict between two parties to try to make both happy. Select the two contending parties, and follow the dialogue trees to impose regulations or introduce new zoning types to be used in the grid. Some compromises will keep everyone happy, some won't. It's up to you to decide the best solutions for your city.

Analysis: Admit it, you probably zoned out when you first read that this game was about rezoning a city to resolve conflicts. What sounds like a boring and tedious premise is made quite interesting here in a game that's just barely beatable. We're not entirely sure there's a way to completely appease every party in the game, but there's enough of a challenge in finding the "just right" solution that the game stays fresh and compelling. And that's probably to the game's credit; if there were a quick-and-easy omni-solution to the situation posed in the game, there wouldn't be a game to begin with, and every city in the world would be a carbon-copy of this glorious archetype.

Blocks & LotsThat said, it's hard to tell if there's a tinge of an agenda coming into play in turning the zoning process into a game. The game notes that politics can have an influence on zoning, and very much does so in the final level, where you must please Consuela and four others, and the last person must be at least neutral. Some of the conflict resolution options are incredibly non-beneficial to one party, to the point where using it irks them so badly, the level can't be passed. It'd be nice if there were multiple ways to solve the final level, but it seems that most of the stakeholders can only love or hate any given setup, meaning you're really limited in who you can eventually take a hit to please the rest.

The stakeholders' inflexible personalities, which are admittedly probably realistic, make resolving some conflicts difficult, but they're all a part of what is otherwise a surprisingly fun challenge, presented in a visually pleasing style. You might not be able to please everyone, but can you please them enough to get the job done? Grab your map and get ready to paint the town red... that is, if you really dig multi-family residential complexes.

Play Blocks & Lots


  • Currently 3.9/5
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Rating: 3.9/5 (100 votes)
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Flower Bloom

elleA sense of accomplishment when overcoming a challenge can be one of the most satisfying parts of playing escape games, yet there are certain moments that call for stepping outside and just taking in the lazy sweetness of the day. In Flower Bloom Escape, a single scene escape from Fuwayura, you're treated to an assortment of simple puzzles and a full dose of cutesy. Although it might disappoint with the simplicity, it remains engaging for its duration and it avoids any frustrations with a changing cursor and logical design. After the start screen, choose Japanese or English messaging, or leave it off if you don't want the extra help. Click around, following the changing cursor for clues, buttons to activate and the materials to grow your own flowers. While all this is pretty easy to do and may seem too cloying for anyone whose bedroom is not decorated in pinks and unicorns, your accomplishments result in a sweet ending that will warm the heart.

Play Flower Bloom


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (44 votes)
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Crush the Castle Adventures

DoraWhen a maaaaaaaaaaan loves a woooooooh-muuuuuuhn... he does some very stupid things. And when that man is a king with more boulders than sense and that woman is Lady Catapult, who wants him to prove he isn't a weakling, well... things start getting messy. In Joey Betz and Jimp's Crush the Castle Adventures, the latest installment in the often imitated, never duplicated projectile-based physics puzzle Crush the Castle series has arrived. Fireballs? Bee bombs? Sticky inflat-o popping ballistics? Awww yeah, now we're cooking. I cannot stress enough how entertaining hurling hives of angry bees at confused and terrified people is, mostly because I don't want to get on some sort of government watch list.

Crush the Castle AdveturesClick anywhere onscreen to start aiming, which will make the trebuchet start swinging forward, and then click again to let it fly. The goal is each stage is (usually) to get rid of all those smug jerks hiding inside their precariously built castles by bringing it down on top of them. Some stages will have bonus requirements to get the best ranking, such as avoiding smooshing a certain individual, or doing it all in only one shot, or with a certain ammo type. You'll need to think creatively in addition to aiming true, since the castles can both be made of different material types, and cleverly designed, forcing you to figure out how to use their environment against them. As you get different types of ammunition, you can swap between them by clicking on their icons.

Though Jimp's art style is certainly a drastic change over the simpler and more realistic design of the original game, for my money, it's a change for the better. Packed with detail, colour, and personality, Crush the Castle Adventures might not be simple enough to appeal to the purists, but it's also vibrant and entertaining in a way its predecessor never was. The level design is really fun and intricate, with most stages feeling like puzzles to be solved rather than just material to bulldoze through. At the same time, not only does it take a while for the difficulty to ramp up to the point where flawless victories require any significant amount of thought and skill, but, well, it's hard to deny that some levels just aren't about crushing castles whatsoever, which is sort of the entire point and draw of the series. Give it a chance, however, and Crush the Castle Adventures might just win you over with its sense of humour, piles of levels, creative design, and of course, bee bombs. It may be in some ways a different beast than what you remember, but taken purely on its own merits, it's more than a little fun, especially if you like throwing bee hives at people. Simulated video game people, I mean. Stop looking at me.

Play Crush the Castle Adventures


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (240 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (1,966)

BattleCry

DoraI love strategy games but they don't always love me back, by which I mean my side is usually the one who dies first with the most wounds. They're the sort of game that requires a lot of planning, a difficult quality to embrace when your inner tactician is actually just Team Fortress 2's Heavy. But Berzerk Studio's BattleCry is one of those games that aims to be just as welcome to players of all skill levels as it does to offer satisfyingly robust gameplay and mechanics for the Sun Tzus amoung us, and includes both a robust single-player campaign as well as multiplayer capability! (Note that you can only play multiplayer if you register for a free GamerSafe account.)

BattleCryDuring each battle, your soldiers will fight against the oncoming enemy automatically, and the only input you can offer is to increase the speed. Instead of directing your troops around the battlefield, then, success depends on everything you do to get your army ready... and there's a lot of it. Each army is comprised of five rows you can fill with whatever soldiers you want in any configuration, though you have a points cap that determines how many soldiers you can use that fluctuates depending on unit strength and type. Figuring out how to place soldiers effectively is crucial... archers can attack from far away, but should be safely placed behind melee units due to how soft and squishy they are. Each unit type also has a "cool down" between attacks, so while it might be tempting to steamroll the enemy forces with a powerful class, if it takes your "tanks" too long to ready another attack, chances are the enemies are going to be clambering over their corpses before they get another shot off. As a result, you'll want to pay attention to the attack time of each unit type when setting up your formations so that you're never wasting time standing around, with one unit always ready to attack while the other charges up again.

BattleCryIf that sounds fairly straight-forward, well, that's because the meat and potatoes lies in how complex the customisation gets. Humans are your basic soldier, able to do pretty much anything competently, but different species can have better aptitude for certain placement or classes. You'll get special soldiers that provide passive bonuses to other units depending on where you put them. You'll get equipment you can use to make your existing soldiers more powerful, or even create your own heroes from scratch, provided you have a "free" soldier to do so. And speaking of heroes and equipment, in addition to having a whopping five categories of items/soldiers to build your army with (creatures, weapons, shields, armors, and specials), each of those things also comes in four different flavours... common, uncommon, rare, and legendary. As a result, gold, which you can earn in addition to items from battle, is even more important to be able to spend on "booster packs" of equipment once you unlock Act 2... and also the ability to go up against other players in multiplayer.

BattleCryAnalysis: BattleCry is a bit of an odd duck, but in a good way. The strictly managerial approach to gameplay isn't one that will sit well with everyone, and the tremendous amount of micro-management once you have to start creating your own units manually from more than a few options can be a bit overwhelming if that isn't your bag. It's a game for people who appreciate the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of careful planning, as well as slow, thoughtful gameplay. It winds up feeling like the emphasis is less on adapting to any given scenario, however, and more on creating the most well-balanced army you can, since you can't see what your opponent's army is comprised of ahead of time. This is especially true since multiplayer involves a series of ranked matches with whatever army you register, and you want that army to be able to hold its ranking whenever it's challenged since that can happen at any time.

Since the best things wind up being available primarily, or at least most reliably, through spending gold on booster packs, it can feel like the person who's willing to spend the most gold (literally, since it can optionally be purchased in-game with real money) is always going to demolish whatever you come up with. On the other hand, success in BattleCry is rarely down to who brought the biggest sword to the fight, and more on who spent the most time configuring their troops, regardless of what those troops actually are. With so many stats determining a unit's strengths and weaknesses and different timers for attacks coming into play, experimenting in how different formations, movement speeds, and equipment setups makes an enormous difference. If you prefer your battles a bit more involving, you might find BattleCry a bit lacking, but sporting a tremendous amount of customisation options for challenging battles and strategy, it's an easy choice for the tactician who wants something casual enough to play with a morning cup of coffee, but involving enough to make you keep coming back for a few skirmishes each day in the long run.

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The Vault

TrickyAre you a gamer with low sales resistance and limited free time? Then you'll love the great deals offered during Crazy Tricky's VaporStore Summer Sale! This is how it works: We're offering huge discounts on copies of top indie games that may or may not actually exist. In exchange for your cash, the titles will appear in your personal VaporStore App inventory. Now, you can't actually install any of them, but you don't really have enough time for the download anyways, so, really, it all works out! It's just great to see 'em there! Best of all, each week, I promise to use The Vault to distract you from that feeling of being had, by featuring quality games from the JayIsGames archives... like this week's collection of platformers, interactive art, and puzzles! Do we have a deal?

  • Silent ConversationSilent Conversation - Taking the concept of Interactive Fiction to its logical conclusion Gregory Weir's 2009 platform game Silent Conversation uses a bit of kinetic typography to transform greats works of literature into the hop-and-bop levels they were always meant to be. The closest thing to the upper-level version of Broderbund's "Living Books" series I've wanted ever since the 7th grade, Silent Conversation is a slow-paced, cerebral kind of work perfect for those who consider those last two adjectives to be positive attributes. Confession: I had never actually read H.P. Lovecraft's "The Nameless City" before playing this game, and I honestly don't know if I would have without it.
  • GrayGray - There is no concept with such divided connontations as compromise. It is that which protects us from extremism, but also that which forces us to water down our own beliefs. It is fairness made manifest, and yet one is never quite able to shake the sense of deleterious appeasement. Gray, a 2009 piece of interactive art by Intuition Games, is one of my favorite ruminations on the subject. At once deeply political and startlingly apolitical, the gameplay of Gray is a perfect blank canvas for the player to cast their interpretations. As such, its page boasts one of the best collections of comments on this websites, with insights ranging from multi-page theses to curt-but-justified explanations about why the whole thing may just be pretenious bull-honkey. Still, any game that inspires such strong reactions can't be all bad.
  • ClackClack - Clack, a 2006 puzzle game by Sean Hawkes, was the winner of the very first Casual Gameplay Design Competition, and rightfully so. What is, at first appearance, a jumbled and mysterious mess of mechanisms soon reveals the intuitive and charming chain-reaction puzzle just underneath. Clack provides the simple joys sussing out the rules for yourself, and still providing a worthy challenge once it has all clicked in your mind. Be sure to also check out the sequel (which with my vote, I just now pushed above the voting threshold, something I feel irrationally proud about).

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!


(19 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Escape Challenge

elleEscape Challenge by Kristjan Luts is a room escape game in which you must escape multiple rooms... Oh, you've heard this story before? Well, this one has a slightly different ending to it: each room is nearly complete in itself, a scene which invites exploration and asks you accomplish several tasks before making your way through that locked door. At each stage, you need to earn the key by solving a scaffold of puzzles, finding and using objects and deciphering the clues that are hidden among the furnishings.

Escape ChallengeWhen you begin the first level, a pithy tutorial will show you through the basics of gameplay. From there, play is rather intuitive as you need only tap on the areas you want a better look at or, at times, tap the arrows to change directions. The responsiveness of the controls prevents frustration since you don't have to perform dexterous feats to progress. Instead, the challenge part of these escapes focuses on logical puzzles with plenty of "Aha!" moments that, once you find all the clues and tools needed, are easily had. There are a couple "pixel hunts" where you need to tap in just the right spots to look in places you might first think are unreachable; those instances are rare enough to not be a hindrance.

A possible drawback is the limited number of rooms because, well, it's too enjoyable to want it to end. And, although there are expansions promised, these updates take a long time in coming. That said, Escape Challenge has much more content than most browser escape games and it is an equally no-strings-attached free. Better yet, the settings are immensely beautiful, with nicely rendered graphics and interesting, personality-laden details. The puzzles are the right bit of challenging, not too hard but clever enough to bring a sense of accomplishment when you succeed, making Escape Challenge a mobile game that is as satisfying to your brain as it is to your eyes.

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


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Rating: 4.5/5 (99 votes)
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Off to Work We Go

DoraGot five minutes? Then get to work! Created for the No Future Contest, Bart Bonte's short but surreal Off to Work We Go is part adventure game, part interactive art, and all punchline... provided you don't figure it out right away, that is. Use [WASD] to move and the mouse to look around as you explore the deserted island and factory you find yourself in, stepping on lighted yellow panels to alter the big screens in each room to display the obvious image so the next door unlocks.

Lacking any real story or even words or deviation at all, Off to Work We Go almost feels like the ending scene should come with either a ba-dum-tish drum riff or a wah-wah-waaaaah sad trombone noise. But it's an interesting approach to the contest's theme, where the simplicity and BEEP BOOP WELCOME WORKER NUMBER 476-A overall tone work both with the contest and the obvious source material. Too short? Too simple? That's for you to decide. But though it's perhaps best thought of more as an interactive short film than an actual game, Off to Work We Go is good for a short laugh and a smile before you get back to the drudgery of your own office assimilation.

Play Off to Work We Go


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Rating: 4.4/5 (54 votes)
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Frank'n'Slime

KimberlySlimes, blobs, and ooze are all wildly popular in the mad scientist circuit. The snarky scientist in Frank'n'Slime, a tricky, stylish puzzle platform game by Alex Kershaw and Enotick, is clearly part of that circuit. He's created a slime-blob-thing that turns out to be smarter than your average slime-blob-thing. You control this blob... can you outwit your creator? Use the [arrow] keys or [WASD] to move, [spacebar] to switch characters, and click on the gravity arrows to activate them. Hitting [R] or clicking the arrow button at the top menu restarts your level.

Frank'n'SlimeYou'll have boxes to push, spikes to avoid, and jumps to make as you work your way to the door at the end of each level. The game is more about the puzzle and less about the platform, as there aren't many difficult jumps. Most levels you can take your time and contemplate the best move before diving in, so don't expect much fast-paced action. While similarities to Qoosh can't be ignored, Frank'n'Slime's gameplay is original enough to stand on its own. A nice feature is the ability to play any level at any time. It's great to be able to skip a level if you get stuck for too long. Unfortunately, the level select menu shows no indication if you've passed a level or not. This is a minor annoyance in an otherwise polished game. The voice acting is well done and funny, and the controls never feel off. Frank'nSlime is difficult enough without being frustrating, so put on your thinking cap and help the slime escape!

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Mobile Monday

JohnBThese are some big games. Like, bigger than mobile games have a reputation for being. And they're free or on sale or just plain awesome!

guardians-p.gifNewly mobile: Guardians of Magic HD - The supremely playable (and one of this reviewer's personal favorites) casual adventure game Guardians of Magic: Amanda's Awakening has made the switch from downloadable title to reworked iPad release! Guardians of Magic is set up like many modern casual hidden object adventure games, though this one's focus is squarely on the adventure aspects. No hidden object scenes to contend with, just exploration, inventory puzzles, and a few mini-games. Great story, excellent puzzles, and a great fit for the touch screen. (Guardians of Magic review and download)

jdt-p.gifOn sale: Joe Danger Touch - Actually, we're telling a tiny fib with that headline. Not only is Joe Danger Touch on sale for 66% off, it also received a HUGE update that almost doubles the game's already well-stocked content! The new game mode Calendar Tour offers up a new level to play each day of the week, with more challenging tours as time goes by. If you're unfamiliar with Joe Danger Touch, you should make yourself familiar as soon as possible. Is it a great mobile racing game or the greatest mobile racing game? We think the answer is pretty obvious! (Joe Danger Touch review and download)

angry-p.gifFree App of the Week: Angry Birds Star Wars - Each week on the iTunes App Store, Apple drops a single release down to the tasty price of "free". This week, that freebie is Angry Birds Star Wars HD. It's Angry Birds, it's Star Wars, and it's free. We're trying to find a downside to that whole situation, but it's just not coming to us. We will, however, say that you should totally shoot first and download the game while it's free.


  • Currently 4.4/5
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(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Huenison

JohnBHuenison has arrived, and Huenison wants to remind you how amazing retro-styled games can be. Developed by Simone Bevilacqua of Retream and published by the retro gaming experts at RGCD, Huenison was inspired by a mish-mash of several classic arcade games, including Space Invaders, Arkanoid, Dyna Blaster, and Tetris. It's an abstract turbo puzzle shmup, a mixture of genres that guarantees you're in for an extreme challenge.

HuenisonThe basic idea behind Huenison is this: shoot all the colored bricks with the matching beam color. Your ship can move back and forth at bottom of the screen, swapping between six beams with the press of a button. Fire upwards and clear out the tiny blocks as they slowly work their way down. Missing shots calls down the zapper line one tick at a time, threatening to end your game. Letting blocks touch the floor raises that section a little, giving you less room to maneuver as you try to keep the screen clear. Different blocks act differently when shot, too, so don't think Huenison is going to let you off easy with 100% predictable block patterns and simple one-shot kills.

All of that seems fairly innocuous on the surface, but Huenison is far more than just the sum of its parts. There's this constant sense of chaos about the game that threatens to overwhelm you every other moment. Somehow, though, you manage to control that chaos one careful (but quick) shot at a time. You don't have time to think, but you mysteriously make time to do so. It's a very unusual experience that quickly hooks you with its subtleties and intensity. Huenison perfectly captures the essence of addictiveness and gradual mastery that retro games are so famous for, but it does so without pounding you over the head with it or making you feel like a failure.

We can sit and describe Huenison all day long, but actually sitting down to play it is what will win you over. The demo includes a generous portion of the final game and will easily have you frantically blasting blocks within seconds. The visuals, the C64-style soundtrack, the gameplay nuances, the multiple game modes and the crazy boss battles all work in perfect concert to keep you shooting and swapping for hours on end. Plus, the idea of saving the world while getting a high score is always appealing!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
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(17 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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3 Blind Mice

AliceYou've been a bad child. Maybe your behavior's been shoddy; maybe you're just not trying in school. Or maybe you're trying your hardest and it simply isn't enough, and that's the worst kind of failure of all. A bad score will mean... consequences. Can you pass, or will you be "removed from society"? And why does the test seem like it was designed to terrify children rather than fairly evaluate them? 3 Blind Mice, a free point-and-click horror game from Seemingly Pointless, doesn't provide many answers... but does provide an interesting experience nevertheless.

3 Blind MiceThe test is fairly simple, of course, since it's supposed to be geared towards fictional dystopian children. You'll point and click your way through a series of questions that might challenge a little kid... in other words, nothing's going to be very difficult here. Be on the lookout for screamers, though. Since the game doesn't extend past the end of the test, it's a self-contained experience and there's no real way to lose. It's about what you see while you're taking it, the dissonance between the content and the intended audience, and the disturbing context of that dissonance. Sometimes the lack of subtlety ("The Government"?) is a little bit jarring, but for the most part it's easy to sit back, listen to the mice's creepy murmuring, and pretend you're at an age where identifying shapes and colors is a feat worthy of praise.

To some, dystopian themes have felt more relevant lately. With the recent news about government surveillance in the US, it's an especially hot topic... the thought of being watched, especially by the people in charge, inspires a lot of strong feelings in a lot of people. It could be that 3 Blind Mice is, or can be taken as, a commentary on these current events, but if so, well... the message sort of gets lost when the surveillance aspect seems to fall through the cracks. However, even if it doesn't work as a commentary, it still works as a nicely chilling piece of entertainment, especially since it should only take you about five minutes to play.

[Note: Our staff debated whether this game was meant for players of all ages, or only adults. We came to the conclusion that it's probably not meant for children at all, and it's likely to be too scary for the very young. Older or more mature horror-loving children may still enjoy it, though. Parents, play first, and know your child's limits.]

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (149 votes)
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Lift

elleThe online browser version of Lift is now available for everyone to enjoy... no iOS needed!

The scenery and backstory may vary, but the general premise behind most escape-the-room games is the same: you are locked in a room and must solve puzzles until you find the exit. For the most part, this creation from noprops is no different. When you begin, you find yourself in a lovely little room, sparsely furnished, which apparently belonged to a teddy bear fan. It doesn't take long, though, after poking around a bit, to realize there is something a little off about this room. It's hard to put a finger on...just a nagging feeling that you need to discover what Lift is all about and make your way out of here.

LiftMove around the room using either a swipe if you're playing on a mobile device or the arrows at the bottom of the screen (I found the arrows a little more intuitive in this case) while tapping on furnishings and objects to look closer or add to your inventory. You'll want to examine your inventory items as well by tapping twice. Or, to use, highlight an item then tap where you want to use it. Be sure to observe carefully because what you notice will help you determine where you must look... there are misdirection and red herrings for those quick to dismiss inconsistencies as glitches. I gave it a thorough review: I'm happy to report the game is in tip top shape, not a bug or a broken part anywhere. The only disappointing part comes from the ability to skip a clue-providing puzzle as it's not required to complete before solving the next one yet it is helpful for understanding the inner workings of the room.

The puzzles are clever and the clues depend much on inference. If you've played other noprops games, such as 3 Small Keys and Kids Room, then you know to expect some teasing. This can either be remarkably enjoyable or very frustrating. Lift is not like many escape games on the mobile market: your successful escape means acting in ways you haven't been asked before. Whether any of it is logical is up for debate but it's definitely a surreal experience to explore the secrets of this unusual room. For that reason, it's not to be missed and, if you're successful, it might lift your mood, too.

Play Lift (Browser)

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the 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 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (73 votes)
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The Ruins of Machi Itcza

TrickyLegend tells that deep within the remnants of the Maka civilization, there lies 13 keys which, when brought together, grant the secret to the meaning of lives. Machi Itcza, an imposing fortress of a temple, was built to protect these keys. That was thousands of years ago, however, and while many traps and challenges await those who seek the secret, you'll be the first outsider to explore The Ruins of Machi Itcza. A retro metroidvania platformer by MNWS, The Ruins of Machi Itcza gives you the chance to join the ranks of the greatest pixelated archaeologists, right up there with Lara Croft, Nathan Drake, and, most appropriately, Pitfall Harry.

The Ruins of Machi Itcza Move and jump about the temple using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, trying to locate the number of keys indicated in the upper-left. The way the game world expands deserves to be explored by yourself, but suffice to say the more keys you collect, the more of the temple you'll be able to access. Checkpoints are liberally scattered about, should your avatar meet an unhappy death at the end of a spike pit. You can also return to the last checkpoint at any time with [R]. [M] brings up the map screen that will definitely help to keep you oriented. More than a little reminicient of Redder, The Ruins of Machi Itcza is a game about exploring a setting, and it presents quite an engaging one in a very low resolution. The gameplay definitely is more focused on methodical experimentation and precise platforming rather than enemy-whipping, which may make its pace and character movement a little too meandering for some. However, overall, The Ruins of Machi Itcza succeeds in granting players the archaeological feel of rediscovering something ancient and mysterious, and without having to deal with that friggin' Shrine of the Silver Monkey, even.

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  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (296 votes)
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Icarus Needs

elleFrom the creative mind of comic strip artist Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Icarus Needs is a drolly piquant story adventure in which you play Icarus, stuck a dream world in need of many things, but mostly in need of rescuing Kit and waking up. Gameplay is reduced to a minimum: use [WASD] or [arrows] to navigate through each panel of the comic until you encounter a needed object, then travel back to where it's needed so you may move on.

Icarus NeedsThere are some ups and downs, but the environment is never too mazelike and the puzzles are never abstruse. Because of this and the simpler mechanics, you're able to relax and be entertained by the color block artwork, Icarus' amusing bons mots and the surreal encounters. Often something this basic doesn't work as a game, yet Goodbrey perfectly balances witty remarks with just enough imagination so that it isn't contrived or forced. Some players might wish for more challenge but I don't think it's needed here: both the gameplay and the story work seamlessly together so neither feels tacked on. Icarus Needs works well in all the ways a game should: it holds up as its own character, engaging players and providing a satisfying bit of entertainment. You can smile at the end and say to yourself "This was time well spent." And that's all we need to enjoy it.

Play Icarus Needs


  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 4/5 (270 votes)
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Tiny Thief

DoraIf you are at all a fan of point-and-click puzzle games, stop what you're doing right now and go buy 5Ants's Tiny Thief for your iOS or Android device. Why? Because not only is it one of the most beautifully animated and adorable games to come down the river in a long time, but more importantly, it's fun, clever, and imaginative to boot. As the title suggests, you are a plucky little thief who, along with your sassy ferret sidekick, must steal, trick, and slink your way through six different chapters of adventures. Each chapter comes with its own story, revealed in comic book scenes between levels, and even level represents a puzzle with its own unique objectives to complete.

Tiny ThiefTap anywhere onscreen to move, and if you're close enough, certain objects will pop up with an icon above them you can tap to interact. It might be a barrel to hide in for when the guards come your way, or a rope to untie, or a pie to bake, or any number of possibilities. Each stage after the training levels has three items to steal or find that grant you a star apiece... the main object needed to complete the stage, your ferret who hides around the scenery and can be collected when he appears with a tap, and an optional secret item (or two or three or more!) you'll need to experiment with your surroundings to figure out not only how to nab, but what you're nabbing!

It's impossible to be in a bad mood while playing Tiny Thief. It isn't just that the game is gorgeous, with expressive characters and detailed animations. A lot of games are gorgeous. What makes Tiny Thief so special is that it knows you need more than just a pretty face to make a game great, and the level design is no slouch either. It's really impressive how much work and detail has gone into making each one look and feel unique, especially considering how elaborate they get later on. The downside is that while most stages will allow you to go back and forth all over them, performing certain actions in some of them will lock you out of getting items or doing things that needed to be done beforehand, forcing a restart, which is frustrating considering that the patience and stealth required in a few of them can mean they go slowly. But Tiny Thief's strength is in how much fun solving all of those puzzles can be, exploring and setting of chain reactions of events that slip you past guards or otherwise help people. I'd call it the perfect bunch of bite-sized enjoyment, except that implies it's easy to put down, and chances are once you start playing you're not going to want to stop until you finish. Games like Tiny Thief prove mobile titles are capable of great things, and with its professional look and great level design, it deserves a spot of honour in your collection.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

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


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraEvery day when I get up in the morning I ask myself, "Self, what is best in life?" and of course while part of the answer is that whole bit about seeing your enemies driven before you (yadda yadda, lamentations), the more important answer is "variety" so have a whole bunch of games from a whole bunch of genres!

  • The GentlemanThe Gentleman - Soul Game Studio knows you have those spats hidden away under your bed, so why not revel in your dapperosity with this puzzle platform game about a reality-warping fellow in one seriously unreal world? The idea is you use various powers to overcome obstacles in order to get to the exit at the end of each level, and some beautiful design and animation infuses this one with serious style. On the other hand, some of the controls require serious precision, and as the new mechanics pile up, it's frustrating that you can't always tell right away what's deadly and what isn't. But on the other other hand, that cat is soooooooooooo cute!
  • NouserdakeNouserdake - Some of my fellow writers thought this weird webtoy/balance game was a bit too simple, but this is my feature and NOBODY PUTS DORA IN A CORNER! It is, admittedly, very simple, but not easy. The goal is to toss all the objects you're given on the rotating platform in front of you so that none of them fall off, and as you play you're given different objects to master. It's a very basic premise that won't appeal to everyone, unless you're that specific type of gamer for whom frustration might just equal fun, depending on the concept.
  • The MazeThe Maze - We've all had nightmares where we're trying to get away from something, but Doopop's arcade game traps us in one as stylish and scary as it is simple. You're climbing a tower filled with monsters, and you have to react quickly to hit the proper key to avoid each specific type, and since you can't stop running, reflexes are a must. It's surreal style feels like something Atlus might have dreamed up, but for some people the gameplay might get too repetitive too quickly. If you enjoy freaky games that will make you jump and test your reflexes, you might want to cozy up with this one at least one.
  • Skirt QuestSkirt Quest - For some people, high school wasn't the best, and Twinbeard's action game reminds us that the only way to win sometimes is not to play. Playing as either a girl eager to fit in (or at least not be cruelly teased) or as a boy who likes wearing skirts ("hard mode"), your job is to wander around the school and shimmy your skirt up and down to match the lengths of the girls around you. Fail, and your self-esteem plummets as they tease you until they lose the game. While some people may find this dredges up upsetting memories, it does stand as a reminder that for some people "just be yourself" isn't just not that easy... it can also be the reason they're getting harassed to begin with. YAY CHEERFUL!

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Toki Tori 2

JohnBAnd now we've reached the portion of the program where we delight you with things perfect and beautiful! Toki Tori 2 is a new metroidvania-style puzzle platform game from Two Tribes. It's a long-awaited follow up to the original Toki Tori released on Game Boy Color back in 2001. Featuring improved puzzles, longer levels, more varied gameplay, much better graphics and many, many other additions, the minute you fire up this game you'll realize it was worth the wait!

Toki Tori 2In Toki Tori 2 you play the cutest of all birdlings in the world. This bird has a few abilities at its disposal, the simplest of which allow it to walk, climb ladders, hover down gaps, and hop up small ledges. The more creative abilities include whistling and ground pounding, two commands you'll use to influence the creatures of this too-cute world. You'll get your first taste of this when you encounter crabs in boxes. Whistle a tune and the crab shuffles towards you, moving its convenient platform-crate along with it. Pound the ground and the crustacea runs away. Building from that simple foundation, Toki Tori 2 goes on to introduce new elements like bubble-burping frogs, birds that carry you around the stage, light-emitting critters who will illuminate dark caverns, and so much more.

As you progress through Toki Tori 2's overworld map, you'll slowly encounter more of the black fog/goo that's plaguing the land. Not a good thing, we think, but you'll certainly get to the bottom of that if you keep playing! The story is told without a stitch of text, and you'll be pleased to see every single puzzle element is explained without tutorials. The result is an absolutely seamless and immersive story that just keeps flowing from beginning to end.

Toki Tori 2Analysis: It's obvious the folks at Two Tribes poured their hearts and souls into Toki Tori 2's creation. The level design shines from beginning to end, never drifting into dull copy/paste territory. You can wander freely in most stages without fear of artificial barriers or penalties for straying off the path. Just explore, see what you can see, and don't be afraid to give a little whistle if you get stuck. Or, you know, break out one of your melodies to activate a special power or two. Shhh, we didn't spoil that!

Technically, the PC/Mac release of Toki Tori 2 is titled Toki Tori 2+. The plus is to differentiate it from the slightly earlier Wii U release. Two Tribes listened to player feedback and made a ton of tweaks and changes to this version. The biggest improvement is the addition of a level editor and Steam Workshop integration, making it so simple to create and share Toki Tori levels with the world. Read more about the changes on the Toki Tori blog.

We really can't say all the wonderful things we think about Toki Tori 2. It's not the sort of game that will blow your mind with any particular element or design choice. It's the sort of game that's built well from top to bottom, allowing you to experience the sheer delight of puzzle platform exploration without any of the drawbacks. It's an understated game, for sure, but it's design is flawless and it will effortlessly keep you interested in playing for hours on end!

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (82 votes)
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Blocks With Letters On 4

TrickyEditor's Note: Hi folks! This is a new version of the game provided by the developer that should fix all the problems you were encountering, so please try it again!

We all love blocks! We all love letters! And while some crazy people out there might prefer letters with blocks on, here at JayIsGames, we stand assured that Blocks With Letters On is truly the way things were meant to be. Marty Sears' crazy combination of anagrams, block-sliding, hilarious animations, and hair-pulling difficulty has become a favorite amongst many of our readers, and for good reason. But now, the trilogy has become a quadrilogy, with Blocks With Letters On 4! And this time around, the background is green!

Blocks With Letters On 4As before, the goal of each level is to direct the blocks with letters on into the yellow area of the grid, to form the one English word which is the level's answer. Select a block to move by tapping the [spacebar] or by clicking it with the mouse, then use the [arrow] keys to move it. Most blocks with letters on can only be moved left and right, beset by the whims of gravity, though the white blocks with letters on can float up and down. Passing over certain switches can change a block's color. Various other elements will hurt or hinder your progress, but in this iteration, players will also have to battle Vowel-Only squares that will only let A-E-I-O-or-U-Enabled blocks pass through, and also mystery switches. What do they do? Well, uh, it's a mystery. As a small measure of mercy, clues (which will reveal the first letter of the answer word) and hints (which will give you a more specific hint about how to start a puzzle) are available at the bottom of the screen. You only get ten of each to last you through all 30 levels though, so ration them wisely.

There are hard games. There are really hard games. There are Nintendo Hard games. And then, somewhere between "The Third Level of Battletoads" Hard, and "Average British Crossword Puzzle" Hard comes Blocks with Letters On 4. If you're looking for a game that will test every neuron of your linguistic and spatial reasoning, then man, you have found it. Admittedly, the new elements are a little hit and miss. The vowel-only blocks are a cool addition that serve to add a new level of complication to the letter-changer mechanics. However, the mystery switches, while rare, seem a bit of a misstep, since the necessity of experimenting with them means that the player will be required to restart the level at least once. That having been said, fans of the series are sure to pleased with Blocks With Letters On 4, and, let's face it, there are so few games that feature a British guy enunciating things over MSPaint-styled cartoons, that you need to jump on them whenever they come along.

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(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Sprinkle Islands

JohnBSprinkle Islands from Granny Smith creator Mediocre is a follow up to Sprinkle, a physics-based mobile puzzle game that is as adorable as it is fun. Pieces of a giant stone are raining down on Sprinkle Islands like meteors, causing all sorts of fires to spring up. Enter you, happy hero, with your simple height-adjustable vehicle that spits water like a little fountain. Time to douse some flames!

Sprinkle IslandsOn the left side of the screen is your little fire truck, moving forward on its own whenever the path is clear. All you have to worry about is adjusting the water spout's height and how to use as little of the wet stuff as you can. Water doesn't grow on trees, you know. Tap and slide the extendable nozzle to aim, then press and hold the big red button to shoot water. Get enough water on each fire to put it out, and be sure to do it before any huts burn down.

Of course, things are never as simple as spraying a fire and moving to the next catastrophe. Most fires are in out of the way places; tucked behind stones, blocked by giant rocks, or hidden behind latched platforms. To reach them you'll have to play with the environment by spraying water to shove things around. Use blocks of ice to press buttons, tap on blue buttons to raise and lower platforms, and use convenient curls in the landscape to slosh water into every nook and cranny on the screen.

Sprinkle IslandsAnalysis: Sprinkle Islands looks and sounds like an easy game you can breeze through without blinking. Once you get a dozen or two levels under your belt, you'll realize that's a fallacious assumption. It's a game of precision as much as it is conservation. You have a limited amount of water to dispense, but these fires aren't exactly looking to be extinguished.

Sprinkle Islands comes with around 50 levels to complete spread across four distinct island locations. The water physics are spot-on, so when you do stumble through a stage and end up failing at the last minute, you won't be able to blame the game! Speaking of failure, Sprinkle Islands has a convenient feature that lets you skip a level if you can't seem to complete it. After all, this is a game that's focused on fun, not nail-biting puzzle solving.

Easy to get into and suitable for kids and adults alike, Sprinkle Islands is the perfect blend of creativity, challenge and unrestrained fun. You'll love every level and every crazy boss battle in-between!

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.


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (624 votes)
| Comments (42) | Views (2,134)

Min-Hero: Tower of Sages

DoraIn real life, if you paint a pig with electric stripes and give it a flame thrower to battle against other pets with, you're asking to have your face blurred out on the evening news. In Toy Chest Games' Pokemon inspired turn-based RPG Min-Hero: Tower of Sages, however, that's just good clean fun. As a new initiate into the Tower of Sages, your goal is to battle your way to the top to prove you're worthy of training even the most powerful creatures... the titans. Each set of floors will grant you pieces of six seals you'll need to win to be the very best, like no one ever was, so grab your freaky leafy snake thinger and your weirdo Vader beetle dude and get cracking.

Min-Hero: Tower of SagesMove around with [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, and interact with the [spacebar]. Hit the menu button in the bottom-right corner to bring up options to save, check your status, and assign the stars you win to upgrade your pets. When you enter into a minion throw-down with another character, the format is pretty familiar... the team that knocks out all the other's minions is the winner. Minions come in all shapes and sizes, and the elements they and their attacks are based on determine what they're weak or strong against. While the red bar is each minion's health, the blue bar represents their energy, and since each attack uses a certain amount of energy, you need to give careful thought to the attacks you're using, and who you're going up against. Once you've beaten a character, you can just talk to them again to replay the battle for more sweet, sweet experience points.

Min-Hero: Tower of SagesOf course, as minions battle, they level up and become stronger, and you'll gain skill points you can spend on learning different attacks and abilities from time to time. The first time you get a skill point, the path you place it in for a minion determines what skill tree they'll follow, and each one has its own unique powers. Don't worry, you can reset skill points at any time if you'd like to change. You can spend any cash you earn on gems you can attach to whatever minion you like to increase their stats. And, of course, as the level up, they can evolve into more powerful creatures. After defeating each floor's boss and gaining a piece of a seal, you'll get a key to the hatchery which allows you to pick from rows of eggs to gain a new minion. Since you don't know which creature might be in an egg, make sure to save beforehand if you want to try again.

Min-Hero isn't so much story-lite as it is story-non-existent, with a strictly linear path that means gameplay focuses solely on fighting and strategy. Which, as it happens, are quite solid and enjoyable indeed for a casual little game like this. It's the sort of game Though it would have been nice if the minions had had more depth and story to them, the wide variety and gorgeous overall design of them helps keep you playing to find out what comes next. It really makes you want an expanded version that features some actual adventuring and choice, but thankfully the combat that makes up the meat and potatoes of the game (as well as the dessert and after dinner mint) is up to the task in a way that makes it perfect for the casual gamer looking for something to satisfy that "gotta train 'em all into terrifying war machines" itch.

Play Min-Hero: Tower of Sages


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (647)

Oknytt

JohnBOknytt from Nemoria Entertainment is a old school-styled adventure game steeped in Swedish folklore. You play as a small unnamed creature who wakes to find itself inhabiting an unfamiliar world. By helping it solve a few puzzles and explore its surroundings, you and the small creature will slowly gain an understanding of its place in life. It's a beautiful, touching tale that's told at a gentle pace by a narrator who will make you feel like you're listening to a story sitting around the campfire with nowhere to go and nothing to do but become entranced.

OknyttClick anywhere on the screen to move the small creature around. If something of interest catches your eye, click and hold to bring up a menu with three options: talk, interact, and lore. The former two do precisely what you would expect, while the latter serves as Oknytt's version of "look", adding a small piece of lore to the in-game journal. If you're in a hurry you can double click exit points to move there without waiting on the small creature's gentle lumbering gait to carry it to the other side of the screen. To work with inventory items, simply click on the crate in the corner of the screen (or right click anywhere else).

At the bottom of the screen are four runes, each representing a different element. Click on a rune to activate its power. If there's something on the screen that can be affected by these elements, you'll notice things change right away. The runes are incorporated into a few of the game's puzzles in some slightly unexpected (but still logical) ways. So, for example, if you see hot coals that just won't light, it's a fairly safe bet that activating the fire rune will get the job done. If you're ever stuck, think about the runes and how they might help!

OknyttAnalysis: It's easy to understand what kind of game Oknytt is — a retro-style adventure. Understanding what makes it special is a different story. The game is heavily focused on its characters and environments, not so much puzzles or creative gameplay. It's like a playable piece of folklore, complete with mischievous miscreants, quietly observant beings, and benevolent magical spirits. Centering the story on a strange creature who knows nothing of the world it inhabits makes you immediately feel for its simple plight. Each puzzle you solve pushes you both in the direction of discovery.

Artwork, story and setting aside, Oknytt sticks pretty close to the basic adventure gaming formula. Puzzles are largely inventory based and require you to do a lot of walking and a bit of trial and error. The elemental runes add a nice sort of twist, but they aren't as extensively used as they could have been, making them secondary puzzle pieces at best. It's just as well, though, as the interface does have some speed issues, and using the runes takes a few moments for the game to stop and think.

Oknytt is an enchanting and very lovable game. It tells a good story and incorporates unique pieces of folklore that bring simple characters and situations to life. If you don't mind a slow paced adventure and are ready to settle in and absorb a game's environment, Oknytt will keep you happy all evening long.

WindowsWindows:
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Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


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Plants vs. Zombies 2

JohnBRaise your hand if you live in Australia or New Zealand! Now take that hand and go download Plants vs. Zombies 2, PopCap's sequel to the 2009 defense game Plants vs. Zombies! The studio has just launched the iOS version in the above countries to test out all the new systems and features. Think of it as a trial run to make sure everything works behind the scenes, as well as a chance to get some feedback on the changes to the gameplay structure.

When Plants vs. Zombies 2 launches to the rest of the world it will be a free download for iPhone, IPod Touch and iPad devices, though there will be ample opportunities to buy upgrades through in-app purchases. The game was originally scheduled to launch July 18th, but PopCap announced it would push back the release to sometime "later in the summer". There's a joke in there about how the only people playing it now are in the middle of their winter season, but we haven't had enough coffee to think of it just yet.

We're eager to hear what folks in the southern hemisphere think of the game so far. Sound off in the comments and let us know how your Plants vs. Zombies 2 time is progressing!

Read more about the soft launch on PopCap's blog.

Update: Plants vs. Zombies 2 has launched in North America!

  • Currently 3.1/5
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Rating: 3.1/5 (47 votes)
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Treasure Bear

Starchild Welcome to the infinitely bizarre world of Treasure Bear. Leave all notions of logic behind, strap a big chest on your bear shoulders and step into this entirely whimsical pixel art platformer.

Treasure Bear You're a chubby, rosy-cheeked bear and, naturally, you like to eat. That's how you end up munching fruit on board of Captain Shiphead's ship headed for Slime Island (yeah, I'm serious). Unfortunately, you are discovered and thrown into Slime Prince's dungeon. Fortunately, slime guards being as stupid as they are, you manage to escape. You meet a treasure chest, another prisoner, and decide to team up with him, making the silliest superhero duo since Batman and Robin. You will fight your way through the castle and amass a pile of gold, using [arrow] keys to move, [spacebar] to jump and [Z] to run. The gold coins also function as your hit points, so you should try to get as much as you can. Keep an eye out for gems, worth ten coins, which are usually hidden in wall caches and quite easy to miss.

Treasure Bear is very beautiful and terrifically quirky at the same time. It sort of feels like a game you could have invented when you were five and playing with your plush toys, with your unbridled imagination and indifference towards logical reasoning. The levels are nicely (and hilariously) detailed and the characters reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. The game is shorter than it could be, but that ensures that the simple gameplay never outstays its welcome. Also, it's still a bit rough, meaning that there might be a glitch or two here and there, but it definitely has enough redeeming virtues to make up for that. It's heaps of fun, a joy to behold, and it was about time someone made a game featuring one-eyed slimy cats as villains.

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  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (54 votes)
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Mermaid Swamp

AliceRin, Seitaro, Yuka, and Yuuta are four friends on a road trip to... somewhere, but they've gotten themselves lost along the way. When their car mysteriously stops working, a kindly old man allows them to stay at his mansion by the swamp. Soon enough, he's left to attend a funeral, and with the friends alone in the mansion, things take a turn for the creepy. Yuka is sick. Yuuta is getting... weird. Could it be the mermaid's legendary curse? Rin and Seitaro will have to find the way out, save their friends, and solve the mystery to escape the Mermaid Swamp, a new free horror adventure by Uri (developer of The Crooked Man) and translated by Vgperson (who's done quite a few of these — if you've played a Japanese RPGMaker or WOLF game in English, odds are pretty good that she had a hand in it).

Mermaid SwampAs Rin, you're going to spend most of the game looking around, collecting items, and solving the puzzles hidden around the mansion. Some of them are pretty difficult, and there's a moderate amount of backtracking, so you might want to take notes while you play. Also, note that, despite what's standard in many of these games, you'll need to go to the Items screen every time you want to use something. Unlike in The Crooked Man, there isn't much in the way of fighting, only a few running sequences. Don't expect a tamer experience, though — there are still a lot of upsetting things, and just as a heads up, some of those upsetting things are sexual. They're shown frankly, though not explicitly, but I don't think it was crass or in bad taste. There's definitely no endorsement of the violence and attitudes toward women that the game depicts. I finished Mermaid Swamp feeling like it made some clever points about certain tropes involving women and death, very much on the side of live, happy, safe women. Still, if you're sensitive to that sort of material, you might want to sit this one out.

Mermaid SwampWhile I missed Uri's hand-drawn artwork from The Crooked Man, Mermaid Swamp feels like a better game overall. Rin is a fun protagonist (and in all her stubborn, brash, dopey glory, a breath of fresh air from the standard horror girl), Seitaro's pretty great too, the atmosphere is unsettling, and the secrets you uncover are really, truly horrific. It's also, despite the supernatural elements, a reasonably fair mystery. A little more action might have been nice, as well as a chance to get to know Yuka and Yuuta better, but if you're a fan of horror and aren't put off by the subject matter discussed above, this one comes recommended.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


  • Currently 3.7/5
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Rating: 3.7/5 (99 votes)
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Surreal Escape

GrinnypAs a room escape fanatic, you inevitably see certain things over and over again. What happens, though, when you begin to get just a little tired of escaping from various rooms, restaurants, and underground spaces? Do you stop escaping for a while, or do you long for something completely different? How about trying to escape from a Dali-esque landscape where coin-operated washing fish fly by and friendly skeletons reward you for cleaning their tombs? Welcome to Surreal Escape, from the twisted mind of Frederico Rutenberg of Esklavos fame.

grinnyp_surrealescape_screenshot.pngSurreal Escape is a mini-escape that takes place in just two scenes, but what scenes they are. At first the puzzles seem very random and completely Dada, but eventually you will begin to see the internal logic as you escape the madness using whatever random items you can find laying about in the beautiful landscape. The controls can seem a bit clunky with needing a separate combine tool to mix together some of the strange, strange things you pick up, but it is essential as most of this point-and-click adventure can be solved with some (okay, rather a lot of) creative merging. It's time to try something different, unique, and definitely off the wall as Surreal Escape is a singular and refreshing way to take a mid-week break.

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(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

AliceIt's a cloudy, ugly day at Owl Creek bridge, and a man is in what appear to be the last minutes of his life. Noose tied firmly around his neck, he stands on a plank. He can step off the plank on his own, if he chooses; otherwise, one of the soldiers behind him will push him back until he's out of room to stand. They wear blue, he wears gray, and it's the middle of the US Civil War. Maybe he's got it coming, maybe he doesn't. It doesn't matter. This is war, after all, and what we know is that this man is about to die, away from his beloved family and with only the company of his enemies... but wouldn't it be something if this didn't have to happen?

This may seem a little familiar to you, at least upon a completed playthrough. An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, a free narrative art game from Seemingly Pointless, is an adaptation of the famous short story by Ambrose Bierce. If you're from the US and you've been through high school, you may have read it in class. You can read it here for free, although it might be a good idea to play the game first. Even for a short story, it's short, and it won't take up much of your day.

Gameplay isn't the point as much as story. It's a very easy game, and play consists of moving around with the [arrow] keys. Mostly, you'll be going to the right. Still, the plot does more than carry its weight— this is a tale that can keep its emotional impact in almost any format, and Seemingly Pointless did a good job keeping most of the important stuff intact. However, if you're looking for a completely faithful adaptation, this unfortunately isn't it. Quite a few details have been changed to fit the format better, and while many of these changes work well enough, some players might feel that other changes take something away from the story. For a non-spoilery example, the protagonist was originally a civilian instead of a soldier, and that was part of what made him sympathetic to me. As for the rest... well, it's a short game, too, so why not see for yourself?

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
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Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Dungeonism

JohnBDungeonism is a stylish roguelike-like adventure game from Jeffrey Fal. We say it's like a roguelike because the game takes ample opportunity to deviate from that old standard formula. Instead of dreary worlds and serious gameplay, Dungeonism draws inspiration from the likes of Pac-Man to create a lively turn-based pick-up-and-play experience that's perfect for casual players.

DungeonismAfter days of traveling you arrive at a village on the edge of the Land of Dungeons. Legend says this kingdom was once a wealthy, prosperous place until a necromancer cursed the king and brought ruin upon the land. That's just a rumor, though. The only facts are that this place is crawling with monsters and there's treasure just laying on the ground. And that's precisely why you're here: to load up on some loot!

To move in Dungeonism simply tap on a tile and your hero will scuttle to that position. Pick up items, collect coins, fight enemies, and slide/break blocks using the same method. Tap the magnifying glass icon followed by on-screen objects to get a better idea of what constitutes your surroundings. Between levels you can shop for more potions, upgrade or buy equipment, or check out the plethora of stats you silently build while you play.

DungeonismAnalysis: Despite its casual set-up, Dungeonism is pretty serious about providing a heavy role playing atmosphere. The experience goes much deeper than you might think, adding different weapons, magic, and plenty of enemies to contend with. The turn-based element really comes into play once you wade into crowded dungeons. Both yourself and your foes operate in turns, meaning you can't just rush in there with swords/arrows swinging. Instead, you have to adopt tactics based on the enemy's attack patterns and your current status, taking into account your scant provisions and the location of recovery items in the dungeon.

Dungeonism accomplishes something great by making a roguelike accessible to casual mobile players. What's even greater is that the game doesn't sacrifice much depth in the process. Far from being a watered-down RPG, Dungeonism plays like an active, exciting dungeon crawler with stat management and item shops available when things calm down. It's the best bits from a role playing game with all the speed and activity of an arcade game, wrapped together in a very attractive audio visual package. You're going to love it!

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.


  • Currently 3.2/5
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Rating: 3.2/5 (44 votes)
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Pongball Champions

KimberlyMost of us have heard of Pong, and all of us have heard of pinball. What do you get when you combine the two and throw it into a futuristic setting? Pure awesome, that's what. In Pongball Champions, an arcade game from Battlesheep, the year is 2351, and the world's favorite sport is Pongball. You are working your way up the circuit because you won't stop until you prove yourself to be the best Pongball player in the world.

Pongball ChampionsMove your ship with the mouse. Hit [ctrl] or [spacebar] to use your flippers. You need to get the ball past your opponent five times to win and move up in the ranks. If your rival scores five goals first, you lose and have to try the match again. It starts out simple enough, with no obstacle in your way. But as you progress, pinball-type bumpers become part of the field. The ball bounces off these at a fairly high speed, making things more difficult. Ship modifiers also start to appear. There are six types, three of them helpful, three of them not so much. The ball will turn green or red when it picks up one of the modifiers. If you want to activate it, bounce the ball on the blue power ray in the middle of your ship. This will give you the power-up until someone scores a goal, or you activate a different one. The power ray also has the effect of slowing the ball down, which can be useful to help gain control of a fast ball.

It's probably best to play Pongball Champions after your morning coffee, as its exciting fast paced action will test your reflexes. An option to change your flipper control to a mouse click would be nice for those not playing on a laptop. This game is just screaming for a level editor and multi-player mode. With 30 levels and atmospheric graphics, Pongball Champions is a near perfect blend of two classic games. We could be competing in this game in the future, right along with light cycle racing.

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The Vault

TrickyHappy 9th of July! And, as you know, the traditional way to celebrate the anniversary of George Washington ordering the Declaration of Independence being read out loud to the Continental Army for the first time (not to mention the original release of Donkey Kong), is by playing a few excellent titles from the JayIsGames archives!... Okay, just go with me on this. This week, the Vault features classic interactive fiction, adventure, and platforming titles for your perusal.

  • 9:059:05 - Perhaps the greatest short-form work of interactive fiction ever written-slash-programmed, 9:05, a 2000 piece by Adam Cadre, is often pointed to when intrigued players come asking for an introduction to the genre. Indeed, 9:05 tells a story that is hard to imagine being as effective or even possible in any other medium, using the limitations and quirks of the Frotz parser to its great advantage. A humorous yarn about a person who must rush out of the house after waking up late, and yet so much more, 9:05 is as clever as its design is elegant. Good things come in small .z5 packages, indeed.
  • Finding My HeartFinding My Heart - Sing it with me folks! Ruh-ruh-ruh-ru-RUH-ru-ruh-ru-ruh! Those who don't already know the tune should play Small Is Beautiful Interactive's 2009 point-and-click adventure game Finding My Heart, like, ASAP. Featuring an art-style straight out of a 1950s cartoon, and a sweet and sappy story about loving, losing, and regaining, Finding My Heart's iconographic method of gameplay is something players will want to see in more works, and yet would be fine with staying singularly unique. Helping this oblivious schlub win back his lady long will require more than a little trial-and-error, but then again, what relationship doesn't?
  • ImmortalKaroshi Suicide Salaryman - Already the star of a popular series of download titles by Jesse Venbrux, everyone's favorite office-worker-with-a-death-wish made his browser debut in 2008's Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman. Filled to the brim with pitch-black comedy, internet culture shout-outs and so many dumb ways to die, Karoshi gleefully shatters the fourth wall as much as he does his own skull. Not a game for those offended by, well, just about anything, it's not hard to detect a scathing commentary of corporate culture lying underneath the buckets of blood. However, it never gets in the way of a suicidally good 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!


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Arena Quest RPG

JohnBArena Quest RPG is a demo of an upcoming action RPG hybrid by gfactoriser. It puts all the ingredients of an RPG into a big pot, then boils it until only the delicious concentrated broth remains. It's got combat, it's got characters, it's got experience points and equipment and skills. But it all takes place on an overworld map that lets you move from one battle arena to the next, cutting out everything except fighting and party management.

Arena Quest RPGArena Quest splits gameplay into two main sections: combat and exploration. Battles are the meat of the game and send you to a small field where waves of enemies attack you one after the other. Tap your party members to move them around the screen, then assign attacks and targets to start taking out foes. Your early team consists of a sword-bearing warrior, a healing cleric, and an archer. By positioning each one to utilize their main strengths you can dispatch enemies with relative ease. After battle you take the spoils and start managing equipment. Keep the best armor and weapons in use at all times, of course, but feel free to sell the excess to keep your inventory as lean as possible.

You'll find combat can quickly get overwhelming in Arena Quest, especially when the first dragon struts on the screen. Keep calm, keep your heroes mobile, and don't forget to use your party's creative tactical options to control where enemies attack. Sometimes playing dead is a great offensive strategy!

This version of Arena Quest RPG is just a demo; the full game has yet to be released. The download includes the first world, four hero characters, about a dozen levels, plenty of items and equipment to work with, and a boss battle. It's a great mini-taste of what the full game will offer, and we eagerly anticipate the full release!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the Nexus 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.


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Gun Monkeys

JohnBFrom Size Five Games, the team behind Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please!, comes a game that's pretty much nothing like those games. Gun Monkeys is a multiplayer arcade arena shooter that pits monkeys against each other as they fight over energy cubes. It's about as ridiculous as a premise as you can have for a video game, but it's also very well-balanced and easy to get into, especially if you start up a "friendly" competition with a couple of friends.

Gun MonkeysYou wouldn't normally expect the story to be a highlight of an action game, but with the Size Five crew on the job, something twisted is at hand. Mankind has invented a perpetual energy device, you see, but when it was switched on it kinda destroyed half the stuff in the universe. Energy now condenses into convenient little cubes that fall out of midair, but the problem is this only happens in the future, not in the present. The solution: send monkeys into the future to collect the energy cubes and bring them back to us!

In Gun Monkeys you'll jump, crawl, shoot, wall jump, place bombs, accidentally step on your own mines, and just generally cause a bunch of carnage in each small battle arena. As you bring cubes back to your power core, your score goes up and your opponent's goes down. The first one to zero loses. Levels are procedurally generated and always give you different layouts to work with, though at the end of the day it's all about which monkey is the better shooter/power cube collector.

Gun Monkeys is a straightforward game that doesn't deviate from its arcade arena roots. There are a few power-ups that can turn the tables by letting you do things like shoot through walls, and winning matches earns you coins that can be spent on long-term upgrades. However, these features are secondary to the game's main focus of intense, bloody monkey action. Get a good feud going with someone and you'll never be bored again. A fantastic sense of humor and a good looking game to boot, Gun Monkeys is the next best thing to actually sending monkeys into the future.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version


  • Currently 3.6/5
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Rating: 3.6/5 (83 votes)
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Escape from the Similar Rooms 4

elleThere are times when there is only time for a quick escape and those are the times when Hottategoya is in best form. Make your way up the stairs, stopping briefly to admire each room, soaking in the atmosphere and gathering clues. Before you know it, you'll be out since, despite the title, there are only three doors blocking your Escape from the Similar Rooms 4. The brevity is disappointing but this threefold of puzzles is still enjoyable while it lasts. The clue presentation is cleverly handled, using the environment well (although one clunks us over the head with the answer) and Hottategoya deserves kudos for embracing the miniescape with finesse. There's only smidgen of challenge yet it's packed with a pleasing array of style, making this the perfect respite for beginners or anyone hankering for an escape who has only a moment to spare.

Play Escape from the Similar Rooms 4


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (63 votes)
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BRICK[bricksmash]SMASH

HopefulNebula BRICK[bricksmash]SMASH, by Alan Hazelden, is one of those rare games whose title describes it perfectly. It's a bunch of tiny Breakout clones within a Breakout clone. You start with one ball and one life, but you won't be removing any bricks right away. Instead, each time your ball hits a brick, it spawns a tiny ball inside that brick. You can keep those tiny balls alive by keeping your paddle under them. Once all the tiny bricks within the brick are removed, the big brick goes away and you get any surviving balls from inside that brick. Pretty soon you'll have a rainbow! Just make sure you have at least one large ball in play at all times, or you lose.

BRICK[bricksmash]SMASHGameplay is simple: use the mouse to move the paddle, or select the lower right option on the title screen to switch to [arrows]. BRICK[bricksmash]SMASH is an easy game, but since you're scored on both time and number of large balls you have in play at the end of the game, there's still an element of challenge. Between that, its visual prettiness, and the lovely sounds that happen whenever a ball hits a surface, it's quite a smashing game. Just don't try replicating this with real bricks. Either you'll end up with a concussion, or completely warping reality as we know it, neither of which is good.

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Mobile Monday

JohnBAnother week of mobile game releases is at hand. More importantly, another week of mobile game discounts is at hand! The deals listed below don't have a listed expiration date, so grab while the grabbin's good.

bastion-p.gifOn sale: Bastion - The "almost too awesome for its own good" RPG Bastion is on sale! You can grab the iOS version of the game for just under a buck, which we don't need to tell you is an amazing price. You take on the role of "the Kid", a white-haired lad who wakes up one morning to discover the rest of the world has literally collapsed away, but finds paths rise up beneath his feet as he travels through a hostile realm. (Bastion review and download)

limbo-p.gifNew to iOS: LIMBO - The game that has nothing to do with the party game but everything to do with the other meaning, Playdead's phenomenal downloadable game LIMBO has just shimmied its way over to iOS devices. LIMBO is similar to games like Another World, where realistic physics take a front seat to exaggerated leaps and fantastic feats of physical prowess. You have a modest jumping ability, can hang on to ledges, ropes and the like, and will be, er, "subjected to" one or two other temporary skills as the game progresses. It's not about what you can do, it's about figuring out how to navigate the strange world using your limited set of moves. The touch controls work surprisingly well with a slow-speed platformer of this nature. (LIMBO review and download)

silent-p.gifNew to Android: The Silent Age - A runaway favorite mobile adventure game, The Silent Age has just hopped out of iOS territory and landed on Android devices. It's the early 1970s and Joe has a pretty crummy job as a janitor in a large, faceless government building. One day the management calls him in for a talk. It looks like Joe is getting a promotion! And by promotion we mean Joe will now be cleaning the sub-basement laboratories in addition to his normal duties. New keycard in hand, Joe heads down the elevator, only to discover drops of blood and a dying man who claims to be from the future. Promotion, indeed. (The Silent Age review and download)

fieldrunners-p.gifOn sale: Fieldrunners 2 - In the mood for one of THE best tower defense games on any mobile device? Fieldrunners 2 is on sale for a very limited time, discounting both the standard and the HD versions. Fieldrunners 2 pits you against wave after wave of fieldrunners, disposable enemies who crowd the level trying to make it across the screen. By buying and placing towers with different abilities, you can slow and eventually halt their progress, upgrading and deploying more units when the enemy creeps bump up their game. (Fieldrunners 2 review and download)


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (29 votes)
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Cube World

DoraDespite what you might think, Picroma's indie exploration-based RPG Cube World is not a Minecraft clone. Currently available in Alpha, the game focuses less (or rather, not at all) on building and more (or rather, entirely!) on roaming the world, discovering and delving dungeons, fighting everything from giant cyclopean warriors to enraged sentient radishes, feeding moles chocolate donuts to make them your pets, and dying a whole bunch because most of the world doesn't like your face. And yes, it is a lot of fun.

Cube WorldCube World's controls are actually pretty basic. You move with [WASD] and look around with the mouse, with both right and left mouse buttons triggering your attacks. [E] picks up items, while [R] interacts with people and objects, and you can press [F1] at any time to get a rundown of the basics. After you've created a character, choosing a race and a class, you'll be asked to generate a world by choosing a "seed" (any string of numbers you want) and naming it before being booted out into the land with only the bare essentials. The world you've just created has everything from towns and castles to dungeons and daily missions (represented by crossed swords on the map) so it's up to you to get out there and discover it all. You can even climb things as long as your stamina holds out, go hang-gliding, get a pet platypus, and more.

Cube WorldIn between dying a whole bunch, that is, since friendly NPCs outside of towns are rare, and robbers, monsters, and just plain nasty wildlife want to render your blocks into bits. As you land successful attacks on monsters, your magic points go up, and once the bar has filled you can hold and then release the right mouse button to unleash a more powerful attack. Initially, your best bet is probably to spend a lot of time slaughtering hapless animals to level up, but as you get stronger, you'll be able to handle the more exotic threats. Threats like giant angry alpacas who interrupt you while you're sucking on pineapple slices. There's no penalty to respawning, so you'll want to make sure you spend time hunting down materials to craft better equipment with. From simple potions to intricate pieces of armor, blueprints for all sorts of helpful items can be found everywhere... provided you have the proper facilities to make it.

Cube WorldAnalysis: Since the whole goal of Cube World at its Alpha stage is basically just exploring while trying not to die, it's best suited for casual expeditions, preferably with friends to tackle the really big baddies. There's no real way for you to make your mark on the world besides, well, killing things, and the game's odd balance means you'll spend a lot of time getting clobbered since it's hard to tell what's more powerful or friendly and what isn't unless you get too close for comfort. You might be able to handle a Cromling, for instance, but a Cromling +3 looks identical and would decimate you in a few hits, and if you're close enough for its name to display, you're close enough to be targeted. You need to do a lot of grinding, essentially, and the experience points don't always make sense... I can kill a mole in ten seconds for seven points, but a vampire only nets me one? At the moment, it's sort of like a less frantic Realm of the Mad God (with voices by Animal Crossing), more focused on simple adventure.

Cube World has a ton of things planned for the future, including player housing, quests, an actual story, and other things that could make it feel a lot more fleshed out. And trust me, it definitely deserves it, for despite the bumps in the road, it's a gorgeous little game. I mean, it sort of has to be since the system requirements are so high, so make sure you try the demo (which isn't really a playable game, just a test for your computer) to make sure you can run it. The care put into designing NPCs and enemies is really remarkable, and everything from the colours of the world to little touches like blocky leaves falling gently from the trees makes you want to just stroll around and admire it all. Despite how slow gaining levels can be, Cube World's mechanics and controls are easy to jump right into and makes it feel like the sort of game you and whoever you like can enjoy, and the random world generation means you're never going to run out of places to explore or things to flee in terror from. Cube World has massive potential that could stand to make it the next great addictive multiplayer RPG, but as it stands in its Alpha stage, it still presents a beautiful, addictive casual approach to adventuring solo or with friends. You'll want to keep coming back to it every time it gets an update, but don't be surprised if you find yourself wandering its wild paths for hours between then, too.

Note: Due to heavy traffic, purchases on Cube World's website are occasionally disabled. If you can't buy the game, just try back later. It's worth it!

WindowsWindows:
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Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Cross Stitch Casper

StarchildCross stitching is usually thought of as a craft dedicated to fair maidens locked away in forbidding towers, or else Internet-lurking DIY aficionados who use it to embroider Star Wars quotes. But it takes courage to attempt (and succeed wonderfully) to turn it into a game, and that makes Cross Stitch Casper an entirely singular point-and-click experience.

Cross Stitch CasperWhen we first meet Casper, he's just waking up and wants to check on his dad. As he gets up and goes out of his room and through the kitchen, you get the idea that he doesn't lead a perfectly comfortable life, but it's not until he reaches his father's room that you understand why. His father is a drunk and a gambler and has managed to get in debt with a certain Mr. Raynold, who threatens to take the family ranch as payment. All the responsibility falls on Casper's little shoulders, as he has to find a way to keep his home.

It's a short game in a small world, so getting around isn't difficult. Use the mouse to play – right click to examine, left click to pick items up and use them. The cross stitched nature of the graphics doesn't allow for many details, so some objects might be difficult to recognise, but it's easy to identify them by examining. There is a limited number of uncluttered rooms which simplifies the search for usable items and makes the gameplay natural and intuitive.

Cross Stitch CasperGranted, you don't come across embroidered games every day, and it is quite a hit-and-miss choice. It could have easily backfired and seemed like a gimmicky (though ingenious) way to create a novelty game. Instead, the cross stitching actually provides a beautiful frame for the story. It adds a quaint, homey feeling to the Western setting (complete with a saloon and some tumbleweed) and gives the strange impression of a true family drama taking place on a piece of fabric.

When talking about a game which takes about half an hour to finish, it's hard to say anything about the plot without spoiling it. Let's just say that, in such a short time, Cross Stitch Casper tells a complete story of misspent lives, of hope, despair and powerlessness. When you play it (and you really should), take your time. It deals with terribly difficult issues, but it moves quite quickly, so you might lose something if you don't stop at every scene and dialogue and let it sink in. There will also be one item, easily missed and immaterial to the plot, but if you use it, it will reward you with a touching scene.

Cross Stitch Casper is one of those rare and delicate games which manage to fit a formidable amount of emotions and meaning into a small package. With its unique visual style and masterful storytelling, this is one little gem you shouldn't miss.

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  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (39 votes)
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Rogue Legacy

DoraOn the surface, Cellar Door Games' indie action roguelike game Rogue Legacy is simple. You control a hero trying to navigate a deadly, ever-changing castle with the [arrow] keys, jumping with [S] and slashing with [D], and try not to die. But the twist isn't that you will die, although that's definitely a certainty. The twist is that when you do, you'll be able to keep playing as the child of that hero in an effort to best the castle for good... and those children might be born with a variety of real life conditions. Color blindness, dwarfism, even irritable bowel syndrome are just the tip of the iceberg. Some do nothing other than change the way you view the world, while others may have a big impact on how you play. But who decides what's a disadvantage anyway, and who says anyone can't be a hero?

Rogue LegacyThe majority of your time will be spent adventuring through the castle, trying to uncover its secrets and get past its many bosses. Once you die, that's that, and you'll be given the opportunity to pick from one of three potential heirs to resume playing... though the castle's interior will be completely different. Initially, you can expect to die. A lot. But as you gather coins, you can begin expanding your manor in a variety of ways to help you. You can pay for upgrades to strength and class abilities, or even entirely new classes, and new characters like the blacksmith or architect, whose abilities can make you even stronger.

Naturally, paying for all this beneficial interior decorating is expensive. As a result, you can expect to do a lot of grinding, which here means dying a whole bunch since you can only spend gold after you're dead (who says you can't take it with you?) and any gold your new heir tries to carry back into the castle will be confiscated by its ghostly gatekeeper.

Rogue LegacyAnalysis: With its demand for reflexes and sadistic room design, Rogue Legacy isn't the game for people who like their roguelikes slow and turnbased. You're going to die a lot, and that sort of forced failure before glory won't sit well with everyone. Luckily, the castle's ever-changing interior means you'll rarely feel like you're trudging back through the same thing twice, and the simple control scheme is something anyone can pick up... though mastering it is a different matter. Though the game will allow you to customise your keys, it won't allow you to use any controller other than an Xbox one, which is a bit of a bummer. Almost as big of a bummer as those frustrating pads that have to be opened with a downward sword-strike in midair that are often used as platforms.

It's a game that demands a lot from you, and the myriad of enemies, obstacles, and traps crammed in most rooms feels punishing to say the least. Recovery items are hard to come by, and you'll need to do a lot of grinding to beef up your characters to be able to handle most of what the game throws at them. Certain character traits can also dramatically change how you play. It could be as simple as the charming sepia-toned hue the nostalgia trait paints everything, but it could also be the frustratingly large target having Gigantism turns you into. Oh, and don't think you can just avoid choosing any differently-abled heirs, since before long everyone has something, and speaking of which...

Rogue LegacyUltimately, Rogue Legacy's approach to genetic differences is going to be something you'll have to make up your own mind how to feel about, and different life experiences and perspectives means everyone has the right to feel their own way. In a lot of ways, however, its inclusion of characters like this feels important, since how often do "disabled" people ever feature in games at all, much less in the starring role? How do you decide what's more insensitive... implementing a disability in a game, or ignoring that they exist altogether? The screenshot here, for example, is not a mistake but what happens when you get a character who suffers from vertigo. Is that offensive? What about when the game mimics the same near-sightedness I suffer from by making everything around your character nauseatingly blurry?

That, of course, is purely a matter of personal choice and opinion. As far as its gameplay goes, however, Rogue Legacy is at the same time both exceedingly difficult in the way that makes me wonder if I insulted the developer in a former life, and yet also exceedingly addicting. It's filled with surprises and challenges that will keep you coming back for more no matter how hard it knocks you down. It looks beautiful too, with detailed and vibrant pixel art that changes in new and unexpected ways depending on who you're playing as, and the whole presentation, gameplay included, makes me feel like I'm playing something from the SNES-era... with teeth. Though certain aspects of it are bound to be polarising, any action fan with a fondness for challenge will still want to make a date with the demo at the very least. Rogue Legacy is brutal, but clever, and however you feel they handled the inclusion of everything from physical disabilities to tongue-in-cheek sexuality, I'd hope we can all agree that inclusion in general for players of all types is something we could use a bit more of from games in the future.

WindowsWindows:
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Order the full version (via GOG)

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


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (66 votes)
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Omino

HopefulNebulaIf you asked me to name all the ways a game developer could spin the classic falling-block puzzle, you'd be here a while. There are a lot of Tetris variations out there, but Omino by IcyLime manages to stand out. At first it seems almost too easy: use the left and right [arrow] keys to maneuver blocks, up to rotate, down to accelerate, and [spacebar] to make the block fall instantly. The trick is, the game doesn't get any faster as you level up. Instead, the blocks get larger. You start with single-square blocks that are easy to place, and eventually move up to the standard Tetris tetrominoes, and after that things get complicated. (There are a lot of shapes you can make with six or more squares.)

OminoThere's a nice amount of strategy to Omino, because after a few levels, powerups start appearing. The bomb will make the squares around it disappear, and the weight will compress any gaps in the column it lands on. These two simple powerups change the tone of the game to a defensive one: instead of doing the best you can as fast as possible, you find yourself taking your time to set up your next move and hoping for a weight to come up so you can get rid of that one dang gap. It would be nice to have the option to start from a later level and avoid the really easy parts, but even then, it's a refreshingly original challenge.

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  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (127 votes)
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Fix My Car

elleWhen FireRabbit says Fix My Car, you're not in for an escape-the-room game in the traditional sense but a fix'em up and ride away on the open highway project. You begin with a task list already drawn up; search throughout a garage geared toward auto repair and detailing to find the parts and tools needed and get to work fixing up your classic American muscle car.

Fix My CarMost everything you do is controlled by a tap, either on the part you're picking up or on the area you want to repair. Inventory is kept in a separate menu so switching items takes a few extra taps. Both this inventory system and navigation can be a bit awkward, which provides unnecessary hindrances to an otherwise casual experience. Much of the challenge comes from the hidden object aspect to the game where you must locate parts and damage on the car. It can take effort to make your way around all sides of the car and the work space and it's easy to miss key areas. A single in-app purchase gives access to hints and solutions, which begin with a slight nudge and, on request, end with the outright solution. It's also helpful to pull up the checklist and scroll down to compare completed tasks to those still unfinished. The checklist is long, yet it shouldn't take more than an hour to complete which is right about before the novelty wears thin.

The methods used to tune-up this car are probably neither applicable nor advisable in real life. Yet the achievement-oriented approach is very gratifying and the unique hybrid of genres works remarkably well by tapping into creative impulses and rewarding progress. Fix My Car is the right balance of challenge and achievements to appeal to every ilk of player. Car enthusiasts, room escape fans and hidden object adventurers should all fit comfortably in the driver's seat.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the 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.


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

JohnBSick of doing well in the games you play? Tired of not cursing in anger every 5.08 seconds? Rotational is here to help. The quick-fire arcade game from Kevin Messman is a sort of 3D homage to Terry Cavanagh's Super Hexagon. Instead of a nice and "easy" flat surface to slide around, Rotational sticks you in a series of shrinking colored boxes with only one way to escape. Rotate the screen so you pop through the open end, then immediately rotate everything again so you'll survive the next layer of box shrinkage. Oh, and, try not to breathe or blink or anything.

Rotational relies on quick reflexes and a superior sense of spatial reasoning. And a lot of practice. Probably a lot of blind luck, too. It doesn't take too much work to survive for a few seconds, but working your way to 30, 40, 60 seconds or more is practically a miracle. Even with the frustration of monumentally high difficulty, Rotational pulls through as the kind of game you're driven to make progress in. Just so you can say you did it.

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(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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League of Evil 3

DoraWho doesn't love punching things? If you don't, it's probably because you haven't tried it on anyone who really deserves it, like people who don't use their turn signals in heavy traffic, or someone who doesn't think Earthbound is the best, or, you know, an evil scientist bent on destroying the world. Fortunately, if you're punch-phobic, Ravenous Games' Agent is here to do the job for you in their action-packed and fast-paced platforming game for iOS, League of Evil 3. Think you've got what it takes to punch evil in the face and save the world? You'd better hope so, since "what it takes" here means being able to dodge bullets, lasers, spikes, sharks, and a whole host of other nasty traps that require a whole lot of skill and speed to get past without turning into quivering, meaty chunks.

League of Evil 3League of Evil 3 doesn't offer much different in the way of gameplay from the previous two installments... you're still tracking down a scientist and punching him in the face, as well as nabbing optional briefcases for highscores. Just like in its punchy predecessors, you use the two onscreen arrows to move left and right, and the [A] button to jump while [B] unleashes a mighty punch that will instantly destroy almost any enemy in your way. Of course, all it takes is a single hit to turn you into strawberry jam, so you need to be quick and deadly in order to make it to the end of the stage intact. Trust me, if you're prone to fits of rage, this is probably not the game to play if you don't have an impact-resistant phone case. (It's also worth noting that although the game ran on my first generation iPad, it did so with a bit of stuttering that made it even harder at times, so caveat emptor.)

While there are a few different obstacles, the biggest change from the last two games is that League of Evil 3 doesn't have a difficulty curve so much as a difficulty cliff that it boots you off of unceremoniously after only a single tutorial level. The complete lack of training wheels is something fans of the series who simply want more of a challenge will enjoy, since the levels jump almost instantly to sprawling and death-filled in a way that makes obtaining the best rating a serious accomplishment. Though the game still looks and plays as smooth as ever, the lack of any real innovation in the series from game to game means it definitely feels like this is a case of "third verse, same as the second and first", making it something fans will enjoy but possibly find a little disappointingly familiar if they had their fingers and toes crossed for something new and exciting. Though, really, anytime you get to punch someone who deserves it so hard they explode, it's a good day.

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.


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (82 votes)
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Pathologic

Starchild Pathologic is a puzzle game which does what it says on the tin – it's about paths and it's logical. Though its logic may be the kind that makes you alternatively shout at the screen when you get stuck and whoop at it when you pass a particularly nasty level.

Pathologic Every level is a maze made up of square tiles, and you can only step on the transparent ones. You move a white circle with the [arrow] keys, and your job is to collect all the transparent circles without stepping on the same tile twice. There are fifty mazes, ranging from "beginner" to "very difficult", based on the number of tiles, though this might not reflect your notion of difficulty, as some of the bigger levels could actually prove easier to solve. One very nice feature is that all but the ten last puzzles are unlocked from the start, so you can freely browse through them and solve them in any order you like.

You'll especially enjoy Pathologic if you're fond of minimalism. The levels are stripped down to a bare stylish minimum, with pretty neon lights and neat geometric shapes. This is definitely a good choice for a game which requires concentration because its clean design offers no distractions. So take a deep breath, focus and remember: whenever a tough level gives you grief, you can just laugh in its face and skip it.

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Link Dump Fridays

DoraWords. Words. WORDS. I love them. You love them because I say so. And as a result, we're celebrating them with four different games that offer their own unique spins on text games, from ants and horsies to hateful AI and hamburger oceans. Mmmmm.

  • Candy Ant PrincessCandy Ant Princess - Whisperbat's Twine-based choose-your-own-adventure style game is so charming it's almost unbearable, so it's a shame it isn't longer or more intricate. As the title suggests, you are a Candy Ant Princess of your own design, out to make a mark and create your own colony to rule as you see fit. Click on bolded words within the main body of the text to cycle through available options, while the bolded words at the end of the text will be the ones that transfer you to the next screen. The decisions you make at certain points of the game determine not only what type of ruler you are, but the prosperity and fate of your hive. Am I the only one that thinks this needs a Choice of style expanded edition?
  • Horse MasterHorse Master - You think you know world building? Pffft. Tom McHenry's excellent and at times creepily captivating Twine adventure game crafts a bizarre and strange new world around you on your journey to be a Horse Master. Only we're not talking your garden variety palominos here, and there's a lot more wonderfully weird stuff going on here than you'd think from the first few pages.
  • The ChoiceThe Choice - So you want to learn programming, but you don't want to do it the boring way. I get it. I understand. That's why Amos Wenger's text-based puzzle game is so darned clever, as a snide, hateful AI shows you the ropes under the guise of evaluating you for your continued participation in society. Created originally for the One Game a Month challenge, there are two more episodes on the way, though this first free one is still a fantastic example of edutainment, even if the difficulty quickly spikes around figuring out what syntax the game wants from you.
  • Lucky Peach Travel GameLucky Peach Travel Game - aniwey's advergame for McSweeney's doesn't have quite the unexpected delight and brilliance of Candy Box, but it's still more than a little neat. From rowing through an ocean of goodies to an island full of other tasty delights, the game brings the same fun ASCII art style, though has more of a key-tapping mini-game bent to it than anything else. Like Candy Box, however, the less said about this one the better, since half the fun is finding things yourself.

  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (26 votes)
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Kalaquli R

elleIt happened again. Clearly, ninjas have struck you over the head and captured you. Why else do you wake up in this unfamiliar room with no clear exit, arrows nearly taking out your eye as you glance outside for a possible escape route? Which means only one thing: 58 Works has created another mobile escape game to test your skills and wits in Kalaquli R.

Kalaquli RSearch about the ninja house seeking out clues and tools—and, since threats lurk around almost any corner, weapons—to procure your exit. While true ninja skills might require a lifetime of training, intuitive touch screen controls make your tasks as easy as a tap or swipe to navigate your surroundings, pick up items, manage your inventory and manipulate puzzles.

Although the title and setting are similar to Kalaquli, 58 Works' browser-based game, this is a different game altogether. Because it has only a handful of puzzles, this escape is shorter and easier, making it accessible to most players even if it might well leave you wanting more challenge and additional rooms to explore. There is little to disappoint, though, as the entire production, from graphics to gameplay, is as high quality as you've come to expect from this designer. Beautifully serene aesthetics balanced with a lively premise make for a uniquely fun experience on your mobile device.

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


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Rating: 4.5/5 (80 votes)
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Ending

DoraAaron Steed's Ending is the sort of puzzle game that sucks you in with its quiet, elegant simplicity. Using [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, you guide your symbol through levels one turn at a time. When you move, so too do the enemies that will destroy you with a whack when given a chance, so gameplay becomes about careful strategy to lure enemies in to destroy them by running into them before they can do the same to you on your way to the exit, all without using all 48 available moves. You can even choose the second icon from the main screen to play a randomly generated enormous gauntlet.

EndingEasy, right? But as you go on, the levels become more intricate, more tightly designed, with enemies laid out over the map like sharks circling ever closer. With the game's minimalist approach to design and sound, it creates a sort of subtle, hypnotic experience that forces you to learn the rules of each new obstacle without words, as well as how to manipulate it to get by. Suddenly those 48 moves don't seem quite so generous, and the game winds up being much more difficult than you thought. Ending is a game that forces you to think ahead and plan, and is simple but brilliant concept and well thought out design makes it one of those puzzle games that can challenge your brain with the best of them.

Play Ending

Thanks to KMB, Adam, and Sean for sending this one in!


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (38 votes)
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Tic-Tac-Toe-Ception

ArtbegottiYou've probably played Tic Tac Toe before, or Noughts and Crosses, or whatever you want to call it. And as soon as you've mastered the strategies of the game, every round ends in a draw, and it becomes dull. But with a little twist added in, Tic-Tac-Toe-Ception makes you rethink everything you know about the pencil-and-paper game. This Khan Academy build demonstrates one variation of this puzzle-infused variant of a strategy classic.

Tic-Tac-Toe-CeptionThis Tic Tac Toe variant is played with nine small grids embedded in one large grid. You always play as O, and your computer opponent plays as X. Being the first to get three in a row in one small grid wins you that square in the larger grid, and three big squares in a row wins you the match. However, you don't just get to play your turn anywhere; you're only allowed to play in the grid that corresponds to the square of your opponent's last move. Your opponent's move is then limited to the grid that corresponds to the square that you play in, an so forth. If you're sent to a grid that's already been won to take your turn, you have the freedom to play anywhere, but remember that your move will still set up your opponent's next turn. A fairly obvious move in a standard game of Tic Tac Toe can suddenly become a dubious decision when you know you have to take all ten grids into consideration at once.

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(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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The Walking Dead: 400 Days

DoraTellTale's stunning emotional and visceral adventure game The Walking Dead is one of those things you have to be in the mood to play... you don't watch Braveheart or Schindler's List when you want some cheering up, after all. They proved that not only is there still life to be found in the well-trodden ground that is the zombie game, but that you can create a game that's horrifying and dark but also moving and emotionally engaging too, thanks in no small part to the protagonist dynamos of Lee and Clem and a staggering amount of personal accountability. We still have a while before Season Two hits, but to tide us over, now we have The Walking Dead: 400 Days (requires The Walking Dead to play), a story-centric standalone chapter that takes place in the same world and setting, but follows five different stories of brand new survivors that forces you to make difficult new decisions.

The Walking Dead: 400 DaysThe end of the world is in full swing as the game begins, bustling highways reduced to dry gasps filled with the shambling undead. You can choose to play the five stories in any order you wish by selecting the photo you want from the fluttering message board of missing people. Great sign, right? Each survivor has their own unique tale to tell, set at different points in time. As in the original game, use [WASD] to move when available, and the mouse to interact whenever an icon pops up over something. The game is considerably more "on rails" this time around, with a greater emphasis placed on dialogue choices and quick time events as gameplay for a "choose your own adventure" style experience.

The Walking DeadAnalysis: Because of the way the game is set up, the you wouldn't think the pacing would allow for the careful, deep character development of the first game. They're snapshots, not full-fledged character arcs, after all, and they tend to be short and punchy. The focus here is more on themes, a sort of "what if?" set of circumstances and dilemmas, but this new cast of survivors still manages to pack a remarkable punch, and you'll look at all of them differently by the time their stories are over. Some characters get considerably more development than others because of the way their chapters are constructed... Russell, for instance, has more of an action-centric tale about trust and the dark side, while Shel's is a slow boil that focuses more on the concepts of humanity and consequences.

Each story should take no more than twenty minutes or so to play through, but since most of them feature pivotal choices at multiple points, you'll want to play through again to see what happens. I grew remarkably attached to nearly all of the new characters and desperately wanted to know more about them, where they were going, and what would happen to them... and maybe even felt my heart ache a little because I suspected what would be coming. On the downside, there is no real puzzle solving whatsoever, only constantly moving forward, and I often felt like many situations were missing a third option that would have allowed me to react the way I really wanted to. Despite being the character I loved the most, Bonnie's chapter is also bogged down by a frustrating stealth chase sequence. Still, though far more linear and substantially shorter than one of the episodes in the first season, The Walking Dead: 400 Days is a masterful storytelling experience that deserves your attention. At only around two hours or so of play time, not including replays, the game will do little more than whet your appetite for more to come, but provides far more character and tense moments than virtually any other zombie game (or movie) out there... especially since it's not the zombies you need to be afraid of.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version
Also available from Steam

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version
Also available from Steam


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Rating: 4.5/5 (26 votes)
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Pocket League Story 2

DoraI'm probably not the best person to be a sports team leader. I hate losing, I'm no good at motivational speeches, my aim is terrible, and if anyone dumped a vat of sticky sugar liquid on top of me the next thing they'd know they'd wake up bleary eyed and in their underwear on the other side of the world. So how come Kairosoft's latest free mobile (Android only for now) soccer sim game Pocket League Story 2 is still so darned addictive to me? Is it the familiar yet adorable pixel style packed with colour and personality? Is it the deceptively casual yet sneakily in-depth approach to strategy? Or is it simply that deep down in everyone lurks the J Jonah Jameson of sports coaches yearning to break free and turn you into a maniac that yells "DRIVE, YOU IDIOT, DRIIIIIIIIIVE" at your phone while people subtly edge their children away from you? Probably all three.

Pocket League Story 2Gameplay is essentially split into two parts, training and playing. When not in a match, your players will spend all their time on the field working on their skills, and while they're putter about getting experience on their own, the best results will come from schilling out research points to send them through beneficial drills that increase their stats, or spending hearts on items that can do the same for individual players, or even teach them new skills. Your home base will initially be pretty bare bones, but as time passes and your coffers grow flush, you can buy various enhancements to increase both cash flow and your team's training capabilities, like running fields and gift shops. What button do I press to make my star player sign a contract with an As Seen On TV product company of questionable credibility?

The other half of the game, naturally, consists of duking it out on the playing field against opposing teams. Playing (and preferably winning) is the best way to get not only cash, but increase fans, your ranking, your sponsor relationship, and more. Each match consists of two halves, 45 seconds long apiece, and your team will play by themselves. All you need to do is make sure you've given some thought to who should be where in the team's formation, change the playing style to one that suits the occasion, and know whether to swap out tired players during half time. Paying close attention to your players is important, since they're all individuals with varying skills and stats, and some are better suited in certain positions on the field than others. While choosing the right manager and sponsors might be important, knowing when to hire new players and, more importantly, where to put them is even more so. Especially when you eventually earn the right to go up head-to-head against other players like yourself in online, worldwide multiplayer! Do well enough, and members of your team may even be registered online for other people to hire.

Pocket League Story 2Analysis: For a game that looks so cute and toothless, there are a remarkable amount of facets at play within Pocket League Story 2 that make it both surprisingly challenging and in-depth. Everything from player popularity, to training bonus setups and more add another layer of gameplay to consider when assembling your team and tackling matches. Though it takes a while to get going and, uh, competent, the first time I won a ranked match in a league with a crushing victory I was surprised at how much I felt like jumping up and down... and then at the way the game warned me that my overwhelming victory meant the losing team would hold a grudge and be harder to win against next time. It's these little details that add up bit by bit to assemble a sports simulation that is both easily accessible and addictive to those of us who don't normally play them, but also should pack enough punch to satisfy fans of the genre. It feels like far less is left up to chance and random number generators, and the result is a satisfying game where your choices matter and it's hard to keep your hands off of, and is probably my favourite Kairosoft title so far.

Face off against other players by exchanging Pocket League Story 2 codes in the comments below!

In the end, the chief problems with Pocket League Story 2 are actually ones it shares with virtually every other Kairosoft title... it's painfully slow at times, especially to start, repetitive, and lacks the sort of in-depth tutorial that would make it even more accessible, instead relying on you reading up on it in game yourself. The UI also feels more than a little cluttered at times, with a myriad of sub-menus navigated by tiny buttons and scroll wheels that make micro-management of players a pain. It's really the only mobile game that's ever made me want a stylus, and while normally that would be enough to make me stop playing, I kept coming back. Pocket League Story 2 might require some patience and a delicate touch, but this is one stellar casual sports simulation that you should definitely check out. Even though it's free, apart from some unobtrusive ads at the bottom of the screen, you might want to think about springing for the ad-free version, more to support the developer and encourage this sort of legitimately free-to-play gaming than anything else.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the 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.


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (64 votes)
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Ripple Dot Zero

TrickyOkay, let's cut to the chase: Ripple Dot Zero is an action-platformer by Swedish developers Pixeltruss, and it is the objective opinion of this reviewer that it is totally friggin' sweet. First of all, it stars a penguin with a sword, and he uses that sword to blow up all these Cthulhus and ED-209s. Sometimes he also has a jetpack and a crazy exploding yo-yo thing that would make even Ness blush. There's all sorts of dystopia happening, and you have to rescue your penguin friends from each level, and seriously, if you saw an ad for this thing in one of the issues of GamePro that you got a subscription for as a birthday present, you'd have been begging to plunk down the cash for it. Grab some Ecto-Cooler and Cheetos Paws and get ready to dive into a game like it's due back to Hollywood Video the next day.

Ripple Dot ZeroOnce wakened from your cryogenic sleep, use the [arrow keys] to look and move around and [X] or the [spacebar] to jump or use your jetpack once you find it. You will come across data-tablets that can be read by hitting [Enter]. Smash boxes and enemies with your sword with [Z] or [Ctrl]. You will use these same keys when you pick up other weapons. The goal of each level is to make it to the exit teleporter, while avoiding enemies and collecting penguin power pills. Collect enough pills in a level (as shown by the gauge on the lower right), and you will unlock the bonus round where you'll have a chance to rescue one of your fellow penguin buddies. Complete all twenty levels and bonus rounds, beat the bosses, and show the world that penguins can fly!

Analysis: Ripple Dot Zero evokes that time, that glorious time, in the mid-90s where any anthropomorphic-mascot-with-an-attitude could get themselves a half-decent platform game filled to the brim with all manner of Blast Processing. Of course, Ripple Dot Zero is much more than half-decent. It's not quite Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but it's ahead of Socket, Aero, and that Bubsy the Bobcat punk. Let's just call it even with Jazz Jackrabbit and move on. Admittedly, the penguin protagonist of Ripple Dark Zero doesn't even have that much attitude, and his design is a little bland. Still, the most important aspects of the genre are taken care of. If you've played any of those aforementioned works, you probably know what you're in for: wide expansive levels to explore, secrets galore to uncover, some killer sprite work, and an awesome chiptune soundtrack that will probably be remixed a dozen times over before all is said and done.

Ripple Dot ZeroMuch like the Cactus McCoy series, Ripple Dot Zero has a certain heft to it that is very satisfying. The plot is intriguing but only minimal: the real star of the show is the world the developer has created, and it's just the thing to happily sink into, one half-hour at a time. Indeed, the main drawbacks of the game have more to do with its presentation than content: a downloadable version with gamepad support and a high steady frame-rate would be just the thing to make an A into an A+. Of course, it's really hard to believe that this won't be a jumping off point for a stellar new penguin-based franchise... Pretty please?

One hates to build it up too much, as no work is without its flaws, but Ripple Dot Zero is really the kind of game that amazes you enough at the start that the nitpicks won't crawl into your mind until you finally take a break. It does something new with something familiar, and that is a hard balance to achieve indeed. Highly recommended.

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  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (92 votes)
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Escape from the Dome

GrinnypWell, thanks to Stephen King and a dearth of good television (or The Simpsons Movie, take your pick), being trapped under a dome is on a lot of minds lately. At least, on the minds of those escape game fanatics among us who actually like being trapped in strange places and being forced to figure our way out. Isn't it handy, then, that Choko-Chai is there to fuse the two together in Escape from the Dome? As you walk to the top of a lovely hill you spot what else but a futuristic looking dome, which immediately sucks you in and forces you to solve your way out. Fortunately, it's a rather cool place that features not only a kicking pool table but a ceiling straight out of Hogwarts which reflects the outside sky.

grinnyp_escapefromthedome_screenshot.png All you need to do is not get distracted and try to point-and-click your way out of a series of amusing puzzles, many of them color-based. Navigation through the space is easy with large white arrows pointing the way, and pixel hunting is kept to a minimum due to the handy changing cursor. The backgrounds while clear are a little basic, and some of the color puzzles can get tricky due to muted and difficult to distinguish hues. Despite the minor flaws, including an awkward translation, Escape from the Dome is not rocket science. It's a cute and fun way to pass a few minutes and sharpen those escaping skills. You know, in case you find yourself under a mysterious dome in real life.

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Blue Toad Murder Files

JohnBOne part puzzle solving, one part snarky story, and one part riddles, Relentless Software's Blue Toad Murder Files: A Touch of Mystery is what you would get if you combined the Professor Layton series with You Don't Know Jack. Sounds like strange bedfellows for sure, but Blue Toad's wild narration and sense of humor keep the whodunit theme light and enjoyable while popping you from one mystery to the next. All without a single reference to Murder, She Wrote!

Blue Toad Murder FilesYour mother has sent you to the quaint town of Little Riddle for some respite after you solved a particularly brutal case, knowing your detective skills could use a bit of a recharge. What better place to relax than a town with cows and streams and teashops and a mayor who gets murdered right in front of your face? Oh, wait, that last bit's not exactly good is it? Looks like it's time to put on your sleuthing hat after all.

Blue Toad Murder Files: A Touch of Mystery plays out as a series of puzzles interspersed with cutscenes that drive the story forward. Once the investigation begins, you'll head out to question suspects, each with their own motive and personality quirk (or two). After listening to their story you'll decipher a riddle, usually something involving a quick bit of wordplay or a classic mini-game like Towers of Hanoi. Afterwards you'll receive a ribbon based on how quickly you solved the puzzle, then it's on to the next bit of detective work!

This is only the beginning, however. Blue Toad Murder Files is packed with six episodes to complete, which should be plenty to keep you chuckling and solving for several days. And with its lovely artwork, smart puzzles and fantastic voice acting, you won't want to stop until you reach the end.

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.


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (113 votes)
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Monkey GO Happy - The Castle

DoraThe simians in the latest installment of Robin Vencel's Monkey GO Happy series have a legitimate reason to sniffle in the point-and-click adventure game Monkey GO Happy - The Castle, an evil scientist has nabbed all fifteen baby monkeys and turned them into flying gargoyles! Just choose thy monkey and click around to play, using the arrows to navigate between areas and dragging items from your inventory at the top of the screen to wherever you want to use them. Though fairly short, Monkey GO Happy - The Castle wins points for its straight-forward and logical puzzles, leaving clues sprinkled about in such a way that they're clear without smacking you in the face. It's cute, fun, and just the perfect size for a break when you should be doing something else. Just... don't think about how maybe all these monkeys are always crying because we're essentially ripping their families apart whenever we play to make them caper for our amusement. You monster.

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  • Currently 3.7/5
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Rating: 3.7/5 (95 votes)
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A Second Chance

TrickyWell, it seems like yet again, an asteroid the size of a country is hurtling its way through space, earth is poised on the brink of utter annihilation, and humanity's last hope is a rag-tag bunch of misfits with a nuclear weapon strapped inside a metal coffin with 270,000 parts made by the lowest bidder. This is not their story. Instead it's the story of a Ground Control operator, brought back from retirement for one final job: pressing all the right buttons so those other guys can save humanity. You've screwed this up in the past, but now, you've been given A Second Chance. A Second Chance is a humorous space simulation by Major Bueno developed in 24 hours as part of his One Game A Month project.

A Second ChanceThe basic goal of your mission is to get the astronauts to the asteroid, drill a hole in it, plant the bomb, get them out of there, then detonate the bomb. In front of you are dozens of buttons that need to be clicked in the proper order to complete your task, as well as quite a few that serve no purpose. Press the wrong button, and man, the fail will be epic. It's the kind of concept that probably couldn't be maintained in a larger game, but, as it stands, each playthrough of A Second Chance is just long enough to mean that your screw-ups end up being hilarious rather than frustrating. ("Ah yes. I suppose I should have closed the doors of the shuttle before taking off from the asteroid. Yes, that would make sense. Sorry about that, guys.") There are a ton of little easter egg clickables and subtle jokes that make it all-in-all a sweet little minigame. This is ground control to Major Bueno: when it comes to A Second Chance, you've really made the grade!

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The Vault

TrickyCaught inside during a summer storm like this fair reviewer is? Well, hopefully the JayIsGames Vault can bring you a little sunshine, with some excellent games from our archives. Today we'll got classic works from the visual novel, arcade, and interactive art genres, no umbrella neccesary

  • Air PressureAir Pressure - It's a rare work that can simulatenously serve as both an introduction to a genre, as well as a treat for experienced fans. Air Pressure, a visual novel by Bento Smile, pulls it off. It's a story of a man who must choose whether to ignore or deal with the worries he has with his girlfriend... or maybe not. If you haven't played it before, it's a game worth going into with a blank slate. A heady, symbolic work, Air Pressure is not for everyone. Still, you should definitely give it a chance to blow your mind.
  • DoeoDoeo - Doeo! Raitendo's 2008 arcade release clearly had the Moai series in mind when it was created, but it manages to stand on its own two lack-of-feet. The colorful, constantly-changing environments, bouncy music, and kawaii character designs call to mind a demented Nick Jr. program, but the good kind of demented. It's hard not to crack a smile as the screen fills with those little pink uni-browed rectangles, and you won't stop playing till you've caught all that you can catch. Doeo!
  • ImmortalImmortall - Call me a sucker for emotionally manipulative narrative techniques, but man, every book/TV show/movie/game about an initially-frightening cryptid/alien/robot/Sloth who forms a protective bond with a cute kid always gets me right in the feels. Immortall, a 2010 artsy platformer by Pixelante is right up there with the best. Presented with stark visuals to match it's wordless-but-powerful storytelling, Immortall manages to display a surprising amount of emotion in its short length. And while I know that the NPCs are all just characters on a screen controlled by their programming, it doesn't stop me from feeling that there's some life in this simple story of a Girl and her Blob.

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


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Super Paper Pool

JohnBIt's time for a simple, gorgeous game of billiards, the heads of the mobile gaming pantheon have decreed. Super Paper Pool from One Side Software is a bit like a cross between billiards, mini-golf, and maybe just a touch of Peggle, too. It's a game of precise shots and lucky breaks, where the slightest twitch of your finger can win or lose a level.

Super Paper PoolEach of the 70+ tables in Super Paper Pool features movable shapes, matching slots, a cue ball, and your hovering stick just outside of the action. Tap and drag to choose the angle of your shot, then tap the "fix" icon at the bottom of the screen to hold the stick in place. Now simply drag, pull back and push forward to knock the cue ball, tapping the shapes on the screen and pushing them as close as you can get to their respective goals.

Far from basic geometric shapes, levels in Super Paper Pool adopt convoluted patterns that require some serious skills later in the game. Par isn't too difficult to hit, and if you ever need to take a mulligan, you can purchase them in packs via IAP. All of this is set in a series of lovely backdrops with soothing music and tasty artwork that will keep you calm even when you miss the most obvious shots. A great little arcade game that's sure to keep you busy on a long train ride.

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.


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (89 votes)
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SoFu Cafe

elleJust when you think it couldn't possibly get any weirder, at least not without appearing in its own segment of Tosh.O, along comes Detarou out to prove you wrong. Yes, it's really oh so wrong. Yet, if, for some reason unbeknownst to you, you can't help smiling when you know you should be cringing, then come on inside SoFu Café for an escape-the-room experience that is clever, unique and very creative—all in the most inappropriate ways. But getting out of this place means delving quite a bit deeper than you may want to go, all for the sake of gathering needed items and solving puzzles so you can, finally, unlock the door and leave.

SoFu CafeAlthough the visuals may be jarring, SoFu Café's design is very smooth with a remarkably intuitive interface, providing a truly pleasant gameplay. A simple click does most everything except decipher the codes for you. Navigate by clicking the edges of the screen wherever a grey bar appears to turn or back up, or clicking a doorway to go through it. Follow the changing cursor to find, and click on, the active areas in a scene. For inventory, click an item once, highlighting it before use, or click it a second time to bring up its detail screen. There'll be times you'll want to combine inventory so just a few clicks takes care of it all. Which brings me to something else you'll want to click on: the "SAVE" button. With three possible endings, one of which is not so happy, it's best to save frequently, especially before panda interactions.

Detarou has never shied away from strangeness and doesn't mind being inappropriate. Those who'd rather not have their sensibilities offended should give SoFu Café a wide berth, passing it by on the sidewalk with adverted eyes and a quickened pace. It's debatable whether this is the most offensive Detarou to date, but it isn't as overtly suggestive as Dream Factory. Still, SoFu Café won't likely appeal to non-fans. Fans themselves may be disappointed by its abbreviated length, a couple pixel-hunts and some vague directives. Even so, the inventive clue presentation, wacky item uses and properly challenging puzzles add up to great fun. The logic is sound but there are enough red herrings to leave you questioning each step. You might well ask: "Why in the world is there a hippo in here?" And, more bewildered: "I am supposed to do what???" Well, yes...how badly do you want to escape anyway?

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  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (151 votes)
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3LINDgame

kyhIt's not uncommon for games to have an underlying message or philosophy behind the gameplay. For Spyker's arcade puzzle title, 3LIND game, that message is 'think outside the box'. Or, rather: 'think around the box, under it, away from it, then, when you think you've got the idea, back inside it'. In a, perhaps, intentional addition to the metaphor, your goal in each level is to reach each of the boxes as they appear.

kyh_3lindgame_screen.pngUse the [arrow] keys to maneuver your eye character around spikes, between sawblades and through a number of other obstacles presented in the 20 levels of the game. And just try your best not to be bothered by the fact that no matter where on the screen it goes it's just... staring at you. With eerie black and white graphics and a fitting soundtrack by Methamphetabear, 3LIND game is sure to have you wracking your brain over each level while considering yourself a philosophizer between them. It's a coffee break game that is short enough to counteract any frustration in the levels, so go ahead and give it a shot. Believe me: I know you wanna try it, you know you wanna try it, and I know you know that I know you wanna try it.

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Mobile Monday

JohnBEverything that once was non-mobile is now mobile. So spake the prophets thousands of days ago when the mobile world became a "thing". A couple of really great games have made the crucial crossover recently, and we're here to swoop down and play them.

space-p.gifFree game: Space is Key - Alternate title: Space is Key is Free! Until July 3rd, that is. With 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). In addition to its freeness, the game has also been released for Android and Kindle Fire, and the iOS download is now a universal app! (Space is Key review and download links.)

anodyne-p.gifiOSified: Anodyne Mobile - We loved, loved, loved Anodyne when it was released for PC/Mac/Linux in February. It's one of the best, most emotionally stirring and beautiful RPGs since Earthbound, and that's saying a lot. Sean Hogan and Jonathan Kittaka have just released an iOS version of Anodyne that ports everything over to the touch screen world. The controls are virtual, of course, which is a bit of a downside, but otherwise it's a flawless experience and an easy excuse to play the game all over again. (Anodyne review and download links.)


tribloos-p.gifNow mobile: Tribloos 2 - The creative sidescrolling time management building game from Bumpkin Brothers The Tribloos 2 is now on iPad and Android! As the benevolent administrator it's your job to organize the tribloos to distribute labor as efficiently as possible. You do this by assigning workers to gather resources, remove obstacles, rebuild houses, sawmills and other structures, and staff these locations to keep the resources rolling in. Its touch screen counterpart has been reworked a bit to make tap controls easier, but the underlying game is just as satisfying and addictive as ever. (Tribloos 2 review and download links.)

factory-p.gifAndroidified: Factory Balls - Bart Bonte's unusually addictive puzzle game Factory Balls made the jump from browser to iOS back in May. Now Android owners can enjoy the uncannily entertaining puzzle game! The idea behind Factory Balls is you need to alter a blank sphere to match the image marked on the box. Surrounding the center are various colors of paint, seeds, watering cans, belts, hats, glasses, tools, and other items, all ready to take part in your quest to get this thing decorated. (Factory Balls review, walkthrough and download links.)

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