Best of Casual Gameplay 2005 - Top 20
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The Best of 2005 is a celebration of the best games reviewed here at Jayisgames over the past year. It is not an exhaustive list of all the best games available since we can only review the games that we come to know about. If you have a game, or are part of a team that produces them, and would like to have your game considered for a future review here, then please use the Suggest a Game form to submit a link.
I'm doing things a little differently this year. For this year's Top 10 list there are ...20 games! Yes, that's right. There were too many great games released in 2005 to narrow the list to just 10. So, without any further ado, here are the 20 games you picked as the Best of 2005:
Grow Cube: a simple and delightful game in which the player clicks on the materials icons in sequence to add them to the cube. As the player gets closer to the correct sequence the resulting animations become more involved, elaborate, and complete. This is the third game in On's wildly popular and successful Grow games, and the third in the series to earn a spot in the top 5 games featured here. On of Eyezmaze packages wonder and excitement into every one of his games, especially the Grow games, and his games continue to delight casual gamers of all ages and from all corners of the world; this year's Best of 2005 proves that beyond a shadow of doubt. This represents the Best of 2005. [review]
Grow RPG: yet another amazingly creative and original point-and-click puzzle game in the top ranks of this year's Best of 2005. This second game in the Grow series adds RPG-like elements to the mix and gives the game a greater sense of purpose and story than the original game had. The experience of playing Grow RPG is like building a magical storybook world and helping the tiny inhabitants fight the evil menance that lurks in the sky above. Simple and accessible gameplay packaged in a unique and original puzzle game. Grow RPG follows the success of the original and earns an even higher spot this year as one of the best of 2005. [review]
Samorost 2: the point-and-click sequel to last year's Best of 2004 number one (1) game, a game that was instrumental in raising awareness of the Flash platform as a viable one for games and other creative interactive experiences. The sequel to one of the best loved Flash games of all-time lives up to the hype and lofty expectations of its predecessor and offers another glimpse into, as well as a trip through, the Samorost world and universe. Samorost 2 features many more highly detailed and stunningly beautiful interactive environments with many more puzzles to solve. An even more extensive soundtrack accompanies this iteration of the series and does well in capturing the essence of this gorgeous game. Remarkable and enjoyable, Samorost 2 is out of this world and one of the Best of 2005. [review]
Hapland: the point-and-click game that started a revolution. It didn't? Well, it should have. Hapland appeared as a strange and unusual interactive painting when it was first released back in early 2005 by its author Robin Allen. The notion that it could be a game captured the curiosity and attention of many casual gamers until they had it figured out and solved. Hapland is amazing and gratifying, and it is a game the likes of which had never been seen before. Similar to a point-and-click puzzle game, and yet different since some sequences of actions lead to no-win scenarios thus making a reset button necessary. The original Hapland game launched a genre of Flash point-and-click games, and lands itself squarely in the heart of the Best of 2005. [review]
Hapland 2: a point-and-click puzzle game with a unique and original style all its own. The second in a series of games by the genre defining author, Hapland 2 gave credence to those drawn to the original Hapland game's charm. This game includes more interactivity and more puzzles in a longer and more complex sequence of events the player must perform to open the stone portal and unleash the power within. It is every bit a sequel to a creative and innovative and phenomenally successful game that captured the hearts and minds of millions. Was there ever any doubt that this would be one of the Best of 2005? [review]
Kingdom of Loathing: a turn-based, text adventure RPG with a self-mocking twist. The ultimate goal in this DHTML adventure is to help in the fight against the Naughty Sorceress and save the kingdom. The real fun is in its "stunning hand-drawn images" and unusual items and monsters, such as the Can of Asparagus with a knife. The game features a very unique class system, and hundreds of offbeat weapons and armor to collect: titanium assault umbrella, bloody clown pants, a pasta spoon, etc. Familiars, or pets, are also available that will aid you in battle. With its many quests, player vs player battles, cooking and cocktail making, there is something for everyone to do, and very little reason to exclude the Kingdom of Loathing from the Best of 2005. [review]
The Asylum: a simple and yet surprisingly rich interactive narrative involving psychotherapy on cute cuddly toys. The game is played by selecting from a list of possible therapies and then watching the results unfold. The player is at times rewarded with elaborate cut scenes that reveal information about the patients and their distressing past. Originally reviewed back in 2004, this delightful game was expanded over the summer to include an additional patient, Sly, thus making it eligible for this year's awards. Packed with emotional stories that create a sense of immersion in the player, this interactive narrative is diagnosed as one the Best of 2005. [review]
N: an action platformer game of speed, dexterity and physics created in Flash and yet available as a free download only for PC, Mac, and Linux. The game features an advanced collision detection and physics engine that draws the player in with its qualities of immersion. A plethora of 90-second levels keeps the pace quick and the scenery fresh at all times, and a level editor is even included for creative individuals. The game saves high scores as well as a complete 'run' of a level to watch at any time. Winner of the Audience Choice award at the 2005 Game Developers Conference and for good reason: N is one of the Best of 2005. [review]
Nanaca Crash: an action game remake of the Yetisports penguin tossing games of 2004 in which the player tries to make a projectile travel the farthest. Its deceptively simple click-to-play interface makes this game accessible to casual gamers of all ages, and yet its brilliant combo system is what keeps them coming back for more. It's a simple game with great reward. Nanaca Crash became an instant classic with its immediate gratification browser-based fun, and truly one of the Best of 2005. [review]
Death in Sakkara: a richly detailed interactive narrative and detective drama composed of four (4) chapters. Each gorgeous episode is presented as a 1930's detective comic and contains information and clues to unearth regarding the mysterious disappearance and murder of a museum curator's granddaughter. The game successfully combines elements of point-and-click adventures with arcade mini-games to create a unique game playing experience. Created by the omni-talented folks at Preloaded, there is no mystery why Death in Sakkara is one of the Best of 2005. [review]
The Dark Complex: a gorgeous and original Flash puzzle game presented in 3D(!) Not satisfied with last year's Dark Room game, author Jonathan May set out to realize his vision for a 27-room improvement over his first effort. The result is an equally stunning and yet enormous and very challenging game that will provide many hours of puzzle-solving enjoyment. Its captivating puzzles, LED-like graphics and moody soundtrack create an excellent and immersive interactive experience, and one of the Best of 2005. [review]
Mystery of Time and Space (MOTAS): the granddaddy of all Flash escape-the-room adventure games. This classic point-and-click Web game first appeared back in 2001 and it remains a favorite to this day. What sets this game apart from others is the quality of the puzzles contained within each its 13 rooms; as well as its integrated Java chat client for adventurers looking for a little help along the way. A point-and-click aficionado's dream, and one that's still kicking it after all these years. [review]
Heli Attack 3: an arcade survival shooter with over-the-top action and weaponry that rivals a console game offering. Gameplay consists of taking down wave upon wave of enemy helicopters with any available weapon, and there are many to choose from. Square-Circle Co. continues to impress with its ability to squeeze every ounce of performance from the Flash Player engine to accomplish its phenomenal feats of magic. Heli Attack 3 is a gorgeous game with addictive gameplay that commands attention as one of the Best of 2005. [review]
The Goat in the Grey Fedora: a film noir style detective adventure with personality and an excellent sense of humor. The game features a wide assortment of characters with which to converse, each possessing a fitting personality and extensive dialog options. The player is tasked with tracking down clues as to where the goat is hidden. A rich interactive narrative sets this game apart from most other Flash point-and-click games, and distinguishes The Goat in the Grey Fedora as being of the Best of 2005. [review]
Spybot: The Nightfall Incident: a single-player turn-based strategy game containing remarkably rich gameplay in a ultra-high tech game environment. Created for Lego.com by gameLab, the game features an engaging and unique storyline involving 'databattles' against rogue corporate software to gain control over the nodes of a network. The game's excellent gameplay, accessible and richly detailed interface, and atmospheric soundtrack are all of the best I've experienced in a casual Web game, clearly earning Spybot a place among the Best of 2005. [review]
Prachka (Orbox): a recreation of the classic sliding block puzzle game, this version excels in its presentation and execution. Simply move the blue and yellow blinking box to the red goal in the fewest of moves. Special graphic effects bring a new excitement to the game, while a trail of bubbles charts your path along the way. These little graphic enhancements help to make a great puzzle game even better, and help launch Prachka into the Best of 2005. [review]
3Wish Adventures: when these adorably cute point-and-click games first appeared last summer they were an instant favorite of many visitors here due to their manageable size. Each bite-sized puzzle game in the collection contains charming and original cartoon-style graphics and animation that are commercial-quality. Inventive puzzles and situations make them challenging and fun for most everyone, and put Mink's 3Wish.com puzzle games into the Best of 2005. [review]
Deanimator: a creepy horror shooter inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Its well-balanced gameplay sends wave upon wave of zombie silhouettes at the player who at first is equipped with only a single revolver. A lengthy reload cycle demands conservation and planning of every valuable shot. This moody game was created in 2004 by Bum Lee for a studio class in experimental web animation at Carnegie Mellon University. Reviewed here in October of this year, Deanimator is one of the Best of 2005. [review]
Planarity: another infectious game that spread like wildfire throughout the Web when it was first introduced in the summer of 2005. Planarity is a simple game based on a simple premise: untangle the mess. The addictive quality of the game comes from the gratification the player receives when order is restored. It helps, of course, to have a mild case of OCD. The game's modest appearance is a testament to the fact that a game doesn't have to be pretty to be fun to play. [review]
Web Sudoku: a Web version of the game that spread throughout the world in 2005 and held captive the attention of millions of puzzle solvers. This version of the addictive logic puzzle is capable of generating billions of puzzles of four (4) difficulty levels, and all within a clean and accessible interface. The votes this game received may have been more for the general game of Sudoku than this particular version; none the less, your voice was heard. Web Sudoku is now among the best Web games of 2005. [review]
In addition to these, there are several games that deserve special recognition for one reason or another. Although these games did not receive enough votes to make it into the top ranks, each of them deserves a spot among the best...
(In semi-alphabetical order)
Bugs: an action game of sending bugs flying in all directions by jumping up and down. Bugs is the latest, and arguably the greatest, in a long string of excellent games designed by the very talented Ferry Halim. He continues to delight casual gamers of all ages each year by releasing new games to his exceptionally beautiful Orisinal collection. Composed of stunning visuals and soothing soundtracks, every Orisinal game excels in elegant simplicity: a quality highly revered by the quintessential "casual gamer." And while none of the Orisinal games won a top spot this year, if the entire collection were allowed to be put up for vote then it would likely win best-of-show each and every year. [review]
Cave Story (Doukutsu Monogatari): an action platform game released at the end of 2004. The game is different than most browser-based games featured here as it is available in a downloadable format only for both Mac and PC, but don't let that stop you from playing this truly magnificent adventure. The game features an engaging and immersive story that unfolds inside an enormous cave on a floating island and has three (3) different endings. Packed with approximately 10 hours of game play that includes an upgradable weapons system, a rich cast of characters, and lots of boss fights, Cave Story is one of the best freeware downloadable games of 2005. [review]
Cry Wolf: an online multiplayer game for up to 16 players. Similar to Mafia, Werewolf and Witchhunt, Cry Wolf is a communication game that was created to promote a movie of the same name. Wolves are secretly selected at random and the sheep must identify them through cycles of sleep and debate. The wolves decide who to eliminate from the flock each cycle when the sheep are all sleeping. The game ends when either all the wolves are identified, or when the number of wolves outnumber the sheep. The chatroom-style Flash implementation works exceptionally well for this classic game, successfully preserving its very important social element. Definitely one of the best multiplayer Web game experiences of 2005. [review]
Def-Logic DHTML games: classic retro style arcade action games—Replicator, Swarm and DNA—created by Brent Silby of Def-Logic.com. These amazingly good original arcade games were all originally composed using DHTML only, a characteristic that would be enough by itself to put these games in a classification with the best of the year. But the DHTML is not these games' most redeeming quality: the gameplay is truly exceptional. Infectious and addictive, fast-action browser fun. Not satisfied with DHTML alone, Brent now offers Flash versions of all his games. [review]
The Doors: a classic browser-based point-and-click adventure and one of the finest examples of its kind. It begins inside a room with many doors through which the player must find a way to escape. The game's high production values show through its excellent graphics, well-designed puzzles, atmospheric soundtrack, and surprise ending, thus elevating it to one of the best point-and-click adventures of 2005. [review]
ShoOot: an action arcade shooter and quite possibly the first Flash game released to take advantage of the new bipmap filters of Flash. Veteran game developer, Tonypa, proves yet again his ability to create compelling and fun casual Web game experiences that are accessible to everyone. Although the game was inspired by the freeware game DUO (Windows only), Tonypa recreates the experience and serves up its addictive gameplay using Web-efficient graphics in a browser for all to play. [review]
The Seven Noble Kinsmen: a point-and-click Shakespearean murder mystery comprised of six (6) episodic 'acts' that proved the BBC has taken Web games very seriously. The game features an immersive interactive narrative with several different endings that puts the player in the shoes a detective attempting to unearth the identity of a killer. The story incorporates details from many of Shakespeare's greatest works and weaves them into a compelling detective drama that unfolds to the delight of an unassuming player. The Seven Noble Kinsmen, and the BBC in particular for creating such a fine interactive experience, deserve this special recognition along with the best of 2005. [review]
GameDesign Tennis: an action arcade sports game of Tennis delivered in a browser through Flash. That in itself is an impressive feat, and yet the gameplay that lurks just beneath this game's simple exterior is its grand slam. The game features exhibition and tournament modes of play, both of which allow tactics such as: serve-volley, rally from the baseline, dominate with the serve, chip and charge. The computer AI is so convincing that it even appears to respond to the player's tactics. Overall one of the finest sports implementations in Flash I've seen, and it deserves a mention along with the best of 2005. [review]
Twin Spin: an action arcade game in which the player 'walks' a baton around the play field exploding balloons. Its simple and accessible one-button gameplay creates a compelling and addictive casual game experience that is difficult to put down. The game was so good that it received two sequels, II and III, with all three being released in 2005. Released as mini-games on Globz.com, the Twin Spin series are among the finest casual games of 2005. [review]
I also want to take this opportunity to give an honorable mention and thanks to the guest reviewers who so generously provided their support throughout 2005 by contributing reviews (in no particular order):
Derek, Wulfo, Preston, Jarod, Garrett, grant0, hiram archibald, Capuchin, Labyrinth, Xiao, and Zengief. Cheers!
Congratulations to all of this year's winners. And after going through all of the games again I realize that the real winners are you and me, the casual game players, as we have seen and played some truly remarkable titles this year.
Considering the wealth of excellent and free entertainment being made available on the Web today, let's give thanks with our hearts by making a donation or purchase that download of one of our favorite games. It will help to ensure that you will soon be playing the next game in the series.
Thanks also to all of the game developers out there eager to create and build wonderful magical environments for us to explore and play in. Your efforts will be justly rewarded.
And if you missed them, be sure to play all of last year's winners in the Best of 2004.
I'm looking forward to another great year of games and doing this all over again next year! =)