What do you get when you put Global Warming, Peak Oil, Nuclear War and good old-fashioned oligarchy in a blender? You get Fallout meets Elite ...in a browser! Caravaneer is a game by Dmitry Zheltobriukhov that has you playing a caravan leader in a post-apocalyptic desert, trading goods from town to town while fending off hungry raiders. It's got turn-based tactical fighting, strategic economic decision-making, and a political storyline! Tactics, economics and politics!
As odd as it may sound, Skyrates is a game about human-like animals flying biplanes between floating continents. Think Star Fox meets The Kingdom of Zeal from Chrono Trigger. You're a young pilot out to make an impact by trading, performing missions, and fighting pirates. Here's the catch: flying between islands takes at least an hour of real-time. The game was designed by a group of then-CMU grad-students to explore sporadic play, something you check like e-mail a few times a day. The result is not only interesting, its good enough to thread its way into your life.
The Dark Cut series consists of two surgery games where you use the mouse to make incisions, stitch, scrub, saw, whatever is required to save the patient in each case scenario. These are not games for the faint of heart, both in terms of graphics and gameplay, and are therefore recommended for mature audiences only.
Sushi Go Round carves out its own niche in the crowded field of customer service oriented time management games by taking customer service out of the equation. You are the chef, rather than the harried waiter, and all that matters is getting food to the patrons of your humble sushi shop in a timely manner. You don't even have to carry the food out to them. You have one of those newfangled automated sushi joints, where a conveyor belt brings the sushi round, and the customers feed themselves.
Like an updated version of the classic Lemonade Stand game, Coffee Shop puts you in a young entrepreneur's shoes with the power to make or break your budding business. Buy ingredients, adjust your secret recipe, and set the price per cup to sell as much coffee to passers-by as you can. Strike a balance between customer satisfaction and profit and you're on your way to java-induced bliss.
Papa's Pizzeria is more than your average resource-management game. While a typical entry would require little more than clicking on various hot spots to make and deliver the food to customers, Papa's Pizzeria gives it a more personal touch. Rather than clicking on an order and then on a station for topping the pizza, only to watch the pizza top itself, you must actually top the pizza yourself.
A casual-ified Alpha Centauri-type simulation management game that is so much more fun than it sounds. You play the president of a colony of human refugees who have escaped the calamity of Earth to found a new home on a planet whose orbit keeps it on the opposite side of the sun. Hence the name "Via Sol", which means "through the sun" in Latin.
A desperate man grips the detonator of the explosives belted around his waist, his thumb hovering ever so slightly above that little, harmless-looking red button. On the other side of the room a cop stands, gun drawn, his finger trembling over the trigger. You are the invisible observer, responsible for helping the cop find some way out of this seemingly impossible situation.
Luke Whittaker's Baseball is easily one of the best online baseball games I've ever played. The gameplay mechanics do a perfect job of capturing what it feels like to be several runs behind in the final innings of a ball game, and have only three outs to fashion a miraculous come-from-behind victory.
Nanny Mania follows a formula similar to downloadable games such Cake Mania where you play a working woman going through the daily grind in order to make a living. The Mayor of Suburbia and his wife are too busy to cook and clean up after their growing family, so it's your job to straighten furniture, do the laundry, and perform all the little tasks that need to be done during the day. It's an extraordinarily well-made game that beats the competitors by leaps and bounds.
ElectroCity is fun little Flash game intended "to spark an interest and lay an unbiased foundation for later learning" about the issues involved in power generation, cost, and environmental impact. It is obviously a very simplistic look at those issues, intended to give a broad overview and invite further research on the part of the player. It's also not a bad little town sim game to boot.
Dotville is a city-building Flash game along the lines of Civilization, but greatly simplified. You play the leader of a tribe of Dots (yeah, Dots) and must rise to the rank of Emperor in fifty turns, then defeat the evil empire of Squares. It's a simple game, and yet somehow very complex; a bit flawed, and yet fun despite it's quirks.
Stop Disasters is one of those games you could easily dismiss before even launching it. However, the ISDR group has not drenched their game in messages and important life lessons that we all should follow. Instead we get a game which is easy to pick up, figure out and get in to, but hard enough to challenge and reward not only planning but learning about successful planning.
Funeral Quest is a travesty of lemonade stands, sim games and common decency in general. Basically you open a funeral parlour and handle customers. The aim is to gain Burial Points (which is your ranking) and earn tags (currency), while engaging in a spot of skullduggery to advance your standing and income.
Developed by Red Redemption and funded by the BBC, the Flash-based Climate Challenge is a thoroughly researched, compelling resource-management sim. As the "President of the European Nations" you must radically reduce your people's carbon emissions over the course of a century, while remaining popular enough to stay in office.
Bacteria Salad is the latest entry in Persuasive Games' Arcade Wire series. Another attempt at "persuasion, instruction, and activism," Bacteria Salad is a light, humorous depiction of the complexity of the agricultural business.
Subpoena Power is a politically-charged side-scrolling Flash game by NoEvil Productions. Your mission is to eliminate corruption on Capitol Hill by circumventing lobbyists and serving subpoenas to Senators and Congressmen to separate the Honest Tribunes from the Perfidious Scoundrels. Thwart cash-carrying lobbyists to keep the politicians honest and help enforce the laws that keep the government running smoothly. It's a surprisingly entertaining game that carries a strong message of civic responsibility.
Things don't feel right out here... despite the optimism. Ayiti: the Cost of Life is one of the best political web games released this year, right up there with The McGame and the comic genius of Airport Security. Unlike most games with a political message, such as September 12th or 3rd World Farmer, Cost of Living actually has a strategy that works, but it's buried in a heap of faulty (and revealingly so) tactical blunders.
While drawing up my packing list for an upcoming trip, I quickly became confused. What's allowed on-board aircraft these days? Can I bring a bottle of water, or is that still banned? Will my laptop be confiscated at the border? Will I need to remove my pants before boarding the plane? These issues are all part of the gameplay in Airport Security, a fast-paced and thoughtful Flash game from Persuasive Games.
Have you ever harbored a secret desire to see gas prices soar? Have you always wished you could manipulate the politics and economies of the world to double the cost of fuel? Who hasn't? Now with Persuasive Games' new simulation, Oil God, you can!
As the US readies to go to the polls for the mid-term elections on Tuesday, the phones have been ringing off-the-hook from campaigners trying to earn votes for their candidates. I usually try to avoid politics since my single vote seems so minuscule in this world dominated by corruption and greed. As they say, "you can't fight city hall," right?
Cake Mania is a fast-paced arcade game where you play the role of Jill, a new graduate from culinary school, who returns home to discover her grandparents' bakery is closed. Business fell when the new Mega-Mart opened and not even their special recipes could help them compete. Jill decides to open her own old fashioned bakery to earn money and re-open her grandparents' store. Through nearly 50 levels and four different locations you'll help Jill serve customers as efficiently as possible.
Added to the mysteriously vacant Flash flight sim category, Goggles Flight Sim dares to let you go places where you may only have heard about. Using information collected from Google's mapping service, Mark Caswell-Daniels has created this Flash application that allows you to fly around the world to destinations of your choosing. Casual fun.
The McDonald's Videogame is the newest Flash creation of Molleindustria, an Italian design team dedicated to the discussion of the social and political implications of video games. Overall the game is an entertaining distraction that is definitely worth your time for the satire and laughs or if you enjoy a challenge.
This next game offers fun via the buying and selling of houses on a rapidly changing real estate market. Mansion Impossible is an action strategy Flash game in which the object is to make enough money to buy the millionaire's mansion and end the game, all within the quickest time possible.
XGen Studios is behind this Flash game that is reminiscent of the old-school arcade games Dig Dug and Boulder Dash. Hired to mine the dangerous planet of Mars, you are given a robotic mining pod and sent off on a mission to bring home the Motherload, a fabled cache of rare and valuable minerals. Dig far below the surface of the Earth to earn money for upgrades and find treasure.
Micro Life is a real time strategy game (RTS) that is quite easy to play, and it has a lot of charm to compensate for the relatively light challenge it presents. Accessible to all ages, this game is one part simulation, one part strategy, and one part Insaniquarium all rolled into one.
Lately I've been working on one of the coolest projects so far in my RIT education, and it's for Multi-User Media Spaces (MUMS) taught by Professors Nancy Doubleday and Steve Kurtz. The project aims to simulate flocking behavior by implementing behavioral rules, though I guess it should be dubbed "schooling" behavior since we are using fish - and yet these same rules apply to birds and herds as well.