The wait is over! The release of the latest Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst is finally here. Big Fish Games Studios takes the hidden object genre to unprecedented new heights with an absolutely gorgeous, hidden object / adventure hybrid that is sure to please a very wide range of casual game players. This is one game you don't want to miss!
Bejeweled Twist is PopCap's latest installment in the well-recognized series. Instead of clicking a single tile and then choosing an adjacent space to move it to, Bejeweled Twist turns your cursor into a 2x2 circle that spins its contents one quarter turn clockwise. The result is a new kind of match 3 that's fresh and fun all over again.
World of Goo is a phenomenally creative physics-based building game where you assemble bits of goo to form structures leading to an exit pipe in each stage. The visuals are stunning, the sense of humor wry, and there are gameplay innovations at every corner.
Musiac Box is a unique combination of a puzzle game and a musical toy that will challenge your brain and delight your ears all at the same time. Using tiles that represent individual musician's portions of a song, arrange the Tetris-like pieces on the grid and listen to the results. It's an extraordinarily simple premise for a game and the "match the tiles to the melody" puzzle solving is surprisingly enjoyable, even for non-music lovers.
Standing toe to toe with games like Azada, Dream Chronicles, and even the Mystery Case Files series isn't an easy job, but Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena matches (and, in many areas, surpasses) its contemporaries with a fun blend of adventure and hidden object gaming.
Jump Jump Jelly Reactor is a matching puzzle game that isn't afraid to try out new ideas. Instead of flat and boring blocks, tiles or even gems, this game fills your screen with lively jellies that can be combined to form larger characters with brand new properties. Gameplay is a unique combination of strategy and puzzle matching that extends a good variety of tasks your way. It's rare that a matching game really catches my eye, but Jump Jump Jelly Reactor provides such a full experience, it's hard to pass up.
Released in 2005 by German game developers FAKT Software, Crazy Machines was a cult classic that only recently began to breach the barrier to "fan-favorite" status among casual gamers. Publicized mainly by word of mouth, this out-of-the-ordinary puzzle game staked its claim as the next-generation leap from The Incredible Machine, which reached its height of popularity almost a decade earlier. The common theme in both games is the use of Rube Goldberg-inspired machines and contraptions to solve a puzzle or obstacle in each level.
With just over a year in the making, Azada: Ancient Magic, the sequel to the enormously successful adventure/hidden object hybrid Azada, has finally arrived! Fusing a large variety of unique puzzles with an undeniably intriguing atmosphere, Azada: Ancient Magic puts you in the shoes of a puzzle solver helping the young Titus disarm a magical menace. As you sift through the library of classic literature you'll help legendary characters such as Rapunzel, King Arthur, Dracula and more escape from stories gone awry. Expect some great puzzles and a lot of interesting minigames to come your way in this spectacular sequel.
Rooms: The Main Building is an upgraded full version of the Flash game Rooms released early last year. Created by HandMade Games, Rooms: The Main Building is a clever combination of puzzle and adventure elements. Bored with simple sliding puzzles, the main character receives a strange gift that transports him to another world. Here, rooms are broken into a series of spaces that can be moved around a grid like a sliding puzzle. Gather items to unlock more rooms as you search for puzzle pieces that lead the way out of this bizarre realm.
Wik and the Fable of Souls is an engaging action platfomer classic developed by Reflexive Entertainment. Help guide the frog-like Wik as he swings and jumps using his grapple-like tongue, collecting coins, gems and grubs along the way. Watch out for enemy bugs and shoot them down with an array of objects or other insects you spit from your mouth.
Forgotten Riddles is back with a brand new installment that breaks new ground. The first game in the series introduced riddles that must be solved in order to know which items you were looking for and adhered to the hidden object formula quite readily. Moonlight Sonatas takes the game even further from the genre norm with more riddles, more puzzle-based games, and several new kinds of scenes that add a little liveliness into an otherwise still game.
PictoWords is a casual word game similar to a rebus puzzle — you know the ones, in which you form a word or phrase from pictures and letters. Each round you're offered a selection of square picture tiles, round letter tiles, and a few hints in case you get stuck. It's your job to fill in as many words as you can using both pictures and letters. It's a slightly quirky but very challenging word game that stretches both sides of your brain.
The Clumsys is a hidden object game that departs from the traditional formula just enough to feel like a new experience. It's Tim's tenth birthday and his friends are over to celebrate. Grandpa Albert is working on a time machine in the barn, but when he turns his back the children discover it and go hurdling through time. Each of the 20 kids has been deposited in a different era, and it's your job to find them, fix all the problems they've caused, and bring them back!
- • Ancient Quest of Saqqarah
- • Puzzle Hero
Sometimes a formula just works, and in the case of the tried-and-true matching setup, we've seen it work time and time again. This edition of Weekend Download highlights a few new games that take the matching to a new level with interesting twists on the old convention.
Ready to scratch your hidden object itch? A new Hidden Expedition has arrived! Along with the Mystery Case Files series, the Hidden Expedition games are among the best-known titles in the genre. And for good reason. Hidden Expedition: Amazon has extraordinarily high production values, interesting gameplay that tweaks the familiar formula in very subtle ways, and plenty of crowded scenes to scrutinize.
Digital Chocolate comes Tower Bloxx Deluxe, a PC downloadable version of its hit Flash game Tower Bloxx. Deluxe features an amped-up, graphically-superior 3D presentation to the original mobile title with more complexity and improved game mechanics. Watch the swinging block and tap the spacebar to drop it. Line the blocks up and watch how high the tower can grow!
In Out of Your Mind, you play the role of the spa's newest employee, helping patients rid their brain of festering Nega-Tics and nasty brain gunk. While your clients may end up walking away with a new lease on life, something suspicious is going on between your employers, Belinda Blissful and Dr. Stroganoff...
There's a new Wonderland in town, rounding out the 3D action-puzzle series by Midnight Synergy. Our last review in this series was the well-received Wonderland Secret Worlds, in which a storm rolled through and blew all the little Stinkers away. In the new Wonderland Adventures, you fill the shoes of a hero once more, this time trying to save entire Wonderland realm, which is being threatened by a dark, matter-destroying void.
Wonderland Secret Worlds is an isometric puzzle adventure similar to Mr. Robot. Take control of several characters who push boxes, flip switches, roll boulders and build bridges to make it to the exit in each stage. The setup is nothing new in casual gameplay, but somehow the combined package is an extraordinarily fun play. If you don't mind the dated visuals and rather cutesy presentation, Wonderland Secret Worlds will be one of the most enjoyable and satisfying games of its genre you'll ever dive into.
Fresh from Grubby Games, creator of all things Professor Fizzwizzle, comes a new brain teaser/puzzle title with a huge dose of cute. The Amazing Brain Train features a heaping handful of brain games woven together with a series of quests given to you by furry animals in distress. In order to traverse the board game-style overworld, you need to unlock sections of track and power your train with, what else, brain power! It's a well-made puzzle experience that puts the "fun" back into "brain teaser" (trust me, it's there).
Agatha Christie: Peril at End House is a pleasant blend of casual gaming and classic mystery. Often, hidden picture games can seem dull and repetitive, with contrived plots that quickly fall flat. This is not the case with Peril at End House. Even if you guess the solution to the mystery early in the game, Christie's clever twists and turns might lead you astray.
Hoyle Enchanted Puzzles is a mixed take on a number of common casual gaming puzzle types such as the marble popper, match-3, mahjong, and samegame. Strung together by a wizard-filled fantasy plot, you travel throughout the Valley of Skye completing puzzles to earn Craft, Nature, and Mind experience points that open new types of challenges. It's an enticing blend of puzzle and RPG elements with more than enough variety to go around.
Casual adventure games are gaining ground as titles such as Azada and the Dream Chronicles series cut out the complexity and serve up a little lighthearted gaming alongside item-based puzzles. Natalie Brooks - Secrets of Treasure House follows suit in an adventure that uses optional hidden object scenes to earn hints to solve puzzles in the main quest. It's a good blend of genres that, despite its rather short length and occasional grammatical hiccup, holds your attention with an interesting story and varied gameplay.
With DragonStone, dev studio PlayPond bravely mashed a marble-grouping game with a shoot-em-up, spray-painted it with a medieval fantasy theme, and literally turned the whole thing on its head. The result is an exciting and perilously addictive experiment, with the friendly face and high production values of a casual game.
Another casual game that tries its hand at blending genres, Curse of the Pharaoh: Quest for Nefertiti takes two popular game types to ancient Egypt for a fascinating puzzle-adventure experience. The game's main tricks are spot-the-difference scenes along with a few simple hidden object excursions. You'll also unlock minigames and solve adventure-style puzzles using artifacts you find and assemble in dusty old tombs. It's a relatively easy game, making it accessible to a wide range of players, but the real hook is the deliciously mysterious Egyptian setting based on the real-life mystery of Queen Nefertiti's burial.
Escape the Museum is an intriguing adventure/hidden object game that reaches into room escape territory for inspiration. You play as Susan Anderson, a museum curator showing her daughter a dinosaur exhibit when a fierce earthquake suddenly rocks the building. Falling debris knocks Susan unconscious, and when she awakens she discovers she's trapped in the room and Caitlin is missing! Find the objects you'll need to fashion an exit, then recover precious museum artifacts as you work your way through the rubble searching for your daughter.
For those who enjoyed the previously reviewed Ambivalence, there's a brand new game, Confined, just released today from the same Japanese developer, FonGeBooN. This appears to be a fairly standard point-and-click room escape game until you dig a little deeper. From what I can tell so far, pixel hunting is minimal (though present), instead the focus is on puzzle solving, which is always a plus when it comes to games like this.
Following the highly-successful footsteps of puzzle-RPG hybrids, Spandex Force combines several match 3-style jewel swapping games with a sim-like spoof of superhero life. Patrol the city surrounding your headquarters searching for thieves and citizens in need. When you engage a bank robber or intervene to save a helpless human, a simple puzzle interface appears as your challenge to complete the task. It's a surprisingly fresh take on a rather tired genre that scores major points for wearing a wacky sense of humor on its sleeve.
The Eternal Maze continues where the first game left off with a beautiful blend of puzzles, adventure, object finding and Myst-like environments. You play Faye, a mortal woman whose fairy husband has been kidnapped and daughter imprisoned by Lilith, the Queen of Fairies. By solving a series of puzzles you can reach Fidget and awaken Lyra, but the Queen is always one step ahead!
It's SimCity meets isometric Tetris in this new casual mash-up from Electronic Arts, The Sims Carnival SnapCity. As mayor its your job to build a thriving city and keep its citizens happy and prosperous. Three colors of blocks descend onto the grid, each one representing residential, commercial or industrial zones. When the blocks land and are connected by roads, citizens begin to move in and your population grows. Extras like puzzle zones and natural disasters keep the action lively, but it doesn't take much more than that to keep you hooked on this addictive game.
If you've seen one match three game, you've seen 'em all, right? Azkend aims to change that, but not in the way you might think. Instead of shaking up the gameplay or introducing awkward new features, developer MythPeople spent time polishing the game to a brilliant shine. The end result is typical puzzle gameplay with an absolutely gorgeous visual design and sound package. It goes to prove that a rich presentation can turn an otherwise ordinary game into a real gem.
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords blends a match 3 game with an old-school fantasy RPG. As you roam the overworld you complete quests, earn gold, gain experience, buy equipment and upgrade your stats just like any role playing game. But when you encounter an enemy a Bejeweled-like tile swapping game appears. Match gems to cause damage and collect mana to cast spells to help you defeat your enemy. It's a remarkably well-balanced game that's as easy to pick-up and play as it is to continue playing for hours upon hours. And it's one of the most addictive games I've played in a very long time.
One of the fastest-growing genres in casual gameplay are hidden object games such as Mystery Case Files and the Hidden Expedition series. Fortunately not all developers are content to copy the same idea, place it in a new setting and throw in a few new items. Forgotten Riddles: The Mayan Princess is one such game, combining an intriguing storyline with dozens of riddles that must be solved in order to learn which items you're supposed to locate.
Plant Tycoon puts you to the task of planting seeds, growing plants of over 500 different species, and discovering the genetic secrets behind 6 magic plants that will make you rich! Become a master horticulturalist as you pollinate adult plants to produce seeds, and even cross pollinate your plants with other species to discover new and rare varieties.
Venice Mystery is a new casual game download that puts a new twist on mahjong. Instead of clicking identical tile pairs at random, you choose from a small menu of tile types, then click matching tiles on the playing field. To complete the puzzle you must unearth a set number of keys buried beneath the piles of blocks. Set against a Renaissance mystery, it's enough to tickle any gamer's fancy.
Gemsweeper is a casual game of picross (picture crossword puzzles) created by Lobstersoft. Your goal is to uncover hidden treasure by breaking rocks to help Topex reconstruct the temples of El Dorado. Stones are arranged in grids with sets of numbers above and to the left that serve as clues as to which tiles contain gems and which are cursed. Bash cursed tiles with a hammer, then grab gems from the rest of the grid to complete each puzzle and re-build the temple, one brick at a time!
Dream Chronicles is a sensual delight, an intellectual challenge, and a very engaging twist on adventure, seek-and-find and puzzle games. It's been compared to Myst and Uru, and whilst it's certainly not as demanding as those mainstream titles, I found Dream Chronicles even more enjoyable.
Everybody likes flinging around barrels full of toxic waste, right? Toss, tumble.... Oops. Well, perhaps not in a real environment, unless you are a law-breaking factory owner with questionable ethics. But, when tossed across a gorgeous fantasy landscape, lined with carefully placed adjustable platforms and forces, it isn't so bad. When you get to clear the way with dynamite, and watch things explode... now we're talking.
Azada combines elements from a number of casual genres to create a game that's one of the most unique titles I've played in months. Take a point-and-click game such as Myst, then combine it with item hunting from Mystery Case Files and throw in a dash of short puzzles just for fun. Everything is so elegantly combined that you can't help but keep playing, both to uncover the rest of the story and to experience more puzzles.
Puzzle fans rejoice! A sequel to the critically acclaimed action puzzler, Professor Fizzwizzle, is here and it's HOT! Just released by Grubby games, Professor Fizzwizzle and the Molten Mystery picks up where the first game leaves off and presents over 200 fresh new levels to sink your puzzle-loving teeth into.
Egg Vs. Chicken is a wacky action/puzzle game where you must fend off guerilla chickens by lining up and flicking different colored eggs. There are very few gaming experiences that match stockpiling brown eggs in a corner and flinging the yolks at a group of attacking chickens.
Eets is an amazingly addictive action/puzzle game from Klei Entertainment. Your goal is to guide Eets to a shiny puzzle piece by placing different (and often wacky) items that affect his mood or behavior. The game has an undeniable charm and will easily get you hooked with its huge set of levels and online community complete with user-made level downloads.
From PopCap.com comes this beautiful and very popular, well-conceived puzzle game that is similar to games like Bust-A-Move. Gameplay consists of shooting colored beads onto the play field using the mouse for aiming and shooting, aligning three or more in a row removes them from play. Special power-ups and bonuses abound that add spice and variety, as well as strategic elements, to the gameplay.