Dinos in Space
Dinos in Space is, apart from being a very cool thing to draw in your notebook while ignoring the math lecture going on in your class, a cerebral flow-based logic puzzle game from John Saba. Using arrows, switches and teleporters, your goal is to send dinosaurs from their dispensers into the appropriately colored satellite elsewhere on the grid. Sure, it sounds simple on the surface, but get your head wrapped in this game, and when you take a break, you'll still be solving puzzles in your brain.
Everything is laid out nicely on a grid, with mouse-based controls and keyboard shortcuts to make everything flow as smoothly as possible. Levels begin with the dinosaurs safely in their hold and you staring at your inventory of colored arrows and other items, wondering where to put things to get the dinosaurs where they need to go. Use [Z] to cycle through your inventory, the mouse to place and rotate tiles, and tap the [spacebar] when you're ready to launch.
Different dinosaurs need to go different places, and they get there by different methods. Red dinosaurs, for example, need to make it to the red satellites and are the only ones who are affected by red directional arrows. Same goes for blue, yellow and green dinos with their respective tiles and goals. Gray items will affect all dinosaurs, meaning any dinosaur can trigger a gray switch or be guided by a gray arrow. In addition to sorting the dinosaurs into their respective satellites, many stages contain delicious snax that can be collected for the dinos when they get the munchies.
Analysis: Dinos in Space shares some similarities with a few other games, including the mega-challenging mobile puzzle game Trainyard and the underappreciated downloadable indie game Pragmatica. It has a distinctly more casual slant, though, presenting a streamlined interface and fewer inventory elements to worry about. Don't mistake "casual" for "easy", though. Some of the later levels are larger and wickedly complex, so if you're worried the difficulty has been scaled down, well... don't!
Here's a great bonus: a puzzle editor! Dinos in Space ships with a full-featured editor you can use to make levels just as complicated (or more so) than in the game. It doesn't take too long to get the basics down, and with a little planning you can pull of some great tricks. There's even support for playing user-made levels, which adds a nice bit of replayability to the 40+ level strong main game.
The interface in Dinos in Space is retro, to put it succinctly, and it almost feels like a classic C64 or DOS game from a few decades ago. It isn't clunky or awkward at any moment, though, so don't let the simple looks scare you. Even if you're frightened of keyboard shortcuts, everything in the game can be accomplished with the mouse.
A surprise puzzle game with a budget price, casual-friendly learning curve, internet-approved sense of humor, a beefy demo, and smartly-built levels. It's pretty much everything you could want from a logic puzzle game, including dinosaurs and snax!