The front of the Othello box promises that it takes "a minute to learn... a lifetime to master". Now, admittedly I've never been all that interested in spending my lifetime becoming a reversi-master (especially if Settlers of Cataan is nearby), but I think the phrasing is something that resonates with us as gamers. We want something that's basic enough to immediately jump in, but challenging enough to make victory seem glorious. Slide the tiles so all fifteen are in order? Rotate the blocks of the cube until all sides are the same color? Weigh the eight balls to find the one that's heavier? They seem so simple, but they're not... and mastering them is a triumph. This week in the JayIsGames Vault, we take a peek a trio of games: puzzle, word, and platform, where the complexity hides just below the surface.
- Blockdude - A game that's only 40kb gets the same sort of skepticism as a masters thesis only half a page long. The fact that it is an only slightly-upgraded remake of a game fully playable on a graphing calculator would seem to be a second strike. However, Blockdude defies first impressions. Its simplicity masks intense challenge. Moving blocks around in a puzzle barely-platformer doesn't seem hair-pullingly difficult, but you'd better believe it is, dude. Frustrating and engaging in equal measure, Blockdude is a classic, no matter what the platform. If you can beat all 14 levels, you'll prove yourself the head of the pre-calc class that is puzzle games.
- Double Wires - Is the protagonist of Double Wires more a Spider-Man or a Bionic Commando? It doesn't matter: it's just fun. MS Paint graphics and no sound may turn some off, but those who stay will find physics gameplay that is nothing short of elegant. The ragdoll truly dances as he swings from blob to blob, wires sprouting from his arms with a click of a mouse. The only goal is a high score, but that is enough to keep you playing: Double Wire is a wonderful ballet whose length is determined by your skill. You'll want it to last a long time.
- Funny Farm - Walter Scott knew well that deception leaves to tangled webs, but I think even he would be surprised at the cleverly convoluted brain teaser that is Funny Farm. An combination of concept mapping and word-association lateral thinking, Funny Farm is a fun brainteaser for the everyday apophenia victim, or everyone who loves a good meta-puzzle. It starts so easily... Surely you can think of words that fit "On The Farm", but soon you'll have expanded the web and your mind. Suddenly, it's two hour later and you're turning your mind over trying to figure the connection between "Board Games" and "Boot", and you need to call in a friend. Devilishly difficult and hard to leave unfinished.
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!