"Tell me what you play, and I will tell you who you are" - Jay Bibbat-Savarin
Eight years ago, a man's fantasy became a reality in a form never seen before: JayIsGames.com, a giant arena for the best of casual gameplay. The motivation for spending his fortune to create JiG was to encounter new original games which could be called true artistic creations. To realize his dream, he secretly started choosing the top games of various genres from around the world and began featuring them upon his website. Soon, it became known the authors of those games featured would win the people's ovation and fame forever. Thus, if memory serves me correctly, we look to the land of the rising sun to feature some of the best casual gameplay works from the nation of Japan. The heat is on in the JiG Vault! ALLEZ JEUX!
- Dice Wars - Dice Wars, by Taro Ito of Game Design Japan, feels like it should be an adaptation of a century-old strategy board game, rather than an entirely new creation. Certainly Risk is an inspiration, but with quicker action, randomly generated maps, and fewer mispronunciations of "Kamtchatka", Dice Wars has the perfect balance of luck and skill that makes it easy to pick up and impossible to put down. The fact that new dice "troops" are assigned each round based on contiguous rather than total territories is a stroke of genius that takes Dice Wars far beyond the level of a mere clone. You have the choice of the original (with a strong, but not perfect AI opponent) and the online multiplayer KDice. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages: upper-level KDice players are more skilled than a computer could ever be, but the shifting alliances of the chat window can transform the game into a more luck-based version of Diplomacy. Whether that's a good thing or not is up to the individual player, but, whatever your opponent, Dice Wars has a timeless quality all its own.
- Lonely House Moving - One of the few great action-romance games, Lonely House Moving is a work to be tried, finished, shared and love. Much is open to interpretation, but I like to think of it as the story of a man who sees the woman he loves move away before he ever got a chance to express, or even realize his feelings. When he does though, he thinks of nothing but a reunion, no matter what the obstacles. Boxes, birds, and bras impede his chasing progress, and it'll take more than a few tries for him to even come close to happily reuniting. Still, you should try as often as you need to in order to give him that chance. The only thing that could make Lonely House Moving more perfect is if author Nigoro had a more consistent hosting service.
- Guest House - GUMP is very, very good at making point-and-click adventure games, and Guest House is probably my favorite. Gorgeous animations, challenging but logical puzzles, and a satisfying endgame make for an excellent room to spend some time in... wherever it is. Also, while I neither want to build them up too much nor spoil them, I really liked the twists Guest House had to offer. They make the game both a fine example of the escape genre and something just a little bit more. If the counter at the end is to be believed, over a hundred-thousand players agree that Guest House is worth finishing. I think you'll like adding yourself to that number.
- Nest of Moai - Eenie Meenie Miny... Moai! I'm not really sure why those darn Polynesian heads make cameos in so many Japanese games. Still, it's nice to see them get a starring role... an entire series, no less! Nest of Moai is the first of SKT Products' Easter Island-inspired works and it's short, quirky and fun. It's also untranslated, but I think the language barrier only improves the experience: Why am I mousing over all these statues? Why is that Japanese man yelling at me? Why are we on the moon? If you've got 90 seconds to spare, you can have quite a good time coming up with an answer
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!