What's the most entertaining household object you can think of? Did you say "wooden crate"? Or, perhaps, "magnet"? "Broom"? You probably did, and since you did, you are rewarded with games that use said entertaining objects to provide even more entertainment in a digital, computerized form.
Super Crate Box (Windows/Mac, 20MB, free) - Remember the days of standing in sticky-floored arcades pumping quarters into a machine that would allow you to keep playing a game so you could enter your initials on the high score board? Super Crate Box aims to recreate that feeling (the high score bit, not the sticky floors) with its own brand of high-action 2D arena... action! Your goal is to pick up enough crates to continue to the next level. Each crate gives you a different weapon, a weapon you need to use to keep the constantly-spawning enemies at bay. It's a simple mechanic that's masterfully done, as you can't hold on to better weapons because you need more crates to continue. Play it once, die, play it again, live a little longer, then keep doing it because it's so darn fun.
Magnesian (Windows, 350MB, free) - A heavy-hitting release from PineApple Fish Studios, Magnesian plays on the wiliest of the non-contact forces, magnetism! (Take THAT, gravity!) A 2D physics puzzle platform game with a 3D look, you are equipped with a gun that can fire both positive and negative beams of magnetic energy as well as a "switch" weapon that can reverse polarity of objects around you. Using the forces of repelling and attracting, work your way through some daunting puzzles that require both serious thinking and some quick reflexes. It's a rather quiet game on the surface, with very little to distract you from the pushing, pulling, and arrangement of magnetically-charged objects, but once you dig into the handful of levels, you'll appreciate being left alone to focus on the gameplay. You'll also appreciate box surfing. Seriously, why can't we do that in real life?!
Dustforce! (Windows, 29MB, demo) - A demo for a work-in-progress game by Hitbox Team that shows a ton of promise. Dustforce is a puzzle platformer that places strong emphasis on smooth, flowing acrobatics. Your broom-toting character sweeps up litter as he/she runs by. You can jump, dash, double jump, wall run, wall dash, and everything in-between, giving you a surprising amount of freedom and agility as you navigate the game's crowded levels. Sweeping things gives you points, but some blocks vanish after being swept, while still others give you a bonus jump. The controls take some time to get used to, but once you're in the groove, the game flows smoothly and you can pull off some great stunts. A very fluid game that will hopefully see a successful full release soon!
Mega Man 8-bit Deathmatch (Windows, 55MB, free) - Exactly as the name implies, MM8BD takes classic Mega Man characters, levels and music, places them all in an arena, and lets you duke it out in style. What the name doesn't imply is that the game is in 3D, very much like the early first person shooters out there. Gather weapons as icons on each stage, and pick up energy and weapon capsules to keep everything charged up. Then, well, shoot everything that you can see! Classic death match action, with plenty of nostalgic 8-bit visuals and music. Multiplayer and single player modes are both available.
Note: All games have been confirmed to run under Windows 7 and are virus-free. Mac users should try Boot Camp, Parallels, or CrossOver Games to play Windows titles, Linux users can use Wine. If you know of a great game we should feature, use the Submit link above to send it in!