A little bit of this, a little bit of that. This edition of Weekend Download throws a strange variety of games your way, but with one major headliner: Westward 2. Insert obligatory "oohs" and "ahhs" (and maybe even a "cool it's about time yay" or two) here.
Westward II: Heroes of the Frontier (Windows, 41.6MB, demo) - The sequel to Sandlot's Virtual Villagers-esque hit sim Westward has finally arrived! Strike out across the old west as you set up new towns and combat the growing dangers of the untamed land. Gather resources, survive natural disasters, and keep your citizens alive as you fight off bandits and construct over 20 new types of buildings. The story picks up where the first game left off and has you directing the fortunes of three old-time heroes. Also new is the ability to zoom in on the action thanks to entirely new 3D visuals.
Rom Check Fail (Windows, 2MB, free) - Imagine if you had the heroes, enemies, backgrounds and music from classic 80s games mashed together like WarioWare gone retro. What you'd get is Rom Check Fail. The game has you moving with the arrow keys and attacking with the [spacebar]. Your moves and those of your foes change every few seconds when the game remixes everything again, so you've got to meta-game a bit in order to defeat all twenty levels. Mind-bending fun.
Owl Country (Win, Mac, 24.8MB, free) - Owl Country is a pulp game made by a few indie folks after a creative jam session at GDC. The result is a kitschy B-game with solid production values, tricky but rewarding gameplay, and personality to spare. Press the arrow keys to fly left and right, up to flap, and hold the space bar to perform aerial acrobatics. Get those pigeons, lest they rule the night!
Perfectionism (Windows, 1.3MB, free) - Perfectionism is the latest exercise in gameplay as metaphor by Jason Roher. You start with 99 moves (the green number, upper left) and zero points (yellow number, upper right). Click on an arrow at the side or top, then click on another, similarly pointed arrow to shuffle a column or row. Doing this moves every yellow disc on that line, the object being to move yellow disks into the rings, scoring you a point. The genuis of the game is, you have to make a choice between spending moves trying to get more points out of a level, or moving on to the next one. It's a puzzle game that puts you in a battle with your own perfectionism.
Dangerous Highschool Girls In Trouble (Win, Mac, 15MB, demo) - Dangerous Highschool Girls In Trouble is an innovative hybrid Puzzle/RPG from Keith Nemitz, the man who brought us The Witch's Yarn. The game has you controlling a gang of unruly, semi-liberated highschool girls in 1920s America. Four mini-games involve taunting, manipulating, and flirting as you socially maneuver through the den of snakes that is the secondary education system. A compelling storyline and interesting advancement mechanics makes this a classic that crosses audience boundaries.