In Sorcerer's Maze, by David Frankel, play as Clyde Michaels, intrepid explorer, who must explore a mysterious mansion that stands alone in apocalyptic desert where he lives. It plays similar to Bomberman combined with one of the NES Metal Gears: you guide Clyde through the labyrinth of the house, avoiding or destroying skulls, ghosts, mermen and other creepy-crawlies on the way.
Rid the pixel kingdom from the evil hordes while getting the highest score possible in this action/platform game. For a true knight, a challenge always needs one more thing, doesn't it? In the sequel you'll probably be running on a barrel...
Ready for a blast from the past? Pixel Basher is a Breakout clone with a slick new look, new upgrades, and new backgrounds. At only nine levels, it won't keep you busy for long, but it's fast, addictive fun for those of us who remember when an arcade was an actual thing you went to rather than just "That thing old uncle Bob keeps talking about whenever I fire up the console".
Ever wanted to play Super Mario Bros. with different characters? Super Mario Bros. Crossover is just that! The original NES game is here with a handful of playable NES characters. Charge through stages with Mega Man, play as Samus from Metroid, Simon from Castlevania, or even Link from the original Legend of Zelda game. It's a simple idea that's remarkably well-executed and worth playing for the nostalgia alone!
Dodge those pesky man-eating earthworms in the homage game that took two decades to appear! The town of Perfection is under siege from underground worms rearing out of their Hades abyss and chomping down on the surface dwellers! If not for the actions of two local repairmen, everyone could be mauled in this fitting homage.
Enough Plumbers is fantastic, nostalgic, pulse-pounding casual gameplay that is fun for those who remember the good old days and those who were born long after. Requiring logical thinking, forethought, planning, and lightning fast reflexes, Enough Plumbers is, just on its own, a fantastic platformer even without all the trappings of the days of yore.
Hark, prithee, and other generic fantasy salutations! Dare you enter the dragon's lair?!... oh, don't worry, Questy will do all the dangerous stuff, like getting shot with arrows, falling down pits, and being clubbed by trolls. All you have to do is lay out a path that guides him to the exit in this brain-bending retro puzzler.
After dancing the hemp fandango you are greeted by the Grim Reaper and offered an interesting proposition: run the gauntlet of Hell and be resurrected with a happier life. Run, jump, and dodge a host of deadly enemies and traps for a second chance in this challenging platformer.
Think you've got what it takes to be a traditional RPG hero? In this series of minigame-like puzzles aping the genre, it's your knowledge of typical RPG stereotypes, not your sword skill, that will see you through to victory. It's a bite-sized bit of retro charm to fit into your day that requires thinking outside the box.
Return to the underworld of Avernum one last time in the conclusion to Spiderweb Software's iconic RPG series. When a blight brings famine down upon the people of Avernum during a war, four soldiers are called to become heroes from unlikely beginnings. Create your party and set out into a dark world full of adventure, betrayal, and, most importantly, hidden treasure!
Tired of being the little guy? Then leap behind the controls of one of the massive boss battleships that used to steal all your quarters in classic arcade space shooters. Complete missions to prove your mastery of the skies, unlock new modes, and prove that it's not the size of the ship that counts... wait, no, it is. It totally is.
Stinkoman 20X6, an old Videlectrix classic, follows the saga of the titular Stinkoman, an egocentric super-boxer who lives on Planet K and can never seem to keep his priorities straight. Even when his old friend, the rotund panda Pan Pan, is kidnapped, all he cares about is playing video games, eating chicken broth, and the occasional challenge.
If you ever felt that making breakfast should employ at least a ball, some strong and a winding mechanism, The Incredible Machine is the most brilliant game ever made. It uses the idea of a Rube-Goldberg machine, an overly elaborate setup to achieve a simple task. The Incredible Machine has spawned its own share of sequels, nearly all of which are present in this mega-pack. The idea is simple: each puzzle presents you with a different challenge to construct an elaborate chain-reaction towards a goal.
Think you know games? Think you know games when their only representation is obscure and abstract imagery? Across decades and platforms, The Challenging Stage is a single screen test of puzzles and trivia where you have to guess the titles of 56 games, new and classic, from the weird images used on screen.
Another World, or, as it's known in North America, Out of This World, is a stunning example of storytelling in a video game originally released in 1991 (and re-released with better visuals in 2006) by Eric Chahi. Built as a cinematic platform adventure, you take on the role of Lester Knight Chaykin, a young physicist who is teleported to a barren alien planet while running an experiment using a particle accelerator. You soon make friends with one of the humanoid aliens and together work your way through the subterranean environments trying to escape with your lives!
Ever have one of those days where everyone thinks you're crazy, and you start to believe them? Waking up in an asylum isn't a good start, and it gets worse when you start to suffer increasingly vivid hallucinations about strange places and monstrous creatures. Is there a reason for it all? Or are you simply as crazy as everyone says? Sanitarium is the cult classic point-and-click horror adventure that shouldn't be missed by any fan of the genre.
What's in a dream? April Ryan, a struggling art student, doesn't think there's much to the strange nightmares she's having. But she's wrong. A classic point-and-click adventure of epic proportions, The Longest Journey is the story of two worlds thrown out of balance. Featuring stellar dialogue, memorable characters, a haunting soundtrack and rich environments, this is a fantastic adventure that shows other titles in the genre how to do it right.
Sure, he may look like a footlocker and have unsettling pink bags under his eyes, but if your dog or cat or other pet should ever fall down a mine shaft leading to a subterranean geothermic engineering project of dubious provenance, Amil is your go-to fellow. Created by Robert Stone, Amil is a gravity-switching platformer with retro stylings and just a scintilla of RPG flavor.
In a world where people can't seem to see eye to eye on even the most simplest of things, it's comforting to know that we can all at least agree on the fact that hamburgers are the world's most perfect food. In the undeniably charming platformer, I Was Hungry But There Were Cannons, you will find no shortage of this most awesome of culinary delights, it's just that getting them all won't be easy.
It's bigger, badder, and, yes, REDDER than other platformers. A retro-styled adventure of space exploration set in your browser, REDDER offers a big map to explore chock full of challenges. Collect the gems you need to escape and make your way back home... or settle in to stay with the scenic vistas, strange environments, and hostile red robots. We won't judge you.
When does science go too far? How advanced can an artificial intelligence get before it is too advanced? And at what point does an homage cease to be an homage? The answers to these questions and more can be found in Condition, a sci-fi platform shooter by abielins and Lycheesoup that's just a little reminiscent of Cave Story.
Where oh where has my kitty cat gone? Only robot can find out, and it's up to you to help him get there by guiding him past hazards and to power ups, keys, and ultimately kitty-cat-havin'-glory in this retro-themed, pixel platform adventure.
A java demake of Terry Cavanagh's retro spacefaring platformer, VVVV is a challenging little gem sure to bring delight to your day as you set about rescuing six of your fellow crew mates across a dangerous map. And by "delight", we of course mean "difficulty designed to make your fingers snap like ineffectual little twigs". Yaaaaaay!
Take a handful of classic Sierra On-line graphical adventure games, throw in a community chatroom designed around the same concept, and suddenly you have the equivalent of a retro adventure MMO. Well, sort of. Sarien.net keeps the golden age of adventure games alive, right in your browser window!
Terry Cavanagh's ambitious and charming little game of platformer-esque exploration contains a lot of fun, but may demand too much from your reflexes for some players. Seek out your missing crew across a sprawling map packed with secrets, symbolism, and a whole lot of challenge that will put all your skills to the test. Buckle up, Captain.
In space, nobody can hear you scream. But that doesn't stop you from tearing around, blowing up other ships, and slapping their debris onto your rig before running away from some angry bogeys flying in on your six. When a sleep-deprived pilot puts you in charge of his ship, you have to navigate the depths of Captain Forever, fighting other pilots for pieces of their ships to build the meanest spacecraft on the galactic block. Engage in your ultimate build-a-space-ship-from-stealing-other-people's-rubbish fantasy.
It's a blast from the past in this remake of and tribute to the original M.U.L.E., one of the great pioneers of multiplayer gaming. Stake your claim on an alien world with three friends and make the best of your time and resources to come out on top at the end of the game. Just remember to keep an eye out for the wampus.
Fantasy of the Sord is a classically styled adventure game and a finalist in our 6th Casual Gameplay Design Competition. In answer to the call of the competition, Klint Honeychurch has taken the theme of "exploration" and given us a sweet little nugget that harkens back to the early days of console gaming; a time when a flurry of pixels was as well-designed as the high-polygon count, 3D models of today.
Come, take my hand, and frolic down the brightly lit path of retro arcade gaming in this 2D side-scrolling shooter featuring a flying fox! No, not THAT one! Despite only having three levels, three bosses, and four weapons, Merubyiusu is a fun and frantic tip of the hat to your favourite console games of yesteryear, with just enough difficulty to make it worth your while. Just remember not to cry when kids these days ask you what a "Gradius" is.
Take control of your weapon, and start defending the planet from invaders in Vector Conflict: The Siege. The game takes you back to the early days of arcade games, back when games like Tempest and Omega Race were the new guys on the block. With its glorious vector graphics, Vector Conflict looks like the brother of the classic tank combat game Battlezone, and plays like a cross between that and a turret defense game.
Man-eating plants! Skeletons! Giant spiders! Falling boulders! What do these things have in common? They're all very, very deadly. And they, along with a host of other unpleasantness hungry for your demise, are waiting for you in Spelunky, an incredibly addictive roguelike platformer from Derek Yu. Explore, descend, discover... just remember to watch your back and keep one hand on your whip!
Zamby and the Mystical Crystals is a top-down puzzle adventure game with a lot of retro charm. Similar to the Wonderland Adventures and Professor Fizzwizzle series in concept, its simple visuals hide a box-pushing puzzle game with a surprising amount of challenge and content. It also takes itself serious as a casual game, offering a full, move-by-move undo option along with hints and full solutions for every level. It's old-school gaming without the old-school headaches!
Bleep, bloop, assimilate! The life of a robot is hard. When you're slated for that big old junk heap in the sky, do you go quietly into that long good night? If you're playing Mechanaughts, a quirky little action platformer, you fight your way to your oppressors and take your mechanical revenge. Since robots tend to have cold, unfeeling metal pincers for hands, that revenge is unlikely to consist of hugs and a heartfelt discussion on your feelings.
Your journey as Arkus Rei, space pirate, continues in this series of extremely challenging platform adventures. Follow the instructions given by your new found human companion to uncover treasure beyond your imagination. But first you must travel to several different dangerous locales and, well, survive.
Frantic 2 is as calming as a warm, lilac scented bubble-bath on a late summer night. Assuming your idea of calming is a screen filled with dozens and dozens of enemies, projectiles, power-ups, and laser fire. With three big levels, five modes of difficulty, upgrades, and more, Frantic 2 is prime scrolling shooter action for the twitch gamer in all of us.
The first Flash game from Anna Anthropy, When Pigs Fly is an extra-challenging offbeat platformer about a pig who has to escape from a cavern using her newly-grown wings, which are unfortunately the most fragile creation in the history of the universe. Even negotiating a simple floating block takes some skill, and an innocent staircase becomes a jagged nightmare.
Cheerio, my good man, pip pip! The name is Sir Reginald MoneySeize II, Esq. I'm out to construct the world's largest tower, and I'll need 1000 golden coins to do it. Are you up to the platform-jumping challenge, my well-buttered scone? I sincerely hope so, for I'm simply too well bred and important to fall to my death on a bed of spikes.
Deadly Sin doesn't try to reinvent the role playing game. Instead, it chooses the path of flattering imitation. With great art direction, a superb soundtrack, a deep skill tree to explore and, most notably, the ability to turn off random battles, Deadly Sin hits that soft spot deep inside that's longing for a good RPG to enjoy.
Time Gentlemen, Please!, a direct sequel to Zombie Cow's Ben There, Dan That, is a playground for just about every type of humor that is likely to get you ousted from civil society. It's old-school adventuring at its best and manages to both parody and canonize classic Lucasarts games while providing a stiff set of puzzles to solve.
Hack and slash your way across the ancient land alone or with a friend in this gorgeously quirky side-scroller from Nitrome. When your sword fails you, don't despair — a nearby boar will do just as well. Or a chicken. Rendered in Nitrome's familiar pixel-perfect art style, Double Edged not only looks great, it plays great too.
When you load up Raider: Episode 1 in your browser you can expect solid controls, a good story, and magnificent level design that will put your platforming skills to the test. This first in a series of five episodes sets a high standard for the four episodes to follow.
"Avernum" is the name of an underground domain that's home to the Avernites, a group at war with the surface-dwellers, collectively called the Empire. This time around, a group of adventurers is sent back to Avernum to hunt down an assassin who tried to kill the Empress. The story and its development is actually pretty thick for a closed-in dungeon crawler, unfolding constantly a simplified "choose-your-own-adventure"-styled dialogue.
Adventure, monsters, and betrayal in 16 bits! Eternal Eden is a surprisingly hefty RPG following three young men who set out to save the world . . . after accidentally setting its destruction in motion themselves.
Action, adventure, and painful, spiky death can all be yours in Chup, a new platformer from Tomas Pettersson. With a retro vibe and an intensely charismatic star, Chup offers a tricky jumping adventure that would make Mario proud.
Tower of Greed is a game about the banker's favorite deadly sin, in the form of an aggressively retro, fast-moving platformer. Will you exit the tower with untold riches? Or will you be betrayed by your own avarice? If your fingers are nimble enough, let's find out!
What if Mario, instead of instantly reappearing at the beginning of the level after he died, had to earn his reincarnation by traveling the realms of Diyu, being judged by the kings of Yama? This is a game about that from Yoshio Ishii of Nekogames.
Coated in pixelated graphics and pipingly sharp music, Mars Tower Defense, by Japanese developer Taro, will appeal to those with a flair for retro and a penchant for strategy. Defense your mars colony from walking octopi and disembodied bouncing dogs heads!
The Tales of Bingwood Chapter 1: To Save a Princess is a 2D point-and-click adventure that is a throwback to every Sierra and LucasArts game ever made. Maybe not every single one, but most of them. The ones that were made in the '80s in which the main character went on some sort of quest and had to click on everything and try to combine all the items in the inventory with all of the other items and where do they even get pants with pockets that big?
Building upon the classic franchise released over two decades ago, Defender of the Crown: Heroes Live Forever is an excellent successor to the original game. It keeps intact many of the important things from the original game, including the minigames, much of the strategy of the main game, and the beautiful graphics, while giving the game an update that helps to bring it into the modern realm of casual gaming.
The Malstrums Mansion is a retro point-and-click game with a surprisingly tense atmosphere, in the style of old Apple Macintosh adventures like Shadowgate. The heavily pixilated black and white graphics are chunky but lovingly crafted. If you love games that give you the creeps, or if you just like to relive the early years of gaming, this is a title you simply can't afford to pass up.
Double Fine president Tim Schafer is hosting at this years Game Developers Conference, and he's totally unprepared. Help him out by scouring the backstage area for jokes, scribbled on scraps of paper hidden in all sorts of unlikely locations. If you have even the slightest nostalgia for early graphic adventure games such as The Secret of Monkey Island, then this sharp, clever point-and-click adventure is made for you.
Don't Look Back is a modern retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, although there are subtle differences. For one, the mythical greek poet favored a harp over a handgun, and for another, he didn't need your platforming skills to guide him on his journey.
A new addition to the Wonderland series, retro-themed isometric puzzle/adventure games that are of the best around. They retain the spirit of what makes the genre so enjoyable while adding new, more modern twists to the experience. Wonderland is threatened once again, only this time the quest to save the world goes terribly wrong. Shipwrecked and marooned on the shores of Fire Island, its your job to maneuver through sets of puzzle challenges and make your way to freedom.
Laxius Force is your latest old-school fix. Inspired by classic 16-bit role playing games, Laxius Force boasts 17 playable characters, multiple storylines that gradually weave together an intriguing plot, and original artwork and music. All while battling countless foes, earning experience, and equipping your party with powerful weapons and armor.
A rhythm-based Wario Ware type of game from Nitrome, in which you play colorful mini-game levels with a musical timing element. Destroy attacking fighters and tanks as Godzilla! Stake vampires as they rise in their coffins! Um...eat...stuff. It's all here, with three difficulty levels across four distinct stages, a different song in each level, and a final "mix-tape" stage that surreally switches context between the stages over the course of the song.
Andrew the Droid is a retro-looking title that utilizes the familiar level rotation concept found in a number of games. Work your way through over two dozen levels, avoiding hazards as you unlock exits, collect chips to grant you new abilities, and rotate the stage to let gravity pull you where you need to go.
Yoshio Ishii, of Nekogames, succeeds in the ambitious endeavor to redesign Breakout. And while the game is still about destroying bricks to clear the board, what's gone is the boredom the game usually suffers from when trying to get that last brick or two. Instead, what we have is more of a twitch game where reflexes rule the landscape of a simulated (and antiquated) vector graphics display.
Lyle in Cube Sector is a relatively old Metroidesque platformer in traditional NES style. You play as Lyle, who adventures through Cube Sector, using cubes for everything from attacking enemies to playing basketball to feeding a dog, with the ultimate goal of retrieving his cat Keddums.
A short and sweet old-fashioned adventure game from Videlectrix, the faux video game company of the animated Homestar Runner universe. For the Homestar un-hip, "Dangeresque" is the hard-boiled detective alter-ego of Strong Bad, who is the lead narrator and practical jokester at homestarrunner.com. Strong Bad/Dangeresque must solve a murder case from the confines of his office, because the chief thinks the case was solved months ago.
Out of Order is a humor-oriented, mouse-driven adventure game in the style of the old Lucas Arts and Sierra titles. You play as Hurford Schlitzting, an ordinary human being in a green bathrobe and bunny slippers. Late one night he's awakened by a storm and goes to get a midnight snack. And then the game ends... wait, no, it doesn't, or we wouldn't have much of a game.
Ben There, Dan That! is an old-school adventure game in the classic sense. You know how this works. Right click to access the interactive menu. Interact with objects. Pick them up. Use them with other objects. In this game, you default to playing as Ben, but you can switch to being Dan when the occasion calls for it. It features some fairly witty writing with that rather unique British self-deprecating sense of humour.
Dirty Split is an old-school-style adventure game where you investigate a murder shrouded in a mysterious broken engagement. The game manages to dodge familiar detective cliches as well as the high tech gadget riddled whodunits of the present to provide what is a truly unique experience in the genre.
Inquisitive Dave is one of those "breaking-the-fourth-wall" sidescrolling adventure games wherein you're aware that you're playing a game. You know, the ones with the witty dialogue where you press "Talk" because the game suggests an interaction with a chair, only to be told "This is a chair...You could sit in the chair, but you have a world to save."
What happens when a game's mechanics are affected by, well, themselves? That's what Mark Essen of Messhof Games might have been wondering when he devised the idea for Flywrench, a downloadable freeware game in which you must guide your bat-like ship through a maze of obstacles to the exit.
Think of the classic Space Invaders mixed with a dash of Galaga and you'd have a pretty good understanding of what Titan Attacks! is all about. The classic "aliens descending from above" scenario is showcased with a stylish, blocky pixel motif featuring a richer move-and-shoot routine than classic predecessors. Titan Attacks! took the golden age concept and loaded it with a variety of new action elements and ship upgrades.
In Ginormo Sword, you play a pink, ninja-looking hero equipped with a sword that you must upgrade, making it bigger, longer and more powerful. A fantasy action game with subtle RPG elements drawn from the golden age of Atari and Intellivision games, packs a satisfying punch for such a pixelated style, like most other games from Japanese designer Babarageo.
Wonderland Secret Worlds is an isometric puzzle adventure similar to Mr. Robot. Take control of several characters who push boxes, flip switches, roll boulders and build bridges to make it to the exit in each stage. The setup is nothing new in casual gameplay, but somehow the combined package is an extraordinarily fun play. If you don't mind the dated visuals and rather cutesy presentation, Wonderland Secret Worlds will be one of the most enjoyable and satisfying games of its genre you'll ever dive into.
If something considered "retro" gets remade, is it still considered retro? Such is the question to ponder while playing Arcadia Remix, the juiced-up retro remake of Gamelab's multitasking classic, Arcadia. This newer version adds to the retro insanity with more mini-games and gameplay features to make your head explode in a neon rainbow.
The fine folks at Pixeljam have really managed to outdo themselves, bringing us an outlandishly retro, high stakes, mad multiplayer dash for survival called Dino Run. Although there are three modes of play, the idea is basically the same: run as fast as you can! What we love most about Dino Run is neither the perfectly captured retro feel, nor the immense replay value, but the total interactivity your dino has with its surroundings.
If "retro" to you means huge chunky pixels, bleeping and blerping sounds and gameplay that doesn't lead you by the hand, then Attack of the Meeplings may be just the game for you. This Java-based shooter is glorious, retro-styled fun from top to bottom, especially its soundtrack.
Jasper's Journeys is a downloadable platform game that plays much like an old-school side-scroller where exploration is essential, power-ups are few, speed is often encouraged, and secret areas are plentiful. In many ways it's similar to Brad Borne's The Fancy Pants Adventure games (or even Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario Bros, or Jazz Jackrabbit), though with a decidedly different atmosphere and feel.
Created to promote Microsoft's TechNet service, Server Quest is an adventure game lovingly crafted in the style of early 90s Lucasarts/Sierra titles. From its blocky visuals, kooky musical score and off-beat sense of humor, it's like stepping fifteen years in the past without having to fire up the ole time machine. It's also one of the geekiest games you'll ever play with a number of minigames quizzing you on your knowledge of IT lingo.
Thule Trail is a re-imagining of the grade school classic, Oregon Trail, but instead of playing a family of 19th century immigrants, you play a group of 20 somethings road-tripping to a music festival. Instead of going to Oregon, you're going to Santa Barbara. The game takes its name from the 20th century occult society that sought the road to Atlantis; the music festival you travel to is called Atlantis, so it works. The rest of the game follows suit like a friendly slacker.
Hearken back to those adrenaline-happy days with Vector Runner, an arcade action game concerned purely with the sensation of speed. Control a humble blue cube on its journey down a futuristic highway, dodging deadly pyramids of various shapes and sizes. Wherever you need to be, you're going there fast.
The next entry is a game from a team of developers, three representing Stimunation Games and a couple others from the Flashkit Games forums. JayIsAdventure is an old-school style graphic adventure game with a creative interpretation of the "ball physics" theme. I will say no more than that, the rest is up to you to discover and comment freely about.
Pile O'Bubbles is a new action/puzzle game from the creator of Gravity Pods, Keith Peters of Wicked Pissah Games. It combines fast reflex mouse clicking with a bit of thinking to create a game that's brain wrenching with a touch of (very) old-school arcade style as well.
The Sea of Glomp is an adventure-themed Flash game created by Paul Kramm that draws heavy inspiration from old-style adventure games such as ... Adventure! You play a young fish whose egg has been stolen by a creature that looks like a bat. An underwater bat. You set out on a quest to find the egg, a task that takes you through some of the strangest parts of the sea you could imagine.
The main focus of Knytt Stories is atmosphere, environment and exploration, not complex gameplay and a barrage of media. With Knytt Stories you'll spend most of your time wandering around sparsely populated worlds looking for a few rare items, enjoying the beautiful visuals and ambient music the whole time. It's a unique experience in gaming and will pull you in from the moment you start playing.
Gravity Pods is a physics-based vector shooting/puzzle title created by Wicked Pissah Games. The goal is to fire a projectile and hit a target across the screen. Barriers are usually in the way, but by using gravity pods you can bend the path your projectile takes to send it virtually anywhere on the screen.
After months of waiting, it's finally here! Nitrome has just rolled out Hot Air 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the balloon physics game Hot Air. The new incarnation is bigger, better, more intricate and more stylish than the original, proving it's possible to take an already polished game idea and turn it into something even better. Plus, you get to make your own balloons!
In Rat Maze 2, you are a mouse in a maze and you must collect all the pieces of cheese in the shortest time possible. Use the arrow keys for movement to zip around the maze. Running over a cheese is as good as eating it, so no time is wasted collecting them all. Simple retro fun from the highly talented developers at PixelJam.
Sunday Lawn, a game from the creator of Castle Smasher, Donut Games, puts you in control of Charlie whose job is to cut the grass around his house. Unfortunately there are dogs, hedgehogs, and various other obstacles standing in the way of monocotyledonous perfection.
Benjamin Colwell of Indie Flash Arcade has just released this remarkably attractive arcade Flash game that blends the casual gameplay of classic video games with a stylish (and stunning!) presentation. The result is POD: Planetary Orbital Defense, a 15-level shoot-em-up bonanza that culminates in a boss fight against an alien invasion.
Dot Action 2 is a cute little platformer with a personality. For those seeking some old-school gameplay, OffGao of Japan may have just what you're looking for. At first glance these games may appear as nothing special, but as was the case with many early video games, it's all about the gameplay.
In Flatland, it is your mission to destroy wave after wave of... things. You get points. OK, the idea isn't completely original, but the design is quite interesting. At first you start off in a tiny ship with litle armor and a miniscule weapon. Destroying enemies will cause them to explode in an array of large blocky pixels, the collection of which upgrades your ship. The interesting bit is that collecting an odd number of them gives you an odd shaped ship until you gather more and regain composure.
Snake Classic takes this simple game mechanic and gives it new life with catchy music, tons of gameplay options (how many dots to grab, sound effects, etc.) In addition you get to choose what colors your snakey protagonist will have using a grid of dots that looks like something out of a kid's dream box of marbles.
Knytt is a downloadable game of exploration and atmosphere for Windows created by the author of Within a Deep Forest, Nifflas. The game emphasizes discovery and intrigue over everything and creates a massive world with varied environments and lots of places to explore. A spacecraft kidnapped the cat-like Knytt from his home but crashes on its way back, sending pieces of the ship across a mysterious planet. Your job is to traverse the barren world in search of the missing parts and try to get back home.
Those of you who enjoy a stripped-down text adventure game and don't mind a bit of repetition will get a bit of fun out of these DHTML-based Enchanted Forest games. The point is to get as much gold as you can. For such a simple game it's surprisingly addictive, but don't worry—if you're a true casual gamer, you can leave your game at any time and when you return, it will be waiting exactly as you left it.
Bill the Demon is an action adventure platformer with a very nice old-school flair to it. In the game you play as Bill, a lowly demon with a voracious appetite for human souls. To prove himself worthy to his peers, Bill sets out on a mission to the Ninth Circle of Hell to fetch the devil's autograph.
Pod Panic is a gorgeous little arcade Flash shooter that is simple to play and terribly addictive. Each level presents you with an increasing number of pods, round bumper-like objects that tend to gravitate towards your ship, and a string-creature that is rather hypnotizing to watch. Great old-school arcade fun in a tight little package.
Empires and Dungeons has been receiving a lot of praise for its stripped-down mechanics and surprisingly captivating gameplay. Taking on the role of a medieval emperor, you must gather resources to help build an army, both to attack your rivals and to defend your castle. Along the way you'll venture into deep dungeons, meet mysterious traders, pillage in the name of the empire and much, much more.
Skatefall is John Freeborn's tribute to one of the earliest platformers, the Atari 2600's Pitfall! With a bodacious new skateboard, online scoreboard, bonus items and powerups, 2D platforming has a new name: Skatefall Harry. As a homage, Skatefall is extremely effective and faithful; the graphics and sound are perfect and the difficulty, while formidable, is appropriate.
An adventure game in the classic sense of the genre, as well as in a more low-tech DHTML implementation, the Mystery of Castle Wildenburg combines original photography of Germany's deep woods with the cartoon drawings of artist Aurèle Mechler, which together produces a unique visual appeal to this engaging and compelling Web-based game by Jörg Jochims.
Gamma Bros. is a deliciously slow-paced old-school space shooter created by PixelJam. It's written in flash and offers both an online version and downloadable files for the Mac and Windows. Although simple in looks and design, Gamma Bros. gives the illusion of a massive game world interspersed with moments of action and quiet space floating.
Rainbow Wars is a retro-style arcade shooter available as a free download for Windows, and it is one of those rare finds that becomes an instant favorite once you see it in action. Sporting similar controls to that of the classic Robotron, in which two joysticks are used to control movement and firing separately, this game captures the essence of a classic arcade experience in a well-developed albeit small package.
Why are so many of the most difficult video games also the cutest? Maybe my brain just automatically forgets games that are both ugly and frustrating. Added to the "cute but evil" list comes Within a Deep Forest, a completely free downloadable game for Windows that casts you as a little blue ball, bouncing around a delightfully whimsical little world filled with the most frustrating jumping puzzles known to man.
Thy Dungeonman 3: Behold Thy Graphics! is a parody of the old 5¼-inch floppy text and graphic adventure games. Made by Videlectrix, Homestar Runner's fictional software design company, Dungeonman 3 sports "state-of-the-art amber monochrome visuals" (circa 1980), real-time simulated medieval English text, a parser that talks back to you, and enough mocked adventure game cliches to fill your beer stein twice full.
GridWars is a free downloadable (for PC or Mac) old-school-style shooting game that's remarkably similar to Geometry Wars on the Xbox. Your small ship sits in a one-screen grid and vectorized enemies spawn to attack. Use your any-directional gun to stay alive while you rake in points.
From Mark Arenz and his Ridiculopathy site full of ridiculousness comes this hilarious new adventure with an old-school dungeon flair. The game is light-hearted and pokes fun at some classic games as well as itself. Good fun and a nice change from the usual point-and-click approach to Flash adventure games.
Yard Invaders is a Shockwave action arcade game similar to Space Invaders, and yet with some unique gameplay twists. The game features RobotDuck's characteristic child-like hand-drawn graphics and animation, and yet it is packed with gameplay that is surprisingly refined for the game's appearance.