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Best of Casual Gameplay 2008

Voting is now closed. Results are up!

PsychotronicOnce again, a year has passed. We've tried our hardest to recommend the very best online games and downloadable casual games available on the Best of Casual Gameplay 2008Web, and now it's time for you to have your say. Yes, it's time for the fifth annual Jay Is Games "Best of" feature. Help us out by voting for your favorite games of 2008!

It's a great time to be a lover of casual games. Every year we hunger for beauty and creativity in our entertainment, and every year, Web game designers exceed our expectations. More people have entered the field than ever before, thanks to MochiAds and other advertising structures that have made Flash game design a viable way to make a living.

Free and independent games have finally started to appear regularly in mainstream media outlets. XBox Live Arcade and Playstation Network are runaway successes, proving that even hardcore console owners are attracted to simple, accessible experiences. Not to mention the unstoppable market juggernaut that is the Wii, built from the ground up to be a casual gamer's paradise. And don't get me started on the avalanche of mobile phone games.

The upshot of all this is that we at Jay Is Games have more material than ever to work with, and this is the largest "Best Of" collection to date. The nominations we've listed below are culled from the top-rated entries in each category, as voted on by you, our loyal JIG audience. We've had to cut some excellent titles from the bottom of the ranks, in order to prevent this event from becoming an ungainly mammoth, but with any luck, your favorite games are there for you to support.

In a creative field that thrives on new ideas, it can be hard to divide work into neat little categories. Should this point-and-click adventure go in Point-And-Click? Or Adventure? Does this action puzzler belong in Action? Or Puzzle? We've done our best, but you're bound to find decisions that you disagree with. And in our efforts to drag out gems that have slipped through the cracks, we've listed some games that were not released in 2008. This contest is for the games we've featured in 2008, regardless of release date. We're going for internal consistency here, rather than bowing to mere reality.

You can vote for one game in each category, and once each day during the voting period! Simply click the "Vote" button adjacent to the title of the game of your choice on each of the following pages. You don't have to vote in every category, but once you vote for a game, you will be automatically taken to the next page, and you will not be able to change your vote. So think carefully about each selection.

We'll be publishing the results right here very soon, so vote now! Thank you for all your visits, your comments, and your support. Truly, this community is one of the most positive and enthusiastic on the Web, and it's always a pleasure to be able to help entertain you. Once again, all of us here at JIG Casual Gameplay would like to wish you a very Happy New Year! =)

  - Psychotronic

Here are the categories:

And the nominations are... >>


Sweet! Look at all the Nitrome Games on there! I just LOVE Nitrome, and had a hard time picking from the many nominated Nitrome games on Platform..


It wouldn't let me vote for Robokill; I suspect because you listed it in multiple categories.

[Edit: Thank you for pointing that out. It definitely should have appeared in only one category: Action or Arcade (browser). I just removed it from the download page. -Jay]

Fuzzyevil January 8, 2009 9:18 PM

If I could vote for game of the year, Untitled Story would win my vote. Most fun I've had since Cave Story.


Are all those great games really from just last year? I'm amazed.

Some difficult decisions! Especially in Adventure. I finally ended up voted for Bow Street Runner because it was the most fun for me (and I want to encourage BBC to sponsor more games like it!) but I love all of Mateusz Skutnik's works too!

In contrast, I didn't think this was such a great year for the Escape the Room genre: finding that perfect balance between having solutions make sense, and having solutions be obvious, is of course not easy. I felt like many of the EtR games this year fell too much on the nonsensical side.

There are some genre quibbles I could make too... I don't think Music Catch is interactive art, for example, and I would characterize Skyrates as multiplayer.

Anyway. I vote for JIG as best game review blog of 2008 and every year! :D


Yay! This is a great time of year, since I get to try a bunch I forgot about.

One suggestion: Since Similar games are grouped elsewhere (All 12 episodes of Gnomes, Dark Cut 1&2), I think that Mateusz Skutnik's Room Escape games should be grouped, as they're essentially all part of a larger story (and in the same house), and are probably receiving split votes.

Can you tell i voted for one of them? ;)


Oh! Oh! Oh! Too many choices! For Arcade! Should I choose Achievement Unlocked, or Fishing Girl, or Hanna in a Choppa, or Ginormo Sword? So many choices!

I also can't decide between Auditorium or Fantastic Contraption! IT'S JUST TOO MUCH!!!


A great collection of games for 2008. I just wish you'd had a chance to review Apple Defender for the strategy games. Not that it could compete with Bloons TD 3 anyway.


Awesome, two ooPixel games are there. Rapid Wars in action/arcade category and all-new Andrew the Droid in Platform category. Love that!

One suggestion, maybe you could have a link back to nominations article on each category page so that I could easier select a new category without going through all of them. After all, I am not interested in all these categories and I would like to vote only in a few categories I like the most.


No Spelunky?!?

[Edit: Spelunky was covered in 2009, so it will be up for consideration in our Best of 2009 list. -Jay]


Oh, sorry Jay. I didn't see the headers were clickable as mouse hand cursor did not work. I guess it is a Linux problem. Seen it many times not to show hand cursor when I know it should. Works sometimes - sometimes not :-/


I voted for Aether.

themesser January 9, 2009 7:01 AM

Simply the best game of the year for retro gamers.


I gotta choose between Submachine 5 and Daymare Town 2? Oh noes! They're both killer games. I'm only choosing Submachine 5 because it's in color.

[Edit: Did you see, that you can vote one time a day? So tomorrow is another day ;) Greetings, Kayleigh]



HOW HARD ARE THESE TO VOTE FOR?!?!!! It would be so nice to be able to have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd voting system (i.e. three points/two points/one point)? Not complaining as it's simply brilliant to be able to vote for such good stuff anyway.

And what a good year for games again.



Oooooohhh This is harder than the games themselves ^^. I got to the second category, Adventure, and I honestly can't decide. Trapped, Matt Sandorf, Submachine... the list is endless (ok its not endless but it wouldnt be any harder to choose if it was). Theres only one thing for it.... I'm going to have to play all my favourites through again to help me decide. See what you have made me do with this best of vote? I'm going to have to play through hours and hours of wonderful games :) Whatever I eventully vote for, I'll feel like I've betrayed the rest.

Anonymous January 9, 2009 1:26 PM

It's all about Iji. And I agree that they don't make Escape The Room games like they used to. What happened to the greats like My Diamond Baby? Although some are still good.


Wow, it is really hard to choose between all the great games here, especially the adventure and puzzle games! I'm definetly coming back tomorrow to vote again!


My two favorites for the year were Gemcraft and Amorphous+. Both used achievements and solid gameplay and brought their sub-genres to new levels.

Eschalon and Forgotten Lands (try this game!) were my favorite paid downloads.

It's hard to imagine 2009 topping last year, but let's hope it does. :)


A quick question (and it's probably mentioned somewhere, but I'm just blind):

When does the voting period end?


The only one I had major trouble with was Iji vs. An Untitled Story. I picked AUS, since it's longer and Iji's more likely to win, but christ, that was tough.

As for GotY, it's between those two or Aether. I got the most fun per second out of Iji, but AUS was longer and prettier (though I still haven't beaten the awful final boss), and Aether was just brilliant. Hrm.


So many wonderful games to choose from. Good luck to all the games involved!


Ah, thanks Jay!

I had wanted to mention on the day that voting began that dRive seems a glaring omission.

On the good side, I am overwhelmed with trying to decide which game to vote for in the tactical category--wow, seriously? Gemcraft, 2 Sonny games, Monsters Den, Protector...do I pick one and vote for that same game throughout voting, or switch between them?

So fun to get to go through and play games I missed or replay games I love!


That is too bad...it was my favorite game of all the competition games last year.

This site needs to come with a warning. I haven't done anything all day except PLAY!

Anonymous January 13, 2009 2:30 PM

No PonPon House and PonPon House 2? I loved those!


Dear Jay,

This is a wonderful competition, but unfortunately there's far, far too many entries for us to play them all.

I understand you're trying to be inclusive, but it'd still take us over a month to play them all.

We're casual gamers! We don't have the time for marathon gaming sessions!

It's strange that your climax to 2008 excludes the very audience that your blog is aimed at.

It would be nice if you could have a way of making this more accessible to the casual gamer. Perhaps a top 10 'must sees'. Instead, you've thrown at us over 360 games, spread over 22 categories.


Wow! That's a lot of hard work and dedication from you, and we really appreciate it, we do, but could we have some sort of short toplist?

We don't have many suggestions - it's up to you really - a couple of things I thought of:

1. Have a top 2 or 3 recommended in each category for people who don't have time to play all the entries.

2. Show the votes as they are made, allowing people to see who the current frontrunners are.

Best wishes

Tomato and others.


Nice lists, though even if Phantom Mansion doesn't qualify since the first installments came out in 2007, it's strange not to see Phantom Mansion II: Treasures of the Seven Seas here! Awesome puzzlers, and it's hard to believe that there will be over 300 levels to choose from once all the PMII installments are out.


Jay, did you just add the "Best of" box in the right-hand column, or has it always been there? Well, if it's new: THANK YOU THANK YOU! You read my mind! I've had so much fun re-playing and voting for 2008's games that I had been thinking I would like to look back at some past games as well. Found some favorites I had been missing.

Out of curiosity, why are some of the games that were in the 2007 competition (Day of the Bobteds, Chap Hai) also in 2008? I know we often get "re-runs" of games that have been mentioned in the past, but I didn't know they'd get to compete again.


OE Cake can no longer be downloaded.


Can anyone tell me when does the voting end..?



Nitrome games AND jmtb02 games! :D


Still, I wish they had Platform Racing 2.

RedRevolver January 29, 2009 4:56 AM

So I guess I'm the only one who really does not like nitrome then? Cool.


Nitrome won most of the popular votes.. but Jay didn't pick them!!


Couldn't you have put all the results into a nice little list so we don't have to click 50 times to get through it?


The winners represent well the year! I agree with most of the results, except for a few of them. I'd love to see Gish or Archibald's adventure winning something.

On the brief comment about Ben There Dan That: I was indeed expecting and old style adventure game. And I was indeed surprised! But because it actually is a good old style adventure game! (those games were actually comedies with interactivity) Even not having a large amount of resources, like it's old uncle, they managed to deliver with a simple artwork a lot of funny moments :)

mysteriousracoon January 29, 2009 11:50 AM

Great list but I think you have to change the layout for next year. There's just too many pages to navigate through and it would be better if you could fit more things on to page.

Instead of the winners being on a completely separate page to the nominations you could have in a pop out box which you have to click to reveal the winner (a bit like the spoiler boxes).

Anyway I'm glad to see a lot of great games getting some much deserved recognition.


Can someone explain me this years results? Staff picked their favorite game and our votes are secondary?


Has there been a decision on the best game of 2008? or is it just based on genres?


Is there an "All of 2008" section?


Well, you could take the winners of each category and have a contest between them. That would determine the ultimate best of 2008!

James Everton February 2, 2009 3:02 AM

I can't believe Magic Pen didn't even get on the top 10 for Puzzle game. I LOVED that game!


What an amazing year. I am still playing through games I never got to in 2008. Thanks for all of the work you do, Jay and JIG folks.

If I were going to vote for a top game I would vote for Gemcraft.


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