Alabama Smith in Escape from Pompeii is a new adventure game that builds inventory puzzles into a hidden object-style interface. You play the young Alabama Smith, an archaeology student who has just been given the opportunity to study in Naples. His mentor tells him of a mysterious amulet buried in the ruins of Pompeii that is rumored to grant the owner the ability to travel through time.
Who would have thought parking cars could be turned into a casual game? Parking Dash, following in the long footsteps of other time management games such as Diner Dash, Wedding Dash, Cooking Dash, etc., twists the genre's formula around a bit to park the game at a safe distance from Cloneville. The end result, like Airport Mania, is a breath of fresh air that breaks the mold in all the right places.
In My Tribe, you play as sort of a guardian angel for a tribe of island-dwellers, telling them what to do, dragging them from place to place, and occasionally sprinkling them with a (hopefully) beneficial potion. Harvest food, wood, and stone to build with. Your tribe continues to work even when your computer is off. It's remarkably similar to Virtual Villagers but better in a number of ways.
The wait is over! The release of the latest Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst is finally here. Big Fish Games Studios takes the hidden object genre to unprecedented new heights with an absolutely gorgeous, hidden object / adventure hybrid that is sure to please a very wide range of casual game players. This is one game you don't want to miss!
Back before you were referred to as "Master Detective," before your journey to a haunted English manor, before your exploits in a rundown carnival, you were nothing more than a lowly intern. When an epidemic of crime breaks out in the once quiet town of Huntsville, though, your chance to rise to detective greatness finally arrives. Now you must work against the clock to catch the wrong doers in the act by using your keen eye to pick up on the clues that no one else seems able to find.
Want something charming that you'll play with a wry grin on your face? Mark & Mandi's Love Story is exactly that, packaging spot the difference puzzles, memory matching, jigsaw-style challenges and more with a great hand drawn art style. Play the role of Cupid's helper on a quest to sculpt Mark and Mandi's relationship to perfection.
Normally, mixing real estate with casual gaming wouldn't seem like a smart move, but HipSoft's latest release proves you can take a complex subject matter and make it fun. Build-a-lot 3: Passport to Europe continues the highly successful Build-a-lot series with just the right balance between familiarity and innovation to lure new and veteran players alike. Hone your real estate skills as you buy, upgrade and sell houses, collect rent, and attract new residents to neighborhoods that need your expert eye.
There's nothing quite like a day on the farm: the smell of freshly tilled soil, tender plants sprouting, and honeybees buzzing in search of nectar. Some call it work, but if you've ever met Alice Greenfingers, you know it's more like play. The lovable pig-tailed girl is back, tending her Uncle Berry's farm in Alice Greenfingers 2, a sequel that does nothing but improve upon the original.
Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold is another superb hidden object adventure game from Artogon Games, creator of The Mystery of the Crystal Portal. Both titles share a unique design among hidden object games where you are presented with contextual search clues instead of generic lists of objects. In essence, your goal is to explore the physical objects in each scene and collect items to solve individual puzzles. It's a new and interesting take on the genre that opens up many new puzzle possibilities.
A blend of Virtual Villagers, Westward, and strategy games such as Warcraft and Tribal Trouble, Forgotten Lands: First Colony is a casual RTS game that hits the sweet spot between challenge, complexity, and captivating casual gameplay. The game puts you at the helm of a young civilization looking to strike out and settle new lands. Everything about Forgotten Lands is geared towards easing you into the experience, yet there's no shortage of depth or intrigue.
Farming used to seem like a chore, then the casual game market took hold and turned caring for crops into a resource management experience. Farm Mania is the latest of those games, following a similar path as Farm Frenzy 2 but keeping things fresh and interesting. Yes, it's yet another game with "mania" in the title, but the experience underneath is subtly different and twice as rewarding. And much cuter, I have to admit.
Bejeweled Twist is PopCap's latest installment in the well-recognized series. Instead of clicking a single tile and then choosing an adjacent space to move it to, Bejeweled Twist turns your cursor into a 2x2 circle that spins its contents one quarter turn clockwise. The result is a new kind of match 3 that's fresh and fun all over again.
From the same group that brought us Agatha Christie: Peril at End House and Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet comes an equally alluring hidden object game, Dr. Lynch: Grave Secrets. This entry veers away from the more adventure-oriented direction and hugs the item finding wall fairly close, but the same high production values and great storyline remain intact.
World of Goo is a phenomenally creative physics-based building game where you assemble bits of goo to form structures leading to an exit pipe in each stage. The visuals are stunning, the sense of humor wry, and there are gameplay innovations at every corner.
Musiac Box is a unique combination of a puzzle game and a musical toy that will challenge your brain and delight your ears all at the same time. Using tiles that represent individual musician's portions of a song, arrange the Tetris-like pieces on the grid and listen to the results. It's an extraordinarily simple premise for a game and the "match the tiles to the melody" puzzle solving is surprisingly enjoyable, even for non-music lovers.
Miriel the Magical Merchant is a medieval-themed time management game from Myth People, the same folks that brought us the well-polished puzzle game Azkend. As per the developer's reputation, Miriel the Magical Merchant takes a familiar formula, pulls out some of the set conventions, replaces them with something much more interesting, and slaps a shiny coat of paint on the top. The final product is something familiar but remarkably fresh that looks almost as good as it plays.
Standing toe to toe with games like Azada, Dream Chronicles, and even the Mystery Case Files series isn't an easy job, but Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena matches (and, in many areas, surpasses) its contemporaries with a fun blend of adventure and hidden object gaming.
Swarm Gold is an update to, and replacement for, the original Swarm created by Reflexive Entertainment back in 1998. The new Swarm Gold features an impressive emulated 3D graphics system and realistic sound. You have free range to fly around the entire map just as we've seen in many modern top-down shooters.
- • G2: Geeks Unleashed
- • Scrapbook Paige
- • The Hidden Object Show: Season 2
More games to make you scratch your head, this bonus edition of Weekend Download features a few titles that caught my eye in one way or another. I especially enjoyed G2: Geeks Unleashed, not only for its corny references (every one of which I understood!), but for its unique strategy/puzzle gameplay.
- • Mystery Chronicles - Murder Among Friends
- • The Lost Snowmen
- • Cavern of Doom
- • Goban
Two really fascinating blasts from (or to) the past this week: The Lost Snowmen, which spiritually resurrects one of my favorite games from the 90s, The Lost Vikings, and Cavern of Doom, which takes pixelated graphics to an almost painful extreme.
Jump Jump Jelly Reactor is a matching puzzle game that isn't afraid to try out new ideas. Instead of flat and boring blocks, tiles or even gems, this game fills your screen with lively jellies that can be combined to form larger characters with brand new properties. Gameplay is a unique combination of strategy and puzzle matching that extends a good variety of tasks your way. It's rare that a matching game really catches my eye, but Jump Jump Jelly Reactor provides such a full experience, it's hard to pass up.
Released in 2005 by German game developers FAKT Software, Crazy Machines was a cult classic that only recently began to breach the barrier to "fan-favorite" status among casual gamers. Publicized mainly by word of mouth, this out-of-the-ordinary puzzle game staked its claim as the next-generation leap from The Incredible Machine, which reached its height of popularity almost a decade earlier. The common theme in both games is the use of Rube Goldberg-inspired machines and contraptions to solve a puzzle or obstacle in each level.
The Cake Mania series is back with its third installment, Cake Mania 3! Not content to confine the game to slinging cakes in fancy modern-day locales, Sandlot installed an interesting storyline that splits the game into five unique areas, each in a different time period and different place. While the core mechanics remain unchanged, Cake Mania 3 serves up something unique in the resource management series to create a wholly enjoyable game.
For many casual gamers, the word Peggle has become almost magical in nature. Last year's pachinko-style title from PopCap caught us by complete surprise with its blend of deliciously simple gameplay and subtle strategy coated in the glossy paint of a stellar presentation. Now, Peggle Nights has arrived with all-new levels, a new setting, and a handful of other extras, all ready to steal your time like few other games can.
From the city lofts and apartments comes the sound of home improvement: hammers pounding, saws buzzing, and paint rollers slopping. Is it a new season for Do-Up-My-Home-TV? No, even better. The crack design team of the now-classic game, Home Sweet Home, has returned. But these designers aren't content with country living rooms any more. Home Sweet Home 2 takes style to new heights by tackling big city high rise apartments, along with some sleek improvements and additional rooms.
Farm Frenzy 2, the follow-up to last year's Farm Frenzy, takes the smell out of farming with a challenging and addictive resource management/arcade title. Keep your animals fed so they produce basic goods you can refine into more complex (and profitable) products. Then, load everything on a truck and send it to town, using the resulting cash to upgrade your buildings to be faster and more efficient. But uh, watch out for panda bears that drop from the sky. They don't play very nicely with your livestock.
With just over a year in the making, Azada: Ancient Magic, the sequel to the enormously successful adventure/hidden object hybrid Azada, has finally arrived! Fusing a large variety of unique puzzles with an undeniably intriguing atmosphere, Azada: Ancient Magic puts you in the shoes of a puzzle solver helping the young Titus disarm a magical menace. As you sift through the library of classic literature you'll help legendary characters such as Rapunzel, King Arthur, Dracula and more escape from stories gone awry. Expect some great puzzles and a lot of interesting minigames to come your way in this spectacular sequel.
- • World Mosaics
- • Cy-Clone
- • Yard Sale Junkie
Each week we churn through dozens of downloadable casual games searching for just the right ones to feature. Is it interesting and fun, or is it just another clone? Does it have pretty pictures? Much like our weekly Link Dump Friday feature, this edition of Weekend Download highlights some of the games that, for one reason or another, didn't quite make it to a full review but are still unique and worth playing.
Rooms: The Main Building is an upgraded full version of the Flash game Rooms released early last year. Created by HandMade Games, Rooms: The Main Building is a clever combination of puzzle and adventure elements. Bored with simple sliding puzzles, the main character receives a strange gift that transports him to another world. Here, rooms are broken into a series of spaces that can be moved around a grid like a sliding puzzle. Gather items to unlock more rooms as you search for puzzle pieces that lead the way out of this bizarre realm.
The Mystery of the Crystal Portal is the latest casual title to bend the genre mold and create a hidden object/adventure hybrid. This one succeeds where many other efforts fail, however, by ramping up the level of intrigue and by building relationships between items you find and objects on the screen. The result is less of a hidden object game and more of a still-screen adventure title... with a few missing items.
The popular solitaire card game returns in Tri-Peaks 2: Quest for the Ruby Ring. Piles of cards are arranged in triangular patterns at the top of the screen. The bottom row are turned face-up. The remainder of the deck is shuffled at the bottom of the screen with a single card visible. All you have to do is take cards from the "peaks" that are either one above or one below the active card and remove them to the bottom of the screen.
Wik and the Fable of Souls is an engaging action platfomer classic developed by Reflexive Entertainment. Help guide the frog-like Wik as he swings and jumps using his grapple-like tongue, collecting coins, gems and grubs along the way. Watch out for enemy bugs and shoot them down with an array of objects or other insects you spit from your mouth.
A new twist on chocolate-making — or is it an old twist? Rather than exploring the world in search of new ingredients, this version of Chocolatier will have you serving individual customers in gourmet shops, in a style similar to the now classic Cake Mania. Mix chocolates, fill them, shape them, add on delicious toppings or serve them up plain. Whatever you do, serve them quickly — Baumeister's patrons are a hungry, impatient bunch.
Forgotten Riddles is back with a brand new installment that breaks new ground. The first game in the series introduced riddles that must be solved in order to know which items you were looking for and adhered to the hidden object formula quite readily. Moonlight Sonatas takes the game even further from the genre norm with more riddles, more puzzle-based games, and several new kinds of scenes that add a little liveliness into an otherwise still game.
PictoWords is a casual word game similar to a rebus puzzle — you know the ones, in which you form a word or phrase from pictures and letters. Each round you're offered a selection of square picture tiles, round letter tiles, and a few hints in case you get stuck. It's your job to fill in as many words as you can using both pictures and letters. It's a slightly quirky but very challenging word game that stretches both sides of your brain.
Play Texas Hold 'Em against skillful computer opponents in Governor of Poker. Build your reputation and wealth in a dusty western town by winning at poker and buying up property. You start out in a small Texas town with some money in your pocket and ambition to climb up in the world. As you win at poker, you are able to buy property and increase your reputation. The higher your reputation, the more poker games you get invited to, and so on, until you own the whole town. You can even make headlines in the town's newspaper!
In Sandlot's newest addition to the Tradewinds series, Tradewinds Caravans, experience the excitement and derring-do of a merchant's life, without the boredom and general unpleasantness that would tend to come with the real thing. In this loose, fantastical simulation of a merchant's life circa 100 BC, you will explore the silk road, fight your way through swarms of bandits, and uncover the unique story of the character you choose.
- • Tropico Jong: Butterfly Expedition
- • BlockOn!
- • INNO-vation 2007
- • Phyta
A few short, experimental-type games this week, including one from prolific Game Maker designer cactus, a two color game where you are a wild boar, and a game where you control a dark sun to capture golden butterfly/angel-type things. And just to make sure you don't go mad with weirdness, there's a nice relaxing mahjong game to tame the inner beasts.
The Clumsys is a hidden object game that departs from the traditional formula just enough to feel like a new experience. It's Tim's tenth birthday and his friends are over to celebrate. Grandpa Albert is working on a time machine in the barn, but when he turns his back the children discover it and go hurdling through time. Each of the 20 kids has been deposited in a different era, and it's your job to find them, fix all the problems they've caused, and bring them back!
- • Ancient Quest of Saqqarah
- • Puzzle Hero
Sometimes a formula just works, and in the case of the tried-and-true matching setup, we've seen it work time and time again. This edition of Weekend Download highlights a few new games that take the matching to a new level with interesting twists on the old convention.
Sick of slinging cakes in time management games? Want to build a real estate empire but don't feel like crunching numbers? Build in Time may be your answer. Combining some of the best features from big titles such as Build-a-lot 2: Town of the Year and Cake Mania 2, Build in Time blends resource management gameplay with a simple real estate theme to breathe a little life into a familiar genre.
Ready to scratch your hidden object itch? A new Hidden Expedition has arrived! Along with the Mystery Case Files series, the Hidden Expedition games are among the best-known titles in the genre. And for good reason. Hidden Expedition: Amazon has extraordinarily high production values, interesting gameplay that tweaks the familiar formula in very subtle ways, and plenty of crowded scenes to scrutinize.
A casual game that both challenges and chides you is finally here, and it's time to cater to your toughest customer yet: Chef Gordon Ramsay. Hell's Kitchen is a resource management management sim based on the gritty reality-television cooking competition show of the same name. Take control of both serving and cooking as you seat customers and prepare meals to meet chef Ramsay's high expectations. Perform well and raise your rank from dishwasher to Senior Chef, but if you fail you suffer Ramsay's fiery, scornful wrath.
Digital Chocolate comes Tower Bloxx Deluxe, a PC downloadable version of its hit Flash game Tower Bloxx. Deluxe features an amped-up, graphically-superior 3D presentation to the original mobile title with more complexity and improved game mechanics. Watch the swinging block and tap the spacebar to drop it. Line the blocks up and watch how high the tower can grow!
In Dairy Dash you are in charge of a family of farmers who must feed, water, and care for a number of animals (and patches of garden) in order to harvest milk, eggs and other products. Dairy Dash eschews a number of more complex game mechanics and focuses on efficient ordering of tasks, not how many convoluted upgrades you can buy. Because of its simplicity, Dairy Dash provides one of the most rewarding resource management experiences in the genre that's familiar but with a few strokes of originality.
In Out of Your Mind, you play the role of the spa's newest employee, helping patients rid their brain of festering Nega-Tics and nasty brain gunk. While your clients may end up walking away with a new lease on life, something suspicious is going on between your employers, Belinda Blissful and Dr. Stroganoff...
Based on the James Patterson novels (and the subsequent television spin-off), Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet is a murder mystery wrapped in an adventure game spiced with light hidden object scenes and a few simple minigames. Investigating crimes is the central focus of gameplay, with heaping doses of clue sniffing, murder scene scrutinizing, and some light labwork here and there to keep the story moving along. You don't need to be a fan of the series to enjoy the game, and even if you are, Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet weaves a completely new tale (penned by Patterson) that stays faithful to the original characters' personalities. This time, however, you're in charge.
We have just finished a massive walkthrough guide for Virtual Villagers 3: The Secret City. This Hint-through guide will provide gentle nudges in the right direction to help you get the best from your experience with the latest Virtual Villagers game. Be warned: This guide does contain some spoilers, so proceed with caution and as a last resort!
Virtual Villagers is back, and we're so excited we couldn't wait until the weekend to tell you! With Virtual Villagers 3: The Secret City, the surprisingly addictive real-time simulation game sticks with its proven formula and makes a few minor tweaks to freshen up gameplay. With new secrets to uncover, new technologies, real-time weather effects and a whole new island to explore, Virtual Villagers 3 has all the ingredients that made the first games so compelling, plus more.
There's a new Wonderland in town, rounding out the 3D action-puzzle series by Midnight Synergy. Our last review in this series was the well-received Wonderland Secret Worlds, in which a storm rolled through and blew all the little Stinkers away. In the new Wonderland Adventures, you fill the shoes of a hero once more, this time trying to save entire Wonderland realm, which is being threatened by a dark, matter-destroying void.
Ice Cream Dee Lites is a resource management game that separates itself from similar titles in the genre with catchy art work and gobs of personality. At its heart the game is composed of the same food serving skeleton casual players are quite familiar with. The music, sound effects, setting and artwork display a classic 1950s motif, and the customers are so filled with charm you can't help but love the game.
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.
- • The Hidden Object Show
- • Debrysis
- • Octave Engine Cake
- • Karoshi 2.0
- • J20
- • Obake
A game where the goal is to kill yourself, a Japanese ghost who absorbs and turns into enemies, and a downloadable sandbox webtoy where you build things out of rice and then set them on fire? Yep, smells like a Weekend Download all right...
Dogs, cats, fish, bunnies and birds. It seems like everybody wants one, and it's your job to provide! In Pet Shop Hop you play Cassie, a zoology major working to preserve her family's pet store against the might of the Megapet Superstore. It's a resource management game along the lines of Airport Mania and Magic Farm, but tasks are separated into distinct categories and the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed and, well, cuddlier.
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.
Two heavy-hitting adventure games hit the casual scene this weekend, one a re-release of a classic point-and-click title, the other an exclusive from a seasoned adventure development studio. Each one spins an unforgettable tale using famous crime novel monikers everyone should recognize. Although the titles take strikingly different gameplay approaches, each one offers a deep mystery experience wrought with hidden agendas, misleading clues, and plenty of riddles to solve.
Decorating your home is loads of fun. Assuming you have a huge budget, unlimited resources, and all the time in the world. Sandlot's new casual game Eye for Design drops you in the interior design chair with near total control over the inside of each house. You play Cheri, the top grad from a prestigious design school in Paris, working with clients looking to spruce up their abodes. Choose and arrange nearly every element in each room to make the customer happy and earn respect in the interior design world.
Fresh from Grubby Games, creator of all things Professor Fizzwizzle, comes a new brain teaser/puzzle title with a huge dose of cute. The Amazing Brain Train features a heaping handful of brain games woven together with a series of quests given to you by furry animals in distress. In order to traverse the board game-style overworld, you need to unlock sections of track and power your train with, what else, brain power! It's a well-made puzzle experience that puts the "fun" back into "brain teaser" (trust me, it's there).
Agatha Christie: Peril at End House is a pleasant blend of casual gaming and classic mystery. Often, hidden picture games can seem dull and repetitive, with contrived plots that quickly fall flat. This is not the case with Peril at End House. Even if you guess the solution to the mystery early in the game, Christie's clever twists and turns might lead you astray.
Gazillionaire's characters have certainly got faces only a mother could love, but if you just get to know this addictive lemonade-stand game you'll come to appreciate its inner beauty. You play a budding entrepreneur in the galaxy of Kukubia. The object of the game is to reach a certain amount of wealth, depending on the length of game you select.
Another popular television game show to make the leap to the casual gaming world. The classic "guess the most popular answer" formula is as exciting on your computer as it is on TV, only now it's much more interactive than just yelling at the screen. With over 3,000 questions to ponder and a tacked-on home decorating game, you won't have a hard time finding an excuse to guess what the "survey says".
A brick-busting title centered around one gameplay element: destruction. It doesn't try to woo you with a fancy story or strategic power-ups, instead opting for ancient Egyptian temples and spears, hammers and ballistas to speed up the destruction. Throw all that carnage into a pleasingly crisp presentation and, well, you'll have a lot more fun than you thought you'd have with a simple Breakout game.
- • Miss Teri Tale
- • Danger Mouse in the Black Forest Chateau
- • Albero and the Great Blue Emblem
- • Noitu Love 2
- • Ad Nauseam 2
Noitu loooove Miss Teri Tale! Danger Mouse? In the black forest, ad nauseam, with Albero and the great blue emblem.
Airport Mania from South Winds Games is a time management sim that drops all the trite settings and food-related themes we've grown tired of in the genre. Instead of serving cake or pizza or sandwiches, your job is to direct airplanes, load passengers, and make sure everything runs smoothly. All of this is accomplished with a simple interface and airplanes that are too cute for their own good. And unlike real airports, you can actually have flights arrive on time or even early!
Build-a-lot 2 is a real estate tycoon sim game where you must improve the value of different towns by meeting goals set by each area's mayor. Tasks range from building a number of houses/buildings to earning a set amount of cash or increasing rent income to a certain level. All the while you must manage three things: cash, workers, and materials. It's simple, extraordinarily fun, and could easily be one of the best casual games of 2008.
- • Pac the Man
- • Napkin Race
- • Downhill PAKOON! 2.Many Unlimited 2009
- • Orbit Racers
Driving, driving everywhere, but not a brake to squeek. Er... never mind about that lousy rhyme, its driving time! So hop in, close the door, and press that pedal to the floor. And you can also play the other non-driving games. You know, if you want to.
The sequel to Sandlot's Virtual Villagers-esque hit sim Westward has finally arrived! Westward II: Heroes of the Frontier continues the old west drama with a whole new batch of improvements, including 3D visuals, new buildings to construct, more scenarios to complete, and a brand new sandbox mode. Keep your townspeople happy, fed, and busy gathering resources as you expand across the uncharted territory in search of the elusive Copperhead Gang.
Youda Camper is a slow-paced simulation game along the lines of Sim City. You're put in charge of creating and running a camp site, from where to put the toilets to how many spaces for tents to allocate. Keep campers happy by building amenities and learn from their complaints to construct a campsite that rakes in the cash day after day.
Hoyle Enchanted Puzzles is a mixed take on a number of common casual gaming puzzle types such as the marble popper, match-3, mahjong, and samegame. Strung together by a wizard-filled fantasy plot, you travel throughout the Valley of Skye completing puzzles to earn Craft, Nature, and Mind experience points that open new types of challenges. It's an enticing blend of puzzle and RPG elements with more than enough variety to go around.
Fashion Solitaire is a surprisingly challenging blend of solitaire and dress-ups. You must dress a certain number of models with at least a hairstyle, top and bottom garment and shoes before you can progress, and there may be conditions attached, such as including a red item. You can earn more dollars by designing your own clothes and adding them to the solitaire deck. On the solitaire side, each card represents a garment type (i.e. shoes, jewelry, skirts, etc) and features particular colors and patterns. They are stacked in piles with only the top card exposed, and you use the exposed cards to dress your model.
- • Westward II: Heroes of the Frontier
- • Rom Check Fail
- • Owl Country
- • Perfectionism
- • Dangerous Highschool Girls In Trouble
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.
Come on down! You're the next contestant on The Price is Right! One of the oldest televised gameshows still in production today, The Price is Right has seen several dozen seasons in the United States and is broadcast in almost as many countries. That's a whole lot of people sitting in their living room trying to guess the price of a wine rack with removable shelves. Now, developer Ludia is bringing the same formula to the casual gaming realm, dropping you front row center as one of the contestants!
Casual adventure games are gaining ground as titles such as Azada and the Dream Chronicles series cut out the complexity and serve up a little lighthearted gaming alongside item-based puzzles. Natalie Brooks - Secrets of Treasure House follows suit in an adventure that uses optional hidden object scenes to earn hints to solve puzzles in the main quest. It's a good blend of genres that, despite its rather short length and occasional grammatical hiccup, holds your attention with an interesting story and varied gameplay.
With DragonStone, dev studio PlayPond bravely mashed a marble-grouping game with a shoot-em-up, spray-painted it with a medieval fantasy theme, and literally turned the whole thing on its head. The result is an exciting and perilously addictive experiment, with the friendly face and high production values of a casual game.
Another casual game that tries its hand at blending genres, Curse of the Pharaoh: Quest for Nefertiti takes two popular game types to ancient Egypt for a fascinating puzzle-adventure experience. The game's main tricks are spot-the-difference scenes along with a few simple hidden object excursions. You'll also unlock minigames and solve adventure-style puzzles using artifacts you find and assemble in dusty old tombs. It's a relatively easy game, making it accessible to a wide range of players, but the real hook is the deliciously mysterious Egyptian setting based on the real-life mystery of Queen Nefertiti's burial.
Aah, gardening. One of the most relaxing and rewarding hobbies one can undertake. There's nothing like planting flowers and watching them grow, especially when you get to sell them for loads of cash and smash gigantic bees and snails with a shovel from time to time! This is the basic premise of Magic Farm, a resource management simulation along the lines of Grimm's Hatchery and Alice Greenfingers. As a magic-wielding gardener, you must plant, water, protect and raise a variety of flowers to sell for cash. You also have three basic skills that can be increased as you play, lending a delicious RPG flavor to the game.
- • Rainbow Web II
- • Gun Mute
- • The Hangover
- • Powder
Hangovers, guns, and retro roguelike games. Sounds like a typical Saturday night in the 80s. This weekend, however, we're celebrating the good ole days casual gaming style, which results in less money spent, fewer blackouts, and absolutely no inexplicable bruises.
Escape the Museum is an intriguing adventure/hidden object game that reaches into room escape territory for inspiration. You play as Susan Anderson, a museum curator showing her daughter a dinosaur exhibit when a fierce earthquake suddenly rocks the building. Falling debris knocks Susan unconscious, and when she awakens she discovers she's trapped in the room and Caitlin is missing! Find the objects you'll need to fashion an exit, then recover precious museum artifacts as you work your way through the rubble searching for your daughter.
Following the highly-successful footsteps of puzzle-RPG hybrids, Spandex Force combines several match 3-style jewel swapping games with a sim-like spoof of superhero life. Patrol the city surrounding your headquarters searching for thieves and citizens in need. When you engage a bank robber or intervene to save a helpless human, a simple puzzle interface appears as your challenge to complete the task. It's a surprisingly fresh take on a rather tired genre that scores major points for wearing a wacky sense of humor on its sleeve.
- • The Count of Monte Cristo
- • Seven Minutes
- • To Hell in a Hamper
- • DoomRL
She is tolerable, I suppose. But she is not handsome enough to tempt me. Bingley, I am in no humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. Go back to your partner and enjoy her smiles. You're wasting your time on me. Just give me a few Weekend Download games and that's all I could ever need.
Miss Teri Tale is the first installment in a planned series of mystery-themed hidden object games. In a delicate departure from the established formula, Miss Teri Tale takes on more of an adventure guise similar to the recently-released Cate West - The Vanishing Files. The subtle shift from object finding to crime solving lends a lighter focus to the experience, and the game's hip soundtrack, gorgeous scenery and slightly satiric tone complete a surprisingly polished and entertaining package.
- • Sparkle
- • Knytt Nano
- • Gravitation
- • Neverball
- • Out of Order
- • Return to Sector 9
A very special treat reaches lucky gamers this weekend: a mini-release from Nifflas, author of Within a Deep Forest and both Knytt games. KnyttNano isn't much more than two tiny experiments Nifflas cooked up while trying out new ideas, so don't expect a life-shattering sequel-sized experience, just two simple games worth their weight in atmosphere alone.
Escape from Paradise (Windows/Mac) is a simulation/adventure game similar to Westward and Virtual Villagers where you lead shipwrecked castaways on a quest to build a tropical paradise. The interesting twist is the inclusion of minigames that help you earn supplies as well as distract you while your villagers work. It's an intriguing genre-bending concept that puts you in the role of resource manager and resident puzzle solver, and despite its not-so-polished presentation, pulls it off quite well.
An unusual point-and-click adventure that drops the conventions of item management in favor of supernatural abilities. There is no inventory, as you don't pick up and carry objects in this game. Instead you gain a battery of ghostly powers that allow you to interact with the environment just like a flesh-and-blood human. It's a refreshing take on the adventure genre with a good sense of humor, unique puzzles, and a captivating game world.
- • The Nightshift Code
- • Painajainen
- • Beneath a Steel Sky
- • Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection
- • Avernum 5
The Weekend Download arrives with glee, Bringing fun games to you, from me. Just download and play, Then sit there all day, On Saturday you couldn't be more free!
Cate West - The Vanishing Files is a hidden object game that strays as far as it can from the genre without turning into a minigame-focused mystery adventure. In addition to your usual "find all the objects on the list" gameplay, Cate West weaves a number of evidence-related games that keep the pointing and clicking from getting stale. Paired with stellar artwork and an interesting storyline, the final result is something that provides the charm of a hidden object game with new experiences and lighter, more engaging gameplay.
The pickles are attacking! Run! And while you're running, why not set up a few defensive towers to take out the Horripickles and Fisquitoes chasing you? In Sandlot's latest game, Monster Mash, you must protect storybook villages and their people from evil fairy tale monsters. It's a tower defense game with artwork, characters and plot taken right out of a children's book, and it's every bit as surreal as you might think.
We've just finished a complete walkthrough (with images) for Dream Chronicles 2: The Eternal Maze!! Be warned: contains major spoilers, so proceed only as a last resort.
The Eternal Maze continues where the first game left off with a beautiful blend of puzzles, adventure, object finding and Myst-like environments. You play Faye, a mortal woman whose fairy husband has been kidnapped and daughter imprisoned by Lilith, the Queen of Fairies. By solving a series of puzzles you can reach Fidget and awaken Lyra, but the Queen is always one step ahead!
- • The Sims Carnival BumperBlast
- • Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden
- • Teewars
- • Legacy of Flan: Flan Rising
- • Ethereal Dreams
It's old-school RPG fest here on this installment of Weekend Download! Three out of five games featured have that special "console flavor" those of us who grew up playing SNES games can't get enough of. Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden is a must-play simply for its odd setting and premise, while Legacy of Flan turns the RPG battle system on its head and Ethereal Dreams brightens your day with nice artwork. And if you aren't into the role playing scene, give BumperBlast or Teewars a shot for a little more action.
The fashion business has changed quite a bit since Jojo Cruz took an early retirement a few decades back. So, now that her daughter, Rosalind, has convinced Jojo to make a comeback, is it any wonder that she needs your help? Grab your eye for style and get ready for Jojo's Fashion Show.
It's SimCity meets isometric Tetris in this new casual mash-up from Electronic Arts, The Sims Carnival SnapCity. As mayor its your job to build a thriving city and keep its citizens happy and prosperous. Three colors of blocks descend onto the grid, each one representing residential, commercial or industrial zones. When the blocks land and are connected by roads, citizens begin to move in and your population grows. Extras like puzzle zones and natural disasters keep the action lively, but it doesn't take much more than that to keep you hooked on this addictive game.
- • Caribbean Hideaway
- • Hurrican
- • Nimuh
- • Excelsior Phase One: Lysandia
- • Really Rather Good Battles In Space
This week we've got a few mega-doses of nostalgic bliss for our seasoned gamers. At the top of the list is Excelsior, a deceptively simple-looking role playing game that doesn't try anything unconventional but still manages to deliver an excellent experience. Hurrican, on the other hand, modernizes a classic shooter by leaving the gameplay intact and giving the visuals a facelift. And if retro gaming isn't your thing, we've also included some not-old titles that are sure to please your twitching gaming fingers (and eyes).
Turbo Subs, a follow-up to Turbo Pizza, is a food serving time management game along the lines of Cake Mania 2 and Diner Dash. On vacation from the hectic pace of serving pizza (at turbo speeds), Rebecca and Robert travel to New York to relax. The entrepreneurial bug has bitten them, however, and when they see a small subway car they just can't help themselves. With Robert behind the sandwich counter and Rebecca serving food, the pair opens up a subway shop and hopes for success.
Are you the type of person who walks into a room and immediately thinks about a remodel? "Ew... who put those curtains with that carpet? And that coffee table is way too close to the couch. How do you reach the window?" Perhaps you like to dabble in feng-shui. Or, maybe you're one of those weekend warriors when it comes to home-improvement. In any case, you're ready to try out your hand at design. If so, welcome home. Home Sweet Home, that is.
- • Blood Ties
- • Swarm Racer
- • Psychosomnium
- • Big Box of Blox
- • Guru Logic Champ
- • Millenipede
It's time for Mysterious Mysteries of the Unknown! Mysteries! We've uncovered an old, import-only Japanese Game Boy Advance puzzle game from a company that folded shortly after publishing the title, a 450 year-old investigator/vampire, and a Cactus release drops you in a dream-themed platforming game that makes no sense. What a world we live in.
If you've seen one match three game, you've seen 'em all, right? Azkend aims to change that, but not in the way you might think. Instead of shaking up the gameplay or introducing awkward new features, developer MythPeople spent time polishing the game to a brilliant shine. The end result is typical puzzle gameplay with an absolutely gorgeous visual design and sound package. It goes to prove that a rich presentation can turn an otherwise ordinary game into a real gem.
Flora Dale has been having one of those days. First there was the excitement of the birthday party and the lottery ticket, and then later, the horrible fall down the stairs. Now she finds herself in a hospital bed, trapped inside her own subconscious. If she hopes to survive, she must discover what has happened. Faced with obscure puzzles and hidden clues, Flora must pull off the most challenging of escapes: from her own mind. If you think you can handle the disturbing landscape of the victim's mind, then you must play Hidden Secrets: The Nightmare.
- • The Great Tree
- • The Griffon Legend
- • Fishie Fishie
- • Tile Crawl
Enjoy a feisty romp through a flat, 2D dungeon now and again? That's good, because this weekend we've got two games that drop you in the middle of a maze of corridors and monsters with only a pixelated sword to save your hide. And then there's a fish that eats other fish and faeries that collect shiny pollen. Go figure.
As evidenced by a flood of Flash-based titles in the last year or so, tower defense games are all the rage. Now, iWin is throwing its hat in the ring with Garden Defense, a full-blown downloadable tower defense game where you save your garden using gnomes, flamingos, cupid statues and a host of plants to fight off waves of attacking bugs. It's eat or be eaten in this easy to learn but surprisingly challenging strategy game!