May 2005 Archives

(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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ClickRedHere is a simple one-button mouse game that is easy to understand, and yet difficult to do. In fact, it's likely that it will be downright frustrating for those without the sharpest of reflexes or mousing precision.

ClickRed is an action game in which you must click on the moving red rectangle within each level. That is it. There is nothing more to it than that.

Oh, one more thing. If you do not ClickRed, you go back a level. Try to make it through all 10 levels in the shortest time possible.

Analysis: An elegantly simple casual game that anyone with a mouse can play. Very nice. ClickRed.

Another game by Games for the Brain creator, Philipp Lenssen. Thanks for the link, Kim! =)

  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (29 votes)
Comments (14) | Views (5,842)

MagnetismAn unusual Flash game with a variety of gameplay possibilities, Magnetism lets you select the type of game that is right for you. Created by Tyler Glaiel, a 14 year-old budding game developer, Magnetism is a unique puzzle game that features challenges of strategy and skill with an emphasis on physics.

When starting the game, you will at first be presented with a choice: do you want to play a game of turn-based strategy, or one of real-time control? Turn-based strategy involves positioning a metal ball to land in a cup when dropped; while real-time control makes use of the keyboard arrow keys to maneuver a metal ball into a cup in real-time—similar to John Cooney's Ball Revamped games. Both modes then allow you to choose a difficulty level: hard ("steep learning curve") or easy ("slow learning curve").

Progress is saved via the Flash local shared object, allowing you to resume playing where you left off at any time.

Analysis: Tyler makes heavy use of magetism in the game and the underlying physics simulation has been implemented well. It was fun to see the metal ball bouncing around the invisible 'magnetic fields' in the game. The graphics aren't exceptional, and yet there is a means by which the backdrop can be changed if desired. Although the sound effects add to the enjoyment of the game, the background music loop is the same for all game modes and becomes repetitive after just a few short levels. There is no way to turn off the music.

With each difficulty level of each mode containing 25 levels, there are a total of 100 levels contained in the game. The decision to offer two very different modes of play broadens the game's potential appeal as well as increases replay value.

On the downside, although there were several levels that I found enjoyable, many of them consisted of extreme magnetic attractions that reduced the "thinking" strategy game to one of luck. Some of the levels in the real-time "skill" mode were nearly impossible for me to complete, and therefore were not as well done as the Ball Revamped games mentioned earlier.

All told, I will be looking forward to seeing what comes next from this promising young game developer as he refines his skills in game design.

Play Magnetism

With thanks to Ron for the link. =)

(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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MamezoAlthough the Nintendo DS has already popularized a similarly innovative method for controlling and interacting with a video game, this next game offers a relatively fresh gameplay mechanic that may be somewhat familiar to DS owners.

From Japanese site Netkun comes Mamezo, an action arcade game in which the player bounces a yellow robot 'egg' around the play field while popping bubbles to score points and collect power-ups. Simply click and drag the mouse to draw a line with which to bounce the egg. As long as you hold the mouse button down the line will remain intact. Move the mouse to give the egg a 'lift' when it comes in contact with the line.

Scoring for bubbles popped in a single bounce begins at 100 points and increases by 100 for each additional bubble popped, up to a maximum of 800 points each. Every time the egg bounces off the hand-drawn line, bubbles are reset back to 100.

Sometimes fruit will appear in a bubble. Pop the bubbles that contain fruit to earn fruit markers along the bottom of the play field. I haven't yet figured out what bonus, if anything, they contribute to.

Enemies will begin to appear once you get the hang of things. Avoid hitting the floating skull with the egg, or you may lose a life. You will notice at random intervals the egg will have a green highlight around it. Hit the skull when the egg is green to destroy the skull and keep playing. However, a new skull will immediately appear to replace the one you hit. Daggers will also begin to drop and will cut the line you draw if it comes in contact. Double skulls and daggers keep the action perilous and challenging, triple skulls and daggers are insane.

Analysis: After playing many "me-too" casual games that offer nothing other than a new skin to old gameplay, it is refreshing when a game comes along that forces you to think differently. As I mentioned before, Mamezo is not the first game to offer such a gameplay mechanic as drawing lines to bounce an object around a play field. Nonetheless, it is a game that will provide a unique experience for many.

Once familiar with how to draw a line and bounce the egg around, I experienced a marvelous feeling of gratification destroying bubbles by the bundle. And just as I began to feel comfortable with the control, the game almost knowingly began attempts at thwarting my progress with skulls, and then daggers. And while the game has no explicit level structure, its level design exists within this fine balance between ease-of-use and challenge difficulty, and it is handled well.

The graphics are just ordinary, but time and time again we see that excellent graphics do not guarantee a fun game to play. Sound plays a significant role, though not a necessary one, in enhancing the experience with arcade-style effect. Heavy machine hydraulics add an interesting contrast to the satisfying sounds of popping bubble-wrap and the elastic twang of a mouth harp.

Another excellent game from Shogakukan Inc. in Japan, the same people who created the brilliant and insanely addictive Geru Geru Panic. This one is sure to be a favorite. Click.

Thank you, Nathan, for suggesting the link. =)

  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 4/5 (24 votes)
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3D-SF Cave3D-SF Cave is a fun little Java applet game that can be played quickly and easily in any Java-enabled browser. Although there is not much to the gameplay, the game's no-frills presentation cuts right to the chase.

The game is played from a first-person perspective, flying through a cave. Walls of the cave are all around, and you control how high or low you travel by clicking the mouse. Click and hold the mouse button to ascend, release to descend. Alternatively, you can use the space bar instead of the mouse button for control. Gravity is added to the formula thus creating a bit of inertia that must be overcome and stabilized to the best of your ability. Hit a wall and the game is over.

Analysis: 3D-SF Cave is a pseudo-3D implementation of a smaller 2D version: SF Cave. Both games were created by Japanese developer Sunflat, and feature just one button control. It is believed that one-button games will herald a revolution in games on mobile devices. I believe that one-button casual games on any platform are among the most successful games at reaching the largest audience possible.

Simple and accessible, no frills, just gameplay. Click.

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Virtual Magic Kingdom Lately I have been hearing about Disney's new Shockwave-based MMOG, the Virtual Magic Kingdom, and so I decided to create an account and check it out. The online game is presently in beta, and for a limited time anyone can set up an account and join in the fun for free.

The sign-up process was relatively painless, with just an email, name and address being all they ask. The email address wasn't even verified before I was logged on and creating my character.

Initially, you have just a few options with which to outfit an avatar. Choose a gender and skin color, and then if you like, change the color of your shirt, pants and shoes. Later, in the game, you can win other outfits and accessories, or purchase additional items with credits earned by in-game quests.

You also create your very own room when you begin. Use it to design and decorate with furnishings earned and collected from the game. Several room motifs are available such as Mad Hatter's tea party, undersea world, Tiki Tiki Tiki room, or the old West.

Once in the game there isn't any doubt that it is Disney Online, simply because the visuals are very pretty. The entire park is represented virtually by their respective areas: Fantasy Land, Adventure Land, Tomorrow Land, and Main Street, and each area has 'instances' of each of the major attractions. These instances are pseudo-3D rooms with an isometric view where players can interact with each other. There may be multiple instances of a room to support the number of players visiting that area at any given time.

While sightseeing throughout the park there are many different things to do. While I haven't seen and done everything there is to see, I did purchase a camera with which to take pictures of the Mickey Mouse silhouettes hidden all around the park—there's one in the screen shot above, can you find it? Collect enough of them for credits to spend on clothing and furnishings for your room.

There are also multiplayer games to compete in. The one I played was called the Castle Fireworks game and it featured multiple levels. Each level consists of colored symbols being launched like fireworks against the backdrop of an area of the park. Each player must click the mouse at the pinnacle of the symbol's arc using the same colored symbol as the one launched. Points are awarded based on how accurate the player was in selecting the correct symbol and clicking on the best position at the appropriate time. The fireworks game can support up to 100 players in a single game.

Interacting with other players is, at times, difficult due to the very restrictive dictionary that your words must appear within. For example, numbers are not allowed to be spoken at any time, though I have no idea why numbers might make an environment unsafe. It seemed odd that someone kept saying "I found won" when looking for the hidden Mickeys, until I tried to type the same thing a bit later. Then, after catching on and getting used to the word substitution thing, I was asked by a cast member not to use dictionary words for numbers as they were trying to keep things safe. My connection was mysteriously dropped seconds later.

The hours of operation of Disney Online's VMK are from 10:00AM to 1:00AM Eastern time (GMT - 5:00). Click.

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Where iz Matiz?Here is a simple and fun little driving game from Chevrolet with an aim to get you familiar with the look of their new little car, the Matiz. The object of the game is to drive around the city looking for the other Matiz cars. The hidden cars will be located in an alcove off from the road, so use the map provided to locate them. There are multiple levels to the game, with each new level increasing the number of cars to find. Use the arrow keys for control.

There really isn't much to this Shockwave 3D game, it's simple to play and easy to beat. And yet I found it quite fun to tear up the streets and basically drive like a maniac around the city, crashing into other vehicles while on missions. Use the number keys [1] through [7] to change the camera view for some added fun. Click.

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(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Will Wright's GDC Spore presentationThere was an extensive array of audio-visual equipment, including video cameras and a sound booth, at Will Wright's "The Future of Content" presentation at GDC in March. It was during that presentation that he revealed Spore to the world in great detail. Well, they have finally made a streaming video of that presentation available at the GDC-TV site, accessible only with a free registration. The video is compressed for a few different connection speeds, and it's very well done. Seeing and hearing about Spore straight from Will Wright is a must-see experience. Click.

  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (32 votes)
Comments (18) | Views (7,872)

What is particularly nice about casual games is they facilitate a need we all have: to escape from our daily stresses and routines, if but for a moment, so that we may observe ourselves in a different light. It is through this observation of self that we are able put things into proper perspective and get back on track. The problem with 'doing' all the time without this needed break is that we can lose touch with 'being'. And all things considered, being is infinitely more important than doing.

The Amazing Dare-DozenOne of my favorite casual games that I keep returning to when I have just a few moments to spare is an early Orisinal game called The Amazing Dare-Dozen.

The object of the game is quite simple: climb as high as you can by repeatedly landing an egg into the basket above. Click the mouse or press the space bar to launch the egg. With each new level attained, the vertical scrolling game presents a new basket above it moving slightly different than the one before. You may miss up to a dozen times per game.

Ferry Halim does a remarkable job with all his games at delivering an exceptionally refined experience, from aesthetics to gameplay. And with an elegantly simple and accessible interface, this light-weight casual game offers just the kind of escape I need when things get hectic. Click.

  • Currently 4.2/5
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(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (19) | Views (4,768)

The CaveAlso from the Sony Pictures website, this Flash game was created to promote one of this summer's movie releases: The Cave.

Featuring sights and sounds from the movie, the game did a good job of scaring the living daylights out of me. While at first it looks to be an innocent point-and-click adventure, a game with a more ambitious goal seems to take over. Soon you'll be climbing the walls looking for an escape route—or the back button. Just don't play alone in the dark like I did. Click.

(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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From Sony Pictures comes these three (3) Flash games from the Kung Fu Hustle movie website, each featuring classic-style videogame pixel graphics and gameplay.

Kung Fu FighterKung Fu Fighter is a simple old-school fighting game that offers special moves and opponents to unlock. You must defeat the opponents the game pits you up against to advance and earn the rewards. Use the arrow keys for left, right, jump and crouch. Use [A] to punch, [S] to kick. Add crouch (down) for low punch or kick. Block by holding left arrow key when being attacked (if facing right). Click.

Axe Gang RampageIn Axe Gang Rampage, take to the streets as an axe-wielding lunatic and take down anything that moves in this vertical scrolling shooter. Swarms of evil-doers with black ties and top hats come at you from every angle. Your job is, of course, to stop them all in their tracks by chucking your unlimited supply of axes at them. Use either the mouse or arrow keys for movement, while using the [W], [A], [S] and [D] keys for directional axe throwing. Pick up power-ups for increased range, rate of fire, or spread. Clear each wave before advancing forward. Avoid the trollys that appear out of nowhere, down the middle of the street. Click.

Pig Sty PanicPigSty Panic is a classic platformer with a sense of humor. Make the rounds through the project running errands and fixing leaks while avoiding hungry rats and the barrage from an angry wife. Use the arrow keys for movement, with the up arrow used to climb flights of stairs. Press space to jump. Look for the gold coins as they indicate where your next errand is, but hurry, if you miss one you lose a 'life'. Complete enough errands without losing all your lives to advance to the next level. Don't forget to feed the pigs. Click.

Analysis: All three games recycle tried and true gameplay mechanics and mix it with original content, characters and graphics from the movie to achieve a unique experience, though not an innovative one. Still, the gameplay highlighted here works well and will certainly bring back memories for some of games from their youth. On the technology end of things, pixel graphics have never been hard to look at, and these games prove that you don't need a supercomputer to have fun with a videogame.

(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Created by Philipp Lenssen, Games for the Brain is a series of 18 different (recently upgraded to 40) never-ending puzzle games to exercise and challenge your brain. Each of the games is created solely using DHTML—dynamic HTML consists of a little bit of JavaScript, a little bit of CSS, and a little bit of HTML—to create an interactive experience that will give your brain a workout. Specific tasks involve memorization and recall, spelling, math, identification, and word or image formation.

What Was There? tests your ability to study an image for a brief time and then answer a question regarding some detail of the image. The answers you provide are generally short answer, such as right or wrong, or how many of a particular item did you see.

Spellice presents a line from Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland with one or more words scrambled, and you must type in the entire line correctly.

Anagramania is exactly what it sounds like, anagrams for you to decipher. Not as easy as it sounds.

Masterpieces presents several images in a particular order, and your job is to memorize that order. The images are then scrambled and you must click them in the correct sequence.

Dragger presents an image that has been tiled and scrambled, and you must drag the pieces into their correct position thus completing the puzzle. Gorgeous images, good fun.

Mastercards represents the quintessence of "memory" games in which you must find pairs of images in a grid of face-down cards by turning over two at a time.

NumberCruncher presents addition, subtraction and multiplication equations to solve.

Mastermind is a game in which nine (9) images are shown for a brief time. The images are then all scrambled and one is replace with an entirely different image, and you must identify which one changed.

Letterama presents a partially spelled word with some blanks in place of letters, and you must complete the word by spelling it correctly.

NumberHunt shows numbers moving within a boxed area, and your task is to add up all of the numbers correctly. This one starts out simple and grows in complexity by increasing the quantity of numbers with each correct answer given.

WordHunt same as above except using moving letters that together form a word that must be identified.

SquareWords presents nine (9) letters in a grid that together spell a word. Your job is to figure out what word that is. Begin at one letter and move either horizontally or vertically, wrapping around each time to the next row or column, until all letters are visited. This one took a couple of times before I understood the concept.

Colorama shows two squares filled with colored tiles. Both are identical except for one. Your task is to identify and click on the one that is different. Colorama is one of my favorites of the bunch.

CrimeScene presents a brief look at a pencil drawing of a crime suspect that is slightly obstructed. Your job is to identify the correct image from a lineup.

Marsmoney presents two groupings of symbols representing Martian currency. Your task is to identify which group is worth more by using the conversion chart is provided.

What Word? shows the definition of a word that must be identified and typed into the field provided.

Memocoly is a DHTML version of the classic game of Simon. Repeat the sequence given by clicking on the appropriate colors.

SpeedRead presents a brief glimpse of a string of unrelated words, and your task is to type them exactly as they appeared.

Analysis: This collection of brain games is well done and there are some real gems here. Each game is presented in a simple and straightforward style, some using classic images that are pleasing to view. With so many games to choose from, there is certain to be something for everyone in the batch.

On the downside, some of the games become rather tiresome after just a few short rounds. Although the variety of games offered goes far to keep things interesting for a good while, scores are not maintained between games and there is little to keep this selection of mini-games from being any more than that. It would be nice to see them all organized into a challenge mode that puts a player through a few rounds of each of the games for a final score to compete against others. What would be even nicer is to allow players to choose a selection of their favorite games to use for the challenge.

Also, since the game uses JavaScript intervals for timing, memory issues can occur in situations where the intervals are not cleared properly and therefore pile up. For example, reloading the page when my browser failed to move on to the next round eventually caused me to have to quit and reload Firefox due to the game becoming unresponsive.

As the length of this post proves, there is a lot to choose from in Games for the Brain, and evidence that Philipp Lenssen has worked hard to give your brain some fun and exercise. Click.

  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (49 votes)
Comments (312) | Views (20,164)

Hapland 2

Yes, it's here! ...well, not here, per se, but here as in the figurative sense of the word. Just released. And thanks to everyone for telling me about it. I've been feeling a little disconnected from things lately due to crunch time with COTP. And now, just in time for some much deserved R&R, Robin Allen releases a brand new Hapland!! (And the crowd goes crazy =)

Hapland 2 is less a continuation of the original as it is the same game with all-new puzzles: the object is once again to open the stone portal and unleash the power within. And while that doesn't exactly give any clue as to what to do, it does at least provide a goal to work towards.

A classic puzzle series in the making, the Hapland games take the standard formula for casual Flash point-and-click adventure games and throws in an element of real-time interaction and timing. Real-time cause and effect plays a big part in the puzzle solving, as does a reliance on the help and support of the stick figures in the game. You will need their cooperation to complete the game, just be careful not to blow any of their heads off, or you may be forced to reset and try again.

The instructions say: click on everything. And that about sums it up nicely. The only thing I would add is: click on everything, and observe closely what follows.

Analysis: Hapland became an instant sensation with Flash point-and-click casual gamers when it was first released back in February, and for good reason: the game design is brilliant, and Hapland 2 takes that formula and runs with it. The addition of real-time interaction and dead-end scenarios was a refreshing change from the static puzzles seen previously. By allowing the player to get into a no-win situation, a condition that is usually avoided in game design, Robin creates a richer world that seems more alive than other point-and-click games. The graphics are simple and yet charming in a unique and characteristic style. The puzzles are intricate and will challenge even the most cunning and twisted minds out there. The Hapland games are among the best in casual game experiences available, and together represent excellence in Flash game design. I love it!

Play Hapland 2

Hungry for more Hapland?
Play the entire Hapland series...

Similar games:

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(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (27) | Views (3,343)

Will Wright's Spore

A website for Will Wright's next sim titled "Spore" popped up this week in conjunction with E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, currently happening in Los Angeles. The website has a simple animation trailer that introduces the multi-tiered evolutionary gameplay featured in the ambitious new game, for which a release date has yet to be announced. Also on the site are some very nice high-resolution screenies for your viewing pleasure. Click.

It was an amazing presentation at GDC, and one which I consider myself fortunate for being able to attend. And I am now eagerly awaiting every news-worthy bit of information related to the game and its eventual release. Including this Wired interview with Wright where he discusses Spore in detail.

Comments (6) | Views (2,452)

Curse of the PharaohWith just 15 minutes before our final demo, the spring quarter at RIT is nearly finished. So, if you have come here in recent days looking for an update, my apologies.

I had intended to post a link to our Flash point-and-click adventure "Curse of the Pharaoh" when we were finished with it. Unfortunately, it does not quite live up to my rather discriminating standards in its present state, and so I plan to continue its development until I can feel good about posting it here. It's turning out pretty good. =)

Thanks for your patience.

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(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (17) | Views (2,351)

Mercedes Benz Mixed Tape 07

Filed under music, this is to remind anyone who appreciates excellent free music to check out the latest Mercedes Benz Mixed Tape now online. Providing both streaming feeds and mp3 tracks to download separately or in its entirety, Mercedes Benz proves time and time again they care about their present (and potential) customers. With each new mixed tape made available, I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of selections offered.

In a world where record labels sue their own customers instead of providing easy access to their massive libraries, and where millions of dollars are spent on creating anti-piracy technologies that keep only paying customers from using the music any way they choose, it's refreshing to be on the receiving end of some exceptional free music tracks without a guilty conscious. Click.

(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (11) | Views (5,227)

CentipedeAs a tribute to the classic Atari Centipede arcade game from 1980, Emil Korngold has attempted to recreate the game in Flash. The game is still in beta form, and yet his attempt seems to capture much of the action and addictive gameplay of the original.

Other than using the mouse for movement and firing instead of a trackball, this version of the game is played in almost exactly the same way: fire upon the decending centipede to remove sections from it and remove it from play. As sections of the worm are hit, they turn to mushrooms that then cause the worm to turn and descend another line lower. Familiar enemies and power-ups are also included with their classic behavior, such as the spider with its erratic, unpredictable movement and the flea that leaves poisoned mushrooms in its wake.

Analysis: While this is the best implementation I have seen yet of Centipede in Flash, the game still has a few areas needing improvement. First off, the centipede begins much too fast for the smaller-than-standard play field, and this causes other problems as well. One of the more gratifying aspects of playing the original was when the centipede would hit a poison mushroom thereby causing it to move in a straight path down to the bottom. By moving directly underneath the descending centipede and firing, the player could rapidly eliminate each segment in succession from play. In this version, the centipede simply moves too fast and detroys the player before all segments can be eliminated. Furthermore, when a life is lost there is no pause in the action, which causes all lives to be lost, one after the other, and it is "game over" in one fell swoop.

Still, I am eager to see Emil make improvements to this fine implementation as it remains one of my favorite games of all-time. Click.

(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (11) | Views (3,702)

BumperballCreated by Hans Oxmond and Thomas Poulsen of Oxmond Interactive in the Denmark, Bumperball is an action arcade game where you can play against the computer, or against a friend or co-worker using the same keyboard.

If your things is playing alone against the computer, then your controls are the arrow keys of the keyboard: up accelerates forward, down is reverse, right and left arrows turn your bumper car right and left. Once you click start, you will have one (1) minute within which to score more goals than your CPU. If no goal is scored within the first minute, a sudden-death "golden goal" condition will award the game to the first player to score.

The graphics in this fun Flash party game are very pretty and are commercially polished. The soundtrack is also of high quality, and it rocks. The action can get pretty fast and crazy with these little bumper cars. And while the single-player game is a worthy diversion, the real fun happens when you get a friend to play against in 2-player mode.

With one player on the arrow keys, the other takes the alternative [W][S][A] and [D] keys for forward, reverse, left and right, respectively. Press start and madness ensues. Just don't hit anybody. Click.

Comments (17) | Views (1,862)

The family dog: AbbeyJust a quick update to prove I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth. The end of the spring quarter is upon me, and I've been very busy finishing up final projects. And even though I haven't been spending a lot of time surfing the Web looking for exceptional games to review, it seems that there just isn't much happening anyways.

That being said, there are a couple of games that I have yet to play, and they look fairly good enough to post. But before I do, I'll offer them up as links here for you to preview first. If you think they are worthy of a treatment here, please post a comment voicing your opinion. Thanks. =)

First up is the BBC's latest Dr. Who game: The Last Dalek.

Also worth checking out, Brett Silby's latest DHMTL game: Dark Age. Remember to play Brent's games in IE.

That's it for me for now. I will be back again soon with more. If you have any suggestions for games to review, please post a comment.

cheers! =)

(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (7) | Views (3,063)

Puki: The SwarmFlash-in-the-Can 2005 award winner, Grant Skinner, has put together an impressive and ambitious pseudo-3D first-person shooter in Flash. There is even a back-story in case you need a reason to shoot at cute little creatures.

Puki: The Swarm begins after a routine mission to a space station, in a far away place, where you pick up a cute and harmless little creature called a "Puki". However, after exposure to harmful gamma radiation, the Puki begin to reproduce rapidly, develop teeth and a taste for blood. Being that it's your ship, and you got yourself into this mess, you must now deal with the inevitable cleansing that must take place. It's either them or you.

Use the mouse for aiming the cross-hairs at the little darlings, click to shoot. Use the keys [A] and [D] for stepping left or right, [W] to run forward, [S] to slow down. Press [shift] to crouch and pick up items, press [space] for an emergency shield.

Oh, and about your laser gun. It heats up with every shot, so be careful not to overheat it, as it will take some time to cool. Fair warning.

Analysis: Puki: The Swarm delivers the 3D goods with a style that is as unique as it is humorous. The game's presentation is nicely polished with an interface that is simple to use and effective. The controls are tight and responsive, which makes aiming and firing the laser quite satisfying. The gameplay benefits from the decision to limit the shots fired with an overheating mechanism, thus making this shooter more than just gratuitous violence against cute cuddly toys. And if that weren't enough, bonus stages, power-ups, force fields and emergency shields keep the gameplay feeling fresh and exciting for more levels than you'll be able to finish. Click.

Caution: may not be appropriate for all age groups. Contains graphic violence against cuddly toys.

Comments (13) | Views (2,226)

Dead Can Dance European Tour 2005While I am conscious of the fact that this blog has become primarily focused on games, it is still my only outlet for publishing noteworthy items of interest. That is why, when scanning the archives, you will find a few entries on a variety of topics that have little to do with games. Add one more to that group.

Late yesterday I became aware that my favorite musical artists of all-time have regrouped and are currently touring the world again after nearly a decade of being apart. And while this is truly news to shout from the rooftops, it is also not surprising to anyone who is familiar with the group's history and behavior.

Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard are Dead Can Dance, though they tour with several other musicians to recreate their music as it is composed of many instruments from as many different lands and cultures. Throughout their accomplished musical careers, Perry and Gerrard have collaborated together to write and record, without a doubt, the most awe-inspiring ethereal music I have ever experienced. Music that is sometimes calming, sometimes moving, and yet is always emotional and soulful.

And just as it seemed they had perfected their art and were at the pinnacle of their popularity, the two would go their separate ways to follow their own passions and to become musically influenced in very different ways. Time and time again, Perry and Gerrard would regroup to combine their talents and unique experiences, and from which a new musical direction, and sound, would emerge. No two albums from the artists have ever been the same, and yet it is difficult to mistake their music for anything else.

Both Perry and Gerrard have voices that resonate within the very inner parts of my body and soul. The exceptional timbre of their voices are perfectly complemented by the richness of their lyrics. When blended together with the animation of their instruments, the resulting experience is unforgettable. They are incomparable musicians and among the most important of my lifetime.

So you can imagine my delight when I learned that they will be appearing in New York City on October 8, 2005 at Radio City Music Hall, and that pre-sale tickets were made available today. As you might have already guessed, I secured four (4) second-row seats to the concert immediately when they went on-sale this morning.

If you're also interested in going, you will need to enter "NEWYORK" as the password for the pre-sale, and visit this link. Click.

It will be an experience you will not soon forget.

(17 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (22) | Views (3,438)

Guess-the-googleAnother infectiously addictive and brilliant game made using Google's Web APIs, Guess-the-google was created by Grant Robinson in response to suggestions he received after creating his Montage-a-google, an equally impressive and veritable time-sink worthy of a review of its own.

Guess-the-google is a single-player game in which the object is to guess the search term used to fetch the montage of images that appears for each of ten (10) rounds of play. A twenty-second timer counts down each round, awarding a time bonus should you enter the correct term within the time limit.

Analysis: I prefer this game over the ESP Game that surfaced a few months ago, though I will admit that it lacks some of the excitement. The presentation is simple and straightforward, accessible and appealing. There is not much to dislike about the way Grant has assembled this game.

On the downside, when working with the Google API, the same search term will yield the same images time and time again. So, getting good at the game is just a matter of practice and becoming familiar with the images. With over a billion images to choose from, you would think that the same search term could yield thousands of montage variations. Also, players using slower computers may experience a slight delay when rendering the images to the screen, which can affect your score.

Overall, minor complaints. The game is very good, and loads of fun—especially when sharing the fun by collaborating with a friend.

Play Guess the Google

Thanks go to Andy for the link. =)

(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (17) | Views (2,862)

Babycal ThrowBabycal Throw is an action arcade game, created by Arseniy Desrosiers, in which the player attempts to hit walking and running targets by tossing bean-bags up in the air.

A very simple gameplay mechanic, and if that were it all there was to it I probably wouldn't be talking about it here. What makes this game special is the manner in which Rubilon has implemented the scoring and the power-ups.

Simply hitting one target as it is walking by will score a measly 10 points. If you are lucky enough to hit more than one, a combo bonus of 25 points per each additional target hit is scored. The trouble with this strategy is you will soon run out of the 30 little people you begin the game with. The real meat of the gameplay is in hitting the same target again, and again, and again.

Hitting one target will send it running in the opposite direction from which it was walking. Hit it again, and it will again turn and run in the opposite direction, but it will now have a white glow around it. You have now earned an additional little person, and will earn another for each time you hit the target while it's glowing white. There is a maximum of 100 additional power-ups you can earn in a game, though earning even 50 proved difficult for me.

Analysis: This is a good example of a very simple gameplay mechanic made into a compelling and addictive (mini)game by adding a clever scoring and power-up structure. I like how simple and accessible the game is to pick-up and play, and yet how difficult it is to master. After playing over 20 times, I managed to reach only the "beginner" score rating of 5,000 points. It's difficult to imagine being able to score over 100,000 points, and yet the author clearly indicates that it is possible.

Babycal Throw is an exceptional mini-game design in an elegantly simple little package. Click.

(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (11) | Views (3,905)

Rumble BallDo you remember Prachka (Orbox) from a couple of months ago? The author, Arseniy Desrosiers from Russia, has been busy creating a couple of new Flash games since then.

The first is called Rumble Ball, and it is a strategy game of sorts. The object is to score the most points you can by hitting colored items on the play field with a large ball. The ball will roll over small yellow items and bounce off colored cubes. The more you hit at once with each roll of the ball, the more points you will score. For example, the first item hit is worth 10 points, the next worth 20, the next 30, and so on. Once the ball comes to a stop, the item points reset to 10.

Similar to hitting a pool ball with a cue stick, the method of control in this game is similar, except there there is no way to influence how fast the ball initially travels. There is also no limit to the number of times you may hit the ball, allowing you to take as many or as few hits as you wish. The highest scores for this game will be from those who make every shot count, and for as large a score as possible.

Analysis: I was immediately drawn to this game due to its very pretty presentation. The appealing graphics and top-down, pseudo-3D appearance make this game compelling for most anyone to pick up and play. The interface is intuitive, and Rublion did a nice job of creating an animated cursor that positions itself appropriately, thus making every shot feel natual and easy. The sounds emitted when the ball bounces off objects, and especially when getting combos, adds to the excitement and novelty of the game.

The game itself has much potential, much more than I believe Rubilon realized in its first iteration. For example, he might have provided a limit to the number of times a player may hit the ball, paired with the ability to hit the ball with variable power. Because I was unable to give the ball more power, the game seemed to drag for me the more I played. Also, the play fields were a bit too complex too early in the game. He might have improved the strategic element in the game by creating fields that were quite sparse to start with, and then adding complexity as the player improved.

Still, Rumble Ball is an enjoyable good-looking game that can be played either by mindlessly hitting the ball until the field is cleared, or playing for a high score where every shot counts.

Play Rumble Ball

Play Rumble Ball (field 2)

Play Rumble Ball (field 3)

Play Rumble Ball (field 4)


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