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September 2005 Archives

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Dead Can DanceAs luck would have it (possibly your luck), I have two extra 2nd row seats (Row BB Seats 509 & 510) to see Dead Can Dance on Saturday, October 8th at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard tour so infrequently that this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them up close and at such a great venue—also a chance to meet me, as I will be sitting in the seat right next to you. =)

First come first served. I don't want to worry about selling them outside the theatre the night of the show.

Update: The tickets have been sold!

Comments (21) | Views (2,515)

Cheers! to USA Today for the "Hot Sites" listing in the Tech News and Web Guide section. =)

(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (21) | Views (8,930)

Legend of ZorroSo you like turn-based strategy games, do you? Were you among the first to play Tactics Arena Online months ago, and still you can't get enough? Did you run through Spybot with nary an invalid checksum, only to crave more ever since? The wait is over.

Enter Legend of Zorro: the turn-based strategy, online, multiplayer Flash game.

Yes, it is another game created to promote an upcoming major motion picture theatrical release, but don't let that turn you off. This game is fun!

The object of the game is to reduce your opponents' health and eliminate them from play by using special attacks during a sequence of turns.

How to play: Each turn you will be given 40 seconds to select a sequence of three (3) plays. Each play may consist of one of the following: attack, energize, defend, or move. When selecting attack, your character's possible attacks will be displayed. Mousing over each will show the attack radius on the game board that your character will strike. Simply click the attack option of your choice. Likewise, when choosing to move, allowed spaces to which your character may move will be highlighted on the game board. Simply click the desired space for your character to move during that turn's play.

Attacking costs energy, so you can't attack during every play. Selecting energize will replenish some of the energy lost from attacking. Defend will reduce the impact of an attack from another player. Successfully attacking and blocking attacks from other players fills a "super attack" meter that will enable a new attack option when filled. When selecting a super attack, click the "lock" button when the orange and white moving boxes are as close together as possible. The closer together you lock them the stronger your "super attack" for that turn.

During play, special power-ups may appear on the game board to increase health, energy, or even grant a new weapon. Moving to that space collects the prize, but at the expense of your opponents knowing where to aim their attack. It's all about strategy and making the right choice at the right time.

That's the basics, and yet the best way to learn is to play a game and see for yourself.

How to start a game: The first time you play you have two options: create a user, or sign-in as 'guest'. Creating a new user doesn't require any personal information. It does, however, enable statistics tracking of your wins and allows you to compete for a spot on the leader board.

Once signed-in, the game room area shows an array of small silver and/or gold 'plates' representing rooms in which games are played. Gold rooms are waiting for players, silver rooms have games currently in progress. To join a gold room, simply click on one. A large sword will appear representing you. If you were the first to click on a room, then you are the creator of the game. If you joined a room, then you must wait for the creator to start the game.

If you are the only one in a room, you may play a game against the computer or you may wait for other players to join. Up to four (4) players may play a game at once, and this is where the real fun of the game begins.

If you created the game, click "Start game" to begin. The creator of the game gets to choose a character first: Zorro, Elena, Armand, McGivens, or Ferroq. Each character has its own special attacks and moves, so try them all out to get a feel for what each one can do. Following character selection by each of the players, one of three (3) game boards is chosen (small, medium or large), and then the game begins.

Summary: Zorro is turn-based strategy in an accessible Web-based package. Big Spaceship has produced another excellent game with a lot of multiplayer fun packed inside. Varied characters with unique moves, special attacks, power-ups, as well as a selection of game boards keep the action fresh and challenging. Four-player simultaneous play adds a dimension of melee mahem to the mix. A high score leader board provides incentive to succeed and be the best that you can be. Click.

Other games by Big Spaceship include the previously reviewed War of the Worlds, and The Grudge.

Thank you, Michael, for the link, and nice job with the game. =)

  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (32 votes)
Comments (21) | Views (19,300)
Tactics Arena OnlineFrom Digital Seed Entertainment comes Tactics Arena Online (TAO), a turn based strategy game the likes of Final Fantasy. By commanding an army of characters on a battlefield, your goal is to decimate your opponents team in a battle of weapons and abilities.

Your team starts out in a formation that you plan out for them in the settings before the game begins. When the game starts, select which character to utilize. You have the options of attacking from your current position, moving it and then attacking, or moving it and wave your attack option. There's also the option to skip your turn entirely. Only one character is allowed to be moved per turn. The same character can only be used again after they've been through their turn recovery. For example, if a character has a five turn recovery, it cannot be used for 5 turns. A two turn recovery character can be used after 2 turns, etc...

Get to know your characters. Find out what they do, how they move, how strong their attacks are. From there you can learn how to setup your starting formation in a way that works best for you. Always try to keep the offensive in the game, never giving your opponent the chance to get the upper hand.

This game is beautifully drawn and animated, following in the footsteps of Final Fantasy and Warcraft. It plays much like a game of chess, in that you have to try to plan out your attacks ahead of time, and try to outwit your opponent.

Because this is an online game, you must setup an account. The account setup however is relatively painless. It asks you for a name and a password, and that's all. If you want to try the game by yourself first, and not battle against anybody online, the author has created a demo of the game called Tactics Core. It's the exact same as the online version except you don't get to choose your character setup, and they are all chosen at random. If you need more detailed instructions on how to play, there is a detailed online guide available to help you out. There is also a very active player community in the game forums.

If you enjoy games that challenge your intellect and ability to think ahead, then here's your game. Giving you the look and feel of a console game, but nicely packed into a casual flash game.

TAO also has the option to create a gold account with additional features, which is $5.00 USD a month.

  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (714 votes)
Comments (176) | Views (72,080)
SubmachinePoint-and-click fans, this next game has you written all over it. Submachine is a relatively easy game of the escape-the-room variety that will engage your puzzle-solving skills for about 10-15 minutes. And if you haven't played this one already, you're in for a simple treat.

Several rooms hold as many puzzles and items to find for solving the mystery of the Submachine. Use your mouse to point-and-click your way through the game, and to pick up items that you find along the way. Drag and drop an item from your inventory to place it where it's needed.

Crisp and attractive graphics are pleasantly complemented by atmospheric sound and effects to enhance the overall experience. Created by Mateusz Skutnik ("Murtaugh"), Submachine is a straightforward and polished point-and-clicker that is accessible to most anyone.

Play Submachine

We've been here covering the entire Submachine series since the very beginning with reviews and walkthroughs for all of them...

Outside the main storyline, and yet still another great Submachine, is a game created for the band Future Loop Foundation:

Comments (28) | Views (3,993)

OpniyamaI am working hard at finishing up two midterm projects for courses I'm taking this quarter at RIT. To take a little pressure off and still be able to post something today, I have decided to cheat a little and not review this next piece. Instead, since the English translation of the French game description seems so delightful to me, I offer it up in lieu of a review of my own. Enjoy. =)

"How to play Opniyama... Climb the slopes of Opniyama (yama means Japanese mountain) and take part in this interactive play while adding to your liking of the trees with the landscape! Discover the jokes of this vertical world! Direct your misadventure and hoist towards the higher plates while launching the hook! Climb the plates by balancing you to reach the top! Personalize your universe by adding plant-monsters which push on the plates of play."

Use the arrow keys to move left or right. Use the [Q] key to fire the hookshot, press [Q] again to jump. Press [A] to drop a seed and watch it grow. Press [S] for the map. Press [Z] to quit. There is no real objective that I could make out, and yet there is a very large world to explore.

Created by Team cHmAn, Aki, Gomoy, and Got, the game was presented at the Palais de Tokyo from January 29th to September 8th, 2002.

Update: The game is no longer available to play on the Web. Previously tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, interactiveart, jumpandrun, linux, mac, original, rating-g, teamchman, unique, windows

  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (25 votes)
Comments (172) | Views (13,406)

HamuresuHyper Frame is a new puzzle game offered by Shockwave.com that combines 3D graphics and an engaging soundtrack to create a compelling interactive experience.

The goal of the game is fairly simple: connect each pair of same-colored blocks with an unbroken line that does not cross over, or use the same space as, another color.

Control is entirely with the mouse. Click on a colored block and drag along the empty spaces to create a line that connects the pair. An Undo button exists in the event a mistake is made in the process. A Reset button allows you to restart the current puzzle from the beginning.

Controlling the 3D cube can be a bit awkward at times, and it is easy to make a mistake in the process of drawing a line. It is a byproduct of the choice of a 3D interface, which can be viewed as both a plus and a minus for the game. There will likely be some who find the game difficult to control.

The game features two different modes of play: Speed and Mind. The object of Speed mode is to complete as many puzzles as you can within the time alotted. There is no time limit with Mind mode in which the game presents puzzles that must be solved to move on to the next. There are four (4) difficulty levels to Mind mode offering even more depth to the game.

Hyper Frame makes excellent use of Shockwave 3D to create a compelling puzzler that offers two different modes of play. Together these features combine to extend replay value, and to appeal to a broad casual game audience. Click.

Thanks to Tobey for suggesting the game (though I had plans to review it today anyway =)

  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (25 votes)
Comments (25) | Views (6,592)

AtomsAtoms is a Flash puzzle game of elegant design that loosely borrows elements from Chemistry for the basis of its gameplay. Created by Florian Bliesch of Hamburg, Germany, the object of the game is simply to connect all of the separate atoms together to form a single molecule.

The interface is straightforward and intuitive: just drag and drop the various atoms near one another to fit them together. If the two pieces fit, they will attach themselves automatically. If they do not fit, they will not attach. It's just that easy. Continue fitting the pieces together until there are no unused bonds (stick-like parts) and no unused holes. A rule of play that may help you along the way: atoms of the same color do not attach together.

For each level you complete, the game will reveal a password that you can use to start again from where you left off. Therefore, your progress is not automatically saved.

Atoms is a quality casual Web game that will seem immediately familiar to most people with its elegantly simple gameplay. Click.

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With Friday being the last day of the monthly billing cycle for my blog, I am also approaching my monthly resource limit for traffic. Therefore, I expect the blog will become unavailable some time Friday for the rest of the day. Service will be restored again at 12AM (GMT-8:00) Saturday morning.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (15) | Views (13,675)

Bloomin GardensBloomin' Gardens is a strategy puzzle game in which the object is to line-up rows, columns or diagonals of five (5) or more matching flowers to eliminate them from play. The more flowers that match, the higher the score awarded. The game is actually a clone of Lines, and it has the feel and appeal of a classic casual game: it's easy to pick-up and play and yet difficult to master.

To play, simply click on a flower to uproot it, and then click on a free square to replant it. There must be a free path between the two squares to move a flower, diagonals excluded.

For every flower you move, three (3) new flowers are added to the garden grid in random locations. The types of flowers that will arrive next are displayed to the right of the grid. When your garden becomes full, the game is over.

There is no time limit to the game, which is a nice departure from other tile-matching games. The gameplay is one-part strategy and one-part luck due to the random placement of new flowers. To achieve the higher scores on the high score list, you'll need to work at eliminating complete rows or columns to be awarded maximum points.

Points are awarded in the game as follows:
  • 5 flowers . . . 5 points
  • 6 flowers . . . 8 points
  • 7 flowers . . . 13 points
  • 8 flowers . . . 20 points
  • 9 flowers . . . 28 points
Note: Matching a row and column (or diagonal) simultaneously awards points for each separately, not a combined total.

The game, hosted by Miniclip, is fun to play and can be quite addictive. I found it a bit frustrating that I could not achieve scores even remotely close to what appears in the high score list. I also noticed a bug in the code that happens sometimes when new random flowers appear that make a match of 4 or 5. The bug prevented me from using one or more of the freed spaces for replanting. It did not happen enough for it to affect my overall satisfaction with the game, however. Click.

Thanks go to Seb for suggesting the game. =)

  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (52 votes)
Comments (35) | Views (9,399)
WulfoUrban DeadUrban Dead is a fantastic and superbly original MMOG that was created a few months ago by Kevan Davis, and which currently has around 85,000 registered players. To put it simply: it is a text-based zombie survival game that runs in any browser.

To start the game, you first have to create a character (obviously). There are a few different character classes to choose from: Military, Science, Civilian, or simply begin the game as a zombie. The class you pick determines the skills you begin with, and the cost to acquire other skills later on.

I recommend choosing a Fireman (Civilian class) to start with. Doing so allows you to begin fast and effective zombie slaughter immediately. This means achieving higher levels very quickly, and then, as soon as you get Melee Weapons Training and Body Building, you will be practically unstoppable.

After the extremely speedy character creation process, you're introduced to the city of Malton (link to map), which consists of 100 suburbs. Each suburb contains a 10 X 10 grid of buildings inside of it, making a total of 10,000 buildings to explore (it's a big game). Once you start the game, your first turns can be crucial. Many a newbie have started the game as a cop with 12 bullets, used them on the first zombie they saw, and then were forced to create a new character. For most classes, the best thing to do is to go searching for supplies in the right sorts of buildings. (Hospitals carry first aid kits, Police Stations carry guns and ammo etc.)

There are several ways to gain experience in the game. The most obvious is to damage (and hopefully kill) zombies. Unfortunately, when beginning the game this option isn't really available to you. If you're a NecroTech employee, then the best thing to do is to use your DNA Extractor on every zombie in sight. If you're a doctor, then it's easiest to heal as many people as you can find. Once you have at least 100 XP, then you can purchase a new skill and move up to the next level (which doesn't really mean anything special).

Game play is governed by Action Points (APs). Every action costs APs, from barricading a building to spray-painting a wall. Even speaking costs 1 AP. Some actions even require several APs. You begin the game with 50, and regain one every half an hour. It's when you get low on APs and are about to log off that the game really gets interesting. When you log off, your character doesn't: it stays in the game in the same place on the map that you left it in. This means that logging off while standing outside is almost sure to get you killed within a few hours. Finding shelter is fairly easy, as you just need to find a barricaded building to enter, and then you should be fairly safe. As a note, after 3 days, your character disappears from the map, but will reappear as soon as you log back in.

Thankfully, death, as mentioned earlier, doesn't mean the end of the game. After dying you become a zombie, ready to terrorise your former comrades among the living. Playing as a zombie is quite different to playing as a human. Prey is generally harder to find, you only have a few attacks and HP aren't really an issue as when they get reduced to 0, you can just stand up again at the cost of 10 action points. Although zombies don't really need to find shelter, in order to avoid the ever-deadly XP-draining headshots, or the simple annoyance of having to stand up again, your best bet is to simply find an empty building. You can also find another crowd of zombies to stay amongst (zombies are nameless, all you see is "x zombie(s)"). Thankfully, zombification isn't permanent, as you can be revived by anybody with a revivification symbol.

Despite the length of this review, I've only begun to scratch the surface of this deep, constantly expanding game. Further information and help can be found in the FAQ and the superb Wiki. Something that really surprised about it is the huge, extremely active community. The forums are constantly abuzz with news of mobile zombie hoards and unprotected buildings full of humans. There are even a number of 24-hour mailing lists run by fans to inform zombies and humans alike of the latest events, and big XP opportunities. As a note, it's probably not a good idea to mention where you're currently situated or anything like that in the comments.

Even if this sort of game isn't usually your thing, I'd thoroughly encourage you to give it a go, as it's an extremely original and absorbing experience.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to wish a happy birthday to my friend Dougal, who is a huge fan of this game (since I couldn't be bothered with getting him a real present).

Comments (19) | Views (3,066)

Race Against TimeA game that makes excellent use of Flash video (FLV) segments to form an engaging interactive narrative, Race Against Time puts you in the driver's seat of a brand new Saab 9-3 SportWagon on a mission to Hazard Point. What could possibly go wrong?

Your destination is hours from the city, which is where you start in this unique Flash adventure game that uses the decisions you make to affect the story and the gameplay. Decisions are made by answering questions regarding: what route to take, whether to stop for gas, who to ask for directions, etc. In-game video plays out the results of your actions that together will form a story filled with surprising twists of fate.

Every choice matters and will ultimately affect the overall time required to arrive at Hazard Point. The clock starts ticking with your very first choice: whether to drive a petrol or a diesel Saab. Items of particular interest that you should look for along the way of your journey, and that take seconds off your final time, include: Matches, Lighter, Knife, Paddle, Tent, Wetsuit, Lifejacket, Flares, Compass.

Additional mini-games are included at particular decision points that require a bit of dexterity above and beyond your decision making skills. The mini-games fit well within the unfolding narrative and provide added depth to the well-produced game. Although not difficult by any means, the mini-games offer a chance to accumulate points that will also deduct seconds from your overall score.

Registration is required to play, and I recommend you do so since the game is well worth the effort. Your in-game progress is saved at every decision point so that you may return to the same point again later. A random password is generated and mailed to you for use when logging back in. By registering, your best time and statistics are also recorded automatically.

Designed and produced by Draft London, and commissioned by Saab Great Britain Ltd. for a contest of the same name (UK residents only are eligible), Race Against Time offers a unique and compelling advergame experience worthy of your time.

Cheers, Leon! for the link. =)

Update: Unfortunately, this game is no longer available to play on the Web. Previously tagged as: adventure, advergame, browser, draftlondon, flash, free, game, macwinlinux, narrative, original, rating-y, unique, video

  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (81 votes)
Comments (62) | Views (15,378)

Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

Arrrr, Matey! To celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day, I thought I would take this here opportunity to direct you to an excellent downloadable game that's been entertaining gamers of all ages for a couple of years: Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates, created by 3 Rings Design.

Available for Mac, PC, and Linux, Puzzle Pirates is a massively multiplayer online game world in which players take to the high seas to compete for pirate booty. As with many MMOGs, a persistent world and player-driven economy provide enough challenge and depth to satisfy a wide spectrum of gamer, from the casual minded to the hardcore. And while there are plenty of locales to visit and explore on foot, most of the action takes place aboard a vessel on the high seas playing... wait for it ...puzzle games! =)

A ship needs plenty of crew members to win the right to pillage other ships on the ocean. Lucky for you, finding one that will take you on is only as difficult as finding the town's local missions board and clicking a button. Once aboard, make your way to one of the ship's various duty stations to do your part and prepare for battle!

Yohoho! Puzzle PiratesMany of the puzzle games in Y!PP resemble familiar casual games like Tetris and Bejeweled, and are just as accessible to begin having fun with quickly. The bilging station, for example, performs the unenviable yet essential task of bailing water from the ship as it sails. Bilge pumps allow a ship to travel faster by removing the weight of the water that it takes on while sailing, which would otherwise slow it down. The puzzle game it provides is a simple one of swapping puzzle pieces to line up 3 or more of the same color, which then eliminates them from play. It's a never ending, tedious, and rather dull game, very much in theme with the duty being performed, and yet is a good place to start for a young or brand new adventurer looking to get into the swing of things.

When finally engaged in battle with another ship, the display will switch to the Swordfighting game where a team battle commences between the crews of the two ships. In a Swordfight, colored blocks fall with shapes of swords upon them. There are two types of blocks: solid and shattering "breaky block" pieces that cause all same-colored blocks it touches to shatter in a chain-reaction, and then disappear from your play field. And since this is a team battle, the blocks you eliminate from play in your game are sent to a member of the opposing team. If your play field fills up completely, you are eliminated. The first team to have all of their crew eliminated loses and gets pillaged by the victors.

And I have only just touched the surface of what Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates offers in terms of gameplay. To help you out, refer to this page for details about the many games that you can play.

The game is built in Java, and there is a 30-day free trial available for anyone who might want to give this delightful and truly unique twist on the MMOG genre a try. Once inside, thar be plenty of opportunity to engage in a little swashbuckling role-play, thus giving you an outlet for Talk Like a Pirate Day! Click.

Update: The folks at Yohoho have recently had a change of heart and although there are still subscription 'oceans' there are now 2 free oceans that allow you to either buy doubloons with a credit card, or acquire them using in-game currency. Therefore, purchases are optional and not required for full free participation in all aspects of the game. [Thanks, Barbara! and Mon! ]

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (639 votes)
Comments (210) | Views (167,438)

Grow CubeI was absolutely delighted today to wake up to an email waiting for me (from someone who goes by the name "Joe Cool") announcing that On of Eyezmaze has released another Grow game: Grow Cube.

The gameplay is similar to the previous games, Grow and Grow RPG, except in this one you need only click on the items along the sides of the play field one-by-one. The order in which you click the items determines the outcome of the game. Simple and delightful, these games are among the crown jewels of the Web.

If you are even remotely a fan of his games as I am, then it's likely that you won't get much done today other than beating On's latest casual amazement. Pure genius.

Play Grow Cube

Still want more Grow? Play the entire Grow series of games (in order of release)...

  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (29 votes)
Comments (55) | Views (4,803)
<no>circles</no>From Feisty Enterprises comes this odd pair of Flash puzzle games with a geeky title expressed in XML: <no>circles</no>. The author(s) offer up this description: "Within the confines of this virtual space cyclicality is deemed a violation of basic human sensibilities." I'll leave you to ponder that while you play.

There are two different versions available: v1 and v3.764. Each version defines its own rules of engagement with every level it presents. It's your job to figure out exactly what is required to advance.

Use the mouse for interaction in these games: point, click, drag, whatever it takes.

I first came upon these bizarre little puzzle games about a year ago, but passed on them then because there are instances of profanity contained within: one as text on the screen, and the other in an audio clip. So, these games may not be suitable for a younger audience.

Mature content aside, <no>circles</no> is just the kind of Flash game I like to highlight here. The game illustrates creativity in interactive design principles and requires a think-outside-the-box approach to solving its many puzzles. It is the sort of thing that can spark inspiration, and I think you will agree that it is just right for a casual diversion. Click.

Comments (25) | Views (4,178)

Flash Player 8A couple things that are noteworthy for an additional post today...

First off, Flash 8 has been officially released this week marking a significant milestone in the (r)evolution of the Flash platform. The latest version includes beaucoup new features that will no doubt be appearing soon across the Web. To be certain you are able to view the next generation of Flash content, be sure to upgrade your Flash Player. You can also use the "Get Flash" button in the sidebar. The installation is quick and very easy to do.

Also, a big thanks to Yahoo! Directory for picking up my site today and posting a link to it on the main page. =)

  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (938 votes)
Comments (128) | Views (28,196)

A remarkably rich and highly detailed Shockwave game created for Lego by the folks at gameLab in New York City.

Spybot: The Nightfall Incident is a turn-based strategy game and a triple-A quality production that is set in a stunning high-tech universe. The developers have expertly combined story elements with engaging gameplay to create an extraordinary, satisfying and immersing experience.

As a SMART agent—Secret Mission Agents Robotics Team—your job is to hunt down crime and problems throughout the Net. Once located, engage in 'databattles' with corporate security software for control over the nodes of the network.

SpybotThe databattles comprise the heart of the gameplay, which is turn-based using 'programs' for offensive and defensive actions against similar programs controlled by computer AI. You begin the game with two (2) such programs: Hack and Slingshot. Hack programs can move two (2) squares per turn, and have an attack range of only one (1) square. Slingshot programs can move two (2) squares per turn, and they have a much longer-range attack. Winning battles earns you credits that you can spend at Warez nodes to purchase more advanced programs. An easy-to-follow tutorial will step you through the basics of databattle when beginning a new game.

The game consists of an over-world that represents the entire network under your jurisdiction, called the Netmap. It is a collection of nodes with connections that run between them. You begin the game at the SMART headquarters node with access to security level one (1) nodes only.

Arrows on the Netmap provide a means for navigation. Simply click on an arrow to scroll the map in that direction. SpybotClicking on a node brings up an info window (shown) with details of the mission that node contains. Enter a node to engage in databattle against its security software to gain control over it, and receive access to other nodes and levels.

It is hard to find fault with this game, as it seems the designers and developers at gameLab really nailed it exceptionally well. The tutorial quickly familiarizes the player with just what is needed to get started. Further information, increased challenges and narrative elements unfold as the player explores, interacts, and progresses through the game. Earning credits and purchasing more advanced programs creates a sense of agency within the player since the choices made are likely to affect battle outcomes. And the player's game state is saved automatically to any one of three (3) possible game-save files.

Jay *is* Games, because of games like this.

Play Spybot: The Nightfall Incident

Thanks go to Stephen and JS for suggesting the game. =)

Note: This is a Shockwave game and it therefore requires the Shockwave Player browser plug-in.

(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (22) | Views (4,020)

llor.nuHere is a unique opportunity to get started with a brand new game just entering an open beta stage. The name of the game is llor.nu, which is also its Web address, except I'm not sure if that should be pronounced "LORE-new" or "un-ROLL" as the name implies.

Whatever it's called, llor.nu is an intriguing idea for a new casual Web game that you play for about 10 or 20 minutes a day.

The game is played as a simple board game, like Monopoly, by taking turns. The object of the game is to become the player with the highest net worth. As with most board games, you roll a die and move that number of squares. If the square you land on is a buildable square, you may claim it by purchasing a hotel of the size and quality of your choosing. You may take as many turns as you wish, that is until you run out of money.

To earn more money you will need to build hotels and then wait for other players to land on them. The bank provides you with a daily allowance, and if that's not enough, you will eventually be able to buy game credits through PayPal.

There is a short and relatively painless registration process that requires a valid email address for verification. Just enter your preferred player name, real name, email address and password. Click the link in the email message the game sends you, and you'll be signed-in and playing right away.

Based on a previous and similar Web game, Macropoly, this implementation has been designed to use the latest Web technologies for flexibility, compatibility and growth. The game is created by Michael Buffington using Ruby on Rails, and he is also building an API to the game that could support mobile devices, chat bots, and even allow others to create interfaces to it as well.

There's a blog for game annoucements, and a forum for feedback and questions. It should be fun to see this game grow. Oh, and make sure you land on one of my hotels, I have special "Welcome" rates in effect. Click.

  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (27 votes)
Comments (73) | Views (8,728)
ShoOotAn insanely great shoooter with mad action that gratifies, ShoOot is the latest and greatest game from the house of Tonypa. Borrowing an element of gameplay from Pang, the veteran casual game developer serves up an accessible and immediately gratifying experience using Web-efficient stylized graphics.

On the surface, and in the initial few levels, the game appears to be quite tame; there are only a few small enemies peppering the play field, and they are easily vaporized. As each wave is vanquished a new one begins, almost immediately, containing even more enemies than the wave before it. Small round enemies pave way for large round enemies, which beget small round enemies in increasing number.

Control is with the mouse: Movement of your square is restricted to the horizontal; press the mouse button to shooot.

To aid in your quest for square dominance over circle shapes, enemies will occassionally drop valuable power-ups: red shield upgrades, yellow weapon upgrades, and white 1-ups. Collect every power-up you can, because you will need them as you venture deeper into the game play.

Similar strategies to games of Pang will help with this one, too. In later levels, the big round circles will each yield an army or two. It is best to divide and conquer rather than an all-out blast fest. And blast fest you will get if you play it just right ...and oh, how satisfying it is. =)

Lots of eye candy and a nice techno soundtrack to boot. This one's a keeper. Cheers, Tonypa!

Play ShoOot

Comments (11) | Views (6,311)

A long overdue note of welcome and thanks to several people who have stepped up to help with the site by contributing reviews for games. Their kind contributions to the site have ensured that JayIsGames continues to update at least every weekday, and sometimes even on weekends. This has been especially appreciated during the recent move, and with a new school year at RIT just beginning.

Authors who have contributed to the site thus far include: Capuchin, Jarod, Labyrinth, grant0, Wulfo, Zengief, DerekW, and Preston.

All have demonstrated they are as particular about quality gameplay as I am, and yet each new author has brought something a little different to the mix here that enriches the site as a result. I am sincerely grateful to everyone who has helped out, so please look for the "...posted by" byline at the foot of every review and become familiar with them.

If you would like to contribute to the site, please send me an email using the link next to my picture in the sidebar. So far everyone who has contributed has been male, and I would like to change that! =)

  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (684 votes)
Comments (159) | Views (38,139)

Kingdom of Loathing

As I enter Guano Junction inside the Bat Hole, I check my equipment. Chef's hat? Check. Rubber axe? Check. Frilly skirt? Check. Dirty hobo gloves? Check. Pine-Fresh air freshener? Check (well, one can never be too careful). I am ready for anything.

Kingdom of LoathingMeat is king in this insane, comical, turn-based RPG from Asymmetric Publications. Composed entirely in DHTML and compatible with most browsers, The Kingdom of Loathing is unlike any game I have played online, or anywhere else for that matter. I've never been a big fan of text based games or text adventures, but I am completely hooked on this one. It is a ridiculously addictive and insanely over-the-top game that you cannot help but love.

You are an adventurer—rather, "An adventurer is You!," as the game proclaims—who has come to the Kingdom of Loathing to help destroy the monsters and Naughty Sorceress who have taken over the kingdom and imprisoned King Ralph XI. This is not that much different than a hundred other games, I'll admit. The fun is in its "stunning hand-drawn images" and unusual Monty Pythonesque items and monsters. I have only been playing for a week or three now and have already been attacked by such evils as a Can of Asparagus with a knife, a Gnollish Plungermaster, and a Brainsweeper ("This is a disembodied brain used to control a set of brooms. Why? For Science!").

Kingdom of LoathingKoL features a very unique class system, hundreds of offbeat weapons and armor to collect (Knob Goblin tongs, Bloody clown pants, a pasta spoon, etc.), and familiars (or pets) that will aid you in battle. I currently have Ignacious MaGuillicutty, the 12-pound Mosquito.

KoL also includes chat rooms so members can chat while playing (though you must earn that right). It also has PvP (Player vs Player) battle options. However, you are in charge of when you want to begin battling against other players. Until you have chosen to smash the Magical Mystical Hippy Stone that is in your campgrounds, no one can attack you and vice-versa.

The only negative thing I can say about it is that it is turn-based. Each day you are given forty turns to play. They do rollover from day to day, but you cannot exceed two hundred turns. This may be plenty for most, but with the amount of time that I have free for gaming, I am always running out of turns at times when I am feeling the most "in the zone". I had to start a second character just so I can play longer.

This is definitely a 'must play' game for RPG fans who want something different, as it has become a personal favorite. I could ramble on and on endlessly (obviously) about all the randomness and wit this game has crammed within it, but I'll have to let you just see for yourself. I mean honestly, any game where meat is currency and a literacy exam is required before you can use the chat room has gotta be good.

Play Kingdom of Loathing

  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (57 votes)
Comments (888) | Views (26,613)

God TowerDo you yearn for a game to challenge your massive intellect? Did you beat My Diamond Baby in a half-hour without cheating? Want something harder? Well, here it is: God Tower. This is the toughest puzzle game I've ever seen. I'm not going to lie to you; it's currently unbeaten. But that shouldn't be a problem for you, right?

The game is presented in the format of single-page riddles, similar to Clever Waste of Time and Not Pr0n, where the player is presented with a single image with which to solve the puzzle and advance to the next level. These guys actually took it a step further and cleaned up the whole thing, making the puzzles in Flash instead of simply displaying them as HTML. The way that it's set up, each level requires a password to proceed to the next. Make sure you enter each password in all lowercase, and without spaces. Getting those passwords is no easy task, though. Lucky for you, the title of each page is usually an easily overlooked hint, and a quick-link to Google has been listed at the bottom of the page for convenience.

Hints: Make no mistake, getting anywhere in this game is tough. So, to get you beginners rolling, I'm giving hints to the first five levels.

  1. Get a mirror.
  2. Don't make this level out to be harder than it really is, the answer is obvious.
  3. Kind of weird that the plane departure times are defined down to the seconds, doncha think?
  4. If you've ever seen the episode of “The Simpson's” where Lisa thinks she's inherited Homer's stupid gene, the answer to this should be obvious to you.
  5. The “zoom in” function should give you something to search Google for.

Well, there you go. But please don't post any passwords. You can post hints, but don't give out any spoilers. I know this game is tough, but come on, fight the urge. Click.

The game is hosted on webVodka by the Shura Network Corporation. Despite all attempts, I've been unable to find any information on them, save for a footnote listed by Google on some Japanese porn site. Sadly, it's definitely the same company, but don't hold it against them. Whoever they are, they're geniuses.

Comments (47) | Views (6,949)

TylerK's PicrossPicross is pixel painting for the logic minded. The recent entry for Alien in the Room: Reloaded had a puzzle in it that was called Picross. This entry is for everyone who enjoyed that puzzle. If you have also enjoyed the Sudoku and logic puzzle games, TylerK's Picross offers a visual twist.

Picross was invented in Japan by Tetsuya Nishio according to Wikipedia. It is often featured in puzzle magazines and was even made into a game for the Nintendo Game Boy. There were even more video game versions released in Japan. Still, this is not going to be a game for everybody. There are also several web versions out there. TylerK's is by far the best rendition I have found.

Gameplay: The game presents a grid with a series of numbers on the top and left side. The numbers denote exactly how many of the squares in that row or column are to be filled in what size groups and in what order. Since this is a visual puzzle the best descriptions have pictures. I don't have pictures, but I do have links to some sites that can help you if you are confused on the game play or strategies: Paint by numbers and Nonogram puzzle.

Pros: TylerK has one of the few Flash versions of the game that I have seen, making it much more appealing than the plenty of Java versions that are out there. His version allows both known filled squares and known empty squares to be entered. His version allows the numbers to be checked off as you work on the puzzle. His version allows groups of the same type to be entered all at the same time by click and dragging. There is no ticking clock to add unneeded pressure to the puzzle. The puzzle knows when it is solved and immediately stops. The level menu notes which puzzles you have already solved.

Cons: My biggest complaint is the lack of a check button that would show where you have a problem such as too many filled in squares. For such a high caliber game this seems like a relatively simple task. There is also no persistence in solving levels. If you exit your browser and come back to the site, all of the puzzles are once again marked unsolved. Finally, there is not the wide variety of puzzles that are found when using Java versions.

A good diversion and a good presentation, but there is still room for improvement for this game.

TylerK's Picross was created by Tyler Kane, who is a member of the band The Timmys from Springfield, Illinois. Even though the game is hosted on The Timmys website, there is presently no readily available link to the game from there. And while there is little information available for Tyler, he appears to be the webmaster for the site.

Update: The game is no longer available.

  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 4/5 (22 votes)
Comments (209) | Views (15,488)

Two different light-hearted and cute, point-and-click adventure games to offer up today, and both feature the same extraterrestrial main character. And while the first has been available for a couple of months, the second game has just been released.

Alien in the RoomThe first is a first-person 'escape the room' type game and appropriately called: Alien in the Room. The goal is very simply to find your way out of the room.

Using the mouse, point-and-click on the various objects in the room to locate hidden items. When found, the items will appear in your inventory. To use an item from your inventory, simply drag and drop the item onto the object you want to perform the action on. Some inventory items can be viewed just by clicking on them.

Alien in the Room is not very long and is fairly easy. There are a couple of puzzles that may be difficult to figure out, however. As with many point-and-click games, finding the right spot to click is often the hardest part. With that, I will provide one small hint: there is a ninja on the ceiling. Click.

Alien in the Room Reloaded is the name of the second game, and even if it sounds like a sequel to the first, it is not.

Reloaded is a third-person adventure game that takes place on a ship with many rooms. So many, in fact, that you will likely need to create a map to help you find your way around.

Use the mouse to click on arrows to move the little alien up and down the corridors, and through doorways. Find the corresponding trigger to each locked door to discover what's inside the room behind it. Only one door may be unlocked at any time, and you will have to visit all of the locked rooms to collect all of the puzzle pieces. Actually, there's a great deal more than that to do. Helpful hints in the comments. Click.

Both games are from Heavenly Blue Designs in Japan.

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (51752 votes)
Comments (602) | Views (88,686)

The HouseThe last game was gory, and you wanted a story. Now enter The House.

Built in 1970, and deserted some time after that, no one has entered the house since the entire family committed suicide due to reasons unknown.

Point-and-click your way through the house to unfold the mystery of what really happened to that fateful fictitious family. Best viewed alone, late at night, in the dark, and with the sound turned up.

Created by 25 year-old Sinthai Boonmaitree (xin) of Bangkok, Thailand, this interactive narrative combines excellent use of sound, animation, and timing to produce a very creepy atmosphere and a few very startling effects. Although the horror piece is similar to the previously reviewed NFH Propaganda and 99 Rooms with its loading screens that interrupt the progression from room to room, there are far fewer rooms for it to matter much at all. The House is much more like a game than the others, though there is nothing very difficult to figure out. Random clicking should get you through the whole 10-minute presentation without any trouble, save for a few frightening moments.

This one is for those who were disappointed—or just plain put out—by the previous entry. Originally planned for posting sometime in late October as the Halloween season approaches, I decided to post it this evening after reading all the negative comments the last one generated. I trust you will enjoy this one much more. Thanks go to Willoughby Jackson for suggesting it as a follow-up to yesterday's game.

Play The House

Update: Due to bandwidth issues Sinthai was having with his hosting provider, The House is now being served up directly from the JIG servers with the kind permission of Sinthai, himself. Cheers, Sinthai! =)

  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (30 votes)
Comments (64) | Views (14,963)

NFH PropagandaNFH Propaganda is a creepy point-and-click adventure game created using a combination of Flash and a series of HTML pages. The result is highly reminiscent of the 99 Rooms, and as equally artistic: just replace all the graffiti with ghoulish animation and weirdness. The effect is unsettling, but disappointingly non-scary.

Created by French photographer, William Belle, the game features photographs of various abandoned and ramshackled locales, mostly hospitals and factories. The music is originally from a project of one of the developer's friends, entitled Monster X.

By leveraging the game's audio and visual elements, the author attempts to creep you out by tackling all the most common fears, such as the fear of being alone, the fear of the dark, the fear of furtive sights, or the fear of people carrying a butcher's knife. And to that effect, it does a nice job indeed. The sound really adds to the environment with its ghoulish moans and groans and inhuman screams. Very weird, and therefore very cool.

The author does a nice job of overlaying animation onto his static photographs and providing interactivity using a simple point-and-click style. Unfortunately, the loading times can get in the way of a more immersive experience. And it might be prudent to note, before you begin playing, that this game is extremely long. It may also startle you a few times at first. However, after a while, the continued exposure to pools of blood and flying dead bodies will lessen their effect.

Note: this game is gory to the nth degree.

Nevertheless, it seems just as much work was poured into this as was many of the other games that can be found here, and is definitely worth checking out ...alone, late at night, in the dark, and with the sound turned up.

Play NFH Propaganda

Update: The site that original hosted this piece is no longer available. The links above have been changed to a cached version of the site via archive.org, and therefore some content may be missing. For example, the link to the map on the site leads to a page that no longer exists. However, the map can be found here.

(18 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (15) | Views (5,663)
SlingstarWould you like to sling on a star? Oops. ...sorry, wrong song.

Slingstar marks the 26th Flash game created and released by David Thorburn on his Teagames.com website. The pace at which he is able to create new games is remarkable! With this one, the most recent of his games, he has created a new game by combining two classic gameplay mechanics: the slingshot and the platformer.

Each level consists of horizontal strips of stretchy, flexible material on which a ball is bounced. You control the ball with the left and right cursor keys. The object of the game is to reach the top of the level by bouncing your way up, and collecting stars along the way for points. Find and collect the one blue-ish star near the top to complete the level and move on to the next.

Analysis: Although this game is similar to others, including Yoshio Ishii's Neko-Pachi and Tobby-Pachi games, I have yet to see a game with the same gameplay. As is customary with all of David's Teagames, the physics implementation is exceptional. The stretchy material reacts convincingly most of the time, and is quite an impressive feat in Flash. To keep the framerate down with all the physics computations in his games, there are no sound effects or music, though the graphics are generally appealing and efficient for the Web. The down side is that the ball moves as if in slow motion, which gets frustrating rather quickly.

Strategy: Aim to land on the opposite corner of the direction you want to jump. Then hold down the arrow key—in the reverse direction of the jump—to stretch the band to its maximum. Then, when it's fully stretched, release and hold down the arrow key in the forward direction, and away you go!

Play Slingstar

Thanks go to grant0 for suggesting the game and for writing much of the review that I subsequently edited to add my own two-cents! To which he adds: "Beyond that, good luck!" =)

  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (2916 votes)
Comments (74) | Views (18,123)
The Goat in the Grey FedoraThe Goat in the Grey Fedora is a strange and offbeat point-and-click adventure with a black and white film noir atmosphere. The game's highpoint is definitely its sense of humor. Not only that, it actually has a plotline, which, as the title implies, has to do with a goat. In a grey fedora.

The game begins just as all cliché film noir types do: You're a detective in a smoke-filled office sitting with your feet on the desk when a dame walks in and asks you something totally bizarre. Within the game are even references to other noir type films like Casablanca, which you may recognize.

Written by Mark Darin, Ron "AAlgar" Watt, and Jason Ellis, the game was produced by Pinhead Games. It is evident that quite a lot of work was put into the game, as it looks fantastic—save for those awful faces. Unfortunately, the game is short and has a few puzzles that will leave you scratching your head, even if the solution is fairly logical. The black and white atmosphere and the fitting soundtrack create a sense of immersion that is both engaging and entertaining. And, as an added bonus, the ending is quite good. Plus there is a hidden extra at the end, a-la Stongbad-style.

Play The Goat in the Grey Fedora

(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (29) | Views (4,622)
TroyisAn action puzzle Flash game played with knight moves from the game of Chess, Troyis is a new casual Web game created and designed by Guillem de San Pedro of Spain.

The object of the game is simple: fill all of the white squares of each level by landing on them with the knight using only valid moves from the game of Chess.

A valid knight move follows the simple pattern of "forward two squares, over one." Forward can be in any direction, and over is right or left relative to the forward movement. Imagine an "L" shape move in any orientation, even backwards, except for diagonal.

Control is with the mouse. Simply click the square on which the knight will land when completing a valid move. You may only land on white or previously visited squares.

A timer counts down for each level, with the game ending if all white squares are not landed on within the time alotted. Your final score is automatically saved and ranked among the other scores submitted by people from around the world.

An elegantly simple yet challenging casual Web game, enjoyable for gamers of all ages.

Play Troyis

(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (12) | Views (3,568)

Finding 4A brand new game from the very talented casual game designer, Tonypa.

Finding 4 is a puzzle game in which the object is to locate, within the time alotted, the same set of four (4) figures on the play field as shown in the target set.

Simply click on the set once you find it. Points are awarded based on how quickly the set was found, and then a new target set is chosen. If an incorrect set is selected, time is subtracted from the turn-timer. When the timer runs out, the game is over.

Every 500 points earned, you will advance a level. For each new level in the game, a new figure is added to the mix, as well as a new column, and you are given less time. There are a total of nine (9) different figures and a maximum of 12 columns in the game.

The game contains a couple of noteworthy features that add a nice touch to the presentation of the game: an hourglass timer with a fine granularity of graphical detail, and a custom sound engine. The sound engine offers three (3) different instruments to choose from, and composes a tune during play based on the four (4) figures in the target set. The tempo of the tune changes with the turn-timer. Click on the colored square beneath Tony's name to swich instruments, or to turn sound off completely.

Finding 4 is a very simple game to pick-up and play immediately, as most anyone will be able to have fun with it. Another excellent free Web game by Tonypa.

Play Finding 4

(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (14) | Views (3,728)

Mr. FigglesThis next game is inherently gratifying to play, and it just feels good even though it's very short. Mr. Figgles is an action arcade game in which the object is simply to collect all the stars on the play field, within the time limit, while avoiding any traps and enemies.

The game comes in two sizes: this free limited Flash version, and a full-sized download for purchase. The free version consists of three (3) levels and a mini-game, and it's all just enough fun for a round of casual gameplay.

Control is entirely mouse driven: just move the mouse to move Mr. Figgles around the play field. A bit of inertia keeps the little guy from keeping up with the cursor, and that is where the fun begins. Try it and you'll see what I'm talking about: It's something that you have to feel to understand.

Between each level you may spend the stars you collect on power-ups, such as to increase Mr. Figgle's speed or size, though the items you may buy are very limited in this free version. And if you don't have enough stars to purchase an upgrade, you can try your luck with the slot machine mini-game to win extra stars. I found the slot machine to be a fun game by itself.

Published by HandY Interactive, Mr. Figgles is an odd name for a very familiar game concept. The core gameplay mechanic of the game has origins that date back to 1988 with Patrick Buckland's original black-and-white shareware game for the Macintosh, Crystal Raider, which was updated and released one year later as the Mac's first color game, Crystal Quest, published by Casady and Greene. I used to play Crystal Raider, and then Crystal Quest, for hours at a time. They are on my all-time favorite games list, and this Flash game is reminiscent of the fun I used to have.

A proven gameplay mechanic supported by gorgeous gradient filled graphics, pleasing music, and sound effects, make this game an enjoyable, albeit short, diversion.

Play Mr. Figgles

Download the free demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
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Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

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