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October 2005 Archives

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Rating: 4/5 (28 votes)
Comments (161) | Views (9,834)
PenanceCreated by Paul Wagstaff of Australia during his education in multimedia and interactive design, Penance is an escape-the-room type point-and-click adventure set in a purgatorial train station. The object of the game is to figure out why you are there and how to leave.

As with other games of this type, navigate by moving the mouse toward the edges of the game window. The cursor will change to an arrow indicating movement in that direction is possible.

As you explore the boundaries of the station, you will find items to examine when the cursor changes to a magnifying glass. Other items can only be found by solving a puzzle. Some puzzles require you to type on the keyboard, using all lowercase. Look around for clues that can provide you with answers to the questions asked of you.

Penance is a gloomy game, one that deals with mature themes such as drugs and murder. It is not for everyone, and yet it is indeed fun and challenging to play. It is a critical thinking person's game about suffering and atonement, and one in which your answers will ultimately affect the outcome. Click.

  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (28 votes)
Comments (21) | Views (8,451)
Vampire BoyVilliam is Vampire Boy. The only time he goes out to play with the other kids is on Halloween night when they go door-to-door for tricks-or-treats. Villiam's big sister was in a bad mood one night, and she took all their candy and hid it around the castle. Help Villiam find all the candy that his big sis took from him and his friends.

From Robotduck comes this delightfully original and fiendishly challenging platformer with a sweet Halloween theme. Run and jump around platforms while avoiding enemies to grab all the candy on each level. And since Villiam is a vampire, he can turn into a bat and fly for a short duration, except that he needs candy to fuel his flight.

For every five (5) candies collected in a level, you may use Villiam's special bat powers to reach higher spots or to traverse wide gaps. But it doesn't last long! To complete each level you must choose wisely when to use your special powers, or you may not be able to finish. Press [R] to restart a level from the beginning.

Use the arrow keys for movement left and right, to jump, and to crouch. Alternatively, you may use the [O] and [P] keys for left and right, [Q] to jump, and [A] to crouch. Press [space] or [ctrl] to change into a bat. To view the map for a level at any time, press [M]. The number of candies left to find appears in the top right corner of the game window.

You will be given a password at the beginning of each level so that you may start the game at any level that you wish. You have three (3) lives with which to make it through all 13 levels and the big showdown in Villiam's sister's room at the end.

Analysis: The game is excellent. Once you take to the controls and move Villiam around the levels you will understand when I say the controls are tight, and it just feels right. The game has a classic retro arcade appeal that elevates it above most other browser-based platformers. Add to that brilliant and challenging level design, a contemporary and funky hip hop soundtrack, great sound effects, and original hand-drawn graphics, and what you have in front of you is an extraordinary offering for a Web-based game. Charming and challenging, and delicious. Click.

Benjamin Pitt creates original Shockwave games like this one for his RobotDuck site where a membership is required for full access to the games. Although a membership is not required to play the demo versions, once you play through the first few levels of this, or any other Robotduck game, you will want to see the rest. Just by registering with the site you will receive full access to all of Robotduck's games free for 5 days. After that, membership costs just $10.

  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (44 votes)
Comments (74) | Views (16,356)

The fantasy and horror fiction works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft are often cited as being of great importance and influence to writers and fans of the horror fiction genre. Evidence of his influence can be seen in the works of Clive Barker, H. R. Giger, Stephen King, and even within a Flash game created by Bum Lee, a talented young animator attending Carnegie Mellon University.

Deanimator was inspired by one of Lovecraft's short stories, Herbert West: Reanimator, first published in Home Brew in 1922. It is the gruesome tale of an eccentric young doctor with a penchant for experiments that involve reanimating the dead. The horror comes knocking at the back door in part III: Six Shots by Moonlight after having been retired a failed experiment in the potter's field beneath soil, vines and leaves:

"It is uncommon to fire all six shots of a revolver with great suddenness when one would probably be sufficient..."

And with that begins an elegantly simple, gorgeous and gruesome shooter in which you play the very same Herbert West with but a single revolver to start, and just six chambers for bullets. Use the mouse for aiming, click on a zombie to shoot at it. Aim for the vulnerable spots to use your munitions most effectively, though some zombies will require more than one shot to retire. If you shoot a zombie as it is rising from the ground, only one shot is needed to take it down.

Reloading your weapon takes time, so plan your reloads carefully! If you have just one bullet left and there is no immediate danger, fire that bullet and reload before a new wave of zombies appear.

Soon after the first or second level, you will begin to pick up shot gun shells and a shot gun. Switch between weapons with the [shift] key. The shot gun will take down any zombie with just one shot, but beware of a longer reload!

Born in Seoul, Korea, and now pursuing a bachelor of fine arts at CMU, Bum Lee has created an excellent Flash shooter that stands tall above others of its kind. A game that combines haunting animations with exceptional gameplay to reel the player into the world of H.P. Lovecraft. Experience the horror that awaits you.

Play Deanimator

With a nod to all those who had suggested this game over the last several months: Jonathan, Peter, Seb, Rob, Chris, ...

(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (3) | Views (3,961)
Soul MasterTerry Paton is a graphic designer and creates Flash games in his spare time. I discovered his site a couple of weeks ago by trolling through del.icio.us and found a couple of games that I plan to review and feature here. His game development talents show promise and he has a knack for creating both appealing graphics and gameplay.

Soul Master is a decent game and one that fits with the current Halloween theme. The object of the game is to free enough souls within the time limit to make it to the next hell level. There are ten (10) hells to complete, each requiring more souls to advance than the previous one.

Using the arrow keys for control, maneuver the soul reaper around the play field to grab a soul as they fly from bottom to top. Simply coming in contact with a soul will grab it. Once you have a soul, deliver it to its resting place at the tombstone. You may carry only one soul at a time.

Flying the reaper costs time, which is represented by the hourglass. Time is only reduced when flying or by colliding with walls. Deliver souls and collect power-ups for additional time and bonus points.

Analysis: As with many of his games, Soul Master is not without a few problems. Collision detection sometimes fails between soul and reaper, and the reaper seems to get stuck occasionally. Sound effects are done well with the exception of the power-ups, which are disproportionately louder than the rest. I particularly liked the samples of his own voice when capturing and releasing souls. The gameplay, though fun, is a bit limited and lacks depth. I would have liked to see: fewer power-ups, which tends to make the game a bit too easy; soul spawning in areas other than the tombstone; and a variety of enemies in later levels that provide additional hazards to navigate around.

Overall, a decent effort and a welcome addition to the Halloween series of games. Click.

(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (14) | Views (3,957)
HellydropAlthough it's devoid of any sound at all—and if you are playing in an office that may be a good thing—this next game is a great way to pass a few minutes over an afternoon coffee break.

Hellydrop is an action arcade game in which you have but one chance to fly the helicopter as far as you can. Avoid terrain, lightning bolts, and those ominous evil winged creatures lurking in the sky. This one-button game uses the mouse button only: Click to take-off, and then keep clicking to fly.

The duration of your mouse button press determines your vertical velocity. Each time you click your vertical velocity is increased, while gravity provides the opposing force that pulls the copter back down.

This game is a clone of the famous seethru.co.uk helicopter game that has been circling the Web for months and months, though Hellydrop does not display the same tiling problem. On the downside, the level in Hellydrop is not randomly generated, and therefore memorizing the level can ultimately affect your relative success. This type of game is similar also to the Hamure-su racing game in that a simple series of mouse clicks is all that is required to play.

Simple fun and a very good effort. The game could be made much better by the mere addition of a helicopter engine sound when the mouse button is down, and the generation of a random level as noted above. The game is hosted on the Gorillaz.com website. Click.

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (59 votes)
Comments (321) | Views (14,582)

Death in SakkaraJust launched over at the BBC's history website is this gorgeous, interactive narrative and detective drama set in the late 1920's and produced by the award-winning creative team at Preloaded in the UK.

Death in Sakkara is an Egyptian adventure game, created in Flash, that offers a rich immersing narrative experience peppered with historical content, puzzles, mini-games, mystery and intrigue. Selectable dialog transports you right into the unfolding drama as you help journalist Charles Fox unearth clues that may help explain the mysterious disappearance of one Elizabeth Armstrong. Granddaughter of Dr. Mortimer Armstrong—the man whom sends Charles to Egypt to look for her—Elizabeth has evidently uncovered something to do with an ancient Egyptian mystical text, the Book of Thoth, dating back to Khaemwese, the 4th Son of Ramesses II.

Death in Sakkara: The CurseThe Curse, the first of four (4) episodes, has just been released today with the others to follow November 7th, 14th, and 21st. By giving the BBC your email, you will be sent a code with which to resume a game previously saved. You will have the opportunity to save your progress only at the end of each chapter (episode).

The style of the game is reminiscent of an old detective comic, and combines techniques such as panning stills and simulating traditional cel-animation to provide an authentic in-period look and feel. Quite an extraordinary production, though it's not surprising considering the talent behind it.

The entire adventure is based on an original idea by the BBC's history team, and includes comic and character illustration by Joe Berger, and an original musical score composed by Pendle Poucher.

Play Death in Sakkara

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Rating: 4.7/5 (202 votes)
Comments (39) | Views (11,504)

Transylmania!Continuing the cuteness from yesterday is this Halloween-themed platformer from Zeeks!

In Translymania!, you play as a cute little vampire whom is trying to get some rest. Unfortunately for you, those pesky villagers are up to their antics again and have invaded your castle. They are milling about everywhere and disturbing your sleep. Use your vamptastic powers to turn them all into the undead, and return to your coffin before sunrise.

Use the [A] and [D] keys to move left and right, respectively; press [space bar] to jump. Use the [W] key to turn into a bat and fly. To turn the villagers into the undead, either sneak up behind one or land on his head. Once all the villagers are snogged, your coffin will open allowing you to get into it and end the level.

Look out for things that could hurt you: spikes, flames, water and sunlight—beware of windows that might fling open at any instant.

This darling of a game is very well constructed with tight controls and solid gameplay. Simple and accessible, and voraciously vampirific.

Play Transylmania

Play Transylmania 2

  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (416 votes)
Comments (93) | Views (23,717)

JinxAlthough there is plenty of fun to be had by adults when Halloween comes around, there is no denying that it should really be a holiday for the kids. When you consider trick-or-treating, dressing in funny costumes, and eating lots of candy, the kids are usually left wondering: "What about me?"

Enter Jinx to save the day. This gorgeous and adorable Flash game has kids written all over it, including those who are only kids-at-heart.

In this first episode, Jinx comes upon the house on the hill that is all lit up for once on a dark and stormy night. Upon knocking, the door opens and Jinx decides to go in and have a look around.

Use your mouse and clicking finger to help Jinx through the house, solving puzzles along the way to unravel the mystery inside. In classic point-and-click adventure style, this game will delight you even if it doesn't pose much of a challenge.

Play Jinx: A Dark and Stormy Night

(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (9) | Views (5,699)
Zombie RompA recent addition to David Thorburn's Teagames.com website, Zombie Romp is a 2D side-scrolling melee shooter the likes of which are beyond this world. The object of this simple shooter is to stay alive by shooting zillions of zombies and battling a battalion of bats.

Use the mouse for aiming and shooting, and the right and left cursor keys for movement—as an alternative to the arrow keys, the pairs Z & X, and A & S work as well. Although you may move in either direction, the levels require you to continue moving to the right. Once the requisite number of enemies have been put to rest, the next stage will begin without a skip in the beating.

This Halloween-themed game offers some intense arcade action with the smooth animation and physics that David is famous for. The flight of the bats will keep you on your toes switching between firing at ground-based zombies and the pesky winged creatures. The better your aim the longer you'll last in this game of survival against the dead. Click.

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Rating: 4.5/5 (67 votes)
Comments (262) | Views (17,537)
The Stone of AnamaraRunning from the scene of a crime, you find yourself taking refuge at what appears to be a deserted asylum in the middle of nowhere. The electricity is off and an eerie wind blows in from off the nearby hills. A thick and dense fog is settling in and you realize you need to find a way inside to take cover for the night.

The Stone of Anamara is a creepy point-and-click adventure game, created by Gabriel Rodriguez, that spans multiple chapters. In this first chapter, you uncover the story behind the asylum doctor, Alexander Graves, and the mysterious illness of one of his patients.

Use the mouse exclusively for control in this game. By moving the mouse gently, the scene will scroll slightly in all directions thus giving the illusion of being able to see all around you. To move, click on the arrows that appear as you move the mouse around. Use the hand cursor to pick up and activate various items and objects, enter doors, etc.

Gabriel has delivered an excellent effort towards constructing an immersive experience in Flash with a compelling story. Although not perfect by any means, there is plenty here to see and to discover. The game is a great way to kick-off the runup to Halloween, and it will surely give you a scare or two. Unfortunately, it is over far too quickly and chapter two has not yet been released, though I read on the game's forum that it is due out very soon—this first chapter was released several months ago. Click.

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (174 votes)
Comments (82) | Views (27,041)
Submachine extended versionMateusz Skutnik has created an extended version of his recent point-and-click game, Submachine, appropriately titled: Submachine Remix. Boasting twice as many rooms, a new puzzle and an alternate ending, the new version is something of a remix to tide you over until he finishes a true sequel, which he promises is on the way.

If you've never played a point-and-click or room escape game before, then the Submachine games are a very good place to start. They are simple and straightforward, and don't require alot of precise clicking on obscure pixels to advance.

Play Submachine Remix

If you haven't already done so, be sure to check out my review of the original Submachine game.

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 (8) | Views (3,365)

Eyezmaze blogOn of Eyezmaze has started a blog, Eyezblog, and he is writing in English. He has even posted a new puzzle game on it: Movie Puzzle.

It is great to see that On has decided to strike up a dialog with the many fans of his games throughout the world. Welcome to the blogosphere, On! =)

Thanks go to Sean for the link.

(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (127) | Views (9,611)

AnkhFor those who prefer a bit of a mind-bender over an action oriented game, Ankh follows in the same footsteps as not pr0n, God Tower, and various other password puzzles. In fact, this game was created by the very same person who created not pr0n. With Ankh, the author used nicely rendered scenes from an upcoming 3D adventure game set in ancient Egypt as backdrops for the game.

The object of Ankh is to decipher the riddle provided in the game window's title to figure out what is required to make it to the next level. Most of the time you will be manually changing the URL in the address bar of your browser, however there is at least one level in which you click a hotspot in the image that takes you to the next. Note: this is not a point-and-click game. Click.

The game was commissioned by bhv-Software, of Germany, no doubt as an advergame to raise awareness of their 3D adventure game of the same name to be released in January, 2006.

(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (3) | Views (4,511)

Kelman to the RescueNext up is a game that is suitable for gamers of all ages.

Hosted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) as part of the Game On initiative, Kelman to the Rescue was a previous winner of the "Best Game" category at the Flash-in-the-Can festival, held each year in Toronto.

A collaboration between artist Nathan Jurevicius and programmer Ash Ringrose, Kelman to the Rescue is a delightful game comprised of four (4) mini-games sandwiched between narrative animation. Beautifully stylized cut scenes tells the story of a boy-hero named Kelman who overcomes his unfortunate condition by rescuing the good bugs from the evil bugs.

Following the introductory animation is a flying game using the keyboard for control. The arrow keys control up, down, right and left movement of Kelman, who flies by riding on the back of the bug that enlists Kelman's help. Press the space bar to launch a nut(?) at the bad evil bugs, and then swoop in to catch the good bug before it falls to the ground. Hold down the space bar for a more powerful shot. Collect 30 good bugs to advance. Lose 6 good bugs, or lose 4 lives, and you must retry the level again.

The second game is a catch the falling bug game. Use the mouse to position a net underneath the good bugs as they fall, while avoiding the bad bugs. Notice a recurring theme here? Align the shadows cast by the net and the falling bug to be ensure a proper catch. This game is a bit more tricky since bugs fall at different rates, and the shadows on the ground are sometimes difficult to see. Like the first level, catch 30 good bugs to advance. Lose 6 good bugs, or lose 4 lives, and you must retry the level again.

The third game is a jumping game. Kelman has acquired a bug's legs and can now jump to great heights. Use the arrow keys to move left and right, press the space bar to jump. Hold the space bar down to power up your jump for higher bugs. Use the radar on the right of the play field as a guide to know when to jump and when to avoid the evil doers.

And finally, if you make it through all three (3) games, a boss fight commences against the mother of all evil bugs. Control is as it was for the first game, with Kelman riding on the little red bug's back throwing nuts(?) Hit the boss about 10 times to kill it and win the game. Click.

Analysis: I really love Flash games like this. A bit of narrative to set the stage, several mini-games that change up the gameplay with cut scenes in-between, all culminating in a boss fight that rewards you with a game ending animation to tie it all up. The game's gorgeous artwork, convincing voice-acting, energizing soundtrack, and challenging gameplay leave little doubt as to the merits of this award winning game.

And while the game has some impressive features, it is not without a couple of minor issues. Achieving success with the catch-a-falling-bug mini-game seemed to rely more on luck with the timing of the falling bugs than on any hand-eye coordination or skill. Several repeats were necessary to get past this one, a few more than I would have liked. On the upside, levels can be retried as many times as necessary to advance. Also, during the boss fight, there was a problem regenerating after a loss of life. Many times the new Kelman would appear and immediately touch the boss before regaining control, which lead to a repetitive loss of life.

From the same organization that sponsored other award winning games, such as the previously reviewed Chasm, Tork, and OgOg Alive...

Game On is an initiative for emerging game developers, digital artists and producers who want to break the traditional mould of online games production and expose their talents to an international audience.

Rock on Game On.

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (14) | Views (5,107)

Gas Games

Mature contentGas Games has been around a while now, and I often get requests and suggestions to review one or more of their games. Unfortunately, there exists material on the site that may not be appropriate for all age groups, which is why I have avoided posting anything from there up to now. Consider yourself warned.

As far as casual game design is concerned, I find much to celebrate about Gas Games. Most of the games on the site have been created with a consistent appearance and style, they are easy to pick-up and play, and many of them feature gameplay that is unique and addictive. A few of my favorites are Fulfillment, Gravity, and Centrifuge.

FulfillmentFulfillment is a puzzle game against the clock. Use the mouse to drag and drop each puzzle piece into place.

Arrange all of the blocks together to form a square for each increasingly more difficult level. No turning or flipping of the blocks is required or permitted, just fit all of the pieces together within the time limit to continue. A time bonus is awarded based on how long it took you to complete a puzzle, and added to your total score. Click.

GravityGravity is a puzzle game with a strategic element. The object is to position an atom with the mouse so that it will remain in play without colliding with any of the 'planets' for the time period prescribed.

Click the mouse to fire the atom. As the atom moves, gravitational fields created by the various planets will affect the path of the atom, as well as the planets themselves. The game is delightful to watch and simple to pick-up and play. Click.

CentrifugeCentrifuge is a one-button action arcade game in which the object is to survive as long as possible. Use the mouse button to fire projectiles, from the spinning centrifuge, at power-ups and approaching enemies. Projectiles move in a straight line out from the center, timing becomes critical for aiming your shots. Excellent fun, though frustrating and highly addictive. Click.

Analysis: There are many creative ideas in casual game design expressed in the offerings at Gas Games. The consistency in the look and feel of each game provides a comfortable environment within which to play and to explore. Random level design ensures that each game is fresh and offers a new challenge.

Although the design of many of the games is remarkable, the lack sound is unfortunate. Also, when using the on-site "Games" menu to switch between available games, an annoying javascript alert dialog pops-up to ask if you wish to end your current game and play the one you just clicked on. User validation is superfluous and unnecessary in this context, especially after a game has been finished.

Gas Games offers a unique take on casual games as illustrated by its creativity in game design and aesthetics. Although registration is not required to play any of the games on the site, registering allows you to compete for high scores that are saved for each game. Not all games are gems, and yet there are many that are worthy of spending what little time you have over a lunch hour break.

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (26 votes)
Comments (87) | Views (9,140)

AquariaI know it's been pretty quiet around here as far as updates go, but that will change now that I just submitted the SVG project I have been working on day and night to finish.

So, until I can get caught up with all my emails and game link suggestions that have been piling up, I'll leave you with this point-and-click game that Sun2dragon suggested.

Aquaria is a Flash adventure game created by So of Japan and featured at so-room.com along with several other Flash animations and fun interactive works. Yes, the game is in Japanese, and yet is filled with beautiful graphics and scenes like the one pictured. So far, I have not heard any sound at all in it. Here is what the author says about the game:

Escape from the mysterious ruin of Aquaria through solving puzzles and discovering the meaning of secret codes! Click to find the hints to solving the puzzles. Look closely for hints in simple objects.

Seeing a "pattern" in symbols, objects, etc. is the key to understanging the codes of Aquaria.

Use the comments to help get through this one. Make sure you sign into TypeKey if you want your comments to show up immediately. And with that, I'm gone. Click.

  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (20 votes)
Comments (35) | Views (7,132)
Panda Fruit BounceWhat I am calling Panda Fruit Bounce (actually "Boong Boong Panda") is an action arcade game that is a variant of Breakout. The object is to collect the indicated quantities of fruit by bouncing a panda bear around the play field. A piece of fruit is collected if the panda comes in contact with it.

Control is with the mouse. Click on the panda beside the chipmunks to put it on the trampoline. Click again to launch. To keep the panda bouncing, move the mouse left and right to position the trampoline such that the panda does not hit the ground. When three (3) pandas land on the ground, the game is over. Be careful not to move the mouse cursor outside of the Flash game window, or you will lose control of the trampoline.

Once the fruit is collected in the appropriate quantities, golden apples will begin to appear on the clotheslines. You must grab one of the golden apples to complete the level and move on to the next. Special items will occassionally appear on the clotheslines that cause special actions to occur. For example, when the little monkey item is collected it causes all of the fruit on the same line to drop to the ground.

Analysis: The game is full of charm, and is a delight to play. The graphics are gorgeous, and the sound effects fit the mood of the game perfectly. The attention to detail in the animations is also remarkable. I like the way the items on the clothesline bobble up and down as they are pulled from right to left, and the way the chipmunks lift and lower their arms to tilt the trampoline. Some details are subtle and yet add to the richness that this game delivers. The level of difficulty ramps up nicely in later levels with the appearance of fruit that require multiple hits to collect.

An excellent casual game, and a joy to play for gamers of all ages. Click.

Game history: Very kind thanks are expressed to Teny Kim, Flash game team manager for NHN, who wrote to inform me of the history behind Boong Boong Panda, the original name and link to the game. It was developed in Korea in May 2003, and hosted on a Korean game portal named "Han Game" which is owned by NHN corporation (the Korean version appears to support IE 5+ only). The developers later translated a bunch of their games to Japanese and began hosting them in 2004 in Japan. The game was originally developed by Li Gun Hwang and designed by Yoo Jung Kim, and with copyright reserved to NHN corporation.

  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (25 votes)
Comments (30) | Views (4,451)

GunRunSporting stylized graphics and an infectious soundtrack, GunRun delivers the goods with flair in classic arcade action style. This beautiful 2D side-scrolling shooter was created in Flash by Felix Reidl of Germany.

The object of the game is to rack-up points by jumping and running to catch money ($) while shooting everything that comes at you. There is no break in the action, you play until you lose all your hearts and die.

Use the mouse for aiming and the mouse button for shooting. Movement in this side-scroller is constantly advancing to the right, there is no turning back. However, the [A] and [D] keys can be used to slow down and speed up, respectively. Press the space bar, or [W] key, to jump. Press it again to double-jump.

In addition to money, you will find power-ups floating in the sky as you advance. All provide some protection from the never-ending waves of enemies that approach: items to increase your health, upgrade your gun, kill all enemies on-screen, and even grant temporary invincibility or rage.

As you advance across the randomly generated terrain, so does the bar at the bottom of the screen. When it fills completely, you advance to the next level. Although there is no break between levels, new and more difficult enemies will begin to appear as you progress.

Analysis: The game looks amazing with its stylized silhouette illustrations and enemy design that is consistent and nicely detailed. Felix has done an exceptional job of creating an addictive Flash shooter with compelling art work to match. The high-energy soundtrack is a perfect fit for the non-stop, fast-paced, arcade action of the game. Very well done.

The only complaints I have are relatively minor in scale: There is very little indication when hit by an enemy, as the main character merely blinks a couple of times. Also, I had to re-enter my name each time I wanted to submit a score to the high score list. The game should save the last name entered, at least for the duration of the browser session.

Addictive gameplay. Impressive art work. Energizing soundtrack. Click.

Props to Willoughby Jackson for the link. =)

(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (12) | Views (4,058)
Twin Spin IIIOne of my favorite mini-games from Globz gets another sequel: Twin Spin III picks-up where the first two left off, continuing the same addictive gameplay formula with 24 all-new levels. The core gameplay mechanic consists of clicking the mouse button (or space bar) to 'walk' a baton around the play field and explode all of the balloons that exist for each level.

These one-button games offer addictive and accessible gameplay without a lot of overhead. There is no way to save a game or begin at any level other than the first, and there are no sound effects or soundtrack. And still there is a lot of fun crammed under the tiny hood. Click.

If you have never played any of the Twin Spin games before, be sure to check out the first and second games of this excellent casual game series, as well as a more detailed review of the original Twin Spin.

(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (35) | Views (7,624)

Rag Doll Kung Fu

It's about Chi power.

Rag Doll Kung FuLead Artist for Lionhead Studios, Mark Healey, set out to create a video game of his own in his spare time. Over the course of a few years, an innovative and new, gorgeous and outrageous fighting game took shape under the name: Rag Doll Kung Fu.

For the naive and uninitiated, the term "rag doll" is often used in video games and real-time physics simulations to describe a type of character model animation. A model is generally made up of a collection of body parts that move relative to one another. The relative movement of a rag doll's body parts, though constrained to the joints of the model, resembles the flailing limbs of a genuine rag doll. Rag doll physics became all the rage when CPU power permitted its use in games to simulate realistic falling dead bodies instead of the rigid, hand-made and pre-scripted animations gamers were used to seeing.

Control basics: What makes Rag Doll Kung Fu remarkable is that it uses rag doll physics, not for death sequences, but instead as the basis for its gameplay. You, the player, are in control of each limb as you would control a puppet on a string. To move an arm or a leg, click on it and drag it around with the mouse. As you drag a limb, the rest of the body moves with it, though the feet lightly stick to the ground to help maintain some stability.

Rag Doll Kung FuWalking can be accomplished by clicking and dragging each leg, one after the other in turn, or by grabbing an arm (or head) and just dragging your character along. Jumping is accomplished in a similar manner by dragging, throwing, or just clicking above the head of your character.

Attacks are made using a right-click of the mouse. You may use your a hand, foot, or your head to attack, and moves are generally made relative to the position of the mouse cursor. Postion the cursor to the left of your character and it will attack to the left. Position the cursor to the right and attacks are performed to the right. Right-click and drag from any limb to attack with that limb. As you drag, a sequence of blue arrows will appear indicating the direction and relative power of the attack.

Rag Doll Kung FuItems can be picked up easily by grabbing a hand with the mouse, via click and drag, and moving the hand over the item. Some items can be eaten and some can be wielded. Mushrooms, for example, are good for flying, while numchucks are powerful weapons. Pick up a pair of numchucks in one hand and spin them around in circles to deal heavy damage to enemies. There are many items to discover in the game, most of which will help to increase either your health or special abilities.

Heath bar: The status of your health is shown on-screen by a bar with a heart on it. Eating fruit will replenish some of your health, as will meditating. To meditate, stand up straight with both feet together and arms apart. Grab your character's hips and drag down to the ground so that it is sitting. If done correctly, your character will close its eyes and mediate with a special aura emanating around it. The health bar will increase as long as the aura continues.

Rag Doll Kung FuMushroom bar: Power-up with mushrooms by first picking one, and then eat it by moving the mushroom to your mouth. Repeat to fill up your mushroom bar. Eat too many and your character will throw-up. With mushroom power, grab a hold of an arm or the head and drag your character slowly upward to fly higher into the sky. When the mushroom bar depletes, you will fall back to the ground.

Butterfly bar: Butterflies abound in this game, and they provide you with lightning fists! Fill your butterfly bar by catching blinking butterflies. Once you have collected enough butterflies, do the butterfly pose to earn lightning fists. The butterfly pose is achieved by raising both arms and sliding one leg out to perform a split. Then use right-click hand attacks to send a bolt of lightning at enemies and objects.

Chi bar: Power-up your Chi by making small circles with the mouse. As you power up your Chi, your character will emanate a bright aura around it and your Chi guage will fill. Chi power allows you to jump higher, fight harder, faster, and better.

Rag Doll Kung FuAnd that's about all you need to know to make it through this game, and yet there is so much more packed inside. Story mode contains about 20 minutes of hilarious and brash video footage delivered as cut scenes between levels. Hidden stars throughout the single-player levels unlock additional games and features, such as: Rag Doll Soccer, Ninja Onslaught, Chu Chu Wing Poo, and various athletic competition events. Mark has created a challenging and compelling single-player game complete with enemy AI that uses a virtual mouse for movement and attack. Although this puts you on a level playing field with the computer AI, it also means that you may soon outgrow the single-player mode and start looking for more formidable opponents.

Multiplayer: The multiplayer mode will surely extend replay value of the game significantly by allowing you and up to seven (7) others to play via multiple mice on one computer, across a LAN, or over the Internet. Along with the additional games mentioned above, a standard multiplayer death match is included as is Movie Maker, a feature that records you and your friends fighting, playing and carrying on like the crazy fools you are. Depending upon your individual preference for playing against humans rather than AI, the online component of Rag Doll Kung Fu could easily become one of your favorite multiplayer game experiences—especially when you consider that every player has the capability of creating a unique avatar with which to play against others.

Character editor: A character editor is also included that allows you to create your own character 'skins', which is then automatically downloaded to anyone else when you play against them. Create one with your own face and body, use the graphics from one of your favorite video game characters, or draw your own. Mr. Ninya, one of the beta testers and creator of several excellent 'skins', has put up a website that includes a tutorial with step-by-step instructions on how to use the character editor to create a new skin. There will soon be hundreds of characters available to download from all over the Web.

While the game is currently available for Windows only, Mark has indicated that a free demo version will follow the commercial release at some point in the future. In addition, a Mac version may be in the works, as well as the possibility of a version for the Nintendo DS. He also hopes to make a massively multiplayer version of the game someday, too.

There is so much more about this game that I wish I had time to write about. The graphics and special effects are top-notch, triple AAA title quality. The music is wonderful, also created by Mark and his mates, and fits the game's theme and character. Everything about this game is humorous and fun. You can even make your character take a pee or a poo. Rag Doll Kung Fu is a great game made by a very nice and talented guy. And it's less than 15 bucks. What more could you ask for? A free Demo? Click.

A free demo of the game is now available! Click.

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Rag Doll Kung FuThis post is just a heads-up about Mark Healey's innovative game, Rag Doll Kung Fu, coming up for release tomorrow through Valve's similarly innovative online distribution system, Steam.

It was back in March, at the Game Developers Conference, that I first saw the made-for-Windows game presented as part of the inspirational Experimental Gameplay session. The game quickly became an audience favorite, and Mark was immediately approached by folks from Valve eager to offer the game through their service upon its release.

Since then, by way of a non-disclosure agreement, Mark has been very generous to grant me access to the beta of the game, and I will be posting a review of it tomorrow when the NDA expires and the game is released. In the meantime, get on over to Valve's website and get your pre-release download (for Windows only) at a reduced price of $12.95 USD, which is a savings of $2. This pre-release offer expires today!

If you already have Steam installed, use this link.

The game is extraordinary and a lot of fun to play. Look for my review of Rag Doll Kung Fu tomorrow.

  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (35 votes)
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Escape from Rhetundo IslandFor those who have loved playing Robin Allen's Hapland series, you will be very happy to know that the genre-defining artist has done it again.

Escape from Rhetundo Island follows in the footsteps of its Hapland predecessors, and expounds on the idea by stringing together a sequence of individual screens, or vignettes, through which you must safely navigate the stick-figure protagonist, Johnny Tag.

The game is a little bit point-and-click, a little bit Lemmings, and a little bit Hapland all rolled into one. I just found out that the game had been released and so I didn't want to delay with posting the link for fans of Robin's other games. I will follow up with a more detailed review once I have managed to get through the game.

Play Escape from Rhetundo Island

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CyberBoxThanks go out to Nick Kouvaris for sending word about his latest puzzle game over at Lightforce Games, an excellent source for many wonderful and mind-bending puzzle games created in Flash. CyberBox is a complete Flash remake of a DOS puzzle game of the same name created by Doug Beeferman in 1991.

The object of this sliding block puzzle game is to escape each room by pushing and sliding blocks to clear a pathway to the exit. There are a number of different block types that complicate matters and force you to plan ahead and develop a strategy for your escape.

Use the arrow keys to move around the play field (you are the small white circle), and to interact with the various box types: Sliders, Blockers, Pushers, Zappers, and Selectors.

Sliders: this type of block have arrows on them indicating the valid directions it can move. You may push blocks of this type in a valid direction only if there is nothing blocking its path.

Blockers: these blocks are indicated by a red "X" and cannot be moved. Period.

Pushers: this type of block is cyan blue in color and points in the direction that it will move by itself once its path is clear. Pushers cannot be pushed in any direction, and therefore act as blockers.

Zappers: this type of block will transport you from the back (triangle base) to the front (triangle point) if there is no other block in front of it. Simply approach from behind and move as if to push the block to transport. Zappers cannot be pushed in any direction, and therefore act as blockers.

Selectors: this type of block can only be pushed by other blocks, and yet can also be walked through if 'open'. Closed selectors have an "X" through them and act as a blocker.

An importan note about playing: You can push a string of boxes only if each individual box in the sequence can be moved in the direction you are pushing.

Analysis: CyberBox will certainly challenge your wit and force you to strategize your next move. Unfortunately, the game does not save your progress, nor is there a password mechanism with which to continue playing at a later time. If you get stuck or make the wrong move, press the [R] key to retry the level. You get only four (4) retries before having to start the game again from the beginning, and yet this limitation is unnecessary. It would have been better simply to allow the player to advance through the game as each level is solved, and to continue a saved game later without having to go through all the previous levels over again.

Overall, it's an excellent puzzle game and another fine addition to the ever-growing archive at Lightforce Games.

Play CyberBox

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Egg RunEgg Run is a silly action strategy Flash game, and yet it is surprisingly fun due to its simplicity of design. The object is to catapult the egg to catch the twig(!), and then land on the platform that holds the ladder to advance to the next level.

Control is with the mouse, and it's a bit quirky so listen-up. Click on the egg and drag in the opposite direction from the path you wish the egg to fly. While dragging, you will see a green dotted line showing the projected path to help you aim. Release the mouse to send the egg flying toward its target. You can change the direction that the egg will launch by clicking once on the egg.

Of special note is the fact that if you drag the mouse outside of the play field, Flash loses track of the mouse and will not recognize that you released the mouse button. This is a characteristic of all Flash games.

There are three (3) different courses that offer increasingly more difficult situations. For example, the medium course (pictured) features platforms with ice that make the egg slide a distance before coming to rest; and the hard course features an outerspace environment with reduced gravity. And while getting through each course is the primary objective, doing so with the fewest number of 'moves' earns you a place on the high score list—actually "low score list" would be more appropriate.

Analysis: I really like the simplicity this game offers. It is very similar to the previously reviewed Saltacol, though not nearly as beautiful. Egg Run is simple and accessible, and it offers a variety of courses to try which extends its replay value. To its detriment, the choices of egg, twig, and even the game title seem completely random—maybe "Egg Launch" would have been more appropriate? Furthermore, the level design is plain and uninspired. These are minor complaints however, and do not spoil the fun that is packed into this silly little casual game. Click.

(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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PowerballsAlthough I prefer to offer a wide array of games and genres over featuring games that are similar to those already reviewed, once in a while I come across a clone that offers something different in terms of gameplay that I feel is worth mentioning. Powerballs is a clone of Lines, as was the recently reviewed Bloomin' Gardens.

What I like about Powerballs is that not only does the game display the colors of the balls that will appear next turn, it does so by indicating the space that each ball will appear. This is helpful, albeit incrementally so, since you can move an existing ball to one of those spaces and force the game to reposition the incoming ball to a different location (the color may change as well).

Additionally, this game seems to be a more solid implmentation of Lines than Bloomin' Gardens is. Add to that the gameplay feature mentioned above and Powerballs comes out smelling more like a rose. The difference in graphics is merely a matter of preference between the two. Click.

Game hosted by Gameforum.de.

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Yesterday, the site was unreachable in areas of New York and Massachusettes, and God knows where else. Thank you Infinology ...and good riddance. If you can see this entry, then the DNS has propagated the new address in your area and you are now reaching the site's new home on the Dreamhost servers. My apologies if you experienced any turbulence during the switch over.

I have a couple of reviews to post once I get some sleep. Check back again Friday afternoon. =)

  • Currently 3.9/5
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Rating: 3.9/5 (34 votes)
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Flip OutThe entertainment technology students at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) are up to their Experimental Gameplay antics again this semester. Their goal is to create over 50 games in one semester by popping-out four (4) new games every Wednesday. Each week a theme is chosen, and the games for that week are designed with that theme in mind. They even openly invite everyone to participate in their weekly game design and development experiment!

So far, it appears that the games submitted this term have all been designed for the PC. If you're feeling a bit experimental, why not head over there and see what they've done? As for me, I'm more likely to feel experimental with a browser-based game. We need more experimental Flash games folks!

Flip Out screen shotFortunately, there were a few Flash games developed as part of the program last term, and the best of the bunch was this addictive casual game by Kyle Gray simply titled: Flip Out. The objective of the game is to flip over all of the white tiles within the time limit. If you do, a time bonus is awarded. You get to move on to the next level if you get at least 75% of the tiles before time expires.

The game is simple and straightforward, and uses the mouse for control. Just roll over a tile to turn it over, but be careful! Rolling over a tile previously turned over will turn it back. A very pleasant casual game to play, and quite an achievement to have been built in just five (5) days.

Play Flip Out

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Rating: 4.2/5 (53 votes)
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Mansion ImpossibleThis next game offers fun via the buying and selling of houses on a rapidly changing real estate market.

Mansion Impossible is an action strategy Flash game in which the object is to make enough money to buy the millionaire's mansion and end the game, all within the quickest time possible.

To play, simply click on a house as it comes up for sale to buy it. You must have enough funds to cover the cost of the purchase. Hold onto is as long as its value increases, which is indicated by a small triangle next to its price. Sell the house to make a profit, which gives you additional funds for a more expensive property.

Begin by buying and selling the cheaper houses, which are furthest from the masion. Advance to more expensive areas as you can afford to do so. As soon as you are able to afford the millionaire's mansion at the end, click on it to end the game.

Analysis: The gameplay is simple and accessible and can be fun for an occassional diversion, though it is unlikely to hold your attention for long. The choice to have each home increase then decrease in value before being swept off the market altogether reduces the depth of the gameplay significantly. It might have been more interesting to allow the properties to increase and decrease randomly for an indeterminate period. Other influences affecting each home's market price might have also produced a richer game play experience.

Note: The high score mechanism does not function, or didn't for me at least. Post your best times in the comments.

The game was created by 3Form, a Web development and design company in the UK.

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(0 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Mercedes Benz Mixed Tape 09

Just a quick note to tell you that Mercedes Benz has just released their ninth Mixed Tape online.

Listen online or download all of the tracks, and share the music freely as you please. All courtesy of Mercedes Benz. Click.

  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (219 votes)
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Fly GuyMy sincere thanks for your patience with me as I finished up a couple of midterm projects and enjoyed a 17 hour rest recuperating from the long hours I had put in. I promise to make it up to you with several updates, so check back often this week.

My thanks also to the many people who have sent in the following link over the last year or so, as it is surely something that belongs here on Jayisgames.

Flyguy is a delightfully interactive Flash piece that is chock full of surprises. Use the arrow keys to navigate the fly guy around the environment and uncover the entertaining vignettes that await you.

Created by TVM at Trevorvanmeter.com, this isn't a game, but fun just the same.

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