November 2005 Archives

(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Happy Flower Music TimeWhen things get you down
And life seems so blue
And no one's around
That you can turn to
Just wipe off those tears
With whatever you find
Cause there's no need to fear
It's Happy Flower Music Time!

This silly and surprisingly fun audio game with Simon-says gameplay is disguised as a quirky little Japanese title named Tanoshii Hana Ongaku Toki!—which apparently means Happy Flower Music Time.

In the very strange and hard to understand opening cut scene—which is a little whacked if I may add—we learn that some big round brown dude is smashing all the flowers, which causes all the musical notes to disappear... yeah, that's it. And uh, the rainbow fairy godmother comes and rescues all the flowers, and then... she builds a flower stairway to outer space. Seems totally logical to me.

Your task is to unlock all the flowers and climb as high as you can by repeating the sequence of notes, or tune, that each flower plays.

Begin by listening carefully to the three (3) musical note tune of the first flower. Click on a petal to play its note. Sample all of the petals to get a feel for what notes are available. Repeat the sequence at any time by clicking on the appropriate petals in order. It's really just that simple. Click the center of the flower to repeat the tune at any time.

You have a limited time in which to unlock a flower. The green center will turn yellow as time goes by, and then red as time begins to run out. If you fail to repeat a tune correctly before time runs out, it's game over.

As you move up in levels, the number of petals will increase as will the number of notes in the tune you have to repeat. There are also a few power-ups thrown in to make the game more challenging and fun. Spiders will descend toward the center of the flower to mix up the current tune. Bees will try to lock a previously unlocked flower. Click on either one before it reaches the flower to swat it away. Rockets will drop extra time and Chinese characters from the sky. Collect an entire set of characters for a super happy flower points bonus!

The game relies on the sense of hearing and tests your skill at recognizing musical notes with very little visual aid: you have only the help of different colored petals representing different notes. Therefore, the game won't be accessible to the hard of hearing or deaf. However, if you can hear musical notes, and you can differentiate between them, then this game can be quite a challenge and ridiculous fun.

From Mark Arenz and his Ridiculopathy website full of craziness, this game will surely make you smile. Click.

Update: At least one person has reported a problem loading this game using Internet Explorer, but has been successful using Firefox. So, until we can figure out the source of the loading problem, it is recommended that you Get Firefox! for this one.

Comments (139) | Views (4,539)

Update: This game is no longer available.

Xbox 360 PuzzleWith the hype for Microsoft's brand new console in full swing, a new site has popped onto the Web games scene promoting the March, 2006, launch of the Xbox 360 in Australia and New Zealand.

063 xobX is a mostly HTML-based puzzle game of ten (10) levels that also includes some Flash-based elements. As with other games like this, you play the game by using the clues provided with each level to make it to the next, sometimes by manually changing the URL. You will need to know how to manipulate images, RGB values, and HTML source code to make it through the game. Other Web-related skills may also be helpful or necessary. Use the comments if you get stuck, someone is sure to help out.

One of the nice things about this puzzle is that it contains three (3) rewards that it doles out as you progress through the game. Granted, these prizes are more fuel for the 360's marketing hype engine, and yet they are rewards just the same.

By making it through the puzzle, the site gives a chance to enter the XBox 360 VIP Premier Club by downloading the Destop Alerts widget, which will keep the buzz going up to the release of the console. It is no doubt a contest that is open to Australians and New Zealanders only. The rest of the world is still free to play the game anyway. Click.

Thanks to Jeremy for suggesting this one. =)

(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (25) | Views (4,539)

DriftsPhilipp Seifried sent word of the new casual game he has just released on his website, RepeatWhileTrue, among an array of multimedia experiments that use technologies such as Flash, Shockwave, Processing, and Quicktime.

Drifts is a Flash action game based on a very simple idea: collect the green bubbles while avoiding the purple ones. Using the mouse, move the red bubble around the play field. Coming in contact with a green bubble will cause it to stick to the red one and any other green bubbles already collected.

Convert the green bubbles to points by collecting a blue bubble, but you will need to collect at least three (3) green bubbles before you can 'cash' them in for points. Three (3) green bubbles will earn you one (1) point, however the more green bubbles you cash-in at once the greater the bonus points awarded.

Beware of trying to collect green bubbles that are floating either over top or underneath a purple one. Wait until the green bubble is free, or else the purple bubble will prevail.

Analysis: The gameplay is very easy to pick-up and get started with playing immediately. Moving the red bubble around with the mouse to collect other bubbles feels natural and intuitive. And yet the simplicity of the game is deceiving: underneath the surface lurks a challenge that is difficult to master. The reasons for this are several: (1) the game is unforgiving. Touch but one purple bubble and it's game over. There is no concept of extra lives or second chances. (2) The fact that three bubbles equals only one meager point will force you to create large clusters of green bubbles in order to make any significant progress with points. This also makes you more vulnerable. A third reason is a bit more subtle.

As you move the mouse around gathering bubbles, you will begin to acquire a feel for just how close you can squeak by a bad bubble without touching it. When you get close to a green bubble you will notice that it almost 'leaps' toward the cluster as if by an invisible attractive force. You will also notice that this attractive force exists for the purple bubbles as well, and therefore the margin to squeak by may not be as small as you might think at first. Remember: just one purple bubble and it's over.

On the downside, the game will remember your highest score for only as long as you keep the game window open. Reload the game and any previous high score is lost. By saving a player's score in a cookie or by using Flash's local storage mechanism, a game can easily get around this limitation and enhance the user experience significantly.

The pretty floating bubbles and attractive scrolling background contribute to a mesmerizing effect when playing for a while. The simple and yet deceptively challenging gameplay has addictive qualities that will have you coming back for more. Drifts is an exceptionally good game that is fun to play. Click.

If you're feeling adventurous, why not spend some time perusing Philipp's other experiments on his site. There you will even find a few mp3 files containing music composed with fractal algorithms that are astonishingly melodic.

With thanks to Andrew and to Philipp for suggesting the game. =)

  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (32 votes)
Comments (28) | Views (9,583)

BugsA brand new game was just added to Ferry Halim's inimitable Orisinal site, a simply sublime collection of casual Web games made in Flash. Bugs is a gorgeous addition that fits in perfectly with the others, and it offers light-hearted gameplay that will tickle your funny bone with delight.

The object of the game is to send as many bugs flying as you can by making the little girl jump up and down. First, make a bubble by pressing and holding the mouse button. The longer you hold the button down the larger the bubble will grow, but don't let any bugs touch the bubble or it will pop! Release the mouse button to send the girl jumping in the air, and then use the mouse to make sure she doesn't land on any bugs. When she lands, all bugs within the area around the girl—and relative to the size of the bubble—will fly away. Bonus points are awarded based on the number of bugs released with each jump.

Occasionally a special blinking bug will make an appearance. If you manage to include this special bug in the jump area it will leave behind a special green power-up that will soon disappear. Grab it before it disappears to make a special green invincible bubble that the bugs cannot pop, but be careful. Although the green bubble is impervious, the girl is still vulnerable to being bitten by a bug.

To attain higher scores, you should always try to make as large a bubble as possible before sending the girl jumping. Beware of the special blinking bugs, as they move quite a bit faster than the other bugs and can sneak up and pop the bubble before you realize it.

Like a finely crafted, collector's edition boxed set, no other site comes close to matching the variety or harmonious style of interactive experiences that Ferry has so lovingly created with his Orisinal games collection. Casual games par excellence. Click.

  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (156 votes)
Comments (367) | Views (15,280)
The Dark ComplexAlmost a year ago, Jonathan May of Wooly Thinking released on the Web a fantastic puzzle game called The Dark Room. It featured a 3-dimensional square room from which the player had to escape by solving puzzles, one for each of the primary and secondary colors, plus white. It was an instant hit and it remains one of my all-time favorite Flash games, ever.

Well, he's done it again!

The Dark Complex significantly builds on the ground laid by the first one, featuring 27 rooms and as many new puzzles to solve.

The interface and controls are exactly the same as before. Use the mouse to tilt and rotate the camera in order to view the entire room. Moving the mouse cursor to the right side of the game window will cause the camera to rotate (yaw) to the right; moving the cursor to the left will cause the camera to rotate left. The camera will tilt (pitch) upward when the cursor is moved to the top portion of the game window and, likewise, will tilt downward when moving the cursor to the bottom portion of the window. To stop camera movement, position the cursor within the center of the game window.

Once you're familiar with navigating the camera, all that's left to do is figure out what to do next. As with most puzzle games, logic and a keen sense of pattern recognition are your friends. Use them wisely. Draw a map if you must, as there are many rooms to find, but beware: you just may find yourself inside a virtual Rubik's cube.

Analysis: This game, like the first one, is gorgeous. Jon successfully combines very dark grey, brushed steel backgrounds with brightly colored highlights that appear as LEDs in the dark. The effect is stunning. The high-tech gadetry together with a moody soundtrack and synchronized heavy machinery sound effects set the atmosphere for an immersive high-tech puzzle adventure that will have you mesmerized for days. An automatic save feature allows you to continue where you left off should your game be interrupted for any reason. Very nice.

Play The Dark Complex

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (14) | Views (3,926)
Pixel FieldIn a world filled with bad pixels, it helps to have someone with whom you can trust to provide your daily dose of fun without all the fuss.

And when it comes to Flash games, there aren't many you can trust like Tonypa. He selflessly creates games out of the kindness in his heart, and provides them free for anyone to play on his website. And the best thing is that he keeps making his games better.

With so many excellent Flash games getting sequels this holiday season, it seemed quite fitting to learn that Tonypa has just released a new and improved version of what I believe to be one of his greatest game creations: Pixel Field.

The object of this action strategy game is to move your red triangle base around the mine field collecting all the blue energy pixels in the fewest moves possible. To move, simply click to where you want the base to move, but be careful! The base has an elasticity to its legs that will cause some overshot, so plan accordingly. If the 3 dangling pixels touch any of the green bad pixels, or even touch the walls of the pixel field, you will lose a life. The game is over when you lose your third life.

Tonypa has increased the size of the play field slightly and added 15 new levels to the game bringing the total now up to 30. In addition, bonus levels are awarded by completing sequences of 4, 5, 6 and 7 consecutive levels without losing a single life. To top it all off, he has made each level individually selectable, so there is no need to play each level in order from the begining.

Aesthetically, little touches have been added that make use of the unique new features of Flash Player 8. The base now leaves trails behind it so you can see at a glance where you have previously moved. This comes in handy on some levels that have you backtracking around areas and dead ends.

A great game made even better with all the additions and improvements, and yet not everything has changed. The same classic gameplay that made Pixel Field so great remains intact, as does the soothing soundtrack by Dog, and the charming "chigga-chigga-chigga" sound effect the base makes when it moves around the pixel field.

And just like Pixel Field, Tonypa makes many other wonderful games that are simple, accessible, and fun to play. And on that you can trust. Click.

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (40 votes)
Comments (82) | Views (10,208)

Kafkamesto"This town; my prison cell—my fortress."

A new offering through the Game On initiative, an organization to promote innovation in Australia's digital media industry, Kafkamêsto is an unusual and dark interactive narrative that will at first seem familiar to those acquainted with point-and-click adventures, but beware the futility in store.

It is mid-winter of the year 1922. You awaken from an uneasy dream somewhere in Prague, which—and not so coincidentally—is also the birthplace of Franz Kafka, one of the more influential writers of the 20th century. The piece appears to be a pastiche of Kafka's life and works, itself containing references to The Trial, The Castle, The Metamorphosis, and others. Collect what you can and embark on a nightmarish tale of hopelessness and self-discovery.

"Virtually unknown during his lifetime, the works of Kafka have since been recognized as symbolizing modern man's anxiety-ridden and grotesque alienation in an unintelligible, hostile, or indifferent world." [source]

If you are familiar with the themes that run through Kafka's literature and his life, then you won't be surprised by the feelings of absurdity, anxiety and anomie that this interactive narrative will evoke. If you're not familiar with Kafka nor desire to learn about him, then this 'game' is probably not for you. The over-arching narrative seems to be as much a statement about Kafka's own life as it is the themes he often wrote about.

From Smoking Gun Productions.

Play Kafkamêsto

Kevin is to blame for this one. =)

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (7) | Views (3,881)
Rocket BobThis next game has also been around a while, almost as long as Say Design's Little Rocketman, of which it is obviously a clone.

Rocket Bob is an attractive and adorable action strategy, platform jumping game created by new media company multiMEDIACS based in Hamburg, Germany.

The object of the game is to fire Bob like a projectile from the platform he's currently on to the next. It's just that simple. Bonus points are awarded for successful attempts based on accuracy and any additional bonus stars that you collect along the way. You have five (5) attempts to land each jump, or the dreaded Leider Verloren!

Control is with the mouse. Position the mouse on the side of Bob that you want him to jump, a semi-circular shaded area will appear. Next, position the mouse within that shaded region to indicate the direction and power with which you wish to send him off. The outer edge of the shaded region represents the highest power you can use. Then just click to send Bob flying. Yeeeehaaaa!

To aid you in case you think Bob is going to overshoot a platform, click on the AirBrake button to stop his horizontal movement, thus making him fall straight down. One other important point to note is that Bob will bounce off from the left and right walls, so you can attempt creative moves that incorporate a rebound if you like.

Analysis: The game incorporates attractive visual backgrounds and crisp and clean graphics that appear polished and professional. The projectile gameplay mechanic is a concept that will be immediately familiar to most and makes it very easy to pick-up and play and have fun with. It is a game that will likely appeal to people of all ages and game playing types, from the casual gamer to the more hardcore. On the downside, its very retro soundtrack seemed out of synch with the visuals, and the sound effect samples from an old pinball machine along with the incessant rat-tat-tat-tat-tat of Bob's jackhammer became a bit irritating after long periods of play. Click.

  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (52 votes)
Comments (1032) | Views (27,534)

The Enigma PuzzleAnother HTML puzzle game, this one has been around a few months so you may have seen it before.

The Enigma Puzzle is a sequence of riddles played in the same way as other games like it: Each of its 34 levels—with another 16 levels soon to be added—presents an HTML page with clues that you must use to figure out how to get to the next one. Use any tool at your disposal, including a text editor, graphics program, calculator, media player, and especially your browser's View Source function. The game was designed and created using Windows and IE, so beware there may be a puzzle or two that requires that forsaken browser. The riddles have logical solutions and are a ton of fun to solve. And while each page may appear to be a separate puzzle from the rest, there are many riddles that build upon ideas or techniques that were introduced earlier.

Play The Enigma Puzzle

Comments (9) | Views (2,148)

Last Call PokerThe chips were reset for the last time today and it looks like Last Call Poker is making its last call in keeping with its namesake. I will be sad to see it go as it was a brilliant game with a great community.

It was a fun place to hang out and chat whilst playing an exceptional multiplayer Texas Hold'em implementation. The Top Players leader board offered multiple ways to participate and compete for the top spots in several categories. Weekly tournaments rewarded those lucky enough to win the most chips before they were reset. Weekly live events in cemetaries around the country provided players a fun way to meet-up in person and play Tombstone Hold'em, a variant of Texas Hold'em in which actual tombstones are sought-out for pocket cards. And a rich and mysterious storyline provided ARG fans with fodder for their skills.

The resets changed the scenery at the site and the poker tables, as well as the appearance of each and every avatar. Those changes alone provided an early signal that this good thing would not last. And now, it's Last Call at the poker tables everyone.

Kudos to 42 Entertainment and, in particular, Jane McGonigal for the phenomenal experiences being created in the area of immersive and pervasive play.

(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (15) | Views (4,117)
Winter TalesYes, it's finally getting to be that time of year. The snow fell for the first time this season in upstate New York on Thursday, making this next entry seem appropriate.

Although it's a brand new game, Winter Tales will be familiar to many since it offers nothing new in terms of gameplay. It is a classic game of construct-a-path using the pieces given and all within a time limit. I have seen games like this use pipes and others use train tracks. In this case, you are laying tracks in the snow for a jolly snowman on cross-country skis, go figure.

But don't mistake my sarcasm for a pan. This game is not only gorgeous and perfect for the coming season, it was also expertly built to include a rich game play experience.

The object, of course, is to construct a path, as quick as you can, from the snowman to the cozy cottage using only the pieces of track along the bottom of the game window. If you don't like, or cannot use, the pieces given, just click on the "Mix" button to generate a whole new set. The pieces appear at random and consist of straight tracks, intersections, and corners.

Once a level begins, a timer begins its countdown to zero, at which time the snowman will begin its merry way along the track you built. 100 points are scored for each section of track the snowman crosses, with 500 additional bonus points scored for collecting each golden "g" symbol. If the snowman runs out of track it will crash, and you will lose one of only three (3) snowmen you have to get through all 20 levels(!). Click.

Winter Tales was created by the immensely talented nGFX, and the good folks at Q-Affairs, for German fashion and apparel company, Gardeur.

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (8) | Views (3,244)

LettersHannu Pelkonen has updated his excellent Flash typing game that was previously reviewed here last year. Letters 2 includes everything that made the first version great, plus it adds power-ups and an expanded high scores table to the mix. The result is an even better game, one that can help you be more productive while at the same time having some fun.

Playing the game is easy and intuitive: simply type the letters on the keyboard that correspond to the letters that appear and scroll across the play field. Typing a correct letter will cause it to explode and all others like it, and your score will increase by one (1) point for each letter exploded. Typing an incorrect letter will reduce your score by five (5) points, thereby rewarding accuracy.

There are now three kinds of power-ups that can affect play: bombs, clocks, and stars. You must explode a letter near a power-up to invoke it. Bombs take out any letters near it, including any letters that run into its dissipating shock wave. Clocks slow all letter movement for a very short duration. Stars reward you with ten (10) bonus points.

The game is simple fun and yet there is a certain satisfaction in playing: knowing that the game is improving your touch-typing skills, thus making you an even more productive employee. Click.

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (27 votes)
Comments (51) | Views (5,204)

Mario Kart DSNintendo has finally entered the online games market with the release of its long awaited and much anticipated Wi-Fi Connection service that links gamers together over the Internet. Mario Kart DS is the first game to be released that incorporates the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for online play among a plethora of game play options sure to satisfy even the most discriminating tastes.

Ask anyone familiar with the Mario Kart series and you will get no argument that the franchise is among the best Kart racers ever made. Spanning five (5) consumer hardware platforms: SNES, N64, Gameboy Advance, Gamecube, and now the Nintendo DS, the venerable Mario Kart has made important and timely appearances on almost every piece of hardware Nintendo has released. And for good reason: Mario Kart moves more than just go-karts, it moves hardware.

Mario Kart DSAnd the DS version will be no exception to that tradition. With its 32 different race tracks, including tracks from every version released thus far, customizable karts, 8-player wireless multiplayer mayhem, and 4-player online play, the latest incarnation fills those illustrious shoes with shining stars to boot. The game is pure unadulterated fun for gamers of all ages.

Connecting to the Wi-Fi Connection was extremely easy for me, as I already had an Apple AirPort wireless router with broadband Internet access for connecting with my Mac Powerbook. For those that don't already have a wireless network in their homes, or one that is not currently supported, you can purchase a Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector if you have a PC connected to the Internet and running Windows XP, or play at any of the 6000 worldwide McDonalds hotspots that Nintendo has partnered with. Once connected, finding three other players was fast and simple and before I knew it I was in a Grand Prix style race throwing banana peels and Koopa shells at my human foes. Interestingly, there is an equally greater satisfaction to winning against human opponents over computer opponents as there is devastation from losing. So far my losses outnumber my wins.

What I didn't like about the game: the controls. Nintendo almost nailed this game with the DS button controls. The touch screen is used only for selecting menu options and for viewing an overhead map during play. What I've yet to master is the dextrous handling of the A & X buttons, a requirement for simultaneous acceleration and throwing of items. Lift your finger off the A button even for a split second and your Kart slows to a crawl while any racer behind leaves you in a cloud of dust. An alternative to the X button is the L shoulder button, but using that one to throw items behind you requires similar dexterity. Overall a smallish complaint, one that may become moot with further practice.

If you're considering a game for that special gamer someone in your life this holiday season, Mario Kart is a hands-down winner among choices vying for your hard-earned cash. The addition of Nintendo's accessible and fantastically simple Wi-Fi Connection raises the bar for the series, and puts you in the driver's seat of a joy ride you won't soon forget—nor easily put down.

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (44) | Views (5,207)
The CCL GameI love games with physics implementations, and this next action puzzle game uses physics as the basis for its gameplay. The CCL Game is an advergame created by Kerb for CCL, an online computer systems and accessories vendor.

The object of the game is to move the package from its starting location to the Exit doors of each level. To do so, you are provided a palette of mechanisms with which to position on the play field that will affect the package's movement toward the exit.

Click and drag the conveyor belts, fans, and springs anywhere on the play field grid. When you think you have a configuration that may work, test your setup by clicking the "Go" button. If you need another try, click "Stop", reconfigure and try again. You have ten (10) tries for each level, but the time bonus continues to decrement as soon as a level is begun.

To begin each level, you are given the option to select a computer component with which to build a virtual PC. This is the advertisement part of the game, and yet your selection can indeed affect your score. Choose the one component that CCL recommends, and you will be awarded a bonus at the end of the level.

Analysis: It is a delightful feeling to arrange the various contraptions and then set the package in motion. A virtual contruction kit of mechanical and physical elements that together form the basis of a rewarding experience. The beautiful thing about it is there are multiple solutions to each level that will achieve success. Unfortunately, the game is very short, with only eight (8) levels, and therefore does not have much replay value in it. I would like to see more varied contraptions, more levels, and less advertising. But that's just me. Click.

If you like construction set games like this, be sure to check out gameLab's JunkBot over at Lego for a similar, and yet different, experience.

Cheers to Seb for the link. =)

Rating: 4.6/5 (32 votes)
Comments (20) | Views (8,738)

Blue Ball MachineAlthough not a game, this is just too much fun not to share. File this one under "art."

Behold the magic of the Blue Ball Machine. Watch the tiny blue balls make their way around the huge machine. And the music that goes along with it is perfect. Rube Goldberg would be very pleased. I could watch it for hours.

The image is actually an animated GIF (2.4MB), and it is tiled so that balls that fall off the left side appear on the right, and bottom to top as well. Amazing.

Via Anne's equally amazing Amplesanity.

  • Currently 2.9/5
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Rating: 2.9/5 (30 votes)
Comments (107) | Views (5,032)
Unforgiven RoomBecause I know so many who visit here love point-and-click escape-the-room type games, up next is a recent offering that I learned of from Graeme's Lazylaces, a veritable point-and-click haven.

The game is called the Unforgiven Room, and is being hosted on Newgrounds.

The opening scenario is a nod to Takagi-san's original escape-the-room games, Crimson Room and Viridian Room, in which you wake up with a headache and can't remember a thing, nor even where you are. Such is the begining of a classic escape-the-room adventure.

The gameplay should be familiar to anyone who has ever played one of these games before. For those uninitiated, just click your way around the room searching for clues and items to use that may help you escape. Most games like this end with you finding a key that opens the door, and this one is no exception.

A moveable inventory mechanism floats in the top left corner of the game window—the thing that looks like a stop light turned on its side—and can be opened by clicking on the right side (will highlight green). Close the inventory by clicking on the left side (will highlight red). Items can be used, some by clicking on the item and some by dragging onto other items, either in the room or in the inventory itself.

Analysis: The game is a decent effort by Jason Keyte that features appealing graphics and gameplay that is classic point-and-click goodness. All things considered, it offers some fun for those who enjoy these types of games. However, some of the interactivity is a bit glitchy and frustration may ensue. There are also a few very small hotspots that need to be clicked just right to get some things to happen. For example, taping together the access card can be done if done just right. Put both pieces of the card together so they are touching, then click on just the right spot of the tape to have a piece unroll. Keep playing with it and you'll get it soon enough.

Another thing I did not like about the game is the finger cursor which serves no purpose other than making the mouse movement sluggish. Also, there is one slightly disturbing action that takes place that involves some comic violence (a foot is sawed off). It's not all that bad, but should be pointed out for those concerned about the little ones. Click.

  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (22 votes)
Comments (17) | Views (5,698)

RayRay ParadeNow that I have a couple of weeks of free time before the winter quarter begins, I plan to catch up on things around here with more reviews, as well as some special features I'm working on to make the site even better. And to start things off, I'd like to introduce you to RayRay Parade: a charming logic puzzle game starring cute little children that scamper into play in formation, and then flash their tummies at you when you solve their puzzles.

The objective of the instantly familiar game is to get all of the RayRays standing. Clicking on a RayRay will change its state: a sitting RayRay will stand, while a standing RayRay will sit. Some RayRays affect others around it, so the trick becomes figuring out the correct sequence.

There are three difficulty modes, and five tables (levels) to each mode. Upon finishing you will be given a letter grade (A through F) based on how many moves, or clicks, that it took you to solve all 5 levels.

Play RayRay Parade

With thanks to Yaneev of Tel Aviv for suggesting this delightful game. =)

Comments (383) | Views (21,210)

The Seven Noble KinsmenWell, the folks at the BBC are building themselves quite a reputation. All the point-and-click games they turn out are just golden. And The Seven Noble Kinsmen is no exception; possibly their best work yet. SNK is a murder mystery in six (6) acts.

The premise is that Christopher Morton, a self-proclaimed 'genius' of Shakespeare, decided to write a play using all of Shakespeare's most famous characters: Ophelia, Othello, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, etc. Seven characters to be exact, plus himself. The play took four years in pre-production and rehearsal to complete; and on opening night everyone was very, very... disappointed. The play ultimately fell and was cancelled after about a week, all due to one reporter's highly-quoted vicious review calling the play bloated, pathetic, and only feeding Morton's ego. Well, after his play was cancelled, Morton disappeared.

Now it's five years later, and each member of that cast, plus one, has been invited to The Knell, Morton's private theatre on an island in Scotland. That one extra person is the reporter that caused the downfall to Morton's play. That reporter is you.

The Seven Noble KinsmenFirst things first, you must register with the site to play. But don't worry, it is painless. No e-mail address required. It is just so they can save your progress through the game, and you will indeed need to save your progress in this game.

Once you begin you will see the game's interface, which is remarkably unique. It may even seem awkward at first, but you should be able to get used to it quickly. It reminded me of the interface for The Casino, and yet a bit different still. You can pan back and forth in your direct line of sight, and when you reach one side you can turn around and face the other way. Clicking on a door lets you advance to the next room. The items shouldn't be difficult to find, as everything that you can take has a shining effect to it, and the sparkling is somewhat noticeable. One thing I really like is when I click on something a little noise sounds when a message comes up and makes me feel as if I've discovered an important clue, no matter what it is. You will see what I mean when you start playing. What I don't like, though, is that it ends the conversations every time you reach the end of a dialogue, so if you want to say something more to someone, you have to keep clicking on them until there's nothing left to say. Also, while the Shakespearian facts are interesting, when you're deeply involved and you think you've found a clue you may get a tad disappointed to see that all you have is information on costumes. While nice at first, this became annoying.

The main idea of the gameplay is that in each section you will have to find the next chapter in the SNK script, and then carry out all the tasks it lists. You will also need to find the Shakespearian quotes book, to fill in some of the missing pieces in the script. Quite a clever premise, but unfortunately the plot-line is very developed and so the puzzles have suffered as a result. The game is very easy. Maybe it will get tougher with the next installments(?). You also get a PDA with a map of The Knell, it's a very handy tool and saves all the information you collect about the characters, each of which has definite characteristics that correspond directly with the characters they play in SNK; if you know a little bit about Shakespeare you can get a bit of insight about what might be going on, it really helps. The PDA also gives you hints if you need them, which is neat.

One complaint I have is that it runs a little slowly (it's a huge adventure!), and they are releasing the game in episodic parts each week, similar to Death in Sakkara. Still another is that you can't go back and play sections you've already beaten. Sure they're short, but it would be nice to be able to replay parts as in the Sakkara game. And since you can't go back and re-play the chapters, don't overlook anything! It's easy to miss some things, so make sure you've seen everything in one room before you move on to the next! Just some friendly advice.

Well, this week we won't have to wait long for the next release. The next chapter comes out on Monday (11/14), and then each Monday thereafter.

All things considered, the game is absolutely fantastic. A great and clever plot-line, impressive graphics, and a huge amount of originality. The talented folks at the Beeb clearly put a lot of time into this... why don't you pay them back by playing it?

Update: Unfortunately, the BBC doesn't like to keep compelling entertainment around permanently on the Web, and this game is no longer available to play. Previously tagged as: bbc, browser, flash, free, game, macwinlinux, mystery, narrative, original, pointandclick, rating-y

Comments (19) | Views (11,963)

Toulouse"The southern French city of Carcassonne was founded on an important trade route between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Because of its strategic location, the city was often conquered... As a result of this varied history, the city is famous for its unique mixture of Roman and Medieval fortifications."

This is the unassuming introduction to the popular board game Carcassonne, which is something like a cross between Settlers of Catan and dominos, and can now be played online for free as a Java version called Toulouse, at Toulouse is played with three to five human or computer players, and a well designed interface and beautiful presentation make this web-based version user friendly and highly enjoyable. The folks at have also recently added the option of playing with up to two expansions to the original board game, making this as involved a Carcassonne experience as you could hope for.

UPDATE: It appears the game is no longer playable since the site is no longer taking registrations. Previously tagged as: asobrain, board, browser, classic, free, game, java, macwinlinux, multiplayer, rating-y, strategy, turnbased.

  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (49 votes)
Comments (14) | Views (5,519)

Klax 3DA fun and addictive casual game that has been around a few years, this Flash version is actually an adaptation of a classic Atari arcade game from 1989, also called Klax.

Klax 3D is an action strategy game in which the object is to catch colored tiles as they fall off a conveyor belt and stack them into horizontal, vertical, and diagonal rows. The tiles come in ten (10) different colors.

At your control is a simple paddle that can hold up to five (5) tiles stacked vertically. Use the left and right arrow keys to move the paddle back and forth. Press the [space bar] to drop the top tile into place. You may also pess [P] to pause the game, and press the down arrow to temporarily speed up the conveyor belt to hurry things along.

Three (3) same-colored tiles aligned in a row is called a "Klax". Align four (4) tiles and that's equal to two (2) Klaxes. Five tiles is equal to three Klaxes. That's all you really need to know to play the game. Simply arrange the tiles into rows to remove them from play. If you miss a tile and it falls, or if you try to load too many on your paddle or in play, you will lose a life.

There are three (3) levels of difficulty to the game: Easy, Standard, and Hard. Each difficulty level differs in the number of lives you receive, and in the objectives that must be met for each wave. For example, you may be asked to complete a certain number of Klaxes (any kind) to continue to the next wave. Or, you may have to complete a certain number of vertical Klaxes, or earn a certain number of points, etc.

In terms of point value, vertical Klaxes are worth the least number of points and diagonal Klaxes are worth the most. This is because it is much easier to create a vertical stack of 3 same-colored tiles than it is to distribute them tic-tac-toe style in a diagonal across 3 different stacks.

Analysis: Once familiar with the controls, anyone can pick-up and play this game immediately and have fun with it. Sorting colored tiles feels natural and it is immediately gratifying, and yet the game's simplicity is actually quite deceiving. Once you begin attempting different combos of more than 3 tiles or aligning them horizontally or diagonally, you will soon begin to feel the depth and complexity that lurks beneath the surface. And therein lies its beauty and excellence in design.

Unfortunately, the Easy difficulty setting is so easy that it becomes tedious rather quickly. Therefore I recommend starting out on Easy, just to get the feel of the controls, and then move up to Hard as soon as you are able.

This Flash version was created by Wheelhouse Creative in the UK.

Play Klax 3D

(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (13) | Views (3,426)

Balls and WallsBalls and Walls is an absolutely fantastic game designed for the equally brilliant British band Athlete by Mortalbug and Quiet Phil.

The game is extremely simplistic and very easy to get the hang of as soon as you start playing. The game essentially revolves around two characters standing on a number of platforms separated by a wall. Each character has a cannon strapped to their back, which is used to launch balls over the wall, onto their opponent's side of the screen. If the ball isn't caught by the other player and lands on the top platform, then that platform disappears. When all of a player's platforms are gone, they lose.

Regarding firing, the fire button must be pressed once to start the cannon moving and then again to fire a ball. If the button is held down, then multiple balls can be fired at once, although you must be careful of the recoil this causes.

For the single player mode, there aren't really any levels, but a sliding difficulty meter. Anybody who can beat the hardest difficulty is truly a force to be reckoned with.

The only section of the game that may require any explanation are the power-ups. The game begins with each player having a single gray ball. There are power-ups which when hit divide the ball into two. There is also another power-up that increases the size of the player who hit it, and decreases the size of the other player. There are two power-ups that change the speed and colour of the ball. Black makes the ball move much faster, while green greatly slows the balls down. Unfortunately, can disrupt the flow of the game somewhat, especially if you have a large number of green balls in play.

As for the controls, they're also very simple, using only 3 keys. Player 1 uses Z and X to move left and right and S to fire while Player 2 uses the arrow keys. Unfortunately, this is the game's main weakness. The controls for Player 2 are much better than Player 1's. When playing with friends, I generally say that the better player should be Player 1, creating a handicap of sorts.

Speaking of multiplayer, this is where the game's real beauty lies. Although single player is very enjoyable, the game really comes into its own when played with friends. The superb messages received after victory just go to make winning a hard-fought battle that bit sweeter.

I've played this game a lot, and found some useful tips and tricks to assist you in beating both the harder levelled foes and to help you face your friends. Firstly, you can catch balls while firing. If a slow-moving green ball is coming towards you, then you should position yourself where it's about to land and then fire, catching your opponent off guard. Secondly, the easiest way to collect pick-ups on your side is to stand directly under them and press fire once. When the cannon reaches a 90-degree angle it fires automatically. This is particularly useful when splitting balls, as you can catch both of the balls easily if you just remain where you fired the ball from. Lastly is a great move devised by a friend of mine. If you have a large number of balls in your cannon, then move your bug to stand as far to the outer wall as possible. Hold down fire till all of your balls have been selected. Then, leave the cannon so that it fires directly upwards. Although the first ball will go straight up, the recoil will cause the rest to hit the outer wall, sending them over onto the opponent's side, and leaving you with around two balls to catch on your side.

Comments (24) | Views (3,958)

Last Call PokerFor anyone who was left wanting more from yesterday's post, this next Texas Hold'em poker game offers something a little different than most games in this category.

Launched sometime in late September, Last Call Poker combines elements of alternate reality games (ARGs) and online poker tournaments to do its bidding for Activision's soon-to-be-released wild west video game, Gun.

When you register with the site, you are given $10,000 in chips to play with as you wish. Begin by entering the Lobby and selecting a room to play in, but choose wisely. Review the description of each room to learn: what the stakes are ("NL" indicates No Limit poker), the number of players, the average pot for the room, the percentage of players still in after the flop, and the number of hands per hour. If it seems a bit scary at first, practice rooms exist for you to get a feel for the game's interface before risking your hard-earned cash.

If you don't log-in to the Flash game on a Windows computer, a Javascript browser detection script will tell you it is optimized for Windows and that playing on any other OS may result in problems. Having played several games already on a Mac Powerbook, I can tell you that the Flash game will run on both Firefox and Safari, though switching between applications and windows will cause either browser to quit. So be careful.

Last Call Poker logoEach week, the chips are reset, with everyone receiving at least 10 grand. Additional chips are awarded based on a reward structure and the relative achievements of each player. For example, Quicklinks are often exchanged at tables by visiting another player's profile and clicking on the "Add to my Quicklinks" button. Similar to adding someone to a buddy list, the number of Quicklink lists that you appear on can earn you additional chips each week.

How much you get out of the game depends on your relative involvement in the game. On the surface, it's an engaging and well-developed free-money online poker tournament with stats that get reset each week. For players who want to go a little deeper, the reward structure provides incentives to earn additional chips through involvement in the ARG.

The drama all started when Lionel "Lucky" Brown died and left an antique Navy Colt (the Gun) to his great-niece, Lucy Brown. Since then, the gun has changed hands, people have died, and seven (7) episodes have been released, so far, on the LCP website under the heading The Muck. It is there that you can learn all about the story, the characters, and possibly how to earn additional chips.

Once your chips are gone, you must wait until they are reset again, which is every Saturday at 3:00PM Eastern (GMT-5:00).

For additional information about this game, check out this article at Gamasutra, and this article at the Alternate Reality Gaming Network (ARGN).

With thanks to Div for the link to the game, and cheers to Dr. Pangloss and Cindigirl for being such good company at the table. =)

Comments (33) | Views (2,649)

If you visit here often then you may know that I like to change the appearance of the blog from time to time to keep it looking fresh. The ability to change appearance easily is one of the great advantages of using Cascading Stylesheets (CSS) when developing for the Web. With CSS, changing entire color schemes and background images can be made simple as clicking a button.

For those who are not as fond of the darker Halloween/Thanksgiving colors, you may now choose to revert back to the previous month's stylesheet by using the Stylesheet switcher in the sidebar. Or, simply click one of these buttons...

Your choice will be saved as a cookie on your computer for 30 days. After that, the current style I have chosen for the season will prevail. New buttons will be added to the switcher as new styles become available. Your feedback about this feature is welcome and encouraged. =)

(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (21) | Views (6,552)
Very Funny Texas Hold'emWith Texas Hold'em poker games being all the rage these days, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to avoid seeing a game being played on ESPN, across the street, or even on Wisteria Lane.

The full name of this game is Very Funny Texas Hold'em, though I did not see anything "very funny" about it. The game is a straightforward Flash poker game that offers standard play against computer opponents. There is a complete instructions section that explains all of the terminology and game play of Teax Hold'em, including the sequence of progression for the increasing "blind" bets.

The game was created by Sean Gleeson as an advergame for the TBS site. The game displays an ad for a TBS television show between hands on the green table felt. It's a minor annoyance to an otherwise decent poker game. Click.

Analysis: The pace of the game is quick and comfortable, and the difficulty can be set as either easy or hard. However, even on hard there did not seem to be a lot of bluffing going on and computer opponents were easily scared off of pots with significant raises.

The game has a couple of other problems that I noticed. First, the background music gets annoying very quickly, and thankfully there is a mute button for it. Unfortunately, turning off the music reveals an annoying anomaly in the game's sound implementation. The resulting effect sounds like the music repeatedly begins to play for a split-second before it is muted again. I suggest using your computer's muting control when playing this game.

The other problem I noticed is when there is a three-way split pot: your bankroll will appear with repeating 3's off the end of the display. Yes, it's a minor annoyance, and yet it is something that could have been avoided with a single line of code.

Update: Sean has responded immediately to the comments made here about the game by correcting the sound glitch and the bankroll rounding issue. Nice job, Sean.

With thanks to Seth for the link.

(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (22) | Views (3,545)
RingmaniaSi et JP of sends word of his brand new game, Ringmania. A new take on a Puzzle Bobble clone, the object of the game is to clear the play field of all rings by connecting three (3) or more rings of the same color to make them "explode."

The game includes an impressive physics implementation, as the rings have a simulated magnetized state that causes them to stick to other rings and objects.

Use the left and right arrow keys to rotate the wheel, press space to temporarily increase the speed at which the rings fall. The center of the wheel previews the next two (2) rings that will fall. Look for the small arrow along the edge of the rim to know from where the next ring will fall.

The game is over when any of the rings touches the outter rim, which closes-in gradually as time passes within each level. Click.

Use code jayisgames for 20% off E-WIN gaming chair


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