July 2006 Archives

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Rating: 4.3/5 (20 votes)
Comments (24) | Views (2,299)
Timed ClimbTimed Climb is yet another simple idea made into a unique and challenging Flash game, this one being a solo effort by Jussi Kari of ooPixel, the same folks behind the previously reviewed Asteroid Adventure.

This arcade action game uses only a single button to play: the [space] bar on your keyboard. Press and hold the key to charge up the power bar at the bottom of the game window, and then release it just before you wish to effect a jump. The small blue bouncing ball moves along on its own until the key is released, at which time it will jump relative to the power shown.

Timing is everything in this game, as the name suggests, with one bad jump often ending it all. The thing to remember here is that the key must be released before the ball touches the ground prior to the jump you wish to make.

The presentation in this game is exceptional with the highlight being a nice vertical sliding effect that both begins and ends the game. It is a nice design choice as it complements the vertical orientation of this arcade climber.

Another nice touch is the concept of conquering platforms as the basis for its high score system. By reaching an unconquered platform, the player is given the opportunity to enter their name. Platforms are "owned" for 20 days, at which time they become unconquered for the next player to come along and claim. It's a novel approach to engaging the player with an incentive to give it just one more go.

Play Timed Climb

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (26) | Views (3,674)

Asteroid AdventureJussi and Marko, Flash game developers at ooPixel, borrow a little gameplay from several classics and wrap them all together into one nicely polished and addictive game. Asteroid Adventure is an arcade action game that will be both familiar and new to anyone that has played Asteroids before.

Control is with the arrow keys for direction and movement, press [space] to shoot. It's as simple as that. Your health meter is shown in the lower left corner of the game window. It is reduced for as long as you come in contact with an enemy, so move away quickly if one comes close.

The first level is classic Asteroids with a few added features thrown in for good measure. Health meters appear on enemies that require more than a single hit to take out. Power-ups sometimes appear (after eliminating an enemy) that can boost health, gun power, gun rate, or shields (invisibility). The power-ups are few, however, and this makes the game quite challenging.

Level two (shown) introduces new enemies that move as in the classic game of snake, which gives the game a fresh new feel. Later levels introduce even different enemies, with the difficulty ramping up very quickly.

All things considered, Asteroids Adventure is a well-produced game that takes classic game ideas and creates a unique and original new game from them.

Play Asteroid Adventure

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (17) | Views (5,693)

Reader reviewSantumThe following is a reader-submitted game review by Mongo:

With almost 10 years in the making, Sanctum from Nioga is a very unique game. The best way to describe it would be to say it's like combining chess with Magic the Gathering in a miniature game board setting. It could be one of those classic board games we played as a child, except this game is all digital and played only online.

Players get to choose one of the 12 Houses from which to deploy armies: War, Abomination, Hope, Death, Despair, Body, Justice, Life, Making, Mind, Nature or Unmaking. With each having its own unique style, the other half of the battle is choosing the individual spells you want to add to your customizable deck. There are over 500 cards in your arsenal to choose from, including spells that can do anything from creating monsters, towns and cities, to pumping up your minions, or causing destruction on a massive scale.

Sanctum screenAfter downloading the game, it may take a little bit to get used to moving the pieces, casting spells and so forth. Once acquainted to the game, it feels a lot like two generals planning out and executing a war. Nonetheless, each game involves a good amount of strategy, a little bit of mind games, foresight and some good ol' medieval fun.

Now, granted this is a collectible card game, but that doesn't mean you have to spend much to play or to be competitive. The game can be downloaded and played without cost; however, with just $10 you can be permanently ranked and able to trade cards with others. There are no monthly fees or anything that makes you keep going into your pockets. And one of the best parts about the game is that the community is friendly, warm and often giving away free cards.

So if you have a little patience and are someone who enjoys good strategy games, then Sanctum may be right for you. It may not look all flashy or high tech, but Sanctum is a very enjoyable fantasy medieval game.

Update: The game is back(!), and players can now temporarily play with ALL the cards for free!

Download the free full version

Comments (6) | Views (2,025)

Eets contestThe Eets Caption Contest has come and gone and we received a deluge of great lines over the past week. Thanks to everyone for sending their creative ideas!

After some serious voting and rounds of rock-paper-scissors, we finally determined the winners, and here they are...

1st Prize (three copies of Eets, an Eets t-shirt and a custom level based on this caption) - Tyler W
  • "Everyone thought that the end was nigh when the Robot Lords arose. Indeed, the Free Forces readied their doomsday EMP device. But then something strange happened. One by one, the Robot Lords, resting laurels upon swine, fell to the intoxicating glare of the [soon to be] released Xbox Live Marketplace game Eets. And now, brave friends, is the time to strike."
2nd Prize (a copy of Eets and a free t-shirt) - James H
  • "...and I thought giving him an Xbox 360 would get him off my back."
3rd Prize (free copy of Eets) - gamefreak3845
  • Detailed video game character costume -- $129.99
    HD Plasma Screen TV -- $3,699.99
    Xbox 360 + a few games and controllers -- $599.99
    Sitting on your best friend because you no longer have the money for a couch -- Priceless
And an honorable mention goes to Christina H for this entry:
  • "I'll never be able to explain this to my chiropractor."

Congratulations to all the winners! We'll be contacting you soon with all the details on how to snatch your prizes. Thanks again to everyone who entered!

(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (36) | Views (5,033)

GeartakerTonypa is one of my favorite casual game designers due to his ability to take simple ideas and turn them into addictive little game play experiences. He then delivers these marvelous games in simple packages, offering them up for the world to play free on his website.

The latest of his creations, just released this week, is Geartaker, an arcade action game of skill in which the player jumps from wheel to wheel by clicking the mouse precisely. He borrows the gameplay from another of his games, High Wheels, but strips it down to just jumping, plain and simple.

Jumps are performed with a quick click of the mouse button. Once clicked, the little player-character makes a straight-line jump until it hits another wheel, or misses and hits the edge of the play field thus ending the game.

Scoring points is the main objective in Geartaker, with long jumps being worth more than short hops. While trying to attain a high score, you will likely find yourself trying to maximize your points by taking the longest routes possible. It is then when you realize just how addictive this game really is.

The sound implementation for the game is quite unique with what sounds like a cross between midi-tones and a vocoder used as both soundtrack and sound effect. In-game events trigger different sounds that play, and it all winds up sounding somewhat rhythmic and musical, if but just a tad repetitive. (I'm nit-picking here.)

Overall, the game is simple and charming with addictive gameplay as usual from Tonypa.

Play Geartaker

Comments (14) | Views (2,453)


A fellow graduate of RIT, John Resig, has developed an awesome little Javascript library, called jQuery, that takes much of the chore out of client-side programming and makes it fun. Now, "fun" is not a word that I would normally associate with programming in Javascript, even though I do love the language and have used it for years here on JIG to improve usability; however, programming in Javascript can be a very hair-pulling experience especially when you factor in all the different browsers that your code must support.

But John says that jQuery was designed to change the way you write Javascript, and in just a day's work it has already changed my ways. Learning to use jQuery took just a couple of hours and I have already rolled out the first site features that make use of it.

There are now toggling widgets in the sidebar that can conveniently tuck all the game icons away. This feature will be useful to those with dial-up or slower Internet connections since all those icons will no longer have to be downloaded when tucked away. The state of each widget is saved in a cookie and remembered across pages and sessions. And to top it all off, the code appears to work flawlessly across all major browsers tested (Mac: Safari, Camino, Opera, and Firefox; PC: Firefox, Opera, and IE). Thank you, John!

I am very ecstatic about the ease with which I was able to make significant progress today, and I will therefore be incorporating more jQuery into the site moving forward, and converting my old Javascript code to use it instead.

Also, Technorati just rolled out a new site design this week and it now uses jQuery as its primary Javascript code base(!) So, if you do any client-side programming at all, do yourself a favor and head over to John's jQuery site and grab the latest release. It's free, of course, but if you use it be sure to send John a donation for his efforts. I just did. Click.

Rating: 4.8/5 (118 votes)
Comments (56) | Views (15,995)

JohnBSand Sand Sand is another entry in the Falling Sand games from Dofi-Blog. This installment incorporates some of the best elements of World of Sand and Hell of Sand into one, allowing you to play with a variety of elements in even more ways than before.

sandsandsand.gifIf you aren't familiar with the Falling Sand games, here's the basic idea: you are given a number of materials with which you can "draw" on the playing field. These elements interact with each other almost as they do in real life. So, for example, if you draw a section of the Plant element and then apply Fire, the Plant will burn. Adding Water douses the fire. It's a great sandbox-style toy (if you don't mind the terrible pun) that's perfect for sitting and doodling with for a very long time.

Sand Sand Sand has a cleaner interface and adds two new elements: Seed and Ground. When the two new guys meet, a little tree will sprout and eventually grow leaves. Trees drop what appear to be petals that collect on the ground below. Although water doesn't seem to help the tree grow, fire does just what you think it would do. Making a return from the Hell of Sand game are the Zombie characters, mindless ragdolls you can trap, destroy, or just fling around the screen.

There's no real goal or purpose to Sand Sand Sand, just idle fun, a little zen thinking time, or rampant destruction with the ??? bomb. Either way, it offers a great distraction from the elements of real life -- rent, homework, bills, etc.


Everyone thank JIG reader Paul for letting us know about this one!

Comments (0) | Views (2,003)

Today is the last day for our Eets Caption Contest! Get your entries in before 11:59 PM (GMT-4:00) tonight to be eligible for free Eets swag, including copies of the game for you and your casual gaming pals.

To enter, just take a look at this image and e-mail a funny, serious or otherwise unwordly caption to EetsContest{at}jayisgames.com. One entry per person. Winners will be announced this Saturday. Good luck!

[Full contest info]

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Rating: 4.3/5 (49 votes)
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Noahrsvp.gifOften, while turning the Web inside-out and upside-down for a great game to review, I'll come across a gem with such sparkling casual gameplay and carefully sculpted graphics that I can't wait to show it off. Then I usually find that Jay has seen it, played it and written it up already... maybe even several years ago!

Sometimes I get lucky. RSVP is a Flash-based card game developed by Pop & Company, creators of the previously reviewed Trick or Treat Beat and Inuyasha: Demon Tournament. Billed as a "candle-lit rendezvous between Erno Rubik, Dorothy Parker, and Milton Bradley," RSVP puts you in charge of arranging guests around a table such that each is surrounded by compatible people on either side.

Each party goer takes the form of a card divided diagonally into two colors with a point total in the upper-left. Your deck is at the bottom of the screen. Click on a card to select it, then place it by clicking any free space on the board. When a card is surrounded on all sides by matching colors the guest will beam with delight. You must satisfy every guest at your party so, if you get stuck, click the arrow to the right of your deck to deal yourself another hand. You can draw new cards up to 4 times, costing 5 points each. If you're lucky you'll pull a wild card, worth 0 points, that sits well next to any guest.

My only complaint with RSVP concerns the sound effects. I found the melody that plays when you surround a guest with unobjectional cards extremely annoying and, unforgivably, Pop+Co didn't include a mute button. Still, RSVP looks wonderful and the Rubik and Bradley comparisons are apt; it barely feels like a Web game, with simple rules and classic design. A challenge mode is even included, allowing you to invite another player to compete against your score via email.


Originally submitted by Tonypa over a year ago, and more recently by Thranyona back in April.

(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (39) | Views (2,757)

The Final Answer to EverythingThe Final Answer to Everything is the rather ominous and foreboding title to a mysterious game that popped up just a few days ago. Tag this one under "riddle" as it is an HTML-based puzzle game for which answers to on-screen riddles are entered as URLs into the address bar of your browser to advance.

But time is ticking. The game keeps track of your progress and allows "between responses, no more days than three." However, even though three days equals 72 hours, when guessing the answer to one riddle incorrectly I was informed that I had just a little over 33 hours to input a correct answer. I guess that means you shouldn't take anything at face value in this game.

So, put your collective heads together and crack this thing. Will we find that the final answer is really 42? Whatever it is, it's already been copyrighted: The final answer is ©1954-2006 Holders Of The True Answer. Click.

Cheers to Dude999 for the link to this one. =)

(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (29) | Views (4,800)

NeonAlthough you may have played similar games recently, such as Geometry Wars, Grid Wars, Rainbow Wars, and the like, this next one was very nicely done in Flash and requires no download other than the usual loading within a browser.

Neon is an addictive, fast-action, arcade shoot-em-up with very comfortable control, and it was created by Alistair Maunder of varStudios in the UK.

Control is very easy and intuitive and uses the mouse for movement, and a mouse-click to fire. One started, the game throws wave after never-ending wave of enemies at you in true arcade style. Survive as long as you can to achieve the highest score.

Kill enemies for points and for the power-ups they sometimes leave behind: shields, gun upgrades, extra lives, freeze time, helper turrets, mines, seeker bullets, and more. There is a lot of action packed into this great Flash shooter.

Analysis: The graphics are retro-simple as are the special effects, but combined together they create dazzling displays with lots of on-screen action for a very gratifying experience. At first I found myself click-click-clicking the mouse to fire, but when I finally learned to press and hold, twitch-mode ensued and I was in the zone. Loved it.

Performance was exceptionally good on my 1.7GHz Windows XP machine most of the time, though the frame rate did drop a bit when there were a lot of sprites on stage, like when I was laying mines. Unfortunately, I was unable to play the game on my Mac due to it failing to fire when pressing the mouse button. Thinking it might be a browser issue, I reproduced the problem in Safari, Firefox, Opera, and Camino. Maybe it's a Flash Player 9 issue? In any event, I recommend using a PC for this one.

Engaging from the second it starts, Neon is one of those rare games that just feels great to play.

Play Neon

Cheers to Tonypa for word about this one. =)

Comments (1) | Views (2,003)

Experimental Gameplay Competition

The Experimental Gameplay Project has just announced their second game design competition, and this one is going to be RED HOT!

The folks at Red Octane, makers of Guitar Hero, are sponsoring this latest competition and they are looking for innovative game ideas that make use of their company's Ignition Dance Pad. Competitors are being asked to design a non-dance game that uses the pad.

The competition officially gets underway on July 31st and will consist of two (2) rounds this time. Round 1 gives just under two (2) weeks to submit game designs (word or pdf documents, images, video, animations, or any standard format that best explains your design.) The best ideas will advance to Round 2, in which dance pads will be mailed to all finalists who will then be given another two weeks to actually build the game designed in Round one.

Like before, fame, fortune and fabulous prizes await the winning entries, so get it while its RED HOT! Click.

(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (20) | Views (3,652)
Noahfuzetsu.gifYes, it's a twofer: today we'll look at a great pair of Java shmups. Both are simple and small, and yet each offers an unusual idea; there are no run-of-the-mill 1942 or Gradius clones here.

The miniscule Fuzetsu was Jos Hirth's entry in the Java 4k competition—he placed fifth! The restrictions placed on Fuzetsu's size are reflected in the extremely basic graphics and gameplay. Each level consists of a boss, a red sphere, that releases beautiful streams of bullets. Use the mouse to control your ship, a white pixel surrounded by a blue field, and get as close to the enemy bullets as you can without touching them. The more bullets inside the field surrounding your ship, the more shots of your own will be released. Fuzetsu is a Java Web Start application, which requires the Java Runtime Environment. Click.

lash.gifIf you prefer to avoid danger rather than being forced to seek it out, HIZ's Lash is a shmup with a defensive twist. Use the blue line attached to your ship to sweep the screen clean of certain enemies and bullets. The line moves clockwise as your travel right or up, and counterclockwise as you move left or down; lock it to its current angle by pressing [X] or [shift], and fire bullets of your own by pressing [Z] or [ctrl]. Pressing [enter] restarts, and you can pause by pressing [space], although this seems buggy. Lash is fast and generous, with 10 lives on every difficulty level, but I almost wish it was as simple as Fuzetsu. Why not remove the ability to shoot and make Lash entirely about mastering the blue line? Click.

Comments (11) | Views (3,034)

Klei Entertainment, the creators of the fantabulous indie game Eets, just turned one year old. eetscontest.gifTo celebrate their anniversary we thought it would be a good idea to partner with those emotional chaps and give you a chance to show off your creativity.

The Eets Caption Contest

To enter, all you have to do is create a great caption for the teaser image to the right. It can be funny, it can be serious, it can be strange, we don't care. Impress us with your creativity and you just might snag a few awesome prizes. (Full-sized image)

The Prizes

1st prize:
  • 3 copies of Eets for you and your friends (!!!)
  • An Eets level made by CheesyRamen based on your caption
  • An Eets t-shirt
2nd prize:
  • 1 copy of Eets
  • An Eets t-shirt
3rd prize:
  • 1 copy of Eets

The Rules

Anyone can enter the Eets Caption Contest, no matter if you're tall, short, hungry or just plain weird (though offer is void where prohibited.) Each person can only submit one caption, so make it your best effort! The contest ends on Thursday, July 27 at 11:59 PM (GMT-4:00). We'll announce the winners next Saturday. Spread the word and create some great captions.

Send your entries to: EetsContest{at}jayisgames.com

The Inspiration

Check out our very own glowing review of Eets to see what we thought of the game. And there's no better way to get into the Eets world than by playing the demo yourself.

Now get writing!

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Rating: 4/5 (81 votes)
Comments (66) | Views (8,115)

GwenJuly must be the month for surrealistic adventures, as this next one will have you pointing and clicking your way through it's many gorgeous and highly detailed scenes filled with art, sound, and interactivity.

Introducing Gwen, from Taiwan.

But watch out. There are perils in this game, and actions you can take that set you back a few moves, or worse. I'm not sure if it's supposed to happen, but I've managed to get a couple of black dead-end screens and had to restart. (Update: Seems to be a browser issue.)

Regardless, I would be remiss if I didn't recommend that you play it, if you enjoy games like this, and see if you can get farther than I could. The farthest I managed was just past the beating heart. (Actually, there is just one scene beyond that.)

If you do get stuck on a scene or uncertain how to proceed, sometimes the game will show you where to click with an arrow that flashes a couple of times. Or, for a cryptic hint, click on the "?" in the top left corner of the game window. That will slide open a hint that shows what needs to be done to advance. That's a very nice touch.

Also, would someone kindly translate the story behind this beautiful game? Click on "Map" and then "Story" for a full text description, but don't do it in the middle of your game or you will have to start again from the beginning. I would also love to know the names of the people behind this beautiful game.

Play Gwen

Cheers to Jennifer for being quick on the draw to suggest this one.

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(1 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (24) | Views (3,750)

Mercedes Benz Mixed Tape 13

Just in case you were not already aware... 13 is out, and just in time to help make for a lovely weekend(!) Enjoy.

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Rating: 4.4/5 (23 votes)
Comments (46) | Views (10,173)

CapuchinKudos is a turn-based life-simulation game recently released by Cliff Harris, otherwise known as Positech Studios, in the UK. KudosThe game is available in download form only for the PC, with a limited-demo available to try for free.

When playing the game, you start out as a bachelor or bachelorette living in a small flat in Slough (a small suburb of London) on your twentieth birthday, with no qualifications and little in the way of job prospects. It is up to you to decide how to live your life until your thirtieth birthday.

Each turn is worth one in-game day, and on each turn you can go to work and then do one other activity of your choosing. How you choose to spend each day, over time, defines who your character becomes: Does she prefer to stay at home and watch TV all day, go to evening classes to improve job prospects, or hang out with buddies down at the local boozer?

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Rating: 4.5/5 (58 votes)
Comments (176) | Views (13,214)
MikaelOne-OffOne-Off is the latest escape-the-room creation by the Gotmail team. This time your task is to get a beautiful blue motorcycle out from the garage where it's kept. The motorcycle is locked, and so is the door to the garage. In order to open them, you'll have to search the garage for gadgets and clues and combine those with the environment at the appropiate places. As some of you might have noticed, the story is basically the same as the one found in Toshimitsu Takagi's game, White Chamber.

The graphics in this latest installment are excellent as usual, and the overall task is easier than in previous Gotmail games, such as Il destino and The Bar. Although One-Off does not quite reach the quality found in White Chamber, it does, however, come through as a decent escape-the-room game, long enough to be played during a lunch break. Have fun! Click.

Cheers also to Damon for sending this one in. =)

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Rating: 4.6/5 (34 votes)
Comments (114) | Views (9,284)

Chiko Accidental AlienAnother Web jewel from Australia's Game On initiative, Chiko: Accidental Alien is an exceptionally gorgeous and well-produced Flash adventure game that will keep you busy for hours.

Help Chiko return to Earth after being swept away on a stray rocket shuttle found in a museum's basement. From there Chiko is taken to Squerx, the biggest fun park in the galaxy, where he embarks on a journey that spans three (3) delightful episodes.

The game is huge, with lots of quests, items to collect, and mini-games galore. Many of the mini-games will be familiar, such as a tangram puzzle, and even a Same Game clone. Each of the mini-games is broken into three (3) tasks of increasing difficulty, with each awarding points to unlock additional episodes.

I especially liked the tasks list to remind the player of what to do in case a reminder is needed. My only complaint—so far, as I still have yet to complete the game—is that the mini-game tasks require a lot of play. The term "mini" may be a misnomer here. Still, if what you want is a game that you can come back to again and again, and still not see everything there is to see, then Chiko is your man.

You will need to register with the site to be able to save your game, since there is much more here than can be completed in one session. Please note that the game may take several minutes to download depending on your connection. Broadband highly recommended.

I may update this review as I progress with the game, but I wanted to get something up right away to share it with everyone.

Play Chiko: Accidental Alien

Cheers to Mikael for the game suggestion. =)

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Rating: 4.5/5 (147 votes)
Comments (29) | Views (37,836)

JohnBGrow Nano is another fantastic release from On at Eyezmaze, creator of the unforgettable Grow series of Flash games. Grow NanoEach installment uses a common theme of placing objects in a certain order to allow a sequence of events to play out. Grow Nano tweaks this idea and introduces timed gameplay. Instead of moving and placing items, all you have to do is click on certain hotspots as quickly as you can. It's a lot more difficult than it may sound, but strangely enough, almost as rewarding.

This is an early version of Grow Nano and On says an update is coming soon, so expect a few tweaks and improvements in the days to come. Many people have problems with the play area being too tall for their monitor to display at once. To remedy this, just scroll the first hotspot to the bottom of your screen before you start playing. This maximizes the space and should keep everything in view.

Grow Nano doesn't have the depth of many other Grow games, but it has the same charm, style and simple fun we've come to love.


Thanks Alex for letting us know about this release!

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

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

Noahgoro.jpgFrom the Pointzero Company, Cubic Exploding Goro is nearly as strange as the name suggests. This 3D action game from Japan puts you in the shoes of Goro, a grim angular anti-hero in a violent, polygonal Shockwave-powered world.

Run around each circular stage by pointing the mouse in the direction you want to move. Hold down the left mouse button to begin charging an explosion. As you charge the button a red field will grow around you; release the button to create an explosion inside the field, damaging any nearby enemies. Naturally, a larger field results in a larger explosion. Goro is vulnerable and motionless while powering up, but a decent sized explosion will launch him far into the air, avoiding any incoming lasers, bullets or giant enemy tanks. Press S to toggle sound on and off, and P to pause the game.

Analysis: Cubic Exploding Goro is weird, fun and, with over 24 levels and a wide variety of enemies, quite challenging. However, it is not an attractive game. The metallic rotating fonts are garish and the primitive 3D models look dated. There's charm in Pointzero's funky lack of style, though, and Cubic Exploding Goro is a great and unique arcade experience.

Play Cubic Exploding Goro

Note: Try an older, 2D version of Goro here.

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Rating: 4/5 (22 votes)
Comments (131) | Views (4,851)

icon_readerreview.gifDeveloperCodeThe following is a reader-submitted game review by Mikael of Sweden:

Developer Code is a series of six (6) point-and-click games of the escape-the-room variety, brought to us by IBM in China.

The gameplay is the usual for this kind of game: For a reason unknown to you, you find yourself in a locked room with no apparent way out. In order to unlock the door, you will have to find hotspots where items and information are hidden, and use and/or combine that with the game environment to achieve the goal: getting out of there.

Play Developer Code 1

Play Developer Code 2

Play Developer Code 3

Play Developer Code 4

Play Developer Code 5

Play Developer Code 6

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Rating: 4.8/5 (69 votes)
Comments (60) | Views (18,822)

EliNetHackNethack is one of the oldest games still being developed, and some consider it to be the greatest game ever made. And no, you don't have to know how to hack. It was based on its predecessor, Hack—named after the hack-and-slash genre of role playing games—and collaborated on over the (Inter)net, and hence: Nethack. It is not, however, a Web-based game.

Nethack is a classic single-player (randomly generated) dungeon exploration game that runs on a wide variety of platforms, and yet each implementation uses the same game engine. But whether graphics or text-based, emphasis is on discovering dungeon detail rather than just killing everything in sight.

Your goal in this massive dungeon crawl is to find the Amulet of Yendor, at the bottom of the dungeon, and sacrifice it to your deity. You will then ascend to demi-god status.

The graphics, or rather lack thereof, are surprising and may turn-off new players. The game's origin was text-based, with @ representing your character and various other symbols representing monsters and items on the ground. Of course, if you can't handle the heat of the sometimes confusing text-based graphics, you can always download the tiled version, with real graphics.

However, if you can look past the primitive graphics the gameplay is exceptionally rich and deep, and the development team seems to have thought of everything. For example, if you are burdened and attempt to go down stairs, the game will likely inform you that you just fell down the stairs. Another (more famous) example involves the many uses of the deadly monster, the Cockatrice. Its touch can turn the player to stone, so attacking it using the player's bare hands is not recommended. If the player does manage to kill one, the corpse may wielded as a weapon to turn other monsters to stone, if, of course, the player wears gloves. Furthermore, if the player-character is female and is poly-morphed into a cockatrice, the player can lay cockatrice eggs, which have several interesting applications. Of the most commonly cited stupid ways to die—and, in my opinion, the most funny—is wielding a cockatrice corpse while burdened, then fall down a staircase and land on one's own cockatrice corpse.

If you haven't played this game yet, give it a try. After the first confusing minutes, this game can occupy many enjoyable hours of play time. Click.

Graphical versions also available for both Mac and PC, though you may need the skills of a hacker to compile them.

Cheers to Nate for first suggesting this one several months ago. =)

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (23 votes)
Comments (101) | Views (6,628)

Super Serif Bros.

In what may at first appear as a bunch of strange characters littered across the screen, Super Serif Bros. is actually an intricate and well-designed puzzle game with similarities to classics Rogue and Lode Runner.

The objective is fairly simple: using the arrow keys for movement, navigate the player character (I) through each level to collect all of the gold (£) and then make it to the exit (E) safely. Along the way you will find a multitude of characters with special behaviors, such as elevators ("), conveyor belts (()), moving platforms (T), activation switches (~), and the like. There is even an occasional enemy thrown in that will give you chase, or fall on you.

With 19 levels to play, and probably more on the way, Super Serif Bros. will turn you inside out by the time you make it through and beat the game. That is, if you can beat the game. The game starts off easy with several training levels, and then ramps up to some that are down right devilishly difficult.

And when you're done with the levels that Rob has concocted, there is even a level editor with which to create your own(!) Although there is presently no way to add your own designs to the SSB game page (UPDATE: Now there is!), since the levels are pure text you can post them here as comments if you like. Then just copy, paste into the game's editor, and voila!

Analysis: Spoiled by the lush, photo-realistic game graphics of late, we have come to expect them from the games that we play. And yet Super Serif Bros. proves that a game doesn't have to look great to be fun to play. Rob Allen has masterfully defined a wide assortment of clever contraptions, whipped them into shape with his brilliant level design, and brought them all to life with Javascript in a browser (he recommends Firefox over IE.) The result is likely to be the best puzzle game with the worst looking graphics you will play this year.

Remember the Hapland series? Yeah, well this is from one and the same, Rob Allen. Need I say more?

Play Super Serif Bros.

Cheers to Yuval for suggesting the game. =)

Update: I have had so much fun with this great new puzzle game that I threw together a GUI level editor for the game in Flash that should help make the level editing task a bit less tedious. I handed it off to Rob Allen who made some improvements to it himself. While Rob is working on a repository for level uploads to his site, I have added a feature to the editor that allows you to upload your levels directly as a comment posted here on the SSB review page. Check the walkthrough section for details, or jump right in and create a level.

Update #2: The SSB Level Pit is now open for business!

(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (37) | Views (3,987)

Multiplayer AsteroidsChris Benjaminsen of Cosgames has come up with a simple and yet intensely effective multiplayer version of the classic arcade game, Asteroids, playable in any browser with the Flash plug-in.

The name, Multiplayer Asteroids (or is it Asteroids Multiplayer?) is a bit of a misnomer since the asteroids did not actually make it into this version of the game. Instead, each player (up to 16 in a room) pilots a ship in an all-out deathmatch, melee style, with the objective being to rack up more kills than deaths.

Use the arrow keys to control your ship, press [space] to fire. It's just that simple. When you die, press [ctrl] or just click to respawn.

"The movement in this game is good, hard to master, but, if done right, is like ballet. On steroids. With guns." -Oak (Greyoak)

There are three different power-ups that I saw: a red cross to replenish health, a white circle for a temporary shield, and a green box to upgrade your weapon, though if you die your weapon reverts back to its lowest power. Some power-ups require pressing [ctrl] to activate.

Mad multiplayer mayhem, classic arcade style. Just what I needed on a Friday afternoon. Click.

Warning: Since players may enter any name to be represented by in-game, there may be some that choose inappropriate names for themselves. Consider yourself forewarned. Cheers to Larkin and Puckvirus for suggesting the game. =)

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (32) | Views (3,541)

Panzo InvadersIf you have been visiting JIG for some time now, you should already be familiar with our little friend, Panzo the panda bear from Japan. You may also be pleased to know there is a fresh new Panzo game to play.

About a year ago I reviewed Gel Invaders, a Shockwave arcade game with gameplay similar to a combination of Space Invaders and Breakout, starring Panzo and hosted on the Japanese website, Netkun. Now, a sequel to that game has just been released featuring even more enemies and power-ups than before.

Panzo Invaders 2 picks up the ball left by the first game and runs with it. But now there are even more balls to toss at aliens, which means there are also more aliens to fight as well. This is a good thing since the first game was rather easy to beat.

Just like before, use the mouse to make Panzo run back and forth along the ground to collect the balls, press the mouse button to toss a ball in the direction of the cross-hair cursor. Click to jump when Panzo is not carrying any balls. Jumping becomes necessary in later levels when the drops that fall from enemies sometimes turn into enemies that crawl on the ground.

Hitting an enemy with the ball will cause it to fall from the sky and release coins and power-ups. Some enemies require more than one hit to take them out. Hit more than one enemy in a single throw, bounces included, to release even more coins. Collect coins for points and collect power-ups for shields, health, and a little umbrella that helps protect from the enemies' elements.

Avoid falling enemies and the stuff they drop. Each time you get hit, a portion of your life energy bar will be taken away. If you lose all your life energy, the game is over. Please help Panzo knock those alien buttheads out of the sky.

Play Panzo Invaders 2

Hooray for a new Panzo game! And cheers to Jack for making us aware of it. =)

  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (25 votes)
Comments (108) | Views (6,616)
wogger.jpgWogger is a multi-level, point-and-click surrealistic adventure in the same vein as the venerable Samorost. Created by Bernd Mattiebe of Germany.

While much of the game is finding the correct click spot to move the story forward, there are a couple of puzzles that will pose a challenge for some.

Overall a decent effort, though not quite as beautiful and impressive as Jakub Dvorský's work. And yet enjoyable just the same. If you enjoy games like Samorost, you will feel right at home in Wogger.

Play Wogger

Cheers to Mikael for suggesting the game. =)

  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (22 votes)
Comments (154) | Views (4,243)

JohnBL'expresso Empoisonné (The Poison Coffee) is a superb point-and-click mystery game created by Anode & Cathode, the authors of The Museum, The Casino, and other games in this genre.

empoisonne.jpgPaintings and other artwork have been stolen from a museum gallery. All of the evidence points to Damien Bestieu, one of the featured painters. A school teacher solves the mystery, but just as she is about to reveal the thief, Damien hands her a cup of coffee. She takes a sip and falls to the floor unconscious. The coffee was poisoned. The police consider it an open and shut case, but two young school children think differently. Help the children solve the mystery by searching the museum and surrounding grounds for clues that will clear Damien of the crime.

L'expresso Empoisonné is exquisitely designed with an easy point-and-click interface and fetching artwork. The story might be simple, but it's catchy and extremely enjoyable, kind of like an episode of Scooby Doo minus the campy humor. You carry a backpack that holds your inventory along with a clue journal. There are four entries in the journal that point to Damien's guilt. Your overarching goal is to prove each of these points false. You'll also be solving typical point-and-click puzzles to unlock doors, navigate mazes and find necessary items to continue in the game.

A small but enormously enjoyable feature of L'expresso Empoisonné are little mini-games that are integrated into the story. One example is a short bout of whac-a-mole. There's also a small (but oh-so-fun) maze and a short action-arcade sequence involving fish. Each time I hit one of these mini-games it was the perfect time to break the cerebral activity of solving a mystery. And I admit it, they made me grin.

L'expresso Empoisonné was released in French a little over a month ago, but this version has been translated to English. There are some rough patches and a few untranslated bits of text, but nothing that will hamper your understanding or enjoyment of the game.

You'll spend a solid hour on this game and will be glued to the screen the entire time. Puzzles are just difficult enough to keep you entertained but not too tough to discourage you. A very well-balanced title that captured my imagination and admiration right from the start.

Play The Poison Coffee

Update: It appears that Anode & Cathode have taken The Poison Coffee offline and therefore it is no longer available. :(

  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (22 votes)
Comments (41) | Views (6,312)

monstertrucks.jpgUgur, of the amazing group of Europlean Flash game developers that goes by the name of Stimunation, sent word of their latest creation last week when many of us here in the U.S. were enjoying the long July 4th holiday.

Monster Trucks Unleashed is an impressive 2D action driving game involving huge-wheeled monster trucks (of course), unlockable levels, and upgradable trucks.

Use the arrow keys for control, [space] to jump, [ctrl] for spiked tires, and [shift] to brake.

There are several different courses and challenges to complete, each of varying difficulty. Even though I am not very good at games like this, I did have a lot of fun trying to advance. Anyone know any hints, tips, or cheats? =p

Created for Wrigley's Candystand website.

(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (8) | Views (4,756)

gpokr.gifRyan Dewsbury of Toronto is developing a multiplayer no-limit Texas Hold'em game, called GPokr, in Java using the Google Web Toolkit (GWT), which is a software development framework for Java developers to create AJAX applications. The latest version that Ryan has running is quite playable, though beware that it is still a work in progress.

It is easy to create a new player and get started, just enter a user name, email address and choose a password. While your user name is displayed to other players in the game, you will use your email address for login. Your winnings are stored in the database for when you return.

You are given 1,500 chips to start with, so grab a seat and join in the fun. There are only 10 seats available at present (remember, it's a work in progress), so if the table is full, you will have to wait for a seat to open.

Although I haven't yet tested the game with more than a couple of players, so far it seems like a decent first attempt at a game that has become a very popular pasttime. The fact that it is built using GWT is impressive, and I am looking forward to seeing the refinements Ryan makes to it, as well as his future projects. You might also like to visit Ryan's blog to keep up with what he's up to.

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (8) | Views (2,427)
Noahblockkuzusi.gifA stylish Flash Breakout clone from GameDesign of Japan, Block Kuzusi demonstrates a great deal of respect for its roots, while offering just enough originality to feel fresh.

Breakout's classic paddle has been replaced by a white sphere, controled with the mouse. Hit green blocks to increase your size, although if they contain a skull your sphere will shrink instead. Orange blocks slow down the speed of the ball, and orange skull blocks increase it. Note that breaking the colored blocks is not necessary to clear the level.

While I enjoyed the stripped-down power up system and tasteful, minimal graphics and sound, the levels (which loop at level 9) in Block Kuzusi leave much to be desired. Each features the same 12x3 grid of blocks with only the number and location of the green and orange blocks to differentiate them. Even the original Breakout had more variety than that! Still, Block Kuzusi is one of the better versions Breakout I've seen online, and well worth a look.

Play Block Kuzusi

(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
Comments (10) | Views (3,742)

JohnBDaxo is an interactive portfolio created by musician and designer Hans Reichel. daxo2.gifThe style is similar to Blue Suburbia, another non-game we featured recently on JIG, and pulls together sound and image in a fusion of interactive multimedia.

Stuck somewhere between a portfolio and a game, Daxo showcases the creative talent of Mr. Reichel in many areas, including flash design, font creation and composing. After a short intro you're presented with a list of twelve different pages you can explore in any order you like:

  1. Erdmaennchen - Toy around with pictures of prairie dogs.
  2. Font Design 1 - A piece about designing fonts.
  3. Tongues - Listen to a looping musical score while you play with on-screen visuals.
  4. Join the Band - Play a "game" by making sounds with little blobs.
  5. Heads - A psychadellic experience with smiling heads and bats.
  6. Font Design 2 - About Hans' FF Dax font.
  7. The Island - A clip from the movie Hyperdax.
  8. Problems - A soundboard toys with you.
  9. Some Guitars - About full-fret guitars.
  10. The Secret - About the Daxophone.
  11. Downloads - Grab a font, image and pdf info file or two.
  12. Thanks - and more news - Find out what Hans has been up to lately.

Some of the pieces are truly stunning while a few are a little too long if you aren't interested in the subject matter. You can always skip a scene by changing the page number in the address bar. Hans Reichel's site is a great example of what creativity can do when given a little time and a flexible outlet such as Flash.

Play Daxo

  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (48 votes)
Comments (78) | Views (14,179)

JohnBThe Bonte Room 2 is the sequel to Bart Bonte's first room escape game we featured back in December. The game shares a lot with its predecessor, including simplistic art style, room layout, and a strange animal that's integral to solving the game's puzzles.

bonteroom2.gifThe game idea is as simple as they come: you're in a room, you need to get out. The Bonte Room 2 doesn't try to woo you with a fancy storyline. You'll start staring at the locked door with a parrot swinging in a nearby cage. Turning around you'll find objects such as a cactus, a cold fireplace, and a peanut vending machine. That's right, peanut vending machine. Nice idea, isn't it?

With a little clicking you'll quickly learn your way around the game. The puzzles are straightforward enough for novice gamers but still satisfying for old pros. Most of what you'll be doing is finding items and seeing how they can interact with the environment. While the riddles are logical, you'll need to do some strange things with peanuts that doesn't exactly fall under the "normal" category. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

The Bonte Room 2 is a short but satisfying point-and-click game. Give it a try, then go get some peanuts to snack on.


Thanks to Roos, Jodyk, Remko, Laziekats and Lily for sending this one in!

  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (26 votes)
Comments (106) | Views (4,759)

There is more than one way to enjoy this simple but effective platform game construction set created in Flash. Leveraging the power of player-generated content and the Web, Block Action puts level design into the hands of millions.

blockaction.gifChoose a stage to play from thousands already available, or use the level editor to create your own stage. Either way, Block Action offers virtually unlimited variety in ways to enjoy its gameplay.

Like many platform games, you control a game character in the third-person perspective with the goal being to advance it from start (yellow dots) to finish (blue dots) for each level, or stage. Use the arrow keys for movement [left] and [right], press [space] to jump. It's as easy as that. A Mario-style wall jump is even supported!

It is important to become familiar with the variety of block types that may exist within each level. Thankfully, there exists a game manual that does a good job of explaining everything you will need to know. Japanese and German language versions are also available.

The level editor allows you to personalize your creation by including your name and a comment that are both displayed on the stage's title page when done. Players may even search for other stages that you have designed.

To facilitate finding the best stages, an integrated rating system allows voting on whether a stage was good or bad, and the game keeps a running count of the votes for each.

Analysis: There is amazing depth to this game as evidenced by the thousands of stages already created by players. The graphics are rather simple in appearance, and yet this simplicity ensures that the game engine will run satisfactorily on a wide variety of system specifications. The integrated rating system is a nice touch and may help to reward the best designs with more players for them.

One thing I would like to see is support for sharing stages with friends via URL query strings, similar to the method employed by the previously reviewed Brain Strainer. Presently, sharing a stage requires knowing the stage number, and then a search for it using the game's integrated search facility. Update: Daigo wrote to tell me he has added support for URLs! =D

Some people may prefer the physics implementation, graphics and interface of N—a downloadable Flash game by Metanet Software—over Block Action, as both offer similar experiences. However, the simplicity of the browser-based Block Action makes it accessible to a wider audience.

Although level editors are nothing new, there is no doubt in my mind that the killer game apps of tomorrow will give players tools with which to easily add their own touch of creativity and to share their creations with others. Block Action, created by Daigo, is an admirable effort in this area.

Play Block Action

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

HsELP Jayisgames.com

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