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June 2013 Archives


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Rating: 4.6/5 (115 votes)
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Escape from the Bungalow

elleIn the midst of a very hot summer, the idea of vacationing in a whimsically furnished bungalow in the woods is an irresistible invitation to relax and unwind. Or so you would think. Yet in the travel scheme of Tesshi-e, all doors are to be looked at suspiciously—the door to this particular bungalow is no different. Yep. Locked! With no key in sight. Looks like it's time to Escape from the Bungalow! Before you can take off your shoes and kick back, you need to fix wobbly pictures, ask Mr. Birdy for clues, put objects to use and solve codes in an escape-the-room game that's bursting with Tesshi-e's ineffable charm.

Escape from the BungalowAlthough there is no cursor change to signal hotspots, navigation is smooth and easy. Click the corners of the screen to change your view and click on objects, or edges of furnishings, to get a closer look at that area. Any item you pick up can be examined through the "About Item" button and used by highlighting it before clicking where you want to use it, including on other inventory items. Puzzles vary from using objects to figuring out sequences and number codes. The subtitles as you explore (choose either English or Japanese before starting) will also help point you in the right direction. Should you need to step away for a mini-break from this escaping vacation, just utilize the save feature in the "Function" menu; this also comes in handy as you look for both endings, with and without a happy coin.

Once again delving into the charm of Tesshi-e's design is part of the delight in playing Escape from the Bungalow. The puzzles are the typical Tesshi-e fare yet, in this case, that's not a disappointment. Those familiar with this game designer's style of trickery will feel right at home and shouldn't be stumped...not for too long anyways. But there is trickery indeed and this little escape can be challenging, especially with some clues delivered in lightening speed, requiring quick note taking—and re-taking. With such beautiful surroundings, complete with music resembling a Kingdom Hearts medley, there is no sense of rush thus less frustration as you grapple with puzzles. For this reason, although getting out is the goal, the journey out is as much fun as the destination.

Play Escape from the Bungalow


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Rating: 3.8/5 (49 votes)
Comments (9) | Views (6,265)

Chick Hide and Seek 9

elleYuri's troupe of adorably cute baby birds wants you to cool off with a scoop of delicious ice cream and a game of Chick Hide and Seek 9. They're hiding all around the ice cream parlor, camouflaged by color or obscured by locked doors. Or the ever-effective method of hands over eyes ("You can't see me if I can't see you!"). Locate and click on each until you've gathered all ten and they'll reveal the secret code to escape-the-room. Without a changing cursor, you'll need to click liberally while using found objects and clues for the smattering of puzzles throughout. Just remember they are tiny peeps who can fit just about anywhere and the pixel hunt won't be unbearable. Happiest yet, it's perfectly sized for a short summery break or whenever you need a cuteness infusion. Can I get a collective Awww right now?

Play Chick Hide and Seek 9


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Rating: 4.8/5 (153 votes)
Comments (49) | Views (23,859)

Ancient Greek Geometry

ArtbegottiWhat can you make using only circles and straight lines? Yes, you can cut a pie into a million slices, but when you've got to make the pie yourself using only two dots as your starting point, the challenge becomes much greater. That's the basic idea behind Ancient Greek Geometry, a webtoy by Nico Disseldorp that uses basic mathematical principles to spin basic drawing into an intriguing puzzle.

Ancient Greek GeometryYour only two tools when playing with Ancient Greek Geometry are a straightedge and a compass (the kind that looks like a giant pair of tweezers, not like a GPS's compass). Starting with two given points, you can build your design by drawing a line between two points (click and drag to connect them), or a circle that has one point as its center and another point along its circumference (click and drag to the appropriate radius). Believe it or not, you can construct a lot of shapes with these techniques, including triangles, squares, and the elusive pentagon. This webtoy gives you the choice of tackling these shape challenges within the suggested numbers of moves, or freely building your own designs. How complex you get is entirely up to you in this intriguing diversion.

Play Ancient Greek Geometry


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Rating: 4.4/5 (25 votes)
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Outer Wilds

JohnBOuter Wilds is a space exploration game currently under development by a team of students at USC. It's a wide-eyed stroll through your own sense of curiosity, handing you a ship and a solar system to explore led only by your inquiring mind. Maybe you'll mount an expedition to that strange looking watery planet you just passed? Maybe you'll land on an uninhabited chunk of rock and discover ruins beneath the surface? Or what's inside that comet, you wonder? Whatever you do, there's plenty to capture your imagination in this game, and you'll play it for hours just to see what you can uncover next.

Outer WildsOuter Wilds begins in the village where you learn to control the spaceship and get a bit of information about what's going on in the game's world. Controlling the ship is a simple matter of bumping the thrusters to move through space. Autopilot can do most of the work for you, but when it's time to land, switch viewpoints and guide yourself to the surface as gently as you can. Once there, disembark and wander around as much as you like. Your space suit has a limited jetpack feature and can fire probes that take pictures. Between that and your own insatiable inquisitiveness, you'll be amazed at what sort of things you can discover.

The rule of thumb in Outer Wilds is if you can see it, you can (and should) explore it. From gas giants to artificial satellites to massive angler fish, every celestial body offers something unique. There's no real goal in Outer Wilds, nor is there anything to collect, solve, defeat or fix. You just explore. Few games manage to communicate a sense of awe and wonder as well as Outer Wilds, and the environment it creates for you feels vast and innocent and is filled with ancient history. The game is still under heavy development, but as you'll see from this early release, Outer Wilds has definitely captured something special.

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the free full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the free full version


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Attack of the Spooklings

JohnBEver wanted to combine Fruit Ninja with Space Invaders? P�caro Game Studio did, and so the team set to work to build Attack of the Spooklings, a game of endless fence protecting and enemy slashing. Attack of the Spooklings sends waves of enemies after you, and your only defense is to swipe like your life depended on it. Because it kinda does. Your virtual life, anyway.

Attack of the SpooklingsSpooklings are these squishy, toothy creatures who are good at one thing: swarming. Fortunately they're not too tough, and to knock them off this mortal coil all you have to do is swipe the screen. If a single one makes it to the wall at the bottom, it's game over. Spooklings like to attack in formations with the occasional one running off on its own. The key to getting a good score is swiping with long gestures to create combos, taking out entire groups with a single move. It also makes you feel like some sort of superhero whose power is being really good at drawing lines. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Patterns in Attack of the Spooklings get increasingly more complex, bumping up the challenge the longer you survive. The sheer number of foes also increases as you progress through the waves. It's a simple game, but the combination of pattern recognition and quick-fire swiping gives it that special something that makes you want to come back for more.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


(13 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Maximus

JohnBMaximus is the sidescrolling beat-em-up iOS device owners have always wanted. Taking pages from brawlers like Golden Axe and Castle Crashers, this humorous take on the genre from Mooff Games does the nearly impossible by making touch screen controls actually work for an action game. Sounds crazy, right? It's not, and after spending some time with Maximus beating things up and gaining a few levels, you'll probably want to hunt up the Mooff Games folks and be all like "Are you a wizard?".

MaximusTo start out, pick one of the four heroes, each with their own particular fighting style and special moves. You then fight your way through nearly 20 levels of progressively more difficult enemies, ranging from skeletons with swords to sorcerers with magical staff thingies. Use the left side of the screen like an invisible joystick, sliding your thumb to move around the 2.5D landscape. The A and B buttons on the right serve as quick/weak and slow/strong attacks respectively. As you defeat foes you earn coins and experience, the former allowing you to increase your stats and the latter increasing your character's level so you can unlock new abilities.

Maximus is filled with pomp and theater, much to the game's favor. Everything about it is over-the-top and comical, but never at the expense of honest gameplay or challenging fights. Maximus keeps the brawling formula simple enough to work on a touch screen device without gutting it, and there are plenty of fantastic extras to keep you entertained, like rideable bears, boss vs. boss battles, and a survival arena. Whether you're an old school fan or just want to hit things with a board that has a nail in the end, you really can't go wrong with Maximus.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Totally Tiny Arcade

TrickyDudes and dudettes! Something totally untublar is happening down at The Galaxy Castle. Some kinda gnarly video virus has zapped its way into the computers arcade cabinet game things and making them act all bogus. Only one hero can make things rad again: Joystick Johnny! But will Johnny's mad skills be enough to save the Totally Tiny Arcade from utter destruction? Only you know for sure! Totally Tiny Arcade is a fun mega-remix of rapidfire retro arcade classics originally released by Joe Lesko's Flea Circus Games in 2007. However, it has just been released as freeware, and if you missed it the first time around (as a lot of people seemed to), this is the perfect time to jump in and prove who's king of the button-mashers!

Totally Tiny ArcadeThough there are several versions of the arcade to play through, the general goal remains the same: you must complete three rows of arcade games before time runs out, then face off against the video virus in a final showdown. Each row contains different games, and you must beat four of them to force the virus into the next row. On the first game you choose, you must beat one level, the second game will require two levels, the third game three levels, and the fourth will require fourth, including the special bonus virus level. Each row may have another unwitting arcader taking up space on the game you want to play, but you can announce that you "get next" by marking the occupied machine, though doing so requires that it must be the next game you play, by the unspoken rules of the arcade.

The games run the gamut of re-creations, parodies, facsimiles, reinterpretations, and fun new concepts. Generally, you beat each one by either destroying all enemies or filling up the progress bar at the top of the screen. You are racing the clock, however: every life you lose chips away at your timer, and once it runs out, one more mistake means game over. Each of the three arcades has a different mix of games, but whether you're chomping coins in Stoc Man, bonking heads in Clown's Revenge, or slaying dragons in Ninja 1999, you'll use the [WASD] or [arrow keys] to move, and [Spacebar]. [Ctrl], or [Enter] to fire. Finishing a game without losing a life means bonus points. Special items appear in the second and third levels of each game, and collecting five in a row without losing a life means big points. Once you've completed enough games, you'll be taken to the arcade's secret room, where you'll play the experimental prototype game that will show that digital dummy who's the bossest!

Totally Tiny ArcadeTotally Tiny Arcade manages to mix its enjoyable arcade fun with a ton of nostalgia and a punchy sense of humor, making for a nice trip to the old-school. Most of the minigames it offers should be pleasantly familiar to retro game fanatics. While more explicit instruction might have been helpful on the more obscure references (such as Astro Terrestrial, a strangely enjoyable riff on the infamous Atari 2600 ET title), none are so impenetrable as to not be master-able after a few tries. One not-so-great aspect is the occasional appearance of Johnny's girlfriend(?) who's only purpose is to "helpfully" point out aspects of the game he's playing in an annoying voice while obscuring the screen. The fact that this is the main female presence in the game makes one long for a "Joystick Jenny" option. Still, is Totally Tiny Arcade is a smart little title that makes the most of its clever premise? Fer sure!

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (55 votes)
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Vortex Point 2

DoraSomething freaky is happening in the town of Vortex Point again, and that means it's time for our favourite motley crew of investigators to solve the case with their usual, er, finesse in the latest point-and-click adventure from Carmel Games, Vortex Point 2: Nensha. There's something fishy going on with a photo booth, to the tune of a mysterious masked figure showing up in photos and people going missing. The police think it's just a prank to get attention, but nobody's laughing, and it's up to you to get to the bottom of things before anyone else comes down with a bad case of the phantom strangles.

Vortex Point 2: NenshaWhen your cursor changes when you mouse over an object, that means you can click to interact and pick it up, and items appear in your inventory at the bottom of the screen. You can click on items and then somewhere on the screen to use them, or click on one item and then another to try to combine them. Your investigations are going to take you all over town, so make sure you follow every lead, no matter how weird or unlikely, and especially if it involves property damage. While Vortex Point 2 has what is actually a pretty intriguing storyline apart from some awkward dialogue, its biggest flaw is that it typically tends to offer little to no direction, and progression tends to come down to being a jerk, breaking things, and experimentation... Sherlock you ain't. But though it's short, it's got a clever story premise I would have liked to have seen expanded on, and hopefully this isn't the last visit we make to Vortex Point.

Play Vortex Point 2: Nensha


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Rating: 4.3/5 (235 votes)
Comments (10) | Views (6,902)

Token Hero

DoraWhen the princess needs to be rescued by a brave hero (or heroine!) there's nothing to do but take up sword, shield, and... uh... scruffy white dog? And... match-3 gems? Wait... there's nothing about this in Tolkien at all! Undefined takes a cue from 1000000 to create the fast-paced addictive arcade game that is Token Hero! Rescue NPCs to join your cause, build an airship, and look at the clock and realise you should have been in bed two hours ago holy gooses.

Token HeroYour goal in each dungeon is to make it to the end before time runs out. At the bottom of the screen is a field filled with different tokens, and you can drag them around with the mouse however you like to create matched sets of three or greater. As you run down each dungeon corridor, different obstacles that require different matched tokens will appear in your way. Chests and doors need a certain amount of keys, while monsters need swords crossed to defeat them, and matching shields and hearts defends and heals you, respectively. Power-ups will be added to your inventory to the right of the screen and can be activated with a click. As you match gems and defeat bosses, you'll earn cash you can spend on building your airship, or leveling up the various companions who join you... each of whom adds a unique bonus!

Make no mistake, while Token Hero is vastly different from undefined's previous options and offers considerably less strategy, one thing remains... it is grind-tastic, and the sort of "just one more dungeon" adventuring that's dangerous to your sleep and productivity. Though the story basically slips discreetly into the background in favour of bombarding you with pretty explosive colours and the particular satisfaction you get from watching numbers climb, the fast-paced gameplay is just as addictive here as it was in 1000000, and with a few little twists and considerably more personality to make it stand out. I can't say I cared for the repetitive, relentlessly optimistic soundtrack that made me feel like I was trapped in a 1960s after-school special ("Tonight, on a very special Dungeon Cralwer..."), but the bright visuals and cheery design carry home the fun, casual vibe the game is going for. It's not particularly deep, but Token Hero does what it does quite well, even if it's something we've seen before.

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(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Samurai Shodown II

JohnBSamurai Shodown II isn't a game you'd expect to see on a mobile device. Virtual controls for a fighting game originally released 20 years ago? Doesn't sound like the most promising combination. But publisher DotEmu has gone to great lengths to make things work, handing you completely customizable button layouts and sizes as well as built-in MOGA controller support so you play without hindrance. A slidey touch screen may not have the give of a good arcade joystick, but it gets the job done!

Samurai Shodown IILike most fighting games from the 90s, Samurai Shodown II gives you a roster of warriors to choose from and pushes you into in a series of one on one battles. Each character has his or her own storyline that plays out, coming to a conclusion only after you defeat the final boss. With 15 characters to choose from, variety or gameplay length definitely isn't an issue, especially if you're the kind of player that likes to build your skills and master a game. Multiplayer is available via bluetooth, so if you've got a friend nearby who wants to get smacked in the face with Gen-An's knife glove, there's totally an app for that.

You'll miss physical buttons when playing Samurai Shodown II on your iOS device, for sure, but this set-up really is the next best thing. You can place the virtual joystick and virtual buttons anywhere on the screen, scale them, even switch between six button and the more traditional four button layout. The new casual mode makes it easy for new players to join, adding a dedicated button for special moves! The game itself is masterfully ported, runs smoothly, has tons of configuration options, and is just as epic as it was two decades ago. Nostalgia will probably drive more players to Samurai Shodown II more than anything, but anyone who wants a solid portable fighting game should seriously consider it.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Rating: 4.6/5 (555 votes)
Comments (5) | Views (8,959)

Ending

DoraCody's just a kid like any other, right up until burglars break into his house and make off with his beloved comic collection. When he tracks them down, however, he discovers something amazing... collecting the comics left behind allows him to transform into the heroes within the pages, unlocking their special abilities to deliver sweet, nerdy vengeance on those Beagle Boys wannabes! Eric Bernier's platforming action game Comic Book Cody brings a great style and premise to tap into every kid's fantasy. Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move and jump, grabbing all the comics on each level to turn into a superhero. Be careful, since mild-mannered kid Cody can be taken out in a single hit, so avoid any enemies until you transform. Levels wrap, meaning you can drop from the bottom and fall down from the top, so don't worry about falling. Each stage needs to be cleared of enemies before you can proceed, and each hero has a different ability to help you do so, from freeze rays to super speed.

EndingComic Book Cody has such a great concept that it's a shame it wasn't played with a bit more. The levels all wind up feeling very similar, and it seems like they would have provided a great opportunity for Cody to use his powers in different ways than smacking the same baddies over and over. It's the sort of thing older gamers might find a bit repetitive, which is unfortunate since the game not only looks great, but its responsive gameplay, relatively low difficulty, and boss battles will make it an easy hit with the kiddie crowd. A sequel to flesh out its concepts seems like an easy choice, but for now, Comic Book Cody is still a great idea with a lot of personality that makes it a great way to start younger gamers off with platforming. Just don't blame me if you catch them eating their comic books and expecting to gain super-powers later.

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Rating: 4.3/5 (32 votes)
Comments (0) | Views (8,407)

Ninjas Never Die

Starchild You don't need silly things like limbs to be a ninja, as long as you have a katana, mad stealth skills and some shuriken to throw around. Ninjas Never Die is a physics puzzle game in which you roll around collecting coins, cheating death and killing lots of spiders, giving all you arachnophobes out there a sweet chance for revenge.

Ninjas Never Die In all twenty levels (plus four bonus ones) your ball-shaped ninja has to go through a maze, but can only leave it after collecting all the gold coins in it. You move the ninja by tilting the maze either with the left and right [arrow] keys or [A] and [D]. The road is dangerous, beset on all sides with spiders and flails, which won't kill you (because ninjas never die), but will take you back to the starting position. At first you have nothing to defend yourself with, but later you can use stealth to sneak past obstacles, ninja stars to throw and you can even set yourself on fire. All of these powers have limited duration, so use them with care.

Ninjas Never Die is a treat for those of us who enjoy circular mazes. Tilting them with just enough power to get to the desired spot is an acquired skill, and it can seem frustrating or finicky at first. But there's something to be said for this type of physics puzzle: the meticulous movements and careful planning increase the degree of immersion and satisfaction when you finally beat the game. This particular maze puzzler is full of diverse, well constructed levels, and the ninja-based design is an imaginative idea which makes the gameplay all the more entertaining. So roll, little ninja, roll!

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Link Dump Fridays

DoraFriiiiday, Friiiiiday, gotta Link Dump on Friday! Your favourite weekly dietary supplement of unicorns, aliens, and snakes returns with a quartet of games to keep you busy just long enough for the weekend to inch ever closer to your grasp!

  • Room of 1000 SnakesRoom of 1000 Snakes - An ancient temple... a mysterious room... a big red button... and one ridiculous soundtrack make for a very silly "game" from Ben Esposito and Yuliy Vigdorchik that's well worth the few minutes it'll take you to experience, even if you roll your eyes so hard they go clattering across the room afterwards. Well, what were you expecting? (If you have a fear of snakes, you might want to give this one a miss.)
  • Hyper Pixel ManHyper Pixel Man - If you're one of those people who can't sit still for long, you might appreciate the zippy, dead-in-a-flash challenge of Pixelulsar's platform game that uses simple, retro graphics to craft some maddeningly difficult levels. If you can put up with the over-eager movement, it offers a satisfying, if perhaps not all that unique, bit of spike-filled action.
  • Yepi ForeverYepi Forever - Remember when Yepi just wanted to rescue his girlfriend? Remember how cute and adorable that was? Well, FUHGEDDABOUDIT, because Begamer's newest point-and-click puzzle adventure game featuring the little yellow dude has him responding to a distress call on a mysterious red planet, and the tone is decidedly gloomier. Some unintuitive gameplay and painfully slow movement mar this one, but it still provides a solid, coffee-break sized bite of puzzle-y gaming to fill up your day.
  • Robot Unicorn Attack EvolutionRobot Unicorn Attack Evolution - I don't care how many times we've covered Robot Unicorn Attack, this is my feature and I want to listen to Erasure, dangit. Though ultimately the same sort of ridiculous arcade game as its brethren, Evolution has a few tricks up its sleeve, and remains every bit as silly, fun, and addictive as ever. (Why has this not been ponified yet?)

  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (71 votes)
Comments (92) | Views (25,373)

Layton Brothers: Mystery Room

JohnBLayton Brothers: Mystery Room is a crime solving mystery game from Level-5, the team behind the well-known Professor Layton series on Nintendo DS. While this incarnation may only bear passing ties to the prof's previous adventures, it's still a solid adventure game that will remind you of Phoenix Wright in some ways. Which is a good thing!

Layton Brothers: Mystery RoomInspector Alfendi Layton is a bit of a genius investigator. His new assistant Lucy Baker isn't as sharp, but she shows a lot of promise. You help Lucy and Layton solve crimes one case at a time, each more unusual than the last. And seeing how the first mystery is about a strangled woman with her hand in a sandwich, that's saying something. Cases take place in several stages, with you working through the investigation at each turn. It starts with the crime scene, allowing you to zoom and pan around an exact recreation while you gather evidence. Suspects get questioned, clues are uncovered, and eventually you get to j'accuse someone and follow through to get to the heart of the matter.

Even though most of the investigation is "on rails", there's still a fair bit of challenge to be found in Layton Brothers: Mystery Room. It's more of an interactive mystery than a traditional game in some ways, but it's written and illustrated so well you'll get drawn in all the same. The free download offers up two mysteries to play through, each one taking about half an hour to complete, maybe longer. Two separate in-app purchases let you buy chapters three through nine, which is a hefty amount of content.

Be ready to do some honest crime solving with Layton Brothers: Mystery Room. Moderate leaps of logic aren't out of the question, just make sure they're, you know, logical!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Rating: 4.5/5 (53 votes)
Comments (11) | Views (6,998)

King's Ascent

TrickyA terrible dragon had just finished ravaging the northern lands chomping all the livestock in its path. However, through the cunning of the king, the monster has finally met its end. Or so we all thought. Now, it seems that old enemies have returned, and giant chomping skeletons will soon the least of the kingdom's concerns. It's the king they are after, though, and he's got towers full of unstable platforms to clomp down on the heads of anything that wants to munch him. But as he climbs, the complicated truth will soon be revealed. King's Ascent is a vertical-scrolling action-platform game by Aqualuft that'll have both kings and vagabonds playing their very best.

King's AscentUse the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move, and jump using the up [arrow] or [spacebar], holding it to jump even higher. A beast is chasing you, and will kill you if it catches up. Some platforms will fall once you've stepped on them, but you can use this to your advantage: if they fall on the pursuing beast, they'll knock off a bit of his HP. Destroy the beast's life bar, and you'll move on to the next floor, until you reach the top of the tower for a boss fight. At this point, you'll be transported to another tower with another beast... and it seems like the monarch has made quite a few enemies in his time on the throne.

King's Ascent proves to be an enjoyable iteration of the vertical-climber formula, but with a smart deconstructive edge. It's as if the authors of the game started development by questioning aspects of the gameplay that hadn't really been explored narratively: Why is this character jumping up this tower? What is chasing him? What motives does this creature have for wanting to catch him? What exactly is the plan once they both reach the top? As a result, there's a surprisingly strong sense of plotting in King's Ascent. It goes hand in hand with the strategic puzzle elements included: players will need to plan their jumping in each level if they hope to survive, though restarting each section is a snap. Kudos also has to be given to the unique stained-glass-like graphics style, though one wishes it was also applied to some of the bosses. The CGI modelling is a little jarring to say the least. That said, King's Ascent offers a breath of fun and challenging action to its familiar game play, and its storytelling is sure to separate it from the climbing clones. And hey, the song that plays over the credits is pretty catchy too!

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Rating: 4.5/5 (46 votes)
Comments (3) | Views (6,934)

Reverse Boots

HopefulNebulaThe magic boots in Reverse Boots, Denis Vasilev's new platform game, are a wee bit more utilitarian than the last magic problem-solving footwear I've encountered. Your goal is to collect the key (and bonus stars, if you're daring) and then get to the door on each level of the dragon's tower. Use the [arrow] keys to move, and [up] to jump. The trick of the boots is that whenever you jump, the world changes around you. Blocks move and rotate, spikes and fire-breathing totems change direction. Oh, and this happens every time you jump, whether you want it to or not.

Reverse BootsReverse Boots is an interesting take on the "run and jump and avoid fireballs" genre of platformer. In this case, you don't neutralize threats so much as you move them. The challenge isn't always making that perfectly-timed leap, but making sure you'll be safe when you get there. The first few levels are straightforward enough, but just when I thought I had the spikes and moving platforms figured out, there were spikes on moving platforms and I had to rethink my strategy. The new challenges are introduced at a decent rate, so there's always something new to figure out without being overwhelmed. The deaths are a bit grisly in an over-the-top cartoony sort of way (though not overly explicit), and it would be nice to control the height of my jumps, but in the end, Reverse Boots is an engaging set of puzzles. Do avoid the lava, though: these boots might be magical, but they're not that magical.

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(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Toca Builders

JohnBToca Builders is a sandbox creativity toy created by the team at Toca Boca. Instead of giving you boring drawing tools or other cold, removed contraptions, this adorable game hands you half a dozen robots who each have different abilities. By driving them around, switching between them and using their skills to place and remove blocks, you can construct just about anything you can dream up!

Toca BuildersTo start building your playground, choose or create a world from the level select screen. Once there you'll see an icon that brings up the robot selection menu. All of the 'bots are placed in the playground already, you just have to tap their picture to start controlling one. Each has slightly different controls thanks to their unique abilities, but everything is displayed using big, friendly buttons and switches, so you'll never feel lost or confused. Toca Builders is an extremely friendly game.

Robots have different abilities in Toca Builders, making each one better suited for specific tasks. Cooper the Ball, for example, paints the ground wherever he rolls, allowing you to make broad color changes with a few simple movements. Blox the Hammer lays cubes as he walks, turning him into a quick horizontal path creator. Connie the Crane is a precise instrument that can pick up and place just about any block she sees. The whole cast is creative and likeable, and once you get to know their abilities, switching between them to build some fun playgrounds is easy.

It may seem surprising, but Toca Builders will capture your imagination from the get-go. The interface is simple but fun to use, with no real gaps between robot abilities and structures you might want to build. Want a giant happy face? Do it. Then paint it a bunch of crazy colors by driving around spitting paint balls with Jum-Jum. Toca Builders is safe and accessible to kids, but it's one of those toys everybody's going to have fun playing with for hours on end.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Rating: 4.5/5 (53 votes)
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Light-bot

JohnBThe little programmable robot is back, and this time it's mobile! Light-bot is a logic-based puzzle game that's been kicking around the browser scene for a few years in the form of Light-Bot and Light-Bot 2.0. Now the game has made the jump to Android and iOS, bringing with it several dozen new levels that will challenge your ability to program robots to light up blocks. That makes it sound a bit easy, but it isn't, we promise!

Light-botThe goal of Light-bot is to create an instruction list that can move a robot around an isometric grid, switching on all blue tiles so they glow yellow. At the bottom of each screen you have a list of commands represented by icons. Tap or drag and drop commands to the panels on the right to assemble instructions, creating programs that move the 'bot forward, hop up a square, turn to the right, and so on. Proc1 and Proc2 icons let you set up macros so you can repeat common actions without repeating steps. You have limited space to complete each level, after all.

Light-bot has all of the same charm and challenge as its browser bretheren, and it works very well on the touch screen. Editing existing commands can be a bit cumbersome when you try to drag and drop between icons, simply because human fingers aren't (yet) transparent. But beyond that navigation is as smooth as can be. There are 40 levels to work through, 20 of which contain star challenges. Plenty to keep you up late at night staring at an isometric grid and refining your formulas down to perfection. And once you get into conditions, you won't be able to stop playing.

Play Light-bot (browser demo)

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the Nexus 4. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Curse of the Aztecs

DoraYou know those academics. Put two of them with opposing theories in a room and within five minutes you'll have fighting and hair-pulling that puts Jersey Shore to shame, amirite? Marshall and Galloway have never seen eye-to-eye, but when Marshall heads off after Galloway's expedition, determined to prove the other man nothing better than a glory hound feeding into sensationalist superstition, he quickly discovers there might be some very dangerous truth to the legends after all. The free indie adventure horror game Curse of the Aztecs, developed by four students named Luke Finlay-Maxwell, Gustavo Da Costa, Charlie Scott, and Jack Pickard provides a frighteningly atmospheric descent into a ruined temple where you'll come face to face with the most terrifying thing of all... *flicks flashlight on under chin* NO SAVE FEATURE.

Curse of the AztecsThe game controls with [WASD] to move, and unfortunately lacks an option to rebind keys if that doesn't work for you. Look around with the mouse, and when the hand icon turns fleshy over nearby items, you can click to interact. Pressing [tab] will display your map, and holding [shift] activates HUFF-HUFF-NYUUHH-UUHNNFF mode, or "running". Your goal, ultimately, is to find the staff in the depths of the temple and use it to escape. The game also boasts that it's done away with scripted scares, meaning no two playthroughs should be exactly alike in terms of knowing when and where to brace yourself for the BOOGABOO moments. After a tutorial area to familiarize you with the controls and such, you'll descend into a maze-like area full of traps and... other... danger. Here you can gather treasure to boost your score while you look for the staff, and this area makes up the lion's share of the gameplay. Watch your torch for clues as to when you need to run, because if it turns bright blue and you're caught, it's game over for you. Just pretend you're Frodo wielding Sting and orcs are after you. You can choose to skip entire first "tutorial" area if you just want to get straight to the AIEEEEE meat-and-potatoes bit of the game too.

For a seven month project by four students, Curse of the Aztecs really is a remarkably well done game despite the painful lack of any sort of save feature or keyboard customisation. Though they consist mostly of ruined corridors, the visuals are great and the atmosphere is appropriately heavy with tension and isolation. Even the voice acting for Marshall is top notch, although the character often drips with such snide condescension you sort of want to punch him after a while. Maybe he wouldn't be so annoying if running for longer than ten seconds didn't cause him to loudly gasp and huff long after you've stopped. But despite being a bit rough around the edges, Curse of the Aztecs is one of those games that, in addition to being fun to play, really illustrates how far gaming has come when something that looks and plays like this can be completely free.

The downside is that after the tutorial, the game turns into less a puzzle adventure and more a straight-up action game with a bit of stealth thrown in as you try to evade the beast within the temple's depths while searching for treasure. It's sort of like Eyes - The Horror Game by way of Indiana Jones.That's not necessarily a bad thing, and fans of action and jump scares will enjoy what's on offer here, but going into this wanting or expecting a more carefully paced puzzle adventure may leave you wanting. Curse of the Aztecs, ultimately, is a game best taken with a grain of salt. It has a surprisingly effective repertoire of jump scares, and the combination of the beast on your tail as well as the other tricks and traps to be found can have you squealing and zipping around like a terrified pinball from terror to terror, giving it a great fun house of horror vibe perfect for turning the lights down low and the volume up.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the free full version


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Rating: 4.7/5 (66 votes)
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King of Bees in Fantasy Land

TrickyKing of Bees in Fantasy Land, a Twine text adventure game by Brendan Patrick Hennessy, hails to an earlier time of video game plotting. One where the story started with the enemy saying that "all your base are belong to us", but if the player managed to not "feel asleep" and "attack aggressively", they would soon fine the game serving up a hearty "CONGRATURATION" as a blessed reward. ("They didn't even bother giving you multiple ones! Just a single congraturation they had lying around the video game make place.") King of Bees presents such a literary epic, but without all that silly platforming and shooting and stuff getting in the way. Suffice to say, it is the year 2888, and as head space knight of the number 4 astro-boat searching for a habitable planet for the remnants of humanity, you've come upon Garaxas world. A veritable fantasy-land, there is but one problem: the Evil Bee King rules the planet with an iron feeler from the safety of Bee Fort. Can you possibly topple the King and make the planet safe for human-types? Only you know for sure!

King of Bees in Fantasy LandThe prose will lead to various points where you must choose a course of action by clicking the desired option. Some choices will grant you various items and abilities, which may unlock different choices, though generally you'll be traveling through each of the game's "worlds" in a set order. If all King of Bees in Fantasy Land had going for it was non-standard grammar, the joke would probably get stale by the end... and not to mention a little offensive to beleaguered underpaid translators worldwide. However, its focus is on examining and parodying the storytelling tropes of the 8-bit era, and though that has been done before, it is a well that will probably never run dry. Additionally there is a quite cool perspective shift end game that's handled quite interestingly, and may make a play-through of King of Bees in Fantasy worthwhile just to see how the author chooses to get all clever and stuff. In short, those looking for a quick, smart piece of video game comedy should definitely give King of Bees in Fantasy Land a try. A WINNER IS IT!

Play King of Bees in Fantasy Land


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Agricola

SuzanneFed up with the current crop of farming games and their incessant cheeriness? Agricola brings you back to reality like stepping in a pile of fresh manure. Playdek's mobile conversion of Uwe Rosenberg's classic strategy board game has the same pleasant exterior as numerous Facebook farm-'em-ups, but its cuddly graphics and music will do little to soothe your aching brain as you struggle to keep your peasants from starvation. Fun? It sure is.

AgricolaTo many Americans, "board game" evokes thoughts of Scrabble, Monopoly, and other family game night staples. But for years, European game designers have been churning out complex, heavily strategic offerings that make Parker Brothers games look like baby toys in comparison. Agricola is of the worker placement subgenre of the Eurogame family. Here, points are achieved by placing game-world "people" onto the board to have them complete actions, like baking bread, plowing a field, or collecting resources. Your goal is to manage your farm over fourteen rounds (about one to two hours play time) so that you have enough food each harvest to feed your entire family. Competitive games end up being a race to add rooms to the house, as adding new family members means more hands to do your dirty work. Right, Mom?

If you've never played a Euro board game before, be prepared for a good deal of initial confusion as you come to grips with the systems in play. But this brilliantly converted digital version means there's never been a better time to jump in, as a series of tutorials introduces the game concepts at a steady pace. The solo campaign encourages you to develop strategies and increase your skills over a series of games with increasingly difficult win conditions. Multiplayer games, either with AI or human partners, require you to be nimble in your plans. The online matchmaking is well-done but the game's short turn lengths and potentially long wait times in between mean that playing against the computer or people in the same room is most satisfying.

Recent years have seen a number of Eurogames converted to the mobile format. And why not? Eliminating the fuss of complex scorekeeping and managing dozens of tiny pieces leaves the player free to enjoy the fun. Some of these games are more accessible than Agricola and therefore better for families (Ticket to Ride, for example, though this version of Agricola does have a simpler family variant) but those who like brain-stretching strategy should snap this up. Let's all bake some bread and celebrate another great addition to the App Store's rapidly expanding game shelf!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


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Rating: 4.4/5 (54 votes)
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Swap It Et 3

Starchild If you have a few minutes to waste, and you're in the mood for something colourful and relaxing, look no further! Swap It Et 3 is a jigsaw puzzle game with a nice little spin on the original premise (no kidding, the puzzles are made up of gears which are, you know, spinning). Each of the thirty levels is made up of jumbled tiles, and it's up to you to click and swap them until you get a coherent picture. The pictures invariably show multi-coloured gears of all shapes and sizes, moving at different rhythms.

Swap It Et 3 The tricky part is that the tiles don't always display the right size of the gears. Bigger tiles act as magnifying glasses and try to confuse you with their wily ways, making it more difficult to see where to put them. To get the coveted three stars, all you have to do is make as few moves as possible, which kicks the challenge up a notch. Instead of swapping tiles with the swiftness of a speed demon, you get to plan your moves calmly and carefully. Not that the game is difficult either way – you can get the best results on most levels without a problem, but that's not really what Swap It Et 3 is about, anyway. What it wants to do is let you kick back and enjoy some colourful, almost plushy gears and a bunch of well-made puzzles.

Play Swap It Et 3


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Rating: 4.5/5 (56 votes)
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Rocket Pets

HopefulNebula You got your launch game in my platformer! Or is it the other way around? Either way, in Rocket Pets, a new game from Jay Armstrong, you play as a cute fluffy little animal with a jetpack strapped to its back. Your goal is to collect as many coins and powerups as you can before your jetpack overheats or you get killed by spikes (or any of the many other obstacles).

Rocket PetsYou run forward automatically; click and hold or press [spacebar] to lift yourself up. As you advance, you'll earn coins that you can use to unlock upgrades, new worlds, and (most importantly) other animals. These other animals serve as extra lives, but they each have their own set of upgrades. And you can even buy them hats! And since Jimp did the art, the hats are flippin' adorable. Rocket Pets proves that horizontal launch games and platformers are two great tastes that can indeed go great together.


Play Rocket Pets


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The Vault

TrickyWell, we've heard the wishes of you, the consumer, and have decided to back off on some of the changes planed for the next generation of JiG Vault. First of all, the webcam activation that would allow us at JiG central to spy in and make fun of the decorations in your computer room? That's gone. Also, instead of changing The Vault's focus into a celebration of the best of the JiG reviewer staff's junior high angsty poetry output, instead we'll instead keep featuring the best works of casual gaming from our archives. This week we've got some unique defense, action, and arcade titles to play around with. And as for how we said you'd need a steady online connection to access The Vault... actually, yeah, we're probably gonna need to keep that component.

  • ClockwordsClockwords - Hair-brained inventors, mechanical spiders and machines that run on literal word power. Oh my! You'll find it all in Clockwords, a defense franchise made at the behest of Dictionary.com that Gabob started on in 2009. Like Bookworm Adventures, but with a lot more steampunk, Clockwords will stretch every linguistic nerve in your spellbound head as you blast bag buggies with every SAT word you can think of. Sadly, the series seems to have stalled after the release of this prelude and then Act One in 2010. Still what has been released is a gem, a paragon, a nonpariel, and a cynosure.
  • Fig. 8Fig. 8 - Guiding a wobbly bicycle through an architectural blueprint seems an odd premise for a fun, but 2009's Fig. 8, by Intuition Games, pulls it off with aplomb. The precision-based gameplay is the perfect level of frustrating that makes you want to attack it again and again, even as it drives you half crazy. It's amazing how a game based in the aesthetics of technical drawing manages to evoke such a sense of whimsy. But then again, I'm not a drafter, and perhaps it's seeing a world created in the symbols that draws people to the vocation in the first place. In any case, Fig. 8 presents such a world, and it's wonderful to ride around in.
  • Cyrkam Airt�sCyrkam Airt�s - It takes a certain twisted kind of mind to make a simulation of a popular office coffee-break game, apparently designed to be played by people on actual coffee breaks in offices where all the materials to play the actual game are in plentiful supply. Fortunately the developers at Sticky have such minds and the result is 2004's Cyrkam Airt�s. It plays as a kind of proto-QWOP, if a lot less intentionally frustrating, where the player is forced to convert intricacies of how an arm moves to chuck a wad paper into a wastebasket through the mouse input. The result is a quirky and totally addictive minigame with a singularly unique rotoscoped aesthetic. Let yourself get scanned darkly and give it a try.

While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!


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Rating: 4.3/5 (460 votes)
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Night Lights

DoraDon't be afraid of the dark! Bombocracker's platforming puzzle game Night Lights may seem a little eerie, but shine a little light on things and you'll find there's nothing to be afraid of at all. Use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to walk and jump, and head for the exit at the end of each level. The catch is that in the dark, hazards like spikes can appear and be harmful, and while the light can get rid of some of them, it can also reveal gaps in ground you could walk across when no light shone on it. Though you'll have to rely on a lot of stationary light sources to change the environment for you, some levels will also grant you a lamp, which can be picked up or put down with [X] and turned on by holding down [C], giving you a comforting, portable glow you can even use to weigh down switches.

Night LightsIt's a simple concept, but it's executed very well here, thanks in no small part to a gorgeous little art style and a perfect moody soundtrack that was even created by the developer. The challenge is that not every type of object behaves the same way, so while most of the spikes in a row may vanish when you turn on your lantern, some patches may not. The same goes for boxes, and for some players, being unable to tell at a glance what's going to be invisible under light might be frustrating. It means you have to proceed slowly and carefully, which chafes somewhat if you're more of a LEEEEEROY JENKINS kind of player. Night Lights, however, really is the sort of game that you want to slow down with anyway. The small, carefully designed levels do a lot with a handful of elements to provide an experience that's challenging, but not hair-rippingly so, and the result is the sort of charming, thoughtful little puzzler that fits right into a snack-sized portion of your time... day or night.

Play Night Lights


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Rating: 4.5/5 (431 votes)
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Daymare Cat

DoraIf it's kinda creepy but more than a little cool, it's got to be by Mateusz Skutnik who wants to take us on another trip to the eerie world of Daymare Town with Daymare Cat. This time, it's a platforming puzzle adventure game where you're tasked with guiding our disheveled and befuddled looking heroine through the Town's twisting streets. Use the left and right [arrow] keys to move, and hit the down [arrow] to interact with things and go through doors. Any items you gather are tucked away into your inventory at the bottom of the screen, and the game will automatically use the correct object in the proper place for you when you press down in front of it.

Daymare CatIf you've never been much for Italian plumbers, don't worry... apart from a few simple sequences, Daymare Cat is less about platforming than it is about exploring and puzzle-solving. Despite featuring the familiar etched lines and otherworldly architecture, this doesn't quite feel like a Daymare Town title, and it's not just because it isn't a point-and-click. It feels a bit less light-hearted and fantastical, lacking the familiar critters and characters, and much more surreal and mysterious. While solving puzzles is largely a case of flipping levers and keeping your eyes peeled for little clues, it's almost an Alice in Wonderland type experience as seen through the eyes of Mateusz Skutnik. Cat Jahnke's music, when you discover it, is both incredibly varied and a pleasure to listen to, but not every piece fits the mood and overall setting of the game. Which is, you know. Something where you sort of expect to see Slender Man standing politely just barely out of frame in a window. Waiting. Always watching.

It's that almost-but-not-quite-freaky vibe that makes Daymare Town so incredibly addictive. That, fortunately, is definitely intact even if the puzzles wind up being fairly straight-forward. Use this key here, climb those platforms there, throw yourself down the hungry gullet in the floor over nyoh. Finding the music in the form of records largely winds up being the whole point of the game, and since the game lacks a map, it's easy to get lost of where you've been and where you're going. With a rich style and setting, however, getting there is still going to be a lot of fun, even if it isn't exactly what you expected a Daymare title to be.

Play Daymare Cat


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Mobile Monday

JohnBIt's like spring cleaning for game devs this week! Even though it's summer. And digital goods don't really take up any space. But mobile game sales are mobile game sales, so we're not going to ask too many questions.

kemco-p.gifBig sale: Kemco RPGs - Well-known for their collection of of fine 16-bit-style mobile RPGs, Kemco has gone crazy and put almost every one of its titles on sale for next to nothing. That's nearly 20 original games, each of which capture some element of that old school top down role playing charm. If you're having a tough time choosing, these games come with more than a few good recommendations: Bonds of the Skies, Symphony of Eternity, Machine Knight. Know of any other particularly great ones?

badland-p.gifOn Sale: Badland - How's about a great game for half price? Frogmind's beautiful platform adventure Badland is currently on sale for iPhone and iPad, which is awesome considering the game has only been out for a couple of months. In Badland you control a fuzzy fly character in a dangerous sidescrolling world. The basic plan of avoiding dangerous things is always in play, but the terrain introduces a lot of obstacles that can speed you up or slow you down, such as fans, tilting platforms, sticky cockleburs and exploding plant things. It's awesome, and it's on sale. Case closed! (Badland review)

infinity-p.gifOn sale: Infinity Blade II - Huge sale for this juggernaut of a game. Infinity Blade II is on an impressive 80% off sale until the end of the month, meaning you, too, can swipe and smack giant armored beasts with your iOS device. Infinity Blade is a deep, compelling, great-looking release that melds the casual and the mainstream gaming ideals together. It seamlessly incorporates a strong fantasy story with role playing elements, upgrades, exploration, and even a hint of hidden objects along with fast-reflexes action that will make you sit up straight to play. (Infinity Blade II review)

sparkle-p.gifSparkle 2 now on Android, Windows and Mac - 10tons released its gorgeous match-3 sequel just a few weeks ago on iOS. Now the game has gone and ported itself to Android as well as Windows and Mac systems. Also Windows 8, Blackberry, Kindle Fire, webOS and Windows Phone 8! It just sort of ported itself. 10tons didn't even have to lift a finger. That's how good Sparkle 2 is. Don't believe us? Check out our Sparkle 2 review for proof! (Sparkle 2 downloads)


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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House of 1000 Doors: Serpent Flame

Starchild Epic is an overused adjective nowadays, especially in gaming. Get a few swords, add an elf or two, et voilà, you have an epic adventure. Slay some orcs from a safe distance using some flimsy magic spell and it's "epic fight dude lol". So what about games that really deserve to be called epic? The ones where you wake up to the sounds of monsters tearing your world apart, and you go into four different dimensions on a desperate search of lost artefacts, and you have to defeat enormous snakes before they annihilate the Earth? Now, that is epic.

House of 1000 Doors: Serpent Flame Kate has found herself in the House of 1000 Doors for the third time. Brought there by a mysterious stranger, she is greeted by all the house keepers, who will try to help her fight off a huge reptile menace. And so begins House of 1000 Doors: Serpent Flame, Alawar's new hidden-object adventure. Now gather round and pay attention, this gets a bit tricky. See, once upon a time, The Light Ones roamed the Earth and acted as mentors for the human kind. At one point, they fought Nagas, the terrible evil serpent-like creatures, and won; as a consequence, The Light Ones had to leave humans and find a home elsewhere. Fast forward a few centuries, and the Nagas are at it again. They have sent a horde of horrific snakes to bring Earth to its knees. The light Ones reply by dispatching our mysterious stranger to fetch Kate, who is tasked with activating the only weapon that can save the world.

In order to do this, Kate goes through four doors to different epochs (and is incredibly lucky, since all the people there speak flawless English). Exploring these places means finding objects, using them on other objects and solving puzzles. Manipulating items is a breeze, since most of it is nicely intuitive; on the other hand, there are so many rooms that it's quite natural to forget half of your tasks. But never fear, because there's a lovely map with hints you can turn on or off, allowing for quick travelling and a relaxed gameplay. The puzzles are, for the most part, somewhat simplistic, and solved a bit too quickly, so they don't offer much of a challenge. The hidden-object scenes come in two varieties – traditional lists and the put-items-back-in-their-places kind.

House of 1000 Doors: Serpent Flame Certainly the game's strongest point is the story. It is simple enough at the beginning, then branches out into four story lines as Kate steps through the doors, then opens up to reveal an entire little mythology in its own right. Even though at times you might get lost in the intricacies of the plot, by the end it all comes together to form a tale of thrilling proportions, especially among casual games. Such a powerful narrative demands appropriate artwork, which is duly delivered. The scenes range from dark and desolate to gloriously bright, but they are all equally sharp, detailed and imaginative. Some cutscenes are so impressive that they might make you think they belong in a fantasy film (mediocre voice acting aside), and they certainly add a whole new level of excitement. A long and slowly unwinding story like this one also takes time to be told, so expect at least four hours of world-saving action.

It's hard to say what exactly makes House of 1000 Doors: Serpent Flame such a unique experience. It must be the very successful blend of a familiar essence with an intriguing, larger-than-life twists, gorgeous graphics and solid casual gameplay. Definitely check out the demo, and don't be fooled by the slow start – this game is epic.


House of 1000 Doors: Serpent Flame is currently only available in a Collector's Edition, which includes a bonus level, concept art, wallpapers and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


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Rating: 4.5/5 (284 votes)
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Blob's Story

Starchild What would happen if two World of Goo-blob look-alikes fell in love? According to Blob's Story, a physics puzzler from Alma Games, they'd find themselves in a strange black-and-white world, tangled in some ropes, and you'd have to help them get together and make really adorable noises.

Blob's Story Your job is to cut ropes with your mouse. In most stages, Mr Blob is suspended, while Mrs Blob (with a pink bow, of course) is waiting at the bottom of the screen. Every level also contains three white flowers. Use the magical power of physics and ropes, crates and portals to swing Mr Blob, try to get all the flowers and land in Mrs Blob's lap. Once in a while, you'll face an additional challenge – a coloured flower which disappears after a short while. There are twenty-seven levels, divided into three parts, and you can unlock them only if you have enough flowers.

Blob's Story is quite simple, and the "story" part of it is minimalistic at best, but it's the design that really stands out. The eerie, almost LIMBO-esque atmosphere, with its shadows and gloomy skies, gives the game an otherworldly, even frightening, air. However, the excellent piano tune that accompanies it balances out the bleakness of the level design and makes for a truly pleasant experience. This is a love story, after all, and two strangely cute one-eyed blobs deserve happiness.

Play Blob's Story


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Very Retrouvaille

AliceOn an ordinary morning in a quaint little town, Faraday Ram lost her pet rabbit. Faraday is a sheep person, but her rabbit is just an ordinary pet rabbit, so it's very important that Faraday tracks him down before anything happens... and with the dangerous forest perched intimidatingly on the edge of town, there's no guarantee anything won't. Very Retrouvaille, a free adventure game created by PR1NCE, is the story of a town, and the quirky (animal) people who reside there, and a young lady who loves her pet so much that she'd gladly jump through all the hoops in the world to get him back.

Very RetrouvailleMove Faraday around with the [arrow] keys, using the [spacebar] to examine things and talk to your neighbors. Enter their houses and you'll be able to talk to them a little more directly. You'll be doing a lot of favors for the other characters— one of them might be able to help you get where you need to go, but only if you do her a favor... and the person who helps you accomplish that favor might need a favor of her own. It's possible to finish very quickly without seeing everything, so you may want to take some time away from the main adventure to stop and smell the roses. You might learn something new about the characters, or even the town itself.

Very Retrouville isn't exactly forging new ground. An exploration adventure set in a gentle little town, made with RPGMaker, with a limited palette? Never been done before, no sir. But Very Retrouville does a better job of it, in my opinion, than any game like it before. The art is gorgeous, especially the talksprites that show up inside the characters' houses, and the town looks exactly like a gentle, quirky setting should. Most of these games put everything on one big main map, but I found Very Retrouville's method of organizing the town to be much easier to navigate. Separate screens! With memorable differences!

Very RetrouvailleIt's easy for me to get lost in these games, but that didn't happen in this one, and frustration was kept to a minimum. The story and characters, however, are where Very Retrouville really shines. Aside from being adorable precious babies, almost everyone Faraday meets seems like they could be the protagonist of their own little tale, if we weren't busy following Faraday. And to say much more about that would be a spoiler, but there are some well-written surprises along the way in Faraday's story, and not all of them are as innocently fluffy as the game's presentation would make you think.

I didn't expect much from Very Retrouvaille before I started playing it— I'd been on a downloading spree, and I only really got to it once I'd played through the rest of the pile— but I became absorbed in it quickly, and once it was over, my only real complaint was that it was too short: I wanted to spend more time with Faraday and friends! Give it a try, and you might be pleasantly surprised too.

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(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Flowerville

JohnBFlowerville is a simple, charming sort of platform game where you play as Goffredo the famous gardener. He has the ability to make flowers come to life just by walking in front of them, which normally isn't that handy of a skill. When all of the flowers in Flowerville start dying, though, the queen summons Goffredo immediately. It's time to put on your gardening gloves and get to work.

FlowervilleControl Goffredo with the [arrow] keys and jump using [z]. Each single-screen level is filled with flowers you must walk by in order to make them bloom. Hit the target number and make it to the exit well to complete the stage. It's not uncommon to get stuck or mess something up in the level, at which point you smack that [enter] key to restart. No worries! Helping you along the way are power-ups such as the feather that gives you a higher jump, the boots that let you double jump, and the potion that shrinks you down to size.

Flowerville is cute and simple, those are its two biggest features. The gameplay doesn't over-complicate anything, it's just a platformer with some power-ups to utilize. A gem and sticker album feature encourages you to do a little more than just smell the roses, and as you reach later levels you'll quickly realize this game isn't as easy as it first appeared. A fantastic freeware offering from Lionsoft, creator of Sprint - King of the Jungle and 8-bit Halloween.

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(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Lethal Dose

TrickyThey say that all spy fiction has a proper alcohol that goes with it. James Bond has his martinis, Jason Bourne hits hard like a case of stale beer, and clearly absinthe had something to do with the creation of the Metal Gear Solid 2. For Lethal Dose, the new interactive movie by DonkeyWoman, the drink of choice is a perfectly crafted Cosmopolitan, with a chaser of pure arsenic. In it, you play the part of a femme very fatale, carrying out assassinations against whatever poor sap has crossed someone rich enough to make them disappear. But when demons from her past begin to resurface, the choice of targets will soon end up being hers alone.

Lethal DoseLethal Dose is controlled with the [arrow] keys and [spacebar]. In top-down view mode, you'll use the arrows to move about the area and the spacebar to interact with items. The screen will often switch to a close-up of what you are doing, with on-screen directions informing you what keys need to be pressed. Though things start off easy, by the end succeeding at quick-time events and planning your strategic movement will be key to complete your missions.

Admittedly, Lethal Dose is a work that focuses on aesthetics and plotting rather than gameplay. However, it works fine as the aesthetics are gorgeous. The experience is drenched in gloriously smoky noir, and the twists of the story are perfectly conveyed through the iconic textured graphics. There's a jazzy mellowness that goes down smooth, and while the quick time events get a little repetitive (because quick time events always do), it's never boring. Lethal Dose's dose is a short one, but should be well-enjoyed by players wanting a nicely moody piece of fiction. Just don't blame us if your beverages all start looking mighty suspicious to you.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

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


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (44 votes)
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Forever Lost Episode 2

Grinnyp"Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain." Creepy music? Concrete walls? Perspicacious quotes? Yes, your adventures in the asylum are nowhere near over in Glitch Games' latest adventure, Forever Lost: Episode 2. Last year's breakout point-and-click escape hit is back to continue the story, featuring more twists, chills, and lots of classic adventuring fun.

grinnyp_foreverlostepisode2_screenshot1.pngForever Lost Episode 2 picks up right where episode one left off. After discovering that the Hawthorne Asylum you spent the previous game breaking out of was actually some sort of strange underground experiment, you emerge into the open air, ready to get out of this creepy place. Unfortunately you are a bit tired, so it might behoove you to catch a few Zs before traveling on. Refreshed, you can continue the adventure in and around Hawthorne Manor. Hey, wait, Hawthorne Manor? Is this place real or are we in yet another simulation? Hmmm...

Point and click, or, rather, tap and drag your way around the scenery, picking up useful items and solving a myriad of puzzles and mini-games on your way to finding...well, more questions than answers, really. An all new batch of puzzles and brain teasers await the adventurer as they continue their escape. Once again Glitch Games brings the amusement in a game that keeps the adventure genre fresh and fun with its mix of tricky puzzles, gorgeous (if decaying) scenery, and atmospheric music, with a scattering of in-jokes and puns throughout to lighten the mood.

grinnyp_foreverlostepisode2_screenshot2.pngAs with all really well done adventure games the point is not the destination but the journey, and Glitch Games has once again provided a top-notch expedition into the unknown. The hallmark of an excellent adventure game is not how quickly (or slowly) you can complete it, but if you want to keep going back to check out certain things that you missed the first time around, which Forever Lost: Episode 2 delivers in spades. Do you want to go back to admire the scenery, have fun in the My First Adventure tablet game, or just see if you can find the Arrested Development gag? Either way, Forever Lost: Episode 2 is the way to go.


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (30 votes)
Comments (1) | Views (3,257)

Accurate Boy

Starchild It's a beautiful, warm day, the summer holidays have just started, and you're on your way to the sewer to play with your toy boat. Don't make that disgusted face, it's a perfectly logical choice, you're hoping to meet the Ninja Turtles. Alas, your boat is abducted by the nefarious (and weirdly rectangular) sewer monsters. Accurate Boy to the rescue! You take your suction cup gun and get ready for some physics puzzle fun, made by Meetreen Games.

Accurate Boy The goal is to make the boat fall into the pipe at the bottom of the screen. To do this, you'll have to get the monsters out of the way and/or use them to help you reach your destination. You control the gun with the mouse and you can shoot from either side of the screen. When you hit a monster, it's sucked away and eliminated, unless there's an obstacle in its way. The boat is usually precariously perched on top of a pile of monsters of various sizes, so you have to use your gun wisely. As you progress, the puzzles become more complex and add elements like bombs and hilariously inflatable monsters.

There are thirty levels, and three stars to be received for each one, depending on your speed and number of shots. The difficulty increases evenly, and it makes you think, but it's always straightforward and just challenging enough. The design definitely contributes to the game's appeal, so much that you forget that you're traipsing through an icky sewer. It's quirky in a charming way and the monsters' facial expressions are priceless. Add some very pleasant music and you have a great lunch-break puzzler which will put a smile on your face.

Play Accurate Boy


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraAlright. Here's what we're gonna do. First you're going out in a fishing boat at the crack of dawn. Then I'm going to slap you around a lot. After that, you're going to walk around checking for traps for me. Then, we're going to go for a cup of coffee... where you'll probably get shot a whole bunch. Sound good?

  • Man Eats FishMan Eats Fish - In seven days, I shotgunned the entirety of Psych off Netflix. In that same time, Supermoof created a queerly addictive, if repetitive, fishing business simulation for the Fishing Jam. Each day, you putter out in your boat gathering fish to sell at your restaurant, where the type and tastiness of fish determines your customer ratings, struggling to earn enough money for upgrades. It's painfully slow and lacks a save/load function, as well as some streamlining that could have made certain aspects more palatable and yet... I keep coming back to it. Maybe, deep down inside me, there's a salty, scruffy, bearded fisherman in galoshes yearning to return to the sea. Or maybe this is just a great idea that needs further development. You decide.
  • Rose & Camellia 2Rose & Camellia 2 - We've covered it before, but with a new translation and no need to play through the original game to see the content, Nigoro's ridiculous arcade-y smack-em-up deserves another mention. You play the spiteful Saori, bitter after being ousted by her competition, an insolent young woman, and must engage in a number of, uh, stately slap-fights with various other characters to claw your way back for revenge. The premise may be ridiculous, but the haughty, fantastic style and writing makes this a simple campy pleasure.
  • The Ladder of KaliThe Ladder of Kali - Like roguelikes? Then give Benjamin Soule's oh-so-pretty and yet itty-bitty one a try, as you descend through ten levels of tricks, trap, treasure, and monsters. You're going after Kali, who is ticked at humanity and cursed everyone, but since you've been cursed to age rapidly, you might die of old age before you reach her. The game suffers a bit from having a ton of keys and some unexpectedly in-depth mechanics, which would normally be a good thing, except none of them are really that intuitive or explained very well in the game itself. But it looks fantastic and plays surprisingly well once you get the hang of it, and roguelike fans will definitely enjoy sinking their teeth into this one.
  • Coffee MafiaCoffee Mafia - Take the frenetic, one hit KO violence of Hotline Miami, strip out the story and the, uh, more creative killing, as well as the randomness, and you'd have something like JMickle's swanky arcade game about storming what appears to be a coffee house filled with thugs on each level and wiping them out before they can do the same to you. The game's best feature might be its incredibly catchy old-school soundtrack, but the fast-paced twitch action isn't bad either if you don't mind how very simplified it is.

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Rating: 4.4/5 (196 votes)
Comments (9) | Views (8,242)

The Onomastica

DoraAwww yeah, we're about to get all swanky up in here with mif2000's platforming puzzle/artsy game experience The Onomastica. Using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, you'll run, jump, and explore a typographical wonderland where the words make up the landscape... literally, and the way you interact with them can change their meaning. It's sort of like ASCIIvania, only swaggier. It's is an incredibly neat little game with a lot of clever ideas, though considering how stiff the jumping is you'll probably appreciate the word puzzling more than you will any platforming. The game is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it affair, and as a result really winds up feeling like it needs a lot more as a game to elevate it beyond simple "Hey, check this out" status. Given its linear nature, there's not much of a puzzle aspect beyond "keep moving forward", but it's such a neat little experience that you'll still want to check it out, and hopefully something we see more of in the future.

Play The Onomastica


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (57 votes)
Comments (12) | Views (24,004)

Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage

JohnBIcebreaker: A Viking Voyage is a brand new offering from Nitrome, the browser game team who are responsible for such previous casual addictions as Steamlands, Hot Air 2: All Blown Up, Skywire, and of course the rest of the Icebreaker series. This new outing marks Nitrome's first foray into the mobile realm, and judging by the depth and quality of this release, we really, really hope it isn't their last!


(19 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Where's My Mickey?

JohnBIt's a sweltering day outside. Seeing all the thirsty people gives Mickey an idea: lemonade stand! He's missing one key ingredient, however: water. Too bad it's not as simple as marching over to the sink and turning on the tap. From the creators of Where's My Water? and Where's My Perry?, the new physics-puzzle adventure Where's My Mickey? follows the same touch and drag formula as its predecessors, only with a new visual style and some few imaginative gameplay additions.

Where's My Mickey?Each level in Where's My Mickey? presents you with a maze of pipes, drains and soil. Much of the dirt can be removed by swiping your finger to draw paths. Make trails to funnel the water to the appropriate drains, collecting stars and turning switches along the way. New to the franchise are sponge-like clouds that store and release water. Use gusts of wind to move these clouds around so you can make it rain right where you need it.

Where's My Mickey? is a real animated adventure. Disney characters make cameo appearances left and right, and there's a host of animated cutscenes to keep things rolling right along. The art style is much more old school Disney rather than prim and polished modern Disney, which was a fantastic choice for Mickey's latest outing. There are over 100 levels to complete, along with some scattered bonus items to uncover that unlock bonus puzzles. It's hard to say no to more dirt-digging water collection. Where's My Mickey? takes the familiar formula and adds just the right amount of newness, making it a creative and challenging puzzle game you'll be happy to play for hours on end!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Shelter

JohnBSomebody let the zombies out, and they're on a serious rampage to get rid of the survivors! Shelter is a post-apocalyptic strategy game from Survivalist Games that distills all the running, shooting and getting your brains eaten action from surviving a zombie raid into a card game. It's surprisingly challenging and calls on more skill than just being able to place a few cards on the table. And just because zombies busting down the doors happens with cards doesn't mean it's any less thrilling.

ShelterThe game takes place on a map where you can accept missions by tapping colored pins. Enter a duel and you'll see a spread with the zombies on the top and the survivors below. The gist of these battles is you're in a shelter and the zombies are trying to get in. By playing cards from your hand or using cards from the board you can barricade the doors, reinforce the structure, or do some good old fashioned zombie splattering. Turn them into gray goo and you can call it a win. But if the zombies deal you 50 damage, it's game over.

The artwork in Shelter looks as if it were ripped straight out of a graphic novel, which is a fantastic fit for the game and setting. The difficulty slowly increases as you work your way through the map, forcing you to be more frugal with your actions and refine your deck to a true zombie killing machine. Er, defending-from machine. The game's a little slow to begin, especially with the lengthy tutorial text that keeps popping up to explain every detail about playing, but it soon picks up and will have you hooked for hours. Despite one or two awkward interface moments, Shelter is a challenging and creative card-based strategy game that's sure to give you your zombie fix!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (31 votes)
Comments (6) | Views (4,393)

Soundodger

KimberlyImagine a record spinning around, and you'll have a feel for what Soundodger from OneMrBean (Michael Molinari), is like. What's that? You don't know what a record is? How old are you anyway? Does your mom know you're on the internet? Well as long as you're here, you might as well play.

SoundodgerIn this musical avoidance game, the object is to keep away from the arrows and other shapes created by the songs. Projectiles continuously shoot out at you in time to the music, and you can shift into slow motion to help avoid these. Use your mouse or the [arrow] keys to control yourself. Click or press [shift] to slow down time, and press the escape key to pause. Your score is presented in terms of percentage of bullets dodged. Any arrows that hit you, or that exit the screen while you are in slow motion, detract from your score. A small circle begins in the middle of the screen and grows larger as the song progresses, giving you a sense of how much longer the song will last. A lightly tinted circle inside that circle gives you an idea of your score as you go along. Earning percentage points allows you to unlock more songs.

Soundodger's nothing if not pretty. You could fall into a trance-like state just enjoying the patterns the songs bring with them. But good looks are not all there is to like. While the gameplay isn't exactly innovative, the controls handle nicely and the ability to slow down time (and the music) is fun. There are plenty of interesting songs to keep you playing in a variety of styles, though they tend toward the chiptune. Once you've played through a song, zen mode for that track is unlocked. While the whole game has a zen vibe to it, during zen mode you don't take any damage. It's a way to experience the songs and patterns they make without having to worry about survival. Go ahead and turn your speakers up, your lights down, and take the game for a spin.

Play Soundodger


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (135 votes)
Comments (6) | Views (4,533)

Maze Evolution

Starchild The floor is lava! And so are the walls, the ceiling, the curtains and the coffee tables. This is the premise of Maze Evolution, a sweet new puzzle game where you have to reach the finish line without touching anything.

Maze Evolution To start a level, click on the little black star. From that point on, the star is bound to your mouse and follows its movements, so be very careful. If you so much as graze a pixel in one of the walls, you'll end up with a big, humiliating "FAIL" all over your screen. The first few levels go easy on you and serve as a kind of tutorial but, after that, you're on your own. The game's most appealing quality is that it's not static; rather, some levels respond to your movements and change as you go along. Others are moving all the time, and its up to you to catch up with parts of the maze, which makes them feel like a weird game of hopscotch. To make things more interesting, your poor little star gets occasionally shot at, so you must dodge black block bullets as well as navigate the maze. There are twenty-eight levels, each with its own quirks, but don't expect the difficulty to rise evenly. The levels are too diverse, so their individual difficulty depends a lot on your various skills and preference.

The best thing about Maze Evolution is how well the design fits in with the gameplay. The clean, two-colour scheme works perfectly in a precision game. The background colour changes as you play, but it's a subtle fading of muted shades which won't distract you. The overall effect is very stylish and a little retro, a joy to behold if you like minimalism, making it really easy to focus on the task at hand. So grab your best mouse and concentrate!

Play Maze Evolution


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Rating: 4.6/5 (113 votes)
Comments (13) | Views (10,263)

Escape from Tesshi-e's Room 2

GrinnypYou know, as a room escape enthusiast I just love a scenario where a friend/colleague/stranger locks me into a space and refuses to let me out or feed me until I've solved all the puzzles in the room. If you think that means I really, really love the escape games of Tesshi-e, well, you'd be right. If you think that means that there is something really, really wrong with me, well, you're also right, but that's besides the point. The point is that occasionally a person needs something more than just crisp visuals and clever puzzles in their escaping. Sometimes a person also yearns to need to put together random crap found in a room to construct something useful (that or a device in which to capture their kidnapper, either way is fulfilling). Good thing we have Escape from Tesshi-e's Room 2 to fill that void. (As of this writing, the game is currently Japanese only.)

grinnyp_escapetesshiesroom2_screenshot.pngThe construction comes roaring back to the forefront in Tesshi-e's latest effort. Whether you love it, hate it, or love to hate it, construction is one of those type of puzzles Tesshi-e will return to again and again, perhaps not as frequently as the wobbly picture puzzle but often enough that it has become a hallmark. This game not only brings back this fun and frustrating puzzle, but brings it back in a big way. Aside from the complex series of mind-benders, Tesshi-e is mastering the art of multiple use objects, in that the handy and helpful items you find in the room have two or more uses, making the interconnections between puzzles even tighter and more entertaining.

Tesshi-e room escapes have always been fun, but it has been nice to see them progress from something slightly above average to the standout escape games they have become today. With their multi-layered puzzles and smooth controls Tesshi-e has earned the right to stand with the giants of the room escape field. With the usual two endings (the second featuring a very familiar restaurant), Escape from Tesshi-e's Room 2 continues the trend of point-and-click fabulousness that we've come to expect.

Play Escape from Tesshi-e's Room 2


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Super School Day

JohnBSuper School Day is a quick-fire collection of mini-games from Second Impact Games. It shares a lot with titles like Wario Ware and the classic 4 Second series, though this game is out to make a mockery of them at every turn. Each round drops handfuls of extremely fast micro-games in your face, challenging you to complete them as best you can before you're whisked off to the next one. You will feel lost, you won't know what's going on, you will yell and you will fail. But you'll be laughing the whole time because hey, there's a sea urchin school uniform!

Super School DayTo start out, pick a student. Each has his or her own personality that affects which games you play and how difficult they are. You are then thrown into the craziness that is your "typical" day of school, involving things like landing a UFO, playing dodge ball, racing down the hall with fire extinguishers in rolling chairs, destroying a car with Street Fighter-style moves, and eventually trying to stop a meteorite with your bare hands.

What makes Super School Day so fun is its over-the-top personality. It knows it's a mini-game collection and it doesn't care. It throws stuff at you left and right secure in the knowledge that you're going to fail at some point. But you'll have fun doing it! Unlocking different endings is great fun, and attempting to perfect each challenge will take some work. This is a day at school, after all. You didn't expect to just show up and dance to a song about a giraffe, did you?

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (36 votes)
Comments (9) | Views (6,436)

Nam-Cap

SonicLoverAkaw-akaw-akaw-akaw... That's the sound of Nam-Cap, an innovative retro arcade game from Studio Pi�a. Billed as an arcade cabinet imported from an alternate universe, Nam-Cap takes the familiar concept of Pac-Man and turns it backwards in many ways.

Nam-CapYou play Nam-Cap, the titular heroine. Use the [arrow] keys to navigate the maze, leaving a trail of dots behind yourself. Your goal in each level is to fill the whole maze with dots (as opposed to consuming them all, obviously), but two catches make this task substantially difficult. The first catch is that the heart in the center of the maze will shrink as you lay dots, and if it disappears completely you can lay no more.

You can prolong or recover your dot-dropping privileges by catching one of the four kings that also wander the maze, forcing it to scramble back home to recover its crown. (Why kings instead of ghosts? I'm guessing it's so the spiky part can be at the top instead of the bottom.) However, that's where the second catch comes in: when you catch a king you leave a small heart behind, and if a king nabs that heart poor Nam-Cap will be temporarily weakened, not only unable to create dots but erasing every dot she passes over! Get caught while weakened by a king or at any time by the level-specific baddie, and you lose a life; lose all your lives and that's all she wrote.

Nam-CapThe thing most people overlook about creating something set in an alternate universe is that it has to make sense within that universe, ignoring our own. Nam-Cap is a little uneven in that area; seeing the kill screen at the very beginning of the game is just odd, but on the other hand, "Work Began" as a substitute for "Game Over" makes sense because once you're done gaming, it's time to get to work. The developers might have just gotten lucky there, though.

But that's not what matters to us; what matters is how fun the game is, and this game is definitely fun. Despite the reversal, Nam-Cap captures everything that made Pac-Man entertaining, from the alternating pursuit towards and from the four other parties in the maze to the panic when you thought you'd finished the level but really there's one little spot of the maze you haven't gotten to yet. There are even little cartoons between some levels, like in the original arcade Pac-Man, although they make slightly less sense because they're attempted direct adaptions. The game has its inherent flaws, like confusion about what needs to be covered in dots and what doesn't, but those are easily overlooked in an otherwise entertaining game.

Are you ready? Excuse me... are you ABLE??

Play Nam-Cap


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Rating: 4.6/5 (36 votes)
Comments (12) | Views (7,821)

I Hate Candy

DoraYou will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Of course, I'm talking about the Candy Planet, and I Hate Candy. Or at least, the sullen mercenary hero of Cup of Fun's platforming shooter does, so it's bad luck for him that he's been sent to the sugary sweet world to rescue a bunch of scientists. Seems like candy might just hate him back, too, since the world is full of stuffed animals waiting to pelt him with the stuff, walls covered in sticky-sweet goo that make it impossible for him to climb, bottomless pits... not exactly a warm welcome. Use the [arrow] keys to move and hold [spacebar] to fire, keeping an eye on the temperature meter in the upper left corner so you don't overheat. Your goal is to find and rescue the scientist in each stage, blasting any toddling toys in your way and... uh... nabbing their souls for upgrades, which isn't creepy at all. You'll automatically grab onto and hang from any wall you jump against unless it's covered in slippery goop, so make sure to explore every part of each level to find all the power-ups and secrets.

I Hate CandyProvided you don't find the idea of gunning down toys that actually seem to think they're doing you a favour by showering you with painful treats, there's something delightfully weird about the whole tongue-in-cheek premise, and the great design doesn't hurt either. The spiteful, grudging tone of the alien hero and the gleefully oblivious toy enemies clash in a great way It feels like a few minor tweaks would really have gone a long way towards making the game a lot smoother, however. A map to keep track of where you are in the enormous levels, for instance, and a bit more variety in the environments, which sadly wind up mostly looking and playing the same apart from a few minor style changes. Still, I Hate Candy is one of those games with such a great style and sardonic charm that it's still worth checking out. A remarkable amount of work has clearly gone into it, and though it's begging for a more fleshed out sequel, I Hate Candy is a fun, snarky platformer with a lot of levels to explore and blast through.

Play I Hate Candy


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The Vault

TrickyIt's time to get a little dark and griddy! And by that, I mean, this week in the JayIsGames Vault, we're featuring some of the greatest grid-based games for you to gleefully go and grok. It's so hip to be square!

  • Back to the Cubeture: Era 1Back to the Cubeture: Era 1 - Confession time: this fair reviewer had actually never come into contact with EdibleCastle's humorous Cuboy before encountering this 2009 point-and-click game. But, as advertising methods for your flash cartoon series goes, putting together a hilarious isometric adventure where a cheerfully oblivious protagonist turns the world of the wild west into his whimsical playground has to be among the best. Polished, hilarious, and unabashedly oddball, Back to the Cubeture: Era 1 will definitely put an angular smile on your face.
  • GridzGridz - Originally this puzzler by Atomic Cicada was released merely as "Grid", before being semi-sequeled semi-remade in 2009 with a "z" attached to the end of the title. And that added little bit of EXTREME SPELLING made all the difference, since Gridz is a true classic. It's a joy to see how the mish-mash of presented pipe-segments coalesces into an elegant solution. Perhaps it's just my latent OCD coming through, but when I'm somehow able to put order into the chaos of each of Gridz's forty levels, I get the sense that things are somehow being made right in the world.
  • Grid GameGrid Game - Finally, before this edition of The Vault goes off the grid, I'd like to share with you this charming little chain reaction webtoy. Released by Mark James in 2005, Grid Game feels like it would be as at home on your office-top desk as it does on your computer screen. The simplicity of clicking a cell, which then rotates a cell next to it, rippling out in a cascade of clicks and chirps is strangely beautiful. The "high score" function was definitely a devious inclusion on the part of the developer, since it just about guarantees that I won't be able to stop playing until my coffee break has well and truly disappeared in a flurry of rotating circles. Totally worth it.

While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!


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Little Luca

JohnBLittle Luca from Glowingpine Studios is a unique one button physics puzzle game that puts you in control of a bunch of floating colored things that change shape. Really! As two friends gazed upon the peaceful night sky something terrible happened. Stars fell from their perches, leaving behind a glowing red void. And the only person/creature that can set things right is you. Time to get wobbling!

Little LucaLevels in Little Luca are filled with objects the game itself describes as "wibbly-wobbly morphing" things. All you have to do is touch the forms to change their shape, using momentum and physics to catapult around the stage to collect stars and make it to the exit. Each shape morphs in a different manner when activated, leaving you some room to experiment and practice your timing before you get a perfect score. In later levels you'll unlock new things to play with, including gravity wells, tractor beams, whales, and maybe even a volcano.

The music and artwork in Little Luca deserves a mention, as both are spectacular in their own right. The game is a bit on the challenging side, but because everything in the world is so happy and cheerful, you never get frustrated, just motivated. Getting the hang of Little Luca takes some time, as it isn't your usual puzzle game by any means. But it's got all the ingredients of a solid mobile release, and you'll happily sit down and poke each little wobbly blob until the sky is filled with stars once again!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (158 votes)
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Bustermcthundersticks

DoraHe ain't Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All, but we love him just the same. He's Bustermcthundersticks, and he so happens to be a point-and-click puzzle game by Ninjadoodle, where the aim is to track down 33 tiny ninjas hiding throughout a house filled with tricks and puzzles. To play, just point, click, and drag to interact and keep your eyes open for clues that will tell you how to use the devices in each room.

BustermcthundersticksBustermcthundersticks is a weird name for an even weirder game, but it makes for a great snack-sized piece of puzzling that won't weigh you down... though you will have to contend with getting that soundtrack stuck in your head. While a few of the ninjas are simple reflex grabs, tracking down the others requires both an eye for detail and deciphering contextual clues that at first glance either don't make much sense or seem like simple decoration. Some of the puzzles are definitely more obscure than others, so don't be afraid to experiment or bang on walls if you need to. Short, stylish and sweet makes for a great casual gaming trifecta, and Bustermcthundersticks is another welcome little gem from Ninjadoodle to brighten your day. Now if you excuse me, I have to go inform my husband about his new nickname.

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  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (32 votes)
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Sokoboom

DoraIn-Finity's Sokoboom may look all sweet and innocent, but this simple puzzle game hides a devious difficulty curve... you may want to take the dark circles around our protagonist's eyes as a warning, because he's clearly been up all night with this one. Using [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, push each crate into a square on the floor with an X in it to open the portal to the next level. That's all. Easy, right? But despite not tacking on a lot of bells and whistles, Sokoboom's tight level design will tie your brain in knots. The downside is that the undo button, which only undoes a single move, feels too restrictive to really be useful, since unless you're going slowly and methodically it's far too easy to accidentally push a single block a few steps too far and be forced to restart the entire stage... which, considering how tidy and intricate the levels become, can be very frustrating. But with a clean presentation, Sokoboom serves up the sort of well thought out puzzling that shows you don't need a lot to be challenging. Just your wits... and apparently to have your hair styled by Javier Bardeem in his No Country For Old Men phase.

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  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (39 votes)
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Life Sciences

KinetikaiBiology was never my strong suit in school. All those mitochondria and phylums and mitosis... meh. Luckily, you don't have to know your genes from your jeans to make it through Life Sciences, a new room escape by Rose Key. The game takes place inside your standard, four-walled room decorated with the theme of — you guessed it — life sciences. Make your escape, or be forever trapped amongst pictures of parameciums and DNA!

Life SciencesIt's a simple but charming affair, and no heavy science knowledge is required for success — most of the puzzles are color-based. While some clicking areas are mildly fiddly, a changing cursor alleviates most of the pixel-hunting woes. The puzzles are definitely on the easier side, but they still have a nice logical flow, making for the perfect little coffee break escaper. So grab your bunsen burners and your graduated cylinders and try to make your way out of the room of Life Sciences!

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Mobile Monday

JohnBWe're back with more games! More specifically a free game, a game that's on sale with a price that happens to be free, and a game about punching fish that isn't free but is close to it!

puzzleretreat-p.gifFree game: Puzzle Retreat - Earlier this year, The Voxel Agents released Puzzle Retreat. The game proceeded to rule our mobile devices with an iron fist, attracting our attention more than any other game. And for good reason, too: it's one of the most polished and entertaining puzzle games out there! To celebrate its awesomeness, Puzzle Retreat is currently free for iOS devices. The sale could end at any moment now, though, so be quick!

applebin-p.gifFree game: Apple Bin - Sometimes you just wanna throw some apples around. Apple Bin from Ruxar is a physics puzzle game that gives you a cannon full of apples and challenges you to do all sorts of stuff with them. Well, mainly get them in the bin using as few shots as possible, but in order to reach the bin you've got to avoid dangerous things and move some junk out of the way. Like giant concrete boulders, wooden planks, sawblades, portals, crates, gravity inversions, etc. It's a simple idea with a great implementation, and it's completely free from in-app purchases and all that other rubbish many mobile games like to feature. Just plain old apple-based puzzle solving! (Android / Windows Phone)

fishpuncher-p.gifAlmost free: Fish Puncher - Guess what this game's about? The official description says it best: "In a near-future dystopia, psychotic demon fish have enslaved humanity (for some reason or another - Global warming, probably). It's up to you, the Fish Puncher, to liberate us all in a convenient, two-minute burst of frantic arcade-style action. Punch stuff, punch more stuff, get a high score, be a hero." (Android)


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Rating: 4.7/5 (30 votes)
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Crazy Machines Golden Gears

JohnBCrazy Machines Golden Gears is a new addition to the Crazy Machines series of physics building/puzzle games. The franchise has made the leap from downloadable desktop game to the mobile world, bringing with it all the challenge, creativity and, well, crazy machines you can imagine. If Rube Goldberg only knew the kind of legacy he would leave to the casual gaming world.

Crazy Machines Golden GearsIf you've played the other Crazy Machines games or the granddaddy of all contraption-building games The Incredible Machine, you'll know exactly where to begin. Each level has a simple goal to accomplish, things like popping a balloon, getting a toy truck to the exit, or guiding a fragile vase to a marked platform. You do this by arranging an inventory of over 75 different contraptions, each more unusual than the last. How about dropping a basketball on that wind-up mouse to hit a button to set off the laser that pops the balloon? Or wiring up a logic gate that powers a boiling kettle that will move a turbine that pulls a conveyor belt? Yeah, you can do that. And it's awesome.

As the name suggests, golden gears play a big part in the mobile release of Crazy Machines. You're rewarded heaps of them based on how efficiently you solved each level, and in order to unlock additional stages, you've got to spend gears like mad. Two simple in-app purchases can help you in that department, and along with them you can gain access to a level editor as well as user-made levels. There are hundreds of custom stages to play, so if the main game isn't enough, Crazy Machines can still deliver!

Crazy Machines Golden Gears has made an easy transition to the mobile realm. Touch screen controls are flawless and it couldn't be simpler to place, arrange or remove items from the inventory. Now all you have to do is figure out how to solve these intricate puzzles and you're good to go!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.