Pocketwatch getting slow? Household appliances grumbling at you in low tones? It may seem a little cramped to you and me, but we have it on good authority from Charlie Oscar that there actually are 'gremlins in the works': microscopic, urbane, amoral creatures infiltrating any machine or device they possibly can and then exploiting them to enact their own nefarious schemes in their tiny steampunk towns! If Terry Pratchett picked Monopoly and morally bankrupt tycoonism as his subject and made it a board and card game rather than a novel, the single and online multiplayer Gremlins, Inc. would be the result. In their miniature world of 'civilized' chicanery and subterfuge gremlins attempt to outdo each other for prestige, influence and lucre — typically spending more of their efforts pranking and sabotaging each others' agendas than accomplishing anything of their own. Bribing officials, rigging elections, attempting to build the occasional mechanical achievement for the prestige that brings with it, robbing each other blind and setting dirty traps to ensnare their competitors, the gremlin life is anything but simple and these little guys resemble political cartoon caricatures more than anything else. Despite its multiplayer aspects and its card game appearance, Gremlins, Inc. is a full, complete indie game without any in-app purchases whatsoever. Buy it the once, and it's yours for good.
December 2015 Archives
After a space anomaly you, Captain Welmu for the Spacefleet, end up on the far side of the galaxy all alone with only your A.I unit to keep you company. On your way to returning home you run into a weak signal for help coming from a planet called Hox. Decided to appease your curiosity you go down to see if you can help, only, of course, to end up getting into your own predicament. Can you find a way to get off the planet or find who needs your help or maybe find a way to kill two birds with one stone? The Captain is just a small demo of the much larger planned game by SysiacGames. But if the game is anything like this demo, we'll all be anxiously awaiting the final product. This point-and-click adventure game feels like a teaser for something big and great by being something small, but great. With three different endings and an intro to the kind of gameplay and characters we can expect to see in the future project it still feels like a game on its own.
Times are tough for murderers these days with the Investigator prowling the streets solving crimes left and right, always with a handy sidekick. There is no case that has gone unsolved since Investigator the Alligator has come along, and with his sidekicks to help him, he's sure to always have an audience to appreciate his brilliance, and all his puns, too. In Investigator and the Case of the Chekhov's Gun, a point-and-click adventure mystery by The Sky & the Sea, you investigate a fishy suicide. Playing as Bad Luck Duck, the Investigator's faithful right-hand-man for this case, find the clues scattered about and help interrogate the people of interest. You can click on items when the mouse turns into a magnifying glass, and then clicking on each interrogation room will give you your questioning options. While that's about all there is to this simple game, the mystery is still puzzling and will keep you thinking up until the time when the pressure is on to condemn someone to the crime. With its short length, it's the perfect pick-me-up for your day during your break. If a murder most foul brightens your day, that is.
I think everyone gets a little antsy when the end of the year begins to loom... after all, we've got a tradition. We all know the new year can't officially start unless Mateusz Skutnik leads us on a little point-and-click puzzle adventure to find it! Thankfully, Where is 2016? is here, and now we can stop worrying we're trapped inside some horrible temporal loop! To play, just click to interact with the scene, keeping an eye out for when the mouse changes shape to show you something is there. Don't let the ominous music scare you away... you'll need to hunt through various places to activate pieces of machinery tucked away in every nook and cranny of different scenes, all rendered in beautiful sharp photography. Where is 2016? is a bit more of a straight-forward hidden-object search than you might expect, with most of the difficulty coming from finding hotspots to click on in each area, and some of them are very sneaky. But, well... you're not going to leave us trapped in 2015 forever, are you?
Up and at 'em, escaperinos! Wednesday waits for nobody, and Weekday Escape has arrived to make it a little more bearable through the judicious application of puzzles, puzzles, and more puzzles. This week! A reader sends us an escape game with an old school feel and one whopper of a captor. A tree that isn't trimmed is no tree at all, so you'll need to wade through some cuteness to get it set up. And there are chores to be done before you can leave, because developers have given up all pretense of pretending that they really aren't making us do their grunt work for them!
When the castle is filled to the ramparts with demons, there's only one name to call in Ye Old Yellowe Pages-e, and that's you! In Eyesteam's action-packed platformer Diseviled, this particular monster-squashing job has you fighting your way to the basement to retrieve the magic book that's the source of all the castle's woes. Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move and jump, and [C] or [L] to attack. Your health and mana are represented in the upper-left corner, so keep an eye on those, and activate any flag checkpoints you find too... juuuust in case you need to respawn. Enemies drop coins to improve your score and potions to heal you, but you'll need to be spry to avoid traps and other nastiness. It's all very similar to Eyesteam's Call of Sword, though its abandoned double-jumping for much easier to use ledges. Diseviled is still a little too slow and kludgy for the fast-paced combat it wants to have, though the lack of any penalty makes respawning a snap... plus, it's cute in a blood-soaked sort of way. So get demon-stomping!
When you get some chilling omens in the middle of the night it's best to put up your guard. This farmer learned it the hard way when his prized sheep Lucy was carried away by a dragon. Now the heroic farmer is now off to save his pet with the help of his super pig and perhaps some folks he meets along the way. Though high up in these far away parts the natives here only seemed to response to violence. Beat the foes, gain new heroes and save your sheep in Wooood's Farmer Quest. In this different kind of RPG, your attacks are based on matching three or more icons to gain more attack power, build defense, heal yourself up, getting gold, or attacking the enemy. But this match-3 game is unusual from the rest as you're sharing the board with your enemy, and in this turn-based fighting system you have to think ahead and get the best match first before your opponent. Click and drag your desired shape to its match. This family friendly game is all about buying upgrades to improve your hero and unlock their secret move. Probably on the easier side of things, this game is just made to be enjoyed by all.
Need a new mobile game to engage your brain? In Fun Pipe, an engaging new puzzle game by Xuan Hu, you are presented with brilliantly colored pipes to position correctly. Just tap to rotate a tile until each colored pipe makes a continuous track. It sounds simple, and it certainly starts out that way. But before long you'll have to slow down and plan your moves very carefully if you want to come away with all three stars.
In MadPuffers' Madmen Racing 2, just like the original physics-driven racing game, you're racing across a series of chaotic tracks against other wacky characters to take home the gold to better upgrade your character or unlock new ones. Use the [arrow] keys to accelerate, brake, and turn flips in midair, use [X] to trigger any powerups you may have nabbed to waylay your opponents, hold [Z] to use your Nitro boost, and hit [C] to jump. Each level has bonus objectives to complete to earn even more cash, and the variety of courses to flip, blast, and power slide your way through will keep you playing for a long time, though bold parodies aside, not every character is all that tasteful. It's weird, silly, and over-the-top, but what else can you expect from a game where you can play as a barely disguised Star Wars reference doing flips underwater against a Playboy Bunny in a carrot?
If you're a monster, Halloween is probably the most romantic night of the year, and Frankie has his eyes set on Countess Bela... too bad she's not interested unless he can bring her something sweet to eat. In point-and-click adventure Monster Love from Carmel Games, you'll have to help Frankie search the town for some candy if he stands a chance with the ghoul of his dreams, but of course, nothing is ever simple when it comes to love. The cursor will change when it passes over something you can click on to interact with, and if you get stuck, try combining any items you're carrying. You'll need to help the townsfolk before Frankie can get his hot (or cold? can vampires get hot?) date, but this is one treat that's going to be a short bite, and that's no trick.
Funkyland has a real problem with housekeeping. I mean, I'm beginning to suspect these aren't escape games after all... they just won't let us leave until we've cleaned up and helped them find what they were looking for! In Alice House 2 No.05: Wool and Water, it's five items bearing a sheep's likeness, and as usual, it's complicated by the fact that there are sneaky puzzles everywhere... though, if you're crunched for time, don't worry, since as usual, Funkyland's games fit perfectly inside a coffee break. There's no changing cursor to show you what's interactive, so just click around the room to search yourself. If you want to try using an item you're carrying, click the object in your inventory at the bottom of the screen, then wherever you want to try to use it. Most of the puzzles here will be straightforward since there's no much to search through, so as long as you pay attention to the more obvious clues, you'll be wool gathering in no time, though some puzzles are sneakier than you'd think.
Remember Taylor? The science student turned stranded survivor in Lifeline? Well assuming you played that choose your own adventure game til you found the best possible ending and didn't leave Taylor to die a horrible death in the hands of aliens, the most pop-culture literate character I've ever encountered is back in 3 Minute Game's sequel to the original interactive story, Lifeline: Silent Night, written by Dave Justus, for your mobile device. Taylor's been rescued by a mining ship but after a few uneventful weeks, the crew is awakened by an alarm indicating an unidentified craft is heading their way. Remembering how much you helped during the last crisis, the astronaut decides to contact you for advice again. Are the newcomers friendly or agressive? Will your choices help or hurt your friend?
Ben and Elizabeth were a nice young couple who had a nasty car accident. The hidden-object adventure handbook says that one of them should wake up in some backwater town, while the other one goes missing, presumably kidnapped by a creature with vague supernatural powers. Well, this ain't that sort of game. Elizabeth dies. Ben keeps seeing her in his dreams which torture him, until, one night, a dream seeps into reality. He receives a ticket which takes him to an abandoned amusement park. Maybe he will meet his wife there? Could they somehow be together again? The Last Dream by Specialbit Studio is an unusual, surreal story of loss, grief, but also of bravery and perseverance as long as there's so much as a glimmer of hope.
Aries Escape is throwing another Christmas party for you and your good friends, but no sooner do you show up when you find yourself locked inside by yourself! After all, true friends know what you want for the holiday... an escape game to puzzle your way out of, and Aries Escape No. 21: X'mas 2015 is just the ticket. The cursor will change when it passes over something you can click on to interact with, and items you're carrying can be viewed up close by double-clicking them, which may reveal new surprises. Don't be scared of the headless torso in the bottom right corner, that actually represents you, and if you get stuck, try using items on yourself. There are two possible endings in this game, provided you can stop dancing like a maniac to the peppy soundtrack, so don't be in a hurry to leave even when you think you've found the way out. There are sneaky puzzles and cryptic clues galore scattered around this cozy bar, but as long as you leave no stone unturned and make the most of everything you've got, it'll be no match for you.
It's not every year Link Dump Friday falls on Christmas day, so if you're celebrating, have a very merry holiday, and don't shake that present from me under the tree too hard before you open it. I mean... I did get you that puppy, after all, and they get sick easily. We've got a whole bunch of clouds who just can't get along, a Santa who's determined to ring a little cheer into people to wring out some cash, a witch who's cursed a bunch of presents, and a Santa who needs some serious defense against some crazy baddies.
Feeling Christmassy? You will when you play TomaTea's escape game Escape 2015, which goes all out with holiday music, presents, gingerbread, toys, and decorations galore... not to mention a lonely Christmas tree outside. As usual, the tip of the game's cursor will glow when it passes over something you can click on to interact with, and if you haven't seen the corresponding clue for a puzzle you're looking at, the game will flat-out tell you that you have no idea how to solve it. You'll need to find a whole passel of presents, but also puzzle pieces and more, so click the little "i" that appears when you mouse over something you're carrying to view it up close... you might learn something new, or just use it to keep track of how many pieces of a particular item group you're missing. Because this is a TomaTea game, clues to solve puzzles are hidden everywhere, some of them not-so-obviously in plain sight, so if you get stuck, take another look at your festive furnishings. Escape 2015 strikes just the right balance of puzzle difficulty, making it the perfect choice to cozy up with whether you're celebrating Christmas, or getting ready to ring in the New Year...
What kind of Christmas would it be if not for the hard work of Santa's elves? Pencilkids may have hidden them away in each stage of their point-and-click puzzle game Monkey GO Happy Elves, but that's no cause for alarm... with a little help from a sniffly simian, we can find each twee toymaker and make our Monkey GO Happy! In each level, you've got to solve a different puzzle to figure out how to find the hidden elf. It may be as simple as figuring out what to click on, or it may be a little more complicated and require some more thought or fast reflexes. In general, however, this one is definitely easy enough to bring the kids in on, and as a bonus, you get to tell them they saved Christmas! Cheerful, silly, and definitely Christmassy, Monkey GO Happy Elves is 21 levels of easy but fun holiday cheer.
After over ten years, the final plot in Mateusz Skutnik's beloved, cryptic point-and-click adventure series of Submachine games comes to a close with Submachine 10: The Exit. Our review is on the way, but in the meantime you can play the game here or on the official site, where you can also buy Submachine 10: The Exit in HD to support the developer. Are you ready for the final chapter in a decade of adventure... ?
Can you imagine? There are some people who are able to get up and function through the rest of their week without a fresh infusion of free online escape games to get them through Wednesday. What weirdos! For all us sane folk who know puzzles are the way to go for Hump Day, Weekday Escape has arrived, and with three developers riding merrily with it. Vitamin Hana's cats have been trapped again, and before you can be freed, you need to free them. Esklavos has a bunch of presents you need to gather before you can lay a finger aside of your nose. And Twinkle celebrates Christmas with all the right decorations and a few puzzles sprinkled in to make them shine.
When life starts feeling a little bland perhaps it's time to go and look for some color to put the jazz back into your step... while at the same time letting you see where you can step. Saturated by Elliott Mahler and George Li, the latter part of the team that brought us the adorable Undivided, is about a colorless little fellow trying to move on every level by using the balls of color scattered around the large nearly empty rooms. In this platform puzzler when you touch a color, the background changes to match, and you are no longer able to see the red platforms, but the blue and green platforms now can stand out brightly. When you need the red platforms, then touch one of the other color orbs, and the color platforms that match will be saturated into the background. There are a few different types of platforms... the moving ones, solid ones you have to jump on top of, and the thin ones you can jump up through. Find the right times to change the colors and jump your way to the gate to lead you to your unknown reward. The levels are long, but there are only four of them so there isn't a reason you couldn't go help get some color back into this hatted hero's life.
Looking for a puzzle game that'll spin you right 'round, baby, right 'round? Moocho Brain's Rancho Ranch, originally conceived for Ludum Dare, has you covered. Aliens are harassing farms again, you see, and these crop circles they've beamed into the earth have trapped the critters in their loops, which is a problem since animals are happiest when they're all grouped with others of the same type. Click either half of the left or right circle to rotate the animals surrounding it back and forth, with a goal of shuffling them into order until all matching animals are touching in an unbroken line. You can take as many tries as you want to get it right, but the number beside the star at the bottom of the screen shows how many moves you can use for a perfect rating, so use the left-facing arrow button to undo your last move, or hit the dual arrows to restart the level. Though it gets a little repetitive, Rancho Ranch tosses in other elements like hawks you must keep your chickens away from, foxes that will go after goats, hunger, thirst, and more animal types, to make each of the game's 40 levels a challenge. It's simple, sure, but it's also simply smart for players of all ages looking for a polished little puzzle game that's big on charm to twist their brain.
The humans are still struggling against the alien race that conquered the earth. With poisonous air, radiation leaks, alien beasts, mecha suits, and spaceships, there doesn't seem there is much a human can do with a handful of ammo and a pistol. But if you played the original Earth Taken, or the sequel ,you know that firearms and food rations go a long way. That's right, SeethingSwarm is back with a new addition to their action adventure scifi shooter, Earth Taken 3. All of the mechanics have stayed the same. Move with the [arrow ]keys, fire with [A], jump or double-jump with [S], reload your weapon with [R] and switch between them with [Q]. There are still trash cans and dead bodies to search with the [spacebar], and cars and barrels to explode with a couple of shots to give you the upper hand when you're going head-to-head with the aliens and brainwashed humans. There are more quests to be done, upgrades to buy and achievements to figure out. Keeping with everything we love there are plenty of secrets to find, allies to join with and endless alien butts to kick. And with a new character creation, you can do it all in your own personal style.
[Note: Please be aware that this game contains themes of abuse and torture.]
It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again. There. Okay. Phew. It's out of my system, I swear. As Eipix Entertainment's hidden-object adventure Phantasmat: Behind the Mask opens, you've just arrived for a family reunion thrown by your estranged cousin Patrick, whose decision to have the party at the world's least inviting remote Gothic mansion, complete with cryptic warnings about "missing the main event", somehow fails to set off any warning bells whatsoever. Ditto the fact that the key to the place is describe as a "face in agony", and the whole place feels like it's set its soundtrack to Silent Hill, but hey, what do I know about foreshadowing. Once inside, you find yourself in odd company, with an assortment of eccentric relatives, each with their own specialty, but making awkward dinner conversation is the least of your worries when you suddenly find yourself trapped inside. All you want to do is get out, but someone has other plans for you, and it looks like this is one family tree you might want to cut yourself out of...
In Wolve Games' Metroidvania-style puzzle platformer Sprout, made in just 72 hours for Ludum Dare, you're a little mutant that's just dropped (squelched? popped?) into being. You don't have much... no eyes, not even legs... in fact, you're just a head! But if you try exploring, who knows what you'll find in this strange place full of switches, secrets, tunnels and more? Use [A] and [D] to roll left and right initially, and other controls will be explained to you as you find the parts to activate them. [W] to jump with legs, for instance, as well as activate certain things, and the [arrow] keys to shoot when you gain an eye. Though the controls can be a little clunky, or rather, navigating some of the terrain can, Sprout still manages to be pretty charming and intriguing as you explore and figure out how the various parts of your environment work, with some pretty clever interactions. Give it a try, and be sure to visit its Ludum Dare page to vote for it in the competition!
[Note: This game contains content that may be upsetting to some people. Please refer to the warnings on the official website to learn more if you are concerned.]
Every family has its problems, but Shuuki's has never been the same since the accidental death of his twin sister four years ago. The blame landed on Shuuki's older brother Natsume, who's now nowhere near as reliable as he used to be, though he tries his best to take care of Shuuki and their brother, Masaharu, even though none of them are as close as they used to be. Still, they all care for one another, even if none of them quite know how to express it or can get along for long enough to try. That all changes the day Shuuki discovers Natsume murdered, and a stranger offers him to a chance to fix everything... but nothing is ever that simple. In Cyanide Tea's gorgeous indie visual novel thriller Break Chance Memento, Shuuki finds himself not only desperately trying to save his family, but on the hunt for a time-skipping serial killer who can't be stopped by ordinary means. Using his new ability to travel through time using objects that connect to specific dates and people, Shuuki is certain he can fix everything... all he needs is enough time, and he has all the time in the world... right? A thrilling adventure with engaging characters and more than enough heart to go around makes Break Chance Memento one to catch.
Happy Link Dump Fridaymas! It comes but once a week, so make the most of it, and provided you were wishing for a trio of free online games to poke at, your wishes will even come true on this rarest of holidays! This week! Mad Puffers goes all out in an incremental idle clicker game that makes reference to almost everything. Krutovig locks you up and throws away the key behind some mysterious contraptions and pixel hunting. And Moon Monky introduces you to a family who should maybe stop fiddling with arcane arts if they can't keep imprisoning their souls in gems accidentally.
If you're ever feeling blue, just go play a Sanpoman escape game, and I guarantee you won't be quite so sad anymore, though you may need to lie down for a while to process the cuteness. In Ladybug Room, which is not as over-the-top adorable as Sanpoman's other games but is still pretty cute, as you might expect you're locked up somewhere with a ladybug motif, and a despondent ladybug in the corner. There's no English text, but there's also no language barrier to playing... your cursor will change when it passes over something you can click on to interact with, and your can examine items you're carrying by clicking the item first, and then the "?" button below your inventory. Though the room may look sparse, there are a lot of clever puzzles in it, and many of them will likely require you to take a second look at the clues you find, as the game is excellent at sneakily playing with your perceptions and hiding things... even in places you think you've already looked! It's still not a very long game, but it makes up for it by being a smart one with a great design that makes you enjoy every second. Ladybug Room represents exactly the sort of escape game we wish there were more of... just the right size for a break, cleverly designed, and cute as the proverbial button without being saccharine. Do yourself a favour and play it!
Note: Special thanks to staalmedia for providing JayisGames with an add-free version!
You'd think by now the pirates of staalmedia's Flooded Village series of puzzle games would have moved somewhere a little less arid. Maybe then they wouldn't need to divert so many rivers and lakes to float their boats and grow their Christmas trees. But I suppose then we wouldn't have Flooded Village Xmas Eve 4, also available for iOS and Android, where once again you need to click tiles to remove them and divert water to where it's needed. Water will flow into any open space it can, and you need it to be adjacent to all things that need it, such as trees and pirate boats, to win the level, though if water comes in contact with ice it'll freeze solid and won't be able to flow, and of course, you don't want to drown any hapless elves. The fewer moves you complete a stage in, the better your star rating, and as gamers we are contractually required to love stars. Though by now a familiar mechanic and concept, Flooded Village Xmas Eve 4 is a cute and fun little puzzle game no matter what the season.
When it comes to Christmas, some people aren't happy unless they go all out and blind their neighbours with dazzling lights and decorations, and if you were to, say, encounter A Christmas Blackout right as your house was about to be judged to win a decorating competition (to win all you can eat gingerbread, no less!), why, that would be the worst. Possible. THING. So help our heroine in this short holiday point-and-click adventure by Carmel Games as she tries to get the lights back on before the judging committee has to go. Just click on things to interact! The icon will change depending on whether you can pick something up or otherwise fiddle with it, and clicking an item on your inventory will make sure it tries to be used with the next thing you click on. It won't take you long to light up the night, though one puzzle may be a little unintuitive, so let's just hope she shares some of that sweet gingerbread victory with us! I'm probably not going to ask if she doesn't, though. You do not mess with people who go so far as to put up Christmas wallpaper.
Ding! Another installment of Weekday Escape is ready to come out of the oven, baked to flaky, rich perfection by three of your favourite escape game developers, and ready to be eaten all by yourself in one sitting. This week! MayMay's kitchen may be a little weird and involved more code cracking than you're used to, but there's pie in your future. Primera would like a masterpiece, though maybe they should have left the paints and brushes out for us then? And Funkyland's not going to let us open any presents or have any sweets until we track down some eyeliner.
[Note: Please be warned that this game contains some graphic violent content some players may find upsetting. Read the rest of the review for details.]
Rusty Lake, as we all know by now, is a very special place, but you might want to think twice before you check into the Rusty Lake Hotel, no matter how scenic it is, because you never know what, or who, is on the menu. In the developer's first paid title, a surreal point-and-click puzzle game available as a download for Windows and Mac, or on Android and iOS, a group of six guests have just arrived, and it's up to you to make sure their stay is... pleasant. They're all there for their own reasons and expect you to give them what they want, and that includes serving them up fine dining every day. Your toady chef is only to happy to whip up three star recipes, but you'll need to find the ingredients yourself. On a wholly unrelated note, why don't you pay a visit to your guests after hours... ?
Sometimes I like to pretend Vitamin Hana is a magical fairy who leaves little escape games everywhere to brighten the day. In Take Me By Magnet Escape, the room looks barren, so you'll need a keen eye for detail (and the willingness to track down some unintuitive hotspots given the lack of changing cursor) if you want to pick the clues out of this apparent emptiness that will allow you to escape. Just click on things to interact and move around the room, and don't forget to examine items you're carrying with the About Item button... you never know what you might see up close when you fiddle with it! You'll actually go a while before you see hide nor hair of a magnet, mostly because magnets have neither hide nor hair, but before you start lighting torches and waving pitchforks, yelling, "WE WERE PROMISED MAGNETS", patience. Vitamin Hana always delivers, and despite some fiddly hotspots, so does this short little game when it comes to bite-sized escapery goodness.
The era of mechanized servitude under the auspices of Prime Leader Bedlor were thought to be over. But it turns out to be hard to keep one of those squishy meat-sacks down. Now Bedlor is releasing a string of ever-evolving flesh creatures sure to strike fear in any robot's heart equivalent. It's up to super-fighting robot iZBOT to defeat the organic menace, once and for all. iZBOT is a retro action-platform game by Daniel Spruce and Ruxar, where you take control of a fast-moving, double-jumping, wall-sliding hero of cyber-justice as he battles to make the world safe for non-humankind.
Once thought to be all but a myth, Vikings have cropped up once again and this time they are under your command. The Last Vikings, by Springloaded, is labeled as an RPG but isn't really quite so. It has you building boats, gaining recruits, grooming your heroes, and of course crushing village walls, raiding their homes and marking your empire to be the strongest vikings around! This free mobile game can be played online where you can engage in PvP against your friends or strangers, or, if you'd rather just enjoy crushing your nonhuman controlled enemies in singleplayer, you can do that too. But in order to do either you must gain resources, upgrade your weapons and heroes by destroying the gate of any city you find, and then finishing off their armies within. Fight off cannonballs and sea monsters while keeping your men rowing strong, and then battle head-to-head with endless bosses to keep your viking ancestors proud. You'll have to be quick with your fingers because it's all about timing and reflexes with a little bit of strategy mixed in.
I know what you're thinking. Christmas escape games are nice, but what if they were also super cute? Well, wonder no more, because Yonashi has unwrapped Christmas Toy Room, and it's got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, but instead of whozits and whatsits galore, we've got all manner of teddy bears, toy trains, decorations, puzzles and more. Just click on things to interact and more around the room. Objects you can use highlight with a transparent silhouette when you mouse over them, and you can view items you're carrying close up by clicking on the little magnifying glass on their icon. Some of the puzzle mechanisms you'll encounter are pretty clever, so make sure to keep an eye on your surroundings to see if something may have changed elsewhere in the room as you fiddle with things. Christmas Toy Room is a great little holiday escape that'll entertain you and make you think without overstaying its welcome... but hopefully you won't have to be the one doing all the wrapping for these toys!
From the makers of Egg Knights and Caravan Beast comes another real-time strategy RPG where it's all about unlocking those sweet, sweet heroes, not to mention upgrading your items, finding hidden secrets and coming up with the perfect duo to take on each level. Vault of Xenos, by Goody Gameworks, is about a magical land where heroes of old have been locked away in vaults. Thankfully, someone has found at least one key, and releasing your first Xenos you can start to slay this evil that has spread across the land and gain more keys to free the others. With nine heroes to unlock (eleven if you make an account with Armor Games and play on their site) and locked up items to give your heroes a boost, you'll have plenty of keys to find. In this defense game you'll make use of the many hotkeys (thought the mouse can do the job just as well) to move your heroes around the map to keep the bad guys from making it to their nefarious goal. Every hero has their unique abilities, and you can give them items which boost specific stats to help them out even further. There is a lot going on in each battlefield, both good and bad, so you'll have to keep an eye on everything to command your Xenos to victory.
[December 2015: Now available on mobile devices!] A Good Snowman is Hard to Build, by Alan Hazelden, also available for iOS and Android, with graphics by Benjamin Davis and tunes by Ryan Roth, is a simple and cuddly little indie puzzle game that you just can't help but feel good about playing. You are a "monster" (if there was ever a critter deserving of fingerquotes around that world, it's this little fellow) who has a passion for building and naming snowmen and, as it happens, snowwomen, and luckily you've stumbled across a maze-like snowy park, where each area has its own puzzle and snowperson building materials... which is, of course, to say three snowballs and more of the white stuff. Using [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, walk into snowballs to push them around. Each patch of snow you roll one over makes the snowball grow one size bigger, and if you're at all familiar with snowman anatomy, you know you need a big one for the base, a medium-sized one for the belly, and a small one for the head. Because rolling a snowball over a patch of snow both makes it bigger and removes that bit of snow for the ground, figuring out how to get each portion of your snowman juuuuust the right size, and in position to push it on top of the other pieces in the proper order, is harder than it sounds. You can only stack a snowball on a larger one, and if the opposite side is clear, you can push the stacked snowballs to knock the one on top off to the other side. Hit [Z] to undo as many moves as you like, or [R] to reset the current area you're in.
"I will pay any ship a large sum to kill that beast," said Captain Ahab in a slow monotone, gazing out the window. "The beast that killed my daughter." But that beast is actually the protagonist here, so it's... standing right behind you, Ahab! From Bearmancer, the developer who didn't bring you the first-person shooter version of Little Women, comes this must-play arcadified action RPG take on Herman Melville's American lit classic about a giant sperm whale who played by his own rules and a sea captain who couldn't get enough of him. You're splashing around crashing into ships like sushi boats, yet this time around there's plenty of innovation. Mobias is amassing enough soul energy through his capsized conquests to become an immortal ocean god, complete with upgradable skills and boatloads of special abilities. Narwal horn, huge bouncing saws, freeze and rage fields, spawning rocky spikes on splashes, head-mounted leviathan laser beams, life stealing and oodles more? Plus steampunk Tesla bots and ships that condense beams of pure sunlight at you? Yup, pretty sure this is canon. Pequod is for an American classic what Dance Dance Revolution is to the waltz and the lindsey, and you're gonnna love it. We can classic lit, and so can you!
[Note: This game contains themes that may be upsetting to some. Please see my notes in the second paragraph for more information.]
"'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved before." Sound familiar? The protagonist of hidden-object adventure Immortal Love: Letter from the Past by Friends 4 Games sure never wrapped his head around that concept... but to be fair, that quote was probably more for couples who discovered wild pizza topping incompatibilities than someone who wakes up imprisoned with their memories removed, so I guess I can forgive him for not moving on to bachelorhood after a good cry, an Adele CD, and some mint chocolate chip ice cream. See, turns out Jacques (you!) was deeply in love with Angelica, which was a problem since the wicked Count was of the "if I can't have her, no-one will" sort, and he shot her in front of you rather than let the two of you abscond. Two months later, with your memories cursed clean and awaiting execution in a cell, you're rescued on the eve of your execution by a strange masked man who tells you it's not too late to save her. But this isn't a simple story of your average jerk who can't take no for an answer. It's an unexpectedly twisted adventure with high action and some morbid leanings that will keep you guessing throughout.
Angry Bison's Gemnastix, also available for iOS, is a match-3 (well, match-2 or more, really) arcade-style puzzle game with a twist. You're still matching gems up in groups of two or more identical colours, but the screen is divided in two halves, and you have to move gems from one side to the other to make your matches... trying to make a match only on the right or left side won't work! Sound easy? Well.... it's not that simple. Though it only has one gameplay mode, with power-ups to earn and a high-score based system that will keep you matching to unlock them, Gemnastix is a fun variant on a beloved genre with an easy to pick up yet hard to put down presentation.
Mutantleg's retro-styled shooter Lab, with music by Arteria 3D, isn't all Doom and gloom!... except for maybe that first part. There's definitely a lot of Doom in this homage to old-school action, and hey, sometimes you need to blast your way through halls of mutants. Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move (hold [shift] or [X] if you want to side-step while moving instead of turning), and [Z] or [ctrl] to shoot. Don't get too trigger-happy since you have limited menu, and of course you'll want to dodge enemy attacks and keep an eye on your health. As you might expect, you'll find various pick-ups, like armor, laying around, some of which are hidden inside boxes that need to be blasted open. Just shoot your way through gob-spitting mutants, giant flying bugs, hopping... thingies... and more, keeping an eye out for secrets, of course. Some may find Lab's dedication to being such a faithful homage makes it a little too simple and familiar, though it gets more elaborate after the training-wheels first stage, but if you want some good old fashioned shooting like grandma used to make, Lab is an easy bet.
Another week, another Friday. Would any of you be surprised to hear I wait here, feverishly clutching my party hats and my noisemakers, waiting for the weekend to release me? Chances are, no matter what your job or school is like, you're all about getting some well deserved R and R, and here to help with the latter is your Link Dump Friday. This week! A dinner party goes sour when a murderer is afoot... except that murderer is you, and you have no feet since you're a beholder! A priest straps on his dungeon-delving gear to hack and blast his way through infernal critters for a divine kitty cat. And a Canadian House Hippo, which I expect you all to be familiar with, learns the true meaning of Halloween... if it can figure out how to deal with this cat!
At Hogwarts they use owls to deliver mail. In the forest blue jays are the bird of choice, and you're awakened by an urgent letter from your grandma. She's sick, and needs you to travel through the mountains to find the cure and deliver it to her. Put on your red cloak and go in Lightdrop Game's darling point-and-click puzzle game and twist on the Little Red Riding Hood story, Brave and Little Adventure for your iOS device. Tap on the floor to make Red (otherwise known as Molly) walk. If you pass an item you can interact with, an icon will appear above it, which you'll need to tap in order to do so. Any item you can take with you will automatically be placed in your inventory. Tap and drag to scroll around the screen, and if you get stuck, there's a hint for every level. Can you get to grandma through countless perils, while helping others along the way?
Also available free for iOS and Android bundled with Bart Bonte's wonderfully whimsical puzzle game Where is Cat?, Christmas Cat brings the fun-loving feline back for a festive escapade as you hunt through the house for the 20 red Christmas ornaments the Bonte family cat has scattered from the tree. Just click to interact with objects and move around the house. Click an item in your inventory to highlight it when you want to try to use it on something. This isn't your ordinary sneaky kitten... the baubles aren't just batted under furniture. Some of them are hidden behind some pretty clever puzzles, too, though this is definitely a game that can be enjoyed by parents and kids. If you like your Christmas cheer groovy, then you can do no wrong with Bart Bonte's signature style and creative charm. Just... try not to get distracted grooving to that great soundtrack.
Where is Cat? (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
Get Where is Cat?
It's that time of year, when you hear those sleigh bells ring-a-ling, and the escape game developers start releasing Christmas themed games, so it should come as no surprise to stumble across Ichima's Room 11: Xmas Tree. Contrary to what you may expect from the title, apart from some small statues, there's no real tree in the cozy little room you're locked in... but you can see one outside! Hm! Don't be daunted by the lack of an English text option. Just click to explore the room and interact with everything you can. Clicking an object in your inventory to highlight it, and then the big blue button in the bottom right, will allow you to view it up close. Ichima has always been great at making smart, logical puzzles that don't require language to figure out, though the "oooohhhhhhh" you make when you finally do is probably universal. Room 11: Xmas Tree is fun, clever, and just the ticket for escape fans looking for a Christmassy challenge that won't make smoke come out of their ears, but will keep them on their toes.
Pencilkids wants you to go rockin' around the Monkey GO Happy Xmas Tree... but there's just one problem... the tree isn't lit! In this very Christmassy installment of the point-and-click adventure Monkey GO Happy games, neither the monkeys nor the townsfolk will have a very merry anything if you don't find a way to get that tree turned on. Just click on objects and people to interact, and drag any items you want to use from your inventory at the top of the screen, to where you want to use them. You'll need to solve a handful of puzzles and, of course, help the townsfolk out if you want to light the tree, so get shaking every bush and tree and keep an eye out for clues, and it'll be Christmas before you know it!
Here comes Weekday Escape, here comes Weekday Escape, right down a lane they couldn't afford to get named after themselves... Hmmm, needs work. But while we work out how to break into the high-rolling world of Christmas soundtracks, why don't you enjoy these three holiday-themed escape games? This week! Amajeto's not only trimmed the tree, they've stocked it with presents for you! CHOKO-CHAI's cats are still at the school of witchcraft, but decorating their tree is part of their grade. And Aries Escape is throwing a Christmas party... too bad getting dressed for it is made complicated by some beastly puzzles!
Karuna and Aurelie used to be close, both training together to become great swordswomen, though Karuna always hoped they could become something more. All that changed the day Aurelie went missing... and though Karuna never gave up hope looking for her, she never expected them to cross paths again two years later, or the person Aurelie could possibly have become. In free indie RPG Luxaren Allure by developer Unity, formerly kind and quiet Aurelie is now Overlord Darkloft after donning a suit of cursed armor found in a castle where demonic statuary and glistening red furniture are used to decorate, as one does. Karuna's been tapped by the king to play the role of the "chosen one" and gather the artifacts needed to destroy the Overlord... no matter how she may still feel about her former friend.
In Carmel Games' short point-and-click adventure Cap'n Marcela's Winter Wonderland, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas for our favourite flame-haired pirate, which is a problem, since the merchandise she's ordered to stock the town's Winter Wonderland celebration is nowhere to be found. Turns out it's actually frozen inside a giant iceberg... but since when has that ever stopped anyone? To play, just click to interact with people and objects, and hunt through the town for items you need to solve puzzles. Puzzles that'll be fairly familiar to you if you've played a recent Carmel Games title (they sure do like those scrambled pictures), but still make for a short, happily seasonal adventure that'll let you build a snowmaaaaaaaaaan... kinda.
Turns out it wasn't nuclear fallout that brought around the end of the world... it was the simultaneous eruption of every volcano on the planet. Morgan and his family barely survived the apocalypse that plunged the world into a dangerous new era of ash and mystery, but one year later, they're still scavenging, still surviving. Until the day Morgan's entire family vanishes into thin air, and the only clue he has to go on is the cryptic final words of his father, "The Eighth Continent". In this massive text-based RPG adventure written by Patrick Garrett, with illustrations by Kate and Ben Garrett as well as music by fErDi0nE, that's free for iOS and Android, your decisions will guide Morgan through this strange and dangerous new world in search of his family. With a card-based combat system, minigames, (both optionally skippable) and over two thousand pages of branching storytelling with multiple endings, it's a meaty Choose Your Own Adventure style narrative with serious depth, though players should be warned it ends rather abruptly as it's the first part of a planned trilogy.
Whether it's Christmas time or not, there's always time for Tesshi-e, and this time underneath the tree you'll find The Happy Escape 8 Remake all wrapped up, just for you. As the name implies, it's a remake of The Happy Escape 8, and you've got yourself locked up in one very merry room. Just like in the original game, Santa's looking for something to help him relax before Christmas really kicks off, and that means he'd like you to brew him a cup of your famous coffee... and find all ten Happy Coins, of course. This is a Tesshi-e escape game after all. Making sure to set the text to English from the main menu if you can't read Japanese, playing the game is as simple as clicking on things to interact, and solving the puzzles hidden throughout the room. Being a remake, you can expect it to share a lot with the original game, of course, but aside from the new look, you may find yourself solving puzzles you remember in different ways. Besides... when have you ever needed a reason to play a Tesshi-e game? 'Tis always the season.
In ERS Game Studios' creepy hidden-object adventure Haunted Legends: The Secret of Life, the quest to cure your incurable illness leads you to a house with a dark secret, as ramshackle manors overlooking dark medieval villages backlit by lightning frequently contain. See, if any healer can complete a totally not suspicious at all ritual at the house, they'll earn the Secret of Life. You're desperate, with only a week left to live according to doctors, and after four years spent traveling the world looking for a cure, you've finally come to your last chance. Too bad the house and its occupants have other plans for you and all who enter it...
NCR Games made some pretty brassy claims when they contacted me about their upcoming indie match-3 RPG Oafmatch, whose demo is currently free to download with hours of gameplay (and does NOT require Steam to install), and even though the full version is sitting in limbo pending Steam Greenlight success, I still wanted to check it out, especially since its demo has enough content for players to really dig in to. In it, you guide Knuckles the Oaf on his secret quest for Oaf kind, and help him gather "easily impressed, literate companions" along the way. Knuckles likes to fix problems with violence, and that means taking part in Puzzle Quest-style combat where you match three or more adjacent gems of the same colour to attack your foes and unleash special abilities. With a whimsical yet snarky tone and a few twists on a familiar formula, Oafmatch looks promising... with some caveats.
Carmel Games tends to be known for short, happily silly point-and-click adventures, but Skip Around the World - Finland was a surprisingly educational romp through actual real world locations that paid homage to local culture and landmarks while having fun with itself. Skip Around the World - India has now arrived, and a familiar fellow has just landed in the country and is desperate for a taste of some local cuisine from one of the best restaurants in the area. Too bad he ignores the sign out front and winds up getting the owner's samosas eaten... and those samosas were to be presented to the Prime Minister! Skip promises to set things right and save the owner's reputation, and he's off looking to gather all the ingredients to make new ones. If only the markets weren't all closed...
How to Escape? It's both a question of existential navel gazing to be pondered as you listen to bongo drums at your local dimly lit indie coffee house, and the title of Vitamin Hana's latest escape game. As usual, you're locked up somewhere and, also as usual, you have to try to find a way out by solving puzzles and gathering items. Just click around to explore and interact, and remember to examine your inventory up close by clicking something you're carrying, and then the "About Item" button. Though its title might imply desperate futility as you scrounge for an exit, like most of Vitamin Hana's games, How to Escape? is definitely not going to monopolize your time longer than it takes to shotgun a cup of your favourite beverage. It's short, well designed, and just the right thing to give you a break from your work... and if you figure out how to escape from that, let us know.
[Note: This game is available in Pay What You Want format, including free. If you enjoy this game, please support the developer who made it by paying them what you think is fair!]
Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist is the finest adventure game you've ever played. I mean, look at that perfectly crafted and not-at-all-pretentious title. Surely an opportunity like this presents itself but once in a lifetime! So download the game and get ready for a magnificent journey to the very depths of... What? Someone is already playing the game? I'm frightfully sorry, but we are somewhat understaffed, so we can only run one game at a time. Just sit tight and someone will be with you shortly. Created by Crows Crows Crows, a studio directed by William Pugh (the brilliant mind behind The Stanley Parable), this is one game where absolutely nothing can go wrong, and the staff is most definitely not on strike because they fear for their lives.
The cats in Deqaf Studio's new action-centric sim StrikeForce Kitty League ain't pussyfooting around... they're out to defeat the raccoons in the arena, and prove that cats rule, and the procyon genus drools!... or... something catchier than that, since you're going up against other animals, too. They've charged through legions of enemies and handled cute and clicky defense, so now they need you to train and manage them to hold their own in the arena. During battles, they'll mostly take care of themselves, apart from needing you to click to activate their special abilities. But between bouts, they'll need you to order them around to train up their statistics, all while keeping their energy up of course, to make them strong enough to beat the next day's opponents... and earn enhancing costumes to dress them up in. It'll take a lot of grinding, upgrades, and a lot of inspirational '80s montages, to claw your way to the top of the league... so get cracking!
I've always thought "weekend warrior" was a pretty grandiose term for the modern person, who probably spends their days off lying on the couch, staring at a marathon of Parks and Recreation, and desperately wanting to not be an adult for a while. But hey, even if you're out there seizing the weekend by its throat and squeezing every drop of fun and productivity you can while roaring like a mighty bear, this Weekend Download has something for you! We've got a creepy visual novel about waking up dead and struggling to control an insatiable need, a retro-tastic action adventure about a young girl trying to save the world in classic Zelda-style, and, well, hazardous post-apocalyptic sports, which, I have to admit, is way more interesting than normal sports. And did we mention they're all free, courtesy your friendly neighbourhood indie developers? Awwwww, yeah.
Even the Bah-Humbuggiest amoung us may find it hard to resist Elephant Games' very merry hidden-object adventure Christmas Stories: Puss in Boots, also available for iPad. On Christmas Eve you come home to find a stray kitten curled up on your front porch in the snow, and of course you can't resist taking him in. But later that night, you're awoken by a strange voice, and discover it's none other than the kitten himself, who you've named Simon, standing on his hind legs and talking to you. Seems by taking him in, you've proven yourself kindness personified, and as one of Santa's Helpers, Simon now knows you're who they need to help save Christmas. See, Christmas can't happen without the magical star on the North Pole's tree, and someone's stolen it. Someone... wearing boots. Hmmmmm. But why would anyone want to stop Christmas? Gosh, you don't suppose there's secretly a heart-wrenching motive behind it, do you? It's an adorable, sweet, and fun holiday adventure that makes up for low challenge with stunning production values and a relentless sense of spirit.
Funkyland always knows how to live up to their name when it comes to escape games, and Alice House 2 No.04: Tweedledum and Tweedledee lives up to that in spades as you wander through a weird house full of strange objects, puzzles, and decorations trying to find five items bearing the image of the iconic Wonderland duo. Just click around to interact with things and move through the house, though there's no changing cursor so you'll need to make sure to click on everything you can think of. Like most of Funkyland's games, it's the sort of thing that's perfectly sized for a short break... say, between courses at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. So if you want something weird and whimsical, with just an appetizing handful of puzzles, call on Tweedledum and Tweedledee!
Danil Zhuravlev's Absorbed is a physics puzzle platformer about science... the weird kind. You've been given a gun to test that can absorb whatever you point it at, and spit it back out. Handy for moving heavy objects around, but there's that whole teeny-weeny "accidentally causes a cosmic chain reaction and teleports you to a strange and hostile place" problem. Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move and jump, and hold [X] or [K] to either absorb something in front of you, or spit it back out. You can do this to create stairs, defend yourself against enemies, and more, but make sure you activate the blinking checkpoint beacons so you can respawn in case something... unpleasant happens to you. Like blowing yourself up with a case of dynamite. Happens to the best of us.
Surprise, surprise! The weekend is almost here, and that means it's time to get yourself ready for it by playing a pack of free online games to get you in the right mindset. You might, for example, need to be ready in case an evil computer digitizes you and puts you on a race course, and also you are a spider. Or maybe you'll be lucky enough to get three wishes from a benevolent spirit, but haven't though about the consequences. Or, oooh, you could suffer from unrequited love, day after day, as the object of your affections remains oblivious. Or maybe you're going to be blackmailed by a so-called friend and you need to know what to do to make sure the coppers don't find nothin', if you get my drift. Whatever the case, Link Dump Friday has you covered!
Business a flop? Just start up another! That's what happens when our heroine finds her little bookstore failing in The Revills Games' casual card game Chef Solitaire USA. She realizes her talent for cooking might help her turn a pretty penny, and now she's off across all the country. But instead of flipping flapjacks, you'll be flipping cards, as you strive for a perfect score across dozens and dozens of levels.
Originally conceived for Ludum Dare 32's "An Unconvential Weapon" competition and since polished up for commercial release, Kitsune Games' darling indie puzzle game Ultra Hat Dimension is all about hats, and getting punched. See, there was a great ball at Spluff Castle, but for some reason the normally peaceful Spluffs have gone a little bonkers, and are taking swings at our poor heroine whenever she comes near. She'll need to find the Spluff responsible to set things right, of course, but if she can't bring herself to fight back at the Spluffs happily hitting away, what's a girl to do? Well... I suppose you could try dressing up? I mean... whoever heard of someone punching somebody else wearing the same hat, after all? Clever, cute, and fun, Ultra Hat Dimension is an utterly charming and challenging indie puzzle game that does a lot with a little.
Typically when a mortal person gets whisked away to save a magical land in peril, you're dealing with your stereotypical heroic, handsome and/or beautiful, youthful protagonist type. But in Bad Seed's stunning action platforming adventure The Beggar's Ride for iOS, it's actually an old homeless man who finds the portal to another world, and however unlikely a savior he may seem, he'll still have to step up to the task. You'll guide him through a beautiful realm filled with strange creatures, mystical masks that bestow godlike powers, and of course, puzzles aplenty. Despite some frustrating controls, The Beggar's Ride is still a lovely, charming, and engrossing adventure with hours of content and secrets to find.
You'll need to be the rootin'-est, tootin'-est clicker in the West to get these criminals into the slammer... provided here "rootin' tootin'" actually translates to physics puzzle solver. The squares in Crabroid's Cubestern 2: Night Shift are up to no good, and it's up to you to drop them into jail where they belong. Usually this is accomplished by clicking parts of the scenery to remove them and letting gravity take its course, but some objects can be transformed from circle to square and back again (WereBox-style), allowing you to roll things around or bring them to a halt. If the cubed criminal falls offscreen, he escapes, and you'll need to reload the level to try again. It's a simple concept with a pack of levels that won't tax you, presented in a clean and tidy cartoon format, so get clicking... you've been deputized!
These little friends are inseparable. They literally light up each other's world. But when their plain of existences holds some precarious situations they have to use each other to make it through together. Literally, as both of them have major faults that only the other can make up for. In Undivided, an absolutely adorable puzzle game, there are two heroes, one green who can only move left and right with the [arrow keys], and one who is blue that can only move up with [W] and down with [S]. Thankfully neither of them are above taking a little tough love and will allow the other to push them towards the warmly glowing orange squares that is their exit. It's meant to be played with two players and a different experience is promised if you do, but if you are alone for the time being this game is more than enjoyable to play by yourself. These brightly colored heroes have enough friendship to go around. Made by a group of MFA students at USC's Interactive Media & Games Division, Undivided may not be the most challenging or the most advanced game in the puzzle genre but it's surely one of the cutest.
Why would you ever call Wednesday hump day? I mean, I get it... you're over the hump of the work week, and now it's downhill towards Friday, but that's something to be endured, not celebrated. Call it Weekday Escape day instead! This week, Esklavos strands you in a serene but empty forest whose leaves hide some familiar puzzles, Tototo Room drops you off at a temple to pay your respects, while also locking you in, and then it's time for a trip in the Wayback Machine to a collaboration between no1game and Cogito Ergo Sum, where two of the cutest escapers around have a new friend.
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So maybe your life hasn't turned out the way you expected, but, well, other people have it worse, right? So what if your husband seems distant or even irritated by you, or if you have difficulty conversing or connecting with people, or if your house feels far emptier than it used to? At least you have a home, right? But in Ade McT's interactive-fiction title Map, that home is... changing. You've noticed doors where they never used to be, you're sure of it, despite your husband Derek's dismissal, and one day... you decide to explore. Lacking any real puzzles, Map is a narrative-driven adventure about life and choices, and the decisions you make, and the ones you wish you had.