If you were an egg, what kind would you be? Raw? Rotten? Fertilized? Fried in a butter base with a drizzling of chili sauce? Hardboiled, a collection of mouse-controlled mini-games from Tom Vencel at Ninja Doodle, is here to tell you. You get 5 minutes and 7 lives to complete 45 nail-biting tests of timing, observation, and pure twitching finger speed. When you run out of time or lives, you'll learn not only that you're a bad egg, but exactly what type of bad egg you are.
Unlike many collections of mini-games, such as the Four Second series, you can rest in between games to read the instructions, get an idea of the controls, take a deep breath, and work out the sudden cramping in your index finger. My advice is to use that time. Treasure it like it was bequeathed to you by a flock of angels, because it might keep your heart from exploding. You're not going to beat the game on your first try anyway, so chill out, forget the time limit, read the instructions. Although you will encounter all the tests in the same order each time you play, Hardboiled will mix up the specific goals sometimes, and there's nothing so demoralizing as losing your last life because your stupid, unobservant face clicked the bottles from tallest to shortest, instead of shortest to tallest like it was the last stupid time you played that particular stupid level that I am not bitter about.
Analysis: There's a lot of nice detail in this unassuming mini-game collection. Hardboiled has a simple visual style, but I find the broad, flat pictures appealing and, more importantly, easy to understand at first glance. The reflections that some objects cast against the floor give the frame some nice depth, and the ever-present angular red swirl of the background matches the game's light-hearted but intense mood. Every few levels, you'll encounter a charming puzzle with a basic storyline, and although these will probably trip you up at first, they will only cost you time, not a life.
Curiously for a game that would appeal to children with its cute and red and cheery presentation, there is some content that young'uns might not know about. One recurring challenge requires you to know whether certain drinks contain alcohol, and an early puzzle requires basic knowledge of the birds and the bees. Big birds should screen it before they set little eggs in front of the computer to play.