Between the time when the LOLcats drank intelligent internet humour, and the rise of obnoxious memes, there was an age undreamed of. And onto this, Rob Allen, destined to wear the jeweled crown of really awesome puzzle games upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of Hapland! Of the great plains of the Farcade! And perhaps most wondrous of all... awwwww, yeah, it's Netshift, yo! PARTY!
Originally featured way, way, way back in 2008 and consisting solely of community-generated content, Netshift is back with an updated look, new tricks and traps, and 30 official levels by your barbarian overlord and mine, Rob Allen himself. The premise of the game is simple; navigate your little ship through the dangers of each level to the checkered exit for victory. Use the [arrow] keys to move, and [enter] to pick up or drop items, while [spacebar] fires any missiles you're carrying. Why do you need missiles? Because there are a lot of obstacles in your way, from force fields to proximity bombs to switches and levers and more. Your job is to figure out what each object does, how they interact, and use that to your advantage so you can make your escape. If you get stuck, tapping [R] reloads the level. A single hit or explosion causes your ship to blow up, but you can restart without penalty, and the larger levels feature checkpoints that, once activated, will be where you respawn. Oh, and this time around, pressing [M] mutes the sound.
Netshift is one of those great "just one more level" type of puzzle games, and the 30 new levels constructed by its creator are very well done. They start off simple enough to ease you into the mechanics, but gradually ramp up the difficulty until you find yourself clutching the sides of your head, gazing feverishly into the monitor muttering, "What does it mean?!". The one-hit KO would be a killer without the presence of checkpoints, and it's still going to be frustrating for some players. But where the game absolutely shines is its bevy of clever items all laid out for you to experiment with, like a Rube Goldberg machine with explosions and spaceships.
It's great to see Rob Allen back in action, and the good news is not only Netshift's new 'do, but the revival of his site and all the games on it. Does he have anything new on the horizon? Mmmmmmaaaaaybe. But right now, Netshift is back and better than ever, and together with its community content, provides enough of a challenge for you to sink your teeth into for a good long while.