A lot of gamers today will tell you they want innovation. Games that devilishly combine old concepts in unexpected ways, or introduce new ideas, or... I don't know... are controlled entirely through correctly performing The Wobble, or where your damage is tied to getting a souffle to rise or something. But you know what? Just because a game has a familiar setup that doesn't blow your socks right off your feet doesn't mean it isn't good, and here are three games that prove a talented developer willing to play with simple, well-trodden concepts is all you really need to achieve greatness.
- Upgrade Complete - Gamers love achievements and upgrades, but Anthony Lavelle takes that to the extreme in this satirical shooter that has you upgrading everything from the graphics to the menu buttons and more. There's a not-so-subtle tone of mockery to the whole process that left a bad taste in some of our mouths, but there's something undeniably addictive about the whole process... especially if you don't mind a game that feels like it's sneering at its own concept.
- Red Remover - physics puzzles have essentially become the Starbucks of casual browser gaming... they're everywhere! Of course, this doesn't mean they're all created equal, or even that they need a lot of bells and whistles to stand out, as Gaz proved here. As the title implies, you're trying to get rid of all the sullen red shapes by clicking to remove them, but don't worry... that's actually what they want, and their gleeful expressions as they tumble out of sight are adorable. As the game progresses, with the addition of shapes you need to keep safe and gravity to contend with, it proves it knows just how to make the most out of its simple concept to provide exactly the sort of relaxing, entertaining gameplay experience you'll wish more games could manage.
- Guardian Rock - It's true that a set of flirtatiously pretty graphics will get your foot in the door, but it takes more than that to make a good game. Fortunately, Torpedo Labs's gorgeous arcade-style sliding-block puzzler has some simple but engaging gameplay to boot. You play an ancient, sentient rock trying to keep greedy explorers out of its temple by doing what it does best... by smashing them into bits, using your environment to move yourself around and stop your sliding. As you play, new elements like traps and TNT will keep you on your toes (blocks have toes now, shut up), and provides enough variety and challenge to make a straight-forward gameplay concept something effortlessly engaging.
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!