Another Christmas has come and gone, but if I know you (and I think I do), you still want some more toys, don't you? A (INSERTGENDERHERE) after my own heart, if I do say so myself. That's why this week's installment of The Vault features some of the best webtoys of yesteryear. Webtoys are an under appreciated bunch; not only can they encourage some of the best expressions of artistic creativity, they also provide a comforting bosom to run sobbing to after a game like, oh, say, Manufactoria or The Codex of Alchemical Engineering have chewed you up and spit you out again and again. While this is just a small sampling of some of the great webtoys out there (specifically early ones from 2005 and 2006), it should suffice to whet your whistle for these little gems of the internet.
- TinyGrow - Very few games have the ability to reduce me to simple monosyllabic communication of "Ooooh" or "Aaaah!". This absolutely gorgeous piece of moving, surrealist interactive art by Shinichiro Sato is one of them. Combining a rich, vivid colour palette with the sort of easy, delightful exploratory gameplay that makes for perfect lazy afternoon or morning coffee gaming, this is a real treat. Just click to create a decidedly unusual landscape using the spinning icons that pop up on the sprouting "trees" and use your mouse to interact with the environment. You might say there's no real point to it other than to flood your eyeballs with strange but captivating landscapes. I say, so? Also, be quiet, Fun Wrecker. It also reminds me of The Very Hungry Caterpillar for some reason, and I can't help but like anything that tweaks that long ago forgotten recess of my brain in such simple, lovely fashion.
- Fly Guy - This one is a personal favourite, not just because it looks like it was conceived on an Etch-a-Sketch, but because it is literally one of the first flash games I ever played. You control an average looking fellow with the decidedly unaverage ability to fly, guiding him up through the sky, which is littered with all manner of strange people and objects to interact with or just observe. It's extremely short, but very well done, with lots of amusing things to stumble across and great animation that perfectly captures the notion of a daydream. Provided what you daydream about is soaring through the sky while a monkey construction worker waves at you, and not, say, creepy Thundercats/Firefly crossover fanfiction.
- Hell of Sand - Dofi's sand games have been around for roughly forever, but if you've never encountered them before, be prepared to lose out on a whole lot of spare time. Hell of Sand is, quite literally, a virtual sandbox where the only goal is to experiment with your own creativity. You're presented with a big black screen and a lot of tools you can use to draw with a la MS Paint, all of which interact with each other in a realistic fashion. It's absolutely fascinating... although for me it's also a little disturbing, because any people in my sandbox always appear to be clawing in vain at their surroundings, trying to escape. It doesn't have anything to do with my fondness for fire, d'you think?... naaaaaah.
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!