Since first opening The Vault, there has been a flurry of activity at JIG review headquarters—we're all covered in cobwebs, rummaging through the Vault's shelves and blowing the dust off our favorites with excited squeals of "Oh Man! Do you remember this one?!" "Yeah! And what about this one?" "Ooooh! I wish I'd found that one!". Yep, grown men can and do squeal.
So here's the fourth edition of The Vault, and this week I'm in charge and excited to be accompanying you on the sentimental journey of rediscovering games you thought you'd forgotten. What d'you mean you can hear muffled screams? No. It's not Dora. No. We haven't locked her in The Vault. One of my first computer game experiences was Olympic Decathlon played on an Apple II, 8-bit home computer, so it's amazing to see how gaming has developed over the last few decades. Flash and online games have truly emerged as an art-form unto themselves, and it's a pleasure to be able to share some of my favorites that embody the creativity, heart and soul of developers who create browser-based casual gameplay.
- Wake Up Calls - Ah, 2004...it seems like only six years ago when Jay introduced readers of his blog to Orisinal games. Ferry Halim shows true artistry with the many mini-masterpieces he has generously shared online, including this little vertical scroller gem. Characteristic of Ferry's style, Wake Up Calls incorporates gorgeous graphics with beautiful music in a deceptively simple Flash game. Experience the hidden life of hamsters, who really, really do air-board on leaves through trees, firing dew-drops at chrysalids to release butterflies, and enjoy the sweet and simple pleasure of playing a beautifully crafted game, again.
- The Museum - There's something shadowy yet appealing about Anode & Cathode's games, with their captivating graphics and unusual storylines. The Museum is the fourth chapter in the Spieler Tetralogy, a series of point-and-click games, and is set in a dark and mysterious museum where artworks and exhibits come to life. As a stand alone game it may not make a whole lot of sense, but you'll enjoy an intriguing quest that will have you working out which bit goes where or with what, perhaps without really knowing why. Well, that's how I felt the first time I played this game, but revisiting this one was quite a pleasurable exercise, especially in the "Ooohh, I remember now..." moments.
- iSketch - This Shockwave multiplayer, Pictionary-style game has been around since the turn of the century (wow, that's old!). It's a family favorite here, and it was such a joy to recently learn that it's still up and running. With a multitude of rooms in a variety of languages, you can compete with players from around the world by guessing what others are drawing and by showing off your own artistic abilities. Actually, you don't need to be an artist for this game, because often the simpler drawings are the best. It's amazing to see that iSketch has barely changed over the years, and the game's dedicated administrators have managed to keep the game clean and free from 'trolls'. Still highly addictive and so much fun to play, it's definitely worth paying at least a nostalgic visit to iSketch.
- Levers - Lovers of physics puzzles will undoubtedly remember this one, from Patrick Smith (aka Vector Park), creator of Windosill, but I think even haters of physics puzzles can appreciate it, too. The challenge lies in the art of balance, through taking objects, like bowling balls and birdhouses that randomly fall into a body of water, and suspending them from a growing number of coat-hangers. It's an extremely useful skill to have. The trick is to have your coat-hanger sculpture balanced before more objects can be added. The beauty of this game lies in the extraordinary attention to detail, and the whole experimental feel of trial and error which leaves no room for frustration because it's all just so beautifully arty and clever.
We hope that you enjoyed this week's edition and welcome any comments about it here. Remember that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page.