It may surprise you to know that each and every Weekend Download article is written by a team of highly trained elves adept at both gaming and making waffles. This week, however, the elves have been replaced.
The gnomes do a comparable job with words, links and images. But let me tell you, the waffles aren't nearly as good. It's like that old saying that neither I nor anyone else has ever heard before: If you want waffles, better get the elves. Regardless of food quality, enjoy the gnome-inspired games* below!
Prism: Light the Way (Windows, 13MB, demo) - A polished take on the old faithful light-reflecting puzzle games. A greedy space monster has stolen all of the light (gasp!), depriving the GLOWBOS of their precious source of happiness. Help the poor chaps see the bright side of things by sliding mirrors, splitters, color-dividing prisms and more around the grid to reflect beams to the colored GLOWBOS around the screen. It's a familiar concept that isn't new to the world of casual games (see Reflections for a similar (but more complex) web example), but Prism: Light the Way offers an easy to control, extraordinarily well-crafted game. You'll stay plenty busy with 120 unique puzzles, many of which are quite challenging, as well as several extra modes of play.
TIGSource B-game Competition (Windows, various sizes, all free) - The film industry has B-movies, so why can't the indie gaming scene have B-games? That was part of the inspiration behind The Independent Gaming Source's recent B-Game Competition. Developers used all of their skills to create the cheesiest games mankind has ever seen. Over two dozen titles were entered, and after the fog of voting cleared, one game came out on top: the zombie survival game Cottage of Doom. Be sure to check out the other competition entries, as there's some really great B-game material in there.
King Mania (Windows/Mac, ~22MB, demo) - Wage war, and for no particular reason! Well, actually, there is a reason: the neighboring kingdom has more room to grow potatoes than you. What's a king to do other than round up the knights and villagers for a good old fashioned pillage 'n plunder? King Mania is a simple RTS-lite game married with an action title. Send soldiers to take over villages and use the food and gold automatically harvested in your controlled areas to build spiffy upgrades. King Mania is surprisingly captivating and has a good sense of humor to boot.
H2O: Heaven2Ocean (Windows, 54MB, freeware) - A fun, off-beat little action game that uses water physics to guide a drop of water through a crowded construction area. Use the mouse to tilt the game world left or right, guiding the water through pipes, up slopes and across obstacles. Touch fire and you become vapor, flipping the physics upside down, and go near the air conditioning unit and you'll turn to a block of ice! A light-hearted game created over the course of nine weeks for Dare to be Digital.
Narobiyu (Windows, 25MB, donationware) - A unique puzzle game unlike most titles floating around on the interwebs. The goal is to connect groups of similar-colored blocks to form matching patterns anywhere on the screen. Yes, the description doesn't make much sense, and it will take you some time to get into the swing of the game. But once you do, it's actually a refreshing and tense puzzle experience.
Narbacular Drop (Windows, 26MB, freeware) - With the recent release of Valve's Portal and the 2D Flash platformer inspired by the same mechanics, why not try the original game that started it all? Control Princess No-Knees (she can't jump!) with the [WASD] keys and use the mouse buttons to create entrance/exit portals. You won't find the same level of polish as in Portal, but you can easily see why Valve snatched up the programming team to work on its spiritual successor.
* Note: Games have little or nothing to do with gnomes.