In February, Jay comprehensively reviewed a finalist in the 2006 Independent Games Festival (IGF). The demo form of Dodge That Anvil walked away with the AdultSwim.com award and has now been further developed into an enjoyable downloadable game for both PC and Mac OS X platforms
Façade is an interactive drama that puts you in the role of a dinner guest catching up with your old college friends, a married couple named Grace and Trip. Using the mouse and keyboard, you're able to move around their apartment and manipulate objects inside, but Facade is no escape-the-room adventure game, most of the interaction involves, get this, talking to Grace and Trip.
Taking a page out of the popular village management book, the downloadable Westward (Windows) drops casual strategy elements into the mix for a game that's both interesting and a bit different. Westward pushes you across the unexplored old west setting up towns and hunting for riches. There's a surprising amount of depth in this game, yet very little was sacrificed to keep it user-friendly.
by Elizabeth Reynolds is one of the puzzle games submitted to our first Game Design Competition. Four instruments sit silently on the right side of the screen, each in a different colored chair. Using the corresponding controls to the left, activate the instruments to produce a green wave on the bottom of the screen. Get the wave to match the pattern and you'll win!
Knytt is a downloadable game of exploration and atmosphere for Windows created by the author of Within a Deep Forest, Nifflas. The game emphasizes discovery and intrigue over everything and creates a massive world with varied environments and lots of places to explore. A spacecraft kidnapped the cat-like Knytt from his home but crashes on its way back, sending pieces of the ship across a mysterious planet. Your job is to traverse the barren world in search of the missing parts and try to get back home.
Sam & Max - Culture Shock is the first installment in a series of episodic adventure games based on the popular comic book characters. The downloadable episodes are available to PC users via Telltale Games or through GameTap. Set in New York City and starring the anthropomorphic dog Sam and his hyperactive rabbit partner Max, the pair of freelance police investigate crimes in the name of, well, boredom. There's no shortage of wit in this game and you can expect to laugh on more than one occasion.
ArmageTron Advanced is a free multiplayer game with simple, casual-oriented gameplay. You pilot a craft and race around an arena leaving solid trails in your wake. If a player runs into a wall they die, forcing you to both think about your path and watch out for everyone else. It's a fast-paced game of skill and reflexes and is available for download on all major operating systems.
Floatpoint is a sci-fi themed interactive fiction game by Emily Short that walked away with first prize in the 2006 Interactive Fiction Competition. You play the role of an ambassador on a mission to a cold, icy planet called Alehart. Humans colonized the world ages ago, but an advancing glacier threatens to overtake the city and eradicate its inhabitants. As you try to negotiate a deal to bring the colonists back to Earth, a web of mysteries begins to unfold itself. This might not be an easy job after all.
Bullet Candy is a frenetically paced shmupper's shmup, a purified genre piece that thrills in its simplicity. Those who can sip their own adrenaline like a twelve year old Pinot wine should definitely consider giving it a try. For fans of the genre, Bullet Candy is a game you can come back to years later.
Fizzball is the latest game from Matt Parry and Ryan Clark of Grubby Games—who gave us the perfectly adorable Professor Fizzwizzle. It was described to me as "a combination between Breakout, Arkanoid, and Katamari Damacy," which pretty much makes it compulsory playing.
Plantasia is a charming and addictive downloadable game about gardening that requires you to dig up rocks and soil, plant a variety of multi-colored flowers and vegetables, water them, and defend your garden against malicious bugs. These gardening chores earn you mana, which can be spent on upgrading your tools, moving plants around the garden and buying new seeds.
Deadly Rooms of Death is a turn-based puzzle game; one turn being the amount of time it takes Beethro, the central character, to move one square or to swing his sword by 45 degrees. DROD is very much a puzzle game, but unlike any other you may have played before. It is actually the sequel to the critically acclaimed DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon, and both were created by Caravel Games.
Empires and Dungeons has been receiving a lot of praise for its stripped-down mechanics and surprisingly captivating gameplay. Taking on the role of a medieval emperor, you must gather resources to help build an army, both to attack your rivals and to defend your castle. Along the way you'll venture into deep dungeons, meet mysterious traders, pillage in the name of the empire and much, much more.
Frets on Fire is an open source clone of the ever-popular PlayStation 2 music/rhythm game, Guitar Hero. And just like Guitar Hero, Frets on Fire features a handful of songs and allows you to play the guitar sections by pressing just a few keys. Instead of using a separate controller to mimic the guitar, Frets on Fire lets you pick up the keyboard and jam in right front of your desk. Best of all, a built-in editor lets you tab any song, spawning a growing community of music-modders on the web.
Spheres of Chaos is gorgeous in motion, with extremely smooth animation amid literally hundreds of enemies and explosions (and up to 8 simultaneous players!). Far more than just a nostalgic tribute to Asteroids, SoC is a fascinating, unique and memorable classic in its own right.
The Museum of Broken Memories is a beautifully woven interactive narrative that may even be considered a work of art. It is a point-and-click game, yes; and yet it is so much more than that. Like any work of art, personal interpretation plays an important role here, as there are many images and words to browse through and interact with, and an array of emotions that will be evoked.
Steam Brigade is an exciting side-scrolling, real-time strategy game that uses a steampunk style and theme. The game is gorgeous and the production values are superb; and not just the graphics. The music is well-done, the story is well-written (cut scenes are in verse, no less), and the game as a whole has the polished feel of a retail offering. The designers' dedication to their work is present in every element of the game.
Tribal Trouble is a downloadable real-time strategy game for Windows or Mac. Compared to most RTS games, Tribal Trouble is easy to learn and to pick-up and play, yet it still offers a deep strategy that takes time to master. The game has earned many words of praise, including being a finalist for an IGF award, a spot on Game Tunnel's Indie Games of the Year list, and some impressive sales and downloads statistics.
Plasma Worm is a free (until September 15th) downloadable arcade action game for Windows, and it is an evolution of the traditional snake-eats-the-pellet games that have existed since time began. The game pays homage to Douglas Adams, and the storyline (such as it is) involves the piloting of a plasma worm through a tank within the Improbability Drive, eating stray probabilities that could gum up the engine.
Virtual Villagers is a downloadable real-time simulation game developed by Last Day of Work, the creators of Fish Tycoon and a number of other casual sim games. Take charge of a village of crash survivors and help them carve out a living on a jungle island. Teach them to farm, help them research scientific advancements and expand their population. It's a remarkably addictive game that's easy to play but impossible to stay away from!
Ray-Hound is a simple, well executed downloadable Windows shmup with a creative twist that sets it apart from other indie or commercial releases. Like Ohkubo's previous game, Warning Forever, Ray-Hound is a tiny download and absolutely free.
Artist/developer John Green, in a collaboration with Pinhead Games, has a demo out of his nearly finished Nearly Departed. This humorous graphic adventure game puts the player in control of a nearly cognizant zombie with amnesia that must attempt to unravel the mystery of his own demise. The full-featured, cross-platform compatible demo is a delight even by itself.
With almost 10 years in the making, Sanctum from Nioga is a very unique game. The best way to describe it would be to say it's like combining chess with Magic the Gathering in a miniature game board setting. It could be one of those classic board games we played as a child, except this game is all digital and played only online.
Kudos is a turn-based life-simulation downloadable game recently released by Cliff Harris, otherwise known as Positech Studios, in the UK. It's a game in which how you spend each day, over time, defines who your character becomes: Does she prefer to stay at home and watch TV all day, go to evening classes to improve job prospects, or hang out with buddies down at the local boozer? Find out with Kudos.
Nethack is a classic singl-player (randomly generated) dungeon exploration game that runs on a wide variety of platforms, and yet each implementation uses the same game engine. But whether graphics or text-based, emphasis is on discovering dungeon detail rather than just killing everything in sight.
Gibbage is a one-panel player verses player bloody shoot-out that was created over the period of 2 years by the talented indie game development newcomer, Dan Marshall. Its gameplay is not quite like anything else currently available on the market and has the graphical sensibilities of the pixel games of yore.
Rainbow Wars is a retro-style arcade shooter available as a free download for Windows, and it is one of those rare finds that becomes an instant favorite once you see it in action. Sporting similar controls to that of the classic Robotron, in which two joysticks are used to control movement and firing separately, this game captures the essence of a classic arcade experience in a well-developed albeit small package.
Why are so many of the most difficult video games also the cutest? Maybe my brain just automatically forgets games that are both ugly and frustrating. Added to the "cute but evil" list comes Within a Deep Forest, a completely free downloadable game for Windows that casts you as a little blue ball, bouncing around a delightfully whimsical little world filled with the most frustrating jumping puzzles known to man.
Master of Defense is a simple strategy game about defending your townspeople from the dangerous monsters that lurk just beyond the town gates, and these monsters wish to do them harm. The game is a simplified real-time strategy (RTS) game, and it is downloadable for Windows only.
Armadillo Run is a physics-based puzzle/building game for Windows. Your job is to create structures to safely guide a rolled-up Armadillo to the goal. Assemble materials such as sheets of metal, ropes, cloth, elastic and more to create a path across the stage. The physics in Armadillo Run are remarkably accurate, making building (and destroying) things far more entertaining than it should be.
In The Pit is a well-executed, unique and original game that is innovative in its approach to gameplay, and it was an entry in the recent "consume" game design contest presented by the Experimental Gameplay Project. You play a very hungry monster that must track down its victims by using only audible and tactile clues.
American History Lux is a downloadable war strategy game that takes a remarkably boring subject and turns it into a simple but epic game. It's a whittled-down version of Sillysoft's more Lux Delux title, making it perfect for casual world-conquerors. The game plays a lot like Risk with a few extras and is available for Windows, MacOS X and Linux.
Eets is an amazingly addictive action/puzzle game from Klei Entertainment. Your goal is to guide Eets to a shiny puzzle piece by placing different (and often wacky) items that affect his mood or behavior. The game has an undeniable charm and will easily get you hooked with its huge set of levels and online community complete with user-made level downloads.
Warning Forever is a downloadable 2D shooter written by Hikoza Ohkubo of Hikware software. You pilot a tiny green ship with a single versatile weapon and must face off against a constant stream of bosses. No stages, no obstacles, no power-ups, just epic fights with massive enemy ships. And the surprising thing is they learn from your patterns and fight back. Yikes.
Created as part of the Experimental Gameplay Project under the theme of "violate", Troy was designed and built in one week as a Web-based augmented reality game. In it, the player explores the topic of invasion of privacy and... well, if I told you any more then I'd be spoiling the game.
This downloadable Windows-only game is one you will likely want to keep on your system. Rumble Box is the unique child of a cool Rayman-esque main character and hordes of enemies combined together in a classic beat-em-up style game. The game was a finalist in the 2006 Independent Games Festival and a winner in the 2006 Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition for its outstanding physics implementation.
Mono is a downlodable Windows game that is described as 'one part Asteroids, one part Robotron, and one part Paint Shop Pro'. Created by the talented guys over at Binary Zoo, you play as a plucky yet resourceful circular object set on changing its surroundings from black to white (or white to black, depending on mode). Coupled with three difficulty modes and the ability to import your own music, Mono is a well-designed little game.
Pogo Sticker is a wonderfully fun and free, physics-based downloadable game in which the goal is to guide a brightly colored pogo sticking blob safely to the exit platform in each of the game's 12 levels. Available for all three major platforms.
Albatross18: Realms of Pangya is a free downloadable, massively multiplayer online (MMO) golfing game for the PC. I know what you're thinking... MMO golf?! Well, its not so hard to imagine, is it?
BreakQuest is great fun, and it raises the bar to a dizzying height for future Breakout clones. The presentation and attention to detail is top notch, as are the pleasing sound effects and visuals that include some very impressive particle effects. Most importantly, the wide variety of levels is so compelling you will actually want to unlock and experience every single one of them.
Hot on the heels of our Massively Multiplayer Pong review, Plasma Pong, a downloadable Windows game, takes the old favorite table tennis formula and fills it with liquid plasma. Using fluid dynamics you can push the ball around the screen or charge for a cannon shot. The game ends up playing more like a visual experiment than a serious Pong clone, but it's worth a few minutes of playtime nonetheless.
GridWars is a free downloadable (for PC or Mac) old-school-style shooting game that's remarkably similar to Geometry Wars on the Xbox. Your small ship sits in a one-screen grid and vectorized enemies spawn to attack. Use your any-directional gun to stay alive while you rake in points.
An Independent Games Festival finalist, Professor Fizzwizzle is a remarkably enjoyable puzzle game filled with all sorts of robots and contraptions. The game is a delight to the eyes and ears, and it will even give your brain a workout while you play. With both downloadable and online versions available, be sure to give this one a try.
Oasis is an excellent turn-based strategy game drawing inspiration from the likes of Civilization and Age of Empires. Instead of playing one campaign for weeks on end, Oasis condenses all of the same strategy goodness into short, three-minute levels. The steep learning curve has been removed to allow anyone to get hooked on a strong dose of casual gaming fun.
Planet NoNaMe is a Russian Grow clone, and specifically a Grow Ornament clone as it is a bit dated with its Christmas and New Years holiday theme. Still, for anyone who adores the casual simplicity of this type of game, then you may enjoy playing this one, too. To my knowledge, there has been at least one other game inspired by the original Grow, a downloadable game called Sandbox of God...
It's about Chi power. Lead Artist for Lionhead Studios, Mark Healey, set out to create a video game of his own in his spare time. Over the course of a few years, an innovative and new, gorgeous and outrageous fighting game took shape under the name: Rag Doll Kung Fu. And now, a free demo is available!
Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates is a massively multiplayer online game world in which players take to the high seas to compete for pirate booty all the while playing addictive casual games! Sounds like a blast, and it is! So, climb aboard and see what all the fuss is about, and play free! =)
Cave Story, or Doukutsu Monogatari, is a superb 2D platformer reminiscent of early platform games for the NES. Created by Pixel, it is a well-made and highly polished game with a superb storyline and brilliant gameplay that is altogether very enjoyable to play. The game requires a download, for Mac or PC, and is most highly recommended!
Since Jay and I have been so hopelessly busy playing Cry Wolf, I offered last night to write a review for a game that was mentioned in passing in a previous post, Sea3d, also known as Settlers of Catan.
Settlers is a board game that's been around for a number of...
For those who enjoyed playing the classic adventure game, Grim Fandango, and for those who simply enjoy listening to the timeless sound of big band instrumentals, do yourselves a favor and head on over to the Grim Fandango Network and download the excellent soundtrack to the game. Although neither the game nor the soundtrack is new, while on the to...
N is an award-winning action platform game of skill developed in Flash and available for download only (for Mac, PC, and Linux). The objective is to traverse a series of rooms using speed, dexterity and honed senses, as well as the ability to hold onto and jump from walls, which allows you to reach greater heights. The end result is an excellent game that is unique, original, and fun to play.
Wings of Megaira is an official entry of the 2005 Independent Games Festival in the student showcase, and I couldn't be happier to report that the game was designed and built by four (4) esteemed colleagues here at RIT.
The made-for-Windows game is a classically styled top-down shooter in which you control a fighter ship against fast-moving waves ...
From PopCap.com comes this beautiful and very popular, well-conceived puzzle game that is similar to games like Bust-A-Move. Gameplay consists of shooting colored beads onto the play field using the mouse for aiming and shooting, aligning three or more in a row removes them from play. Special power-ups and bonuses abound that add spice and variety, as well as strategic elements, to the gameplay.
From Popcap comes this cute, strange and addictive, action strategy Java game called Insaniquarium. Originally developed by Flying Bear Entertainment, Insaniquarium won the Innovation in Game Design award at the 2002 Independent Games Festival (IGF).
While on the subject of Pacman, several months ago there was a posting on Slashdot games about a Japanese programmer who re-created Pacman entirely in an Excel spreadsheet. Upon reading the story I was both amazed and curious, so I downloaded the zip file from the site linked-to in the story. And it really was Pacman, right down to the cut scenes b...
Today marks the day that the Spring quarter is officially over for me. This evening our group, for Andy Phelps' 3D Graphics Programming class, presented the game we've been working on all quarter: BattleLaX, a battle lacrosse game for the Windows platform, coded in C++ using Microsoft's DirectX (V9.0b) advanced graphics API. Our game kicked virt...