You'd think that being able to do magic would make things like running a magic shop a snap. Just wave your wand and POOF everything is taken care of. Well, turns out it's not all that easy, if Mystic Emporium is any indication. In fact, it's going it take all of your time-management skills to be a successful magic shop owner and satisfy the mystical people and creatures of the realm.
Sugar-coated, filled with rainbows and sunshine and love, and cheerier than a dentist the day after Halloween, Yousumin! is a new puzzle game from Square-Enix. In the same way Bejeweled Twist put a spin on the matching genre, Yosumin! shifts things around to deliver a new kind of puzzle game that's unique yet familiar at the same time.
A fast-paced, tightly-designed version of Breakout by the talented Taro Ito. Use a big round smiley-face paddle to knock out all the bricks before they advance past the dotted line. Collect hearts to earn extra balls and shoot them into play at any time. Cute, fun, and simple.
It's another blast from the past with this week's Weekday Escape. It's an oldie from our friends at Bianco-Bianco by the name of Escape from Dr. Ichie's Factory, another gem in the Dr. Ichie series. The story's a familiar one: you wake up in the middle of an odd factory building, and you find a note from the culprit, Dr. Ichie, telling you that you have to solve some puzzles to escape from it.
Action, adventure, and painful, spiky death can all be yours in Chup, a new platformer from Tomas Pettersson. With a retro vibe and an intensely charismatic star, Chup offers a tricky jumping adventure that would make Mario proud.
A space-themed mixture of Time4Cat and Replica. Your hyper-drive has malfunctioned, and deadly replicas of your ship are popping out of a wormhole behind you, retracing your path. They only move when you do, but you still have to travel fast to collect the research from nearby planets that will allow you to escape.
Pew Pew Pew Thwak. Thwap Thwup Splat, Wheeee! The review of Platypus could end there, but in the interest of, you know, explaining things, I'll continue. Platypus is a wonderfully unique side scrolling shooter created by Anthony Flack. Everything in the game — from the enemies to the backgrounds and even the weapons fire — is made from plasticine. This playable claymation shooter is filled with action and quirky design choices that have made it an instant cult-classic.
As you might expect, the objective in Youda Marina is to run a successful marina. You do this by building facilities, attracting visitors, and earning money to gain fame. It's a unique simulation game that offers a very casual gameplay experience, along with the appeal of pretty boats and steel drum reggae music. Make yourself a Pina Colada (or a Shirley Temple) and settle in to live the dream!
Despite the title, there's no water falling from the sky in Nitrome's new game — only little bunny-like creatures. Help them fly like little floppy-eared helicopters past electrified birds and other hazards to rest on the targets below.
New features included in Stunt Pilot 2: A level editor. Bonus levels where you follow a curvy line that catches on fire if you're good enough. Cannons that shoot coins for you to catch in mid-air. Hollywood explosions that bring hot-air balloons and racing pylons crashing down around you. Yeah, this game rules.
Fun to play and play to say, ChuckaBOOM is a game from Ninja Doodle that makes throwing bombs into light entertainment! The object of each level is to clear a target number of stars, using bombs that go off three (short) seconds after you fling them.
Melon Lacquer. Mellifluous Lymphocytes. Marimba Lion. Just what, exactly, does #07 ML stand for? Anyway, this is another high-quality escape-the-room game from consistently excellent Japanese designer 58 Works, who also made Cottage and Escape from Test Kitchen 2.
Tower of Greed is a game about the banker's favorite deadly sin, in the form of an aggressively retro, fast-moving platformer. Will you exit the tower with untold riches? Or will you be betrayed by your own avarice? If your fingers are nimble enough, let's find out!
In Learn to Fly, you play as a penguin who looked himself up on Kiwipedia and took the whole "flightless bird" comment as a mortal insult. So he decides that he's going to learn to fly, presumably so he can visit whoever wrote that and give them a stern talking to. Fly high, long, and far to gain money and upgrade your penguin with gliders and rockets. And when you're done, try playing again to see if you can do it faster.
Clash'N Slash has the makings of a great one. Big guns? Check. Hordes of attacking aliens? Check. Lots and lots of explosions? Check and check. There's more happening on-screen than any namby-pamby little puzzle or hidden object game. This is an action game, for action game players. Do you have what it takes?
3 Days: Zoo Mystery, a new hidden object game from Realore Studios, drops you in the middle of a mystery at the local zoo. You play as the owner's niece, Anna, whose job it is to find several animals that have mysteriously disappeared. You have three days to solve the crime, otherwise the feds sweep in and shut the place down for good! Serve meals, work with the police, become a salty dog, circumvent hi-tech security systems and so much more in this eclectic mystery.
One man's trash is another man's treasure. We all have that one thing that's important to us; that one tiny, seemingly inconsequential thing that's somehow special. The Blue Beanie is grand adventure in a lilliputian package about just such an item, and one little hero's quest to bring it safely home.
New from Myth People, creator of Miriel the Magical Merchant and Azkend, comes another matching-based puzzle game with a new take on an old mechanic: Dragon Portals. The friendly dragons have been bound to earth with dark magic. Young Mila is called in to save them by dropping orbs from one dragon to another, matching groups of like-colored ones to keep the dragons aloft. It's a nice departure from most matching games, and combined with Myth People's signature art direction and epic power-ups, makes a game well worth trying out.
A gorgeous puzzle game with an impeccable user interface, Minim sets the standard for browser-based casual games. Minimize molecules to nothingness by combining atoms with digits on them, according to a few simple rules. Despite the references to chemistry and some light math, Minim isn't an educational game. It's more like a comforting hug followed by a knuckle sandwich.
Toys is a compact, high-quality escape game that, if not exactly groundbreaking, is certainly enjoyable. A prominent feature of one of the game's puzzles is the usage of stereograms, a form of optical illusion in which a three-dimensional image is hidden within a two-dimensional picture. All in all, a high-quality production.
Miracle Witch is the bright, fast, colorful, hard-as-nails story of cute little witch Polfe and her quest to defeat the evil king Yeah Walusa, which is the best name for an evil king ever. Find secret treasures, slay monstrous bosses, solve obscure puzzles. Like a mouse-controlled Legend of Zelda,
How hard could building a bridge be? In a game where you have to retrieve an elephant from a distant island, the answer may surprise you. Cargo Bridge asks you to engineer a sturdy path for your movers as they transport crates, safes, and yes, elephants.
Martians vs. Robots from Tommy Twisters is an attempt to take the classic gameplay of Asteroids and bring it into the new century, using 3D graphics, expanded gameplay, and multiplayer options. The single player game features loads of great combat action, but the real meat is in the robust multiplayer modes where 24 people can battle it out over the internet!
While it may be built upon the same time management foundation we're already familiar with, Everything Nice skirts the perimeter of the genre with a recipe-based setup reminiscent of Miriel the Magical Merchant. Fed up with all the violent toys flooding the market, Abby has the idea to create classic, "happy" toys such as teddy bears and jack-in-the-boxes. A local businessman rejects her idea, but then she stumbles across the Wondermachine9000, a magical device that can create anything her imagination conjures. Just the thing she needs to start her own factory!
Pariboro is Tonypa's latest endeavour into the world of tile-based games of skill and luck. Forty tiles of three colors lie on the grid before you, and your job is to clear as many tiles as you can, before the random domino-generator produces one you can't match. Bonus: having a Casual Gameplay account saves your progress!
If a three-year-old or a five-year-old were to make their own platform game, Androkids 2 is exactly what it would look like. If you never quite got over collecting coins and jumping on the bad guys, this is definitely right up your alley. Kid-tested and approved.
Rougoku falls into the category of more "realistic" escape games, those that concentrate in large part upon collecting and using items in practical ways (with, of course, a few genuine puzzles thrown in). It is a solid room escape game from a solid developer, familiar and proven with games like this.
Prince Peep is the last of the Whistle Knights, who have guarded the legendary Arrow of Time for generations against all invaders. Help Peep keep the Arrow safe in the new defense title from Super Flash Bros: The Arrow of Time.
If The Incredible Machine met the classic board game Mouse Trap, TubeTwist would be the result. Arrange tubes, accelerators and other contraptions to manipulate the path of the Macroton (a colored marble-like object) from the Injector Tube (the start) to the Reactor Tube (the finish). It's that simple!
Mevo and the Grooveriders is a funky music game that'll get your fingers a-snappin' and your toes a-tappin' (and your lips a-chappin' and your GPS a-mappin'?). You play as Mevo, a red alien that needs to reunite his band to save the universe from perpetual silence. (And the cats a-nappin'? Sorry, I'm done with that now.)
Fans of Samantha Swift's previous caper have cause to rejoice. Samantha Swift and the Golden Touch, the newest hidden object adventure in the franchise, offers a compelling combination of well-integrated mini-games and adventure-style item puzzles that do an excellent job of keeping the game feeling fresh throughout.
Put Paper Mario and Tim Burton in a blender and you get Paper Moon, a smooth, sophisticated example of how to integrate design and mechanics into a masterful casual game. It's a platformer with a twist, and with enough style and depth to keep you coming back for more.
Playing equal parts as a maze, a hide-and-seek game and a guessing game, the idea of Neon Maze is to run around a glowing labyrinth in your little blur-pod, changing colours to open up new areas, while attempting to find the exit platform. The graphical presentation and surprisingly intricate level design make this one a winner.
Finally we find out why we have been trapped in so many different rooms in the Great Escape series by Mateusz Skutnik and the Pastel Games crew. Apparently there have been ghosts at every turn, slamming doors and locking us in various areas of the house, and now it's up to you do deal with those ghosts, once and for all. The Great House Escape takes the locale from each of the six previous installments, plus hallways connecting them all, and turns them into one big final "great escape" game.
Loom Blend is another room escape game from Place of Light, who previously brought us Room Fake, Room Bath, Room Marine, and Loom Above. The game's scenario is nothing new: you are in a room filled with diabolical puzzles and more than a few secrets, and must employ all of your wits to escape. A simple premise, but one that Place of Light does very well.
Desktop TD Pro is a substantial new update to one of the grandfathers of tower defense, with new shiny graphics and menacing new "hopper" and "decoy" creeps. With the new Scenarios, Sprint Mode, and a completely customizable Sandbox Mode, this is a strong contender for Best Tower Defense Game Ever.
In the experimental game Gray, you are a white or black androgynous person in the midst of a rioting mob, filled with people of the opposite shade. Your goal is to talk to the people who are highlighted and attempt to convert them to your point of view. It's amazing how accurately such a simple little game can hold a mirror up to modern political discourse.
Windosill is the story of a toy car, a little blue box with wheels and a smokestack, who one day dares to journey outside of its confining storage shelf. You, armed with the power to touch, carry, poke, prod, and experiment, will lead the toy through a cool blue dream presented in stages, a series of shadow-boxes full of curious characters and structures, each with its own puzzle to be solved.
Virtual Families is the latest addition to the impressive lineup of simulation games from Last Day of Work, makers of the Virtual Villagers series. Virtual Families takes the basic concepts of Virtual Villagers and brings them home — literally. No longer are you concerned with a village of people trying to survive the ravages of the wild. Now it's just a single family in a single house. While the concept may seem over-simplified when compared to Virtual Villagers, you'll find that it's less about simplifying the game and more about concentrating on the details.
A new hidden object mystery game has appeared: Cate West - The Velvet Keys! Following the style, story and gameplay conventions set by Cate West - The Vanishing Files, The Velvet Keys casts you in the role of the young scarlet scarf-wearing author/psychic as she digs through occult legends in search of a way to contact departed souls. It's a great-looking game with surprising variety and an enticing plot that gushes out as the game progresses.
To celebrate Earth Day (April 22), National Geographic has sponsored Plan It Green, a casual building sim in the style of Build-a-lot that joins the sparsely populated ranks of "green" games. True to its name, Plan It Green focuses on boosting your energy credits by designing green buildings and communities using four types of structures. It also manages to have an environmentally friendly message that doesn't smack you over the head at every turn.
This is a story of pop-up people who live in pop-up houses next to pop-up castles and pop-up trees. Your goal is to make the right side of this picture-book world into a mirror image of the left side. Headspin Storybook combines fabulous graphics with a creative twist on the "spot the difference" genre, and you'll want to keep playing it till the very end.
Look! Off in the horizon! Ships with flags with skulls and crossbones! And tons of peg-legged men hobbling right this way! We've got pirates on our hands, and the need to defend against them! Pirate Defense is Hero Interactive's (Storm Winds, Bubble Tanks) take on tower defense games, with a steep slant toward traps and chain reactions. Give those pirates the worst day of their pillaging life.
Snake Ball is a game of mouse skill, in which you, the snake, must quickly score points by bouncing and trapping balls into a pit with your body. Green balls are healthy but score low, while red balls score big but slowly drive your snake insane. An insane snake is a disturbing sight, I'll tell you what.
Can you feel it? That buzzing in the air? That's the feeling of the excitement of a new Nitrome tingling at your senses. Or someone just stuck a fork in the microwave, but it's more likely the former. Power Up is a physics-based puzzler with a high-voltage bolt of challenging fun that lasts for up to 32 levels.
G-Sensor is a solid, well-plotted and very enjoyable escape-the-room game from Japanese developer HILG. You, as a nameless business-person, have checked into the mysterious Uncle Boo's Hotel, and now you can't get out!
Puzzle Defence is a charming mash-up of the SameGame play mechanic with RPG elements. Scary, adorable monsters are attacking your castle, and the only way to defend yourself is to match them together, puzzle/strategy-style. You just want to hug this game and tousle its hair.
Tantrix is a friendly one-player version of the 1988 board game by Mike McManaway, a game that may not have the renown of Scrabble or chess, but still attracts devoted players for annual tournaments. Try to form loops of a single color out of specially-designed hexagonal tiles, in either a puzzle mode or the more improvisational Solitaire mode.
Planet Basher is a blast to play. It's like a gigantic, customizable pachinko machine in space. Your goal is to buy planets and position them so that your rockets bounce off of them long enough to collect the required 200 stars in one round. How many rounds will it take you?
Bipole is a physics-heavy spin-cycle of a puzzler. The goal is simple: annihilate all the cute, smiling particles by colliding them with particles of the opposite charge, taking advantage of gravity and electrostatic attraction/repulsion to gain momentum.
With a solid story and hours of gameplay, Cindy's Travels: Flooded Kingdom is a game that builds upon the basic match-3 mechanic with additional gameplay elements. While character perspective may take a bit to get used to, it certainly doesn't detract from the fun packed into this title. Take up Cindy's mirror, clear the land of refuse, and get back to the business of "happily every after."
Are you ready for adventure? Are you ready for mayhem? Are you . . . feeling a bit peckish? Then grab yourself some crackers and your favourite brand of cheese and get comfy in your favourite sweater vest. Telltale Games, developers of the equally tasty Sam and Max games, have just released the first adventure in a new series plucked straight from the popular British cartoon and movie, Wallace and Gromit. Fright of the Bumblebees is point-and-click adventure at it's finest in a rollicking good time with everyone's favourite cheese-loving inventor and his beleaguered pooch.
Acting as a prequel to the original, Gemcraft Zero tells the story of a wizard who has become so entangled in his search for the fabled Gem of Eternity that his colleagues have cast him out. Any fan of tower defense games shouldn't miss this one, but even those who may not normally be interested in them should at least give it a try.
How cute can you take it? If your answer is merely "pretty darn cute", that won't be enough. Even your cursor becomes pudgy and extra cuddly as you set out to help the little Euwins return home. Build bridges across 70 levels worth of waterways in Bridgecraft!
Hey look, it's Dream Chronicles 3: The Chosen Child! The latest installment in the Dream Chronicles series has arrived, and its as breathtakingly brilliant everyone would expect. A little bit of hidden object finding, a little bit of puzzle solving, but a whole lot of adventuring can be found in this superb sequel, along with some of the most gorgeous scenery you've seen since looking out your own window (assuming you live in a fantasy world with fairies, fountains, and vibrant gardens). It's an excellent follow-up to the previous Dream Chronicles games and a fantastic game in its own right.
Jmtb02 brings us a cheerfully nihilistic look at traffic, in the form of a fast-paced, fun little reflex-tester. Click on the stop-lights to turn them on or off, allowing cars, buses, and semi-trailers to pass through intersections safely. Can you beat all 20 levels, oh Invisible Sky-bound Weaver of the Woof and Warp of Interlocking Automobiles? Or will the jabbering banjo music drive you insane first?
In this single-player Flash implementation of the card game Sevens, you play a stone cactus, locked in an endless death-match with a room full of other stone cacti, hoping to prolong the sweet breath of life for a few more rounds before The Claw hauls you off to the Great Gravel-Maker in the Sky. No, really.
Loom above is the latest room escape game from Place of Light, one of our favorite room escape game developers. It's not nearly as long or challenging as previous releases we've seen by this developer, and there are far fewer items to find. The puzzles are all fairly straightforward and the game is a joy to play because of how well everything fits together. See for yourself.
Scarygirl is a huge (hours long) and absolutely stunning platform game just released today by a collaboration of companies, including art direction by concept creator, Nathan Jurevicius, an Australian-born artist now living in Toronto, Ontario. Although currently marred by gameplay issues causing player frustration, it is without a doubt one of the most visually appealing browser-based experiences we have ever seen.
Using proprietary physics simulation technology, Collider lets you in on all the particle-smashing action you can handle! Simply annihilate all the charged particles by crashing the positive ones into the negative ones in this gritty physics-based puzzler.
Prizma Puzzle is a new tile-based puzzler by Silengames, strong on aesthetics and brimming with potential. Using your mouse, your job is to form a path of light beams from a source of your choice to all of the pyramid-shaped goals. It's a bit on the easy side, but the snazzy package and a variety of prism tiles make it interesting.
Zerosum is an intense variation on match-3 puzzles, with strict policies on winning and losing but vast opportunities for strategy. Easy to learn, hard to master. Make matches by adding adjacent numbers together, but make sure you don't run out of digits to replace them! It's brain candy, once you get into it, like defusing a bomb constructed by an six-year-old arch-villain.
Bumps is the latest physics puzzler from Utopian Games, and it has cute coming out of its ears. It's a charming combination of games like Eets and Loco Roco-esque Tau-ri Bedrock or Rolando. Bumps is something a little different: a little bit of strategy, a little bit of experimentation, and a lot of bubbly-eyed cuteness. Bumps is a great diversion for any afternoon!
Paradoxion is a classic logic puzzle game from VSBgames. Not the head-pounding hurts-your-brain kind of logic, this one's a sit and stare, look and compare sort of game. Using gems, orbs and other materials from your inventory, arrange everything on the grid to set off chain reactions that clear the board. It's a relaxing game that manages to stay challenging without resorting to timed rounds or combo systems.
Is your current job getting you down? Does it feel like you need a microscope to look at your paycheck, or like your boss doesn't truly appreciate your creativity, knack for finding hidden objects, and aptitude at matching three or more objects of the same color? Are you at a dead end in your career? Cheer up! An exciting field is open and waiting for you as an Alchemist's Apprentice!
These puzzles are the same type of chess mind-benders that still appear in some newspapers next to the word jumble and bridge game brainteasers. Given an endgame position consisting of a few pieces, try to produce checkmate in a given number of moves. The difficulty curve eases you in gradually, and if you're good enough, you can tackle 650 unique puzzles. Regardless of your Elo rating, you'll find a challenge that will suit you with MateMaster.
Bart Bonte knows that at the end of the day, sometimes the simplest rewards are the sweetest. Me and the Key is a series of mini-games that all have the same end — getting the titular key. That's right. There's no zombies, no spaceships, no power-ups. Just you and a slowly evolving set of puzzles designed to test your common sense, and your ability to think outside the box.
In ooPixel's brilliant new action game Escape the Red Giant, the sun is about to die, and you have to keep yourself alive for as long as possible by jumping from one asteroid to the next. Between the detailed physics engine and the tight gameplay, you may find yourself addicted without realizing it.
The land of Wonderburg has been laid to waste by evil minions, and it is up to a wizard and a stalwart gnome to travel the lands putting right what has gone wrong. That is the premise of the time management strategy game Wonderburg. While it doesn't venture far beyond what games like the Build-a-lot series have established, it's a charming title that stands firmly on its own two feet.
The Legend of Crystal Valley is a mini-epic adventure game with an eclectic mix of fantasy and sci-fi elements. Gather items, solve both environmental and inventory puzzles, and examine everything you see as you travel through over 150 locations, each just as extraordinary as the last.
Tower Core is another shining star from John Feltham, the author of the previous "Core" series of games. It continues the story line established in Soul Core without a hitch, and even provides a recap accessible from the main menu. An alien being has decided to attack Earth while it was vulnerable. We can't let this happen. Unfortunately, the planet's defense systems are powered by a special Power Core Deluxe which someone forgot to charge before leaving.
Though it may appear to be just a slightly more colorful clone of Loops of Zen,, Colourshift starts to separate itself when you have to start blending colors together. With a gentle learning curve, plenty of customizable options, and a page of unlockable achievements, Colourshift may just take you by surprise.
A great game for fans of quirky physics puzzles, Civiballs asks you to drop colored orbs into the corresponding urns. Most orbs begin the level suspended in the air by chains and ropes. Your only method of interaction is to cut those cords, and let physics handle the rest, as the civiballs bounce and roll through a network of ramps and obstacles to reach their home.
The latest wacky puzzle from Nitrome, Rustyard has you indirectly leading a junkyard robot with a striking resemblance to Wall-E. You cannot control the movements of the machine, but you can manipulate the environment with its buttons and switches and trolley tracks. Get the robot to the generator and charge up! Bzzzap!
Redstar Fall is a short but wonderfully executed and atmospheric entry in the physics-based stacking/unstacking genre. you begin each level with a pile of oddly-shaped blocks sitting on an island floating in the sky. Click on a block and it vanishes, allowing everything above to shift with the pull of gravity. Your goal is to ease the red star down so it comes to rest on the island.
The sixth installment of Mateusz Skutnik's Great Escape series. By now you should know what to expect; beatiful cartoony backgrounds, quirky music, and improbable contraptions you must build to make your unlikely escape. Oh, and bats. Maybe you weren't expecting the bats, but they're in there too.
Neptune is quite different from GUMP's previous room-escape games. It doesn't begin with an interesting introductory movie in which a pink-haired character does not encounter a huge building and doesn't decide to enter it, not passing an enigmatic red ladies' shoe that isn't resting on the ground outside.
There's delicious candy out there for those brave enough to mine it. Spin a giant orb made of coloured candy blocks to make the incoming bullets strike the blocks of your choice. But be careful you don't accidentally let the bullets strike the candy core! There may not be a lot of replayability or depth in Gregory Weir's Sugarcore, but there is a surprising amount of charm and cheek, and plenty of fast-paced puzzle blasting. Treating yourself to this candy won't make you feel guilty.
Be a King is a new fantasy strategy title from 300AD. It follows in the tracks of games such as King Mania, Forgotten Lands: First Colony, and the Build-a-Lot series and blends a streamlined building-centric real-time strategy game with a handful of casual knowhow.
Sea Journey is... well, it's Puzzle Quest with pirates! Built around a tile-swapping Bejeweled-like game, you venture into the great blue ocean in search of treasure, upgrading your vessel along the way. Each match 3 game you play is a fierce battle at sea, complete with cannon salvos and mystical spells conjured by talismans.
Labyrinth is not your average dungeon crawl, but instead an online riddle, with more than a few twists and turns to set it apart, and a horde of fiendish puzzles that just may trap you for eternity. The focus lies in code breaking and logic, the community and support features are outstanding, and many puzzles have multiple solutions. Can you emerge from this place victorious, treasure in hand?
Zachtronics Industries has come up with a new "Game for Engineers", and given its central concept you'd think playing it would blow up the space-time continuum. It's a computer game about programming computer chips. Though it may take some time to grasp its central concepts, Kohctpyktop: Engineer of the People is a rich and rewarding puzzle game.
Assembler 3, by Bryce Summer, is a game about TWITCHING RAGE or to be more specific, a physics-based puzzle game with 44 levels, in which you must carefully position green objects within their equally green outlines. Maddening and compelling, Assembler 3 is sure to scratch your itch for GRAAAAAAAGH JUST STAY ON THE STUPID WEDGE YOU STUPID CRATE! MRAAAAAAAGH!!!
Drift Runners is a rip-roaring overhead racer from developer Long Animals, with no brakes, a variety of achievements and a hectic pace. Due to the emphasis on drifting, you don't carve the turns so much as shred them. It gets the controls right, it looks pretty, it makes crashing sounds at all the right times, and it rewards you for breaking stuff. Give it a spin.
Quaint room is a relatively short and easy room escape game, but it is also impressively polished and well-made. The graphics are aesthetically pleasing in a tidy sort of way, and the interface is completely smooth and user-friendly. So, take a break. Relax, step back a few years and enjoy this lovely example of classic Japanese gaming goodness.
The graphic presentation is fairly simple, but this is a deceptively deep Dr. Mario-style puzzler with a unique color-matching mechanic. Whenever you make a match, you leave behind a ball of a new color, and your job is to work your way up to the top of the rainbow scale. This adds a lot more gameplay dimension than you'd expect, and once you get into it, you will be hooked, trying to make that last couple of levels. Definitely give Combine a chance.
Combining some of the best parts of Animal Crossing and Virtual Villagers with a sprinkling role playing know-how, Wandering Willows is something so incredibly alluring you'll burn through a few hours of game time before you realize what hit you. It's a pet-raising recipe-collecting item-bartering friend-gaining character-customizing leveling-up collect-a-thon!
Your job in Nosobow, the newest creation from Tonypa, is to eliminate the non-matching tiles from the screen, while clicking a member of a pair puts you in jeopardy of losing the game. Behind the brilliantly simple design lies a intricate psychological game of self-pacing and concentration that will have you groaning in anguish every time you have to start back at square one.
A sequel to Open Doors, one of the most interesting puzzle games of 2008, has arrived, with an arresting makeover and just the right amount of extra spice. Open Doors 2 features compact puzzles with just the right number of new doors and mechanical gizmos. With a sparkling presentation and superb level design, this is one of the best puzzlers we've seen so far this year.
Curse of the Pharaoh 2: Napoleon's Secret is a hidden-object game with added puzzle elements, such as spot-the-difference games. It's a direct sequel to Curse of the Pharaoh: Quest for Nefertiti and captures the same sense of adventure as the original, now in a new setting with all-new puzzles to solve.
The well-received Farm Frenzy series of time management games has now expanded to include... pizza? HA! I'm joking. Wait, no I'm not. Even funnier than my little gag there is the fact that Farm Frenzy Pizza Party is actually a good game. It doesn't innovate much beyond what the first two titles layed out, but the addition of some new buildings and new products adds a decidedly more strategic twist to the experience.
GlueFO 2.0, from the irRegular creators of Sproing Reloaded, has a simple premise: what if the heroic ship in Asteroids couldn't afford ammunition? What if the global recession were in fact universal, and the only way you could afford to bust space rocks was by sticking drifting pebbles to your hull, and then spraying them at the asteroids like deadly gravel?
What could be better than a game based on explosions? The goal is to get the yellow outlined cube to the bottom of the screen, and the only way to do it is by placing bombs in various locations and letting physics do the rest. The interesting part is how you can time the bombs to move blocks around the screen, one explosion after another.
Have you been wandering around in a haze since the first Perfect Balance, your heart crying out for the opportunity to wedge more things together? Do you miss the wedging like a starving shark misses bluefish? Then Perfect Balance: New Trials is here to offer you sweet, sweet, soul-crushing relief, in the form of 30 more levels of tough block stacking.
The vikings and the ice that trapped them have returned in an expansion on Nitrome's original physics-based puzzle game, Ice Breaker. Ice Breaker The Red Clan introduces lots of new obstacles to deal with strewn about an all-new set of levels. Vikings are trapped in the ice, walled-in by rock, or otherwise prevented from reaching the ship. Using your cursor as a cutting tool, it's your job to set them free. Manipulate each environment to provide a clear path from viking to ship and carve your way through 40 brand-new levels.
Another Room, by Japanese designer Mofuya, is a sweet, semi-short example of classic point-and-click that is executed with near-perfect competence. The game's puzzles are simple but well-crafted; while not wildly creative or different, they nonetheless offer a satisfying variety of problems to tackle. The room's neat, somewhat subdued appearance is pleasing to the eye and makes it simple to navigate the surroundings.
You remember Labyrinth, the board game where you turn knobs to roll a little steel ball to the exit, without hitting any holes along the way? Tilt is an example of the wooden labyrinth in 3D digital form, and an excellent one it is, too. Of course, one of the advantages of a digital version is the fact that the maze configuration does not have to stay static, and it certainly doesn't here. There are 66 different levels, many of them devilishly hard.
Hex Empire is a casual turn-based strategy war game, occupying a comfortable spot between the simplicity of Risk and the number crunching of the Avalon Hill-style board games that inspired the whole soldiers-on-hexagons thing. It lets you jump right into battle without much fuss, and offers enough tactical depth to be addictive even after several wars have ended. A bit of a treat, really.
Ever play Crack the Whip? The game where you hold hands with people in a line and then yank them around until someone loses hold of their neighbor's hand? Gen is a physics game with the same whippy slingshotty action, set in the world of microbiology. Maneuvering your little yellow cells to the big blue cell—without letting them get eaten by the red cells—will keep you swimming happily around in the petri dish for a while.