Facebook Ad Annoyances

on Sunday, March 20, 2011
Play Plants vs. Zombies online FREE! Free cool flash games here, comes with free toolbar! Come play [insert blatantly stolen popular retro game here] at [phishing/adware/data mining website].com!

This  is the first time I've ever written about something other than a specific flash game, but I feel this needs to be addressed. These taglines and many more seem to plague the sidebar of facebook. The reason why they are there is simple, people generally don't like paying for things they could possibly get for free, and the average facebook user doesn't know java from flash, let alone the difference between a website that offers a genuine service, and one that wishes to rip them off.

I don't mean to imply that every website that runs an advertisement on facebook is out to rob you blind and rape your kids, its mostly just the rob you blind part. The people who pay for the ads on facebook do so for one reason, it makes them more money than it costs them. It's not a moral issue for them, whether they are selling a legitimate mmorpg for tweens done by a team of seven, or one guy who set up a phishing website who will turn a profit in selling stolen information to interested parties. Facebook, similarly, has only the goal of making money, and doesn't make an effort to remove ads that are exploitative of users. The best facebook does is give you the option of personally choosing to not see specific ads by giving you the option to close the ad and report to facebook why you didn't want to see their ad.

In the wild wild west that is the internet, who is left to protect the hapless populace from those who wish to prey upon them? Well, mostly themselves. The snake oil salesmen will do everything in their power to extract the money out of you, whether by getting you to buy something directly, or selling your personal info. Facebook in this case serves as sort of the person who runs the town, but doesn't give a damn about what happens to it's citizens so long as it ends up paid.

So, who ultimately ends up suffering for this? First and foremost, the user does. Computer viruses, spam emails, and huge wastes of time are honestly the least of your worries if you are haphazardly clicking ads without knowing what the angle of the advertiser is. On the extreme end you could end up dealing with being tricked into buying something that doesn't exist, having credit card data stolen, or even ending up a victim of identity theft. Naturally all of these can be avoided with a tiny bit of net savvy, but that isn't exactly abundant in the facebook userbase. What people don't realize is that the targets of the ads aren't the only ones who get hurt. Any asset that is illegally used in setting up these scams potentially hurts the reputation of the owner of that asset. Never heard of Plants vs. Zombies and try to play it via an ad, only to be taken to a website that asks for your credit card info? Certainly doesn't make you want to try out plants vs. zombies in the future. Click an ad advertising a free tetris game only to be taken to a website that wants you install a malicious toolbar? Well, you certainly learned your lesson about trying to play games on the internet.

So, what can be done if facebook won't openly fix the problem and the people spending money on ads are obviously out to exploit the gullible? The most important thing you can do is get rid of the gullible people. Not with guns, knives, and mortar launchers of course, but with knowledge. Just about everybody who reads this knows someone who is by all means net illiterate, but uses facebook.  Simply and succinctly as you can, explain to them why they shouldn't trust certain ads, and what to look for to find a fake. If you wish to help the devs whose assets are being abused however, the route is slightly more involved. The first thing you want to do is screencap the ad, and save the image to send later. Then you want to go to the developer/publisher's website, and find the contact us button. Contact them via email, and tell them that the website in question is scamming people using their assets(make sure to attach the photo). After that, the work is on the shoulders of the devs to notify facebook of the DMCA breach and get the ad removed. You'll probably get a nice thank you in return, and you can feel good that you personally helped rid facebook of a malicious fraud.

Super Mega Balance Party 4

on Sunday, March 13, 2011
Remember how, in science/math class as a child your teacher would give you a scale, and you kept putting things in it , at different positions and kept changing the stuff to see what would happen? Ever stacked a bunch of objects(books, cans etc) to see how high you could get them before they toppled? Well if so, then Super Mega Balance Party 4 may be a familiar game to you.

SMBP4 is a stacking game, in the same vein as the perfect balance series. You have a bunch of various shapes, and you must balance them. Being physics games, they naturally rely on surface pressure for friction, so your circles roll, your cubes slide a bit, and your long, flat boards don't really budge much at all. The overall goal in SMBP4 is to build a tower of X blocks high without too many mess ups and without running out of time.

The game pieces are rather simple, yet are diverse enough that the levels are not generic. You have three basic surface types, normal, ice and bouncy, as well as static balance boards, and ones that teeter and totter like a scale. Normal ground works as you would expect, as does ice, the tricky one is bouncy flooring. From what I could see, bouncy flooring physics was pretty much a crapshoot, and kind of a hassle to deal with. As for the shapes, you have circles, wooden planks, boxes, and metal boxes. Circles roll unless another object is there to stop them, planks are generally used for supporting highers structures because of their stability, crates are your standard block, and metal crates are like crates, but they seem to weigh as much as 3 crates.

Graphically, its pretty polished, but it could've used more variety. The menus are pretty, and the backgrounds really do serve to set the environment. It may have helped to add more block textures though, because as you can see in the screenshot above, every single stone block uses the same pattern. More background/foreground variety for the different levels would have also been nice. It never hurts to mix things up with graphical assets.

Would I recommend this game? What I would instead recommend is that you go play Perfect Balance 3, and if you like it, then play Super Mega Balance Party 4. The latter levels are annoying with the advent of bounce flooring, but if you like stacking games, it certainly should appeal to you.

Notebook Wars 2

on Thursday, March 10, 2011
Remember when you would draw out epic dogfights on your notepad in school, in between pulling the ponytail of the girl in front of you and feigning interest in the teacher, who was explaining the water cycle for the third time this year? No? Well, maybe it was just me, and of course the DreamForge Studios devs, who bring us this piece of notepad paper known as Notebook Wars 2.

For once, I can not say that I've played the game's prequel, so I can't make any comparisons to improvements from the original, or unneeded flaws. However, judging the game on it's own merits, its a pretty fun game, with some pretty major flaws in design.

In notebook wars 2, you play as a pilot who is tasked to shoot down an armada of enemy planes and occasionally a bunker, tank, or gigantic robotic monstrosity the likes of which could have only come from the mind of Micheal Bay. It is never made clear why you are destroying all of these ships, but one must assume that zombie Nazis have taken over the world. This would also explain the flight skill of the pilots, because apparently having a half decayed brain limits zombie pilots to military parade and delta formations.

The game's upgrade system is standard shooter fare, though very well polished. You have ten ship and ammo types, and while they may have their strengths and weaknesses at the lower tiers, the upper tiers are your standard 'one bullet/plane to rule them all'. The pricing is really well done is most aspects, you really seem to get what you pay for, but a notable exception is in upgrade slots for planes. Some planes only have one upgrade slot, some have up to four. The problem is that the slots have to be unlocked on every plane you buy, and slot prices are both based on the ship's initial price, and grow exponentially each slot. So while that $100,000 might look like a pretty cool goal to go after, its pointless to buy unless you want to spend a half an hour grinding in the game, because getting four slots on it costs $200,000 altogether, twice the price of the most expensive thing in the game. Using the three slot helicopter on the other hand means spending $30,000 total, and is really a better option due to the way the system works.

The combat is pretty fun, but the enemies lack unique qualities by and large, and the rounds go on for way too long and don't do enough to overwhelm you. About 80% of the enemies fly together in lines and fire straight ahead, making it easy to edge kill the entire line, or swoop out of its way. Some of the more interesting AI in the units, these large green planes, were discarded after three levels, even though the different movement style changed up the game and made it more dynamic, and it would've been really nice to see more of that. The game is also very slowly paced. Its certainly not your average shooter, rather than short, frantic rounds with lots of impulse thinking and playing going on, the game sends an ungodly armada of planes at you each round, but at a leisurely pace. It may also be worth mentioning that the final health bar of each boss took far too long to deplete. At the point that the boss has lost all his extra guns, he has no hope of winning, the final health bar just delays the progression of the game by about 50 seconds.

As far the art style, I really do dig it. The crayon art is consistent, and and the animations of things like helicopter blades spinning don't distort at all. I could realistically look at a picture of this game with all the HUD removed and say that someone took crayons, colored pencils, and line paper and drew this out.

Notebook Wars 2 is a pretty good top down shooter, albeit not one that has you working much. It's a really good game to play while doing something else audio-wise, such as listening to music or a podcast, because with no story to speak of, the entire game is very light on requiring player comprehension. Definitely a game I would recommend for someone who has an hour or so to burn.

Sushi Cat 2

on Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Remember that one game with the fat cat that kept growing fatter and fatter as he continued to eat? It was called Sushi Cat and it has a sequel.

Sushi cat 2 is a cutesy little pseudo luck based puzzle game that plays just like its predecessor, with a few shiny new bobbles. It features twenty-five levels, four power ups, and a cutesy storyline that actually provides incentive to play the game.

the game starts out with sushi cat's stuffed animal/girlfriend being taken by bacon dog. He tries to give chase, but finds himself unable to use the elevator because he can't reach the button panel. Since he is conveniently in a grocery store, he decides to pig himself out in order to get big enough to reach the buttons, and this is where the game starts.
Much like Burrito Bison, this game is very minimalistic on playing, and you spend more time watching than actually controlling sushi cat. The difference is that sushi cat's boards are laid out so that there is a huge amount of strategy in what amount to moving your mouse and clicking once. The wonky physics do add quite an element of luck to the game, but are generally predictable enough to accomplish your goals, be it collecting a power up, golden sushi piece, or just a mound of sushi. The power ups also add a small additional amount of control; bombs let you blow up sushi to collect it, the fist power up lets you charge through anything, including solid objects, the pinball power up lets you temporarily turn sushi cat into a game of pinball, and the shopping special lets you click sushi to collect it for a short amount of time.

As far as the art goes, the game is unbelievably cute. If you can honestly look to the left and say that that cat isn't cute, you have no soul. The cut scenes are like something out of a child's storybook. The sun, the mountains, the shopping mall and pretty much every other large inanimate object has a face, and the story can only be described with the word "d'aww".

Sushi cat isn't a short game by any means however, its probably in the hour range for most people. It has 25 levels, and some of them (or maybe just the last one) will take multiple retries to accomplish. The power ups really speed things up, and give you a way to combat the physics engine's constant toying with you. It's not to say the game is difficult, but the most efficient route to getting all the sushi isn't always obvious.

Sushi Cat 2 is a really enjoyable game to watch, though little player input is actually required. The game has a decent length without overstaying its welcome, and its always fun to see just how big your cat will get. Definitely a worthwhile game if you have the patience to sit down and watch a get grow fatter and fatter on his way down a pachinko table.

Epic Fail

on Monday, March 7, 2011
Life as a bunny is harsh. If  it's not landmines blowing you to bits, its the aliens wanting to give you an anal probe. And to top it all off, you are expected to traverse a deadly maze for a few sweet seconds of un-PC bunny love.

Epic Fail is a game by mif2000, and sponsored by Mochi Games. You take control of a rabbit who must find his way through a deadly maze. Not only that, but it is filled to the brim with 3 foot wide flying saucers, and itty bitty landmines. Sadly, these things are both the right size for a rabbit, and will abduct and maim you appropriately. The maze will take you a bit to solve, since you can only see a bit of it at once, but since its a static maze, the game really lacks replay value.

The game is really short, as in under ten minutes if you look out for mines, which are actually fairly difficult to see while moving through a maze. The four mines in the picture is pretty obvious of course, but they get slightly trickier in placement as you go deeper into the maze.

I really do like the art style here, but it feels like it was wasted on the length of the game. The game play wasn't terrible, and it definitely could have stood to have a couple more levels to showcase the nice graphical work that was put into the tile set.

Epic fail is definitely useful for killing, oh say ten minutes, but once you know the map, the game is finished, there is nothing more to do, and it finds itself on the short side of the game length to fun bell curve.

Below is the full map for those who want it(via Newgrounds):


The Legend of the Golden Robot

on Friday, March 4, 2011
Oh no, an evil and generic wizard has taken over the countryside around the village and threatens the lives of all its citizens! What to do? I know, lets make that new guy, the one who looks like Indiana Jones, kill the bad guys.
 This plot may sound perfectly reasonable to everyone in the town, save for Indigo Steve. Unfortunately, you are Indigo Steve. Armed with only a sweet hat, a knife, and his wits, Indiana Jones Indigo Steve must set out to collect objects such as the crystal skull, King solomon's seal, and the holy grail, in order to fund himself enough to buy things, of course. The real prize is a shiny golden robot that can dispell any hostile magic, including that of completely un-nazilike wizards.

The legend of the Golden Robot is a game about a man, a blade, a shovel, a wizard, a robot, and an annoying guy who has to be the worst house side gambler in existence. You play as Indigo Steve, a brave adventurer who sets out to save a village (with a population of four men and two houses, but a village nonetheless) from an evil wizard. To do this, he must reassemble the 5 piece of the golden robot, an artifact that is known for dispelling hostile magic.

The gameplay is divided into a couple of parts. You start out in the village, where you can buy weapons, gamble,and learn about treasure locations. This is also where you manage your equipment. Once you leave town you go to a map that shows all of the game's dig sites. Most are locked until you have the proper equipment. Once in a dig site, the game becomes minesweeper in reverse, the objective is to get to the treasures by reading how many treasures are in adjacent tiles. Often while treasure hunting, you will be attacked my hostile minions of the wizard, which initiates the combat stage of the game.

Combat is pretty simple, but your stats are what make all the difference. You have four moves you can use on your turn. A normal attack, which is accurate, does normal damage, and uses 10 stamina, a block which reduces damage by half and fills your stamina, a rage attack which does 1.5-2.4 times normal damage for 20 stamina, and a buildup attack that does four times normal damage, costs 30 stamina, and takes 2 turns to use. As a bit of side advice, get attack and defense to 5, stamina to 7, then put everything into strength. If you do this, just about every fight near the end of the game will be a one hit fight, even the final boss will die in 3 rage attacks if you focus on strength. Other than than those skills you have a special that can be used once a day, most are pretty darned useful.

When treasure hunting, keep in mind the rules of minesweeper, so you don't waste daylight hours searching an obviously blank spot. if the tile shows and 8, that means every side and corner of it has treasure, if it shows 0 that means all of its adjacent tiles are blank. If you are having trouble finding treasures, gamble with Brian to earn locations of treasures. Remember to always bet higher if he rolls 27 or lower, and bet lower is he rolls above 27. Also keep in mind as far as treasure hunting goes, a better shovel can save you a lot of money in the long run by saving hours of digging, but you don't need to buy every single shovel.

The equips are probably the best part of the game. You have a hat, coat, weapon, pet, spade, and a special items to equip. The hats give defense and speed, armor gives defense, the spades reduce time spent digging, the swords give attack, damage, and crit%, the pets do random damage, and the specials have a variety of effects. Most of it is strictly tier up equipment, meaning you want to use the shiniest, newest weapon you have at all times, but there are exceptions, such as with Excalibur and the light saber. There is something about unlocking a new, secret item that is just addicting.

The storyline of the game is actually pretty anticlimactic, to the point where it actually makes me wonder why it was done so cheaply. The game play time from start to finish is about one and a half to two hours long, and pretty much ends with the final boss dying and the villagers being mildly happy that you succeeded. The fact that the final boss drops in three hits doesn't make it any better. For such a long game that was so story driven, it should have had more work done on the endgame.

The Legend of the Golden Robot is a pretty fun game, there is no doubt, but its not without its flaws. The game is far too slowly paced and grind happy, and collecting the final robot piece is a chore because you need to find all four map pieces to dig site twelve to even get it. This, coupled with an dreary ending, means that I'd recommend the game, but know what a long trip you are in for, and that a lot of it is pretty mindless grinding and searching.


on Thursday, March 3, 2011
Let me just start off by saying:
  1. I have no idea what I was even playing
  2. I'm not sure that it qualifies as a game.
  3. I'm equally perplexed and impressed.

Mitoza  is a flash game of many choices. While its more like a super simple choose your own adventure book than a game, it gives you the option of choice and I think that counts. It's a really simple little flash app, you start with two choices, and a seed. These choices branch off to two more, and so on until you reach an ending, which grants you a new seed, thus restarting the cycle. The art style is sort of abstract, but it looks pretty damned cool. This game only has an entertainment value of about 5 minutes, but its certainly a cool thing to watch.

Hack Slash Crawl

on Monday, February 28, 2011
What in the hell makes dungeon crawling so addicting? I'll be damned if I know, but the 150+ hours I put into diablo 2 means that there must be something to it. The fighting, looting, the leveling is all so addictive. Hack Slash Crawl follows just about every trope that makes a hack and slash dungeon crawler a hack and slash dungeon crawler, namely its focus on; hacking, slashing, and dungeon crawling.

Hack Slash Crawl is a hack and slash dungeon crawler by Void. It aims to boil dungeon crawling down to its purest form; character creation, fighting enemies, fighting bosses, getting loot, and leveling up. The fighting is pretty simple, there are two attack types, melee and magic. To melee you click on an enemy, to cast magic you hit the magic quick key and the game pauses until you select the target of your spell. The combat really doesn't have much depth to it, the real depth instead coming from racial traits, equipment, and how you choose to approach the mobs.

When creating your character, you have a few important options. You have the name, which really doesn't matter, but I'm preferential to naming my vampires Vlad, my werewolves Witherfang, and other blatant ripoffs. After the name you have the race, and the class. The races are the biggest game changers, you naturally don't want to play a golem the same way you play a celestial, at least if you plan on surviving. It seems to me a few of the races are pretty underpowered as they only give initial spells, which may be nice around level one, but by level five that werewolf will outclass your Atlantean in every single way, and probably have a chance to get both of your racial spells too. Classes are less game changing, but still are designed to fit every play style. The are classes for melee and magic, healing and shielding, etc. So long as your class and race match your play style you should be fine. The last options you have available aren't initially accessible. The titles are only gained upon death, and you only receive one when you die. You can equip two at a time, and some of them are crazy powerful, but you only get access to them by doing extremely well.

On the looting system, I have to say it works decently, but it's pretty lackluster. All loot is random no matter whether it was obtained from a skeleton with a rusty sword, or Deathmaul the Destroyer, or even a chest. As a matter of fact, every level has exactly one chest, and one boss, but the equips you obtain from either of these is no different then that obtained from random monsters. As for the equips themselves, they vary wildly, and the usefulness of each piece will change depending on your play style.

I think the biggest problem the game has is that it tries to setup a short, simple, re-playable game, with little reason to replay it. That seems like it is the goal of the title system, but since you can only get one title per game play, and each game takes around five to ten minutes, with thirty two titles you are talking about 3+ hours to get them all, and that is assuming you know the requirements for each one. Other than that, the game pretty much becomes impossible to lose at past level 10. I can rush a room with a boss in it, and peel off all the enemies around me one by one while my regeneration keeps me alive forever.

Despite my gripes, at the core of it is a very good game. Its definitely not a game to be played for as long as it wants you to play it, but who cares, its still fun while it lasted, and the flagstaff series could certainly gain a lot from making use of the dungeon crawler elements in place. Hack Slash Crawl is definitely worthy of your time, but I wouldn't recommend grinding past the point where the game loses all its fun.

Sugar, Sugar

on Sunday, February 27, 2011
Sure you may have your meat boys, and killer oranges, but what about the sweeter side of the flash game food chain? What about that all important pure white, pixel high morselette that is the common sugar cube? Fear not, for sugar, sugar is here to remind us of how important that tiny cube is, and how much of a chore it is to pour out of the end of a comma.

Sugar, Sugar is a game developed for Armor Games by Bonte Games. Sugar, Sugar's basic setup is that you have to get sugar into a cup by drawing lines. Using a simple physics systems, the sugar pixels glide down the paths you make and into the sugar cups. The challenge of the game comes in three parts. The first is that you can't remove a line once you've created it. The second is the fact that certain cups need cerain color sugar, which must be passed through goal posts to change the color. And the third is that the comma contains finite sugar. A fourth challenge that isn't intended by the game is the fact that lack of being able to draw smooth lines with a mouse can royally screw you because of the way the physics system operates. A straight line tool would've been much appreciated and made the game twice as easy by removing the fake difficulty of having a high sensitivity mouse.

The puzzley game is fun, until you realize that you are spending 90% of the time waiting on sugar to move. The sugar physics apparently does a collision loop and friction test of every single piece of sugar in a mound, meaning that large sugar piles will roll down hills at a speed of somewhere between a crippled turtle, and snail with a pebble tied to it. naturally, spending 30-60 seconds waiting on each mound of sugar to slowly roll down a hill does not a fun game make, and the less steady the line you drew, the more time the sugar takes to settle.

For a game that uses only sixteen colors at a time however, it looks pretty damn spiffy. Its all pixel art, naturally, but the way the sugar flows just looks so...right, and the sugar can pretty much fill up anything with a pixel wide gap in it, with no visual problems. All the backgrounds and foreground blend perfectly, and there is never any visual miscommunication.

As far as the actual puzzles go, they are rather clever, but about half of the levels feel like repeats. I think thirty was too high a number for the developer to shoot for. I personally only hit twenty-five before I stop playing, as I realized I had watched the same piles of sugar fill the same cups before, each board only changed slightly. I think twelve to fifteen unique levels would've been a better idea for this game.

Overall, I think Sugar, Sugar is a game with a hell of a lot of wasted potential because of how unpolished it is. If it weren't for the fact that sugar took forever to settle and that I was essentially being punished for having an unsteady hand, this game would be an amazing puzzle game. But as it stands its annoying, tedious, and probably not worth your time.

Elephant Quest

on Friday, February 25, 2011
Yesterday, I reviewed Treadmillasaurus-Rex, a game by jmtb02. Today is another, more recent (as in, this morning it released) game, Elephant quest. As the title informs you, jmtb02 is finally getting back to what he knows best, elephants. Elephant quest is a mishmash of platformers, RPGs, and metroidvania games. You play as an elephant who was robbed of his hat by a large mammoth, and naturally goes on a long and dangerous quest to get the hat back no matter what the cost. Why would you do all that for a hat? You obviously haven't seen how sweet that hat is.

The controls are pretty simple, and the game is both arrow key and WASD friendly. You start out with one turret, and the ability to jump about 5 blocks high. Through doing side quests you can unlock normal sentries, and flying autoguns which greatly boost the damage you are capable of. The basic goal of the game is to go to the 4 corners of the world (literally) to obtain four blue keys, so that you can unlock the door that holds wooly, and your sweet hat. Depending on how many sidequests you do, the game can take anywhere from 15-40 minutes, it honestly could have used a bit more length, as it had a good skill system in place, and all it would've taken would be more unlockable areas and more NPCs.

On a graphical note, I'm actually rather impressed. jmtb seemed to go far above his standard artistic fare with this flash game and it shows. The way the enemies health bars slide along the screen and display works well, the crazy physics of the turret string is cool to watch, and everything looks and feels like you are in some perfect magical world inhabited solely by Elephants (and bison).

The stats system is rather complex, and relies a lot on forethought about levels to come. You start out only being able to upgrade to one of four stats, each of which branch off further, ala dynasty warriors. There are also a few +15 bonuses scattered about and four huge +50 bonuses, on in each corner of the skill chart. As far as actual skills go, you without a shadow of  a doubt need to get 100 int first and foremost, because int has a skill increases the amount of points you gain per level up. Other than that, the jump skill is probably the most important, as the final boss would be ridiculous with the default jump. Damage is also nice, as is speed, and minion summons, though they are by no means required, and you can spend points on whatever you feel would benefit you the most.

The questing system is what you'd expect ofjust about any sidequest from an RPG, and there are three quest types:
  1. Talk to Person X
  2. Go find item X and bring it back to me
  3. Collect Y number of X's and show them to me

None of these are difficult, and in actuality, you can probably pop of nearly all of them without doing any real backtracking.

All in all, Elephant quest was probably one of the most fun flash games I've played in a while. Everything runs smoothly, and it feels very professionally done. Its the type of game I could see being up on the iPhone or android app store for a buck fifty or two bucks.

Treadmillasaurus Rex

Imagine a game involving A T-Rex, on a gigantic treadmill moving at over thirty miles an hour, while mines roll across it...and the front and back of the treadmill are covered with lasers of instant death. Not enough to grab your attention yet? Okay then, now imagine there is a wheel behind the treadmill that spins every few seconds, and it can reverse the treadmill, increase the mine speed, and many more things that would likely prove lethal to Dinosaurs. What I have described is Treadmillasaurus Rex, in a nutshell.

Treadmillasaurus Rex is a game from that clever armorgames Elephant developer, jmtb02, and was recently featured on Kongregate's front page. In Treadmillasaurus Rex, you naturally play as an Elephant a T-rex on a treadmill. It's a very arcadey game and how quickly the game decides to kill you depends on the almighty random number god and his wheel of suffering.

There are two types of wheel effects in the game, neutral ones and bad ones.

  • Random fact - Tells you a random fact about T-rexes
  • Hat - The best powerup in the game, it gives you a completely useless top hat
  • Party - Adds disco lasers, background color lights, and other pretty things
  • Confetti - It rains confetti
  • left laser/right laser - the lasers inch a bit closer to you, not much to worry about.
  • gamespeed increase - this increases the overall speed of the game. No technical disadvantage here save for the game becoming more reflexively intense.
  • +1 all obstacles - Mines get faster and lasers scoot in closer. Not the ideal spin.
  • +Treadmill - The treadmill gains a large boost in speed. This can be very bad depending on the timing, but isn't really a problem once you readjust to the speed.
  • +wind - Adds or increases the wind speed. Wind is pretty much a treadmill effect that still aroks while you are in the air. Watch the confetti to gauge the wind speed.
  • spike speed - faster spike mines. Spikes cause your death 9/10 times, so this matters quite a bit as it effects your jumping paces.
  • reverse treadmill - This power up was designed to kill things. If you get hit by this an a bad time, hitting a spike or laser is pretty much inevitable, because you have to keep adjusting until the treadmill has completely reversed itself, then you have to set up your spike jumping pace again.

On graphics, the game is nothing special, but it accomplishes its goal. The lasers are lasery, the hat is hatish, the confetti is identifiable as confetti, and I can conclude from what I see that I am some type of carnivorous dinosaur who is on some type of moving belted device which is being rolled over by spiked circles.

There really isn't much more that can be said about this game, other than that you should play it. A game takes five minutes, tops, and its a fun little time waster that serves as a nice buffer between trying hard to look like you are working, and staring out the office window.

Flagstaff: Chapter One

on Thursday, February 24, 2011
So, you like dungeon crawling, but think that every single dungeon crawling game ever has been to complex? Well have I got a game for you, it features a four member party, each with a stunning 5(!) upgrades, and 3(!) different types of enemies to fight!

Flagstaff: Chapter One is a featured game on Kongregate by Joelesler. Its a typical dungeon crawler, though most of the parts of the genre, such as weapons, armor, loot, and exploration, have been stripped in order to make a very simple, streamlined dungeon crawler. You play as a party send to destroy a fairly typical skeleton infestation, in a fairly typical castle dungeon, at the behest of a very generic king, and what little story there is fleshes itself out along the way.

The game is controlled with the mouse, though you can use WASD or the arrow keys to scroll around the map. Each of the four party members starts out with one skill, and the ability to attack once a turn and move five squares. You can also buy upgrades to increase the amount of health you have, the amount of attacks per turn, amount of steps allotted per turn, and two new skills per party member. Not that any of it is essential mind you, because this game is easy enough that I'm pretty sure a kindergartner could beat the game in under a half hour. Never once did get below 4/10, and I was able to heal them on my turn and kill whatever enemies caused the damage as well. The AI is pretty dim, as the enemies wont even focus fire on one target, choosing instead to damage whoever is closest to them, even if they are able to hit a weaker character who is farther off. In fact this is one of the game's biggest flaws, since the game lacks any other important tactical choices, you figure the combat would at least attempt to challenge the player, but it merely throws small nuisances at the party from floor to floor, which takes away most of the redeeming value the combat would have provided.

On the issue of graphics, I really do like the art designs of all the characters and tiles. The art is fairly simple, but all of the isometric faces are drawn correctly, and present a nice clean look. It all looks quite attractive in motion, with all the basic attacks and movement being fully animated. The only problem I noticed was that many of the special moves lacked distinct animations.

Flagstaff looks like its shaping up to be an interesting series. As the game stands at chapter one, I wouldn't recommend it because it is far too barebones and presents no challenge. The game is supposed to be a series though, and maybe the next one will be better, who knows?

Company of Myself

on Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Before I start, let me fully acknowledge that that this game is pretty old by flash standards, and by pretty old, I mean its about a year old.I didn't come across any interesting daily releases, so I chose to pluck one of my favorite flash games ever out of the vault and examine it.

Company of myself is a puzzle platformer by 2dArray, told from an abstract first person point of view. The narration appears as you get to different levels and different sections of each level. Nearly every level you play multiple times, and during a level you simply press the spacebar to leave a shadow which you, or other shadows can interact with. You essentially turn all of your past, present, and future selves into movable platforms to help you achieve your success. The are also different barriers which either prevent shadow selves from passing through, or preventing one's current self from passing through. With these two gameplay aspects, all of the levels are created.

As far as level design goes, it's pretty well done. Each level is built with the intent to show off some mechanic of the game, and it both does this, while mixing in important story elements at the same time. The levels rarely rely on actual platforming skill, rather an ounce of foresight into the puzzle is equivalent to a gallon of platforming skill.

On the graphical front, the game really isn't all that impressive. Its all passable, but there obviously wasn't much effort put behind it. While it doesn't detract from the game in any way, it certainly doesn't make the game any more memorable.

The story of the game is really the heart of it. Since most people have played it by now, what I say next will be unspoilered. If you haven't played the game yet, I'd advise skipping this paragraph, or better yet, playing the game. As it turns out the narrator you play as turns out to be crazy, and undergoing some type of regressive therapy, which involves him rethinking past events of his life, including the ones about his wife, Kathryn. He's obviously not all there, and how Kathryn died is ambiguous, but it obviously caused the mental problems he suffers. The last bit of the game seems to imply he feels responsible for her death, but it doesn't elaborate how.

The game runs about twenty minutes long and is overall just a joy to play. If you are looking for a very quiet, slow paced game with a great story, you must play Company of Myself.

Aliens Kidnapped Betty

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Kongregate's newest featured game, Aliens Kidnapped Betty! It's like canabalt with more timing! It's like a generic platformer, but with a twist! Combine those and what do you get?!?!?

(A pretty awful game)

First off, let me put it out there that I am very biased here. I love platforming games, and something about removing a sense of control from a complex platforming game tears at my very being. See Meat Boy and then PETA's parody Tofu Boy for an example. The PETA devs, bless their big crazy heart, did everything right in emulating super meat boy except for the movement. The tileset layouts were the same, the sawblades, art style, everything was well above par, except the controls. Tofu boy slips around like he's made of mercury, his speed is more erratic and his horizontal jumping is too short by about a third. These small, minute differences turn two otherwise identical games into, well, a comparison of normal bacon and soy bacon. Aliens Kidnapped Betty does the same thing, it turns what would be a generic platforming game into a completely subpar experience by applying an interesting game mechanic in a place it does not belong.

That said on to the story. Betty gets kidnapped by aliens, and guess who is going to rescue her? Congratulations, you are correct, those of you who chose the obvious answer and not something ridiculous like Lisa Edelstein. You play as Mike McManly, a man with restless leg syndrome who is able to jump 8 feet high in a single bound. This comes in handy as your woman has been kidnapped by aliens who seem to not understand the danger of leaving magical doors of teleportation around town. Mike however, and full advantage of this, and uses said doors to get his woman back.

(note: none of this is actually said in the game, but I feel it was implied)

What do you do to win? press up or click.What do you do to get away from an enemy? press up or click at the right time. How about getting coins? Press up or click in the specific pattern the level designer intended. That last bit is unfortunate, because of the 16 levels I played, two of them had genuinely interesting mechanics that went along with the game. The rest were just standard platformer fare, sans everything but the jumping.

On a graphical note, I really do like the background and tileset for this game. The people look out of place, but the urban tilesets are done neatly, and the backgrounds are well done in that retro 8 bit style.

Well folks, that's my take on the game. Not one I'd recommend, but to each his own, and if it seems like something you'd like, have at it.

Ninja Hamsters vs Robots

on Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Well, it finally happened. The AIs rose up and conquered the world, and presumably skewered all of us meatbags on the ends of metal spikes or something. Anyways, in this robot controlled world, a resistance of sorts exists, a resistance fronted by a hamster. He's no ordinary hamster however, he is also a ninja, and with his mighty ninja powers, he hopes to defeat the entire robot horde and free the world from the shackles of robotic oppression (or something like that).

Ninja Hamsters vs Robots is a game by Nerdook, that websiteless rascal whose games are always on the front page of Kongregate and Newgrounds. In ninja hamsters vs robots you play as *gasp* a hamster who happens to be a ninja. You just click an area of the screen and you move there, and attack anything nearby, and since no game is a game without upgrades these days, the game naturally has...upgrades. Its a pretty simple game, but its not without its strategic moments, which come in two forms: choosing upgrades, and choosing your target order. As simple as they sound, see what happens if you mess around and focus on the grunts before the missile droppers. Lucky for you your hamster is invincible, but the ground below his feet is prone to...sinking, and your hamster can't swim.

The upgrade system, while generic, as done without flaw. Each upgrade makes a sizable gameplay difference, they start out relatively cheap, and all of them are useful. Which ones you take really depends on your play style, and other than the OMGBIGFUKKENSWORD none of the upgrades are a real necessity to win the game. The basic goal is to survive enough robot waves to summon the boss, who generally dies in a couple hits. The boss isn't the challenge, surviving until he appears is the problem, its a bit frantic, but as long as you make sure to drop the most deadly robots first no level should be a problem save for the final two, at which the robots throw enough soldiers at you to fill the ocean beneath your feet.

 The graphics are standard nerdook fare, they look good, but they also look like graphics that were made in flash. The hamster generally looks like a hamster, the robots look like robots, and though it may look a little unpolished, it is by no means a bad looking game.

Ninja Hamster vs Robots is a fun little action game, its fairly simple and thus manages to avoid making any obtuse errors. It's a bit on the grindy side, as even after beating 23 bosses I still Hadn't gotten max level in every upgrade, but it's balanced so that you don't need them all to finish the game. If Nerdook keeps pumping out good games like he's been doing, I will definitely keep playing.

Shadow Rising

on Monday, February 21, 2011
What happens when a side scrolling hack and slash game meets a JRPG? Shadow Rising, that's what. In shadow rising you play as a spiky haired young man with magical powers and a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Your friend/girlfriend has been kidnapped and you must do whatever it takes to get her back, all while acting like a complete ass to Everyone you meet.

As far as graphics go, this game is pretty damned...pretty, but the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. The animations and backgrounds are impressive for a flash game, and really make the game feel polished. You can tell the artist behind the game put a lot of time into the project, however, the same cannot be said of the voice acting and actual dialogue. The main character comes across as one of the most annoying people I've ever heard speak, and its as much the thick British accent as it is the fact that he's written as a cross between Seto Kaiba, and Neku from the world ends with you. The characters also make quite a few grammatical errors, and the voices don't seem the fit the characters at all.

As for the combat, its as slack and hashy as a hack and slash could be. You hit enemies, move to them, hit them again, rinse, repeat until they are all dead. I'm not over simplifying it, that pretty much IS combat. The bosses are even more ridiculous, because while the game has a fast paced combat system, the bosses move quite slowly and predictably, their only strength is that they can take a metric ton of damage without so much as blinking, so boss fights are of the Triple Slash->Double Slash->Jump to avoid attack->Triple Slash and so on until the thing dies. Even if you had never leveled up at all, it'd be one hell of an easy game, even with the neigh useless specials.

As for the actual leveling system, there is very little in the way of options. For your skill bonus, you can put one point each level into either a nearly useless special skill, or a nearly useless passive skill. The specials aren't capable of doing nearly as much damage as your slash spam, and they consume MP while spamming slash does not. The passives are no better, giving you buffs like "+2%armor", when armor could be gained much more easily by using attribute points. As a matter of fact, as the base armor level, 2% armor is only equivalent to 1 point in armor.

Overall, it's a really well polished game,  and it's still absolutely horrible. You know what they say...

Kill Damn Beavers

Picture it, Russia, circa 2011. You are a veteran soldier armed with only a semiautomatic machinegun, and your wits, and you must protect your villages dam from a massive arm of...beavers!?!?! Kill Damn Beavers is a BestGamesLand game in which you protect a damned dam from a bunched of damned dam hungry beavers. The game is simple, with only a few upgrades, but make no mistake, this game is harder than the mighty walls of your dam.

The upgrade system is simple, there are three upgrade trees with three levels each, three combo upgrades, and one special upgrade for a total of thirteen upgrades. Once you fill your satisfaction meter, you get to place one upgrade, the meter gets harder and harder to fill, but it's incredibly easy to obtain all the upgrades before the advent of the BeaverZord.

The gameplay is much like any other building defense game, you click things, and they eventually die. The key to winning in Kill damn beavers however, is timing your reloads and special abilities correctly. If you mess that up, you WILL get overwhelmed and fail. I'd advise getting the bomb ability first, as it completely clears the screen of enemies, and the cooldown on it is pretty low.

Once you finally get past the sixteen saves of beavers before the boss, you actually have to fight him. At this point the game becomes completely horrible. 90% of the time the boss is invincible, one of his two attacks is guaranteed to damage your damn no matter how fast you fire, and if you miss any small gap to shoot him at all, the entire game was for nothing because you are done for. This is really a case of poor balancing on the developers part, unless one were to do the boss over and over until you had the attack patterns down pat, its hell to beat it, and if you fail you get sent back to wave one.

The game may be a fun way to burn a few minutes in your day, but don't go in expecting to, ya know...win.

Gunball Arena

on Sunday, February 20, 2011
Do you like guns? How about balls? Do you get a thrill from arenas? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then have I got a game for you! Gunball Arena is a new game from Armor Games that pits you and your little ball, and his gun or sword against huge waves of enemies. The game is by no means hard, and has some rather annoying bits to it, but it is definitely worth playing.

The basic game play is simple, you have two type of weapons, melee and ranged. Melee weapons are short range, high damage, and lack recoil. Guns are longer range, but the damage is much worse, and though the more powerful guns can nuke half the playing field, they also send you flying back from recoil. In addition, you have three special powers the can be used infinitely, sans the individual cool downs. Unfortunately, two of the three abilities are neigh useless, berserk increases damage, but spins you around in an uncontrollable circle, and teleport teleports you about 5 feet away and seems to hit everything in between you and the teleport location. Slowdown on the other hand, functions like a bullet time mode where everyone but you slows down, and is incredibly useful.

On the weapons front, the game has quite a few, and there are no down sides to buying a weapon since they sell for exactly what you pay for them. The fact that your weapons are specifically glued to the front, back, left and right of you is rather annoying though, as it means you can't focus fire on where you put your mouse, and instead have to aim sideways to use side guns, or slot up your sides with shields/mine layers instead of actual guns.

While playing I did encounter a pretty game breaking bug after I'd bought all the upgrades. As soon as I sold my sword, my money displayed as NaN(not a number) and I wasn't able to buy anything. Nothing I could do fixed the problem, so I was essentially stuck with no weapons at all.

Another disappointing facet of the game was a lack of a final boss. The beginning plot has you set up to enter a tournament to fight the king, but even after beating every level and fighting all five bosses, you never have a final boss to fight. It wouldn't be that much a problem, but your character accepting the king's challenge to a fight to the death was the entire premise of the plot, and it just seems really weird that it never played out in the game.

Overall, Gunball arena is a damn good game to play if you want an easy, fun game, but be weary of that bug, because not being able to change your weapons is no fun at all.


on Saturday, February 19, 2011
Embrance is a Kongregate exclusive game by a use named Mongolish. The basic explanation of the game is that you spin an open circle with your mouse and try to get a high score. The more in depth explanation is as follows:

You have a shield with a gap in it. You get swarmed by pluses and minuses. Letting pluses through your shield gives you points and repairs your shield, while letting minuses through depletes your shield. Letting either hit your shield depletes your shield by a very small percentage.

Yep, that's really all there is to the game. Its a fun little game to play when you have ten minutes here or there, the upgrades aren't a grind and the game only stops being fun right around the time you buy all the upgrades, which is one hell of a step up from a game like Burrito Bison. While the game is not exceptional, it's everything a flash game should be, easy to pick up, pretty without being distracting, and most importantly it's fun.

Burrito Bison

on Friday, February 18, 2011
Burrito Bison is yet another launcher game, this one by NotDoppler. The setup is as follows. You, a macho, manly luchador, are browsing the candy isle of a food store when suddenly a bag of candy open up and pulls you into an alternate dimension. You are then pitted against a giant jawbreaker in a wrestling ring. Instead of fighting however, you choose to take the easy way out by flinging yourself sky high with the use of the ropes of the ring. Along the way, you end up inadvertently committing genocide against thousands of gummy bears, but who could blame you?

The game play is straightforward as can be, you launch yourself, watch the screen, occasionally click to slam yourself onto the ground or use travel boosts, and then fail and purchase upgrades. Wash, rinse, repeat about 30 times and you have enough upgrades to actually finish the game. You spend 80% of this game just watching, and about half of your runs are pointless grinds to be able to make enough capital to buy an upgrade you need. The upgrades pretty much do everything for you, as I completely ignored the game and it beat itself with all upgrades maxed while I was off doing something else. Other than the upgrades, the only thing in the game that stops you from winning are cop gummy bears, which are neigh unavoidable at high speeds. Since there is little you can do to prevent them from slowing you, its best to do your damnedest to stay as high as you can and try to never touch the ground.

The art is pretty, and the sound is fairly well done. All the gummy bear types are distinct and easily recognizable from one another, and the same applies to the travel powers. The sound effects are nicely done, but the music gets grating after about two minutes, luckily it can be turned off.

Overall, Burrito Bison is a completely misable game, but if you enjoy a game where you don't actually do much playing it may be worth checking out.

For those of you having trouble finishing burrito bison, or breaking through the final glass wall, The most important upgrades are Rockets, Initial Launch Speed, Hang Gliders, Bounciness, and Endurance. Hang gliders and rockets are the only things capable of negating the slowdown you take from cops, and breaking the glass wall will be hard without them, even at level five endurance.

Topsy Turvy

on Saturday, February 12, 2011
Topsy Turvy is a flash game by Candystand.com that is also available for the iPhone. Its a cute little gravity shifting platformer. The concept has been done to death in flash, but the game is still rather fun, albiet too easy and lacking in the puzzle division.

For about the first twenty levels, the game is pretty puzzle based, you turn the world and find the appropriate direction for your planned jumps and falls, but after that point, the game becomes more of a mildly puzzle based traditional platformer, it takes a lot of reflexes, but not which thinking, which is disappointing following the levels before the final five. Overall the game is a bit on the easy side, no level took me more than two minutes, except for the final one, which requires either perfect timing, or you to stand in a hard to judge, nearly pixel perfect gap and jump over a moving spike wheel multiple times.

The level design isn't perfect, the story is a throwaway plot, and the graphics are pretty generic, so why would you keep playing this game? Because it is damned addictive. Its not one of those games there the puzzles eventually become completely insurmountable, after thinking for a few seconds just about any map's solution should become pretty obvious, but executing the solution becomes harder and harder as the game goes on, and the drive to finish compels you to play until you see it through.

No Time to Explain

There is no time for me to explain what this game is, but you must play it. Not much to review of the game since it only takes about 5-7 minutes to beat, but all in all it OH GOD MY RIBS ARE IN MY EYES

Bubble Tanks 3

on Monday, February 7, 2011
Bubble Tanks 3 is another bubble tank game by hero interactive, of armor games. If you've either of the prequels, the gameplay should be familiar, as should the sandbox environment with little to no objective. In the first game, you played as a tank that slowly grew in size as you collected bubbles from fallen enemies. The second game included a branching tree of tanks that emphasized either speed, rate of fire, or damage per second. The third features an even more robust system in which you unlock ship classes with the bubble collects, and allows you to build your own ship, which is limited only by the amount of gun points and ship class.

At class one, the speed are incredibly fast, but lack the firepower and special abilities that a higher class would have. At class six, you inch along at 30% of the speed that the class one moves at, turn at a snails pace, and have little in the way of dodging abilities, but in turn can have a massive amount of firepower, shields, radar, and anything else you might want to outfit yourself with.

The enemies in this game seem more annoying than in previous bubble tank games, particularly single bubbles on non hostile levels, which are nearly impossible to hit, and the various enemies that shoot out both purple and green bubbles. When hit by a purple bubble, your speed slows to a crawl, making dodging hard as hell, and when hit by a green bubble, you cannot shoot. Combine these two against a high class ship and you've pretty much created an infinite stun lock combo that can only be rid of by leaving the area you are in. There also seems to be a distinct lack of boss type enemies like those introduced in the second game in the series, which is a disappointment.

On a technical front, the game seems to be slowing down or locking up completely for many people. While I haven't had this problem to nearly the extent of others, I do get lag that oftentimes persists until I kill everything in the room I'm in, which is quite frankly ridiculous with 4gb of ram and a quad 2.12ghz of processing power. There are also bugs with certain abilities, most notably the apocalypse gun, which obliterates the entire room you are in, and occasionally freezes you inside a feedback loop, forcing you to restart the game.

My favorite part of the game had to be the tank creation mode, I probably spent more time designing a tank than actually playing the game. Every ship has a class, and in order to move up a class your ship needs to take up more and more of the total area of the playing field. Personally, my favorite class is class 3, 80% move speed isn't horrible and at class four the guns function as rotating turrets rather than mounted weapons, but to each his own.

All in all bubble tanks 3 is a fun creation game with a few bugs, major lag problems, and an interesting sandbox type game at its core. I'd recommend you play the second one instead of this one if the creation aspects don't interest you, as the gameplay is far smoother.