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Old May 17th, 2008, 08:21 PM   #26
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Kotaku - 20-year-old Memories of a Life Not Lived [Hot Flashes]



Gamers of my generation may remember Activision's Alter Ego, released in 1986. It was a text-and-graphics, choice-based somewhat-precusor to later games like The Sims or Second Life. The game fascinated me, even as a 13-year-old, with the idea of living another life — and helping to create such a rich narrative — or just living that far forward. I feel like I actually have memories of the virtual lives I led in the game:

• As a toddler, gorging on a can of aerosol whipping cream and throwing up.

• As a young man, my girlfriend posing for "Genthouse" Magazine (for the record, I was cool with it. We married.)

• Playing in an old-timer's baseball game as a senior citizen, going back for a long fly ball, collapsing to the ground and dying peacefully as my friends gathered.

Well, here's a site where you can play Alter Ego online. It's been up since 2005, so probably some of you have stumbled onto this before. I scoured Kotaku to make sure we haven't featured it yet. It was truly a beautiful and well written game, created by Dr. Peter Favaro, and worth a look anyway. If you played it when you were younger, looking forward to life as an adult, now you can play it when you're older, to relive simpler days.

Alter Ego [theblackforge.net]




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Old May 19th, 2008, 01:22 PM   #27
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Joystiq - The Joystiq Free Game Club: Sonny

Filed under: Features, PC, RPGs


As much hubbub as there is surrounding new games for sale, there's one class of game that often gets the cold shoulder: Free games. It's sad, not only because there's a lot of really clever, well-crafted stuff in the shareware/Flash/freeware world, but also because they're all so very, very free. We at Joystiq decided they should huddle in the shadows no longer as we present our new weekly feature, The Joystiq Free Game Club.

What do you have to do to be a member? Well, the idea is this: We'll pick out a game that meets two important criteria: 1. It's free. 2. It's interesting. We won't be picking solely the newest stuff, just things that we think merit your attention. Then, we ask that you give it a whirl and share your thoughts with the rest of the Joystiq biomass in the comments section. It's like Oprah's Book Club, but with more zombies.

Proving that point, we're kicking off with Sonny, a deep, Flash-based RPG with an incredible soundtrack by Armor Games that we think everyone should play. Let us know what you think.

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Old May 20th, 2008, 07:29 AM   #28
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Kotaku - Execution Tests Your Conscience, Not Your Reflexes [Hot Flashes]



Not technically a Hot Flash since you need to download it, but it's only 2MB, so it's close enough. The name of the game's Execution, it was made by Jesse Venbrux, and it's worth the 3.5 minutes of your life both downloading and playing it will cost you. Know that while it's a tiny, short game, there's also a charmingly simple punch to it all. Be sure to play it twice to get the full experience.

Execution [via TIGS]




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Old May 24th, 2008, 04:20 PM   #29
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Kotaku - Holiday Timewaster: WTF?! [Timewasters]



While I have enough work to kill an ox this weekend, I took some time last night to play with this delightfully silly side-scrolling WoW sendup. Here's one introduction to a quest: "Now that you've begun to get the hang of that most fundamental of skills - killing shit - and started to properly become a bit more class conscious, we can tackle a slightly more disturbing problem." Karl Marx even makes an appearance (never mind the Mario appearance pictured above). It's worth checking out if you've got some extra time to waste this holiday (in the US) weekend.

WTF?! [via Grand Text Auto]





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Old May 26th, 2008, 01:30 PM   #30
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Joystiq - The Joystiq Free Game Club: The Several Journeys of Reemus

Filed under: Features, PC


Thanks to entries in the genre like Sam & Max, the debate over the life or death of the point-and-click adventure seems moot at this point. But we're still encouraged when we see them not just taking on life, but shining in a different venue. The latest example of that and one of our new favorites is The Several Journeys of Reemus by Zeebarf.

The game follows the story of Reemus, an exterminator hunting a giant ant with his purple bear by the name of Liam. By manipulating the environment and (occasionally) Reemus himself, you'll guide him through a series of puzzles that strike just the right balance of logical and abstract thinking. Oh, and there's fantastic music. We think you're really going to enjoy it.

But, as is always the way with the Joystiq Free Game Club, the verdict lies with you. Does it leave you wanting to go on more of Reemus' journeys? Or is one more than enough?

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Old June 2nd, 2008, 02:40 PM   #31
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Kotaku - Outrunning Doom in Dino Run [Hot Flashes]



Reader Rob H. pointed out this nice little mid-Sunday diversion: Dino Run. After you get the hang of it you realize nothing in the environment will kill you, just slow you down on your panicked quest to outrun extinction. But most importantly, it's a flash game with multiplayer across three servers, although I waited forever for a game to start up.

Still, to the designers, hat-tip for rendering it like an old 4-bit PC game. I dunno, the tone just seems to deserve that kind of treatment. And also note how your dino farts after you chow down on less fortunate sauropods. Hat-tip for that, too.
Dino Run [Pixeljam, thanks Rob]



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Old June 8th, 2008, 06:20 PM   #32
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Kotaku - 11 KB Super Mario Kart [Hot Flashes]



Got this far and realized we've had no hot flashes this weekend. So here's a super-slimmed down Super Mario Kart, done in 11 KB of pure javascript goodness. Pick from Mario, Luigi or Peach and then race on two different maps. It even has a soundtrack.

You'll be beaten off the line easily every time, but if you race the second map and take advantage of the turns, you can get into first pretty quickly.

There's no timer or lap count and your opponents seem to float in the air until you overtake them. Still, I killed a few minutes with this while going off on a reverie, wondering if I'll be 55 and playing a slimmed down javascript Assassin's Creed or something.

Javascript Super Mario Kart




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Old June 9th, 2008, 10:21 AM   #33
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Joystiq - The Joystiq Free Game Club: Trackmania Nations Forever

Filed under: PC, Driving

Is there an excuse for not playing Trackmania Nations Forever? If there is, we can't think of it. Let's get this out of the way first: It's free, so don't even act like it's a money thing. You say racing games have gotten too sim-like for you? Well, this one is different, allowing races to be played with only the arrow keys if you want. And if you have complaints about the way the cars look, we're going to hit you with a link to download Mad Max's Interceptor or Mario's kart.

Free or not, we don't think this is a game that anyone should miss. There are tons and tons of races to play against the clock, allowing you to collect medals and compare your major awards with people in your region, nation and all over the globe. And if you tire of racing by your lonesome, you can take a spot in massive multiplayer competitions with everyone vying not to beat others to the finish line but to get the fastest lap time.

It's easy to play, it's free, it's fun, we think a download should be a foregone conclusion. But, as always, this is the Joystiq Free Game Club, so the final word is yours. What do you think?

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Old June 11th, 2008, 04:33 AM   #34
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Kotaku - Rose and Camellia Are BACK [Hot Flashes]



How do you improve on what's probably the best game ever made? You make it bigger. Badder. More woman-slappier. Yes, Rose & Camellia is back, this time as Rose & Camellia 2, featuring all-new ladies, all new stages and all-new woman-slapping action. It's great! So great there's a catch: you've got to finish R&C1 first to gain access to it. A little harsh, perhaps, but the bigger the reward the tougher the toil.

Rose & Camellia 2 [Nigoro, via IndieGames]



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Old June 14th, 2008, 06:50 PM   #35
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Kotaku - Retro Sabotage's 20th Edition: Missile Command [Hot Flashes]



Our disturbed friends at Retro Sabotage are all suspender-popping about their 20th sabotage since the site launched shortly before New Year's Eve. Remember, these are flash games that play normally (or close to it) before something goes horribly, comically wrong and beyond your control.

The latest is the "Missile Command Docudrama" although its message is, surprisingly, kind of serious. Tof from Retro Sabotage explained to me in an e-mail: "We wanted an "anti-sabotage" to celebrate the 20th release, and it's kind of a mirror to Mockumentary (though we got mails of people who somehow believed in that one)."

In the past I know we've linked to some of their other clever redos of classic arcade games. The Xevious Autopsy in particular is worth a look, and I think it's new since RetroSabotage last got a mention here.

Missile Command Docudrama [Retro Sabotage]



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Old June 16th, 2008, 10:50 AM   #36
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Joystiq - The Joystiq Free Game Club: Dolphin Olympics 2

Filed under: Features, PC


For the first time, we're actually hesitant about recommending a game to the club. It's not because we have any doubts about its quality, far from it. We just often wish we could turn back the clock to a day when every activity in our lives was not just a brief respite from Dolphin Olympics 2.

If you're among the lucky uninitiated, Dolphin Olympics 2 puts players in control of a dolphin and charges them with scoring as many points as possible (both by linking tricks and getting amazing heights) in two minutes. (In case you're curious, our highest is 19,000,000 and we've seen Pluto a couple of times.)

The main problem is that, at just two minutes per game, it's difficult to put down, especially when you're always positive you could have a better run. Testaments to its vicious addictiveness have even made .

So please, give it a spin, either on Kongregate on on its Facebook version, heck, go ahead an post your high scores here. Just don't say we didn't warn you.

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Old June 16th, 2008, 05:50 PM   #37
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Kotaku - Puzzle Farter, A Musical Hoot [Hot Flashes]



Pet Tomato
's debut indie game Puzzle Farter is as high brow as you probably suspect it is. And if you're still amused by the sound of passing wind as we are, you'll probably find it endlessly amusing, even if the gameplay is rather straightforward. There's not much puzzling to be done, but the farting comes through in spades. No, there's no music and Puzzle Farter is more of a platformer than it is a traditional puzzle game -- it's more like N with ninja-strength gas -- so I guess we're both guilty of misleading titles.

Puzzle Farter



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Old June 21st, 2008, 05:30 PM   #38
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Kotaku - Weird Artistic Timewaster of the Day: Immortality [Timewasters]



We've mentioned Jason Rohrer's weird little works before, in the form of Passage and Gravitation; now with his 'Game Design Sketchbook' column at the Escapist, he puts up new little games monthly. This month features the theme of life, death, and immortality (appropriately called Immortality):
We generally assume that immortality is good, just as we assume that death is bad. Of course, universal immortality (all six billion of us) would be physically impractical. But what about individual immortality? What about for you? If you could become immortal, would you?

Immortality is a game about that question, and it's also about the converse of that question: Does death have some fundamental value that we usually ignore?

Immortality [The Escapist]



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Old June 23rd, 2008, 08:01 PM   #39
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Joystiq - The Joystiq Free Game Club: Elephant Rave

Filed under: Features, PC


These days, we're seeing more and more games targeted at a wider demographic spectrum, even outside of the traditional video game market. Well, the Joystiq Free Game Club is proud to report that a game has finally been released that caters to that oft-neglected sect of the population: Crazy people. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Elephant Rave.

The name is an impressively accurate summary of the game itself. You're an elephant, and you're trying to survive a rave. But sadly for fans of methylenedioxymethamphetamine, the only things being dropped here are deadly, deadly lasers, falling in-sync with the throbbing techno beat. Oh, and at the beginning there are some fairly inflammatory "pro-elephant" political messages.

There's a lot of insanity to like here, but we love the "game over" message, just a simple pronouncement of "Rave Ruined." Because it's true, dude. You totally ruined the rave.

For another look at the Freeware scene, check out BigDownload's Freeware Friday series.

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Old June 28th, 2008, 02:00 PM   #40
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Kotaku - Saturday Timewaster: Bowja the Ninja 2 [Timewaster]



It's a Saturday, I'm jetlagged, and the internet seems to be blazing with news of nothing but Diablo III; perfect time for a light and cute flash timewaster. This one is called Bowja the Ninja 2, a point and click puzzler that's nicely illustrated and oh-so-cute. Not terribly challenging, but a good thing to spend a bit with on a lazy Saturday.

Bowja the Ninja 2: In Bigman's Compound [Pencilkids via Rock, Paper, Shotgun]



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Old June 28th, 2008, 07:40 PM   #41
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Kotaku - Back to the Present with Chronotron [Hot Flashes]



My favorite part of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" came when they figured out the paradoxes of time travel and, simply by saying "Must remember to bring a trash can!" one appears in Ted's hands and he stuffs it over a bad guy's head.

Not that you can do any of that in "Chronotron," but the idea is the same, think in the present, giving orders to yourself in the past. Sort of. In Chronotron, the idea is to Clone multiple versions of yourself, using a time machine, to get through a puzzle level. The catch — all past versions will spawn and recreate your actions, so you need to think in chronological order for each step of the puzzle, and leave enough time for your final self to get through the gates and ride the risers to your objective.

It's a hell of a fun flash game — my co-worker showed it to me yesterday, so I can vouch for its productivity killing effect.
Chronotron [Addicting Games]



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Old June 30th, 2008, 06:00 PM   #42
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Joystiq - The Joystiq Free Game Club: Music Catch

Filed under: PC



Music Catch
, a recent free game from Reflexive, is a very different sort of animal, but not for its gameplay. The concept couldn't be simpler: Catch the colorful shapes with your cursor by avoiding the red ones. It's fine, nothing revolutionary really, but just fine.

What really sets it apart (for us at least) is the song that underscores the game, a dynamic yet melancholy piano piece written by the game's programmer, Isaac Shepard. The way the shapes emerge onto the playing field in time with the music is one of the most seamless examples of game and music working in concert that we can remember.

Though it's enjoyable, we're still not thoroughly satisfied. We've played through the entirety a few times, and the concept feels as if it could be fleshed out a little more. But we're not sure if that would ruin the game's peaceful, hypnotic quality. What do you think? Does Music Catch leave you wanting more? Or does it work fine just the way it is?

For another look at the Freeware scene, check out BigDownload's Freeware Friday series.



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Old July 8th, 2008, 07:13 AM   #43
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Joystiq - The Joystiq Free Game Club: GemCraft

Filed under: PC


There have been a bevy of tower defense games in the past months, none of which were able to usurp the king (of our hearts) Desktop Tower Defense 1.5. But Game in a Bottle's new offering GemCraft ... well, it still doesn't, but it does some interesting stuff that we think is definitely worth talking about.

The best way of thinking about the game is a Puzzle Quest-ian take on the TD genre. You're trying to protect your base from oncoming hordes with varying strengths and weaknesses, but instead of building different types of towers, you use mana to create different gems that are placed in towers. Each color has different qualities and if you're willing to spend more mana you can create stronger versions of each, creating a risk/reward question of building a weaker gem or waiting to build a more powerful one.

There's another layer on top of that, though. As you complete stages, you earn experience that you can use to buy more starting gems, a lower mana cost for gems, quicker mana regeneration, etc. And each time you beat a level with more experience, the difference is added to your total. That means that while it may be easy for you to beat the opening stages, if you don't work to get the best score you may not be powerful enough for some of the final conflicts.

There's a lot going on here, some of it working better than others. But who cares what we have to say about it? What's your take on GemCraft?

For another look at the Freeware scene, check out BigDownload's Freeware Friday series.



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Old July 13th, 2008, 01:30 PM   #44
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Kotaku - Weird Artistic Timewaster of the Day: Regret [Timewaster]



Jason Rohrer (creator Passage, Immortality, and others) is back with another game, this one with the theme of regret (bet you never would've guessed from the title). Rohrer and a journalist writing about the design process game up with the theme, after nixing such topics as "stop snitching," "torture policy," and "stop-and-frisk." The game itself deals with feeding animals ... sort of:
I wanted to make a game about how regret feels, but not necessarily about how to overcome regret. We both agreed that we should avoid the Deepak Chopra self-help angle.

My initial design ideas used 2-D platform mechanics as a foundation. Imagine making a mistake like missing a jump, but not dying from that mistake. Instead, imagine that mistake coming back to haunt you, forcing you to replay that jump again in the future. Imagine a level that becomes longer and longer as the regrettable past portions of the level are injected ahead of you - a future populated by past mistakes that you must replay.

Using familiar mechanics as a foundation can work, but I'm more interested in devising new mechanics that are the best possible fit for the topic at hand. I cast the net a bit wider and came up with the design that involves feeding animals. Oh, and killing them, too.

Worth a look this weekend if you've got the time — I didn't have much time to play around with it, maybe after I'm safely ensconced in LA for our E3 get together. Here's hoping traffic doesn't suck.

Game Design Sketchbook: Regret [The Escapist]



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Old July 19th, 2008, 04:03 PM   #45
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Kotaku - Saturday Timewaster: Pandemic 2 [Timewasters]



Ever wanted to decimate the world's population or see if you could develop a super-bug that would leave the globe in utter pandemonium? If the answer is yes, browser-based Pandemic 2 is your game; even if the answer is 'uh, no,' it's an interesting way to while away some time. Watch as it's let loose on the world, then use your 'evolution points' to design the perfect delivery method for a global pandemic -- the goal is to have a trail of devastation (and bodies) left in your wake. There are two different modes, 'realistic' and 'relaxed,' so if you're not sure you're ready for a realistic onslaught, you can try your hand with the easier mode.

Pandemic 2 [CrazyMonkeyGames via IndieGames]



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Old July 21st, 2008, 11:05 AM   #46
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Joystiq - The Joystiq Free Game Club: Kongai

Filed under: PC


We hook you up with two different kinds of games in the JFGC. The first are just titles that we hope you'll think are fun. The second are ones we've been paid to post about by the Chinese government to make the English-speaking world less productive. Posting about Kongai ... well, let's just say if you want to go to a fancy meal that will cost no more than 457 yuan, you don't even need to worry about it. We've got you.

Kongai is a really excellent digital collectible card game hosted by Kongregate. The strategy is sufficiently deep so that explaining here wouldn't really be practical but, in short, you'll pit three or five character cards against three or five of an enemy's. You'll then have to balance choosing the right attack for the right situation with knowing when to retreat.Continue reading The Joystiq Free Game Club: Kongai


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Old July 28th, 2008, 07:41 PM   #47
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Joystiq - The Joystiq Free Game Club: Psychonauts

Filed under: PC

We thought we'd take a break this week from our usual Flash-based fare this week on the Free Game Club to talk about a slightly meatier experience that you could be having for for free right now: Psychonauts. Yeah, that's right. Tim Schafer's bizarre, hilarious action-platformer is available right now as a free selection on GameTap.

So here's the question: Why haven't you played it yet? You might have had an excuse a couple of years ago, when it was just a poorly-marketed Majesco game. But how has it not made its way onto your must play list at this point? It's cleverly written, it's got some really memorable levels and characters, it's just an all-around great way to spend your time. OK, so maybe some of the actual platforming and combat gameplay is a touch spotty from time to time. But we can look past it, and we're betting you can too.

If you've played the game, feel free to use the comments below to share your thoughts/gushing adoration. If you haven't, we'd love to hear your excuses. If you're about to play it for the first time ... well, don't let us keep you. We'll still be here when you're done.

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Old July 31st, 2008, 11:50 AM   #48
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Kotaku - Space Invaders Worldwar Tourney Launches [Hot Flashes]



Square Enix just kicked off a Japan versus US tournament to showcase their free-to-play Flash game Space Invaders Worldwar. The 30th Anniversary game plays like a blend of Galaga and Space Invaders with a touch of Tempest thrown in for good measure.

In the tournament players will be drawn from the 194 nations represented and "pitted directly against each other." Not sure what that means, but I think they mean that they will be tracking scores. Real-time progress reports will be provided throughout the tournament on the Yahoo! America and Yahoo! Japan sites.

The tournament itself seems sort of pointless, what with seemingly no prizes or real individual winner, but I'm kinda loving this new take on the game. My only issue with it is that there's some lag for me when I play. It would be great to see this show up on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Hey they could even drop it in for free!

Hit the jump to give the game a try.


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Old August 2nd, 2008, 08:30 PM   #49
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Kotaku - Ultimate Shovelware: Shit Game [Hot Flashes]

Stumbled across this on Reddit when I was looking for evergreen features earlier in the week. If you like monochrome graphics, inscrutable physics, confusing environmental interaction, floating hairy turds/eyeballs and half-assed production values, you'll love Shit Game, an ode to game programming's less-creative endeavors.

Indie programmer Mark Johns says he developed this in about a week back in February. The (world exclusive!!!) trailer is above, and the game (for Windows PC) is available for download from his site. The soundtrack is trailer only, Johns says the in-game soundtrack is entirely pop music done in MIDI. Sounds even shittier.

A Game By Any Other Name Would Still Be Shit



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Old August 9th, 2008, 02:40 PM   #50
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Kotaku - Saturday Timewaster: Now Boarding [Timewasters]



While the weekend timewasters at Kotaku are generally free, and Now Boarding -- an indie time management/sorting game that has a nice, slightly retro aesthetic -- isn't, the demo is lengthy and engaging enough to waste an hour or two on a lazy Saturday. The point of the game is to manage your airport empire and keep the poor slouches stuck at the terminal or on the plane reasonably happy, or at least not hopping mad. The $20 ($15 right now) price tag for the full version seems a little steep, but the demo portion has already gobbled up time this morning that I should've been dedicating to plowing through another couple of thousand pages on Japanese colonialism. Frankly, sorting flights is a hell of a lot more fun — and this is a nice, reasonably polished little game that is fun to play.

Now Boarding [via Rock, Paper, Shotgun]



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