Cannot… stop… playing… Red Chaser.
There’s little here that a bazillion Kongregate-hosted dodge-the-blob Flash games haven’t done before. But the music is relentless (Speed Of Dark by Cartoon Bomb, since you ask), the enemies come in just-discernible waves so it’s undeniably your fault if you lose, and the multicoloured neon madness – combined with the need for hyper-alert stare-of-death concentration – sends the game straight through your eyeballs and into your brain in a properly psychedelic way.
Red Chaser isn’t a rhythm game, but all the same I have a feeling Zach Lewis has been playing the BIT.TRIP series and likes what he sees and hears. No harm in that. Play Red Chaser (Flash)
(Incidentally, Zach also put together Money Thief for the Ludum Dare 18 indie contest, and that’s well worth a play too.)
Update: Hmm, which came first: this… or the suspiciously similar My First Quantum Translocator? I’m inclined to think the latter, in which case Momentum’s a bit of a slyly sudden ‘tribute’.
You like platformers with a twist. You like chubby robots with spindly little arms that wobble about a bit when they jump. You will therefore like Momentum, a short little diversion from the man behind double-cat beaut Black And White.
The twist in this platformer is that your robot can ‘store’ momentum to ‘retrieve’ later. So, first, you do a jump and press X to store the upward movement. Then, later, you can reach a high platform by using that previous momentum to boost a normal jump. Yes, it’s quite tricky to explain. And, yes, if you stuck a mighty great glowing gun in the hands of the main character, you wouldn’t be far off a 2D version of Portal. Assuming he could hold the gun with his spindly robot arms, the little cutie.
But that doesn’t prevent Momentum being an intriguing and pleasing little concept. Especially when power-up blobs start appearing to boost or reverse your movement, and cooking up the solutions requires you to turn the temperature up on your brain oven. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but consider it a taster for a (hopefully) inevitable sequel and you’ll come away happy. Play Momentum (Flash)
There really isn’t very much to Dude Icarus. But what there is is really very lovely.
Crafted in two weeks for the Indie City Game Jam, this little beaut sees you collecting feathers that help little Icarus soar higher and higher towards Apollo, who’s hanging out on top of the sun. It combines two of my favourite things: circular platforming (which I’ve had a soft spot for ever since Wario Ware Twisted gave us Super Mario Twisted), and game-area-that-zooms-out-as-you-explore (cf Small Worlds). There’s also some nice music, and – I’ll do you a favour here – a crucial game hint tucked away underneath the game window so you don’t see it until you’ve spent 25 minutes being completely stuck.
This game needs more love. Search for it on Google, go on. You get four measly entries and The Big G snidely asking if you really meant to type ‘Kid Icarus’. Go and play it, and tell all your friends. Play Dude Icarus (Flash)
by WarSpark is so blatant a copy of Crush The Castle, they’ve actually had to put Crush The Castle in the credits.
But in the absence of an actual Crush The Castle 3, who’d turn down this sequel-in-all-but-name? Especially when Sieger has thunk itself up a simple but welcome twist – they’ve flung away the catapult. So no more bothersome messing about with scrolling the screen about, and picking the precise moment to let loose your log. Now you just pick your spot at leisure, and watch as the splintering battlements make the little soldiers go all screaming and dying.
Sieger veers from hypnotisingly easy (when you win the day in one shot by accident) to mouse-throttingly hard (when invisible flying wall chunks instantly amputate the innocent bystanders). But you’ll keep clicking, all the way to the end.
And the title music! It’s like being in Gladiator. Play Sieger (Flash)
So both these games have two things in common. One: uppercase letters. Two: a finely-balanced sense of how to test your hand-eye coordination to breaking point.
AVOIDAL by Hybrid Mind Studios is another of those 200-odd Ludum Dare 18 games, and clearly there can’t be that many people playing it because I’ve managed to claw my way up to #6 in the high score table. You’re a robot, and you have to destroy mines by triggering nearby rockets and floaty red homing blobs to smash into them. Simple as that.
If I had one complaint – and it’s the nitpicky complaint of someone who’s clearly spent far too long playing the damn thing – it’s that the mines only take out one blob at a time, when common sense tells you they should obliterate everything in the vicinity. Otherwise, AVOIDAL just feels right, gets thrillingly hectic, and gives you the feeling that, attempt by attempt, you’re getting that little bit better. Pretty impressive for a game coded in 48 hours. Play AVOIDAL (Flash)
And then there’s You MIGHT Get Nervous by Lubos Lenco, which was probably coded in 48 minutes. It’s not really a game so much as a primitive test of the ambidextrous skills you’ve built up over years of playing videogames. As blocks swim all over the screen, your right hand’s doing one thing, your left hand is simultaneously doing two other things, everything moves faster and faster, and your eyes and brain try to keep track of everything at once before eventually catching fire and exploding.
Honestly, it’ll put your face into the same involuntary hyper-concentrated grimace you see on people defusing bombs in movies. Play You MIGHT Get Nervous (Flash)
John Cooney – aka jmtb02 – can do no wrong in my book. He has the strange, wizard-like ability to invent the world’s most laughably primitive games and then do… something that makes them not only top fun, but also funny, infuriating, endearing, and completely un-leave-alone-able.
And look! Here comes his latest, Treadmillasaurus Rex, to prove my point. You’re going to play it just because of the name anyway, right? But pay special attention to how it starts out as a crushingly dull jumping game, and then – by throwing in a big colourful Wheel Of Fortune, confetti, a direction-switching conveyor belt, a ‘calories burned’ meter, flashing lights and very silly hats – somehow makes you play it at least 23 times.
A very silly hat
It’s even funnier if you imagine you’re watching the pilot for a new gameshow. Play Treadmillasaurus Rex (Flash)
(And if this is the first you’ve heard of jmtb02, go and play Achievement Unlocked, I Love Traffic and – my favourite – Run Elephant Run.)
Here’s another Ludum Dare 18 gem – and by the way I’ve played through over 100 entries so far so you don’t have to, and my eyes are starting to fuzz over.
Dance Dance Dance from Nyarla (of the nightmare-inducing Magnetic Shaving Derby on iPhone) is a pixelated ‘dancing’ competition. You don’t really dance: you twirl. And you don’t really compete: you smash your rivals’ faces in by catapulting your partner towards them, steal other women’s men, and knock waiters to the floor so that they die. It’s fun.
It’s a genuinely challenging game, and the little pixelated hearts go some way to helping you forget all the stupefyingly poor sportmanship displayed by these tiny dancers. It also unlocks the reminiscence compartment in my brain containing 1984 Konami coin-op Mikie, which is no bad thing at all. Play Dance Dance Dance (Flash)