Puzzle

An Incredible Machine

Tabletop Tuesday: The Incredible Machine-Hardware Edition

pinball like setup
Type:
Tabletop
System Requirements:
Tablespace
Developer:
Richard E. Flanagan

While many tabletop games have been converted to digital form, it is interesting to see the reverse. An Incredible Machine is a project that recreates The Incredible Machine videogame series created by Kevin Ryan in the​ 1990s as a tabletop game. The Incredible Machine is a physics puzzle game that allows players to create elaborate machines to perform simple tasks such as putting a ball in a box. In turn, The Incredible Machine was inspired by Pulitzer prize-winning author, sculptor, and cartoonist, Rube Goldberg. Goldberg is best known for his cartoons of comically complex machines that accomplish simple tasks such as sharpening a pencil.

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Pipe Dreamz

Oh yeah, let that meat do its magic!

Type:
Flash
Developer:
Messhof

Messhof is the Charles Bukowski of games, and I say that having just discovered Bukowski for real the other night and then, you know, he was fresh in my mind. I could say he's maybe the William Burroughs of games? But That's Increpare, duh. Messhof isn't quite so misanthropic as Bukowski, but how else can you reflect on Randy Balma, so "drugged up on drugs", or the gag reflex of our meat-gouging protagonist in Pipe Dreamz?


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Angry Birds

Mad As Hell, Not Going To Take It Anymore

Type:
Other

Why, you may ask, am I reviewing a game that has achieved tremendous, mainstream levels of success, such that the games' publisher was bought out for a relatively low 8-digit sum by EA? Is that indie? Well, I guess they were before they made any money, right? And it's a good little game.

But that's not why I'm reviewing it, sure I can examine how it embodies itself as a lightly executed, ergonomically poised platform-app, like Mario for mobile, but that's relatively trite compared to the more interesting layer: these birds are terrorists.


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This Shell

Punk Video Puzzle in HTML5

Type:
Other Web-playable
System Requirements:
HTML5-capable browser (at the moment, meaning Google Chrome or Firefox Beta 4.0)
Developer:
Legwork Studio

You run across quite a lot of promotional online games created for one client or another that are basically lame implementations of unoriginal gameplay that make you droop with tedium. Surprisingly, this one made me smile.


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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Remake

We Apologize for the Inconvenience

Type:
Free Download
Developer:
James Spanos & Kevin Haddley
Suggested By:
sebastian sohn

I was raised on graphic adventure games --they were the first videogames I ever played and have profoundly influenced my approach to games ever since. I was also raised on The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, so naturally I jumped at the chance to write about the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Remake, or H2G2 Remake for short. Unfortunately, it seems you can't turn back the clock.


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Propel

Type:
Free Download
Developer:
Abscure Games

A plethora of puzzle games involve getting from A to B to finish a level, and Propel is no exception. Many puzzle games also hide the exit and make you figure out how to get there, which Propel does on most levels, though it gives you a large bouncing shadow arrow to indicate the direction in which you want to go. And games of this type typically have one or a handful of interesting mechanics you must master in order to solve their puzzles, which Propel does, too.


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Feign

Non-Euclidean Geometry

Type:
Flash
Developer:
Ian Snyder

Feign appears simple. Hanging in space is a glowing yellow human form, next to a squat blue structure. You are told the controls -- arrow keys to move, A and D to strafe; and your objective: "Find 9 bodies." A little experimentation shows that if you move your viewpoint through the yellow form, it disappears, and text tells you 1/9.


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Loop Raccord

Video Splicing

Type:
Free Download
Developer:
Nicolai Troshinsky

A 2011 IGF Nuovo Award nominee, Loop Raccord was originaly developed for a Experimental Gameplay contest with the theme "neverending".

The black screen is tiled into anywhere between three and twelve video panes. In each pane, a short clip of public domain video plays. One pane is your focus initially. You may pause, reverse, and advance through the video in that pane one frame at a time, and restart when you wish. Your objective is to start it, from the right frame, at the right moment so that motion from an adjoining pane "flows" somehow into your pane in a naturalistic fashion. In other words, there's some motion in that pane that moves toward the edge of your pane at a place where motion in your clip begins at some point, even though the clips are entirely different from one another, and you want the motion to seem to move smoothly from one pane to the next. If you succeed, the game rewards you with text and points, and moves onto another pane -- you don't control which pane is editable, the game does.

To complete the level, you arrange all panes so that motion is continuous across them. I haven't played the full game, so I'm not sure how many levels there are, but there seem to be quite a few.

It's certainly a novel design, and its interesting that the game is as much fun as it is, given than 'splicing video' is a pretty unlikely theme for any game. It also has a somewhat frustrating "guess the designer's intention" element, similar to that of many adventure games, since it isn't always entirely apparent exactly how or why the designer wishes motion to flow between two panes in a particular case, and of course the "correct" match is specified by the designer.

And of course, in general, use of linear video in a game is otiose; here, it's used cleverly.


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Faultline

Folding Platformer

Type:
Flash
Developer:
Nitrome
Suggested By:
sebastian sohn

Faultline is a level-based puzzle platformer, with the emphasis on puzzle rather than platformer; that is, platforming skill is not at a premium, except in later levels. Mainly, getting through each level depends on using 'fault lines.'

At various locations in the level are diamond shapes; by dragging a line between two diamond shapes, you establish a faultline, and the game geography "folds" along that line, often establishing connections between two otherwise unconnected areas, or 'hiding' traps or other obstacles. Since envisioning the consequential geography is difficult a priori, this makes for interesting problems to solve.

One novel interesting mechanic, but enough to carry the game.


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Sp.A.I

Visually Appealing 3D Puzzler

Type:
Free Download
Developer:
//No Comment

Sp.A.I is a visually stunning 3D game built using the Unreal SDK by five students at Queensland University. The installer installs SDK support, so you do not need a copy of Unreal itself to play.

The world is a Tron-like framework of glowing graphics, which avoids the necessity of creating textures and makes any polygonal artifacts explainable as part of the 'cyber world.' The back story is that you are a sort of cyber agent named Aiva (whom you see in the inevitable ass-cam) penetrating a computer system; apparently "hacking" means navigating through a 3D space, solving block puzzles, and platforming.

The puzzles themselves are nothing novel, although many of them do involve a timing element -- e.g., once you destroy one block, you must quickly destroy another, or a moving laser sweep will trigger an alarm. Thus, even though the gameplay is mainly puzzle-based, there's a skill-and-action aspect to it as well. Similarly, once you obtain a 'file' enemies will attack you, and apparently you cannot both carry a file and shoot back at the same time, so you must move quickly (and can use the file is a sort of shield). You do have hit points (which regrow once out of immediate danger), so it's not a "one hit kills" kind of game.

Platforming controls are, alas, kind of muddy, which combined with the fact that Aiva sort of floats along over the cyberspace often makes it hard to time your movement just so, and you may wind up over- or under-shooting targets at times. The platforming challenges are far from masocore, though, so the muddiness is tolerable, if still frustrating.

Nice tutorial, nice music; only a couple of levels, but pretty polished for a small student team.


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