Puzzle

Knightfall 2

Genre Mashing

Type:
Flash
Developer:
Megadev

Knightfall 2 is a very well polished and crafted mixture of Super Collapse that manages to deliver more adept pacing than its commercially successful DS cousin, Puzzle Quest. There´s nothing particularly interesting about the game but thats ok, because it taps a fetish that gaming aesthetes seem to have in droves: puzzle/RPG hybrids. Competing with the persistent Metroidvania fetish, this mania for all things compulsive combined with ranking mechanics you can improve at over time speaks to some fundamental hunter-gatherer instinct, and this time you don´t even have to pay for it.


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The Beggar

New Testament Meets Giuliani´s NYC

Type:
Shockwave
Developer:
Scott Brodie

I used to give away lots of money to homeless people, at one GDC I gave away like a quarter of my travel budget to various hobos, in $20 denominations, because they asked and it was like a cool tourism thing for me. Since living in a filthy, cosmopolitan megalopolis for the past year I´ve become more jaded, at first it was a joy to hand out torn ten peso bills to various street performers on Calle Florida, and to children juggling in the avenidas, but overtime its become another social tension, another point of mental stress in the great control grid of a city. So now we´ve got an "art game" in the sense that its main mechanic involves something social, you play the eponymous beggar who, after getting thrown out of the elite castle, has to go about soliciting aid to survive.


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Mirror Stage

Lacanian Psychophant

Type:
Free Download
Developer:
Stephen Lavelle

Stephen Lavelle is one of the more occult designers on the scene, a niche among niches, a designer played mostly by other designers and a few thousand others. His most popular title so far, as far as I can tell, have been Rara Racer, a fairly stupid meta-joke that is as funny as it is barely playable. If you check out his site, you´ll find a rich trove of half-baked experiments and bold masterpieces, and Mirror Stage is in this individual´s opinion, the best among that latter category.


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Space Junk

Orbital Elipse

Type:
Free Download
Developer:
Facundo Dominguez

From Facundo Dominguez, an Uruguayan programmer who was also involved in infrastructure programming for Storytron, we get Space Junk, a very slick little physics-puzzler based where limited fuel, gravitational pulls, and patience are your primary resources. Your mission is to collect the vast amount of junk that has been left around the solar system, surely the side-effect of druken space rednecks driving their fusion-powered Ford space-trucks with reckless abandon, tossing beer cans out the airlock and supplementing asteroid belts with empty cigarette packs. You can pivot and fire off your rocket fuel to build velocity in a particular direction, Lunar Lander style.


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Pandemic 2

When Pigs Fly

Type:
Flash
Developer:
Dark Realm Studios

It seemed appropriate to wait until now to release a light management game about being a mutating virus that destroys all of humanity. This is the game Prince Phillip was born to play.

The game gives you a world map and lets you look at different countries, the shading of the countries shows you how deeply infected the populations are. You simply spend evolution points earned with infections over time to buy and sell symptoms, making your disease as transmissable as possible without being too noticable and triggering a global panic. Then once you´ve gotten in to every major region, you can mutate into an extremely deadly condition that nearly wipes out humanity. A globalist aesthetic replete with a conspiracy-chic soundtrack loop gives the game a thriller feel even as you sit back and watch.

Of course, this is a fairly shallow game were it not for the psychological effects, made ever deeper now, of dealing with the collective dissonance of pandemic paranoia. Once you´ve decoupled emotions of fear and panic from the underlying mechanics of pandemics and virology, you should read some of the material describing evidence that this whole Swine Flu thing is a big scam at best, or at worst an atrocity of overruled personal sovereignty where the cure is more lethal than the problem.

(N.B.: Not to be confused with the boardgame Pandemic.)


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How To Raise A Dragon

You Get To Be A Dragon!

Type:
Flash
Developer:
Gregory Weir

Gregory Weir, not to be confused with the kid from Freaks and Geeks, has come out with another masterpiece-lite. After giving us the inside view on hacking for liberty and the psychology of Cthulhu, Gregory slings us the childhood dream of being a dragon. You get to be a dragon people! A dragon!


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G.E.N.E.R.I.C.

If Derrida Made a Game

Type:
Free Download
Developer:
Arvi Teikari

The usual rigamarole of jumping, grabbing keys and reaching point Bs is ripped up and partially erased in GENERIC, yet another platform game that tries to turn a mirror on the underlying logics of gameplay and genre, but this one does it better than the usual. Many platform games have come out featuring excessive difficulty, Braid and a host of retainer breatheren have played with the interval-driven reload cycle and temporal causality. GENERIC goes even further, this game lets your tear the levels apart. It´s like Little Big Planet with a big bottle of white out.


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De Toren

Climbing

Type:
Free Download
Developer:
Kevin Oke
Suggested By:
rocketfactory

De Toren is by Kevin Oke, who also did Consumer CULTure and The Last Ace. Both those games had an off-kilter retroness about them; De Toren seems to be more of an effort to do something self-contained and reasonably polished in Game Maker.


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Striptease

Deconstructed By Request

Type:
Free Download
Developer:
Stephen Levalle

The nature of the human mind and its relationship to the body is something that we all probably dig on whenever we manipulate an embodied avatar. There´s this wet sense that comes with the control, whether making that body a tool for blowing up monsters or playing house. Striptease takes this axiom of game design and shatters it in the reflection of gender dynamics.


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Plants Vs. Zombies

File Under "Why Not?"

Type:
Shareware
Developer:
PopCap

Just when you get jaded about genre derivations and overly "zany" aesthetics from the casual game sector, coupled with a sense of market saturation and imminent collapse oddly reminiscent of the US housing market, something like this comes along. Plants vs. Zombies is the latest hyper-polished, QAed-to-the-max casual fiesta from PopCap, a company whose success is driven by one part design innovation, three parts user testing, and two parts production value.


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