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Flash Games: Arctic Blue, Spaceworms, Ant Arena, Cat With Bow Golf, IQ Marathon, Mindfields 2204, Mindfields 2

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Friday Flash Games is a weekly feature in which I present, every Friday, three or more browser-based casual games. They all rely on the Adobe Flash Player, which should work in the browser of your choice, as long as you make a wise choice. Mosaic is not a wise choice; Firefox is. Lynx is not a wise choice; Internet Explorer is, at least from the perspective of Flash gaming. Safari is a wise choice in more ways than one.

All of the games work on Mac, Windows, or any other Flash-capable platform. I'll note whether a game has sound or music, so that you can adjust sound levels before clicking.

Enough babbling, let's get started!

Arctic BlueArctic Blue is an oldie but a goodie. Ferry Halim is one of the masters of casual gaming, as far as I'm concerned, and here he demonstrates this well.

You actually control the blowhole of a whale, and no, I'm not kidding. Every time you click, you sent a short burst of water up from the whale's blowhole, which happens to propel a boat into the air. The boat faces occasional icebergs; you can send repeated bursts from your blowhole to lift the boat over the icebergs safely. There are also boxes, some floating and some dropping via parachute, that the boat can collect for points. Again, get that blowhole squirting to get the boat into just the right spot at just the right time. Watch out for airplanes!

Who else thinks of this stuff? A whale's blowhole? But it works, and it's fun, and it's easy — my kids play this sometimes. It's also beautiful, with great music and sound. The music and sound don't start until you click "Play" (after clicking "Start").

SpacewormsIf you can move quickly enough, try Spaceworms. It's a keep-away game in which you control a dot while another dot chases you. The trick is, the other dot is fast than you are. How, then, do you survive?

The other dot has two limitations: it cannot turn as quickly as you, and it always heads straight for you in as straight a line as possible, without considering wrapping around the edges of the screen. In those two limitations lies your survival.

If you survive until the counter hits 1000, you make it to level two, with two balls chasing you. Survive that, and you face three chasers. On the first two levels, I've found success in circling widely, but the third level seem to always require many more tight loops, as the chasers seem to end up wrapping around the edges too often otherwise. Then, on levels four, five, and six, I can get all the chasers into a tight cluster and use the wide circles strategy again. I'm not sure why I haven't been able to do that with level three. I think it's me.

There is no sound in the game at all.

Ant ArenaIf you're good at maneuvering in tight spaces against ever-increasing odds, try Ant Arena, a game that involves fights to the death with other ants on a watch face.

You're a little faster than the other ants, but they win all head-on encounters, so you'll need to run into them from behind or beside them. You start out battling one ant, then two, then three, and so on. Beware! When they hit the edge of the watch, or even other ants, they can reverse instantly, facing you head-on unexpectedly.

There is music once you start to play, with a music-muting button on the lower-right. You cannot mute the sound effects.

That's three games, but I never know when to stop, so let's keep going!

Cat with Bow GolfLast year, I featured a Japanese game called Double Wires. Now, from the same creator and in a similar style, comes — wait for it — Cat with Bow Golf. It's like miniature golf, but you're a cat. With a bow.

Your goal is to fire your bow to pull yourself through the air until the arrow hits the target. Click and move your mouse away from the direction you want to go, and watch the power indicator in the lower right to determine how hard you shoot, then let go.

For the first few rounds, you can fire, land somewhere, and fire again. As you progress, you'll need to fire while in mid-air to change your direction. After each round, win or lose, you'll get a report on your score, both numerically and with a name. I knew about bogeys, par, birdies, and eagles, but I had never heard of and albatross (three under par) or a condor (four under par)!

As with real golf, there are eighteen holes. There is no sound.

We'll close with a trio of similar puzzle games.

IQ MarathonIn IQ Marathon, you're a gray cow, attempting to collect a trophy. Why not?

However, you don't move the sheep directly. Instead, you set up a series of arrows to tell the cow where to change direction, and then you press Go. There are some levels where you don't go up using every arrow you're given, and sometimes there is more than one cow. The brown cow can't pick up the trophy, though.

Despite the presence of a mute button, there is actually no sound in the game. There are passwords at the end of each level, so you can pick up where you left off.

Mindfields 2204In Mindfields 2204, you control a tank, and here the programmed pathway makes a little more sense. I can accept programming a tank to drive automatically a lot more easily than I can accept programming a cow!

Your toolkit contains items like direction-changing arrows and offensive or defensive power-ups. You drag the items onto the field to decide what your tank is going to do, then "Start Engine" to actually kick things off. Avoid weapons and reach the flag to move on to the next level. Note that you don't always need all of the items in your toolkit in order to safely reach the flag.

Like a golf game, there are eighteen levels, and there is music and sound. The music starts right away, while the sound only starts when you start the tank engine. You can mute the sound by pressing 's' and the music by pressing 'm.' There are passwords for each level so that you can resume wherever you've left off.

Mindfields 2For a more challenging set of eighteen levels, try the sequel, Mindfields 2. This time around, there are teleports, switches, and start/stop tiles, plus better overall level design.

It's the same concept: you're a tank, navigating obstacle-filled levels to reach the flag. You do it without direct control, instead pre-programming the tank by dragging tiles from your toolkit to the field and then pressing "Start Engine."

As before, there is music and sound, which may be muted with 'm' and 's' respectively. Also as before, there are passwords to resume at any level for which you have the password.

Enjoy all seven games this week. Maybe you can save one for each day, so the casual gaming pleasure is new every morning. Or play them all this weekend, if you wish. I'm not your father! Unless you're one of my children, in which case you can play only during designated computer times.

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  • http://blogcritics.org/ Phillip Winn

    Of course, *after* publishing this article, I was able to get all three of the chasers on level three to form a group. Sigh.

  • http://blogcritics.org/ Phillip Winn

    My previous comment should be applied to Spaceworms, by the way, where level eight is a challenge.

  • http://desicritics.org Aaman

    A golf game has eighteen levels? Tiger’s on level 19, I think:)

  • http://desicritics.org Aaman

    I love the worms game, but can’t get past Level 3 – yet

  • http://blogcritics.org/ Phillip Winn

    Once you get past it, I think you’ll find that you can get past it again. At higher levels, the trick for me is surviving the first few seconds. After that, the wide-circles routine works pretty well.

  • Craig

    What I know about Mini-Golf is that, +3 is Triple Bogey, +2 is Double Bogey, +1 is Bogey, 0 is Par, -1 is Birdie, -2 is Eagle, -3 is Albatross, and -4 is Condor! Thanks for learning all about it!

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