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Flash Games: High Speed Chase, Thor Towers, The Sea of Glomp, Bot Arena 2, Escape from Island, MuseLock, Swinger, Least Best Room

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Welcome to the triumphant return of Friday Flash Games! I took the month of August off as a summer break, and somehow didn't realize it was September until the first Friday had passed, but I'm going to make it all up to you between this week and the next. Six weeks off, three games each week, that's 18 "missed" games. No problem. I've got more games than that stored up! To avoid overload, I'll spread them out over September. That's six extra games this week, for a total of nine games, and the same for the next two weeks as well. Are you ready?

Every Friday, I present three or more browser-based games, all of which depend on the Adobe Flash Player and your web browser. All the games should work on Mac, Windows, Linux, and any other operating system that supports Flash. I'll tell you whether each game has music or sound, so you can adjust your speakers accordingly.

Let's get started!

High Speed ChaseRacing games are a dime a dozen, or even cheaper, but High Speed Chase offers a little twist. Instead of a closed course race against competitors to a finish line, you need to track down and destroy target cars on a busy highway. You gain points for speed and near misses, but you lose points for damage caused to the cars of innocent drivers.

The severe penalties for damaging innocents makes it impossible to simply hold down the accelerator key and steer. You'll find yourself slamming on the brakes to avoid collisions and steering wildly — or crashing!

Use the arrow keys to accelerate, brake, and steer, or you can use the space bar as a brake instead of the down-arrow. At least once, my score was so low that even though I destroyed all three target cars, I was told the targets had escaped. Usually the game calculated things correctly. There are sound effects once you click "START GAME."

Thor TowersFor a slightly slower pace, try Thor Towers, a game that requires split second timing, but only periodically. A crane is dropping blocks, and you use the space bar to control the timing. Each block swings from side to side, and the closer you can get to the center of the stack, the more easily you'll be able to continue the stack. How high can you go?

The blocks swing a little more wildly at first, then settle down. Sometimes you'll need to take advantage of the wider swing and the momentum that generates to hit a stack that has drifted a bit too far to the side, while sometime you'll need to drop it right in the middle, and that momentum can send the block a little too far to the side.

Missing three times will end the game. There is music that starts before the game menu is even presented. You can turn all sound off from the game menu, but you'll need to click on the speaker icon exactly, unlike the other menu options for which you click on the text.

The Sea of GlompThe Sea of Glomp is a crazy-difficult game that requires you to hunt down the bat that stole your egg, and get it back.

There are warp portals, items you pick up (by "glomping" them) and put down (some of which are necessary, while others seem to just distract), bad guys, and more. It's too difficult — or time-consuming — for me to work through, though I managed to get reasonably far in a day. If you want to "cheat" just a little, one player has posted maps of each level by connecting screenshots.

The first time I played, I was stuck — until I realized that the worm on the hook wasn't quite as dangerous as my mommy-glomp once told me!

There is a brief snatch of music at the game menu, and there are splashing and glomping sound effects throughout the game.

Bot Arena 2I've depicted the arena from Bot Arena 2, but that's not where you'll spend most of your time. In fact, you can't do anything at all in the arena but watch to see how your bots fare!

Instead, the real action is in selecting the bots for your team. You start with a budget and a shopping list. Buy bots (get two, you'll face two opponents), equip them with armor and weapons, and then start the battle. A win will earn you more more money with which you can buy upgrades, and your opponents get progressively more difficult to beat, so choose wisely!

On the first level, your choices are limited by your budget. The only real question is which bot gets the heavy weapon! After that, things get slightly more tricky, as you sell back cheaper weapons to buy more expensive ones. You can fight in earlier rounds as many times as you need to in order to build up cash, but the prizes for winning the later rounds are larger.

There is (annoying, repetitive) music at every stage of the game, and the first chance you have to turn it down (or off) is after you've equipped your bots! You can save the game before each battle, and load saved games (using the same computer from which you saved the game previously) from the main menu. That's a nice touch, especially when you decide to risk a hefty entrance fee fighting against opponents likely to beat you!

Escape from IslandEscape games have become a popular genre, and this week I'll present two of them. The first is Escape from Island, presented in English or Japanese. The setup is simple: you've crashed on an island. Good luck!

The interface is very Subversion or Mysteries of Time and Space. Directional controls are (usually explicit), and inventory is key. The game makes liberal use of drag-and-drop, both to inspect ("check") items in your inventory and to use them on the island.

The way you actually escape from the island is… well, I won't spoil it for you. Let's just say it's probably not something you should count on if you ever actually crash on an island!

There are sound effects throughout the game.

MuseLockFrom France comes MuseLock, a game in French and English. In fact, unless you are fluent in French, you'll need to click "English" so that Jouer becomes Play, and then start the game.

You start in a room (this is described in the introduction sequence), captured and held against your will. Can you crack the puzzle to escape the room? There are bombs and poison gas, easily triggered, and puzzling puzzles along the way. Pieces from here, used there; pieces from there, used here; complete red herrings involving projections; really helpful projections; it takes a bit of time to work through.

There are sound effects in response to your actions.

Let's finish up with a trio of games less challenging to the brain.

SwingerSwinger reminds me of a game I used to play on my Mac, but the translation to the smaller screen makes it slightly more frustrating. The idea is that you swing (no surprise there) from point to point on shape, with two exceptions. You can use the control key to avoid attaching to the next available point, and you can use the space bar to cast yourself free completely.

The idea behind the control key is to skip over the first available point in order to catch the next one. The idea behind the space bar is to catch another point before drifting completely off the screen.

Perhaps because of my familiarity with a previous game, I think the controls are exactly backward. I think that the right arrow ought to spin you clockwise, and the left arrow counter-clockwise, but the opposite is true. If it turns out the game I'm thinking of (I found it at some point during August, but have lost it since) works the same way, then, well, I'm getting old.

The speed and size of the pieces can make the game frustrating at times, and there are new challenges on every level, but it is a game easily worked out if one is patient enough. There are sound effects, but no music.

Swinger 2If you enjoy Swinger, there's all of that and more in
Swinger 2: Rock 'n' Roll Apocalypse. From the pretentious opening about saving Rock 'n' Roll, to the intricate shapes, this is almost a whole new game. After completely clearing the screen, you'll need to hit that space bar and fly through the air to actually exit each level.

Every complaint I had about Swinger is doubly true about Swinger 2. The swinging may be even faster, and the pieces even smaller, so that it requires either a reaction time in hundredths of a second or pure luck — or both — to navigate tricky intersections. Still, the added frustration may make the payoff that much more sweet!

One nice touch in both games is that when you're down to your last life, each game will offer you a bargain: get a new life in exchange for time (in Swinger) or in exchange for 500,000 points (in Swinger 2). Playing with -417,683 points is painful, but not as painful as not playing at all!

This game has both music (as might be expected in a game about Rock 'n' Roll) and sound effects.

Least Best RoomFinally, a game that takes no brain-strain at all, Least Best Room. Your goal is simply to rise as high as you can, despite a never-ending supply of balls falling on your and occasional mines.

Use the arrow keys to move, and the '/' or 'z' key to fire your weapon. The hollow balls can be exploded, releasing energy and clearing a path, while the more-solid balls cannot. The white mine-looking objects are, in fact, mines. They will blow you up. The 'E' squares give you energy. Just keep moving up, but beware: the balls will push you to the right or left as your character seeks out the path of least resistance, and sometimes that sends you toward a mine.

Your character, the hollow balls, and the walls are all made of loosely-coupled molecules, enabling your character to pass through balls and walls that are sufficiently widely-spaced. It makes for some really interesting patterns of movement, but they are better experienced than described, so just jump right in and play!

There is music and sound. I assume that "Least Best Room" is a poor translation of "Path of Least Resistance" from Japanese into English.

That's it for this week! Diligent readers of this column might be amused to know that a "new" online game is taking the geek world by storm, appearing on blogs daily, only it's not exactly new. In fact, you will recognize Bloxorz from June! If you want to stay ahead of the game, keep checking back here, including next week for nine more games as we make up for the lost summer.

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