This is Friday. This is Friday Flash Games.
Every* Friday, I present three or more browser-based games, all of which depend on the Adobe Flash Player and your web browser. Sticking strictly to Flash games means that all games should work on Mac, Windows, Linux, and any other operating system that supports Flash — but not the iPhone. I note whether each game has music or sound, so you can decide which to play during "quiet time."
Long-time followers of this column — or people who've checked the archives — will note that I have missed two weeks. I'm sorry, and I will try to make it up to you. I included nine games (nine!) in my last column, so I hope that bought me a little leeway. Still, I'll include nine — no, twelve! — today to help ease the pain. Okay? Forgive me now?
Twelve? What was I thinking? We'll start with a trio of puzzle games, to slow you down.
The object of Nodes is to light up all the blue balls on each level, turning them red. You've got laser "chains" that you can arrange by grabbing the nodes (aha!) at each end and dragging them around. Sometimes you'll wonder how to arrange the limited number of laser segments to light up all the balls at once, but that's the challenge!
There are tricky nodes: some can't be moved. All the nodes are connected, making arrangements… interesting. Sometimes the balls appear to line up along one line, but careful consideration will reveal that they actually line up along another line. And if you don't find the "Medium" difficulty setting challenging enough, try "Hard," which has a 60-second countdown timer on each level.
The games has poor sound control. There are sounds as the game loads, and music at the menu. Once you've actually started the game, you can hit "Mute," but that only mutes the music, not the sound effects. The music returns once you return to the menu, too.
"Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage." That Smashing Pumpkins lyric, sung by Bono in one of the several U2 concerts I have on DVD, keeps floating through my mind as I play Ratmaze 2. Not to put too fine a point on it, you're a rat. You can choose whether to be a white rat — which makes sense, given the maze — or a gray rat — think of Ratatouille. Your goal is to run the maze (you can choose "Original" or "New") and collect 54 pieces of cheese before the time runs out. It's hard. It makes me want to get out a piece of graph paper and make liberal use of the pause key (the space bar) to map it out, including cheese locations.
From the options on the main menu, you can set the maze to scroll, which I think makes it easier. The non-scrolling mode requires a bit more spatial memory, and reminds me of old-school games on my Commodore 64.
There are a few mild sound effects before the game starts, and while you can press "M" to mute the music once the game starts, it'll take a moment to actually go quiet.
"Good morning starshine, the earth says hello!" Whether you're now thinking of Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Oliver in Hair reveals much about you, but Starshine isn't actually about either one. Instead, it's like that Eminem song "Lose Yourself": "You only get one shot / do not / miss your chance to blow / This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo."
Musical references aside, you're presented with fifty levels, each of which features a scattering of stars. You move around the edge of a circle, and when you're certain you've got the angle just right, you click the mouse, sending a miniature shooting star from your location to the center of the circle and across to the other side. The stars you hit often will react by sending sparks off to the side (there are arrows indicating which ones will do so, and which direction the sparks should fly), so one carefully-aimed spark should be all you need to trigger a chain reaction that lights up every star, creating beautiful starshine. If at first you don't succeed, retry, retry again.
Aside from the brief "Armor Games" trill, the main menu starts up with gentle piano music, which you can mute from the Options menu, along with sound effects. That's nice, but even nicer is that the game will remember which levels you've completed. Sitting down long enough to get through all 50 levels in one sitting would cause my starshine to fade.
Moving on, here are a few new Tower Defense games. I will add them to the master Tower Defense list next week, but here they are now.
Vector TD is fun, at least after you get through the lame commercial. You choose one of many maps, then place your colored towers to defend the goal (which glows red). The bad guys come in waves from the entrance(s) (which glow green). You control exactly when the bad guys come, or you can set a timer so that they come automatically.
The easy maps are somewhat easy until you get into the high-numbered levels (there are 50). The hard maps can start to get hard in the single-digit levels. The money always comes more slowly than one would like!
The music can be adjusted from Max to Low to Mute, though there's a slight delay before your choice actually kicks in. This one comes from David Scott, who also created Flash Element TD and Flash Circle TD, and is his first to feature "booster towers."
It seems a little odd to me that when someone thinks about creating an off-the-wall take on Tower Defense, they naturally turn to ants. First there was Picnic Panic, and now Antbuster. Fortunately, this game is not just a cutesy "skin" over yet another Tower Defense game, but actually features something really interesting: a completely open "map" and randomized (and fast) bad guys. There's only one type of cannon, too, though it can be upgraded in many different ways (and gets more expensive as the game progresses).
Plus, the goal is to prevent ants from returning to their anthill with your pie, so even if they get past you and steal a piece, you get another shot as they try to return. When you kill an ant carrying a piece of cake, the cake floats back to your picnic blanket.
This is actually one of the more interesting Tower Defense games out there, worth playing until "Cake Over." There is music, but also a musical symbol (linked eighth notes) on the bottom that will mute it.
For a really off-the-wall twist on Tower Defense, try Generic Tower Defense. It's only barely Tower Defense at all, actually, but there is a tower. One tower. You can buy more, but only between rounds. This is billed as "eight games in one," specifically:
- Zombie Blitz — On a football field, you're defending the goal post, and the attackers are all football players you use turrets to destroy (you control one actively, the rest are "drones").
- Nazi Lanes — Depicted here, you defend a bowling trophy against Nazi bowlers by throwing bowling pins.
- Pac-Attack — Defend Pac-pan from attacking ghosts using turrets on a familiar Pac-man map.
- Techno Terror — On nothing but dirt, you defend John Connor from killbots bent on destroying him.
- Picnic Panic — Not to be confused with Picnic Panic the standalone Tower Defense game, here you use turrets to defend a picnic lunch against attacking demonic ants.
- Ninja Storm — Does away with the defense pretense. You must simply survive attacking hordes of shadow ninjas using your katana.
- Ultimate Survival — All the bad guys from the first six games are trying to kill you, so kill them first.
- Ultimate Defense — All the bad guys from the first six games are trying to capture your flag, so… kill them first.
Eight games in one! Does that mean I'm done?
Nope. Next up, three Escape Games. Perhaps I should create a master listing for those, too.
RGB is an escape game for the modern art set. While some games provide too few clues, this one seems almost to provide too many! The trick is figuring out which clues apply to which puzzle, and the order in which you must solve them. Your final goal, of which the puzzles are only a part, is to escape the room. Once you've done that — it'll take a while — you'll find out that "Another secret door exists…"
Yes, there are two exits. Hopefully you saved the game before exiting, so you don't have to go through the whole thing again. Note that after unlocking the door, it takes two clicks to exit. Why? Because you can turn around while past the door but not quite out of the game, collect another coin, and… well, that's the point at which you find out why it's called "RGB."
There are sound effects, but they're not required.
Mateusz Skutnik has created another entry in the popular Submachine series. This one is Submachine: Future Loop Foundation.
It's somewhat short. Your goal is to watch a home movie, but there are multiple steps along the way, of course. It's a home movie by way of a slide projector. You will need to write down a few things along the way, too, some of which you'll use later, and some you might not. There are a few dead-ends and red herrings in the game.
There is ambient sound, which you can turn off with an in-game icon, and sound effects, which you can't. The sound effects aren't required, so you can play silently.
It's not often an escape game involves a rocket launcher, but such is Escape Library. Your goal is to — wait for it — escape the library.
The inventory system seems to be the most important bit of this game, as you often use one bit of inventory to affect another one, and are sometimes limited by how many items you can carry at once. There's one key puzzle, and a few red herrings.
There's some sound, but it's not necessary.
For our final trio, Shooters. More relaxing, with less in-depth brain activity required, but faster reflexes are a help.
Let's start with the game that fits the "Shooter" description the least: Super Smash Flash. It's one of my favorite video games ever, converted to Flash! Sadly, it's not a perfect conversion of Super Smash Bros. Melee, but it's still wonderful.
I'll warn you now: mouseover "View Controls" while the game loads, because you can't get that information later. I'll tell you, though: Player 1 uses the arrow keys to move, plus 'o' to jump and 'p' to attack, while Player 2 uses the "WASD" keys, plus 'g' to jump and 'f' to attack. I've only played the single-player mode so far.
Choose your character by dragging your token onto the appropriate square, and then prepare to fight against a variety of Nintendo characters — including yourself! Each character has unique styles of attack, and there are special combo moves. They seem to work, though they're not as well-represented onscreen as the original game.
Hey, you can buy a Nintendo GameCube and four controllers (with rumble packs!) and Super Smash Bros. Melee pretty cheap these days. You should check that out!
There is sound and music.
Square Divide casts you as a small green triangle, shooting red rectangles. Every time you shoot one, it divides into two smaller rectangles, until eventually it turns into a yellow star, which you can collect. Touching one of the red squares is instant death, of course.
The difference between Easy, Medium, and Hard is how many times the rectangles will divide before turning into stars. On Easy, they'll divide a few times, but on Hard they'll divide until they're almost too tiny to aim at. Each time you complete a level, you'll unlock a new prize, like "colorful squares."
The game has music and sound, with no way to turn it off. It also remembers where you left off, so your prizes remain unlocked and your personal high scores sit and taunt you.
I know what you're thinking. You think I've featured this game before, but I haven't. It turns out that the "stick figure first person shooter" field is crowded, and Xiaoxiao: Police is the latest entry.
Use the mouse to aim and fire, and the space bar to reload. You're firing a six-shooter, and you can't reload until you've fired at least three rounds, but keep an eye on it. The bad guys don't always pop up in batches of six! Your progress is scripted, and involves entering a compound, shooting bad guys before they shoot you, shooting knives and boxes out of mid-air, shooting guys behind riot shields, and eventually a Matrix-like showdown movie depicting your victory.
Assuming you're victorious, of course. In Easy mode, you can always hit "Continue" and keep playing. In Hard mode, not so much.
There is sound, and no way to turn it off.
That's it! Twelve games, more than enough to make up for my two-week absence. And the "eight games in one" Generic Defense means this is really nineteen games! Tune in next week for still more. The fun never stops at Friday Flash Games!
* Almost every.