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Flash Games: Swords And Sandals, Rails Of War, CDX, Balance

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Welcome one and all to the "All-Anna, All-the-time" edition of Friday Flash Games, where we'll spend some time thinking about things other than Anna Nicole Smith's recent death. You won't find anything else on any of the major TV news networks, but here is relief.

Every Friday I track down three (or more) games for you to play, all of which play in your browser, and all of which require the Adobe Flash Player. Thanks to the wonders of the Adobe Flash Player, all games work on both Windows and Mac OS X. Thanks to the wonder of game developers, I will warn you when games contain music or sound effects, in case you need to play without drawing attention to yourself.

This week I've got a trio of games that are more complex than usual, so I'm adding a bonus fourth game in case you'd rather save the others for a time when you can concentrate better. Yeah, that's it.

Swords and Sandals IIHear ye, gladiators! Swords and Sandals II: Emperor's Reign is an impressive follow up to and worthy replacement for the original Swords and Sandals: Gladiator.

You must create a character, distributing nine skill points among strength, agility, attack, 'defence' (Australian!), vitality, charisma, stamina, and magicka. You can change how he looks and give him a name, and then it's time to fight your way out of prison and begin your quest. You start off with a certain amount of gold, and you can shop for armor, for weapons, for potions (from the church), or for spells. Since you're just starting off, you'll barely be able to afford any armor right away — it's time to fight!

Each fight you win earns you gold as well as more skill points to distribute. Each fight you lose… well, don't lose! If you choose a duel, you'll just lose gold, but tournament fights — which you have to 'level up' for — are to the death.

Once you've played a while and gotten addicted to the game, you'll find that this is a demo for the full-length game, which will cost you $20 (and is for Windows only).

There is music and sound which starts at the menu, but there is also a control at the bottom of the play window to turn it all off.

Rails Of WarRails Of War takes some of the same elements and reworks them. Your mission here is to equip a train to carry out missions despite enemy fire from tanks and gun emplacements, plus nasty bulldozers.

You'll be walked through the initial setup step-by-step, and told exactly how to outfit your first train. After that it remains only for you to control the speed and shoot at all attackers, plus make sure that you switch onto the correct track to make your delivery. And oh yes, you can pick up new cars during the game, assuming you have the money, can carry the load, and can manipulate the air-drop chopper.

There is music and sound, some of which is helpful. And oh yes, this one is also a demo for a longer game which costs $15, and is again for Windows only.

CDXFor non-commercial games, let's turn to the BBC. CDX is a locked-room mystery game, but instead of the low-resolution graphics and simple "escape" storyline one tends to expect from the genre, you get video of bloody surgery and an engaging storyline about someone with some interesting secrets and severe amnesia.

There was a motorbike accident that has left you in a wheelchair. You're in a room. More than that you should discover for yourself by searching the room!

There is sound, but the sound is necessary for the game. How else can you get clues from answering machine messages, or use the telephone?

Registering a username will let you save your progress, and this isn't the sort of game one rolls through in one sitting, so create a username.

BalanceSuch complexity and involvement begs for a simple diversion, and Balance provides it.

All you’ve got to do is balance a ball on the end of a stick, so if it starts to tilt to the left, you move left, and if it starts to tilt to the right, you move right. Simple? It seems like the sort of thing that would be easier on a computer than in life — just don’t move the mouse!

However, the game cheats in two ways. First, it starts you off with the slightest of nudges, which means you must move the mouse right off the bat. Second, it rains nasty gray balls down on you that you must avoid. There are also colored balls, as pictured here, that are worth getting, but it’s not worth losing your balance over.

It’s a silent game.

I said it was simple; I didn’t say it was easy. How long can you keep it up?

That’s it for this week! Next week I think we might spend some time growing together.

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