I'm a hardcore gamer in theory more than practice (not for lack of trying, mind you, I just don't get much face time with my PS3 or DS) so I make up for it by reading almost every article on Destructoid and playing games whenever possible. I'm what you'd consider the next generation of gamers, since my first system was a Game Boy Color and my first home console was a PS2. Still I seem to share gaming tastes more with you older gamers than with my peers, as I generally dislike FPS's and adore platformers, pixel art, and chiptune music, etc.
I'm a casual D&D 4e player, a bit of an audiophile, an avid reader, and a pretty well-rounded nerd-of-all-trades. If I think of anything else to say I'll throw it in here, for now I'm out of ideas.
-Dragon Quest Monsters
-Shin Megami Tensei
-Super Mario World
-Prince of Persia '08
-999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons 9 Doors
-Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance
-Mega Man: Battle Network
-Jak & Daxter
-Dissidia: Final Fantasy
Games I am Currently Playing:
-Dragon Age: Origins
-Final Fantasy 13
-Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
-Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories
-Cave Story (Damn Sacred Grounds!)
-Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
-The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
-Okage: Shadow King (Every time I hear the Madril indoor theme I just stop and listen for a few hours. Still haven't gotten any farther than beating the rat king after all these years)
He just saved 15% or more by switching to flash/freeware games. So before I begin, let me apologize for the pretentious title. It's a little bit of an eyecatch, and I'm sorry for that. However, that doesn't mean that's not what I'm here to talk about. As a hardcore gamer unable to play my PS3 or DS on a regular basis, I turned to the next best thing; flash and freeware games (If anyone thought I was going to say emulation then shame on you, I like to support the game industry plus I can't find a reliable ROM site anymore). What I found, however, turned out to be an untapped goldmine of gaming experiences. For every incredible experience I've had on my PS3 or DS with Mirror's Edge or 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors I've had just as many or more on my PC with a Tower of Heaven or Knytt. Gradually I came to realize that we, as gamers, are overlooking a valuable asset when we overlook the flash/freeware industry. Gamers complain obstreperously and often about paying ludicrous prices for games, all the while overlooking an abundance of free gaming experiences quite often quite literally at their fingertips. Rather than go on and on and on with an essay on the subject, however, I've decided to do something different; I've decided to create a blog in which I recommend flash and freeware games to you Destructoid C-Blog readers. I won't fully review each game, but I will voice some of my opinions on each one in order to both get the chance to talk about these games that I hold so dear and also to prove to any readers I may gain that yes, I am actually playing these games and forming my own opinions on them, and not merely dropping the names of games with high review scores. Thus, with that out of the way, let my first five recommendations commence.
Think of this as something akin to Fronz's Monday Mind Teasers or Anthony Burch's Indie Nation. If people respond positively to this and I continue, I plan to only talk about one or two games each article, and release an article every few days or so. I am only talking about five games this time in order to help get this started.
League of Evil
There's a good chance many of you know of this game because of Jim's semi-recent review of it for the iOS App Store, and that is precisely why I'm getting it out of the way now. League of Evil is a retro style platformer that originated as a flash game released last August by the ever excellent Wobly Ware. The premise is painfully simplistic, as intended, the art style clean, bright, cliche, yet utterly endearing, the music mind-numbingly catchy, and the gameplay quick, clean, and to the point. This is undoubtedly a game that is greater than the sum of its parts, but then, that's typically the case with a retro style game. League of Evil is 40 levels of simple platforming goodness, with plenty of replay value for us completionists out there who enjoy time trials and item collecting.
I'm afraid that may have come off as more negative than I intended, however. League of Evil is a very good, very fun game. If you want a more in-depth opinion of it, go ahead and check out Jim Sterling's review here. Or, go ahead and try it out yourself here.
Turn Based Battle!
On a completely different note, meet Turn Based Battle! by The-EXP. For you RPG enthusiasts out there, assuming you know how to avoid the butt-hurt when somebody insults your precious Sephi (disregard that last bit if it doesn't apply), you're going to love this. The art style may not be the most unique out there, and the music and gameplay are direct knock-offs of classic RPG's, but that's entirely the point. Turn Based Battle is a rather amusing parody, but simultaneously is a rather competent entry to its parodied source. The game is perfectly balanced to get you in tight situations, but never overwhelm you or kill you. Meanwhile, the numerous jokes and references are competent and humorous, at least for the most part, which keeps you thoroughly entertained. The only real downfall of the game is its brevity, but the game even turns that to its advantage. This is a perfect example of how comedy should be employed in games, and I'm sure you'll have a blast playing it here.
I'm sure somebody reading this is wondering why, in an article about PC games, all the choices appear to be games that are suited to any game console. This is where I sate your appetites, hopefully. Little Wheel, by Fast Games, is a point and click adventure game with more style than you can shake a stick at. You play as a lone robot in a world of robots who simultaneously ran out of juice and fell asleep for a length of time. Honestly this doesn't quite matter, as this is not a story based game. In fact, this game is rather casual; it is not difficult, long, or complex. What it lacks in depth, however, it makes up for with style. The art direction in this game is haunting, beautiful, and unique. Furthermore, the game's unique jazz soundtrack, when compounded with the visuals, will leave you wondering if you accidentally stumbled upon a game from an alternate timeline that branched from ours sometime in the '60s when we dreamed of a Jetsons future. Needless to say you will remember this game.
For all this game's panache, however, I must admit, it always leaves me feeling a little less than satisfied. Still, anyone with an appreciation for art will enjoy this game, and fans of the point and click genre will find it a relaxing distraction. Check it out here.
Ant Buster is a bit of an internet classic. Released back in 2007, Ant Buster spread across the internet, or at least across my school. It's your typical tower defense game, you defend a central point, this time a cake, and prevent the enemies, ants, from reaching your central point and in this case returning to their spawn point, but creator Marcel Stein decided to shake things up a bit by removing the enemies' fixed paths and letting both you and your AI-controlled enemies wander the field freely. The execution isn't perfect, but it's enough to seriously shake up the genre.
Ant Buster doesn't have particularly unique graphics, the music quickly becomes grating, and the gameplay needs a little work; for starters it's impossible to learn which of your troops perform in what way without actually deploying them, and then you find that the majority of your troop types are beyond useless, plus it seems to be impossible to proceed past level 80 without cheating in some way, but the nifty deviation from the formula with the dynamic enemy paths and the branching upgrade paths for your troops, as well as the humorous and clever premise, make Ant Buster a fantastic way to waste a half hour or six. You can play it here, or play a hacked version for infinite money (you know, to learn about your troops) here.
Dino Run is a rather popular flash game in which you play as a Dinosaur faced with the threat of extinction from a pyrotechnic cataclysm, so you do the most sensible thing and you RUN! Pixeljam's jump and run title may sound simplistic, but, you see, there's much more to it than simply running right avoiding obstacles. You also have smaller creatures to eat, dinosaur eggs to collect, secret eggs to find, dinosaur bones to find and collect, and a quickly proceeding wall of fiery debris hurtling towards you at all times. Dino Run is what happens when you put Sonic and Samus in the same room and then appear as Rumpelstiltskin to steal their bastard child. Not that they'd really mind if it really was a bastard child, in fact they'd probably be thanking you, but it wasn't a very good metaphor to begin with so let's just forget it.
Anyway, the graphics are simplistic but good. They're admittedly nothing special but they get the job done well. The music is fairly good, but I won't exactly be putting it on my iPod. And the gameplay is mostly good, except for one thing, and this seems to be more to do with me than with the game because people seem to love this game, but the physics piss me off. Running up a hill is aggravatingly slow, and even the smallest passing meteor fragment will send you rebounding in the opposite direction. Still, I'm probably just being picky, and with so many features, not to mention a multiplayer mode and upgradeable stats, its a deceptively deep game, and a very worthwhile time waster. Play it here.
And that's it for now. I apologize that most of my links are to Newgrounds, but that is my website of choice for flash games and I don't think it necessary to find a different website for each game just to avoid showing preference. Next time I'll be doing some more obscure titles to make up for these rather well-known games, and I'll also be recommending downloadable games in the future. If anyone has recommendations for titles you'd like me to do in the future please refrain for now, I have a huge list of titles that I'd like to at least start to make a dent in before I start taking recommendations. Thanks for reading, I'll see y'all in a couple of days.