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Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Click here for a sneak peek at Urbansquall's next multiplayer game, Little Ice Breakers.

Looks like an online version of Bomberman.

Pixel's new shooter will have power-ups but no saves or continues. [Shih Tzu, Pixel's development diary]

Super Juno available again. Now with online high score table. [Super Juno review]

Gamecloud interviews Wildsnake Software.

Escort Wing now has it's own web site.
[Escort Wing review]

Femo Duo Entertainment is currently developing Combat of the Quests using Blitz Basic. Responsible for the AGI-style adventure game Enclosure, their latest project features plenty of characters from earlier Sierra's Quest series in a fight to the death.

Contest alert. Win a free key-code for LittleWing's Fairy Tower by answering a questionnaire. [Monster Fair review]

A preview of Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine can be found here.
 

Tikiballs: Curse of Tane is an interesting Flash offering from Urbansquall, creator of the popular online Advance Wars clone called Battalion.

The objective of the game is to bounce a tikiball to the exit by drawing paddles using the mouse. A mix of gameplay elements from both iWin's Incredible Ink and Ikaruga, you can alternate between a dark or light tikiball by pressing the space bar. The tikiball can only destroy bricks of the opposite color, and absorb green balls of the same color as indicated by it's circled star. The only way to touch red balls safely without losing a life is by matching it's color before bouncing off them.

Some levels require certain tasks to be completed, such as breaking a number of blocks or absorbing green balls of a particular color. These requirements are outlined by the four icons shown on the right side of the screen.

You can use the magic bottle to trade for power-ups such as a magnet to attract the tikiball to your cursor, temporary invulnerability, superballs which destroy bricks with one touch and even extra lives. Fill up the bottle by destroying bricks or absorbing green balls. Unfortunately, the extra lives do not carry over to the next stage.

Name: Tikiballs: Curse of Tane
Developer: Urbansquall
Category: Action
Type: Flash
Size: 3MB
 

Monday, March 27, 2006
Lethal Application is another platformer from Japan that introduces a unique gameplay system for moving your character around each stage. Instead of a jump button that most players are accustomed to, we have here a weapon so strong that it's recoil effect can propel the protagonist in the opposite direction.

Using the weapon does deplete your energy resources, which fortunately can be replenished by collecting certain items scattered around the area. Press the Z key to shoot and the X key to activate your special move. You can swap special moves by pressing the C key but only after acquiring it's corresponding power-ups.

The demo can be acquired from this page by clicking on the first download link.

Name: Lethal Application
Developer: DAISESSEN
Category: Action
Type: Demo
Size: 30MB
 

Endless Fire is a shooter inspired by Kenta Cho's games, where enemies are generated based on several generic rules resulting in different enemy patterns for each playthrough.

Players can alternate between two types of shots during play by using either the Z or X key. According to the instructions, you have a limited number of shields at your disposal but this is not true in the version available for download. This takes away practically any challenge whatsoever on offer unless players decide not to activate them however tempting it might be.

Progress is saved every twentieth stage when all ships are lost in battle and the game ends. In summary, Endless Fire has potential to be a very playable shooter with a few minor tweaks.

Name: Endless Fire
Developer: Codespace
Category: Shooter
Type: Freeware
Size: 5MB
 

Sunday, March 26, 2006
Seumas McNally Grand Prize:
Darwinia, DOFUS, Professor Fizzwizzle, Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space, Wildlife Tycoon: Venture Africa.
Winner: Darwinia

Best Web Browser Game:
Dodge That Anvil, Moleculous, Dad 'N Me.
Winner: Dad 'N Me

Innovation in Game Design:
Rumble Box, Strange Attractors, Braid, The Witch's Yarn, Darwinia.
Winner: Braid

Technical Excellence:
Saints and Sinners Bowling, Tribal Trouble, Tube Twist, Darwinia, Crazy Ball.
Winner: Darwinia

Innovation in Visual Art:
DOFUS, Darwinia, Putt Nutz, Glow Worm, Tommy and the Magical Words.
Winner: Darwinia

Innovation in Audio:
Professor Fizzwizzle, Saints and Sinners Bowling, Dodge That Anvil, Glow Worm, Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space.
Winner: Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space

Special Adultswim.com Award
Winner: Dodge That Anvil

IGF Audience Award
Winner: DOFUS

Winners in each category bags $2,500 with the exception of two awards.

Seumas McNally Grand Prize winner will take home $20,000, while Adultswim.com Award winner gets a tidy sum of $5,000.

Congratulations to all the winners!

[IGF, Gamasutra article]
 

Saturday, March 25, 2006
Eets to be released on March 27th.

The Gamer's Quarter issue five is out.

Planetfreeplay interviews Ominous Development.

The official web site for the Katamari Damacy series is closed.
[Zack's blog]

BreakQuest developer interviewed.
[BreakQuest review]

Gnome's Lair reviews Spooks.
[Spooks review]

Nearly Departed demo now available. [GotNext interview]

Sorry for not doing any obscure Japanese game reviews. Coming soon!

Russell Carroll of Game Tunnel joins Reflexive Entertainment. Congratulations!

Studio Trophis is back online.

Shoot the Core blog updated.
 

Sky Puppy is an updated version of the original Retro Remakes' One Switch Competition entry, in which it earned a respectable sixth place finish.

Requiring only one button to play, your objective is to guide Wilford the SkyPuppy as he floats his way through forty-five different stages while grabbing as many doggie treats as possible during his journey. The game only ends if you run out of time, although valuable seconds can be earned by collecting bones.

Wilford's horizontal movements can be controlled by using the blue arrows scattered in each level. When in contact with these arrows, he will be pushed in the direction that the arrow is pointing to. His flight speed is determined by how long he is in contact with the arrows.

The game is very pleasing to the eye and does offer a decent challenge. A welcomed change is that the trial version is not time limited, allowing for multiple retries. Like Titan Attacks, it's going for only ten bucks which is half the price of most casual games in the market.

Name: Sky Puppy
Developer: StarQuail Productions
Category: Action
Type: Demo
Size: 5MB
 

Expect a new version of Vector Infector to be released soon.
[Vector Infector review]

the2bears is doing a complete shmup dev competition entries coverage.

Game Tunnel Monthly Round-Up for the month of March is up.

Worth mentioning again. Twin Seeds updated to version 2.10.
[Twin Seeds review]

Kojima Productions updated with it's first MGS Passport.

Mighty Rodent is the latest addition to Reflexive Arcade's catalogue of games. [Mighty Rodent review]
 

Thursday, March 23, 2006
Mighty Rodent is the latest release from Jagged Blade Software, which plays pretty much like PopCap's Heavy Weapon. The percentage completed indicator shown at the top of the screen is a welcomed change, and no longer do you have to struggle with hitting ground units.

Some of the enemy projectiles do blend in with the background, making it difficult to distinguish at times thus complicating the task of avoiding them. The backgrounds are reused a little too much for my liking, and it's quite obvious that not enough enemy sprites were made for this game. It stretches a bit thin at times, and players would probably be shooting at the same enemies in just about every stage.

Reminds me of Silkworm, minus the helicopter.

Name: Mighty Rodent
Developer: Jagged Blade Software
Category: Shooter
Type: Demo
Size: 10MB
 

Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Switchball is basically a remake of Crazyball, both from Atomic Elbow but using different engines. The original was pretty impressive in terms of graphics but amazingly everything looks even better in the sequel, partly thanks to the capabilities of a new engine and reworked textures.

Your task is to guide a ball around various traps, contraptions and obstacles. A morph machine can be used to change your ball's properties, which is a requirement in some situations to successfully navigate around some of the floating maze.

The ball can be steered by using either the mouse or arrow keys, although keyboard controls are recommended as they're more accurate. It's difficult to judge the game based on one level, but things do look extremely promising with twenty levels planned for the final release.

Name: Switchball
Developer: Atomic Elbow
Category: Puzzle
Type: Demo
Size: 50MB
 

Steam Brigade updated to version 1.0.2.

Mexican Motor Mafia reached 100,000 downloads.

The White Chamber soundtrack now available for download.

Expect a new release from Bernie in a few week's time.

Dink Smallwood updated to version 1.08.

Tiny Mantis is working on a card game.

Indiana Jones and the Fountain of Youth demo to be released soon.

Liberation Games' Kingdom Elemental will be published by Chronic Logic. [Aquatic Sun review]

Ocean Express from Hipsoft looks to be the sequel to Puzzle Express.

Grid Assault updated to version 0.61.
[Grid Assault review]
 

Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Mosaic: Tomb of Mystery is the latest puzzler from Reflexive Entertainment featuring tile-laying elements made popular by Puzzle Lab's Inlay series.

Your task in each stage is to fill a Glyph with shapes from the Drop Zone on the left side of the screen. Press the left mouse button to pick up or drop a shape and right click to rotate.

There are a few new tricks to use, for example folding out a shape by holding down the left mouse button while placing a tile. You can use this technique to fill up spaces more quickly. Place unwanted shapes in the Crusher to destroy them. Shapes charged with electricity can be placed on both ends of the Glyph to fill the empty spaces between them automatically.

Falcons can be used to remove pieces from the Drop Zone or the Glyph. Charge up the Obelisk on the right to earn bonus shapes.

Name: Mosaic: Tomb of Mystery
Developer: Reflexive Entertainment
Category: Puzzle
Type: Demo
Size: 15MB
 

Kaorin Fight is a beat 'em up from Rectangle, developer of the Raiders Sphere series. Your character's moves are limited to punches and a mid-air kick. A combo can be executed by tapping the Z key repeatly.

Backgrounds are bland but serviceable. The subway level is pretty interesting although much of what the screenshots promised do not appear in the trial version.

The second link on the navigational bar provides access to the game information and download page.

Name: Kaorin Fight
Developer: Rectangle
Category: Action
Type: Demo
Size: 20MB
 

Monday, March 20, 2006
Feeding Frenzy 2 is the all-new sequel to Sprout Games' biggest hit. The first few stages will be awfully familiar to most players but things change rather quickly as the game progresses. For example, your fish can now jump out of the water to gobble up insects hovering above sea level. Consuming poisonous fishes will cause your controls to be reversed for a short moment.

To complete each stage, you must eat and grow in size to move up the food chain while avoiding larger creatures until you are able to add them to your menu as well.

Some species make a return while others are new additions to the family. Expect to encounter squids, jellyfish, herrings, pelicans and puffers together with the usual crew.

Name: Feeding Frenzy 2
Developer: Sprout Games
Category: Action
Type: Demo
Size: 15MB
 

Sunday, March 19, 2006
Treasure Tower is a game by David Newton that mixes a bit of WarioWare gameplay with platforming elements. Guide a noble knight through twenty rooms to reach the top of a tower and collect the treasure.

Most of the actions available to you can be carried out by using the arrow keys. Press up to enter doors or activate switches. Tap the left shift key to jump. Run over items to collect them.

You begin each game with 36 seconds on the clock, which can only be replenished by collecting food. Running into obstacles such as spikes or ghosts will cause you to lose valuable seconds.

Name: Treasure Tower
Developer: David Newton
Category: Platform
Type: Freeware
Size: 3MB
 

Saturday, March 18, 2006
Barfer Sickmess Online is an updated version of the Christmas-themed horizontal shooter by Zapper that feels more like a shmup from Japan thanks to it's difficulty and bullet pattern similarities.

A major change introduced in this release is the online cooperative mode. To initiate a game, it's as simple as selecting online mode, typing in a name and choosing connect. You can even chat by pressing T followed by your message, then enter.

Controls are mapped differently depending on whether you're using Santa or Saint Nick. For Saint Nick, hold the shift key to shoot (F for Santa) or press the control key (G for Santa) to activate your special weapon, but only if you have some beer in your belly after drinking a few. Move Santa around by using the W, A, S and D keys.

Some enemies will leave behind alphabets, which can be collected to form the word Christmas for an extra life. Other new features include unlockable secrets and a harder survival mode.

Name: Barfer Sickmess Online
Developer: Zapper
Category: Shooter
Type: Freeware
Size: 5MB
 

After impressing Ludum Dare competition judges with Jackie and the Beanstalk, DrPetter is back with Shmester 5000, a horizontal shooter slightly influenced by the cartoony sprites featured in Alien Hominid.

Enemy sprites do not shoot, but you do lose a life by touching any of them. Some will leave behind flashing power-ups when destroyed, which can be collected to add to your sphere total. These spheres will circle around your character, and can be spent on upgrading your firepower by pressing X and the up arrow key at the same time. This action costs four spheres, although you can trade back for them by pressing X and the down arrow key.

The spheres act as a shield as well. Yellow spheres indicate that you can take one hit, red means two.

Name: Shmester 5000
Developer: DrPetter
Category: Shooter
Type: Freeware
Size: 1MB
 

Friday, March 17, 2006
Grid Assault is another PC version of the popular Xbox 360 game, Geometry Wars. Made by Wiebo de Wit, this release is much more similar to Bizarre Creation's surprise hit than Mark Incitti's GridWars, although both versions are fun to play in their own way.

For players who do not own a joypad, keyboard and mouse controls are supported as well. Your ship can be moved around using the arrow keys. Aim using the mouse, hold the left mouse button to shoot and right click to detonate a bomb. Press the P key to pause.

Currently there are no power-ups to collect. Your weapon is automatically upgraded every ten thousand points.

Name: Grid Assault
Developer: Wiebo de Wit
Category: Shooter
Type: Freeware
Size: 5MB
 

Reaction III is an interesting effort by nihilyst made using the AGS engine. In the game, your objective is to guide a grey dot to the exit while pressing the keys highlighted on the left side of the screen.

The grey dot must not touch the walls else you have to start all over again from the spawn point. Progress can be saved by touching a green square found in some levels. Fortunately, the game allows for unlimited retries instead of punishing the player for failing repeatedly.

Three difficulty levels are available for selection from the main menu.

Name: Reaction III
Developer: nihilyst
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 1MB
 

Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Cave Jumper is a superb platformer featuring over a hundred levels, as you guide an explorer on a quest to gather lost treasures and precious gold from an underground network of caverns.

Besides running, jumping and throwing pick axes at enemies, your avatar can use ropes and dynamites to rappel down a cliff or blow up certain sections of a wall. The number of actions available can be overwhelming at first but all will be used during the course of your adventure.

There are a few minor drawbacks to this excellent effort, although most players would probably be having too much fun to notice. Certain executable actions are not explained during gameplay, for example your light can be turned off or a dynamite can be kicked after being placed.

Game is only automatically saved every five levels, which can be frustrating at times. Graphics are heavily pixelated in full screen but works surprisingly well as it makes the entire game feels like a classic console title.

Name: Cave Jumper
Developer: KNPMASTER
Category: Platform
Type: Freeware
Size: 30MB
 

Sunday, March 12, 2006
The Elf Brothers is an excellent freeware RPG that manages to resist the temptation of including too many collectible items and pointless side quests, yet retaining all the charm of turn-based battles.

A worthy winner of The Daily Click's Christmas Competition, the story can be largely ignored like most RPGs. Something about going on a quest to rescue Santa and saving Christmas, I suppose. The introduction seems awfully familiar but does a great job of setting up the scene nicely.

Your elves fight by assaulting their enemies, where a combination of attacks can be executed during that short period of time as indicated by a rapidly depleting gauge above the character's head. Press the left shift key for a light attack, and the Z key for a medium one. The X key can be used to execute a strong blow.

Instructions for special moves and character stats can be accessed by pressing the return key. The game doesn't drag on for too long and is relatively easy provided that your character engages in enough random battles to strengthen themselves for the final battle.

Name: The Elf Brothers
Developer: CYS
Category: RPG
Type: Freeware
Size: 10MB
 

Santasm 2 is a decent platformer by Radix featuring character customization, that is if you manage to collect enough coins to purchase the required parts. Elves are preparing to take over the world, and there's nothing that Santa can do about it as he is turned into a toy right before strangling Phil the mastermind.

With a bit of resolve, you set out to upgrade your parts and storm Castle Claus in an attempt to end his evil plan once and for all.

There's not a lot of levels and they're pretty short, but you do get to choose three of the five available stages to play in any order. Press the control key to shoot, and tap the shift key to jump.

The objective is to reach the pole at the end of each stage. If you happen to lose all your hearts, there's a chance that you could continue so long as you have in your possession enough coins to build a new toy.

Some parts bestow new skills, such as the ability to fly or hover. These attributes are indicated by the boxes below the toy parts, displayed in the customization menu.

Name: Santasm 2
Developer: Radix
Category: Platform
Type: Freeware
Size: 3MB
 

Santa Hanta is a shooting game where the player gets to throw snowballs at santas on diet as an act of revenge for skipping your house last year.

The playing field can be scrolled left or right simply by moving the cursor to the edge of the screen. Left click to throw a snowball and right click to reload. Press the control key for a special move.

Name: Santa Hanta
Developer: Quick Fire Production
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 5MB
 

Barfer Sickmess is a Christmas-themed horizontal shooter by Zapper that feels more like a shmup from Japan thanks to it's difficulty and bullet pattern similarities.

The sprites are pretty bland but gameplay is fun enough for most players to ignore this minor fault. Use the shift key to shoot or press the control key to activate your special weapon, but only if you have some beer in your belly after drinking a few.

Some enemies will leave behind alphabets, which can be collected to form the word Christmas for an extra life.

Name: Barfer Sickmess
Developer: Zapper
Category: Shooter
Type: Freeware
Size: 5MB
 

Saturday, March 11, 2006
Alfa Dream is an AGS adventure by Poroksy about a man who finds himself unable to wake from his dream state. He must embark on a journey to seek answers in an unfamiliar dreamworld, meeting and conversing with many of it's strange denizens along the way.

The use of painted backgrounds enhances the setting, although lack of music can be disconcerting at times. Puzzles are relatively easy and the journey itself is fairly short, not helped at all by an abrupt ending. Still, for a first effort it's a pretty decent adventure game worth trying out.

Name: Alfa Dream
Developer: Poroksy
Category: Adventure
Type: Freeware
Size: 50MB
 

Friday, March 10, 2006
Gothic Blocks is a pretty addictive mini-game by Dylan, made using the Torque 2D engine. Like the developer says, there's nothing more gothic than ferries. Similar to Free Lunch Design's Icy Tower, you guide a character going by the name of Ionesco who must reach the highest altitude possible in ninety seconds.

A combination of mouse and keyboard controls can be used. Tap the left mouse button to jump and right click to freeze the ferries. Your avatar will always move towards the mouse cursor. The jump action is only allowed when you're standing on solid ground or a frozen ferry.

There are several advanced strategies to attempt, such as freezing a ferry only when it's underneath your character or pushing ferries into certain positions before pressing the right mouse button. Your best score can be submitted online for ranking purposes as well.

Name: Gothic Blocks
Developer: Dylan
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 2MB
 

Titan Attacks is the latest release by PuppyGames, developer of Ultratron and Alien Flux. Essentially a Space Invaders game featuring sprites made out of glowing pixels, your objective is to blast every single enemy to smithereens in each level and occasionally engage alien motherships during boss encounters.

Some enemy ships will take more hits than usual, which is where the power-ups come into play. Collect bounty money to purchase all sorts of upgrades from the shop. Your choices include extra shields, smartbombs, improved ship speed and additional firepower.

There are some challenge stages thrown into the mix to keep players on their toes. Of course, the online high score table is probably it's biggest draw, where top scorers get to post their achievements for all to see.

Name: Titan Attacks
Developer: PuppyGames
Category: Shooter
Type: Demo
Size: 7MB
 

In Tino's Fruit Stand, you guide a monkey named Rikki on a job to gather fresh fruits for the fruit stand's customers. Grab the correct fruits to match a customer's order, but watch out for crates that hinder your movement and fruits that go rotten if left for too long. Either click on an adjacent square or press an arrow key to move your helper around.

A fruit that does not match a customer's requirements will be placed in the sack and offered to the next customer. There are a few power-ups to collect, such as those that increases a customer's patience or Rikki's sack size. You can use ropes to transport yourself from one end of the playing area to the other.

Name: Tino's Fruit Stand
Developer: Chasing Dogs Studios
Category: Puzzle
Type: Demo
Size: 15MB
 

The White Chamber: International Edition is a new version of Studio Trophis' debut effort. Smaller than it's predecessor, it includes four new endings and voice acting as well.

There are plenty of easter eggs to be found, and some are hinted at the end of each adventure. Fans of the original certainly won't be disappointed with the extras.

Name: The White Chamber: International Edition
Developer: Studio Trophis
Category: Adventure
Type: Freeware
Size: 300MB
 

Dragonfly is an overhead shooter from Blue and White featuring freedom of movement around the battlefield. The helicopter can be controlled by using the W, A, S and D keys. Shots can be fired by holding down the left mouse button. Use sparingly as your ammunition supply is limited, indicated by a blue bar on the bottom left of the screen.

You can land the helicopter at the heliport for refill or repairs. To land or take flight, just hold down the right mouse button. To shoot down airborne targets, you must have the aircraft targeted in your sights for a few seconds. Once your helicopter acquires a lock, tap the left mouse button to launch a few missiles at it.

Dust and smoke billows from the ground level when the action gets hot, camouflaging some enemies from view. It takes a while to get a hang of the controls, but don't let it discourage you from trying out the demo.

Name: Dragonfly
Developer: Blue and White
Category: Shooter
Type: Demo
Size: 7MB

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Blue Sabers Operation Orbital Hammer is the 3D sequel to Blue and White's earlier arcade shooter with the same name. All of the ships from the original are retained here with an updated look, plus one new support aircraft. Some ships have more firepower while others have a higher mobility and maneuverability in the sky.

There are a few additional control types this time around. By default, the X, C and V keys can be used to activate your secondary weapons in direct mode. Press the B key to radio in your support aircraft.

The cutscenes can be turned off under the options menu. It's advisable to save ammunition for secondary weapons until the boss battles, as you need to take them down quick before time runs out. Press the N key to pause the game.

Name: Blue Sabers Operation Orbital Hammer
Developer: Blue and White
Category: Shooter
Type: Demo
Size: 5MB

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Blue Sabers is a shooter from Blue and White featuring three ships to choose from, each with it's own configuration of primary and secondary weapons. You can swap weapons by pressing the X key, although secondary weapon supplies are in limited quantities and will run out if used repeatedly.

Radio in your support aircraft by tapping the C key, but like all good things they won't stay around for long. Their allowable time is indicated on the top right of the screen. Use the N key to pause the game.

Name: Blue Sabers
Developer: Blue and White
Category: Shooter
Type: Demo
Size: 2MB

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006
CloverWing and Iincho are two excellent shooters from Eikyuu Loop featuring a dash system not unlike Suguri. The objective of the game is to earn enough points and meet the target in order to progress from one level to the next.

Points are earned by taking out entire waves of enemies, then collecting the items that they leave behind. Press space to shoot, and tapping the Z key while holding down a directional button will cause your character to dash in that direction. She will be invulnerable for a short period right before stopping. It's a skill that will be used often as the protagonist is extremely slow when it comes to moving around. Some bullet formations can only be dodged by dashing past them.

Name: Iincho
Developer: Eikyuu Loop
Category: Shooter
Type: Demo
Size: 20MB
 

CloverWing and Iincho are two excellent shooters from Eikyuu Loop featuring a dash system not unlike Suguri. The objective of the game is to earn enough points and meet the target in order to progress from one level to the next.

Points are earned by taking out entire waves of enemies, then collecting the items that they leave behind. Press space to shoot, and tapping the Z key while holding down a directional button will cause your character to dash in that direction. She will be invulnerable for a short period right before stopping. It's a skill that will be used often as the protagonist is extremely slow when it comes to moving around. Some bullet formations can only be dodged by dashing past them.

Name: CloverWing
Developer: Eikyuu Loop
Category: Shooter
Type: Demo
Size: 10MB
 

Thwart Poker is a surprisingly low-key gem from Mind Control Software, developer of the excellent Oasis. A poker game much like TellTale Texas Hold'em, the character you select will travel around the world and pit their bluffing skills against a myriad of opponents.

The title derives it's name from the method in which cards are selected. All fifty-two cards are laid out at the bottom of the screen and no cards are ever dealt, only selected by the poker players. Basically the first player to pick a card gets to keep it. Other players choosing the same card subsequently will only receive a card with no value.

There are two versions of ThwartPoker. In Six Card Battle, cards are picked in turn and players have to build the best five-card hand to beat their opponents. You only get to pick four cards in Hold'em Blitz but share three other community cards with your opponents.

This variation of poker is patented by Thwartpoker Inc.

Name: Thwart Poker
Developer: Mind Control Software
Category: Strategy
Type: Demo
Size: 10MB
 

Atomize from Buried Alive Interactive is a tricky game to describe. A mix of Quantum and MCF: Huntsville, your task in each level is to draw a circle around a set of objects that matches the one shown in a bar at the bottom of the screen.

Like BreakQuest, you won't find yourself playing the same level twice although they have been grouped nicely into several themes. There are a few unsavory elements to watch out for, such as ions and particle streams. Running into them while you're drawing an Atomize Beam will cause your energy level to increase. A meltdown begins if the energy level hits maximum, and the only way to bring it back down is by making matches, atomizing ions or completing levels.

Name: Atomize
Developer: Buried Alive Interactive
Category: Action
Type: Demo
Size: 20MB
 

Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Mu-cade is the latest release from Kenta Cho that plays quite differently from all his other efforts. A bit of Robotron: 2084 and Snake, your objective is to stay on the rectangular platform and knock other enemies off it by shooting at them repeatedly using the Z key.

For each enemy pushed off the platform, the tail of your ship grows longer and the score multiplier increases. A longer tail does complicate matters a little as it gets harder to stay on the platform. If the tail of your ship is over the edge, the weight will drag the rest of the ship with it as well.

Fortunately you only need to worry about the front portion of your ship. As long as this part of the ship stays on the platform, you can use the X key to blow up the entire tail and gain some additional firepower momentarily. You will lose the multiplier in the process though.

It gets increasingly harder to stay on the platform as time passes. An extra life is awarded for every 200,000 points earned, so it's important to refrain from using the X key too often unless necessary.

Name: Mu-cade
Developer: Kenta Cho
Category: Shooter
Type: Freeware
Size: 5MB
 

Pirate Poppers is the product of a collaboration between Playfirst and Mystery Studio, the latter responsible for Betty's Beer Bar and Wild West Wendy. Gameplay as usual involves matching three or more balls of the same color to remove them from the playing area.

Making several matches in a row will present opportunities to collect treasures. A treasure cove accessible during your adventure serves as a gallery to showcase the loot you've plundered.

The pirate theme is omnipresent throughout the entire game. Background music, sound effects, naming convention of powerups, pieces of map that hides a secret, levels, even bonuses are all meticulously designed with skulls and crossbones in mind. The only thing you probably won't get out of this one are duels and swordfights.

There are two additional gameplay modes if you manage to complete the original campaign. The puzzle mode is an interesting addition as the number of balls you're allowed to shoot out of the cannon is limited. Although there's no time limit, all shots must be judged carefully as most levels only present one solution.

Name: Pirate Poppers
Developer: Mystery Studio
Category: Puzzle
Type: Demo
Size: 15MB
 

Samidare is a vertical shooter by Project Blank featuring fairly bland sprites yet imaginative use of bullet patterns. The demo only showcases one level but there are two boss encounters to test your bullet-dodging skills.

Bosses have a few attack patterns, each triggered after taking a certain amount of damage. Projectiles come thick and fast, so it's not surprising that your ship will often be trapped with no room to maneuver around the bullets. Fortunately shields can be activated by pressing the X key, although it does consume your energy as indicated at the bottom left of the screen.

When taking hits with your shields activated, the strength of your firepower increases depending on the number of bullets you absorbed. Particularly useful during boss battles as they can be slightly difficult to defeat at times.

Name: Samidare
Developer: Project Blank and Amusement Makers
Category: Shooter
Type: Demo
Size: 20MB
 

Balls of Steel: Creature Attack basically has all the features of the original that it was named after but only showcases two tables.

If you're a fan of pinball simulators and were left disappointed by how miniscule everything looks in LittleWing's Monster Fair, then do give this a spin. The screen scrolls up and down depending on where the ball is, and the frame rates are pretty good as well. Animation is smooth although some players may get a headache from all the rapid movements.

There are plenty of missions to undertake and most of the dotpanel mini-games are quite fun. The screen does change to fit the entire table when multiball is activated.

Name: Balls of Steel: Creature Attack
Developer: Wildfire Studios
Category: Action
Type: Demo
Size: 15MB
 

Fatal Fake is another doujin fighting game featuring characters from TYPE-MOON's popular visual novel. This version is graphically superior than the rest of it's cousins, partly due to the use of cel-shading process to render the fighters.

The camera view changes and rotates automatically so that the player can get the best view of the action unfolding on screen. There doesn't seem to be a playing manual or list of moves to be found anywhere, although arcade veterans should be able to figure them out after a few practice sessions.

Only two characters and arenas are available, but each fight could last up to five rounds and the computer-controlled opponents do offer a bit of a challenge. They're especially adept at executing 28-hit combos and will put up a decent fight. Just click on any of the trial button on this page to begin downloading the demo.

Name: Fatal Fake
Developer: Lights
Category: Action
Type: Demo
Size: 20MB
 

Much like Daniel Remar's Hero, Super Juno is a platformer that uses only two colors throughout the entire game. A mix of N, Lode Runner and Prince of Persia, your protagonist is thrown out of a trapdoor into each level and must navigate his way out by reaching the UFO.

Plenty of objects scattered around the area can be used to reach the ship, from springboards to bars and handholds as well. There are secret rooms which can only be discovered by touching them, usually hiding a stash of coins. The arrow keys control your character's movement, and pressing the shift key will cause him to jump.

Name: Super Juno
Developer: Sylvain Savard and Phizzy
Category: Platform
Type: Freeware
Size: 10MB
 

Cosmic Stacker is the latest effort from Puzzle Lab that plays unlike any other matching games released, but still one nonetheless.

Basically the player has to place three rings of the same color but different sizes together to make them disappear. The game ends if you allow a ring to touch the insignia. An issue I had with the game was that the ring placement system is a bit awkward. Players have to be mindful of the order in which they click on the rings as these could be placed in front as well as the back of the queue.

Name: Cosmic Stacker
Developer: Puzzle Lab
Category: Puzzle
Type: Demo
Size: 10MB
 

Monday, March 06, 2006
In Kutar End Roll, the objective is to ride your bike and gain television audience ratings while avoiding mines along the way. Fortunately for us who don't understand Japanese, the subtitles are nothing more than a minor distraction.

It's quite obvious that this game is a nod to the Kamen Rider series, where similarities include the bike and scarf. The game may be entertaining for a few minutes but Igadevil's web site provides a wealth of information about the Kamen Rider legacy.

Giga-Rensya downloads can be found on this page, while their flash games can be accessed by clicking here.

Name: Kutar End Roll
Developer: Giga-Rensya
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 1MB
 

In Kutar the Deepest Cave, your character equips himself with a gadget that allows him to fly into a dark cave in search of apples. As indicated by the bar at the bottom, the only way you can earn points is by getting as close as possible to the right side of the screen.

Left clicking turns off the light, but seems to serve no purpose whatsoever. After making some progress, a warning signal will appear and the game speeds up considerably.

Name: Kutar the Deepest Cave
Developer: Giga-Rensya
Category: Action
Type: Flash
Size: 1MB
 

The Kutar's Tabipero is a collection of four mini-games from Giga-Rensya which can be played in any order. Starting from the top of the world map in a counterclockwise direction, we have a game set in Egypt. The objective here is to dig for treasure by left clicking on any of the nine spots while avoiding the guards. To move the cat around just right click on any of the spots.

Next we have a racing game, where the vehicle you're riding is in perpetual motion and must not hit any object. Left or right click to move your vehicle to either direction.

The third mini-game is pretty fun, as some quick thinking is required to balance the leaning tower. Cats will fall from the sky and hang on poles protruding from each side of the building. The objective is to get an equal number of your colleagues on both ends, which is achieved by hitting the balcony with either mouse button to issue the felines a signal.

Lastly we have a game that plays like a simpler version of Beatmania. Mountains scroll from left to right and it's up to you to click on the appropriate mouse button depending on a mountain's height when it appears in your sight. Right click for tall mountains and left click for shorter ones.

Name: Kutar Tabipero
Developer: Giga-Rensya
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 5MB
 

In Kutar Sword Master, your task is to hit enemies with a sword by pressing the left and right mouse button. The game ends immediately if you swing wildly and miss. A boss battle ensues after you have taken care of a few enemies.

There's plenty of commotion going on in the background, and the scene changes after every boss fight. Unfortunately the gameplay is too simplistic to hold anyone's attention for long.

Name: Kutar Sword Master
Developer: Giga-Rensya
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 1MB
 

In Kutar Manu, you have been assigned the task of a worker in a burger manufacturing plant. Your supervisor will watch over your shoulder as he inspects the quality of the burgers that are being sent out for delivery. He is easily identifiable by his distinctive yellow hair and light blue cap.

The objective is to make sure that your other colleagues don't screw up by forgetting to place a beef patty on the bun before passing it to you. To reject burgers without a beef patty, press the right mouse button. To place the other half of a bun on top of the beef patty, press the left mouse button. You earn points for each burger that passes quality control inspection.

Name: Kutar Manu
Developer: Giga-Rensya
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 1MB
 

Kutar's Powder and Kutar T-shirt are two mini-games from Giga-Rensya with the same controls but slightly different gameplay. Your character can be moved around by using the left and right mouse buttons.

In Kutar's Powder, the objective is to collect the powder that your colleague spills from the platform above you with the help of a bottomless bag. In Kutar T-shirt, your friend will fling pieces of clothing and it's up to you to sort them out by catching only the t-shirts.

Of the two, Kutar T-shirt is more forgiving as misses are allowed and the player does not have to hold down the mouse button to move around.

Name: Kutar T-shirt
Developer: Giga-Rensya
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 1MB