10 Mar

Casual Gaming

I love computer games, always have since I first fell in love with an Apple ][e in my Mum’s college and spent a whole day writing a very simple text based dungeon exploration game in BASIC. Ever since I saw Sonic on a Sega Megadrive in a branch of Tandy in Newark we have had at least one console in the house, and we’ve gone through handhelds from the Atari Lynx, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS. A Megadrive, Playstation, Dreamcast, Gamecube and Wii have all shared our TVs, and I am proud to say that my kids have all grown up game savvy and scarily adept with a joypad.. Which is odd.. ‘cos I’m rubbish at computer games.

Hand and eye co-ordination is not my area of skill. My butterfly mind means that the only adventure game I have ever completed took me 18 months [Lord of the Rings: Third Age on the Cube]. I can also throw in a busy and active work and private life, family, friends and lots of other hobbies.. but basically I am a casual gamer. If it’s simple, fun and I can get 10-30 minutes of fun from it before moving on then it’s probably best for me. Now sometimes I can invest an hour or two in Battle for Wesnoth or Age of Empires on my Nintendo DS, but best for me is short sweet and easy.

Over the last week I have supplemented quite a high degree of productivity on work with some great new casual games (well new to me) and I’d like to show them with you. All three are available for Windows, Mac and Linux and are either open source or free or available as a demo.

Monsterz game in play
Monsterz: Monsterz is a little arcade puzzle game, similar to the famous Bejeweled or Zookeeper.The goal of the game is to create rows of similar monsters, either horizontally or vertically. The only allowed move is the swap of two adjacent monsters, on the condition that it creates a row of three or more. When alignments are cleared, pieces fall from the top of the screen to fill the board again. Chain reactions earn you even more points. This game is mostly about luck, but it remains highly addictive. You have been warned.

gridwars in play
GridWars: A wonderfully vector graphic pschedelic game which I believe is a clone of Geometry Wars (which I have on my DS), and reminds me so very much of Jeff Minter‘s epic vector based games. Essentially it’s a modern Asteroids with endless waves of geometric shapes trying to blow your little ship to pieces, all played on a grid that warps and twists like a first year lecture on space-time. I can sit down to play this for 10 minutes and an hour goes by, so it score very highly on the ‘one more time’ factor.

World of Goo in play
World of Goo: You may well have heard of this. It’s Worms meets Lemmings meets Goo. Relentlessly cute, not too hard but hard enough, it explains nothing and yet is amazingly simple to play and enjoy. Essentially, build matrices of goo balls to reach a pipe and save the remaining goo balls. Simple. Download the demo and then buy the full version. I must go and rescue some right now.. Also available on Nintendo Wiiware.

So that’s my 3, what are yours?

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