Entertaining Time Wasters

Some time ago, I made a post about artsy flash games. A lot of these are very interesting, rewarding and worth checking out but they lack one thing – replayability. Most have a strong narrative and forgiving game play, because their aim is to tell a story in a compelling way and to make it accessible to all players. There is nothing wrong with that – its’ just how this particular genre (is “artsy” a genre?) works. Still, but once you beat such a game you probably won’t be coming back for more.

Today I wanted to talk about the other type of flash and mobile games – the addictive time wasters that can inadvertently swallow your entire evening if you don’t pay attention. Here is a short selection of some of the titles I consider worth checking out.

Tower Defense Games

Lets start with the ever popular tower defense genre. There are hundreds of these games out there but probably one of the most popular, and most fun takes on this mechanic is Plants vs Zombies. It has cutesy graphics, engaging game play and… Well, it has funny zombies. Zombies are always good.

Plants vs Zombies to the left, Kingdom Rush to the right.

If you would like a slightly different implementation of the same concept, I recommend checking out Kingdom Rush. It’s equally colorful, it has a nice fantasy inspired theme and some cool twists on the old mechanic. Rather than allowing you to place your towers willy-nilly, the game limits you to a set number of “strategic points” where you can place your buildings. This adds another layer of strategy to the game, as you need to be very mindful of each towers range, special rules and effectiveness.

Classics Remakes

It is always fun to re-play old NES and arcade classics. For your enjoyment I have found flas/java remakes of Super Mario World, Galaga and Dig Dug. They play more or less like the originals, and you can sort of re-live your childhood frustration via the browser.

Super Mario World in upper left, Galaga in upper right, Super Mario Crossover in lower left and Digg Dugg in lower right.

The Super Mario Crossover is an interesting twist on this theme. The game lets you play original Super Mario levels with various classic Nintendo characters, including Mega-Man, Link and etc..

2D versions of 3D Games

There seems to be a strange trend to re-make certain block buster FPS games into 2D platformers. I already reviewed the Portal 2D back in the day so I won’t repeat what I said there. It’s probably also worth mentioning that there is a 2D version of Mirrors Edge out there. It’s about as entertaining as the original (ie. not very, but good enough to kill a few hours).

Click on things to make stuff happen

Honestly, I don’t know what to call this category, but it is mostly occupied by the many different Grow games. If you never played one, you are probably in for a little treat. Basic idea is that you click on things to deploy them on the little map, globe, cube, whatever. Each turn, things you already placed on the board level up, and grow in size. Many items interact with each other in interesting ways, and can’t level up properly if placed out of order. The entire point of the game is to figure out the correct order via trial and error.

Doodle God is slightly different type of puzzle game. You are a deity of some sort, and you start with four basic elements. You can combine them to make new things – for example earth and fire makes lava, water and fire makes steam and etc… Eventually you end up creating living things, then cars, boats, spaceships and etc. Quite entertaining.

Finger Torture Games

QWOP and GRIP are two games made by the same sadistic designer belong to the category I would label “insanely hard”. Not Nintendo Hard mind you – their difficulty comes from a very different place. Unlike most games which aim to make controls easy to grasp and intuitive, and then force you to use them for perfectly timed jump through a murderous obstacle courses, QWOP and GRIP do the exact opposite. Their levels are pretty straightforward. In QWOP your goal is to run forward and in GRIP it is to climb upwards. What makes these games difficult is their control scheme which is made to be as intuitive as humanly possible.

QWOP to the left, GRIP to the right.

In QWOP, you have to control your runners legs using an alternating combination of four keys. In GRIP, you switch your climbers grip by pressing a letter key corresponding to a specific handle on the wall forcing you to contort your fingers into strange shapes. Both are extremely difficult to grasp and nearly impossible to master, but failing in them is both inevitable and hilarious. And that’s what makes them fun I guess – it’s about failing in spectacular ways.

What are some of your favorite in-browser time wasters? Please share them in the comments. I’m sure I have forgot some really great, productivity destroying amusements out there.

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5 Responses to Entertaining Time Wasters

  1. icebrain PORTUGAL Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    For web games, Canabalt is my favorite, although oldies like Alien Hominid and Hexxagon are good too.

    Currently I’ve been playing an open-source clone of Puyo-puyo, called Flobopuyo. Unfortunately it’s easier than the original – I now consistently beat the Hard levels after a few hours of (non-consecutive) playing.

    Generally, I prefer old arcade games on emulators than Flash games, they have often better artwork and more levels. Genesis (Mega Drive) and SNES emulators are particularly appropriate.

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    @ icebrain:

    Oh, nice. Thanks for the links.

    Every once in a while I dust off the old MAME emulator, DOSBox and do just that – binge on the classics till I’m sick of them. :)

    I once got Amiga emulator going though I recall that finding the appropriate kickstart roms was a pain in the ass (mostly because Amiga refuses to die, and still somehow makes enough money to pay someone to send out takedown notices) :P

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  3. StDoodle UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    I’ve been playing Kingdom of Loathing for about six years now, on and off. It has cheesy, black-and-white stick-figure graphics and a simple interface and design reminiscent of early RPG’s, for the most part. While it can be easily approached as a coffee-cup game, where you play using similar mechanics to old-school RPG’s while enjoying the humorous lampooning of the genre (and others, and pop culture, and just about anything), it also adds a level of depth and replayability through its slightly-Nethack-like ascension system, allowing you to improve your character each time you “beat” the game and go again.

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  4. Playing
    — Triple Town – match 3 with a nice twist (available on Kindle, Google+ and Facebook currently) http://www.tripletown.com/
    — Panda Poet (Casual Scrabble meets Go for two players) http://game.pandapoet.com/

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  5. copperfish Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:


    In browser roguelike, but I spend ridiculous amounts of time with the Android version.

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