Articles by type: Game review

Steambirds: Survival

The sequel to one of 2010's best strategy games is chock-a-block with dazzling new features and exciting new aerial combat missions.

Biggles. Maverick and Goose. Dastardly and Muttley. Erm, Icarus. How we love those magnificent men (and dogs) in their flying machines. And, from supercharged arcade stormers like Afterburner to the lost Amiga classic Wings and PC hits like Crimson Skies, it seems we also can't get enough of being just like them (without the hours of training, moustache wax and risk of death, obviously) by going up-diddly-up-up to blast the bejesus out of the bad guys.

Thankfully, Steambirds: Survival from Radial Games and Spry Fox gives us all another chance to dish out some damn good thrashings among the clouds. I say, top hole! It's the follow-up to - surprise, surprise - the 2010 Flash hit Steambirds, which picked up a gaggle of well-deserved awards for its interesting twist on aerial combat.

Published by Andy Jowett on 18th February 2011
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Pogo Swing!

Casual games do not get much more fun than this cute new launching game from the guys at Armor Games.

There is something ridiculously addictive about launch games. I have spent countless hours pointlessly blasting hedgehogs into outer space, shooting turtles into the sky and catapulting peasants across burning countryside in launch classics such as Hedgehog Launch, Toss the Turtle and Catapult Madness.

Every time I complete one of these games, I vow never to play another. They really are such time wasters. But each time a new launch game comes out, I can't resist and am soon in a happy trance endlessly launching things into the air. And there have been quite a few innovative launch games as of late, including such gems as Reachin' Pichin and my personal favourite Flight (for more such games, see our list of the Top 10 Launching Games).

Published by Tasha on 16th February 2011
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Icy Gifts

This fun chain reaction game takes the core game-play of the classic Boomshine and soups it up with colourful graphics, upgrade paths and achievements.

When developer Danny Miller created a little chain reaction game called Boomshine in 2007, he did not have particularly high hopes for it. The game was incredibly simple. Nothing more than an oblong box with small spheres bouncing around. All you did was click somewhere with your mouse to create an explosion, the idea being that any sphere that came into contact with the detonation would in turn blow up, setting in motion a chain reaction.

Despite its simplicity and basic graphics, Boomshine proved a huge success. People were enchanted by the simplicity and addictiveness of the game, and played it in their millions. More than three years after its creation, and Boomshine is still to be found in many people's list of must-play Flash games.

Published by Tasha on 3rd February 2011
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High Tea

The UK's Wellcome Collection brings you a brilliant trading game that explores one of the more unsavoury episodes in world history.

Britain might nowadays be an insignificant little country on the edge of Europe (sorry all my UK readers but I have to tell it as it is) but there was a time, not so long ago, when it ruled the largest empire the world has ever witnessed. At its peak in the early 20th century, the British empire held sway over a quarter of the world's population and huge swathes of its landmass. No-one could challenge its military and economic might.

Like most superpowers, Britain in its imperialistic pomp was a bit of a bully. Yes, the Brits started the industrial revolution (to which we are all eternally grateful). Yes, they perfected the brewing of tea (which at least this American living in London appreciates). And, yes, without Britain, there would be nowhere near as many good period dramas on TV. But for much of the time during the 1800s and 1900s, the Brits were a bunch of mischievous rascals, invading other countries, subjugating foreign people and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

Published by Tasha on 1st February 2011
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Electric Box 2

The sequel to one of the best Flash puzzle games of 2009 will have geeks and nerds rubbing their soldering irons together with glee.

Anyone who has met me knows that I can be quite obsessive. Especially when it comes to games. If I find a game that I like, I will play it and play it and play it - often for months on end. The game I have been obsessing over during the past few weeks is Electric Box 2. Sequel to the 2009 title, Electric Box 2 is a fiendish puzzle game where you have to complete the circuit from the power supply to the target. You do this by placing components at strategic places on the circuit board that forms the main area of the game.

It sounds incredibly geeky - and I suppose it is - but you don't need any expertise in electronics to enjoy this game. Indeed, in real life, I would not know a capacitor from a resistor, and yet I quickly got the hang of the game. This was in part because the game helpfully provides you with guidance not only during the early levels but also sometimes on later levels (especially if the rules change - play to find out what I mean!).

Published by Tasha on 31st January 2011
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Aurora

If there is one game that should convince you to install the Unity browser plugin, it is this stunningly beautiful solar system sandbox game.

I almost did not play Aurora. It uses the Unity plugin and I have had bad experiences with Unity games in the past. Some have run dreadfully slowly on my laptop. Others have actually crashed my browser. So when I spotted the Unity loading screen, my first reaction was to immediately close down the game. I am glad I resisted this urge because Aurora is an absolute gem of a game. Certainly, it is one of the most beautiful browser games I have ever played.

This is not to say the game is perfect. It is still in beta mode so is a bit rough around the edges in places but there is so much to love about the game. The premise is fascinating, for starters. The game transports you (playing a nameless, invisible god) to the middle of a new solar system soon after its star is born. These are chaotic times for the inchoate system - rocks and small asteroids are spinning about all around you, occasionally crashing into each other.

Published by Tasha on 25th January 2011
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Tank World

HTML5 might still be in its infancy but it is already being used to create some highly impressive games, as Tank World amply proves.

In September last year, we introduced our readers to a new technology for creating online games. HTML5 - as the technology is called - has the great advantages of being both completely open source and not needing a browser plugin. At the time, we published a list of the 30 best HTML5 games to show the potential of this powerful new technology.

Just a few months later and our list of HTML5 games looks hopelessly dated. Few of the games we featured would appear in any list of top HTML5 games compiled today. That is because great advances have taken place in HTML5 game design since we published the article. The HTML games being released today are not experimental prototypes but often fully-fledged games that do not look out-of-place alongside their Flash counterparts (Flash of course long being the dominate technology for making online games).

Published by Alex Kearns on 24th January 2011
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House of Dead Ninjas

Nostalgia alert! House of Dead Ninjas is a fun tribute to the old school 8-bit frantic platformers of the NES era.

Hi-Ya! Ninja-themed games have been a mainstay of console-based gaming since the early days of the Atari 2600 and the beloved NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). Classics such as Ninja Gaiden, Shinobi, The Last Ninja, and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are fondly remembered for their bizarre storylines, hilarious sound effects, and frenetic gameplay.

With House of Dead Ninjas, the latest addition to Adult Swim's sensational collection of free web games, British developer MegaDev brings us a throwback to those days of twitchy reflexes and relentless button mashing.

Published by Sandra Evans on 12th January 2011
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Arkandian Crusade

In something of a change of direction, game developer Undefined's latest title is not another Protector defence game but a retro RPG with a huge quest line.

Arkandian Legends: Crusade is a turn-based RPG from developer Undefined. You may recognise the name Undefined. This is the developer responsible for the hugely popular Protector series of tower defence games. It is no surprise therefore to discover that defence style missions make an appearance in Arkandian Legends: Crusade.

But this is a far more ambitious game than Undefined's previous efforts - it is one of the longest casual RPGs you will find on the web, featuring no less than 60 story quests. And these are in addition to the defence missions mentioned already.

Published by Sandra Evans on 10th January 2011
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Corporation Inc

Armor Games head of development John Cooney has created yet another hit game with Corporation Inc, a business-cum-tower-building sim that proves that work really can be fun... when you're the boss.

If you've always fancied yourself as a bit of a captain of industry type but could never persuade those pesky venture capitalists to part with their wodges of cash to get you going on that million dollar idea, then you are in luck. Equally, if you're yearning to unleash you inner megalomaniacal empire builder, have we got a treat for you!

Armor Games's head of development John Cooney (or jmtb02, as he better known) has come up with the perfect game for you. Corporation Inc lets you indulge both your entrepreneurial go-getter side and your ruthless, slave-driving god of capitalism side.

Published by Andy Jowett on 1st December 2010
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