Gravity? I have definitely heard of it. Wasn’t there some bright spark who had an epiphany about gravity after something fell on them? That’s it, I remember now. A young physiotherapist called Isabel Newton was minding her own business one day when a resident of a tower block accidentally dropped their iPod out of the window. The iPod landed of Isabel’s head, and she had a sudden revelation that was to have a huge impact on our understanding of the universe: when things fall on your head, they hurt. That’s right, isn’t it? I never paid that much attention in school so I might have the odd detail wrong.
Anyway, the reason we are talking about such a rarefied concept as gravity is that we have collected together ten of the best gravity themed games we could find, all of them free to play in your browser. Be warned, however. Game developers are a mischievous lot who love nothing more than messing around with the basic laws of physics. So gravity in these games might not work quite as you expect.
1 Topsy Turvy
Created by UK-based game studio CodeHeads, Topsy Turvy is a brilliant platform-style puzzle game where you can rotate the world by altering the direction of gravity. It is not the first game to feature this game-play mechanic but I can't think of any game that has done it better. Indeed, the game is absolutely bursting with quality, from the tranquil music and cute monochromatic graphics to the brilliant transitions between levels - some of the best we have see.
The developers have even added a sweet storyline. You play Topsy, a resident of the world of Turv. Life on Turv is idyllic but Topsy has an adventurous streak, so when he comes across a portal, he leaps into it without a thought. The world to which the portal takes Topsy is nothing like Turv. There are no magnificent mountains, lush meadows or playful young Turvians, and worst of all, there are no ups and downs. Floors become ceilings and ceilings become walls, thanks to the strange laws of gravity in portal world. Can you guide Topsy through a series of fiendish gravity-themed puzzles and get him back home? Find out here here.
An iPhone/iPad version of the game, featuring extra levels not available on the browser version, can be obtained on the Apple app store here.
2 Effing Meteors
If you were wondering what really happened to the dinosaurs, wonder no longer. According to Effing Meteors by Jiggmin, our solar system is nothing more than a casual game on some galactic gaming portal where the aim for players is to launch rocks at planets. One of those rocks wiped out the dinosaurs. Scary thought: the next one could strike anytime.
In this unique destruction game, your task is to create a huge asteroid, launch it at earth and frazzle all life on the blue planet in a gargantuan explosion. You build up your asteroid by attracting smaller space debris into its gravitational field. And when you are happy with its size, you launch it on a trajectory towards earth.
Of course, this is a game so things are a little trickier than they sound. For a start, the occupants of the planet are not too keen on your cosmic bombardment, so fight back by shooting things at your asteroid. If they achieve a direct hit, all that hard work you spent on building up a big space rock goes to waste, as the asteroid disintegrates in a fireball. Effing Meteors is pure genius - play it here.
There are loads of internet games out there that clearly took their inspiration from Adam Atomic's legendary running game Canabalt. The majority of them add little new to the original game. Not G-Switch by portuguese developer Vasco Freitas, however.
Like Canabalt, the aim in G-Switch is to run as far as you can before you die. But whereas in Canabalt your character is able to leap over gaps and obstacles, in G-Switch the only way to progress far is by inverting gravity. Change the direction of gravity at just the right time, and you can guide your player over obstacles and perilous gaps.
This new mechanic works fabulously, transforming the game into something brilliant and unique. You can play G-Switch here. Another game that uses this game-play mechanic to good effect is Rush, which you can play here.
4 Gravitee Wars
Perhaps the best way to describe Funky Pear's innovative gravity game is: 'Worms in space', which is not the latest wacky plan to combat global warming, as you could be forgiven for thinking, but a reference to that great game from the 1990s - Worms. In Gravitee Wars, you play the Red team of galaxy explorers and initially you are up against the evil Blue team. Reds. Hurrah. Blues. Boooooo.
You must wipe out the Blues by launching missiles at them. This is where the game's physics comes into its own. Missiles bend around planets just like in real life (I know it is like real life because I spend a lot of time firing missiles around planets - it's like a hobby for me). The further you can make a missile travel before it hits its victim, the more damage you do, making for some interesting tactics. Play Gravitee Wars here.
Game designer Edmund McMillen might be best known for his famously difficult platform games aimed at hardcore gamers. The most notable example of course is Meat Boy - an action platformer about a chunk of meat in search of its girlfriend that recently became something of an XBox sensation - see here.
Edmund describes Aether as an "art game about personal childhood feelings and experiences". You take control of a lonely young boy and his pet monster and set out to explore the galaxy. Aether features beautiful graphics and a great story-line. But it is for the game's unique gravity-themed method of moving around that we chose it for this list. Play the game here.
6 Gravity Duck
Game studio Woblyware has a reputation for creating pretty-looking games with the cutest of protagonists. Just take a look at their most recent game, Insidia, featuring an incredibly adorable little robot.
One also struggles to avoid going 'aww' in the company's gravity-themed puzzle game Gravity Duck. The star of the game is a wee duck who has been sent on a mission to collect some golden eggs. No easy task this, because the eggs are hidden in some of the most inaccessible places you could imagine. Actually, let's not go there, your imagination is probably as vile as mine.
Suffice to say, the eggs are hard to get to - unless of course you have the ability to alter the direction of gravity. Remarkably, that is just the skill our little duck friend has. What are the odds on that, eh? Gravity Duck can be played here.
7 That Gravity Game
Tasha: I've found a really neat gravity game. Alex: Oh yeah, what's it called. T: That Gravity Game. A: Sorry, I don't know what game you're talking about. T: That Gravity Game. A: Okay, but what is it called? T: That Gravity Game. A: I think I am going to kill you. T: Please, don't do that. I know it's silly but the game is actually called 'That Gravity Game'. A: Oh, okay, I'll put the killing on hold. Is it any good? T: Yes, it's great fun.
A: Why's that? T: For one, it has a very odd storyline and I like odd. A marshmallow is hit by lightning and transformed into a super marshmallow. And what is the first thing a super marshmallow does on being created? Well, of course, it sets out to kill all those humans who have been oppressing and killing its brethren for years.
A: Very good, but what does that have to do with gravity. This is a gravity-themed list, you know. T: Yes, I know. I was getting to that before the rude interruption. You see, the marshmallow was previously in the possession of a couple of scientists who were working on a revolutionary new gravity device, the Graviton 3000.
A: Go, on. T: Soon after being struck by lightning, our, er, super marshmallow falls into the Graviton machine. Inside the machine, gravity is all messed up. You have to help Mr Super Marshmallow escape back to the real world. A: Sounds neat, where can I play it? T: Here, but only once you have done the washing up.
Ludum Dare is rapidly becoming one of the best gaming events around. Several times a year, game developers from all over the world spend a weekend creating games on a theme chosen by the Ludum Dare community. The results are impressive - many of the games produced during the weekend go on to be developed into successful fully-fledged titles.
One such game is Graviton by Sam Gynn. At its heart, Graviton is an avoidance game. You have to move the cursor to avoid a multitude of objects that are rushing around the screen. This becomes increasingly tricky as more objects join the fray but you have at your disposal a unique power; click the mouse and for a short period gravity is reversed - the objects are no longer attracted to you but repulsed. This gives you a few moment's breathing space for when you are about to be overwhelmed by the objects. Play Graviton here.
9 Escape the Red Giant
Just for clarification, we're talking big stars here, rather than huge annoying red beings who won't stop pestering you. Escape the Red Giant is a launch-as-far-as-you-can-style game where you have to jump from planet to planet to get as far away from the red giant.
There's not really much more to say about it, apart from that it features nice graphics, adequately realistic gravity physics and a cute little boy hero. Oh, and it has a pretty cool mini map that helps you plan out what planets you are going to jump to. Escape the Red Giant can be played here.
10 Gravity Guy
Not to be confused with the truly brilliant Fly Guy, this is a fun gravity themed game with a very similar game-play mechanic to G-Switch and Rush. That is to say it is a run-as-far-as-you-can game where you have to reverse gravity to get past gaps and obstacles.
The one difference is that in Gravity Guy, there is someone chasing you. Let him catch up with you, and that's it - you're a gonna. With its cute graphics and smooth game-play, Gravity Guy makes for a fun diversion. Play the game here. An iPhone/iPad version of the game can be obtained here.