NASA's Swift space observatory has just picked up the cataclysmic explosion of star that occurred so deep in space that it took a mind-blasting 13.14 billion years for the light to be detected from Earth. 13.14 billion years. How would you while that away?
Hmm... online games? Why not? You'll need some recommendations though. Oh look! Here's a cracking collection of ten new games to keep you going in the cold, uncaring universe! Nice one.
1 Sky Island
Sky Island is styled after those classic platformers, transporting you back to to the endless summer days of your youth, when of course you stayed firmly out of the sun and fresh air and played video games indoors instead. On first appearance, it looks like the standard drill. The cute is turned up to 11, you have to jump on the not-terribly-bright baddies to squish them and there are plenty of coins and stars scattered about the place to collect. So far, so Super Mario, right?
Ah, but Sky Island has a twist. Literally. Developer Neutronized has come up with the really rather clever idea of allowing you to rotate your environment in 3D, allowing you to shift your perspective to find the best way to get those little twinklers. Once you've got the right angle, just let go of the mouse and the world snaps back into 2D.
But while all this rotating jiggery-pokery can make your life easier, it can also leave you with too far to jump if you're not careful - and falling off Sky Island will soon knock the cute out of you. Play Sky Island here.
2 The I of It
Sadly not a free online game based on the razor-sharp, venom-spitting cauldron of satirical fury that is The Thick of It, The I of It tells the story of, well, an I. When your long-term partner in all things It, T, storms off in a huff (possibly at always being the one in lower case), it's up to you to reunite the best damn pronoun for referring to a person or object previously mentioned or about to be mentioned.
Like the charming Thomas Was Alone, which managed to give a personality to a rectangle, The I of It soon becomes a little character that you want to get to where he (or she) is going. That involves solving fiendish puzzles screen-by-screen by stretching, shrinking, hanging on to moving boxes, dodging rolling mines. That t better be grateful. Play The I of It here.
3 Red Kart Racer
Start your engines for some high-octane, break-neck 3D kart racing! There's single races, tournaments and practice modes to test your handling, acceleration and braking skills and the physics here can be pretty unforgiving. If you're too busy practising your smile for the cameras when you're on the podium and take your eye off the road, you'll soon find yourself at the back of the pack.
4 City Siege 2: Resort Siege
Don't worry if, like me, you missed out on the first City Siege. I don't think there were any crucial plot points that will leave you confused and stranded in this trigger-happy sequel. If you're one of those OCD types who just has to do everything in order, then you can play the original here.
You can pick and arm your squad, even give them little names, then roll out to take on the bad guys and blast them into tiny bits. Someone, somewhere (who probably had a funny beard) once said war is the engine of capitalism and it sure is here - you earn money for achieving objectives and collecting stars (what is it with stars?) but you will have to pay for the ordinance you expend, so refrain from pumping the enemy too full of lead. It's expensive.
It's also important to avoid collateral damage, so no blowing away the civilians you're there to protect. That is also expensive. Apart from that, you're can go crazy - the environments are satisfyingly destructible but remember, the top brass do prefer that when you storm somewhere to liberate it, you do leave at least some of it standing. Play City Siege 2: Resort Siege here.
5 Ducklife 3: Evolution
As the late, lamented Roy Castle used to tell us as kiddie-winks, if you want to be the best and you want to beat the rest, woooooh, dedication's what you need. How very true. This worthy lesson is beautifully illustrated in Ducklife 3: Evolution, in which you take on the Herculean task of beating some other ducks in some race or something.
Well, that's cutting a long and enthralling story a bit short. What you really need to do is take your little fella - who, if you ask me, actually looks more like a chick but never mind - and school him in all of those skills so vital to life as a duck, like swimming, flying, erm, running and climbing. Ever seen a climbing duck? Me neither.
Doing these four mini-games allows you to collect coins and buy all-important seed to improve your energy levels. Once you've put in enough back-breaking training on the four mini-challenges to make up a Rocky montage, it's time to take on the other ducks in races that will test your different skills.
Make sure you have plenty of energy before you take on the rest of the brace, flock or paddling (depending whether they're on the ground, in the air or on the water, fact fans!) because it's extremely frustrating to get psyched up for the battle only for your feathery gladiator to fall asleep within seconds. Play Ducklife 3: Evolution here.
6 Magi: The Fallen World
Magi: The Fallen World is your classic sword and sorcery action RPG stuff. Anyone who spent their formative years exploring unseen yet endlessly fascinating fantasy landscapes playing Dungeons & Dragons will instantly know the drill. Pick your character (warrior, archer or mage in this case) and get yourself questing like a mad thing.
Each game gets its own randomly generated world of misty, eerie plains, tall citadels, dangerous dungeons and stinky swamps, so every hero gets a unique experience.
There's also no real ultimate end goal, so you can embark on endless adventures, hacking and slashing your way around the world as glorified errand boy! The combat isn't as smooth as it could be but there's enough variation, upgrades and quests here to keep you busy until the Amulet of Amraa is in the third castle of Lord Teethe. Or something. Play Magi: The Fallen World here.
Hooray for one button games! You can't go wrong, can you? Here, your clicking finger must master the mouse to help you race along a scrolling landscape of dangerous canyons and brick walls against over 100 other players. Pick up flowers as you go to buy upgrades, which will help you run faster, jump higher and, hopefully, last longer. Play Edmus here.
If you're after more one-button fun, play out top ten one button games here.
8 Hands of War 2
Prepare to once again swash your fantasy role-playing buckle with Hands of War 2. Like Magi: The Fallen World (and indeed the first Hands of War), you need to pick your character, wade through a long intro (something about a war, an invasion, a heartstone, a Black Council, exile and another war) then it's time for the fun stuff - killing things!
Well, almost. This top-down adventure allows you to get to know the neighbourhood first before you start running through its inhabitants. So you can visit traders and armourers, do a little gambling and save your quest. Then it's up to you to decide which faction you will serve (basically, are you one of those do-gooding honourable types or are you after whatever revenge is on offer?).
Bear in mind that whichever side you choose, the other one will probably be rather nonplussed at you once you start offing their men. You can keep an eye on your popularity or otherwise with the various factions in-game, while also browsing your inventory and updating your armour and weapons.
It's ambitious, expansive stuff and there's plenty of XP points to earn, jewels to find, gloves, hats and boots to pick up and things to generally lay waste to. Happy questing! Play Hands of War 2 here.
9 Zombie Knight
The title says it all, really. Why even bother with this write-up? It's called Zombie Knight! How can you possibly go wrong? Well, okay then. I suppose I have to earn a crust. It's another fantasy adventure where your highly customisable character does battle with elves, orcs, lizard men, the undead, demons and men - the most dangerous enemy of all! Play Zombie Knight here.
10 Diamond Hollow
Diamond Hollow was created as an entry in a competition to make a game in less than 48 hours. Blimey, it takes me that long to get ready for the weekend - and then it's over. Anyway, it's a frantic platform game in which you must run and jump about an endless cave, collecting diamonds (you've always got to collect something) and shooting the weird jelly things that get in your way.
To add to the pressure, the bottom of the screen slowly creeps up behind you, so there's no going back - but look on the bright side, if you misjudge your jump and fall, you won't have to start all over again, retreading old ground. You'll just die. Play Diamond Hollow here.