Tag Archive for play it

Play It: One Chance & Zombie Trailer Park

I have to recommend two very different games today.

The first, One Chance, is an experimental adventure game. You play a scientist who developed a cure for cancer. Unfortunately, the cure goes belly-up as it is discovered that the engineered cells destroy all living cells, not just cancer. You have six days. That’s the entire directive. Every decision you make impacts how the story ends up. Will you abandon your family to try and save the world? Spend your last few days in the company of your family and forget about work? What would be important to you in your last days of Earth?

The game is presented in a simplistic, pixelated style. You move the character with the left and right arrow keys and interact with pop-up text with the space bar. The music is appropriately simple and moody for the conceit of the game. The colors are muted and the characters are flat enough to make you put your own emotions in the story.

So what is the conceit of the game that leads to this recommendation? You can only play it once. There is no restart button. After your six days are gone, the game is over. If you try to go back to the site, you will see the final still of your character in his environment, frozen forever in time. Sure, there are ways to get around the ending if you want to explore other life paths, but that defeats the purpose. One Chance is a hyper-realistic life simulator placing the player in extraordinary circumstances and forcing him to make decisions in a game like he would in real life. It’s just such a well-executed concept that only takes a few minutes to play. It’s art, really.

Play It: Record Tripping

I like rhythm games. The genesis is surely an obsession with Mario Paint's music creation function where I would spend hours writing original songs with dog barks and car horns until my family sent me to my room to get the noise out of their heads. It grew to its peak in the late 90s when I began playing Dance Dance Revolution like it was my job at home and in the arcades. The interest hasn't faded away, even if the time available for Samba de Amigo and Amplitude has.

Record Tripping, a new game from Bell Brothers available at Newgrounds, is a different kind of rhythm game. It is not about the creation of music or playing in rhythm. Instead, the game plays tribute to the lyricism of Alice in Wonderland, combining spoken word with record scratches. You manipulate your scroll wheel like a turntable and your left click as an effect button to control movement in time. Scrolling down moves the recording backwards; up, forward. The goal changes in each of five levels, from navigating a ball through a maze to getting bunny rabbits on a train. There is a time limit and other factors of physics involved to make the game more challenging.

Though it does not take longer than five minutes to play, the clever controls and storybook-styled illustrations make Record Trippinga game with a good amount of replayability. The time based leader board doesn't hurt, either. You can also tweet your score. This may not seem like a big feature but it still amazes me that more online games aren't trying to use this feature as a publicity tool.

If you need a quick break from your work, Record Tripping is a fun diversion through Wonderland.

Play It: Paradox Embrace

I feel like I was teethed with an NES controller. Some of my earliest and fondest memories of my family involved us all sitting around the living room TV and taking turns playing Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt. While my brother moved on to extremely difficult games involving stealth and gun play, I stuck to puzzle games, platformers, and bizarre peripherals (I still love my intermittently working Samba de Amigo maracas for the Dreamcast (my favorite console)). That means I've played a lot of puzzle games. When kids at school would invite me to their video arcade birthday parties, I would be quite satisfied to deposit a few of my tokens into a Tetris machine and play until they'd have to drag me away for pizza and laser tag. When I got a GameBoy and (later) a GameGear, I had Disney platformers and every puzzle game I could get my hands on. 

So what does this have to do with another game on Newgrounds? A lot. Paradox Embrace is everything I love about puzzle/platformers. At this point, swapping out costumes for different abilities is nothing new. Neither is the necessity to swap abilities to traverse difficult terrain. The strength of Paradox Embrace is presenting a clean, stylish puzzle/platformer game with a challenging, but not unreasonable, difficulty level.

The story is minimal. You are confronted with a shadow monster who taunts you, claiming he took your treasure but since you don't know what to do with it anyway you haven't learned to miss it yet. You are then thrust into a fantasy platform maze where you can transform from your normal action hero form to a wizard and a scientist to start. You have to collect items, such as beakers for the scientist, to open new paths that only other characters can actually get to. It's almost like an elaborate version of a pen and paper logic puzzle that requires a lot of trial and error to get right. Then you move on to the next stage, and the next, and the next, until you complete the game. The gameplay is not repetitive, a common fault in online puzzle/platformers. There is enough variety in the action and well executed gradation of difficulty to keep you involved.

Best of all is how the game saves itself with each stage completed. I recommend giving it a try. Maybe play the first level or two. Then you'll find yourself coming back later for the third, then the fourth, then the fifth…

Play It: 5 Minutes to Kill (Yourself) Wedding Day

As I learned last night, I'm not the only one who has a love/hate relationship with the Adult Swim website. For example: it's the only place to see the third season of Moral Orel (since no DVD has been released), but they'll only put up a handful of out of sequence episodes at a time. I can watch all The Boondocks clips I want, but only one full episode a week. There are clips of all the shows, but the new video display page is awful. Adult Swim's website also has interesting game concepts, but very buggy execution.

5 Minutes to Kill (Yourself) Wedding Day is the newest game on Adult Swim and is easily one of the best outputs on the site. It is a sequel to the original 5 Minutes to Kill (Yourself), a welcome guilty pleasure with a darkly humorous streak to indulge work rage and despair in a safe environment. The goal, unsurprisingly, was to kill yourself in five minutes or face a horrible, boring meeting. The first sequel was a rehash with new locations and did nothing to address the bugs that plagued the original, like broken buttons and horrible lag on all but the fastest computers.

5 Minutes to Kill (Yourself) Wedding Day is a breath of fresh air for the series. The graphics are larger and cleaner. The violence is presented in funny cut scenes that greatly speed up the game. The screen doesn't jerk along for 15 seconds in real time to have an aerosol can catch fire in less than 2 seconds of game time. While the tools in the game are more limited than in the past, the execution is near flawless.

A welcome (but buggy) inclusion is multiplayer mode. You can play as a bride or groom (same-sex marriage is legal at Adult Swim), trying to off yourself before your betrothed. Once one player has used an interactive element, the other player cannot. It's a race against the clock and your opponent to escape the bondage of a poorly thought out marriage. Unfortunately, like all of their multiplayer games, there is unbelievable lag. Your opponent will not move for two minutes from the altar and then be declared the winner because the game can't handle both players at once. The game tends to freeze when your opponent quits and freeze if your opponent comes in contact with your player. The principle draw of the series is still single player until they resolve these online issues.

If there is a criticism to be levied, it is the limited arsenal of interactive elements. There are points in the game that clearly look like you are supposed to be able to interact with – the obese office worker from the original, a cleric at a desk, rotten children in the rectory – but cannot. Adult Swim has a bad habit of releasing a "sequel" to a game that is actual the original game redone with all the unfinished elements. Like Zombie Hooker Nightmare and Twirl & Hurl before it, 5 Minutes to Kill (Yourself) Wedding Day will probably have a 2 added to it in three weeks and be the same game, just less buggy and more option filled. I'd rather see a completed game on the site than play a shell of what it could be a few weeks early. This was almost certainly rushed through production because a trailer for the game was posted two months ago. If they held off, they probably could have released a more polished game.

5 Minutes to Kill (Yourself) Wedding Day is a welcome distraction game. The novelty may wear off quicker than normal because of the limited arsenal of destructive ends, but it does fine for a brief break from the doldrums of everyday life.

Play It: Abuba the Alien

Newgrounds.com tends to get a lot of puzzle games with plots. You attempt to figure out what the appropriate course of action is in a given scenario to help your character move on to the next puzzle. The stories aren't usually all that engaging and the characters tend to be pretty annoying. If they aren't hellbent on destroying humanity, they're cloying cute.

Abuba the Alien is very cute. Abuba isn't annoying, either. The principal character tends to disappear into the scene, only essential to move on to the next scene with a simple "Abuba say thank you" in an adorable voice.

Abuba needs to get home, and it's your job to help him. The puzzles are pretty simple, though they are clever in how everything ties together. Some are a bit tricky towards the end, though nothing a little thought can't solve.

Give it a try. You won't regret it.

Play It: Spell My Finger

It's two days later and I can't stop playing the new Adult Swim game Spell My Finger.

Is there a plot? Some greater message? An engrossing character? A decent soundtrack?


You play as a finger flying through "a vast futuristic wasteland littered with all the letters of the alphabet." Your goal is to spell words with the randomly dispersed letters. The scores are given Scrabble-style, meaning each letter is assigned a point value between 10 and 90, and bonus multipliers are available. Each letter added increases the multiplier (a 2 letter word is 2x, 3 is 3x, etc.) and bonus multipliers are added to the total. There is a time limit before you expire (literally).

There's a rush of excitement unmatched by any other Adult Swim game when you're trying to spell out "renaissance" and barely have time left to find a "c," let alone the concluding "e." You will get frustrated, but you will come back for more.

Here's a helpful hint to get you started: the up arrow makes the screen move faster, and the down arrow makes it go slower. The in-game instructions don't specify that, and I learned after one too many  "oh the letter's right in front of me hurry hurry hurry damnit!" moments. Also, the pink arrows act as a delete key if you make a mistake, removing the last letter in your chain.

The only downsides? The game can only handle up to 15 letter words and words with dual meanings (clean and dirty) are not counted. Otherwise, it's solid.