WHADDUP BLOGOSPHERE?! Do people even call it that anymore?
After a long silence, here I am. Once again back is the incredible, not-so-rhyme animal, Incredible T. Or perhaps the incredible, inedible Tony. â€˜Lo what could stir the Tony so strongly that he found it necessary to write again? The answer, my esteemed friends and colleagues, is Flash games.
Iâ€™d like to begin with a discussion of the qualification of a Flash game. A Flash game can be made using Adobe flash, but I really use this as a general term for browser based gaming. There are slight variations between engines used, but the point is that the code is compact enough to be downloaded and then run within the confines of your browser window. A Flash game is typically an independent production from a single person or a small team. However, there are known contradictions to this, in particular the Dragon Age Journeys game put out by EA2D. So as you can see, there has been a large amount of evolution to the Flash game genre. Now take my hand and join me on a trip to visit a couple of the latest and greatest residents of the magical world of Flash.
Ah, here is a game marvelous in its simplicity. Known as an iPhone app from a group called Semi Secret Software, Canabalt really has its roots in the hands of two prolific indie designers; Adam Atomic in charge of the game and its visuals and Dan Baranowsky in charge of the music. As some sort of perfect storm of simplicity, the game is highly addictive. In fact, these guys keep it so simple that your only means of control is a jump key! Originally mapped to the x and c keys, as an iPhone app you find yourself frantically trying to tap the screen (or click for the browser version) to jump over all the obstacles dumped in your path. And what, pray tell, are you running from? Who the hell knows! I just know it must be scary as hell because the more obstacles you miss, the faster your little man books it from the left side of the screen to the right. The game also derives a lot of its atmosphere from the fast retro-esque music and sound design, as well as the carnage ensuing in the background. If you enjoy this fantastic work that was first constructed on the flixel engine, be sure to check out another fav of mine called Gravity Hook.
â€œIâ€™m Sparticus!â€ â€œNo Iâ€™m Sparticus!â€
This game, created by Eli Piilonen (known as 2Darray), features the â€œthese are my clonesâ€ style of gameplay that has recently been showcased in major titles like Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time. While you navigate with the arrow keys like you would in any other platformer, the main mechanic of the game is restricted to a reset button which starts the level over with a shadowy clone enacting what you just did. On certain levels, you need many â€œyousâ€ in order to complete your objectives. But on other levels, this mechanic is abandoned. You are given an assistant that you swap between using the same key as the reset button. Otherwise, youâ€™re trying to jump over chasms and off of your clones in an attempt to reach a door that you would not be able to get to yourself. Not only are the mechanics of the game sound, but the art style (provided by Luka Marcetic) and the music (from David Carney) provide a melancholy atmosphere that fits perfectly with the gameâ€™s story displayed through on screen text.
Not for the weak of mind
A current entrant for the 2010 Independent Games Festival for the student competition, Continuity is definitely one of the best twists on the traditional platformer I have seen in a long time. Created by a group of students that live in Gothenburg, Sweden who call themselves Ragtime Games, Continuity gets a little bit of your sliding puzzle in its platformer. Or is it a little bit of its platformer in your sliding puzzle? Either way, players have to navigate their little stick dude through 32 levels that become both increasingly complex as a platforming maze and as a puzzle. The aesthetic is kept to simple shapes with solid color backgrounds which allows you to more easily see which pieces line up correctly and in what fashion. The sounds design takes an interesting twist with a very calm, quiet and melodic tune while zoomed out, which stands in contrast with a fast-paced steady electronica rhythm to accompany the zoomed in platforming. Your goal? Simply to scarf up all the red keys in a level and then make it to the door. There is no time limit, so the game lets you take it at your pace. Just donâ€™t be surprised when you find yourself checking the time and a couple hours have passed.
So there you have it, a quick introduction to some of the most recent cool cats to enter the Flash Gaming scene. But this is definitely only the tip of the iceberg that is the Flash games community. In fact, there are now several communities that make their living as portals for thousands upon thousands of browser based games. I hope you enjoyed this first foray into the World of Flash and look out for the next installment where Iâ€™ll talk about where many of these games make berth. (Yes, I used a nautical term.)