Developed back in 2003 by Moonpod Games, Starscape may be considered an "oldie" by the gamer crowd, but it's a goodie. Launched as a shareware game without the distribution support that it has today, Starscape flew under the radar, gathering a respectable following slowly but surely. Today, it's been finally starting to hit the major distro sites and people are either discovering or taking a second glance at this little space shooter/strategy game created half a decade ago.
In Endgame: Singularity, you take up the role of a newly born AI in this "take over the world" simulation game. A typical game usually starts with acquiring additional server access, as you're born on an inferior university computer with very little power. Different continents offer different parameters that should dictate your decisions. Some offer more efficient units, but they may also come with a higher risk of detection. Unexperienced in life, you're not necessarily aware of the exact risks yet.
Developed by Dark Realm Studios, Pandemic 2 is the sequel to the morbidly fun original Pandemic, a game in which your goal is to eradicate the human race with the perfect disease. While the original game didn't go on to become hugely popular, Pandemic II is more an improvement upon its predecessor than a sequel, with an improved interface and more features.
A new twist on chocolate-making — or is it an old twist? Rather than exploring the world in search of new ingredients, this version of Chocolatier will have you serving individual customers in gourmet shops, in a style similar to the now classic Cake Mania. Mix chocolates, fill them, shape them, add on delicious toppings or serve them up plain. Whatever you do, serve them quickly — Baumeister's patrons are a hungry, impatient bunch.
In Sandlot's newest addition to the Tradewinds series, Tradewinds Caravans, experience the excitement and derring-do of a merchant's life, without the boredom and general unpleasantness that would tend to come with the real thing. In this loose, fantastical simulation of a merchant's life circa 100 BC, you will explore the silk road, fight your way through swarms of bandits, and uncover the unique story of the character you choose.
Sick of slinging cakes in time management games? Want to build a real estate empire but don't feel like crunching numbers? Build in Time may be your answer. Combining some of the best features from big titles such as Build-a-lot 2: Town of the Year and Cake Mania 2, Build in Time blends resource management gameplay with a simple real estate theme to breathe a little life into a familiar genre.
A casual game that both challenges and chides you is finally here, and it's time to cater to your toughest customer yet: Chef Gordon Ramsay. Hell's Kitchen is a resource management management sim based on the gritty reality-television cooking competition show of the same name. Take control of both serving and cooking as you seat customers and prepare meals to meet chef Ramsay's high expectations. Perform well and raise your rank from dishwasher to Senior Chef, but if you fail you suffer Ramsay's fiery, scornful wrath.
In Dairy Dash you are in charge of a family of farmers who must feed, water, and care for a number of animals (and patches of garden) in order to harvest milk, eggs and other products. Dairy Dash eschews a number of more complex game mechanics and focuses on efficient ordering of tasks, not how many convoluted upgrades you can buy. Because of its simplicity, Dairy Dash provides one of the most rewarding resource management experiences in the genre that's familiar but with a few strokes of originality.
Virtual Villagers is back, and we're so excited we couldn't wait until the weekend to tell you! With Virtual Villagers 3: The Secret City, the surprisingly addictive real-time simulation game sticks with its proven formula and makes a few minor tweaks to freshen up gameplay. With new secrets to uncover, new technologies, real-time weather effects and a whole new island to explore, Virtual Villagers 3 has all the ingredients that made the first games so compelling, plus more.
Ice Cream Dee Lites is a resource management game that separates itself from similar titles in the genre with catchy art work and gobs of personality. At its heart the game is composed of the same food serving skeleton casual players are quite familiar with. The music, sound effects, setting and artwork display a classic 1950s motif, and the customers are so filled with charm you can't help but love the game.
Arachnophilia is an arcade-style simulation of a night in the life of a spider. Your goal is to survive as long as possible, your venue is the empty midnight space between tree branches, and your method is to trap and devour the hapless insects who blunder into your web. It's a simple but sophisticated game, made with a deep love for both arachnids and early 80s arcade games like Tempest.
Dogs, cats, fish, bunnies and birds. It seems like everybody wants one, and it's your job to provide! In Pet Shop Hop you play Cassie, a zoology major working to preserve her family's pet store against the might of the Megapet Superstore. It's a resource management game along the lines of Airport Mania and Magic Farm, but tasks are separated into distinct categories and the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed and, well, cuddlier.
Decorating your home is loads of fun. Assuming you have a huge budget, unlimited resources, and all the time in the world. Sandlot's new casual game Eye for Design drops you in the interior design chair with near total control over the inside of each house. You play Cheri, the top grad from a prestigious design school in Paris, working with clients looking to spruce up their abodes. Choose and arrange nearly every element in each room to make the customer happy and earn respect in the interior design world.
Alan Probe: Amateur Surgeon is a cartoonish and casually offensive entry into the simon-says-surgery genre made famous(ish) by Atlus' Trauma Center. Your job is to follow the exact requirements of each surgery as quickly and as accurately as possible. The game is blessed with the finest production values a second-tier television network can buy, with bright, detailed environments and an ever-present sense of self-conscious irony. The violence is so over-the-top that it's not really gross, but there's still plenty of comically intense moments to go around.
Gazillionaire's characters have certainly got faces only a mother could love, but if you just get to know this addictive lemonade-stand game you'll come to appreciate its inner beauty. You play a budding entrepreneur in the galaxy of Kukubia. The object of the game is to reach a certain amount of wealth, depending on the length of game you select.
Another popular television game show to make the leap to the casual gaming world. The classic "guess the most popular answer" formula is as exciting on your computer as it is on TV, only now it's much more interactive than just yelling at the screen. With over 3,000 questions to ponder and a tacked-on home decorating game, you won't have a hard time finding an excuse to guess what the "survey says".
Airport Mania from South Winds Games is a time management sim that drops all the trite settings and food-related themes we've grown tired of in the genre. Instead of serving cake or pizza or sandwiches, your job is to direct airplanes, load passengers, and make sure everything runs smoothly. All of this is accomplished with a simple interface and airplanes that are too cute for their own good. And unlike real airports, you can actually have flights arrive on time or even early!
Build-a-lot 2 is a real estate tycoon sim game where you must improve the value of different towns by meeting goals set by each area's mayor. Tasks range from building a number of houses/buildings to earning a set amount of cash or increasing rent income to a certain level. All the while you must manage three things: cash, workers, and materials. It's simple, extraordinarily fun, and could easily be one of the best casual games of 2008.
The sequel to Sandlot's Virtual Villagers-esque hit sim Westward has finally arrived! Westward II: Heroes of the Frontier continues the old west drama with a whole new batch of improvements, including 3D visuals, new buildings to construct, more scenarios to complete, and a brand new sandbox mode. Keep your townspeople happy, fed, and busy gathering resources as you expand across the uncharted territory in search of the elusive Copperhead Gang.
Youda Camper is a slow-paced simulation game along the lines of Sim City. You're put in charge of creating and running a camp site, from where to put the toilets to how many spaces for tents to allocate. Keep campers happy by building amenities and learn from their complaints to construct a campsite that rakes in the cash day after day.
Aah, gardening. One of the most relaxing and rewarding hobbies one can undertake. There's nothing like planting flowers and watching them grow, especially when you get to sell them for loads of cash and smash gigantic bees and snails with a shovel from time to time! This is the basic premise of Magic Farm, a resource management simulation along the lines of Grimm's Hatchery and Alice Greenfingers. As a magic-wielding gardener, you must plant, water, protect and raise a variety of flowers to sell for cash. You also have three basic skills that can be increased as you play, lending a delicious RPG flavor to the game.
What do you get when you put Global Warming, Peak Oil, Nuclear War and good old-fashioned oligarchy in a blender? You get Fallout meets Elite ...in a browser! Caravaneer is a game by Dmitry Zheltobriukhov that has you playing a caravan leader in a post-apocalyptic desert, trading goods from town to town while fending off hungry raiders. It's got turn-based tactical fighting, strategic economic decision-making, and a political storyline! Tactics, economics and politics!
Escape from Paradise (Windows/Mac) is a simulation/adventure game similar to Westward and Virtual Villagers where you lead shipwrecked castaways on a quest to build a tropical paradise. The interesting twist is the inclusion of minigames that help you earn supplies as well as distract you while your villagers work. It's an intriguing genre-bending concept that puts you in the role of resource manager and resident puzzle solver, and despite its not-so-polished presentation, pulls it off quite well.
The fashion business has changed quite a bit since Jojo Cruz took an early retirement a few decades back. So, now that her daughter, Rosalind, has convinced Jojo to make a comeback, is it any wonder that she needs your help? Grab your eye for style and get ready for Jojo's Fashion Show.
It's SimCity meets isometric Tetris in this new casual mash-up from Electronic Arts, The Sims Carnival SnapCity. As mayor its your job to build a thriving city and keep its citizens happy and prosperous. Three colors of blocks descend onto the grid, each one representing residential, commercial or industrial zones. When the blocks land and are connected by roads, citizens begin to move in and your population grows. Extras like puzzle zones and natural disasters keep the action lively, but it doesn't take much more than that to keep you hooked on this addictive game.
Turbo Subs, a follow-up to Turbo Pizza, is a food serving time management game along the lines of Cake Mania 2 and Diner Dash. On vacation from the hectic pace of serving pizza (at turbo speeds), Rebecca and Robert travel to New York to relax. The entrepreneurial bug has bitten them, however, and when they see a small subway car they just can't help themselves. With Robert behind the sandwich counter and Rebecca serving food, the pair opens up a subway shop and hopes for success.
Are you the type of person who walks into a room and immediately thinks about a remodel? "Ew... who put those curtains with that carpet? And that coffee table is way too close to the couch. How do you reach the window?" Perhaps you like to dabble in feng-shui. Or, maybe you're one of those weekend warriors when it comes to home-improvement. In any case, you're ready to try out your hand at design. If so, welcome home. Home Sweet Home, that is.
As odd as it may sound, Skyrates is a game about human-like animals flying biplanes between floating continents. Think Star Fox meets The Kingdom of Zeal from Chrono Trigger. You're a young pilot out to make an impact by trading, performing missions, and fighting pirates. Here's the catch: flying between islands takes at least an hour of real-time. The game was designed by a group of then-CMU grad-students to explore sporadic play, something you check like e-mail a few times a day. The result is not only interesting, its good enough to thread its way into your life.
The Dark Cut series consists of two surgery games where you use the mouse to make incisions, stitch, scrub, saw, whatever is required to save the patient in each case scenario. These are not games for the faint of heart, both in terms of graphics and gameplay, and are therefore recommended for mature audiences only.
A generation has passed since you last helped the Baumeister reach sweet fame in Chocolatier. Since then, the company has fallen into the wrong hands. Evangaline Baumeister's granddaughter, Alexandra Tangye, needs your help to save their chocolate empire by stirring up a little competition. Uncover secret ingredients as you mix your way to chocolate-induced success!
Real estate sounds about as exciting as dentistry when it comes to casual games, but in HipSoft's latest tycoon-style game Build-a-lot, managing your empire turns out to be quite entertaining. You assume the role of a contractor working for towns to improve property value. Tasks include building houses on vacant lots, upgrading homes to higher-rent properties, and managing cashflow to feed all your ventures.
Farm Frenzy weds an arcade title with a resource management sim for a game that's as much thought and planning as it is fast mouse clicking. Gameplay revolves around planting grass to feed animals which in turn drop goods for you to use. These goods can either be sold for cash to improve your farm or turned into higher-value products to rake in even more gold. As you progress through the game's 45 stages you can buy more animals, get new buildings and upgrade existing structures, all while keeping a lookout for bears that drop from the sky!
Sushi Go Round carves out its own niche in the crowded field of customer service oriented time management games by taking customer service out of the equation. You are the chef, rather than the harried waiter, and all that matters is getting food to the patrons of your humble sushi shop in a timely manner. You don't even have to carry the food out to them. You have one of those newfangled automated sushi joints, where a conveyor belt brings the sushi round, and the customers feed themselves.
Like an updated version of the classic Lemonade Stand game, Coffee Shop puts you in a young entrepreneur's shoes with the power to make or break your budding business. Buy ingredients, adjust your secret recipe, and set the price per cup to sell as much coffee to passers-by as you can. Strike a balance between customer satisfaction and profit and you're on your way to java-induced bliss.
Papa's Pizzeria is more than your average resource-management game. While a typical entry would require little more than clicking on various hot spots to make and deliver the food to customers, Papa's Pizzeria gives it a more personal touch. Rather than clicking on an order and then on a station for topping the pizza, only to watch the pizza top itself, you must actually top the pizza yourself.
A casual-ified Alpha Centauri-type simulation management game that is so much more fun than it sounds. You play the president of a colony of human refugees who have escaped the calamity of Earth to found a new home on a planet whose orbit keeps it on the opposite side of the sun. Hence the name "Via Sol", which means "through the sun" in Latin.
Jill's back in a sequel to one of the most popular casual games of last year, Cake Mania. In Cake Mania 2 you reprise the role of the baker extraordinare with the task of helping one of two friends: Jack, who is looking for a bakery in his underwater theme park, or Risha and her bakery in the big city. Serve cranky customers piping hot cakes as quickly as you can to rake in the cash and expand your business!
Plant Tycoon puts you to the task of planting seeds, growing plants of over 500 different species, and discovering the genetic secrets behind 6 magic plants that will make you rich! Become a master horticulturalist as you pollinate adult plants to produce seeds, and even cross pollinate your plants with other species to discover new and rare varieties.
A desperate man grips the detonator of the explosives belted around his waist, his thumb hovering ever so slightly above that little, harmless-looking red button. On the other side of the room a cop stands, gun drawn, his finger trembling over the trigger. You are the invisible observer, responsible for helping the cop find some way out of this seemingly impossible situation.
Kudos Rock Legend sim allows you to indulge your dreams of rock stardom—start out as a struggling band with no publicity or gigs, develop your musical style, write songs and claw your way up to playing the Enormo-dome, making TV appearances and hiring bodyguards to protect you from the hordes of screaming fans.
Miss Management is, in fifteen words or less, one of the most entertaining, captivating and hilarious casual games I've played in months. Developer Gamelab has really gone out of its way to craft unique characters that fuel the game from beginning to end, making it play like an interactive sitcom rather than your typical time management game (such as Diner Dash or Nanny Mania).
Luke Whittaker's Baseball is easily one of the best online baseball games I've ever played. The gameplay mechanics do a perfect job of capturing what it feels like to be several runs behind in the final innings of a ball game, and have only three outs to fashion a miraculous come-from-behind victory.
Sometime in the mid 19th century, scandal tore apart the great Baumeister chocolate empire. Tempers flared and factories closed, leaving the world desperate for a decent bite of chocolate. To paraphrase cocoa guru Benard Shintero, "nobody knew the truffles they'd seen." In this latest game from Playfirst, play an apprentice chocolatier working to restore the Baumeister reputation.
Hey surfin' dudes and dudettes! Have you heard about that bodacious betty who has been bagging burgers over on Mount Tikikola beach? Patty Melton, the new owner of the fast food sensation, Burger Island, makes the most totally radical lunch on this side of the Pacific, and she needs your help!
Here, among the roses of red and strange mushrooms, we find Alice. Is she visiting the Queen of Hearts? No, it isn't that Alice. Meet Alice Greenfingers. She doesn't have time for chasing rabbits and general nonsense (save the occasional gnome); she has to take some tomatoes to the market while the demand is still high!
Nanny Mania follows a formula similar to downloadable games such Cake Mania where you play a working woman going through the daily grind in order to make a living. The Mayor of Suburbia and his wife are too busy to cook and clean up after their growing family, so it's your job to straighten furniture, do the laundry, and perform all the little tasks that need to be done during the day. It's an extraordinarily well-made game that beats the competitors by leaps and bounds.
ElectroCity is fun little Flash game intended "to spark an interest and lay an unbiased foundation for later learning" about the issues involved in power generation, cost, and environmental impact. It is obviously a very simplistic look at those issues, intended to give a broad overview and invite further research on the part of the player. It's also not a bad little town sim game to boot.
It's here! The next chapter in the captivating virtual island village sim is available to download. The follow-up to the monumentally successful Virtual Villagers game keeps the same formula as the original but adds all new puzzles, events, collectibles and more. It's the perfect follow-up to one of the most amazing casual games ever released.
Dotville is a city-building Flash game along the lines of Civilization, but greatly simplified. You play the leader of a tribe of Dots (yeah, Dots) and must rise to the rank of Emperor in fifty turns, then defeat the evil empire of Squares. It's a simple game, and yet somehow very complex; a bit flawed, and yet fun despite it's quirks.
Stop Disasters is one of those games you could easily dismiss before even launching it. However, the ISDR group has not drenched their game in messages and important life lessons that we all should follow. Instead we get a game which is easy to pick up, figure out and get in to, but hard enough to challenge and reward not only planning but learning about successful planning.
Funeral Quest is a travesty of lemonade stands, sim games and common decency in general. Basically you open a funeral parlour and handle customers. The aim is to gain Burial Points (which is your ranking) and earn tags (currency), while engaging in a spot of skullduggery to advance your standing and income.
Developed by Red Redemption and funded by the BBC, the Flash-based Climate Challenge is a thoroughly researched, compelling resource-management sim. As the "President of the European Nations" you must radically reduce your people's carbon emissions over the course of a century, while remaining popular enough to stay in office.
Taking a page out of the popular village management book, the downloadable Westward (Windows) drops casual strategy elements into the mix for a game that's both interesting and a bit different. Westward pushes you across the unexplored old west setting up towns and hunting for riches. There's a surprising amount of depth in this game, yet very little was sacrificed to keep it user-friendly.
Bacteria Salad is the latest entry in Persuasive Games' Arcade Wire series. Another attempt at "persuasion, instruction, and activism," Bacteria Salad is a light, humorous depiction of the complexity of the agricultural business.
In the browser-based HTML game, Slave Hack, you take on the role of a vaguely tech-savvy Internet addict who has now decided to make a living out of his/her own talents. If your ethics do not prevent you from pretending to infiltrate other computers to use them as spam relays, warez-sharing nodes, or even as tools to bring down an enemy's computer with a massive DDoS attack, then you are excellent material for the world that is portrayed in Slave Hack.
Subpoena Power is a politically-charged side-scrolling Flash game by NoEvil Productions. Your mission is to eliminate corruption on Capitol Hill by circumventing lobbyists and serving subpoenas to Senators and Congressmen to separate the Honest Tribunes from the Perfidious Scoundrels. Thwart cash-carrying lobbyists to keep the politicians honest and help enforce the laws that keep the government running smoothly. It's a surprisingly entertaining game that carries a strong message of civic responsibility.
Things don't feel right out here... despite the optimism. Ayiti: the Cost of Life is one of the best political web games released this year, right up there with The McGame and the comic genius of Airport Security. Unlike most games with a political message, such as September 12th or 3rd World Farmer, Cost of Living actually has a strategy that works, but it's buried in a heap of faulty (and revealingly so) tactical blunders.
While drawing up my packing list for an upcoming trip, I quickly became confused. What's allowed on-board aircraft these days? Can I bring a bottle of water, or is that still banned? Will my laptop be confiscated at the border? Will I need to remove my pants before boarding the plane? These issues are all part of the gameplay in Airport Security, a fast-paced and thoughtful Flash game from Persuasive Games.
Have you ever harbored a secret desire to see gas prices soar? Have you always wished you could manipulate the politics and economies of the world to double the cost of fuel? Who hasn't? Now with Persuasive Games' new simulation, Oil God, you can!
As the US readies to go to the polls for the mid-term elections on Tuesday, the phones have been ringing off-the-hook from campaigners trying to earn votes for their candidates. I usually try to avoid politics since my single vote seems so minuscule in this world dominated by corruption and greed. As they say, "you can't fight city hall," right?
Cake Mania is a fast-paced arcade game where you play the role of Jill, a new graduate from culinary school, who returns home to discover her grandparents' bakery is closed. Business fell when the new Mega-Mart opened and not even their special recipes could help them compete. Jill decides to open her own old fashioned bakery to earn money and re-open her grandparents' store. Through nearly 50 levels and four different locations you'll help Jill serve customers as efficiently as possible.
Virtual Villagers is a downloadable real-time simulation game developed by Last Day of Work, the creators of Fish Tycoon and a number of other casual sim games. Take charge of a village of crash survivors and help them carve out a living on a jungle island. Teach them to farm, help them research scientific advancements and expand their population. It's a remarkably addictive game that's easy to play but impossible to stay away from!
Added to the mysteriously vacant Flash flight sim category, Goggles Flight Sim dares to let you go places where you may only have heard about. Using information collected from Google's mapping service, Mark Caswell-Daniels has created this Flash application that allows you to fly around the world to destinations of your choosing. Casual fun.
Kudos is a turn-based life-simulation downloadable game recently released by Cliff Harris, otherwise known as Positech Studios, in the UK. It's a game in which how you spend each day, over time, defines who your character becomes: Does she prefer to stay at home and watch TV all day, go to evening classes to improve job prospects, or hang out with buddies down at the local boozer? Find out with Kudos.
The McDonald's Videogame is the newest Flash creation of Molleindustria, an Italian design team dedicated to the discussion of the social and political implications of video games. Overall the game is an entertaining distraction that is definitely worth your time for the satire and laughs or if you enjoy a challenge.
This next game offers fun via the buying and selling of houses on a rapidly changing real estate market. Mansion Impossible is an action strategy Flash game in which the object is to make enough money to buy the millionaire's mansion and end the game, all within the quickest time possible.
XGen Studios is behind this Flash game that is reminiscent of the old-school arcade games Dig Dug and Boulder Dash. Hired to mine the dangerous planet of Mars, you are given a robotic mining pod and sent off on a mission to bring home the Motherload, a fabled cache of rare and valuable minerals. Dig far below the surface of the Earth to earn money for upgrades and find treasure.
Micro Life is a real time strategy game (RTS) that is quite easy to play, and it has a lot of charm to compensate for the relatively light challenge it presents. Accessible to all ages, this game is one part simulation, one part strategy, and one part Insaniquarium all rolled into one.
Lately I've been working on one of the coolest projects so far in my RIT education, and it's for Multi-User Media Spaces (MUMS) taught by Professors Nancy Doubleday and Steve Kurtz. The project aims to simulate flocking behavior by implementing behavioral rules, though I guess it should be dubbed "schooling" behavior since we are using fish - and yet these same rules apply to birds and herds as well.