lakeview cabin“Survival Horror” is an odd label, given the games that it describes. Not that it’s inaccurate, there’s certainly survival and horror going on, but it was originally applied to Resident Evil, which is basically a weird puzzle game. “In order to open the next door, you must find a specific piece of music to fit into this player piano…” It’s something which I would not be surprised to see in Day of the Tentacle, and yet there it is. Just with more zombies.

I’m not bringing this up for any particular reason. Lakeview Cabin is lovely. It’s not large, but it’s comfortable. It’s certainly relaxing, hanging out on this little island in a placid, peaceful lake. The birds are singing, time is passing. Just… nice.

Incidentally, this is by the same developer who did On the Edge of Earth: 5000 and there’s also a commercial sequel, sorta. I’m not sure if it’s really a sequel, but that’s what he’s calling it: Lakeview Cabin: Collection

doeoDoeo is a game in English, based on a Japanese game called Moai no Su (click on the top option on the start screen in order to play). Try them both and you’ll see that they’re extremely similar, basically the same game with different dressing. This isn’t a coincidence of course, the Doeo dev has an explanation here, but it basically boils down to the fact that Moai no Su was a Japanese game in Japanese and popular in Japan but pretty well unknown among English speakers. So he made an English version.

So what sort of game are they? Well there used to be a genre sometimes called “arena shooters” back when light guns were common. That’s the closest analogue I can think of. Basically a bunch of things pop up and you “shoot them” (touch them) with your mouse. That’s it. In this case it’s the presentation which makes it work.

cyclomaniacs 2Cyclomaniacs 2 is stunt biking game in the same style as Bike Or Die or… others. I don’t know if the genre has a label yet, let’s call them MHIMWS – My Head Is My Weak Spot.

The basic premise is a sidescrolling racing game where your primary control is the rotation of your character. You also influence acceleration and braking, and there’s a marginal jump ability, but brakes are hardly used and the jumping is really just to catch a little more air at the right times. Rotation effects how you land, the stunts that you do both on the ground and in the air, and whether and when you die. In other words, it’s a game that’s almost all about rotating in the right way at the right time – this is what makes it a MHIMWS, and not just a sidescrolling racer.

It’s an amazingly full game for what it is, with a slew of interesting levels and minigames and varied challenges. Far from being all about speed, there are some wildly different tracks and boss levels as well as a few lobby games totally unrelated to anything else. The large and wacky cast of unlockable racers play very differently from one another and the game has enough substance to it to let you experiment with all of them – this is impressive in its own right, there are a lot of racers.

Cyclomaniacs 2 is the game which first convinced me that Flash games were just as viable as those for any other platform. Something which was, after all, not always the case: Flash was originally just a means of making your website look pretty. Interactivity was limited, and certainly not up to what would be needed for something like this. There are few Flash games on its scale, and we’re now past the heyday of Flash gaming, so barring Phoenotopia 2 (fingers crossed) I’m not expecting any more to come.

Still, I’m grateful to have this one. It’s just as much fun now as it was at release, and there’s a sequel for anyone who can’t get enough of it.

Absorbed is a fast paced, side-scrolling, level based platformer in which you have a gun which can suck in, and then shoot out, just about anything. You’re likely to be reminded of the gravity gun from Half-Life 2, and that could have been an inspiration but the Absorbed gun, like the game that it’s in, operates much faster.

Actually, I’m playing through the developer’s other games on Kongregate now and speed seems to be emphasized in most of them – very quick and short levels. It’s nice. It’s satisfying to blow through ten levels in five minutes, especially when each one involves lots of fast things happening quickly. Feels like you’re really getting things done.

absorbedControl in Absorbed is responsive, as it needs to be, with a couple of caveats: You can’t shoot if there isn’t room for the projectile to appear in front of you, in other words there needs to be some space between you and your target. This will get you killed at least once. A second thing is that levels are all set up on a grid, everything is super linear, except for your projectiles – they are effected by gravity and they curve as they travel. But not very much. They almost shoot in a straight line, and just about every design element suggests that straight lines are the good and proper way for things to move, but your projectiles don’t quite do that. It’s a minor thing but it makes aiming difficult in some cases. I think it’s an interesting point how much the visual design can impact your expectation of movement.

Neither of these are deal breakers. On the positive side of things, there’s not a lot of bullshit here – almost no backtracking to re-use old projectiles, and neither do you have to be very conservative with what you shoot. This, and the fact that you can bypass a lot of puzzles by abusing your own fragile body, makes for a pretty easy game, and a quick run through, but as I said: speed seems to be a theme with this developer and that’s an asset. Going back and earning all the stars offers some additional challenge if you find it too easy the first time. (You earn stars by avoiding death, none of that annoying collection business.)

The developer’s name is Danil Zhuravlev. Like I said, I’m playing what I can find of his now and some of his games are more original than others, but they all show some care put into them. I don’t know why I haven’t heard of this guy before.

There’s a sub-genre of puzzle games which involves building things. Most frequently what you build are bridges, hopefully ones which don’t fall down, but there’s a wide variety and what’s pretty consistent between all of these is a realistic representation of physics (within a practical limitation). This used to be quite a novel thing, evaluating forces acting on all of the objects in a scene is more CPU-intensive than was feasible in most games back then, and so games which did this, whether building games or others (they were almost all building games), came to be known collectively as “physics games.”

fantastic contraptionThat’s a terribly poor descriptor nowadays, given that more current games use physics than don’t, but it’s still the moniker given to games in which taking advantage of a physics engine is the focus of gameplay. Fantastic Contraption is such a physics-based building game, though what you build are… cars. I’m going to call them cars, fanciful cars. And yes, I realize that I just said that the game was physics based, and that would seem to me to be inconsistent with the idea of stiff inflexible rods made out of flowing water, but I never took that course on fluid dynamics, so what do I know?

Also the game is pretty fun I guess. Maybe you should just try it.

epic comboIt’s a game where you smash the shit out of turtles. That sounds gruesome and cruel, but if they don’t bleed then it’s not horrifying. Right?

Anyway, Epic Combo! is in the same vein as ragdoll-torture games like Flakboy – it’s all about finding a way to set up your deadly deadly traps which will allow them to function with maximal efficiency. The victims of your lethal sickening traps are turtles, but they could just as easily be bouncy rubber balls. Maybe you should pretend that’s what they are.

There’s also a sequel, Epic Combo Redux, which is the one that you should probably play since it’s just the same game but with more stuff.