Once upon a time, there was a time that the Internet didn’t exist. Crazy, I know, but its true. Since the World Wide Web really picked up its stride in the late 1980’s, it has revolutionised pretty much every part of human life, from the way we communicate and get our information, right down to the small things…like writing gaming blogs. Games have of course also been dragged through time by the Internet, and while console gaming still absolutely dominates the market, that is not to say that there haven’t been a few gems available for free via your humble internet browser. I am personally very grateful to them, because it made IT lessons at school much more interesting. To try and cover the millions of games available would be impossible – instead, I simply aim to highlight what I think to be some of the greatest games that you can play on the internet right now.
I hate golf. Always have, always will. There is just something about the way that it is played that annoys me…it takes too long to do anything, and its such an expensive sport to play. Fortunately, for haters like me there is Mini Putt, which has a trait that many games in this article feature; beautiful simplicity. You get 18 mini golf holes, each of them providing a different challenge (including loop the loops and windmills), and then you simply pull back your mouse cursor for power, and click to shoot. If you need something to do for five minutes, you simply can not go wrong with this game.
Copter is such a simple game that you may well question its merits to be called a game. You control a helicopter that has broken down, and by clicking and holding the left button of your mouse to adjust altitude, you guide it through an infinite corridor of green jagged polygons and rectangular blocks that are just begging to be crashed into. At school, it was a phenomenal feat to get around 1000 points – the world records weigh in at around 11,000. Shows you how badly we sucked at the game I suppose.
As far as cult classics go, this has to rank up there as one of the most famous. Created by XGenStudios, this RPG doesn’t deal with dragons and spells and hobbits – instead, you control a 2D stick figure in a 2D world, and get a job. Or go to university to study and work out. Or get drunk. Or buy a gun and rob local stores. The choice is up to you in the small and yet incredibly compelling world. With variable game lengths of 20 days up to an unlimited game time, it’s perfect to waste an hour or two on, and even has a save feature so you can pick up where you left off. There is a sequel, Stick RPG 2, but for sheer charm this gets the praise.
The second entry for XGenStudios, Defend Your Castle is a variation of the classic tower defence game type – you have a castle, and an ever increasing army of stick men will come at you in waves. By picking them up with the mouse and flinging them into the air, they splatter the ground and die. Kill stick men to get more points, upgrade your castle to defend yourself against the more powerful army members, kill more men, upgrade etc – it’s supremely addictive in the way that all good strategy games should be. The addition of stick men as enemies seals the deal though – I mean, who doesn’t love stick men?
Traditional quiz games are ten-a-penny on the internet – what sets the Impossible Quiz apart is the sheer levels of stupidity and insanity going on, which in turn makes it a superb thing to play through. Part traditional, part interactive, all mayhem, and with a great little soundtrack, including tracks from The Go Team and even the Rocky training montage theme, The Impossible Quiz will make you learn things that you never knew. It is also pretty damn hard; I have never seen anyone get past the first thirty questions on their first playthrough without referring for help. Check it out yourself and experience the madness first hand – you will not regret it.
And yes – I have completed them both. I am damn proud of it.
In 2006, a Slovakian student by the name of Boštjan Čadež created an internet sensation. You have a blank canvas. Using tools similar to those in Microsoft Paint, you draw a course using lines. And then, a little man on a sledge will ride that course. Line Rider is a game that features an excellent physics and ragdoll engine, and one that allows people to go absolutely nuts on the creative front – seriously, just type ‘line rider’ into Youtube, and you will get hundreds of videos showcasing brilliant courses and exceptional artwork. My favourites are the much watched ‘Jagged Peak Adventure’ and ‘Line Rider Jumps The Shark’.
I would safely bet that this is the most famous of all the games on this list. Yep, its Pac Man, a game that has been around since the mid 1980’s in arcades and on Atari consoles, and is still incredibly popular nowadays. When the front page of Google (which is well known for the logo changing each day) turned into a fully playable Pac Man game to celebrate the game’s 30th anniversary, it generated an incredible amount of interest. According to the BBC, a potential $120 million dollars of revenue was lost…purely from people getting distracted by the game at work. It was so popular it now has a permanent page. Remember, press ‘Insert Coin to play, click it twice and you get Ms Pac Man for double the fun.
Another stick game, but one that encourages playing with a friend on the same screen. Bowman is another game with an excellent physics engine, as your stick figure fires a bow across the screen (with a meter that actively shows the accurate degree of your bow) in the hope of landing a hit on the enemy Bowman. Inflict four hits, and you win. You can adjust the experience as well to make it more challenging, by introducing wind and walls to fire over. A great way to settle who gets the last biscuit in the office environment.
So basic, and yet so fantastically brilliant. No-one really knows who created the concept for Slime Games, but it hasn’t stopped it taking off in great fashion. On a one dimensional screen, two ‘slimes’ (which are actually just coloured semi circles with an eye on top) engage in a variety of sporting events, including volleyball, football, basketball and even bowling. Later tweaks to the games mean that up to four players can get involved in one game, and considering the simple controls (left, right and jump), you can easily configurate a keyboard to accommodate four players. This game is the only reason I bother updating Java on my computer, and has provided me with hours of excellent entertainment.
Just edging out Denise Lewis Heptathlon on this list is the very well honed Yeti Sports games. With the help of several trusty artic animals such as penguins and orcas, you take part in a series of events as a Yeti, including Pingu Toss (where you hit a penguin as far as you can with a club) and Flamingo Drive (where you use a flamingo as a golf club to hit a penguin over elephants and other obstacles). At the end of the events, you get an overall score to go on a leaderboard. There have been several variations of the Pingu toss event, including Bloody Pingu Toss (where mines are sporadically dotted around to explode your penguin further up the course), which have further increased its popularity.
Similar to Line Rider, there is no set goal in Dust, but it is one of the most fascinating little games I have ever come across. At its core is a particle collision simulator, allowing you to mix and match elements and watch the results. You can also add objects into the mix to see how the get impacted. I find it amazing to see the results of putting certain particles with others, and then seeing what one little speck of water or fire can do to it. They should really replace GCSE Chemistry with this.
Finally, for all browser venturing sports fans, we have the Stick Sports series, which is best enjoyed in the Stick Cricket game. Using either a set team or one you create yourself, you can play matches of differing lengths and objectives, and all you have to do is press the appropriate directional button to smash the ball away for precious runs. With additional training modes to hone yourself on and a massive community to be competing against, you can find yourself getting sucked in quite easily.
As aforementioned, there are plenty of popular games I have missed out on, including the ever successful Runescape, Travian and Adventure Quest. Give them a go and see for yourself when you’ve got time….or are bored in the office.