Wednesday, January 14, 2009's casual games of the year

Jayisgames has started sucking a little lately, but their yearly list of the best online casual games is as good as ever. Here are a few of my absolute favorites:

Boxhead - The Zombie Wars (pictured above) - Sean Cooper's Boxhead games (particularly the "arena"-style ones) keep getting better, and The Zombie Wars is pretty much the sequel we all hoped for. The game's ability to pit you against dozens of encroaching foes (with less slowdown than you'd expect) makes this one of the most complete experiences this side of Flash. Turret guns and artillery round out the arsenal here, though the addition of teleporting and digging enemies makes building a base much more difficult this time around. Still, most of you will be here for the action and tension, areas where the game absolulutely delivers.

Bubble Tanks 2 - It's rare for a game to feature a real sense of exploration, so exploring the myriad spheres of Bubble Tanks 2 packs just enough childlike wonder to keep you playing. Ostensibly an action/shooter game, the real enjoyment of Bubble Tanks 2 comes from upgrading your ship and finding the really wacked-out enemies you'll fight the farther out you go. Like a more colorful, less contemplative flOw, this is a game of evolution and discovery.

Ginormo Sword - I can't honestly claim that I "liked" this game, but I spent way too long playing it. Is that the same thing? Crappy battle mechanics and design, addictive leveling scheme.

The Powder Game - It's still fantastic. Play with it, have some fun. Blow something up.

Good Things Should Never End (Orange Unlimited) - An endless digital playground. Collaborative content, webtoys and more strewn across an endless rainbow landscape. Therapeutic.

Three platformers with great action: A Sea Gull Company for its unique level design and pseudo-multiplayer mechanics, Meat Boy for its smooth control and great design, and Buggle Stars for keeping things fast and exciting (aside from the horrible bonus levels).

Cursor*10 - A mindblowing recursive game with a hidden component. This one's worth figuring out, as is the unrelated creative puzzler Applicate.

Fantastic Contraption
- Far better than Incredibots in my book for its simple design, emphasis on community and satisfying puzzles. You won't believe some of the stuff you can create with this.

The Codex of Alchemical Engineering - This one's a little heady - a simple step-based puzzler wrapped up in pseudoscientific prose. Very casual programming with a satisfying feel.

Totem Destroyer - Probably the most visceral game on here. Like Arcade Jenga with a pagan twist.

Loops of Zen - A satisfying clickfest for visually-oriented people.

Alan Probe: Amateur Surgeon - This surgery simulator might not be everybody's bag - it's unintuitive and fairly juvenile - but I enjoyed it despite the occasional bug.

I'm a sucker for a good tower defense game, and I've already talked about them at length so suffice it to say the following earn my highest recommendation:

Bloons Tower Defense 3

Flash Element Tower Defense 2

Enjoy! These oughta keep you busy - maybe too busy.

Best of Casual Gameplay 2008 (

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