At this point, anyone who has spent any amount of time tooling about on the Internet has probably been distracted by flash games at one point or another. These simple and addictive games often utilize a short-lived but creative game mechanic.
For the most part, flash games began as throwbacks to easily-programmed retro games. 2D platformers, scrolling shooters and simple adventure games can be found in plentitude. One of the finest examples of creative genre-reinterpretations is the aptly named “Robot Dinosaurs That Shoot Beams When They Roar.” As you’d expect, the game is hilarious and full of colorful personality besides being a great side-scrolling shooter. Another standout, “Sonny,” is an old-school, turn-based RPG which puts you in the role of a zombie for a long, plot- heavy and surprisingly complex experience.
While the demand for classic game styles is as strong as ever, newer game tastes have crept on in and reared their scaly multi-heads, screeching madly to the heavens. There has been an influx of new genres like the ever-popular tower defense, or destruction-based games where the player is tasked with knocking objects into bits with odd tools.
“Crush the Castle” and “Sieger” are two examples of such games, in which the goal is to incur as much structural damage to various castle structures as possible. Players do this by flinging projectiles from a distant catapult (much like the iPhone’s “Angry Birds”). The game uses what may seem like an outdated, complex point-scoring system. But you’ll still find an obsessive eagerness to splat your way to all of the points.
There are also many other flash games that satirize this oft-exploited completist urge. In “Achievement Unlocked,” for instance, you play as a jumping elephant in a rectangular room. There is no specific objective for the player except to complete its hunderd silly and mysterious tasks listed along the side of the screen. While many of them can be as simple as “Move Left” or “Load the game,” others take a bit of exploration, luck and wit. It’s a clever design that should give experienced console users a good laugh.
Another similar concept comes in “UPGRADE COMPLETE,” a shooter in which everything must be bought with points. The sounds, the graphics, even the main menu can and must be purchased and upgraded in order to complete the game.
There is also an offering for those seeking more professional and polished innovative titles. “Spewer” is an exceptionally cute title that is self-described as a “game about throwing up.” You play a small worm who is running trials for a scientist. The physics-based puzzles make interesting use of vomit as a propulsive material.
The oddly-named “VVVVVV” also makes use a physics-heavy mechanic. It is one of several games that involves shifting the environment so that its of gravity dimensionality enables the character to move through the puzzle.
Then there are also arty games like “Today I Die,” which require to solve a poetic riddle by rearranging on-screen objects. These require some creative, out-of-the-box thinking on the part of the player.
ArmorGames, AddictingGames, and Kongregate are three of the more prominent and successful flash game sites. Any time you’re feeling entirely too productive, hit them up and lose 20 minutes shooting aliens or smashing castles into little bits or propelling yourself through the air by your own violent projectile vomit. Good times.