This week's best free PC games
Last week played host to the annual Global Game Jam, in which developers around the world strive to create an entire game within the ludicrously short period of 48 hours. The sheer number of entries is overwhelming, and I've not managed to play nearly enough of them to say which are the best. Among this week's pick of free games are three I've found interesting so far, along with a collection of titles developed in association with the London Science Museum. Head below the jump for another week's worth of free PC gaming.
Preloaded. Play the games on the London Science Museum website.
This week, the London Science Museum released a new set of sciency games on its website. From developers Preloaded, they're designed to highlight some of the issues faced by modern science, and to demonstrate possible ways of dealing with them.
This super-slick set of Flash-powered titles probably won't engross you in the long term, but there are some neat and striking diversions here, and the young whippersnappers among their audience are likely to get a good kick from them. Oddly, once you're in a game, there appears to be no way to return to the main games list without refreshing the page. Kind of annoying.
No matter. Bacto-Lab is the first game, and it tasks you with engineering E.coli chains in the right order so as to create useful products. Get it wrong, and you could unleash harmful mutant bacteria, causing a thousand people to simultaneously run to the bathroom. Or something.
Next is Robo-Lobster, the game with the best of names. Mines out at sea can be successfully diffused by employing robotic lobster-like things, we're told, and our task is to try to disarm all of them with the limited number of robo-lobsters provided. (I will never get tired of writing 'robo-lobster', which is why it's a shame that I may never need to again.)
Cloud Control asks you to send your ships out to sea with the rather unusual task of brightening dark clouds. The idea: the whiter the cloud, the more it will reflect the sun's rays, and the less the planet's temperature will rise. Nifty!
Finally, in Space Junker, you must pilot your jet-propelled spacethingies and use their robotic arms to collect space debris. Because our man-made satellites are important, don'tcha know? We wouldn't want space crap making them go all broken.
Each of the games is based around its own set of mechanics, even if the presentation doesn't change much. That's fine, though: they all look lovely in their neon splendour. Someone add a 'back' button, and we'll be laughing.
Catch Me If You Can
Team Unfortunate Fish. Download it from the Global Game Jam site
One of the more polished entries to the 2012 Global Game Jam, Catch Me If You Can is something akin to Mario Kart reimagined as a platformer. And - uh - with unicycle-robot things. Players battle it out in races, collecting power-ups and attempting to effectively utilise them to both increase their own chances of winning, and decrease that of their opponents.
Fast-paced and colourful, it allows two-player races if you're playing with a keyboard, but plug in a set of Xbox 360 controllers and you'll be able to bring along three friends to join in the fun. It's visually fairly basic, but what's here is polished - and considering the 48-hour development schedule, that's quite an achievement in itself.
Ilya Zarembsky. Download it from the Global Game Jam site.
We all enjoy playing games, but 0SUM seems to take great pleasure in playing with you. It's a single-player game that demands the dexterity of both your hands, as you control one paddle with your right hand fingers and the other with your left.
Text scrolls across the screen. Whoever wrote it doesn't seem to like you very much. Except when it does. This schizophrenic rambling allows you to work out what you're supposed to be doing. It took me an embarrassingly long amount of time - see how long it takes you.
It's a game of dual-handed coordination, and it's more difficult than it sounds like it would be. But it's also frequently hilarious as a result, eccentrically written as it is. A neat little effort.
Nicholas Rishel, Joseph Zeiler, Terri Gast, Caleb Fruin, Thomas Marshall. Download it from the Global Game Jam site.
This puzzler lulls you into a false sense of security with its early lack of difficulty, but quickly things ramp up. Your job is to locate a route to the exit on each level, as you follow a dog who takes great joy from taunting you by appearing by the exit each time, then quickly disappearing.
Dropping off the bottom of the screen drops you back from the top of it, while walking off-screen to the right brings you out at the left. The walls become the obstacles of increasingly complex mazes, and it's not long before you're scratching your head, baffled by which exact moves you need to make to appear in the desired location. It nails a sense of reward upon completion of a screen, too. With slightly the slightly slicker presentation of some time to polish things up (your character isn't animated, for example), this would be lovely.