Web apps take a starring role in this Games Of The Week installment: First up we have an old Web game that spoofs common RPG tropes. After that, we’ve got a Mac game that’s laser focused on writers. Then finally, we have a collection of classic games you can play in the browser.
Kingdom of Loathing – Web
Some RPGs show off with long cinematic sequences; others take a more low-tech approach. Then there’s Kingdom of Loathing, a Web game that takes it so low tech that its graphics look hand-drawn. But don’t let that look deceive you: This is a full fledged RPG, complete with persistent characters, crafting, and player-versus-player support.
I will admit that this game is actually pretty old, but Kingdom of Loathing is new to me. It has plenty of content, as well as an entire community built up around it. The game uses humor to take the piss out of the RPG tropes—the thief class is named Disco Bandits, for example, and their main weapon is a disco ball. You can even craft cocktails that grant you special powers—who doesn’t want to get special power from a martini?
What’s Good: Fun little Web take on RPG tropes.
What Sucks: The game’s aimplicity may not be for everyone.
Buy it? If you’re a fan of old-school RPGs and have a sense of humor, check out Kingdom of Loathing.
Dumb Ways To Die 2 – iOS(Universal)
Dumb Ways To Die was surprisingly addictive, but it’s still a little startling to see a sequel to the game, especially considering its roots as a transit agency’s public service announcement. Everything is much bigger this time around, instead of a collection of mini games, you open the game to a map. Each stop on the map is a collection of mini games, each built around a theme.
The games haven’t changed much—you still have to tap or swipe quickly to keep a character from dying in some ridiculous manner. The new games all carry sports themes: One of the new additions is a relay race in which you hand off a stick of dynamite instead of a baton. Another one requires you to tap quickly to out-swim some piranhas.
Another category of mini-games serves as the free to play aspect of the game. As you play these games, you unlock characters that decorate your overworld map—but there’s a catch: You need to have tokens to play these games, and you get tokens through in-app purchases. You can also just pay outright to disable all ads and tokens by purchasing kids’ mode.
What’s Good: Good expansion of the concept. Lots of new games.
What Sucks: Might be a bit to hyper for some people.
Buy it?: If you liked the first game—or just like minigame collections in general—check out Dumb Ways to Die 2. Grab it on the App Store for free.
Elegy for a Dead World – Mac
Elegy For A Dead World might be the first game I have played where the main gameplay is centered on writing (not counting MUDs or other pre-graphics stuff, of course). For some, though, that fact alone may make Elegy a non-starter.
I happen to be in the right demographic for this particular game. Think of this as advanced writing prompts: You explore worlds and what about what you see. You can choose to riff off of provided prompts, adding your own details, or you can choose to write freely without any prompts.
If you aren’t feeling creative, you can choose to take a “Mad Libs” approach to the classic poems that inspired the design of the game. Elegy also has an editing mode—great for any of you in the audience who’ve ever posted “you’re” as a comment.
The game looks amazing. The backgrounds are all really well done, and each world has its own unique feel. You can explore all of them as a nameless character in a space suit, so you can project what you’d like on them. It’s definitely one of the more original concepts for a game that I have seen.
What’s Good: Unique concept. Great inspiration tool for writers.
What Sucks: Very focused appeal.
Buy it? If you’re a fan of unique concepts, or a writer who wants a unique playground, check out Elegy For a Dead World. Download it from Steam for $14.99.
Trivia Crack – iOS(Universal)
Trivia Crack is one of those games that I didn’t find via gaming or app news sites. Instead, I found out about it from friends and family on Facebook who lie outside the gaming and Apple spheres (other apps that followed a similar trajectory were Draw Something and Words With Friends).
The game pulls from your Facebook friends list to set up games of trivia with others. The concept is simple enough: You answer a series of questions until you get one wrong. You get to pick from one of six categories once every three questions and get to answer a question from that category. Answer correctly, and you get a game piece—similar to the pie pieces in Trivial Pursuit. In between, you spin a wheel to pick the category of questions, with a bonus space that let’s you skip to the next piece question.
The questions are all pretty balanced, with most of them created by other Trivia Crack players. You can download a free, ad-laden version of the game, but unless you really like Kate Upton’s *Game of ads you may want to spring for the ad-free version.
What’s Good: Fun and casual trivia game.
What Sucks: Repetitive ads.
Buy it? If you’re a fan of trivia games, check our Trivia Crack. Pick up the ad-free version on the App Store for $2.99.
MS-DOS Game Collection – Web
The Internet Archive recently posted an entire collection of old MS-DOS games to its site—and you can play them all through your Web browser. This means that you can relive the glory days of edutainment with Oregon Trail or Carmen Sandiego. You can also play ports of classic arcade and console games like Ms. Pac Man or Metal Gear. (Sadly this is the NES version ported, not the original MSX Japanese version.)
Most things seem to work well, but you may want to use a controller for some of the more advanced games. You’ll also want to play the games in full-screen, as there seems to be a weird bug with the mouse mapping when you play in windowed mode. Also some of the games are tied to the system clock, which causes them to run at an absurd speed. This quirk prevented me from being able to play Frogger and Castle Wolfenstein.
What’s Good: Relive some great memories and find some lost classics. Browser offers emulation without an install or configuration.
What Sucks: Some weirdness with mouse mapping. Some games run too quickly.
Buy it?: If you grew up in the 80s or just like classic video games, check out the Internet Archive’s MS-DOS games collection. Archive.org also offers an entire selection of console games for your perusal.