Trade Nations is a casual, social econ sim by Z2Live with art and gameplay assistance from Bight Games. Initially developed for iOS, it is now available on Facebook. The difference between the iOS and Facebook versions is slight but the development for iOS has slowed down, while new features are being tested weekly on the Facebook version by Bight Games. The premise of Trade Nations is that you are a ruler of a medieval commune of naive peons. These peons work around the clock and serve you without question. It is the dystopian world of Marx's Capital. Or, one could argue, Trade Nations is a simulation of the forced labor of the Five Year Plan of Mao and Stalin. I mention economics because Trade Nations does a great job of offering an accurate economics engine that is easily understood and accessible by casual and serious gamers alike.
Das Kasual Kapitalist
|Submitted by sebastian sohn on Thu, 05/26/2011 - 19:44.|
Tabletop Tuesdays: Casual Cardgame for All
|Submitted by sebastian sohn on Tue, 03/01/2011 - 03:04.|
Lost Cities is a popular two player card game by Reiner Knizia. Because of the gorgeous artwork, simplicity of rules, and strategic gameplay, it is popular with both serious and casual gamers. It is frequently recommended at Board Game Geek as the ultimate game that guy gamers can approach his girlfriend or wife as a gateway game.
Tons of laughter!
|Submitted by sebastian sohn on Thu, 10/28/2010 - 02:19.|
Cargo Delivery is a physics game of balancing oddly shaped crates on a barge. You stack crates sky high, neatly and tightly, to ensure that you can pack as much as cargo as possible without having it tip over into the ocean. You earn money on the cargo you deliver while trying to meet the minimum requirements, like delivering a certain amount of weight or certain types of cargo. Passive environmental hazards like rain or flying fish are annoying, while active hazards like sharks or whale attacks make it seriously difficult. You can mitigate the hazards by upgrading your ship, such as purchasing a more powerful engine to outrun sharks. The game gets progressively harder as hazards increase and the cargo type requirements become amusingly strange. You will stack explosive balls, fragile triangular wedges, and my favorite, monkeys in cages that bounce and rattle other crates.
It's a Casual Game. No, It's a Puzzle Game. No, It's a Dessert Topping
|Submitted by costik on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 03:26.|
Tidalis is a casual game (strike one) using match-three (strike two) and falling-block (strike three) mechanics. Yer out, we never review crap like that.
But... wait a minute. Actually, it's a difficult, involved puzzle game with novel mechanics and real challenge. The basic setup is this: on a square grid are arrayed blocks of different colors. Each block contains an arrow, and you can rotate the direction it points in. If you click on a block, it sends out a "stream" in the direction of its arrow that affects only blocks of the same color. When it hits a block of the same color, the stream continues in the direction that this block is pointing (some blocks are double-arrowed and continue the stream in two directions simultaneously). Streams "peter out" if they pass through three squares that are either empty or contain different color blocks; but if a stream passes through three or more blocks of the starting color, they all disappear, scoring points. Also, since this is a "falling blocks" game, the blocks above them fall down the grid -- and the bottom-most block on each falling stack now sends out a stream that can, in principle, cause a chain effect with multiple block groups of multiple colors disappearing.
In the game's "puzzle" mode, in fact, you typically may initiate only one stream, and must clear the board. These are not timed (and have no Tetris-like influx of blocks that could cause you to lose through slow play), so they are pure abstract puzzles -- and at higher levels, very difficult ones. It's notable that the 'tutorial' is in several segments; what seems like an initially simple, Bejewlled-like system is actually a profoundly intricate system with many nuances.
But... wait another minute. Tidalis is still a brain-dead casual game. Consider it's "adventure" mode, which subjects you to a wholly irrelevant "story" between levels and contains noxious saccharine music that must appeal to the casual game demographic because it surely makes my skin crawl, along with pretty scenery graphics behind the play window that are equally irrelevant to play. And in this mode, blocks do fall, Tetris-like, and you can and almost certainly will win if you play it the way you play Bejewelled -- that is, without worrying too much about the nuances of the system, and simply line things up to get three or more of the same color at a time. In fact, if you ponder too much and try to set up a really cool cascade of streams, one of your stacks will hit the top, and you're done.
In other words, this game doesn't know what it's trying to be, or perhaps is trying to be all things to all people -- both the kind of casual game where the difficulty is minimal and you play it just to kill time and watch the pretty images on the screen, and also a sophisticated puzzle game with challenging brainteasers.
So my advice is sure, play this thing, at least in puzzle mode, and turn off the damn music.
|Submitted by costik on Fri, 09/10/2010 - 16:20.|
In Fractal, each level presents you with an arrangement of 'filled' hexes on a limited-extent hex grid. Your goal is to create seven contiguous filled hexes (a center hex and its zone of control), which then, match-three like, disappear, scoring you points. You do so by clicking on an empty hex adjoining a filled one, which "pushes" the filled hex into the next hex opposite where you "push" from (and pushing further any filled hexes it pushes into, in a line), and creates a new filled hex in the now vacant one. If you click in a hex adjacent to more than one filled hex, you push in all adjoining directions, creating multiple fillings. As in a match-three game, there can be a cascade effect, in which a single push creates multiple filled "megahexes", scoring quite a lot of points.
You have a limited number of pushes per level, and it is possible to 'fail' the level if you do not reach some minimum score with the available pushes, but this being a casual game, failure is quite difficult.
Nice music, attractive visuals, original design; despite the name, it has nothing to do with fractals, unfortunately.
Fractal is a finalist for Indicade 2010. It's not freeware (there's a $10 charge to unlock the full game), but the demo is pretty full featured.
Tabletop Tuesday: Massively Multiplayer Offline Puzzle Game
|Submitted by sebastian sohn on Tue, 09/07/2010 - 21:31.|
Ricochet Robots is a brain burning, group speed, puzzle boardgame. It can accommodate any number of players: as long as one can see the board, one can play. The board is set up up randomly, one of four colored robots becomes active, and a goal token is randomly selected. The goal is to get the active robot to the right token by ricocheting off walls and other robots that you move strategically in the path of the active robot.
Real Estate Empire 2
A casual serious tycoon game
|Submitted by sebastian sohn on Wed, 08/25/2010 - 01:30.|
Real Estate Empire 2, (REE2) is a serious real estate investment sim that is marketed as a casual tycoon type of game. I love games that are both accurate simulations and fun because then you are tricked into learning, a most clever ploy. When Greg Costikyan did a review of Real E$tate Empire, I immediately bought a copy, because I am a fan of serious investment games. I liked Real E$tate Empire but, it was unnecessary complex in areas like the house repairs options but lacked the basics like the ability to rent. I am glad to see that these short comings were shored up in REE2.
Love in the Time of Casual
|Submitted by MattDuffy on Mon, 08/16/2010 - 18:00.|
To all the diehard indie snobs out there spooked by the “casual” label: Don't worry. [Together] is an art game masquerading as a casual game, so go ahead and crank your snob-meters up to 11.
Located somewhere on the emotional spectrum between Braid and Passage, [Together] casts the player as a blue Boy who emerges from a mysterious cave to take his pink Girlfriend on a majestic flight of fancy. The couple chases down a variety of evasive flying hearts while being pursued by the smoke monster from Lost (here known as "the beast"). The creator's descriptive blurb sums up the mood: "Fly to the depths of the ocean or to the ends of the galaxy, together. As long as you have each other, there's no limit to where you can go."
Brought To You By Angel Funding
|Submitted by the99th on Wed, 07/14/2010 - 00:47.|
What appears to be yet another estrogen-laden, too-friendly-to-say-anything casual game that marked the 2004-2007 era is actually the best game to emerge from the now defunct GameLab, whose LinkedIn page now stands as a shadow remnant of its former greatness. Miss Management was notable because of its source of funding, an unnamed High-Net-Worth-Individual made this game possible, and as such the burdensome demands of publishers were relaxed to the desire to make something interesting and polished. The game doesn't pile in swears or sexual innuendo with this opportunity, it's still considerably tamer in subject matter than an episode of The Office, the show after which it seems to fashion itself, but it does paint a compelling enough caricature of corporate life and the inane frictions thereof. It also combines character design directly with game mechanics to do a nice job of role-driven storytelling, almost like Chris Crawford's old Siboot streamlined with the chassis of Diner Dash.
Sliders & Gears
|Submitted by costik on Mon, 01/11/2010 - 01:10.|
A 2010 IGF finalist for Excellence in Design, Cogs is a combination of sliding puzzles with mechanical puzzles. You know what sliding puzzles are, even if you don't immediately grok the term: There those stupid little things consisting of plastic squares arranged in a grid with one space left out. You slide the squares around to make a picture. Like a 2-D Rubik's cube, with none of the algorithmic complexity of the cube.
Cogs adds mechanical puzzles; some squares have gears on them. Somewhere on the puzzle is a rotating gear, and you have to slide your gears around to do something -- sometimes simply to get a target gear to rotate, sometimes something more complicated, like arranging gears with hammers on them to strike bells in a particular sequence. Sequencing then becomes a major challenge, because you have to arrange the gears in such a way that the hammers are poised to strike at the right moment, and in the right way. In addition, some puzzle are arranged over the surface of a 3D object, which you can rotate with the right mouse button.