Flow - a small game with a big concept...

8 Accessible (and free!) Games

What do I mean by “accessible” games? Well for me one of the most pleasing changes/trends I am seeing around the web is a big increase in clarity. People are adhering more to conventions, making chunks of text smaller, making the things I have to click on more obvious – the web is becoming a much more intuitive place to browse around in. In addition to this, lately I have stumbled across many online flash games that share similar traits. Of course, you can’t make all games look the same or have similar mechanics as that would defeat the point of gaming – but I do feel that there has been a notable increase in the amount of what I would call “accessible games” – games whose point or mechanics are obvious just by looking at it, or playing with it for a few seconds.


Pong – a classic example of an intuitive game

Tetris

Of course, two very early examples of this kind of game were Pong and Tetris. Pong is probably one of the most intuitive games in existence, thanks to it’s immediately recognisable game mechanics – “I am this, the computer is that, and we are playing ping pong”. Tetris also, is a highly intuitive “pick up and play” game that requires very little initial explanation. Arguably, it’s because of this that Pong and Tetris are among the most well-known games around today.

It’s this kind of “no-explanation” game experience which made me think of PingMag readers. Judging by the comments we get (which often come in a variety of different languages) and the fact that, of course, PingMag is published in both English and Japanese, I think PingMag readers represent a good cross-section of internet users who would enjoy “accessible” games – games that need no lengthy introduction in a language you can’t understand, and games that feature game mechanics that rely more on your ability to make judgments based on circumstances rather than being told “press A to fire”. So with that, I give you a selection of “accessible games”, all of which are free to play – if you enjoy the game, please go and tell the original author!

Flow

Flow, by Jenova Chen
http://intihuatani.usc.edu/cloud/flowing/

Flow is a cross between an experiment and a game, and has in fact been created by Jenova Chen as part of his university thesis. The game itself is a metaphor for the dynamics between challenge and abilities, and you are encouraged to explore the game space at your own pace and discover what to do, largely, on your own. It’s a profoundly relaxing experience and one of the observations so far with the game is that players tend to lose track of time – so be careful!

Blueprint

Blueprint, by teagames
http://www.teagames.com/games/blueprint/play.php

I’m a sucker for games that involve physics in some way, and Blueprint is an almost perfect example of a physics-based game that is both intuitive and fun. It’s an incredibly simple concept – get the ball in the hole – but to do so you must place various puzzle-pieces around the grid in the correct configuration so that the ball can travel to the hole when you click “start”.

Space Worms

Space Worms, by pointlessaudiogaming
http://pointlessaudiogaming.blogspot.com/2006/02/space-worms_01.html

This game is extremely unforgiving! You are given absolutely no instructions and you will die the first few times within seconds. After you realise what you are supposed to do however, you will find the game both fast-paced and addictive!

Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia, by Ubisoft
http://www.gamespot.com/promos/princeofpersia-game/flash/

Ahh Prince of Persia. To people who grew up in the home computer-boom of the early 90s, Prince of Persia will represent a very fond memory. Prince of Persia in this modern flash version loses points for a) being a game that already existed anyway, and b) having a large amount of text at the start (which we’ll forgive as it’s simply story-setting, not game instructions) – but still I find it represents a challenging, yet intuitive experience. All you have to do is lead your little man to the end of the dungeon – where that is though, is up to you to find.

Samorost

Samorost, by Amanita Design
http://www.samorost2.net/samorost1/

Samorost is probably the least intuitive game in this list, but I think it deserves a mention for both the beautiful (and at times, surreal) artwork and the complete lack of any guidance whatsoever. You are encouraged to click around the screen to solve simple puzzles. Half the fun lies in the discovery of what you are supposed to do.

Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory, by “Unknown”
http://pya.cc/pyaimg/pimg.php?imgid=8056

One from Japan, this is a good example of an extremely simple concept that still proves to be highly entertaining. Just click anywhere on screen and a chain-reaction will occur. Explode the most dots for a high score – what could be simpler? The loud sound effects make this a very satisfying experience!

Roboclaw

Roboclaw, by Mobasher Iqbal
http://www.scenta.co.uk/minisites/flash/roboclaw/index.html

Roboclaw is another game that takes the simple concept of “put the ball in the hole” and wraps it up in an intuitive game dynamic to create a simple, yet fun experience. Use the cursor keys to maneuver the robot arm to pick up the ball and drop it in the hole – later levels introduce obstacles which the ball cannot touch.

Nanaca Crash!!

Nanaca Crash!! by SU-503
http://megami.starcreator.com/nanaca-crash/

Another one from Japan and a good one to end the article on. This bizarre game involves physics (well, sort of) and has you crashing your bike into an anime character to see how far you can make him fly. A little bit cruel perhaps, but if you like hearing crazy sound effects and bright colours this game might just make you smile.

Know of any other nice, intuitive examples of online games? Please tell us in the comments below!

  • Roy Baty

    Tontie is one of most fun games I’ve came across online http://www.kiteretsu.jp/on/tontie/, the other games on that site like Grow and Pelpet deserve a play too.

  • http://www.onetrickpony.org Anime Babe

    In this industry these type of games are known as ‘casual’ games. They definitely have an addiction factor to them and usually are based around the idea of being quick and easy to play.

    The Teagames site reminds me or Orisinal…definitely check this site out if you haven’t already. The art is just delicious.

    http://www.ferryhalim.com/orisinal/

  • Administrator

    the orisinal collection is great – it would have gone in the list but I assumed that most people had seen them since they are so popular. Cheers for putting in the link anyway!

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  • http://www.sparkplugged.net Shay

    YAY for Nanaca Crash! A fun game it is for sure! Flow is interesting too but I’ve lost the most time trying to hit boys on a bike. hehe

  • http://www.deeportal.com chris

    An excellent article and some great games. It’s a pity none of these games play on the Sony PSP. The recent inclusion of a flash player on firmware 2.70 has opened a lot of opportunities, and it’s the perfect platform for accessible browser based games.

  • Badger

    I love the last 3 games nanaca being the best. This site rocks!

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