Our generation started playing flash games back in what I’ve nicknamed “the golden age of playing flash games”. This was a time when watching animated .gifs about stick figures decapitating themselves was only surpassed by finding that you could go onto the internet and play as those stick figures. This gave us something to do while the batteries for our Nintendo Gameboy Pocket recharged… The golden age was back in the day when the PLAY button came before the PLAY MORE GAMES link… and the concept of a site existing as a “flash portal” was only grasped by the few. Although they have now long since been blocked in school networks, the golden age saw the unshackled freedom of bored middle and high schoolers to visit sites like Mohsye, Orisinal, GPrime, Miniclip, Newgrounds and the ever faithful Addictinggames.com.
Web 2.0 has created an influx in flash gaming. Sites like Armor Games and Kongregate, coupled with an increase in corporations viewing flash gaming as a viable medium for advertising has injected flash gaming into the mainstream web. The games themselves have also gotten exponentially larger and more complex. User driven community platforms like Kongregate (and it’s nerd-inspiring achievement system) are a wonderful addition to flash gaming. I just hope this doesn’t drive out the simplicity that was once the epitome of casual gaming.
But right now I’d like to take myself, as well as the reader, on a tour of the best straight up casual flash games I’ve had the honor of playing. We’ll start with number 17, because that’s what Brian Boitano would do.
17. Reverse PLAY
The only thing more mind-bending than watching every Stanley Kubrick film ever made in one night is having your mouse inverted. Reverse does the job in a splendidly simple and addicting way. You’ll feel your brain at work while you play. The sequel: Reverse 2.
16. Bowman 2 PLAY
Bowman is a good example of a game utilizing super casual tactics. It has simple and smooth game play, for one or two players, and epitomizes the “tanks” sort of turn based combat. This is the kind of game that will make you yell unnecessarily loudly in the middle of Personal Economics 104.
15. Avoider PLAY
Commonly mistaken as “Cursor Thief”. I like Avoider better because it has that crazy Japanese-masked edge to it. This is a great example of a game that doesn’t have English menus. The deft flash gamer will simply know to click the play button using inner-guidance.
14. Elf Bowling DL
So there were these guys back in ’99 who called themselves NStorm. At the age of 10, I didn’t really know or care about what this company did, other than the fact that they had a knack for creating flash games involving the hilarious and violent catapulting of various animals, or in this case, elves. Yes, that link is legitimate.
13. YETISPORTS PLAY
Yetisports is a series done by some dude named Chris Hilgert, and people love ’em. Although there are currently 10 official installments of the series, the first – Pengu Throw and it’s variations are probably the most popular. High score tables can get deliriously competitive. The Official Site w/high scores.
12. City Jumper PLAY
This is one that takes timing skill, and fast tactics, one that you can really get in to. Once you play for a while, you’ll start feeling sympathy for that little stick dude, and hope that he successfully reaches wherever the hell he’s actually going.
11. Escape from Greenville PLAY
Rob Lewis over at Stickdeath.com was a pioneer in many things stick, and this point and click game remains a shiny beacon of old-school mindlessly violent punishingly difficult adventurism at it’s simplest.
There are too many of these to count, but each is unique. Tactical Assassin gets props for being one of the first, Clear Vision is quick and smooth, Urban Sniper mimicked Silent Scope’s play style, and Sift Heads presented polished story and artwork. Pick your poison at 2sniper.com.
09. Double Wires PLAY
Sweet Spiderman action in 2D. Looks like it was drawn with a tablet crayon. Kevin Perrera reviewed Double Wires for his “Indie Games” segment on G4. This made it slightly less cool, but Kevin’s an okay guy. I’ll let it slide. There’s a sequel, aptly titled There’s 2 Wires?!.
08. The Classroom PLAY
Have you ever wondered what Solid Snake did in elementary school? The Classroom trilogy is tactical espionage action in it’s purest form. There are three of these, each one more intense than the last, as well as witty and challenging the whole way through.
07. Portal: The Flash Version PLAY
A very nicely done platform/puzzler based on VALVe’s Portal. Not quite old school but close enough. Lengthy sometimes frustrating levels, but the concept is just so… conceptually intriguing. If you can’t get enough Portal, download it’s 3D spiritual predecessor Narbacular Drop here.
06. The Impossible Quiz PLAY
It’s safe to say that I will probably die without having completed this game. It’s fun tho, rly!
05. Acno’s Energizer PLAY
A nicely done Boulderdash clone from Miniclip. Lots of levels, beat a few every day. Sequel: Aqua Energizer *These are technically demos, but I felt you could get enough game play out of them to warrant good standing.
04. Crimson Room PLAY
Subtly disturbing point and click. One of the best, with a unique art style. Although not horribly long or difficult, you’re probably going to need a walkthrough, but don’t make it too easy on yourself! Toshimitsu Takagi only created this one, but you can check out FASCO-CS for more difficult sequels.
03. Mini Putt PLAY
Need I say more? No! You’ll have great fun competing with peers until someone goes online or cheats! Speaking of that, check out my guide here!
02. Helicopter Game PLAY
I personally prefer the infamous SFcave, but that’s technically a Java game. The Helicopter variant still sucks productivity out of you like a sponge, while simultaneously placing you in a trance. The pure simplicity and single-button action of the Helicopter Game make this a dynamic and easily accessed gaming option under almost any, even crisis-level, situation.
Well, this one doesn’t strictly follow my criteria of old-school simplicity, but it undoubtedly deserves the peak position on any flash games list. And what’s more old-school than monochrome deathmatch? If your computer can handle Madness Interactive, you’ll be treated to a Matrix-esque bullet sandwhich sandbox of joy and laughter. Expirement mode is where it’s at. Like the style? Watch Krinkel’s animations that started it all.