A few months ago I devoted a post to the Facebook games I was playing at the time– which to embrace and which to avoid. The intervening months have found me playing a completely different set of games. Does this happen to you? I don’t just get sick of all my games all at once– rather I find myself forgetting about them in stages, and picking up new ones, until the entire array has changed. Since the entire Facebook platform is based on the social aspect of gaming and I have quite a few friends, I end up with a lot of game invitations and it’s impossible to resist trying out at least a few, some of which become fast favorites. At any rate, these are a few of the games I have been playing, whether casually or in earnest.
ROBOT UNICORN ATTACK
I know I’m behind the loop on this one– this simplistic yet irrationally addictive side-scroller actually peaked in popularity a couple of years ago, but if you’ve never played it, it’s well worth wasting some time with. There are two versions of the game– a traditional, moonbeams-and-rainbows fluff fest, and a “Heavy Metal” version set in what looks like a hair band’s concept of Hell. In both versions you play as the titular unicorn and must negotiate a series of obstacles to your progress at increasingly high speeds. It takes some practice to keep your unicorn from ending up as a headless, weeping bucket of bolts, but robot unicorn death is incomprehensibly hilarious, so you won’t mind getting killed with alarming frequency as you’re getting the hang of the controls, which are keyboard-based rather than mouse-based, which is my only quibble with the game. Big Thumbs Up.
CANDY CRUSH SAGA
I honestly don’t understand the appeal of this game, but a lot of my friends find it ridiculously addictive. I played Candy Crush in beta on King.com’s since-closed Facebook portal, and found it more fun in its older iteration before it received King’s familiar “Saga” treatment, in which the base game becomes increasingly more difficult as the player traverses a map. In this case, the base game is a variation on the tried-and-true “Bejeweled” formula utilizing candies in place of gems, which have explosive effects when switched with each other. This was pretty cool in beta, since I like Bejeweled-style games anyway. When the game went live in its Saga form, I was less enthused. I wasn’t a fan of the artwork, though that wasn’t my main complaint– fairly early on, the stages go from amusing entertainment to maddening torture, and the cutesy backgrounds and characters start to become a fairly cheese-grating annoyance if not the outright stuff of nightmares. I dropped this game like a hot potato and haven’t looked back, but if you enjoy mindlessly beating your head on a brick wall this might be the game for you.
This is a variation on the “Peggle” format, and a lot of fun. Featuring a new set of ten weekly puzzles based around a gorgeous background theme, HotShot is misleadingly simple and highly addictive. Gameplay couldn’t be easier– just shoot a ball at the pegs, taking out the ones the puzzle dictates with your limited supply of ammo. It’s not as easy as it sounds; you always seem to be just one ball short of achieving your goal on the later stages, which can take several attempts to nail, and your energy supply in-game is limited to four (one energy=one attempt). Worse, it takes A WHOLE HOUR to regenerate one energy point. So it’s not a game you’ll be spending a lot of time with, but the time you do spend with it is all quality. It’s a beautifully produced game which can make you crazy in the best possible way, and one which will have you looking forward to Sunday nights/Monday mornings (depending on when you frequent Facebook) when the new themes appear. If you don’t complete a board within the allotted week, you can re-open it with a small amount of in-game currency, which is easily earned by just playing– you don’t even have to win the level to get a currency reward. Add cool power-ups such as an exploding ball and a bouncy trampoline at the bottom of the screen, and you’ve found your new bliss.
This a monstrously popular game, and with good reason. Essentially a hidden-object game, the latest Facebook bandwagon, CC is unlike any of its counterparts in the genre. For one thing, there’s no need to build a garden or an estate or anything of that nature– while that was initially a fun twist in some of the earlier hidden-object games, it got de rigueur— and old– pretty quickly. This one is purely gameplay, and its scenarios are fairly gritty– there’s a lot of blood splashed across the search scenes, and of course corpses. It’s also a pretty fun way to dabble vicariously in forensics, though its crimes are easily solved and its perps always confess. A cast of appealing characters, from Nathan the coroner to Grace the lab tech to Ramirez the meatball beat cop, join you and your helpful though easily-grossed-out partner Jones as you solve a series of grisly murders that keep you crossing paths with mobsters and snitches and drug dealers (oh my). Unusual murder weapons like hand saws and meat tenderizers abound, and power-ups such as orange juice and hamburgers keep you going. My only minor complaint about this near-perfect game is the lack of a doughnut power-up. Aren’t we playing cops?
A cute, fun and yes, magical little world-building game, Wooga’s Magic Land holds more long-term appeal than games such as Farmville and its ilk by virtue of the fact it can actually be played entirely for free. While it’s possible to fork over in-game and real-life currency to speed up your progress, it actually detracts from the fun factor, which is, in this app, a sense of accomplishment. Though the introduction of crafting needlessly complicated the gameplay– it was perfect without it– it remains a solid and largely unsung game that should have a bigger audience than it does. Based on the familiar quest formula, in this case chapters of a storybook coupled with numerous (and occasionally overlong) side quests, ML keeps you playing to see how events unfold over time as you wrangle with dragons, witches, barbarians and trolls while constructing and expanding your kingdom and your royal family. The main downside is the amount of patience required for progress, as most quest lines now require time-consuming crafting projects, but its adorable characters, including cute pudgy fairies, teddy-bear-like peddlers, and lovely mermaids, as well as its attractive graphics are enough to make it worthwhile.
MAHJONGG DIMENSIONS BLAST
Mahjongg is one of the most classic time-wasters out there. This version changes up the traditional flat tiles, offering three-dimensional cubes floating midair that must be matched and cleared from gameplay. Given a one-minute time limit, your object is to clear as many puzzles as possible. The game recently underwent a major overhaul that introduced multiple backgrounds and an in-game currency used to complete collections of boosts, which yield a more powerful VIP boost that can then be purchased, even in the case of limited-edition collections, in perpetuity. Easy, loads of fun, and mind-numbingly addictive, this is another largely untrumpeted game that deserves more love from the Facebook gaming community, and will keep you from your real-life chores for hours on end as you attempt to best your high score and leave your friends (in my case, only the Fluffy hubby out of all my many Facebook compadres) in the dust.
This is just the old game show Name That Tune repackaged for the Facebook generation. The player is presented with a snippet of a song which must be correctly guessed before your opponent can name it. It’s quite popular, since everyone on the planet considers themselves an expert on at least a couple of musical eras or genres, and can be a fun way to interact with your friends. The downside is, as to be expected, the genres with which you are not familiar– in Fluffy’s case, anything relating to country– which your friends will totally take advantage of, and also that playing the game in a manner which is in any way competitive requires you to have a Facebook friend, online, playing at the same time, which can be difficult if you’re a night owl like myself. But, as I said, it is very popular, and if you’ve never played it you probably have a queue of requests sitting in your inbox already. It’s too quick to play, and it can feel like an eternity before someone answers your challenge, but if you’re chatting up a friend anyway and have time to kill, it’s a blast.
Anyway, those are just a sampling of the Facebook games that are out there– these are just a few that I’ve tried out. If you have some other favorite you’d like to see me take on, let me know and I’ll gladly give it a whirl and a spot in a future review roundup. Try out my suggestions yourself, feel free to chime in, and happy gaming!