I was at the swimming pool this week and an old lady asked me what I did for a living. I told her I write about free videogames on the internet. “Oh,” she said, “Like SpillTender, Trills, Monster Streaking, Morse and Maddening Relapse 2?”
I stared at her.
“You know, you should write about Birdland too.”
“Shut up,” I said. “You’re fictional. This whole damn pool is fictional. Shut up. Just shut up.”
Then I swam away (front crawl).
SpillTender by Reptoid Games
Pint-launching bartender sim that has you sliding lager down the counter to waiting customers. The customers look like the dead-eyed offspring of Zippy and Morph. You’re up against a time limit here and will get tips for fast and accurate service but penalised for spilling or missing a customer’s order. This one definitely made me laugh most this week. The Zippymorphs will raise their hand when they want a drink. Occasionally this animation causes them to upturn a nearby dish of peanuts, as if they are FURIOUS, sending nuts cascading through the air.
Despite getting fired many many times, I achieved great satisfaction by firing pints down the wet bar indiscriminately, watching glasses smash to pieces, leaving dangerous shards of glass everywhere. Having worked in a nightclub, I can confirm this is all anyone behind the bar wants to do.
Trills by Crudepixel
Gorgeous birdy jousting game for two players. The black bird and the turquoise bird do not get along. Control either of these creatures in quiet, ambient arenas, where you must attack the other, wrestle for territory or score goals with a giant ball. The feel of these little guys in your hands is wonderful. The flying creatures control somewhere between a kite and a gannet. Flap your wings once for a quick whoosh forward and spin to figure out where next. The restraint on control leaves you and your opponent dashing around each other, trying to get the perfect angle, the perfect strike. A game that turns panicky sparrows into elegant samurai.
Monster Streaking by Beavl
Endless runner about gloriously nude monsters dashing through your neighbourhood. Hold down the mouse button to speed ahead, release to slow down. Avoid being tackled by indignant citizens but don’t forget to slow down for the paparazzi. Snap! What a scoop. This follows all the best rules of endless runners, and introduces a horrible kid on a bicycle who comes up behind you to make sure you aren’t hanging around at the bottom of the screen for too long. A subtle yet clever way to make the player use the whole length of road. The considerate dev has also made this free on smartphones which is excellent news, but only for people with thumbs.
Morse by AlexVsCoding
Tap-happy war game where you play the role of a Morse code operator. Wunderbar! You have to tap out the grid reference for your artillery then press the red button to bomb the life out of little enemies (sorry, enemies). Cycle through land, air and sea theatres constantly to make sure nobody is slipping through your lines. Get your men to the opposite trench to rack up points to win. There’s a cheat sheet to help you get started but you may also want to watch this Youtube video before heading in. Morse is pretty excellent, not only because it teaches you actual factual Morse code but also because the game’s creator made a custom controller that looks like something from Brazil. Braaaziiiiiiiiil!
Maddening Relapse 2 by NAL
Endless runner accompanied by unstoppable UNTZ. The circular track appears in front of you while the surfaces behind you are swallowed up. Highly recommend using a controller for this one. Jump and dash your way to hi-score infamy and live life close to the wall for a “second wind” which in this context is a speed boost rather than the upturn of someone on an all-night bender. One for the arcadey types. Yeah, you. You with the twitch.
Birdland by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
No wait, THIS ONE made me laugh most this week. The IF Competition 2015 is the gift that keeps on giving. Having been on a trawl through the entries for the last four or five weeks I am ashamed to have missed Birdland for so long. In this story, you are Bridget, a young girl at camp. You don’t really want to be here and every night you dream of being on a misadventure in a world inhabited by oddly verbose anthropomorphic birds. Sometimes they are cowboy birds, sometimes pirates, but your trusty eagle companion (above) is always by your side, being very calm, inquisitive and sensible. Eventually, the reasons for your dreams start to become clear.
How you handle each bird-centric dream sequence has an effect on your responses and actions available next day at camp. For instance, take a cattle rustler into custody with nothing but force of your words and the conversation options governed by GUILE and ALACRITY are available where others may not be. The camp itself is almost as absurd and hilarious as the dreams. Bridget herself is a teen with Michael Cera/Ellen Page levels of likability. A lot of it reminds me of the pared back, adult-esque dialogue between the teenagers in Youth in Revolt. A kind of unreal chatter I love to hear.