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18

Free Loaders: Packing Heat In Latin America

I really am in Costa Rica. I am not just doing one of my 'jokes'.

Hola, amigos. This week’s edition is coming to you from San josé, Costa Rica. As some of you may know, my fearless and tenacious reporting of the Ludum Dare collective and other seditious elements of the free games community has forced me into hiding in Central America. But I will not falter. I will continue to report on these dastardly events, these subversive groups of juegistas, and these craven games, which cost exactly zero dollars. Long live the free press!

Fitz Packerton by Teddy Dief, Brendon Chung, Ryan Cousins, Sarah Elmaleh

In Costa Rica, none of the streets had names or numbers until 2012, so everybody is terrible at directions. They direct you entirely by landmarks, some of which no longer exist.

The less I say about this one, the better. “A theatrical game about a man and the things he carries,” says one of the creators. Obviously, there is more to it than packing bags. The style of Blendo Games’ capers can be felt in this freebie (we see you hiding in there, Brendon Chung) but it is different enough in tone to merit its own appreciative applause. The way the scenes of this story unfurl and the consistency of your own role makes it a quick but cutting tale. Get it played.

Jaguarine – El Mar Valiente by Galamot Shaku

There is a whole area of central San Jose called 'Coca-cola'. There used to be a factory there.

Downright stunning horse ride through static canyons and blazing rivers. Mostly a music video you get to gaze at from different angles, but it is just too gorgeous not to recommend. The opening line of Neuromancer talks about the sky being tuned to the dead channel of a television set. If I ever read that book again the sky in this thing is what I will imagine. It waves through the spectrum as your horse takes you for an on-rails trot through an other-worldly landscape, full of skeletons, lava, starbursts and spirographic patterns exploding in the sky, which my other half informs me are an ancient and recurrent geometric artform called the “flower of life” but which wikipedia redirects to “overlapping circle grids” because, as we all know, Jimmy Wales hates it when things have beautiful names. The ride lasts about 5 minutes. No excuses.

Shrub Bubs by carpetbones

In Costa Rica, the people are mostly very laid back. Except when they get into cars. Then they turn into raging lunatics, speed freaks, mavericks with nothing to lose. The slang term for a speed bump in Costa Rica translates to 'the dead people'.

Monochromatic motel full of depressive shrubs. Become a personal assistant and therapist to a variety of cacti, lillies, and ferns. The bonsai tree in room 4 is upset because the room is untidy. The houseplant in room 1 does nothing but sit around and watch television all day. Whip these worrisome pieces of vegetation into shape and cheer them up with literally DOZENS of point and click actions. Arrange the bonsai’s room according to feng shui. Smash the television of the houseplant and get him to call his brother. Complete the mushroom’s video game and get him to, jeez, go outside for once. You’ll be glad you helped these little ones out. Who knows, maybe some of them will even find love. Which brings us to…

A Gentlebird’s Guide to Dating and Mating by Andrew Wang & friends

Costa Rica has two, or possibly three seasons, depending on who you ask. The dry season, the rainy season and the 'shoulder', which is either side of the wet times. It is currently the dry season.

Super short trip to the bird bar from the man who brought you Infinite Monkey Autocorrect and a posse of compadres too long to list (sorry). Pick your feather colours, style your do, and put yourself out there. Make your way around the birdy bouncers and into Da Club. Dance your little talons off to the music – a DDR style courtship ritual that makes birds-of-paradise look like schmucks – and flap your way into the heart of another good bird. The Global Game Jam went off last week and this is just one of the 6000+ projects. There’s not much past the bird customisation and the dance-off but just look at these guys. They look like a Gang Beast sobered up and evolved into a chicken.

The Everything Building by Various Peeps

When I look up at the stars (las estrellas) I can see Orion, lying on his side, as if wounded. The stars move parallel to the equator, so they rise on one side and set on the other, like the sun.

Fast-paced elevator ridealong with weird, nitpicky passengers. Six floors of the Everything Building are generated at the beginning of the game and you have to transport the citizens of each floor to their desired destination. Clowns, horses, soldiers, musicians, the undead – they all have places to be. But the life of an elevator is a demanding one. Horses take up extra room, undead spirits scare off other passengers and brides and grooms will not leave without their wedding matches. There are scientists whose magnets reverse your controls and suicidal businessmen who will charge into the elevator shaft without even waiting for you to collect them, shaving points off your score in the process. Keep everything going smoothly and don’t let any of the floors become overcrowded. Ding!

Bathtime Exorcist by Lewis! Oscar! Ben! Kennedy!

In Costa Rica, almost all the toilets have been built with small pipes. You cannot flush toilet paper here. It has to go in a bin.

Jed is possessed again. Luckily he is also tied up in your bathtub. Use a book full of exorcism techniques to try and diagnose and treat Jed’s inner demon. Is he exuding a dark aura? You’ll need the golden fleece for that, mate. Throw it into the bathtub along with the other potion ingredients and everything will be OK. Of course, ‘Phoenix Down’ may be hard to find in a modern household, so you might have to improvise by throwing in your pillow. Need a unicorn horn? Well, I guess this carrot will do. It’s exorcism if exorcism was a service provided by Easyjet. No frills, no money back, and no guarantee you won’t throw your cat into the tub and murder your closest pal.

DB Racer by nom

In Costa Rica, it is fucking HOT.

Ultra Korean rocket-man-flys-straight-into-walls-unless-you-steer-him-the-right-way time trial. Smash into the wall at high speeds and your suited little man will howl out in pain and spatter blood everywhere. Oh dear. You may have to muddle through the menu screens, unless you speak Korean, but once you are flying it is a simple matter of going left or right in the hope that you survive long enough to beat your old record. There’s a leaderboard but I wouldn’t get your hopes up. I tried to find out more about this game using Google Translate but all I got was the sentence: “joypad or a stick and he is also a car.” So, there you go.

Got a free game for Brendan? Write the URL on a postcard and address it to ‘The One Irish Man in San Jose, Costa Rica’. Or tweet him @Brendy_C. Need more free games? Check our list of 50 best free games on PC.

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Who am I?

Brendan Caldwell

Staff Writer

Brendan likes all types of games. To him there is wisdom in Crusader Kings 2, valour in Dark Souls, and tragicomedy in Nidhogg.

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