Every few months I sit up with a start and think to myself, "I haven't checked Nekogames for ages!" The obscure Japanese site, in a muddle of Japanese and English, is most known for the splendid Cursor*10 - a puzzle game that has inspired many others since. Then there's my absolute favourites, the Hoshi Saga games asking you to hunt down a star in dozens of smart and entertaining levels. So what's been happening since the last time I had a look? Well, a much smarter site design and a couple of new games to check out.
I should say before I go on, it's always worth giving the Hoshi Saga games another go if you've played them before, as you're bound to have forgotten most of the solutions by now. And if you've not played them before, then please go an experience these magical ten second puzzles. 1, 2 and 3.
Also it's definitely worth pointing out a new Sugarcubes animation on the site. Yoshio Ishii's super-simplistic art style translates beautifully to these studies of movement, the original here, and the new collection of mini-ideas here.
In terms of games there was one I played back in the summer but appear to have completely failed to post here, because I'm a colossal idiot. It's called, brilliantly, CAT GETS 100 STARS, and is a one-level micro-platform game that will take you a surprising amount of time to finish. You play a cat, jumping around the blocks, collecting stars - shockingly enough. However, not only are most of the stars seemingly out of reach, but there aren't nearly 100 of them on screen. Which is the challenge. It's a really smart exercise in packing in many recognisable 2D platform tricks and hidden extras into a very confined space, and should drive you crazy as you attempt to find those final five.
More recent is Colour Or Shape, a massively deceptively simple looking puzzle game, in which you're asked to clear the screen by clicking on coloured shapes in sequence. You can either follow your previous selection with the same shape, or the same colour, but you can't pick the same colour three times in a row. It's peculiar how tricky this is - my brain, at least, became constantly confused, trapping myself in stupid corners.
Ishii has an incredible mind for wittling complex ideas down to their absolute rawest form. Underworld Trip was another great example of this, playing with the ideas of platforming that forces you to learn the route through failure, reducing the graphics down to the fewest pixels imaginable yet still creating evocative details and an entertaining challenge. As well as a plot that mystifies me, and an ending to match. I'm just hoping there's to be another Hoshi Saga chapter soon, as I feel compelled to collect more stars.