Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get TreeTD With Some Fun Defense Gaming

The defense genre of gaming is one I thought would be hashed and rehashed by now. Originally limited to games where you defended a castle, there have been variations that have you defending gardens, redneck retreats, temples, cities, bowling alleys... and now, trees. Yes, trees.

This time, in TreeTD: Tower Defense, you set up your towers on, of all things, some branches. They sure seem pretty sturdy for the amount of firepower you can call up. The goal here is to take potshots at marble-like baddies as they roll down the limbs of the tree toward the roots. Lose enough lives and the game ends.

There's enough difference in your towers to make the gameplay interesting: there are Pebble Towers (stinky), Water, Lightning, Rock, Metal, Earth, and Fire. The elemental towers (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), like in the science they taught me in first grade, are each superior over one elemental form of bad guy. Earth beats Water enemies handily, Water beats Electric enemies, and so on. Metal and Rock? They beat everything, man. Metal fires really slowly and isn't that accurate, but it does monster damage when it hits something. One of the cool mechanics of this game is how some bullets roll along the tree limbs, and often hit something.

The playing area is huge, several screens high. There's a click-and-drag bar on the left you can use to jump down, but my 2006 computer gets all choppy trying to handle it.

I just tried it out on Medium, and was able to pepper everything with a mix of elemental, Rock and Metal towers. I didn't bother with the Pebble towers... even the programmers admitted they were lousy once you upgraded them. I guess if you do some of the harder challenges, there will be a need for them.

Not only do you have a choice of straightforward difficulty levels, you can also choose different challenges like Funnel Tree ("the hardest tree to defend on the planet"), One Life (let one creep slip to the roots and it's over), 20K (build your defenses fast -- advanced waves come every 10 seconds), Quick Release (one monster a second for 300 seconds), and Marathon (100 waves, 20 lives).

I wasn't able to really hear the sound effects over the brassy music, but they're there if you turn the music off. I'd keep the music on though, it's silly and fun in a wacky old-timey way, and there are several tracks.

This was a very enjoyable game to play, with a lot of effort put into it. Though the enemies were just a bunch of brightly colored goofballs with nothing to make them stand out much on Medium, I'm going back for another round or two of challenges tomorrow and seeing what sort of trouble I can get into.

Well done!

B+. Some of the challenge modes are downright wack.

Originality: A. A great variation on the defense game, with great creativity on the chaotic rolldowns and multi-screen gameplay. Hectic challenges too!

Graphics: B+. Crisp and clean. Some mutant monsters of different sizes and shapes would have upped the score.

Controls: A-. Very intuitive, though some better boundaries and labeling would have made finding the upgrade button a little easier.

Sound: A. You will never hear the kind of music this game offers in another defense game ever. It is music I think John McCain would love and should have used for his campaign.

Replay value: B. Worth a try tomorrow but I don't think I'll play it after that.

Overall value: A-. A few tune-ups and extra variations here and there, and this would be an A game.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Stee-rike! Zombie Baseball

I like the occasional rough-around-the-edges flash game. Where there isn't finesse, there's originality.

Zombie Baseball is a mildly gory game with a zany premise: Rapunzel-style, some hot girl is letting... baseballs?!? down to you. And, with your choice of two bats at a time, you're using these baseballs to hit zombies away.

Things start out slow and clumsy on all sides, but with some practice you can start knocking heads off the zombies with line drives. As you progress you can pick up a second bat with special powers and also upgrade Rapunzel and your own stats (strength and swing recovery).

My only beefs with the game are that there are no continues, and that the hitting strength curve is too high when you max out. At the end of the curve, you're hitting homers with every swing, when all you're trying to do is hit the zombies coming for you. Still, if you keep your batting strength (which, strangely, doesn't seem to do extra damage) at around four bars, you'll do fine.

Excitement: B.
Things get hairy if a lot of zombies get close. Fortunately a few of the special bats help by drilling through zombies, igniting them, and eventually setting off nukes.

Originality: A Zombies and baseball have never crossed my mind.

Graphics: B Some of the later zombies are downright freakish. Points off for taking a lot of graphic detail off what's usually beyond the edge of the screen.

Controls: A- Solidly responsive. But if zombies get too close and you're recovering from a powered up swing, you're pooched. You'd think you could hit them away with the bat... :D

Sound: C Good zombie effects, but please stop making those annoying "Maximum ATTACK" and "Come on, come on!" phrases repeat so much. Great nuke effect.

Replay value: B+ It's easy to play through 20 rounds without losing the rest of your day.

Overall value: A-

Play Zombie Baseball at http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/466365.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Don't Be A Quitter -- Keep Playing Splitter!

When a game comes up with a vibrant new take on tried and true rules and challenges, my ears pick up and the game makes its way to Lost Productivity.

Splitter is a 25-level mini-masterpiece. Instead of pushing, pulling, throwing or shooting things in your average physics game, all you do is cut them. And you can only cut wood and joints (they look a lot like yellow strings to me).

You control a total slacker of a smiley face who's subject to the laws of physics. That's right, your mug just sits there and does nothing. Kind of like me. However, you have a very sharp knife. A knife so sharp, it can slice through wood or strings in a single cut.

The law of gravity is in effect in this game, so when you cut things in strategic places, things begin to happen. Supports fall, attached spheres roll free and bonk you on the head, ramps form, and so on. You have a certain number of cuts you can make each level. The difficulty starts out just right and slowly gets fiendish from there. There are bonus stars you can collect, but the instructions don't say what you get if you collect all of them (a Herculean task requiring solid reflexes and a physics degree).

Two innovations include being able to record your best solves for people to watch online, and a limited jump-ahead feature if you really get stuck on one level. A very fun game and the music, while repetitive, doesn't grind on your like "Maximum Attack" in Zombie Baseball, a game I'll be reviewing soon!

Play Splitter at http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/467404.

B. You cut wood and strings. It does have its moments when you carve up a particularly ornery level.

Originality: A-. It's a physics game, but some of the puzzles are elegant and downright fun.

Graphics: A. Functional and smooth.

Controls: A-. Though you can make cuts any way you want, you're going to have to deal with a lot of trial and error unless your sweater says "MIT".

Sound: B+. Complex music, with minimal sound effects for gameplay.

Replay value: C. After a day bordering on carpal tunnel, some of the crazy cuts I had to make will be left for other people to watch on the tutorial. Maybe someday before I die I'll make a resolution to solve levels 19 and up, and get all the stars, but it's not likely. :D

Overall rating: A-

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fiendishly Easy... Looking! Amorphous+

This game has already chewed up 40 minutes of my time! I'm heading over to LP so I can blog it and get back to work. You may wind up cursing me later, so if you're a really addictive gameplayer, do NOT click this link: http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/450670

Aren't you glad you didn't click http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/450670? I'd be. You know, I think clicking http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/450670 would have been the worst mistake you could have made all day if you were looking to have a productive day. So glad you didn't... or have you yet? :D

Well, if you did click http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/450670, you might want to give the game a chance. When you start out, all you get is awesome music and some primitive, though insidiously accelerating gameplay. Once you unlock an award, though, you get a key which unlocks your choice of goodie! I'm looking forward to unlocking the super-locked power-up at the end of the row...

Excitement: 4 stars Starts out low, then it's "Oh, no!"

Originality: 5 stars Very fun and each member of the nest you have to wipe out has its own bio. The power-ups look promising too!

Graphics: 3 stars Minimal, though smoothly animated.

Controls: 4 stars Pretty responsive, though the one-hit, one-kill nature of the game -- most enemies don't directly kill you, but they sure help -- will be ensuring you'll be restarting a few times before you get the hang of it.

Sound: 5 stars. I'd buy the album! Combat sound effects are satisfactory, and the sound of the acid burning reminds me of time spent with my dad as a kid in his sheet metal shop. It's that realistic.

Replay value: 5 stars. I hate to tell you, I'm likely going to be burning some productivity on this one!

Overall value: 5 stars. A good tension reliever and loads of rewards to unlock, all set to some amazing music. Try it now if you haven't... you can see the links up there!

At Work? Don't Slave Away -- Light The Way!

Every so often a game comes along and drags you into its own little world for a few minutes at a time. Prism - Light the Way is one such game. With original music, a fun graphic layout and increasingly tricky puzzles, this is a great waste of time!

Excitement: 3 stars. A mentally engaging game where you don't really need excitement. Some of the early levels are painfully easy but good for people who put one toe in the water at a time.

Originality: 5 stars. A great spacey look and feel to it.

Graphics: 4 stars. Simple but effective. Could do without the simple patch of gauzy light at the end of each puzzle but it's still a nice touch.

Controls: 5 stars. Simplicity itself.

Sound: 5 stars. Perfect music for goofing off when you're at the puzzle selection screen. Makes you not want to work on the puzzles. :D Puzzle music takes a little time to get used to but it's original.

Replay value: 4 stars. Puzzle mode is great, but I don't like the idea of timer mode putting you back at the very beginning every time you space out, especially when I haven't had my coffee and can't even put two sentences of a blog entry together, let alone a light filter and a Bulboid.

Overall value: 5 stars. What wasting time is all about. I just like leaving the music on in the background!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Smashin' Up The Stars With StarBaron - Skirmish

What would you get if you took every pointy little ship from Asteroids, dropped them in a series of Petri dishes and let them have at it? StarBaron - Skirmish is a fun little space war that just might answer that question. Balance your stars to focus on economy, ships, defense, minefields, or just crank out average stars and take over the universe with mediocrity. Hey, it worked for Star Wars. http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/449961

Excitement: 4 stars. Don't take any position you have for granted.

Originality: 4 stars. Space wars are tried and true, but this one manages to pull off an adjustable set of skirmishes with all hell breaking loose.

Graphics: 4 stars. Kind of a nice pseudo-retro look to them and things run fairly smoothly

Controls: 4 1/2 stars. Things bog down just barely on my computer when a lot of ships go flying but it's nothing too bad. I should get used to the hotkey option to select star groups too.

Sound: N/A. I don't think there was any.

Replay value: 4 stars. I don't think I'll have time to play all the different options, like single or multiple opponents, but this might be a great stress reliever someday.

Overall value: 4 1/2 stars. This is an arbitrary rating, but the game shows a lot of work went into it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

World`s Hardest Game Part 2

Hi all! My thanks to Lionel for introducing me to his team of bloggers where I can show you some of the funniest games that can be seen on the web today :) So let's get started!

The World's Hardest Game does what it says on the tin. It is HARD! A lot more brain power is needed to get started off this game!

Excitement: 3Well you start off easily with a few easy puzzles to get you off the mark but as the levels progress, they do and will become harder and harder until your brain will just shut down and refuse to carry on.

Originality: 4 It is definately one of the most original games with lots of puzzles for you to enjoy during your coffee breaks :P

Graphics: 2 Not 3D but is alright. More colours would be nice though.

Controls: 4 Absolutely easy to master the controls, just use the arrow keys! :D

Sound: 2 The sound for me was very irritating but needs to be more softer and smoother.

Replay value: 3 I would definately play this again, to get my accomplishment in completing the most hardest game ever!

Overall value: 3

Now do excuse me while I go off and tackle this game with a vengrance! :D

Friday, July 4, 2008

Sumo Meets Pong: Zwingo by Kabomb Games

I admit, I've corrupted my boss's husband. What used to be a hard-working, computer-illiterate man in his sixties has been replaced with a flash game-lovin', customer-ignorin' mild-mannered gaming madman.

And now it's getting worse. He starts recommending games to me now. :D

The first one he's recommended, Zwingo, is a neat take on defense games, ball physics games, and of all things sumo! It's a bit old, but the music is fresh and definitely unlike the water torture of games with short soundtracks like Starshine.

Here's how it works: you have a ball attached to a smaller ball. You control the smaller ball with the mouse and drag the larger ball around like a lovesick puppy. You have a central ball that you will pass through if you bump into it. Black balls come from the edges of the screen trying to knock this central ball out of its boundary circle. Your job is to hit the black balls and knock them out of the screen. The faster you smack them back, the more experience points you get for upgrades between rounds.

Excitement: 4. Things get a little crazy on later levels trying to use circular motion to swat straight-incoming spheres while your target ball is teetering on the edge of the boundary (Thanks to the designers for not making the round end when it's simply touching the boundary!)

Originality: 4. A very nice combination of tried-and-true defense, ball games, and sumo. What's up with the same boss on level 20 as on level 10 though?

Graphics: 3. Functional but smooth.

Controls: 4. Very responsive especially once you upgrade but it takes a little getting used to and it makes me feel a little claustrophobic; move your mouse off the screen and you've got to click on the central screen again.

Sound: 5. A great soundtrack that won't stale out on you and the minimal bump sound effects don't grate.

Replay value: 3. Simple gameplay and not much incentive to pick it up again and get to level 30. Still a fun diversion many people like my boss might like.

Overall value: 3.83 stars

Don't think so? Post your comments here!

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Because missed posts = you working: Gemcraft

Sorry this is a short one, but I hope you like Gemcraft. It's taking Armor Games' website by storm!


Excitement: 3 You need a speed-up option for it though.

Originality: 4 Balloon Wars meets defense.

Graphics: 5 Very ornate and well-rendered; shots don't just home in but linger like arcane energies.

Controls: 5 Just make sure your gems are mixed up before a wave hits.

Sound: 3 Minimal but not annoying.

Replay value: 5 has a "me play you long time" framework to it.

Overall value: 4.25

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Band of the Week: Hedgehog Launch Game Rubber Band

If life has you frazzled today, and you need a more uplifting experience than blasting everything in front of you into wailing shreds of prime rib, this is the game for you:

I thought Hedgehog Launch would be a sadder little knockoff of the cringe-inducing Kitten Cannon. However, it's a vibrant, fun experience where you'll eventually win. Yeah, no end bosses, no horrendous resource denial curve, no running out of bounces, no cheesy traps. It's such a friendly game a two-year-old could probably play it and get something out of it.

As you start out your space program for the underdeveloped Minovia Cay, you try to turn $50.00 into big moola by launching a Minovian hedgehog with a weak rubber band, weak launcher, no radar, no emergency rocket, no parachute -- heck, not even any goggles! The interface is shown as some legacy monochrome screen from the technological graveyard of the 1970s or 80s. From this upgrade menu, you can jump right into the action.

All you do is pull back the rubber band launcher you have, and try to keep your hedgehog in the air using the left and right arrow keys at first. Once you're out of fuel, the day ends and you get paid (wish it worked that way for me). If you've saved up some money for upgrades, eventually you can use the up and down keys for an emergency rocket (very handy when you're dragging on the ground) or a parachute (when you've shot way up and want to hover around for another platform that will take you even higher).

Excitement: 4 stars. A fun, engaging game that's more about the ride than getting there.

Originality: 4 stars. Takes the mechanics of Kitten Cannon and puts a fun upgrade system in with original power-ups. Shows you don't have to re-invent the wheel.

Graphics: 4 stars. Kind of minimalist, but the backgrounds and the upgrade interface are choice, and the ending could have been lame.

Controls: 5 stars. You start out weak purposely, but once you upgrade you're fine.

Sound: 5 stars. Great soundtrack once you launch in the sky and it's all you need besides some minimal sound effects. Smarmily nice end-of-round music and tally sounds too.

Replay value: 1 star. I put a hedgehog in space; I'm done. 3 stars for the more forgetful and easily amused.

Overall ranking: 3.83 stars

My rating: 5 stars This was a short, fun, intense game with nothing bad about it.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Game With "Guts": Bounty Killers

When I started out as a Newgrounds user, I got bored with all the simple games fast. Back then, most of the games were based on the same model where you shot at things with a peashooter-type weapon and the enemies would disappear bad sci-fi movie-style.

Bounty Killers is a fun, chaotic and bloody free-for-all. Choose one of three characters and go to town, literally. It's you against waves of dozens of dozens of wee people each no bigger than a dime (maybe a quarter or tea saucer if you're rich). But in numbers they're enough to give your character a run for the money and you'll get enough power-ups eventually to have a real blast, with weapons from pistols to Molotov cocktails, dynamite and gunpowder barrels. Don't expect too much variation in weapon strategies, but do check it out. A single explosion leaves a stress-busting gory mess of screaming vigilantes on-screen. And don't forget to grab their ammo too. :D


Excitement: 4 stars. Hectic fun though once I got all the weapons it was really enough.

Originality: 4 stars. Reminds me a little bit of Boxhead.

Graphics: 5 stars. Super-detailed 2-D characters, good movement handling. Bullets look a little 1980 Contra-style and the explosions are a little like scorching hot cotton candy but it all ties well into a common theme.

Controls: 5 stars. Flexible, mouse or keyboard. The weapon scrolling with the mouse wheel works great if you absolutely have to answer that phone and keep firing.

Sound: 4 stars. I've been kind of spoiled by Manhunt 2's bad@ss weapon reloading and firing, but this game holds its own.

Replay value: 2 stars. Maybe I'll come back when I'm in a frustrated enough mood to blow something up.

Overall rating:
4 stars

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Defense Game Deluxe: Besieged on Newgrounds

If you think you've tapped out the supply of defense games, guess again. Newgrounds keeps showcasing the best out there and Besieged is one of the recent smash hits!

Besieged has a lot in common with almost every defense game you've ever played. However, it has some features that make it stand out from the crowd. While your units level up like most others do these days, you also have a money-producing castle. Keep it in good shape, because if it gets dinged you make less money, sometimes a lot less, which turns into a vicious circle when you need money to defend it. Also, your support structures are purchased with a second currency, labeled with a green hammer.

There are some unit types I like too. The training camp unit dishes out experience to every other unit out there. Mines generate money (AU) every few seconds, and farms repair your castle and level it up.

Last of all is a neat reward system. Meet 39 different criteria through the course of the game and you get rewards you can use in future levels. Beginning awards are pretty small in effect, but they add up (range, resources, starting AU and more) to make the game more winnable.

Besieged is a well thought-out game with smooth, easy-to-read graphics, good music, and bit of spice to the gameplay. If you like upgrading things ad nauseam, this game is for you.

Check out the game here. Feel free to respond with some of your winning strategies! :D

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

We stopped -- uh, STARTED goofing around!

Hey everyone,

It's been a long time since Lost Productivity has been updated. However once again I'll be your host in the world of wonking, the desmene of do-nothing, the sultanate of slack. Once again I'll be working hard (not really) to find you the best videos, games, and just plain strange diversions I've found on the Net.

One of the great things about doing this blog is that I've learned a lot from the folks at Problogger (bought their book actually) so I hope to put a much better blog in place.

Any requests or comments are welcome.

Now go get back to not work! ;D

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wild Times: Strategy Defense 3, Mumbles and Happy Tree Friends!

This is probably going to be one of the most bizarre matches: an awesome through-the-ages RTS game, a great defense game... and a guy who completely boofs several drives through some fast-food places. And for bonus material we have a Happy Tree Friends episode, "Ski Patrol".

Strategy Defense 3 is one of a new breed of real-time defense games where your units evolve every few seconds. This one's pretty innovative since you get a different special attack every minute or so.

Stormwinds is amazing too. This is actually an upgrade and there is a ton of flexibility. I passed on it the last time, but I am very seriously tempted to sign up for the extra content!

If you've ever worked as a drive-through person, Mumbles proves it: people do it on purpose.

And as for Happy Tree Friends... I love humor when it's presented in a corny PSA. That sweet blend of "I'm so righteous AND hygienic" narration and wanton gore just strikes a happy chord. :)


Humblubbuh chockie!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Setting People On Fire, And The World's Best Telemarketer

There are so many different sorts of people in the world. Black. White. Pink. Red. Yellow. Brown. Slightly green. Blue. Short. Tall. Male. Female. Young. Old.

And they must all be set on fire. After all, you are already! In this crazy race against the clock, you play the incredible Ablaze Man Who Can Yet Somehow Hide Himself As A Tree Without Smoking. It's not as dumb as it sounds, and it's a fun little breaktime diversion. Controls are simple. Left and right arrow keys move you back and forth. Ctrl hides you from the killjoy rainclouds, and the easily pawed space bar bursts you back on the scene to ignite your fellow human beings! The more you burn in a row, the higher ya sco'!

And, while largely unknown by name in the American Hemisphere, India's greatest modern hero has spoken to almost every American citizen, and he has become the subject of a documentary. The charismatic head of India's TeleCosmos, the mighty Manoj, is presented here for your audial enjoyment. Please have your credit card ready.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Back from a lost hour at the Coffee Shop Game!

I've been hesitant to return to Lost Productivity, dear readers, because this is not one of those fabled blogs where someone sits down every day for five minutes, blogs something shallow, stands up, and promptly proceeds to make $5,000 in banner ad revenue.


Yes, every short entry you see is the result of entire minutes of searching for good games and animations in the diversionosphere. And on top of that, there is the matter of testing these games and clips for you! Do I want you to waste time? Yes. Do I want you to waste your time unproductively? No. I would like everything you check out on Lost Productivity to ultimately be worth it. It may not help you write that report that is sitting there glaring at you from your desk, but if you've ever wanted to try a small business out, try out the Coffee Shop Game here from NewGrounds and Armor Games!

And if you're more of a video guy, here is a hilarious parody of avante-garde artistry. No feelings were hurt in the making of this movie.

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