03 January 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Website Spotlight: Kongregate

written by David Steffen

I came across a very fun website recently, on the recommendation of Nathaniel Lee (of Mirrorshards fame). The site is called Kongregate and it’s an ever-growing collection of online mini-games. I’m not sure how I haven’t heard of it–it’s been around for a few years. Kongregate is more than just your run-of-the-mill game site. Not only are the games clever and fun,the site has an overarching Achievements system to make everything all the more fun. Most or all of the games are made by indie developers, and I love that this site provides a showcase for their abilities.

When you view a game you can view a list of achievements you can reach by playing this game. They may be things that you would normally do while playing the game anyway like “pass levels 1-5” or they could be something extra that you wouldn’t have thought of if not for the Achievement list. Each achievement is worth a certain amount of points, and higher points upgrade the level of your account. To take full advantage of this, you just have to register for the site which is free and you don’t have to give away any important information to sign up.

According to their “About Us” page, indie developers can upload their games quickly and easily, and the most popular games end up on the home page. The developers retain full rights to their creations (which is great) and also get a share of the advertising and donation revenues. The site provides a lot of extras for them too, such as keeping a persistent list of high scores and player achievements. It sounds like a really great place for indie developers to get their games out to the world.

A Few of the Games

And, here are a few of the games on there that I found the most fun. There is a wide variety of games there, so if these don’t suit your fancy, odds are that something else will.

Amorphous+

My favorite that I’ve found. In this one you’re a blob hunter trying to clear out “gloople” hives. Your weapon: a person-sized meat cleaver. The controls are very simple, the characters walks towards the mouse, and swings his blade wide on a left-click. The first enemies you come against are harmless, little green blobs that will knock you off balance if they bump into you. There are more than a dozen different kinds of blobs, each requiring a different strategy, from the Melties that splash acid everywhere when you splat them, or the Biters that pounce straight at you with teeth flashing. This is a great game, fun and very challenging. One important tip: Use a real mouse. Playing this game with a laptop touchpad really kills the wrist.

Continuity

This is a very close 2nd that I’ve found so far, a very clever little game, a side-scroller puzzle solver with a structure based on those sliding puzzle games that I so rarely solve. You know the type I’m talking about–you have a rectangular grid of rectangles, each with an image, and one of the smaller rectangles is missing so that you can slide the tiles around until you form a larger image out of the tiles. This game isn’t exactly like that because the goal is not to make a big picture. You control a stick figure that exists within this grid of squares and your objective is to collect a key and bring it to the exit door to pass the level. You can rearrange the squares to rearrange the level, but you can only pass from one square to another if the walls along their common edge match up with each other. You pass through each level by alternately controlling the figure and rearranging the level (during which time the figure is frozen in place). The first levels make a good tutorial and seem almost too easy, but the difficulty quickly picks up and things get much more interesting.

The Company of Myself

Another fun side-scroller puzzle solver. In this case you control a self-professed hermit who must find a way to reach the exit door in each level. Okay, so that’s pretty straightforward, but what makes it interesting is his ability to create shadow selves–if you walk around the level, do any action, then press spacebar, then you’ll be brought back to the beginning and a shadow of you will replay your previous actions, requiring you to figure out how to work with your self phased across time to solve the puzzles. There’s a storyline attached to this one, but I thought it was pretty corny.

Gamma Bros.

A neo-retro space shooter game. You can move freely around the screen and fire in the four cardinal directions. A multitude of alien spaceships attack from every direction. This is old-school game challenging, no holds barred. I have not beat this game, but I’ve had a lot of fun losing.

Robot Wants Ice Cream

A side-scroller action game. You controller a little robot up against an army of attacking robots in your quest to find ice cream. The fun of this game comes from seeking out all the upgrades, allowing you to jump higher, upgrade weaponry, and even to fly. Just challenging enough to be fun.

Leave a Reply