It’s time to interrupt your regular CPCG programming with some shorter, simpler distractions once again. Last time I introduced you to three games: Desktop Tower Defense, Teenage Mutant Ninja Puppets;, and GunBlood to distract you from work and occupy your lunch hours. This time I’ll be doing the same thing again, but with different games – although you’d probably guessed that.
First up, Pandemic 2. Pandemic is a game in which you attempt to kill every single person on Earth by way of designing a disease. No really, that is the aim of the game; to topple the Earth. As strange as the concept may seem, it’s actually a very deep strategy game that has plagued (ha!) my free time every time I’ve remembered that it exists. You start by choosing one of two difficulties, the shorter, more casual ‘relaxed’ mode, or the more in depth and time consuming ‘realistic’ mode. You then choose one of three types of disease (virus, bacteria or parasite) based on pros and cons (a virus, for example, evolves quickly but is affected by the environment the most), choose a name for your human-conquering illness and the game starts.[drop]Your disease will appear suddenly on a continent and it’ll be your job to evolve it in such a way to maximise its killing power. You use evolution points to unlock symptoms, resistances and methods of transmission. Symptoms range from coughing to Encephalitis, you can develop resistances to cold, heat, moisture and drugs, and the transmission methods on offer are rodents, insects, waterborne and airborne. As your disease infects and kills more people you earn more evolution points to improve your disease.
There are a few lines you need to skirt to achieve the depopulation of Earth, such as the need to spread the plague you have unleashed whilst also trying to keep it from being too noticeable, otherwise countries will close airports, harbours and their borders [Madagascar does this at the drop of a hat – Ed], and the filthy humans will start working on a vaccine for the disease that will eventually stop you from infecting more people if you’re unlucky.
Pandemic is a unique game, pretty much sitting alone in its genre (that genre being humanity-destroying disease creator). The game is so deep it’s really quite deceptive as it’s displayed to you through a simplistic map of the world that you click buttons on. It’s definitely worth your time, although be warned that it may well use up rather a lot of it.
The next game, and probably the strangest on the list, is Happy Wheels. In HW, you control one of eight odd characters (one is called ‘segway guy’) and must make your way through a level on that characters’ vehicle. The game is a side-scrolling 2D time trial game in which you have to get from one end of a level to the other. The level? It could be anything – they’re user generated. They usually entail avoiding obstacles to get to a finish line, but what those obstacles are is limited only by the creator’s mind and the tools given to them.
What it more than likely will involve, however, is the utter decimation of your character. Your character is going to be torn apart and his head ripped off, either completely or still attached to his spine. He’ll be exploded, imploded, decapitated, shot, crushed, stabbed and shanked. His obstacles will be spinners, jumpers, bouncers and hangers, consisting of blades, saws spikes and whigwhangers. In the end though, amidst all this lethal weaponry and chaotic traps, you’ll probably catch his head on a ledge when you mis-time a jump just as often as anything else.
It’s not possible to avoid these deaths and it is, most definitely part of the fun. In fact, it’s hilarious. It is genuinely difficult to play Happy Wheels and not just laugh and laugh at the ridiculous ways in which your character can be torn into pieces.
HW is a game that will not cease to be entertaining, you’ll be able to return to it and just choose a level at random, and you’ll enjoy it because you will fail in the most spectacular ways and your characters will die the most gruesome yet noble deaths. Noble because they are sacrificing themselves for your amusement over and over. It’s difficult to explain the chaotic whirlwind of entertainment that Happy Wheels is, so you’d better just go and play it. Go on, we’ll wait.[drop2]Last but certainly not least on our list of distractions is the often mind-bending puzzler, Fantastic Contraption. You have an object and you have to get it into the target zone. To do this you must build some kind of ingenious invention, a magnificent machine if you will, to get it there. It’s similar to Armadillo Run, except remove the armadillo and add some wheels.
So you build things to move something into an area, what you build is completely up to you. Trebuchet? Sure. Tiny car? Okay. How about a tank? It does sound simple but the puzzles quickly escalate from the very straight forward opening that eases you in/lulls you into a false sense of security. It’ll take some serious thought to puzzle your way through Fantastic Contraption. Which does, thankfully mean it will last longer before you have to pay.
This is the only distraction that costs actual money for a full version, the trial linked here containing only 21 levels. $10 will unlock the full game, which includes the ability to play both user-generated content and make you own, but instead you might want to go play the trial levels then move onto the trial levels of Fantastic Contraption 2, the sequel, which adds chains and magnets into the mix. FC2 is $15 to unlock.
So there you have it, 3 games, one for killing the entire population of Earth, one for killing a character over and over again and one for moving an object with engineering wizardry. One of these is not like the others.