Once upon a time, weird games were the sole preserve of the French. (Seriously. They put out a “future sports” game whose core concept was that occasionally the planet Saturn turned purple and attracted aliens to come along, race through asteroid belts and participate in competitive android-reprogramming challenges.) In recent years, however, improvements in Internet-related technology has meant that it’s now possible to get a daily dose of WTF without ever having to leave your Web browser of choice.
Here are three rather wonderful examples of the creativity and/or insanity on display from Web game developers.
You thought Hotline Miami was weird? You’ve seen nothing yet.
Frog Fractions starts off pretty simple. You’re a frog on a lily pad, and various hordes of bugs and flies are trying to steal your fruit. Using nothing but your sticky tongue, you have to fend them off. After you complete a wave, you get to “upgrade” your frog using any fruit and “zorkmids” you’ve collected.
That’s when things start to get really weird. Frog Fractions starts to raise far more questions than it answers. To say anything more about it would be to spoil a hilariously bizarre experience, but rest assured that it’s well worth sticking with, despite its initial appearance of being nothing more than a shitty Flash game. If it remains nothing more than a shitty Flash game (albeit one where your interface starts arguing with itself over the relative merits of various upgrades as well as whether or not its two personalities want to go to IHOP) then rest assured… yes, you are missing something. (Hint: if you can’t afford the fruit cost of something, there are a LOT of fruit hidden somewhere that might not be immediately apparent.)
Frog Fractions is… I don’t know what it is. But it’s sort of wonderful. And it’s the sort of experience you can only get from delving into the possibly-deranged mind of a Web game designer.
Play it here.
Text-Based Multiplayer Shooter
Enjoy the thrill of competitive deathmatch but find your keyboard-and-mouse skills aren’t up to much? Then you need to check out the imaginatively-named Text-Based Multiplayer Shooter, a title which simulates the thrill of a fast-paced deathmatch using nothing more than a virtual green-screen terminal and some text commands.
Yes, that’s right, this is a multiplayer shooter where you move around and shoot each other with adventure game-style commands like GO NORTH, TURN EAST and FIRE.
It’s surprisingly addictive, and a good test of your reflexes and typing skills. And there’s a surprisingly dedicated community of players who seem to be addicted to its peculiar charms. Why not join them?
Play it here.
The Majesty of Colors
This one’s been around a bit longer, but it’s no less worthy of your time and attention. A strange, pixelated “art game” in which you play a sea monster, this game is another one which is best not spoiled and experienced for yourself. There are five different endings to pursue in the game based on the actions you take, as the sea monster and… well, just try it for yourself and see. You’ll find that there’s a lot more to it than there initially appears, and it makes interesting use of player choice to impact the way its interactive story unfolds.
You can play The Majesty of Colors on Kongregate.
FreePlay is Games Are Evil’s weekly column about games that cost you nothing to download and get started with, hosted by GrE’s managing editor Pete Davison. Follow Pete on Twitter here.