While scouring the 'net for all manner of free goodies for you to delight in, it's natural that some might be missed or fall through the cracks and be lost in the bowels of time. So here's a plea: if you see anything that you think might go well within this hallowed column, do please mention it in the comments or send me or the Dealspwn guys a little missive explaining why you want to see it here.
This week then we've got a quintet of oddities that range from historical scenario-based strategy to a shark biting planes to death. First up, the download page might have a spelling mistake in it, but Octodad gets around this initial bad first impression by being a game about an octopus who has humanist tendencies.
That doesn't mean he “espouses reason, ethics, and justice whilst specifically rejecting supernatural and religious dogmas as a basis of morality and decision-making.” It's just he wants to act like a human, while keeping his true identity from his human wife and children. His secret must be kept at all costs, so doing strange, non-human things will raise a suspicion bar and see the game over if it gets too high.
He loves his dim-witted wife and children, so he's making a lovely surprise for their anniversary. To do this, he needs to navigate the house with your help. There are two modes of play: feet and hands. The former allows you move, left clicking and holding to move the left tentacle, right clicking and holding for the other.
Hands mode is for picking up objects and interacting with things. It's just very, very fiddly and the rather excellent idea is let down somewhat by just overly fussy execution. It can be very frustrating when attempting to do something requiring small objects, for example, as the method of manoeuvring the arms is difficult to get to grips with at the best of times.
It doesn't help that the camera angles get in the way all the time, leading to this driving you crazy pretty quickly. It's a shame, because it's a really good idea and, with a little refinement, could be an indie classic. It's got a good sense of humour and an interesting, quirky concept. All it needs now is for the controls to not be such a pain in the squids.
Secondly, there's Chaos Invaders, a take on the classic Space Invaders formula, where you use your enemies as weapons.
You should know the basics by now: pixellated enemies slowly march down the screen and you have to use your pellet gun to kill them. This time, two hits brings the enemy down towards your weapon, where it becomes ensnared. You then click to fire the bastard back up towards his chums, attempting to push them back up out of the top of the level.
Sometimes your foes come streaming down quickly, making it a challenge to catch them all, while on other levels they are far more pedestrian. Then are the bosses, which you have to chip away at and use the falling debris to accelerate the process. It's classic fun, offering an interesting take on such tried-and-tested concepts. Well worth a dabble.
Next up is a game you can really take a “bite” out of, guffaw. It is indeed the sequel to the infamous Miami Shark, Sydney Shark. It's been out for a while and, indeed, I've known about it for a while, but a recent post over on sterling PC games site RPS reminded me of it, so what better time to make sure you guys all go over to Newgrounds to play it.
You play as a shark (obviously) attempting to destroy or kill as many things as it possibly can within the time limit provied. The amount of stuff on screen to chomp is mind-boggling and it's physically impossible to get everything, encouraging repeated replays to see if you can, say, bite all three horses' heads off in one jump.
Swoop underneath the waves to get momentum for a big jump into the air and you can either land on top of the numerous boats or ships on the surface or press A to sink your teeth into a flying object. Hammer the down arrow to drag it into the drink to get huge bonuses, as it also destroys any ships currently on-screen.
There's even a Chinese nuclear missile (oh, the satire!) to grab, which ends the game instantly should you grab it, getting you some big points at the same time. It's the same idea as Miami Shark, and therefore it has less impact, but it's still great, great fun. See if you can beat my score of 4180249.
Let's assume you own an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. You might be interested in a new title from EA called The Fancy Pants Adventures. It's coming in 2011 and will cost... wait, no, screw that. It's out on PC already and is free, free, free! OK, the console version will have “exclusive content” but the bulk of it is currently gratis on the previously beige box.
You pay as titular hero Fancy Pants, who's traditionalist mission is to rescue his sister Cutie Pants in a platform adventure. Each world is relatively open, offering the chance for exploration to inquisitive players, although you can just speed through it you want.
It's a little fiddly and the character moves a little too quickly for this writer's liking, but don't let that stop you enjoying it, as it's too good to miss. Especially if you don't want to shell out for the 2011 console version.
Finally, we have a mod for Civilization V which attempts to introduce the Hundred Years War to the game. Fought between England and France over a period that wasn't actually 100 years long, it's been selected as a backdrop for Civ because it's argued to bridge the historical gap between Medieval and Renaissance eras, especially when it came down to military tactics.
It's a little fiddly to install and get running, requiring a quick trip to the My Games folder and tick of the Enable box in the Browse Mods bit in-game, it works fine. You'll need to start one of the scenarios to make sure you'll be playing the mod too, of course.
There are six to choose from in this beta version of the mod, ranging from the English invasion of the French mainland in 1337 to Jean d'Arc getting her bowl cut burnt off in 1429, so there's plenty to get stuck into. Each scenario is listed as being Epic in terms of game pace, so expect hundreds upon hundreds of turns in each. Crikey.
It's primarily military in focus, which is now a good thing because Civ V's combat is actually fun to partake of every so often. Scenario maps are huge and you can see why Epic was chosen for pacing reasons. Starting with the first set-up, the English control the south west of France, including a town called Bergerac for you all you John Nettles fans out there.
The French have to prevent the English chipping away at their land and some truly titanic battles can occur. It's important not to stretch your forces too thinly for it'll take a while to build up an army under Epic time conditions, so if you leave yourself exposed, the enemy could take huge advantage.
It's a great little mod and makes one wonder about how great a World War 2 one will be. Modders, get on it.