Hello, fans, followers, and friends! There has been some talk lately in the news about the casual gaming industry. Whether it’s one announcement or another about new game streaming services coming out, rumors about the shutdown of other beloved flash gaming sites, or the inevitable fate of Flash finally being revealed. There is a lot of movement going on in the casual gaming world right now. So, you might as well add this announcement to the pile:
We are updating with all new games on Thursdays again.
No point in burying the lede, no reason to dress it up in corporate jargon or anything. As of May 24th, 2019 we have begun updating again, every Wednesday at midnight — or Thursdays for you pedants. Longtime fans may have noticed that our Facebook was being revved back up after years of dormancy, our Twitter is tweeting again, and that there are a slow trickle of new games being released at irregular intervals. We also moved into a pretty chic new office over in sunny Santa Monica. These are but the first steps on our new journey and there is a lot more to come!
You can now expect New Games every Thursday like in the good old days but unlike those games these won’t be made in Flash. Going forward our focus is going to be on delivering the same kinds of elegant but addictive puzzle and action games you remember us for but made with HTML5. This means that new games will be mobile ready and you can play them on our site from your phone! Seriously, go ahead and try some of the new games now. With a focus on fun, new HTML5 content we have been porting our most classic Flash games like The Impossible Quiz, Bubble Spinner, Kitten Cannon, and Age of War into HTML5 so you can play them on any device whenever you want. You can find these in our newly installed instant game section, check it out! Besides our new Puzzle Games, Action Games, and Instant Games section, we’ve also taken the world of iogames head on. We are publishing tons of new iogames all the time. If you don’t know what an iogame is, then check out our blog feature “What Are Iogames?” Much like our new HTML5 games, iogames aren’t dependent on Flash and you’ll be able to play them online against friends and strangers around the world long after Flash is but a distant treasured memory.
The truth is we’ve been really focused on iogames, everything from the classics like slither.io to our own games like tacticscore.io and Little Big Snake. Oh, and speaking of Little big Snake: You should go download it in the Apple ios and Google Play stores. That’s right. Download it. Little Big Snake is the first mobile game we’ve released and we think it's the best version of a slither style game available out there. Little Big Snake features different missions, upgrades, side quests, customization options and some of the best art you’ll see in any iogame. It’s something that we’re really proud of and are excited to show off because of all the hard work that has gone into it.
So, there it is: Addicting Games is publishing every Thursday again. We’ve got mobile-ready versions of old games we know you love, new HTML5 games you haven’t played yet, the best io games online and Little Big Snake is available in the app store! We’re also going to be using this blog section to drop the latest news on what we’re up to —and believe us it's big— interviews with game developers, tutorials, the occasional top ten list and fun articles about the history of Flash, different game mechanics, and other cool stuff.
If you liked what you’ve just read please share it with your friends, check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates. And, if you are a game developer we wanna hear from you!
What is an io game? What does io even stand for? Am I an io game? Are you an io game?
Look, definitions are tricky. Maybe it’s just me but I’m kind of an “I am not a number, don’t label me with your labels, man” kind of person. But, categories do serve a function and while they sometimes are too claustrophobic or too laissez-faire, it is safe to say that games in general and io games, in particular, can be neatly defined.
To avoid any confusion before we get started, we should be clear that an io game doesn’t need to have the .io domain at the end of its name. The .io domain is just the country code top-level domain for the British Indian Ocean. Much like how Canada uses .ca or India uses .in. The two first and biggest io games --Agar.io and Slither io-- both used .io as their domain of choice, so, it became the de facto standard for similar games and eventually morphed into the name of the genre.
No one knows for sure why io was chosen as the domain, but it’s probably because most .com domains like Agar or Cell have already been scooped up and io is also an abbreviation for a bunch of different tech terms like Input/Output, Information Operation, or Information Object. You know how much coders and nerds love their jargon. Face it, io just sounds cool. Remember, io games are a genre not a domain and we publish many games that don’t have the .io domain attached to their name.
So, we know where the name comes from and what io doesn’t mean, but, what defines an io game?
The most comprehensive definition of an io game we’ve come up with is that an io game is a free to play, browser-based, casual game which has a multiplayer component, very few mechanisms, and minimalist graphics. This definition may sound broad but if you use it as a checklist when evaluating a game, the truth becomes clear.
For example, there are a lot of multi-player games out there but they aren’t free. There are a lot of free games out there but they aren’t browser-based. There is a lot of browser-based games out there but they aren’t multiplayer. It isn’t the seven individual features I outlined earlier so much as those features in combination with each other.
The only one of these seven features which can maybe be stretched a bit is the part about graphics. While 2-D minimalist graphics were a hallmark of early io games, we’re seeing a lot of 3-D games showing up, especially those of the First Person Shooter persuasion. But to be fair, in a world where photorealistic console games are the standard, even the pixel bit animation of most io games would be considered minimalist. It’s all about perspective.
It’s also worth noting that io games are not the first big desktop gaming revolution. Let us not forget the glory days of Flash. But alas, Flash was a particular, proprietary program. One which had to be downloaded and installed. And by the end, Flash games had graphics that looked like cartoons, complex strategies and campaign modes which chewed up your memory and spat it out. io games are also not the first multiplayer games available online. Massive Multiplayer Online games had been a staple of the internet for years, tracing their roots to Ultima Online in the mid-90s.
Again, the real innovation with io games was that the games themselves wouldn’t require the user to download any proprietary software or programs, would be free to play, and something you could pick up without reading complicated rule sets. Ultimately the true hallmark of an io game is that they are all basically battle royales. It turns out once you have the ability to connect players from around the world into a single room, the first and only thing anyone wants to do is blow each other up.
We’ve been aggregating what we consider to be the best of the available io games out there and we’re sharing them with you in our new io games section. We hope you like them as much as we do and maybe you’re even inspired to make your own! Either way, keep playing and feel free to let us know how you feel about io games, addicting games and just gaming in general.
Flash Games still hold a special place in the hearts of many gamers who grew up or were online during the early to mid-2000s. Anybody into the casual gaming scene could tell you that you were spoiled for choice. There were hundreds of developers, dozens of publishers and a seemingly limitless supply of new games daily. Best of all, there were no micro-transactions, no pay walls, and no downloads. As long as you had flash —which was standard back in the day— you could scroll through and play for as long as you wanted.
In this wild west world of Flash Games, it took a lot to stand out and succeed. Sometimes you had to be original, or have a cool theme, great graphics, solid mechanics or a neat twist on an old genre favorite. You also had to hustle. With so many games, so many publishers and such a low barrier to entry for both players and developers it was easy for a new title to suffocate in the deluge of content. But there were standouts. There were top games which naturally rose through the ranks to become popular, beloved, and replayed ad infinitum.
And that is what we are here to celebrate today: The ten best flash games of all time.
But honestly, what would truly make someone an authority on the best Flash Games of all time? There are thousands of flash games that have been produced and are floating around amongst dozens of publishers on the internet. The sheer amount of available games is overwhelming. By what metric would a mere mortal even measure such a claim? Do you consider the number of plays? Is it the length of those plays? Should you aggregate all of their individual ratings from a series of sites and establish an average? That could maybe tell you what is popular but does that really make it the best?
So, let's get it out of the way right now: Our list is a mix of popular games, influential games, and games that still hold up to this day. Some of these games have been re-imagined for mobile, others were responsible for launching a thousand imitators and some —like Siftheads— are truly unique and have never been duplicated. So, without much more undue hyperbole, and in no particular order: let us countdown the ten best flash games of all time.
10. Age of War
Base and tower defense games were nothing new by the time the first Age of War rolled around. What seemed to lock users in was the way the game married the upgrade mechanic to the idea of cultural evolution. Now you didn’t just get bigger, faster guns: You went from caveman to the bronze age all the way up to Roman foot soldiers and eventually future bots. It was such a cool gimmick and the game engine itself so well executed that it would go on to influence countless other games but never really, truly be surpassed. You can still play this game today and it’s just as engaging as it was when it was first released.
9. This is the Only Level
Flash Games were weird. A big part of what disappeared in the jump from Flash games to mobile games was just the simple weird factor inherent in most of the games. To be clear: This is the Only Level was a weird game. It’s a good game, but, it’s a weird game. This is the Only Level is a platform based puzzle game where you play as an Elephant and just like the name says there is only one level. There are actually a series of increasingly difficult levels, but all of them take place on the same platform but require you to use completely different control schemes. It’s more fun than it sounds. This kind of minimalistic, absurd, and kind of metagame was a staple of flash games.
8. Siftheads (All of them)
Violent, cinematic, and with a story that continued through many sequels and spin-offs. The world of Siftheads is beyond ambitious. It is unprecedented. The Siftheads world pumped out so many quality games that I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving you an exact number without a lot more research. The Sifthead games defied genre. Some were sniper games, somewhere on the rails shooters, there was even a fighting game at one point. All in all, it was a pretty maximalist approach to Flash Gaming. Especially when you consider the games themselves were all just stick figures living out true romances and kung-fu fantasies.
Imagine the zombie apocalypse from the perspective of the rage virus in 28 Days Later. Infectonator took minimal bit-pixel graphics and a unique premise and made a bizarre real-time Zombie themed puzzle game. Spread your disease and build resources to customize it. You’re the mad scientist behind the creation and perpetuation of a cruel and hopeless zombie virus. The point of this game wasn’t world domination, it was world destruction. Cute but bloody 8-bit destruction.
6. Crush the Castle
Physics has always been an integral part of Flash Games. Developing a solid physics engine that is realistic and responsive as well as being predictable and reliable was the holy grail for a lot of developers. Whether the games were platformers, launch games, or bullet hell games, physics always played a big part. Which might be why Crush the Castle simply crushed the competition. Crush the Castle was a launch game where you fired up your superior siege weapon and took down an opponent's castle. You’d have to account for distance, weight, and the height of the castle, as well as how hard you wanted to hit it. It was kind of like a destructive 2-D version of a golf game. Still as playable and addictive now as when it was first released.
5. Earn to Die
Smash, upgrade, progress, repeat. Add zombies, a post-apocalyptic wasteland and classic cars to the mix and you got yourself a hit Flash game. Earn to Die and its sequels were elegant games where you choose whichever beat up husk of a car you wanted and then smashed your way through various zombie-ridden wastelands to slowly upgrade each component part. Wheels, engine, the hull, weapons. Everything was upgradeable, including the car itself. The end goal was always to travel farther and wipe out more zombies than last time. Simple mechanics but addicting gameplay made this game a classic many times over.
4. Red Remover
“The red shapes are miserable.” So begins the first level of Red Remover, a physics-based puzzle game that tasked you the player with strategically clicking around a two-dimensional horizontal board in order to make the red blocks disappear and the green blocks stay together. Think of it like Jenga is the pieces weren't built straight up in a tower but rather spread out amongst a screen. Red Remover was probably the best and most popular of its type of game and you can get wrapped up in it to this day if you dare to try it out.
3. Ricochet Kills 2
Here we go again with another physics puzzler. Reiterating the importance of both physics and the value of a good real-time puzzle, Ricochet Kills and the far superior sequel Ricochet Kills 2 were mobster themed shoot em ups with a twist! The twist was that it was actually a puzzle game where players had a limited amount of ammo they had to bounce off walls and ricochet around the screen in order to pull off the kills they needed to win. Extra points were given to players who could do it in as short an amount of time as possible. Sounds simple and it wasn’t. This game will get inside your brain.
2. Fancy Pants Adventure 2
In a lot of ways, Stick Games of all kinds could be said to be the real dominating force in all Flash Games. We have two entries on this list already which encompass dozens of games and it isn’t even scratching the surface. While Fancy Pants isn’t your traditional hyper-violent, blood-filled, rage-inducing stick game, it is technically still a stick game. And it is also one of the most popular and well known Flash Games of its time. Fancy Pants and its sequel were unfathomably successful for being such straight forward platformers. The games were definitely inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog but had way more personality and complexity. Also, take note of the attention to detail. The way Fancy Pants hair moves and the way they hang off and crawl up the various edges of the game. As breathtaking to witness now as it was to play back then.
1. The Worlds Hardest Game
Seriously, this is the worlds hardest game. This game is still regularly played and talked about on social media to this day. Probably because it really is the worlds hardest game. As the text on the menu says “You don’t know what you’re getting into.” And, it's true. The game has one simple goal: You are the red square and you must avoid the blue balls. This concept is translated into a ton of challenging levels. Each more complicated than the last. Some of which will have you spun out on trying to figure out what it is you’re even supposed to do. It bears repeating: This is the worlds hardest game. You don’t know what you’re getting into and you’re gonna love it.
Hello, and welcome to the Addicting News blog. Today, we bring you a quick interview with a game designer who specializes in minimalistic io games. Shaun has released two io games and both have done well on Addicting Games and io games.
His first game is Superballs.io, a multiplayer pool shoot-out where you play as giant pool cues trying to sink balls --and opposing players-- for points before the clock runs out. His other outing is an abstract area control game called dupl.io where you compete to conquer a grid by clicking the pips on a series of two-dimensional dice. In both games, Shaun uses few mechanics and sparse graphics to create elegant, original games with interesting choices that reward both timing and tactics. With Superballs, in particular, he re-purposes the overhead pool simulation mechanic that has been around as a video since the 1950s but re-imagines it as a full-contact sport on a procedurally generated map.
It’s a pretty cool twist on an established premise. The kind of expectation subversion we like to see around here in our games. Proving once again that the IO games genre is flexible and open to interpretation. Because we like his games so much, we asked Shaun a few questions about his games, game design and the IO sphere in general.
Part of why we started doing interviews with game designers is because a lot of our players are aspiring game designers themselves. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to make their first game?
Everyone has great ideas but they’re meaningless without good execution so learn the skills you need to develop your ideas properly!
That’s great advice. Now, if someone wanted to make games like yours, what would they need to learn?
Just vanilla JS for browsers and Node.js for the server. For data persistence, they would need to know a bit about databases such as SQL/Mongo.
So, that is how you do it but, why do you design games?
It offers a different set of challenges and offers a quicker end product to conventional enterprise development.
What about playtesting? You’ve done two games now, do you have a system?
Play the games a bit ourselves or release features under a beta tag and give access to our players.
Did you run into any problems while making these games?
Superballs was the first ‘proper’ web application either of us made so it was quite a shift from traditional C# or Java applications.
Do you think you learned anything about game design from making superballs.io and dupl.io
The main thing we learned that was different from our day jobs is how to optimize netcode to handle large numbers of concurrent players.
Is this your full-time job or a side gig?
IO games, in general, are very stark. And while your IO games don’t have a lot of art in them, they do have their own style. How important are aesthetics to you?
Both our games are very minimal but use crisp vector graphics so we believe this fit the simpler nature of IO games.
IO games as a format had a huge start a few years ago with agar.io and have been going strong ever since. Where do you see the IO gaming sphere going in the next few years?
The brand “IO Game” will likely diminish its specificity and increase in size branching out to more genres. I think that we will also start to see games we would usually reserve for a desktop application move into the browser.
What was the first game you remember playing?
Sonic and Runescape.
What is your favorite IO game, besides your own?
Hexagor is great. Well, thanks for making such cool IO games and thanks for talking to us about them. Before we go, are you working on anything else?
A fast-paced tank shooter.