Boing Boing 

The 20 games you shouldn't miss in 2014

Over the past year I played hundreds of amazing games across a wide spectrum of team sizes, budgets and ambitions. These exemplify the best that 2014 had to offer: interesting places to explore, important achievements, or just nice ideas executed simply. I hope you’ll find them as surprising and delightful as I did.

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Creator of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that influenced games, online culture has died

R.A Montgomery, co-author of children’s book series “Choose Your Own Adventure,” died on Nov. 9 in Vermont. He was 78. Photo courtesy of Shannon Gilligan/Chooseco, LLC

R.A Montgomery, co-author of children’s book series “Choose Your Own Adventure,” died on Nov. 9 in Vermont. He was 78. Photo courtesy of Shannon Gilligan/Chooseco, LLC

Supercomputer_111108_gamebooksorg R.A. Montgomery, co-author and publisher of the long-running children’s book series “Choose Your Own Adventure,” which allowed generations of kids to choose from dozens of possible story endings, recently died at his home in Vermont.

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Humble Indie Bundle 2 adds games from first bundle

HIB2and1.jpg Cory mentioned this campaign when it first launched, but the team behind the charity-driven Humble Indie Bundle 2 -- which lets you pay what you like for five top-tier indie games -- have now added all six games from this year's previous Indie Bundle, if you donate more than the overall average amount. That means that for at least around $7.60 (you choose how much goes to the developers or organizations like EFF and Child's Play), you get eleven games: World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru HD, Penumbra Overture and Samorost 2 from the first bundle, along with newcomers Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, and the newly released and super-stylized Revenge of the Titans. Further unlocks like this are also expected -- the Bundlers have also just announced that Titans will go open-source if donations reach $1.75 million in the 2 days remaining in the campaign. Click here to contribute! (Humble Indie Bundle 2, illustration by the ever-amazing Nikklas Jansson via Amanita)

Brandon named Independent Games Festival chairman

2010igfbooth.jpg I'm not the greatest at this whole self-promotion gig, but a quick update to note that it's just been announced that I'll be joining the 2011 Independent Games Festival as its new chairman, taking over for Simon Carless, who's done a fantastic job of making the festival the premiere place to showcase the home-grown talent that's changing the way we think about games, year after year. I've been doing my best over the past couple years (primarily thanks to Boing Boing and their help getting Offworld off the ground) to shine as strong a light as possible on the people struggling to make beautiful things every day, and needless to say I'm thrilled that I get to be a part of the organization that made World of Goo, Crayon Physics, Fez, Braid and -- via Student Showcase winner Narbacular Drop -- even Valve's Portal the notable names and successes they are today. All my usual writing work will continue, as will a few other upcoming tricks I've got up my sleeve for bringing amazing new games to light! Anyway, OK!

Recently on Offworld: Quarrel's magic wool, Monkey Island in Crysis, the best of BlipFest

Topping our list of anticipated Xbox Live Arcade games but still off too many radars elsewhere, Offworld returns from a day at Scotland-based Denki with a behind the scenes look at the making of their upcoming word-battler Quarrel (above), from its cardboard and tiddly-wink origins to the 'magic wool' now running underneath. Elsewhere we saw the Tri-Islands of Monkey Island rendered in the hyper-poly pushing engine behind Crysis and early PC transforming robo-shooter Thexder coming to the PSP, and got a glimpse into the art and design behind the fantastical heavy-metal world of Brutal Legend. We also saw the wickedly blood-drenched pixels of Cactus's low-bit Life/Death/Island and Valve's amazing/ly swift response to a fan-made Team Fortress 2 canine class, shoes fit for Okami and high concept Pac-Man and Tetris wearables, and purchased a two-disc collection of Blip Fest 2008 performances -- possibly the best catalog of the top chiptune players released to date. And our 'one shot's: Bioshock 2's Mr. Bubbles meets Mary Blair, and 40 artists collaborate on a magic-mile-long mega-Mario Kart illustration.

Recently on Offworld: Elite turns 25, Left 4 Teletubbies, Indies Invade Austin

With the launch of Retro Remakes on Offworld, we started a straw poll to ask: what's the one remake you'd most like to see appear on consoles or handhelds, with the results to be tabulated and published at the end of the week. We also read the latest official response on the disappearance of an Xbox Live Arcade version of N64 classic Goldeneye 007, and celebrated the 25th anniversary of UK space-exploration legend Elite (above) with developer Frontier. Elsewhere we put together a high-res gallery documenting Indies Invading Austin -- the two days of the inaugural Indie Games Summit at GDC Austin -- and began rounding up the reasons why you should be attending LA's Oct. 1-4 Indiecade conference/exhibition, with appearances by Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi, former MIT games head Henry Jenkins, and flOw/Flower creator Jenova Chen. Finally, we saw the horrific visage of the Teletubbies invading Left 4 Dead, watched an epic fan-made video of game characters invading Earth, Cloverfield-style, and our 'one shot's: Spacesick's awesomely designed Game Buddy, and the cranio-facial reconstruction of what your head looks like after too much Tetris.

Recently on Offworld: Nintendo's holiday lineup, Marian moves, Angry Dad the Game

Recently on Offworld we took an in-depth look at the games coming to both Wii and DS throughout the beginning of 2010 that you should be paying attention to (above), including new versions of Maxis's Spore -- which has just received a new, surprisingly full featured Flash version of its Creature Creator utility for your web perusal, in anticipation of the upcoming games. We also saw indie fave Infinite Ammo show off an affecting debut video of their upcoming puppet-girl opus Marian, as Team Meat also debut the first trailer for their brutal WiiWare platformer Super Meat Boy: a must see for its all-replays-at-once feature demo near the end. Elsewhere the animators at Aardman take on the DS's new sketchbook cartoon app, Rez and Lumines creators Q unveil a love-connection-puzzle game for iPhone, a man brilliantly mods Half Life 2 to use only mouth-sounds, James Kochalka's Game Boy Advance album hits iTunes, and Taito unveils an arcade game that simulates the impotent rage of the angry dad. And our 'one shot's: Nathan Barley/Dead Set's Charlie Brooker gets into games, Konjak captures the end of Mario's quest, our well-spent childhoods, and open season on invaders.

Recently on Offworld: New Indie Hotness, the sniper and the spy, Tetris in 3D

With Austin's Game Developers Conference fully underway, Offworld's got updates on a few of the Indie Games Summit sessions nearest and dearest to its heart, with my own 'New Indie Hotness' show and tell (above), where I ran live demos of seven of the best up and coming indies you need to play (with the help of a special guest star), and a look behind the smash success of Colin Northway's Flash construction kit Fantastic Contraption. Elsewhere we saw Namco tease a screenshot of its upcoming iPhone version of Keita Takahashi's PS3 game Noby Noby Boy, LucasArts revealed the gorgeously illustrated dream world in its new Lemmings-esque downloadable Lucidity, From Software showed off its upcoming PS3 exclusive 3D Dot Game Heroes -- an 8-bit Zelda inspired adventure pixel-popped into glorious 3D, and Metanet (behind Flash hit ninja sim N) announced Office Yeti, their Skool Daze meets Rampage workplace game. Finally, former Spore tech lead Chris Hecker announced he'd be going indie with Spy Party, his "asymmetric multiplayer espionage game about subtle behavior and deception", we watched the winner of the Super Mario artificial intelligence contest, art/game/culture shop Attract Mode opened its doors, and for our LA readers: indie musician Chris Schlarb will be performing live versions of his tracks for the upcoming Night Game tonight at the Slow Sound Festival. And our 'one shot's: Iggy Pop rocks Lego, the Alien origins of Machinarium, Super Mario's Twin Towers, and 3D Tetris of the Magic Eye kind.

Recently on Offworld: Beatles go 8-bit, Dreamcast gets a new game, let concept artists rule

Is the games industry missing an opportunity to let concept artists rule the roost? In his latest Ragdoll Metaphysics column, Jim Rossignol points to both success stories and missed opportunities where letting artists spearhead the game either did bring or should have brought the game closer to art, and calls for a new industry arms race to create the best "watercolour FPS games, painterly RTS games, and oil-painting strategies." Elsewhere, 09/09/09 was a double-header day in games: less celebrated for the 10th anniversary of the cut-down-in-its-prime Dreamcast, which Sega celebrated by announcing a return to Sonic the Hedgehog's roots with a new hi-def 2D game due in 2010, while a group of indies announced Rush Rush Rally Racing, the first new Western-made game for the console in many years. But 09/09's more prevalent significance to The Beatles didn't go unnoticed by groups other than Harmonix (with the unleashing of The Beatles: Rock Band), as chiptune collective 8-Bit Operators unveiled "WANNA HLD YR HANDHELD", a 20-track 8-bit Beatles cover compilation, nearly half of which they're streaming ahead of its release. Finally, we listed the 4 things gamers need to know about Apple's Rock'n'Roll keynote, saw two years of glorious technical failures in the making of Polytron's Fez (above), heard Montreal art/game collective Kokoromi would be bringing their indie showcase to GDC, and our 'one shot's: Silent Hill artist Takayoshi Sato does Salome, and a look at the anatomical/biological innards of the Wii-mote.

Recently on Offworld: Catan on iPhone, Canabalt on iPhone, cigar-chomping he-Links

Recently on Offworld, German developer Exozet revealed not only the first screenshot for the upcoming official iPhone version of Catan, but also opened a limited number of beta applications to the public, meaning you might be getting your hands on the game much earlier than expected. Elsewhere, Adam Saltsman proved out just how successful rapid prototyping is and announced an iPhone port of his already widely viral one-button game Canabalt, ngmoco finally revealed its online arena iPhone FPS Eliminate with an interesting take on microtransactions, and Capcom showed more of its fantastically illustrated diminutive DS sequel Okamiden (above). We also went behind the pixel/Rubiks with a video interview with guerrilla artist Invader, saw the Max Max-ian shooter Borderlands go all Christian-Bale-flip-out, found a collection of stunning custom Team Fortress 2 figures, ordered Famicom and Pac-Man business card holders, and our 'one shot's for the day: the BeatlesBox 360, and the most invulnerable he-Link the Legend of Zelda will ever see.

Recently on Offworld: Comic jumping, three for the Wii, Metroid in Lego

Even with yesterday's holiday, we still caught up on some of the weekend's biggest news from PAX or otherwise, as Twisted Pixel -- the indie dev behind the recent fantastic one-button Xbox Live Arcade platformer Splosion Man -- unveils Comic Jumper, a superhero run and gun that will change its style as you, well, jump between comics from PowerPuff to Sin City. Elsewhere we saw oversized, super-punching blob-mech-fighters invading WayForward's remake of the NES original A Boy and his Blob, a new WiiWare Gauntlet-esque action game take on Pokemon, and the first video of the gorgeously Miyazaki-ish world in WiiWare LostWinds sequel Winter of the Melodias. Finally, we took the latest work in progress look at Power Pill (above), the upcoming ultrastylish iPhone collaboration between Fez creators Polytron and Marian creators Infinite Ammo, and our 'one shot's for the day: variations on a Slime, and Metroid in Lego.

Recently on Offworld: Vectorpark on iPhone, PAX info influx, sex lives of Famicom programmers

Recently on Offworld, this weekend's Penny Arcade Expo opening has brought with it a tidal wave of new game details and announcements: Ubisoft crosses Splinter Cell with Keyboard Cat, Grasshopper's No More Heroes 2 goes 8-bit (on purpose), 2K reveals BioShock 2's multiplayer in motion, Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert's DeathSpank gets its debut trailer, and Valve show off Left 4 Dead 2's undead clown-inhabited Dark Carnival. Elsewhere, we saw Vectorpark's brilliantly serene Flash toys Levers and Acrobots come to the iPhone, Crappy Cat creator VanBeater lend his talents for the iPhone's Bear on a Wire, Farbs (aka. the guy who quit his job via Super Mario Bros.) teases his fantastic space shooter Captain Forever, and Capcom/Clover's gorgeously ukiyo-e inspired Wii/PS2 game Okami get a new sequel for the DS. Finally, we got an accidental look into the sex lives of NES programmers via hidden messages in ROMs, covered our eyes for Kurt Cobain's shockingly awful/disrespectful appearance in Guitar Hero 5, and got a post-mortem on Guitar Hero typography, and our 'one shots': India gets Invaded, and Dance Dance American Revolution meets Dance Dance Industrial Revolution.

Recently on Offworld: from girl geek to Godwin's Law, Spelunky goes console, Bonk returns

Quick -- how many games in the industry's long history can you name with a female lead? In her latest One More Go column, Margaret Robertson says the fact that we "run out of entries for the Great Gaming Leading Lady Pantheon before we run out of fingers is just plain odd" and asks, "Are we really saying that we can't find a viable way to make games that turn 51% of the world's population into heroes a goer?" Elsewhere on Offworld: huge indie news, as Derek Yu's procedurally-generated rogue-like platformer masterpiece Spelunky is announced for Xbox Live Arcade, and LostWinds -- the gorgeously gentle WiiWare debut game from Elite creators Frontier -- prepares for the Winter of the Melodias, its season-shifting sequel. Two classic Hudson franchises are also due for revivals, with hex-strategy game Military Madness/Nectaris announced for the iPhone and prehistoric underdog mascot Bonk comes to PS3/Xbox 360/Wii, and Gaijin Games announces the latest in its retro-futurist rhythm series with the pixel-collecting nothing-expanding beauty of Bit.Trip: Void (above). And our 'one shot's of the day: Rolando artist Mikko Walamies teases his intergalactic next, and the new face of Grand Theft Auto creators Rockstar: tigers with lasers, fire-breathing grizzlies, and stunt-jumpin' polars.

Recently on Offworld: stunt-man simulators, return of the M.U.L.E., Wii Opera set free

Officially now back at my Offworld post (following a long break away to the Bay Area, that, most excitingly, saw me complete the first leg of the journey through the infinitely fascinating reality game The Jejune Institute), we return with some catching-up coverage that includes breakneck stunt-man simulator Canabalt -- a five-day stripped-down Experimental Gameplay entry from Adam Saltsman -- a game whose one-button simplicity completely belies its action/sci-fi flick inspired roof-top leaping thrills. We also found the first details on DeathSpank (above) -- the upcoming Diablo/LucasArts adventure mashup from former Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion creator Ron Gilbert, and discovered that a remake of classic multiplayer strategy game M.U.L.E. was in development, including an upcoming port to the iPhone. Elsewhere we saw new footage of Offworld-favorite 2D/3D platformer Fez, Nathan Fouts' gloriously garish Grapple Buggy, and dug through a flurry of new announcements from Nintendo with new color DSis/Wii Remotes and an updated Wii Opera browser now available for free. Finally, we saw a tiny custom (Shadow of the) Colossus Munny, and an NES Ghostbusters instruction manual T-shirt, and our 'one shot's: Olly Moss's gorgeous new prints for This American Life-inspired games podcast A Life Well Wasted, and Vera Bee's carny/sideshow illustrations make their LittleBigDebut.

Recently on Offworld: meet the Metroid makers, the average gamer makeup, crawling DS dungeons

With Nintendo's Metroid Prime Trilogy -- all three Metroid Prime games collected on a single disc and updated with Wii controls -- just released this week, we spent the day with Austin-native developer Retro Studios to learn how the classic franchise fell into their laps, the process of re-interpreting it in first person, and how to read Nintendo's haiku-like approach to game development. Elsewhere on Offworld, we took an extended look at two of the best games released in recent weeks: the similarly classically Metroid-esque Xbox Live Arcade game Shadow Complex, and the fantastic downsizing of the Rock Band experience with Harmonix and Backbone's PSP game Rock Band: Unplugged. Finally, we took a straw poll to determine whether the average gamer really is 35, overweight and depressed, and then investigated whether Bejeweled could fight that depression, saw the bloodbath that is Diablo III's new monk class, and took a trip into The Dark Spire -- a ten-dollar DS dungeon-crawler that you might have missed.

Recently on Offworld: Valve talks Left 4 Dead, Metroid goes metal, Elvis goes techno on DS

Could the Left 4 Dead and Half-Life universes ever converge into one uber-Valve-geography? In Jim Rossignol's latest Ragdoll Metaphysics column, Left 4 Dead writer Chet Faliszek has said the idea's at least been internally bandied about, as part of a wide, wide ranging interview that also covers the mixed messages and missed opportunities that spawned the Left 4 Dead 2 boycott, and why AI constructs make him depressed. Elsewhere on Offworld we saw even more newly announced games coming out of the ongoing GamesCom conference: Lionhead returning with Fable III, top-down zombie shooter Dead Nation, which will apparently have individual countries competing to fully eliminate the undead virus, more of Sony's PSP cult cute platformer Loco Roco, and Hudson's The Tower of Shadow, in which you play as the shadow. We also saw a fantastically unlikely official new contest to create the best Elvis techno cover/remix on your DS, listened to Metroid metal cover album Varia Suite, played the latest NES demoscene ROM, and saw both Alice's Adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom, and Spider creators Tiger Style showing us tomorrow's game development studio, today.

Recently on Offworld: PS3 slims, Plants Vs. Zombies the shirt, Miles Davis in 8-bits

The biggest news recently on Offworld will have been Sony's announcement of a new $299 Slim-model PS3 (though with the caveat that it no longer supports Linux), and the additional follow up news of its 'minis' line of smaller, affordable PSP games (many taken directly from the App Store itself, no matter how hard the company denies it's not competing with Apple) will probably provide us with an entire new virtual platform to cover in the coming months. But elsewhere, with the European GamesCom conference in full swing, we saw a wide range of new trailers and video footage: Beatles: Rock Band, Lego Rock Band, Brütal Legend, LittleBigPlanet's new water filled world, indie WiiWare port And Yet It Moves, and legendary freeware shooter Tumiki Fighters on its way to the iPhone. Finally, we saw the first official Plants Vs. Zombies T-shirts, found the most sublimely bizarre patent illustration for Sony's emotion-detecting engine and its perfect distillation of What Modern Comedy Looks Like (above), saw Interplay and Gameloft reviving Earthworm Jim for a number of consoles, previewed Kind of Bloop -- the 8-bit Miles Davis tribute album due for wider release tomorrow, saw Space Invaders crop-pixels, and mourned the earthy death of 8-bit.

Recently on Offworld: inside the games factory, the job-quitting game, Pong in the streets

If you've been long-suffering under the assumption that games are created in a mashup of impalpable art and science, our latest high-res gallery on Offworld will prove you wrong, as we go inside the factory workshops where your favorite games were built (above), from the smelting of Sonic's rings, the chiseling of the 1-Up mushroom, and the rubber-pressed rebounding blocks of Arkanoid. And in more art-overload news, we also took a look at the fantastically fragile and delicately rendered games-inspired work of Melbourne illustrator Ghostpatrol, saw some select images from French guerrilla artist Invader's new Rubikubism exhibition in London, and played with the bloom-lit pixels of Stimergy, a 36-hour game of retro-futurist picnic ant invasions. Elsewhere, One More Go columnist Margaret Robertson told us how Galleon, the criminally overlooked Xbox game from Tomb Raider designer Toby Gard, can lead us on a six-degrees journey through the games industry, found another example of a gainfully employed developer using a game to announce he was quitting his job, and watched the first official trailer for our new top iPhone pick, Spider. We also saw Timbaland and Rockstar's music creator app Beaterator officially announced for PSP and the steampunk-ian environmental strategy game Greed Corp announced for PS3, learned that Tokidoki and Upper Playground were coming to Wii racer Need for Speed, and our one shot's: Call of Duty and BioShock, the Criterion editions, and Pong on the streets, and Pong in the streets.

Recently on Offworld: a more social Nintendo, more DS blood diamonds, time ufck'd pathos puzzling

Recently on Offworld we've had a good slate of indie devs giving us a deeper look into some of the games already high on our most-wanted lists: chief among them is Castle Crashers devs The Behemoth officially beginning to reveal the mechanics of their cutely chaotic party/arena game still known as Game 3, and art game champ Jason Rohrer showing off a paper prototype of his Angolan conflict diamond-based DS multiplayer game. Elsewhere, we got the first shot of Die Gute Fabrik's gorgeously illustrated swamp-opera adventure Mutatione, Edmund McMillen & co. showed off the first video of their pathos puzzler Time Ufck, and Taito revealed the first video of dual control methods in their upcoming Puzzle Bobble iPhone port. We also saw Nintendo plunging their toes further into the social media space with the U.S. release of their free web-sharable DS flipbook animation app FlipNote Studio, Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner revealed the first draft script for a prequel to his PC adventure The Last Express, the EA Black Box team behind Skate gave us their top 10 user-made skate videos, and Team Fortress devs began dropping awesomely gentlemanly turn-of-the-century ephemera surrounding their latest game update. Finally, our 'one shot's: the nostalgic simplicity of Six Flags' early-80s Pac-Man theme park, Metroid's Samus on a ZX Spectrum, 9 0 0 0 gives us a motivational ninja poster, and, as above, Brock Davis shows us the sobering tragedy of a Mushroom Kingdom hit and run.

Recently on Offworld: spinning & sleuthing in Spider, web-based meta-gaming, AI-controlled Mario

It seems as though as the App Store game entries grows exponentially, our true, heartfelt suggestions have dropped off inversely, but recently on Offworld we made one of our strongest, most unreserved recommendations yet with Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, the debut game from the former Thief/Splinter Cell devs at Tiger Style. It's a game that works brilliantly on two levels: first, as an intuitive action game that sees you finger-flicking/spinning webs to catch the insect inhabitants of the long-abandoned titular manor, but second, and just as wonderfully, unraveling the secret narrative that's running underneath, just under your nose if you're careful enough to look -- it's instantly become one of our top 3 iPhone games of all time. Elsewhere, we took a look at two of the best meta-games to come to the web in recent months, with the one level exploration of, er, This is the Only Level and the self-purchased enhancements of Upgrade Complete, and listened to both a wonderfully diverse Songs to Frag By videogame mixtape, and the live house/trance styling of PixelJunk Eden director Baiyon. Finally, we saw the first dazzling entry in the AI-controlled Mario contest, made our own Noby Boy catnip toy, saw LucasArts/Double Fine dev Tim Schafer reveal his hidden Rubik's talent, and our 'one shot's for the day: the geographical secrets of Left 4 Dead and the amazingly ugly excesses of the women of Leisure Suit Larry.

Recently on Offworld: Kochalka on Game Boy, conflict diamonds on DS, knock-off Pokemon

Recently on Offworld, American Elf artist James Kochalka dropped in to let us preview Robot Shark, one of the songs off his latest album Digital Elf, created entirely with Nanoloop on his Game Boy Advance, and we discovered that Jason Rohrer, creator of reigning memento mori art-game-champ Passage, was creating a two player DS strategy game based on the illicit blood diamond trade in Angola (!). We also watched Love Sport, a set of fantastically expressive pixel animations from Studio AKA's Grant Orchard, and heard Austin Wintory's soundtrack for thatgamecompany's PS3 art-game flOw being played live by LA's Golden State Pops Orchestra, and (literally) looked inside Sony's upcoming augmented reality virtual EyePet. Finally, we saw why 2D still matters in 2009 with the jaw-dropping visuals in XNA game Dust, and found infinitely adorable crocheted Marios, a re-imagined 80s arcade pinup, and, best of all, back-alley knock-off Pokemon.

Recently on Offworld: an ode to the jetpack, rusted steampunk adventures, Tetris bejeweled

Recently on Offworld, our Ragdoll Metaphysics columnist Jim Rossignol takes us through an illustrated history of one of videogames' best mechanical conceits: the jetpack. From The Stamper Brothers' original JetPac, to Exile, to Tribes, Jetpack Brontosaurus (above) and beyond, he looks at how the 'pack has let us "explore strange new worlds where the sky is not the limit, and where the vertical axis is as just as essential as the horizons that lay all around us." Elsewhere we marveled at the intricate rusted ironworks designs in the latest video of Amanita's upcoming adventure game Machinarium, saw Minotaur China Shop (and Jetpack Brontosaurus, coincidentally) creators Flashbang poke gentle fun at Braid creator Jon Blow, and found a wonderful series of T-shirts based on the glitched-out boot-up sequences of arcade games. And for our 'one shot's of the day, two more fantastic pieces from artists appearing in the upcoming Autumn Society games/art gallery show: Zelda's Link aims for the eye, and the Swarovski crystal-studded queen Tetrisina.

Recently on Offworld: lusty zombies galore, new game from Braid dev, AI controlled Mario

Recently on Offworld, Valve announced another infected incidence with Crash Course (above), a new downloadable campaign for the original Left 4 Dead due in September that will bridge the No Mercy and Death Toll episodes with an entirely new location, and PopCap continued to perfect their chesty/lusty zombie parody with a new set of Evony-busting banner ads. We also saw Braid creator Jon Blow tease his next game, The Witness -- described as "an exploration-puzzle game on an uninhabited island" -- by dropping a Tao Te Ching quote, as Braid itself is confirmed to come to the PlayStation 3, and we found new details of the Wii/Xbox 360/PS3 remake of cult hex-strategy game Military Madness/Nectaris. Elsewhere, AI specialists announced a competition that will use science to build a better Mario, Taito teased Puzzle Bobble for the iPhone, Sega fanatics released the long-fabled 32-bit Virtua Hamster (!), and we looked at an 8-bit iPhone NES synthesizer. Our 'one shot's for the day: Keita 'Katamari' Takahashi, shoeless and amused, and Super Mario Lilliput.

Recently on Offworld: word play, Deadmau5 meets Zelda, Langdell v. Mobigame

Recently on Offworld we played with words in two ways: first, by downloading our latest iPhone obsession, NewToy's Friends With Words, as svelte and streamlined as an online-multiplayer Scrabble-alike we've played, and as perfect (read: dangerously addictive) as the original Scrabulous proved when it first dominated Facebook. We then saw Flashbang co-founder Matthew Wegner solve PopCap's fellow iPhone word-smither Bookworm with science, with a fully automated OCR word-finder that just might be expanded to a web service soon. Elsewhere, we saw Spore, Fathom and more indie all-star devs joining August's rapid-proto Experimental Gameplay competition, electro star Deadmau5 taking on Zelda, learned what Disneyland can teach devs about game design, and saw "worlds first computer programmer" Ada Lovelace coming to LittleBigPlanet with other historical friends. Finally, we found a wicked Mario 64 optical illusion papercraft, looked inside Italy's Art of Games gallery exhibit, read the latest, fantastically well researched update on the Tim Langdell v. Mobigame trademark battle, and our 'one shot's: Parappa and Umjammer Lammy play in "My First Rockband", and gorgeously abstract picture-postcards from Wipeout HD (above).

Recently on Offworld: a double dose of Indie Spirit, glitched-out planetscapes, brave invaders

Recently on Offworld we saw heartening tales of Indie Spirit leading to two cross-promotional cross-overs: Crackerblocks' Enviro-bear -- ursine motorist star of the indie PC favorite and recently-launched iPhone port of the same name -- coming as an unlockable character to Mountain Sheep's just-launched iPhone shooter Minigore (above), and bunny battleships coming to Positech's Gratuitous Space Battles to help promote Wolfire's leporine/lupine battler Overgrowth. We also saw the first footage of an entirely new game from Knytt and Night Game creator Nifflas -- the fantastically ambient and atmospheric platformer project title Q -- and it's every bit as gorgeous as his earlier games above. Elsewhere, we got the latest update on homegrown voxel-deforming puzzler Flipper as it makes its way to DSiWare, purchased one ticket to mouth-foaming seizures and glitched-out landscapes in a video for chiptune artists Chromelodeon, saw papercraft artist Harlancore do an 8-bit console Speakerdog, and read an interview with the founder of abandonware repository Home of the Underdogs, who, as it turns out, is Harvard alum and investment bank exec Sarinee Achavanuntakul. Finally, our one shot's for the day: making love, not Wor, and the tale of the bravest invader.

Recently on Offworld: sex and death at Nintendo, zombie concubines, Facebook on DS

In the history of the company, there's only been one Nintendo-published game that has been overtly about "fighting and fucking": GameCube game Animal Leader (Cubivore in the states), and it's the subject of Margaret Robertson's latest One More Go column, where she peers into Nintendo's heart of darkness and prods at some of the company's more whitewashed ugly truths (see: the true relationship between Mario Bros' Bowser and Peach). Elsewhere, we see artist Jude Buffum reflect on the financial crisis also through Mario's lens (and made an open plea for more financial system gaming), saw how Shigeru Miyamoto lifted ancient Japanese legend when creating Super Mario, and wolf-whistled at PopCap's Plants Vs. Zombies doing an absolutely phenomenal job of parodying the ubiquitous bosomy banner ads for free-to-play game Evony (above). We also took a guided tour through the Nintendo DS's new Facebook Connect features, saw more mind-melting footage of "type anything" DS puzzle game Scribblenauts and Left 4 Dead invading The Sims, found new official Monkey Island fashion, and watched the latest fantastically expressive 50x50 pixel video from Garth + Ginny. And, for the final few that haven't seen it, we also saw the first concept art of the Magic Kingdom's steampunk dystopia in Disney's upcoming Wii project Epic Mickey, and our 'one shots': an ode to Fallout's Nuka-Cola Quantum, the domestic bliss of Mr. and Mrs. Pac.

Recently on Offworld: the 16-bit arthouse, chiptunes dance parties, real-life Wasteland clutter

Recently on Offworld we went deep into the virtual arthouse, as McSweeney's DVD offshoot Wolphin screens a faux-16-bit short, Ledo & Ix, we discovered a quarter-square-mile Second Life art/vinyl toy gallery that never was (above), and we watched the first video of Fig. 8, a game where a bicycle wends its way through "the surreal world of an 'architectural' diagram." We also listened to the delightful electro-pop space opera soundtrack of Sidhe's recent PS3 Breakout/shooter Shatter, poked our head into a recent and awesomely Wareheim-ian chiptunes dance party, and saw Ubisoft officially announce Scott Pilgrim, the game (but offer frustratingly few additional details). Finally, we saw footage of Cryptic Sea's terrifyingly sparse Lunar Lander tribute, a plan to bring Sonic CD to the iPhone, another Japanese indie freeware hit coming to WiiWare, a project to MS Paint a Pikachu, and our 'one shot's for the day: Fallout 3 Wasteland clutter in real life, and an 8-bit dark castle from the depths of the Cube Kingdom.

Recently on Offworld: Time Donkeys, Sackboy Marvels, Dali games

Recently on Offworld, it was a day of tributes: fans of cult hit RPG series Earthbound celebrated its 20th anniversary, home-crafters celebrated Hand Circus's iPhone platformer Rolando 2, and renowned papercrafter master Matt Hawkins celebrated the pursuits of Pac-Man for an upcoming gallery show. We also saw the first concept art of Minotaur China Shop creators Flashbang's next web-game, Time Donkey, in which players will cooperate with earlier iterations of themselves playing the game to reach their goal, and the first multiplayer video of Infinity Ward's upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, specifically the ability for players to take control of gunships to wreak distant havoc on the battlefield. Finally we saw Media Molecule and Marvel partner to bring comic book heroes to LittleBigPlanet (with cutely taped-on accessories, as above), a new game from Gish co-creator Edmund McMillen that cryptically promises to be "a 1+1=2 formula that will ask more from you after you leave it alone", and, best of all, new pixel art concepts of an imagined Salvador Dali Game Boy Advance game.

Recently on Offworld: Scott Pilgrim the game, Netflix streaming roundup, the essence of Noby

The most exciting development to come out of Comic-Con this year? Creator Bryan Lee O'Malley dropping news that Ubisoft Montreal is currently developing a PS3/Xbox 360 downloadable game based on his comic series Scott Pilgrim (above), to be released alongside Edgar Wright's film adaptation -- news of a magnitude that almost nearly canceled out the disappointment of EA's contest calling for systematic and institutionalized harassment of SDCC booth babes for prizes. Elsewhere on Offworld, we rounded up more of the best films Netflix's Xbox 360 streaming service has to offer, with Zach Galifanakis' dystopian cult comedy Visioneers and more multilayered time-warping and epic human-drama documentary films than you could ever want, and a bonus comedic British invasion. We also figured out how to get a taste of the PS3 Katamari Damacy remake on display at Comic-Con from the comfort of our living rooms, saw new footage of the giant crab battles and near-avoidance baby violence of 'conjure anything' DS game Scribblenauts and of Gearbox's Mad-Max-ian post-apocalyptic co-op open world shooter Borderlands (which promises '87 bazillion' procedurally generated weapons). Finally, we saw chiptune punk stars Anamanaguchi plan their U.S. domination summer tour, got the first look at UK indie Mode7's abstract tactical strategy game Frozen Synapse, and our 'one shot's for the day: No More Heroes in 3D 2D pixels, and Noby Noby Boy's essence in just nine words.

Recently on Offworld: Left 4 Dead again, Catan on iPhone, One Man Rock Band

Recently on Offworld we saw a bit more news trickle out of the ongoing Comic-Con, most notably new media and information on Left 4 Dead 2, with a gallery of new screenshots, on-the-floor video of its bayou-terror in action, and a new boss monster, whose get-up serves as a strict warning to everyone: when you dress yourself in the morning, please take note that this outfit could possibly be the one in which you spend eternity as a reanimated corpse. (Note: new star Rochelle understands this, as she shows up in style donning the electroclash Depeche Mode T-shirt above.) We also saw newly revealed features coming to Q-Games' decidedly old-school inspired PixelJunk Shooter, and a demonstration of its fluid- and thermo-dynamics, and discovered that -- finally! -- an official version of gold star board game Settlers of Catan is being developed for the iPhone. Finally, we saw Plants Vs. Zombies confirmed for the Xbox 360, Katamari Damacy's King of All Cosmos bringing his aloof and royally pluralized inanity to Twitter (and with it, a fantastic repurpose-able desktop background), and watched what happens when you try to play all four instruments at once as a One Man Rock Band. And our 'one shot's for the day: gorgeously illustrated Mario deaths, and retro-future Pac-Man/Space Invaders in automotive form.