Online Games

We love Flash. Until recently, it has provided the easiest and most powerful way of creating the online games that we showcase on this blog. It is not going too far to say that Flash spawned the online casual gaming industry. Without it, game studios would have found it almost impossible to provide online the slick animations, vector graphics and lightning fast interactivity that gamers demand.

They would have been forced to resort to the old way of doing things, painstakingly creating games using difficult-to-learn operating system specific technologies. These games would be expensive to develop, would only work on one operating system (so if you were on a Mac, you would have a problem) and users would be forced to download the games to play them.

At the very least, there would be far fewer free games available in a world without Flash compared to the tens of thousands that are on offer to internet users today. As we said, we love Flash. But we are also aware of its limitations. Developers have to buy expensive software in order to create Flash games. Flash is not open source, limiting what people can do with it. Flash also requires a browser plugin to work.

That is why we are excited about a new, emerging technology called HTML5. HTML5 is open source, completely free and, as you will see later, powerful enough to create fun and addictive online games. There are some problems with HTML5, as you would expect from any new technology, but these are likely to be overcome over coming years, especially as the technology has the support of some of the biggest names in web technology: Google, Apple and, belatedly, Microsoft.

The big issue with HTML5 at present is that older browsers - in particular Internet Explorer - do not support it. In order to play the games we have listed below, you will need to ensure that you have a modern browser. We recommend one of the following - Chrome, Safari or Firefox. If you are an Internet Explorer user and you dont want to change to a different browser, we recommend you install this plugin. It will invisibly upgrade your browser to the latest standards. I know this is a pain but, just think, you will be among the first in the world to experience HTML5 gaming.

Okay, now that you are all prepared for the HTML5 goodness that awaits you, lets go straight to the games:

A slick physics-based puzzle platformer by Matt Pelham, one of the leading lights in HTML5 gaming. You wake up in a laboratory with none of the super powers that you are used to. A computer voice gives you instructions on how you can regain your powers. One of the best looking HTML5 games out there. The movement is a little sluggish but the realistic physics and neat graphics provide the perfect demonstration of the gaming possibilities offered by HTML5. You can play Vii here.

One concern about HTML5 in the early days was that it would simply not be fast enough for games. There was no need to worry. HTML5 is proving itself to be easily powerful enough to create the lightning fast games that gamers crave, as 3Bored proves. 3Bored is one of the fastest actions games we have played in a browser. You play the part of a little rocket-propelled creature under attack from a whole host of enemies. You dart around the screen like a maniac trying to avoid the bullets that are criss-crossing all around you. The longer you avoid dying, the more points you get in this fun and addictive survival game.

3Bored also highlights another of the advantages of HTML5 over Flash. The game effortlessly scales to the size of your browser window - most Flash games are of a fixed size and do not therefore take advantage of all the available space. 3Bored can be played here.

The team behind Swarmation were originally planning to simply create a web app that demonstrated the power of HTML5s networking capabilities. But what they inadvertently ended up with was one of the most interesting multi-player puzzle games we have seen. Your task in the game is to work with others to create a particular shape out of little squares. You only have a limited period of time to get your own little square into position. If your square forms part of the desired shape when the timer reaches zero, then you are rewarded with some points. You are then presented with a new shape that you need to form, and the cycle repeats. As a single player game, Swarmnation would not have much going for it, but as a multi-player game, (despite some odd bugs) it absolutely rocks. Play Swarmation here.

The developer of Sinuous deserves credit for coming up with a unique idea for a game. Certainly, I have not seen anything like it before. Sinuous is perhaps best described as an amalgam of Boomshine and the classic snake game. You must navigate your snake around the screen without touching the moving circles. It is not as easy as it initially seems. Sinuous is a mesmeric and relaxing game with that just-one-more-time quality that all games strive for but few achieve. Sinuous can be played here.