If you’re anything like me, you love video games but are short on time. That’s why flash games have become such a welcome hobby of mine since starting vet school. These games are usually made by one or a handful of people, take no more than a couple of hours to beat, and receive far less critical acclaim than their console / computer commercial counterparts. I decided to write this blog because I’ve tried to search for the best flash games before, but I only find a few short articles.
Here’s my attempt to remedy that. Below are my favorite flash games in no particular order. I’ve spent many hours on all of these when I’m procrastinating studying for an exam or have a favorite TV show on in the background on a quiet Friday night. Click on the titles to head on over to the game and give it a try.
Houston, we have lift-off.
Launch games are all about repeatedly getting some object as far as you can. With each attempt you gain more money to buy more upgrades to launch even farther. It sounds stale, but a great launch game pulls you in with rewarding upgrades and fun flight mechanics. This series is the cream of the genre’s crop. The upgrades are plentiful, the sky is filled with dangers to avoid, and it never feels like you spend too much time grinding. The first Into Space will take about an hour to beat and while fun, is a bit basic.
Into Space 2 may take you 2 – 3 hours and is filled with many more upgrades, much more distance to cover, and side missions that give you valuable rewards. Unique to this game is an interesting feature: landing intact gives you a huge bonus to each fly attempt’s score. Do you push your rocket to go as far as it can, or save plenty of fuel to land safely (and risk getting blown up in the process and losing bonuses for reaching a higher altitude)?
In my opinion, Into Space 3: Xmas Story is the weakest of the bunch, though still worth a try. You don’t win for reaching a certain height; instead you must collect 1,000 rare gifts hiding throughout the sky. The game abruptly ends once you get this 1,000th gift, and your reward for landing safely is surprisingly absent. It’s still a fun play (and is especially worth checking out at Christmas time with some TV specials on in the background), but it’s not as great as its predecessors.
Save your castle. Save your kingdom.
By far, Kingdom Rush is the most commercially successful series of games on this list. These are the very rare games that managed to sell well on Steam and mobile devices. Thankfully, this series definitely earned its success. Kingdom Rush and its sequel are the best tower defense games available today, bar none. Each of the roughly dozen levels is expertly drawn and showcases the destruction this kingdom faces. The sound effects, from the clash of swords to the groan of dead enemies, are dramatic and rewarding. There’s a huge upgrade tree and 8 main types units which allows you to tailor your play however you want. Focus on freezing and obliterating your enemies with magic, unleashing poison arrows or musket balls at them, blasting them with cannonballs or heavy artillery, or slow them down with assassins or knights.
One of my favorite touches in this game is the storyline. I’m a writer at heart, and whenever a game lacks a story it’s like a knife twisting in my heart. What’s the point of playing if I don’t know what I’m playing for? I always try to invent my own stories in those kinds of games, but Kingdom Rush saves me this work. Its tale certainly isn’t up to par with something like Mass Effect, but you’re given enough to go on. Your kingdom is in danger, and the artwork clearly reflects that with dead peasants and slaughtered animals lying beside burnt out houses. The best part is that each level gives you a paragraph explaining your army’s progress. These games are about as perfect as flash games can be and need to be checked out immediately.
A less than creative name obscures a brilliant game.
This game clearly draws inspiration from the XCOM series, one of the most well-received group of strategy games. Mission in Space is all about a team of five soldiers investigating a colony that has gone dark. The storyline is fairly bare but it gets the point across and gives you something to fight for. Like with XCOM, the five soldiers you control have no personality. Instead, you draw connections to them based on how you utilize them. Each has their own special abilities and weapons, meaning thanks to your brilliant maneuvering they’ll either suffer heavily or come to each other’s defense at the last moment.
As with most of my favorite games, there’s a large upgrade tree that really lets you foster your team according to your style of play. Focus on straight up firepower and health to last long in firefights, mobility to reach the mission’s goal quicker, or special abilities like bombs and flamethrowers. With medals awarded based on how well you complete the level, two modes of play (normal and hard), and more upgrades then you can receive in a single playthrough, this game will definitely keep you occupied for a couple of nights.
So, so many guns.
Sierra 7 is a rail shooter, so you don’t control your movement aside from choosing when to open a door and advance into the next area. Aside from one section near the end of the game you don’t get to pop in and out of cover; you must rely solely on your reflexes and firepower to keep you alive. I normally don’t care for these types of games, but Sierra 7 still manages to reel me in. That’s because it’s one of the few ways to experience first-person shooting in a flash game. That may not sound like high praise, but this game is absolutely worth checking out.
The levels are well designed and the sound effects are decent, but it’s the wide array of weapons that make this game stick out. Choose from different submachine guns, shotguns, assault rifles, light machine guns, plenty of pistols, and more. Many weapons also offer different firing modes (semi, burst, and automatic). It’s purely the guns and gameplay that merit a playthrough. If you ever have the urge to quickly fire a bunch of weapons at stick figures, check this out.
Going where no penguin has gone before.
First of all, penguins are amazing. No one can or should deny that.
They are fluffy and silly and propose to their mates by giving a pebble.
But this game’s appeal is not solely due to its adorable Spheniscidae protagonist. Learn to Fly is another launch game, similar to Into Space. The game’s star wants to prove that penguins can fly and starts out with a small ramp, a crappy hang glider, and a belly large enough to bounce off the water with. But soon you’ll be launching off of a mountain and using rockets to propel you high into the sky. Also similar to Into Space, the first game in the series can be beaten quickly and only has a few upgrades that you must obviously buy; there’s no real room for customization. The sequel greatly expands your options and lets you choose between various flying vehicles and types of boosters.
Learn to Fly lacks the ability to pick up upgrades and dodge obstacles mid-flight; you simply focus on getting the longest flight you can. On the flip-side, you have much more control over your penguin. This means a lot more skill is required to get the most distance you can. You have to maneuver just right to bounce off the water and fly with the least air resistance. It’s a different type of challenge but a wholly welcome one.
Imagine how easy this would be if it was an escape game.
A classic genre of internet games is “Escape the Room.” In these games, you’re trapped in a room or building and usually have no idea how you got there. You have to scour the area, find items, and combine them in ludicrous ways to get out. This series of game is the opposite both in theory (you have to avoid leaving an area) and execution (the combinations of items always makes sense).
The first game of this series is the quickest and simplest. You’re a werewolf and must barricade yourself in a house before the full moon rises to stop yourself from hurting anyone. Find ways to bar the windows, block the door, and restrain yourself or an entire village might be slaughtered. The game only takes a few minutes to complete, but the choices are logical and it’s cool how you can slaughter everyone, no one, or any amount in between based on how well you barricaded yourself in.
The second game is a much larger effort. This game will take twenty minutes or more to win. You’re running from a herd of zombies and know they’ll catch up to you in a matter of hours. You have to explore several different locations for supplies and people to help you stop the dead. But use your time wisely, because each place you visit and every barricade you build runs out the clock. This is my favorite game of the series, but then again I’m a sucker for anything with zombies.
The last entry in this series is by far the largest. You’re stranded on a disabled ship and everyone else has died. Figure out what has happened and find a way to escape (or maybe you shouldn’t leave?). Either way the life support system is going to fail soon, so do what you must quickly.
Great artwork, incredibly foreboding atmospheres, creepy music, logical choices, and multiple endings combine to easily make this series worth checking out.
Take Normandy or defend it.
These classic games are an utter blast to play. The basic premise is that in either World War I or World War II (depending on the game), you control a small segment of an army and try to spread across your enemy’s territory. Each mission gets you a little closer to your goal. As your supplies are occasionally replenished, you can call in different types of units. Place a single sniper in a trench to pick at your enemy’s forces, send in light machine gunners to stop advancing lines of infantry, or call forward assault teams to flush your opponents out of their cover. There’s tons of upgrades for each of your many units; improving their damage, accuracy, and special abilities such as grenades are only a few of the available choices. You can also choose to upgrade your special abilities such as aerial raids, poison gas, and artillery strikes.
There’s many things to love about these games. The background music and sound effects are incredible at getting across the sense of war. Watching your soldiers crumple to the ground and a few dots of red spill out will fill you with anger and sorrow. You can choose whether to advance quickly to your objective and cause the least loss of life, or you can hold a strong position and simply kill as many of the enemy as you can until they give up out of fear. But my favorite thing about these games is that they’re each really two games in one.
In Warfare 1917, you can choose to play a German campaign or a British one. In Warfare 1944, you can command the Americans or the Germans. Not only does each campaign have a full set of uniquely drawn levels and different objectives, but the troops and upgrades are also exclusive. All of this means that there are a crazy number of strategies and upgrade trees to experiment with. So settle into your role as commander; you won’t be done for some time.