That really important thing that needs doing? Yeah, that’s not going to happen, because we’ve rounded up the finest browser games around, and they’re all free.
Many are HTML5-based and need a decent browser (Chrome’s a good bet), and some still need Flash. All are entertaining to the level you’ll set fire to your Xbox and live life entirely inside a browser.
Oh, all right, they’re not quite that good, but if you can’t waste an insane number of hours playing these fab games, it must be because you hate fun itself.
Additional words by Sam Kieldsen
Button-mashing casual retro shooters abound. But what makes 10 Bullets special is the paucity of ammunition. You have just ten projectiles to take down as many spacecraft as possible. The trick is to time shots so debris from ships you destroy causes chain reactions. BOOM!
With careful timing, you can obliterate entire fleets of nasties with a single bullet. And because you’re only seldom tapping a key to play, anyone in the office will think you’re mulling over something terribly important. Win!
Abobo’s Big Adventure
A glowing, nostalgia-fuelled NES tribute, Abobo’s Big Adventure stars a forgotten face of the 8-bit era: the eponymous Abobo. This muscle-bound hulk from Double Dragon sets out to rescue his son, mostly by punching people in the face.
The visuals are suitably old-school and there are loads of cameos from classic titles. It plays well, too, hurling you back to a halcyon era of beat ’em ups with a smattering of platform action, and a splattering of pixelated gore.
A Dark Room
Coming from the same developer as Gridland (also in this list) and supplying a similar ‘thrive ’n’ survive’ challenge, A Dark Room nevertheless takes a very different tack. It’s a text- and menu-driven adventure in which you build up and maintain a successful community in a harsh wilderness. Logistics and supply management are as important as surviving animal attacks, and the adventure can be long and gruelling. Fortunately, you can save progress in your browser and continue at a later date.
Alter Ego isn’t pretty – visually or in terms of content. This browser-based remake of an ancient PC game deals with progress through everyday life. It’s as far from The Sims as you can imagine, too – instead of cute little idiots blundering about, you get stark icons and multiple-choice text.
But there’s depth, with a clever (if admittedly slightly conservative) script written by a psychologist, which offers branching progress that could lead you to a happy old age or abruptly dying as a toddler, having necked some bleach found under the sink.
Boulder Dash jQ
This unofficial tribute to the 1980s 8-bit classic finds Rockford digging through dirt, grabbing diamonds, and trying to avoid getting crushed by the titular boulders or blown up by explosive underground wildlife.
It looks crude, but the mix of puzzling and arcade action remains highly compelling. It’s not quite a one-to-one conversion – some cave speeds are off, for example, but it scratches a particular retro itch when you’ve a few minutes to spare, and are many miles away from a Commodore 64.
Sort of what might happen if you knocked 2048 into pool, Combo Pool finds you firing coloured balls into a tiny arena. If two match, they merge and upgrade to the next colour, until you eventually knock together a pair of explosive pink balls.
The twist is you’ve an energy bar – keep smashing balls into the arena without combining them and your life quickly runs dry. One for wannabe trick shot masters, then, not least because rebounds considerably ramp up your score.
Originally a hit on mobile, Contre Jour loses a little of its tactile qualities and immediacy in the browser — but none of its charm. The aim is to guide cycloptic blob Petit to the exit in each single-screen level, manipulating the local environment to do so. You warp the ground to roll him about, swing Petit around via springy ropes, and catapult him across the screen (and, frequently, into painful spikes) using tiny trampolines.
It’s hard to know what to make of Cookie Clicker. On one hand, it’s essentially a Skinner box, rewarding players with nothing in particular in return for them clicking like crazy. But it also appears to be an amusing satire on the state of modern ‘idle’ gaming.
Initially, you click and you get a cookie. The more cookies you have, the more power-ups you can afford, including cursors that click on your behalf. Eventually, you’re using time machines to bring cookies from the past, “before they were even eaten”, and converting raw light into cookies with giant prisms, to bring in millions of cookies per second. To what end? Stuff’s not sure, but currently has 509 billion cookies in a really big plastic box if you fancy one.