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 a few still need Flash (we mention which). 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.
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!
Play 10 Bullets now (requires Flash)
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.
Play Abobo's Big Adventure now (requires Flash)
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.
Text adventures fell out of fashion when home gaming systems got more graphical clout than a calculator. But AI Dungeon reworks something approximating Zork by making adventures endless – and often a strange mix of deranged, terrifying, and hilarious.
You can kick off a quest based on generic themes, but custom scenarios are more fun. And, yes, we made one about Stuff HQ. We’ve still not recovered from virtual Matt Tate calling himself ‘Granny Tickelface’, nor virtual Natalya Paul calmly eating breakfast during a random apocalypse.
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.
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.
Candy Box 2
The beginning of Candy Box 2 is as minimal as can be. A candy counter ticks upwards, and you can eat all your candies, or lob some to the ground. But amass enough sugary treats and Candy Box 2 rapidly goes a bit weird.
What started out resembling a pointless clicker transforms into an oddball RPG. You ‘buy’ a status bar, and then some weapons, before scouring a village and beyond, embarking on epic quests where you get all stabby with an ASCII sword. Because that’s the final bit of bonkers: Candy Box 2 looks like it’s beamed in from a Commodore PET – and it’s glorious.
Sort of what might happen if you knocked Threes! 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.