Originally a tasty slice of PC freeware, Spelunky then became a darling of the PS Vita indie scene. It’s easy to see why: the mix of traps, monsters, route-finding and secrets, and fast-paced classic platforming action across randomly generated maps, is intoxicating stuff.
The original was in 2012 reworked for the browser, and remains superb fun – although you might disagree when your cute little adventurer is suddenly shot out of the air with a poison dart or clubbed to death by an irate caveman.
For many, Threes! is mobile’s Tetris – a ridiculously compulsive and replayable puzzler ideally suited to smartphones, and that ravenously devours your time. And it’s available online, too, so thanks for that, developers. Does our productivity mean nothing to you? (Probably not.)
The game has you swipe numbered tiles around a four-by-four grid, merging pairs to increase their numbers. You might say that sounds an awful lot like 2048, but 2048 is in fact a rubbish clone of Threes!, so stick with the original, and blissfully ignore all those deadlines whizzing past your ears.
Dipping its toes into several retro pools, Treasure Arena is essentially an arena shooter that really wants to be an old-school dungeon crawler on the SNES.
It certainly looks the part, with its chunky pixel graphics. And there’s an immediacy that recalls classic arcade fare, with you darting about dungeons, picking up coins and power-ups, before heading into the fray to duff up anyone nearby.
This superb word game subverts crosswords, having you drag columns of letters about to colour tiles. When all the tiles are coloured, you can bask in your ability to pick words out of a jumble – or methodically brute-force answers when you can’t find the final word.
A trio of themed web-only puzzles is available on the TypeShift website; beyond those, there’s a daily puzzle over at the home of dictionary gurus Merriam-Webster. And although one puzzle per day might not seem like much, some of them are tricky enough to demand an entire lunch hour.
This fast-paced platformer is a smart time-attack challenge that has you sprint and fly through 33 levels, grabbing as many trophies as you can along the way.
The gameplay might seem a touch familiar, but everything here is top-notch: chunky retro graphics; jaunty soundtrack; responsive controls and well-judged physics when jetpacking through the air; and tight level design that forces you to pay attention if you don’t want to keep getting impaled on spikes.
Wizard of Wor
Wizard Of Wor appears to be a browser-based remake of a C64 conversion of an ancient arcade game! Which is a bit weird. It’s a fantastic old-school title, though, where you roam claustrophobic mazes and blast monsters before they tear your face off. Best of all, there’s a simultaneous two-player mode. Hit Shift and player one (blue) can use AWSD and Shift, while player two (yellow) uses the cursors and Enter. Given that you can ‘accidentally’ shoot each other, too, either of you can then use the entire keyboard to smack your opponent with.
Note: use Firefox for this one.
You’ve probably had your fill of mini-golf games on your PC and handhelds, but give Wonderputt a go anyway, because it’s like someone took the genre, got Escher and Gilliam to bang heads about how to design a course, and filtered the end result through the talents of a first-rate digital artist.
Initially, your little ball tonks about a simple hole comprising four discs, but then the entire landscape dramatically shifts and transforms again and again, with astonishing transitions that will make you grin like a loon unless you’re dead inside.
Play Wonderputt now (requires Flash)
World's Biggest Pac-Man
Built to promote the original Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary (they grow up so fast!), World’s Biggest Pac-Man makes two major changes to the original title. First, the two wraparound tunnels are replaced by four doorways, one at each screen edge, enabling you to escape to another maze. Secondly, the creators enabled anyone to submit mazes. Within a week, there were over 10,000. Now there are hundreds of thousands – enough to last even the most ardent dot-muncher several lifetimes.