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
Originally a tasty slice of PC freeware, Spelunky more recently 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 one of the very best examples of browser-based gaming around - although you might not agree when your cute little adventurer is suddenly shot out of the air with a poison dart or clubbed to death by an irate caveman yet again.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
In order to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its release, the BBC “remastered” this classic text-based adventure game by putting it in browser-playable form - meaning a whole new generation of players can die in lots and lots of different ways. Based on the first of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker’s Guide novels (reading it may provide you with some much-needed clues), it even supports game saves, so you don’t need to complete it in one sitting. Which is just as well given how tough it is.
Robot Unicorn Attack Evolution
Adult Swim’s endless runner isn’t a huge departure from the countless other endless runners you might have played on your phone or tablet, but succeeds by virtue of its quirky charm: you are a robot unicorn in some kind of dreamland, racing, jumping and rainbow-dashing (yes, that’s a thing) sideways for as long as possible before collision with an object sends you up in a shower of sparks, flames and chrome-plated horse-parts. The Erasure soundtrack only serves to slather another layer of campy charm on to proceedings.
Coma is clearly inspired by indie classic Limbo, sharing a similar art style and even the “find your lost sister” plot-starter – but even if you’ve played through the latter, it’s worth spending some time with the former.
And you won’t have to spend much, either. This Flash-based platform-puzzler can easily be completed in under 20 minutes – by which time you may be a little sick of the keyboard controls, which aren’t quite as accurate as a control pad. Still, a diverting and quite beautiful little game.
A tower defence game in which you have to build fortifications to fend off waves of ever-stronger bad guys. There’s a fantasy setting, which means archers, knights, wizards and so on are your staples as you attempt to hold back hordes of goblins, orcs, ogres and bandits, and as you progress you gain stars enabling you to upgrade your towers to counter the increasing threat levels. If you like your strategy games fairly casual and cutesy (not to mention free and not too time-consuming) Kingdom Rush fits the bill like a suit of tailor-made armour.
This appropriately named time-sink has a basic enough premise – use your mouse to control a swivelling gun turret and shoot a number of floating balls to clear a level – but goes about each stage in a totally different way, meaning you’ll have to use your wits just as much as your trigger finger. Examples? Well, one level is essentially a big pool table, while another only has your shots count once they’ve rebounded off the arena’s walls.
Note: a mouse is a must for this one, as trackpads won’t give you the degree of control you need.
From the creator of cult text-based title A Dark Room, Gridland superficially resembles a typical match-three puzzler.
The word ‘superficially’ has been used quite deliberately here, because Gridland is in reality something else entirely, in terms of mechanics and structure. This only becomes clear after a few failed attempts to battle through day and night, building structures with your earnings while the sun moves across the sky, and then battling all kinds of evil horrors in the darkness.
To say more would spoil one of the best games of 2014, but there is one tip worth bearing in mind: if you find yourself being regularly defeated, think more about how you’re approaching the game, and recognise day and night are very different beasts.
Abobo’s Big Adventure
A glowing, nostalgia-fuelled tribute to the Nintendo Entertainment System, Abobo’s Big Adventure stars one of the forgotten faces of the 8-bit era (the eponymous Abobo, the muscle-bound “sub-boss” from Double Dragon) as he sets out to rescue his son.
But the plot, such as it is, doesn’t matter: what matters is the way the game pays homage to many of your favourite NES games, with characters from games including Donkey Kong, Spy Vs Spy and Super Mario Bros all making appearances – and that’s just in the first stage. The gameplay varies between beat 'em up and platform styles, and it’s unashamedly, unreformed old school in its approach.
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 over 150,000 - enough to last even the most ardent dot-muncher several lifetimes.
You liked Pong? Cube Slam is Pong on meth. It's a beautifully 3D rendered version of the classic (which you'll see more of below) with power-ups and satisfyingly meaty sound effects. You can play against real people online, and because the egame supports webcams you can even see those annoying people that keep beating you .
Or if you prefer to embrace artificially intelligent nature, go up against Bob the Bear. He's an AI bot who's always there for you when your friends aren't. Try it now, but be prepared to lose at least half an hour.