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Three Excellent Flash Games

These days, gaming has become a new kind of creature. Shiny, glossy console adventures have created a billion-dollar industry and PC gaming has tended more and more in the direction of lush complexity and stunning cinematics. Developers have budgets bigger than a lot of studio films coming out of Hollywood and have adopted a similarly innovation-averse business model. But, also like the film industry, the video game medium has started to embrace the work of independent outsiders. Games like Braid and World of Goo have received plenty of acclaim and a good number of players. For an entire generation of aspiring game designers, life in the art begins with Flash. Popular Flash-game websites like Kongregate and Newgrounds feature work from people as young as 13. With Flash originals like Alien Hominid getting official console releases, one-designer browser games are looking like an increasingly sound entry-level business approach. Here are three recent Flash games that show how talented and innovative these new designers can be. Super Crazy Guitar Maniac Deluxe 3 A designer who goes by the name Shinki has been lampooning the popular Guitar Hero games since 2006 with SCGMD. Playing through all three games in the series is like watching a designer's learning process. The first in the series was a scant proof-of-concept, short and not very pretty. The sequel introduces a number of elegant solutions to the problem of making a keyboard-dependent rhythm game. By using a combination of arrow keys and the letter keys A S and D, Shinki managed to pull off a simple but addictive design. By the third installment all of the bugs and flaws had been worked out. It's challenging, it keeps you coming back and it leaves you with a strong sense of accomplishment. The Fancy Pants Adventure, Worlds One and Two Flash game company Armor Games produces some pretty consistently good content. Easily their most impressive addition to the art is The Fancy Pants Adventure by Brad Borne. It plays like a smoother, funnier, more artistic Sonic the Hedgehog. The animation is some of the cleanest I've ever seen with Flash and the physics are astounding, especially when Fancy Pants pulls off one of his gravity-defying ceiling runs. With optional game-within-a-game mechanics and levels by guest artists, World 2 ups the variety without breaking stylistic continuity. The Fancy Pants Adventure is one of those games that hooks you quickly with its no-frills fun and cheeky charm, then locks you in for much longer than you intended. The Warbears Series Italian developer Gionatan Iasio has given us four adventures in his Warbears series. A deceptively cute point-and-click action puzzle, Warbears follows in the tradition of games like Lapland and The Polyphonic Spree's surprisingly beautiful promotional game Quest for the Rest. Warbears is more fast-paced than many of the other games in the emerging genre and it's no less challenging for it. In each adventure, players must guide a SWAT team of goofy bears through a tense and complicated mission, usually involving the rescue of hostages and the thwarting of bank robbers. Each bear has a specialty, resulting in a series of mini-games within larger mission. By requiring such a mix of skills, Iasio has managed to produce a dense, engaging game.