Over the weekend you might find yourself without your consoles or beefed-up PC. You might be staying at a relative's house or keeping your grandmother company. She might have a computer that runs Vista. Just as you're ready to claw your eyes out after your second cousin suggests for the sixtieth time that you join in on a game of Jeopardy!, you decide that unless you play a video game immediately, you might actually explode. This is where Kotaku steps in.
We've hand-picked six browser-based games that both Mark and myself have thoroughly enjoyed this year. These games should run on most computers and each provides a very different experience, from frantic keyboard-mashing madness, to brain-tickling puzzles, and quiet, contemplative platform games. These games should give you some respite from when you decide that the silly season has ventured into stupid territory.
From the mind of Bennett Foddy, the same person who made QWOP and GIRP, comes a two-player pole-vaulting game that is challenging enough to keep your brain from atrophying this Christmas, and is also neat enough that your relatives might be interested in playing with you. The training mode is one-player, so if you hate everyone around you, you can play alone.
Our favourite French indies (Frindies), One Life Remains, have returned with a classy little jumping game that requires you to place bouncing pads in the air for your character to leap off. The aim is to leap as high as you can, bouncing from wall to pad to wall to wall to pad to pad; it's simple enough, but in true One Life Remains fashion it's very well-designed and is definitely worth checking out.
Another game with a jumping mechanic, think of ESCAPE as a vertical Canabalt — the aim is to see how far you can get before you hit some spikes or get zapped by lasers. It's a very fast-paced game that's easy to try again and again, and the little ninja you play as is full of character. Also, that music is... frantic.
This recommendation comes from Mark, who put me onto K.O.L.M 2 after praising the game and its prequel. Like many of the games featured here, you jump and gun and you're a little robot, but peel back a layer of the game with a fine pair of tweezers and you'll find a story about an emotionally-abused, eager to please character navigating its way through hostile environments.
From Melbourne indie developer, Harry Lee, comes Impasse, a puzzle game that is about as good a procrastination tool as Online Mahjong, which is to say that I sat down with the intention of spending five minutes with it, and did not close the game until I had pulled out most of my hair trying to figure out the puzzles. It's very clever, simple and, if you manage to beat all the levels, satisfying.
Mark spent a minute watching me play this game and did not stop lolling as I shot myself into the ground, blasted myself backwards, ran into walls, and fell spectacularly to my death. No Time To Explain isn't just fun to play, it's fun to watch others play, and while I've embarrassed myself enough for a day, I'm sure many people will get a kick out of this on Christmas Day.
Do you have a browser-based game to recommend? Do you know of any flash games that would go down a treat at family gatherings? Let us know!