Tag Archives: game

NightSky for PC

I don’t play a whole lot of computer games these days, but when a friend bought me NightSky on Steam for my birthday, I decided to give it a whirl. It looked interesting, with a very different concept from most of the games I’ve been used to playing. As I soon discovered, it’s a great little challenge!

Screenshots and Tips

Your game begins with a little story introduction and tutorial, helping you learn how to control this strange little glass sphere you’ve found on the beach. (The main controls use Left and Right arrow keys for movement, as well as A and S for special controls which change with each stage’s needs.)

During the game, you learn how to roll the little ball up and down hills (and use the terrain to your advantage to make long jumps)…

…and how to use the various mechanical things in the environment to get through each level.

On some levels, you even pilot strange contraptions with your glass ball! (Take time to experiment with how controls interact with the contraption before you start trying to conquer the level.)

In other levels, you have to set off switches with the Enter/Return key in a precise order to make the level passable. Use the Up and Down arrows to select which switch you want to highlight and set off.

Sometimes, certain conditions must be met before you can advance through the level; usually you have to roll through the yellow circle to unblock the level.

On the level selection screens, some levels will be marked with a black star in the upper right corner. This means that the level has a Secret Star entrance to complete the level a different way. Find these so you can finish the game’s last group of levels.

When you’ve found the Secret Star entrance in a level, the star on the level screen will show up white instead of black. But how do you find them? Read on…

On a starred level, take a VERY close look around in the level for something that just looks out of place. In this case, the bricks around the Secret Star entrance have no mortar–it just looks different, and there are angled bits above and below the entrance as well.

On more organic levels, look for parts of the walls or floor that just look too straight and perfect. (This one also has a handy ramp leading up to it–pay attention to how the terrain is arranged as well!)

My Personal Impressions

I really enjoy this game most of the time. Admittedly, I have cursed and raged over a few levels which were more frustrating to complete, but that notwithstanding, I still like the game. It provides a challenge without having to use boss battles and enemy groups–in this game, your only enemy is your own frustration level. There is no penalty (as far as I know right now) for having to try to complete a level multiple times; all it cares about is that you finally got through in the end. It encourages retrying and thinking out of the box to solve the various problems it presents you with, which I like quite a bit.

My biggest personal tip: Just don’t get agitated and try to rush through levels. The slower, easier, and calmer you take this game, the better. If you get frustrated and start hurrying, you’ll have to repeat a lot more levels. TRUST ME. LOL

Game Information

4 Ways to Be a Kid Again (For 5 Minutes)

As a kid, I always thought I had it pretty rough in terms of school responsibilities. That was, of course, before I grew up and found that out in the “real world” lay tons more responsibilities, more than I could have ever dreamed. Being grown-up can be very, very stressful…no wonder we’re all medicated and in therapy these days!

So, instead of trying to medicate our stress away, how about we approach it a little more creatively? How about we access some of that crazy kid energy we used to have? It’s actually still there, if we take the time to tap into it.

Create a Crazy Masterpiece…in MS Paint

Remember when art was fun, not something you worried over? Remember when the coloring of a single page in a coloring book could consume your whole being till it was done? We may not have coloring books for adults, but we have software programs that can stand in.

Start off by drawing something like this, just wild and crazy lines streaking across the image…

Then add a little color, whatever color you want and wherever it ought to be…

Keep going, focusing only on the task at hand, till you either get tired of it or you’re finished! If you get tired of it or want to start anew, no problem; if you finish it and yet don’t want to save it, no worries–kids crumple up drawings and restart all the time. (And who knows, you might just inspire yourself with the random art you create!)

Go Outside for No Reason

Kids always seem to be drawn like magnets toward the outdoors, but as adults, we somehow lose that desire to be out and about as much, especially if it doesn’t have anything to do with our jobs or our more “grown-up” relaxation time. More of us end up staying indoors where the technology (and the to-do lists) reign.

So, how about just going outside, for absolutely no reason other than to be outside? Feel the air temperature, breathe a little easier, and just be open to whatever you discover. “Enjoying the day” doesn’t have to be part of a vacation itinerary, nor does it have to be penciled in on your calendar. It can happen any time, any day you want or need it to happen. For most of us, just taking time to see the actual environment we live in would be a revelation of senses. This is not necessarily about “getting in tune with Nature,” but about experiencing the physical world around us rather than being locked in our own mental world full of deadlines and other “grown-up” stuff.

Make Up a Silly Game

In childhood, almost anything could be made into a game–remember that? We didn’t need hardly anything to create a game of our own, either to play by ourselves or to play with others. Making super-long chains of paper clips to stand in as “jump ropes” (I remember doing that–it was kinda successful, LOL), or wadding up great quantities of paper and rubber bands to make monstrous, lumpy creations that were sort of like baseballs to throw around…and making up rules as you go along, like “You can only jump over the paper-clip chain 3 times, and then you have to toss the paper ball as far as you can.”

These days, it can be hard for us to think about making our own games when so many fun technology-based games exist. But what about turning everyday tasks into little games? Like Mary Poppins said, “in every job there is an element of fun–you find the fun, and SNAP! the job’s a game!” Challenge yourself to Housecleaning Games, where collecting the most trash in the fastest time gets you points–and even more points for collecting it with style. Or turn your daily to-do list into a game where every item is a “level” to be conquered. It doesn’t matter what the game is or what the prizes are–sometimes, the prize can be in the creation of the game itself!

Imagine Something Outlandish

As children, we are taught that imagination is wonderful; as adults, we learn that imagination is “not company policy,” “not the way things are done around here,” etc. Sometimes that can really leave us stymied when it comes to creativity–we constantly self-censor and push aside the most wildly creative impulses as being “too childish.”

So, to let that childlike creativity out to play again, try the following trick: Imagine that a character from your favorite TV show/book/movie is doing something totally and hilariously out of character. Where does that action take him/her? What happens when other characters from the TV show/book/movie see or hear about this? (Here’s my example: Cinderella becomes a punk rocker and writes songs about her stepmother and stepsisters.)

Follow this story out as long as possible, adding details, making it as outlandish and funny as you want. Even when it gets kind of “awkward,” keep pursuing it–this is how you let your inner child free!


All of these ideas might sound a little silly to us “grown-ups.” But then again, we used to revel in being silly, and we had a whole lot more fun back then. We don’t have to completely give up our adult life, but we can put it aside just for a few minutes, to get back a little childlike joy. Isn’t that worth trying?

Flow Free

Looking for a puzzle game with plenty of little challenges? Then I suggest you check out Flow Free, a neat little game app by the folks at BigDuckGames.

Basic Gameplay

The point behind Flow Free is to connect all the dots on a grid of a certain size, using the connecting lines to fill up the entire grid, without any lines overlapping each other. Seems pretty simply and straightforward, right? Well, it is–for the first few levels.

Image Credit: iTunes App Store
At first, you start out with levels like this 5×5 grid at left, with only a few different colors of dots. These puzzles don’t take too long to solve–you just have to figure out how to wrap the lines around each other rather than crossing over each other. With grids this small, you also don’t have to worry too much about filling up all the allotted grid space–it pretty well happens by nature.
Image Credit: iOSApps.com
But, as you can see at the extreme right of this screenshot, there are levels beyond the 5×5 grid. More space is introduced; more colors of dots are introduced. You wouldn’t think the game would get harder with MORE space, but it does–you still have to fill up the grid, so sometimes you have to come up with interesting ways to take up space with a line or two. And above all, the lines can’t block each other off!

Image Credit: GamesDreams.com
Eventually, you end up with levels like this and beyond, where colors interweave in a careful, angular dance that’s often more about thinking outside the box and taking up space rather than getting things connected in the most efficient manner. (The website I just linked to, GamesDreams.com, has solutions for every level, which is helpful if you get flat-out stuck as I have a few times!) Rest assured, each level presents new challenges!

Game Levels

The game comes with several 150-levels-apiece packs for free:

  • Regular Pack (5×5 to9x9 boards)
  • Bonus Pack (5×5 to 9×9)
  • 8×8 Mania (lots and lots of 8×8 boards)
  • 9×9 Mania
  • Jumbo Pack for iPad (10×10 to 14×14 boards–super difficult!)

There are also some extra packs you can buy for 99 cents each, or buy for about $4.00 all together:

  • Green Pack (5×5-9×9)
  • Blue Pack (5×5-9×9)
  • 10×10 Mania
  • Kids Pack (5×5 and 6×6)
  • Rainbow Pack (5×5-9×9)
  • Purple Pack for iPad (10×10-14×14)
  • Pink Pack for iPad (10×10-14×14)

Completing a Level vs. Perfecting a Level

In Flow Free, just “completing” a level can be different from finishing it perfectly. You can finish a level and move on to the next one, no matter how many times you had to retrace your lines or undo moves, but you get extra points if you can finish it with the minimum number of moves. Completed levels are marked with a check mark; perfected levels are marked with a star. Try to perfect them all!

Bonus: Time Trials

Once you complete the game’s Free Play levels, which are not timed, you can try your hand (or fingertip) at the timed levels, which test how many puzzles you can solve in a certain length of time (30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, and 4 minutes). All of the Time Trial puzzles are 5×5 boards, so they aren’t too terribly hard, but some of them can be a little tricky!

To Download and Play:

For iPhone/iPod touch/iPad: iTunes App Store link
For Android: Google Play link
For Windows 8/RT: Windows Store link

Composing Music with Sound Matrix

For composers, musicians, and music enthusiasts, then the Sound Matrix Flash game could be your new favorite Internet toy. I’ve definitely wasted more than my share of time goofing around with it! 😀

How to Use Sound Matrix

When you load up the game, you are greeted with the above blank gray grid on a black background.

Clicking any gray square on the grid turns it white; the white square will produce a tone every so often. In the above example, this white square produces a B natural approximately every 3-4 seconds, and the little white square lights up when “struck,” such that the whole grid sparkles with it. Very pretty! 😀

For those who might be interested, I came up with the complete musical scale that Sound Matrix can produce. (The uppermost squares produce the highest tones; the lowermost squares produce the lowest.) While this may not look like the most diverse scale, it can actually create quite a variation of tunes!

As for actually composing tunes, clicking squares that are an equal horizontal distance apart will give you a “beat,” which will loop every few seconds. That’s pretty much all you need to know–the rest is just experimentation, play, and happy accidents! 🙂

A Few of My Sound Matrix Compositions

These are a few little tunes I came up with while musing and playing; I had a ton more saved, but I lost them in the Great Hard Drive Crash of 2011. :/ But where those came from, there are plenty more 🙂 The following screenshots kind of serve as “sheet music” for Sound Matrix:

“Celebration in A Major”

“An E-Z Groove”

“Latin Dance in B Minor”

“Triplets in E”

“Fast Club Jam in B Minor”

Incredibox, aka “The Musical Sandbox I Can’t Quit Playing In”

Thanks to Stumbleupon, I found this awesome little Flash tool called Incredibox, which is my new “musical sandbox.” I like it so much I wanted to honor it in this week’s creativity post, because it certainly makes me feel more creative!

How to Use Incredibox

After it loads, you’re greeted with this screen, where one little guy waits to make your beatbox club dreams come true.

Click and drag one of the colorful icons to the guy’s hat, and he’ll start making a beatbox sound–there are various beatbox effects, such as bass, beats and breaks, melodies, and other vocal additions.

As soon as you add one effect, another little guy appears, so that you can keep adding effects to create your own song.

As the above picture shows, you can have up to 7 effects going at one time!

If you want to get rid of an effect, you can hover over the character making the sound and click the “X” in the box that appears.

Recording and Sending Your Tune

Once you’ve hammered out exactly what effects you like and how you want to put them together, you can click the circle button (top left) to record your song.

This is what it looks like when you’re recording–a strip appears across the top showing how long the recording is going. Maximum recording length is 30. If you need to stop the recording for whatever reason (if you misclicked or waited too long to start/stop an effect, for instance), you can click the circle button again (it becomes a square when you hover over it).

After it’s recorded, you can review it, and then save and send it via email, Facebook, and/or Twitter to your friends!

For inspiration, here’s a little tune I made and recorded using Incredibox–I call it the “Pensive Club Jam”. 😀

Give Incredibox a try and see what kinds of cool grooves you can make! I literally spent an hour the other day while writing this post playing with it…it’s addictive!

(PS: Happy birthday to me! :D)

Castle Wars 2

Building on the success of the first Castle Wars game, which I wrote about before, Castle Wars 2 improves on every facet of the original game, and introduces a new mode of play as well.

Basic Game Premise

You gather your resources, build up your defensive wall to protect your castle, and survive long enough to either get your castle to 100 height, or smash your opponent’s castle to 0. (Fans of Magic: the Gathering will recognize some similarities in gameplay along the way).

Just as in the first game, you begin with three different types of resources:

  • Bricks (obtained through Builders)
  • Crystals (obtained through Mages)
  • Weapons (obtained through Recruits)

The more Builders, Mages, and/or Recruits you have, the more of those resources you get per turn. (For instance, if you had 4 Builders and 2 Soldiers, you’d get 4 Brick resources every turn, but only 2 Weapons resources every turn.)

The key to surviving in the game is to use your resources efficiently, and try not to depend too much on any one type of resource.

This is the opening screen, with all its options.

Game Modes and Options

Players of the original game will be familiar with the “Practice” gameplay mode–that’s pretty much all that the first Castle Wars was.

In both “Campaign” and “Practice” modes, this is how your screen will look. Your castle is on the left, with your information about resources and castle height at top left; your enemy is on the right.


  • Shovel: Builders
  • Brick: Brick resource
  • Helmet: Recruits
  • Axe: Weapons resource
  • Pointed hat with stars: Mages
  • Sparkling crystal: Crystal resources

About the Action Panel

New for Castle Wars 2, the Action Panel helps with tasks during your turn. By default, you can click a lit-up card to use it; you can also click “Discard” and select up to 3 cards to ditch from your hand. Lastly, you can click “Card Info”, then click a card to see what it does in more detail.

Campaign Mode

The “Campaign” mode is a new, story-mode style of play, in which you choose a “tribe” to play as (either “Easy,” “Medium,” or “Hard”), and battle against other castles around you, trying to take over every territory on the map. But once you’ve taken over every territory, there is still one challenge remaining–I won’t spoil it for you! 🙂

Practice Mode

In Practice Mode, you can choose a number of options that aren’t available to you in Campaign Mode. You can choose whose turn comes first, what “tribe” you and your computerized opponent are playing, and even select your own customized deck (if you’ve built one using the Deck Manager, explained below). You can even select what the background looks like and what background music is playing!

Deck Manager

The Deck Manager allows you to build and save your own customized versions of the default deck. Scroll down using the brown scrollbar on the right side to see all the card options; use the up and down arrows underneath each card to choose the quantity of that card in your deck.

Your custom deck must have at least 75 cards, and you’ll want to build in at least 3 of each Builder, Recruit, and Mage cards, but other than that, the sky’s the limit in terms of innovation. When you’re done, click “Save” at the bottom, and give your new deck a name. (To test it out, enter Practice Mode and click the Player 1 tab. Beside “Deck: Default,” click the word “Change,” and a list including your new custom deck will come up.)


You must create an account with GamerSafe to play multi-player Castle Wars 2. I’ve never tried it–if you’ve tried it, tell me about it in the comments section!

Play the game: Castle Wars 2