The Weekly Geek: Spending Time with “ScaryGirl”

Since the dawn of messing around on the internet, flash games have been one of the best (and most fun) time wasters around. How many hours of work have been prevented by some goofy freeware variation on matching different colored blobs/blocks/faces? How many students have failed Bio 101 because the urge to play Snood was so much greater than the need to learn about the cardiovascular system?

Well, I want to give you an alternative. Instead of wasting your time playing mindless distractions, why not “waste” your time on a game that offers fantastic art direction, clever puzzles and an awesome little heroine? Yes, geeky readers: I’m asking you to get more involved in your work/ home goofing off.

In all seriousness, the game I’m recommending is utterly fantastic — it’s as good as (actually, it’s better than) many full-priced video games and is absolutely free (you don’t even need to download anything, it plays right in your browser). ScaryGirl is an adventure game set in a very colorful, wacky, gorgeously realized 2D world, and it’s absolutely worth your precious online time.

It plays a bit like a platformer (think Super Mario Bros.) and an old Lucas Arts Adventure game (Maniac Mansion, anyone?), and it looks like the lovechild between Beetlejuice and Psychonauts — which is quite a feat, given how utterly unique those properties are. It also carries that same brand of absurd yet totally tongue-in-cheek humor, most evident in the creepy/cute characters and the random dialogue.

It’s beautiful and incredibly fun — and have I mentioned yet that it’s free? It’s probably the best “recession-friendly” experience you can have above playing outside with a beat-up Frisbee.

There are a few other good free flash games that are well worth your bored-stiff afternoon hours, though none are as charming (of fully featured) as ScaryGirl. If you’re in the mood for a little recession-depression fun (and/or snarky commentary on our current economic climate), a few sessions with Layoff are highly recommended. The game is basically Bejeweled with an added dose of guilt — instead of matching gems, you’re dropping workers — each of whom has a description of his/her life and financial hardships/goals. If you’ve just gotten laid off, it’s the perfect way to enact revenge/power fantasies on other helpless saps.

It’s also a good way to depress yourself — so if you need a little pure escapism, try out the abstract, captivating Majesty of Colors. It’s really short — and the graphics are (deliberately) pixilated — but it’s guaranteed to get your mind off of the current climate. And really, isn’t that the point?

Do you have any favorite fun time wasting games?

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