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Gaming for N00bs: Want to procrastinate? Try these great free online games

Posted by Alex Pearlman  March 4, 2012 05:48 PM

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procrastination cartoon.jpgBy Vanessa Formato

A professor once told me that journalists are the kind of writers that would never write anything without a deadline, and I would place myself firmly in that category. I'm a major procrastinator, and as such, I spend a significant portion of my free time doing approximately nothing useful at all.

Fortunately, this kind of procrastination lends itself to finding a lot of fun online games -- and if I share a few of the ones I've been playing lately, all that procrastination counts as research, right?

Robot Unicorn Attack: EvolutionI just discovered this newest version of everyone's favorite quirky-fabulous Adult Swim game, and oh boy, am I hooked. Robot Unicorn Attack has offered up some worthwhile remixes -- the official heavy metal version and the not-so-official Nyan Cat spinoff come to mind -- but this one is truly the ultimate. Getting every star is crucial, as exploding them consecutively will help you evolve into other animals (all with horns, of course) and play in different environment, and each animal plays just a little bit differently, which adds to the challenge. You can level up and earn helpful upgrades, but most of the fun comes with forging ahead in attempt to find out what your next evolution will be -- that, and listening to Erasure. Really, you will never get that song out of your brain.

Super Mario Bros. Crossover 2.0The Super Mario Bros. Crossover games have been kicking around the Internet for some time now, but it was only recently that I found this latest version. If you're the type of Mario fan who's always wanted to spice up the Mushroom Kingdom, this game is the last one you'll ever need. Developer Jay Pavlina struck gold with the idea of “what if”-ing heroes from other franchises into the Mario universe, making the game we know and love a little bit more friendly (try Bass on for size). I've spent hours testing out the characters, which are admittedly more fun to play with if you're already familiar with them, but even though beginners might not get a lot of the cameos, they still shouldn't pass this game over. Even with a few years of practice under my belt, I find Mario games to be some of the most difficult platformers.

Burrito Bison RevengeIn a way, this game has everything. It's cute, it's a little violent, it's just challenging enough, and it's irreverent. You've probably played a game like BBR before: Launch an object, see how far it goes, and try to get a better distance each time. The concept is a little tired, the game is cute; its clever mechanics and charming graphics keep this version from being a throwaway. In BBR, you're wreaking havoc on Candyland in the name of your stolen wallet, and to advance across the levels, you have to bounce off and/or maim adorable gummy bears. One of the main reasons I kept playing as long as I did was to see what kinds of bear and what environments I would encounter; different bears have different powers that break up the potential monotony, and an upgrade system, along with challenges, keeps you hooked. BBR is stupidly addictive, but you really won't mind that you can't play just one round.

New York Shark. This game is delightfully ridiculous. The latest installment in a series of shark-terrorizes-specific-city games by Felix Wiesner, New York Shark is the kind of game that turns you into a giddy child, makes you giggle maniacally as you down airplanes and sink ferries, and leaves you feeling like a complete jerk. Conceivably, none of the people you maul did anything to you -- especially not those poor cows -- but the bloodshed is perhaps all the more satisfying for it. Somehow, you want to keep swimming and killing to see what ridiculous scenario is coming up next, and that's OK. We're all adults here, and we can handle a little senseless violence. New York Shark is carnage for carnage's sake -- an incredibly fun and cathartic little romp, if you can get past the pangs of guilt.

What's your favorite free online time-wasting game?

'Gaming for N00bs' is TNGG Boston's bi-weekly gaming column, written by Vanessa Formato.

Photo by edbury (Flickr)

About Vanessa -- Vanessa Formato is a 23-year-old Clark University graduate, freelance journalist, vegan cupcake enthusiast and video game aficionado. She blogs about body image and tweets about puppies. So awesome, even John Stamos is impressed.

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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