When you want to take a break from slider puzzles, alien numbering systems, and searching for the secrets of Atlantis, give Blix
a try! It's an arcade game on the Shockwave site, available for free to play online or you can purchase it. (Once you've downloaded and started playing, you do not have to stay online to continue playing as long as you don't close the browser window.)
It's a 13 x 13 playing grid with each block diagonally divided into halves. There are one or more balls of varying speeds bouncing around the field, and you have to place brackets or “turners” in the corners of the grid blocks to redirect the ball(s) to the home cup(s). When a ball hits a turner you've placed, it destroys the turner and goes off at a 90 degree angle. (The balls pass through each other.) That's about the whole concept of the game, but it's so addicting in its simplicity! (If you image the balls as round instead of square, and the turners as slightly curved instead of a right angle, you'll more quickly visualize what you need to do and how the game pieces react with each other.)
Each level is timed, and there is a “shadow” box that starts at the edge of your playing field and shrinks toward the center. If it reaches the center before you've gotten all the balls home, your game ends. You can immediately restart it at that level, but your score starts over at zero. Every fifth level you're given a password, so when you come back (and I'm sure you will!), you can skip over the beginning levels.
As you progress through the 300 levels, they throw “Space Junk,” as they call it, at you. These can be pre-placed blocks and turners (purple blocks and turners are permanent, green ones are breakable), transporters, spinners, squares that turn your balls invisible, sticky blocks to slow you down, home cups that rotate, mazes to guide your balls through, and more surprises.
I admit that I hate the spinners. They randomize the direction your ball is traveling in, and I've had more than a few high scores ruined by these devils because I couldn't finish in time. On the particularly dastardly levels you're given more time, but it's not always enough. Thankfully they're not overused (well.....not too badly), and the other Space Junk does make the game more exciting. (Level 300 is so tough I had to take a screen print of it and solve it offline before I could beat it!)
You can press “P” to pause your game or “X” to abort a level if it's just too hard (which, I might add, I've never had to do!) You get bonus points for what you have leftover on the timer, and there's multiplier every 10 levels, so your score increases faster.
The music for the game is techno (if I can stretch the definition of music by assuming techno actually IS music), but it's not too horrifying. You can always turn down your computer's speakers and blast some New Model Army on your home stereo.
There are many, many arcade-type games available for free on the internet competing for your attention. I really feel this is one of the best. I hope you enjoy it too! (Heck, Level 270 is a maze in the shape of a skull – no wonder I love this game!)
Your challenge: beat my high score of 26,955!