While Away the Winter Hours With Flash Games of Yesteryear

Geek Culture


SnowCraft, copyright Nicholson NY

So you’re sitting at the computer at home, looking for a little diversion from those chores you have to do. Or maybe someone else wanted to use the game console or watch TV, so you had to stop playing Skyrim or Star Wars: The Old Republic for a little while. Or perhaps you’re at work and don’t have much to do because everyone else is still out for the holidays. Whatever the case, since we’re operating on a reduced posting schedule until after New Year’s Day, it won’t take you too long to read the (other) latest GeekDad posts. So go ahead and do that, and then come back here.

There are many winter activities that people get nostalgic for. Some people recall snowball fights and sledding when they were young. Some think back to steaming cups of marshmallow-infiltrated hot chocolate and curling up in front of a fire. For some, the winter holidays would be incomplete without another viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story. Clearly, something is missing here: I think it’s high time people started to get nostalgic for the online Flash games of winters past!

First up is the all-time classic — so classic, in fact, that it used to only work with a Shockwave plugin. If that means anything to you, you probably remember playing this game when it first appeared in 1998 — yes, really, 13 years ago — as a holiday greeting sent out to clients and friends by the Silicon Alley company Nicholson NY. Due to its simplicity, amusing graphics, and challenging higher levels (unless you know a trick), it quickly went viral, and soon everyone everywhere on the internet had played it. Yes, I’m talking about SnowCraft, which you can play on its original website for free. As a sign of the changing times, the game is now available for $0.99 as an iOS app from the iTunes App Store.

Next up is a simple but great game from Ferry Halim’s Orisinal, a typically beautiful game from five years back called Winterbells. In Winterbells you control a rabbit, jumping ever higher in the night sky from bell to bell, with the occasional bird; points accumulate faster and faster as you continue, but miss a bell and you’ll have only a split second to recover before falling to the ground — which doesn’t kill the rabbit or anything, but does end the game. This game is also now available for $0.99 for iOS.

Last, and probably least, is Pingu Throw by Chris Hilgert. Decidedly not politically correct, Pingu Throw — which debuted in 2004 — sees you play a yeti who attempts to hit a falling penguin as far as possible with a baseball bat. It’s incredibly simple, and more than a bit repetitive, but it’s amazingly easy to fall into the “I just want to beat my best distance!” trap. There are many takeoffs on the game, including several with blood and gore added and several sequels by Hilgert, but the original is great just as it is. The only problem you have is to figure out just when to swing to avoid hitting the penguin too high, because that makes its head stick into the snow on landing, preventing it from sliding — and also too low, because that means it won’t get enough distance before sliding. (There are a few iOS apps based on this and other Yeti Sports games, but none of them are true to the original, so I’ve chosen not to link to them).

Know of any other good old (by internet standards) Flash games that are great for a winter’s day indoors? Please share them in the comments.

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