Caribbean Hideaway

Civilization-Building Game with Match 3 (variation)                               25 MB
No Untimed Option         easier        PC & Mac        Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You are a pirate and you’ve been given the honoured task of building a town for pirates on an island in the Caribbean.  At the same time, one of your pirate mates wants the Captain and your fellow pirates to help him rescue his girlfriend.  But first he has to swab the deck because he is only a lowly deckhand.  (That’s where the Match 3 comes in.)

Hints:  Even though the Match 3 (swabbing the deck) part of the game is timed, the timer (the burning rope at the bottom of the screen) is long, and it’s more important to accumulate gold coins to finance the construction of the town. ~ Also, you can concentrate on matching the coins as well as reaching your other goals (pictured at the left of the Match 3 screen) by not completing one of your goals until the rope is near its end. After all, the longer you play, the more coins are released. ~ Need more coins? Go to the ship’s log (the diary) and read the continuation of the story; that will trigger the Captain to want the decks cleaned again. ~ And back on the island, I suspect you needn’t worry about the petty thieving; it’s what pirates do, and unless you’re able to keep them all busy (which would be a mighty challenge), and if it’s not wiping out your treasury, you have other things to attend to.

My Review:  The Match 3 portion of this game is unusual in that you don’t slide the images to make the match; instead, you use the picture that’s attached to the end of your cursor to make the 3 or more in a row.  Click where you want the picture to go, and your cursor now has the picture that got removed.  Choose the combos that will help you reach your goals.

My Recommendation:  This is a very enjoyable, clever, and popular game.  There’s a lot to do, and it’s a long game, so you really get your money’s worth.  It gets harder as it goes along, but you can re-do levels if you run out of time, so I feel confident in recommending this well-designed game.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Caribbean Hideaway

For Mac:  Caribbean Hideaway


Castle: Never Judge a Book By Its Cover

Detective Game with Puzzles & Hidden Objects                                278 MB
Untimed             easier              PC & Mac             Walkthrough not available

Premise:   As in the Castle TV series on which this game is based, Detective Beckett allows Castle to accompany her while solving murders because he is a famous mystery novelist doing research, he has good insights, and he’s funny and cute.

They are “tracking down a killer responsible for killing innocent victims that are oddly connected.  However, this isn’t any ordinary killer.  The crime scenes are unique and dynamic, and designed to lead you off course.  With each crime, things begin to hit closer to home.  Eventually an eerie pattern becomes clear during the investigation.  Will you be able to find the killer before there is another victim?”

Hints:   Don’t worry if you can’t find what you need in a scene, that’s the way this game is designed.  You’ll go from scene to scene and back again, gathering whatever you find and using it wherever you need it. ~ Nothing left to do?  Go to the map.

My Review:  Because the storyline actually was written by the creators of the TV series [!], the scenes are places taken from the show, the chatter between our heroes is true to their characters, and the drawings of them are very life-like — which sort of makes it like being on the show, which is kind of neat.

This isn’t The Perfect Detective Game I Am Searching For because it gets a little illogical at times: finding items in one crime scene that belong to another crime scene even though the victims didn’t know each other; taking items from a crime scene that you have no way of knowing that you might need later in another place; taking items like a screwdriver from a crime scene to use at another crime scene instead of getting the items from police headquarters or the local hardware store; and just plain taking items from a crime scene!!!  Also, would the medical examiner let a detective and a mystery novelist do her work for her?  How would those results stand up in court?

Aside from that, this game works smoothly, has a very good hint system, and is enjoyable to play, with fun forensics.  The murder scenes are realistic without being gory, the mystery is serious and engaging, and you get to do all the forensics work!

My Recommendation:  This game is fun, and the puzzles are actually solvable, so I say, “Give it a try.”

You can try it for free, here:
For PC:   Castle: Never Judge a Book By Its Cover
For Mac:  Castle: Never Judge a Book By Its Cover


Chameleon Gems

Marble-Popper Game                          easier                                        12 MB
No Untimed Option                PC                             Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  A stream of marbles is moving toward a hole in the ground and your goal is to destroy them all before the first one reaches the hole.  You use your frog statue to shoot marbles at same-colored marbles in that line, and you wipe them out, one block of color at a time, by aiming your marbles to create groups of three or more of the same color, which makes those marbles disappear.

Hints:  Before you start, definitely read the instructions by clicking on Help in the main menu. ~ Remember, if the color of the marble in the frog’s mouth isn’t what you can use, you can right-click your mouse to trade it with the next one. ~ You can see what the next color is by the little dot on the top of the frog’s head. ~ If neither color is immediately useful, you can spin the frog away from the stream of marbles and shoot those useless marbles away. ~ Try to keep an eye on the colors approaching because if there is a large block of color coming very soon, you might want to right-click and save the marble that matches it. ~ Watch also for power-up symbols that might be right around the bend, as you might want to save a marble for that too. ~ Be careful when the line gets close to the hole; as soon as it enters that last stretch, you’ll notice that every time you hit it you push the line closer and closer to the hole, even when you’ve made a match! ~ Therefore it is to your advantage to wipe out the very big blocks of color because that causes a break in the chain; when that happens, if you concentrate on hitting marbles in that second section while it’s still disconnected, it won’t push the front of the line closer to the hole. ~ If you can keep working on the disconnected section long enough, the fire or ice power-up will finally appear again and that’s when you can blast the marbles nearest the hole. ~ Whenever you’re lucky enough to have the stream move backwards, wait until it stops because if you shoot, that will stop the movement, and you need the marbles to move as far back away from the hole as possible. ~ Also be aware that the movement varies, faster and slower, which can cause you to shoot a marble into the wrong place. ~ To increase your shooting accuracy, aim for the front of a marble or a block of the same color, front being the direction of the marble’s movement. ~ Also to increase your shooting accuracy, place your cursor on the exact spot you want to hit.

More Hints:  You’ll notice that certain balls are different because they have little balls on top of them. If the little ball is the same color, that marble counts as two and will disappear with just one shot. ~ If the ball is a different color, that’s what will appear when the original marble disappears. ~ A 2-colored or 3-colored stack is difficult to get rid of unless you shoot it with a power-up. ~ However, the one thing you don’t want to hit with a power-up is another power-up.

Still More Hints:  Power-ups are skills that act like weapons that your frog will temporarily gain, and without which you’ll be hard-pressed to win when the game gets faster and the route gets harder. ~ Sometimes the power-up is for one use only, and sometimes it’s for approx. five shots in a row. ~ Power-ups are represented by symbols which will appear suddenly on a marble, and then gradually disappear; make use of them when they are within reach. ~ You can also buy them between rounds, and they are a good investment when the game gets difficult. ~ You need to familiarize yourself with the differences between the various power-ups, as that knowledge will become critical to your success. ~ Unfortunately, you are not able to call up any of the power-ups when you want them; they appear according to their own schedule.

Still More Hints:  Whenever possible, make a 3-or-more-marbles match with any marble that has a symbol on it before the symbol disappears, because symbols represent power-ups, and that’s how you access some of them. ~ You’ll know that the frog is going to shoot two marbles at once when when you can see the belt across his back that is holding his gun holsters. ~ When you get the power-up with the laser eyes on it, your shooting will be very precise, and that’s a good time to shoot the marbles that have little balls of different colors stacked on them. ~ Fire and ice are the best power-ups because they will destroy all the balls in their path, even through two or three rows. I buy fire or ice whenever it appears in the store. ~ As the game progresses, the levels become more difficult, and I buy whichever two power-ups are offered in the store, before every round. ~ I also buy an extra life whenever I can afford it because each one I buy permanently raises my starting number of lives on every subsequent level. ~ Another great investment is the ice skin. Unfortunately, there is a 45-second wait before it charges up, and another 45-second wait between ice blasts… and in this game 45 seconds is a very, very long time to wait. Thankfully, there is an upgrade you can buy, so at least the power lasts longer.

My Review:  This is one of the better Marble Popper games because the game doesn’t end when you run out of lives; you get a new set of lives and start where you were on the path.

My Recommendation:  If you want to try a game in the very popular Marble Popper genre, this is a good one to start with.

You can try it for free here:  Chameleon Gems


Charm Tale 2: Mermaid Lagoon

Match 3 Game                                            easier                                  44 MB
Untimed Option                    PC  & Mac                    Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You are a human princess who has gone underwater to find the missing mermaid princess because you hope she can tell you about your parents.

Hints:  Click on a coin the moment it appears because it will vanish quickly ~ Keep your eye on the % gauge at the bottom left because the round ends when you‘ve filled the chest with jewels, even if you haven’t rescued all the treasure chests. ~ and if it’s been a while since you’ve played, there’s a very helpful tutorial in the menu.

My Review:  This is a variation of the match 3 format in which you link jewels of the same color in any direction.  Diamonds allow you to extend the length of your chain, and multicolored jewels allow you to change colors.  Longer chains cause coins, treasure chests and huge gems to appear in the grid.  When you’ve removed enough jewels you will expose the sea creature who will next aid you in your quest; now you get to play an enjoyable hidden object mini-game in which you look for all the keys or candles or tropical fish or treasure chests or daggers or  sea stars or flowers for a garland… and then the story continues.

My Recommendation:  This is a very pleasant, easy and relaxing game, and I recommend it for everyone.

You can try it for free, here:
For PC:   Charm Tale 2: Mermaid Lagoon
For Mac:  Charm Tale 2: Mermaid Lagoon


Classic Adventures: The Great Gatsby

Hidden Object Game with Puzzles                    easier                         93 MB
Untimed                                  PC                             Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  It’s 1922, the Roaring Twenties — a time of flappers and jazz and unprecedented prosperity — and the best parties are thrown by the handsome and fabulously rich new fellow in town who calls himself Gatsby.  Even though it’s during the Prohibition era, Gatsby’s parties always have plenty of champagne, whiskey, and martinis; Gatsby’s mansion is the scene of non-stop partying, and all of high society is sure to be seen there — whether they’ve been invited or not — because it’s the place to be.  His neighbor Nick narrates the story of what happened that summer, a tale of romantic entanglements which starts leisurely and ends shockingly.

Hints:  At the beginning of each scene, find a book first, and click on it, to add it to the library; then click on all the alphabet letters you can find within the scene. ~ When you’ve found the last item on the list, the scene ends… so, before finishing the scene, if you haven’t found all the letters to complete the mystery word, try to guess what it is by typing it after clicking the guess button. ~ Guessing is actually easier than locating all the letters. ~ It’s easy to get points, and you’ll want as many points as you can get because you’ll be able to use them to decorate the library, which is an enjoyable addition to the game. ~ You can increase your point score significantly by mentally identifying as many items as you can and then clicking on each one quickly, one after the other. ~ Your hint button recharges very quickly.  If the screen darkens, the hint button wants you to choose which word you want it to locate. ~ When you’re challenged to find objects in a moving scene but not told what to look for, notice what’s out of place and reappearing, and click on it each time you see it.  Didn’t find all of them?  No problem.  You can repeat the task until you have them all. ~ When typing the falling words, complete each word before it reaches the paper in the typewriter.  When you’re typing, you need as much time as you can get, so be sure you can see the top of the room at the top of your screen, so that when the words fall, you’ll see them for the longest possible time. ~ When driving into the city, the trip will last as long as you need it to, so take your time and find what’s on the list (plus the book and alphabet letters, remember?). ~ Listed objects outside the car will be keep reappearing until you’ve clicked on them. ~ It gets a little tricky when you need to do something, like make tea or change a tire:  when you drag one object onto another, move it around until the second object becomes outlined, then you can let go of the first object. ~ BTW, Myrtle Wilson is married to the garage owner, and Catherine is her sister.  I don’t think the narrative makes that clear enough.

My Review:  It’s great to find a game that has a real story, historically accurate illustrations, narration by professional voice actors, good music, and, best of all, lots of unusual mini-games that keep to the theme of the story while being fun to play. But speaking of themes, there are several in this book that are too adult for children… specifically: wild parties with illegal alcohol, adultery, and murder. Also, the dead bodies are visible, though not gory. For these reasons, I would not give this game to an impressionable youngster.

My Recommendation:  I loved it and I couldn’t stop playing it… I just had to know what happened next.  (No, I haven’t read the novel, even though The Modern Library, in its 100 Best Novels, named F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as the second best English language novel of the 20th century.  Boy, am I embarrassed.  But I have learned that this game’s story follows Fitzgerald’s book faithfully, so maybe playing the game counts?)  But seriously, this game is easy enough for beginners and varied enough for seasoned players, and I absolutely recommend it for anyone old enough to handle the mature themes dealt with in this classic story.

You can try it for free, here:  Classic Adventures: The Great Gatsby