Pocket Frogs

Thank you, Kate, for introducing me to this game!!!

Pocket Frogs

Life Simulation Game easier          38 MB        Untimed
PC & Mac?  No, sadly, just iOs (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) & Android
Walkthrough not needed, but there’s a great one at http://www.gamezebo.com/2010/09/21/pocket-frogs-walkthrough-cheats-strategy-guide/

Premise:  You are a frog breeder.  You receive your frogs as eggs that arrive in your nursery, where they soon hatch into the cutest, most adorable, little tiny froglets.  When they are old enough, you take them from the nursery and transfer them to one of your habitats, which are sort of like a sandbox.  Then you bring them one at a time to your frog pond, where you help them catch dragonflies, and when they’re fully mature — a.k.a. when they’re happy enough — you can bring different species together to create offspring with new colors and designs.

Hints:  I know this is asking a lot, but try not to get too attached to every one of your frogs, because you will quickly run out of space to keep them in, and additional habitats and nurseries are very expensive. ~ It’s hard to imagine but there are now 36,500 uniquely-patterned and colored frog designs in this game, another reason not to try to keep them all. ~ However, you can, and should, keep a record of your frogs in your Catalog; then you can sell them to get more coins and habitat space. Cataloging is important.

You will receive a list of the frogs that are sought after; when you receive a notice that someone is looking to buy a certain frog that you have, or know how to breed, by all means, sell it to them. ~ You can also make some money by selling frogs to the FrogMart, and if they are rare you might get a higher price than what you may have paid for it if you bought it from them. ~ You’ll need the in-game money to buy more nurseries, which you will have access to in levels 2 through 7; otherwise you’ll be tempted to pay real cash. ~ The more you play, the more new frog species open up for you to attempt to produce.

New players start the game with a nursery, a couple of frogs (a Green Folium Anura and a Cocos Bruna Anura) in one habitat, and 1000 coins. After taming these frogs, you can engage a frog in activities such as breeding, racing, playing the puzzle game, and hopping around the pond. ~ Besides breeding, new frogs can also be purchased from the FrogMart with coins, gifted by friends, or found in presents. ~ When you have progressed to level eight, very rare frogs (“lost” breeds) may appear in the pond, which are worth lots of money and XP.

It’s important to always remember that each habitat, including the nursery, can only hold up to eight frogs, and once they’re full you simply can’t add another, so don’t try to breed your frogs if your nursery already has eight eggs and/or little frogs. ~ Similarly, the mailbox only has eight slots, and you must have an open mailbox slot in order to accept a gift, or a frog as a prize for winning a race.

After your egg has hatched, your little frog will mature on his own, but you can speed up the process by bringing it to the pond and helping it to catch dragonflies; the bigger the bug, the greater the effect. ~ Feeding your frog increases its maturity and also its happiness, and makes it tame. ~ You can also mature the frog with a potion. ~ Stamps are used to instantly mature the items in your mailbox. ~ However, you’ll need those potions and stamps later in the game, so it’s best to not use them yet; just let everything mature in its own time when you can. ~ Stamps are also needed when you send a frog as a gift to a friend.

To move your frog from one habitat to another, or to the pond, or to sell or give it away as a gift to one of your friends, just tap your frog; this accesses the Move, Pond, and Sell icons, as well as Gift, Breed, and Catalog.

To get your frog to move through the pond and eat the dragonflies as they flutter by, tap an adjacent lily pad where you want your frog to go, aiming it so that it crosses the dragonfly’s path. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds.

If you decide to become a breeder, you might want to keep a written record of which pairs make what new design, so you won‘t waste time and space breeding frogs you‘ve already created. ~ Breeding can be done between any of your own adult frogs of your choosing as long as they are within the same habitat, or between one of your frogs and any wild frog you may find in the pond. ~ When you find another frog that you would like to breed your frog with, hop yours onto the lily pad that the other frog is occupying; you may have to pursue the other frog first. ~ Just be sure there’s room in the nursery and in one of your habitats. ~ To make space in your habitats, you should record your mature frogs in a collection, which you access by tapping the frog and selecting the Catalog icon. After you have recorded it, you can sell it, and then you can buy it back when you need to breed it to get a certain new variety of frog. It is very important to catalog your frogs before you sell or gift them.

Look in the Awards area to learn how to earn more XP (Experience Points), which you need to level up and get access to more breeds. You can also learn which frogs might be worth paying to breed.

When you trade or gift a frog, or fill a Frog Request, you lose that frog. ~ And speaking of gifts, look for them in the pond where they’ll be sitting on a lily pad, and whenever you see one, take it. ~ Always try to keep one open mailbox slot in order to accept the gift when it arrives, otherwise you will lose that gift.

You may enter a mature frog in a frog race. ~ Before you enter your frog in a race, raise its happiness level as high as it can go by getting it to eat dragonflies. ~ If your frog wins the race, you have the option of choosing one of the competitor frogs as your prize, or accepting a coin reward. ~ Coin prizes are available for first, second and third place. ~ It’s important to remember that you must have an open mailbox slot in order to accept a frog as a prize.

You can share your frogs via social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Email, or Weblink). ~ Also, if you join the Plus+ family, you can view your friend’s frog habitats, and you can send them gifts and money. Easy instructions for everything are detailed in the Walkthrough link on this page.

Filling Frog Requests is a way to earn stamps, potions, and additional coins. ~ There is an in-game notification when a new request is available, and this request can be reviewed at any time via the Menu. ~ Requests can be declined or filled when the mature frog requested is available in a habitat. ~ When you fill a Frog Request, the requested frog is then removed from the habitat. ~ If you choose to deny a request, a new request will usually be sent within 15 minutes.

Weekly Sets reward players with stamps and potions for collecting a defined set of frogs. A new set is released every week on Wednesday night (Thursday morning) at midnight, U.S. Eastern time. Completing a Weekly Set does not require all frogs to be in the same habitat. Also, the frogs will not be taken away when the Weekly Set is completed, unlike Frog Requests.

Here are some websites which are filled with information, including completed charts and detailed illustrations, to make it easier for you, especially if you decide to get into breeding:
http://pocketfrogs.wikia.com/wiki/Gameplay is a website with 193 pages of information about the game.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id395953473 is the Froggydex, which is an index of illustrated charts showing every frog design, according to breed.
http://www.gamezebo.com/2010/09/21/pocket-frogs-walkthrough-cheats-strategy-guide/ is a very thorough Walkthrough with a wealth of information and detailed explanations on how to get the most out of the game.

My Review:  OMG, this game is CUTE !!!  And I like that you can play it for just a few minutes at a time.  You can play it just for the fun of playing with your frogs, or looking for wild frogs and gift-wrapped presents, or for the challenge of breeding and collecting and trading, if you’re into that.  Either way, this is a great game.  Oh, and BTW, it’s FREE !!! Wow !!!  And be assured that no purchase is necessary to play.

My Recommendation:  I instantly fell in love with this game, got myself to a computer store and almost spent $350 on an iPad just so I could play this game.  Luckily I stopped myself in time, but I can’t imagine a stronger recommendation than that!  (Assuming, of course, that you already have an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Android to play it on!)

By the way — very important! — your iOS must be at least version 6.0 to play this game, so buying an old version of iPad, perhaps used or refurbished, just won’t do it.  Apple refuses to upgrade older versions, even 5.1, to 6.0.  Sigh.  And I’m told the Android OS needs to be at least 2.0.  And although the Apple version of the game is played off-line, the Android version requires a data connection to play the game.

You can get it for free, here:
For iOS:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocket-frogs-free-pet-farming/id386644958?mt=8
For Android:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mobage.ww.a435.pocketfrogs_android


Nevertales: Shattered Image

Adventure Game with Puzzles  & some Hidden Object scenes
easier                                                            727 MB PC, 883 MB iPad
Untimed                                                             PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone
Nevertales: Shattered Image Walkthrough

Premise:  You, your husband, and your 12-year-old adopted daughter Alice are a magical family and you all have the power to travel to magical worlds through the portals you find in books, and in Alice’s case, mirrors. Unfortunately, Alice found an evil portal and now she’s gone, in mortal danger, and you must rescue her before the evil force she accidentally released into your dimension succeeds in destroying your entire world.

Hints: (These hints are generic because this game is very intuitive. You‘ll do fine if you just keep thinking and trying. ~ Sometimes the picture clues in the Hidden Object scenes are not literal objects but merely categories. ~ Scan the scene with your cursor, and when it changes to a hand, click there. ~ Use the objects in your inventory; if what you need isn’t anywhere to be found, do you have a piece of the dollhouse?  If so, click on the dollhouse in the lower left of your screen. ~ And if all else fails, ask the feather for a hint. ~ This game gives you an incredibly generous 90-minute free trial.

My Review:  This may be the best Adventure Game I have ever played. I am amazed by it. The story held me in its thrall and I am still breathless from it. The puzzles were unique, necessary, and tied directly to the plot, which I really love, and I can’t wait to finish this review so I can buy this game and rescue Alice.

My Recommendation:  Try it, and I bet you’ll buy it.

You can try it for free, here:
Nevertales: Shattered Image for PC
Nevertales: Shattered Image for Mac
Nevertales: Shattered Image for iOS


Avalon Legends Solitaire

Solitaire Card Game  (variation)        harder                                          51 MB
Untimed                        PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone        Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You are a Druid on a quest to find all 52 magical cards from a deck with great healing powers.

Hints:  This is very important: If a magic card is hiding on the board it will pulse very subtly, revealing its location, so before starting each round, look for a pulsing card that isn’t one of the next consecutive choices. ~ Remember that your main goal is not to clear the deck but to get those 52 magic cards. ~ Your 2nd most important goal is to collect wild cards; you will need them later in the game and they can only be used once, so hoard them and don‘t waste them if they won’t help you immensely. ~ Your 3rd most important goal is to rescue the hammer, which you will need to break the stones surrounding some of the cards. The hammer is in the farthest row. ~ There are ten rounds of solitaire per level, and if you haven’t accomplished all the goals within the ten rounds, you will lose any goal you have reached, and you will be required to play another ten rounds, again and again, until all goals are reached within the ten.

More Hints:  When you earn 3,500 points, buy a wild card; eventually you should always keep all 13 of them on hand so that, when the opportunity presents itself, you can create longer runs. There will be times later in the game when you need to string 24 cards in a row or earn 12,000 points to complete the level, which is impossible without those wild cards. ~ Other useful magic items to buy when you get enough points are the ‘pendant of foresight’ which lets you know how many cards remain in the deck, the ‘deck of plenty’ which gives you 5 extra cards in the deck, and, when you’re flush with points, the ‘sands of the future’ which shows you the next card in the deck. Those last two are very expensive but I found myself needing them constantly. ~ I felt that the other available charms were unnecessary. Even the ‘crystal ball’ didn’t seem to be useful; in fact, after saving points seemingly forever until I had a whopping 65,000, I found it distracting and unhelpful to know about cards I couldn’t reach when I needed them. So I sold the the crystal ball back to the shop, giving me enough money to keep my wild cards replenished for many more rounds. (They probably would have lasted till the end of the game if I hadn’t become overconfident and started squandering my wild cards when winning the entire round wasn’t a sure thing, and that was a lesson for me.) ~ And by the way, it’s much easier to get a “Perfect” rating than it is to get a high score. ~ There are ten rounds of solitaire per level, and if you haven’t accomplished all the goals within the ten rounds, you will lose any goal you have reached, and you will be required to play another ten rounds, again and again, until all goals are reached within the ten.

My Review:  Don’t be fooled by the name of this game — it is not based on the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table — rather, it is based very loosely on the Druids in ancient Britain, and there is very little if any plot; it is simply a vehicle for playing the kind of solitaire in which you build runs by selecting cards that are one number higher or lower than the card beside the deck.  The ace is both high and low, and you can zigzag back and forth through the numbers as much as you want.

My Recommendation:  If you love a challenge and you don’t get frustrated easily, and if you are willing to lose every round again and again and again as the game becomes literally impossible to win for a long stretch, and if you keep in mind that winning the round is not as important as getting those magic cards and wild cards, then perhaps you will like this game.  It eventually becomes easier, then harder again (at which time you should stop using and start hoarding wild cards again, until it becomes easier again,) so it’s the type of game to keep for when you feel like working on it for awhile to pass the time.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Avalon Legends Solitaire

For Mac:  Avalon Legends Solitaire



Pipes Puzzle                                         easier                                       36 MB
Timer can be ignored                PC & Mac                Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You are responsible for watering all the plants by rotating the hoses that connect them to the watering can.  When you are successful, flowers will bloom.

Hints:  Start at the borders, looking for the most obvious, and remembering that no pipe can be aimed at the border, and every pipe must ultimately be connected. ~ Then work toward the center, keeping in mind that you can even rotate the watering can (very important to remember). ~ If you get stuck, the hint button will correct one of your mistakes.

More Hints:  1500 points is the highest possible score, which you will receive if you complete the puzzle in less than 6 minutes. ~ If you care about your score you can check it by clicking on the flowerpot you’ve just made to bloom, and if you’ve received a low score and want to improve it (not necessary to continue the game), you can try again by clicking ‘yes’…  ~ but if you’ve won 1500 pts, click ‘cancel’ to refuse a retrial and to return to the game.

My Review:  This is a sweet game which exercises your brain and rewards your successes with flowers.

My Recommendation:  I love this game because I love Pipes Puzzles and I’m always disappointed when a game offers only one puzzle of this variety… so this game really hits the spot for me because this game is entirely in the connect-the-pipes format.  Of course, not everyone likes this kind of puzzle — perhaps it’s an acquired taste — so try it before you buy it.

You can try it for free, here:
For PC:   Blossom
For Mac:  Blossom


Tricks and Treats

Match 3 Game                        harder                                                       64 MB
Untimed Option                       PC & Mac                    Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Let’s decorate a haunted house and throw a Halloween party, releasing the money for the decorations by playing Match 3 games which will release the necessary gems and tokens to trade.

Hints:  Have patience; this game takes a long time to load, and the power-ups take a long time to energize. ~ To enter your name as the player, you must first erase the words ‘Let’s Play Games’ by backspacing. ~ At the start of each round, first break the wooden crates, then make matches under the gems and tokens (which look like gold coins), and finally, make matches to break the silver and gold tiles. ~ When all the tiles are broken, the round ends. ~ Look carefully, as the emeralds look a lot like the green potion bottles, and the tokens look a bit like the lollipops. ~ To buy more decorations, choose the option to go back (at the bottom of the bomb-buying page between rounds). ~ Use your tokens to buy a variety of bombs and firecrackers, because you’ll need them.

My Review:  This is a very long game with a nicely illustrated, not scary, haunted house and what looks to be a lengthy story to accompany the game levels. As curious as I am to find out what happens in the story, I only played this game for the one-hour trial, opting not to buy it because it got difficult so quickly and I’m afraid it will go beyond my abilities. (However, I must admit to you that I prefer using strategy rather than bombs, and most likely if I’d stocked up on bombs and firecrackers, I’d have had an easier time of it.)

My Recommendation:  As attractive as this game is, I can only recommend it for players who want a challenge.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:  Tricks and Treats

For Mac: Tricks and Treats



The Legend of the Golden Tome

Match 3 Game with HOS                            harder                                   49 MB
No Untimed Option                          PC                      Walkthrough not needed

Premise:   For centuries the Druids recorded their magic spells in a book they called The Golden Tome, and to protect these powerful spells from those who might misuse them, they hid the Tome, and also the six crystals that open the gate to the Tome.  In order to locate these crystals, you must solve the series of Rune puzzles, in the form of Match 3 puzzles, which they have created as a test.  Will you prove worthy?

Hints:   Matching 5 rune stones in a horizontal or vertical row will add 20 seconds to your allotted time. ~ Save your power-ups until you need them to keep from losing a life; the unused power-ups are rolled over to the next rounds, and since the game keeps getting harder, you’ll need them even more, later in the game. ~ The number of lives you have remaining is indicated in the lower right corner of the screen. ~ At any point you can press the F1 key to get the rules, including the functions of the various power-ups (called bonuses). ~ Each time you return to the game, the background story is told again; to skip over it, click on the red button in the top right corner.

More Hints:  First rescue the power-ups by making matches below them, forcing them drop to the bottom of the screen, and break any chain as it appears.  More power-ups appear randomly and you must release those also. ~ In this particular Match 3 game, after I’ve broken the chains and rescued the power-ups, in order to break the tiles behind the rune stones, I find it best to work on the matches at the  bottom of the board, and let the  tiles get broken automatically as the rune stones fall. ~ When the board contains only Runes with nothing behind them, look at the color bowls, see which colors are still visible, and match those colors to fill those bowls; when they are full they will get covered, so as long as you can see the color in the bowl, keep matching that color.

Still More Hints:  When a rune stone appears that looks like a stylized flower or mandala, you have found one of the six crystals.  Rescue it by making matches below it. ~ Nothing can be matched with a crystal, nor can a crystal be swapped using the Swap power-up. ~ Rune stones frozen with ice can’t fall, but they can be unfrozen by matching with regulars of the same color. ~ The black stone, which look like a shiny black marble engraved with a gold II symbol, can’t be broken, nor can it be matched. ~ Similarly, brick walls can’t be broken, and since they block the downward flow, you should try to slide any crystals or power-ups to the left or right before they reach a brick wall.

Power-ups  (Listed in the order in which you will encounter them):
Hammer:  Use it to break a tile, rune stone, chain, double chain, stone or metal layer, or ice that is keeping you from winning the round before you run out of time.
Swap:  It looks like a circle made by connecting two arrows; to use it, select 2 rune stones to switch their positions, making one or two vital matches.
Bomb: This will break stones, but it only damages chains or ice.
Fireball: It looks like a fancy triangle, and it breaks rune stones, and damages chains, double chains and ice, in a horizontal row of your choice.
Lightning:  It breaks stones, and damages chains, double chains and ice, in a vertical column of your choice.
Shuffle: It looks like crossed arrows, and you can use it to mix up the positions of all the stones on the board.
Power of Colors:  It looks like 3 circles, and it breaks stones of the color you select.
Heart::  Gives you an additional life.

My Review:   I found this to be a really difficult game.  Not only do you need to release the power-ups from the board, you also must break the wooden or metal tiles behind some of the rune stones, and you must fill the color bowls along the right side of the screen by matching enough rune stones of each needed color, all within the given time period as indicated by the green column on the left.  Meanwhile, chains will randomly appear and lock one of the rune stones, and you must break that chain.  And there is not an untimed option.  Lose all your lives and you lose all the crystals and power-ups and points you’ve amassed, and you must start over from the beginning.

The Jigsaw Puzzles were pleasant, but the Hidden Object scenes were repeated again and again and again — always with the same objects in exactly the same places — and that really tried my patience.

My Recommendation:  I can recommend this game only for experienced gamers who have finished all their games and are looking for another challenge.  However, I must confess — as difficult as this game is — in the beginning I found it rather compelling and I wanted to keep trying.  (Perhaps the gentle encouragement that the Druid gave between levels actually works?)  But when I kept losing all my lives and had to start over, again and again, I knew I was wasting my time.

Don’t believe me?  Think you can beat it?  You are welcome to try it for free, here:  The Legend of the Golden Tome


Harlequin Presents: Hidden Object of Desire

Hidden Object Game                              easier                                     112 MB
Untimed                     PC & Mac                                Walkthrough not needed

Premise:   Allie and Shaun, an American journalist and her photographer, are on location in Aristo, one of the two islands that make up the Middle Eastern nation of Adamas.   Their assignment is to cover the 30th birthday celebration of Prince Adrian Karedes.   Adrian’s father, King Karedes, died last winter, but Adran’s right to inherit the crown is being challenged because, according to tradition, the crown belongs to whomever has the complete Stephani Diamond, which was broken in two… and one of the halves was recently stolen.

Because this is a Harlequin romance, Allie is young, single and very pretty, and the Prince, who is just turning thirty, is very handsome, debonair and also single… and is immediately attracted to her.   But, of course, things won’t go smoothly for them.

Hints:   Waiting for the hint button to recharge is a drag and a waste of time, but in this game you can instantly recharge the hint button by finding two items and quickly clicking on them one right after the other. ~ However, there’s a catch-22 with that because when you need the hint button it means you don’t know where any items are, obviously.   Therefore it would help you to refrain from clicking on easily-spotted items and save them until you can’t find any more items and you now need the hints. ~ Another way to instantly recharge the hint button is to find and click on the diamond-shaped Harlequin logo, but don’t click on it until you really need that recharge because there’s only one per scene.

My Review:  This is a beautifully illustrated story set in a luxurious hotel decorated like a traditional Arabian palace.  It also has an interesting story, which is a refreshing change from most Hidden Object Games.  However, it is still a Hidden Object Game, and so it has, as most of them do, irrelevant items plastered in impossible places.   Oh, well.  Sigh.

But it does come with a bonus: you can download a free Harlequin Romance book.  (Be forewarned: that novel is said to be racy, so if you have middle-schoolers using your computer, I suggest that you hide the book’s icon in a boring-sounding folder, like  ‘broccoli recipes’.)

My Recommendation:   If you like Hidden Object Games, this is a very attractive one.

You can try this game for free, here:

For PC: Harlequin Presents: Hidden Object of Desire

For Mac: Harlequin Presents: Hidden Object of Desire


A Vampire Tale

Hidden Object Game                            harder                                       148 MB
Timed                          PC & Mac                                Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  The setting is Europe in 1928.  You are a young woman and your scientist father hasn’t called in 2 weeks, and that’s not like him.  You go to his house and look through his papers and learn that he’s gone off to Transylvania in search of vampires (he has a passion for researching vampires).  Since he hasn’t contacted you, you worry that he’s in trouble and you hop a train and follow his trail.  You don’t believe in silly folktales and superstitions, and you certainly don’t believe in vampires.

Hints:  Watch as it downloads, and click ‘cancel’ if you don’t want DirectX & Bing to be downloaded onto your computer after the game finishes downloading. ~ Also, it may seem like it had trouble downloading but it didn’t.  Weird, that. ~ You need to click to make the narrative progress. ~ Click after every statement and every small drawing during the comic book style storyline. ~ Happily, you can click through the French accents because you probably can read faster than they’re speaking. ~ There is a point system, and points are given & taken. ~ The Hidden Object scenes are timed, and the timer is under our heroine’s picture. ~ In the HO scenes, click on the red arrow when you’re ready to see the rest of the scene. ~ Important:  Look for scrolls and pieces of scrolls, which are bonus objects that you are not told to seek. ~ Spoilers:  A horse collar is misidentified as a saddle.  The bookmark is on the highly patterned carpet under the desk, towards the front of the screen.

My Review:  This game, which sometimes goes by the name of “Mystery Series: A Vampire Tale,” got some bad reviews, so I suggest you try it before you decide.  I checked it out and it’s not as bad as the reviewers said.  Yes, the hint button is slow to recharge and the hidden objects are hard to find, but at least the hidden objects are true to the setting and they aren’t scattered about in unrealistic places.  Also, the scenes are beautifully drawn, and the story, though slow to evolve, is interesting and appropriate.  Also, it’s very atmospheric.  The puzzles are extremely easy, surprising considering how tricky the HO scenes are.

My Recommendation:  Do I recommend the game?  Too hard to call.  It has atmosphere, beautiful artwork and an interesting story, and I want to know more about what happens, but I had to hit that hint button a lot.

So what do you think?  Try it for free, here:

For PC:    A Vampire Tale

For Mac:  A Vampire Tale


Mystery Series: A Vampire Tale

Hidden Object Game                          harder                                         148 MB
Timed                              PC & Mac                            Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  The setting is Europe in 1928. You are a young woman and your scientist father hasn’t called in 2 weeks, and that’s not like him.  You go to his house and look through his papers and learn that he’s gone off to Transylvania in search of vampires (he has a passion for researching vampires).  Since he hasn’t contacted you, you worry that he’s in trouble and you hop a train and follow his trail.  You don’t believe in silly folktales and superstitions, and you certainly don’t believe in vampires.

Hints:  Watch as it downloads, and click ‘cancel’ if you don’t want DirectX & Bing to be downloaded onto your computer after the game finishes downloading. ~ Also, it may seem like it had trouble downloading but it didn’t. Weird, that. ~ You need to click to make the narrative progress. ~ Click after every statement and every small drawing during the comic book style storyline. ~ Happily, you can click through the French accents because you probably can read faster than they’re speaking. ~ There is a point system, and points are given & taken. ~ The Hidden Object scenes are timed, and the timer is under our heroine’s picture. ~ In the HO scenes, click on the red arrow when you’re ready to see the rest of the scene. ~ Important: Look for scrolls and pieces of scrolls, which are bonus objects that you are not told to seek. ~ Spoilers: A horse collar is misidentified as a saddle. The bookmark is on the highly patterned carpet under the desk, towards the front of the screen.

My Review:  This game, which usually goes by the name of “A Vampire Tale,” got some bad reviews, so I suggest you try it before you decide.  I checked it out and it’s not as bad as the reviewers said.  Yes, the hint button is slow to recharge and the hidden objects are hard to find, but at least the hidden objects are true to the setting and they aren’t scattered about in unrealistic places.  Also, the scenes are beautifully drawn, and the story, though slow to evolve, is interesting and appropriate.  Also, it’s very atmospheric.  The puzzles are extremely easy, surprising considering how tricky the HO scenes are.

My Recommendation:  Do I recommend the game?  Too hard to call.  It has atmosphere, beautiful artwork and an interesting story, and I want to know more about what happens, but I had to hit that hint button a lot.

So what do you think?  Try it for free, here:

For PC:   A Vampire Tale

For Mac:  A Vampire Tale


Heartwild Solitaire

Solitaire Game (variation)                    easier                                     23 MB
Untimed                           PC & Mac                      Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  The story, which is in the form of a diary (two pages of which are revealed to you after each seven rounds of cards), is a disjointed attempt at a romance story about a woman who runs away from her abusive husband, and her reluctance to take a chance with a new love.  Tarot readings add to the plot.  Of course, if you dislike florid prose or romance stories, you can always skip over the diary pages and get back to the gameplay.

Hints:  You are not penalized for shuffling the deck when you run out of matches. ~ In fact, high scores give you nothing in this game, so just play for enjoyment. Ignore the scorekeeping and concentrate on matching the cards that cover the most hidden cards, as your ultimate goal is to clear the board. ~ But don’t worry if you lose, for you will be given another chance, even when you run out of re-do options.

More Hints:  Don’t worry if the game accuses you of missing cards you’re sure you clicked on during the find-the-card-very-quickly mini-game, as it always does that. It’ll still give you a high score. ~ And for that matter, if you enjoy keeping score, then go for the matching cards and the runs, and remember you are not penalized for shuffling the deck when you run out of matches.

My Review:  This is a very easy, relaxing card game in two parts (plus the find-the-card-very-quickly mini-game).  In the first part you simply match up the pairs, and in part two, which comes after the story is complete, you match pairs that total 13 (my favorite, and a good, fun, mind exercise).  Both matching games continue until you’ve cleared the beautifully decorated desktop.

And speaking of beauty — beauty is everywhere in this game — snowflakes, crystals, sunflowers, daffodils, lilies, red roses, white roses, gold coins, pearl necklaces, ice blue diamonds, amethyst and aquamarine cameos, amber beads, agate swirls, antique scrollwork, Florentine mosaics, exotic tropical butterflies, gold lace, lavender velvet, and sterling silver — the artwork is lovely, and every screen is painted in vivid, jewel-like colors.

Now, if that isn’t enough, they even give you the ability to create your own card layouts, which is now my favorite part of the game.  “More Levels” stores the layouts you create in “Level Editor”.  Decorate the backgrounds of your creations in “Edit Mode” and “Theme”, and get instructions in “Help”.

My Recommendation:  If you’re looking for an easy, relaxing, and beautiful way to pass the time, this is the game to try.  Even the music is soothing and relaxing.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Heartwild Solitaire

For Mac:  Heartwild Solitaire


Twilight City: Love as a Cure

Life Management                              easier                                          181 MB
Untimed                                 PC                               Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  When you chose to become a vampire so you could live forever, you hadn’t realized that it would make you into a monster.  Now you are too dangerous to be with the one you love, so you have exiled yourself in Skylight, a settlement of monsters, because you’ve been told that in Skylight there is the knowledge of how to become human again, and you want so much to return to your beloved.

Hints:  To keep this game moving along, try to get as much cash and vigor (energy) as possible by clicking repeatedly on the “work” button, but watch the level of blood (vigor) in your goblet and don’t let it get depleted. ~ When your vigor level gets low, just go back to your room in city hall and keep clicking on the “rest” button until your vigor goblet is full. ~ You don’t need to eat at the pub, which drains your cash supply — just rest. ~ The furniture you buy to decorate your room helps you regenerate more quickly, as do your clothing items… and even the “vehicle” you ride. ~ Your horse is rather slow, and that gets boring quickly (no pun intended), so whenever you can afford it, upgrade your mode of transportation (to dragons, bat clouds, etc.). ~ You train and study to build up your abilities, which will enable you to achieve your goals. It will also give you more career choices, and higher pay levels. ~ Find a better job at the “vacancies” list at city hall. ~ Train at the Academy to increase mana, and at the Camp to increase vigor. ~ To replenish your mana, simply rest, or watch the macabre circus, or choose the mana option when you are rewarded by the vampires for the help you give them. ~ You can continue playing after the game is done.

My Review:  This is a Life Management game, which means that you go about your day as you would normally, going to work to gain funds, going shopping, studying, getting hungry and tired — just like life.  To me, this sounds like a boring concept for a game, so I don’t play them, and I don’t review them since I try to avoid negative reviews… but this game caught my eye because of the vampires, and so I gave it a try.  At first glance, it seemed similar in concept to Life Quest, but with a gothic theme and with better artwork.  The settings are effectively atmospheric and intriguing (if you like the Gothic genre, which I do), and that’s what I like about this game — it is pure eye candy.  I passed on buying it when it was on sale, then regretted it.  I wanted to go back there and explore the areas I hadn’t yet seen, and my trial hour was up.  The fact that I’m considering paying full price for this game says a lot.

By the way — in addition to the daily grind — there are a few “quests” (favors you do for the other vamps) which are in the form of hidden object scenes and puzzles.  Also, you get to choose what you look like, which is fun.  And you only need to balance two elements, vigor and mana, with your activities, instead of the four elements of time, food, sleep, and mood — all of which I feel are advantages over the usual Life Management games.

My Recommendation:  This game is perfect for young teenage, pre-teen and middle-school vampire fans and goths, both male and female (you get to choose your gender).  It is also suitable for adults looking for a relaxing game with very little challenge.  It is gothic eye candy.

You can try it for free, here:
Twilight City: Love as a Cure


If you like it and want more, try:   Magic Life


4 Elements

Match 3 Game plus Puzzles and Hidden Objects                                 52 MB
No Untimed Option                  PC & Mac                  No Walkthrough needed

Premise:  An idyllic and magical world has been destroyed, and the land is barren and dead.  You have been asked to restore that world by creating underground waterways which will reach and nourish the roots of the Trees of Life.  You will also restore four Magic Books, which will bring the magic back to the Realm.  You have been given a Fairy to assist you.  She will locate the source of the Earth’s essence, green with earthly nourishment, and your task is to break through the old, dry underground canals to give the green essence a continuous pathway to the altars that hold the seeds.  When all the Trees are restored to life, you will then make pathways for the flow of Fire (to bring warmth up from the deep earth to thaw the frozen land), then Water, and Air, restoring the 4 Elements of the ancient world, for which the game is named.

Hints:   Start each round by finding the source of the liquid, and making matches that will enable the liquid to flow towards its destination. ~ If you can’t clear a path where the arrow is telling you to, try someplace else; the hints are just suggestions, not solutions, and there are other alternatives. ~ To keep the bonuses activated and ready for when you need them, match any tiles of the necessary color anywhere you can find them, even in the area you’ve just irrigated, until the bonuses are activated. ~ You don’t have to work strictly in the direction of the flow; sometimes it’s useful to work backwards from the arrow to the pool of liquid. ~ Don’t try to break the metal tiles; they are destroyed by the metal arrows which get released when the flowing liquid touches them… so, wherever there are metal arrows, be sure to always direct the flow towards the metal arrows. ~ Don’t worry about destroying the boulders because the liquid will flow around them. ~ Don’t try to make every match; that is impossible and unnecessary.  In this game, the movement of the liquid is more important than the number of matches you make. ~ When you can’t find any more matches, don’t forget your bonuses, which will enable you to switch or remove the blocked tile. ~ The bomb will break ice, and the spade will break up the tan-colored earth behind the colored tile that is blocking the flow.

More Hints:  During the Match 3 games, perfection is definitely not needed. Do whatever works, as quickly as possible, before the timer on the right side of the screen runs down. ~ If you find the music too distracting or irritating, mute it in the Options Panel; I recommend you do that automatically if your children play this game, as the music is urgent and very stress-producing. The important music — the fanfares — will still play to congratulate you. ~ And if the sound effects are too loud, you can reduce those, too. ~ The cracking canal walls make a satisfying sound, but I had to lower the volume on my computer in addition to lowering the sound effects levels in Options — that’s how loud the sounds are, especially of the flute — and that’s my only complaint for this game (aside from the timer, of course; I hate timers, but I know many people love them, so what can I say?). ~ If you don’t want to play a timed game, I recommend the sequel, 4 Elements II, which I’ve listed with the easier starter games. That review is here:  4 Elements II

My Review:  This game is really well thought out.  The puzzles make a good break between Match 3 rounds, and the hidden objects are totally relevant, which really pleases me.  But even more significant is the care they put into the illustrations, which are an important aspect of the plot.  I’m amazed at how beautiful these games are. The artwork is stunning, and you are creating beauty as you play.

Your fairy guide is really lovely — even the voice-overs are pleasant — and all this beauty and attention to detail is what makes this game stand out above other match 3 games.  There are even hidden details within the ivy-covered rocks as you break through the tunnels — a pair of eyes watching you in the shadows, a little door leading who knows where?

My Recommendation:  If you like Match 3 games that have a timer, I predict you’ll love this one.

You can try it for free, here:
4 Elements for PC
4 Elements for Mac


4 Elements II

Match 3 Game plus Puzzles and Hidden Objects          easier           102 MB
Untimed Option                     PC & Mac                   Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  The beautiful and mystical world of nature and magic has been destroyed again, and the four fairies that control the four forces of nature have been captured and trapped in a magical book.  Without his magic, the wizard gnome who is in possession of the book is powerless to free the fairies; and he is too weakened to restore the flow of the earth’s basic forces, which would restore both the natural and the magical worlds and free the fairies so they can continue to keep the forces of the world in balance, so the wizard gnome asks you to unblock the passages for him, to release the fairies and restore the natural flow of water, air, fire, and earth energies.

Hints:  Start each round by finding the source of the liquid, and making matches that will enable the liquid to flow towards its destination. ~ If you can’t clear a path where the arrow is telling you to, try someplace else; the hints are just suggestions, not solutions, and there are other alternatives. ~ To keep the bonuses activated and ready for when you need them, match any tiles of the necessary color anywhere you can find them, even in the area you’ve just irrigated, until the bonuses are activated. ~ You don’t have to work strictly in the direction of the flow; sometimes it’s useful to work backwards from the arrow to the pool of liquid. ~ Don’t try to break the metal tiles; they are destroyed by the metal arrows which get released when the flowing liquid touches them… so, wherever there are metal arrows, be sure to always direct the flow towards the metal arrows. ~ Don’t worry about destroying the boulders because the liquid will flow around them. ~ Don’t try to make every match; that is impossible and unnecessary.  In this game, the movement of the liquid is more important than the number of matches you make. ~ When you can’t find any more matches, don’t forget your bonuses, which will enable you to switch or remove the blocked tile. ~ The bomb will break ice, and the spade will break up the tan-colored earth behind the colored tile that is blocking the flow.

More Hints:  Immediately go to the Options button in the Main Menu and choose the casual option, which will enable you to play without the timer, and which is a good way to learn the game. ~ You can always reinstate the timer whenever you want the challenge. ~ Unlike most Match 3 games, you can make matches with tiles that are trapped in ice. ~ This game offers both untimed and timed options; if you enjoy the timed version, I also recommend the original, 4 Elements, which is equally enchanting.  I’ve listed it with the harder games, and its review is here:  4 Elements

My Review:  This game is really well thought out.  The puzzles make a good break between match 3 rounds, and the hidden objects are totally relevant, which really pleases me.  But even more significant is the care they put into the illustrations, which are an important aspect of the plot.  I’m amazed at how beautiful these games are.  The artwork is stunning, and you are creating beauty as you play.

If you are relatively new to Match 3 games, or if you can’t abide timed games, I recommend that you start with this sequel before attempting the original 4 Elements game.  This version is perfect for both children and  adults: it offers an untimed option, which is great for kids — as well as for adults who are new to match 3 games, or who don’t enjoy pressure, or who like to take the time to strategize and find the best moves.  The untimed version also enables you to take the time to enjoy the scenery with its exquisite details.  Some kids, especially boys, will probably prefer the fairies in this sequel, as they are more modern and jazzy looking, almost like super hero fairies.  And do tweak the wizard gnome’s nose on the main menu page; each time you click on his nose, he says something new.

My Recommendation:  If you like match 3 games, I predict you’ll love this game.

You can try it for free, here:

4 Elements II for PC
4 Elements II for Mac



Strategy & Puzzle Grid Game                  PC                                        10 MB
Untimed Option                        easier                       Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  The knights of Hexalot are out to recapture the Crown of King Arthur, and your mission is to guide each knight across the treacherous lands of the Saxons.  You accomplish this by creating straight paths, called bridges, for them to make their way across a grid of hexagons, leading them from brown castle to brown castle, until each reaches the safety of a white castle.  Along the way you can collect gold coins and jewels for them to bring back to Hexalot.  They have completed their quest when they have traversed all 36 levels and recaptured the crown.  Not as simple as it sounds, of course, as minor complications can arise on the way, but quite manageable in easy (Adventure) mode.

Hints:  Before you start, it is very important to read How To Play,  which is found on the main menu . ~ The land that the knights must cross is a hexagonal grid, and the small hexagons which make up the grid are called hexes.  The game refers to the small colored hexagons that you will position onto the larger hexagonal grid as magic crystals, but they don’t look anything like crystals; they look like hexagonal tiles, so I’m calling them tiles. ~ All travel must be in a straight line, diagonally or vertically, and you create these lines (bridges) with the colored tiles which you select out of four boxes (wells) that are lined up along the right side of the field. ~ Often the tile in the well is made up of several hexagons stuck together in an odd shape which can be either problematic or useful, forcing you to think creatively to get it to fit where you need it. ~ When you choose a tile, it sticks to your cursor until you place it onto the field or discard it into the Dropzone Cauldron. ~ Choose your tiles carefully, for once you choose a tile, you cannot return it to the well, and if you discard it, you will lose points… so, if you care about points, you might prefer to place it, whenever possible, onto a part of the field that you are certain you will no longer will be using. ~ When selecting a cluster of tiles, you can reorient them by right-clicking or by pressing your spacebar until they are positioned in the most useful direction, but you must do this while they are still stuck to your cursor and before you place them. ~ Once a tile is placed it cannot be moved or removed. ~ A tile might, however, disappear on its own if a knight doesn’t use it quickly enough.  That can help you sometimes, or it could work against your plan. ~ If a tile starts flashing, it’s about to disappear.

More Hints:  On their journey toward the white castles, the knights can take refuge in the brown castles, but, unlike the white castles, the brown castles can each hold only one knight at a time (unless they’ve arrived there simultaneously), so the first one must leave before the next can take refuge there. ~ When planning your strategy, be sure that there will always be a castle at the end of every bridge you’re planning for the knight to cross, because without a bridge he will go nowhere, and it’s very easy to fall into the trap of sliding him into a spot from which the only option is backwards. ~ As the game progresses, the knights will begin to do a lot of zigzag travel before they reach perhaps the only white castle. ~ The bridge you create to transport a knight to a castle must be at least two tiles in length. ~  A bridge must be just one color. ~ If you use more than one color to make a bridge, it will collapse and those tiles will disappear. ~ Some paths have painted hexes which you must match, which can be a problem if you don’t have that color; also, it’s impossible when there are two hexes of different colors in a single line.  That problem is solved by using multi-colored tiles which can stand in for any color and are able to cover an inconveniently-located hex of the wrong color.

Still More Hints:  Always map out your knight’s total route before leading him to any brown castle, because not all brown castles are connected to a white castle. ~ Jewels appear randomly from time to time on the paths, tempting you to direct a knight down that path to collect the jewel.  But watch out — they often appear on paths that do not lead to any castle at all, or to brown castles that are not connected to any white castle — and in fact, the more valuable the jewel, the more likely it is placed there to lead you astray. ~ How to Play, on the main menu, gives a list of the values of each jewel. ~ The most valuable jewel is the triangular diamond, and more valuable than the diamond is the gold crown, but most valuable of all is the red shield. ~ You start out with three lives and that’s the most you can have, but if you run out of tiles without having rescued all the knights, you will lose one of your lives. ~ Lose all your lives and the game ends…  but if you see a red shield on one of the tiles or hexes, make a bridge with it, and if a knight uses it, you will regain one life. ~ Toward the end of the game the grid starts to get more complicated, and you may need to make a sketch of the grid and the positions of the castles.  Ignore the jewels; they disappear randomly and at this level you already have lots of points.  Draw a complete path for each knight and you’ll notice that the lattice you’ve created is symmetrical, with one side mirroring the other; that knowledge may help you when you can’t work out a knight’s path.

My Review:  I like hexagonal shapes, and I enjoyed using them.  Hexalot is  8 yrs. old, which in the game world is ancient and considered primitive by today’s standards… but, as is often the case, simple can be fun, and this is such a good game that I still play it!  It requires you to think (which is its whole point), but it doesn’t get too difficult too quickly, which is a big plus.  The music is appropriate, making this a pleasant game for anyone.

My Recommendation:  This is a good, easy, and enjoyable game which is also an excellent brain exercise.  If you like puzzles, why not give it a try?

You can try it for free, here:   Hexalot


Eastville Chronicles: The Drama Queen Murder

Hidden Object Mystery Game with Puzzles                 easier             181 MB
Untimed Option                     PC                               Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You’re a detective sent from Seattle to help Eastville’s detective, Ms. Alex Hunt, investigate the murder of the female star of the Eastville Opera House.  The crime had occurred sometime after the evening performance had ended, and the leading lady was found onstage lying amid the toppled baskets, fruits and vegetables of a European village market scene.  The mystery takes some twists and turns as you uncover the secrets of the other cast members.  To add to the drama of the game, each chapter starts with a flashback argument viewed as shadows seen through the stage curtain.

Hints:  In each hidden object scene, drag the frame left and right to see items hidden from view.  To do this, go to the blue line across the very top of the screen and click-hold-and-drag. ~ Also at the top of the screen is the menu button, which enables you to pause the game. ~ If you click wildly, a swirl will appear to alert you. ~ Some of the puzzles are a lot easier than they appear.  For the others, you can skip without penalty and the skip button charges up very quickly. ~ If you can’t find the skip button, drag the screen so you can see lower and to the right of the scene. ~ If you want to start over for any reason, your progress will be lost if you click on New Game, so click on Profiles and give yourself a new name. ~ If you restart or replay the game, most of the objects on your lists will be different.

More Hints:  When the game first opens, it may not be centered correctly on your desktop.  Grab the top of the frame and push it as high as it will go. ~ If your desktop taskbar doesn’t disappear, it will block critical parts of the game, such as the dialogue and the action buttons.  If you are unable to see the Play button on the main menu screen, you’ll have to leave the game and go to your control panel to make your taskbar disappear.  To leave the game (since you can’t see the buttons yet), click around at the lower right corner of the screen until you‘re asked if you want to quit the game, and click yes. ~ If you’ve never gone to your control panel, it’s easy.  Either click the icon on your desktop or go to the Start menu and click Settings, then Appearance and Themes, the Taskbar & Start Menu.  Unclick Lock Taskbar. Also select Auto-Hide. Then Apply.

Spoilers:  In this game paprika is not in powder form. ~ Scaramouche is a buffoon and a braggart who wears a starkly white mask with an incredibly long pointy nose.

My Review:  This is a plot-heavy game so there’s a lot of dialogue to read, but it adds to the story and gives you clues and instructions.  As for the detective work, there is no independent thought necessary — you are told where to go and what to do; as for the forensic work, you don’t do it — the collecting and testing are done off screen and you get the results in a letter.  Try the puzzles before skipping them, even if you don’t usually like puzzles; some of these are fun and some are easier than they look, and the puzzles made me feel like I was helping the detective as I was working on getting around backstage.  All in all, this is a pretty average mystery game and an average hidden object game… but to its credit, the plotline held my interest and made sense, the hos items were usually appropriate to the scene, and the puzzles usually fit into the story, all attributes you don’t always see in these games.

My Recommendation:  I think this is a good game for new game players; unfortunately, its story line is not really appropriate for kids.

You can try it for free, here:
Eastville Chronicles: The Drama Queen Murder


Secrets of the Seas: Flying Dutchman

Adventure Game with some Hidden Object Scenes                           346 MB
Untimed Option          easier         PC & Mac            Walkthrough not needed
Secrets of the Seas: Flying Dutchman walkthrough

Premise:  It’s sometime in the 1700’s or early 1800’s and your friend Michael has invited you to visit him — but, just before your arrival, a huge black ship appears as if out of nowhere on a gigantic wave which destroys the sailing ship you’re travelling on, and you find yourself lying facedown on the beach amid pieces of wood.  You find Michael’s house, but it’s locked up and a notice has been posted that the house is about to be auctioned off.  Michael has recently lost everything to gambling, and he is now tied up at the dock, awaiting his fate.  He will have to serve on that black ship, and by the time the first hour is up, so will you.

Hints:  As always, I advise playing on the easiest setting. ~ This is an Adventure Game, so it’s up to you to figure out what to do.  Luckily, it’s pretty intuitive, so just click where you think there might be something you can use, and try combining things. ~ A clever lobster can give you hints. ~ Tip the top of your screen toward you to see the hidden objects more clearly. ~ In a hidden object scene, an item can be a mere representation — like a shadow, a drawing, or some other kind of image.

My Review:  This game had me from the opening scene — which was just the main menu! — and it got better from there.  The action scenes are grippingly cinematic, and the artwork is realistic and beautifully rendered.  I love the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and this game is strongly reminiscent of those, visually and musically.  I can’t wait to get back on that ship and save Michael, myself, and any other mortal who might be trapped there.  Yes, it’s a ghost ship, manned by skeletons and captained by a phantom, and we all might be doomed.  Wow, I love this game!

My Recommendation:  If you love the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, are intrigued by the gritty world of pirates, or just want to go back in time and have a hair-raising adventure, try this one.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Secrets of the Seas: Flying Dutchman

For Mac:  Secrets of the Seas: Flying Dutchman


Gardenscapes, Gardenscapes 2 and Gardenscapes: Mansion Makeover

Hidden Object Games with Time Management / Sales                       134 MB
Untimed Option          easier          PC & Mac           Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  In ‘Gardenscapes’ you and Austin, your butler, create the perfect garden.  You sell unwanted junk for outrageous prices and build your garden paradise. Comb the mansion’s rooms for hidden items and restore a once stunning garden to its former glory as you choose from a myriad of garden items and accessories to customize the garden to your taste. Also become part of the city’s community and enter the competitive ‘Best Garden’ contest.

In ‘Gardenscapes 2’ you accompany Austin to the place of his childhood, meet his parents, and collect the old photos and other memorable things from his past.  Run sales of the old stuff found around the house to implement your decorating ideas.  Help your good old friend bring the family garden to bloom again.

Now, in ‘Gardenscapes: Mansion Makeover’, it’s time to polish up the mansion because company’s coming!   Word got out that you’ve created an exquisite garden (with the help of Austin, your butler, in the first Gardenscapes Game), and all your relatives want to visit you… but all your money and attention went into your yard, and your mansion is a bit dilapidated.  Time for an open-house tag sale and some redecorating decisions.

Hints:  Look for coins, question marks, cameras and thermometers in each Hidden Object scene. The coins are tucked in everywhere, but the others are very rare. ~ Each coin adds several dollars to your profits. ~ Each question mark adds another hint to your hint button. ~ The camera, if you find one, will show you where all the items are, so don’t click on it until you can’t find any of the 5 items your customers want. ~ The thermometer, if you find one, will make a customer’s item tag turn red when your cursor is close to that item; don’t click on it until you need its assistance. ~ You’ll have five customers at a time, and, unlike other sales games, these customers don’t get angry and or leave if you’re too slow at finding what they want… at least not in relaxed mode. In timed mode you will have to face their impatience, but if it gets to be too much you can always switch modes at any time.

My Review:  Ordinarily I don’t like Sales games because of the pressure and the angry customers, but this game has none of that, at least not in the relaxed mode.  Also, I liked how the butler kept talking to me, which made me really feel a part of the action.  Also, I got to name the dog, and I gave him a dog biscuit and a stick to play with, which was a nice touch.  My complaints: First of all, just like all the other sales games, the prices are ridiculous.  A $37 clothespin, a $38 glass of milk, $39 for a spider web, and a $41 maple leaf?  (On second thought, kids would probably enjoy getting tons of money for worthless junk.)  And then the butler spends $1,400 for the dog’s bed and $12,000 on a TV!  Really?  Also, the shadows in the corners of the rooms, where items were hidden, didn’t seem appropriate.  One would have to play this game in the dark to find every item without repeatedly using hints; this game is so kid-friendly, I can’t see having them not play during the the day, nor them needing to sit in the dark to play without frustration.  But maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing?  I’ll leave it to you to decide.

My Recommendation:  In spite of my picky personal feelings mentioned above, I have to admit that this game is a friendly, light-hearted, entertaining and enjoyable Hidden Object and Sales Game, and I’d recommend it for adults and children, too.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Gardenscapes
……………..For Mac:  Gardenscapes

For PC:   Gardenscapes 2

For PC:   Gardenscapes: Mansion Makeover™
……………..For Mac:  Gardenscapes: Mansion Makeover™


Jewel Match 3

Match 3 Game                           easier                                                   17 MB
Untimed Option                     PC & Mac                    Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You are attending a magical university, studying magical horticulture, and when letters from home stop coming and you return home to investigate, you find your city completely deserted and in ruins… and what are those strange, huge, black crystals?  You approach the only remaining structure — the town fountain — and find magical gems sparkling within the water.  Now you need magical seeds, which you will find during the Match 3 rounds.  Your goals are to rescue the five encapsulated wizard leaders of the city, restore their memories by planting those magic seeds, and maintain the magic plants that give the wizards their memories back, so that they can tell you what happened to the city and how to restore it.

Hints:  The jewels you gather via the Match 3 rounds will be used in the rebuilding, and to collect the jewels you will need as large a treasure chest as you can afford, so spend all your coins on treasure chest upgrades. ~ Creating matches below the items will enable them to fall down the grid and get released to you. ~ Explosive spells, hammers, and golden arrowheads will not damage any items or jewels; don’t be afraid to use them to get what you need. ~ During the Match 3 rounds, as you clear one board (called a “room”) you will unlock arrows that will point you to other  boards/rooms; when all that remains in every room is sparkling jewels, you’ve won that round and earned all the jewels, coins, bottles, and seeds you’ve released.

More Hints:  Match 4 or more jewels at one time and you create a multicolored gem which you can use as a wild card because it is every color. ~ Longer chains will create a gold arrowhead that will clear an entire row; save these and make them drop to where you need them, usually at the bottom. ~ If a board has squares that are covered with wood, your first priority is to uncover those squares. Make matches adjacent to the wood blocks to shatter them. When you’ve shattered as many blocks as you can, concentrate on other areas of the board to lower those items and also to remove the beige background tile behind every jewel. This will cause jewels to fall to bottom, where the wood blocks are, and soon you can rework the blocked areas. ~ Try to ignore the suggestions for matches that are constantly being offered to you, for they are simply the computer’s recognition of possible moves but not necessarily the most advantageous ones; stick with your own instincts, and refer to the suggestions only when you are totally stumped.  ~ If every room is cleared of everything but jewels, and the arrows keep sending you from one cleared room to another, like you’re caught in a loop, click on Menu, go to the Main Menu, press Play, and that will fix it. ~ If it’s been a while since you’ve played and you feel lost, go to the hints in the main menu and review what does what.

My Review:  I love jewels, crystals, all sparkly things, and so I’ve played every computer game I could find that featured jewels of any kind; and I have to say these are most beautiful jewels I’ve ever seen in a computer game.  I play this game for hours without stopping, so enchanted by the beauty of those twinkling jewels that I have to remind myself to blink.

My Recommendation:  Absolutely yes.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Jewel Match 3

For Mac:  Jewel Match 3


Gems Legend

(also called Gems Legend: Mystery of the 8 Figures)

Match 3 Game Variation                              harder                                28 MB
No Untimed Option                             PC                 Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Sasha’s mother is dying of an incurable disease, and while Sasha is taking a leave of absence to care for her, she is also doing research in the hopes of discovering a cure.  When she comes upon a reference to a special red flower that can cure the incurable, she travels to the area mentioned in the book; and while searching for the legendary flower, she discovers an underground cavern with 8 stone platforms that have magical properties that will reveal clues to aid her search as long as she plays their Match 3 game.  In this Match 3 game she (you) will be harvesting gold powder and really beautiful, sparkling jewels, which will ultimately embellish the stone idols which belong on those platforms.

Hints:  To enter the Match 3 game after the opening narrative, click on the whirling blue spiral hovering over one of the 8 platforms. ~  When it tells you to “click any key”, it means “click your mouse”. ~ Changing the direction of the arrow on a tile will make the timer at the bottom of the screen move faster. ~ When you run out of time, the round ends, but you can try again. ~ When you re-do a level, you lose your gold powder, but you don’t lose the jewels you’ve accumulated. ~ Work on matching the jewels first, then make as many tile matches as you can in the time you have left, to gather enough gold powder to fill the jar.

My Review:  This is a unique variation on the Match 3 game, in which each tile will  move in the direction of its arrow; you can change the arrow’s direction by right-clicking on it, but you will forfeit seconds on the timer.  As always, your goal is to make matches of 3 or more same-colored tiles, but here’s the difference: you can move a tile to place it where you want it, even though it makes no matches while you are moving it.  This ability to reposition the tiles really helps in rescuing the jewels, which must be brought together in a line of 3 same-colored gems… a task which looks impossible, given that they are far from each other and there aren’t always enough of each color… but with practice you’ll figure out how to push the jewels along by changing the direction of the arrow on the adjacent tile so it switches places with the jewel, in effect moving it toward another jewel.  This challenge really adds to the game.

My Recommendation:  I do recommend this game, especially for anyone who enjoys Match 3 games and wants to try something new.  I really enjoyed the free trial and didn’t want it to end.  Those sparkling jewels are beautiful enough to tempt me to buy this game, and the unusual twists are also intriguing.  Plus, I want to find out how the story ends.

You can try it for free, here: Gems Legend

Insaniquarium! Deluxe

Arcade  / Action Game                              harder                                   11 MB
Untimed Option                      PC                              Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You try to keep your fish alive by feeding them; at the same time you are gathering the coins that float down from them so you can buy more fish, upgrade the fish food, and upgrade the weapon you use to shoot the alien water creatures that occasionally appear and try to eat your fish.

Hints:  Feed each fish as soon as it changes color (i.e. when a guppy turns purple) or it will die.  (When they all die, you lose the game.) ~ You can feed all of them at once by holding your mouse button down. ~ Eggs are worth their high price, for they contain very useful sea creatures, i.e. a snail that will help you catch those falling coins, a clam that will make precious pearls for you to take, and a swordfish that will help you fight the aliens. ~ Hold off on buying a carnivore because you don’t have any red meat and I have no idea what you can feed him.  (Mine died of starvation.)

My Review:  Because it’s an Arcade game, you will be moving your mouse constantly.  Fans of the genre find this stimulating and satisfying; I find it too stimulating (in other words, exhausting).  But it’s just a matter of taste, and this game is very popular.

My Recommendation:  This game is for players with a fast mouse hand, and who won’t take it hard when their fish die.  I found the game to be frustrating, but so many people love this game that I feel that I should suggest you try it, if it sounds appealing.

You can try it for free, here:   Insaniquarium! Deluxe


Journalistic Investigations: Stolen Inheritance

Hidden Object Game with Puzzles                                                      134 MB
Untimed                                  PC & Mac                      harder
Walkthrough needed?  Yes, if you don’t want to spend all your time looking for unrelated crap in unbelievably messy settings. (Sorry, my biases are showing.)    Journalistic Investigations: Stolen Inheritance Walkthrough

Premise:  A young but extremely experienced journalist/reporter is Maid of Honor for her best friend, and at the bridal shower a very valuable gift is stolen.  Our ‘Girl Friday’ promises to solve the crime and recover the precious heirlooms that the bride’s mother had just passed to her as an early inheritance.  The game follows her investigation and subsequent adventure.

Hints:  Use the hint button as soon as you need it — which you will — because the Hidden Object items are so difficult to find and the hint button takes forever (2 minutes?) to recharge. ~ Be sure you have a sizable block of playing time available because the game is not saved until you’ve finished a chapter.

My Review:  To be honest, I can’t give you a review of the entire game because I wasn’t able to endure it; but to be fair, I must admit that many gamers will like it, so I ask you to keep reading, below.

My Recommendation:  Because of my dislike (actually, loathing) of Hidden Object games which consist of endless strings of pigpen scenes filled with ridiculous and unnecessary crap strewn all over the place, I was tempted to advise everyone to avoid this game.  However, it also has some intriguing-looking forensics & investigation mini-puzzles that are really tempting to a mystery-lover like me… if only I could overcome this aversion… oh, what a dilemma!  In the end, I decided to leave the decision to you, Dear Reader, for I know many of you love Hidden Object games so much that you’ll even play ones like these, and therefore there are those of you who would enjoy this game.  To those of you I say, “Have fun and enjoy the investigation.”

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Journalistic Investigations: Stolen Inheritance

For Mac:  Journalistic Investigations: Stolen Inheritance



Puzzle Grid                                           harder                                       23 MB
No Untimed Option                  PC                            Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You are an anthropologist’s apprentice, and you are searching for gems that are hidden under tiles within the Mayan ruins found deep in the Central American jungle.  You “lift” (click on) the tiles to release the gems; unfortunately, some of the tiles are cursed and you must not lift those, so break them instead.  If you make a mistake, there are consequences; therefore, you cannot guess but must use logical reasoning to determine which tiles to lift and which to destroy, using clues that have been left behind in the form of number sequences.  As you clear away these tiles, you are helping to restore the Mayan temples and the pyramids upon which the temples are resting.

Hints:  As you progress, the grid becomes larger, so make sure you always know how many tiles you’re dealing with. ~ The grid is always square, therefore it has the same number of tiles on every side. ~ When it gets too large for you to handle, you can always play the arcade version, which is timed but manageable. ~ In the arcade version, when you fill your pile of gems to the top you get more time and a new grid which is one tile larger on each side, so adjust your calculations accordingly. ~ In the arcade game each row and column disappears as soon as you’ve completed it, and another row or column takes its place; for that reason I find it useful to leave one tile untouched until I’ve gotten all the useful information I can out of it to help me work the adjacent rows. ~ By the way, right-clicking your mouse will change your cursor from hand to hammer, and back again; or you can choose (in the Options section of the Menu) to use the left half of your mouse for the hand and the right half for the hammer — which is a faster method, and especially useful in the arcade version. ~ Just stay focused and don’t let yourself get confused when clicking.

My Review:  Don’t be deceived by the pictures — this is not a game for small children (unless they are really smart and love numbers) — because this is a real brain exerciser; but if you like challenging games which make you think logically, you might consider this game.  It’s fun to see the jewels stack up.  And because it only requires simple addition and counting, I think just about everyone can probably handle it, at least in the beginning; just be aware that it will get quite difficult, at which time you can always start over, using a new name.

My Recommendation:  This is a real brain workout, and quite a challenge, and if that’s what you’re looking for, I say give it a try.

You can try it for free, here: Gemsweeper


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


Youda Fairy

Time Management / Arcade / Action Game                  easier               61 MB
No Untimed Option               PC  & Mac                   Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  A wizard comes to you and asks for your help, and he looks a bit like Professor Dumbledore, so how can you refuse?  The forest needs fairies and so do the villagers, who are plagued by woes;  fairies can help them, and you have been chosen to create more fairies.  You create the fairies by using water lilies and spiders to catch fireflies, because a fairy will emerge from a water lily once enough fireflies have been caught.  You then guide the fairy to a lantern and later release her and send her to a villager’s house.

Hints:  Everything depends upon the color: Match the color of the water lily to the color of the fireflies and you will create a fairy of that color; put her into the lantern of that color and release her to a house of that color. ~ Work quickly if you want to earn crystal bonuses. ~ The spiders are the secret to success. ~ As soon as a spider emerges from its cocoon, use it to gather fireflies. ~ Use the spider and its silk thread to link all the fireflies of the same color as the spider, and that will hasten your progress considerably. ~ As soon as the water lily’s lily pad turns to the color of its flower, click on it to release the new fairy and quickly guide her to the lantern. ~ If you don’t finish on time, you can repeat the level as often as necessary by clicking on the glowing ball with no crystal above it on the map. ~ Spend your earned cash on castle upgrades as soon as you are able to do it because each upgrade helps you in some way.

My Review:  This game is so beautiful, it enchants me — I want to stop playing just to stare at the fairies.  How did I not know about this game before now?  And it’s fun to play, too — as long as you don’t mind replaying a level again and again to earn a crystal — because of course you want that crystal.  The game is timed and it gets harder and harder very quickly, which ordinarily is the kiss of death for this reviewer… but those fairies are so pretty that I’m willing to play again and again just to see them.  I suspect everyone — especially young girls — will feel the same way.

My Recommendation:  If you or your daughter have perseverance and can handle the frustration that timed games create, and you love fairies, this is your game.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Youda Fairy

For Mac:  Youda Fairy


G.H.O.S.T Chronicles: Phantom of the Renaissance Faire

Hidden Object Game with Mini-Games                   harder                115 MB
Untimed Option           PC & Mac              Walkthrough is definitely needed
G.H.O.S.T Chronicles: Phantom of the Renaissance Faire Walkthrough

Premise:  Ghosts are spooking the visitors and the theme park will close unless you can find out why they’re upset, and get them to stop.  The ghosts are not scary; it’s not a creepy or in any way frightening game.  You go to each booth in the faire, listen to what the workers have to say about the problems, then do the hidden object hunt, after which there might be a mini-game.

Hints:  At each booth or site, FIRST THING, find the fairies!!!  (Some look like pixies or brownies, with wings.) ~ Also, I suggest you allow the game to give you suggestions.  That will allow you to re-enter a finished site if you haven’t found all the fairies. ~ There are 68 fairies.

My Review:  Because the hidden objects are too hidden (they’re the same color as what they’re in front of), and because the game sometimes requires you to be clever, I found this to be a difficult game, and I wasn’t able to get very far in it… until I found a Walkthrough, which I needed to refer to a lot.  Aside from that, this was a relaxing, attractive game with enjoyable mini-games which were original and fitting for the theme and plot.  I really appreciate that.

My Recommendation:  For experienced hidden object gamers and gamers who are patient and also who don’t mind referring to a Walkthrough for help, who are looking for a quiet game they can take their time with, I can recommend this game.  I found it enjoyable and well-worth the money.

You can try it for free, here:  G.H.O.S.T Chronicles: Phantom of the Renaissance Faire

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


Ghost Whisperer

(Revised Review)

Hidden Object Game             easier              PC & Mac                      169 MB
Untimed                                       Walkthroughs needed and can be found at: http://www.legacygames.com/help/walkthroughDetailGhostWhispererForgottenToysWalkthrough http://www.legacygames.com/help/walkthroughDetailGhostWhispererABrushWithDeathWalkthrough

Premise:  Melinda Gordon inherited the ability to see and talk to dead people who have not passed on to the next realm because of some unfinished business with which they need help.  The game contains two separate mysteries; the 2nd, “A Brush With Death”, is unlocked after you’ve finished the 1st, “Forgotten Toys”.

Hints:  The scenes are so dark that, in order to see the items you’re searching for that are hidden in the shadows, you should play this game at night, in the dark, with the top of your screen tilted toward you if possible. ~ Click on every tiny glint or sparkle. ~ The inventory bar keeps popping up when you don’t want it, and it’s very difficult to get rid of, but pushing your cursor to the very top of the screen will do it. ~ The inventory bar holds more items than you need at the moment, and some of those items are hidden; click on the arrows on the left and right of the inventory to remember what items you’ve collected so far, because sometimes you have to be creative to solve a problem. ~ Before leaving a completed scene, check your list of clues (under the inventory) to see if there’s any odd item left to grab. ~ At the hospital, when a photo of an elephant appears on the x-ray pictures on the wall to the right of the bed, take the elephant photo; you’ll need it on the easel in the manor’s solarium. ~ When trying to make charcoal, it doesn’t work to put the wooden sticks into the candle flame — you have to put them onto the length of the candle. ~ In the puzzle with 3 clocks and old torn photos: if nothing happens when you set the clocks to the right times, readjust the middle one because noon and 6 pm look the same. ~ The crescent moon hint button takes a full minute to recharge — and boy, will you need it — because most of the objects on the list are hidden in dark corners and are completely invisible. But don’t wait until you’ve given up before asking for help, or you’ll spend too much of your time waiting. ~ If you don’t get a hint, move your cursor around the hint button until the crescent moon glows, then click again. ~ And after you’ve used a hint, you can click on the spectral face if you see one (it looks like it’s shrouded behind a cloth) to get another hint instantly, but those faces are rare. ~ There’s a penalty for over-clicking. ~ When you can’t figure out what to do next, go to the map to try another site, even if it makes no sense to look for Melinda’s computer mouse at the train station. ~ Ready to give up? Copy and paste the publisher’s walkthroughs, listed above.

My Review:  This game is based on the popular TV series, and it’s true to the look and feel of the show. However, it’s been a long time since that show was new, and I suspect it’s been that long since this game was new, too, judging by the crudeness of the artwork, and the fact that the characters are just paper cut-outs.  The stories proceed slowly (very slowly, in my opinion), but that too is in keeping with the feel of the show.  The Hidden Object scenes are piles of “stuff” and there are a lot of them… and it really is difficult to see the items, so I seriously recommend that you play the game in the dark, and tilt the screen if you can.  Also, the inventory bar is very frustrating and annoying.  But on the positive side, the puzzles are solvable, rather clever, and fit the story.  And in spite of the game’s shortcomings, I have to admit that the stories themselves are really interesting, after all.

My Recommendation:  If you’re a fan of the Ghost Whisperer TV series, and if my criticisms don’t deter you, check it out.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Ghost Whisperer™
For Mac:  Ghost Whisperer™


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


Northern Tale

Civilization-Building Game                      easier                                   175 MB
Untimed Option                      PC                              Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  In the time of the Vikings, while the warriors are away exploring foreign shores, the evil sorceress Gesta destroys their homeland and kidnaps the Viking leader Ragnar’s three daughters, whom she turns into a caged bird, a spectral deer, and a frozen statue.  When the Vikings return home, they set off to restore the land and the settlements, and to rescue the young women.  Along the way they will face many challenges, including wolves, trolls, black-shrouded spectres, bewitched skeletons, and yeti.

Hints:  If you’re new to this style of game, opt for casual mode with a tutorial.  That way you’ll have no real pressure, and you can learn how to strategize. ~  Also, by playing in casual mode, you automatically will win the 3 gold stars on each level, which will give you access to the bonus game at the end. ~ The round doesn’t start until you click on something, so before you start each round, survey the scene, locate the buildings you’ll need to restore (especially the druid’s tent and the exorcist’s hut when your paths are blocked by supernatural beings), assess your current resources (listed at the top left of the screen), and prioritize your route.  This is particularly important if you’re playing in timed mode. ~  Don’t upgrade your headquarters to earn another worker if there are no sources of replacement stones nearby, because it’ll cost you ten stones and you have other buildings to worry about. ~  If you run out of resources with no way to replenish them, you can restart the game by going to the Menu. ~ You shouldn’t wait until the men return to headquarters before giving them their next jobs; instead, you can stack their assignments by clicking on everything you can find that becomes encircled by a green or blue ring when you hover over it; if the ring is red, either you don’t have enough resources to do that task, or the site is blocked by an unfinished area. ~ Depending on what your tasks are, certain buildings will be needed sooner.  For instance, if there are several huge boulders to clear away, you’ll need lots of gold and you might need a gold mine; if you have lots of buildings to restore, the workshop will increase your ability to amass stone blocks, as will a stone block mine. ~ Some mines need to be worked by sending one of your men to it, over and over until it’s depleted, while other times a mine is manned by other workers and just needs to be upgraded if you want to increase its output. ~ The farm and the workshop produce on their own once you’ve restored them. ~ If you need more resources than your buildings are producing, you can upgrade them.

More Hints:  The magic stumps give needed resources which you should gather as soon as they appear because they cannot replenish until the available resources (food, gold, or lumber plus building stones) have been removed. ~ You’ll hear a tinkling sound when a stump has replenished its resources for you to collect. ~ If your daughter’s white wolf is around, make sure you upgrade the farm as quickly as you can, as high as it’ll go — because when he howls, he’s hungry and needs a lot of meat — but he’ll reward you by clearing paths you have no other way of getting through. ~ Look for Thor’s hammer or any other items like helmets and barrels that may have been lost or discarded, and you’ll get points for locating the pet hamsters that are hiding under some of them. ~ You don’t need to upgrade every building, nor do you need to clear away or repair absolutely everything to finish the level. ~ For instance, if a path is blocked but you can reach the other side of the blockage via another route, you can save your resources and leave that path uncleared, as long as it isn’t one of the assigned tasks listed in the upper right of your screen. ~ At the bottom of the screen there is a line with some pictures on it; these are the bonuses you will earn as time passes, and you can choose which you prefer.  For instance, do you need another worker, your men to run faster, your buildings to produce more, or your stumps to replenish instantly? ~ Keep in mind that the bonuses last for a very short time, but they will eventually replenish, so use them. ~ If you choose to have the stumps replenish instantly, wait until they’ve all been cleared off, to get the most value. ~ And you don’t need to gather every resource off of every stump at the very end of the game.  Run off to the next settlement and leave the extra items for the villagers. ~ But don’t forget the bonus round:  after the story ends, the credits have rolled, and you are returned to the main menu, press play again for one last round.

My Review:  This game is really a lot of fun, with tasks that are easy to accomplish, illustrations that are nicely drawn and large enough to see clearly, and bits of information about the Vikings.  In addition to the aforementioned hidden hamsters, I very much enjoyed looking for tiny frolicking animals like rabbits and hedgehogs, and I hope you too take a moment to enjoy them when they appear.

My Recommendation:  This game is an excellent introduction to the Strategy/Building genre; and this game, in casual mode, is easy enough for just about anyone of any age.

You can try it for free, here:   Northern Tale             


Wizard Land

Match 3 Game (with variations)                    harder                              33 MB
Untimed                                  PC & Mac                  Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  There was a magic land of fairies and wizards and magical creatures, and it was all held together by the force of a magic crystal until a wicked wizard stole the energy crystal and turned that land, and everyone in it, into stone.  Now, a travelling wizard has come to restore the land and the crystal that maintained it.  By solving magical puzzles he gains the energy he needs to bring it all back, one step at a time.

Hints:  Choose the variety of Match 3 that works best for you, and keep rotating the grid to use gravity to your advantage. ~ Up to a certain point you can switch modes even within a level. ~ Allow yourself to ignore the hints that the game is giving when it causes the pieces to tremble, as if they’re saying “choose me, choose me”, because those are almost never useful moves. ~ The key cannot cross the dotted red borders of the path it is travelling, so don‘t worry that it will fall through. ~ And by the way, you can turn off the inappropriate music and the sound of the wizard’s ridiculous voice through the options section of the main menu, thank goodness!

My Review:  This game offers 3 easy-to-learn Match 3 variations, and you can choose the style of Match 3 with each round, rotating the screen to control the direction in which the pieces will fall.  After you’ve broken the chains and destroyed the wooden crates and all the white background tiles, a key appears, which, by rotating the screen to control the direction in which the key falls, you guide it along a path and into a little chain circle to complete the level.  Sufficiently challenging but without a time limit, you have the opportunity to strategize.

My Recommendation:  If you are looking for a game which features magic in the game itself, this isn’t it — the magic is only in the title and the opening intro — but if you like Match 3 games, this game offers an interesting change.  Beginners might find it frustrating because it quickly becomes difficult, but for those who like Match-3 games and want more of a challenge, this is an attractive choice.  I recommend it to experienced players from middle school age (if they have patience & persistence) through Adult.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Wizard Land

For Mac:  Wizard Land


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


The Crop Circles Mystery

Mystery Game with Puzzles and Hidden Objects                               135 MB
Untimed Option         easier           PC & Mac          Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Jane and her brother Joe see something — or someone — in their wheat field during a terrible thunderstorm.  When the storm is over and the sun has come out, they find that some of their rows of wheat have been compressed into a strange design of circles, which a TV reporter identifies as crop circles.  After they clear the debris left by the storm, Joe tends to the curiosity seekers visiting their vegetable stand, earning money to make repairs to their storm-damaged farm and homestead, while Jane goes into town to learn more about crop circles, trying to solve the mystery of who or what trampled their wheat.

Hints:  At the farmstand, you won’t be able to service all the customers because the round ends when the 12th customer leaves. ~  If you simply can’t find what a customer wants, you can use the hint button. ~ You’ll definitely be using the hint button during the Hidden Object scenes because many items are so well blended in. ~ The hint takes almost a minute to recharge, so don’t wait until you’re desperate to start using it. ~ If you don’t know what an item is, click on the word and you’ll be given its silhouette, which is very helpful. (I didn’t know what a carabiner is, or what an angle grinder looks like.)

My Review:  Don’t be put off by the comic book style artwork because it in no way lessens the suspense and realism of this very exciting mystery.

My Recommendation:  I’ve played a lot of mystery games, and very few have pulled me into the plot the way this one did.  How can such a simply-made game be so suspenseful?  Is it the eerie music?  Something in the animation?  Whatever it is, I’m amazed — and delighted! — for here is a game that doesn’t just call itself a mystery story, but really is one.  And amazingly it has no violence, no murder, no kidnapped children, no voodoo, not even any blood! — so it’s a game which you can let your children play without worry and yet you yourself will enjoy.  What a miracle.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   The Crop Circles Mystery

For Mac:  The Crop Circles Mystery


Youda Survivor & Youda Survivor 2

Time Management Game                    easier                        67 MB & 130 MB
Timer can be ignored            PC & Mac                    Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  A castaway must learn to survive by catching crabs, feeding pelicans and other creatures, gathering food and water, and earning points to buy supplies from the natives.  Eventually two natives help him: a diver who gathers shrimp etc. for him and the animals, and a potion-brewing woman who boils the water & the food.

Hints:  Keep repeating scenes you enjoy because you’ll need the points, but don’t worry about winning gold or silver awards. Later, when you have enough points to max out everything available to you, you can go back and try for better scores if you wish. ~ Keep your castaway fed and hydrated — you don’t want him weak and woozy while fighting off the pirates who keep trying to steal his food. ~ Make collecting & boiling the water a top priority — especially the boiling because the unboiled water takes up the most space in your storage hut and you’ll want the space for the food you’re amassing. ~ And if you’re running out of water, I’ve found that boiling 4 buckets hydrates our hero just as thoroughly as 5 will.

My Review:  These are very forgiving (user-friendly) time management games and, unlike most time management games, you can continue as long as you need to after the time runs out; you’ll just earn fewer points.

My Recommendation:  I find these games to be pleasantly addictive and I recommend them, even for newbies.  Start with the first one if you can, as the sequel seems to be a bit more difficult.

You can try them for free, here:

For PC:   Youda Survivor
For Mac:  Youda Survivor

For PC:   Youda Survivor 2
For Mac:  Youda Survivor 2


Magic Encyclopedia a.k.a. ME: First Story, Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light, & Magic Encyclopedia: Illusions

Hidden Object Games with Puzzles         harder               64, 73, & 139 MB
Untimed                 PC (& Mac, iPad, iPhone for First Story and Moon Light)

Magic Encyclopedia (also known as Magic Encyclopedia: First Story)
Premise:   When your older brother goes missing, you must travel around the world following clues to search for him.

Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light
Premise:  You were your professor’s best student at the Magic Academy, and when he’s in trouble he sends you a message, asking you to find him.  Unfortunately, he’s in hiding, and the clues to his whereabouts are also hidden, among broken artifacts in exotic locations.  You travel around the world, finding broken pieces of artifacts which, when put together and replaced where they belong, reveal another fragment of another broken object.  Following the trail that these artifacts expose, you finally find a scroll with just a bit of information, and you must go to more sites to find more fragments that will lead you to another scroll, and another, until you finally find out where your teacher is, and now you can help him.  One mustn’t be too careful when one is fighting the dark arts, after all.

Magic Encyclopedia: Illusions
Premise:  Now the Magic Academy is in danger, and you can help Catherine save it by stopping The Illusionist, a wizard that’s changed the appearance of countless objects around the world and is gathering an unstoppable army.  To defeat her nemesis, Catherine will have to figure out ways to switch back and forth between reality and deception.

Hints:  Find two tiny jewels in each scene; they are vital to activate an important amulet. ~ You can explore exotic locations in two different countries at one time via magic coins. ~ In each country there are two archeological sites or rooms; to go from one to the other, pass through the green light (the light might sometimes be at the very bottom of the screen). ~ Utilize the hint button every time as soon as it refreshes, because the fragments are teensy and are hidden in the craziest places. Often they resemble a tiny splinter of wood. ~ Thank goodness there is no penalty for excessive mis-clicks and thank goodness the hint button refreshes very quickly. ~ The hint button will also tell you when you’ve found everything in the scene that you are able to so far and therefore must go to another place, put something together, bring it back and use it so it can reveal the next thing you need. Sound confusing? It isn’t really.

More Hints:  Travel between the two countries by clicking on the magic coins in the upper right corner. ~ Clicking on the globe will bring you to the map of the world. ~ In the first Magic Encyclopedia, a.k.a. Magic Encyclopedia: First Story, you must also collect question marks in each scene to replenish your hints.

Spoiler:  If you haven’t found all the jewels needed to activate the amulet by the end of the game, an origami bird will arrive and send you to the map; the locations that have a jewel floating above them are the places to which you must return.  Spoiler:  To find an elusive jewel, click on “Hint” after finding everything else in that location.

My Review:  As much as I dislike games that hide tiny things in unreasonable places which are also totally out of reach, like on ceilings and rooftops, and yet you reach them (with magic?), and also games in which you have to use the hint button constantly because those tiny items are so fiendishly hidden, on something their exact color, that they disappear from sight… yet I have to admit that there seems to be something about the Magic Encyclopedia games that is downright compelling, and I found myself playing for hours and unwilling to stop.  You do almost no real magic, by the way, but what you do is amusing.

My Recommendation:  These games are probably several years old and therefore might disappoint seasoned players, but this website is not for them but for new players who haven’t played games like this before and who might enjoy these.  I did, in spite of myself, which I think says a lot in their favor.

You can try them for free, here:
For PC:   Magic Encyclopedia
For Mac:  Magic Encyclopedia

For PC:   Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light
For Mac:  Magic Encyclopedia: Moon Light

For PC:   Magic Encyclopedia: Illusions


Mahjong Towers Eternity

Mahjong Game                                          easier                                   14 MB
Untimed                           PC, Mac, iPad                   Walkthrough not needed

Hints: Find matching pairs that have at least one free left side or right side. ~ It is most important to clear the lines of tiles that are horizontally the longest. ~ Next in importance is reducing the tallest stacks. ~ Keep those priorities in mind when there are more than two identical tiles to choose from.

My Review:  This could easily be the best Mahjong computer game ever.  It’s beautiful and it’s relaxing.  Unlike in most other Mahjong games, it’s very easy to distinguish the tiles from each other, and the selection is the most unusual I’ve ever seen… from insects to quilt patterns to musical instruments to animated cartoon figures.  Want a classic design, but prettier?  It’s hidden under the hippo.

You also can choose your own grid from an enormous selection of patterns, and permanently delete any you dislike by making them unfavorites.  But best of all, you can design your own tile sets and your own grids, and add them to your collection, or upload them onto the Web for everyone to enjoy.

And finally, got little ones at home and want a game they can play that’s not ugly or insipid?  This game has several super-easy grids (I suggest you start with the one named penguin), and you can choose tiles with the alphabet or with double-digit numbers, or bugs for the boys, or cute and really funny animated animals, or musical instruments that make their own sounds (for that one, turn off “music” and raise the volume on “sounds” in Options).

My Recommendation:  This is my favorite Mahjong Game because I love to choose from my favorite grids.  I also like the unusual tile pictures — especially the ones that move and dance when you choose them!

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Mahjong Towers Eternity ™

For Mac:  Mahjong Towers Eternity ™


Laura Jones and the Secret Legacy of Nikola Tesla

Hidden Object Game with Puzzles                 harder                            89 MB
Untimed Option                     PC & Mac                      Walkthrough is needed
Laura Jones and the Secret Legacy of Nikola Tesla Walkthrough

Premise:  Laura is given the opportunity to find the famous (and rather odd) inventor Nikola Tesla’s last invention.  Because her Gramma knew Tesla (and had a crush on him, back in the day), Laura uses Gramma’s cottage as her home base.  (By the way, that mean man pictured on the game’s icon is Laura’s adversary — not Tesla, who was a handsome Victorian gentleman.)  Apparently Tesla gave pieces of the machine to various people in town, and Laura must locate and convince each of them to relinquish the object in their care.  To get them to trust her, she helps them with whatever problems they are currently having.

Hints:  The hint button takes a long time to replenish, so, when you have several items you can’t find, start using it before you’re ready to give up or you’ll be wasting a lot of time. ~ For the puzzles there is a skip button if you wish to give up, at which time you’ll be given the option to look for stuff in what looks like a messy cellar (a punishment?). ~ Best not to skip a puzzle if you can help it because the messy cellar hidden object scene is very difficult, with lots of miniscule things to find. ~ In the messy cellar, a “tube” was really a tuba, and a “web” was a ball of string. ~ Also, in the maddening 3rd round of the string puzzle, the hint button will reveal the solution for you to try to follow. ~ When you’ve completed the game, be sure to go back and replay the puzzles — they are different than when you did them in the game, and they have a few extra levels to them.

My Review:  There is a lot to praise about this game — it’s full of enjoyable tasks like picking flowers for a bouquet, playing hide & seek in a rose garden with Laura’s pet ferret, catching brightly colored beetles & butterflies (again for her pet ferret, who, by the way, plays an active role in the game), catching chickens (and their eggs as they roll off the roof) in Chinatown, making tea and later making supper for Gramma.  Also in its favor is the fact that the all the puzzles are important to the plot, and that the items you search for in the Hidden Object scenes are all relevant and — even more impressive — all necessary to the story.  These factors (which, sadly, are all too rare in computer games) keep you in the story and make it seem real, thus adding to your enjoyment.

Unfortunately, the Puzzles are quite difficult, and mentally challenging, and sometimes require fast mouse movement.  The Hidden Object scenes are also difficult, often with objects that are very faint or are set against a background of the same color.  I don’t know why the game designer made them so hard, considering that so much of the story’s activities would appeal to children.  Then again, children who like puzzles often are willing to put time and effort into solving them, and these puzzles are fair and ultimately solvable.

My Recommendation:  I really wish the puzzles weren’t so hard because there is so much to do in this game that is really fun — so enjoyable, in fact, that I’m recommending it for anyone, adult or child, who enjoys puzzles and challenges and is willing to work at them.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Laura Jones and the Secret Legacy of Nikola Tesla

For Mac:  Laura Jones and the Secret Legacy of Nikola Tesla


Roads of Rome, Roads of Rome II and Roads of Rome III

Strategy / Civilization-Building / Time Management               Untimed Option
Walkthrough not needed     easier     PC & Mac     76 MB, 101 MB, & 94 MB

Roads of Rome:
Premise:  General Victorius, a ruggedly dashing and talented soldier in Caesar’s army, is in love with Caesar’s daughter Julia… but Dad wants more than a soldier for his girl… so, to keep the lovers apart, he sends our hero off into the hinterlands to build roads that will connect Rome with its far territories.

Roads of Rome II
Premise:  General Victorius, our ruggedly dashing and talented soldier in Caesar’s army, has won the hand of Caesar’s daughter Julia and they are now happily married, but their happiness is interrupted when Caesar is poisoned and there is no known antidote.  Desperate to save Julia’s father, Victorius decides to appeal to the Roman gods, who reside on top of a mountain with no access.  So, of course, Victorius and his men make a road again.  There are new challenges, including an underwater realm, an eerily-realistic komodo dragon (oops… it’s a monitor lizard) and four gods to please.

Roads of Rome III
Premise:  Julia and Victorius are absolutely happy awaiting the birth of their first child. However, one day a messenger arrives in Rome spreading the bad news about Barbarians that are destroying the Roman provinces. Help Victorius and his army resist the enemy and protect Rome from the forthcoming disaster.

Hints:  The customized cursor seemed a bit slow and jumpy to me; clicking on Cursor in the Options at the top of the screen improved it. ~ Plan your work strategy before you click Start; the clock doesn’t start until then, and you can take all the time you need to locate your resources and decide how to reach your goals.  Even if you’re not playing in challenge mode with the timer, surveying the scene ahead of time makes it less confusing when those little guys start rushing about. ~ The worker has to return to the tent between jobs, so until his head appears above the tent, you don’t have him. ~ It takes money to excavate the crystals, idols, and totems, so don’t work on them until toward the end of the level when you have lots of gold, because earlier you’ll need all your gold to remove the huge boulders. ~ The building of the road is always your primary concern, and it requires you to gather food for the workers, and stones for the pavement (which you can get from the surrounding sharply-pointed rock outcroppings as well as by building a quarry). ~ Other tasks have other requirements, and if you keep an eye on your resources the work will proceed more smoothly and swiftly.

There are two kinds of resources to gather: renewable, which you should concentrate on because they’re your major source and they won’t replenish until you’ve cleared them away (berries in the summer, as well as anything your workers produce like food, gold, lumber and stone blocks), and non-renewable, which never come back after they’re taken (berries in winter, trees, pointy rocks, totems, crystals, and gold from those little volcano-looking natural structures), which you can gather when one of your workers has nothing to do. ~ If you are out of wood and there are no more dead trees, you can take living trees. ~ The monitor lizard scares the workers and they won’t leave the tent when it’s nearby, so click on it repeatedly until it leaves. ~ By the way, I always start with two men whenever I can afford the resources, and I get more as I need them; sometimes they’ll be idle, but that’s ok because they’re still increasing everyone’s speed!

More Hints:  If you play in challenge (timed) mode, you must beat the clock to earn the reward, which is getting to see the gradual creation of Roman statues; if, however, you play in relaxed (untimed) mode, you will be given that reward no matter how long it takes you to finish the round.  (I must admit that the reward was more satisfying to me when I’d worked like crazy for it, strangely enough.) ~ If you choose to play against the clock and you know that you will not succeed, you can restart the level at any time via the menu ~ You can also replay a finished level to try for an expert score by clicking on a flag that isn’t red before you click to start the next round.

My Review:  Along with the cute little animated workers building the roads and the eagles soaring overhead, there are also beautifully rendered pencil drawings illustrating the love story.  In my opinion, the love story, though very short, enhances the enjoyment of the game.  There is also the occasional jewel-toppling mini-game in which you must keep the accumulating jewels from reaching the top of the screen by clicking on clusters of 3 or more of the same color.  You can skip this mini-game (Thank goodness! It’s really hard!), but if you choose to play, your reward for succeeding is the creation of a lovely jewelled necklace for Julia.

You do not need to play the first Roads of Rome first.  The first half of Roads of Rome II is relatively easy and allows you to learn how to strategize to beat the clock; and, like its predecessor, it can also be played in relaxed mode.  In fact, it is very much like Roads of Rome, and every bit as good.  (Happily, the frustrating mini-game has been omitted.)  A bonus round has been added at the end, but it doesn’t get unlocked unless you’ve beat the clock on every round in the challenge mode; impossible, if you ask me… but unless you’re a completist, 40 rounds is probably enough to satisfy.

My Recommendation:  These are extremely popular games, the best in the genre, but unless you’re experienced in civilization-building time management games, I advise you to click on Change Mode at the top of the screen to remove the timer before you click on Start, because this is a extremely fast and frustrating game in timed mode.  Untimed, however, they are pleasant and enjoyable games which are also an excellent introduction into the strategy, civilization-building, and time-management genres, and I highly recommend them for that reason… and for the beautiful artwork… and for the love story.

You can try them for free, here:

For PC:   Roads of Rome
For Mac:  Roads of Rome

For PC:   Roads of Rome II
For Mac:  Roads of Rome II

For PC:   Roads of Rome III
For Mac:  Roads of Rome III


The Island: Castaway 1 & 2

The Island: Castaway     &    The Island: Castaway 2
Adventure Games                  easier
Untimed                                  PC                   Walkthroughs are necessary

135 MB                                   Adults and Teens

156 MB                                   Pre-Teens thru Adult
(and possibly Middle School-Aged, but read My Recommendation before you decide to give this game to a child)

Premise:  In the first game, The Island: Castaway, a cruise ship sinks in a tsunami and you and some others, all strangers, are stranded on a tropical island paradise.  As you get to know each other and the island natives, and learn how to survive in the wild, you are confronted with challenges and adventures.

In the second game, The Island: Castaway 2, the story goes back in time at least 60 years to the native inhabitants’ initial encounter with white strangers, a motley crew of sailors of varying trustworthiness.  The problems those scalliwags create are the cause of our present-day seafarers’ difficulties.  (For this reason, I’m thinking it might make more sense to play The Island: Castaway 2 before playing The Island: Castaway.)

Hints:  You’ll be doing a lot of gathering and collecting in these games; at first you will be severely limited as to how much you can hold, as your bag has very few compartments, with each compartment storing 20 of the same item; later you’ll get a bigger bag with more compartments and be able to store 50 or 100 items in each compartment. ~ Important: You must always keep at least one compartment of your bag empty or you won’t be able to cook. ~ Cooking is particularly important, so gather all the twigs you see (when it’s safe to do so). ~ In the beginning, pick apples and kiwis whenever you see them on the ground; they are needed for fruit salad, the easiest and quickest meal to make, and they are harder to find than the other fruits. ~ You need to eat often, especially before and after energetic work. ~ When picking tree fruit, pass your cursor over the entire tree and the bushes around it because fallen fruit is often hidden. ~ Food never spoils, by the way, so don’t be afraid to stockpile. ~ You may need to eat suddenly to outrun an imminent animal attack. ~ Also, you can sell the food you’ve gathered and the meals you’ve prepared for lots of pearls, which you will need to buy necessities.

To enter or exit a cave, go to the circle of light. ~ In the first game, all the snakes will bite you if you’re not protected, but in The Island: Castaway 2, snakes won’t bite unless you’re picking cave mushrooms. ~ Their bites won’t kill you, but if you don’t have enough energy their bites will overcome you, so don’t enter the shaman’s caves unless you’ve eaten your fill. ~ Also fill your energy bar anytime you go to the village or anywhere else that has wild boars. ~ If a wild boar chases you, run to the nearest water.

More Hints:   In playing The Island: Castaway you must click after each line of dialogue to bring the next line… unlike The Island: Castaway 2, in which the dialogue flows smoothly and naturally. ~ To skip the introductory scene during subsequent visits, click anywhere. ~ The screen will go black for 10 seconds, then it’ll bring you to the main menu.

As you wander around the parts of the island you’ll see round patches of soil; plant a seed in each one if you can, for they extend your access to the plants you’ll need for certain recipe requests. ~ In the 1st game, besides twigs, pick the flowers whenever you can safely, especially the blue ones; also, in the 1st game you’ll need lots of lemons to cook fish & crabs, but in the 2nd game, start out collecting kiwis.

I found two Walkthroughs for each game; choose the ones you like and copy-and-paste the appropriate address:





My Review:  The stories in both these games are engrossing, with tasks which are sometimes challenging and at other times simply enjoyable. In fact, with the relaxing music & atmospheric drumbeats to enhance the mood, these games are so enjoyable that, even though they are lengthy, I’ve played them three times each.  I loved being on a tropical island and feeling free to go for a walk, gather fruit, catch crabs, go fishing, cook a meal, gather shells, plant seeds, harvest my crops, and do what I please whenever I want, even when someone is waiting to talk to me; they are willing to wait, and paradise is meant to be enjoyed.

My Recommendation:  I love both these games, and have played them several times each (which is saying a lot, given their lengths).  The Island: Castaway 2 is played through the eyes of a young boy ready to enter manhood and choose his life’s path.  As he practices the skills for each trade he is considering, he is given good moral advice from his elders, and for that reason I originally thought this would be a great game for children… but… at the end of the story there are three murders, two of which you witness.  They are not gory, and they probably wouldn’t traumatize today’s children, but I come from a different age and so I am leery about this (even though those two murders were to save the lives of the entire tribe).  I’ll leave that judgement to you as their parent, to weigh the sound teachings The Island: Castaway 2 offers in a really enjoyable and engrossing format vs. the shocking ending, and decide what is appropriate.

The first The Island: Castaway is even more problematic, with references made to insanity, promiscuity, murder, and ritual human sacrifice.

And then there are the snakes… having to walk through a dark cave with slithering snakes or a swamp filled with crocodiles is really creepy… and did I mention repeatedly being chased by wild boars? There is stress in this game, I must admit.  Still…

These are really great games, which you can try for free, here:

The Island: Castaway

The Island: Castaway 2

Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power

Solitaire (variations) Card Game with some Hidden Object scenes   120 MB
Untimed               easier               PC                        Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  When an antique playing card flies through your window on the day that the  Museum of Ancient History is robbed of the world’s oldest deck, you take it as a sign and go there to investigate.  These cards are magical and must be kept out of the hands of anyone with evil intentions, like a robber, because the cards themselves become evil in evil’s presence… so you are determined to find them all and return them to the museum, thereby protecting the world (nice person that you are).  As you locate various cards, they seem to be playing with you (magical cards that they are).  One by one they insert themselves into your deck, and if you can uncover them while playing, you get to keep them.

Hints:  There are two different variations of Solitaire in this game, and you have no control over which style comes next.  One variation consists of choosing the next higher or lower card in a sequence, and the other requires you to match pairs. ~ It gets confusing when the game changes from one to the other style; the way to tell is by how many cards you are dealt at the bottom of the screen: one card means sequencing, two mean making pairs. ~ The more powerful cards hide themselves by dirtying some of the cards above them, so be sure to removing the dirt, mold, or padlocks before selecting a move. ~ Keep in mind  that your job is not to clear away all the cards or finish a round of Solitaire; rather, your job is simply to rescue those ancient cards.  Remember that when you are playing, and focus on clearing the pile that’s hiding the card rather than making a longer sequence of moves by matching the other cards.

My Review:  This is a nice little game which is is easy enough for beginners and appropriate for everyone (except perhaps the youngest players — it gets a just little scary in the last part of the story.  You know your children; play it through first and then decide).

Other reviewers have made two complaints about this game: they feel that the game is too short, and they resent needing to take the time to clean off the occasional card.  I find that amusing.  The cleaning is appropriate to the story, and the story is important — this is a mystery, after all.  I know that many reviewers rush through a game, anxious to be able to post their review on the day the game is released, an ego thing; fine, if that’s their choice, but then don’t complain about its brevity.  I say don’t rush through it… take your time, examine the artistic details of those beautiful scenes, and just enjoy playing the game.  After all, isn’t that the whole point?

My Recommendation:  I found this game to be very pleasant and relaxing — the music is soft, the games are untimed, if you don’t win you get more chances until you do — and this lack of pressure is a welcome change.  In addition, there’s the mystery to solve, which is a nice diversion, and the illustrations are lovely, including the spray of tiny stars that fly out of the cards when they are being dealt.  I recommend this game in spite of its short length of approximately two hours at a leisurely pace, after which you are given a fortune-telling Solitaire mini-game which you can play as often as you want.  (Its predictions are encouraging and positive.)  My only caveat is that, since the purpose of the game is to rescue the ancient cards, you will never finish a round completely, and it might irk some players not to be able to clear those last few cards on the table.

You can try it for free, here:    Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power


A Vampire Romance: Paris Stories

Adventure with Hidden Objects and Puzzles                                        72 MB
Untimed Option                     harder                         PC & Mac
Walkthrough needed but not available, which is why I’ve included so many hints.

Premise:  You are an art student who has just arrived in Paris, having never been there before, and you must learn how to get around the city, use the subway, buy groceries, get to the art school, learn how to draw in a way that will please an overly-demanding instructor, and try to make friends.  Just like real life.

Hints:  Some scenes are a kind of 3-D that requires scrolling left and right to see what’s hidden behind large objects. ~ To use an item in your inventory, first click the spot in the scene where you want to use the item; that will open the suitcase; when you click on the item you want to use, the job is done. ~ If you see a gold star at any time, click on it; if a part of the screen glows, click on it. ~ Keep your eye on the black bar at the bottom of the screen; instructions will appear there, as well as lists of items to locate. ~ When you get into the crypt at the cemetery, be sure to memorize the design on the family crest.

Hints about the map:  To label your map, click on the building or the Metro subway line that corresponds to the name or the number at the bottom of the screen; keep doing that to label all the landmarks and the subway lines. ~ You can refer to the map at any time by clicking on the icon at the above left margin which has two parallel lines slanted diagonally, representing a Metro ticket.

Hints about the subway:  Walk through the subway following the signs you think will take you to your destination according to your map (your position is marked with a large orange bull’s-eye and your destination is colored in green); if you arrive at a platform and there is no train, you’re at the wrong platform; go back and try a different platform, retracing your steps in the hallway by clicking at the bottom of the screen as many times as necessary; remember, this is like really being in a subway.

Hints about art class:  Art class is the hardest part of the game, and takes patience and luck.  At the bottom of the screen is written what part of the scene you should sketch.  Click on the canvas where you think that item will go.  You may have to try it about a million times; I think it’s designed that way to further the plot, ensuring that you’ll dislike the instructor who keeps telling you to do it again.

Spoiler:  Are you unable to paint because you have no canvas?  There was a canvas in your room when you were cleaning it up, putting things back.  It was on the left, leaning against the counter, and you could see the back of it.  If you didn’t click on it, it’s still there; go back and get it.

More Hints:  The screen’s brightness can be adjusted in the Options tab, which is accessed via the Pause icon, designated by two vertical parallel lines.  The brightness will need to be adjusted several times during the game, depending on whether you need it brighter (like in the underground crypt of bones when you are tracking the tubing from the vat to the blocks on the wall), or darker (like when you’re in the art studio, and also while you’re labelling your map).

The following hints are Spoilers… don’t peek until you’re desperate.  Spoiler:  The Ruthven crest is the ninth crest in the tunnel of bones.  Spoiler:  If you can’t decode the symbols around the vat, then read the piece of paper the antique dealer gave you, which is accessed by the new icon now appearing at the upper part of the left margin of the screen… it lists the symbols keyed to the alphabet.

My Review:  This game should have been entitled “An American Student In Paris” because for most of the game there is nothing supernatural — you are simply an art student.  Perhaps it’s the effort you must go to as you learn to read the map and find your way in the subway, or all the day-to-day activities that you really would go through as a student in a foreign country, or perhaps it’s the occasional scene that can be shifted so you can peek behind things, I don’t know, but this game has a feeling of reality to it that made me feel like I was really there (in spite of the fact that the characters were cut out and pasted onto the scene, and they ‘speak’ in dialog bubbles!).  It is also realistic in that you don’t instantly meet the vampire referred to in the game’s title — after all, it takes a long time to find a new boyfriend!

My Recommendation:  I enjoyed this game and so I’m recommending it; but I must warn you, this is a very tricky game, so if you don’t want to walk around in circles endlessly, read the hints listed above (especially the one about the crest).  If you get stuck and go to the Forum to look for answers or ask for help, you’ll see that this game gets an awful lot of negative comments, mostly by people who are lost and wandering, or who have a bias against HdO, the publisher of this game.  HdO-bashing is a favorite sport on the Forum, but I love HdO games because they are a bit odd or different, and unfortunately those differences seem to throw a lot of players.  I suggest you decide for yourself.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   A Vampire Romance: Paris Stories

For Mac:  A Vampire Romance: Paris Stories


Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch

Adventure Game with Puzzles                  easier                                255 MB
Untimed                                PC & Mac                    Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Your three best friends talk you into going camping with them in a forest said to be inhabited by the earthbound spirit of a witch who was killed there, more than one hundred years ago. You don’t believe in witches and spirits, but when you get there you read a notice describing recent incidents and warning campers and hikers to be careful… and then strange and dangerous things start happening. When one of your friends becomes mortally injured, the Cypress Witch’s spirit appears to you and begs you to follow her in order to save your friend’s life. You learn that she was not a witch but a young woman who was killed on her wedding day and cursed to wander the earth by her beloved’s father, the Indian tribe’s chief, because he didn’t want a white woman marrying into his family and his tribe. To save your dying friend you must travel back in time to right the wrong that was done there, reversing the curse that the chief put on the bride and thereby stopping the evil force that inhabits the forest because of that curse. If you are successful, you save not only your friend but also the wedding.

Hints:  Because this is an Adventure Game, you have to figure out what to do, but the hint button will direct you without penalty. ~ Most of the puzzles are easy, but the harder ones can be skipped. ~ When searching for items you need, you sometime have to move things around by clicking on them. ~ There is no penalty for over-clicking.

My Review:  I was tempted to classify this as a harder game, because Adventure Games can be difficult to new players who have no experience and may not figure out what to do, but the hint button is so obliging and this game is so delightful that I want everyone to give it a try.

My Recommendation:  This is a really lovely game with a romantic story and a gorgeous bridegroom… wait till you see him, OMG.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch

For Mac:  Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch


The Timebuilders: Caveman’s Prophecy

Time Management, Strategy, Civilization-Building Game                    313 MB
Untimed Option         harder          PC & Mac           Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You are a cave dweller in the time of the dinosaurs (we’ll ignore what the scientists would say about that).  Your tribe wants to leave the cave and live outside, so your people must learn to build stone huts and move that T-Rex away from the opening of your cave.  You get ideas from Hatti the chief woman, who gets her ideas from a gigantic, mysterious, star-covered, cosmic-looking egg she found in the cave.  (Hmmm… is this a veiled reference to Joseph Chilton Pearce’s famous 1973 book The Crack In The Cosmic Egg, which describes the interconnectedness and evolution of all life and all thoughts, across space and time… and which could explain how she & her egg come up with such brilliant & forward-thinking ideas as windmills & hot-air balloons & the word “agriculture” in the time of the caveman?)

Hints:  There seems to be division of labor in cave society, so if the work isn’t progressing smoothly, you probably don’t have enough laborers of the right gender. ~ The women gather the “tribute” (rent, in the form of steaks) and they also open ripened eggs, and eradicate the more dangerous (man-eating) “gotchas” (carnivorous plants); when you see an hourglass, it means you need to recruit more women from the “great hut”. ~ The men gather rocks, either by breaking up the rock piles or by trading meat for rocks at the “pickarock” (quarry), and they use the rocks to build and improve the huts. ~ You’ll need more men, and woolly mammoths, when you’re given a special project such as building a large statue or harvesting an entire field of non-man-eating “gotchas”.

More Hints:  When you click on a job you want done, sometimes the game doesn’t register your command, so check up on work you think is getting done (especially the opening of the ripened eggs, which must be timed just right). ~ I keep the music low (“1” in Settings in the Menu) so I can hear the subtle clues that I need to take an action… the cracking of a ripe egg, the snapping of a gotcha when it’s caught something I can harvest, the arrival of a saber-tooth tiger kitten looking to steal some steaks from the great hut, the deterioration of a gizmo in need of repair. ~ Before each round, you will be given a useful hint, but it may have nothing to do with the level you are about to work on, so don’t let it mislead you.

My Review:  This is a well-made, cleverly worded, and enjoyable game in an amusingly-drawn cartoon style.  I love to watch the villagers — especially the women — do their celebration dance whenever I finish a level.  It’s a Time Management game, so there is, unfortunately, a timer… but, thankfully, you can continue working after it runs out… you just won’t earn the “flystone” (amber), which you ultimately will want.  Because the game allows you to return to previous levels at any time and repeat levels as many times as necessary, I recommend that you do practice runs to figure out a strategy that will work quickly enough, and that you ignore the timer until you’re ready to beat it; or perhaps return to that level when you’ve gained more experience with the game.  And by the way, while Hatti is teaching you new skills during the intro to each level, try clicking on the little animals that are around the encampment.

My Recommendation:  This is a game which I enjoyed so much that, on my first day with it, I didn’t stop playing until my fingers cramped.  It’s a good introduction to Time Management games.  However, sometime after the halfway point, I found myself spending almost all my time fending off the steak-stealing tiger kittens, which involves shaking the bejeebers out of them — something I don’t enjoy, but kids might get a kick out of it.  Also, it rather quickly becomes impossible to win amber, which makes me hesitate to recommend it… still, as long as you can ignore the timer, or are willing to repeat levels until you figure them out (a requirement in all Time Management games), and if playing and enjoying a game is more important to you than getting the highest score, then I think you might have fun with this cute game.

You can try it for free, here:

The Timebuilders: Caveman’s Prophecy


Agatha Christie: 4:50 from Paddington

Detective Mystery Game with Hidden Object Scenes and Puzzles     43 MB
Untimed Option            easier            PC                 Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Miss Marple’s friend witnesses a murder while traveling on the train, but the police don’t believe her, so Miss Marple hires a clever maid to locate clues and the body.

Hints:  You start with only 3 hints, so earn more by waiting until you’ve spotted at least 5 items and click on them in quick succession; a tinkling sound will signal another hint. ~ Play in a darkened room because many items are the same color as their background and virtually impossible to see otherwise. ~ Be sure you have a sizable block of playing time available because the game is not saved until you’ve finished a full chapter!

My Review:  I wanted to like this game because I love mysteries and Miss Marple is my favorite Agatha Christie detective; I also very much like this game’s puzzles and mini-games, one of which is presented after each of the 11 chapters; therefore I was particularly frustrated by the time-wasting hidden object scenes which were cluttered with useless and irrelevant crap.  Don’t make me find 50 or 60 meaningless items per chapter– let me get on with the mystery!  To make matters worse, because I had to quit before finishing a chapter (which is a group of four or more hidden object scenes), when I returned I had to re-do all the scenes in that chapter but with a new list of items, many of them very difficult to find, thus wasting 20 more minutes of my time, and adding to my frustration and irritation.  I wish I could overcome those feelings because the mystery-solving aspects of the game were enjoyable and better done than many hidden object mysteries I’ve tried, and it was at times more of an interactive detective experience than a lot of others.

My Recommendation:  If you enjoy hidden object games so much that it doesn’t matter what you’re searching for, then I can recommend this game to you in good conscience.  However, if you feel as I do but love Miss Marple, give it an hour’s free trial and then decide.  The ‘mystery’ part of the game was pleasant, engaging, and appropriate for a Miss Marple story, and you might really like it.

You can try it for free, here: Agatha Christie: 4:50 from Paddington


Flower Quest

Pipes Puzzle                                         harder                                      19 MB
Untimed Option                           PC                        Walkthrough Not Needed

Premise:  You are born into the fairy world as the special fairy they’ve been waiting for, and as you grow from infant to young apprentice to young investigator to novice sorceress and onward to adulthood, you travel towards a mountain, where you will do what you were born to do, which is goodness know what because I haven’t arrived there yet.  Meanwhile, you are trained by your fairy helper in the art of linking flowers together to remove tiles.  Occasionally you’ll be asked to do other other activities such as catching flowers as they fall through the air.  (You are a fairy, after all.)

Hints:  Don’t be distracted by those tempting, twirling coins — collecting them is not nearly so important as getting rid of the angry-looking mean flowers that will pop up without warning and make trouble for you, adding tiles while you’re not looking because you’re removing some other tiles. ~ Concentrate on turning a stem that is above a tile from yellow to green by linking it with a flower; it can sit there and wait for the appearance of another flower which will enable you to complete the circuit.

My Review:  This is not like most Pipe Puzzles, which usually require you to link an entire grid of pipes, wires, or stems together into one continuous and unbroken chain connecting one designated point with another, with no parts unconnected or touching the grid’s border.  Instead, in Flower Quest, you simply link one blossom with another by turning the stems, without regard to other parts of the stem; and you don’t have to be neat about it because the moment two flowers are linked they and the connecting stems disappear.

My Recommendation:  I apologize for making the premise sound so lame because the game isn’t.  It’s challenging but manageable, it’s pretty and it’s fun, the flowers are colourful fantasy flowers, there are sparkling stars at the end of each round, and the background music is absolutely lovely in a light-hearted, fairy-world way, with flutes and harps and chirping birds.  If you want a game that will keep you on your toes while showering you with flowers, try this one.

You can try Flower Quest for free, here:  Flower Quest




Match 3 & Tetris Variation                                                                       42 MB
Timer can be ignored               PC & MAC               Walkthrough Not Needed

Premise:  Creatures evolve into higher forms when 3 or more of them merge.

Hints:  Whenever possible, just match 3 at a time; unlike other Match 3 games, you get no benefit from matching 4 or more, and you’re losing creatures you’ve worked to evolve and which you will soon need to progress. ~ Whenever you can, concentrate on matching the most recently evolved creatures rather than the more primitive ones, as your aim is to evolve to the next animal. ~ There is a handy vertical chart at the left of the screen, showing the hierarchy. ~ From what I can tell, the hierarchy is: worm, beetle, scrawny butterfly, bat, owl, pelican, starfish, jellyfish, clownfish, pufferfish, whale, lizard, snake, dinosaur.

More Hints:  I find it helps to concentrate on the left of the screen but keep an eye on the right side too. ~ Also, whenever possible, choose the creatures 3 across rather than 3 down, trying to cluster like creatures together. ~ To find the level you were working on the last time you played the game, or to choose an earlier level because it’s a favorite, click on the left or right arrow as often as necessary. ~ To leave the game, click on the left arrow in the upper left corner, then click on the circle in the upper right.

My Review:  In spite of the fact that speed is important in this game, I find Evolver to be very relaxing because the music is so lovely, soothing and gentle, and the sea creatures sway with the waves.  In fact, the creatures in this game don’t move on their own, they drift down and to the left because their movements are determined by the forces acting upon them, namely the ocean’s current, which is travelling from right to left, and by gravity.  This causes them to stack at the left side of the screen, and that makes it resemble a Tetris game — but this game has one significant and wonderful difference — the game doesn’t end when the stack reaches the top.  Keep making matches to reduce the volume of creatures; you won’t lose the round until the entire screen fills up.  The game itself is challenging, and I truly believe it’s impossible to earn all 3 stars no matter how often you re-try the levels… so I say, “Don’t bother trying to break speed records, just work at keeping the screen from filling up totally with creatures and ending the level before they’ve evolved.”  And I should add, in case you’re wondering, this is not an educational game and shouldn’t be used as such, for I’m quite certain it is not scientifically accurate.  It’s just for fun.

My Recommendation:  If you can’t stand snakes, I don’t recommend you go for this game — not only are the worms very snakelike (and there are lots of them, especially early on) — there is even a chapter (a third of the game) which is entirely about snakes because they are so important in the evolution of life on earth.  Animals moved from the sea to the land by evolving from fish into amphibians into reptiles, and dinosaurs are reptiles, and birds evolved from dinosaurs.  And I guess it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway — if you are a creationist and reject the theory of evolution, you probably aren’t going to appreciate this game.  To everyone else I say, “Give it an hour’s trial.  You might like it; I do.”

You can try it for free, here:   Evolver

The Village Mage: Spellbinder

Time Management / Match 3 Game              harder                              28 MB
No Untimed Option                PC                              Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You are a young mage / potion maker / healer who has just started plying your trade out of your parents’ village home, and villagers and townsfolk come to you to cure their ills.  You magically identify the needed potion, fire up the cauldron, take the ingredients off the shelf, and mix the ingredients (via your Match 3 matches) until the potion bottle is filled.  Give the bottle to your customer and get gold coins.  Unfortunately, more customers arrive and before long you have impatient patients who are losing their patience.  (Sorry about that.  I just couldn’t resist.)

Hints:  A white dot next to the ingredient list on the left side of the Match 3 grid means you have enough of that ingredient and you should concentrate on matching the others. ~ You can make two potions of the same color by continuing to make matches after the first bottle is filled.

My Review:  I like that you can choose to be female or male, and I like the potion recipes, which call for ingredients like acorns, pine cones, daisies, mushrooms, and crystals.  The illustrations are pleasant and the music is appropriate.  The addition of the Match 3 component adds an interesting twist to the Time Management format.  Because it is a little different and a little bit complicated, I’m listing it as ‘harder,’ but newbies can probably handle it.

My Recommendation: 
I love making potions but my enjoyment was tarnished by the pressure to finish the prescriptions before the customers got disgusted and walked out — which is a standard part of Time Management games, but which goes against my need to please everyone.  Yes, some players like the challenge of Time Management games, and unfortunately I’m not one of them… but if I were, this game, with its potion theme, would really please me.

If you are someone who relishes the challenge of beating the clock in a Time Management game, and would like to play a light-hearted game with a Medieval setting and an herbal magic theme, why not try this one for free, here:

The Village Mage: Spellbinder


Agatha Christie: Death On the Nile

Hidden Object / Mystery Game                  harder                                 45 MB
No Untimed Option                PC & Mac                   Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Simon and Linnet Doyle are on their honeymoon across Europe, and one evening while on a Nile cruise, Simon’s ex-girlfriend Jackie (who, you will discover, has been stalking the newlyweds) gets drunk and shoots Simon in the leg.  Next morning, Simon’s wife Linnet is found dead.  Things look bad for Jackie… but, lucky for her, Hercule Poirot is also vacationing on this ship.

Hints:  The case is divided into 12 segments, called ‘investigations,’ and for each you are given 25 minutes to examine certain rooms and find all the hidden items. ~ The clock stops when you are not in a room. ~ When a phrase is underlined in the search list, it means that you must create that situation. ~ You must click very precisely with the point of your cursor, or minuscule or sliver-thin items won’t register. ~ The artwork is a little fuzzy and the items are extremely difficult to see; therefore, to not waste time, when you’ve found all you can in one room, go to another by clicking on the ticket marked ‘ship map’ in the upper left corner of the screen. ~ If you run out of time, you are put back to the start of that ‘investigation’ and the clock starts again at 25 minutes with slightly different item lists. ~ For each ‘investigation’ you are also given 5 hints; unlike some other Agatha Christie games, you cannot increase the number of hints when you use them up. ~ Therefore, the best strategy when you’ve run out of hints is to find everything you can, and when you truly are stuck, walk away and make a cup of tea while you let the timer run out.  Then you will get more time and more hints. ~ You can do that repeatedly.

More Hints:  When it is time to question the passengers, the word ‘salon’ on one of the tickets under the stopwatch will begin to pulsate.  Click on it to be brought there.  I think you can go to either the salon or the clue room even before you’re told to. ~ On the other ticket under the stopwatch, the words ‘clue room’ will pulsate when it’s time to go to Poirot’s stateroom to investigate the clues you’ve found.  Click on the ticket. ~ You are now at Poirot’s desk, and there is the list of suspects in the upper left corner of the screen.  Click on a name to see the clues you’ve found that pertain to that person, and click on a clue to get details. ~ Whenever you are told to examine something with the magnifying glass, whether or not you’re in Poirot’s room, bring the glass to the spot you feel needs to be examined, and let it just stay there until Poirot’s words appear. ~ You aren’t done finding information until the ‘continue’ button appears.

Spoiler Alert:  Memorize the position of every brush (of all types), every pen, and every number you find. ~ The three ducks in a row don’t look like ducks, and they aren’t in a row; you must do that. One is a beer bottle, one is a comical toy, and the other is a flat piece of wood against wood of exactly the same color. Put them alongside other ducks. ~ The top hat, being black, is hiding in the darkest place in the room, totally invisible. ~ And by the way, a calabash apparently is a water pipe in this game, even though the dictionary says it’s a gourd; just thought you’d want to know.

My Review:  You won’t get to see Egypt because all action is onboard the ship.  You examine the cabins to find all the objects on the lists, and you may find a clue.  You also get to question the passengers as necessary, if and when it is revealed that they are witnesses or suspects; they all will gather in the salon at those times.  You will make one chemical test, which is fun.  Other than that, this is purely a Hidden Object Game with items that are maddeningly difficult to find.  But the mystery is intriguing.

My Recommendation:  If you like Hidden Object Games no matter how hard they are (or if you are up for a challenge), and you want a good story to go along with it, I think this one will hold your interest.  It certainly held mine, in spite of the number of times I had to re-do investigations.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Agatha Christie – Death on the Nile

For Mac:  Agatha Christie – Death on the Nile


Flowery Vale

Match 3 Game                           easier                                                   11 MB
Untimed Option                           PC                         Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  When your girlfriend announced that she had an opportunity to go to Paris for a month, you panicked and said you couldn’t be without her for a whole month, and then you demanded that she not go.  She went.  In a huff.  You realized you’d been a jerk and decided to use the month you’d be alone to work on beautifying the outside of her quaint cottage, by planting flowers everywhere.  You go into the meadow every day and gather flowers to sell in exchange for the plants you need.  When your girlfriend comes back her house will look gorgeous, and you hope all will be forgiven.

Hints:  Before you start, go to Options and shut off the timer by selecting Relaxed mode. ~ Whenever you can, concentrate on the flowers that have been requested, which are pictured on the baskets you’re filling. ~ Matches can be made in any shape, not just in straight lines like most Match 3 games. This is tricky to get used to, but it increases your possibilities and also helps you strategize by enabling you to move vertical columns faster. ~ When you get stuck, the game will give you a subtle hint. ~ I’m not sure what they mean when they want you to collect bombs but I think they want you to create a large explosion of flowers, which I call a cascade. You can do this by matching more than 3, which makes a flower with arrows around it; match that and you get a burst of flowers. ~ Later in the game when you have access to scissors, use it to remove an impossibly-placed blossom, or the last stubborn blossom, to end the round. ~ And as enjoyable as it is to gather the flowers via the Match 3 rounds, remember that the faster you finish, the sooner you can choose where to position this day’s plantings, because it’s really satisfying to see the cottage become more beautiful. ~ Click on the green dialog box if you’re interested in your thoughts.

My Review:  This is such a lovely game.  The different meadows you visit are really beautiful, with waterfalls and fields of flowers and tiny fluttering butterflies.  And, as an interesting side note, I’d like to comment on how clever and up-to-date and inclusive the artist was, making you look female (like most of the people who will choose to play this game), but giving you an Adam’s Apple.

My Recommendation:  I really enjoyed this game, felt frustrated when the free trial ended, and had to buy it just so I could keep adding to the cottage.  I can’t wait to find out how it will look on the last day.

You, too, can try it for free, here:  Flowery Vale



Match 4 Game                                                                                      28 MB
Untimed Option                      PC                            Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Butterflies fly off a branch one at a time and you place the one that’s stuck to your cursor onto a grid of filled with more butterflies.  To free them, keep putting subsequent butterflies where they will eventually make four or more of the same color in a line.

Hints:  This is a game in which you can plan ahead. ~ Unlike other (Match 3 rather than Match 4) games, here you are not required to make a match every time you place a butterfly. ~ On the contrary, you get the chance to set up larger matches.  For instance, lining up 3 plus 3 with another color between them will give you 7 when the right one appears on the branch. ~ The ultimate would be 3 plus 3 both vertically and horizontally, with the odd center butterfly as place-holder until the last matching one comes along to make 13. ~ Read the Tutorial first.  Then, when you click “Play”, you must choose between Survival, which is timed, and Endless. ~ Survival’s timer is a dandelion gone to seed, and as its seeds blow away, so does your time; but if you make a match that contains more than 4 butterflies, a British child’s sweet voice calls out “multi match” or “combo chain” and you’ve earned an extension on your dandelion clock. ~ When the ladybugs start arriving, match four ladybugs for a big bonus.

My Review:  Perhaps I’m being too picky because this really isn’t a bad game, but two things bother me.  One is that the rules of the game are in direct contrast with the usual Match 3 game, and that’s confusing to me.  For instance, in the usual game, if you were to match 3 across attached to 3 down, you would be rewarded for such a good move.  In this game, that move gets you nothing.  I understand that’s because this is Match 4, not Match 3, and you’d have to connect 4 across with 4 down for the higher score, still… after all the Match 3 games I’ve played, when I see that 3X3 configuration I see a successful move, and when it doesn’t register with the computer, that disconcerts me.  The other thing is the fact that the butterfly at the front of the line at the tip of the branch is not the next one, it’s the same one that’s at the tip of your cursor, and since it can’t be in two places at once, that disconcerts me  also.  Very petty of me, I know.  More significant, I suppose, is the fact that there is no variety in this game.  I hate to use the word  “boring” for such a pretty game, but….

My Recommendation:  I love butterflies (who doesn’t?), and this game is visually pleasant; but because there is no variety, it becomes tedious after awhile.  For that reason, I’m guessing that it will be enjoyed most by women and girls who absolutely adore butterflies and who are transfixed by this game, and as usual I’m suggesting that you try it before you buy it.  I’m also guessing that children might enjoy it more than adults.  But please explain to them that this game does not follow the standard rules, and that they should not try to play other Match 3 games by these rules.

You can try it for free, here:  Fluttabyes


Frozen Kingdom

Match 3 Game (with several variations)                harder                      65 MB
Untimed Option                      PC                              Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  An evil wizard is plunging the land into permanent winter, and you are an apprentice magician earning points to buy laboratory equipment so you can defeat the wizard and save the kingdom.

Hints:  If the opening narrative refuses to run, skip it.  You won’t need it. ~ Keep focused on your goal; unlike other match 3 games, you do not necessarily accumulate more points by making more matches. ~ Each round offers a different variation of the match 3 puzzle, with different rules and different goals. ~ Some rounds are timed by counting keystrokes. ~ At the start of each round check the top of the screen to see if moves are counted (upper right) or if your goal is simply to accumulate certain colors (upper left), and check the bottom of the screen (red arrows) to see if you can rotate the grid. ~ If you are given the option to rotate, use that to your advantage with every move you make. ~ You may also change the style of the game by selecting a different format from the bottom of the screen. ~ When you get stuck, use a bomb (which they call “an artifact”), and save some of your money to buy more bombs.

My Review:  My favorite parts of this game are the visual aspects.  For instance, the apprentice’s laboratory, which is beautifully drawn and fun to equip.  I couldn’t wait to accumulate more money to see what more I could add to it.  And then there’s the snowflakes.  What’s more beautiful than snowflakes?  Sparkling snowflakes, that’s what!  And that’s the treat you get when you’ve completed each round.

My Recommendation:  This simple game has lovely details, and if you want a game that exercises your brain and also gives you pleasure with its bits of beauty, this is a good one.  It gets hard, but if you’re observant you can learn what to do.
I recommend Frozen Kingdom if you want an challenging brain game that lasts a long time.

You can try it for free, here:  Frozen Kingdom


Farmscapes & Barn Yarn

Match 3 Game                       PC & Mac                                              198 MB
Untimed Option                                                         Walkthrough not needed

Hidden Object Game with Sales              PC & Mac                           226 MB
Untimed Option                                                         Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Joe’s grandson Tom is up from the city for the summer, and he puts the boy to work to keep him occupied with something other than computer games, while getting the farm fixed up at the same time.  In Farmscapes, which occurs during the first summer, they work on planting a garden and selling the vegetables so Joe can afford to improve the property, in order to save it from being bought out and turned into condos.  In Barn Yarn the following summer, by selling what they find in a big old barn Joe has bought for very little money, they are able afford to turn that old barn into a very nice place for them to hang out, as well as to protect the farm animals during the winter.

Hint:  In Barn Yarn find butterflies & coins.

My Review:  Farmscapes is a Match 3 Game in which you make matches to obtain vegetables to sell, while  Barn Yarn is a Hidden Object Game with a Sales component.  Both are light-hearted and amusing, and  I really enjoyed both of these games because the characters are such fun to watch — especially the cute, rather chubby, and very naïve grandson.

My Recommendation:  I think your kids will like these nicely drawn, enjoyable, and charming games, and so will you.

You can try them for free, here:

For PC:   Farmscapes
For Mac:  Farmscapes

For PC:   Barn Yarn
For Mac:  Barn Yarn


Triazzle Island

Puzzle  Game                                harder                                              67 MB
Timer can be ignored             PC & Mac                  Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  According to this game, our Earth was created by the Spirits of Ocean and Sky, aided by their child, whom they named Mischief.  The first land they created was an island, and the Spirits gave the islanders a puzzle to help them develop their mental faculties.  The islanders were so grateful that they named their island after the puzzle, used the puzzle as a rite of passage into adulthood, and worshipped the Spirits.  You have come to learn the story of this island and of its mystery, and as you travel along the stepping stones and pathways leading to the temple, you will solve progressively larger puzzles until you reach the temple, where you will face the ultimate Triazzle test to prove yourself.  Along the way, the story of the Spirits will unfold, and the reason that there is no longer any life on Triazzle Island will be revealed to you.

Hints:  The path starts as stepping stones in the water and the animals in those puzzles are denizens of the deep; when you reach dry land the animals are land creatures like colorful frogs, turtles, salamanders; when you climb the mountain you are in the sky and the animals are birds and butterflies. ~ Start with the triangle that contains the least common combination of animals; then concentrate on the triangles with two animals. ~ Rotate a triangle by clicking on it. ~ You can take a long time solving a puzzle and still get a silver award, but after the first few puzzles, gold is nearly impossible to earn. ~ Hints are replenished with each round. ~ You can replay any puzzle. ~ The stepping stones along the entire path are either brown or grey: The brown ones are along the main path and are the sites of the standard Triazzle Puzzles, and the grey ones are offshoots of the path and are the sites of a similar but trickier version called Trilinx. ~ You are not required to do the Trilinx Puzzles, but if you don’t, you won’t learn the story.

More Hints:  In Trilinx, two designs become connected by a beam of light.  When the beam becomes a triangle, the figure you’ve created, which is called a triform, disappears. ~ Your goal in Trilinx is to link all the tiles together with lines of light, and if you haven’t used every tile, or if there are any tiles which don’t disappear, then you haven’t succeeded. ~ Therefore, you must plan ahead and keep from creating the large triangle until your last move, and you can do that by rotating one tile to break the beam of light so the triform isn’t created until you have every tile in place. ~ If you make a mistake and the triform disappears before you are done, you can backtrack.

My Review:  This game was created by Dan Gilbert, the creator of the original cardboard Triazzle Puzzle.  When I was young I was fascinated by the Triazzle Puzzle, so I was delighted to find it in a computer game, and this version is even more fun because when you create a match, the attractively drawn and brightly colored animals you assembled begin to move.  You are, in effect, creating life in these animals and restoring them to the barren island!  But there’s a problem… the puzzles get larger and more challenging, and toward the end of the game, I’m sorry to say, they become seemingly impossible to solve.

My Recommendation:  If it’s okay with you that you might not be able to finish the story unless you spend many hours and days wracking your brain over the last puzzles (or get really lucky), then I recommend this game, because the first 90% of Triazzle Island is really fun.  The music is peppy and appropriately island-y, the animals are cute, and the earlier puzzles work your brain while being enjoyable at the same time.

You can try it for free, here: Triazzle Island


Many Years Ago

Civilization-Building Game with some Puzzles                                     94 MB
Untimed               easier             PC & Mac              Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  At the dawn of civilization, a small island tribe was nearly wiped out when the island’s volcano erupted.  You and your mate seem to be the only survivors and you must re-establish your tribe.  You find tools lying around, and as you use them to cut down palm trees to build huts, other survivors appear and join you.  As Chief of this island tribe, you assign tasks to the adults and teenagers, according to their abilities.  The teenagers can start by foraging (picking fruit and coconuts, gathering up animal hides, and, later in the game, harvesting corn, retrieving bread from the oven, collecting gems to decorate totems, gathering large blue flowers for medicine, and dinosaur eggs for food.)

Hints:  You have control over the physical appearance of your Chief, but not of the Chief’s mate.  (You can change all the names, however.) ~ Read the Help section before you start. ~ Because your people are so new, they don’t know to do any jobs unless they are told to do them, so feel free to assign tasks when they are doing nothing (looking at the sky, thinking about the future, creating new words, etc.) and you should constantly survey the island for more things that need to be done. ~ Keep them busy or you’ll run out of food and supplies; they’ll feed themselves and sleep when they’re tired. ~ And let them talk to each other; they need to do that, to socialize and perhaps make babies. ~ When everyone is busy, while you’re looking around the island for more work, take the gold coins that the birds are stealing from some other land and and dropping into their 3 nests. ~ And take some time to watch the babies toddle around before you corral them; they are really cute.

More Hints:  When you click on a person to choose him for a job, you access useful information about him; also you are shown his face surrounded by a ring of colors which represent the years of his life, with red symbolizing infancy and going through the rainbow up to blue, which indicates old age.  When all the colored spaces are filled, the person dies. ~ Also, as you are assigning tasks, watch out for the green un-smiley face that indicates illness, and send that person to the rack of dried blue flowers beside the fire for the cure. ~ When the Chief gets sick, you’ll notice that his ring of colors has several blue spaces indicating that he is dying of old age… but… there is a very special magical multi-colored flower that will make the Chief… but only the Chief… young again. Send him to it. ~ The tiger cub mini-game (my favorite) seems to get difficult but it is manageable if, when you seem stuck, you take notice of which stacks of tiles fall to the left and which fall to the right and then use gravity to control the flow of tiles.

My Review:  This is a very pleasant and relaxing game.  You play it at your own pace, and basically do what you please, and feel productive while enjoying a game.  The mini-games are enjoyable too, and you don’t have to play them if you’re not in the mood; also, if you like them, you can go back to them at any time by going to the totem that awarded them, and you can even play them from the Main Menu when you are not playing the game itself.  My only problem with the game is the fact that, because the islanders get older, they also die.  And there’s nothing you can do about it but accept it as part of the cycle of life, I guess.

My Recommendation:  I enjoyed this game so much that I played it twice in one week-end, to the exclusion of everything else; and imagine my shock when I looked away from the screen and saw that the sun had risen.  If you or your children can handle losing your elderly islanders (at least they go to heaven, and if you keep the person in view when the blue slots are filled, you can witness it), then this is a perfect introduction to Civilization-Building games, easy enough for beginners but enjoyable for all.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC: Many Years Ago

For Mac: Many Years Ago


Alexandra Fortune: Mystery of the Lunar Archipelago

Adventure Game with Hidden Objects & Puzzles                               194 MB
Untimed            harder            PC, iPad, iPhone             Walkthrough needed
Alexandra Fortune: Mystery of the Lunar Archipelago Walkthrough

Premise:  Alexandra’s grandfather is an archeologist who has always involved his little granddaughter in his studies and told her about his adventures, sparking her own interest in the field; now she’s grown up…  and when she learns that he’s missing, she thinks she knows where she can find him because she knows exactly what he’s been working on.  She also knows that the unusual pendant he gave her long ago is part of the mystery because she recognizes a drawing of it in his most recent journal, which she believes he left behind as a clue for her to find.

Hints:  Don’t worry if the game has difficulty booting up; that shouldn’t cause any problems. ~ Hints are unlimited and replenish very quickly, in 20 or 30 secs.  (I needed to use them a lot because the items are very well hidden and extremely difficult to see.) ~ When the green gem in the hint symbol is not there, you must do some action first. ~ Try combining items in your inventory &/or transferring those items to sparkling areas on the screen or to the person who needs them.

My Review:  This game is fun and exciting, the plot makes perfect sense, and all the puzzles are an integral part of the adventure.  (Some of the puzzles are very difficult, some extremely so, but the skip option comes up very quickly.)  As for the hidden object part of the game, the pigpen aspect didn’t irritate me the way it usually does because the messes were justified by the fact that the islands had just been hit by a typhoon.  All the items you seek are useful and necessary to the plot, and you actually will need to use every item you seek; for this reason alone the game gets my highest praise because it enables you to really become part of the adventure.

My Recommendation:  I really enjoyed this game and I believe everyone else will, too. It is hard enough to please experienced gamers, but also satisfying enough for new gamers to practice on.

You can try it for free, here: Alexandra Fortune: Mystery of the Lunar Archipelago


Sudoku Adventure

Sudoku Puzzle                           impossibly harder                               25 MB
No Untimed Option                    PC                          Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Amy comes across a UFO in the park, goes inside and it takes off.  She tries to pilot it by completing a number grid.  The ship gets attacked by a fleet of UFOs, she gets thrown into an alien prison, finds a grid in the wall, tries to use sudoku as a code to open the cell door, and on and on like that, in a comic book format.

Hints:  Start with the number the grid has the most of, and when you have to guess, left click in the box to see the choices, and make your best guess.  If it turns red, try again.  Quickly.

My Review:  This seems to have been designed by someone who doesn’t play Sudoku.  It doesn’t give anywhere nearly enough numbers to allow you to reason it out, which is not Sudoku. The whole point of Sudoku is logical reasoning, but all you can do is wild guessing.  And even at that, there is not enough time.  Didn’t anyone even test this game?

My Recommendation:  If there could be an untimed option, this would be an interesting take on Sudoku, enabling you to create your own Sudoku grids.  But to create your own grid takes thought, and the game doesn’t give enough time for that; to make it timed, with so little time, forcing you to take random guesses and risk messing the whole thing up, that is just absurd.  This game just doesn’t make sense and I cannot recommend it.

If you want to try and make some sense out of it, you can try it for free, here: Sudoku Adventure

Island Tribe

Civilization-Building Game                        easier                                   66 MB
Untimed Option                              PC                      Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You’re an islander who is helping your brethren escape the lava of an erupting volcano which has created so much steam that no one can find their way to safety.  Repairing the broken idol statues will magically clear the fog and enable you to make it to the next village, but much must be done before the repairs can be accomplished because the paths are strewn with debris.

Hints:  The islanders can’t make more of what you need until you’ve taken what they’ve made so far, so keep taking what they’ve made for you until you have all you’ll need. ~ If you care about points (not necessary to complete the game) and you’re running out of time, concentrate totally on your remaining goals, ignoring all other problems — even burning buildings — because, after all, you’re abandoning the island, which the volcano is destroying.

More Hints:  When an islander has stopped working, or when it says they ‘use’ 4 buckets of water, what they mean is that they ‘need’ 4 buckets of water, so click on them to deliver it. ~ Focus on your goals. You don’t need to collect more of the items than you’ll actually use, so for instance if you’ve already cleared away all the wasps and bears, don’t gather more honey, and stop maintaining the apiary. ~ Upgrade the sawmill first (by clicking on it), then the well (you need lots of water because lightning keeps setting fires), and give them both as many upgrades (stars) as possible. ~ Upgrade your camp when you have enough tasks for 2 workers, and upgrade other buildings when you need more of their product than they are able to produce. ~ Collect diamonds.

My Review:  This very cute and fun game is the perfect time management game for new players. It is easier than most other time management games, and therefore it’s a good introduction to the category.  The fact that it’s not necessary to amass points or awards in order to complete the game enables you to take your time and finish each round even when the timer has run out.  I recommend playing some rounds at least once without hurrying because this game has so many details — like the colorful flowers, the bunnies and frogs and hippos, the frolicking penguins, and the various birds flying overhead — all of which you might miss out on when you‘re concentrating on beating the clock.

My Recommendation:  I really like this game. It is beautifully illustrated, very pleasant to play, and I recommend it for everyone.

You can try it for free, here: Island Tribe

Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale

Adventure Game                                                                                    62 MB
Untimed             easier              PC & Mac               Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  “Help a Bennet sister find a husband as you take a starring role in Jane Austen’s most popular novels in “Matches & Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale.”  Will you pursue Mr. Bingley, whose good nature has already endeared him to your sister, or perhaps Mr. Darcy, the famous protagonist from Pride and Prejudice?  The narrative comes from the combining of 3 different novels, allowing you to create new storylines from Miss Austen’s most famous works!”

My Review:  With a format based on tabletop role-playing games, and illustrated in a comic book style with watercolor drawings, “Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale” allows you to create your own story through the choices you make.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale

For Mac:  Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale


Live Novels: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

Hidden Object Game                             easier                                    204 MB
Untimed                                    PC                           Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  “Live one of the world’s most famous novels in ‘Live Novels: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.’   As the young, wealthy and single Charles Bingly and his friend Mr. Darcy visit a neighboring estate, the respected Mrs. Bennet sees a rare opportunity to marry off one of her daughters.  Unravel a plot of intrigue, envy and romance in this beautiful game.”

Hints:  When the game starts, it says ‘Hit Any Key’ but it means ‘Click Here’. ~ Pieces of the items our heroine is looking for are hidden within the scene, perhaps against something of the same color, and you must find all the pieces to help her. ~ You expose hidden parts of the scene by moving your cursor to the extreme left or right, where there is a blue glow.  As the scene moves, your perspective changes and objects that were hidden behind something now emerge into view. ~ When you find something, click on it, and it will be added to your collection at the bottom of the screen, where there is a 2-part inventory: to see shadows of the pieces you are seeking, click on the left tab; to access and make use of the completed item, click on the right tab. ~ Feel free to click on the gem for a hint, for the hints in this game are unlimited, and they are replenished in 30 seconds.

My Review:  This game was made by Russians (as most games seem to be these days), and Russian game designers seem to have unlimited access to innumerable antique items, which they use in many of their games, enabling them to capture the flavor of a period really well — as they did here.  It is an unusual combination of Hidden Object Game and graphic novel; the game is photorealistic and quite lovely, while the story is done in comic book format with simple watercolor drawings.  The game itself is of a rather old design, primitive by today’s standards, and that will bother experienced gamers.  However, new gamers will come with fresh eyes and can more readily appreciate types of games they’ve never seen before.

My Recommendation:  I think this is a good introduction to the Hidden Object Game genre for new gamers, and could appeal to women and girls of all ages.

You can try it for free, here: Live Novels: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

Alice Greenfingers

Time Management Game                          easier                                    4 MB
Untimed                                PC & Mac                    Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Create and manage a farm by planting flowers & vegetables of your choice; buy animals that take no work at all, except for gathering eggs; when you bring your produce to market, the speed at which the flowers & vegetable sell will tell you if you’ve set the right price.  You have 30 “days” to earn as much money as you can, after which you’ll be given a grade and told to go on vacation, you deserve it.

Hints:  The market prices fluctuate daily, so don’t stress out about it; you’ll do o.k. whatever the going rates; just make an adjustment if something isn’t selling at all. ~ $10 is a good average price, and you can raise it every time your popularity increases. ~ Increase your popularity by donating to charity, being featured in the newspaper, and (when you have lots of plants) going organic by using the natural pesticide (it’s very expensive, so I’d wait awhile, until I had hundreds of plants). ~ Don’t forget to gather those eggs. ~ Some plants (like roses, grapes, mushrooms, and pumpkins) take longer to produce, so consider planting extras of those. ~ As soon as it’s made available in the shop, buy the rotating water sprinkler. You’ll be buying several of them because watering your plants by hand just isn’t cost-effective; and besides, it’s tedious and boring, and it’s too much mouse-clicking. ~ Now this is tricky, but it works: The sprinkler can water 2 or 3 squares in each direction, so when figuring where to set your seeds, decide where the middle will be and let the grass remain in that square. Now dig your squares of soil in a grid pattern around the center square, which is where you’ll be placing your sprinkler. ~ If you need to put a sprinkler in a square that has been shoveled, just plant grass seed there, and when the grass matures you can place the sprinkler. ~ If there’s already a plant there, either dig it out with the shovel, or don’t water it; and when it dies, plant grass. ~ It helps to have more barns, spaced apart, to save walking time. If you want, you can fill all the barns before going to market. ~ You can line up Alice’s work ahead of time, and while she’s filling the baskets you can be shopping for more baskets, sprinklers, seeds, animals, etc., and making more plans.

My Review:  Even though there’s no timer, this can feel like a high-pressured game because it’s designed to push you to want to plant more & more, and to try to keep up with the fast pace of the harvest.  I found that to be unpleasant; but by turning off the music and the sound effects in the options panel in the main menu,  I was able to reduce the frenetic tension noticeably.  Of course, you may enjoy the pressure of playing beat-the-clock — a lot of players do — but I’d rather slow it down so I can strategize, and and enjoy the cuteness of this game.  But as much as I like this game, I must mention one rather large drawback — you’ll be doing an awful lot of mouse-clicking, which may make your fingers and wrists stiff after hours of play.

My Recommendation:  This is a pleasantly addictive little (just 4 MB) game that I really enjoyed when I first starting playing these games; it’s just simple enough for a beginner.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Alice Greenfingers

For Mac:  Alice Greenfingers


Hobby Farm

Civilization-Building Game                      easier                                     69 MB
Untimed Option                 PC, Mac, iPad                 Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  A retired couple buys a tropical island because the wife wants to try farming.  (They soon find out why the price was so low.)

Hints:  The seeds you’ll be planting in the soil you buy are: marigolds, tangerines, Java apples, carambola (starfruit), watermelons, pineapples, bananas, coffee beans, and melons.  I suggest you keep a copy of this list handy while playing, so you’ll quickly know what’s missing.  ~ After the first 5 ‘days’ in the timed mode, you can go back to the menu and choose the Relaxed option. You’ll start from the beginning without the instructions, but it will go quickly. Just remember to plant only 2 tangerine plants at first. ~ If you make any big mistakes or want to redo a previous day for any reason, go to the Map, which has a calendar. ~ In the untimed Relaxed mode, you can take your time and use as many days and nights as you need to accomplish each ‘day”s work. ~ If you need to quit the game before the ‘day’ is over, go first to the map to save your progress, then to the menu to quit.

More Hints:  Collect gold stars left by escaping convicts. ~ You can get help from the husband by recharging the energy bar at the top of the screen, which you do by watering the seedlings, watering the plants after their fruit has been picked, and by clicking on the gold star left behind after each escaped convict you’ve frightened away at night.  In fact, at night, all I have the wife do is search for those scoundrels, while hubby takes over the chores.  The wife never sleeps; the husband sleeps all the time, unless you wake him up by clicking on the recharged bar whenever you need his help to water or harvest the crops.  Eventually he will take over most chores if you ask him to, but he doesn’t fill or run the machines, catch chickens, or buy supplies.  (Just make sure you’ve replenished your supply of seeds, or he’ll get annoyed that you woke him for nothing.)

My Review:  One of the things I like about the mechanics of this game is that whatever I do each ‘day’ is still there the following day… which is unusual in this type of game.  That means that while I’m waiting for a certain plant to ripen, or a sheep’s wool to grow back, I can stockpile the fruits, milk, and blocks of ice I’ll need in the future to run the various machines that make what the neighboring hotels need.  And nothing ever melts or rots!

My Recommendation:  This is a fun game — yes, it’s a bit chaotic with all those animals walking around and needing attention while you try to harvest your crops and keep the plants alive — but that’s part of its charm.  It’s cute and sweet, and I think you’ll like it.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Hobby Farm

For Mac:  Hobby Farm


Unlikely Suspects

Hidden Object Game                                 easier                                  67 MB
Untimed                                 PC & Mac                   Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You are a detective with Interpol, solving murders by tracking clues and suspects all over the world.

Hints:  There are 2 police badges in each Hidden Object scene but if you can’t find them both, don’t worry, you’ll be returning there again and again as you investigate other cases, and the badges will both be there… so eventually you’ll get the 50 you need just by repeatedly clicking the ones you can see. ~ Click on a word in the list to get an outline of its shape, also click on a word to use a hint, which you should do immediately and whenever it replenishes. ~ The hints take a ridiculous 2½  minutes to replenish!  While waiting, click everywhere, as so many objects are hidden in the shadows and are virtually invisible.

My Review:  I really wanted this game to be good because it seemed to have features that would make me feel like a real detective, but it faked me out on that score.  You don’t actually investigate a crime scene or interrogate witnesses, you just spend all your time waiting for the hint button to recharge while you click randomly and futilely, because you can’t find any of those useless and meaningless items hidden in those shadows.  And as for those items, most of them aren’t even real, just images plastered onto everything, and out of scale, like a skateboard the size of an airplane door, or a 6 ft long nail along the edge of a roof.  Two and a half minutes is the longest I’ve ever encountered as a hint-waiting-time in a game, and it’s really unbearable.  If you don’t click randomly, you could conceivably wait an entire half hour per scene, at 2½ min. times 12 items.  And there are lots of those scenes per case.

Okay, now that I’ve had my rant, I’m willing to admit that I went back to the game after reading lots of adoring reviews, wondering, “Did we play the same game?”  I tried it with random clicking all over the place while waiting for the hint button to recharge, and lo and behold, I had located almost everything in that manner.  Now that I was able to get somewhere, I found that the game was becoming fun to play.  And of course that’s when the free trial ran out.

And the fact is, as soon as I started clicking madly all over the place and starting progressing through the game, I saw that after the (unbearable, to me at least) hidden object scenes (a.k.a. HOS) were completed, you really did act like a detective.  Darn, now I have to buy this game — and support a company that pads their games with absurd and ridiculous HOS — just so I can play detective.  (That’s how much I want to play detective.)

My Recommendation:  Believe me, I’d rather bite my tongue than say these words aloud, but I’m going to recommend this pigpen HOS game.  This game is appropriate for all ages, from pre-teen through adult, and all those reviewers were right — it’s a fun game — if you can stand the HOS.

If this sounds like a game you’d like to try, you can try it for free, here:

Unlikely Suspects


Between the Worlds II: The Pyramid

Adventure Game                                harder                                        466 MB
Untimed                         PC & Mac                  Walkthrough definitely needed

I haven’t tried this game because the reviews mentioned some very serious criticisms, and I am unwilling to endure a 466MB download for a possibly problematic game.  But it really looks good, and beautifully drawn, and the hero and heroine really appeal to me, and someone mentioned there’s a Hobbit hut which I would love to see and explore, and I also love the robot dragonfly… hmmm…


So I read some more reviews, complaints really, in the Big Fish forum, and found out that, contrary to what everyone was saying, there IS a Walkthrough, and it’s available as a free download at the game developer’s website!  Now, that would solve almost every problem that the reviewers were complaining about!  All of a sudden this game sounds really worth it….

I’m getting it, after all.

If you do too, the Walkthrough link is here:
Between the Worlds 2: The Pyramid Walkthrough

The Walkthrough will appear instantly.  Click on the tiny paper icon in the upper right corner, next to the ribbon, to download it onto your desktop.

And you can test-drive the game here:

For PC:   Between the Worlds II: The Pyramid

For Mac:  Between the Worlds II: The Pyramid


Tropico Jong: Butterfly Expedition

Mahjong Game                                                                                      9 MB
Timer can be ignored              PC                          Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  You are on an expedition to identify the various species of butterflies on a tropical island.  There are butterflies that are trapped within the Mahjong structures, and by removing the tiles you are able to rescue those tiny butterflies.

Hints:  Ignore the timer and enjoy the butterflies.  They are so realistic that it seems magical. ~ You are not penalized for shuffling the deck when you run out of matches. In fact, high scores give you nothing in this game, so if you don’t care about beating the top score, just play for the thrill of releasing a butterfly and the enjoyment of watching it flutter and fly. ~ Unlike other Mahjong games, strategy is not really important because you are given up to 99 hints and undo’s at a time, the tiles change when there are no more moves, and you don’t even need to clear the board — just rescue all the butterflies. ~ If you want to improve your score and beat the game’s fastest time, you just need to remember where the butterflies were hidden, and then replay that level.  The tiles will change but the butterflies will be trapped in the same places. ~ You can even replay the levels after you’ve completed the entire game, at which time you’ll be so much faster and win each level with ease.

My Review:  This is the perfect game for learning Mahjong without the pressure that other games have — especially since strategy is not so important as it is in some Mahjong games because in this game you don’t need to clear the board — just rescue the butterflies, which will then flutter about before settling down in the collection area, still slowly fanning their wings, delighting and distracting you with their beauty. When the level is complete, the butterflies wait in your collection jar for you to release them into the valley (by clicking on the Valley button; leave the valley and return to the game at any time by pressing the Escape key on your keyboard). You can return to the valley at any time and watch them enjoying their freedom. ~ These are renditions of actual butterflies, and when you encounter a new species, an ID card will appear with the name and scientific info.

My Recommendation:  Wow, I love this game.  I the love butterflies, which are so realistic that they take my breath away.  Also, this is the most relaxing game I’ve ever seen, with its quiet music and the slow, rhythmic beating of the butterflies’ wings as they are resting after being rescued.  If you like beautiful butterflies, then this game will delight you.

You can try it for free, here: Tropico Jong: Butterfly Expedition

Pahelika: Secret Legends

Adventure Game with Puzzles                     harder                             74 MB
Untimed                                  PC                              Walkthrough is needed

This game is not one I ordinarily would recommend to women, especially newcomers to computer games, but, just in case it might be your cup of tea, I’ll give you my very rough and incomplete summary based on my trying this game a long while ago, and not yet finishing it.
(My apologies for its brevity.)

I enjoyed this gentle adventure game with its tricky puzzles and relaxing music, but I remember this game as being difficult, so if you are a newcomer to adventure games and puzzles, I’m not sure you’ll like it.  Because the game is not always intuitive or able to be solved with logic or reasoning but sometimes requires what seems to me to be random clicking, I can’t imagine being able to play it without using the walkthrough several times in every scene.  You can find that walkthrough here:  Pahelika: Secret Legends Walkthrough

Be sure to click on every item that sparkles, and very slowly move your cursor over everything to reveal any sparkling item you may not have noticed, for some of the sparkles are faint. ~ Also look for small rectangles within items, walls, pillars, statues, etc. that may actually be small drawers or loose bricks.

If you want to give it a try, you can test it for free:  Pahelika: Secret Legends

Amazing Adventures: The Forgotten Dynasty

Hidden Object Game with Puzzles              easier                             52 MB
Untimed Option                      PC                            Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Rumors of an unknown dynasty surface when ancient tiles turn up on the black market, and your mission is to explore China and search for clues to uncover the secret of the forgotten dynasty.

Hints:  Be sure to find the two halves of a black and white yin-yang symbol in each hidden object scene; it looks like you’ll need them all at the end of the game. ~ Use the hint button as often as you want because it takes no time at all to refresh, which is a wonderful detail I wish all game designers would adopt.

My Review:  There is a mini-game between each hidden object scene; the games, which are puzzles, vary in variety, which is nice and keeps things interesting; they also vary in difficulty, but I only found one in two hours of testing that was too hard for me to solve, and thankfully there is a skip button.

I have to admit that I have a strong bias against hidden object scenes that are filled with unrelated and out-of-scale objects, like a 3-foot long paperclip resting on a roof or stuck on the ceiling — and this game is filled with objects like that, which spoiled the game for me — and it’s really too bad because the scenes in this game are of places typical of old China and are truly lovely, and I wanted to explore them.

My Recommendation:  Many players really love this game, and if you don’t mind searching for out-of-scale items in unrealistic and even physically impossible places, then you will enjoy this really beautiful and very popular game.

You can try it for free, here: Amazing Adventures: The Forgotten Dynasty


Around the World in 80 Days

Match 3 Game                                           harder                                  42 MB
No Untimed Option                PC & Mac                   Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Victorian gentleman Phileas Fogg makes a bet at his exclusive London gentlemen’s club that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days, and he takes along his newly-hired manservant, Jean Passepartout, much to the servant’s chagrin.  During the journey, many things go wrong, and Mr. Fogg discovers he must obtain certain artifacts which will enable him to proceed, and which are in pieces on a Match 3 grid; it’s your job to free them from the grid by enabling them to drop down and out of the grid, which you do by making matches below each piece.

Hints:  Sometimes there is a brick wall at the bottom of an artifact’s column which will prevent it from being released and which will cost you one of your lives. ~ Watch for these brick walls and concentrate on moving the piece right or left, into the neighboring column that doesn’t have a brick wall. ~ You do that by making matches to drop tiles in the adjacent columns — but not under the piece itself — until the tiles on the left and right of the artifact are the same color; then you can slide the artifact piece over to make that colored match; and now it’s a part of one of the adjacent columns. ~ Sometimes there are bonus items on the grid: a heart will give you another life; bags of coins add to your wealth and if you  reach 100,000 coins you gain another life; and an hourglass will stop the clock temporarily. ~ But be careful with the hourglass: don’t work on releasing another hourglass until the ice that covers the clock has disappeared and the clock is running again, or you’ll waste the hourglass’s bonus. ~ Sometimes a tile is locked or frozen and you must make matches of the same color to release it. ~ The rounds keep getting harder, until the only way you can win is by building up your power-up hammer to whatever ability you need, so when the grids are too difficult to win, immediately concentrate on making as many hammers or bombs as you need. ~ Hammers and bombs are created and charged by making a lot of large matches of at least four tiles. ~ The first completed hammer is a regular hammer which will remove one tile of your choice, and depending on the layout of the grid, sometimes that is just what you need. ~ But more often, you need something more powerful. ~ The regular hammer can be built up with more 4+ matches to become the Tesla hammer, which will knock out every tile of the color you choose. ~ The Tesla hammer can be powered up into a bomb, which takes out three tiles in every direction. ~ The bomb can be powered up into a glowing bomb which takes out lines of tiles in every direction. ~ Make whatever weapon will remove what you need removed, to release your artifact pieces, but make it quickly because the clock is ticking, and you probably need more weapons to win the round. ~ Nothing removes a brick wall.

My Review:  This is a beautifully illustrated telling of the story, and as you leave each country you are offered a screensaver which moves, changes from day to night, and even rains if you wish.  Very nice touch.  What’s not so nice is how difficult the Match 3 puzzles become.  By the time I got to China I had to stop, because if you don’t finish in the allotted time, you lose one of your lives, and I had only two left.  I returned to the game in order to write this review, and I learned that the only way to win is by using your power-up hammer multiple times per round.  But it still keeps getting harder and harder.  One reviewer said she cried during the last level.

My Recommendation:  This beautiful game is, unfortunately, for very experienced Match 3 Game lovers only.

If this sounds like you, you can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Around the World in 80 Days

For Mac:  Around the World in 80 Days


Around the World in Eighty Days: The Challenge

Adventure / Hidden Object Game with Puzzles              harder          114 MB
Untimed Option       PC & Mac      Walkthrough needed? Yes but unavailable

Premise:  You follow British gentleman Phileas Fogg and his French manservant Jean Passepartout as they travel around the world on a bet Fogg made, swearing that they could make the trip in just 80 days.  Considering that it’s 1872, it’s going to be difficult… and it’s made more difficult by the fact that a police inspector is tailing them on suspicion that they robbed the Bank of England!  Will our fellows surmount the obstacles and win the bet?

Hints:  The dates are written in British notation, day before month. ~ Pay attention to the instructions; the game mechanics are unique to this developer and a bit tricky, with buttons assigned to various moves. ~ When you think you’re done with a puzzle and nothing is happening, it’s waiting for you to click on the forward arrow. ~ Keep checking for items and clues at the top of the scene, which, at least on my computer, gets cut off in both window and full screen mode. ~ When you see a pulsating area of light, click on it. ~ You are allowed up to six hints, and whenever you use one, a gold star will appear soon afterwards; click on the star whenever you see it, to replenish your supply. ~ Some puzzles are difficult, and sometimes (as in some of the playing card puzzles) if you make one mistake you start over again; but at least they aren’t timed. ~ Sometimes you can click on the light bulb button to see the solution to the puzzle or get an easier version, and eventually you can click on the double arrows to leave a puzzle you cannot solve.

My Review:  Many of the hidden objects were difficult to find, but at least they fit the time period and the games fit into the story, which are two uncommon but significant game design details that I love.  Also, the illustrations were lovely, very Victorian, and I liked the occasional 3-D scrolling that enables you to find items hidden from view.  Sometimes the grammar is incorrect, and there are no apostrophes, but that is pretty normal for these games; often made in non-English-speaking countries, there are always errors.  For instance, when you’re told to look for mud, it’s actually a life preserver you seek.  Other than that, I enjoyed the story and the adventure.

My Recommendation:  If you like a challenge, I think you will enjoy this trip around the world.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Around the World in Eighty Days: The Challenge

For Mac:  Around the World in Eighty Days: The Challenge


Paris Mahjong

Mahjong Game                                           easier                                  35 MB
Untimed Option               PC, Mac, iPad                  Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  Our Parisian girl will get a free haircut if she can solve 10 Mahjong puzzles.  On her way to the salon she finds more puzzles on the Metro, and she keeps finding puzzles as she travels around Paris.

Hints: As in all Mahjong games, find matching pairs that have at least one free left side or right side. ~ It is most important to clear the lines of tiles that are horizontally the longest. ~ Next in importance is reducing the tallest stacks. ~ Keep those priorities in mind when there are more than two identical tiles to choose from.

More Hints:  Refrain from matching the special hint tiles — especially the scissors — as long as possible because hints do not accumulate; you have one of each, and when it’s gone, then you must find another pair to replenish it. ~ Best strategy is to end each round with all your hints replenished, in case you need them early in the next round. ~ And if you want a relaxing game, turn the frenetic music off in the Options panel in the Main Menu.

My Review:  Contrary to how it is advertised, this not a travel experience — I played for 2 hours and was still on the Metro subway — and the artwork is very simple, watercolors with no details — so if you want to see Paris, this isn’t your ticket there.  Instead, this is a very simple Mahjong game which, played in the Untimed mode, you cannot lose; when you have no more matches, the game automatically scrambles the tiles for you and gives you easier combinations.  Therefore, it is a good game for beginners and children.  Another advantage (and this is a great advantage in my opinion) is that the pictures on the tiles are attractive and easy to see: in the beginning rounds, the pictures are romantic — hearts, bouquets of flowers, love letters, valentine cards, champagne, chocolate cake, boxes of chocolates, and engagement rings — all fun and much easier to match than the traditional Mahjong designs.  Later (much later) you are rewarded with jeweled tiles.

My Recommendation:  If you want a pleasant little game to play whenever you have a bit of time, this is a good choice.

You can try it for free, here: Paris Mahjong

My Kingdom for the Princess & My Kingdom for the Princess II & III

Civilization-Building / Time Management Games                                  Easier
PC (& Mac for I & II)                                                               40, 99 & 106 MB
Timed, with No Untimed Option                                Walkthrough not needed

Premise for My Kingdom for the Princess:  While Princess Helen is visiting her uncle King Sigmund, a horrific tornado sweeps through the land, destroying everything in its path and waking Firemouth the dragon.  With all the towns and roads destroyed between her uncle’s and her father’s kingdoms, she is stranded…  and that’s when she learns that her father, King Olgert, has become very ill.

King Sigmund turns to Arthur, a young knight, and charges him with the task to escort the Princess back home to her sick father, a task he takes on willingly (he’s a knight, after all, and that’s the way they are), even though he knows that to get there he must also repair the roads and restore the ruined villages that lie between the two kingdoms.  (And avoid that fire-breathing, human-eating dragon!)

If he succeeds, (What am I saying?  I mean when he succeeds, for he’s a knight and the hero of our story), King Sigmund will build him a castle.  And considering how the Princess is gazing upon our brave young knight, he’ll probably get the girl, too.

Will you help him?

Premise for My Kingdom for the Princess II:  It’s honeymoon time, our hero is now Sir Arthur, and he and his princess bride sail off in a ballloon for a private vacation on a string of tropical islands.  Unfortunately, this archipelago is inhabited by Longbeard, an evil magician dwarf hermit, who destroys the balloon soon after they land, and kidnaps the pilot.  How will they return home?

Luckily, the native inhabitants have one boat, which they will give to the royal couple if they will repair the broken-down buildings and roads.  With no alternatives, they agree and all is fine…  until Longbeard appears and kidnaps our princess.

Premise for My Kingdom for the Princess III:  Twenty-five years have passed, our hero is now King, and it’s time for King Arthur and Queen Helen to decide which of their three sons will take over the running of the kingdom.  A neighboring king has offered his gorgeous daughter to whomever proves himself to be the most successful, and our story now has a new princess!  Each son is given one rugged piece of land for one month, and the son who makes the most out of the land will win the princess.  To complicate matters, the youngest, Prince Andrew, is in love with the princess, whereas the two older brothers are conniving and greedy and see this marriage merely as a stepping-stone to wealth, power and glory.

Hints:   The timer (in the upper left corner of the screen) doesn’t start until you assign the first task to a worker, so after you’re given your goals, click on the village and look it over, identifying where the particular ruined buildings are and deciding what to work on first. ~ You must complete all your assigned tasks, listed above the timer. ~ Check your resources (food, wood, and gold) in the upper right corner and choose your restorations according to what you have and what you will need. ~ Also keep an eye on the gauge at the bottom of the screen and take advantage of the benefit of your choice (an extra helper for 30 seconds, extra resources added to the ones that you are about to gather, stopping the timer for a minute, or having your men run faster) as the one you want becomes available.  When things get harder, you won’t be able to finish before nightfall if you don’t use those bonuses/powerups. ~ On some computers, the bonus/powerup gauge is along the side of the screen. ~ When you have more than one worker, you can send the waiting one out running by clicking on his job before the working one is finished, as long as the circle around the job site is green when your cursor hovers over it.

More Hints:  Until you’ve build a warehouse, your resource stockpiles of food, wood and gold are limited to 20 units each, so you must keep an eye on the totals as you decide where to send your workers next so they won’t deplete resources you can’t keep. ~ Sometimes there just is no more of what you need, and you either sit and wait as the clock runs down, or you quit right then and start again.  In game three they added a feature to help you along.  If the game senses you’ve been inactive, it offers one resource of your choice, and keeps re-offering it until you start moving your workers again. ~ Conversely, sometimes you’ve accumulated far more than you’ll need to complete the round.  When that’s the case, don’t try to gather every resource if you don’t need it as you approach the end of the round; it’ll just slow you down.  Leave the extras for the residents. ~ In the third installment, the Play button has been moved; it is now a triangle (arrow) in a circle in the upper right of the screen. ~ To pause the game, click on the menu button in the lower left of the screen. ~ You must complete the restoration of each village, and the road that runs through it, before night falls (that is, before the timer runs out). ~ If you finish while the timer’s line is still green, Arthur’s castle receives an improvement; if it turns orange, you can keep working but there will be no reward for that round.  (You can try again.) ~ In the second game, the castle is really a cluster of houses, and in the third installment the castle is ultra-modern. ~ When night falls, the dragon comes out, and you lose the round and must replay it.

Still More Hints:  As long as you finish before nightfall, you have succeeded in transporting the Princess across the village; but if you don’t, or if you want to do better and get an improvement on Arthur’s castle, you can click on the grey shield where a red flag ought to be on the map, and redo the round. ~ You can also stop the work at any point and opt for a redo by clicking on the menu button in the lower left of the screen when you’re certain you won’t make it and want to start over. ~ If you are aiming for the most successful outcome and the largest castle for Arthur and his Princess… when the rounds start to get more difficult you will probably need to play each round once through just to get an understanding of what the best strategy might be, then replay that round repeatedly until you reach the end while the timer is still in the green zone.

My Review:  These games are easy to learn and fun to play, and are appropriate for adults as well as any child who is old enough to strategize.  Their only flaw is that you cannot stack the upcoming work assignments serially but must wait until your worker returns to the home base before sending him out on his next assignment.  I and others have found that the second game is more difficult than the first and third, and it seems redundant, adding nothing new to the mix.  I would add that the plot is ridiculous.  Therefore I’d say that you can get away with not getting the second one unless you like to complete your collections or you love the games so much that you want another.

My Recommendation:  These are some of the most famous and most popular casual games for women, real classics that hold up even to this day, are still talked about, and are still the yardstick against which all subsequent Civilization-Building Games are measured.  Even though the games that followed them have improved upon the format, the newer games are often more challenging — a good thing for experienced players but a problem for newbies.  Also, it’s good to have a game that you and your children or grandchildren can all enjoy, and these are delightful and fun to play.  They are often referred to as MKFTP, for short, and you can’t go wrong with these games.

You can try them for free, here:

For PC:   My Kingdom for the Princess
For PC:   My Kingdom for the Princess II
For PC:   My Kingdom for the Princess III

For Mac:  My Kingdom for the Princess
For Mac:  My Kingdom for the Princess II


My Tribe

Virtual Life Simulation                 easier                                                  57 MB
Untimed                                   PC & Mac                 Walkthrough not needed

Premise:  A group of adventurous city dwellers went sailing, got caught in a storm, and became stranded on some unknown island.  With your guidance they’ll create their own little paradise.

Hints:  First, go to options & shut off the music; you need to hear the stars falling onto the island. ~ When you first arrive on the island you’ve chosen, click on the map and look for wooden crates floating in the ocean, then click on a person and drop him onto it.  Do this often because you have nothing and need everything you can find.  And speaking of finding things, always keep a sharp lookout for tiny mushrooms, the very occasional gold nugget, guano (white splats on the sand or grass), and — most important of all — the fallen stars, which are called stardust and moondust.  You’ll need all of those ingredients to make fun potions. ~ And you’ll have to drop someone on top of the item because they won’t notice it on their own. ~ In the beginning, the castaways need to be told what to do; after all, they’re city folk and have never had to fend for themselves. ~ To switch a player to a different task, click on him or her, remove the present task from his task list, and choose another.  Otherwise, he will constantly go from one task to another, doing just a little work on each. ~ The maximum you can have of wood, stones, and food is 100 of each (until your people learn how to build storage). ~ When you think have enough for now, remove their present assignments and reassign everyone to study science — that’s how they will learn new skills. ~ Here is a very important hint:  the potion formulas are not listed anywhere within the game, so when you learn about one, you must write it down so that you can try it out when you want. ~ And this is the most important hint of all: be careful when you decide to shut the game off!  (Find out why by reading “My Review”, below.)

More Hints, including Spoilers:  When the narrator asks you, agree to accept hints. ~ When asked to select an island, look for one that has a large grassy area near the 3 brown squares; also choose an island that is not in two parts and is not elongated, because those are more difficult to keep a close watch over. ~ When you arrive and after you’ve checked the map for floating crates, you should decide which tree should be cut down & which boulder should be broken up for construction materials, and assign your strongest castaways to those tasks by lifting them, dragging them & dropping each onto his or her assignment.  The weaker members can be dropped into the water to start fishing.  When they have 10 logs and 10 stones, have them build a hut to sleep in, and another when they get more materials.  After that, build a science lab when you have 25 more logs and 25 more stones. ~ Open every crate, even the one that’s in terrible shape, because the game won’t give you good stuff until you discover what kind of bad stuff is in the worst of them.  After that lesson you’ll know to avoid those, but along with the crates in good condition you most definitely should open the ones that are “in rough shape and might not be water-tight,” because those have good & useful things you don’t want to miss out on. ~ Eventually the “in rough shape and might not be water-tight,” crates seem to run out of useful items; when they start to bring bad thing, stop opening those and just stick with the ones in perfect condition. ~ While the adults are working, occasionally click on a child and fly him or her all over the island (that’s the quickest and easiest way to survey the island), and look for mushrooms, guano, stars and moons, for the potions.  Place the child on any that you find to collect it the moment you see it, because they disappear very quickly. ~ The stardust and moondust make a soft jingling sound, so always listen for it.  When you hear it, grab someone and fly them around, listening for the jingling to get louder or quieter, which will help you locate it more quickly, before it disappears. ~ FYI, moondust is 5X rarer than stardust.  Spoiler:  The way to get rainwater for your potions is to make the potion when it is raining.

My Review:  This is what I call a Virtual Life Simulation, which means that, as in real life, things continue even when you’re not around.  Shut the game down, and when you go back to it in a few hours, everyone is older, they’ve accomplished their assigned tasks and they’re standing around, waiting for more instructions.  But here’s the important part: stay away too long and they’ll all be dead when you return.  As I said, this is like real life.  People get old and people die.  (Please warn children of this before you let them play.)  So before you shut the game off, decide how long it will be until you return, and assign your peoples’ tasks accordingly:  Will you be gone a few hours?  Make sure they have enough food and firewood, and make them all study science until you return.  But if there’s any possibility that you’ll be gone longer, then don’t chance it — click on Options before you leave the island, and choose Pause.  And if you will be gone longer, like overnight, or several days?  Absolutely put in on Pause; otherwise you’ll come back to a deserted island covered with gravestones!  But on a brighter note, it’s great fun to pair off two adults and watch them try to be casual and nonchalant as they make their way to a hut (often the one farthest away from everyone else) and in exactly five seconds emerge with the cutest little toddler in tow.  You’ve created a new life and you’ll watch him or her grow up, have children (if you choose), and suddenly one day they have grey hair!

My Recommendation:  I wholeheartedly recommend this delightful and engrossing game to everyone (but keep in mind the caveat mentioned above, if you let your child play this game).  This game is easy enough for newbies, even for children, and engrossing enough for the most experienced players… and you will get unlimited hours of play because it just continues forever, like real life, giving you more new activities and goals to accomplish.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   My Tribe

For Mac:  My Tribe


Build-a-lot: Fairy Tales

Civilization-Building Game                               easier                            85 MB
No Untimed Option                               PC                     Walkthrough Needed
Build-a-lot: Fairy Tales Walkthrough

Premise:  You have been asked by the Wolf to build houses for the inhabitants of the forest.  The Pigs are wondering why.

Hints:  If you’ve been commissioned to build houses that bring in $800 rent, upgrade them just once and don’t bother painting them, so you can save your fairies for the other work.

My Review:  This game is a balancing act between cutting enough wood to build the houses, having enough fairies to cut the wood and build the houses, having enough money to buy more fairies and more woodlots, and doing it all before the clock runs out.  Whew, that Wolf is a task master… and he’s elected himself mayor of the village you’ve just built for him, and now he wants even more from you.  The illustrations are quaint and bright, the fairies are very pretty, and you get rewarded with a screen full of butterflies when you complete a level. What’s not to like?  Oh, yeah, that darn clock.

My Recommendation:  I’m half way through the game and so far I can still beat the clock… but I no longer earn blue ribbons for being speedy, and that bums me out.  And it’s getting harder.  If you can enjoy the game with such disappointment as not getting the blue ribbons after every level, and if this sounds like a fun game, by all means give it a try. It really is cute, and I’m wondering what’ll happen next….

You can try it for free, here:  Build-a-lot: Fairy Tales


Awakening: Moonfell Wood

Adventure with Puzzles                                     easier                        254 MB
Untimed                     PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone                 Walkthrough Needed
Awakening: Moonfell Wood Walkthrough

Premise:  Princess Sophia awakens after sleeping for 100 years, only to find everyone gone!  To learn what happened to her people she goes into the forest to try to talk to the queen of the fairies.  The narrator is the fairy queen as she tracks Sophia’s progress.  The forest is dark, and the forest dwellers she meets in her travels keep telling her that she is the light in the darkness, so now instead of just finding her people she realizes that she must also save the forest world from  darkness.

Hints:  Pass your cursor lightly over the entire screen; when it changes, click there for something to do either now or later, when you’ve gathered what’s needed. ~ Collect 5 glowing blue butterflies. ~ Your inventory is located in the lower bar and will be hidden when not in use. ~ There are scroll buttons to move your inventory left or right. ~ Hints are unlimited, but you must wait for the fairy to wake. ~ When playing a mini-game the Skip button will appear at the bottom of the screen.  You may skip a mini-game once the button fills. ~ Above the Menu button is the journal and task list.  Click on the gold arrow just above the journal to see the most immediate task if you are playing casual mode.  Click on the task for instructions on how to complete the task.

Spoiler:  Can’t find any acorns for the grouchy squirrel?  You’ll need to travel to a new part of the forest, beyond the locked iron gate.  Have you examined the padlock?

My Review:  This game is really stunning.  The water shimmers so realistically when your cursor touches it that you’ll swear it could be real.  I’ve never seen anything like it in a computer game.  And just wait until you see your fairy helper… how lovely she is, and how excited she gets when she thinks you’re going to ask for her assistance.  This is a very beautifully illustrated adventure game with a fairytale feel to it, and since it’s easy enough to figure out what to do, I’d say it’s suitable for children as well as adults.  It’s the second in the four-part Awakening series, and some  reviewers recommend playing them in their proper order, which I agree is good advice, but I’m having no trouble following the story without having played the first one (Awakening: The Dreamless Castle).

My Recommendation:  Absolutely yes.

You can try it for free, here:
For PC:   Awakening: Moonfell Wood
For Mac:  Awakening: Moonfell Wood


Mystery of Mortlake Mansion

Hidden Object & Puzzle Game                   harder                              171 MB
Untimed                                  PC & Mac                     Walkthrough is needed
Walkthrough : Mystery of Mortlake Mansion Walkthrough

Premise:  A stranger has written to you, beseeching you to come to Mortlake Mansion to rescue someone referred to only as ‘R’.   You are curious, and so you go there.   Once inside, you are unable to leave until you solve the mystery and rescue ‘R’.   You eventually find a jewelled key which, when inserted into a matching and very ornate slot, causes time to go either backward or forward, to what is referred to on your map as “spooky.”   You travel in time, via the map, from one version of the mansion to the other, gathering clues and solving puzzles with the help (and nagging) of a raven, trying to rescue ‘R’ and escape before a spectral being saps your strength and traps you there forever.

Hints:  Refer to the map when you don’t know where to go, and click on the map to get there. ~ To find out where to investigate within a room, lightly pass your cursor around, watching for it to turn into a hand or a magnifying glass. ~ Feel free to click anywhere, and also feel free to use the hints liberally during the hidden object games, as they are replenished almost immediately. ~ The mini-games are intuitive, and part of the fun of this game is in trying to figure out what to do… but if you need instructions, refer to the Walkthrough.

My Review:  This is an enjoyable and compelling game, beautifully drawn, and with a coherent storyline.  The music is atmospheric and adds to the tolerable creepiness.  As you progress, the game gets more exciting.  I especially liked that the game asked me if I am male or female, and that determined the sound of “my” voice as the narrator read all the dialog and the diary entries aloud, in a very nice voice with a British accent.

My Recommendation:  I think you will enjoy this game as much as I did.

You can try it for free, here:

For PC:   Mystery of Mortlake Mansion

For Mac:  Mystery of Mortlake Mansion