Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

Fluid Dynamics in a Particle Sandbox

Saturday, August 25th, 2007 by Ancil in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 1,581 votes, average: 4.18 out of 5)

If a “game” is defined as a simulation that gives the player a goal to work toward and a “toy” as one that just gives the player stuff to tinker around with, DAN-BALL’s Powder Game is definitely the latter. Specifically, one of the “sandbox” variety. I mean that literally, as it’s a clear descendent of d_of_i’s World of Sand browser game. What Powder Game, also playable in a browser, adds to the formula is fluid dynamics.

A Crowded Sandbox

This sandbox contains a variety of elements which the player can scatter at a mouse-click. Ice, water, fire, the titular “powder” (which serves as the sand). The heart of Powder Game is the way these elements interact. Water that touches ice will freeze. Ice that touches fire will melt. Drop a seed onto some powder and a plant will sprout. Water the plant and it will grow. Touch a flame to it and it will catch fire and burn.

The other key element that defines Powder Game is wind. Powder stacks in neat piles, but a click of the mouse (a right click by default, but this can be changed) sends it spiralling into the air. Currents coalesce, rub against each other, create eddies in the air. Fire creates wind, as does exploding gunpowder. Wind turns ice into snow, creates rivers of particles in the air. When the background effect is set to “BG-shade,” it becomes entrancing to watch.

Just Add Water

Powder Game is not for players looking for direction. To get the most out of Powder Game, one has to be comfortable creating one’s own entertainment. Players who are willing to tinker will find a lot to tinker with. Here are some things to try: create a fountain by positioning fans over a pool of water. Make a sculpture with ice and bubbles (which turn into whatever they touch). Build an arena and populate it with fighters – tiny pixel people who jump and flip around, trying to kick each other. Set the background effect to “BG-shade” and paint a curtain of SuperBalls.

Powder Game Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(Powder Game Game Screenshots)

Powder For All

Powder Game is Java-built and playable in a web browser. It’s neat to tinker with, mesmerizing to watch, and totally free. Similiar and similiarly worth playing is DAN-BALL’s earlier project, Liquid Webtoy – one of a surprisingly few webtoys to simulate the phenomenon of precipitation.

Play Powder Game (Java Required)

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Defense With Physics: Momentum Missile Mayhem

Friday, August 10th, 2007 by Jeremy in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 122 votes, average: 3.64 out of 5)

I’m sure many of you have played either Bowmaster or its prequel, Bowmaster Prelude. These games contributed hugely to the recent trend in “Tower defence” games, which involved fighting back hordes of vicious attackers in order to defend a village. Many recent games have tried to replicate this experience. In my opinion, however, one has risen above the rest in its class: Momentum Missile Mayhem.

Momentum Missile Mayhem, created by DimonZerg and sponsored by, is practically unique in its approach to this theme. You control a “Gravity Launcher”, capable of firing many different projectiles. It works in a manner very similar to a slingshot: pull the bullet back and let go to fire, with the angle and distance of the bullet from the turret determining the overall velocity. However, there is one big difference, and this is the way in which enemy units are destroyed. In many games of this style, a weapon is instantly perishable; it is destroyed on contact with other objects. In Momentum Missile Mayhem, however, bullets will ricochet and move enemies, causing them to crash into each other or the walls.

Finally, a Tower Game with Strategy!

As the game progresses, you soon realise that tanks can cause more damage than bullets. This means that a larger proportion of the game is spent working out the most efficient angle of a shot. If there is a close line-up of enemies, one well-placed hit will have a domino effect on all of the tanks, and this is tremendously important when trying to destroy larger boss tanks or when energy reserves are running low. This adds a breath of fresh air to what is generally quite a stale genre. Different bullets require different strategies too – for example, various bullets have different collision properties. This means that some will bounce away with no change in speed, whilst others will slow down and eventually stop after many collisions.

Stability and Bullets

An interesting element of the gameplay is stability. If a bullet is to be fired at too high a velocity, it may become unstable and explode before it can be fired. The chance of this happening is indicated by a bar at the bottom of the play area. This adds an extra element of strategy to the game – do you fire a fast shot which will knock the tank into many others, or fire it slowly in order to guarantee that it will remain intact as it leaves the tower?

As the game progresses, many upgrades can be purchased, which make projectiles more stable and even add new bullets and abilities to your roster. Each bullet has its own special ability, level of damage and level of stability, further adding to the depth of strategy in the game. For example, the pink bullet is more stable than the blue bullet, but uses more energy. In contrast, the yellow bullet sticks to enemies in order to cause huge amounts of damage, but is far less stable than many of the alternatives.

Other abilities include a Gravity Gun which can be used to throw tanks at each other and at walls, and Implosion, which pulls tanks towards each other to cause crashes.

Momentum Missile Mayhem Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(Momentum Missile Mayhem Game Screenshots)

Let the Mayhem Commence

Unfortunately, there is only one field which can be played on, but with gameplay options varying between a linear quest-style game and an all-out “Armageddon” mode which throws you in directly at the deep end, this game is definitely worth a shot for everyone who enjoys defence games, or just wants an excuse to blow things up. Being a Flash game, it’s completely free to play, so there’s not much excuse not to give it a try!

Play Momentum Missile Mayhem (Flash)

(Be warned: The game’s creator suggests that quality settings should be lowered on older systems or laptops. I would recommend the downloadable version (7.8 MB) for such systems.)

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From Russia With Love: Hammerfall

Saturday, August 4th, 2007 by Matthew in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 918 votes, average: 4.16 out of 5)

Hammerfall is a gorgeous work-in-progress 2D game out of Russia. This particular release was posted to the forums by “GKosh” for feedback and is marked as version 0.2. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s a remarkable production and wholly playable as is. The physics are well-tuned, the art is fantastic, and there’s even a storyline with charmingly clumsy English translation to tie it all together.

[More footage: shotgun fight, lava]

Swing Stuff Around

The video does a good job of demonstrating the mechanic. Hammerfall’s gameplay is all about swinging around connected bodies. Your mouse directly controls the position of your ship; move it up and your ship flies up. Your weapon–usually a mace or sword–is attached to your ship via a hinge joint. It swings around on its own, but you soon learn to control it deliberately.

What’s great about Hammerfall is how well-balanced the physics feel. Swinging the mace around feels heavy, but not so heavy that it starts to lead you around instead. It’s very difficult to make physics feel responsive, but Hammerfall manages a decent job of it. The learning process is occasionally frustrating, but before too long pulling off an intentional attack is second nature.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Despite the low version number of this release, Hammerfall is far more than a prototype. But even if it were a prototype, it’d still be fun. The one-on-one arena fighting is fun in its own right. But there’s so much more to the game. The variety in the levels is fantastic. The first few levels alone range from one-on-one fights to defending a blimp against hordes of bees.

Too often you see physics games that never quite break out of prototype stage. They may have a neat play mechanic, but the developer hasn’t fully realized how that mechanic will interact with a variety of level types. Hammerfall completely succeeds at utilizing its control mechanic across a number of contexts and goals.

Hammerfall Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(Hammerfall Game Screenshots)

Well Worth the Download

I’m really excited about what a 1.0 Hammerfall release could look like. If development continues at the same level of quality they’ve already achieved this could easily become a canonical physics game. The level of production is fantastic, but there’s also a distinct sense of indie spirit, as if the game were developed simply for the love of it rather than to meet some specific market segment.

Download Hammerfall (10.1 MB)

Updated v0.21 version with fixed English translation. This release is limited to 60 minutes of play per save file. Keep an eye on this thread for updates (Google translate link).

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