The 00s were the years that Macromedia Flash (now Adobe Flash, I know) really came into its own, transforming from an animation tool into a robust, full-featured platform for game developers to work magic in. And work they did, with tens of thousands of new games being released every single year. Mst of those games are total crap, but there have been a few that have proven themselves to be true classics in the world of office time-wasting. On this list, I’ll count down the ten that defined the decade for me.
10. Dino Run – Glorious retro pixel graphics are just the icing on the cake of this seemingly simple action game, in which you play a we dinosaur struggling to avoid the environmental apocalypse that wants to leave you extinct. Run, jump, and eat eggs as you frantically dodge meteors and other hazards. A great achievement system with tons of unlockables gives this a lot more replay value than you would think. And if you donate to the developer, they’ll give you forty virtual hats for your dinosaur! Play it here.
9. Bejeweled – Quite possibly the gateway drug that started the casual gaming revolution, Bejeweled merged super-simple play mechanics with an addictive combo system to create a game that literally any idiot could play. While thousands of people have tried to surpass it, Bejeweled still remains the best, nearly a decade after it was released. Play it here.
8. Line Rider – Part game, part toy, all fun, Line Rider taps into the creativity of its users to create a unique experience that has captivate millions. Using your mouse, draw slopes, curves and lines and then unleash a hapless little stickman on a sled into the physics-based obstacle course you created. No goal, no score, and no winning the game, but an incredibly addicting experience nonetheless. Play it here.
7. Grow – The Japanese developer known only as On has built a huge fan following around his quirky, simple, hilarious games. The action is basic (drag objects to a place and see what happens) but the charming art style, smooth animation and brain-bending puzzles make each and every Grow game a must-play. Play it here.
6. Cursor*10 – The 00s saw a lot of experimentation in how players interacted with games – the basic paradigm of lives, score, and progression got chopped up and remixed in dozens of different ways. This brief, minimalist Flash game by Japanese developer Nekogames was one of the most interesting, in which the player must think across time to synchronize his clicks and make it to the end of a maze where his only ally is himself. Play it here.
5. Samorost – Polish art student Jakub Dvorsky single-handedly elevated the look of the Flash game to new levels with the 2003 release of Samorost. A simple point-and-click adventure game, what made it stand out was the incredible music and atmosphere, unlike anything an online game had ever accomplished before. Dvorsky went on to found Amanita Designs, which has been responsible for several other classics. Play it here.
4. Nanaca Crash – A simple, if bizarre premise that launched (no pun intended) a whole genre, Nanaca Crash, a Web game developed by a Japanese company better known for adult titles, is the quintessential “just one more try” title. Set your angle and launch your hapless protagonist into the air, trying to ensure that he flies as far as he can possibly go while avoiding the hazards in his way. It seems like pure chance when you first start out – and, in fact, most of it is – but the amount of control you can exert on your poor human projectile’s destiny is just enough to keep you hooked. Play it here.
3. The Last Stand – Zombies were one of the major cultural tropes of the 00s, and many, many games saw you as a human gibbing as many as you could. But the one game that dominated all of them was The Last Stand. As a human survivor, employ an arsenal of weapons to fend off the undead hordes while you scavenge for supplies and try to keep yourself among the living. Tense, insanely addictive, and totally atmospheric, it’s a true classic. Play it here.
2. N – Metanet Software’s action-puzzle classic has made the jump to portable consoles as well, but you can play the original for free. Cast as a scarf-wearing ninja with some serious moves, you must collect all of the coins in a level under the time limit while dealing with adversaries who can kill you with a single misstep. Tight controls, amazing level design and that “just one more” addictiveness, all in one package. Play it here.
1. Desktop Tower Defense – When British hobbyist Paul Preece coded DTD in his spare time back in 2007, he had no idea that his first-game project would become one of the most addictive Flash titles of all time. The gameplay is deceptively simple – place stationary towers that shoot at waves of incoming “creeps,” trying to kill them all before they reach the opposite side of the screen. But the perfectly-balanced difficulty and innovative community-building tools Preece included made Desktop Tower Defense a bona-fide phenomenon, with millions and millions of people playing and Preece quitting his day job to make games full-time. Play it here.