Minimalism is generally a virtue in online games that don't have the massive teams of programmers to make games of amazing scope possible, but the new Ludum Dare has transformed that design principle into a theme by explicitly making their new challenge about minimalism. Not every game this week comes from Ludum Dare, but they all share that love of doing more with less.
A new game by Minecraft creator Notch, Drop is basically Super Hexagon as a typing game. Like all typing games this is a test of speed, but since the letters are arranged in an odd formation (appearing in a vaguely hexagonal formation spiraling down into infinity) the challenge isn't just typing correctly but figuring out which letter exactly you were supposed to be typing. The fact that incorrectly letters subtly shift the screen just makes your job harder. When it comes to doing more with less, Notch once again shows everybody how it's done.
Rapid Tunnel Future
When it comes to a quick Internet time-waster I love a good one-button game, and Rapid Tunnel Future hits all the right notes. You're in a spaceship flying down two parallel tunnels you can switch between by pressing basically any button, and your job is to fly through the wavy things to gain points and avoid the solidly-outlined things that will kill you. I've been thinking of them as energy containers and space mines, but there's so little spelled out for you with Rapid Tunnel Future that you can basically make up whatever story you like.
Martian Middle School DanceFor a game you can play in three minutes starring a martian Martian Middle School Dance manages to be a surprisingly accurate portrayal of middle school dances. Maybe it's the soundtrack, or the graphics, or the awkward control scheme that pretty much guarantees you'll do or say something wrong, but this game brought me back to my youth trying to slowdance as a foreign exchange student from Mars. Wait, maybe I'm empathizing slightly too much with this protagonist.
I'm not sure 40 Seeds really qualifies as a game. It's more of a minimalist gardening...God simulator? I don't know really but I do know that you can shake your mouse around to change the flow of the wind, press space to change the flow of time or just sit and watch the grass grow on your own tiny little island. It's not the most exciting game on earth but it may well be the most relaxing.
MillionsMillions is a platformer about leaps of faith. Every time you jump the entire screen goes dark, which turns each and every jump into an act of memorization. Eventually you find the darkness isn't just a way to stop you from leaving the ground too much, as you start to find platforms and even enemies in the dark that you've got to use to your advantage or avoid to progress. It's an interesting, minimalist game mechanic and like a lot of Free Game Friday games I'd love to see it expanded out from here.