Widgets of the week 5/27/2005: Game time
With the weekend approaching—meaning you’re likely to have a bit more free time than usual—it seems like the perfect time to introduce you to some great Widget games. That’s right, there are actually games designed for playing in Dashboard. Granted, these aren’t games on the scale of Doom 3, Halo, and Unreal Tournament; they’re much more modest in their aspirations. But they’re still a great way to waste some time over a long weekend. (Or even during a short work break. In fact, Dashboard just may be the perfect at-work game environment—you can quickly deactivate Dashboard when needed, so you’ll never again be caught playing Solitaire.)
Asteroids ( ; free). Yes, one of the first truly great arcade games from waaay back when is now available in Widget form. Because the game uses Flash—which Dashboard seems to have a few problems with—I’ve experienced a few glitches. For example, sometimes it’s difficult to click the “New Game” text, and sometimes I have to close and re-open the Widget to get it to display properly. In addition, to keep the game from playing—complete with sound effects—when you hide the Dashboard, you’ll need to pause the game first by pressing P. But these glitches aside, the Widget nails the gameplay—if you’ve ever played the original, you’ll love this.
PacMan ( ; free, donations accepted). Like Asteroids, this Widget version of the classic PacMan arcade game is a dead ringer for the original, right down to the sound effects. It also has the same Flash-related issues as Asteroids, but it’s so much fun that I can overlook those issues until Dashboard learns to play nice with Flash.
Dashdots ( ; free). I have fond memories from my grade school years of playing a game we called “Lines.” You made a grid of dots, and then each person took turns drawing a line between two dots. If you were able to complete a box, you “claimed” that box and got another turn. The object was to have more boxes than the other person when the entire grid was filled. Dashdots brings my childhood game to Dashboard via an 8 x 8 grid. Playing against the computer, you click two “dots” to draw a line between them. When you finish a box, it’s filled in—red for you, blue for the computer. The computer isn’t the brightest Lines player ever, so it would be nice to be able to play against another human, but I still get a kick out of Dashdots.
Reversi ( ; free). I’ve never really been a fan of the game of Reversi (also known as Othello), mainly because I’m not very good at it. But I have to give credit where it’s due, and this is a great Dashboard rendition of the original board game. You can play human vs. human, human vs. computer, or even watch a friendly game of computer vs. computer. You can also choose the computer’s skill level: easy, medium, or difficult.
Magic Widget ( ; free). Remember those “Magic 8-Ball” toys that you would ask a question, then shake up and turn upside down to reveal the “answer"? Magic Widget puts such a prescient gadget on your Dashboard for those times when you need some sage advice: Just ask your question and then click—the 8-ball even “shakes” before revealing the answer. OK, so it’s not really a game, but it’s still good fun.
Widget “Why?” of the Week
Each week I try to give a good-natured poke at a Widget that makes me think, “Why was this created?” In the spirit of today’s theme—fun and games—I give you Hula Girl . After all, what would a Dashboard be without a bobble-head—or in this case, a bobble-dancing—dashboard ornament? Activate this Widget and you get a doll on your Dashboard that “dances” when you move the mouse cursor over it. You can even customize the Widget by choosing either Hula Girl, Hula Boy, Hula Jesus, or Hula Homer (as in, Simpson) and then choosing your preferred background: beach, sunset, volcano, car dashboard, heavenly skies, or none (which makes the doll appear to float over the Dashboard). Why was this made? I have no idea, but it’s fun to watch for a bit.