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Wednesday, February 11: Games for the Graphically Challenged

Nicole Carrico

You might have the impression that we at The Screen Savers are obsessed with finding the latest and greatest in graphical gaming. But that's not entirely true. Granted, we drool over those breathtaking visuals as much as the next geek, but there are plenty of games out there for those who haven't invested in the latest 3D graphics card.

Here are a few of our favorite old-school games. They're all free and fiendishly addictive, and they can all be enjoyed on any computer, no matter how small the screen or how slow the system:

  • Super Collapse (http://games.yahoo.com). This innocuous little game from Yahoo! comes in the form of a 1.2MB download. The goal is to eliminate the blocks entirely, or to prevent them from stacking to the top before your time runs out. Try it, and you'll discover what every member of The Screen Savers team has learned the hard way. We're starting a 12-step group in an attempt to break this horrible addiction, but no one can make it to the meetings: They're too busy playing. This game is free to try and $19.95 to buy.

  • The Land of ZZT (http://www.autofish.net). Web producer Josh Lawrence turned me on to these ASCII-based games. Published in 1991, ZZT is a freeware computer game designed by Tim Sweeney with a built-in editor, allowing any user to create new games. Don't let the grainy graphics fool you! You can spend many, many hours in these custom worlds, and you don't need a souped-up system to enjoy them.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (http://www.the-underdogs.org). For my money, text-based games don't get any better than Infocom's classic The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's based on the infamous five-book trilogy by Douglas Adams. I grew up playing this game, and the Solid Gold edition released in 1987 manages to improve the experience without interfering with the original. (Another Infocom favorite is the popular Zork, also at Home of the Underdogs.)

  • Doom (http://www.idsoftware.com). Leo would never forgive me if I failed to mention Doom from id Software. This obscenely popular action game offers a fast, simple 3D graphics experience on virtually any system. So load up your shotgun and get ready to shoot some demons! It's free to try.

  • Bejeweled (http://www.popcap.com). Last, but certainly not least, Bejeweled is easily one of the most popular free games on the Internet. The 1.6MB download packs quite a punch and earned the title of "Most Popular Game of 2001" from the MS Gaming Zone. If you aren't already hooked on this one, you don't know what you're missing.

Download of the Day: Farnsworth Ferret's Fun Pack for Kids 1.3

Megan Morrone

It's never too early to teach your child how to use your computer. I'm not going to promise that they won't throw up on the keyboard, but I can't promise that about myself these days, either. Morning sickness means my baby's going to be healthy, right?

Farnsworth Ferret's Fun Pack for Kids (http://download.com) is a collection of five games that you can play for free. The games are for kids as young as 4, but because you can change the difficulty level, older kids can have fun too.

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