Great Casual Games!

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I am studying in Beijing, China for a semester and I had to leave my gaming rig at home and bring along a cruddy laptop with just enough specs to run Windows 7. At first I was upset about this...what would I do with my time? Well little did I know that so called "casual games" aren't just for stay at home moms...casual games are an entire realm of gaming—full of depth, variety, and hours of fun.

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  • So this may not be a casual game...but it's low spec requirements and Indie roots make it just as accessible as casual games. Easily my favorite game of 2011, demolishing any other major developer releases. Beautiful visuals, story, and music. And of course the reactive narration is one of the most engaging and innovative vehicles for delivering a story I've experienced in a game.

  • Popcap's magnum opus Eye Em Oh. This action-strategy game has gobbled up at least a fifth of my life on three different platforms (PC, 360, and Ipod Touch). The game is so wonderfully paced—throwing twists and catches at players just as they think they've figured things out. Lots of game modes and great music. The game is balanced, fun, and full of quirky antics in every element of its design.

  • This game in one of the wonderful Indie game packs on Steam. Online flash-game esque gameplay, but very well put together. Smooth style, polished visuals, and a hysterical cast of characters and dialogue. This game had a quick learning curve and hours of addictive play.

  • I have Beat and Runner on Steam. I was skeptical at first, but found these rhythm based...ermm, I don't even know what my third descriptor should be...lets use scrollingplatformercheckpointlessfrustration games to be a lot of fun, albeit impossible. And I when I started playing it I thought Bit.Trip.Beat might be my first S Rank...haha, yeah right.

  • Wonderfully fresh gameplay. This funky strategy game was a bit hard to pick up, but once I figured it out lost hours of time playing it. I found it tad repetitive after a while and also got a little fed up with having to tweak and rearrange the load-outs of my fleet for all the different battle scenarios.

  • A great game to play when I have a few minutes to kill. Easy to hop in and out of and shares Plants vs Zombies balanced and well paced gameplay.

  • Ahhh, this is my lullaby game. Low-stress gameplay yet still challenging—Osmos' atmospheric music and purrttty colors makes it a very relaxing game with varying modes that can put you to sleep or be very stimulating.

  • Wonderful art design and music coupled with a witty, subtle storyline makes this physics-puzzle game one of my favorites. There are loads of structure/bridge building games, but this one tops them all despite not being quite long enough.

  • Perhaps only trumped by Minesweeper as the king of all casual games, this classic scroller provided hours of fun...or was it frustration. I don't remember...it provided hours of something with the letter 'F'.

  • The Incredible Machine games have always had a unique and 'incredible' niche in the world of puzzles/physics games. Each installment has provided some new elements of style to the game. Extremely accessible to people of all ages and the in game tools and options for user-created puzzles has provided endless amounts of variation as well as created a happy community of Incredible Machine nerds.

  • I kind of dig Commander Keen. Just a little bit. And the great thing about this classic side-scrolling comedic-action franchise is that it is one of the few MS-DOS games that has been fully retrofitted for purchase, download, and play on Steam!

  • Are you too smart to play silly, kiddy puzzle games? But does your computer suck too much to play fancy hardcore games? Well the Myst series is maybe something you could look into. These point and click adventure games are full of challenging puzzles, but are most notable for their breathtaking visuals and captivating environments. It's so easy to immerse yourself into Myst games—atmospheric sound effects and music combine with the mysterious and intriguing story to make the Myst series the best of its genre. Riven the Sequel to Myst is my personal favorite.