Review: 15 Great Free Game Sites

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Still More on Tap

13. GameTap

This isn't so much a site for online games as it is a site for downloading and playing big PC games--commercial titles, some of them older (BloodRayne, Bust-a-Move, Myst, Root Beer Tapper), that you once had to purchase on CD or DVD.

To begin using the site, you must first register and download a player app that allows GameTap to dictate the rights associated with its titles--for example, I will only be able to play the original version of Myst (called realMyst here) for free until December 31. GameTap changes the free game lineup every week, and when I visited the site recently, it indicated that only 44 of the nearly 1000 games in its catalog were actually free.

The game downloads can be huge--several hundred megabytes. Still, some are vintage A-list titles that people may enjoy revisiting--especially for free.

14. BoxerJam

BoxerJam is not the most attractive site on the Web, and it can be a bit pushy about trying to get you to click on ads. But it has an entertaining collection of word and puzzle pastimes--and what really keeps me coming back are a couple of highly addictive multiplayer game-show-style games.

In Strike a Match, you're presented with a collection of six or nine names or phrases (depending on the round of the game) from which you must click the two or three (respectively) that belong together. You play against up to seven opponents (although many tend to drop out as it becomes clear that they aren't doing well).

I also like Out of Order, in which you compete against other players to successfully unscramble words before the clock stops. (The game doesn't make you type in complete words--it demands only the first three letters, and if you get those right it assumes you know the rest.)

15. Moola

Speaking of game shows, our last site presents a novel approach to gaming. Moola (which, by the way, made our list of the 15 best places to waste time) lets you compete (for free) against other players to win cash prizes funded by ad dollars. It works like this: You start out with a penny that Moola gives to you, and you try to double it by playing a game against another player who also has only 1 cent. The winner plays against someone else with 2 cents, and the stakes keep doubling as you advance; if you lose, you start over again with another penny.

Caveats: Participation is by invitation only (remember the early days of Gmail?), but you can ask to be invited; it took me all of 15 minutes to get an invitation. Also, you don't have much of a choice of games; only three (two card-like games and a version of Rock, Paper, Scissors) at this writing. But the site's literature says it will be adding more games, and the prospect of winning millions (however remote, as you would have to win a whole bunch of games) does give game play an added dimension.

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