Casual Friday: Gran Turismo Edition

The Free Race

Let's just call Trackmania what it really is: an adult version of Hot Wheels.
TrackMania Nations Forever  (PC)
Never heard of TrackMania? Think of it as a computerized version of Hot Wheels with ridiculous twisty, turny tracks that players can build and race over. The huge draw, besides its gratis status, are the number of people that build their own custom racecourses that you can download and join. In fact, there's a huge international online community playing it, so just download TrackMania Nations Forever now. Thank me later.

The Hardest (and Easiest) Games

If you're always looking for ways to whittle away those last few...hours...of your work week, have I got the Web game for you. In fact, it's billed as the The World's Hardest Game. It threatens you with 30 maddeningly-tough puzzles. Associate Editor Danny Allen kept his cool far longer than I did. I made it to level eight before I decided to break my second keyboard of the day.

You Have to Burn the Rope--the easiest game?
With a fresh, new keyboard, it was time for another game. Maybe the easiest I'd played in a while and the most rewarding. OK, rewarding in the sense that I have a goofy song stuck in my head now. Just play through the minute-long You Have To Burn The Rope and you'll see what I mean.

Okami  (Wii console)
Here's a natural fit for the Wii in all its surreal glory: a game based loosely on Japanese mythology and illustrated like someone spewed watercolors at my TV. Oh, and did I mention that you interact with the game world using a "Celestial Brush" aka your Wii-mote? The game originally came out on the PS2 to critical acclaim. And maybe two copies sold.

Is Capcom's Okami art? Is it a game? I say both!
It's a damn shame, but score one for the fans. Apparently raising hell on message boards motivated Capcom to port the game to a newer system. Maybe now this artful action puzzle game will get the credit (and sales) it truly deserves. It's an instant classic and definitely worth checking out. In the meantime, go to the official Web site for lots of unique desktop art.

What would you recommend? Have you found some great gadget, Web site, or game that you'd like to let the rest of the world know about? E-mail me.

Until next week...

Senior Writer Darren Gladstone geeks out over gadgets, games, and odd uses for humdrum tech. In other words, he's a nerd--and he's okay with that.

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