Tired of being productive? Who isn't? Every now and then, all you want to do is get in front of your PC, waste some time, and have some fun.
The problem is, having fun can be extremely costly--games can be very expensive these days. So we're coming to the rescue with a roundup of ten free games and puzzle apps, ranging from the ridiculous to the fun to the engrossing. No matter how you like to play on your PC, you'll find something appealing in this collection, and you won't have to spend a penny.
(Ready to grab more than one of these digital diversions? See our "10 Terrific Time-Wasting Downloads" collection.)
Action and Strategy Games
If you've got game (or you just think you do), we've got games for you. In the mood for something goofy? Try the hilarious Chicken Invaders. We also have a fighting game and a bowling title, as well as the classic game of Othello for those times when you'd rather test your wits, not your reflexes.
This game is as ridiculously, pointlessly entertaining as the name implies. It's a takeoff on the classic Space Invaders, except instead of firing at rows of advancing aliens, you have to eliminate rows of hostile fowl. As you shoot them down (producing drumsticks in the process), they launch their own weapons at you--eggs in the lower levels, with the addition of chicken feathers at higher levels. Each wave of marauding chickens is increasingly dangerous, and on some levels you also have to dodge asteroids and fend off giant monster chickens.
This throwback game is as simple as it gets. Just move your spaceship with the arrow keys, and shoot your weapon by pressing the spacebar--that's all you need to know. Everything about the game is entertaining and campy, beginning with Strauss's "Also sprach Zarathustra" (made famous by 2001: A Space Odyssey), and moving on to the majestic text telling the back story, much as Star Wars began. This game won't keep you occupied for a long time, but when you have 10 minutes to spare, it can't be beat.
Download Chicken Invaders | Price: Free
Little Fighter 2
If you're a fan of fighting games, in which the whole point is to pound your opponent into submission while high-adrenaline music plays, you'll no doubt be a fan of Little Fighter 2. The goal is straightforward: Punch, kick, stab, beat, and do any other damage you can, using a wide variety of lethal weapons.
You can play against the computer or against another player--in fact, you can have up to four players going at it at the same time in a free-for-all. The game also offers assorted modes, including one-on-one, a "Stage mode" where you face increasingly difficult levels of enemies, and a "Battle mode" featuring armies that you lead.
Will you think much while playing this game? Most likely not for even a second, and that's okay. It's sheer, mindless entertainment, for anyone who likes fighting games.
Note that when you install this program, it will also install a Little Fighter 2 toolbar by default. Uncheck the box next to that option during installation if you don't want the toolbar.
Download Little Fighter 2 | Price: Free
Are you a fan of the great board game Othello? If not, you should be. This game, also known as Reversi, is a classic contest of strategy in which your goal is to use your pieces to claim as many spaces as possible on a grid. You need to flank each round piece belonging to your opponent with two of your own, and when you do, their disk becomes yours. It sounds simple, but as any player will tell you, it isn't. Succeeding takes a great deal of planning and quick thinking.
This computer version of the game is a very good one. It provides three levels of play, so that you can make sure the games are appropriately challenging. You can turn the music on and off, and you can save and open games in progress. If you want to cheat, or if you're just learning, you can even have the game suggest a move for you.
This title may be a time-waster, but at least you'll be doing a lot of thinking while the minutes fly by. It's a pleasure, but not a guilty one.
Download Othello | Price: Free
Here's a way to go bowling without having to wear tacky shoes. Bowling PC, a cinematic-looking 3D game, is exceedingly simple to play. You control the ball's placement by using the arrow keys, and then you use other keys to determine when and where to throw it to knock down the pins.
You can play against the computer, or against other people on your PC. The game offers plenty of options, too, such as for which ball design to use, whether to play rock music, and which angle the camera should take to track the ball and the game.
One nice touch is the set of audio effects that mimic how a bowling ball sounds as it heads down the alley, and when it hits the pins.
Note that when you install the software, it will also by default install the Ask toolbar and change your default search engine to Ask.com. If you don't want the toolbar or the change in your search engine, uncheck the boxes during installation.
Download Bowling PC | Price: Free