sea-stars-icon-android-weekend-gamesIt’s another week, and we’re back with the Weekend Games Corner. It’s a periodical, weekly series in which we take a look at the best and brightest games in Android, iOS, and Flash. Casual games can be fun, but digging through them to find the good ones can be tedious. That’s where we come in. The Weekend Games Corner is your ticket to an entertaining weekend with your device of choice and a brand-new game.

This week’s theme is water. It’s all about the oceans right now, so we picked out three games that take you to the water in style. They’re fun, original titles that can all be played for free on your system of choice. That’s the great part of about gaming circa 2013. There are more options than ever, and you can even string together different games on a random theme like water. Isn’t that just dandy?

We’d also like to take a moment to draw your attention to the new format. We changed the layout of the Weekend Games Corner to make it easier to read and easier to find relevant information. Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Sea Stars (Android)

Concept: You play as a cuddly dolphin that must cross an ocean collecting coins and trying for the maximum distance. With bright colors and cartoony graphics, Sea Stars is as kid-friendly as they come. It’s so cutesy, it almost crosses over into Adult Swim Robot Unicorn Attack territory.

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Gameplay: Beneath its kiddy exterior, Sea Stars is a respectable game. The dolphin is controlled by tapping the screen to make it dive. Releasing the screen makes the dolphin swim upward and leap through the air.

The best way to describe the gameplay is that it’s like Dolphin Olympics meets Jetpack Joyride with a dash of Tiny Wings. You’re moving up and down collecting coins, but also dodging obstacles and nabbing power-ups.

There’s a lot of replayability as well. Sea Stars includes persistent goals a lá Jetpack Joyride as well as experience points for each individual character. The move you play, the higher each character’s level is. There are multiple characters as well, so plenty to do.

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Cost: Sea Stars operates under the classic two-currency model popularized by FarmVille. Coins are free and plentiful. They can be collected easily by replaying the game. Sand dollars, conversely, are rare. They can be purchased with real money or by viewing advertisements.

Sand dollars are the more valuable currency as well. They let you open mystery boxes with a pet (read: tagalong that increases the score) and continue the game after hitting an obstacle. Parents should be careful with this game, as it’s very easy to spend sand dollars on continues. This also qualifies the game as directly pay-to-win.

Verdict: Decent gameplay and a sickeningly cute exterior make this a strong contender for kids, but parents will want to avoid being swamped with microtransactions.

Download Sea Stars

Harbor Master HD (iOS)

Concept: You must direct boats into the correct harbor while making sure that none of them collide, and that they get to the correct berth.

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Gameplay: Harbor Master HD is a great test of your multitasking skills. Keeping track of several boats at once and making sure they get to the correct destination is challenging and fun. Boats are color-coded for certain harbors and have different amounts of cargo.

If the worst happens and two boats collide, you can always use a rewind. Be careful with these, though, as they require an absurd of amount of playtime in order to earn.

The interface works by tapping a boat and dragging a path for it to follow. This works well enough, but the boats are small and sometimes hard to tap accurately.

The game also feels like it’s still in beta. Dull graphics, a shoddy interface, and ugly advertisements give it the feel of a game that could use a major update.

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Cost: The game comes with one free level and is ad-supported. Further levels are available via in-app purchase.

Verdict: Harbor Master HD is surprisingly fun. Despite its low-budget nature and general lack of polish, the gameplay concept is good enough to merit downloading. Try it. You’ll be surprised.

Download Harbor Master HD

Fire Boy and Water Girl (Flash)

Concept: This game is only peripherally related to the concept of water, I know, but it’s too good to pass up. You play as the two titular characters and cross an array of obstacles to reach a goal at the end of the level.

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Gameplay: Fire Boy and Water Girl is built on standard platforming. Moving, jumping, and dodging obstacles is simple and timeless. What sets the game apart is its focus on cooperative play. Each character can cross different obstacles and collect different gems. The idea is to work together to reach the goal.

The game can technically be played with one person, but it’s meant for two. Think of this as a nod toward PC local play.

Each level is small and can be completed relatively quickly. It’s just a square on the screen. There are no scrolling views this time around.

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Cost: Viewing the advertisements on Addicting Games. Get AdBlock Plus and you don’t have to see any of them.

Verdict: Decent. Fire Boy and Water Girl doesn’t do anything radically new in platforming, but good co-op Flash games are rare. Plus, if you like this, there are two sequels.

Play Fire Boy and Water Girl