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— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Friday Free Game: Shift 2

The Friday Free Game two-hit combo is live and on the scene, administering the beatdown of game goodness for the righteous readers of the Red Bull!

Shift 2 is the sequel to the Armor Games negative-space platformer that I featured as the Friday Free Game for February 15th. This time, they have added a few more new twists for deeper and more varied gameplay. While this robs the game of the simple elegance of the original, it definitely kicks up the challenge level a good two notches, making for a more satisfying experience if you're a gamer with a somewhat harder core.

The basics are all still there: black and white space, key puzzles, shifting, taunting comments, and the big-ol' splash of blood when you fall on the spikes. What's new is two new features: gravity modification and checkered space. By far, the most brain-bending aspect of Shift 2 is the incorporation of gravity redirection as part of the puzzles. Now instead of just flipping the board two different ways, you now have four possibilities. There are four different arrow icons you can touch to rotate the board and all of the sudden, walls become floors, floors become walls, and you're forced to look at things a whole new way. Checkered spaces are really just another kind of door. Hit the lightbulb icon (just like a key) and a set of blocks are removed so you can move on to the next step of the puzzle.

But perhaps the most interesting additions are to the meta-game. Shift 2 rewards players with trophies (a la XBox 360-style achievements) for completing various goals (such as beating the oh-so-annoying crosses level in the specified time limit). It also adds a level editor ("Shift-ed"... get it?), and the designers hint at a future pack of player-designed levels. It's easy to use and outputs a code that you can use to load and share your custom-designed levels. Like this one:

You can play it by clicking "Extras" on the main menu and loading "Shift-Ed", then clicking "Load Level Code", and then paste the code above into the text box. It will load the level in the editor. Click the "Preview" link to play.

Custom levels, deeper puzzles, snarkier narration and monochromatic charm all combine to deliver a solid experience. And with all of these new features, Shift 2 is bound to continue the momentum created by the original. I know you'll agree when you stop procrastinating and start shifting! Play.

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.