Here's another edutainment game to ease that irritating, nagging feeling of being totally unproductive at the computer - Alpha Assault, mentioned by Jay Is Games in one of April's Friday Link Dumps.
In Likwid Game Studio's Alpha Assault, your task is to spell out words with three or more letters from letters randomly arranged in a hexagonal grid. There's a Castle on one of the hexes which you must prevent the evil grey hexes from invading it. Everytime you form a word, some of the evil hexes will blink faster as they grow stronger up to a maximum of 3 levels before they expand into neighbouring peaceful green or castle hexes and turn it into an evil one.
To advance in levels, you must form enough words to completely fill the experience meter at the bottom which will grant you new types of hexes for extra score bonuses as well as additional castles which you must protect at all costs. Clearing the grid of all hexes does not grant you an immediate advancement in level ; instead it grants you a score bonus which is quite disappointing in the sense that the grid is repopulated with a new set of evil grey hexes.
By forming words, you also earn coins which can be used to purchase letters to swap with existing letters on the hex grid to form longer words, or special abilities such as shuffling the existing letters (2 coins). Forming the bonus word on the top right will also grant you an one-time ability to change the letters of a hex and its 6 adjacent hexes.
Almost all English and Latin words are recognized. Unfortunately, I can't understand why the word Pokemon isn't
Alpha Assault is great fun for those times when you want to play a browser game that offers more than just brainless clicking with some extra educational value to boot. The accompanying music is appropriately gloomy like stuff lifted out of a dark fantasy film.
You saw that perfect sandcastle in your dream - it was reaching to heavens, rising from the surf's mist. It was magnificent and yet so eminently perishable. Welcome the Sultans (and wizards) of sand art to make all that a reality - and more, with incredible detail, creativity and imagination.
(Japanese sand art - love these skyscrapers in the background - perhaps also "sand castles" of some sort...)
There are many fantastic sand art showcases / competitions around the world: held in China, Spain, Brazil, Canada (the ultimate "Tournament of Champions" in Harrison Hot Springs, British Colombia), Florida, Oregon, Texas, Virginia... featuring such undisputed masters like Amazin Walter, Rich Varano (The Sultan of Sand), William Lloyd, Carl Jarra and Suzzane Altamare compete alongside artists from all over the world.
Perhaps the most sophisticated fairy tale sculpture in recent memory
Too bad they are made out of sand, and so will be impossible to preserve, other than in pictures. The traditional fantasy themes - sand castles, dragons, maidens and other fairy tale details - are brought to life so lovingly and with such abundance of detail that it simply transcends the genre: