[’Free Play’ is a regular weekly column by Ancil Anthropy about freely downloadable video games, and the people who make them. This week’s column profiles OMEGA.]

"I think too many people take part in one game title," says doujin freeware developer OMEGA of the videogame industry, in an interview conducted by NTSC-UK's Jamie Davies. Though friends often contribute graphics or music, OMEGA develops alone. "OMEGA is a circle like other doujin game circles....a solo circle."

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OMEGA's most recent release, TwinTower, appears to be a straightforward balancing game. Blocks fall from the sky, and the player catches them on a set of scales controlled with the mouse. The goal is to build two towers—one on each scale—that reach the height the stage requires without tipping the balance and making them topple.

There are only ten stages, but the game's depth comes from how those stages are scored. A stage only ends when both towers have been capped by a special top piece, so the player is free to keep adding to them—bonuses are awarded for final height and weight, and for any coins still attached to the tower at the end. They're easily knocked off, so the player has to build carefully around them without upsetting the balance. A quick play with a deep scoring system—TwinTower is an OMEGA game.

Have a strong will!

OMEGA's design philosophy is more often applied to shooters. Dan! Da! Dan! gives the player three minutes to clear three stages with the highest possible amount of points. These stages are filled with Mr. Driller-like configurations of different-colored blocks. Shooting a block removes it and any adjacent blocks of matching color, and those blocks will give up whatever's inside them: credits that extend the timer, sunbursts of bullets.

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Tapping the shot button shoots bullets straight ahead, while holding it creates a small field that can destroy hard-to-reach blocks and slow down bullets. Pressing the special button—when fully charged—will turn those bullets into points, and activate a spread shot that lasts for a few seconds. Smart use of these abilities is essential to achieve a decent score.

Every Extend is a shooting game in a less strict definition, as the game involves no shooting. Rather, the player controls a guided bomb that will explode at the touch of a button. Crossing the screen are formations of blocks that, if caught in the explosion, will also explode—allowing a crafty player to engineer large chains for lots of points. Learning how to get those points is necessary: since one stock is lost whenever it blows up, the player needs enough points to earn extras—needs "every extend".

Huge object approaching!

In 2005, Q? Entertainment—developers of Meteos for the Nintendo DS and Lumines for the Sony PSP—announced that they were developing the sequel to Every Extend, Every Extend Extra, for Fall 2006 release on Sony's handheld. Like Q?'s prior PSP release, each stage seems to feature a new skin and a different trance track. One skin is modeled after OMEGA's original game—another appears to be an homage to Dreamcast rail shooter Rez, which a number of Q?'s staff worked on. It's a curious collaboration between freeware and commercial development, and the results ought to be interesting.

Finally, be sure to check out...

Geki Pori, a game of belly-bumping platform combat starring monsters from Ragnarok Online, played by up to four people at a single computer.

[Ancil Anthropy is a game developer and space invader. She fills dessgeega.com with lots of good stuff and writes for a bunch of places, including The Gamer’s Quarter and The Independent Gaming Source.]