- During the course of scoring the Independent Games Festival's Student Showcase, for which the first-round winners were announced earlier this week, I ended up playing through lots of the other student games that were interesting but didn't quite make it.

So, as a service to the gentle GSW reader, I print some tips on some of the most interesting games that weren't judged finalists - and just about all of these are freely downloadable from the linked webpages, which is pretty darn neat. Please note these are just ones that appealed personally to me - there's no official IGF proclamations here. Here we go:

Spider (HKU, Holland - pictured!)
"With lush visuals and fun swinging gameplay, this Dutch student game has you as a spider, swinging through levels trying to collect fireflies. Some of the controls feel a little unintuitive (I want to be able to affect my swing with the mouse or direction keys), and the random movements of the fireflies make them a bear to control sometimes, but swinging around levels is a blast, and this looks every inch a professional game - it even has features like mid-level quicksaves!"

Lily & The Giant (Enjmin, France)
"A cute, whimsical art style, running in the Virtools game engine in a Web browser. Sweet fantasy music, too - a giant is stomping through your town and you have to move people out of the way and otherwise prepare for his passage. The difference between French and English keyboards plays havoc with movement controls, but play it with a joypad and you'll be good."

Helium Boy (Grimsöv, Sweden)
"Retro-feeling, almost N64-like side-scrolling 3D platformer with 'depth', in which you're a little kid with balloons that you can use for large, floating jumps, and you have to navigate various obstacles by either letting go of the balloons or inflating them. Uses an interesting mouse-based control system, but the forced scroll and some difficulties with depth perception mean it's a bit tricky - you restart further back on the stage when you die, to. Nonetheless, endearing and fun to toy with."

The Blob (Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, USA)
"A very ambitious FIEA project, the postmortem of which was documented on Game Career Guide, this Torque Shader Engine student game has some neat ideas and art, with you sliding a blob around a colorful fantasy world, but suffers a bit from high minimum specs and hybrid race/platform gameplay that feels a little shoehorned in. Nonetheless, intriguing - and not to be confused with a Katamari-style game called 'The Blob' that was also entered into this year's IGF."

Zombie City Tactics (Western Washington University, USA)
"We've covered this before on GameSetWatch, but it's still neat. Despite having no graphics to speak of, the zombie killing strategy game has plenty of deep tactics, and some pretty cool ideas in and among its 100 maps of carnage."

Understanding Games: Motivation (University of Applied Sciences, Potsdam, Germany)
"Less a game than a tutorial into what makes games interesting, this is a pretty neat idea nonetheless, and is a small Flash-playable file to boot. The readme explains: ""Understanding Games: Motivation" is one of
four games trying to raise awareness for the basic concepts of computer and video games. It deals with the player’s motivation to continue playing rather then leaving a game and examines what makes a game fun – instead of frustrating – to play."

Scholars Of The Lost Exhibit (Illinois Institute of Technology, USA)
"It's all about fish that ask you math problems in Scholars Of The Lost Exhibit, "an interactive and exciting game acting as a supplement to fourth & fifth grade math and science curriculum", and in which you have to wander around a Flash-created museum finding parts to build a robot by... learning stuff! I feel cleverer already."