Weekly Time-Waster: A Little Old-Timey Harpoon Surfing

Three-day weekend you say? While you were out celebrating the beginning of the end of the worst of the main-stretch of Houston's hot-and-humid uniseason, swatting mosquitoes and emptying six-packs, Art Attack was hard at work trying to find legal loopholes in the Federal Holiday Codex that might allow us to get back to our desks in time to find some really motivational material to get you through what's bound to be -- let's be honest here -- a disappointing post-holiday work week.

We had great plans, truly, but all our lawyers had gone out of town to do some catfish noodling and none of us bloggers knew how to read those old-fangled government books that don't light up from behind. So there we were, cursing our old pal Labor Day when it hit us: motivation schmotivation! The entire country just spent an entire day celebrating working by not working. Why stop there?

We were going to do it big. Really big -- a whole retrospective of our favorite time-devouring browser games from the past year, but then we got distracted all day playing this new one we just found out about. So, if you want to continue celebrating working by not working, we have just the thing. Each week Art Attack will be throwing out a new game to keep your fingers busy and your mind (somewhat) at ease. This week, we're hooked on Fishbane, a deceptively simple-looking platformer featuring old-timey diving suits, harpoons, and retro graphics.

Sounds easy: You collect harpoons, you throw harpoons, you even surf on harpoons, and of course there are the requisite things-to-avoid. Before the game really gets going, though, you're put through a series of "how the hell am I supposed to do that" moments that help build up the skills you'll need to get through the increasingly puzzling levels.

Luckily, this game has no concept of lives and there's no real danger just standing still, so it's a tab you can leave open and come back to in between whatever the hell else you're doing. Each level is divided into rooms you can replay until you finish or give up, and each room is basically just a puzzle that requires the occasional well-timed button mash.

Like we said earlier, we played for a good long while before we were able to get back to anything more productive. Each time it felt like we'd had enough, a new twist to the gameplay was added or a new "quest" became available. The advanced levels are unlocked as you go, but you can choose to play them in whatever order you wish. There's a nice variation in the kind of skill (mental or phalangelical) you'll need or how demanding each level will be, so the game rarely feels terribly redundant or the frustrations one-dimensional--the "bane" of most casual platformers. Once you get the hang of harpoon-surfing (and then double-harpoon-surfing), you'll be cracking your knuckles in pure satisfaction, and you can be sure that five o'clock whistle will be blowing shortly.

Maybe by the end of the week you'll be ready to battle against this YouTube user who seems to have ridden a harpoon out of his mother's 8-bit womb:

But if there's one thing that comes as naturally as not working, it's telling someone else how to do their job. Have suggestions for your favorite diversions, games or otherwise? Send them to Art Attack or leave a note in the comments below.

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