The Spider's Bride
Taking place in a cozy little love nest, the game has you wielding a mop to crush butterflies. Sound easy? It's not, since you accomplish this with the broom balanced on the palm of the Bride's hand. Her hand moves with your mouse, which you move around the screen to try to keep the mop balanced. Move your mouse a little farther away, and she'll follow, but keep an eye on the mop. If it falls, it kicks up a cloud of dust which causes you to lose time. If you need to take a breather, hit [space] to pause the game.
Butterflies hatch from larvae in the bottom left corner of the screen. As they flutter about the room, push up quickly with the mouse to crush them against the ceiling with the mop. Bonuses are awarded for killing more than one at the same time. Keep an eye on your time at the bottom right, because if time runs out, you'll lose the wave, and Spider will lose some health. If his health runs out, you lose the game.
With simple controls and a nice, compact little package — twenty waves — The Spider's Bride is easy to pick up whenever you have a minute. As the game progresses, different types of butterflies are introduced, and you'll have to watch out for bees as well, which can sting you and cause you to flinch. Beat all twenty waves, and you can receive some very exclusive wallpaper featuring our star-crossed love birds, which is, um, a reward, even if I'm not certain I want Spider's oddly suave mug staring at me whenever I boot up my computer.
Analysis: My initial reaction to Spider's Bride was bewilderment. What was happening? Why was a spider sporting a toupee? What had those butterflies ever done to me? More importantly, why the heck are they so slow? Butterflies take their sweet time flapping up to a height that lets you get the mop under them, and a few times I lost a wave grinding my teeth because they were dancing around somewhere in the vicinity of the Bride's shoes. It didn't happen often, but I still felt cheated whenever it did. There were also one or two occasions when my mouse ventured outside of the realm of the game window accidentally, causing the mop to temporarily become "stuck" and lose a few seconds of play.
The game isn't going to appeal to everyone, partly because of its straight-forward premise, and partly because of just how creepy it is. The butterflies splatter like blood-filled balloons when you hit them, and Spider crunches down their corpses with relish. But even with the Bride's vacant stare and unsettling smile, it's still strangely pretty, as well. Character styles and themes are reminiscent of Roman Dirge's Lenore, or a film by Tim Burton. Or, in the case of Spider's immaculate moustache and red eyes, my own deepest nightmares.
Kind of cute and more than a little creepy, Spider's Bride is one of those games that makes people who see you playing it ask with mild concern what, exactly, you're doing. I suggest your response should be, "Killing butterflies to feed my bloated spider soulmate. Duh." and follow it up with a look that suggests they're not firing on all cylinders. After all, you don't have to explain your love of squashing butterflies against a dirty ceiling! I understand you. Spider understands you, chère.