[From now until mid-January, IndieGames.com: The Weblog will be counting down the best independent and freeware games of 2009, with descriptions, screenshots, and links of the best games in each major category. Previously: Top 10 Shoot 'em Ups, Top 10 Puzzle Games, Top 10 Browser Platformers, Top 20 Freeware Platformers]

The fifth of our in-depth 2009 Best Of Features here on the IndieGames.com blog (after the overall Top 10 we did for Gamasutra and the 10 Indie Games for '10 article), we're proud to present ten of the best Flash-based arcade games released in 2009.

A quick coffee break game to while away your lunch hour? Something addictive and fun to play for that slow Sunday afternoon? Play as a man who can't stop running, a pig that can fly, or a maniac on a mountain.. here's our pick for the top browser arcade games released in the last twelve months.

(You can also access the full 2009 Top Browser Arcade Games chart -- with extra screenshots and information -- as part of the IndieGames.com Features section, which includes indie game charts from 2006 to 2008.)

Here are the top freeware browser arcade games of the year:


10. Effing Hail (Greg Wohlwend and Jacob Grahn) [Flash, freeware]

Effing Hail is a score-based action game where players attempt to damage as many buildings and airborne objects as they can under the strict time limit, using a hail storm and gusts of wind to create large hails of destruction. Hails which are too large will not be moved by the wind, but there is always an unending supply of hails to direct at anything that stands in your way of acquiring a top score.


9. Twin Shot (Nitrome) [Flash, freeware]

Twin Shot is a single or 2-player platformer by Nitrome in which strange cat-like angels jump and fly around simple arenas destroying all the enemies with use of a bow and arrow.

There are coins and powerups to grab and players can move off any side of the screen to reappear back on the other side. It's very reminiscent of the classic Bubble Bobble... with arrow-firing angel blobs, obviously. A nice touch is that arrows can be fired into walls to create temporary platforms.


8. Time4Cat (Megadev) [Flash, freeware]

Time4Cat is the story of a stray feline who accidentally discovers a time-controlling collar. With its power, he sets out to do what he does best - eat leftovers off the street.

Utilizing a unique gaming mechanic to make time seem all bendery, the best use of which has been in last year's classic Braid, the player must collect food whilst dodging the people walking around. However, no-one will move a muscle unless the cat does. It works really smoothly and controlling with the mouse is spot-on.


7. When the Bomb Goes Off (Tom Sennett) [Flash, freeware]

When The Bomb Goes Off is a look into the lives of lots of different people 5 seconds before a huge bomb turns them into ash. This is all achieved through Wario-Ware style minigames - some of them with obvious solutions, others not so.

It's all pretty odd and sometimes quite humourous. At the end a score is given to show how many of the situations you correctly acted out. If this doesn't sound like your type of thing, at least try it just for the music.


6. Vox Populi, Vox Dei (Weremsoft) [Flash, freeware]

Vox Populi, Vox Dei sees a troubled hero on his quest to save the girl who had previously hurt him. The werewolves have taken her prisoners, so now it's time to rip them apart limb from limb and get her back.

The sheer brutality behind your attacks that are the real eye-opener. While the werewolves are the evil-looking characters, the damage they deal out is nothing compared to what your little guy can muster up.


5. Paper Moon (Flashbang Studios and Infinite Ammo) [Unity, freeware]

Paper Moon is a short platformer originally created for the Gamma3D competition, then remade with new art and music for Flashbang Studios' Blurst web site. The aim of the game is basically to grab apples, bananas and cherries for points before time runs out. You start with five minutes on the clock, but the time limit can be increased by collecting time bonus items for extra seconds.


4. Mountain Maniac (Pixeljam Games) [Flash, freeware]

In Mountain Maniac you control a man with a hammer whose single aim is to destroy the town at the foot of a mountain for points. He does this by smashing boulders with his instrument of doom, sending them down the mountain Pachinko-style while crushing everything that stands in its way. Occasionally the police force or a yeti might try and stop him, but you can use the mallet to protect yourself by swinging it at them as well.


3. When Pigs Fly (dessgeega) [Flash, freeware]

When Pigs Fly tells the story of a pig who conveniently grows wings after falling down a hole and finding itself trapped inside a dark cave. Unfortunately the pair of wings are preventing a quick escape from the same entry point, so the only thing left to do is to explore the caverns and seek another way out.


2. Icycle (Damp Gnat) [Flash, freeware]

The story of Icycle is set in a time when the entire world has been frozen solid, save for a man who was cryogenically preserved together with a bicycle and an unknown companion that flees the scene just before the game starts. The protagonist can only cycle forward and never move back, but he is still able to control his travel speed and time his jumps to avoid some of the dangers he will face during his adventure.


1. Canabalt (Adam Saltsman and Daniel Baranowsky) [Flash, freeware]

Canabalt is a simple one-button platformer where you are in control of a man who can't stop running, leaping from the top of one building to another as the city is being attacked by giant robots and futuristic-looking ships. The game was originally created by Adam Saltsman for Experimental Gameplay Project's August theme, 'Bare Minimum'.

[Got feedback? Reasons to disagree? Post a response and we'll do a special 'best of reader comments' round-up at the end of our chart countdowns.]