Sawbuck Gamer

The Friendlies

Giving Up The Ghost

The Friendlies lets you possess the bodies of your enemies in a cute way.

By Matt Crowley • October 15, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

“The Ghost In The Machine,” apart from being a kick-ass Police album, is a term coined by British philosopher Gilbert Ryle as a criticism of Descartes’ theory of mind-body dualism. Descartes argued that humans have a spirit that’s separate from our physical being—Ryle found the notion of a spectre essentially controlling a meat puppet absurd. Whatever you believe, this idea of an intangible soul is fundamental to the question of human consciousness and explains our fascination with ghosts of all sorts, from Casper to King Hamlet.

The Friendlies strikes at the heart of Cartesian philosophy, with the added bonus of an opportunity to shoot cute enemies until they explode. You control a roundish blue being who has to stop waves of adversaries from crossing the level and entering a portal. As you destroy your enemies, you pick up coins to pay for towers that aid in your defense. It’s whimsically designed and appropriately challenging, escalating smoothly as more challenging foes continue to come your way. The philosophically rich twist is that you are able to hop from body to body. Different creatures have different movement speeds and abilities. You can even take control of a tower, supercharging it but keeping you stationary and unable to collect precious monies. It makes for plenty of strategizing. Don’t like the roundish blue thing? Hop on over to one of the frog-like creatures. Sick of that host? Jump into a purple slug. Everyone’s so friendly. They don’t mind.

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9 Responses to “Giving Up The Ghost”

  1. NakedSnake says:

    Did anyone ever solve the mystery of who or what killed the 6 year old boy who became Casper the Ghost? And his three older brother died, too, right? Must have been gruesome.

    • NakedSnake says:

      Also, this was my introduction to what “Ghost in the Machine” means, so thanks for that, Crowley. I will miss these dollops of erudite miscellany.

      • PaganPoet says:

        “Ghost in the Machine” means a really terrible season 1 episode of The X-Files.

        • GaryX says:

          Yes. Yes it is. It has aged so poorly as to be impressive.

        • Girard says:

          I recently started watching the series from the beginning (finally saw Flukeman, after wondering about him since 7th grade!). I kind of love how much of a “bad 90s sci-fi show” X-Files was in its first season. There is so much awkward exposition, flat-out nonsense, and piss-poor writing, it’s kind of weirdly charming.

    • George_Liquor says:

      Casper’s actually the ghost of Richie Rich, forced to walk the Earth for all eternity as punishment for his unquenchable greed.

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      For some reason I’m under the impression that Casper was hit by a car, but my only source on that is the barest remembrance of the novelization of the movie that I read in elementary school. It’s about as dark as Harvey Comics is capable of getting, even if they did publish “Lil’ Hot Stuff,” literally a kids’ series about a cute young devil.

    • SuperShamrock says:

      He drowned in a wishing well.

    • HammettDammit says:

      The stock answer was apparently that he was born a ghost, but the movie shows him dying of pneumonia after sledding all day, which is a huge load since that’s not how you get pneumonia.

      Witches give you pneumonia, everyone knows that.