IQ Marathon is a great little puzzle game from Q-Lympics of Germany, coded as a stand-alone Macromedia Flash game. The idea is simple: on each level, you must maneuver a white cow to reach a fire hydrant. The problem is that the cows, like those pesky lemmings in Psygnosis' games, will move only in the direction they are facing. So in order to steer them on the right path, you must place directional arrows on the board.
As with great puzzle games, things are more complicated than it seems in IQ Marathon. To start with, you are given only a specific amount and type of arrows to use on each level, so you must carefully plan your moves. Sometimes the fire hydrant is placed behind a closed gate, which requires the cow to pass the switch on its way to open the gate. Sometimes you will start the level with 2 (equally dumb) cows who will start moving at the same time. Often these levels require very precise timing: for example, the brown cow must pass the trigger tile that moves a raised platform to close a gap in the bridge before the white cow passes through it. Or perhaps you have to make the brown cow push the white cow down the board - almost the only way on many levels when the white cow is facing east. You will face new obstacles and objects on almost every new level, so the game is always refreshing and addictive. Fortunately, there is no time limit on each level before you have to hit RUN, so you are free to take as much time as you want.
Although the game text is in German, it is not hard to guess what each item does, and you are not penalized for trial-and-error so you can experiment as often as you want. The graphics is very well drawn and animated in Flash, and the cows have several amusing antics that will make you chuckle even as you are cursing the fiendish level design. With dozens of levels to test your IQ, IQ Marathon is no doubt one of the best Flash games I've ever come across, and a great puzzler to entertain you for 5-10 minutes at a time during those coffee breaks at work.
Download includes both the original game and a sequel called Winter Marathon.
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