Beat the new year blues
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Date: 9 January, 2004

'Once you manage to beat the other two, take on the King of the Courts himself - Elvis.'

Dust off the New Year blues with our latest selection of the best free games available on the web. Compiled by Steve Couch

Some games require your browser to have a ‘plug in’ for Shockwave. You can download this for free here. To play the game, simply click on its name

An against the clock strategy game. Surround different coloured marbles before you run out of time and space. Score more points by going for more marbles, but make sure that you don't get overambitious and come unstuck.

Barrel Maze
Deliver a barrel of bananas to the Mighty Kong. Plenty of challenge to pick up the bonuses and avoid destroying your barrel.

Last Man Standing
At last, a genuinely good online cricket game. A number of different scenarios, all England versus Australia, all with nine wickets down, but with a variety of targets to earn the win. This one takes a little time to get the hang of, but at the highest level is compelling and demanding. Use the hints option to get the hang of it, then go it alone.

Snowboard XS
Tricks and jumps about in this snowboarding game. Steering is a little more challenging than many similar games (it's easy to oversteer and find yourself zigzagging through the entire course), but this is better than most of the competition.

Gravity Ball 2
A variation of the classic Breakout style game. Bounce your ball into bricks and through suspended hoops to clear each level. The longer you successfully bounce a ball, the higher is goes. Lots of different levels, and all of them compulsively moreish.

Tardis Tennis
The best online tennis game we know of. Choose one of three time travelling tennis aces (Churchill, Shakespeare or John Lennon), all of whom have different strengths to their game. Once you manage to beat the other two, take on the King of the Courts himself - Elvis. The celeb pastiches add a lot of fun, but at the heart, this is a very good tennis simulation. There's very little Dr Who connection other than the excuse to gather celeb tennis players from a variety of era's, but who cares?

Super HackySack
Score points by bursting all the balloons while keeping your Hacky Sack in the air. It's as simple as that. A variety of characters, backgrounds and skill levels make this more enjoyable than it sounds.

Use your arrows wisely and burst the balloons to move on to the next level. Different skill levels help to keep this interesting. All this and an extra game to play while you wait for the game to load.

Move your bug around the screen, picking up points while avoiding the spiders. Simple, but harder than it looks.

An asteroids variation. Rather than firing at rocks in space, you are protecting cells from rampaging bacteria. Takes a little perseverance to get the hang of, but enjoyable once you do.