Not free, but Tale of Tales' new game, Fatale seemed worth mentioning, if only because it marks Silent Hill creator/designer (and director of Silent Hill 2) extraordinaire Takayoshi Sato's squeaky, quiet (yes, it can be both) return to "proper" games as character designer.
Like a lot of ToT's stuff, it seems like it could use some polish and more time in the oven, but it looks like progress and it's a bit exciting just to see Sato pop up again somewhere visible.
Post by Gendo Ikari on Oct 24, 2009 17:06:47 GMT -5
Ovine by Design is a long-running group of developers of many retro-remakes, most of them of excellent quality: Total Eclipse, Driller, Imogen, Antiriad, Dan Dare, Hunter's Moon, The Nameless (remake of Exile - no, not the Exile of the recent HG101 article), Cholo...
Speaking of remakes, there's T2002, a Turrican remake/remix, and Hurrican, a clone released in 2007 after a long development. Maybe traditional 2D graphics would have been better for Hurrican than 3D-rendered ones, but they are both excellent games. I'd rather direct you here:
You can find a lot of additional levels for T2002 here (some packs are even bigger than the basic game), along with a tool, T-Starter, to use them more easily. There's a few levels for Hurrican too.
Tower of Heaven, a short but incredibly difficult platformer based on the concept of following a set of incresingly restrictive rules, which progressively rob the player of what is taken for granted in a game: what about being no more able to touch a block on the side, or walk to the left, without being killed instantly by divine wrath? Monochromatic graphics are delicious, same for the music.
While we are at retro-styled FPSes, try 8bit Killer, intentionally made to have a NES look and feel, and it succeeds greatly. It's fun to play (weapons are all based on visibile, moving bullets, which opens for a bit of strategy), challenging, there's a boss every two levels, and the soundtrack is fantastic. Even greater appreciation for the developers comes if you watch the trailer for Hydorah, a Gradius clone - let's hope it's coming soon!
A Tale of Two Kingdoms is a very ambitious AGS (Adventure Game Studio) project that took some years to make. If released in the first half of the '90s, it could have easily been a Sierra adventure of the era. Heavily inspired by King's Quest and Quest for Glory, AToTK not only offers a great number of puzzles, but many are not mandatory and several situations contemplate more than one solution - it's very open, and reaching 100% in both scores (Wisdom and Honour) is extremely difficult. It also shares some problems of its inspirators, like dozens of ways to die (with hilarious gravestones too), and Guide Dang It moments. Sometimes you get the impression of the team putting too much stuff in a single game. Still, it's very long and engaging, with great graphics and sound to boot.
That sounds delicious. Thanks for the heads up, this is a definite download.
Post by Gendo Ikari on Oct 25, 2009 3:44:21 GMT -5
Digital Eel in an indie developer with the nice "habit" of periodically releasing their older games for free. There were already three, among them Plasmaworm (a very trippy Nibbler clone), but now they scored high with the free release of Strange Adventure in Infinite Space (also justified by the more recent release of a sequel), a very simple yet fun space exploration game, made for quick plays, and with several mods also available. Coupled with the release of Soup du Jour, a bizarre physic-based casual game.
I also heard of a demake developed for Atari VCS 2600!
Subverting one of the usual rules of videogames, the objective in ever level of Karoshi is to make the character die - and often the environment will make anything to prevent that. The solution to many situations lies in thinking outside of the box, with creative and hilarious results. They are by no means difficult games, but extremely fun an dunconventional, even if with five episosed made between March 2008 and May 2009 (the first three are made with Game Maker and downloadable, the latest two are Flash), the concept has been stretched thin.
Giddy 3 is a superb Dizzy clone, just a tad easier because you don't have a limited inventory, with delicious Amiga-style graphics and sound. It can be finished in about an hour from start to end, but you'll have to play for a while to master its small but nice game world. Originally a DOS game, difficult to run under Windows or Dosbox, it has recently been ported to several platforms, among them Windows and WiiWare (!), with some additional sound effects and a fix to his worst flaw, the odd control layout - now it's fully configurable. The first two episodes are also available as Amiga disk images.
Katawa Shoujo: a romance Visual Novel (no H scenes in the current version, but planned for the complete release) taking place in a school for disabled people, made by a group of Westerners whose project started on 4Chan, from an Omake page of an old doujinshi. You thought it was set for the tasteless, right? It's not: surprisingly, the subject is handled tastefully, while keeping a generally light tone. Particularly memorable between the girls is Rin, whose lack of arms is her least bizarre aspect! It's also well drawn - contrarily to many half-assed Ren'Py games, it could almost be mistaken for a genuine Japanese VN, witht he added bonus of an original subject. Unfortunately, only the first chapter is available right now, finishing the game will take a long while.
Post by Gendo Ikari on Oct 25, 2009 9:39:36 GMT -5
Weren't some formerly commercial games like Rise & Fall: Civilizations at War, Area 51, The Suffering and Psi-Ops freely released? The only difference with the originals are ads in the loading screens.
Special Agent is a fun platform game with many references to Apogee's Secret Agent, especially in the map. Each level has three objectives to complete, preceded by funny briefings, and a lot of extra items. At first, they can be completed only in "Graded Mode", based on efficiency (no hits taken, alle enemies destroyed, all items taken...), but after completion a Time Attack Mode is unlocked; after the final level is completed, all the levels can be replayed in alternate mode, with a different layout of bonuses and object. There's also a super-secret level to unlock. Also from the same author Treasure Tower, another platform, but with a completely different gameplay. It's based on single-screen rooms to complete as fast as possibile, while a big clock indicates the constantly little time left, there's an item to reset it only every few screens. There are over 200 rooms in total, ranging to the extremely simple to some with little puzzles, and the randomization routine works well, I rarely saw the same room twice in a little time. Several modes are available, with variations on the basic rules (example: you lose if you don't take all the treasures in every room). Developed around a very simple concept, and works well.
Return of Egypt is a Metroidvania, known by many as "the game where Moses kicks Egyptian ass". From the little I know of the story, under a curtain of kana and kanji, the elderly but energetic main character is NOT Moses. That doesn't stop the game from being intuitive and extremely playable. It's sadly short but intense, with several special techniques to acquire, a good atmosphere, gorgeous graphics (especially the transparencies and bosses) and sound. Hint: to double jump easily, just hold the jump button.
Fedora Spade is a series of adventures whose engine recreates the gameplay of Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, with semi-serious detective stories taking more than an inspiration from the Phoenix Wright games, there are even interrogation sequences. Later episodes are more difficult than the first two - be sure to take note of everything, especially names, or you could get stuck later. The writing is excellent and gives life to many funny characters.
From the same author comes Missing, an horror/thriller adventure in the shoes of a policeman searching for his missing wife and son in an apparently nice English hotel. Oddly developed with a tool for RPGs, the cause of a game design quirk: you can save only in your hotel room. However, given the small play area and the atmosphere, it actually wotks in its favor in making the player feel defenseless. Be warned, the ending is a punch in the gut.
Onescapee is a clone of Another World and Flashback, originally released on the Amiga in 1997, and later ported and freely released for PC. While it doesn't lack atmosphere, has several good moments, and great music, it often suffers from incoherent events, obtuse game design and frustrating spots. Also, the crisp graphics of the Amiga original are oddly blurred in the PC version. It looks like it tripped on its own ambition to be the new AW; still an interesting game overall, but you could equally like or hate it.
Post by Gendo Ikari on Nov 13, 2009 4:38:19 GMT -5
Obake no Keishinkyoku - something like "March of the Ghost" - is one of the best freeware platformers ever made (IMO obviously), a game I would not be surprised to find on a 16-bit console. Heavily inspired by the Kirby series but still with a personality of its own, it puts the player in the sheet of the titular ghost who, like in Avenging Spirit, can possess its enemies and use their abilities, ranging from high jump to flight to wall climbing, up until the gravity-inverting robot and my favorite, the giant muscled pig. Controls are very intuitive and the levels are varied, with simple but nice graphics, and catchy music (I love the intro). There are 25 different enemies (some are just recolors of others, but have different powers; pity for a boss recycled at least four times) and 50 levels.
While the average difficulty of the whole game is low, another thing is finding all the G icons in the levels, which are also necessary to unlock the final levels. And after defeating the final boss, you'll gain the ability to choose which form to use before entering a level - this is important, because some Gs can be reached only by enemies that are not present in those levels.
Controls are: Z - possess an enemy (stand on top of him first) and use his abilities X - jump, double jump, glide... depending on the body; after defeating the final boss, press it on the level selection screen to choose a body C - leave body Space - pause; press C to leave if you're in a level you already completed
The game needs the East Asian language package or Applocale to run, but some years a fellow Italian made a patch to run the game on western Windows without problems.
While writing this, I found out that the game's old site is down, which is a shame since it also hosted maps of all levels made by the author himself I'll see if i can share them in some way. At least he seems to be at work on something new (not too fast, it says 2011...). A third-party level editor (in japanese) is also available.
I don't believe I've seen this posted here, so I'll do the honors. Anyone here familiar with the Splatterhouse fangames Splatterhouse: 2k3 (the RPG), Splatterhouse 3D and Return to Splatterhouse 3D? Their creator, 5thman, not too long ago opened up a site containing his original creations. Or as he puts it, "Freeware gaming for the bored and the frugal."
First up is Inframan, a game described as "almost a free-roaming scrolling shooter." Then there's Lights Out, the "haunted medical research facility" game. This is followed by One Last Dance, a Breakout-style game. After that is Mean Two-Fisted Biomech, and finally there's Shudder (and the demo for the upcoming add-on Jayla's Labyrinth), recently reviewed on Softonic.
Post by Gendo Ikari on Nov 17, 2009 10:41:43 GMT -5
Enclosure is an adventure game made with the AGI engine, the same that "powered" Sierra sdventures in the 1980s: beeper sound, 160x200 resolution, 16 colors, direct character movement with the arrows (but you can use the mouse if you want), and commands given through a text parser. Lovely crafted (the graphics are great, given the limitations), the game is an horror/thriller with several inspirations from Carpenter's "The Thing", good atmosphere, good puzzles, humorous moments (like some absurd deaths), and fun homages to its inspirators. The ability to see the names of characters in a location (press F6), and the tips appearing if you are stuck for some time, are good touches.
There are some flaws, like a puzzle that will be solved by using the same objects on the same place three times - sorry for the spoiler, but it's completely unclear. Later in the game there's a short arcade section, and even a stealth-like screen towards the end; while the effort is appreciated, they are among the weakest and most frustrating portions. Also, since the authors are not native English speakers, expect to see a few imperfections in the writing.
The good, however, outweighs the bad. The final classy touch: if you score a total of 222 points by the end (you need to perform some non-mandatory actions), you'll get some great extras after the credits. But if you scored 221 like me, a "we won't be picky" message appears, and you'll get to watch the extras anyway!
Some of these may be pretty obvious, but I think they're good enough to warrant a mention for those who do not know about them.
Vanguard Princess. Built using a really simple engine that even you may have tinkered with (2D Fighter Maker 2002), but it REALLY made the most of it. Supposedly made by ex-Capcom employees.
Derek Yu is a pretty prolific indie developer. He created the aforementioned Spelunky as well as Aquaria, sort of a combination of Ecco the Dolphin and Super Metroid ($19.99 on Steam).
SCFWorks' RPGs are some of the most professional freeware RPGs I've ever seen. Made with RPG Maker XP using original artwork and scripting.
Yahtzee's games, especially the atmospheric and witty series of adventure games: the Chzo mythos (5 Days a Stranger and so on) are all great.
Life Ending Adventure is another evil platformer game that I'm pretty sure is from the same creator as Sybon Action, except much harder due to some crazy ass boss fights resembling manic shooters. And it's graphics are in ASCII!
Rockman 2 Neta. If you ever wondered why all the robot masters never just attacked at once, this is pretty much why.
Yume Nikki is a surreal adventure game in which you explore a reclusive girl's dreams. It's packed with huge, labyrinthine maps and some pretty creepy imagery. Made using RPG Maker 2000, and is perhaps one of the most creative uses of the program.
So, there's another shooter, an indie one, that sprang to my mind recently after replaying Einhander. Steel Saviour, made by an Italian team, has a ship heavily inspired by the one from Squaresoft's shooter - same weapon system, hell, it looks like a recolered version of the Endymion! The graphics, however, are completely 2D, and an excellent one for the record, despite the resolution of only 640x480 pixels. The game is fun but difficult, often not fairly because of its biggest flaw, the ship's hitbox, which is a bit too large. Still, with the developer apparently defunct and the official publisher not listing it anymore (although it appears available for buying and download on some sites), it is a game that deserved better attention.
Interesting fact: the working title was T-Zwei, which sounds a lot like T-Zero, a 1999 Amiga shooter; in fact, they share some creators. Curiously, T-Zero gets more or less the same judgement of its spiritual successor - a well-crafted game on the exterior, but not a masterpiece compared to the genre's classics.
I played Steel Saviour a while back- it's a pretty cool game, although I didn't get that far. The art is beautiful... My big issue with it was the size of your hitbox and the fact that there isn't a lot of feedback when you take a hit; it's really easy to scrape off a bunch of your life without even noticing.