Indie platformer extravaganza!
June 24, 2008 3:28 AM Subscribe
posted by archagon (48 comments total)
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Do you enjoy classic 2D platformers? Then boy, are you in luck! The indie game community
is thriving, and a good majority of its games are exactly that. I've spent many hours playing these unique, beautiful, and often exceptional projects, and there's quite a few - more than I can count on my fingers! - that could stand toe-to-toe with the finest contemporary games. Inside is a list of some of the greatest indie platformers, based on community recommendations and my own experience. Enjoy!
Technical notes: most of these games are Windows-only. A lot of them are made using Game Maker
, which sometimes requires a patch to work with Vista. If a game doesn't start when you run it but still shows up in task manager, use this
Here are some important contributors to the indie scene. Their games are renown for their quality:
- Pixel: a reclusive Japanese software developer idolized for making the amazing Cave Story. (Note: Pixel's website is currently being remodeled. You'd normally find links to all his games there.)
- Cave Story [DL]: a metroidvania-style side-scroller with amazing music and art, great story, and smooth gameplay. If you don't speak Japanese, install this translation patch.
- Ikachan: similar to Cave Story, but set underwater and released earlier.
- Nifflas: famous for making unique exploration platformers. Within a Deep Forest and the Knytt series are set in the same (beautiful!) universe, and emphasize ambience and exploration over action (although there's plenty of that too!).
- Cactus: an extremely prolific developer who mostly makes abstract shooters.
- Cactus Arcade: a collection of Cactus's 17 greatest hits. (Includes the 3 games below.)
- Clean Asia!: an abstract shmup with a unique control scheme. Won the Autofire 2007 competition.
- Psychosomnium: a humorous and surreal side-scroller. Story-based.
- Shotgun Ninja: a quick-paced side-scroller that resembles a C64 game.
- Ikiki: a quirky Japanese developer who's probably made as many games as Cactus. If you're getting errors, rename the EXEs to something English.
- Nikujin: a side-scrolling slice-em-up. Your ninja can perform several interesting stunts, including hanging onto the ceiling and running up walls.
- Tekkyuuman: a stage-based action platformer. You play a guy with a giant flail.
- Matthew Thorson: specializes in difficult puzzle platformers.
- Jumper: Redux, Jumper 2 (for screenshots and download links, see Matthew Thorson link): stage-based puzzle platformer series. Very challenging level design, mainly focused on jumping.
- FLaiL (for screenshots and download link, see Matthew Thorson link): a stage-based puzzle platformer. Interesting elements include slow-down zones, gravity reversal powerups, and the ability to fly in one direction for a brief period of time. Excellent engine.
- An Untitled Story (for screenshots and download link, see Matthew Thorson link): a metroidvania-style side-scroller. Widely acclaimed. (mentioned previously)
- Messhof: famous for sadistic, minimalistic, semi-arthouse platformers.
- Punishment: basic platformer. Watch out for the headache-inducing screen rotators and direction-switching powerups.
- Punishment: The Punishing: another platformer with a cruel twist.
- Flywrench: you're a bird-like creature. Flap through the levels and avoid touching areas that aren't the same color as you.
- You Found the Grappling Hook!: a side-scroller based around grappling hook gameplay.
- Joakim Sandberg: makes side-scrolling beat-em-ups.
- Chalk: draw chalk lines to kill enemies, deflect bullets, and do other interesting stuff.
- Noitu Love 2 (commercial): mouse is used to attack and throw. Exceptional art. Full version costs $20.
- Metanet Software
- N: the precursor to N+ on the XBLA. Stage-based action/puzzle platformer. Collect gold to add time and hit the main switch to open the exit. Excellent controls, but very difficult. Lots of user created levels available online. (mentioned previously)
- Jason Rohrer: maker of arthouse games. Uses conventional gameplay mechanics to make an artistic point. Read the Creator's Statments after you've played the games!
, a term popularized by Auntie Pixelante, is a genre of games that trifles with the player's complacency about game mechanics. As such, they are often fiendishly difficult but occasionally fun to play (and definitely fun to watch!).
was a game design event that required all featured games to use a very low resolution. Although these aren't platformers per se, I thought they might be worth mentioning due to their sheer experimental excellence.
- Dive: see how far down you can dive. Exploration based.
- StdBits: very abstract action-adventure game. Exploration based.
Some of my other favorites:
- Mighty Jill Off: a short BDSM-themed jumping platformer with great pixel art. Made by Auntie Pixelante, a fairly famous indie game journalist and critic. (mentioned previously)
- Alex Adventure: a game design experiment by a new developer. Rough around the edges, but interesting nonetheless. Quite surrealistic. (mentioned previously)
- EverEternal WinterWorld: a Cave Story-like game designed for The Daily Click's Christmas Competition.
- Love (semi-commercial): a simple minimalistic platformer. The environments are spectacular and never repeat. Costs $1 for the full version.
- Aquaria (commercial): recently released metroidvania-style game. Uses high-resolution artwork. Similar to Nifflas's games in that it's also very much about exploration and ambience. Full version costs $30.
- Seiklus: an early exploration-based platformer. Inspired Nifflas and many other indie developers.
- Warning Forever: a series of Raiden-like boss battles, except the bosses change according to your playing style after every victory.
- La Mulana: an extremely difficult metroidvania-style platformer. Made to look like a MSX game. You'll probably need the translation patch. (mentioned previously)
There are many more indie platformers out there. Browse TIGSource
(who also have an excellent, albeit incomplete, indie game database
) and the IndieGames blog
if you're interested.