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Ben Davis avatar 11:28 AM on 03.20.2011  (server time)
5 Freeware Indie Games You Should Play: Batch #1

Hello friends! I've recently become quite obsessed with playing indie games. I really wanted to talk to people about them, so I figured I might try starting a blog to share my experiences. By doing so, I hope to introduce people to some really interesting games that they may not have heard of, or remind them of a game that they never got around to playing. Also, if I get many comments, I hope that some of you will throw out some suggestions of other indie games that you think I should try out. So without further ado, here's my first batch of freeware indie game suggestions!

Cave Story by Daisuke 'Pixel' Amaya

I'm sure you've already heard a lot about Cave Story, and I'm not sure what else I could say about it that hasn't already been said. Basically, it's an amazing game in every possible way. It's got beautiful retro graphics, a fantastic soundtrack, an emotional story, interesting and easy-to-learn gameplay mechanics, and tons of stuff to explore and discover. I'd say it's probably the best indie game out there that you can still get for free. There is also an upgraded version available on WiiWare for a price, and they're currently working on an even more upgraded version for the 3DS! You honestly don't have an excuse not to have played it yet.

Tower of Heaven by Askiisoft

I think Tower of Heaven might be my personal favorite freeware indie game that I've discovered thus far. In the game, you must scale a tower inhabited by some godly presence who gradually becomes more and more irate as you succeed. It's (sort of) a short platforming game consisting of only 11 levels. I say sort of because the levels quickly become quite difficult, and the game could take an hour or more for you to beat your first time through. The platforming mechanic is kept interesting throughout the game with the implementation of the Book of Laws, in which the godly presence will introduce new rules that you must follow or else you will be smited. The Book of Laws includes rules such as "thou shalt not touch blocks or walls from the side," "thou shalt not walk left," "thou shalt not touch living things," etc. The game features very simple, Gameboy-style graphics and one of the best chiptune soundtracks I've ever heard. The dialog is also quite humorous. Hopefully you won't be too discouraged by the difficulty level (I'd just finished beating Super Meat Boy by the time I found this game, so maybe that helped prepare me for intense platformers).

RunMan: Race Around the World by Tom Sennett and Matt Thorson

RunMan is perhaps the happiest game you will ever encounter. It's a platforming game that involves racing across levels rather than just moving and jumping. You get points for popping balloons and killing enemies, and bonuses for maintaining high speeds and finishing levels quickly. The controls are a little difficult to get used to at first, especially trying to maneuver across platforming obstacles while trying to maintain speed, but it gets easier with practice. The game features unbelievably adorable and very colorful MS Paint graphics with anthropomorphic characters everywhere (seriously, everything in this game is smiling at you) as well as a very interesting soundtrack consisting of old blues and folk tunes. The ending is also quite heartwarming.

Hero Core by Daniel Remar

This one left quite an impression on me. Hero Core reminded me a lot of the original Metroid, which is a notion that seems to get thrown around a lot today in the indie game world, but I'd say it really helps to describe this game. You play as Flip Hero in his quest to destroy the evil Cruiser Tetron's base and end his plan for world domination. You can shoot in two directions, pressing two buttons to flip around and shoot in that direction, and must hover around the various levels defeating enemies, unlocking doors, fighting bosses and acquiring upgrades. The game is set up in such a way that you can beat the bosses in pretty much any order you desire; you can even go straight to the final boss and fight him right away if you think you're skilled enough! The game features early NES- or Atari 2600-style black and white graphics and a soundtrack reminiscent of the creepy music found in Metroid. There's also a really cool language option called "Retro" which attempts to mimic the weird translation patterns of older video games. This one really grows on you. The ending is also one of the best things about this game (in my opinion), so you should definitely try to play through to the end!

Jumpman by Andrew McClure

I suppose this is the strangest game of this bunch, but there was something about it that I found inexplicably appealing. It at first seems to be your basic platforming game. You traverse the levels by jumping to get to the exit. The game is really refreshing, however, in that it constantly adds new elements to the platforming mechanic as you go along, so it never really gets boring. Various levels require you to rotate the entire level, which sometimes affects the placement of the platforms or the enemies. Other levels feature a continuous screen, where you walk off one side of the screen and appear on the other, or a tiled screen where the level is repeated to infinity on the screen with hundreds of little Jumpmen running around, or areas where you must become a certain color in order to use platforms or be harmed by enemies, and much more! The game also shows you what levels you have coming up in the background, and once you complete a level it zooms in to the level in the background, which I found to be a really cool effect. Jumpman features very colorful Atari 2600-style graphics and a level designer. One strange thing about this game is its noticeable lack of friction, which can become annoying in some of the levels that require more precise platforming, but it's not a big enough flaw to render the game unplayable (and I suppose it can be useful at times too).

I hope you guys will go out and play these games, or replay them again if you already have! I have another batch of great free games for you next week, so keep an eye out. Enjoy!

Also, just a reminder: Although all of these games are freeware, many of the developers also accept donations. So if you really enjoyed playing one of these games, please consider making a donation!

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