Sunday, June 14, 2009

Everything's better free!

Independently made video games are really a wonderful thing. These days, big-budget games have a longer list of credits than most movies; so the idea that one person can use publicly available tools and make a game that's just as fun (and often more original) than the most recent big-name hit (sorry, Square, but it's true) is really incredible to me. And, on top of that, they're often free! I couldn't list all the best indie games out there in one post -- for one thing, I don't know them all, and for another, 1up lists 100 a year -- but here are a couple of highlights.

First, Doukutsu Monogatari (Cave Story) by Studio Pixel. This is an old one, but it doesn't get any worse with age. Though it starts off with no explanation, it has a surprisingly deep story, with multiple paths, great characters, and the kind of adventure gameplay that you can't find in mainstream games anymore. It's going to be re-released for WiiWare sometime in the indefinite future, but until then, the original can be downloaded here (click the little red guy in the 2004 row), and the English patch is here.

Second, somewhat more recent, is Scott Games. This guy's been re-imagining the traditional console RPG for a while, and it looks like he's perfected the formula in his most recent release (though I haven't played through it yet) -- his battle system, in which there's no such thing as a "normal attack", makes even random encounters strategic and enjoyable. While the storyline for the older games is a bit weak, the characters are still charming (and charming's the word; in one you play a walking coffeepot, in another a group of FF flans), and they're a lot of fun to play.

Last but most certainly not least is my friend Ellipsis, who recently released his Chrono Trigger fan game, The Rise of Magus, starring everyone's favorite blue-haired villain. "Platformer with RPG elements" might be a reasonable description of the gameplay; as for the content, it's his interpretation of the part of Magus's backstory that was left untouched in the original game. Needless to say, this is awesome; in fact, it would have been awesome even without the great gameplay, but it turned out to be a really fun game too. If you don't know who Magus is, or why this is awesome, you should play Chrono Trigger, for it is the BEST GAME EVER. Unfortunately, it's not free, though in classic Square style it's now been released for SNES, PlayStation, and DS. And once you play it, you should play The Rise of Magus.

Okay, that's it for now. A word of warning, though; these games don't cost money, but they do cost time. Once you've started, you're liable to be sucked in.... Enjoy!


  1. Yay, free advertising!

    And believe me, if I could I would do nothing but create free games all day.

  2. Ah, I remember Cave Story.

    Playing walking coffee pots must be fun.