Freeware

Lunatic War

Freem Page

Lunatic War is a game consisting entirely of 12 boss fights separated by brief dialogue skits (all in Japanese) and it makes the most of the content it has to offer. Every boss has a unique and often creative design and, more importantly, each fight is memorable with some fights consisting of two or more phases. Though there are not multiple difficulties, you have access to both a Mega Man buster and a Kirby-ish magic glove and your choice between the two dramatically alters how you approach nearly every fight.
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Cylor vs The Bullets From Hell

itch.io Page || Official Site

The boss fights are often the best parts of bullet hell shmups, so Cylor vs The Bullets From Hell cuts right to the chase by focusing entirely upon a single, ever-evolving boss. Over half a dozen difficulties gives this game plenty of replayability and the fight itself has many memorable twists both aesthetically and in terms of gameplay.
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The Witch’s House

RPGMaker.net Page

Well, The Witch’s House would have certainly fit this year’s haunted house Halloween theme, but better late than never! This game is filled to the brim with jumpscares, but that’s far from all it has to offer. With clever puzzles, some great atmosphere, and a wonderfully dark sense of humor mixed in with more legitimately disturbing moments, this is easily one of the better RPG Maker horror games out there.
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Pyromancer

Freem Page

Pyromancer is the newest shmup from the creator of Giant Cutter and it certainly shows in more ways than one. Utterly bizarre and profoundly alien environments and enemies are found in nearly all of the games developed by Minami* and this game certainly doesn’t disappoint as the designs and the unique artstyle make it immediately stand out from other shmups. The freeroaming sections from Giant Cutter are gone, making this a more pure, and certainly more polished, shmup experience spread across four levels, which are each in turn divided into three distinct segments. While the freeroaming sections may be a thing of the past, the unusual emphasis on close-range combat remains as, in addition to a standard forward-facing gun, your ship is armed with two small flamethrowers on its top and bottom as well as an enormous jet of fire directly behind it.

*The developer’s name on Freem is 南カラス, which can be read as Minami Karasu or, in English, South Crow. Since the copyright on the title screen in the game itself is simply attributed to “Minami” I will be referring to the developer by that name for this article.
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Project Adventure Game: The Cycle of the Cave

Game Jolt Page

Project Adventure Game is a rather challenging Metroidvania which pays tribute to the nostalgic games of the past as well as to the Game Maker engine itself. It has some rough spots and the difficulty level is more of a ‘U’ than a curve, but it also has an interesting, often methodical feel to its progression and gameplay.
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