TranscendPang might be the best Pang-style game out there, freeware or otherwise. This psychedelic take on the arcade classic still has you shooting wires upward to split bouncing circles into smaller bouncing circles, but it adds in a whole slew of new things. With branching paths, bizarre bosses and minibosses, a clever bomb mechanic, and tons of playable characters, each with a unique ability and varying stats, TranscendPang takes the original formula to the next stage. (more…)
Crystal Towers 2 expertly combines the open, branching level design of many Genesis-era platformers with many of the better exploration elements from Nintendo 64 collectathons like Super Mario 64. This isn’t a game which shies away from revealing its influences, there are plenty of red springs and tiles with checkered patterns along the way, but it also doesn’t adhere itself too closely to the formula of any one game in particular either. Though there are a few rough spots along the way, mainly the boss fights, this massive 20+ hour adventure is filled with tons of secrets, charming writing, a fantastic soundtrack, and excellent platforming challenges. (more…)
Many horror games are described as claustrophobic, but I’ve never played a game which captures the feeling of being confined within a small space anywhere near as well as CAPSULE does. Even though it contains common horror elements like isolation and the unknown I wouldn’t go so far as to say CAPSULE belongs in the horror genre, it can be a similarly stressful and unnerving experience all the same. Trapped behind the small, vertical screen of your capsule, you can only experience the world around you through sounds and abstract circles and squares. With only a brief overview of the basic controls and a vague objective at your disposal, you are plunged into CAPSULE‘s world with little in the way of concrete information. Your air is running out, your fuel is low, and you’ll have to do everything you can simply to survive. (more…)
The two games in the Anyman series are incredibly short and slightly too easy for their own good while still being entertaining enough to be worth spending the roughly five minutes it takes to finish them. Despite some obvious references to the Mega Man series with a cast of robotic ‘mans’ and an evil scientist for an antagonist, the gameplay in this series is rather different. You play using only the mouse and right click to jump and left click to shoot. Each game consists of nothing but back-to-back boss fights and you get about a third of your maximum health back after defeating each boss. These fights all take place with Anyman on the left side of the screen and the boss on the right side, but the big twist here is that neither Anyman nor the bosses can move horizontally since they’re both technically running to the right at all times. With no horizontal movement, you need to rely entirely upon your jump to dodge attacks. Thankfully, you can jump indefinitely while in the air so you have quite a bit of vertical control, though bosses can jump just as much as you can and many of their attacks force players to balance their height near the middle of the screen rather than sticking to the ground or the very top. As for your attack, this is the one area where the gameplay more closely matches that of the Mega Man series as you have a gun which can shoot small bullets each time you click or you can charge it up for a stronger shot, though even here it’s not quite the same as your attacks can be freely aimed with the mouse and your weapon charges up in about a second with no middle step along the way.
Both games feature four fights against other robots followed by two fights against the antagonist, Dr. Alien. There are some interesting ideas for these robots, such as Pulse Man, who sends out red circles of various sizes which combine together and can be destroyed if you shoot them enough, while other robots are decidedly less original, such as in the case of Blade Man, who is virtually identical to Metal Man from Mega Man 2 aside from the lack of horizontal movement. You only have a single life to get through all six fights, but with the rather generous healing between fights and the low difficulty of the fights themselves the only real danger of death comes from the Dr. Alien fights. Though the second game is listed as being in an alpha state and will almost certainly never be finished, it seems to be free of bugs and all it is missing is a tutorial and the final, seventh fight so it basically has just as much content as the first game. In fact, the second game even has a bit more in the way of content because you can choose to play as Anygirl, who sacrifices the charge shot in exchange for a rapid-fire machine gun and the ability to hover in place whenever the left mouse button is held down. A higher difficulty setting would have been nice to have and a potential playtime of less than five minutes for each game makes them rather light on content, especially since they were not made as contest entries with time constraints to the best of my knowledge, but the gameplay is creative enough that both games are nevertheless fun little diversions.
I originally purchased Noitu Love 2: Devolution nearly a decade ago, back in the days when commercial indie games were rare oddities which often could only be found on the personal sites of their developers, and it’s still one of my favorite games to go back to. I’ve praised the dash mechanics in games like Psi Knuckle and Bleed 2, but this is definitely the game which first made me aware of just how satisfying a well-implemented dash could be. With its incredibly fluid controls which seamlessly combine traversal with combat, Noitu Love 2 has withstood the test of time and easily holds on to its position as one of the best action platformers in existence. (more…)