Adventure in the Tower of Flight

A game by Pixel Barrage Entertainment for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2015.
Adventure in the Tower of Flight begins with a telling of its history. Long ago, there were five kingdoms, each of which possessed a powerful relic gifted to them from the gods. However, the kings of each land were not satisfied with what they had, and chose to invade the other kingdoms in hopes of winning all of the relics for themselves and claiming ultimate power.

Angered by humanity’s greed and lust for power, the gods rounded up all of the artifacts and placed them within a gigantic tower, declaring that whomever is able to ascend the tower, overcome its challenges, and collect the them all will become ruler of the world.

Generations have passed and no one has yet been able to make the ascent. Knights continue to arrive from all over the world, hoping to claim ultimate power for themselves… but none of them have ever returned.

As the game begins, a young boy named Wing stands before the tower, armed with only a short sword and a helmet that allows him to fly. No explanation is given for why he seeks out the relics, and many of the nearby NPC’s suggest that he is a fool for even making the attempt. Nevertheless, he presses forward.

Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition

A game by WayForward for PC and Wii U, originally released in 2012.
Mighty Switch Force got its start on the 3DS as a downloadable title showcasing the system’s stereoscopic 3D effects while providing a short fast-paced puzzle platforming adventure. It is the third entry in WayForward’s “Mighty” series, following Mighty Milky Way and Mighty Flip Champs. The game introduces police officer Patricia Wagon (a play on “paddy wagon”) as she attempts to round up five escaped female prisoners in each level, with a supplementary goal of completing each of the 16 levels under a specified par time. Completing each of these levels unlocks five tougher bonus levels (originally released as free DLC on the 3DS).

Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition (a.k.a. Mighty Switch Force HD) is a high definition re-release of the original game with redrawn HD graphics. In addition, the game offers an entirely new set of Hyper levels, remixing the original levels into a more challenging experience with tougher layouts and more difficult environmental puzzles.

The Hyper Drive Edition was originally released on Wii U where the system mimicked its portable counterpart’s dual screen display, showing a map on the game pad that helped the player locate the escaped convicts. Other versions of the game feature onscreen indicators when the player gets close to a convict, which operates in a functionally similar manner.

SturmFront - The Mutant War

A game by Andrade Games for PC, originally released in 2015.
SturmFront - The Mutant War is a top-down run-and-gun shooter where you take on the role of a SturmFront cyborg battle unit named Siegfried von Hammerstein in a war against mutants. Siegfried begins his mission in Stadt der Verdammnis (City of Damnation), left by a dropship that flies off into the foreground as the stage begins. From here, Siegfried must destroy every living thing that he sees.

SturmFront is inspired by classic top-down arcade shooters like Commando, Mercs, Outzone, and Shock Troopers. The game borrows from the conventions established in those titles and adds in a dash of bullet hell, something that was not common in the genre previously, but which has grown more popular thanks to the popularity of the run-and-gun’s nearest genre neighbor, the shmup.

Adventures of Pip

A game by Last Dimension for PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, and iOS, originally released in 2015.
Adventures of Pip begins with a fairytale opening, telling of a strange kingdom that can fit in the palm of your hand. This kingdom is populated by pixel people… but in this land, a person's station in life is determined by his resolution, with low-rez citizens being relegated to simple lives, while the high-rez people are rich and powerful.

One day, a princess is born who holds the power to manifest pixels out of the Bitstream, but on her 16th birthday, the princess is kidnapped by the evil Queen DeRezzia so that she can harness this power for herself. In the process, DeRezzia kills the castle guard and transforms the formerly high-rez king and queen into single-pixel beings.

This is where Pip comes in… A boy born as a single pixel, no one thinks that he is capable of accomplishing much. At most, they think he might be able to go and find someone more qualified to help… someone of a higher resolution. But Pip soon discovers that he is the one who is meant to save the kingdom.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

A game by WayForward for PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC, not yet released.
The Shantae series got its start on the GameBoy Color in 2002, but it wasn’t until recently that the purple-haired half-genie really made her way into the spotlight. In her original adventure, she used her magical animal transformations and hair whip attack to defend Sequin Land from a nefarious pirate named Risky Boots. But it wouldn't be until 2010 that her story continued with Shantae: Risky's Revenge. In this adventure, Shantae was able to defeat her nemesis once more, but victory came at a price… Shantae lost her magical abilities and was transformed into a human.

In 2014’s Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, Shantae found that a new enemy was on the rise, and she formed an unlikely alliance with Risky Boots in order to save the land once again. Without her ability to transform into animals, Shantae instead uncovered Risky’s pirate gear, with each piece granting her new combat and environmental navigation abilities, allowing her to reach previously inaccessible areas in traditional metroidvania fashion.

As you may have guessed by the title of her latest adventure, Shantae regained her magical abilities (well, in the good ending anyway) and returned to her former half-genie self.

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is currently under development by the folks at WayForward, but they have released a 3-level beta to demonstrate what players can expect from Shantae’s next outing… Shantae’s trademark hair whip attack and animal transformations make a return, but the visuals have undergone a significant makeover. Like WayForward’s own DuckTales: Remastered, the latest game features high definition 2D character sprites intermixed with 3D environments. The series' trademark visuals shine in this new format, with vibrant colors, lots of detail, beautiful animations, and loads of personality.

Mystik Belle

A game by Last Dimension for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2015.
Mystik Belle stars a young first-year witch named Belle MacFae who is studying at the Hagmore School of Witchcraft. One night, while practicing a fire spell, surprised by a shadowy figure running past her. Before she can react, one of the headmistresses grabs her by the ear and pulls her into a room to stand before a council of witches, accused of having ruined the Walpurgisnacht (Witches' Night) brew. The witches refuse to listen to her pleas of innocence and demand that she find three ingredients for crafting another, or face expulsion.

Mystik Belle is equal parts metroidvania and point-and-click adventure, which is an uncommon amalgamation inspired largely by games in the Dizzy series, as well as Slightly Magic and Little Puff in Dragonland.

The game features a traditional metroidvania map, and players must explore the environment and gain new abilities in order to reach previously inaccessible areas, per genre standards. The way in which the player goes about this, however, falls firmly in line with the conventions of the point-and-click adventure genre.

Not a Hero

A game by Roll7 for PC, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2015.
Not a Hero is a game about running a successful political campaign and getting your candidate elected to office… sort of. The game has absolutely no simulation elements; rather, this is a run and gun actioner where all of your goals are accomplished with the liberal application of bullets, heavy munitions, and the occasional exploding kitten. You play an assassin who blasts his way through a bevvy of baddies while BunnyLord waits for you in his BunnyWagon, or his BunnyCopter, to whisk you away to a diner for breakfast as a reward for your dedicated service.

BunnyLord is your political candidate, and he is a giant purple anthropomorphic bunny who is about as grounded in reality as the Katamari Damacy series’ King of All Cosmos. BunnyLord hopes to win undecided voters to his constituency by ridding the streets of the criminal element – and occasionally enacting revenge on his enemies – with his team of oddball assassins. His cockamamie schemes are conveyed in between-level sequences that are filled with zany dialogue. While the assassins each have speaking voices, BunnyLord sounds somewhat like a squeaking balloon.

High Strangeness

A game by Barnyard Intelligence Games and Crystal Labs for PC, Mac, Linux, and Wii U, originally released in 2015.
High Strangeness is an action adventure game starring a young man named Boyd whose normal day-to-day life is turned upside down when he inadvertently stumbles into a dimension-hopping journey to save the world from destruction by an unknown enemy.

As the game begins, Boyd is having a strange dream where he is standing in a glitchy area with a plain white background, and he finds himself transformed from his 16-bit self into an 8-bit version. While he sleeps, a mysterious robed figure wanders into his bedroom and then leaves, and Boyd’s cat – named Abydos – follows the shadowy intruder out of the room.

Boyd wakes up and grabs a flashlight, but he doesn’t use it to light the way; rather he equips it as a weapon. When Boyd leaves his bedroom, he finds Shadow Men all around his house, which he destroys with repeated blows from his trusty flashlight. The flashlight is actually the player’s primary weapon throughout his adventure, although several secondary abilities are also gained along the way.

A Pixel Story

A game by Lamplight Studios for PC, originally released in 2015.
A Pixel Story is a puzzle platformer starring a single pixel that is somehow ejected from his own world and into a more complex one, featuring more colors and higher resolutions. The new world is split into four generations, each more detailed and complex than the last, and the pixel must make use of his magical teleportation hat in order to solve puzzles and save The System from an evil operating system.

The pixel originally inhabits a world where he is the ball in a Pong-like game before glitching out and bouncing through a number of more detailed environments. He is then captured in a beam of light and transformed into a bipedal being more in line with the sprite detail of the new world. Despite the fact that the pixel came from a more primitive pixel world, he finds that the new world is called Generation 1.

Axiom Verge

A game by Thomas Happ Games for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2015.
Axiom Verge is a metroidvania starring a scientist named Trace who is working in New Mexico in 2005. Following an explosion in his lab, Trace finds himself awakening in a strange alien world, with the disembodied voice of a mysterious stranger whispering in his ear. Trace is standing on a large egg-like machine that appears to have restored his life. The voice tells Trace that there is a gun in the next room that he needs to pick up.

There are two doors in the room, but the path to the right is blocked by a wall of red bubbles. Heading to the left reveals an open room with no enemies, allowing the player to experiment with the controls. Per the standards of the Metroid series, Trace quickly reaches a point in the room that he cannot escape without picking up the weapon lying in front of him.

Environmental Station Alpha

A game by Arvi "Hempuli" Teikari for PC and Mac, originally released in 2015.
Environmental Station Alpha is traditional metroidvania, heavily influenced by Metroid and Super Metroid, featuring an expansive atmospheric world and chunky lo-fi visuals. The player takes on the role of a robot and is sent on a mission to explore a space station which was mysteriously abandoned many years ago. While there were no reported survivors, signals have been coming from the station recently which require investigation. The station was designed to house a variety of animal species and biomes, resulting in a wide array of creatures to fight and environments to explore.

Story elements are light – involving a few computer terminals with logs from the station’s former inhabitants – offering some insight into past events and occasionally placing a marker on the map to provide direction to the player’s next objective. Otherwise, the player is free to explore within the limits of his abilities, solve environmental puzzles, discover powerups, and fight creatures and bosses in order to push his way further into new territory.

Titan Souls

A game by Acid Nerve for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2015.
Titan Souls is an action game whose design is very much inspired by that of Shadow of the Colossus. The player wanders the land alone, equipped with a bow and arrow, on a quest to seek out a number of giant creatures. Upon defeating these great beasts, their life essence is removed and absorbed into the body of the player character. Throughout his journey, the player faces off against more than a dozen titans, each of which requires a specific strategy in order to defeat.

Where Titan Souls departs from the design of Shadow of the Colossus is in the fundamentals of combat. In Shadow of the Colossus, battling the colossi was a lengthy struggle that involved luring the creature, making a harrowing climb over and across its body, holding on for dear life as the thing moved and turned, and eventually seeking out weak points in order to stab them with your sword and wear the creature down slowly. In Titan Souls, on the other hand, battles are won or lost in a single strike.

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