Project Mercury

A game by Raxasoft Games for PC, originally released in 2017.
Most neo-retro games adhere to the 8- or 16-bit era of console gaming, while only a few seek to approximate the DOS era of PC gaming and its limited CGA and EGA graphics, with standout examples including VVVVVV, You Have to Win the Game, and MURI. Project Mercury falls into this category with its 256x224 resolution, 5-channel chiptune soundtrack, miniscule color palette, and 4-color sprites.


The game begins by explaining that an elite commando unit was sent to investigate strange creatures known as Mercury, but contact with the team has been lost. You take on the role of a laser-wielding warrior on a mission to discover what happened to the team and to put an end to the threat of Mercury. You must dash through eight enemy-filled areas, speed across the landscape on a hoverbike, climb skyscrapers, descend into a Mercury-infested cave, and face off against nine boss creatures, picking up weapons from your fallen companions along the way.

99Vidas

A game by QUByte Interactive for PC, Mac, Linux, Switch, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2017.
99Vidas is a beat ‘em up that centers around an ancient artifact that grants 99 lives to the person who holds it. Of course, the power of the 99Vidas is incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands, so a group of fighters have established themselves as its guardians. These guardians were given elemental powers to defend it from evil, but a crime lord manages to take it and use it for his own terrible purposes. You must stop his evil army and take the fight to his doorstep.


You take on the role of one of four warriors: King, with the power of water and ice; Izzy, with the power of electricity; Fries, with the power of earth; and Oak, with the power of fire. Players can go it alone or team up for 4P online or offline co-op, and there are several other characters that remain locked at the outset, eventually allowing for an 11-person roster. Characters are based on a Brazil-based video game podcast entitled 99Vidas; thus the title screen which displays 99Vidas: The Game. The game also features numerous 80’s and 90’s pop culture references and nods to video games of that era.

The Mummy Demastered

A game by WayForward for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2017.
The Mummy Demastered is a licensed tie-in to a film reboot of Universal’s The Mummy, featuring Tom Cruise in the lead role, Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll, and Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet (the mummy). This is Universal’s second run at the franchise following the successful Brendan Fraser-led series that began in 1999 and spawned a pair of sequels, a Universal Studios theme park attraction, the Scorpion King spinoff franchise, and several video games and other tie-ins. The new Mummy film was intended to kick off the Dark Universe franchise, tying together a number of classic Universal Monsters with crossover opportunities in future films.


As part of this new franchise launch, Universal Brand Development worked with WayForward to create a 2D metroidvania “demake” set in the world of The Mummy, rather than a more costly 3D title. As in the film, Princess Ahmanet has risen, and it is up to Prodigium – an agency that specializes in monster hunting – to put a stop to her evil deeds and keep mankind safe from her rampaging supernatural beasts.


Rather than taking on the role of Tom Cruise’s character and replaying the events of the film, you play the part of an unnamed Prodigium operative in full body armor. You explore several themed locales to discover what happened to original Prodigium team that was sent in to investigate, using your arsenal to blast away rats, insects, strange creatures from beyond, and the occasional shrubbery.

Pix the Cat

A game by Pasta Games for PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2015.
Pix the Cat is an arcade-style action game starring Pix, the big-headed blue cat who got his start in Arkedo Series 03 - Pixel! on Xbox Live Indie Games. Since then, the pixelated puss has visited other platforms via a port of his original game and the release of Pix’n Love Rush on mobile devices. In his first outing, Pix explored a traditional blocky platforming environment designed to mimic LCD-based titles, only with considerably more vibrant visuals. In addition to hopping and bopping on enemies’ heads and unleashing “meow.wav” projectiles, Pix could also enter individual blocks and move around in a zoomed-in world… and this concept carries over into his latest adventure.


Pix the Cat begins with only an Arcade Mode available, although there are three other modes that become available as the player reaches certain thresholds in the arcade mode: Laboratory, Nostalgia, and Arena.



Arcade Mode
There is only one level available at the start of the game, in the form of the Starter Grid, which explains the basic rules and then drops the player into the action to figure things out. Eventually, the player opens up the Main Grid (which is key to opening the other modes), and skilled players will eventually unlock the Dessert Grid, which drastically increases the challenge with more complex layouts and loads of enemies. Per arcade conventions, the rules are simple to understand and difficult to master, and the challenge increases with every bit of progress the player makes.

Spud's Quest

A game by Mouldy Toof Studios for PC, originally released in 2013.
At the start of Spud’s Quest, Spud lies sleeping in his bed when a talking frog bursts in through the ceiling and asks for his help. Apparently the frog is actually Prince Charming, and he has been changed into the hopping green creature by an evil wizard… a wizard that he accidentally freed when opening a mysterious chest in the mines under the town. Spud tells the frog that he had a dream where a voice called to him, telling him about an ancient evil that has awakened and taken someone prisoner.


The frog prince asks Spud to help him get into Redwood Castle to speak to his father, the king, but he can’t gain access to the castle because of his condition. When Spud asks why the frog can’t simply explain who he is – given that he can talk – he says that he doesn’t want anyone to know what has happened to him. And so, Spud agrees to help and sets off on a journey to help his friend, and ultimately to save the world.

Outland

A game by Housemarque for PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, and Xbox 360, originally released in 2011.
Outland tells the tale of an unnamed hero who is plagued with visions of the past. He seeks out a shaman who explains the origin of the world, which was created by two sisters, one of light and one of darkness. Eventually the sisters decide to destroy their creation, but they are stopped by a lone hero and sealed away for ages. As the sisters begin to rise again, so too is the soul of the hero reborn, and he must build his strength in order to face the sisters once more.


When the player leaves the shaman’s tent, he has only a very basic set of movement abilities, allowing him to perform a variable 2x jump, as well as walk, run, ledge grab, and wall jump. Wall jumps are executed in a slightly different way than in other platformers, as the character sticks to the wall for several seconds, giving the player a great deal of time to execute a second jump, which is often required in order to dodge sprays of projectiles.

Nuclear Throne

A game by Vlambeer for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2015.
Nuclear Throne, known during some of its development as Wasteland Kings, is a post-apocalyptic roguelike shooter featuring a colorful cast of characters blasting their way through hordes of enemies across the Wasteland to eventually reach the titular Nuclear Throne. There are no humans, nor any indication of what has happened to them; instead, the world’s remaining life forms are mutants, and survival means exposing themselves to more radiation in order to gain advantageous mutations to aid them in combat.


The Wasteland has randomly generated layouts, spawn points, and weapon/item drops spread across seven themed areas. There are 15 levels along the main route, but there are also numerous hidden levels – with unique themes – and these levels are often discovered by accident, as unlocking them often requires a very specific set of criteria.

Necrosphere

A game by Cat Nigiri for PC, Mac, PS4, Vita, Xbox One, iOS, and Android, originally released in 2017.
In Necrosphere, you play the role Terry Cooper, some sort of agent who is killed during an ambush, and his spirit (or whatever) passes into the Necrosphere. Fortunately, his partners in the real world manage to survive have somehow found a way to slip little helpful notes into the Necrosphere to aid him on his quest… which is to find an exit and return to the Normalsphere. In order to do this, he’ll need to complete some tough platforming challenges and earn powerups that allow him to explore additional routes, metroidvania style.


According to Terry's still-living friends, the Necrosphere is the size of Earth, and he’ll have an eternity to explore and find the exit, which is rumored to have been permanently sealed. Fortunately, the game world is considerably less than the size of an entire planet and level designs are somewhat straightforward, so the player won’t spend much time wandering aimlessly.

Fight‘N Rage

A game by Seba Games Dev for PC, originally released in 2017.
The beat ‘em up genre is a tough nut to crack. Even industry veterans during the heyday of arcades and 8- and 16-bit consoles had difficulty consistently creating games in the genre that were engaging from beginning to end, given the inherently repetitive nature of gameplay. A few franchises have made a lasting impression, including Double Dragon, Final Fight, and Streets of Rage, while many others fell to the wasteland of unmemorable brawlers.


For years, indie developers have tried their hands at this beloved genre but have generally failed to make much of an impact (as it were), since even a competent genre entry can be seen as repetitive and boring. But that is certainly true in the case of Fight’N Rage, a brawler that is not only inspired by the giants of the genre, but also manages to play on their level with versatile and engaging combat, a variety of colorful and captivating enemies, branching paths with alternate storylines, and oodles of unlockables, including several add-ons, new costumes, and more than 20 unlockable enemy characters to use in the game’s extra modes.

SteamWorld Dig 2

A game by Image & Form for PC, Mac, Linux, Switch, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2017.
SteamWorld Dig 2 picks up after the events of the original SteamWorld Dig. In the original game, players took on the role of Rusty, a steambot whose father passed away while working in his mine. Rusty takes over working the mine and finds that it is not only filled with valuable minerals but also mysterious artifacts which grant him new abilities. But time has passed and Rusty has not returned to the surface, so a young steambot named Dorothy goes looking for her friend.


The SteamWorld universe is comprised of SteamWorld Tower Defense, the SteamWorld Dig series, and Steamworld Heist, and these games follow an alternate timeline for Earth in which 19th century humanity creates simple steam-powered robots and mechanical computers to perform basic tasks. But the rise in technology eventually leads to humanity’s destruction, forcing the remaining survivors underground while steambots continue living on the world above, largely unaware of the ancient technology that exists beneath their feet.

Pirate Queen's Quest

A game expansion by WayForward for PC, PS4, Vita, Xbox One, Switch, and Wii U, originally released in 2017.
Pirate Queen's Quest is a paid DLC expansion to Shantae: Half-Genie Hero which allows you to replay the game from the point of view of Risky Boots, the series' primary antagonist. The game begins with Risky stating that every story has two sides, and she is about to explain how events really unfolded. The introduction is familiar, with Shantae’s uncle demonstrating his new invention which goes unexpectedly awry once it is powered up. On cue, Risky drops in to announce her nefarious plans, and then disables Shantae escapes with the device, with which she plans to take over all of Sequin Land… as soon as she can collect the remaining components.


In the next scene, Risky is seen sitting in a bubble bath aboard her ship, while her Tinkerbat minions stand around and await her orders. The bubble bath serves as a hub, which Risky revisits between each mission (hey, at least she stays clean). From here, players may select between any of the five areas in the original game, and these may be played in any order. The boss of each area gives up a machine component when defeated.

Greedy Guns

A game by Tio Atum for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2017.
Greedy Guns is an open world shooter centered around greed… and guns. The game features an evil corporation that sends mercenaries to otherwise peaceful alien worlds to destroy the inhabitants and gather up valuable relics and DNA for their nefarious research purposes, thus allowing them to destroy more alien life and keep their shareholders neck deep in cash. The company wears its nefariousness on its sleeve, cheerfully plundering alien worlds and living off the riches, while making its hired mercs pay for their own weaponry.


Players can select between one of two characters – or play together in local 2P co-op – for some alien-blasting action. Players can aim independently of movement, turning their weapons a full 360 degrees to take on foes from all directions. They begin with a weak pistol but eventually unlock the ability to purchase a number of armaments of varying strengths and projectile types, including rapid fire machine guns, strong but slow-firing lasers, bouncing bullets, and powerful grenade launchers that overheat quickly and can cause splash damage to friend and foe alike.