UPCOMING 2D GAMES!
2D RADAR is a list of all of the promising new 2D games that are in development right now. We will continue to provide updates with new blips as they appear.
In our dire and medically dangerous love for 2D games, we tend to keep a lot of lists. Among these is a list of every in-development game that looks like it might be something our readers would enjoy. Some of these games will eventually have full overviews written for our Upcoming 2D section.
But then we thought: why keep this list to ourselves? Wouldn’t our readers like to put saddles on our brains and ride them around for a while, perusing the ethereal stables of not-yet-released 2D video games, while speaking entirely in inappropriate and incomprehensible horse metaphors? The answer to that question is ABSOLUTELY!
So here it is, unlocked for everyone to see, the 8 Bit Horse 2D RADAR:
1,001 Spikes | Wii U and 3DS via eShop, PS4 and Vita via PSN | 2013
“Now, a dreadful adventure begins… again!” proclaims 8bits Fanatics, creators of The Tempura of the Dead and the original Aban Hawkins and the 1,000 Spikes. 1,001 Spikes is an enhanced remake of the original, with updated graphics and sound, some new levels, and the addition of 4P local multiplayer (which should be pretty crazy given the brutal difficulty of the single-player experience) which introduces several new characters. Players will once again raid trap-laden dungeons hunting the exit key and avoiding dozens of bloody spikes jutting up from every corner. For more details on the overall gameplay, be sure to check out our feature on the original game.
Aaru’s Awakening | PC, Mac, and Linux | Q1 2014
Aaru’s Awakening is a stylish platformer from Lumenox Games, featuring the eponymous Aaru, the champion of Dawn who must travel to the Night’s realm restore the balance between the domains of Dawn, Day, Dusk and Night and save the land of Lumenox. Aaru’s moveset is basic, offering cursor-controlled dash that allows him to charge through environments and smash through walls, as well as a teleportation move that lets him slip through tight openings and pass through hazards. The game has a strong focus on visuals, with a hand-drawn illustrative style in the art and animations.
A.N.N.E | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, and possibly other platforms | Q2 2014
Developer Gamesbymo mixes several genres in A.N.N.E, a game featuring platforming, shmuppery, Metroidvania, and RPG elements. You play the part of Number 25 who must search for the pieces of his (literally) shattered girlfriend – the eponymous A.N.N.E – on a planet called Gomi. In your ship, you can fly about and explore the environment and tug along heavy physics-based objects, but you can also dock and get out of your ship Blaster Master-style for some more traditional running, gunning, and platforming. On foot, you deal damage with multi-directional fire and independent movement and aiming as you blast your way through the chunky sprite-based world. There is a large open world to explore, objects to collect, and quests to complete in order to open up new areas.
Apotheon | PC via Steam, with Mac and Linux versions planned | Q1 2014
Alientrap, the developers behind Capsized are working on a new title that mixes platforming and action-RPG genres in Apotheon. In this tale, Hera has overthrown her husband Zeus and assumed the role of God of Gods. She’s none too impressed with the people of the mortal world, so she figures the place would be much better off without them. You take the role of a champion who seeks to save the world from Hera’s wrath, working your way from the depths of Hades to the doors of Mount Olympus itself. The single player experience features a large open world where the player must defeat the old gods and take their powers for himself, and online multiplayer battles are planned as well.
Axiom Verge | Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Indie Games, PC | Release Date TBD
Axiom Verge has been a labor of love for Tom Happ since he began the project in 2010. He has been working on the game as its programmer, artist, and composer, whilst otherwise employed at Petroglyph Games. This is a Metroidvania title with obvious influences pulled from the 8- and 16-bitters of yore, with Metroid-style exploration, Turrican-style gunplay, and some decidedly Abadox-style gore. Despite the on-the-side nature of the game’s development, the final product is expected to offer 8 hours of gameplay, with a large world to explore, more than 20 upgradeable weapons, and over 60 items and powerups to be found by players who opt to probe every dark corner of the grotesque game world. And of course, no such game would be complete without some pulse-pounding battles against hideous boss creatures.
Barkley 2 | PC and Mac | Q4 2013
The strangely apostrophed developer Tales of Game’s is working on a sequel to their own Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, which itself was an unofficial follow-up to the 16-bit Barkley Shut Up and Jam street basketball series starring Charles Barkley, as well as story elements from the movie Space Jam. The original game was a freeware turn-based RPG, taking place in a post-apocalyptic New York City. Barkley 2 continues the saga as an action-RPG, giving players direct control over combat and allowing for multidirectional shooting with independent movement. There are numerous weapon types, and each weapon is upgradeable and customizable, allowing for millions of possible combinations. The game retains its other RPG trappings with shops and NPC’s to speak with, as well as its odd and self-aware sense of humor… including the actual title of the game, which is The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 - Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie - Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa. Yep.
Below | Xbox One via XBLA, and eventually other platforms | 2014
Developer Capybara, known for their stylistic adventure title Sword & Sworcery, returns with Below, an atmospheric roguelike with a deep focus on exploration. You play a lone character who heads out into a dangerous world with a sword and shield to battle his way deeper and deeper into the unknown. While you will be able to acquire new weapons, you will be very limited in what you can carry, which forces players to learn the combat system in order to survive. The game features realtime combat and random environments, and it is meant to be very challenging. Death will come frequently, and is permanent per roguelike standards, but you will learn more about how to survive on your future runs and go even deeper. The game is built primarily around single-screen dungeons where your player character is very small and surrounded by darkness. The talented Jim Guthrie (Sword & Sworcery, Indie Game: The Movie) returns to compose the music for the game.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth | PS4 and Vita via PSN, PC via Steam | Q2 2014
Edmund McMillen… you know, that guy who co-developed Super Meat Boy and sold millions of copies of The Binding of Isaac... If you're a fan of the original Binding of Isaac, then you're probably already primed for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, which will feature additional playable characters, local co-op, and an entirely rebuilt game engine created by the game’s publisher, Nicalis. Nicalis has worked to publish and port a number of games, including Cave Story+, La-Mulana, and the 3DS versions of Cave Story, Ikachan, and VVVVVV. Rebirth will offer new gameplay, new enemies and bosses, and over 100 new items, and owners of the original game may purchase the updated version at a discount. Get ready to cry more tears! Oh, and forget screenshots and check out this super creepy teaser:
Brave Earth | PC | Release Date TBD
Brave Earth is under development by Michael “Kayin” O’Reilly, the guy behind the freeware hit I Wanna Be the Guy. Brave Earth is a Castlevania-esque action-RPG with a deliberate pace, gothic art style, and pickups that can be grabbed by breaking hanging lanterns. The player faces off against bats, wolves, spiders, armored knights, and various magical creatures. There are 3 playable characters, each with his or her own stats, story line and boss encounters, and each equipped with a primary weapon and a number of magic and secondary attacks available that can be picked up along the way, sometimes in hidden areas.
Broforce | PC via Steam | Release Date TBD
Broforce from South African developer Free Lives is a game about being an all-American badass. The game takes its lead from the biggest baddest action movie characters from the 80’s and 90’s, including Rambo, Indiana Jones, Robocop, John McClane, and a number of Schwarzenegger characters. The game features over-the-top violence with a variety of weapons and destructible environments. Each character has different weapons and specialties based on their movie counterparts, like Blade’s sword o’ slicin’ and the Terminator’s bullet-spewing mini gun. The game features run and gun combat, vehicle segments, and huge boss battles.
Captain Jameson | PC | Release Date TBD
Captain Jameson is an extension of the universe introduced in Captain Forever, a series of Flash-based arena shooters from Farbs that focused on ship construction as a means of progression. When enemy ships were destroyed, their components were left behind and could be collected by the player, adding to his ship’s abilities, such as overall firepower, and reducing the ship’s abilities as components were destroyed. Captain Jameson, on the other hand, takes place in a persistent exploration-based world over a large area. The player begins the game in a desolate area, with a series of nearby space stations that are all offline. As the player visits each station – which can be interacted with via an old-school text-based interface to ping servers and communicate – he can leave people behind to run the stations and bring them back online. Each station serves a purpose and allows the player to expand his reach into the larger game world and activate other stations. For instance, stations may provide oxygen-generation capabilities, or show a map of the surrounding area. Of course, ship construction is still a core part of the experience, and destroyed ships can be stripped of parts and added to your own.
Castle in the Darkness | PC via Steam, iOS | Release Date TBD
Castle in the Darkness, from developer Matt Kap, is a retro-style action platformer inspired by classic NES titles. You hop over spike pits, stab bad guys with your sword, and collect the gold coins that spew forth from your slain foes. This game is meant for those players who enjoy chunky graphics and simple animations, combined with fast action.
Chasm | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Q2 2014
Discord Games, the developers behind Xbox Live Indie Games titles Take Arms and 48 Chambers, returns with an action-RPG that mixes roguelike and Metroidvania elements. Chasm focuses on exploration through a procedurally generated cave system as you fight your way through enemies and bosses, grab loot, hunt for secrets, and hopefully return home alive. Players are able to equip weapons and spells, along with armor and passive buffs, as they fight enemies to gain experience points and level up, similar to the neo-Castlevania titles. As is typical of rogelikes, the dangers increase as you descend further into the depths of the mine, but you may return to the surface to do things like purchase weapon upgrades from the local blacksmith before heading back into the fray.
Child of Light | Xbox One and Xbox 360 via XBLA, PS4 and PS3 via PSN, Wii U via eShop, PC via Steam | 2014
Child of Light is under development by Ubisoft Montreal, the studio behind the new Prince of Persia series, the Assassins Creed series, and numerous Tom Clancy games. The game is being built upon the UbiArt Framework – the same engine that powered the beautiful 2D platformers Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends – which is employed here to deliver a detailed watercolor world. This action-RPG tells the coming-of-age tale of a redheaded girl named Aurora, who finds herself abducted from her home, along with the sun, the moon, and the stars. Aurora and her firefly companion Igniculus (who may be controlled by a second player) must fight the mad Queen of Night and her minions to restore the cosmos to its rightful order. The game mixes platforming, exploration, and turn-based JRPG style combat.
Chroma | PC, Mac, and possibly Linux | Release Date TBD
Clawhammer Games presents Chroma, an atmospheric puzzle-platformer centering around the use of light and color. Lately, there have been numerous games that use retro-styled graphics with modern lighting effects. In most games, the lighting is in place merely for show, but in this case the lighting is used for environmental navigation and puzzle solving. You control a white creature that gives off light within an otherwise dark environment, and casts hard shadows as a result. However, you can also split off into a shadow form, leaving your light-emitting self behind. This dark form can walk on the shadows that you create, using them as platforms to reach new areas. You also use light to activate switches, and placing your light form in the correct place is often the key to progressing. The game takes place in a large open world and features non-linear action-adventure play.
CJR | Flash | Release Date TBD
Developer 2BAM is developing an over-the-top Metal Slug-esque action game with a muscle-bound hero who uses major firepower to blast his way through alien hordes, leaving sprays of blood and entrails in his wake. Players who have enjoyed any shooting game from Contra forward will be right at home here, with running, jumping, 8-way fire, and weapon types including the ever-popular 3-way spread gun. A bit of adventuring is in place as well, with players hopping over spike pits, double jumping, and grabbing keycards to open locked doors. The difficulty level his high, as is the gore, but checkpoints are frequent and your firepower is heavy.
Cloaks & Spells | PC | Release Date TBD
Cloaks & Spells, from developer Ian Sean Menzies, is a game with an old school look and feel. This action adventure game takes place in a dark world filled with monsters and demons, and the player takes on the role of a mysterious character wearing a cloak. The action focuses on melee combat, with a Castlevania-esque whip as your primary weapon, but you have access to magic as well, including a flame spell for roasting enemies and a magical barrier for defense. The game also focuses heavily on exploration and puzzle solving as a means of progression, with no small amount of box pushing and lever pulling to be found.
Cloudface | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
Cloudface is a platformer that focuses strongly on its lighthearted aesthetics, featuring animations by Corey McDaniel, programming by Craig Johnston, and music by Calum Bowen. The game stars a cloud businessman who is searching across various pastoral landscapes for his lost documents while avoiding enemies like roly-poly pink cats. Jumps are high and floaty, and – being a cloud – our hero can also sustain long jumps to reach distant platforms for out-of-the-way documents. Animations for the hero are goofy and over exaggerated, giving him quite a bit of character, and this is further supported by colorful and cheerful hand-drawn backgrounds, loads of cute little creatures, and a charming upbeat soundtrack.
CoinOp Story | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
Developer KaMiZoTo harnesses his nostalgia for classic arcade cabinets to create CoinOp Story, the tale of an old arcade cabinet who must collect Jamma cards to save the world. In the not-so-distant future, all of the world’s arcade cabinets have been tossed into a garbage heap, but a generic cabinet gets struck by lightning and comes to life. With the help of his friend, a floating calculator named Professor Delta, he must seek out various arcade cabinets – designed after their real-world counterparts – and collect their Jamma cards. Each card he collects grants him new abilities, allowing him to reach previously inaccessible areas in an open Metroidvania world. For instance, the game begins with his discovery of the Donkey Kong cabinet, which gives him legs and the ability to jump. Later, after defeating a boss, he finds an Operation Wolf cabinet and gains the ability to shoot. The villain of the tale is another generic cabinet who has been loaded with illegal bootleg cards, which drove him mad. The developer plans to have around 30 arcade cabinets to unlock, along with their associated abilities.
Colossatron: Massive World Threat | iOS | Q4 2013
Halfbrick, the developer behind Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride presents Colossatron: Massive World Threat, a game about a robotic snake from space that is destroying cities around the world. In response, General Moustache sends in the troops to defend humanity from this alien threat… but you aren’t a member of the military. Instead, you take on the role of the rampaging snake known as Colossatron, dragging and dropping color coded segments to its body and equipping it with more powerful armaments, such as machine guns, flamethrowers, and rocket launchers. Red, yellow, and blue segments can be combined to form new colors with new abilities. The goal is to cause as much damage to the city as possible, while blasting away military vehicles as they attempt to destroy you. The game takes place form the point of view of a news helicopter that is reporting on your rampage of destruction.
Continue? Philly Under Fire | PC | JUST RELEASED!!
Lazy Brain returns with more retro action in Continue? Philly Under Fire, which is based on a YouTube show called Continue? and stars the hosts of that show. In this run-n-gun inspired by Contra, you attempt to save Philadelphia from an onslaught of aliens and robots that are attempting to burn that mutha to the ground. As with Contra, you have unlimited ammo for nonstop shooting purposes – including the ever-popular spread gun – and getting hit kills you instantly. There are bullets to dodge, gaps to jump, and a number of classically inspired bosses and minibosses to fight. As with Lazy Brain’s previous titles, the game will be released as freeware.
Crypt of the NecroDancer | PC and Mac via Steam | Q2 2014
There are loads of roguelikes on the market these days, but Brace Yourself Games has taken a different route with Crypt of the NecroDancer, opting to incorporate rhythm action into the experience. Your character hops along space by space while slashing enemies, grabbing loot, buying items, finding weapons, and running away from the occasional toothed treasure chest. As the tempo of the music increases, so too does the pace, as all movement is tied to the rhythm, and keeping your multiplier going requires that you move along with the pace of the music as well. You also have a few spells at your disposal, including health restoration, a freeze spell that stops monsters in their tracks, and a fire spell that can blast through a row of enemies. Music for the game is being provided by Danny Baranowsky, of Super Meat Boy fame, although you can provide your own music as well to further tailor the experience. Just be mindful of the fact that faster music means faster gameplay as well. Also, you can even play the game with a DDR mat… if you’re not prone to heart problems.
Delver’s Drop | PC, Mac and Linux via Steam, iOS, Android, OUYA, Wii U and/or 3DS via eShop | 2014
Developer Pixelscopic is creating a game that combines the dungeon-based stylings of A Link to the Past with roguelike permadeath, loot hunting, and randomized environments. Delver’s Drop features a poor fellow named Delver who must descend into “The Drop” to secure his freedom… or fail and become one of the monstrous Undelver Wights. These Undelver Wights become your enemies the next time you enter The Drop, possessing the items and skills you had at the time of your death. The game features physics-based logic puzzles, boss battles, and cooperative play, and allows the player to grow his character and upgrade character classes, which include fighters, magic users, and rogues.
Dusty Raging Fist | Wii U via eShop | Q4 2013
Singapore-based developer PD Design Studio is working on a couple of games that feature Dusty the rabbit: Dusty Revenge and Dusty Raging Fist. Dusty Revenge is the first game slated for release, and Dusty Raging Fist is a prequel, taking place before Dusty meets his allies. Instead, other characters will take the supporting roles, and these characters are available for player control for a bit of cooperative gameplay. Dusty Raging Fist takes its inspiration from sidescrolling beat-em-ups like Double Dragon and Streets of Rage as well as hack-and-slash games.
DethLands | PC, Mac, and Linux, and possibly OUYA | Q4 2013
The guys at Mad Factory Games certainly love their retro titles, having previously developed Minitroid, a tech demo featuring a lo-fi rendition of Samus Aran running through some familiar environments. Now the studio is plumbing the greenscale well with DethLands, an action-platformer inspired by classic Game Boy titles. The game features a masked death metal rocker with long black hair who must battle the forces of evil. He fights vampires, skeletons, eyeballs, and all sorts of other occult creatures by whipping them with his hair Kabuki Quantum Fighter-style. He can also has access to some secondary weapons, including Castlevania-style throwing axes, and blasts of fire. Expect to hop on platforms, jump over bottomless pits, avoid falling blocks, and fight the occasional giant boss monster.
The Dungeoning | PC, Mac, and possibly Linux | Release Date TBD
Physmo, the developer behind Mos Speedrun, is hard at work on The Dungeoning, a roguelike platformer featuring a knight travelling through a procedurally generated world fighting enemies, avoiding traps, hunting for secrets, and discovering weapons and equipment. Items offer passive buffs, and a leveling system allows you to focus your character development toward sword fighting or magic, although you have some secondary projectile weapons as well. Players must hunt for keys to unlock chests and doors, and find potions to restore life, lest they find themselves starting the game again with a newly-generated dungeon. A meter at the top of the screen shows your remaining health and magic, as well as your stamina… which you must be mindful of, as you can be left defenseless while you wait for the meter to refill after repeatedly swinging your sword.
Ecotone | PC and Mac | Release Date TBD
Developer Sundae Factory presents Ecotone, a platformer that begins each level with a sentence, which offers a clue to what you need to achieve to complete each of the 45 levels. Some of these solutions involve puzzle solving, while others require quick movement or completion of a level with a unique configuration, such reversible gravity. The world is filled with strange creatures that range from shadowy things to translucent jellyfish-like creations, all with peering eyeballs. You play a shadowy creature equipped with a white mask who must run, jump, and trampoline its way through the mysterious world, while also solving block pushing puzzles and manipulating objects using a reverse/negative version of itself.
Elliot Quest | PC, Mac, Linux, OUYA | Release Date TBD
Elliot Quest is an action adventure game from developer Luis Zuno, under the Ansimuz Games label. Here, the player travels across Urule Island, exploring its cliffs, forests, caves, and deserts, defeating enemies and searching for treasure. Our hero is armed with a bow and arrow, but may also use various spells to destroy creatures and solve puzzles, although some enemies and bosses are resistant to certain attacks. The main character may be leveled up and customized to fit your play style, and the game features multiple endings based on your actions. On your journey, you will speak with NPC’s, buy items, fight numerous boss creatures, solve puzzles, and explore a nonlinear world filled with secrets and hidden passages.
Emerald | PC, Mac, and Linux | February 13, 2014
Emerald, from developer krangGAMES, is a zero gravity action-adventure with a focus on exploration and discovery. When the game begins, you find yourself floating aboard a damaged spacecraft that is adrift in space. You have just woken up, and you don’t know how the ship was damaged or where any of the crew are. You must explore the ship to locate computer terminals, which not only allow you to restore power and make repairs, but also provide additional information about what has happened. You have to make choices about which systems to reactivate, whether to send a call for help, and even to alter the course of the ship. Your decisions affect the adventure and its conclusion, with more than a dozen endings, and additional dynamic changes to these endings based on the choices you make.
Environmental Station Alpha | PC | Release Date TBD
Environmental Station Alpha, from Arvi “Hempuli” Teikari, is a heavily Metroid-influenced title, featuring nonlinear exploration through a number of lo-fi pixelated environments. The player takes on the role of a robot who must explore Environmental Station Alpha, a station used to house natural environments and unique species as a means of preservation, but which was abandoned decades prior. A number of dangerous mechanisms and creatures await you, as well as no small number of bosses. Abilities include grappling, underwater travel, and weapon upgrades.
Escape Goat 2 | PC | Release Date TBD
MagicalTimeBean goes back to the goat in this sequel to 2011’s clever puzzle platformer Escape Goat, starring a purple goat who has been accused of witchcraft, and his mouse companion who has a magical teleportation hat, as they move through a number of single-screen puzzle-based environments. The graphical style is changing for the sequel, doing away with the chunky retro sprites of the original in favor of higher-definition artwork.
Even the Ocean | PC, with plans for Mac and Linux later | 2014
Analgesic Productions, the studio behind the pixelly action-adventure Anodyne have returned with an all new adventure, this time focusing on platforming. Even the Ocean is divided into two parts, and each may be completed independently. “The Ocean” portion features light and dark energy, which impact your abilities depending on how much you’ve absorbed. Dark energy makes you move more slowly, while light allows you to move more quickly and jump further. However, if you absorb too much of either kind of energy, you will die. You also have a shield that allows you to block energy to manually adjust your meter in certain situations. The other half of the game, “Even”, follows the life of a woman named Even who interacts with various townsfolk, and enters daydreams that change the movement mechanics in “The Ocean” portion.
FEIST | PC and Mac | 2013
FEIST’s silhouette style may remind you of Limbo at first, particularly with the floaty jumps. Not too much has been revealed about the game during its years of development, but it does have a strong sense of style and atmosphere, and the visual design has already won it some recognition.
Flightless | PC and Mac via Steam | Release Date TBD
Nitrome is a developer known for its detailed sprite art across a number of freeware releases, although Flightless will be a commercially-released title. Flightless is a puzzle-platformer featuring drop-in drop-out 2P co-op, where players take control of ducks who have been caught stealing and had their wings clipped… thus making the birds flightless. In order to pay restitution, you must travel through a number of dungeons and use your magical ladder to collect gems. In addition to being unable to fly, you also can’t jump, so you must use ladders to reach higher areas, but you can also send them upward to kill enemies and grab gems. Complex puzzles will see you using the ladder on moving platforms, or hitting objects to make the ladder turn at 90 degree angles. In 2P co-op, players can team up and work together, or split up and explore different parts of the environment.
The Floor is Jelly | Flash | Release Date TBD
One-man Flash developer Ian Snyder has been creating games for many years, and his most recent game, The Floor is Jelly was an honorable mention at the 2012 Independent Games Festival Student Showcase (Ian is a student at the Kansas City Art Institute). The game is based on a very simple question, namely “What if the floor was made of jelly?” The result is a platformer with a physics system that can only be described as “moderately bonkers”. Bouncing around the environment causes it to respond in kind, jiggling wildly and sending you flying through the air while trees and houses on stilts wobble like mad. The game fulfills your childhood fantasies of filling a swimming pool full of name-brand gelatin product, or at running around a house lined entirely in bedsprings.
Freedom Planet | PC via Steam | Q2 2014
Galaxy Trail Games is working to bring the lighthearted character and speed-based designs of the 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games forward into the current generation. Freedom Planet offers high speed movement, running up walls and around corkscrews, and bouncing from springs, but there are some differences from the core Sonic series that set it apart. For instance, the lead character – a young purple-haired girl named Lilac – has melee abilities to deal with her enemies (and large boss creatures), and some of the standard Sonic movements such as the spin dash are restricted until an energy meter is filled, which is done by traveling at high speeds and collecting gems scattered around the environment. Planned additions are secret portals to bonus minigames and a shop system where gems can be spent to purchase upgrades and other unlockables.
Frog Sord | PC | Release Date TBD
Mech6 Games presents Frog Sord, a game about a frog with a sword... er, sord. The game is an action platformer that focuses on air-based movement and combat. The frog can dash in 8 directions and must move from platform to platform slashing away at enemies in between and avoiding walls, floors, and ceilings lined with spikes. In addition to jumping, dashing, and slashing, the frog can perform wall jumps to hop around the environment or ascend vertical surfaces, again while contending with spikes and enemies. Tougher enemies include skeletons that toss projectiles, and others that carry shields, requiring that you get the timing right to smash them into a spray of bones. The game will also feature boss encounters.
Gero Blaster | 3DS via eShop, iOS | Release Date TBD
You may be familiar with a developer known as Daisuke Amaya, better known as Pixel, for his 5-year labor of love, Cave Story. When the game was originally released in 2004 (as freeware, no less), it stood as a shining example of what could be accomplished by a lone developer, while heralding back to the glory days of 16-bit platforming adventures. The game was later refreshed and re-released by Nicalis on multiple platforms, bringing Pixel and his games into the mainstream. This eventually led to one of Pixel’s earlier titles, Ikachan being re-released on 3DS by Nicalis. Now, Nicalis is working with Pixel once again on an entirely new game called Gero Blaster, a game starring a gun-wielding frog named Kaeru who sets out to rescue his girlfriend. The game features Pixel’s trademark art style and music as the frog hero shoots his way through a number of cutesy creatures with a variety of weapons, while diminished hit point values rise up from their heads.
Ghost Blade | Dreamcast | Q4 2013
HuCast Games is developing a vertical shmup entitled Ghost Blade, featuring your standard recipe of detailed backgrounds, huge enemy ships, massive firepower, and pink bullet dodging. For a better look at how the game plays, check the trailer:
Ghost Song | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
Ghost Song, from developer Matt White, is a Metroidvania title. More than that, it draws heavy influences from the design and style of the mother of all Metroidvanias: Super Metroid. The game focuses heavily on atmosphere, with detailed subterranean environments and a haunting soundtrack. You have set out to explore a moon known as Lorian V, a mysterious place in which many have perished, leaving ghosts behind in the form of roaming corpses full of anger. But by destroying their bodies, the ghosts can be freed. In addition to the wandering dead, you will also face a number of creatures, many of which are hostile, as well as some large boss creatures. As is typical of the genre, acquiring new weapons and abilities allows you to proceed through the large open world, although there are numerous optional items to be found for those who explore thoroughly.
Grapple Buggy | Xbox 360 via XBLA or Xbox Live Indie Games | Release Date TBD
Grapple Buggy is a high-flying, grapple-swinging action adventure game with a dynamic branching story and multiple endings. It is under development by Mommy’s Best Games, which also brought you Weapon of Choice, Shoot 1UP, and Explosionade, all critically acclaimed titles on the Xbox Live Indie Games channel.
Gravity Ghost | PC, Mac, and Linux | Q4 2013
Developer Ivy Games presents Gravity Ghost, a game about a little girl named Iona and her fox friend Voy, both of whom are ghosts, and both are attempting to make their way home. Along the way, you meet some rather strange people whose world has been sucked into a black hole, and you must help them to reassemble it. You use gravity to help you swing around planets and build up momentum to collect all of the stars across several constellations. Gathering stars allows you to open up new constellations with new levels. Different planets have different properties that affect how you move, including rubbery planets that bounce you away, hollow planets that shatter when you hit them at high speeds, and ice planets that you slide across, making them difficult to land on.
Here Comes Launchman | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
The Layabouts proudly present the newest 2D gaming hero, Launchman, as he makes his debut in Here Comes Launchman. When a wealthy businessman purchases a planet, he is surprised to find that it is filled with numerous traps, so he hires Launchman to take care of them and to keep any treasure he finds along the way. Launchman gets his name from his primary ability, which allows him to fling himself through the air at high speeds, a skill that he uses to explore various monochromatic environments. Fortunately, he also has a high-powered air brake, which he uses to avoid sending himself headlong into walls of spikes and other bits of nastiness. In addition to flinging himself around the environment, Launchman can also move objects telekinetically, which is required to move objects, activate switches, and solve the game’s many physics-based puzzles. Despite the game’s puzzle-centric nature, the player has a great deal of freedom and speed when it comes to getting around each of the areas.
High Strangeness | PC, other platforms TBD | 2014
Crystal Labs has spent the last 4 years developing an action-adventure title that is meant to appeal to fans of 8- and 16-bit games. In fact, you eventually gain the ability to switch between 8- and 16-bit worlds in order to solve puzzles and uncover writings that are only viewable in one world or the other. High Strangeness begins with a boy living in modern day America, who finds his home occupied by strange figures known as Shadow Men. The boy finds himself pulled into another world and must uncover its mysteries and defeat the evil to save the multiverse. You will find yourself fighting shadow creatures, speaking with NPC’s, switching between worlds, and… consorting with cats.
Hohokum | PS3, PS4, and Vita via PSN | 2014
Developer Honeyslug Games and graphic artist Richard Hogg are working to create a bright and cheerful game about a colorful flying snake-like creature who wanders the world. While there is a goal to each level, Hohokum features no score and no time limit, and there is no way to actually fail or die. The game is nonlinear and focuses primarily on exploration, allowing players to interact with objects to light things up or create music, eventually opening pathways to new worlds with new sets of interactibles.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, PS3 and Vita via PSN | 2014
Dennaton returns with a sequel to their brutal, disturbing, amazing 80’s murder extravaganza Hotline Miami, a game that was never meant to be a big hit. The sequel takes place a few years after the events of the first game, set in the early 90’s, and features different playable characters, although “Jacket” from the original game will make a brief appearance. Some of the musical artists that set the tone of the original game will be returning for the soundtrack, joined by a few new groups. This game is meant to end the story of Hotline Miami with no additional sequels planned.
Hyper Light Drifter | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, PS4 and Vita via PSN, Wii U via eShop, OUYA | Q2 2014
Hyper Light Drifter from developer Heart Machine is looking quite promising… so promising in fact that the game has obliterated its $27,000 Kickstarter goal with over $645,000 pledged. The game is a colorful action-RPG constructed with chunky pixel art. Drifters explore the ancient depths in search of knowledge and technology that has been lost to time, and this particular Drifter is looking for answers to stop a terrible disease that has infected him. Players slash through enemies, upgrading weapons and discovering new equipment as they explore a large world filled with treasure and secrets. Your primary weapon is a sword made of light, although you’ll discover a number of limited-ammo projectile weapons as well. You also have a shield to absorb direct attacks and a dash move to evade enemies, avoid traps, or charge forward to bash baddies in their hurty places. Players can go it alone or team up in 2P local co-op.
The Iconoclasts | PC | Release Date TBD
This game has a full-length overview in our Upcoming 2D section. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
The Iconoclasts is a colorful action adventure title starring a girl named Robin who is a mechanic in a world where her particular craft is considered to be illegal. As is typical of this developer, the game is set in a beautifully crafted world filled with gorgeous sprites, detailed animations, and loads of character and humor. More than just an aesthetically appealing title, the mechanics are solid as well, with precision platforming, varied gameplay, and a compelling Metroidvania structure.
Beneath the beautiful and colorful world, dark forces are at work, and it is up to Robin to set things right by upsetting the status quo and upending the power structure of the oppressors who have made such activities as excavation, mapping, and mechanics illegal. Unsponsored archaeology, cartography, or mechanical work are considered to be sins against the gods, and are punishable by death. According to the imposed law and religion of the land, holy agents of the gods are meant to control the world and ensure that it remains unaltered by earthly hands, which includes strict provisions surrounding the use of a rare fuel source known as ivory. And if that’s not enough, the moon is slowly breaking apart and pieces are falling to earth. Read more >>
In the Dark | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
In the world of In the Dark, developer Escapement Studios explains why monsters hate the light. For a monster, light is a solid object, and getting caught in direct light traps them and eventually causes them to disappear. However, one monster, a cat/bunny-like creature named Bump, makes use of this quality to navigate the environments and defeat other monsters. As Bump shoves objects around, beams of light can be blocked or broken, allowing him to make progress. He can even run along beams of light as if they were solid surfaces, allowing him to reach new areas while avoiding dangers like swinging lamps and light sources that turn on and off intermittently.
Jack the Reaper | PC | Release Date TBD
Jack the Reaper, from developer Dream’s Bell, begins when the moon crashes into the earth. As it turns out, the moon is where all of the world’s souls go when they die, and this recent event has caused them to return to life on Earth. It is up to Jack to restore order by re-killing these creatures and returning their souls to the Afterworld. This action-platformer is inspired by the Kirby series, wherein enemies’ abilities can be used against them – and even combined ala Kirby 64 and Gunstar Heroes – for a number of interesting possibilities. By killing enemies and absorbing their souls, you gain their abilities, including a number of different projectile types, like boomerangs and energy shots, as well as other powerups like increased speed and a shield.
JForce: Unstoppable | Xbox 360, PC , Mac, iOS, Android, WP7 | Release Date TBD
There are a lot of top-down shooters on the market these days, but not many that fall into the action-adventure category. JForce Games’ JForce: Unstoppable is packed to the brim with weapons – over 40 in all – ranging from short- and long-range melee weapons, to machine guns, bombs, glaives, lasers, rocket launchers, and all sorts of non-traditional death dealing instruments of destruction. Environmental navigation tools include a hookshot-style grappling device and a Portal-style teleportation gun. The game is presented in a cartoon style with bright-colored environments and fluid character animations, and even some humorous fully-animated cutscenes. The game is also planned to include cooperative and competitive multiplayer and a level editor.
KR-17 | PC and OUYA | February 2014
KR-17 from developer Wonderfling is a puzzle platformer -slash- shooter inspired by the (fairly narrow) 32-bit era of 2D gaming. The titular KR-17 is a military robot who must explore nonlinear environments, blast enemies, and solve puzzles on his mission to take down a rogue agent. The KR-17 is able to manufacture his own weapons, depleting a meter than can be refilled at recharging stations spread throughout the game, essentially providing a shared ammo system. The robot’s weapons tend toward the explosive, with frag grenades, proximity mines, remote mines, guided missiles, and a laser cannon.
La-Mulana 2 | PC | 2014
Developer Nigoro returns with a sequel to La-Mulana. This game picks up many years after the events of the first, and focuses on the original protagonist’s daughter, Lemeza Kosugi. Fortunately, she seems to be has handy with a whip as her father before her. Rather than adventuring through Egyptian tombs and catacombs, Kosugi takes to Norse-themed locales, although the look and feel is very much in line with the (enhanced) original. The adventure promises to be somewhat more forgiving than the last, at least in terms of directing players toward puzzle solutions, although the difficulty level is still planned to be high.
Laika Believes | PC | February 4, 2014
Minicore Studios presents a game with a rather odd premise. In Laika Believes, you play the role of Laika, the dog who was launched into orbit by the Russians during the Space Race (and who died in the attempt). Of course, that’s not actually the premise of the game. Instead, the game takes place in an alternate history where Stalin led the Soviets to defeat America and Great Britain. In this storyline, Laika is a talking dog who falls from the sky wearing silver armor. She is outfitted with a number of mysterious weapons and has come to lead a revolt against the Soviet Empire. The game features large nonlinear levels, the ability to customize your upgrades, and no small amount of blasting Russians in the face with technology from space. The game is being released as three separate episodes, with the first to be called The Sun at Night.
Legend of Iya | PC, with later ports to Mac, Linux, and OUYA planned | 2014
Developer Andrew Bado is an industry veteran, having worked on numerous major studio releases, including a number of cult favorites like Phantom Dust, Raze’s Hell, and Psychonauts, as well as several 2D titles including Blowout, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Monster Tale, and NG:Dev Team’s Turrican-esque actioner, Gunlord. Legend of Iya is a Metroidvania title set in a lush, detailed world, featuring gorgeous sprite art and loads of animations. The game centers on the exploits of a 12 year old girl who finds herself transported to a magical fantasy world populated with strange creatures, bio-mechanical beasts, and huge bosses. The game offers melee based combat, as well as numerous upgrades and new abilities which will help her defeat enemies and reach new areas.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime | PC and Mac | 2014
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, from developer Asteroid Base, is an odd little 2P co-op experience that places players in a pink space station facing off against an onslaught of invaders. Players run around the inside of the station, manning various control panels to operate turrets and lasers to destroy the attacking ships, using shields to defend the station, and activating thrusters to push it away from danger, frantically dashing from one control panel to the next as the situation outside the station changes.
Luftrausers | PC, Mac, Linux, Playstation 3 and Vita via PSN | Q1 2014
Luftrausers is being developed by Vlambeer, best known for Super Crate Box, as well as the development of Serious Sam: The Random Encounter (part of the Serious Sam indie series, along with Serious Sam: Kamikaze Attack and Serious Sam: Double D). This release is an expanded update to Vlambeer’s original Flash-based pixelly dogfighter called Luftrauser. The game steps things up a bit with customizable and upgradeable aircraft, loads of new enemies, and new gameplay modes. As with the original game, Luftrausers will feature amazing and technically impossible aerial acrobatics as you spin, dead drop, and thrust your way to victory against numerous enemy aircraft and ships. Oh, and there will be boss battles this time around. And explosions. Lots of explosions.
Luminesca | PC and Mac via Steam | 2013
Luminesca is an underwater exploration game from developer Matt Glanville. The player controls a small creature called Lum through various dark and shadowy environments, using light to solve puzzles and open up new pathways.
Mercenary Kings | Playstation 4 via PSN, PC via Steam | Q1 2014
This game has a full-length overview in our Upcoming 2D section. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
While the ultimate goal of the game is to run and gun your way through the missions, and rank up to open new missions, the crafting system is the real foundation of your continued progress. Materials may be gathered during missions by finding chests and killing enemies. These materials may be used to craft weapons and build mods.
Rather than just offering a few canned weapon options, Mercenary Kings allows you to build weapons piece by piece, with each component affecting the assembled weapon’s stats. Weapons fall into a number of categories, including handguns, assault rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, sniper rifles, etc., but you can mix and match any compatible component. Gun barrels affect your weapon’s range, magazines impact your ammo capacity and reload speed, sights and stocks increase accuracy, and ammunition comes in a number of useful varieties. Each weapon component also has an assigned weight, so loading up on heavier components may increase your damage output while slowing your movement speed and making you less agile.
Ammunition is only compatible with certain weapon types, but it can greatly impact your abilities, ranging from bullets that spread out to cover a wide area, bouncing projectiles, oversized projectiles, and even homing missiles. You can even add elemental affinities to your attacks, causing extra damage with fire, ice, or electricity to those enemies that are weak against it. In RPG style, numbers appear over the heads of attacked enemies to show how much damage you are dealing, and ammo types can affect enemies in different ways. For instance, equipping penetrating or caustic projectiles will allow you to do damage against shielded enemies, even when they are blocking your attacks. On the other hand, a fire-infused shotgun spray is great against large numbers of weaker enemies. The game offers a number of save slots where you may store any particularly effective weapon configurations for future use. Read more >>
Mort The Intern | PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Indie Games | 2014
Polymath Games brings grappling hooks back into fashion (why isn’t everyone doing this!?) with Mort The Intern. Poor Mort is an intern in Hell, and he has found himself working for a company responsible for the delivery of souls. His adventure begins when an unfortunate clerical error causes a number of souls to be diverted into Hell when they should have gone the other way, and Mort must set out to find them in this nonlinear action-adventure title. Being a grapple-focused experience, the game offers smooth grapple mechanics, as well as grapple points that offer temporary enhancements, such as wings that allow Mort to double jump, and some grapple points act as switches. Mort is no platforming slouch either, as he can move quickly, jump, wall jump, and wall slide. Much of the game’s challenge centers on environmental navigation which requires Super Meat Boy-level precision to make jumps, avoid spikes, dodge projectiles, and generally keep yourself from exploding in a pile of bones.
Nightmare Busters | SNES | December 2013
Super Fighter Team is working on an upcoming Super Nintendo release… That’s right, a new release for the good old SNES. The game will ship on a SNES cart supporting both NTSC and PAL based systems. The game will also ship with a full-color box and instruction manual, so it will fit right in with the rest of your collection… You know, if you happen to have complete copies of all your SNES games. Offering an actual physical SNES game (as opposed to a download) obviously appeals to a very niche audience, but the studio is no stranger to that. In 2006, they released Beggar Prince on the Sega Genesis / Megadrive in the same fashion, and they’ve worked on other physical titles as well. Nightmare Busters was originally developed years ago, but it was set to arrive late in the SNES lifecycle and was not able to find a publisher willing to drop the game into a diminishing market. Super Fighter Team picked up the rights and now they’re unleashing some old-fashioned platforming action into the modern world. In this 1P or 2P game, you play the part of a short pointy-eared magician who tosses playing cards as his primary weapon and uses them to fight his way through a variety of ugly critters. In addition the player has a number of magic powers at his disposal which allow him to harm onscreen enemies or power up his projectiles. Old school difficulty and big boss battles are the order of the day, just like you remember from the SNES.
Nuclear Throne | PC via Steam, with ports planned for Mac, PS4, Vita, and Xbox One | Release Date TBD (currently on Steam Early Access)
Nuclear Throne (formerly known as Wasteland Kings) is the latest game from Vlambeer, the 2-man developer behind Super Crate Box, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter, Ridiculous Fishing, and Luftrausers. Artwork for the new game is being provided by Paul Veer, the man responsible for the chunky art style and pixelly explosions in many of these games, as well as those in Celestial Mechanica. The game is a roguelike actioner featuring numerous mutants blasting their way through a radioactive wasteland. In addition to heavy firepower, the mutants can also… mutate their limbs to develop new abilities. The game will feature numerous playable characters fighting their way through bad guys and bosses in a quest to reach the titular Nuclear Throne.
Odallus: The Dark Call | PC, and possibly Wii U | 2014
This game has a full-length overview in our Upcoming 2D section. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Odallus fits comfortably into the Metroidvania genre, featuring action with a deliberate pace, a focus on exploration, and ability-enhancing powerups as the primary means of progression. You begin your adventure equipped with a sword that allows you to slash while standing, running, jumping, or ducking. In addition to the usual slaughtering of thine enemies, it can be used to destroy blocks and incoming projectiles. You also have a variable height 2x jump, a ledge grab, and the ability to push medium-sized blocks.
A number of secondary projectile weapons are available as well, which can be gained by opening treasure chests. These include a torch, an axe, and a spear. Secondary weapons have limited uses, and a maximum number that can be carried at any given time, although your maximum allotment can be upgraded by finding larger weapon bags. As in the traditional 8-bit Castlevania titles, secondary weapons are used by pressing UP and ATTACK rather than being assigned to their own button. Read more >>
Our Darker Purpose | PC via Steam | Q1 2014
Developer Avidly Wild Games presents Our Darker Purpose, a game with a very dark premise. The adults have disappeared at the Edgewood Home for Lost Children, leaving the children to fend for themselves, Lord of the Flies style. The protagonist, Cordy, finds himself battling against other students who have gone mad, as well as numerous demonic creatures. The game is a roguelike action adventure game that focuses on combat and survival. There is a great deal of character customization as well, and you use your various studies and discoveries to apply passive buffs to your character to give you more strength, speed, and HP, allowing you to survive a bit longer against the evil hordes and boss creatures. There are numerous routes through the school, allowing for different strategies and experiences on repeated playthroughs.
Owlboy | Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Indie Games, PC | Release Date TBD
This game has a full-length overview in our Upcoming 2D section. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Owlboy is a game about a student owl named Otus who wears a cloak that allows him to fly. The world in which he lives is made up of a series of floating islands, which has recently come under attack by sky pirates. Otus has set out on a quest to stop the sky pirates and save his home village of Vellie. But in order to do this, he will need some help.
Otus is a more-than-capable platforming hero – especially given the fact that he can fly freely – but he is lacking in offensive abilities. He has a spin attack that knocks enemies back, and he can pick up items such as rocks and toss them at the baddies, but he has no projectiles of his own. To assist him in this department are a number of gunners that can be carried through the environment, and the player is able to use them to aim and fire in any direction.
At first, the player will have access to only a single gunner, a somewhat meek friend named Geddy, who has the advantage of firing at a high rate of speed. Throughout your journey, you are able to recruit new gunners, and switch between them at will, giving you a number of different offensive options. Each gunner has different projectile types and firing rates. Read more >>
Pixel Press | iOS and Android | December 2013 (iOS), Q3 2014 (Android)
Pixel Press from developer Robin Rath isn’t really a game so much as an app that makes your childhood dreams come true… assuming you spent your childhoods drawing out really cool video game levels on graph paper like we did. This app allows you to scan level designs drawn on special graph paper and then translates that information into a playable platformer. Once scanned, players can fill in the designs with textures and add music and sound effects. A number of options are built into the app, although you can upload your own as well, and you can even create custom sprite sheets. Once you have finished your design, you can play the game and share it with other app owners, and of course, you can download others’ creations. No coding experience is required.
PixelJunk Inc. | PC via Steam, followed by Mac and Linux | 2013
Q-Games, the studio headed by StarFoxian Dylan Cuthbert (who we interviewed recently), is working away on yet another game in their PixelJunk series, this time featuring loads and loads of robots and soup manufacturing. The game started as a side project at the studio in 2011, with a small number of developers working in the evenings and on weekends before the project was eventually picked up as a full-blown release. The game has a focus on exploration, along with a variety of vehicles that are each constructed with a specific purpose, including flying machines and those built for drilling and digging. Players can scout for resources, dig them up, and haul them back for research purposes, allowing the construction of new vehicles and upgrades to existing ones. Players must also be ready for combat as they collect and defend their goods – along with other players in co-op – and grind up various space creatures for the creation of delicious soup!
Platformines | Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Indie Games, PC via Steam | Release Date TBD
Magiko Gaming, the developer who brought us PLATFORMANCE: Castle Pain and PLATFORMANCE: Temple Death has a new game in development. Platformines features customizable caricatured soldiers fighting their way through fog-of-war platforming environments fraught with numerous types of obstacles and traps, as well as enemy soldiers. The player is on a hunt for treasure which will allow him to make purchases from the large-breasted merchant at his home base. Finding certain minerals hidden around the environment allows for the creation of new types of weapons, which range from handguns to shotguns to rocket launchers. The player is free to explore the environment, grab as much treasure as he can carry, and make his way back to the base. He can also place teleporters at any point on the map that has been previously explored, allowing him to bypass previously-completed areas and make quick runs for more treasure.
Redux: Dark Matters | Dreamcast, iOS | JUST RELEASED!!
Despite its short retail lifespan, development for the Dreamcast has yet to cease, with small numbers of unlicensed releases hitting the market each year, mostly shmups. HuCast Games is one of the developers who continues to stoke the fire within the thinking gray box, with the release of horizontal shmup DUX (and its update DUX 1.5) and the development of vertical shmup Ghost Blade. Redux: Dark Matters should be familiar to fans of DUX, as is a continuation of that series. The new game features 2P co-op, two playable ships with different weapon loadouts, two difficulty modes, seven stages, and numerous weapons. In addition to the standard Dreamcast controller, the game also supports the Dreamcast arcade stick, and it will run in VGA mode for those who like put their shiny things onto big shiny screens. Here’s what it looks like in motion:
Rex Rocket | PC and Linux, other platforms TBD | January 2014
Rex Rocket, from Rob Maher and Tyler Bud (Rob & Tyler), is a throwback to 8-bit classics like the Mega Man series, where the art was chunky, the sounds were bleepy, the spikes were oh so spikey. The game stars the eponymous Rex Rocket, former galactic hero, on what should be a routine deployment of “Terra-Oozlings” on the desolate planet of New Detroit… but it’s not long before the ooze hits the fan and it’s up to Rex Rocket to save the day once again as he battles against robots, rogue Oozlings, and a killer AI. The game features 100 levels of action platforming and shootery, with lasers, missiles and grenades ready to be equipped for hot 4-way firing action. In addition to the traditional dashing and wall jumping moves, our hero can also teleport, allowing himself to escape tough situations and move behind the line of fire to get in some quick shots on unsuspecting foes.
River City Ransom: Underground | PC, Mac, and Linux | 2014
For years, developers have been creating brawlers inspired by Technōs’ River City Ransom. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, Fist Puncher, and many others have attempted – to greater or lesser degrees of success – to recapture the simple joy of cracking skulls while exploring a sprawling city and getting some RPG-style upgrades. And now, at long last, an officially licensed follow-up is headed our way courtesy of developer Conatus Creative. Resurrecting the Kunio art style and old-school look, with a few additional animations thrown in for good measure, players explore an even larger open world, with more shops, items, and upgrades. Go it alone or with some friends in 2-4P co-op, and punch some bad guys until they BARF!
Schein | PC | Release Date TBD
Schein got its start as a student project which grew into a full-fledged game under the Zeppelin Studio label. Schein is a puzzle platformer that focuses on a young man who has recently lost his only son and finds himself wandering through a swamp, lost and searching for he knows not what. A glowing wisp named Irrlicht reveals itself to the man and offers to help, using its glow to illuminate the area and reveal parts of the world that were previously invisible. Different colored glows offer windows into other worlds, with the swamp appearing in grey, the green glow revealing a brightly colored world, and a red glow revealing a demonic realm. The game features 12 levels of exploration and puzzle solving and fights against 4 giant swamp creatures.
Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails | Wii U via eShop | Q4 2013
Developer Dakko Dakko introduces Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails, a game where you take on the role of a rail-riding guy in search of his feline friend named Scram Kitty. Scram has been kidnapped by evil mice (bent on world domination) who have overrun a space station. You slide along curved rails on a magnetic skateboard, dodging enemies and firing machine guns, rockets and lasers. Your weapons fire away from your position on the rails, allowing you to slide around corners to change the direction of your fire. You can also jump away from the rails to doge enemy fire or to cross gaps and grab other rails. Dakko Dakko is also the studio behind The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character, another game that featured a character that moved along the edges of the screen. Gameplay takes place entirely on the Wii U gamepad, with the television view simply acting as a video output.
Seasons After Fall | PC, Mac, Linux, and possibly consoles | Release Date TBD
Seasons After Fall is being developed by a France-based indie studio called Swing Swing Submarine, founded by ex-Ubisoft employees. The game features a wild fox that is traveling across the landscape, exploring, platforming, and interacting with other animals. The key to progressing is the player’s ability to change between any of the 4 seasons at will, and doing so may have dramatic effects on the environment. For instance, if your path is blocked by water, you may change the season to winter, causing it to freeze and allowing you to pass. If you cannot reach a high ledge, you may plant a seedling, which will sprout into a full-sized tree before your eyes as you change to the proper season, allowing you to climb up.
Secrets of Grindea | PC via Steam | Release Date TBD
Over the years, many budding developers have sought to capture the essence of the original The Legend of Zelda and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, mimicking their structure and mechanics, while sometimes lifting creatures, weapons, and puzzle solutions directly from the originals. Others have created new works simply inspired by the game, but with completely different gameplay, such as Konjak’s Legend of Princess. Secrets of Grindea definitely falls into the former category, but rarely has a game borrowed so heavily from The Legend of Zelda formula with so much style. The structure should be familiar to Zelda fans, as the lead character walks through town, chatting it up with NPC’s, hacking hedgerows with a sword, and even scaring off the local chickens. But where Grindea makes its departure from the legacy is in its gameplay focus and character customization. The goal of the hero (or heroine, if you choose) is to become the world’s greatest Collector as he sets off on a quest to collect as many rare and valuable items as he can. There’s also a robust character creation and skill system that allows you to level up and apply points to a number of different attributes, allowing the player to craft a character to his liking. And, the entire game can be played in single player or with up to 4 players in co-op mode. The artwork is notable as well, featuring detailed spritework and animations, and even showing equipment changes on the main character.
Secrets of Rætikon | PC, Mac, and Linux | Q4 2013
Secrets of Rætikon is the latest from Broken Rules Games, the developers behind And Yet It Moves and Chasing Aurora. This story-based adventure is set in the same universe as Chasing Aurora, and has the same visual style. Once again, you will find yourself flying through environments designed with subdued colors and flat edges, exploring mountains and caverns, flying into the open skies and then diving down into the thick bramble below. Along the way, you will be interacting with – and running from – other birds and forest creatures, while collecting crystals that allow you to unlock the secrets of an ancient civilization.
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse | 3DS via eShop | 2013
The Shantae series has continues its handheld life with Shantae and the Pirate's Curse on 3DS, a direct sequel to Shantae: Risky's Revenge on DSiWare, which was originally planned as a 3-part episodic release. This game picks up immediately after the events of the last where SPOILER ALERT Shantae was stripped of her genie powers. Shantae’s old arch nemesis, Risky Boots, split her powers into 30 parts and bonded them with her minions… only to be summarily overthrown as her minions go off to resurrect Risky’s old mentor, the Pirate Master, who is even more evil than she is. As such, Shantae and Risky must team up to defeat the 30 minions and keep them from resurrecting the Pirate Master. Unlockable abilities allow Shantae and her partner to reach new areas without her genie powers, using grappling hooks and several dual-purpose weapons in a nonlinear Metroidvania-style adventure (there’s even a minimap). In typical WayForward style, there are gorgeous sprites aplenty, and the game world is larger and more detailed than that of any of the previous Shantae releases.
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero | PS3 and PS4 via PSN, Xbox 360 and Xbox One via XBLA, Wii U via eShop, PC via Steam | October 2014
Shantae is finally hitting the big time, starring in her first non-handheld release with Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. The game is under development by WayForward, one of the few major studios still releasing games in a 2D format, including Contra 4 and the Wii release of A Boy and His Blob. WayForward is also responsible for the original Shantae on Game Boy Color, as well as its DSi/iOS follow-up Shantae: Risky's Revenge, and its 3DS follow-up Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. This newest release will retain the core mechanics of those previous, with Shantae whipping her hair to kill enemies, exploring colorful platforming worlds, and doing the occasional bit of belly dancing. Shantae will use magical transformations to explore the land and even return to previous areas to access new paths, Metroidvania style. Like the studio's own DuckTales Remastered this game features 2D characters and enemies with 3D objects and environments.
Shovel Knight | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, Wii U and 3DS via eShop | Q1 2014
Yacht Club Games is a studio made up of a number of developers formerly under the employ of WayForward Technologies, with team members having worked on such titles as A Boy and His Blob and Contra 4. Shovel Knight is inspired by classic NES-era video action platformers – and Zelda 2’s swordplay in particular – with chunky graphics, a low color count, and simple catchy music. The player controls the Shovel Knight, so named because of his ShovelBlade weapon that allows him to attack enemies, fling objects, and dig through dirt to open passages and discover treasure. Another key move is a downward thrust where the knight leaps into the air and aims the shovel downward, allowing him to dig downward through dirt, get the drop on enemies, and even bounce on certain enemies and objects to send himself flying into the air, DuckTales-style. The player travels through a number of themed worlds, facing off against 8 evil knights as boss battles, and eventually fighting The Enchantress who rules them all.
Sigma Xcidkrd | PC and Mac | Release Date TBD
Developer John Bishop launches the latest volley in the battle against pronounceable titles with Sigma Xcidkrd, a highly technical platformer. John spent a lot of time creating custom maps for another technical platformer, Dustforce, and eventually decided that he’d like to make a game of his own. Like Dustforce, the game requires precision platforming, combined with double jumping, wall jumping, wall sliding, and sliding down angled surfaces, but you’ll also be dodging loads of projectiles and even using them to your advantage by riding them through the level. Spiked walls, floors, and ceilings line the environments as well, and some levels have enemies that pursue you relentlessly, requiring some well-timed pixel perfect maneuvering and deft button presses.
Soul Fjord | OUYA | Q4 2013
Soul Fjord, from Airtight Games and Portal developer Kim Swift, is setting itself up to be one of the best Funk-Viking crossovers available on the OUYA. The game mixes roguelike dungeon crawler gameplay with an unlikely genre partner… rhythm action. You control Magnus Jones, a mustachioed black man with a huge affro, sent by Odin – the apparent god of blacksploitation – to prevent Loki from unleashing Ragnarok upon the land. The procedurally generated world is a mixture of Norse mythology and 70’s funk and soul, with a soundtrack to match, and is populated by Smooth Trolls, Disco Wizards, Lounge Dragons, and other such crossed-over oddities that must be defeated in rhythm-based combat.
South Park: The Stick of Truth | PS3, Xbox 360, and PC via retail | March 4, 2014
There’s a new kid in South Park, namely you. In Obsidian Entertainment’s South Park: The Stick of Truth, you take the role of the new kid – whom you can name and customize in the standard South Park art style – as you embark on a quest to save South Park in an RPG. Things start out small, as you meet up with the kids in Cartman’s backyard in a scaled-down 4th grade fantasy world that is taking place largely in the kids’ imaginations. But after a while, you’ll find yourself going up against vampire kids, hippies, and other ne’er-do-wells that are out to vex the children. The game is absolutely steeped in South Park-dom, with the script being written and voiced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, featuring the major characters and locations from the show.
Specter | PC, with Mac and Linux versions planned | Release Date TBD
Specter, from Dario Seyb and Blair Ceradsky, is an action game that focuses on combat and precision platforming. You play the part of a nobleman who once ruled over a huge tower where he threw parties regularly, annoying his demonic neighbors. As a result, the demons invaded his tower and took away his abilities. Now, he must defeat these demons as he works his way through the tower, regaining his abilities as he does so. These new abilities will assist you in combat as well as environmental navigation, and include such things as a charged projectile attack and a dash move that allows you close in on enemies quickly and also slide past obstacles and across gaps. The game will feature some environmental puzzle solving as well, and a number of hidden chambers for those who explore thoroughly.
Splot | Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS | 2013
Frozenbyte, the developer behind the Trine series, is working on a 2D platformer with physics-based puzzles. You play the part of a one-eyed blue creature named Splot who must travel through a number of environments collecting stars that have fallen out of the sky so that you may return them to their home. Players will run and jump, avoid spikes, and perform wall jumps and wall slides as they move through each of the themed worlds, as well as solving mouse-driven environmental puzzles such as repositioning blocks and activating switches.
SpookyQuest | PC | Release Date TBD
Developer Fervir presents SpookyQuest, an action adventure inspired by the Game Boy iterations of The Legend of Zelda series, offering top-down action, swordplay, and dungeon crawling. Players slash away at monsters – and the occasional shrubbery – in the overworld, defeating enemies, discovering secrets, and gathering money to be spent in shops. While the overworld is a bit unfriendly, the bulk of the action takes place in the dungeons, which are filled with bats and undead creatures that hope to suck down your health bar. In addition to health, you also have a stamina meter that drains as you use your sword and secondary items (like a boomerang that can stun enemies and activate switches), but it refills on its own over time. The game isn’t just a Zelda clone however; it offers some changes to the old series, like scrolling environments and 8-way movement and attacks. Progress is made by solving puzzles, discovering new sub-weapons, and defeating large boss creatures.
Starbound | PC, Mac, and Linux | 2014
Developer Chucklefish is working on a Terraria-style action adventure game called Starbound, which focuses on exploration and crafting in an open world… or more specifically, an open universe. The player starts out in a gigantic space station after his ship is shot down by an unknown foe. During your journey, you find materials that will allow you to repair the station, upgrade it, and eventually set out to explore the universe. A procedurally generated universe allows for the exploration of a wide variety of planets, each with their own flora and fauna, terrain, materials, and weather systems. You can even lay claim to an entire planet of your own (you know, just a little place to call home) that you can modify and populate to your needs.
Stealer | PC | Release Date TBD
Stealer, also known by its internetty name 5734L3R, is under development by a group of guys in Russia (whose programmer left the team in March of 2013, so the project could be in limbo for a while). Stealer has a strong art style, focusing on detailed robotic creations and atmospheric blue-grey cityscapes bulging with wires and other equipment. The game is an exploration-based action-platformer in a world made up of only robots.
Stick it to the Man | PS3 and Vita via PSN | JUST RELEASED!!
Developer Zoink invites you to Stick it to the Man in this surrealistic platformer -slash- action adventure. At the beginning of the game, a fellow named Ray receives a serious head injury that leaves him in a coma. When he awakes, he finds that he has some kind of ghostly pink spaghetti noddle arm extending out of his head ala Elfen Lied, except instead of ripping off appendages, the arm lets him read people’s minds and supplant their thoughts with his own. The game features more than 100 characters whose minds are open for the reading, and they have plenty to say (er, think) with over 10 hours of recorded dialogue and a darkly humorous script from Adventure Time writer Ryan North. The game is set in a world of paper and stickers, and swapping stickers around leads to all sorts of strange results.
Still Time | Flash | Release Date TBD
Developer Alan Zucconi presents Still Time, a time travelling puzzle platformer that promises headache inducing logic puzzles based around pausing and rewinding time, and being in several places at once. Levels are presented in single screen environments with a goal of safely travelling from one side to the other to pass on to the next level. While you have your typical switches and such that need to be activated, things aren’t so simple... You may need to back up time and create multiple versions of yourself to activate multiple switches simultaneously. New mechanics being introduced as you go, including enemies that can also affect the timeline, making puzzle solutions ever more complicated.
Super Comboman | PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, and planned for PSN and XBLA | 2013
Interabang Entertainment certainly isn’t shy about tossing a bunch of different ideas into the mix with their Super Comboman title. The game features white-outlined sticker people in platformer-based environments with brawler-based combat. The game stars a young mulletted islander by the name of Struggles who is obsessed with his favorite comic book character, Super Comboman. As you might expect from the title, combat is heavily focused on stringing together combos to cause more damage, and you can unlock new combos as you progress by finding packs of stickers. You’ll also do a bit of puzzle solving and perform some wreckage of numerous destructible environments along the way.
Super Cyborg | PC | Release Date TBD
Contra fans should pay attention to the latest from Russian Studio Artur Games. Super Cyborg takes the runny and gunny from Contra and tosses in the robotic characters from Probotector (the European version of Contra on the NES). Everything from the spritework to sound effects to weapons is a throwback to the NES versions of Contra and Super C. You’ll find the traditional machine gun, fireball weapon, laser, and the world-famous spread gun, unleashed by shooting floating pods that move across the screen in a wave formation. Somersault and 8-way shoot your way through hordes of alien critters and huge disgusting end-level bosses… just be careful of those one-hit kills.
Super Time Force | Xbox 360 via XBLA, and eventually other platforms | 2014
Super Time Force, previously known as Super T.I.M.E. Force, is the latest from Capy Games, the developers behind the intriguing adventure title Sword and Sworcery. In STF, the player takes control of “an elite squad of time-travelling badasses” as Capy states, known as Temporal Inevitability Manipulation Experts (T.I.M.E.). This team goes back in time to correct all of God’s horrible mistakes by killing all kinds of bad guys who never should have existed in the first place. Players may select between 3 character classes with proclivities toward destruction, precision, or defense, and when a character dies, time is rewound and the player gets to head back into battle (selecting a new class if desired). All of the previously-killed characters perform their previous actions, fighting enemies (and dying) as they go, and generally filling up the screen with extra mayhem as potentially dozens of your past playthroughs are replayed at once. The game focuses on huge weapons, ludicrous action, and deadly flame-spewing robots and is presented Capy’s trademark chunky retro art style, but this time with a distinctly sci-fi bent.
Teslagrad | Playstation 3 via PSN, Wii U via eShop, PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam | Q4 2013
Norwegian developer Rain Games is preparing their first release in the form of Teslagrad, a puzzle platformer with a focus on electricity (as you may have guessed) and magnetism. You play a young boy who must use his ingenuity – combined with powerful technology – to traverse Tesla Tower. This technology allows you to perform a horizontal teleport dash to reach new areas and avoid enemies, and you can also activate electrical objects to move platforms and open doors.
Tower of the Gorillion | PC, Mac, and Linux | Release Date TBD
Tower of the Gorillion, from developers Steven Circuiton and Colin Marjoram, is a puzzle platformer where you take control of 2 independent characters – similar to Treasure Treasure: Fortress Forage: Extra Edition, except that these characters operate on two separate planes, with one in the foreground and one in the background. The graphical style is modeled after the limited color palette of the original Game Boy, with darker tones marking the background layer and lighter tones marking the foreground. Many of the puzzles involve activating switches to open a path for the other character to traverse, or interacting with objects that impact both planes simultaneously. The objective is to navigate through each of the environments and get both characters safely to the exit, avoiding spikes and other dangers along the way. You can play the game as a single player switching between the two characters, or play it in 2P co-op.
TowerClimb | PC via Steam | Release Date TBD
Not unlike Spelunky, TowerClimb from Davioware is a procedurally generated platformer with roguelike elements, although it goes an extra step in the RPG direction by including permadeath and the ability to upgrade your character’s abilities. Your character has access to a wide range of abilities with which no navigate the ever-changing and deadly platforming worlds, including running, jumping, double jumping, ledge grabbing, wall climbing, swimming, and even the ability to fly and toss limited use projectiles. The player must venture ever-upward, avoiding enemies, pits of lava, and spikes while hunting down treasure chests and grabbing powerups that grant some of the aforementioned abilities. The player must also be careful to manage resources and not be wasteful, lest they warrant their own doom.
Transistor | Playstation 4 via PSN, PC via Steam | 2014
Supergiant Games, the developers behind Bastion, are back to deliver an entirely new action-RPG experience, this time focusing on a science fiction setting rather than post-apocalyptic fantasy. The story of Transistor focuses on a singer named Red who finds herself being hunted by assassins. She discovers a mysterious sword-like object called the Transistor that allows her to destroy objects and fight enemies with a wide array of short range, long range, and area effect attacks in real time. Players may also access an SRPG interface that allows them to pause the action and use movement and action points to strategically plan out attacks against multiple foes. Art, music, and narration once again play a huge role in the overall feel of the game, with the folks from the Bastion team returning to ply their talents once again, along with a handful of new folks.
Treasure Adventure World | PC | Q1 2014
In 2011, Robit Studios released a freeware game called Treasure Adventure Game, an action adventure title with a large open world to explore, creatures to kill, puzzles to solve, and treasures to find. The game took Stephen Orlando about 3 years to create. Now, he’s working on an updated (non-freeware) HD version of the game called Treasure Adventure World which features new content, new music, and a new visual style. The player controls a boy who sets out with his parrot to traverse a number of islands – to which he sails in a magical shrinking/growing boat that fits in his pocket when not in use – speaking to NPCs and embarking on various quests, slowly opening up the world Metroidvania-style as new abilities and equipment are earned, such as digging down through piles of dirt that block certain passages.
Treasurenauts | 3DS via eShop | Q1 2014
Developer Renegade Kid, known for its Mutant Mudds series, is working on a project called Treasurenauts, which focuses on a motley crew of adventurers, heroes, and some oddball characters (like a ninja) as they seek treasure. You can customize your character’s appearance and select their weapon, with weapons falling into melee, projectile, and explosive categories, each offering strengths and weaknesses. For instance, the sword is fast but has a short range, whereas the bomb is powerful but has a low speed, and firearms can fire over long distances but don’t do as much damage. Players can go it alone or team up with a second player in local co-op for platforming, boss fighting, and treasure hunting, all the while unlocking new abilities (like a double jump) and entirely new playable characters.
Twisted Tower | PC | Release Date TBD
Twisted Tower is described by developer HitmanN as a marriage between Diablo and Castlevania. The title is a side-scrolling action RPG with randomly-generated dungeons. Players control a green-haired girl with cat ears and a tail as she raids dungeons, kills lots of enemies, gains experience, hunts for loot, and talks to NPC’s back in town. She can equip a variety of weapons from swords to maces and even long-rage weapons like a bow. The girl can also learn new combat abilities, get stat boosts, and learn spells along the way as well. Loads of fantasy- and horror-themed enemies presented as chunky animated sprites. Chapter 1 is planned as a freeware release with later chapters potentially being offered as commercial releases.
Two Brothers | Wii U via eShop, Xbox 360 via XBLA or XBLIG, PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, iOS | JUST RELEASED!! (Steam)
Two Brothers from Ackk Studios is an action-RPG created in the style of classic Game Boy adventures, with a limited color palate but with a considerably higher resolution than the old brick was capable of producing. The presentation is part of the story as well, as the lead character becomes obsessed with discovering a new color after a near-death experience shows him a color-filled world. This obsession is what ultimately leads him on his quest which sends him out across the world, up against detailed enemies and bosses, and even into the afterlife. During your quest for color, you explore an overworld and dungeons, gain new equipment and weapons, speak to NPC’s, and eat the hearts of your fallen enemies.
Velocity 2X | PS4 and Vita via PSN | 2014
In 2012, developer Futurlab released Velocity for on PSN for PS3 and Vita, following it up the next year with an HD re-release for the Vita entitled Velocity Ultra. Now they’re making a full-fledged sequel in the form of Velocity 2X. Once again, you find yourself piloting the teleporting Quarp Jet to defeat enemies, drop bombs, solve puzzles, and teleport through solid objects. This time around, however, you can also dock your ship and head out for some on-foot action in sidescrolling action platforming environments.
A Wizard's Lizard | PC, Mac, and Linux, and eventually Wii U | Release Date TBD
Developer Lost Decade Games presents A Wizard's Lizard (formerly Crypt Run, a medieval hack ‘n’ slash roguelike… sort of. While the game does feature a high difficulty level and procedurally generated dungeons, it doesn’t technically end when you die. Instead, death sends you to an alternate version of the level in the realm of the dead, featuring undead enemies and changes to the environment. Later you will find that the only way to progress is to allow yourself to be killed and then continue in the alternate realm. Gameplay is twin stick style, played with a keyboard or gamepad. Players toss projectiles such as swords and axes to defeat enemies while running around grabbing loot and exploring interconnected rooms.
zX | PC | Release Date TBD
South African one-man developer retroFuture is taking the shmup into action-adventure territory with zX. Gone are forced scrolling environments, replaced with a series of large caverns that can be traversed at will with your small but heavily armed ship. As in many shmups, your ship’s projectiles can be upgraded, but you also have a melee attack in the form of a pair of blades that emerge from the front of your ship. These blades allow you to deflect enemy bullets while also powering up your special weapon, encouraging up-close attacks. In addition to exploration, players will still face the more traditional enemy waves and bullet sprays while they attempt to avoid lasers, lava, and other environmental hazards.
* Because these games are in various stages of development and represent in-progress work, certain elements could change prior to release, including the release date and platform.