Sunday, December 14, 2008

Freeware Games for the Holidays - Part 1

A LOT of people I know, and know of, pirate games. Partly it's because the availability of games here is pretty bad, and the prices are atrocious as I spoke about here. But, I think most of the time, it's the same reason people pirate games anywhere else in the world. It's free, and no one has suffered any consequence for it here.

The whole piracy discussion is a whole separate issue which I do not plan on going into here, what I want to do though is make a couple of recommendations based on my own impressions and suggestions based on other peoples' reviews and impressions of high quality, good length freeware games available for the windows PC, Mac and for those who have them, hacked PSPs as an alternative to getting more pirated games this holiday season. Think of it as getting good karma.

I was originally going to break the list down into sections (PC, MAC, PSP) and then into genres (shmup, platformer etc.), but I am too lazy to do that so you will all have to go through the list and check the description to see if it is for your chosen platform.

Here we go.
1.









Cave Story
(PC, MAC, PSP) get it here

Okay, this is hands down one of the best games you will play on any platform guaranteed. It is a platformer/ side-scrolling shooter with heavy exploration elements and a simple but well told story. You will gain hours of play from this as you discover secrets, different paths through the game, hidden weapons and an entire hidden area. You can get all the various versions from here with instructions on setting them up. The game is also being released on the Wii via Wiiware and I will encourage you to buy it, if you can, to support the developer and to try out the extras they are sure to include with its release.

2.










Iji
(PC) get it here

Iji is an side-scrolling action/adventure game with a graphical style reminiscent of Flashback. I haven't finished the game yet, but what I have played is of very high quality. The game features rpg mechanics allowing you to tailor your character in such a way that can even allow you to complete the game without killing anybody at all. It also has rave reviews from all over the indie game web, so it is definitely worth a playthrough.

3.










The Spirit Engine (PC) get it here

This is another side-scroller, but this time its an rpg! The Spirit Engine has good dialogue and an intriguing story. The combat system is quite unique in its approach, and although it may take some getting used, is quite fun once you get used to it. I never finished this because it kept crashing at a particular point in one of the later chapters, but I can recommend it wholeheartedly.

4.











Dwarf Fortress (PC, MAC) get it here

Okay, first a disclaimer, the game fresh off whichever server you get it from doesn't look like the screenshot above. In reality, everything is represented by ascii text until you get a new tile set and replace them, but I didn't want to scare you guys off. Anyway, this is one of the deepest and most rewarding strategy/simulation/rpg roguelikes you are likely to play in the next couple of years. You control a band of dwarves as they make a home in the side of a mountain and fend off all manner of creatures and deal with pregnancy, going berserk and competing craftsdwarves. The Sims Extreme in other words. And I haven't talked about the adventure mode or the fact it generates an entire unique world history and myth for you.

5.








Exult
(PC, MAC, PSP) get it here (PC & MAC) and here for PSP.

Exult is an engine developed to emulate the old computer rpgs Ultima VII: The Black Gate and The Serpent Isle. These are some of the most acclaimed rpgs ever so this is basically a no-brainer. The exult platform does a great job of bringing these games to modern audiences so you should definitely give it a shot.

6.










La Mulana
(PC) get it and the English patch here

La Mulana is a side-scrolling adventure game made to resemble an MSX title. It is fiendishly hard and in fact this is one of the few games I haven't finished due to difficulty, but damn is it FUN! I am including a link to a series of Let's Play... videos on youtube where you can watch someone play through the entire game. So, if you do get stuck, have a look at the series here. It is also one of the longest games on this list, with a full playthrough taking up to 10-12 hours even if one knows what they are doing.

That's it for part 1. Dunno when I will get around to a part 2, but look forward to it and I hope you find something that catches your fancy among these games.

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