Not all video games have the benefit of million-dollar advertising campaigns and giant corporate monoliths to shove them forward into the spotlight. And not every gamer has $60 to drop on a triple-A title. But if you look around, you'll find plenty of small scale operations churning out gaming gold at little or no cost to you. Here are six of the best homemade games that you need to be playing.
6. Sleep is Death
What is the object of Sleep is Death? I can't tell you. No, not because I'm a dick. It's because it depends. It depends on who you're playing with. Sleep is Death is unique in that one player plays as the player, and the other player plays as the game. The game will be unique every time because of the person playing as your game.
Hold on. I know what you're thinking: This sounds pretty artsy fartsy pants. You're right. Sleep is Death is artsy. It was made by Jason Rohrer. You may be familiar with Rohrer's previous game, Passage, where you walk towards the right side of the screen until you grow old and die. Don't let that discourage you; this game's a lot more fun.
Sleep is Death is a point and click adventure on it's surface, but what you're really doing is working with a friend to create a story. It's kind of like Dungeons and Dragons, if Dungeons and Dragons didn't have any real rules or goals. Not only can this result in some pretty ridiculous scenarios, but the 30 second turn limit practically enforces it.
It's hard to even call Sleep is Death a game. It's more a fun creative outlet. The learning curve for playing as the omniscient game-god is rough, but I recommend giving it a shot. The experience is wholly unlike any other video game. The only limit is your imagination! Only for real, not like when we say that to little kids.
Buy Sleep is Death (pay what you want)
Every year companies like Capcom put out new 2D fighting games with new characters. For some reason, people buy them. That reason is because those people have never heard of M.U.G.E.N. M.U.G.E.N. is a freeware, fully customizable 2D fighting game. You can build anything you want in M.U.G.E.N. And people have been, for over 10 years. When Capcom announced Capcom vs SNK, M.U.G.E.N. fans scoffed and said "Welcome to 1999."
When you download M.U.G.E.N. you start with nothing. You're downloading a blueprint for a game. There's a fighting engine there, but it needs characters, backgrounds, special effects, etc. That's where M.U.G.E.N. shines. You can make all that stuff if you know what you're doing. People do, then they share them freely on the Internet, which is great for people like me who don't know what they're doing.
All the obvious characters are out there. M.U.G.E.N. builders have pillaged every last available videogame sprite imaginable to make it into a playable characters. Any version of Ryu is freely available, but that's just the beginning. Pretty much everything exists as a downloadable M.U.G.E.N. character. Everything. It's ridiculous. If you have a dream match-up, you can achieve it in M.U.G.E.N.
Robocop vs Sailor Moon? Of course. That is exactly the kind of thing people who build fighting game characters in their free time would make. Peter Griffin vs Uma Thurman from Kill Bill? Yes. I said everything. A giant mouse cursor vs a killer whale? Yep- I skimmed a M.U.G.E.N. character site for that example, I didn't pull it out of thin air.
You can find backgrounds from every fighter imaginable, as well as physics, life bars, hit sparks, etc. to construct your own beautiful 2D fighting Frankenstein. If you don't like M.U.G.E.N., then you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if you really like 2D fighting games, because it's probably not M.U.G.E.N.'s fault.
4. I Wanna Be the Guy: The Movie: The Game
Throughout history, the one driving force of man has been the desire to "be the guy" (not to be confused with being "that guy.") The same plot leads our protaganist "the kid" to attempt to be, you guessed it, "the guy."
That's about all we know for sure about the plot.
Intentionally written as a poorly-translated platformer, the poorly-phrased sentences underscore the bizarre grab-bag of scenerary and enemies: magic flying fruit, Tetris blocks, and a giant Mike Tyson of Punch-out fame, all ready to kill you, all with a single hit.
There's also Mecha Birdo, because that's exactly what the world needs, now more than ever.
Don't be fooled: the game is hard. Very hard. Its silly premise and whimsical scenery underscores an excruciatingly difficult game that's way more demanding than any console release. It is a must play if you want to be startled, frustrated, amused, furious and generally flabbergasted how this game could possibly be the way it is.