[From now until mid-January, IndieGames.com: The Weblog will be counting down the best independent and freeware games of 2009, with descriptions, screenshots, and links of the best games in each major category. Previously: Top 10 Shoot ’em Ups, Top 10 Puzzle Games]
The third of our in-depth 2009 Best Of Features here on the IndieGames.com blog (after the overall Top 10 we did for Gamasutra and the 10 Indie Games for ’10 article), we’re proud to present ten of the best Flash-based platformers released in 2009.
It has been an incredible year for indie games, and more so for the platformer genre. We have no intentions of leaving Mac OSX and Linux users out in the cold, so here’s ten games that will run on any modern-day internet browser to satiate your need for run ‘n jump games.
(You can also access the full 2009 Top Browser Platformers chart — with extra screenshots and information — as part of the IndieGames.com Features section, which includes indie game charts from 2006 to 2008.)
Here are the top freeware browser platformers of the year:
10. Push (Ian Snyder) [Flash, freeware]
Push is a twisted platformer all about moving the level around to reach the goal. The WASD keys move the little expressionless guy around, while clicking the mouse button will push all the surrounding blocks away from the centre of your click, allowing him to progress past originally solid walls.
Great concept, yet painfully difficult to master.
9. Cave Chaos (Nitrome) [Flash, freeware]
You know those situations you sometimes find yourself in where you’re in a cave and it suddenly starts falling down around you, and your only chance of survival is to run on a 2D plane, dodging falling barrels and the ghosts of various dead creatures? Cave Chaos is like those times – but in a game.
See, those situations in real life are incredibly stressful and just a little bit scary, but playing this game takes all the stress out of it and actually makes it really fun. That feeling of anxiety is replaced by some all round good fun and there’s even a 2-player mode so you and your friend can re-construct some memories you may otherwise have rather forgotten.
8. Shift 4 (Antony Lavelle) [Flash, freeware]
In Shift 4 you’re in control of an astronaut whose ship was attacked by a giant squid, forcing our protagonist to make an emergency landing at the closest planet. Waking up to find your family members missing, you decide to explore a deserted facility nearby and search for clues about their current whereabouts.
This particular episode is a little more challenging than previous releases, since players are required to switch between two or more characters often to solve some of the harder puzzles. New gameplay elements such as gravity and contact-sensitive switches are introduced at a steady pace, which is a boon considering that the map is a lot less linear and there is a bit of backtracking to do as well.
7. Blasting Agent (Darthlupi and Tim Hely) [Flash, freeware]
Blasting Agent is an action-oriented 2D platformer with gun upgrades, collectible treasures and awesome boss battles, featuring chunky pixel art contributed by Robert Lupinek (The Cleaner). You play as a blaster-toting secret agent on a mission to save the world from being taken over by a terrorist group, which means infiltrating their secret base with guns ablazing and your adrenaline level on an all-time high.
There are only three levels to play, but you can unlock special bonuses and secret items by completing them with the maximum score possible.
6. Underworld Trip (Yoshio Ishii and Yossa) [Flash, freeware]
Nekogames’ Underworld Trip is a platformer created in a style that is similar to Terry Cavanagh’s Don’t Look Back, where players will attempt to figure out what has happened to them by journeying deeper into the realm of the dead.
Throughout your adventure you will encounter numerous traps and obstacles which kills instantly on contact. There is no health system to allow for second chances, although you can restart from the beginning of a particular scene at any time with the use of the R key.
There are a total of eight stages to play and six single screen endings to discover, but you would have to replay the entire game starting with the first level in order to view another short end sequence.
5. The Company of Myself (Eli Piilonen and Luka Marcetic) [Flash, freeware]
The Company of Myself is a platformer which implements the game mechanic seen in the likes of Chronotron and Time Donkey. Our storyteller Jack must reach the door on each level by using past copies of himself as platforms (and later on, vice-versa).
Some of the puzzles are pretty fantastic and require a great deal of concentration and logic to figure them out. There are lever-pulling puzzles which appear to be inspired by Braid, force-fields which only your copies can walk through and many gaps to fall down. Towards the end of the game a few of the puzzles which involve precision timing are a little frustrating, but there’s nothing too hair-wrenching.
The story is also nicely thought out and again appears to take a little inspiration from Jon Blow’s masterpiece.
4. Small Worlds (David Shute) [Flash, freeware]
Small Worlds is a 2D exploration game created by David Shute, where the controls for your character can be a bit frustrating at times but everything else about the effort shines through. Even if you take all the wrong paths, this adventure is still a rather short one that will only take roughly about fifteen minutes of your time to complete.
3. Don’t Look Back (Terry Cavanagh) [Flash, freeware]
Don’t Look Back is a platforming affair that exposes Terry’s dark side, plunging the player into hell-like surroundings with the likes of quick-moving snakes and spiders which drop from the ceiling to cope with. As you’d expect, the difficulty initially starts low and ramps itself up bit by bit throughout play. There’s even a few boss battles thrown in there to make the package feel complete.
All in all it’s great platforming fun that deserves to be played.
2. Time Fcuk (Edmund McMillen and William Good) [Flash, freeware]
Time Fcuk is a platformer that warns about the dangers of time travel, featuring puzzles centered around your character’s ability to switch between layers in a level. Your future selves tend to contact you constantly and provide hints, chide you, or even babble incohesively while you attempt to figure out how to get to the portal that teleports you to the next area.
Some stages contain blocks for you to move around and use as platforms to reach higher ground, while other rooms may have moving arrows that reverses gravity when touched. The game comes with a comprehensive level editor that allows users to design and share their own obstacle courses with other players.
1. Super Karoshi (Jesse Venbrux) [Flash, freeware]
Jesse Venbrux is back with the fifth chapter in the popular Karoshi series, and his second Flash browser game to feature everyone’s favorite protagonist with the trademark blue suit. In Super Karoshi you not only have to figure out ways to commit suicide but occasionally assist other similarly-looking characters to do the same as well.
Unlike Karoshi Suicide Salaryman, nearly all of the puzzles to be found in this release are original and have never been featured in previous iterations. There are roughly sixty stages to play in total.
[Got feedback? Reasons to disagree? Post a response and we’ll do a special ‘best of reader comments’ round-up at the end of our chart countdowns.]