[From now until mid-January, IndieGames.com: The Weblog will be counting down the best independent and freeware games of 2010, with descriptions, screenshots, and links of the best games in each major category. Previously: Top 10 Experimental Games, Top 10 Shoot ’em Ups, Top 10 Role-Playing Games, Top 10 Freeware Puzzlers, Top 10 Freeware Adventure Games, Top 10 Browser Arcade Games, Top 10 Freeware Arcade Games]
The eighth of our in-depth 2010 Best Of Features here on the IndieGames.com blog (after the overall Top 10 we did for Gamasutra and the 10 Indie Games for ’11 article), we’re proud to present ten of the best Flash-based platformers released in 2010.
Super Meat Boy helped usher in the renaissance of indie games in 2010, and it’s no surprise that 2D platformers make up a large percentage of browser games available to play on casual game portals as well. Here’s our guide to some of the more notable run ‘n jump games that you shouldn’t be missing out on.
Here are the top browser platformers of the year:
10. Fishbane (Droqen) [Flash, freeware]
Fishbane is a challenging platformer about a diver who explores the murky depths in the search for golden harpoons and goldfish. The game’s main concept revolves around the ability to throw a harpoon into a wall and then jump on top of it, using it as an extra platform for reaching higher ground. Fishbane can also throw a harpoon, then jump on top and ride it across chasms.
The first level is simple enough, acting as a tutorial of sorts and easing you into the idea. From then on, however, it can get pretty difficult. Worth a pop even if you do find yourself horribly baffled.
9. Give Up Robot 2 (Matt Thorson) [Flash, freeware]
The original Give Up Robot introduced our grappling robotic hero, throwing him into a series of tough chambers with a sinister voice sneering throughout that he should give up his journey. It was a wonderfully psychedelic trip, although the swinging mechanic wasn’t explored as fully as we would have hoped. Just four months later, developer Matt Thorson gave us the sequel — and my, what a sequel it was. Not only did it address our issues with the original game, but it went much further, providing what is easily the indie gaming experience of the year.
Our little robot once again bobs along to the music, hooking onto scenery and swinging through the tightest of gaps. Everything about Give Up Robot 2 is magnificent, from the clever level design to the playful, bouncy soundtrack. There are plenty of homages to the Mario games, including blocks that churn out coins and clouds with faces, and the level of challenge is spot-on, such that players will die numerous times, yet never feel that the game is being unfair. Simply put, Give Up Robot 2 is pure, unadulterated fun.
8. K.O.L.M. (Antony Lavelle) [Flash, freeware]
K.O.L.M. is a Metroid-like platformer in which you get to control a robot who is trying to escape from a maze, helped by the soothing voice of a mother who constantly feeds her son with encouragement and advice throughout his journey. Like other games of its ilk, K.O.L.M. also features plenty of robot upgrades, new abilities and collectibles that you can acquire to improve your chances of survival in this labyrinth of single-screen rooms.
7. Blue Knight (Ali Maunder) [Flash, freeware]
Blue Knight is another Metroid-style exploration platformer in which you play as the titular protagonist tasked with preparing an alien-infested planet for human colonization. There’s a gun that you’ll need to retrieve first from somewhere near your starting location, but once you’re armed you can begin blasting the aliens into pieces and collect the gems that they leave behind.
6. Endeavor (Zillix) [Flash, freeware]
Originally created for the October Ludum Dare competition but not released until now, Endeavor is the story of a small dwarf who sets out on an epic adventure, and ends up getting far more than he bargained for, as he stumbles on an ancient secret.
With some Metroidvania-style exploration and plenty of secrets to find, this is a great adventure. Tons of quests, loads of collectables and multiple endings. It’s honestly just really, really wonderful and will keep you hooked for a good while.
5. Grand Mystic Quest of Discovery (hulahulahest) [Flash, freeware]
Grand Mystic Quest of Discovery is a C64-style platformer in which you play as an unnamed wizard, stuck inside a ruin with nary a single possession in his pockets. Your quest here involves searching for spells that you can use to solve puzzles, acquiring keys to open locked doors, and collecting pieces of a parchment to reveal the secret exit hidden somewhere in this tomb. Spells can only be used once in every room, and if you conjure something up you’ll have to remove them from the screen first before you’re allowed to cast the same spell a second time.
4. Coma (Thomas Brush) [Flash, freeware]
In the puzzle platformer Coma you play as Pete, a friendly little creature who is on a search for his missing sister. During your adventure you’ll meet other inhabitants of the outside world, some of them requiring your help before returning the favor with an item or a piece of advice.
Occasionally it can be hard to tell whether certain platforms are tangible or not, and a couple of interactive objects can be tough to spot, but even if you had difficulties with a puzzle or two it still won’t take you more than half an hour to beat the entire game.
3. Liferaft: Zero (Mike Boxleiter and Greg Wohlwend) [Flash, freeware]
Liferaft: Zero is set in a testing facility, where little girl clones are made to run, jump and swing their way around dangerous chambers. It’s all got an incredibly vibe to it, and there are lots of little details here and there that make it all the more entertaining – the scientists watching you from behind glass, sipping on cups of tea every now and again; The dialogue changing depending on how many girls you’ve managed to kill; The blood-stained spikes which get more and more soiled as you fail that swing for the umpteenth time… it’s lovely stuff.
2. Loved (Alexander Ocias) [Flash, freeware]
Loved features a black and white world through which you roam via a plump monster thingy. It’s all very sinister, however, due to a voice which is constantly asking questions and telling you what to do.
Your answers and choices have a huge effect on your gaming experience. Disobey an order and you’ll get different results, answer a question with a negative response and you’ll change the outcome. The game is only around five minutes long, but after a third or fourth play through, you’ll still be seeing new paths.
The controls are a little wonky – you will land on spikes many, many times – but it’s definitely worth giving a go.
1. Redder (dessgeega) [Flash, freeware]
In Redder you play as an astronaut forced to make an emergency landing on an alien planet after finding out that she has run out of crystals to power her ship. This 2D platformer features a world map, regular checkpoint locations, and an unlimited number of retries to assist players who are unaccustomed to difficult challenges.
[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.]