New Retro Games’ Christmas Awards! (Pt. 2)

A few days ago – just in time for Christmas – we spewed out some of our best game picks from the blog. Now that the turkey carcasses have been picked clean and the hangovers have cleared (somewhat), it’s time to dip into Santa’s secret stash for more goodies from the past year or so…

New Retro Games’

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Part 2: The Christmasing

Last time, we highlighted polished platformer action titles like Curse of Issyos, oddities such as Void Pyramid and crazy action of Streets of Rogue. This time we have an equally varied set of overlooked presents, from voxel nazis to professional create-pushing, we’ve got you covered.

FPS: Voxelstein 3D

At only 8 entries, the FPS is kind of like the weird half brother of the new retro games universe. Perhaps it’s as the FPS is currently one of the dominating modern game mediums; making it feel too “new”, despite the fact that classics like Doom existed way back in the 90s.

Speaking of classics though, our pick has to go to one such classic – Wolfenstein 3D. Or more specifically, a re-imagining of one such classic, called Voxelstein 3D. Rendering the entire game in voxels enables the complete destruction of pretty much everything in game (almost). Annoying corpse cluttering up your cell? Fine, shoot it to dust. Don’t want to find a key for that door? Good, stab it. To death.

voxelstein3d_1

Honourable mentions: Cybershade Doom Mod. What if Doom was filled with bright vibrant colours and looked decidedly more 8-bit retro look ‘n’ feel? The Cybershade mod has the answer for you.

Puzzle: Puzzle Depot

The puzzle genre has oft been relegated to fusion with other, more popular and better looking genres, left in merely as an attribute of an RPG battle system, or chucked in as a hacking mini-game in an FPS or something. Puzzle Depot‘s fusion gives the maligned genre a different twist, putting the puzzles at the heart and soul of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure RPG… by making its man protagonist an employee in a Sokoban-style box pushing company. And it is awesome.

PuzzleDepot_4

The main reason Puzzle Depot works is because it knows how to keep things interesting with its adventure and story elements, a decent sense of humour and mystery, and perhaps most of all, by allowing multiple solutions and play styles depending efficiently you make use of your equipment. It’s worth checking out even if you wouldn’t normally go near a “puzzle” game.

The only caveat with Puzzle Depot is its WIP status – the game had a successful Kickstarter campaign, and after a year is still receiving updates – with no release date is in sight yet. Luckily there is a playable demo, so make sure to check it out.

Honourable mention: Tower of Archeos. A match-3+ style puzzle game with RPG elements, Archeos stands out because of its flourishing attention to visual detail. The gameplay aint half bad either, setting you in a tower full of monsters – each type with their own distinct trait that affect your puzzling strategy.

Racing: Weekend Drive

Another tricky one, since we haven’t covered many racing-orientated games. More for a lack of human resources than anything else – I’m more of an adventure/RPG/platformer afficionado and Kevin is into… other things… so racing has been a bit unrepresented here. Enter Weekend Drive.

WeekendDrive_1

The best of the limited bunch is not even a full game, but it’s a fun experimental package while it lasts. Weekend Drive features a couple of modes to varying levels of wackiness. Racing through a city being destroyed in a meteor storm is all well and good, but racing through zombie-filled streets from a giant nazi is, well, unique.

Honourable Mention: MS Paint Racers. It captures the look ‘n’ feel of old school racers like Outrun nicely, which is impressive for something made in MS Paint. It’s more soothing than challenging, so take it for a weekend drive. After, uh, Weekend Drive, at least.

Shoot ’em up: Z-Exemplar

There’s been a variety of retro-style shooters flying out of the hanger this year, but the standout to us was Z-Exemplar. The game takes on the real old school, replicating the style of the ZX Spectrum (speccy to his mates) rather accurately.

Z-Exemplar

But Z-Exemplar impresses not because of its retro-cred alone. The game has a mind-boggling amount of customisation options, with tons of varied weapons and skills to choose from (most of which can be upgraded) and an even more mind-boggling amount of levels (961). Luckily, the levels are short enough that it doesn’t feel like a slog, and are explored in a lovely galaxy map. The whole thing is also wrapped in a wonderful sense of humour. We covered the demo way back, and the game was completed and released in November.

Honourable mention: Xydonia. An unforgivingly 90’s style shoot ’em up with excellent SNES-style graphics and sounds. It is, however, a work in progress, but you can check out our article where you can grab the demo.

Simulation: Stardew Valley

So… We haven’t covered a proper sim at all. Ooops. Sorry about that. We will cheat, since we can do that, and nominate a game that we’ve at least mentioned in the New Retro News featurettes.

StardewVelly_1

Stardew Valley is a Harvest Moon a-like that out-harvests Harvest Moon. It’s also a massively popular success story for a solo indie dev who presumably started building a death star with all the cash. Stardew Valley is like a “best of” album from the Harvest series, featuring tons of farming including foodstuffs and animals, as well as a monster cave to explore and plenty of NPCs to interact with, and marry, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Honourable mention: Gnomoria. Imagine Dwarf Fortress, but without the need to earn an engineering degree to understand it. Another sim-style game that we only mentioned in passing, Gnomoria is a city/mine/fortress builder that is dangerously addictive.

And that’s a wrap for 2016! We’ve explored a ton of interesting indie games this year and last, and look forward to many more. As we realised from compiling this list, some genres were better represented than others – sadly, strategy games didn’t even make the list at all – but we hope to address this next year with more racing, sim and strategy games!

We will be resuming our regular posts in early January (we’ve already written and scheduled a few weeks worth). Until then, stay warm (or for those in the south, cool), stay safe, and make sure to enjoy some excellent retro flavoured goodness over the holidays!

 

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About J.C

I grew up in the dark dingy arcades of the 1980s, blasting heads with Robocop 2, but grew up in an era that spanned the introduction of the x86 home computer, through to the 16-bit revolution, into the polygon age and beyond. I write about food, travel and of course, New Retro Games. I started newretrogames.wordpress.com and contribute to www.thecitylane.com. I am also a freelance business researcher, writer, and editor having published academic and corporate articles on innovation and intellectual property.

Posted on December 29, 2016, in First-person Shooter, Puzzle, Racing, Shoot 'Em Up, Simulation, Strategy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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