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Top five indie games that rely on nostalgia

Since the 1990s, the internet has grown as a browsing tool for many forms of media, and past the millenium indie games slowly began to surface. In the past you could find and play these games for free, but nowadays indie developers rely on getting their titles greenlit through Kickstarter campaigns to achieve success in popularity. Some have their own original concept in gameplay, while others take the classic games we grew up with as inspiration to design. So today I'll be sharing my top five favorite indie games that rely on old school charm.


5. Cave Story (2004)


Taking inspiration from the exploration and survival elements from Metroid, you play as Quote, a robot from the planet's surface, his memory lost he ends up in an underground world inhabited by creatures known as Mimiga, and undergoing a quest to save them from a doctor, mad for power who's on the hunt for an artifact known as the Demon Crown.

Much like Metroid you'll find different types of ammunition and upgrades helping you along the way as you make your way through the many areas of the underground, and meeting a cast of odd characters to flesh out the story. You can also make your ammo stronger by obtaining little yellow diamonds dropped by enemies but the game will still offer great challenge with the bosses you encounter. Cave Story originally started as a free to play downloadable indie game but eventually garnered enough popularity to show up as a purchasable title in the Nintendo Wii's digital store, Nintendo 3DS digital store and on Steam, with added features.


4. RPG Maker 2003 (2003 in Japan, 2005 in U.S.)


It's not a game per se, but it's a software that provides the user to design their own RPG. RPG Maker 2003 was the most basic of all RPG Maker installments as it was the most user friendly to allow simple access of designing character models and their portraits, maps and dialogue. As more RPG Maker titles followed, they would eventually become purchasable software as they were updated, and map and sprite DLC would eventually come into play for purchase.


3. La-Mulana (2007 remake)


If you're familiar with Spelunker on NES, chances are you'll feel right at home with this game. If not, then you're in for a treat. La-Mulana takes you in the Indiana Jones-esque role of character Lemeza, in search of treasure buried deep within the ruins of the world you're trekking through. It's not just a cakewalk from point A to point B though, as enemies, traps and even bosses await to put a hindrance to your progress.

Along the way you'll be needing to earn money dropped from monsters to purchase necessary items to make it through the ruins as well, such as a scanner device that translates and reads ancient tablets. Much like Cave Story it started out as a free download,  but in 2007 it got a fresh coat of paint in 16 bit graphics and puzzles and bosses were changed.


2. Retro City Rampage (2012)


Taking heavy inspiration from the chaotic gameplay of the Grand Theft Auto series while stuffing in mouthfuls of pop culture references, Retro City Rampage puts you in the shoes of the simply named "Player" embarking on different missions from your time traveling partner in crime, Doc Choc as you roam the 8-bit streets of Theftropolis. Similarly to Grand Theft Auto you can hijack vehicles, buy weapons, go on sidemissions and even freeroam when you want. The game has seen numerous releases on different systems such as Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360 and even PC due to popularity, and a sequel is even in the works.


1. Stardew Valley (2016)


Farm simulators have pretty much had their own place in the gaming world, some people love it, others don't, but it all started with a game called Harvest Moon on the SNES. In that game you had the simple chore of tending to your crops and livestock and make a profit, but you also had the choice to get that all done and join in on events happening in the town, doing favors for citizens, or swooning one of the ladies that lived outside of the farm and starting a relationship. The only downside was the game's quick running day to night clock so if you wanted to get any errands done, you had to be quick.

Stardew Valley takes all of those elements and makes them far more manageable. Stardew Valley starts you off by having you take the role as your own identity, as you type in your own name and your farm name as your grandpa has sent you a letter as his dying wish to let you take over the responsibility of owning a farmland he once had. Your beginning days will have you chopping down unnecessary debris on your land to make space for crops, a barn and a coop, then selling the wood and other sources you've found from the debris to eventually purchase the barn, coop and upgrades to your house, then when you're caught up with those, mingle with everyone in town to get to know them better. As I mentioned earlier, Harvest Moon had a strict day to night clock, but in Stardew Valley its a breath of fresh air to manage, giving you around 15 realtime minutes out of a whole day to take care of what you can.

Much like Harvest Moon you can also go on dates with an opposing gender (or the same gender if you're that kind of guy) but you need to build their friendship level by giving them their most favorite items (can be hinted by other characters of what the person in particular loves) and you can have children if you want. Other than that there's also the concept of crafting items out of sources you find, such as making a wooden fence out of wood that you've cut from a tree, but there's so much more that you can craft other than a simple item than that.

There's a lot more features that I could list, but that's the fun of Stardew Valley. Don't let the simulator label fool you, because it's much more than that and you'll be spending many hours in gametime making new discoveries of what there is to offer. Even younger gamers will get wrapped up in the objectives of setting up the farm, building friendships and just exploring everything else the game has in store and I highly recommend it after pouring 100+ hours into it.


Has my listing given you a good idea on some great indie games to buy? Let me know in the comments, and see you next article!
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Benjanime Posted on May 08, 2018 at 03:32 AM

@jkatz

stardew valley has actually gotten a recent beta update on pc for co-op multiplayer and some other new features and should be ready for consoles sometime this month. definitely check it out! :)

@vaporman

bahaha! yeah that was the joy of using rpg maker, even the most ridiculous of a story could be made into a fun rpg. i heard the first rpg maker game on ps1 was very limited to how much you could put in a game and it ate away data at your memory cards, but it looked interesting!

Vaporman87 Posted on May 07, 2018 at 10:46 PM

I own RPG Maker 3 and many years ago created a game in it inspired by my family, friends, and others we know. It was a humorous adventure about rescuing 5 puppies with varying powers, but the most important one had ultra-powerful flatulence. The game was called "Fart Puppy Saga". LOL

jkatz Posted on May 07, 2018 at 10:42 PM

I've been meaning to try Stardew Valley myself. My friend is addicted to that game and has been bugging me to get it! I have Retro City Rampage and it's a lot of fun. It really does feel like an 8-bit version of GTA, with tons of easter eggs and references to boot.

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