Best of 2011!
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AustralopithecusIt's frustrating. It's minimalist. It will kill you unfairly a number of times. And it will make you replay sections of a stage over and over again until you memorize the pattern. Ladies and gentlemen, Australopithecus is an old school platformer that wants you to fail again and again. And you will, of course. You'll also keep playing despite the mega-deaths and cheap shots the game continuously throws at you. Why? Is it the chiptune background music? The two color visuals? The... dinosaurs?

BeretThe 2D puzzle platform will never die, and Beret, despite its amateurish visual exterior, is another reason the genre should continue to thrive. Playing as a scientist who has gained telekinetic powers, you decide your employer, Evil Corporation, is too evil for your liking and decide to overthrow it and punish the wrongdoers. You do this with a smattering of telekinetic abilities that allows you to pick up and arrange blocks with the mouse, constructing platforms and re-building bridges as you move across the stage. Lots of levels to play, loads of collectible items, and a level editor you can unlock make this one well-stocked indie game!

Brutally Unfair KnyttYay, more Knytt from Nifflas! This mod of the original Knytt game was created to promote the release of B.U.T.T.O.N. (Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally Ok Now), a multiplayer-only PC game created by the Copenhagen Game Collective with music by Nifflas. It's not a new game, but the world has been re-skinned, items are in new locations, and there are a handful of other surprises. Even if you mastered the heck out of the original game, the mod gives you plenty of reason to revisit the beautiful world that is Knytt.

Cave Story+The original freeware platform adventure game Cave Story was released by Daisuke Amaya (Pixel) back in 2004. An English translation from Aeon Genesis followed just two months later, opening the game up to a much wider audience and allowing to vault to the top of the indie gaming world. Featuring amazing music, a well-written story, power-ups, upgrades, and a big world to explore, saying Cave Story was a hit is a gross understatement. Several years later, the game has been ported to half a dozen other systems and re-released with remastered music and updated HD graphics. Now, Cave Story+ is here, upgrading the freeware experience to something your eyes and ears can more fully appreciate!

Celestial MechanicaCelestial Mechanica is a quietly impressive platform adventure (a.k.a. "metroidvania") game along the lines of Knytt Stories and the Robot Wants series of games. Created by Roger Hicks (author of rComplex) and Paul Veer (animator of Super Crate Box), it's the sort of game that sits quietly off to the side, never begging you to play it, but once you do, you'll be hooked 'til the end.

DarkfateA minimalist, moody, exploration-centric platformer that's a very quiet but mildly disturbing experience. You play as Christ Freeman who is stranded in the cold mountains with no idea how he got there or how to get back. Worried by his loneliness and fearful of freezing, he strikes out to explore the caverns and surface areas and ends up investigating mystery upon mystery of this odd place. A great experience to set foot in this game, and you'll be hooked from the first diary entry to the last pixelated hill. And yes, that visual style does look a lot like Small Worlds.

Delta OneA great stealth platform game that stars a former spy agent (who is also a mouse) named Eric. He's on a mission (his final mission) to kill the rat king, but nothing goes as planned. Hop around the lushly-colored world and use your knife to take out enemies from behind. You'll need to manipulate a lot of objects, such as boxes or dead enemy bodies, to hold switches so you can pass through doors. It's a great blend of action, stealth, and puzzle solving.

Dimension JumpA crazy, crazy, crazy puzzle platform game that makes use of just about every trick platform games have learned in the past 20 years. The main mechanic of the game is the ability to switch dimensions at the press of a key. Some obstacles will be moved in the opposite world, allowing you to jump and transport in mid-air. It's a bit mind-bending at first, but you get used to it. Add to that gravity flips, teleporting through walls, moving bits of lava, and loads of other traps, and you've got a great deal of things to worry about. A ton of content to dig through, and the puzzles very quickly become extra challenging. A free game you won't want to miss.

FLaiLJust when you think you've seen every "platform game with an attitude", you discover FLaiL, an action game from Matt Thorson, creator of An Untitled Story as well as MoneySeize. In FLaiL you, quite naturally, flail around each level, jumping from platform to platform as you try to make it to the red light at the end. You have a spiffy flying ability that lets you "dash" in any direction, and there are a number of power-ups that change the physics of the game quite a bit. Lots of levels, multiplayer support, and plenty of other extras you'll love to devour.

GriefFrom Magnesium Ninja Studios, creator of free downloadable indie games such as Bun-Dun and Everclimb, comes a game about happiness, sunlight, sorrow, and darkness. And puzzle platform adventuring! Trot through a nicely-drawn 2D world as you switch between the light world of optimism and the dark world of pessimism, each with its own exclusive obstacles, platforms, and abilities. In the light, you can jump higher and will find orange pieces of ground to stand on. In the dark, you can crawl under tight spaces and stand on blue platforms. You must creatively use these abilities to grab the teddy bear in each level, and the game doesn't shy away from making you do some serious thinking to get the job done.

heARTFrom the creator of Diminish and Dissipate comes heART, a charming exploration platformer about a young boy in love. Eid is searching the world to find his loved one. Along the way he's gathering hearts, knowing she wants a man with more heart than anyone else. You can spend a lot or a little time exploring the game's intricate world, but there are plenty of things to find and depending on what you do, you'll see one of four unique endings. There are even some RPG elements mixed in with the gameplay, creating a balanced and engaging platform experience you'll devour right away!

HindsightDon't you just hate it when you do something, look back on said event, and realize you could have done it so much better? Wouldn't you hate it even more if your hindsight played tricks on you? The premise of this unique puzzle platformer is that each level is the same, only it's totally different. Looking back on your previous actions, you discover things weren't as they seem. Or was the original layout the "real" one? Either way, each time you finish the stage, your path to the end secretly changes. You never know what's different until you move up to a block or fall down a gap. Spikes become not-real, blocks vanish, platforms appear. It's a strange and almost dreamlike game that will get you with a little trial and error gameplay. But it's so very worth it!

JigsawAnother great remake for the Action 52 game development jam, Jigsaw gives you a gun that fires nails which have a dual purpose: defeat enemies, and create platforms. You can use the nails to climb difficult areas by planting them in wooden walls, but you can only have three nails on the screen at a time. Some switches will remain active only as long as a nail is stuck in its side, and you'll find yourself in a pickle on more than one occasion. Most of the puzzles are great and really make you think, while the rest are truly inspired. An excellent mix of platforming and puzzle solving!

KruunuThe legend claims there is a crown at the top of a tower, and whoever claims the crown will be ruler of the land. Time to do some climbing! This old school-styled platform adventure gives you the ability to jump and wall cling, then tosses you in the game with loads of things to avoid. Hop from wall to wall as you hit levers and avoid enemies, and once you reach the electric barrier, you'd better keep your speed on high, else you die. A superb game with a great visual style. Oh, and gotta love that background music!

LIMBOSeveral years in the making, the darkly atmospheric (and strangely realistic) platform game LIMBO has finally migrated from console download to the PC ecosphere.Crafted by Danish studio Playdead, LIMBO drops you in a shadowy world filled with dangers, immensely difficult puzzles, and more ways to die than you would really want to count. It's an incredibly stylistic and engaging game, one that just about any player can pick up and enjoy from beginning to end.

Mecha Spider IslandA lone ark sails the skies to deliver animals to the Earth. An extremely sci-fi-related time vortex occurs, leaving only two animals: a giraffe and a frog. Then the rift combines the two, and somehow a gun comes into play. Now, you are the giraffrog, leaping across 2D retro terrain, shooting mechanical spiders as you climb your way to the top to defeat the ultimate robotic arachnid foe. Mecha Spider Island is everything awesome about retro games, featuring level design and gameplay that screams "unbridled fun" and a soundtrack that, if it were any happier, it would be illegal in some countries. Do yourself a favor, go play Mecha Spider Island!

Momodora 2It's an established fact that you enjoyed last year's Cave Story-inspired platformer Momodora. So, logically, you'll also have a fantastic time with the sequel! This time around, you control Momo, a maiden from Koho village on a mission to defeat the underworld queen. You start with a very basic attack but discover new abilities as you play, such as a double-jump, long-range attack, and health extenders. The action is largely the same as the first game, but everything else is different and improved, making it a sure-fire hit in your Metroidvania-loving household.

Ninja SenkiAnother superb platform game, Ninja Senki focuses more on classic jump-and-shuriken gameplay like the Mega Man series of old. Your clan's princess has been kidnapped, so naturally you're off to rescue her. Movement is simple jumps and shuriken throws, with a slight double jump added to help you collect some coins and navigate tricky situations. Enemies gradually get more and more dangerous and require more hits to take down. Continues are infinite, which is fortunate, and when you die you restart at a nearby checkpoint, unlike most similar games from gaming's classic era. The only down side is the game doesn't save your progress, so you'll need to complete all 15+ levels in one sitting.

NyxQuest: Kindred SpiritsIn spite of my overwhelming lack of talent for the platform genre, I'm completely smitten with Nyxquest: Kindred Spirits, a side-scrolling platformer by Over the Top Games that proves lovely visuals do not always have to come with over-the-top full-motion videos.

suteFIt's no mistake this game bears resemblance to the 2009 platform puzzler Fetus. suteF could be called one part platformer, one part puzzle game, one part "experience of what it's like going insane". The game tells the story of a blue character trying to escape from the Abyss. Some crazy things happen in this place, such as characters dying, bears wearing television screens, spirits following you, gravity changing, levels re-arranging, and... well, and more. Some brilliant level design here, with stages that require thinking and experimentation as well as some trial and error.

The Island of a GodMetroidvania, anyone? This freeware exploration adventure drops you on an (almost) uninhabited island populated by a fuzzy-bearded guy who claims to be a god. Your crash on his slab of rock broke his elemental machine, and in order to control the elements, he needs you to fix it. Head out on a quest to gather the gem shards, exploring a series of small levels from head to toe. You also get a few power-ups that help you along the way, like fireballs that can burn things or take care of enemies in your path. There are five unique areas to explore, holding a total of 25 pieces of the elemental rocks. Find everything so you can get off this island and go back home!

The wall of our heartsThis game is so hip. You probably haven't played it yet. You're just so, you know, mainstream. But since you're here, might as well tell you about the wall of our hearts, a cool, lowercase-titled 8-bit-style platformer starring two hipster characters who really want to get together. Problem is, there's a wall in the way. Scale the heights of love one ledge at a time, saving your progress at stereos, using bread to lure ducks to ride on, and experiencing the world's most authentic fish riding simulator. Cool game, good times, but you probably don't really understand it anyway. *dons a dirty flannel jacket, thick-rimmed glasses, a black t-shirt, wool scarf, patched jeans, and mis-matched socks and walks away*

Tiny BarbarianInspired by The Frost Giant's Daughter by R.E. Howard, this short platformer stars the titular tiny barbarian who's on a gentle stroll through the snow. Suddenly a flying creature appears and awakens a host of enemies, all of whom seem to be out to destroy the barbarian. Using little more than your sword, climb through the levels as you hunt for the source of the peril. A very simply-executed game with nary a frill in sight, but it's satisfying nonetheless!

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