As much as designers and players would love it to be true, games don't appear out of magical elf dust. They take hours, weeks, months and years to create, stitching together every line of code and every piece of artwork. To that end, many programmers and studios have taken to releasing alpha and beta games to drum up support, snagging players early to help with feedback and bug reports while the developer gets to continue drinking coffee and coding. Everybody wins, and we get more games, better games, and games at a more rapid pace!
Tiny Plumbers (Mac/Win, 37MB, pre-order alpha) - Tiny Plumbers is an in-progress game about plumbers jumping on things to unclog pipes and rescue princesses. Instead of doing that until the end of time, you can use those things to buy new modes and other cool things in the Princess Exchange Store! In addition to that, this low-res platformer includes plenty of power-ups to equip, partially destructible environments, and procedurally-generated levels. The controls feel a bit marshmallowey at the moment and take some getting used to, but the core of a very addictive game is there, ready for the taking! Tiny Plumbers is currently available to pre-order at a reduced price. Grab it now for cheap and you get access to the current builds as well as future builds (including the final release), and you can be sure we'll mention it again when the game hits!
Space Chunks II (Windows, 28MB, free beta) - A wild, rockin' Asteroids-like arcade shooting game filled with enemies who are out to turn you into space debris. Blast around the galaxy as you locate and obliterate targets with your zappy guns. Pick up power-ups by crunching asteroids to keep your health and missiles filled, and unleash some exciting double-tap moves that give you a bit of an offensive edge in exchange for temporarily reduced defenses. The entire experience is a bit wild and surprisingly thrilling, allowing you to live out your space cowboy fantasies by barely lifting a finger. Currently Space Chunks II is in beta.
Trail (Windows, 21.8MB, free) - A short experimental platform game that' was built around one simple thought: "When I was a child, I thought you left a trail through the world that you collected when you died". The game puts you in the world of the living as you move through the level like a traditional action game. Your life is constantly depleting, though, as no one is immortal, and with each step you take you leave memories in your wake. Inevitably, you die, traveling to the dark world of the dead. Once there, you must retrace your steps to pick up the first memory you left when you were alive. When you start measuring your success by the age you were when you died instead of markers on the level, you'll see how the game moves its philosophical message into your head with relative ease.
Note: All games have been confirmed to run under Windows 7 and are virus-free. Mac users should try Boot Camp, Parallels, or CrossOver Games to play Windows titles, Linux users can use Wine. If you know of a great game we should feature, use the Submit link above to send it in!