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Best of 2011!
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ALTCODESwarms of robotic ships from another world are attacking earth. You are a ship armed with a brand new self awareness from the hive mind of every CRT monitor humans have ever trashed (admit it, you've tossed at least one!), and you're not about to let anyone think you're obsolete! This frantic and extraordinarily stylish horizontal shmup is great for ever player under our lovely little sun, as it's just difficult enough to offer a challenge, but not so tough it's impossible. Pick up power-ups to upgrade your gun and boosters, then take out the ASCII invaders one by one!

BIT.TRIP RUNNERBIT.TRIP RUNNER is the latest in a series of loosely-related retro-styled arcade games from Gaijin. You take on the role of CommanderVideo, a blocky little guy who can run, slide, and kick like nobody's business. Work your way through over 50 stages, using rhythm-based platforming as you nail every jump, grab every pile of gold, and avoid every obstacle in your path. Because you're just that awesome.

Bun-DunIn the beginning, there was nothing. Then there was Bun-Dun. Bun-Dun decided to create everything, so he made the universe. Then, Bun-Dun made himself. Looking out into the universe, he decided it was very empty, so Bun-Dun set out to collect energy so that he could make worlds filled with things to interact with. Help Bun-Dun out by guiding it around each stage, collecting good energy and avoiding just about everything else. The story and sense of imagination is a great wind-up for a simple sort of game, but it's charming and oh-so enjoyable from start to finish. Bonus: Bun-Dun is from the creator of Everclimb!

Fire with a RiotWe all know playing with fire is bad, but in this case, you're just playing. And there's fire there. You're equipped with a flamethrower and have but one task: burn down everything you see. Pixellated bushes. Pixellated fences. Pixellated cars. Pixellated buildings, cows, and more. It's all got to go. You have a limited amount of fire to use, so you have to be a bit strategic about what you set ablaze. Earn points and head to the garage to build better weapons, which is way more satisfying than it should be. Created by Zack Banack, author of TimeStill and PaperDreams.

Hyper Princess PitchFrom Daniel Remar, the force behind the much-loved free metroidvania game Iji, comes a Christmas title that's all about shooting, revenge, and lots more shooting. Mecha Santa spreads cheer and presents all over the world, but Princess Pitch gets nothing. She's not about to let everyone else have stuff if she can't have any, so she sets out to put an end to all of that "giving". Blaze through the game with your three main weapons: brick, ice, and rainbow, destroying elves, toy trains, and everything else Mecha Santa throws your way. It's an intense and fast-moving shooting game with cheesy characters and so much action your face will bleed. The chip tune soundtrack by Niklas Strˆm (who has done music for some of Spelgrim's browser games) is available for download, and it's totally worth checking out. Also, Hyper Princess Pitch is a remake of the old DOS game Operation: Carnage, so old school gamers should perk their ears up now!

Lost and FoundCreated by Japanese developer Kanoguti with music by Rory Viner, Lost and Found is an unusual and gleefully abstract game built around sound. Each of the game's five stages features an entirely different gameplay idea, from first person to classic arcade-style experiences. All games have something to do with music, but figuring out what to do to "win" is part of the fun. Use the [arrow] keys and [z] to play each game, but beyond that, we're not telling anything. That'd spoil it!

MagickaIt's more than an action game meeting a role playing game. It's more than an amazing co-op experience. It's more than a collection of hilarious dialogue and geek culture references. It's Magicka, and it's the next game that will claim hours of your life. From Arrowhead Game Studios comes a hybrid title that emphasizes teamwork, alchemy-like spellcasting, and gaining an invincible knowledge of how elements work in relation to each other and the environment. Oh, and there are moose. Lots of moose.

MasjinAn online-enabled team-based game by hempuli, author of a ton of great games we're still totally in love with. Masjin is a lot like Team Fortress 2 except in 2D. You take on one of the classes, each with its own special abilities, and hop in the fray, contributing to your team however you see fit. You must mine resources so items can be purchased at the shop, so, naturally, a few team members will get to the drills. At the same time, other players will become soldiers and start fighting right away. There are vehicles to pilot, game-altering items to buy, and a lot of well-balanced battles to participate in. This one looks very promising, and we hope hempuli continues development on it!

MirrornautIf Canabalt were slower, took place in space, and featured puzzle-like elements where you had to reverse your position and play as your mirror image, it would be (an entirely different game called) Mirrornaut. Obstacles slowly scroll your way, and you have two methods of avoiding them: jumping, and switching to the other side of the horizontal white line. Many things you can simply leap over, but others are too tall, forcing you to reverse sides. It's strangely puzzle-like trying to figure out what and how to progress. Just a few mistakes is all it takes to start the level all over again, but the progression from stage to stage is a welcome change from endless running.

RangerThis top-down sci-fi shooter is the bee's knees! You play a well-armed space pilot hired to rescue prisoners on an alien world. Stock up on guns before you step out into the jungle, then confront your enemies as they play hide-and-go-seek in the bushes, appearing only when in your line of sight or when they fire at you. Move around using the [WASD] keys, switch weapons, aim and fire with the mouse. You can even order the prisoner you're rescuing to hold position, but mostly it's a run and gun back to the ship after the rescue has occurred. Ranger is a bit of stealth, a bit of arcade action, and many big bits of entertainment!

SequenceCan't decide if you want to play a rhythm game or a good old fashioned dungeon crawling RPG? Now you can have both, with Iridium Studios' hybrid gem, Sequence. Originally released on the Xbox Live Arcade platform, Sequence takes a little bit of music, adds in combat, spells, weapons and items, shuffles them around in a sort of time management kind of manner, and sets it before you with a side of humor and a dose of "what the heck was that I just fought and why did it insult my mother?".

Super Smash LandYes, this is exactly what you think it is: a demake of Super Smash Bros. as if it were released on the original Game Boy. Created by Dan Fornace in Game Maker 8, Super Smash Land attempts to be faithful both to its original source material as well as the hardware it's intended to have appeared to run on. For example, because the Game Boy only had two buttons, your moves are limited in SSL to jumping, special moves, and smash attacks. No blocking. This fundamentally changes the Super Smash Bros. concept, but it creates something entirely new to experience.

Survivor: The Living DeadProbably not the gaming experience you were expecting from the title, Survivor puts you in the role of a post-teenage girl in the early 90s who is trying to defend a house from the living dead. Investigate background items, push things in front of openings, lock doors, and do everything you can to stay alive. It's a surprisingly cerebral experience punctuated by bouts of OH MY GAWSH ZOMBIES ARE ATTACKING. Bonus: lots of references to the early George Romero films.

The Binding of IsaacRoguelike, The Legend of Zelda, a dual stick shooter, and the twisted mind of Edmund McMillen, part of the team behind Super Meat Boy. Put them all together and you've got The Binding of Isaac, a game that is as unhinged as it is entertaining, as good-looking as it is, well, disgusting. Even still, it's the kind of game you'll play through again and again, just to collect every item and explore every corner of the game's randomly-generated world.

TrialsA 3D "virtual reality obstacle course" from Tijital Games that does something no first person game should do: require jumping puzzles. Somehow, though, that ties in perfectly with the game's difficulty and trial-and-error gameplay. Work your way through a series of levels, each with a particular theme you must learn to overcome. At first it's simple jumps and narrow ledges, then spikes shoot from the ground and blocks move from beneath your feet. You'll die many, many times in Trials, but like the title suggests, you should keep trying until you get it right!

ViriaxFrom Locomalito, creator of Hydorah, L'Abbaye des Morts, and 8-bit Killer, comes a great little shooter with loads of retro charm. Take part of the viriax infection as you try to take over a human's body one organ system at a time. Work your way upwards, collecting cells to keep your health full and dispatching enemies with a downward thrust move. Your health is decreased each time you move, encouraging you to actually take it slow and strike when strategically sound. Reach the organ to infect it and gain access to the next level! A fantastically built game that keeps a healthy balance between action and planning, and the retro look/sound is to die for!

WizorbHow long has it been since you played a game of Arkanoid or any of its numerous modern-day children? A year? Five years? A billion-dy hundred years? Thought so. Tribute Games wants to fix that egregious error with Wizorb, an 8-bit-styled Arkanoid clone that adds a little bonus fun on top with the addition of magic spells, a shop, and some minor RPG elements. Sound awesome? You bet your slow-moving paddle it is!

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