Indie games of the month – Three classic Flash-based games get the remaster treatment
This month’s first indie game of the month is not just an interesting game. It’s a piece of internet history. A while back, a game called Breaking the Bank was released on Newgrounds.com. It was a fairly simple choose-your-own-adventure flash game featuring stick figures and a sense of humor filled with references and memes.
And it was popular. It spawned four sequels, each with better animation and more complex branching paths. Some even featured multiple endings. It became a favorite of streamers and YouTube personalities everywhere, with each new episode suddenly catapulting to popularity when it came out.
Well, The Henry Stickmin Collection is a collection of all of these games, put together, and remastered in one giant collection. That means all the old janky flash animation was redrawn, the lines were revoiced, the sound effects were redone, all so that it looks a little bit more like… well… a fully produced game and not a flash upload on Newgrounds.
On top of that, there is a brand new U.I. that keeps track of every path you have taken in each one of these games. These were developed much in the same vein as the old Sierra point and click adventures, where success was the goal, but the fun came in seeing all the many ways you can fail and die. Now, you can keep track of every success and failure in every episode.
And that’s important because there is also a sixth episode included in this collection called “Completing the Mission.” It’s three times as big as any other episode for one specific reason - its content changes depending on what you did in the episodes leading up to it. Yes, these flash games of the past which were really just distractions now have actual consequences for your choices. Of course, those consequences are all just different ways to hilariously die.
But that’s not our only indie game of the month. This month had a theme among indie games. This was the month that full productions were made out of tiny experimental games. The Henry Stickmin Collection was just one of these games, getting a full release after being a small flash game on Newgrounds. There are two more games that you should really check out this month that are much the same.
The first is Frog Fractions: Game of the Decade Edition. Frog Fractions was one of the world’s first “unfolding” games, which started as a parody of old school education games but very soon expanded into something more. It was a multi-genre game that expanded into shooters, text adventures, resource management games, and more. The fun was seeing just how ludicrous it could get.
Once again, it started as a browser game and you can still play Game of the Decade Edition for free on Steam. But you may notice that there is a piece of DLC you can purchase now, a curious piece of DLC that allows you to put a hat on your frog. Sorry, but I’m going to spoil it a bit. The DLC is not just a hat. It’s an entirely new game with an entirely new plotline and an entirely new set of game genres to explore.
Once again Frog Fractions started as a Flash game. However, with Flash no longer being supported, many of these flash games are being redone and re-released, not only as a way to make money off a labor of love but also as a way to chronicle the history of flash game development. If you think about it, lots of small indie projects are going to disappear as soon as we no longer use flash, and converting them into different engines, such as Unity, in this case, is a fantastic way to keep them alive.
Finally, I want to highlight There is no Game: Wrong Dimension. Once again, this was another browser-based game that you could find on Newgrounds and all sorts of other sites. The idea was simple. You come to play a game. However, an omniscient Stanley Parable-esque narrator tells you there isn’t one. Also… he might be Russian. Anyway, it’s your job to turn this jumble of assets into a game whether the narrator likes it or not.
Wrong Dimension, the new implementation of this not-game on Steam once again blows this concept up to an absurd degree. It takes you through multiple game genres, from a Sierra style point-and-click to a sprite-based RPG to a microtransaction laden mobile game, to even smart home apps on a phone. Every single genre introduces you to a new puzzle that you have to solve, from finding a way to hack the fake currency of a gacha game, to making a smart thermostat glitch out so that a homeowner will take notice of you and get you out of a phone. Everything here is cute and satirical and every puzzle solution gives you one of those “aha” moments.
All three of these games are well worth their price of entry, despite only lasting a few hours. They are important pieces of internet history, of game development history, coming to you in a new form. While these have survived, it really makes you think about all the flash games that haven’t survived over the years. For that matter, it makes you think of all these Unity and Unreal Engine games that won’t survive when we stop using operating systems that support them. We desperately need new ways to chronicle gaming history and these new indie releases are just a small step in doing so.