When you think of this gen’s games, you think a lot of great 3D graphics and crazy effects, right? But some of the best games of the past few years haven’t been epic graphical displays; they’ve been simple, 2D games with a lot of heart. Here are 11 2D games that might be worth putting down your big franchise games for.
Forgive me for a lack of a better description, but Awesomenauts is, well, awesome. It certainly lives up to its title, at least. It is a 2D multiplayer online battle arena that was released last year on Steam, PSN and XBLA (though a boxed copy is out on Sunday). You’re super far in the future, the year 3587 to be exact, and there’s a huger war between varying robot armies. The awesomenauts are the team of robots you control. There are several classes, from assassin to healer, tank to brawler, and more. They each give the player a variety of ways to play. The graphics themselves are really awesome; cartoonish but bright and fun, with great backgrounds and interesting level design.
Now considered an old one, but still great, Castle Crashers was one of the biggest original hits on Xbox Live, long before it was finally released on PSN. It is set in a fictional medieval universe and four knights can play at the same time, essentially a side scrolling beat ‘em up that is a ton of fun. It even spawned some very awesome plush and other cool merchandise. Each color has a different weapon, sort of reminiscent of the Ninja Turtles, and every player has a favorite.
Angry Birds is one of those games that blew up so big, so quickly, that you tried to avoid it and got instantly sucked in. The game is simple enough; you use a slingshot to throw birds across a screen and demolish structures in a limited amount of throws to get as many points as possible. Hitting bombs can help destroy things faster; the wrong move and physics might work against you. There have been a ton of iterations since the original, the latest being Angry Birds Star Wars. It expanded from phones to consoles and PC, so that shows you how great a mobile game can be.
Limbo might be one of the most beautifully stylized 2D sidescrollers to ever be released. Set in plack and white, this game has been lauded by most to be considered a work of art. It sets a wonderful mood as you enter limbo as a young boy, looking for his lost sister. The game can be as scary as it can be beautiful, and it definitely has its challenges as well. If you haven’t had the opportunity to play it, it’s worth it.
The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai:
If you want to talk about a 2D game wit ha weird premise, take an unnamed dishwasher, make him the protagonist, and have him fight through waves of enemies. Add in a guitar minigame and an overall super violent atmosphere, and you’ve got The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. Oh, and did I mention his mentor is a chef? Naturally. It actually got some great accolades though and the levels are very stylized, dark, shadow-filled and overall very cool.
Hard Corps: Uprising
This was an official prequel to Contra: Hard Corps, and the producer, Yamamoto, said he had the intentions to build it into a brand new franchise. The gameplay had two modes, Rising and Arcade. Rising mode let players collect points that they could use in pop-up shops to buy new weapons, upgrades, armor and more. The arcade mode was harder due to removing these shops. It got decent reviews and was a good release by Konami, with gameplay feeling very much like Contra. There’s been no real word of a sequel since.
Fez has gained a lot of attention, not only for being a great game but for being featured in Indie Game: The Movie, which was a highly regarded documentary on the process of making indie games. Fez’s gameplay goal is easy, to collect 32 cubes around the world to restore the world of Gomez, the main character, before it is torn apart. The soundtrack is awesome and the game has already sold over 200,000 copies.
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
If you want a 2-D game with amazing visuals but kind of crappy controls, this is the one you want to pick up. It’s a shame, because it does have a really fun visual atmosphere about it and a funny plot. Ash, the rabbit you get to play, has inherited ruling Hell from his father. But a photo of him playing with a duck in a bathtub has tarnished his evil name, so he has to kill the 100 monsters who saw the photo. Ridiculous? Yes. But it makes for a really funny experience. It’s a shame, because if the actual controls were better, it’d probably have done very well.
Super Meat Boy
No one would expect a game literally about a piece of meat trying to save his girlfriend from someone named Dr. Fetus. But sure enough, this platformer has done amazingly well. It has been compared in difficulty to the likes of Ghosts’n Goblins or the original Super Mario Bros. in that very quick reflexes are needed to get through levels. It really does live up to all the hype, if you have patience for a game with old-school like difficulty.
People were ecstatic with Rayman Origins dropped in 2012 because it was finally back to the old school side-scrolling platformer of the original. It has co-operative gameplay that is comparable to Super Mario Bros Wii, letting the player make their way through levels collecting coins and helping each other out. Not only does it have the typical humor expected in a Rayman game but it is an incredibly solid platformer that really brings about a sense of nostalgia.
Shank 1 and 2
For more side-scrolling beat em’ up goodness, Shank 1 and Shank 2 both delivered with single player and co-op play. It has a really gritty comic book art style that sets it apart from most, and you have to play both single and multiplayer to get the full story as it is told in separate parts. For a game name shank, you better believe there’s a lot of actual stabbing going on and a lot of great, bloody violence.
One of the most successful 2D games of recent dates, Hotline Miami is a top down game set in the 1980s as you control a hitman, moving from room to room, clearing out thugs to complete each chapter. It’s not an easy game at all; you have to be quick, smart, and expect to die several times before you pass even a section of a chapter. It also has a very good story, one that is going to be continued since the sequel has just recently been announced.