Ainevoltas 2 is an obvious tongue-in-cheek tribute to one of the most universally adored games of all time, Symphony of the Night-you can even unlock a playable Richter-but the game's whimsical sense of humor and assortment of strange secrets is what really makes it shine. Plus, you can seduce one of several women in the course of your travels throughout the castle, eventually siring a son who will follow you around like a familiar. Keen!
Everyone likes taking a squad of space marines to go shoot up a swarm of alien bugmonsters, but rather than the usual first person fragfest, Alien Swarm is a four player co-op third person game that if anything has more in common with Diablo. Four classes and tons of potential equipment loadouts make for many possible squad dynamics, and a robust level editor means there's always a new map out there to play through.
Another critical success but commercial failure, Allegiance might be the greatest space sim everyone ignored. Players join in large multiplayer tactical engagements, flying everything from zippy, single pilot dogfighters to massive capital ships that steer like they're underwater. Meanwhile, a single player on each side takes the role of commander, building bases, controlling resource management, and deciding overall strategy. The game has a bit of a learning curve to it, but if you can hack it, it will reward you with its complexity and the strength of its loyal fanbase which continues to develop additions for the game to this day.
Battleflied Heroes offers a bright, cartoonish take on the usually dark and gritty WWII shooter. You'll still knife people in the back or run them over with a tank, but here it's presented with a Tex Avery kind of whims, complete with classic cartoon sound effects. Who doesn't enjoy hopping out of the cockpit of a flying airplane to perch on the wing and fire a bazooka at the poor jerks on the ground before bailing out and parachuting to safety a second before your aircraft crashes into a jeep full of enemies? And if you want to do that while wearing an "I'm With Stupid" shirt or Michael Jackson costume you got from the game's store, well, that's something you can drop a few dollars on.
Beneath a Steel Sky was a pretty spiffy cyberpunk point-and-click adventure set in a dystopian future Australia, featuring comic art by Dave Gibbons and some pretty good voice acting for the time. Also, it featured a protagonist named after a beer can and an AI sidekick who could be installed in different robot bodies through the course of the adventure. Although it was never a huge seller, the game garnered universal critical acclaim when it came out. Its re-release as freeware has finally won it some delayed, but much deserved attention.
The work of one dedicated man who toiled over a period of five years, Cave Story is a sprawling Metroidvania-ish adventure full of unique characters, upgradable weapons, tons of boss fights, a touching (if initially confusing) story, oodles of graphical style, a catchy chiptune soundtrack and even multiple endings. Honestly, it'd be impressive enough if it weren't the work of one guy, but that fact almost pushes things into the realm of unbelievability. Most full teams can't put together a game this great. It might have something to do with why it was picked up for release as a WiiWare title, and is now making its way to 3DS.