Give the Gift of Indie Gaming for 2010: Super Meat Boy, Minecraft, and More

Not sure what to get that gamer nerd in your life for the holidays this year?  Sick of buying those stupid gift certificates?  Want to get them something unique they'll remember for a long time, and that may even open up a whole new world of gaming for them?  

Look no further than the blossoming indie gaming scene, which is like the old shareware days on super-steroids.  Creativity, quality, and uniqueness abound - all for great prices, too - forget paying $59.99 for a full gaming experience here.

Check out some of my latest addictions and favorite picks.  Steam lets you gift games easily, so get crackin' on that list!!

Super Meat Boy - XBOX Live Arcade and Steam

In Super Meat Boy, you play, well, a cube-shaped cartoon boy without any skin.  Hence, Super Meat Boy.  I'd classify this as an "ultra-hard," distilled, extremely fast-paced platforming experience.  Your objective is simple enough - rescue your girlfriend, Bandage Girl, from the evil clutches of Dr. Fetus.  Dr. Fetus is mean, and has a penchant for giving you the finger frequently, so be warned.

Anyway, this game is deliciously and deliriously addictive, daring you to die over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again in your quest.  There's no lives, only a timer, and you're resurrected faster than you can say "beefsteak," so the gameplay is seamless.  With nods to retro gaming culture, tons of attention to detail, hundreds of levels, and awesome music, Super Meat Boy shouldn't be missed by any "real" gamer.

[15 bucks on Steam.] Also available on the XBOX Live Arcade.

Minecraft - PC, Mac, Linux, Browser-Based

Minecraft has hit the indie gaming scene by storm, seriously.  Everybody is talking about it, and for good reason.  It's the pinnacle of sandbox gaming - a beautifully crafted, procedurally-generated block-based world, in which you are dropped with no instructions, no goal, and no items.  That's it.


You can choose to do whatever you like.  Cut down trees, make tools, build a shelter, mine for ore, adventure in caves, or just explore - it's all up to you, and it never ends.  Minecraft quickly sucks you in with its compelling blend of survival gameplay and limitless creative potential, and it's constantly being updated and improved.  If you played with LEGOs as a kid, Minecraft is a perfect game for you.  Another thing I love about Minecraft is that it's easy to pick up and play, leave, and come back later.  Over 700,000 players can't be wrong! Well, unless they're "playing" FarmVille.  Then, they'd be wrong.  But I digress.

Let me make this explicitly clear: Minecraft has quickly become one of my favorite games of all time.

Paid access to Minecraft is currently a one time fee of 9.95 Euro, but anyone from around the world can easily get access.  That price will double when it comes out of Alpha, so the sooner you subscribe the better.

Din's Curse - PC and Mac

I've been playing the Din's Curse demo, by Soldak Entertainment, for a while now, and I have to say, I love it.  It's simple to explain, really - imagine Diablo with randomly generated towns and dungeons.  What's cool about Din's Curse is that it doesn't overload you with silly plot details, it's more of a pure dungeon crawler, but adds the nifty random aspect to the mix.  Also, your actions in each town can and will shape the future - for example, fail to defeat a notable monster and its goblin army may storm the town later with an unstoppable force.

I feel that Din's Curse appeals to a wide audience and has gameplay that would be loved by even the most mainstream gamer, as long as they're willing to get past the slightly dated graphics.

20 bucks for PC or Mac, with a 30 day guarantee if you don't like it (which I doubt.)

Limbo - XBOX Live Arcade

The final game in my very, very short list is called Limbo.  Anybody remember Out of This World?  Yeah, it's kinda like that, but in black and white, with no guns, but you get the idea.

For those not in the know, the game could be described as a 2D platform-puzzler.  The gameplay is strongly linear, but that results in a very meaningful experience that defies description.  Let's just say the game is very mysterious and moody.  If you crave adventure and creepiness, Limbo is perfect.

[1200 MSFT Points on Live Arcade.]

There's so much more...

The indie scene has so, so, SO much more to offer, but I couldn't possibly list everything here.  What about the awesome Avernum RPG series from Spiderweb Software, or the 2D beat-em-up Castle Crashers? The list goes on.

In other words, if you're still looking for a unique gamer gift and the titles I listed above don't spark your interest, take a tour through the Live Arcade or the Steam Store, and make sure to check out the Indie sections.  You... and your gifts' recipient(s)... will thank you.


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