Salmon Ninja

A game by Krax Games for PC, originally released in 2016.
Salmon Ninja is a grapple-based precision platformer starring a moderately incompetent ninja with a poor sense of direction who has recently entered the afterlife. Upon entering this relatively featureless landscape, a glowing light appears nearby. However, the ninja remains confused as to which direction he should go, and instead of walking into it, he wanders off in the opposite direction, putting him on the path to Hell itself.

The ninja’s companion on his journey, whom he visits on several occasions, is a salmon. The ninja speaks to the salmon, which is only capable of responding with various “blub” noises, but the ninja seems to understand her. Dialogue exchanges are light and humorous, often with the ninja explaining his confusion as he descends further into the underworld. The ninja also speaks with each of the game’s four bosses before fighting them, and these exchanges are similarly absurd.

River City: Tokyo Rumble

A game by Natsume for 3DS, originally released in Japan in 2013, and released in the US in 2016.
River City: Tokyo Rumble is a proper entry in the Kunio-kun series, which dates back more than 30 years. The first entry in the series was an arcade game entitled Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun (Hot Blooded Tough Guy Kunio), which came to Western arcades as Renegade, with some changes to the setting and storyline. The game was also ported to a number of home computers and consoles, notably an NES port which was Technōs Japan’s first home console release.

The next entry in the series was a spinoff, which arrived the form of Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu, otherwise known as the cult classic Super Dodge Ball, which sees Kunio and pals facing off against a number of dodgeball champions from around the world. This game also got its start in the arcade before being ported to consoles and computers. Next up was Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari, the first Kunio-kun game developed specifically for a console release, which was known in the US as River City Ransom.


A game by Too Kind Studio for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released episodically in 2016.
Pankapu tells the tale of the eponymous Dreamkeeper of Omnia. In the opening cinematic, a girl named Djaha ‘rell has a nightmare and is awakened by her father who offers to read her a story that will help to rid her of her nightmares, setting the tone of the game as a fairytale adventure. In the story, the peaceful dream world of Omnia is invaded by nightmare creatures that corrupt the land. Iketomi, the Hymn of Dreams, uses concentrated “dream matter” to create a guardian to defeat the invaders. This guardian is Pankapu.

The fairytale setting carries over into the game itself with vibrant and colorful locales, mystical oddities, overblown villains, strange creatures, magical combat enhancements, and a fantasy score composed in part by Hiroki Kikuta, composer of such titles as Secret of Mana and its sequel, Seiken Densetsu 3, giving the entire experience a feel of something pulled from the pages of a storybook.


A game by Two Tribes for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U, originally released in 2016.
Despite its capitalization, RIVE is not an acronym, but rather a term meaning to tear something apart violently… which is a fairly accurate description of the game’s action sequences, although sometimes it’s the player who’s doing the riving, and sometimes he’s the one getting rived.

RIVE is a sidescrolling twin-stick shooter starring the gruff and bearded Roughshot who uses his spider bot to run roughshod (see it) over heaps of robotic baddies spread across an otherwise abandoned starship. Roughshot sets down on the starship to scavenge for parts and quickly runs afoul of the ship’s sentient AI drone who makes it his personal mission to encumber the scavenger’s progress by any means, stacking the odds against him with turrets, kamikaze drones, flying energy blades, and loads of heavily armored assault bots.

Fortunately, the spider bot is well-equipped to deal with these challenges, as it can move and fire independently, spewing a steady stream of projectiles in any direction. A small array of special weapons is available as well, which may be purchased from a shop located in the Transporter Room – where the player returns after each mission – and these include a spray of heat-seeking missiles, a short-range shotgun blast, bouncing bombs, and an electroshocking orb. Players can also purchase armor upgrades and the ability to draw in currency from greater distances, which is represented by leftover nuts and bolts from destroyed enemies.


A game by ThirtyThree Games for PC and Mac, originally released in 2016.
Few game titles are as accurately descriptive as RunGunJumpGun, a game that is comprised solely of running and gunning and jumping (and gunning). You play the role of a scavenger who has come to the Extax solar system to hunt for precious resources known as Atomiks. The Extax System’s sun is expanding and swallowing up the planets, and the remaining citizens have gone into a full-on apoca-panic, with numerous conspiracy theories being floated that the sun’s expansion is not natural… maybe it has something to do with the planet’s warlords, or the scavenger himself, or maybe the scavenger is their only hope for survival.

RunGunJumpGun is an auto-scrolling game with only two buttons for control, but it is a far cry from the glut of uninspired auto-runners that hit the market following the success of Canabalt. RunGunJumpGun manages to do a lot with its basic configuration, continuously opening up new obstacles and new types of challenges across 120 short levels, most of which last around 10 or 20 seconds.

Mother Russia Bleeds

A game by Le Cartel Studio for PC, Mac, Linux, and PS4, originally released in 2016.
Mother Russia Bleeds is an extremely violent beat ‘em up set in an alternate 1986 USSR. The balance of power is shifting, and the lower levels of society are taking the first hit, with people being kidnapped by an unknown organization, and a highly addictive drug spreading through the streets. You take on the role of a street fighter – or a group of them in 4P local co-op – who is kidnapped and given forced injections of this new mind-altering drug, called nekro.

When you finally wake up, you find yourself on the floor of a grimy laboratory -slash- dungeon. Weeks have passed, and you are now hopelessly addicted to the sweet embrace of the glowing green narcotic. You fight your way out of the lab, murdering everyone in sight as you pass by glassed cells filled with failed experiments and horribly disfigured people.

Seasons After Fall

A game by Swing Swing Submarine for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2016.
Seasons After Fall is the tale of a fox - or at least a spirit which has possessed a fox - who must journey through an unknown land, using the power of the seasons to alter the environment. The spirit is brought forth knowing nothing about the world around it, and guided only by a disembodied voice who asks that the spirit seek out four guardians spread across the land, each of which controls one of the four seasons.

Prior to its emergence, the spirit is merely floating in a sea of darkness, passing between wrapped vines and being pushed along by air currents. Upon awakening and listening to the words of the disembodied voice, a fox wanders into the glade, and the voice asks the spirit to lure the fox over to a set of jutting stones. A ritual is performed and the spirit is merged with the fox, allowing the spirit to possess it and take control over its body.

Featherpunk Prime

A game by Super Hatch Games for PC, originally released in 2016.
In Featherpunk Prime, you take control of a robotic flamingo known as a Cybirdroid in a sidescrolling twin-stick shooter set across multiple floors of a neon-highlighted industrial facility. An evil corporation has descended on your home in Flamingo Valley and birdnapped your fellow Cybirdroids, but you manage to stow away on the ship as it departs for their corporate headquarters. When it sets down, you hop out, break into the facility, and start blasting your way thorough turrets, hovering bird-bots, and other mechanical beasties as you make your way up the tower one floor at a time.

The Cybirdroid is fairly mobile, with a 2x variable jump, a boost-assisted double jump, and the ability to slide under low overhangs or duck and crawl beneath them, while still being able to aim and fire in 360 degrees. The robo-flamingo is equally adept at maneuvering up and down walls, with the ability to wall jump up any vertical surface, wall slide, or even stick in place, which is useful for shooting enemies between platforms while avoiding return fire. The player can also boost in a straight line to the left or right, which is most useful beating a hasty retreat when the screen fills with enemies and projectiles.

Pharaoh Rebirth+

A game by Krobon Station for PC, originally released episodically in Japan in 2015, and released in the US in 2016.
Pharaoh Rebirth+ is a level-based action adventure with some metroidvania elements, starring Dr. Jonathan Banfield, a treasure hunter of some renown. But unlike the traditional Indiana Jones knockoffs featured in archaeological adventure games over the years, Jonathan is actually a humanoid bunny. As it turns out, he and his friend Andre were cursed when stealing artefacts from a tomb. Jonathan was turned into a bunny and Andre was turned into a turtle. Since then, Jonathan and Andre have parted ways, with Andre continuing his plundering ways, and Jonathan turning to the straight and narrow.

In the game’s playable prologue, Jonathan has just discovered an archeological site filled with artefacts, including an ancient and mysterious sarcophagus. But his explorations are interrupted by Andre who shows up in an attack helicopter to stop him. Fortunately, military-grade equipment is no match for Jonathan’s spinning bunny ears, and he attacks the chopper until it crashes down. However, just as he reaches the sarcophagus, Andre reappears and opens it, cursing the pair once again.


A game by RetroRevolution for PC, originally released in 2016.
Metagal is an action platformer heavily inspired by the Mega Man series. You take on the role of a cyborg girl named Meta (a.k.a. GAL.00), who is on a quest to defeat General Creeper and rescue her maker, Dr. Ray, along with her cyborg sisters. Unfortunately, her sisters have been turned into battle androids and are now fighting on the side of General Creeper. However, by defeating each of her sisters, Meta can copy their abilities and use these powers to infiltrate Creeper’s fortress and take him down.

Meta has a 1.5x variable jump and the ability to dash along the ground for a short distance by double-tapping forward. Each press of the SHOOT button sends out 3 rapid-fire buster shots, and her special move is a cluster of blue and pink energy – very similar to the charge shot seen in later Mega Man titles – which draws from a secondary meter. In the game’s original release, the basic buster shot drained energy from the secondary meter as well, but this was removed in order to make the game more accessible.

Adventure Lamp

A game by Ryan Davis for PC, Mac, and Wii U, originally released in 2016.
Adventure Lamp is a puzzle platforming tale of a plucky archaeologist named Simon who has been dispatched on a mission to study an ancient temple. Unfortunately, just as Simon is setting out on his expedition, a cave in cuts him off from his equipment, leaving him with nothing but his trusty headlamp to see him through the mysterious structure, and possibly dashing his hopes of ever receiving a promotion.

Simon’s adventure takes him across five themed areas, from the ancient temple, to fungi-filled caves, across blustery mountaintops, and eventually into darker and more dangerous territory. There are more than 100 levels in all, although they are each meant to be completed in under 30 seconds (and some far less). Still, there is a good deal of variety with new challenges introduced every few levels.

Song of the Deep

A game by Insomniac Games for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2016.
Song of the Deep tells the tale of a girl named Merryn whose father is a fisherman of limited means. Every day, he sets out on his fishing boat, and every night he returns home to Merryn – who comes to greet him on a cliff overlooking the sea – and he tells her grand tales about giant sea creatures and great underwater cities, which she believes to be fairy tales.

But one night, her father fails to return home. After waiting a full day for his return, and dreaming of him in peril beneath the waves, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Using scraps of wood and metal found by her father during his fishing expeditions, Merryn manages to cobble together a functional submarine. She climbs inside and sets out to sea, diving below the surface to seek out her lost father and uncover the mysteries of the deep.