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Games by fans, for fans: Top 5 best fan-games

Updated on December 30, 2014

What is a fan-game?

Much like fan-art and fan-fiction, a fan-game is a game created by a single or multiple individuals in a fandom that depicts that fandom. Fan-games have become most common in fandoms where the flux of content has ebbed to a crawl, or where the resources to make a fan-game are most common.

After closing the back cover to an amazing book, or as you watch the credits roll on a fantastic video game or television show, have you ever wished that it lasted just a little bit longer? Some people keep themselves in that head-space by trawling the internet's fan-fiction archives to peruse non-canonical novella, while others may go to their internet browser in search of art websites like deviantART or pixiv, where fan-art is in abundance.

Those whose hands are a bit more tech-savvy decide that instead of depending on other fans for their much desired fan-content, they'd rather make their own in a much more entrancing style. With the introduction of easy-to-use tools like RPGMaker, making a video game has become a much more manageable, and thusly more common, hobby.

I'd like to draw attention to fan-games that are shining examples of the creativity, ingenuity and determination in certain fandoms. This is by no means a comprehensive list - while fan-games aren't as populous as their literary and artistic counterparts, there's no small number of them and finding them all would be a true challenge.

Development screenshot of Sonic Lost Adventure: Havok Harbor
Development screenshot of Sonic Lost Adventure: Havok Harbor | Source

1. Sonic Lost Adventure: Havok Harbor

Sonic fans out there are in for a treat, because recently released in the style of the newest official Sonic video games is a single-level Sonic expansion called Sonic Lost Adventure: Havok Harbor.. It has excellent graphics, especially considering the game's developer, Keven Ethridge, created it by himself in a short 4 months!

Unfortunately, I personally can't attest to anything about the playing of the game itself, as my machine is not powerful enough. There are a few reports of a slow initial loading time due to the game having to render the entire level from the starting point, but that's said to ease as you get farther into the level. If you'd like to see for yourself how the game runs, there's a nice demo video featured below!


2. Pokémon Uranium

Everyone and their cat has played at least one Pokémon fangame, and only slightly fewer have attempted to create one. There's Pokemon Island, Pokemon Raptor, Pokemon Melanite - including those, there are a good several dozen Pokemon fan-games and projects. So what makes Uranium so much different?

Where those other games are Bug Catchers, Pokemon Uranium is a member of the Elite Four. Instead of starting off in one of the known regions, Pokemon Uranium introduces its own unique region complete with unique Pokemon, also known to the Pokemon community as fakemon.

Though it uses the RPGMaker resource kit Pokemon Essentials, it's completely overhauled the graphics to a HeartGold/SoulSilver style and modified the scripts to include several new features. Since it's a demo, not all features are complete; you can only access 9 towns, earn 5 gym badges and there are roughly 85 fakemon currently in the Pokedex.

Nonetheless, the Uranium development team should be applauded for the intricate features that no other Pokemon fan-game has been able to achieve: a complex in-game Nuzlocke mode, GTS, Wonder Trade, and an online trainer system.

Though it's far from done, the completion of the game grows nearer and nearer. If you'd like to keep up to date with the project, move your attention to the image on your upper right, where a link will take you to the official website.


3. Tohoumon: Faith & Prayer version

I don't mean to Pokemon spam, but out of all the Touhou Project spin-offs, this is the one I hear most praise about. Even if you've never played Tohou Project, the plot is what gives this particular fan-game its flair.

Tohoumon is set after Red has defeated the Kanto League, when an invasive humanoid species referred to as Puppets begin pushing Pokemon out of their natural habitats. Since then, Pokemon have become a rarity, and it's your job to find out exactly why these Puppets have appeared. The situation complicates further when numerous thought-to-be-disbanded factions like Teams Agua, Magma, and Rocket move to use Puppets to renew their plots of world domination.

For those thinking it's just Pokemon with cute Tohou Project girls thrown in, you're going to have fun figuring out the new type chart if you don't read the files provided! That's right, Tohoumon has different type effectiveness than Pokemon, and the gym system isn't the main focus of the game.

If moe puppet girls pique your interest, check out Tohoumon: Faith & Prayer version's project thread by clicking the image to your right!


4. Yume Nikki 3D

If you've ever played the mindfuck that is Yume Nikki, prepare to take it to an entirely new level - or dimension, to be specific. Yume Nikki 3D retains that old-style game feel while simultaneously expanding it passed the limitations of the original and even adding new content.

Though inspired by the Yume Nikki universe, this 3D spin-off doesn't follow the original plot; instead, you're a small girl tasked with finding some really obscure items in an even more obscure and deranged world.


5. Legend of Princess

Legend of Princess actually evolved out of the desire of the developer to, "try out making an action game that has its levels change slightly depending on your equipment." Though it's not all that long, being half an hour to play through the whole thing at most, it's integrated feel, in addition to the constant challenge, keeps one playing until completion.

Though the combat system is reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda series, it plays much more like Megaman or Mario. Unlike some of the Zelda games, the UI thankfully doesn't obstruct your view, and it blends seamlessly with the beautiful character and background graphics.


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