Fan-Made Video Games Just As Good As The Real Thing

In recent years, the tools for videogame development have become more readily available, and the process itself has been demystified. As a result, some gamers with extra time on their hands (or who are looking to develop their résumé) have ended up putting out fan-made games that are just as good, if not sometimes better, than anything their official counterparts have to offer. And in most cases, you can download and play the games right now—for free. Here's a look at some of the awesome games fans have made entirely on their own.

Mega Man: Day in the Limelight

How could a fan improve upon the already-stellar Mega Man series? By taking Mega Man completely out of the equation and making the game all about the villains. In a traditional Mega Man title, the titular blue-helmeted hero traverses tricky side-scrolling levels before doing battle with the level boss, who grants Mega Man his unique power upon defeat. Limelight flips the script, letting you use these bosses and their powers to navigate through classic Mega Man-style levels. Their unique abilities allow players to tackle each level differently, depending on the boss character being used, and those unorthodox adventures have continued with a pair of sequels.

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Pokémon Uranium

Pokémon Uranium is a game nearly a decade in the making, and it was released by a 22-year-old, meaning he'd been working on it since he was a teenager. The years of hard work and extreme dedication paid off big time when the game was released freely to all who wanted it—and man, did people want it. Uranium was downloaded millions of times before Nintendo got around to taking it down. The downloads have continued elsewhere, mostly on on torrent sites and one-on-one exchanges of the game file, ensuring that Uranium will have a long, long lifespan.

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Installation 01, A Fan Made Halo Multiplayer Game

If you took a look at the video above and thought, "Well, that's a regular old Halo multiplayer," then you just made 30 diehard Halo fans really happy. That's not a Halo game developed and published by Microsoft—that's Installation 01, the result of the hard work put in by a group of Halo fans who want gamers all over the world to be able to experience the addictive thrills of Halo multiplayer on their PC, Mac, and Linux computers. Their goal is to include a bunch of the old Halo maps fans love, as well as original maps of their own making.

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Goldeneye: Source

It took a full ten years for a group of extremely dedicated GoldenEye fans to completely revamp it from the ground up, upgrading the graphics and sound while retaining all 25 maps, all 10 game modes, all 28 original weapons, and all of the classic characters fans played with years ago. The Nintendo 64 classic is updated and preserved for a whole new generation with Goldeneye: Source, and it's a thoroughly faithful recreation of the original's multiplayer—right down to its lack of crosshairs. Yep, you just had to shoot wherever your character was looking and hope you were on target. Hey, it was a first-person shooter on a console in the 1990s. Cut them some slack.

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Black Mesa

Half-Life is a landmark in video game history and a seminal work in the first-person shooter genre. To say it changed video games forever is almost an understatement—but go ahead and try to play it now, and see how far you get before the outdated graphics bring your nostalgia trip to a quick and sudden halt. The fan-created Black Mesa mod, however, ensures that any gamer who wants to play one of the greatest titles of all time can go ahead and do it with graphics so good they look like Half-Life was released today. One thing the team behind Black MesaBlack Mesa didn't have to touch much at all was the core gameplay, which still feels fresh, original, and uncomplicated.

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Organ Trail

Did you ever play Oregon Trail and wish it were about flesh-eating hordes of zombies? No? Well, as it turns out, that's the way it was always meant to be played—and now you can do it, with a fan-made Oregon Trail all about a carload of people trying to make it to safety during a zombie apocalypse. In the most "no duh" bit of video game titling you'll ever see, it's called Organ Trail, and yes, you can still die of dysentery. If a member of your crew gets infected with the zombie virus, kill them off and keep on trucking in your station wagon. You'll fend off motorcycle gangs hellbent on killing you, and you'll encounter rival factions trying to take you out for invading their turf. Oh, and zombies. Lots of zombies.

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DoomRL

Who would have guessed one of the most visceral and intense first-person shooters might make for a great roguelike game? Roguelikes, for the uninitiated, are games where no two playthroughs are exactly alike. As you move from level to level, the game auto-generates things like room/dungeon configurations, enemy placement, weapon drops, power-ups, and the like. Someone turned to Doom into one, topdown view and all—and it's awesome. Not only does it retain all the things fans love about the Doom series (mostly blood, guts, and violence) but it adds a little something new: DoomRL has a light RPG element to it. Players are occasionally rewarded points they can assign to whatever attributes they choose as they customize the game to their individual playing style. Want to saw your way through hell with a shotgun packed to the gills with ammo? Do it. Want a tank? Do it. DoomRL lets you play however you want...assuming what you want also includes a third-person top-down view.

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Mushroom Kingdom Fusion

Mushroom Kingdom Fusion might be the fan game to end all fan games, a massive conglomeration of characters and levels from a huge list of 8- and 16-bit classics. Play as Sonic the Hedgehog on a Minesweeper board. Take Wario through a Castlevania level. Play as the lead character from Shinobi as you slice and dice through a level from Arkanoid filled with Goombas from the Super Mario series. The creators even opened up their engine, so anyone with the knowledge and time on their hands to add levels to the game is free to do so.

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Skywind

Skywind might be the most ambitious entry on this list. Its creative team is made up of dozens of Elder Scrolls fans from all over the world, all of whom have come together to accomplish one goal: take what is widely considered the best entry in the Elder Scrolls series, 2002's The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and update it with the game engine used to create the most recent entry in the series, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The project has been in the works for a long time and the team has made a lot of headway, but they've still got a lot of work ahead of them—which is to say you can't play just yet. But judging from the production update videos the team periodically releases, they've done a marvelous job of preserving a fan favorite.

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AM2R: Return of Samus

Released just in time for the 30th anniversary of Metroid comes another Metroid 2 remake. No, literally. The game is called another Metroid 2 Remake, or AM2R, for short. One of the best video games ever made got an HD (and decidedly unauthorized) overhaul that got its creator slapped with the threat of a copyright lawsuit. Tough to argue with Nintendo's actions, but what do they expect when fans are clamoring for updated versions of classic games that they refuse to provide? With such a gaping hole in the market, someone is bound to try and fill the void. The game isn't exactly a one-to-one remake—it's Metroid 2 but it plays like more recent additions of the series, like Metroid Fusion and Metroid Zero Mission—but at its core is a Metroid game, and it's still arguably the best entry in a legendary series.

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