Top 10 Fan-made Games in my Backlog
Game development is often a difficult process. Games can take years to develop, even when in the hands of experienced, professional studios. In light of this, I think it’s amazing when fans of a series or game manage to produce their own games that are inspired by an official work, doing so voluntarily in their free time, potentially funding the development entirely out of their own pockets. While these fan games sometimes toe the line of copyright and intellectual property infringement, with many receiving Cease & Desists or DMCA takedown requests from the IP holders, I still think there are several fan games out there that are well worth talking about, and ones that I definitely want to try myself!
Several of the games on this list are still in development, so it might be a stretch to say they’re on my backlog. After all, they’re not fully released yet, and since these games are developed by fans in their free time, often over the course of many years, it is entirely possible that they may never see a full, completed release. But my entire schtick with this blog is all about “the backlog,” so I hope you’ll continue reading without rolling your eyes too much.
By the way, I’m not featuring any ROM hacks here. ROM hacks definitely require a ton of development time as well, but I only wanted to feature games that were built from the ground up from scratch, or in some other game engine. That also leaves me free to make a similar list to this one in the future, featuring only ROM Hacks!
Also, I won’t be directly linking to downloads for any of the games mentioned in order to (hopefully) steer clear of takedown requests, but I will link to the official game pages when possible. On with the list!
10. The Legend of Zelda: Book of Mudora
Using graphics from A Link to the Past as well as some custom ones in the same style, The Legend of Zelda: Book of Mudora looks quite promising. It’s a full, 2D Zelda adventure, spanning 8 dungeons. Some of the overworld areas shown in the trailer look a little empty, but its the dungeons that will truly make or break this game, and I’m looking forward to trying it out myself.
9. Silver Night’s Crusaders
While not strictly a fan game, this is a game largely inspired by classic Castlevania. While I haven’t played much of the classic Castlevania titles as of this writing, I’m definitely a fan of the overall aesthetic of the series. This game seems to use a lot of assets from several different Castlevania games. I saw some familiar scenes and bosses from Symphony of the Night in the trailer. I think this one was primarily made by one person, and you can definitely sense their love and excitement for the series in the trailer!
8. Streets of Rage Remake
Streets of Rage Remake is an incredible tribute to the 16-bit beat ‘em up trilogy. Featuring over 100 stages, 19 playable characters, and a 76 song soundtrack, the developers really poured a ton of love and effort into this game. The soundtrack in particular is incredible, it’s amazing how the team managed to translate the original 16-bit Genesis sounds into catchy and modern electronic tracks.
7. Pokémon Uranium
I’ve had a lot of fun playing the official Pokémon games over the years. In fact, Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow are some of the first video games I remember playing. I definitely have a lot of nostalgia for the first 3, maybe 4, generations of the Pokémon series. The screenshots of Pokémon Uranium I’ve seen resemble the 4th generation pretty strongly, so I’m definitely curious about it based on that alone. In addition, it also adds a new “Nuclear” type that functions similarly to Shadow Pokémon in Pokémon Colosseum, in addition to implementing the 18 Pokémon types seen in the official games as of the 6th generation. Additionally, though Uranium features some official Pokémon, the 200 entry in-game Pokédex is primarily made of up original Pokémon. Encountering unfamiliar Pokémon is always fun in the games, since you don’t know what to expect at first, so I’m definitely looking forward to this!
One thing that sets Uranium apart from other Pokémon fan games is that it’s not a ROM hack. Rather than using the code of one of the official games as a base, it was created using RPG Maker XP, which is an impressive feat since this is a full-length Pokémon adventure, with 8 gyms and everything.
6. Undertale Red
Undertale Red is set sometime during the events of Undertale. You play as another human lost in the world of Undertale who runs into a Royal Guard, and things progress from there according to you choices. Undertale was a great experience, and I’ve heard the fan-made Undertale Red is of similar quality, so of course I’m interested to see what it’s all about! It’s supposed to be pretty short, but with several different routes available.
The only official “page” for this fan game appears to be the Reddit post in which it was released. That post can be found here.
A fan-made recreation of Earthbound in the style of Mother 3, this game is recreating Earthbound from the ground up with all new assets. Some gameplay changes and improvements are being made too, and the battle system seems to take inspiration from Mother 3’s combat system, and features some king of combo mechanic.
The official announcement thread can be found here if you want to follow the game’s development.
4. Danganronpa: Dead End
Danganronpa: Dead End is a Danganronpa fan game featuring a similar killing game at a school called “Reservoir University.” It sounds like an ambitious project, as it will feature voice acting! As of this writing, only a demo called the “Pre-Trial-Trial” version has been released, featuring a non-canon class trial without any character deaths. The murder cases in the official Danganronpa games are incredible, and I can only hope this fan game is able to capture some of the same magic that makes Danganronpa so great.
3. Castlevania: The Lecarde Chronicles 2
I’ve really enjoyed the metroidvania Castlevania titles I’ve played, and this fan game is styled after that kind of Castlevania gameplay! It’s also notable for having high quality music, and even features voice acting from several actors who have played characters in official Castlevania titles, reprising their roles for this fan game.
To my knowledge, this game hasn’t received any DMCA requests from Konami, and the official page for the fangame, complete with download links, remains available as of this writing. You can find the official game page with the download link here.
2. AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake)
In 2016, after about 10 years of working on the project on and off alongside several other fan developers, Milton Guasti (under the name DoctorM64) released his Metroid passion project to the world: AM2R, a complete remake of Metroid II: Samus Returns. Much like how Metroid: Zero Mission was a remake of the original Metroid with modern graphics and gameplay improvements, AM2R featured numerous enhancements and alterations from Metroid II, including new areas, bosses, music, and a map system.
Not long after its release, Guasti received a DMCA takedown request from Nintendo. Then, in 2017, Nintendo released their own official remake of Metroid II, Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS. I played and enjoyed the official remake on the 3DS, but I’ve read that AM2R feels a lot different from Samus Returns, and is well worth playing. Despite the DMCA takedown requests, it’s still possible to find AM2R online, and it’s even received community patches that fix bugs, and add additional content.
From the sound of it, AM2R is one of the most fully-featured fan games out there. As a fan of both the Metroid series and the metroidvania genre, I’m really looking forward to playing it!
Originally being developed as Mother 4, Oddity has always been strongly influenced by the Mother series, and is aiming for the same aesthetic and gameplay. A large part of the reason for abandoning the Mother 4 title was likely to avoid potential Cease & Desist requests for Nintendo. I’m honestly not sure who to list as the developer on this one. The Mother 4 Wiki states that the developers involved on the project have changed several times since the project started in 2008, and there’s no official name for the team listed there.
The reveal trailer for Oddity looks incredible, with great pixel art that is strongly reminiscent of Mother 3, and the battle system seems like a fun evolution of the turn-based battles in Earthbound and Mother 3. The trailer ends with a proclomation that “It’ll be out when it’s ready,” and I’m really looking forward to when that day comes!