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Everyone knows that making a great video game requires teams of experts, years of work, and millions of dollars. Which is why it stings so badly when two dudes in Minnesota come along and vastly improve the work of the professionals with nothing more than a summer indoors and a few crates of Red Bull. That's for the developers to cry over, though -- for us, these fan-improved versions of classic games are almost all entirely free, available to you right now, and the most fun you'll have this side of go-kart jousting.

5
Pokemon Fusion Generation

For those of you blissfully out of the loop with modern memes: First, tell us how you live your life. We get the feeling we're doing it all wrong. Second, let us introduce you to Pokemon Fusion Generation, a random Pokemon generator that has resulted in more twisted creatures that should not be than Gossip Girl. It was only a matter of time before someone got the notion to make an actual game featuring these abominations (the ... the Pokemon, not the Gossip Girls).

The story follows Bill, everyone's favorite mad scientist from the original game, who decides to fuse random Pokemon together to make untold genetic horrors, because apparently "responsible government regulation" is the most elusive Pokemon of all. Naturally, the various gym leaders, sick and tired of losing to every OCD 10-year-old who made it past the fortified hedge blocking the entrance to their town, leaped at the chance to mutate and torture their pets for fun and profit.

A normal Pokemon game features adorable hybrids, or caricatures of more or less normal animals, like these:


It's a shame we'll never get to enjoy these guys in a taco sampler pack.

Pokemon Fusion Generation features twisted hellspawn that spit in the face of the PokeGod, such as these:


These would make ... less appetizing tacos.

The best part of a Pokemon game is the vast variety of creatures to plan and strategize with. Thanks to Pokemon Fusion Generation, that number is upped dramatically -- and as an added bonus, you can now field such impressive creatures as a bull-whale, an insane pile of candy, or a three-headed bird-Pikachu that wishes, above all else, to simply be allowed to die.

Gimme:

Follow this link to download the game for free.

4
Organ Trail

Ahh, The Oregon Trail. It's what we did in school instead of paying attention to math, science, history, or really any learning at all. It may have single-handedly destroyed our rounded education, but hey, we sure do know a disproportionate amount about the struggles of pioneers heading to Oregon. That's a valuable life skill, right?

No?

Well, at least the unemployment will pass a little easier with Organ Trail -- the zombified remake.

You've got high-powered rifles instead of muskets and station wagons instead of the covered variety, but Organ Trail still has every basic frustration that you fondly remember from its predecessor.


Vaccinations, people.

You can still die from archaic illnesses, shitty luck, and poor supply management -- all the basic building blocks of fun! -- but with the added complication of your dim-witted friends occasionally wandering off and getting themselves infected by zombies. You get to decide whether you use them as long as possible or risk having them turn on you in the night. If you're not game for the latter, you have the classic zombie dilemma to face:


To shotgun, or not to shotgun?

Of course, you can still name all of your characters after your friends, but now you don't have to wait for the annoying ones to die of dysentery -- if Chad snags your last Handi-Snack at lunch, you can give him a shotgun breath mint in fourth period.

Gimme:

You can play the free Flash version here, or buy the "director's cut" on Steam.

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3
DoomRL

DoomRL is Doom, the shooter that started it all, as a roguelike.

A roguelike, for those of you who don't speak PC-gaming nerd, is a sort of randomly generated game where the object isn't to "win" necessarily, but just to not lose for as long as possible. Every floor in DoomRL is randomly generated, every item and enemy is randomly spawned, and you can play the game essentially forever, and it will never be the same thing twice. That alone would be improvement enough -- infinite game! -- but that's only the start of the changes in DoomRL. The game also features an RPG-style level-up system. You don't automatically get stronger, but instead receive a single point to spend however you choose, allowing you to customize your character. Although we don't recommend putting many points into "reasonable negotiation" -- most blood-soaked demon priests are immune.


Putting a few dozen points into "midair castration" is probably a good move, though.

The weapons are wildly different, too. Duel-wielding pistols makes for a completely different game experience from specializing in shotguns ... which are both objectively inferior to duel-wielding chainsaws (a class build we shall refer to as "Lumberjack the Ripper").

Furthermore, you modify your gear, improving a shotgun by, say, tacking on a couple of bulk packs so it can hold more ammo, attaching agility packs to a pistol to boost its accuracy, or just taping a chainsaw to another chainsaw, because seriously, it's like cowbell rules: You can never have too much chainsaw.


Never.

Perhaps the best part of DoomRL isn't even the game itself, but the payment model: You can straight up donate money if you want to see more stuff like this, or you can go into the forum and offer a "bounty." That's where you propose some feature you want to see in the game and only fork over the cash if the author actually adds what you requested.

Dang, somebody with a bit of extra cash should hurry up and request chainsaw-chucks. We're pretty sure they're not in the game ... yet.

Gimme:

Follow this link to download the game for free.

2
Megaman: Day in the Limelight

Some idiot took a look at the Megaman series and thought, "Yeah, this is fun, but this whole Megaman thing would be a whole lot better without all this Megaman."

And somehow, against all common sense and the immutable rules of the natural universe as we know it, he was right.

In Limelight, there's no earnest blue-helmeted hero in sight. Instead, you play as the Robot Masters, who have set about beating the bolts out of one another because it gets pretty damn boring waiting in their little gated boss-rooms while Megaman misses the same jump 15 times in a row. And while playing as the villains is already a pretty sweet concept, the developers have taken it one step further.

Quick: What's the best part of a Megaman game? Yep: Using the bosses' powers against them. Nothing is more satisfying than losing to Guts Man a dozen times, only to come back to his stage equipped with the only power he's weak against -- Taco Bell -- and whale the bastard into dust within seconds. And that's the true genius of Limelight: the creative ways the powers interact with the enemies and environments. But it's not just limited to boss fights:


We're this close to seeing if Megaman could beat Luigi in a fight.

Throughout the levels, you'll find novel uses for each robot's unique power -- cutting the ropes that hold up platforms, freezing obstacles to jump over them, powering machinery with electricity -- and that's just in the first one. In the sequel to Limelight, which is twice as long, you can freely switch characters at any time -- yes, that means even in the middle of a boss fight. Watch your back, Ant Man: We've got Sun Man and Magnifying Glass Man on retainer.

Gimme:

Follow this link to download the game for free.

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1
Mushroom Kingdom Fusion

What was the number one impossible wet dream of every child who grew up in the '90s? No, not Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (although she's a close second). The correct answer is actually Mushroom Kingdom Fusion:

Mushroom Kingdom Fusion is every single old-school video game rolled into a giant, self-replenishing curry of pixelated awesomeness. The stages are stolen from every game the designers could lay their hands on, and we don't mean that lightly:


We want to see Kirby try to eat that foot.

Is that Kirby in Final Fantasy? Tails in Q-Bert? Mario in ... Minesweeper?! We'd make a joke about Sub-Zero in Ice Climbers, but that actually seems pretty tame compared to the madness Mushroom Kingdom Fusion is already sporting.

This is by no means a complete list of characters, either. Don't like who you see above? No problem: You can play as Link, Megaman, Sonic, Tingle -- whoever your favorite character is, they're playable. Because even if they're not included by default, you can go steal a sprite sheet and upload them right into the game. Boom: Leisure Suit Larry's adventures through Dracula's Castle.

There are all sorts of power-ups, too, ranging from a greatest-hits-style collection from every game made in the '80s and '90s to bizarre new ones never seen before. For instance, the Guile Suit:


And the third guy from the right is either Solid Snake or Scarface.

Still, before you get too excited, we should mention that this is the only "unfinished" game on this list. But that's only because they're still adding new stages, characters, and power-ups, and they likely have no intention of ever stopping.

Call us when you can cast Meteo on the dog from Duck Hunt; we will drown your families in our money.

Gimme:

Follow this link to download the game for free.


Follow Jacopo on Twitter to learn more about his upcoming book, The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy!

Related Reading: Have you seen the Star Wars remaster that looks better than anything George Lucas ever produced? Fans make everything better: including theories about your favorite movies. They've also solved some of the greatest mysteries in pop-culture history. Which is how we know HAL was made by IBM.

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