Indie Games

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Over the last few years the independent games scene has grown considerably. Among the hundreds of games out there produced by small-time and aspiring games companies are several that are well suited to play on a home arcade cabinet. Here is a list of just some of the low-budget games out there that fit the bill, several of which have free demo versions available.

Note to editors: Please only include games that are known to play well using standard arcade or trackball controls.



A 3D Tron light-bike game. Tons of features like netplay and chat. It works fine on my cabinet (joystick plus a button or two) but all I do is play against CPU opponents so I don't push the control requirements much.;topic=88098.0;attach=115588;image.jpg


A very cool Asteroids emulator, mostly because it generates flyback transformer noise to add to the experience. It maintains the hiscore list too. It was coded back in 2005 and hasn't been updated. Runs perfectly on my cabinet.

Please Note: You need to get the rom files from the actuelly arcade board, but you cannot ask for the rom in the forum.

Burn the Trash

A fantastic shooter that shows how games can be a real art form. This guy is talented. Same guy who wrote Clean Asia. Very sexy game. Great music; graphics; simple concept; addictive gameplay. Needs a standard joystick plus x, z, c, and enter keys (all of which are hard-coded). I had a problem with the "c" key which I don't have by default. You need that key to change from ship A to ship B. I live with ship A alone and love the game anyway. Works great otherwise;topic=88098.0;attach=115586;image.jpg

Cho Ren Sha

A great oldy style vertical shooter. Fantastic game and seems completely cabinet friendly.;topic=88098.0;attach=115379.jpg


This is a cool rytmic game, where you need to click on circles to the music. All it need is a one button mouse/trackball.


Die Slave

A game by Sexy Death Entertainment is another Japanese horizontal shooter. Very nice, 3D graphics; Arrow-keys, Z, and X are used. Seems totally cabinet friendly.;topic=88098.0;attach=116047;image.jpg

Final Force

A Japanese vertical shooter. It's fast and hard to see all the stuff flying around on the screen. It runs good with cabinet controls but requires the use of the "enter" key. The installer/unpacker is difficult to interpret (Japanese) but I managed. Supports two players and defaiult MAME keys. I can't figure out where I found this one, but I'll look for the link.;topic=88098.0;attach=115448;image.gif


A really nice Japanese arena shooter. It uses both the mouse/trackball for aiming and firing, and a regular joystick for directional. Fire with the mouse button. I'm not sure if you can get this working with cabinet controls, but it's worth trying if you have a trackball installed.;topic=88098.0;attach=115391;image.jpg

Garden of Coloured Lights

A very beautiful vertical shooter. It's gorgeous. Enemies fire in sync with the music. It uses the arrow keys, Z, X, C, and Left Shift... all of which are redefinable in-game. So I moved "C" (fire-3) to a default MAME key. You can tune the config of the program via the .ini file.;topic=88098.0;attach=116053;image.jpg

Generic Arena Shooter

A 3D arena shooter. Works with dual analog sticks and pads (made for a DualShock or Xbox controller), but it can been played with a joystick and a mouse (the stick moves your ship around, and the mouse is for aiming and firing). You might be able to play it with a stick and trackball. ESC exits properly.;topic=88098.0;attach=116051;image.jpg

Grid Wars 2

This is a very cool Geometry Wars clone (but Gridwars have been stopped by Microsoft) and have posted a lots in arcade controls forum. Fully configurable in game and supports nearly all control types and schemes. You press F3 to change the grid types so that's not cabinet friendly, but you don't need that feature to play.

With the unofficiel patch, this game can been even more cab friendly, like playable with Ultimarc U360 joysticks, ESC escape directly to your frontend, TAB show up config and F3 grid types is also remapped to PS2 start (2 key).;topic=88098.0;attach=117379;image.jpg


Another Kenta Cho game. Vertical shooter, nautical theme (shoot the boats). One of the better Kenta Cho games. Totally cab friendly. The keys are as usual with his games and offer multiple options but no reconfiguration: Move: arrows, number pad, WASD, or IJKL; Fire: Z, LCtrl, RCtrl, or . (period); Lance attack: X, LAlt, R-Alt, LShift, RShift, /, or Return.;topic=88098.0;attach=117397;image


A cute 3d puzzle game where you are a robot and have to collect energy crystals. Kindof a modern Marble Madness. Very nice music. Plays perfect on my cabinet (standard joystick and one button -- the space bar). Set for "fullscreen" in the .ini file or it will play in a maximized window instead.;topic=88098.0;attach=115584;image.jpg

Hunter's Moon

A remake of a Commodore 64 game. It plays well on a cabinet, but I think it's better with arrow keys rather than a joystick. You need an "enter" button but otherwise can remap the control keys. In MaLa, I had to launch it "normal" or the splash screen and initial menu screen won't show up.;topic=88098.0;attach=115450;image.jpg

HyperWars - The Mega Firestorm

A really cool vertical shooter that is styled like the original B&W Gameboy. Very well done. Reconfigurable keys that includes directionals and three buttons. Has some adult language.;topic=88098.0;attach=117381;image.gif


An Asteroids clone but with sharp shards of ice instead of rocks. The cool thing about this one is that you can play with up to 3 people simultaneously. It requires F-keys so it's not so cab friendly. But once the keys are remapped (each game), it plays great with arcade controls.;topic=88098.0;attach=115427;image.jpg


A strange Japanese shooter. It kinda looks like an old Sega Genesis platformer. Your player can swing at enemies and jump, but if you hold down the fire key, it converts to cross-hairs which the joystick controls. There's a write-up that explains the controls. Uses X and Z and ESC exits.;topic=88098.0;attach=116055;image.jpg


A Halloween Asteroids clone. Plays pretty good on the cabinet once set up (you need "enter" and "tab" keys, and "Y" to exit, but the rest are remappable).

The same guy made an excellent color remake of Omega Race called, um Omega Race. Plays good on the cabinet, but you need "enter" and "Y" (to confirm exit) mapped to your CP.;topic=88098.0;attach=115419;image.jpg

Legend of Princess

This is a Zelda inspirated platform game. The game is remappable, but you need a Enter key wired to your cabinet to been playable.

Legend of Princess.jpg

Lethal Judgment 2 - Orbital Apocalypse

A horizontal shooter. 3D graphics and a slick look. Not my favorite but I didn't play it much. There are sequels to this game I haven't checked out yet. SPACE, ESC, and directionals are all you need so it plays nice on a cabinet. But it has an initial configurator/launcher app that I could not get past without a mouse click. I might try to script around the launcher app but probably won't bother;topic=88098.0;attach=116057;image.jpg


This game is based on Centipede but has lots more. Great game. The game have been tested with mouse and keyboard, but not with trackball arrangement yet.;topic=88098.0;attach=115425;image.jpg


A Kenta Cho wire-frame arena shooter. You are a snake-like player and you push and shoot enemies but stay in the ring. Uses the directionals plus the Z key. Also supports a joypad or a second stick. You can set the resolution via command-line option.;topic=88098.0;attach=117377;image.gif


A Kenta Cho vertical shooter that plays great on a cabinet. All his shooters are great. I suggest you get them all (rRootage, Gunroar, Torus Trooper, and Mu-Cade in particular).;topic=88098.0;attach=115423;image.jpg

Pen Pen Olympics (Black Cat)

A great skiing game that's meant to look like a 16-bit precursor to the Dreamcast's Pen Pen Trilcelon. Controls are perfect for a cabinet. I can ski OK with a joystick, but not so good with a keyboard.;topic=88098.0;attach=115383.jpg


An r-type like game. 100% cabinet happy. Can also be used with a joypad. Keys can be re-configured in-game.;topic=88098.0;attach=117375;image.jpg

Prototype II

A fantastic rType type game (horizontal shooter). It runs great on the cabinet, but it starts with a Windows configuration screen that lets you set resolution, enable shaders, etc. I haven't figured out how to launch from the command-line and bypass the start-up window (AKA it need a AHK script to skip the config screen).;topic=88098.0;attach=115381.jpg


A neon vector-like arena shooter where you sit in a turret and spin around shooting at enemies that attack from all sides. It's meant to use a mouse/spinnner and not with a standard joystick and buttons.;topic=88098.0;attach=115582;image.jpg

Retroids (Dan's Remakes)

It's a simple asteroids remake and has OpenGL space clouds, power-ups, and some other features. If you like Asteroids, it's worth a look.;topic=88098.0;attach=115389;image.jpg


Spelunky is a platform game which can been descripted like La Mulana meets Nethack. Play nicely on a cabinet, but a script is required to skip the config screen (only need to send a enter) and also send a F10 (or ALT/F4) to quit.


Rip Off (Tardis Remakes)

A remake of the arcade game of the same name. Plays great on my cabinet, but you need "Y", "N" and enter keys mapped to buttons to be able to quit the game.;topic=88098.0;attach=115387;image.jpg


An interesting fighting game that reminds me of Ballz on the Sega Genesis. It seems completely cabinet friendly and is worth checking out.;topic=88098.0;attach=115385;image.jpg

Shooter's Solitude

A very nice japanese vertical shooter. Lots of bullet and laser dodging and a novel power-up system. Uses directionals, Z (fire), X (powerup), S (bombs), and D (change weapons). There's is a nice Get KeyCode application which you can use to figure out alternate keys. Then you can edit the .ini file to use the alternate key. In the end, works great on a cabinet.;topic=88098.0;attach=117399;image.jpg

Streets of Rage Remake

A fantastic new episode to the SOR family -- takes me back to my Sega Genesis days. I like it as much as Beats of Rage. Runs perfect on my cabinet. I love a good beat-em-up with arcade controls.;topic=88098.0;attach=115446;image.jpg

Thrust Extreme

A Gravitron like game (actually, it's a remake of Thrust. Also very polished. Written in BlitzBasic. Can reconfigure keys (or edit the .ini directly). You need ENTER to play. You also need a keyboard to enter high scores. Also supports a joypad.;topic=88098.0;attach=115993;image.jpg

Typhoon 2001

A Tempest like game. Very polished. Works with a joystick but would be better with a spinner. Have not tested with a spinner. Keys are reconfigurable. Supports keyboard, mouse, or spinner.;topic=88098.0;attach=115997;image.jpg

Vacant Ark

Another Japanese horizontal shooter. This time you play a mermaid. I thought gameplay was a bit slow. All it needs is the arrow keys, Z, X, and shift. ESC exits right back to your front-end. Works fine on a cabinet.;topic=88098.0;attach=115987;image.jpg

Val and Rick

A Xevious-like vertical shooter. Very nice. Different than Kenta Cho's other stuff. Only needs the directionals and Z and X. No problems. Cabinet friendly;topic=88098.0;attach=115991;image.jpg

Veck Special Edition

An arena shooter with neon graphics. Looks like little like Geometry wars. I play it with dual joysticks. You need an ENTER key mapped to be able to exit. ESC will pause. It has a configuration program where you can set screen resolution and what-not. Keys can be reconfigured and it works with a dual analog controller too. If you can map ENTER easily, this one is cabinet friendly and good to play on a cabinet.;topic=88098.0;attach=115989;image.jpg

War T-W-A-T

A retro-styled abstract arena shooter. Very cool, really hard to play. Lots of action going on at once and hard to see your "player". Robotron-like frantic-ness. Very nicely done game. Uses the directionals as well as the Z key. Looks to be 100% cabinet friendly.;topic=88098.0;attach=117373;image.jpg

Warning Forever

A very cool Japanese shooter. All bosses. Wireframe-like graphics. Uses a regular joystick and 3 buttons (z, x, and c). You can remap the keys, but I couldn't remap to keys like shift, control, and alt. So mapping to default player 1 MAME keys can been difficult without a AHK script or such.;topic=88098.0;attach=115580;image.jpg

Winged Gear

A very nice arena shooter with graphics that remind me of Xevious and gameplay like Smash TV. This one plays perfect on the cabinet with no key mapping issues.;topic=88098.0;attach=115417;image.jpg



A very cabinet friendly and fun marble Madness inspired game. Works best with mouse/trackball, but joystick can been used too and is nice cab friendly.

Jasper's Journey

Jasper's Journeys offers a mixture of thoughtful exploration, tricky jumps, and frantic monster pummelling action. The game is pretty much perfect cabinet freindly and only need a ENTER key wired.

Jasper's Journey.gif

Games with some issues

Engage to Jabberwock

This is a japanse arena platform game. The game might have issues with some cabinet, its require a fair numbers of buttons and is not fully remappable and hence it might require a script. ESC need to been mapped to ALT/F4 for a direct quit.



A 2D Tempest game. Very nice graphics, but couldn't get it to do full screen. Uses 3D graphics (used my video card). Uses Z or Y for fire, directions, and X for superzapper. Without fullscreen, it can not really play on a cabinet and lunch time might been long too.;topic=88098.0;attach=117395;image.jpg


A neon vector Thrust/Oids/gravitar like game. Very cool. A configurator/launcher loads first and I can't figure out how to get past it without a mouse click. Might need to script it. You can configure the keys in the game (thrust, shield, left, right, and fire). ESC will pause, but another ESC will exit. Not really cabinet friendly because of the launcher, but you might be able to get it working. Gravitron2 costs $5 but there's a free demo. I haven't tried it yet.;topic=88098.0;attach=116049;image.jpg


A wide-screen vertical shooter with 3Dish bosses and lots of bullet dodging. Very cool. Needs F1 button for options including screen resolution. Uses ENTER to start. Z button is fire. You need to enter your name with a keyboard the first time, but afterwards you don't need a keyboard. You cannot remap keys.;topic=88098.0;attach=117389;image.jpg

Return to Sector 9

This game has many arcade games wrapped into one game. You progress through different games like you are progressing through levels. Some are space-arena shooters, others are like Missle Command. It's all 3D graphics. Some of the games use the mouse. Might not suit for a cabinet, but worth trying.;topic=88098.0;attach=117391;image.jpg


A retro 2D platform game which have tested with some issues. It didn't really work out. You need a mouse, ENTER key, DEL key, and the F-keys. Best to leave this one on a PC I think or someone workout a AHK script to get it arcade combatible.;topic=88098.0;attach=115995;image.jpg

ROM Check Fail

A cool game in that it simulates an arcade ROM failure and mixes Space Invaders, PacMan, Arkanoid, and other classics into a single game. Neat idea. It doesn't play full screen but other wise seemed OK the cabinet. If I can get it to go full screen, it could been fit a cabinet nicely.;topic=88098.0;attach=117393;image.jpg


An abstract arena shooter with geometric graphics. Uses directionals and "Z" for fire. You can remap thefire button. SPACE is used for Pause and F4 is used for fullscreen. I'm using AutoHotKey to set to fullscreen right after launch and then map SPACE to P for pause. In the end, not so cabinet friendly.;topic=88098.0;attach=117383;image.jpg

The old game list, need testing

These games need testing again to checkout if there is any problems in a cabinet. freeware or not.

Game Type Control Notes
Airstrike II Shareware Joystick an excellent shooter
Big Box of Blox Freeware Keyboard, customizable controls Big Box of Blox can best be summed up as Tetris on acid.
Bomberman vs Digger Shareware Joystick what would happen if Bomberman, Digger and Boulderdash had babies
BreakQuest Shareware Trackball Spinner an incarnation of Breakout/Arkanoid

Chorensha Freeware Joystick Great vertical scrolling shooter.

Dr. Blob's Organism Freeware Dr. Blob's Organism, winner in not one, but two, IGF categories (2004 IGF Innovation In Audio and Innovation in Visual Art), is a game about shooting one-celled organisms in a petri dish. Think of it like the old arcade game Tempest, only with much squishier targets.
FrozenBubble Freeware Keyboard Linux only Bubble Boggle clones, w/level editor.
Juno Nemesis Shareware ? a modern take on Tempest
Mutant Storm Shareware Dual Joystick dual-joystick Robotron style game
Plasmaworm Freeware Plasmaworm is the fiendishly addictive arcade game of weird worms eating random probability eidolons in a tank of otherspatial plasma.
Platypus Shareware Joystick a side-scrolling shooter with clay graphics
Space Renegade Shareware ($8.00) Joystick, keyboard configurable Space Invaders style vertical shooter. Linux friendly, mac version coming.
Space Tripper Shareware Joystick Defenders style gameplay with updated graphics
Stopple Freeware Joystick ? a free, addictive, fun, puzzle game for all the family
Titanion Freeware Keyboard Galaga style shooter, with an interesting twist on escorts.
Torus Trooper Freeware Keyboard Tempest meets Wipeout, a rotating racer and shooter.

See Also