Stylistically, the games have left a mark on the genre. Many of those same titles still sell as well, some of them reaching so many variations that I lost track a long, long time ago. I thought it might be fun to list off some free-to-play MMOs that remind me of those old classics. See what you think, and leave any suggestions in the comments section!
- Drift City - Drift City is a neat-looking game that boasts over-the-top graphics and a more outrageous approach to racing. You can freely roam the city, take part in side-missions or go head to head with other drivers. It's described as part RPG, part racing sim. If only the cars were karts!
- Free Jack - This title is a very unique "racing" game that celebrates the art of parkour -- running around and conquering obstacles that you would find in any real-world city. Of course, in this MMO everything is turned up several notches, from the character models, pedestrians on the street and fashions. There is a pretty fun story mission mode that takes you through a series or tracks that start off easy and only get harder, in addition to races against other players and a free mode that allows exploration. Parkour isn't easy in real life, and it's not that easy in Free Jack either.
- Free Realms' racing minigame - I was obsessed with Free Realms' racing when I first played the game. It was quite difficult then, but even after the developers turned the difficulty knob down a few notches, it's still a heck of a lot of fun. You can upgrade your cars, play smash-em-up with your friends, try to conquer all of the tracks, or just spend your money to make your car look cool. I still love racing in Free Realms.
- Fantasy Online - Fantasy Online was enjoyable enough when I played it for Rise and Shiny, but the graphics are what I really enjoyed. The trees in particular made me happy. If you like primitive graphics and 8bit gaming, you'll enjoy this title. Don't expect much from the questing department, however. You'll pretty much be spending most of your time killing 10 of those and 20 of these. Still, for such an independent game, it seems to be changing and getting updated frequently.
- Realm of the Mad God - This squad-based, browser-based 8bit shooter is... odd. Basically you spend your time in fights with or against fellow players. It's fast, crazy, and a bit infuriating. Actually, if you take Zelda and merge it with Robotron, you might get a bit closer to how Realm feels. Just be warned: The community was insane when I visited before. I will be giving my first impressions of the game a bit later, but only after I will be able to make sure it's safe to go in.
- MilMo - I adore MilMo; I always have. It's quietly letting players explore unique, bright and adventurous platforming levels while so many other MMOs refuse to even crack a smile. There's a story arc running through the whole adventure that adds some depth to the game, and the customization is top-notch. I'd say that this game's art style is absolutely one of my favorites. It takes real guts and real talent to make a game that is friendly to younger players that doesn't also look ridiculous, extremely primitive, or "kiddie." If you like platforming, this is the MMO for you.
- Spiral Knights - True, Spiral Knights hangs its camera up above the action while classic Mario Brothers was typically a side-scroller, but there's no mistaking how the games share block-smashing, baddie-crunching, and wonderful music. If you want to sit back and kill about 10 hours, log into Spiral Knights.
- FusionFall - It's been a while since I jumped back into this one, but I always loved the platforming aspects that play such a big role in the game. Take Mario, give him a series of fun or funny outfits, hand him several large firearms, set him loose in a world filled with toxic goo and radioactive monsters, and you get close to what FusionFall is all about.
Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!