ABA Games is the alias for the Japanese game designer Kenta Cho. This one man hobbyist released his first game in 2002 for a grand total on nothing, and that has pretty much been his mantra ever since. They may have been free, but Cho's work stood out by being professional looking and fun arcade affairs. This was something of an anomaly in the early 2000s but it was the start of what was to become the rise of independent developers.
I've included five of his games to look into today, so let's go alphabetically and begin with the 2003 game A7Xpg. Like all games on this list, it's pretty simple yet incredibly addictive. The simple nature of his games has prompted Cho to make the decision to not develop them for commercial release, despite a growing desire from potential publishers.
The object of this game is to collect a set amount of space gold within a time limit while avoiding enemies. The number of enemies will grow as time goes on, and you have no weapon to speak of. Instead, you have a boost the will dart you across the screen away from danger. If you collect enough gold quickly enough, you will become invincible for a short time, allowing you to crash into your enemies and destroying them. In some respects, it plays a little like that classic game Snake that we all played on our Nokia phones back in the day, but it has a design aesthetic that makes it completely its own.
Noiz2sa was Cho's first game and was released in 2002. It was one of his few game that had a commercial release on other platforms, though the PC remained free. It also saw ports to the Amiga and the DreamCast, which was gaining popularity for independently created shooters that remains strong to this day.
The design is very crisp and abstract, which compliments the insane amount of bullets that can appear on screen. It plays like a traditional shooter, but there is an emphasis in navigating the bullet hell surrounding you. Unlike other shooters, your ship is only vulnerable at its centre, so bullets can ply through you if it only touches the force field on the edge. There is a slow-down button that will help you navigate the more extreme chaos, but these mechanics do not make it a walk in the park. It just makes it a hell of a lot of fun.
Parsec47 plays a lot like Noiz2sa, with only the core of your ship being vulnerable, but the aesthetic is completely different having a sci-fi look that reminds me of Tron. This game includes end of level bosses, which can take up the entire screen.
Like its forebear, it takes the bullet-hell schmup genre and runs with it. Again there are no power ups, but you can collect green cubes which will increase you scores. It may share some similarities with Noiz2sa, but it's different enough to feel like it's very own entity.
This frenetic game takes heavy inspiration from the classic arcade game Tempest. It is a tunnel shooter where you speed along the wire-frame tunnel. There are no levels here, but a continuing tunnel. Your game will end if the time runs out, but you can add to it by defeating bosses. After a certain number of normal enemies are killed, a larger, more difficult enemy will appear. The bullets will come thick and fast so it takes a lot of skill to bypass them.
You also have a secondary special weapon. Hold down the fire key to charge up your weapon before releasing a blast that will consume all enemies in its path. The never ending tube changes throughout the game, as areas disappear, funneling you into a smaller area. It's incredibly fast as well, so your quick reflexes are tested a lot more here.
TUMIKI Fighters is perhaps the most well known of Cho's library, but most would recognise it as the WiiWare game Blast Works. The free PC version doesn't have as many features as that game, but the unique basis for it is very much present.
This is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up that uses it's wooden block visual style as part of it's major mechanic. As you shoot enemies, bits will fall down once completed. You can then catch these pieces to add to your ship which will act as a shield or power ups. This was inspired by the distinctly Japanese game Katamari Demacy.
The Wii re-imagining, developed by Budcat Creations for Majesco, also includes several of Cho's other games as an added bonus. These are direct ports of the free PC games, which Cho received no money for.
Kenta Cho still releases games under ABA Games. While there hasn't been a downloadable freeware game since 2004, he is incredibly prolific in browser playable games. If you visit his website, he boasts that he has created 50 games in 2014. Although he describes these as little more than mini-games, there is a great amount of enjoyment to be found with a great deal on them. Check them out, along with other downloadable games here.
To download the game, follow the download links under each game. These custom installers are exclusive to The Collection Chamber. The games will run natively on modern systems. Tested on Windows 7.
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