There are things that I could say right now to accurately determine the age of most of our readers. "But I am le tired." "Badger badger badger." "Wiggle jiggle, yellow middle." But, more than anything else, I can ask: which website did you visit the most in the early 2000s? If the answer is anything other than Neopets, EBaum's World, Homestar Runner, YTMND, Something Awful, MySpace, Albino Black Sheep, A Softer World, or Newgrounds — well, you're still welcome on this article! We'll have no ageism here.
But pretty much anyone under the age of 25 who had the internet and a love for games in the early 2000s was on Newgrounds. Browsing goofy Flash videos like The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny and playing Flash games like The Crimson Room was my lunchtime dose of fun, before YouTube was a thing. Now, Flash is dead — dead like my dreams of being a tall marine biologist one day, which was my goal at the time. Now I am merely a short games journalist. Ah well.
But Flash's legacy lives on, and so does Newgrounds, which is still going, and is still run by creator Tom Fulp. In fact, the Game Developers' Conference just announced that Fulp, alongside industry veteran Laralyn McWilliams, would be receiving a special honour this year at the Game Developers' Choice Awards.
So, as promised: here's why that matters.
If you've been around for Flash games since the beginning, you've probably seen many of them graduate from browser games to full-fledged console games, many of which are on the Nintendo Switch: Super Meat Boy, N++, and even Hollow Knight, which was originally a game jam game made in Flash. You may even know that Among Us developers Innersloth began their career with the mega-popular Henry Stickmin games!
But more than that: Newgrounds was the breeding ground for the indie game scene we have today. Everything weird, quirky, experimental and unusual wasn't to be found on consoles — it was on the internet, and just as Neopets was the place to be for anyone that loved small animals and free omelettes, Newgrounds was the place to be for playing games.
The sheer number of janky-looking games with stickmen as their main characters speaks volumes about the people who were making these games: small teams, or even just one person, with little artistic skill (sorry!) but easy access to Flash, a development tool which made game-making more possible than ever.
These days, development tools are even more accessible. Flash wasn't actually free — though we could speculate that many indie developers found ways around that — but modern tools like Unity, Unreal Engine, and Blender are all free, with plenty of online tutorials to help you learn the ropes. Accessibility is a huge reason for the indie explosion that Switch has benefitted from, and without accessible tools, we might not have the diversity and creativity visible on the eShop today.
Would any of that exist without the groundwork that Flash laid? I don't know! I'm not a historian! I just really like Flash games! But my guess is that the landscape of indie games on the Switch (and in general) would be entirely different if Newgrounds, Flash games, and even Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) hadn't proved that there was a huge, hungry market for them.
So: congratulations to Tom Fulp on the Pioneer Award (and Laralyn McWilliams on the Lifetime Achievement Award!), and thank you for your contribution to video games. Without your work, I may have actually become a marine biologist.
Absolutely brilliant, whenever I see an old flash game pop up on the store I ALWAYS buy it. n++, Castle crashers, Celeste, BOI etc.
More people need to experience Henry Stickmin.
excellent article, i'm pretty sure you can still be a biologist from the ocean too.
NewGrounds was literally one of the big websites of my childhood, This is great
Alien Hominid, that's all the justification this needed.
I got alien hominid on GBA, Gamecube (imported), and PS2 when it got a full release.
Man, Newgrounds basically defined my childhood. Tom Fulp really is a true icon.
I loved going on to new grounds and seeing what games they have recently I have been playing friday night funkin its amazing
To this day my favorite Zelda title is still the lampshade that does nothing in particular
I loved playing doom on newgrounds
Yeah, I can get behind this
Sneaking onto Newgrounds, Kongregate, and Stickpage using alternative search engines at school (the nanny software wasn't the best lol) to kill time during free moments brings back some crazy memories! As well as one of the teachers actually allowing us to download and install Armagetron on a few of the lab machines during a free day.
(Edit: I feel I should mention I was a very good student. Just a bored one!)
Good times. Not all Flash games are worth it, but there were some genuinely good ones. Most survive through other means (I highly recommend Scriptwelder's work if one likes pixelized point & clicks), but some are now lost to time.
Well I'm over 25 (28) and I spent a great deal of my childhood with the good (and not so good) content of Newgrounds. It was a treasure trove of games and flash toons with the proper maturity-level of humor for my age. Well done, Tom Fulp. Your cameos on Sleepycabin were also a delight!
@Shambo I was bummed the U.S. never got that Hominid GBA port! Would have bought it in a heartbeat back then. Seeing PDA Games graduate to Battleblock Theater sure was great though.
@Shambo Alien Hominid was the bomb. One of my favorite Gamecube games. Anytime someone complains about a game looking "like some cheap Flash game" I feel sad because I know they never experienced the sheer joy of Alien Hominid.
This is odd: I never even heard of Newgrounds and was at the time a hardcore gaming editor. Shame on me 😅
Of course, even though I had all consoles I was heavily Nintendo biased in my consumption (I spent my days on Nintendoexpress, IGN, Nintendojo etc - thanks Nintendoexpress for publishing my first ever editorial btw, if you the founder is still around somewhere I owe you a beer or two.)
@Broosh the GBA version is still my favourite. It lacked the co-op, but was portable. And there's just something about those cardboard boxes and manuals and cartridges...
@JasmineDragon Yeah, when a REAL "cheap flash game" is one of the coolest looking GBA/Gamecube sidescrolling shooters, that statement means nothing.
I was looking for a cool image to share here, when I spotted that apparently a remake was announced at some point early last year? For Switch among others
@Screen Bring it to the switch!
Newgrounds used to be my homepage as a teenager, I'd check it every single day and play games for hours on end. Good times and honestly he deserves the award and recognition! It was such a great place for indie animations too pre-youtube
Man I would play newgrounds everyday, even tho I was watching maybe not to kid friendly stuff Cough tankam, But Man do I love it, I'm glade its still up and its still giving birth to indie games today, Newgrounds is important to gaming. So this is very much'd deserved.
Newgrounds was definitely a source of fun times. The crazy, ultra-violent stick fighting game was something I came back to frequently, and some of the strange, choose your own adventure story type games. Wasn’t that NES mashup Abobo’s Big Adventure also featured there? Good times.
SIM Girls was my jam (and why I kept erasing my history).
Neopets, EBaum's World, Homestar Runner, YTMND, Something Awful, MySpace, Albino Black Sheep, A Softer World, or Newgrounds
This list is eerily accurate to my browser's bookmark tab exactly 15 years ago.
Newgrounds truly was the best and worst that the internet had to offer all rolled in to one place. Flash games may not be the most legitimate form of gaming, but it undeniably helped shape modern gaming
Man, this just reminds me of how Weebls-Stuff's webpage has become so bad in modern times. The site used to be a vibrant and playful hub of silly Flash content, including all sorts of toons, songs, games, guest animations and the like. And now it's just a boring grid of links to Youtube videos. I can't even find any of the cool animations by browsing, and the awful little search bar is only helpful if I remember the exact name of the animation I'm looking for.
Don't forget Castle Crashers is on the switch too! Which he actually made himself with Dan Paladin.
And then you have Binding of Isaac which also essentially came from Newgrounds
Super Happy to see Newgrounds making a comeback as of recently, as it’s always been a great place for online content creators! Tom Fulp definitely deserves this!
Just recently made my Newgrounds account this year (i am one of the unfortunate people who made my account thanks to friday night funkin) and I really love the site. A ton of super creative people on there. Congrats to Mr. Fulp!
I actually had a brief conversation with Fulp, about 20 years ago. He was really cool when answering my questions! Man, I remember being in computer class in freshman year (high school), and the lot of us would stealthily goof off by playing Newgrounds games. Finally, the website got blocked by the school. But we had a good run, by gum!
Congrats to them! Here's to a hopeful future!
All hail Newgrounds!
Some seriously great times on there, back in the day. I always visited the site, whenever I had a couple of minutes to kill in the office, or when I wanted to have a quick funny or weird gaming session at home.
Also, due to @KateGray's brilliantly sneaky badger reference, I simply HAVE to post this:
Oh, and concerning my personal favorite memories of Newgrounds, this as well:
(go to the 5min20secs mark for the first person shooter game, for those who remember)
Still coming back to Newgrounds from time to time, just to think about the fact that it all started with one ginger kid surviving a school shooting
@Flashlink99 Pico!!! 😂
So many great (and traumatizing) memories from Newgrounds as a kid with horrid dial-up internet.
Gotta give a hand to the fellows behind Friday Night Funkin. I feel they really helped with Newgrounds re-surgance.
Except Pico. Pico is inappropriate.
“ But, more than anything else, I can ask: which website did you visit the most in the early 2000s? If the answer is anything other than Neopets, EBaum's World, Homestar Runner, YTMND, Something Awful, MySpace, Albino Black Sheep, A Softer World, or Newgrounds”
That’s quite the line lol.
@Broosh That would be under 25 during the 2000's.
@Noisy_neighbour Ah! That makes so much more sense 😂
I remember playing a non flash game on new grounds kinda recently about ice age baby, Rick and Morty, Wallace and Gromit, and the military led by Bernie sanders.
So yeah, Newgrounds can still have some good games nowadays too.
"But pretty much anyone under the age of 25 who had the internet and a love for games in the early 2000s was on Newgrounds."
Hey, I'm 27 and this was me!!
What a brilliant written article. Gave me nostalgia, enjoyment and newfound knowledge about stuff from newgrouds.
Very good KT.
GDC is so overrated and pointless like a thumb on the back.
Newgrounds was great back in the day, both for the flash games and other cough entertainment.
Anyone ever watched Madness Combat back in the day? I rewatch it all every now and then.
The sick humor really defined my current day humor.
@PBandSmelly The Lampshade of Insignificance! Lol I loved “Decline of Video Games” which is what that stemmed from! Ah memories! ❤️
I'm hoping that Wasm-based Flash players/emulators will allow old games to keep running (as well as new HTML5 games) on Newgrounds and elsewhere.
Whatever its issues, Flash seems like it was a productive game authoring environment.
“What's wrong, Mr. Fingers? Do you not like my mouth-words?"
That logo image. So much nostalgia!
Also really happy to hear Homestar Runner mentioned. Loved that site.
True. That, Awesome tanks, and Tank Trouble was 2nd-5th grade for me.
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