Who doesn’t love the zombies over at Microsoft? Whoa I think you got the wrong idea, I totally meant the new zombie action game coming out of their publishing studio. Yeah, that’s it, I was talking about Deadlight. Luckily enough for gamers, developer Tequila Works is behind this new platformer. If you watch the trailer below, you’ll notice 3 things. Puzzles, Art, and Zombies! So just watch already and get yourself ready for more zombies because there can never, ever, be enough zombies in the world. (Until the zombie apocalypse happens and then I want ZERO zombies.)
Deadlight is a cinematic action-platformer with action-based puzzles. The player takes the role of Randall Wayne, survivor of an apocalyptic world set in an alternate 1980s. Taking advantage of Randall’s agility, the player will overcome obstacles, dodge enemies, and set diversions.
To quote a famous movie, “Oh, everyone likes their own brand, don’t they?” Of course, Fat Bastard wasn’t exactly referring to the Nine Dots Studio Xbox Live Indie Game Brand, but I’d like to think that the quote applies to it quite nicely. You see, the name revolves around a sword you are given. The player will use the sword to complete objectives which allow the sword to be upgraded over and over again whichever way you chose until you have something you can call your own. Brand is a 2d side scrolling game with beautiful three dimensional graphics to expand the depth of the playing field. The way that Brand works, is that you’ll take a mission from one of three people in order to upgrade your sword.
They’ll send you either into a the Necropolis, the Castle, or the Mines. As you explore the areas, you’ll be able to exit them via a portal when you are safe. All the areas’s switches will remain unlocked if you exit via this method, but if you die you get nothing. Once the sword has been upgraded 15 times, you will be sent to the arena to see how many levels you can clear and the sword will be put into the king’s armory for you to go back and try to clear more levels later on. I spent about 5 hours just to get to this stage. Honestly, unless you are focusing in one particular skill, I think most people will try to upgrade the sword evenly across the board. Then, if you continue to upgrade and finish them off, you’ll have the same sword as everyone else. This is something that the game is partially hypocritical about. The fact is that there are not enough upgrades to truly make a unique sword. However, the skill of the player still remains in question. Whether or not the player is able to use the slashes, dashes and heavy attacks to their fullest is in question here. The added bonus of this game allows you to use your avatar for the killing of all the evil creatures. I personally like looking like a bad-ass; killing creatures, and eventually naming my sword after a demon. This was a great game and hopefully earns itself a place at the top for Xbox Live Indie Games.
P.S. Stay away from manticores and check out the trailer below.
Each week, Xbox Live offers and exclusive piece of content to Xbox Live Gold members. This week’s “Exclusive Gold Only Discout” item is Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale
Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale, a hack and slash action role playing game set in the deep mythology of the Forgotten Realms, is the first Dungeons & Dragons video game for connected consoles. Players are summoned by a mysterious mage and given the duty of defending their homeland as Rezlus, an evil Zhentarim Cleric looks to bring the power of the Black Lord Bane to Daggerdale. Restore order to the Dalelands by unlocking the secrets of the Mines of Tethyamar, defeating the evil within the treacherous Tower of the Void, leading to the final confrontation with Rezlus himself.
Players can take on the role of the melee expert Human Fighter, the quick and nimble Elven Rogue, the master of the arcane arts Halfling Wizard, and the powerful divine Dwarven Cleric. Gamers use intuitive pick-up-and-play combat combined with a wide assortment of weapons, feats and powers to defeat a wide range of deadly enemies. Players can level their character, unlocking three tiers of powers, and an extensive list of feats to create a truly unique character. As the player levels, they can add additional attribute points to their ability scores, further enhancing the performance of the character. The action-packed RPG gameplay allows for solo and co-op play for up to four players.
Price: 1200 MSP / Gold Only Exclusive 600MSP
At first I thought the press release was a joke, but then I sadly discovered that it was not. A company has made a cover for your Kinect to block the cameras so it does not spy on you. Apparently it has been out since January and posted by a few big name websites and finally it has a press release. Their reasoning behind it? The fact that Microsoft themselves has stated how the device could be used to target advertising during a sporting event by determining which jersey you are wearing. Would Microsoft do this without your permission? Hell No! Would there be an update to Xbox Live’s Terms of Usage allowing them to do so? Maybe… Does this mean we need to go around covering our Kinects in case of an impossible hacker intrusion? No! It seems like snake oil to me, focusing on privacy concerns without really having anything other than pretentious hype to back it. Will it protect it from dust as the company Catalyst Components claims? Yes, but so would any type of cover and how do we protect our covers from dust? In fact, how do I play with the cover on? Oh yeah, I have to remove it and that is a physical action which could be the same as simply unplugging the Kinect if you have yours plugged in the front like mine.
Lets go over the specs here with my notes highlighted in red.
· Provides and added layer of in-home security For a problem that doesn’t exist. Would you like my tiger deterring rock?
· Designed specifically for Xbox 360 Kinect and Kinect for Windows Is there another type of Kinect?
· Designed to obstruct Kinect’s camera view when not in use Technically if it is “not in use” then it isn’t on.
· Ensures privacy and security against potential prying eyes For Xbox, Who? For Windows, treat it like a webcam. (Coming soon, webcam cover.)
· Blocks LED and infrared light for home theater environments The green dot may be annoying, but I hate seeing INFRARED LIGHT.
· Protects optical lenses from dust and debris So far the only plus.
· Does NOT interfere with voice command or calibration I’m assuming it can’t interfere with calibration when I take it off for calibration.
· Easily slips on and off Kinect Ok, you got me here.
· Conforms to Kinect’s sleek black aesthetic And here.
· Available at Best Buy, Microcenter, Target and Amazon.com Here too.
· Suggested Retail Price: $9.99 Price drop from $15, wonder if it isn’t selling well…
· Made in the USA Ok, now I want to buy it.
I was initially attracted to Minions! based on what Turtle Toss Studios, a team of University of Utah’s undergraduate Entertainment Arts and Engineering program students, had to say about their game. The idea of a twin stick shooter that can be played from both the top-down and also the third-person perspective was interesting. Then the ability to spawn minions to assist and subsequently upgrade abilities seems standard, but combined with the dual perspectives available seems unique.
Starting the game out, you take the role of a hero leading a team of minions against the enemy. As you kill the enemy and collect gold, you can earn enough to buy a special minion that you customize. Each level has a specific task to accomplish. However, the spawning happens only at the beginning spot. This means that if you die, in order to catch back up to your team you will have to walk a long ways at times.
I’m also not sold on the switching between perspectives. The aiming and hit marking in the third person is atrocious. Even well placed shots do not hit their intended targets. On the flip side, in the top down view the shots do not seem to even hit floating targets.
Graphics are fairly basic. The 3d models need to be worked on more to make them smoother and connected. The levels are disconnected between difficulties and lack in amount. The leveling system requires you to replay some levels in order to successfully gain enough strength. I dislike having to grind the same levels over and over again.
This is a great first attempt from these developers. Hopefully they can learn and build from this game to create an even better second entry into the world of gaming. Of course, for casual player I have to say that this game is a pass.
You might remember indie developer Milkstone Studios from our previous review of Avatar Bump. It’s alright if you don’t as I think you are more likely to remember them after playing this next game. One of Milkstone’s latest creations is an interesting view on the Shoot’em Up genre.
While most games focus on lives, player upgrades, and endless levels ending in bosses; Infinity Danger focuses on none of these standard ideas. Instead, players will focus their attention on one singular boss. This boss will evolve each and every time you destroy it, trying to intelligently upgrade itself to fight against your playing style. In fact, 7 different styles of weapons will appear and the ones that kill you the most are the ones that appear the most. Instead of lives, you have a clock timer running down. Each part you shoot off the enemy earns you more time and finishing the level does as well. When you die, time is subtracted instead of loosing a life. Save up enough time and you might be the person who can reach the highest level, not to mention highest score.
Gameplay is simple enough that it deserves very litte extra explanation on how a dual stick shoot’em up operates. If you watch the youtube video below, you’ll notice that the spread of the player’s bullets can be adjusted and this is done with the left and right triggers. If you take a look at my Avatar Bump review, you’ll notice how glad I was to see nice, crisp graphics. Milkstone has not disappointed here at all. The graphics are sharp, artwork delectable and visual effects ,such as explosions and the wall grid, are impeccable. The game style overall wows me and draws me in again and again after my clock completely runs down.
Even though Milkstone is an indie developer, they’ve gone ahead once again and have added their own worldwide scoring system. Sad to say, before everyone started picking up this game to make it the #4 top rated game (#1 in Japan) I was in the top 30. Now I am quite far down, but still madly enjoying trying to best the never ending upgrading boss.
We’ve got 2 more Milkstone Studios’ games in review, but until then check out the Infinity Danger trailer below to see why it ranks so high everywhere, here included.
Elite Pinball HD is a Xbox Live Arcade Indie game. The press release on this game totes it as “classic Pinball at its finest”. Let met start off by putting it bluntly. What I think NotPlanA subsidiary FrozenSoft’s Frozen North division meant was that the game is as classical as the pinball game found in Windows XP. However, this game even fails to achieve anywhere close to how Microsoft Pinball looked and operated.
I love pinball, I really do. It’s becoming an obsession of mine and after reviewing most of what Zen Studios has to offer, I guess you can consider me spoiled. Let me tell you though that I spent a good amount of time giving this game is fair turn to shine. It doesn’t shine though, in fact I do no know why the acronym HD is in the title of the game at all. Sure, it may be outputting HD on my tv, but none of the graphics are near close to what is needed. In fact, I cannot seem to figure out why the full table is displayed on only half the screen. The ball becomes minuscule and almost impossible to see. The art work needs improvement as well, but I’ll let that slide because game play always takes precedent over art.
Gameplay is horrendous though. There simply seems to be none or little physics involved so instead of playing pinball you play gunball. That is to say that the ball shoots around with such speed as a bullet. If you can successfully hit the ball with a flipper I think you deserve an award.
Let me sum this up real quick. Bad graphics/art. No physics. Not a pinball game but a virtual shooting range. Okay guys, try again I guess. For now you simply don’t have anything. (Just make the game take advantage of the whole screen and throw in physics, okay?)
The Xbox Live Indie game program is a great way for independent developers to get their works into the eyes and hands of other people. Its also a great way for Sorcery Games to present to you their shooter game entitled ‘A Shooter’. Robert Toone, the creator, watched people exert hours of effort with bullet hell shooters and twin stick shooters, but find the challenge too difficult. Unlike Toone, who spent the 80s playing and developing shootemups, players around Robert that were new to the genre were struggling and giving up on the games.
Simply put, A Shooter is a side scrolling arcade game that presents a challenge in the form of increasingly difficult levels while freeing you from the need to carry a pocket full of quarters. The style is easy to grasp; move your ship around, shoot the aliens on the screen in front of your ship, collect extra points and power-ups. The left analog stick controls all your movements and the designated button (your choice of two) fires automatically when held down. Of course, it’s easy to forget that the buttons can be rapidly pressed for faster shots, but you might want to save your thumb dexterity for the bosses. Each level follows the same basic principal, though each has it’s own uniqueness. You’ll start the level, shoot some enemies, be presented with a purple asteroid that has a power-up trapped inside, shoot more enemies and then finally confront the boss. The rewards of success are refilling your bombs, gaining perhaps a new type of bomb, and then of course, moving on to the next level.
As I said, the levels offer their own uniqueness and this is found in the aliens that you have to shoot. Each level will offer an enemy with a different style of fight and flight than you previously encountered. So some are able to shoot more than just straight ahead and some are able to move more than that as well. This translates down to the bosses as well, perhaps becoming an elaborate memory game stacking the previous bosses skills into the mix as well. This is how I feel Toone has achieve his goal of trying to suck the player into going back and starting over when dying. It works too, I first spent a bit of my time stuck on level 1, then grasping the basic, completed level 2. Each time I progress and died, I felt as though I could remember how I did it and urged myself to continue back through the levels in the hopes of getting one more level ahead of myself than I previously accomplished.
Another point of uniqueness for this game are the bombs. In most games, a bomb would destroy all the enemies on the screen giving you a brief respite from the assault. In A Shooter, the bombs do not follow standard suite. Instead, the bomb ‘deflects’ all enemy fire and stops them from firing more shots for a brief, but helpful, amount of time. Picking up a special bomb from a downed boss can give you something even better than that though. The apple bomb will turn all enemy fire currently on your screen into apples for you to collect for bonus points. Be wary though as you should value your life more than you do points. Simply put, there is not much health available to you per level. Robert believe that people should be taught how to play a shooter and how to dodge, not to just take the least amount of damage possible.
The game even has local cooperative play if you feel that the challenge of the game is something you want to share. The game will balance itself though, so as to not make it ridiculously easy for you to complete. You can also compete against the high score tables, not just locally but across Xbox Live as well. In fact, there were special prizes during the first few weeks of release for this game. However, I have not posted this quite in time for this information to be relevant. Sorcery Games had a competition going to see who could be the first to complete the game and other various tasks. The competition is now over, but Sorcery Games state that they will continue to have more competitions as the titles progresses in age. You’ll have to keep an eye on their competition page to see when they crop up.
All in all, this is a great independently made game for Xbox Live Arcade. Simply put, your cash goes far in this game and that is something that not all reviewers like to talk about. For 80 MSP this game is a steal. It has simple, but nice graphics that do not distract from gameplay. The gameplay itself airs about with a quality of excellence that leaves you wanting more. Maybe someday there will be more as a sequel is said to be in development, as long as the first does well of course. So check out A Shooter and see if you’d like to get your game on with this one.
Marissa’s Dad is giving away a limited edition Halo: Reach Xbox 360!
Perhaps you’ve read some of his articles that I have re-posted here, but if you didn’t know about his site I’ll tell you more. Marissa’s Dad blogs about his daughter’s infantile spasms at Marissa’s Bunny and details all they have done to try to give her the normal life she deserves. Periodically he gets freebies from corporations and readers, but instead of hoarding all the goodies, he gives them away to people who follow his blog. A great example of his generosity is this 360 that you can win right here! Take some time to look around the site – if you’d like to help him out, you can either vote for his site or give a donation to help with current surgery costs. I hope you take a look at the site, and good lucking wining that Xbox 360!
I recently purchased an Xbox from eBay afflicted with the Red Rings of Death, in hopes of repairing it. While it ends up the console itself was beyond repair, I had hoped to at least salvage the DVD drive, if not other parts from the console.
I figured my hopes were dashed when I hit the eject button on the DVD drive and nothing happened, aside from a short whirring of motors. Upon taking the drive apart, I found that someone had drawn a big “X” on the drive tray with a Sharpie marker – at this point, I was pretty sure this broken Xbox would yield nothing useful other than some spare capacitors.
Eventually, I noticed that a gear and belt was missing from the drive assembly, and I figured that this was the cause of the tray not opening. You can see the two missing parts highlighted in the image below:
The belt is connected to the motor at the front of the DVD drive, which is also connected to the gear that I was missing. This gear drives the larger tray gear on the left, allowing the drive to open and close.
I opened up a bricked hitachi I had laying around in hopes of pulling the gear and belt from that drive and transplanting it into this one. Unfortunately, the gear from the Hitachi drive was not only too tall, but a little different in design as well. It was pretty clear that it would not be a suitable replacement.
As you can see, the drives are laid out in similar fashion, which would be expected as they are both manufactured by Samsung.
I dug up a DVD drive from an old original Xbox I had lying around and took apart the drive. I pulled the gear and belt, but much to my chagrin, the gear was too tall for the Xbox 360 drive. So, I decided to go out to the garage and see what a hacksaw could do about that. I ended up cutting about half a centimeter off the bottom of the gear, then I filed it flat to ensure good movement in the drive. I popped the gear into place, put the belt on, and crossed my fingers.
Much to my surprise, the fix worked like a charm! The drive opened and closed smoothly, and I went from a complete loss to a working drive in just minutes.
I don’t know how often this sort of thing happens to people out there, but I figured it might help someone who took their drive apart and either broke something or lost some parts.