I would argue that above zombies, dinosaurs are probably the world’s most beloved sub-culture. From The Land Before Time extending to Jurassic Park, I argue that dinosaurs have maintained a special place in most everyone’s heart. The problem is that there has not been much love (or hate) for dinorsaurs in video games since the Turok series. The problem’s solution came with advent of Kickstarter. Spiral Game Studios has had the design for Orion started since 1998, but it wasn’t until their Kickstarter campaign for $10,000 that net almost $20k in over a year that they made some serious headway. They’ve released the game early on May 4th and will be continuing to update the game and produce more content for it. In fact, when I received my copy, I couldn’t even play it. It is running on the Unreal Development Kit and for some reason, mine kept crashing. So I sat by and was patient until the release when the forums would be up on Steam and more people would probably experience and fix the same problem I was having. I was correct in that assumption and ever since I did a small bcdedit on Windows to expand my virtual video memory, the game has worked. I am not going to say flawlessly, because inside the game there are certainly issues and I will point out the ones I’ve notice as I tell you more about the world of Orion: Dino Beatdown and all the dinosaurs I’ve killed.
I almost overlooked this game when delving through the ever flowing cascade of press releases. It wasn’t until I saw that the nice people from Sparkrift were giving away a few copies to their fellow Redditors, that I realized how awesome of a game it could turn out to be. You see, Robofish makes itself distinct from other shoot ‘em up games by giving the player a chance at uniqueness. The player has to upgrade and create the weapons used on the fish. A varied amount of options are available including choosing what type of effect the ammo has.
The staggering amount of choices I have almost leave me confused and the only option is to test them out in the heat of battle to determine effectiveness. Luckily, after shooting down enemies and collecting the pearls they leave behind, I am able to upgrade my choices, perhaps providing better options. I love the art of the game, it slightly resembles other shumps (shoot ‘em ups) like Geometry Wars, if only for the neon glow. Other than that, Robofish is its own unique creation. After all, it is a fish with robotics attached to it shooting everything in it’s path; which is awesome! Unlike Geometry Wars, I find that Robofish has the enemies falling from the top, or from the front if you think of it as looking down on a fish. In that case, these streams of enemies are easier to handle until they do envelop you. None the less, I prefer this method of being attacked.
As far as configurations go, I prefer to set mine up in a directional control method so that I can completely control where my shots go. I chose to put a slight curve on them and to have to keep the accuracy down so that a general area is being covered. This way I can keep from having to have absolute precise control. Of course, you can choose to have it completely wavy, crisscrossed, or in multiple directions.
If you keep up the good work of dodging incoming attacks and keep on shooting everything down, you’ll be able to earn multipliers for different levels of enemies killed in a row. There are even some bonus moves such as a repairing yourself or firing a homing missile. The missile is best saved for bigger enemies as it does seem to take to long to recharge. In fact, I often forget to use it. My main concern is shooting things and collecting pearls for upgrades.
All in all, you have three things here. A beautifully designed game, an excellent shoot ‘em up, and an addictive indie game found for a reasonable price on XBLIG. If you’re interested, you can find it for yourself at Xbox.com.
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.
A week or two ago, I was browsing Reddit and came across a post from a developer who had some leftover codes for a game he had made with his friends. He was nice enough to pass a code to me as well as a few others. Feeling that no good deed deserves to go unnoticed, I felt that this game needed some light shone upon it. Behold to thy open eyes Cavemen VS Aliens.
Now before you get all gun ho on me, I don’t want you thinking of Cowboys & Aliens as that is a movie, has different letters in the title and was a complete waste of Daniel Craig’s talent. No, Cavemen VS Aliens is a simplistic RTS from the Xbox Live Indie Game section developed by WeAreColin. In the midst of working and being sick, I finally had a chance to play a few levels. Gameplay is broken down to this. There are four Pterodactyls. One carries cavemen to spots,One takes them back, one supplies them with rock and one with health. Each has a cool down time, so sometimes it is strategic to move men if you can’t heal them. You have to bring them to different zones to help capture the territory or defend it. Hold enough territory for a certain amount of time or kill all the attacking aliens and you win the round. Do I need to tell you that the aliens are bad and want turn the planet into a giant communication repeater that would kill all life? NO? Good!
Now I know what you are thinking, that this incredibly well drawn game sounds just too easy. Well I tell you that it is not and that I certainly struggled. As of right now, I have not made it very far at all, having only conquered the first three levels. My mission right now is to attack more points and, I think, leave the forest area. There are a few other types of environments and supposedly they affect gameplay, but I cannot tell you how yet. You see, even though I have a super powered caveman named Colin (the chief’s top hunter son who you can’t let die) I still seem to be overpowered. I haven’t figured out how many cavemen I need to placed in the zones before I attempt to take them over. Hopefully you do better. At least while doing so I am not looking at some horrendous art or listening to crappy music. No my friends, WeAreColin does not make you suffer visually or auditory.
So if you are thinking you want to pick this game up with a Pterodactyl of your own, swing by the Xbox Live Indie section and snag it for a $1 (80Msp if they haven’t changed the currency yet.) I found it fun and will continue to work towards redemption of my failure to complete it. Also, I’ve got my eye on the developer that dropped the loot in Reddit. He stated that besides being busy working on 100 player crowd games, he was about to release something for WP7. Ooh, mysterious.
A brief description of Akane the Kunoichi! would go something like, “Akane, a kunoichi, must rescue her kidnapped master whom she secretly loves. ” That, combined with the artwork on the side doesn’t give much to go by to first judge how interesting a game is. At first glance, you might think I was mostly interested in the attractive looking ninja lady who most certainly looks ready for action. (Not that kind you perv!) Truth be told, I was surprised when this turned out to be a side scrolling platformer. Of course, the tiny character Akane is not nearly as attractive as the cover art, but I suppose if you squint and use some imagination you’ll be fine. Of course, if you’re like me you’ll be more interested in the game play. Simple controls are the undoing of even the most skilled players. One joystick controls movement with buttons controlling jump, attack, and special attacks. The special attacks can be cycled through with the bumpers. Like I said, while the controls are simple the rest of the game is surprisingly difficult. There are five stages with 3 levels each, the end level being a boss level. Each level also has 3 hidden golden kimonos, including the boss level. You’ll start the level with four hearts, with scare opportunities to restore them as well as power-up. The power-up will give you a tri-kunai attack that will be lost if you are injured. Fall off the screen though, and instant death occurs. Enemy attacks range from just walking into you to throwing weapons at you. The instant death irks me, but makes sense. Two thing I feel are missing are double jump and dash. These would make this feel like a full ninja game. However, given the limited levels, one would blow through the game easily. The wall climb does feel a little sticky and I am unsure if I am just missing the timing by mashing the jump button too often. All in all, I am only 3 stages in and I plan on going back to finish the rest. Check out the trailer below and stop by the Xbox Live Marketplace to get your fill of this well priced entertainment from HaruNeko.
The words “Trailer Park King” immediately perk my ears up as if they are somehow able to hear through my eyes. Trashy, redneck styled games have a special place in my home along with such board games as Redneck Life. Trailer Park King is not only the title of the game, but also of the main character. You’ll play him as he tries to sleuth through clearing his name from a murder, meanwhile gathering information from sexy, scantly clad women. Of course, this isn’t so much as a game as it is an interactive story. Almost a point and click escape the room kind of story. Of course, the aforementioned scantly clad women with seductive voices drives the quality level of the story, among other things, sky high. While normally I am not that fond of story telling works of art, especially when they require money to pay for, Trailer Park King is well worth your $1 of Microsoft monies. Even if it is just to gander at well drawn cleavage. Freelance games says the one of the characters, Celine, is modeled after one of their own employees. Who could know that we all work at the wrong place? Check out the Xbox Live Marketplace and the Youtube trailer as well!
If I were to say “Bumblepig”, what would immediately come to your mind? A black and yellow stripped pig flying around pollinating flowers you say? I’d say you were good at guessing, but there is a picture to the left. Anyways, that is the basic concept of Bumblepig; a cross bred bumble bee pig who you control to try and pollinate flowers in order to make a match. Sure, the first few levels are kinda easy. Using the triggers, you either shake the left or right leg to shake some collected pollen off your leg and onto a flower like a gardening Tinkerbell. Of course, you can always pollinate the flower with the same color of pollen, but where is the fun in that. You’ll get more coins to keep a string of one color going, and to do so you’re going to need to do some cross pollination. So shake that blue onto the red and the red onto the blue and string up some purple flowers. Whoops, did you just hit the button that drops the pollen and have no blue left to pollinate with? Yep, that will happen. Further out into the levels you’ll not only have to keep your matching skills going, but also have to dodge bugs and other obstacles that will knock your
socks pollen off. It can become quite tricky to keep pollinating flowers of different colors and to keep that pollen intact. It’s totally worth it though, as you make enough money you can buy Bumblepig more clothes and he needs a party hat to go to a party. Yeah, ok so there really isn’t much of a goal and the graphics make me feel like I am 7. I’d like to see a 7 year old dodge fly around as well as I do. Actually, most 7 year old kids probably could dodge better than me. Still, I’m not sure if this would make a great game for a kid, but I guess kids are getting better and hand/eye coordination everyday. So either way, Bumblepig would make a great challenge for anyone 7-70! I mean, those 70 year olds need to keep their skills sharp too, right? It’s cheap too as Kindling Games is an indie developer and Bumblepig is available on the Xbox LIVE Indie Games market. Check out the gameplay video below to see if you think this game is as interesting as I do. For sure it is fun and well made!
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.
Over the weekend we were left a wonderful message in our chat room stating that On The Fly Entertainment would love to have us review their latest Xbox Live Indie Game. If you’ve been reading these reviews, You know by now that I love to review these Indie games. I am a big fan of the idea that these indie games are no longer trapped behind the XNA format. So of course I got on the horn (e-mail) with On The Fly Entertainment and said “Yes!”
I keep mentioning the word “crossovers” in my reviews. That is just because I keep coming across great ones to review. When I saw that Sequence was a rhythm/RPG hybrid, I knew that I just had to review it. The thought of battling with musical attacks really pumps me up. I figured it might be something more akin to DDR or Rockband, but what I found was possibly the most unique and intriguing game that I have played so far this year.
Read the rest of this entry »