Did you realize there were a whopping four games released for XBLIG last week? Four freaking games. We were afraid it was a sign of the indie apocalypse, but then the community belched out 17 games last week to keep us playing demos up into the wee hours of the night. New staff member Dan Campbell joins us in our adventures in indies, so read on for our picks for the best XBLIG demos for the past 2 weeks.
Pick of the Week
Glow Arcade Racing – Mike
I really was disappointed that this wasn’t a Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling cart racer, but this Glow is actually a lot like like Blur flattened down into 2D and sold for a buck, which basically means it’s pretty awesome. It also reminds me of RC Pro Am mixed with Mario Kart with ridiculously trippy graphics. If you aren’t too busy shielding your eyes from the flashy neon, you can even make your own levels in the level editor.
Lumberjack – Dan
Lumberjack is a top-down shooter/hack n’ slash/animal-murder-simulator that’s simply delightful. Using axes, guns, hatchets and other pointy objects, you will be murdering cute woodland creatures by the dozens in no time. There are a few annoying quarks about the game such as frequent music drop-outs but that shouldn’t deter you. With a great soundtrack, a special brand of humor, solid gameplay and a cornucopia of weapons at your disposal, the biggest problem you’ll face with this trial is that it ends.
SmartBomb – Erron
It’s a neat play on top-down twin-stick shmup mechanics. All four walls of the screen are open so you can flip from one side to the opposite side Pac-Man style, and your gun is on a pivot. Instead of aiming where the bullets go, you aim crosshairs and can strafe around it while shooting. Unfortunately, as far as the demo goes, there isn’t much there: a starry background, and no music. Still, try it for the unique controls.
Techno Chopper – Dave
This is exactly what it sounds like: a techno inspired auto-runner where you control a helicopter that is constantly dropping. You have to avoid obstacles by pressing the A button to rise through vivid backgrounds that pass at a speed directly tied to the tempo of the ever-changing music. It’s worth a try if you are into that sort of thing, although it is an extremely simple title that is perhaps better suited for a mobile platform.
Avatar Planking – Mike
Planking, as I’ve recently learned thanks to The Office, is the act or laying as stiff as a board in awkward places for god only knows what purpose. It’s not exactly the type of action-packed activity you might imagine would make for a great video game, but I can’t lie, this game made me laugh. This game, if you can call it that, is basically just a bunch of photos with your Avatar inserted into humorous positions. I’m not suggesting you buy it, but I can assure you that there is only one game this year where you’ll get to see your Avatar inside a taco. It’s definitely worth the precious bandwidth for an amusing few minutes.
Avatar Panic – Mike
I was amazed at how much fun I had playing a game that basically consists of popping bubbles by throwing a harpoon at the ceiling, but Avatar Panic is surprisingly engaging. The bubbles bounce around the level chaotically, and each time they pop they explode into smaller bubbles, sort of like how the cosmic rock in Asteroids breaks into smaller chunks. Getting hit by one bubble will end the game, so it’s an unforgiving, but simple premise. With four-player support, this one has a lot of potential with friends, and has the advantage of being so simple to pick up and play.
Platform Hack – Dan
Platform Hack is a competent action platformer featuring a leveling system and upgrades to improve your mobility and effectiveness in combat. While the base design mechanics of the game are rock solid, the rest of the supporting cast falls flat. Weak visuals and a poor overall production value hold this game back from being great. Read the full review of Platform Hack coming soon.
Final Failure – Dave
The game may not look visually appealing at first glance, but the animations are smooth and the sound effects are top notch. It’s a 4-player twin-stick shooter where you make you way across platforms as you fight off the robotic overlords. It’s not a bad game by any means, and definitely worth a try at least.
Grand Class Melee – Dan
Grand Class Melee is a local multiplayer game sporting 4-player combat with a plethora of classes and skills. This title has the potential to be one of the most fun multiplayer indie games on the market. With a flavor very reminiscent of fast-paced multiplayer games like Power Stone or The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, Grand Class Melee is a winner…assuming you can get three other players to join you on your smelly, tear-stained couch.
Flag Hunt – Mike
There have been tons of chess-style games on XBLIG, but this one manages to mix up the formula and not completely bastardize what makes chess so much fun. It’s kind of like chess mixed with Stratego, and the pieces have new movement paths and there are a bunch of different game modes.
Shock and Awe – This is a twin-stick shooter with actual levels, but it just doesn’t do much to make it worth recommending over the billion other shooters out there.
Merball Tournament – Mike – You play as a mermaid in a weird underwater polo game with PS One graphics. Yup, it’s as amazing as it sounds.
International Mooing Contest – Dan - The game is by no means worth spending money on, but the bad puns may be worth with the thirty seconds it takes to download and launch this title…for some of you. That being said the games visuals and gameplay are not worth your attention unless you REALLY enjoy cow-related humor…and who doesn’t love that?
Remote Viewer – Erron – It tells you to ‘remote view’ a door to figure out what which playing card is behind it, but no button changes anything on the door, so I guess you just guess from the list of selected cards.
Ghost Mine: Dig for Survival – Mike - You start this game by falling down a cavern and taking damage that is completely unavoidable. After a few minutes, you’ll be begging for the random fireballs that follow you around like lost puppies to finish off the job.
Bloody Mary – Erron – It’s a hidden picture game, all designed around the excuse to have recorded video of a cute blonde on screen at all times. Click the pictures as they fade in to win the round.
ARP Halloween Edition – Mike – This game is a third-person running game where you run into the screen while jumping over barrels and collecting coins. It’s kind of like The Gunstringer, but without the humor or the fun.
Milie & Telly – Dave – I credit the high production values and pretty visuals of this title, but my praise stops there. Unfortunately the title just isn’t very much fun. You simply pilot a woman with a robot (alien?) in her backpack as she navigates her flying motorcycle through the skies. Avoid slow moving enemy projectiles as you return fire with a gun of your own, although your bullets must match the color of the enemy to destroy them. Simple, but not very interesting.
Avatar Punch – Taylor – It’s a good use of Avatars in a arcade-style boxing game, but the framerate is a bit choppy and the controls feel a bit loose. It has a ton of game modes though. It’s the best boxing XBLIG I’ve seen so far.
Glowbz – Taylor – This is a space twin-stick shooter (finally, originality!) that admittedly had my attention at first, but unfortunately wavered after my ship bugged out, disappeared from the world until I ran out of time, and I lost. But the times I could play the game were enjoyable.
Hell’s House – Mike – It’s not exactly giving me faith in an FMV renaissance.