Monday, August 17, 2009

Lazy Review #4


I have a hard time NOT downloading games that have little spaceships in them. Usually the norm is to have these spaceships explosively blasting away bad guys and so forth, but Superspace takes a more passive approach. The idea here is to collect goods and safely bring them back to your base without dying.
Your ship can pick up smaller goods by passing over them, but also has a grappling hook (pimp!) that can be used, and must be used on some larger goods. Along the way, you best not get hit by opposing gun turrets and look out for the nastiest villain of them all - walls.

The navigation in this one is a little different as well. See, gravity plays a role - we're not in outer space so there is the constant downward drag on your ship. And you must apply and direct a thruster to move around. Add in some agressive physics on your grappling hook, and there a good deal to consider before you even think about your mission. What I am getting at is that the controls and navigation take some getting used to - just putting a player in a maze of walls would be a challenge.

Now I am not a lazy player. I enjoy a learning curve and don't expect every game to conform to the easiest, most well-known control/navigation scheme of the genre. Over the course of my playtime, I was able to get pretty good at flying around without cargo. But when I was using my grappling hook, I was met with frustration and the game felt like work. The physics applied to the grappling hook make it extremely hard to fly as it seems the that the weight of the cargo has an effect on your ship and can pull it in the direction that it's swinging. It's a cool concept but ultimately not a fun one. What makes it brutal is that hitting walls/ground at a certain velocity destroys your ship which feels almost inevitable since so many factors are in play.

Bottom line - I do like the relaxed collect-and-return concept, and the game looks nice too, but the overuse of dynamic physics drained my patience. I could definitely draw comparisons with games like Halfbrick Blastoff and Bennu, where you need to really have an "ah ha" moment on the controls/physics to make it playable. So I partially blame myself for not getting there, but if I am the average gamer, then other people might be experiencing the same thing. When the primary challenge in a game is making your character move like you want him too, I am not sure that's a good first step towards fun. I believe this game will appeal to those who liked the aforementioned games - it also has co-op and versus modes, so that's cool. (240 MP)

Spectra Musical Massage

Uh oh. Call me old fashioned guy, but I strongly prefer games to applications on the XBLIG service. If there is a market for apps then that's wonderful and I hope the best apps rise to the top. Apparently, the Xbox360 controller is a worthwhile massage tool, which I honestly find REALLY strange. Are people sitting at home with the controller balanced on their neck or something? Or worse, in their pants?

Anyhow, Spectra Musical Massage is a sort of combo music player massage application with screensaver type visuals. Apparently it features some tracks by indie music artists as well, which is a cool/nice gesture for the musicians out there. For me, that was the best part.

I did a search on xboxindies for "massage" and got back 10 results - yes 10 applications/games that include a massaging controller. So hopefully someone is "enjoying" these or else this is a mighty full trashcan.

Here's how SMM describes itself: "Combining musically adaptive psychedelic visuals with a virtually unlimited number of massage patterns that bump and shake with YOUR music, and featuring over 30 minutes of incredible indie soundtracks, Spectra Musical Massage is your one-stop source for all things controller massage related!" (240 MP)

Jungle Blocks

I've always been a fan of Breakout/Arkanoid style games and there's a good representation of them on XBLIG. Jungle Blocks is a nice colorful version with big bold blocks to bust apart and a jungle theme to go with it. Overall I liked the design and it felt warm and approachable, like a cartoon gorilla.

Adapting the paddle controls to the Xbox360 controller is challenging because it's hard to avoid feeling slippery and punishing players who have heavy thumbs. You need to have some finesse to make sure you don't overcompensate when sliding the paddle. I actually did better using the d-pad but that's something you'll need to test out - at least the option is there.

If you like this type of game and can get used to controls, it's not a bad deal for 200MP. And if it drops to 80MP soon, then you'll certainly have your money's worth.

1 comment:

  1. I had trouble with the controls for Jungle Blocks. I just could not get use to them. Which is to bad because it seemed like the rest of the game was pretty good.