Monday, January 25, 2010

Mount Up

A quick break from reviews peoples. Some well-written articles by people I respect, deserve reading - so I am spreading the word.

1. The peeps at XNPlay offer more insight on the state of XBLIG.
2. Brandon Boyer of BoingBoing highlights some of the goods and bads.
3. GamerBytes (of Gamasutra creation) does some sales/success/failure analysis.

These articles dial in on the key issues and the things that developers need to be thinking about. You should read them. My initial knee-jerk after consuming them is to take action. While we can all cross our fingers for better games and better Microsoft support, we can can also put some effort in to uncovering hidden gems on the indie scene (gamers I am looking at you), and spreading the word/promoting the service better (developers I am looking at you).

One nice little page I am helping promote is this Facebook group for Indie Games which currently has 700 members. There is really no reason that word-of-mouth can't tap into all of our friends and fellow gamers to push this membership to the thousands. If you are on Facebook, join up and tell your friends. Indie Games on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lazy Review #11

Comin' at you with some more recommendations.

Twin Blades (240MP)

A quick look at the screenshot below will give you a good indication of the polished visuals in Twin Blades. So you get a good deal of eye candy. Namely, lush landscapes and a cartoony skirt-wearing scythe-wielding nun who hacks and guns down zombies.

I am honestly not sure you need much more to give this demo a whirl, but the gameplay is good enough to warrant a follow-through purchase. While I haven't done so myself yet (and I didn't receive a token, booooo), I am fairly certain that I can stand behind a recommendation.

It's a side-scrolling zombie hacker with what looks to be a fairly standard difficulty curve (more zombies, and tougher zombies) paralleled by ongoing weapon/power upgrades. It's a well-tested hook/progression that many of you have probably experienced in other games in the same genre. Twin Blades looks to be a cut above, and at a good price. Pimpin'.

The Impossible Game (80MP)

Ever been taunted by the title of a game? I kept passing this one over, but it started laughing at me so I snapped. Damn you, game.

Well, it also has great rating (gamer votes), and usually when a game only has shapes for graphics and a 4-star rating that means that something else was done very well. That is in fact the case, as The Impossible Game nails addictive simple gameplay while living up to it's name. For some, it may frustrate - but for those who can appreciate "practice makes perfect" you'll probably spend hours making your way through what I am calling, "the treadmill from hell."

Essentially, you control a small square that automatically "runs" through a gauntlet of traps. All you have to do is jump - sounds simple. NOT AT ALL. I was amazed at well the controls and trap design are laid out to create a challenge. Precision jumping and timing is crucial as the trap scroll towards you and multiple deaths are pretty much a given. Thankfully the punishment is low, and you can create your own checkpoints (limited number however) that allow you to spawn there after death.

I haven't beaten this one yet, and I a not sure I ever will. You up for it?

Colosseum: Hammerball (80MP)

I am glad to see Shortfuse back on the XBLIG map as I have always thought that the original Colosseum (now only 240MP, by the way) deserved much more attention. Hammerball is a sort of "light" version of the arena style fighter that offers a sporting variety of hockey.

Players control teams of hammer-wielding characters who can shoot, pass, and well...hammer a ball around the circular arena. The mechanics are similar to other sports games and it was easy to pick it up and figure out the basic controls. Plus you can still do some other attacks and maneuvers and I usually welcome a little violence.

And like it's predecessor, Hammerball uses cell shaded 3D graphics and the models/animations are some of the best you'll find on the platform. I'd recommend this one primarily as a multiplayer game as it's best experienced with/against a friend. At 80MP, it's an efficient use of a dollar.