9/24 Indie Rundown

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Good morning, you few ladies and gents with the fine, discerning tastes to be checking for information on X-Box Live Indie titles fresh off of the release of Gears of War 3.  For my part, I’ve barely been able to put the game down since its release, an affliction shared by nearly all of us here in the sunken fortress we upload this information from.  I know Zach and Hurley have had a tough time escaping the searching lambent tentacles of its grasp, but thanks to a relatively quiet week and Hurley’s early diving to scout the latest XBLIG releases it’s been pretty manageable.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that not a single release this round can really be considered “Catch of the Week” because even the best of them are too laden with issues to rise to the surface.  Don’t get me wrong: they’re not all awful per se, but none stand out enough to be exceptional in a way that makes them nigh-universal in recommendation.   A couple of them are worth checking out, so take a look if you’re on the prowl for something to play from that hip underground scene we love so much.

If you need me though, I’ll be online in the mainstream side for awhile, gibbing my friends and foes alike with my unrivaled Sawed-Off skills.

Worth Playing_

Well…it’s accurate.

Avatar Fighter Online (Hurley) 80 
Dev: Bwoot Games

Avatar Fighter Online is actually an upgrade, more than anything, to its sibling Avatar Fighter, the main draw being of course, the addition of online fighting. The game’s pugilists are generic, and mostly serve to give you confidence climbing the arcade ladder, as well as some different move lists from which to pull from and customize your own. I can’t knock the developer for not providing better options, as I can’t imagine anyone not using themselves, or spending much time with the arcade mode. That’s the entire point really.

It’s a little clunky in combat, but the animation is well-done and the move set sufficiently-varied. The style cross of MK / SF is loving (yes, the dragon punch is in there, as is the fireball). I’d say it’s easily the best choice among the avatar fighters I’ve played (a grand total of three, now), and for a buck, a chance to settle some long-standing grudges between our digital selves (with a decent fighting engine behind it) is worth it.

It’s…Functional!


That top bear is sweating it out in climate and attire.  Hardcore training.

 

Don’t Feed the Trolls (Hurley) 80 
Dev: Frozax Games

It’s like Whac-a-Mole, or Troll, in this instance. You see, you need to feed the bears of the forest (each button on the controller corresponding to an area of the woods) as they pop up. Problem is, some pesky trolls have set up residence in that same forest, and now they’re trying to steal the bears’ food, some by even outright impersonating bears. So, yeah, not the most riveting plot, but would a storyline really make sense here?

It does mix things up, with different varieties of bears and trolls requiring specific actions / button presses. It’s all timed, of course, and the difficulty increases with each new species added. It’s still basic, mildly-amusing fun, and not all that compelling, but I had a chuckle, and there are global leaderboards to tout your troll-slapping, bear-feeding prowess to anyone interested in such numbers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there’s a market for everything.

You know what 16-bit RPGs were really missing?  Balloon Rides.

 

The Fall of Gods  (Nate) 240 
Dev: Geex

First thoughts?  The intro screens are gorgeous, interesting in their effort to create a real mythos behind the events taking place and the accompanying music is pretty solid.  So, why in the hell are they moving around everywhere, sliding back and forth like an amateur PowerPoint Presentation?  For chrissakes, the art is nice! Just let me look at it!  Overlay the text or something.

That one experience pretty much sets the tone for the game as possessing these nuggets of good ideas or solid craftsmanship marred by sloppy or thoughtless execution.  This is a title with a lot of potential to be a quality game, but the controls are loose, the animations are weird (why do spiders explode?) and some of the self-referential asides are completely out of step with the game’s attempt to create a serious tone.  A couple are just stupid and murder any chance at humor. Why reference Freud in a world/universe in which he never would have been present?  There are better ways to make that joke anyway without breaking your continuity.

The in-game menus are definitely a nod / rip-off from the Secret/Legend/Bakesale of Mana, but I like that, which is less of a plus/minus statement and just a “hey, that’s kind of cool.”  Also, an excuse to use the forward slash a lot in the previous sentence.  Woo, it’s late.
I’ll be diving more into this out of sheer curiosity, but my limited experience with it leaves a lot to be desired.

I don’t even have a witty caption for this!  It’s so pretty.

Tunnelvision  (Nate) 240 
Dev: Stendec Games

This, like The Fall of Gods, has the framework to be a fun (if not particularly unique) on-rails shooter.  The graphics, presentation and music are on-point, stretching up into “impressive” at parts, really delivering strong on the wow-factor.  It throws you into the game relatively unprepared, but in a very cool, visually hectic fly through a maddening trail of enemy fire before trying to teach you the ropes.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t give you quite enough warning and I died almost immediately.

One of the biggest issues with any on-rails, move toward the horizon shooter is trying to gauge enemy fire and dodge it, something Tunnelvision fails at for a couple of reasons.  The controls feel as if they’re delayed or almost remote, and I found it somewhat tough to maneuver.  The second is the trails on all of the missiles (bullets?) is visually striking and cool, but makes it damn near impossible to gauge where things are or what’s going on.  Nevermind finding the tiny powerups, which could really benefit from all that visual pizazz to make it harder to miss them.

I want to like it for several reasons, but had a pretty difficult time adjusting.  I would definitely recommend downloading the trial and giving it a shot for yourself, but as is, I have a hard time giving it a recommendation beyond that.

I’m having the strangest feeling of deja vu…on peyote.

Pigs Can’t Fly (Hurley) 80 
Dev: Matt Mitman

Well, this is a bit of a conundrum. In last week’s rundown, I ripped Angry Fish for basically coding a cut and paste operation of a well-known game. Pigs Can’t Fly is similar to another game I’ve played on iOS, Tiny Wings, which is similar to another game Nate has played on Android, title unknown to me. [Dragon, Fly! -ed.]  Since these appear to be copies of each other, albeit with a few varying ideas, I’m going to skip the rant and just place it in the functional category.

PCF takes the idea of momentum and turns it into a fun and simple concept (thus the reason this type is a hit on smart phones, those phones not known for their complex control schemes and all) of diving with A while sliding to gain said momentum, then launching into the air, then repeating when encountering another decline, to keep a steady pattern of speed and flight, collecting stars for score while trying to stay ahead of the sinking moon. The new ideas present here are an upgrade system for boost, hangtime, and a magnet for making star-collecting easier.

My only complaint, besides the unoriginality, is that the jumps here feel less forgiving, with a missed one resulting in a hefty time penalty as you struggle to regain your previous momentum. Other than that, it’s fun, and does what it’s meant to, but still too familiar.

Terror Package Incoming!

Project Windstorm (Hurley) 80 
Dev: Always On

You’re a skydiver, part of an elite team of shadowy government agency skydivers.
The story scenes take on a poetic vibe. It’s even got an experience / upgrade system in place.
But alas, it’s not very fun or forthcoming with its controls.

Take mission 2 of the demo. It’s a melee tutorial on a bunch of falling crates. You’re supposed to use B to attack, and you do, and it works, but you won’t destroy / get credit for draining the health of the crate. Why? Because you’ve got to ‘grab’ the crate with LT, then melee. Nowhere in the info screen for the mission does it tell you this. There is no way you would have known aside from me letting you in on the secret, or through your own discovery.  This is the opening mission that everyone will play, the thing that will convince them to buy or not and it’s not polished.

Not a good way to start things off.

It doesn’t get much better beyond the trial. Couple that with dull graphics (I do like the clouds, though) and really no sense of freefall or motion, cold turnip, and you’ve got the makings of a functional game that could have been much more interesting.

Pu-pu-puzzle face, pu-pu-puzzle face.

Puzzled Rabbit (Hurley) 80 
Dev: Pixel Elephant

In can what only be attributed to repeated attacks on my psyche, the Indie Marketplace has seen fit to gift me with yet another puzzler. To drive the point home, it even put ‘puzzle’ in the title, just to twist the rubik’s cube-like knife a little deeper into my back.

Further insulting me, the puzzles are not all that original. You’ve probably played a variant of this before. Using standard logic, you move boxes into the empty squares that are highlighted, pushed along by a cute, Picasso-esque rabbit. Beating the level makes that rabbit very happy, and also unlocks little pearls of wisdom from people much smarter than both I and the rabbit. It’s got a huge amount of levels, and it’s still kinda fun, so, for a dollar, it is a good deal, even if it’s something that’s been done before.

 

RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! 

The kid in the top right?  That expression is dead on.

 

Game Frenzy 80 
Dev: MindsEdge

(Hurley) While you do get a collection of 8 minigames (Blackjack, Concentration and Reaction, Slider puzzles, etc.), they all take place on really ugly stock photos for backgrounds and contain absolutely zero new ideas for / or takes on the games. That makes this ‘classics’ collection impossible to recommend to anyone that hasn’t lived under a rock for their entire existence. I have playing cards. I’m puzzled out. Do I need my hundredth version of Pong? Is Tic-Tac-Toe really that fun? Hint: The answer to these burning questions is no.

(Nate) I didn’t realize Hurley had played Game Frenzy and made the mistake of loading it up myself.  This is not just an unbelievably lazy, asinine release consisting of material that would be dull for a first semester BASIC high schooler learning code, it’s from the people who brought us the rather abysmal Zombie/Pirate Poker Tower Defense (which I liked on a conceptual level!) and Ballochet (absolutely panned in my 7/22 Rundown).

I knew this before I even checked the dev.  How?  That god damn camera snap shot noise.   I would be willing to bet every element of this game is recycled or ripped wholesale from something else.  While I’ll never forget the lessons of Captain Planet and the intelligent reuse of resources, let’s face facts.

This is just garbage.

To the end_

Not much to get the blood up, I’ll admit, but there’s exciting things afoot in the Indie world including an upcoming contest, some sweet new releases in the pipeline and a cavalcade of titles to discuss that are (shock and amazement!) actually good!  Stay tuned, kids.  We’ll see you next time.


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Author: Nate Graves View all posts by
Editor-in-Chief, Reviewer, Certified Indie Game Forager. Head Writer at Wasted Brilliance, developers of Aeternum. Must never fight the Fist of the North Star.