Power to the little guy.
In conjunction with the Official XNA Indie Games thread, weve decided it might be nice to have a monthly update of the best games that came out on the channel over the last four or so weeks. Whether people are ignoring the service because its always full of shit when they check it, or whether they just forget that it exists (if they ever knew in the first place) were here to make sure that the awesome stuff doesnt get missed.
You can buy any of these games via xbox.com by clicking the link associated with each game, or on the Games Marketplace on your Xbox 360. Simply enter the marketplace and scroll up to Indie Games, where you can check the top rated titles, the games that have just come out, or browse to find the games mentioned in this thread. Indie Game trials last eight minutes, which is often enough to establish what you think about it. Even if you dont buy any of these games, at least trial them, tell people what you think, get more people trying them.
For now, the Official XNA Indie Games thread lives on for discussion of games from July onwards. Well see how this thread is received to see whether its worth moving to a monthly format for Xbox LIVE Indie Games the games youre about to read about deserve as much publicity as possible, so anything we can do to grant it to them has to be done.
Go. Play. Enjoy. Tell us what you think!
(Xbox LIVE Indie Games are available in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States. If youre outside those countries you can still play these games by setting up a Gamertag for free for one of those countries.)
The Gold award, for the absolute best game that came out last month.
Old School Racer, to describe it in the laziest way possible, is a Trials HD kind of game.
That description doesnt do it the slightest bit of justice, though. Obviously its been heavily influenced by Redlynxs game, it contains a few minigames that are direct copies of those in Trials HD, but the handling, the feel of the game, the objectives are completely different.
It controls, er, like Trials HD. You press RT to accelerate and LT to brake, and can lean forwards and backwards to balance yourself. It doesnt feel like Trials HD though, because Old School Racer is far more lenient, and falling off your bike is much less frequent as a result, though its still easy enough to do. What this means is that Old School Racer is a far more immediate experience than Trials HD. Rather than having to spend hours and hours perfecting the bike handling to get over a specific obstacle, you can fly through the air and be having fun instantly without the frustration that everyone feels with Trials HD at first.
The real draw here though is the amount of content, there are 20 tracks and four mini-games, and 13 motorbikes to collect. You earn the bikes by collecting tokens which are placed around the tracks, and you'll usually need to go through a few times to find and collect them all, some are hard to reach and others are hidden away. One is so well hidden that Im yet to find it!
There are global leaderboards in there, so when youve collected all the tokens and unlocked the quickest bikes, you can start replaying the tracks to earn medals and climb the leaderboards.
Theres a ton of content, it plays magnificently, and its endlessly replayable. Its a huge game, and youre getting it all for one dollar. Sure, it looks a lot like Trials HD, but play it, the experience you get is completely different.
The Silver award, for games that are incredible, but hey, only one game can be the Gold award winner. In any other month, any of these could have earned it!
Aah Little Atlantis is a strategy, almost puzzle game, the like of which Ive never played before.
Your aim is to rescue all the Atlanteans from Atlantis which (oh noes!) is sinking. Well, you can kill them all too if you like... Let's assume you want to rescue them though, you have 25 turns to do it. Each turn you flood one piece of land, and then launch a meteor, preferably not at an Atlantean, please. The Atlanteans then move.
Atlanteans move based on where you flooded, they're afraid of it so they move a square away if they can. If they can't move away though, they will move a square closer, everyone moves exactly one space every turn. The sea may stop them moving away, another Atlantean might be in the way, or the land might prevent them moving away. They can only move one height up or down from where they are now, in this order:
Sandbar > Beach > Grass > Woods > Mountains > Meteors
So if they're on grass, they can only move to the beach or the forest. Every five turns, the lowest land is flooded by the sea, and everyone on it drowns, until the mountains are eventually flooded and we see who you've rescued.
So, as God, it's up to you to flood squares of land to ferry your Atlanteans to higher ground, and eventually get them on to meteorites where theyre safe. You've got to make sure they stay on those meteorites too, they'll hop off again if you have a turn and there's nowhere else for them to go.
You can see the graphical style is basic, but it's charming and works really well. The music is excellent too and the tutorial, which I recommend, is funny. It says at the end of the overview tutorial that you can ignore the rest, but I wouldnt advise it!
There's tons to watch out for with every move you make, it's just an excellent little strategy title, youve played nothing like this before, and its yours for 80 Microsoft Points
In Alawishus Pixel , you're trapped in a cave and the aim is to get that grey block with the skull on into the hole with the yellow circle in.
You can jump to avoid enemies, or push the block, that's pretty much it for your moves. There's 40 levels so to puzzle and platform your way through, though, and the controls allow for the combination of the two perfectly. There are amusing signs placed through the world which are nice, but mainly it plays nicely and promises some decent puzzling. I think I was always going to buy it, being ridiculously into single-screen platformers, but it's genuinely a good'un.
Available for 80 Microsoft points.
いれかえまほちゃん is a cute little single-screen puzzle platformer (see where Im going with this?) thats entirely in Japanese but it's pretty simple to get playing it. You can jump with A, and shoot a beam to switch places with enemies either horizontally or at a 45 degree angle with X. You can shoot your beam through green walls, but purple walls cut it off.
The aim is to reach the levels exit in a very short time limit, using the skills available to you.
So, puzzling, platforming, cuteness. It's a pretty lethal combo.
There's 50 levels in the game, and while theyre very short, giving you a time limit of around 10-15 seconds, working out how to get through them and then actually managing it means youll not manage most of them first time. You have three lives, but can start from any level in the game when you die.
Its basically awesome, and yours for 80 Microsoft Points.
Kong!360: Gorilla Warfare from the very first second, is obviously a very professional effort. The presentation is absolutely top-notch and the cel-shaded graphics, well, I can't remember a better looking game on XBLIGs.
The tutorial is utterly fantastic at getting you to grips with the controls which could be confusing otherwise. The game itself is an arena shooter with deathmatch and capture the flag modes, and it's a really good arena shooter at that. It will be with friends and online, anyway, which is the focus here. I'm rubbish at these types of things as it is and the AI seems particularly brutal, so you'll want to play with mates! Persuade them to buy it with you, you won't regret it.
Available for 240 Microsoft Points, or $3 (approx. £2).
The Bronze Award, not the best games out this month, but every one of these is still either great, or has a really unique aspect to it that more than makes it worth trying.
TransSubversion is a platformer with no enemies. Well, there were no enemies as far as Ive got. It's ace, it's playable even though it doesn't have the best platforming mechanics, and looks kinda, dirty, but I really enjoyed it. You zoom around collecting keys to open doors and flipping gravity to reach new places. Puzzles and platforms are a match made in heaven, let's face it. If I ever made a game, it'd be full of both, which is already pretty clear from this thread.
Hurdle Turtle comes to you from the team behind the quite nice Pixel Whirled. In this one, you're a turtle constantly travelling left to right and have to avoid walls and jump hurdles, and it gets quicker and quicker the longer you survive. The music and graphics are retro and an absolute joy and are the highlight of the game. When it gets really fast the gameplay suffers a bit, I found it was too fast for me to jump twice if I got two hurdles in a row, which could get annoying. It's at least worth a trial though.
Towers is excellent. As the name would suggest, it's tower defence, but it has a nice clean graphical style and is a lot like Defense Grid in that it rewards you for building less towers. You earn interest on your funds so the more currency you've got, the quicker it builds. I love that risk-reward element in TD. There are 20 levels, loads of enemies and tower types, definitely worth the measly 80pts they're asking for it.
Ancient Trader is a turn based RPG, sort of, set on the high seas. I didnt get on with it much, if Im honest, but theres no doubting the quality of the presentation and with a bit more research into how the combat works it could really come into its own. Give it a chance and check out the Official Thread here on NeoGAF for more impressions.
RC Airplane Challenge is incredibly hard to control, but I cant vouch for the accuracy of the controls having never actually flown a remote control plane. I had fun though, trying to fly my plane into my avatars head, but I couldn't really get a grip on the controls so never managed it. I was improving the more I played, the trial just didnt give me long enough to get a full grasp on it, with more time though it could be fantastic. Looks like there's loads of different races and games you can play in the full version but as I say, I never grasped the controls. It's certainly complex, but I think if you get it, you'll love it.
Orbit One is something Ive never seen before. You're in a circle and constantly orbit around an orb in the middle, getting closer and closer, until eventually you hit it and lose a point. Pressing A moves you away from the orb, and you can use this to collect stuff to earn points, avoid debris, and also attack other players by hitting them in the side or back. If you've got some mates round, this'll be a really unique multiplayer game to waste a few minutes with. Without leaderboards, single players need not apply aside from having a trial just to experience it.
Vampire Rage is a Cave-like shmup. Theres always loads going on on the screen, and it looks utterly fantastic. I had slight issues with enemies blending into the background at times but it never caused much of an issue. Really worth trying out if you have the slightest interest in shmups, and a patch is planned to improve a few aspects of it, adding Arcade Stick support, in theory.
Not everyone can be born with independent thought. Some people are simply born creatively inept, and its those people that insist on releasing any old shit as long as its got zombies in it. Indeed, latest statistics show that of the 1121 Indie Games currently available, 1014 have zombies shoehorned in somewhere. This award celebrates those people, and bestows upon them the honour of knowing they created the best zombie game on the Indie Games channel last month. Imagine, if you will, winning a beauty contest entered only by people who have had their faces caved in with bricks.
Avatars vs. Zombies deserves some credit just for being so damn brave. Its taken the two themes guaranteed to imply that your game is shit, and gone with them both!
Presumably, including both these themes also means that the game will sell billions. No matter. The developer has some pedigree, having released the nice 3D platformer Pluckys 3D Adventure and an interesting 2D platformer named Frequency. To be honest, Avatars vs. Zombies isnt amazing or anything, but it does the twin-stick genre adequately enough to warrant a trial, at least. The multiplayer game is better, too. As with every month, I expect, this award just goes to the least shit game rather than anything particularly good.
Some games are bad. Really bad. So bad that they dont even deserve a functioning link to the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. But if youre in the mood for some punishment, or just want to be reminded how much better the games above are, check these out, last months most terrible games.
A Game of Hockey was so inept that I actually laughed out loud at it. It's a pong clone with the gimmick that you have two paddles. There's a multiplayer mode that's so slow that it's obscenely dull, and a single player mode that has literally no AI at all, which made me laugh. Your opponent just goes up and down at a regular speed until you or him lose. It's just pathetic
Try Not to Fart is, of course, fucking terrible. The art is crap, clearly it's been drawn for a "but it looks like South Park!" defence, they've even stolen a bunch of the mouths from South Park, but just because you look like South Park doesn't mean you did good, they managed to make it look like South Park made in MSpaint by a six year old with no hands. The game focuses around conversations where you try not to fart. The conversations are not funny, are recorded badly, and sound all muffled, someone needs a studio. Gameplay, you hold a button and then let go when it flashes. You do it until you get bored or the time limit runs out, whichever comes first, which will be boredom. Trust me. If you mess up, you fart. HILARIOUS if you're under the age of seven, anyone else will roll their eyes and wonder what the fuck they did to deserve this shit. To think that you can get the tremendous Apple Jack for the same price makes me worry for the state of humanity that anyone can justify this games existence.
Crisis in the Gulf is in pretty poor taste. And just because you write "this game is fictional and any resemblance to corporations is purely coincidental" doesn't mean you can do what the hell you want. So, the company "DP" which has a logo remarkably similar to the company "BP" has had a rig blow up and is spilling oil. You play a shitty tower defence game to stop it which I believe goes on literally forever. There's nothing special about this at all, and it ought to be ashamed of itself.
And then, the quite frankly astonishingly bad Avatar Warriors. I've no idea what was going on here and you should probably play the trial just to experience it first hand. What appears to happen is that you're placed on a small island, all your avatars bones are removed, and gravity is reduced. So when you press left and right you vaguely hover in those directions, ragdoll style, and can press buttons to flick out your arms and legs about 1mm, which the game refers to as a kick and a punch. Which they are, if you've never seen kicks or punches before. Then you fight other people or tyres or just the controls in general. Honestly, I can't work out what the intentions behind this game are at all, you have a go.
And to end on an awesome note
Every month, well revisit a couple of games that you may have missed from months gone by. These games are lost in the depths of the Games Marketplace, pull them out of there!
Aesop's Garden is a beautiful puzzle game made by one of your fellow GAFfers.
On each level, you've got three objectives, the first is to get to the sprinkler and turn it on to make all the plants in the garden grow. Next, you have to walk around the level and collect all the weeds that have grown. For your third task, you have to make it to the exit.
Sounds easy, doesn't it? Well, streams, bushes, the sprinkler itself and boxes all stand in your way. Brown boxes can be pushed around one square at a time, and icey boxes can be pushed but will keep sliding until they hit something, it's an icey box, you've played a game before, right? If an icey box comes into contact with a stream, it falls in and creates a bridge.
That can get tricky enough, but later levels also introduce enemies. If you come into the line of sight of a scarecrow it'll attack you and you'll lose - so now you have to use boxes to block them off as well as create bridges, etc.
There are also boss fights. Boss fights in a puzzle game sounds like a terrible idea, but they're brilliant, here. They still rely on the puzzle mechanics to solve them so it doesn't suddenly become an action game or anything.
It's really good, astounding, and a steal at 240 Microsoft Points. It got my vote for Game of the Year on NeoGAF last year.
FlipSide is bloody awesome and a mere 80 points. It has that genre of music that I don't even like but for some reason in certain games it just works and is amazing, see also The Impossible Game, I'd never listen to that tune outside the game but somehow it's awesome. Anyway, the game. You control two ships, one on the left stick and one on the right and you have to control them together to get through gates.
It's not easy. There are five stages and excellently, an endless mode. This is horribly addictive and absolutely a no-brainer for the price. The five stages will take ages, if you can even finish them at all - I'm still stuck on stage 3...
One more go, you say?
Enjoy your Indie Games this month, and dont forget the Official Thread!