Archives for : March2011

Fear The Dronx Review

Fear The Dronx is a XBLIG made by Vultrix. In this unique puzzle game, your objective is to destroy the Dronx before they can leave the screen. It has a play style all its own for better or worse. This puzzle game plays fast and difficult.

The game is divided into three modes; Chapter 1 Easy which has 7 stages including the tutorial, Chapter 2 Hard which has 6 stages and Chapter 3 Insane which also has 6 stages. So in all you have 18 stages and one incredibly tedious tutorial stage. The tutorial stage was horrendous as it takes you slowly step by step through the stage to destroy one dronx. Even after the tutorial I still felt like I barely knew what I was doing and Although the first stages are listed as easy, they aren’t.

One thing about the stages being divided into an Easy, Hard, and Insane that bothered me was you couldn’t play the hard or insane stages until you beat the other stages before it. It should have just been lumped together as 18 stages and a tutorial versus being split up for no reason. If you lose you can play any stage you’ve beaten or unlocked again anyway so it isn’t a matter of being forced to start over.

As far as the gameplay goes it is actually a good concept. Two block types will stream out of emitters bombs and solid blocks, you will use this to trap and blow up the dronx that are on the stage. To direct the blocks you will place directional markers on the playfield that can change the block or bombs direction. You also have a stopper that can be placed to prevent losing blocks, which can easily happen since the moment the stage starts the emitters start spitting out the blocks and bombs. It gives you absolutely no time to plan how to beat the stage. This pretty much assures you’ll be playing the stage more than once.

The big challenge is that you receive a limited number of blocks and bombs, so if you run out you lose the stage. With the emitters releasing them so quickly it doesn’t give you much time to do anything at the start of the stage. The game does support 2 players and that is a nice bonus. This doesn’t really make it easier though. Your best time for completing each stage is also kept so you have goals for future gameplay if you wanted to play the stage again.

Now I’ll tell you my problems with the game, the tutorial teaches you how to beat the stage like your an invalid. It step by step tells you where to place each marker and pauses the game to give you the time to do it. It doesn’t explain why you are doing it this way or what would happen if you tried to do it another way. So after you complete the patronizing tutorial, you still don’t know exactly what you’re doing nor are you prepared for the speed at which the game actually plays. Now after you get passed that it’s on to the frustration. After having sat through the tutorial, I was still screwing up until what I needed to do finally hit me. By the point that I knew what to do I was already sick of playing this game. I continued on for a few more stages just trying to get into it and all it did was make me long for both my time back and another game to be staring back at me.

If you are a diehard puzzle player and really want a challenging game, give this a try. I wouldn’t recommend this game to any one else. The game isn’t broken, just really annoying.

1 out of 5

Colony Defense Review

Mana Bomb Game Studio’s Colony Defense is a tower defense RTS for both the Xbox and PC. Colony Defense is all about protecting colonies on different planets. Providing a nice system for the battlefields since each stage is an entire planet. For the purpose of this review I used the XBLIG version.

Much like any tower defense game the object it to prevent the enemy from getting through, in this case to your colony or colonies. The enemy has a landing base or multiple landing bases while you have 1 or more colonies to protect. The paths the enemy units travel are pretty varied amongst the 34 different stages. Often you will be defending multiple colonies from attack from multiple different paths at once.

To take on this threat you have Two major weapons at your disposal. 10 different towers that are also upgradable as well as an orbital cannon to fire on an enemy that makes it past your defenses. The cannon has a recharge rate so it’s not good to rely on it as a solution. If you fail and an enemy unit does make it to one of your colonies you will lose one person. If you lose all ten you lose the stage. If you manage to crush the enemy like a bug then you get a little something extra.

That leads us into the next topic. Besides the upgradable towers as you play, there is actually a overall stat upgrade section. Every stage you beat gives you 1 point and an extra point for not losing a single colonist. These points are used to upgrade stats like rate of fire, tower cost, tower damage while playing. So getting as many of the 2 points per stage as you can is worth your time. Don’t think that it will make the game incredibly easy because it will not. These upgrades are in minor percentages but that little extra might help to turn the tide on a stage. If you do beat a stage but lost a person during the stage upgrade your self with the one point and then go back to that planet and play it again. You can still get that extra point if you perfect the stage.

Now a little about the enemies you’ll be facing. Some are ground units, Some fly, some are fast while others are slow but take a ton of damage to take down. They will stream out of the different enemy bases and because they move at different speeds they can even start to over take the group that came before them. This can be really bad since your towers will be shooting at who knows which unit. So keeping towers spread out a bit to cover multiple paths can be good. One last thing is important to note the enemies will adapt to you. if you stick a ton of towers of one type out they will adapt and take less damage from that tower type. So keep your tower types fairly balanced and you should be good.

I have to say I’m not a big fan of the tower defense genre. I never really do very well in them and they rarely hold my interest for very long. Colony Defense does a really good job of holding my interest and brings a bit of a different feel to it as you rotate around the planet to stop the enemy from different points.

Got to say 4 out of 5.

Infinity Danger Review

Milkstone Studio’s Xbox Indie Game Infinity Danger is a game inspired by a free PC game by Hikware called Warning Forever. This shmup is simple in design, but is different every time you play. If your wondering why the title Infinity Danger is so similar to Warning Forever it was to give credit to their inspiration and attention to it as well. Infinity Danger is a game where you get to skip the hassle of a stage and go straight to the boss battle. Take a look at the beauty of both games (first image is Warning Forever, second image is Infinity Danger) and then read the rest of this review.

Infinity Danger is a game that was just meant for a console system with dual sticks. It’s one of the things Warning Forever was missing play style wise. In Infinity Danger you will fight boss after boss, with one stick controlling movement while the other controls your aim and fire. All the while you will use your LT and RT to widen the spread or shrink it for a more directed attack.

Infinity Danger is all about time. You gain time from destroying ship parts of the enemy ship while you lose time by being blown up.
You also gain time from defeating the boss. A match ends when you run out of time not lives. Your score and level of boss is then placed on the peer leaderboard.

Now what makes Infinity Danger and Warning Forever stand out as something different is you. Your playing style. The more you focus on certain tactics the more the next boss will have an add-on to prevent you from using that same tactic. For instance if you got right up next to the boss and just tore into it’s core, then upgrade before the next round may be to mobility so it and better run into or away from you. The four stats that it upgrades are as follows, mobility, armor, turrets, and shot. I find it is very partial to upgrading turrets and turning the match into a bullet hell game when I play.

The boss in Infinity Danger can have up to 7 different types of weapons placed all over its frame. Which seems to take on a different shape every time I played. This twin-stick shooter takes a bit of strategy to really move forward while avoiding the myriad of attacks, as well as the ship itself ramming into you. This game is fast playing action with a good leaderboard and easy jump in to play a quick match and come back anytime you want. A game never felt like it was so long that I was bored in anyway the changing style of the enemy ship seems to keep me interested in its next configuration.

Artistically I think they did a great job changing the game from a vector style game. According to Milkstone Studios they felt that XBLIG had enough vector style games and they want to make their ships and background more realistic. I think they accomplished that.

I give Infinity Danger a 5 out of 5 More than worth the dollar.

Now if your curious on my rating on Warning Forever, I would give it a 3 out of 5. Controls are very hard to use, and make it only enjoyable for very short periods of time. If you can just get Infinity Danger it’s enhancements and additions by far make it worth the dollar. Either way go get Warning Forever just to see why this game inspired them.

Wizard Apprentice Review

Thelostone released Wizard Apprentice an Avatar Dungeon Crawling RPG for the Xbox Live Indie Game marketplace. This RPG reminds me a little of Pokemon and your Avatar is taking Ash’s place, except you have a few more tricks up your sleeve than him. No you won’t be throwing some capture item out at the enemy monsters in your attempt to add them to your monster roster. It’s far simpler than that.

So what is Wizard Apprentice about? Well you’re an apprentice wizard and your final test is this dungeon. Now that you know why you’re are there, you can forget all about it because you will never hear anything about that again. Not even in the credits. So if you are looking for a story driven RPG this isn’t it. Wizard Apprentice is a top down dungeon crawl that when you touch a visible monster, you start a battle sequence.

The battle sequence will drop you down to a slightly angled side view battle of you, your monster versus the monster you came into contact with. Yes you touched it, the monsters do not chase you or move at all. So you can pick and chose most fights unless a monster is blocking your path.

Now that I’ve given you a bit of the game lets talk about how it’s played. When you start the game you are asked what type of wizard you are; Arcane Elite (Eventually Grants you the ability to cast two spells a turn), Beastmaster (Stat boosts to your monsters), or Summoner (You can summon a monster to make an attack on the enemy). The summoners summon only makes one attack per call. It comes down attacks and is gone again, much like any standard spell would act. The beastmaster just grants stat bonuses no actual spells are ever involved. The Arcane Elite is focused on magic stat bonuses and finally the ability two dual cast in a turn.

Once you have selected what you are, a random monster will be given to you and you must chose it’s class; ninja, monk, or darkcaster. Ninja’s get poison attacks, monks get healing abilities, and darkcasters gain some of the spells you get. This is in addition to their feral abilities which are based purely on the type of monster. Monsters Jobs/Classes max at level 5 but their regular level keeps going up. Both you and your three set monsters gain experience from fights. More experience is awarded if you release the monster after you beat it, and less is received if you capture it. You can’t capture bosses. There appears to be 20 different monsters you can catch and 40 monsters can be captured total. So you may need to release one to make room for others if you keep capturing versus releasing. In a battle if one of your monsters is taken down it jumps to the next of the 3 chosen for battling. You only lose if all of your three possible chosen monsters are defeated.

After every fight your monsters heal back up. So there is no need for items of that nature. The items available are equipable gems that up you and your monsters stats, as well as few you can use during battle. You can upgrade your wand and buy gems from the shop. I found buying gems unnecessary since it appears that some of the most powerful gems can be dropped from low dungeon levels. The dungeon is 14 floors in total. In the end I found that even the last two bosses of lvl 75 and lvl 100 were simple to beat as a dualcaster with the right gems equipped and I was only level 30. You don’t need to spend time grinding in this RPG. Any dungeon can be replayed as many times as you like, even after beating the game.

The biggest glaring downside to this game is that there is only one save location. If you want to play as a dualcaster in one game and a beastmaster in another you will have to delete your previous game. I thought this was a really poorly thought out system. When you start the game it will immediately jump into your saved game and to get back to the menu you have to exit out of your saved game. Another poorly thought out design. With enemies that don’t surprise you no difficulty settings I found the game really easy.

I give this game a 3 out of 5. It could have been so much more should have been at least a little bit more but just falls short. Still a good game overall, but I would give it a trial run before you buy.

Wizard’s Keep Review

Wizard’s Keep is an action RPG developed by Substance Games. Substance Games is the same developer who brought us Miner Dig Deep. So I was excited to review this game, an RPG made by a developer who has already created something great. So here is how it went.

I played the trial first and was like I have to have this game. The art is cartoonie and a bit basic. The fighting seemed pretty simple at first; you get a shield to use to attempt to block things with the RT, press A for your quick swing and B for your strong but slow swing. The game locks onto the enemy you are attacking but you can change that by pressing the LT. As you kill enemies you gain experience based on the level of the enemies. You have a to do list (That reminds me of a grocery list). I don’t know why but one of the first things is to clean the cobwebs out of your house. Later you will be trying to upgrade your house, but this list of things to do keeps you on track of your next mission.

So from dungeon to dungeon to crawl killing enemies that look a bit different from you, but for the most part use the same weapons you use. You have a myriad of choices when it comes to buying weapons and as you level up the weapons available also increase in level. They are costly though. So I know I tended to stay with one weapon a lot longer than intended till I could grind enough gold and gems out of enemies to afford a better weapon or more health packs. As you gain levels you choose where the points will go, Strength, Speed, Defense, and Constitution. Each choice will better your character in different ways.

When you level up and increase your Strength you will be able to choose a special ability every couple of levels. The abilities are A Power Attack, A Spinning Stun Attack, and Heal. I don’t know why the Heal ability is under strength, but it is. Choosing the right special abilities can be important for speedy progression through the dungeons.

So like any standard RPG, you’ll be buying weapons, armor, useless stuff (for your house in this case) and health packs. To make the money to afford the better equipment I found myself grinding far to often. I’m not one to usually complain about grinding in an RPG, but after you’ve gone through the same dungeon 4 or 5 times it starts to grate a little. I found forced fights a little hard to see when it zooms out so you can see the full room. This was the only time I had any real difficulty seeing what I was doing.

Wizard’s Keep does support a second player, not to jump into your game but you can start one with another player and go through the dungeon with a friend The screen will attempt to have both players on it at all time but if the second player really falls behind they will fall off the screen and only an arrow will point the way towards them. With my partner this wasn’t much of a problem, and the second player made both the dungeon crawling more entertaining as well as a little easier. After playing the game with a second player it really felt like a fresh breath had been blown into the game and brought some new excitement to it.

The things that bothered me and might some other gamers are as listed. I found the enemies for the most part sort of bland. The grinding in single player is a chore that I can’t see a way around. The disorienting zoom out in the important fights. Last of all I wasn’t all that drawn in by the music, it wasn’t bad music but it didn’t really grab me.

When all is said and done though, I give this game a 4 out of 5.
You’ll get a lot of playtime for your buck with this one.

Battle High: San Bruno Review

Battle High: Elemental Revolt the title Mattrified Games intended for Battle High: San Bruno is a XBLIG 2D fighting game. The game keeps its screen size that of the classics even if you can support wide-screen. You might see this as a downside but for me it gave it more of the feel of the classic 2D fighters.

With 8 characters to choose from and multiple stages to fight on the game uses the a standard control system. You have light punch, hard punch, light kick, heavy kick and a throw button. Your special attacks all follow the move controls we are all familiar with from the Street Fighter and other fighting game series.

Each characters moves are different with different pluses and minuses to each, but I can at least say I didn’t at any point feel any one character was any better than another. So playability wise this fighter seems pretty balanced. This bunch of angst filled high school students all possess abilities focusing on the elements. Many of the characters have a Japanese-esque look to them.

Battle High has an Arcade mode, Versus mode, Challenge Mode, and Training Mode as well as a journal that shows the things you’ve unlocked in the game with your accomplishments. In Arcade mode you select your character and go on to fight the other 7 characters Half way through you will fight someone who you have an actual reason to fight and then again for the final fight you will fight your main enemy. These two brief moments of conversation before the fight is all you will get for in game story for that character and then once you’ve beaten your main enemy you will get a closing story to tie it all together. Every character has a different story so their main enemy may be someone different. You can also change the difficulty in the options menu.

In Versus mode you can choose your character and the computers character you will fight. This is also where you can duke it out with a local friend. It no differently than arcade mode. In challenge mode you are told the moves you need to do for the character you choose, you can learn what buttons and combos work well with each character. It is worth trying this mode out just to learn a few good combos. Training mode is just you versus a standing dummy character that doesn’t move or do anything but take the beating you dish out in practicing the combos you learned in challenge mode.

Battle High’s biggest issues in my book is that to pull off the better moves it requires more precision than most fighters, I found myself having a little difficulty just pulling off the down to forward attack powers. I think the default setting for the game should have been higher (although this can easily enough be changed). I think the last thing is what may bother some people and that is the entirely short and fairly shallow stories of each character. Now for me it’s a fighting game I don’t really care if this guy is trying to rule the world or just save his sister. I just thought it worth mentioning.

4 out of 5 it plays smoothly and gives fans of classic fighters a little of that old feel back, with something fresh for 80 msp it’s a steal.

Mommy’s Best Games Gets Serious

Mommy’s Best Games Xbox Live Indie game developers of Weapon of Choice, Shoot1Up, and Explosionade are now working on a new game “Serious Sam Double D“. That’s right I said Serious Sam. As an indie promotion for the Upcoming Serious Sam 3 BFE; a FPS for those who don’t know, is due out sometime in the Summer of 2011, Mommy’s Best Games was asked to make a 2D version of Serious Sam for both the Xbox and PC.

The game was demoed at PAX East, but is still a ways a way from completion. The plan appears to have the game released before the release of Serious Sam 3. The game will feature enemies from the Serious Sam series in glorious 2D sidescrolling beauty as well as some new ones developed by MBG. It also features a new system for upping your weapon. Why get a power up or something like that when you can just stack them all on top of each other, that is what the Gun Stacker is all about.

So it’s good to see MBG get this opportunity. If you haven’t played one of their XBLIGs, Weapon of Choice is their big hit and Explosionade is a game I definitely recommend.

Rotor Review

Pocket Starship‘s indie game Rotor is a 3rd person helicopter flight sim for the Xbox. If you enjoy games with a free form challenge game then Rotor is worth looking into. What may seem like a simplistic game is actually more addicting than I expected it to be. So lets get into this review, so you can see what it’s all about.

The game has three play modes; Arcade, 3 Minutes and 10 Minutes. In arcade mode you have 1 min and 30 seconds to begin with as you complete challenges you gain more time and the better you do during these challenges the more points you earn. So it’s important to not waste time between finishing one challenge and starting the next. In 3 Minute mode you have 3 minutes strait to earn as much points as you can by competing in challenges and earning points. In 10 Minute mode you have 10 minutes to do the same thing as in 3 minutes. So the game modes are very straight forward and your stats in all modes are recorded. In all three modes the timer won’t start running until you begin your first challenge.

The challenges in all modes are the same. You have 3 types of challenges to choose from. Check Point challenge puts a series of rings in place and you must fly through each ring in order attempting to get to the end of the challenge before a timer runs out. Another challenge is Flight Accuracy. This challenge really made me feel a bit pathetic. A starting line appears from where you started the challenge and runs a course through the city. You gain points during this challenge by staying as close to this line as you can for as long as you can as you zoom towards the end of the line. The last challenge was my favorite of three. Orb collecting is all about finding a certain number of orbs that appear in the city. They can be on top of buildings or between two buildings. It is definitely a little tough to actually find them all in time. In all challenge modes there is a short time limit to complete them, so you have to hurry once you begin a challenge.

The controls for the game are pretty easy to understand. Although it is really easy to loose control of the helicopter. I found myself smashing into buildings a lot after losing control while making a fast turn in a challenge. The Left stick controls your tilt left and right while the right stick controls your angle up or down. Your triggers and bumper buttons control your boost, dive, brake and thrust. The Y button is used when you manage to get the helicopter stuck. I wish I could say that the Y button isn’t needed often, but if you fly like me you’ll be using it fairly often.

As a few bonuses you can change the color palette of the city buildings. I liked this feature even though it was just changing the colors, but it definitely changes the feel a bit depending on the colors. Saddly, you have to pick from the selection provide to you of which there are many, but it would have been nice to have the option to pick the individual colors ourselves. Another bonus the game offers is a records section. Instead of a leader board this game has a stat board that keeps track of your top scores in the 3 different modes as well as your avg score in those modes.It keeps track of your best scores in each of the challenge modes and how many times you attempted them. The records also keeps track of a number of other statistics which is pretty cool.

The big downsides to this game is that it is a single player game only. You won’t be sharing your scores with your friends or competing against other Xbox player’s scores. Another thing is that the city is always the same design, it is a nice design and layout though. Last of all is something I’ve already mentioned. It is pretty easy to get yourself stuck on the map, which does eat up precious time you need for the challenges.

Overall I give this game a 3 out of 5.  It is a fun and casual game. If you don’t like flight simulators or games that don’t involve blowing something up, you probably won’t enjoy this.

Dirchie Kart Review

Dirchie Kart by BrownBot Games brings us an SNES Mario Kart style mayhem filled racing game. Dirchie Kart is a kart racing game with animated whimsical racers as well as the option to use your Avatar.

Dirchie Kart is one indie game that really brings back a classic Kart racing feel. It has two cups you can race, each with a 250cc, 500cc, and 1000cc mode. The tracks are brutal and the weapons are your classic weapons. The racing is pretty hard on 500cc. I get crushed on 1000cc, but I know I will keep at it. This game doesn’t go easy on you though, even in 250cc. If you hit a wall dead on your going to have to back up and get yourself back in the race. Falling off the track can totally ruin a race for you.

You can play this game single player or up to four players and still have the computer controlling the other racers so even in multiplayer mode the fun doesn’t stop. Not only can you play the cups in multiplayer mode but you can play battle mode and drag mode. Drag mode is something I can honestly say I’ve never seen in a kart racing game. It’s a fairly easy mode to understand just be the first to cross the finish line on a drag strip. Battle Mode is pretty much the same as battle mode in other kart games, the order of survival is what determines how many points are earned.

When you play the game in multiplayer mode you can choose to play it in event mode which you set how many rounds there are. After each match it allows the next person to pick whether the next round is a race, drag, or battle mode. After all the rounds are up the player with the most points wins. I thought this was a great option. I’ve been a part of many kart racing games multiplayer matches and inevitably at least one person will be wanting to race or battle while everyone else wants the other mode. Event mode allows that player to choose the race mode when it comes to their turn.

You have 3 weight class cars for your choosing. Each class has different benefits and negatives. There is the race kart which is the fastest and has the highest boost but only one heart and can only carry one weapon. The convertible has two hearts can carry two weapons but is slower than the race car and has less boost. The last option is a Semi front that has 3 hearts can carry 3 weapons, but is the slowest car and has the least amount of boost. You can activate boost by drifting and in the cars that can hold multiple weapons you can switch between them. Like any good kart racer you can launch most weapons forward or backwards.

Dirchie kart even offers a track a little like the rainbow road, it is like a painter just started letting different colors of paint splatter. This makes for a very difficult track that is incredibly easy to fall off of repeatedly. When it comes down to it this game features the things we love of from kart racers with a few bonus features for extra measure.

4 out of 5

Dishwasher: Dead Samurai Review

Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is Ska Studios XBLA title. If you’re unfamiliar with Dishwasher, you may have heard of their other titles ZP2K9, ZP2KX, I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1NIT!!!1, and Zombie Smashers X4 Guitarpocalypse! for the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace. Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is an action Hack and Slash about a Dishwasher who dies and still walks. While all manner of enemies from zombies, robots, cyborgs, and secret agents come to put the dishwasher to rest permanently.

Dishwasher has a Story, Arcade and Dish Challenge Mode as well as Local Co-op Arcade Mode and Xbox Live Arcade mode. In Story mode you get 14 stages, plus the credits while Arcade Mode has 50 stages.
Challenge mode only has the one stage but its just more of a horde mode sort of thing.

In Story mode you must complete a stage before you can play the next one, although once a stage is beaten you can play any stage you have unlocked. So you can easily pick up where you last left off in the game. You can purchase upgrades to your weapons as well as health items and continues within the stages when you find the little robot selling them. The story between chapters is nicely told by a scrolling comic strip. In story mode you have 5 difficulty settings; Easy, Normal, Ninja, Samurai and Tourney. You must beat the story in Normal or Ninja to unlock Samurai and Tourney.

In Arcade mode you fight in an arena style stage attempting to kill a predetermined amount of enemies. Once that is completed you will move on to the next stage. This mode supports single or two player action and is a lot of fun. You pick the two weapons you will carry for the stage and try to get the best score for the leaderboard. With 50 stages you have plenty of time you will get out of this mode.

Finally in Dish Challenge mode you start on one sizable stage and your objective is to kill as many enemies as you can before they kill you. It’s all about the score in this mode. So pick your two weapons wisely.

Dishwashers gameplay is pretty simple you have your standard jump button as well as your 3 attack buttons. You have right trigger to switch to your other weapon as well as left trigger or flicking the right stick to activate the special ability tied to your current weapon. These abilities could be Teleporting or rolling amongst others, with some weapons you can stick to walls.

Artistically the style sort of reminds me of the comic “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac” and to me that felt just right for this game. The music is blends with the game enough that while your playing you really don’t notice it much.

My only grief with the game was that I couldn’t get an online match going to see how that was all handled, but I was able to get a local co-op match going and that was fun. Achievement junkies beware the developers had a sense of humor and very few achievements for the game are divisible by 5 so expect to up getting a 21pt Achievement. This doesn’t bother me but someone more obsessed with their gamerscore might not like this.

Overall this game has a lot of to offer time wise and has a nice artistic style while maintaining the level of fun you expect and want from a game.

I give this a 5 out of 5 I’m ashamed it took me as long as it did to buy this game.

If you agree with me, be ready for the release of Dishwasher: Vampire Smile on April 6, 2011.