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(Last Week's) Weekly Xbox Indies - Christmas Week

arkedo pixel.png

Yay

  • Arkedo Series 03 Pixel! - 240 MS points. The Arkedo Series returns, adding yet another extremely polished game to the Xbox indie catalog. Pixel the cat is the star of this traditional platformer, as he runs and jumps through gorgeous pixelated levels. Stomp enough enemy heads and Pixel builds up a mighty meow attack that is as adorable as it is deadly. Scattered throughout each level are blocks marked with an "!" where Pixel can dive into the pixels of the block and navigate a maze to get treasure and refill health. The adventure is a short one, but platformer fans will still find a lot to love in Arkedo's latest offering.
  • PerlMania - 80 MS points. PerlMania is a relaxing puzzle game about explosions. Contradictory as that may sound, it works amazingly well here. You place bombs to blast your way to the level's goal. There's no game over scenario, aside from getting stumped on a level, so you can blast away at your own pace with no penalty for restarting after a failed attempt. The game has a lot of character in it's presentation, with even the main menu laid out with bombs like a regular level. If you're a fan of puzzle games (especially the iPhone game iBlast Moki) then PerlMania is well worth your download.
  • Felix: Tale of Night - 240 MS points. I've long wondered about the lack of quality beat-em-ups from the Xbox indies, and now Felix comes to fill the void. Felix: Tale of Night is a traditional beat-em-up in the vein of Double Dragon with a healthy dose of platforming thrown in for variety. The visuals are also quite good when it comes to the game's 2D characters and enemies, although the 3D levels leave a bit to be desired. Felix may not usurp Castle Crashers as the brawler of choice on the 360, but it certainly beats out the Turtle in Time remake.
  • Pioneer - 400 MS points. Pioneer is a game about gathering resources and exploration. Gather resources to build your town, then venture out into the world to find more resources and new towns to discover. There's a pretty advanced ecosystem at work in the game that might actually make you think twice about killing some of the game's wildlife lest a resource vanish or another wildlife population grow out of control. Just as the game is about exploring the world around you, by playing more you will discover hidden layers of depth to Pioneer that add to the experience without bogging it down.
  • See The Light - 80 MS points. See The Light is a light reflecting puzzle game where you are tasked with guiding a beam of light to each level's goals. You get various tools, like mirrors, prisms, and disco balls to direct the light beam, but you only get a certain amount of each item per level, so there's a lot of careful planning involved. The levels can get very challenging as the game progresses, but never to the point of total frustration (though there was one level that came close surprisingly early on). With over 60 levels you'll definitely be getting your money's worth, so puzzle fans should take notice of this one.
  • Total Monarchy - 400 MS points. Total Monarchy came seemingly out of nowhere offering a board game experience to rival XBLA favorites Catan and Carcassonne. Up to four players place resources and castles on the board trying to end the game with their own castle collecting the most gold. With the option each turn to play either positive or negative resource cards, cards that can enhance the effects of a resource, or a castle to collect resources, there's a lot of strategy involved in the placement of every tile of the board. If you like strategy games or the aforementioned board games, then definitely give Total Monarchy a look.
  • Akujin - 240 MS points. Akujin is a traditional top-scrolling shooter that uses all four face buttons for a range of attacks. Each button uses a different type of attack, with each enemy type weak against a specific attack. For example, helicopters are weak against blue while tanks fall easily to red. Constantly switching which attack you use is essential to making your way through the game's six levels. Enemies also drop colored orbs that can be collected to help power up that color's attack strength, allowing you to upgrade your weapons by defeating more enemies.
  • Pixel Whirled - 240 MS points. Pixel Whirled takes on the presentation of a long-lost NES game, with 8-bit graphics and sound that bring on a strong sense of nostalgia if you grew up with the system. The game plays similarly to the classic Space Invaders, but with the twist that you need to manage two invasions at once. As you play, you will see more enemies upside-down in the background. With the press of a button you flip the screen and swap the background and foreground enemies. It's simple and addicting making it a great pick for old school gamers.
  • Jewelry Master Twinkle - 400 MS points. Jewelry Master Twinkle is a falling blocks puzzle game that plays out like a combination of Puzzle Fighter and Tetris. Tetris shaped pieces fall from the ceiling containing both gems and blocks. Gems will link together if they're touching, forming a massive gem chain. The object of the game is to clear the board either by clearing lines across or by enclosing a gem chain in blocks. Clearing gems gets you more points, but also builds the stack much more, making the game a nice challenge.

Don't forget to check after the break for the still-recommended "Ay?" games and the buyer beware "Nay" games, as well as a list of games that received updates this week.

Ay?

  • Ball Wing - 80 MS points. Ball Wing is what happens when Pong and a side-scrolling shooter have a baby. You fire balls that bounce around the screen to defeat enemies. You have three balls in reserve, and can have as many in play at a time as you want. Having more balls in play makes it easier to hit enemies, but it also becomes more difficult to keep all three in play, making it both a risky and rewarding move.
  • Mech Gladiator - 80 MS points. Mech Gladiator is a third-person mech shooter with great visuals. The game is essentially a "boss rush" mode with only three levels that take the form of multi-stage boss battles. There's also a two player online head-to-head mode for extended gameplay, but even still it's all over far too quickly. Although maybe it only feels short because what's there is really good. Hopefully the developer will build on Mech Gladiator to make a more complete game out of it, because I'd gladly pay more for this with more levels.
  • Ectoplasmic Wars - 240 MS points. In Ectoplasmic Wars you play as a haz-mat clad ghostbuster out to rid the world of wandering spirits. The ghosts are color-coded to the controller's face buttons to trap them in your capture ray. Once in your ray, each colored ghost behaves differently. Red ghosts need to be taken to the containment tank, but green ghosts shrink to be stepped on while blue ones grow to the point of exploding. The different ghost types add some nice variety to the gameplay, making this a great game to try out for would-be ghostbusters.
  • Arcade Snake - 80 MS points. This is a re-release of the indie game Snaker Ace released not too long ago for the 360. The graphics aren't as nice, but the price is also more reasonable. The biggest change, and one for the better, is that firing projectiles works much betting in this game, making Arcade Snake the preferred Snake clone on the Xbox indies channel.
  • Venatio Creo - 80 MS points. Venatio Creo is a set of game creation tools for those who wanted to buy Kodu, but don't like nice graphics or animated characters. But what Venatio Creo lacks in visuals it makes up for in versatility, since you can make anything from a basic platformer to a fairly complex RPG with the tools given. The only drawback of this Xbox indie version is that there is a freeware version (with a few more features) already available for the PC.
  • Xtreme Polygon 2 - 80 MS points. Xtreme Polygon 2 is a twin-stick shooter along the lines of, well, every other twin-stick shooter on the 360. It's an overcrowded genre, meaning that a game needs to do something really special to stand out. Xtreme Polygon 2 is fun and doesn't do anything wrong, but it also doesn't stand out from the pack, making it just another average entry to the genre.
  • Adventures of Sid XMAS Special - 80 MS points. Here is a platformer that is just shy of greatness due to loose controls. I understand that the levels are made of ice, but the constant sliding can really throw off the game's precision platforming. It's especially noticeable when jumping across floating platforms that aren't made of ice and still sliding off a cliff to your death. But if you can get past the controls, the way items are used to create paths clear new paths through the levels works very well and can be a lot of fun.
  • Toybox Racing - 240 MS points. Toybox Racing lets you race a toy car across three tracks that might fit perfectly well in a micro machines or Katamari game. The steering is pretty loose, but after a few laps it's easy to adjust. Nothing special, but nothing bad either.
  • Concept Car Series 2010 - 240 MS points. Concept Car Series 2010 is an average, no-frills racing game. It's in a tricky spot since the physics aren't there for it to be a simulation racer, but it isn't especially fast or have power-ups to keep it interesting as an arcade racer. But if all you need is a basic racing game, then give Concept Car Series a try.
  • Zombie Outhouse - 80 MS points. Zombie Outhouse has you controlling a crosshair on the screen to shoot the zombies charging toward you. The graphics aren't much to look at, but there's a good variety of zombie types to keep the game from getting too repetitive.


Nay

  • Firecracker HD - 80 MS points. Firecracker HD lets you blast firecrackers on your Xbox 360. There's small, medium, and massive explosions that can be triggered with the controller's face buttons. To it's credit, the explosions are well rendered and the sound effects are very good, but the entertainment value wears thin after only a minute or two of setting off explosions.
  • Henway - 80 MS points. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get run over by cars in this generic Frogger clone. Henway does provide full freedom of movement compared to the grid-based controls of its inspiration, but it turns out the grid provided precision of movement that Henway has trouble matching.
  • Winter Holiday Slots 2009 - 80 MS points. In this seasonal reskinning of an existing slot machine indie game, you get five slot machines to lose your virtual dollars in. As it turns out, pressing a button and waiting for results is just as boring with a holiday theme as it was before. There are achievement-like awards given out, but since the process to get them isn't that great, they don't provide much incentive to continue.
  • Block Fight!! - 80 MS points. This is possibly the worst game that I've ever played. There is a red block, and a black block, with one only able to move on the X-axis, and the other the Y-axis. Collide the two blocks, and they respawn with less health. But then you can also adjust either block's health with the shoulder buttons. I honestly can see very little point to playing this game. Superman 64, you have been dethroned.
  • Chipmunk Christmas - 80 MS points. In this Whack-a-mole clone chipmunks are trying to steal your Christmas ornaments, so you need to zap them. Press the face button on the controller that corresponds to the color of ornament the chipmunk is grabbing. Provides about three minutes of entertainment before getting very repetitive.
  • Planet Pinball - 80 MS points. Planet Pinball is a fairly basic, no-frills pinball game. $1 isn't a bad deal for only one table, but the table doesn't offer too much to get excited about.
  • Avatar Aquarium - 80 MS points. It's a screensaver of a bunch of random Avatars swimming like fish. You can drain the tank's water to watch them flop around or feed them fish food. Not worth the dollar.
  • Painting Party - 80 MS points. Painting Party appears to be a re-release of the Xbox indie Let's Paint A Picture Together, now with Avatar support. Woo! Essentially the game is a trimmed down version of MS Paint that you can play with your friends through Xbox Live. Drawing online can be fun, but the toolset just isn't there to make it last more than one or two plays.


Updated Games
Words in a Word
Sqong Christmas
ZenHak
Revenge of the Evil Aliens
Words Search
Alien Encounters
Astro Taxi
War Ships
Ultimate Arcade Chat Rooms
Wool

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