I’ve had somewhat of a rough week. I’ll spare everyone the details, but suffice it to say I’m exhausted. The reason I’m mentioning this is because it’s currently 3am Sunday morning and I’m just now delving into all of the games on this list. This means one significant and noticeable difference in this Indie Dome, as well as a possible secondary issue. First, the descriptions are going to be shorter than usual because I’m tired and don’t have the time to dote. Second, the Dome might not be up as early in the week as it normally is. Emphasis on “might.”
So, with all that in mind, please enjoy this week’s menu of turd burgers and awesome sauce.
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(Developer: SoGameSoftware – 80 points)
There’s something to be said about the way Avatars Don’t Bleed just kind of starts. There’s no intro and no instructions. Just a menu screen with the requisite choices of “New Game,” “Continue,” and so on. Once the game begins, it just goes. It’s rather elegant, actually.
Run, jump, double-jump, wall jump and wall slide. That’s all there is to it. That and making it from one end of the level to the other without succumbing to all of the death traps. If it sounds similar to the adventures of a certain anthropomorphic glob of beef, that’s because it is a bit similar. And that isn’t a bad thing.
(Developer: matt nauman – 80 points)
It’s a shape puzzle game that’s been around for quite some time, but that doesn’t mean Shape Shop is any less worth playing. In fact, if the success of digitized versions of Tangrams is any indication, this is bound to be successful.
It’s also not all that different from Tangrams, really. Recreate the silhouette using only the pieces provided, rotate and flip them in order to make it all fit together, puzzles get progressively more complex, etc… And just like any good shape puzzle, it can quickly absorb spare time. Assuming you’re the shape puzzle type, anyway.
(Developer: Monster Bite Games – 80 points)
Monsters In Neon Space is undeniably pretty, what with all the neon and line work and everything. As a side-scrolling shooter it’s not bad, either.
There are lots of power-ups, but unlike most shooters they’re mostly all available from the start. The only catch is that they have to be “paid for” by way of the red circular objects some enemies will leave behind once destroyed. The game itself can be deceptively tough, though, so make sure to bring your A game if you plan to try it out.
(Developer: F4T C4T – 80 points)
Why, oh why do some of these indie games still refuse to utilize enemy AI? I understand that they’re multiplayer-centric games, but come on! Take the time to consider the player with no friends or with an interest in brushing up on their skills without having to fight a human opponent.
That being said, Sumo Squash! isn’t a bad game. It’s kind of a simplified multiplayer brawler, only instead of brawling, the idea is to jump on your opponent and reduce them to a pulpy mess. No, really; they explode into meat chunks. There are power-ups with various effects and a special meter that fills up over time and allows for a powerful attack, but the core of the game is really all about jumping and landing. And you know what? I find the lack of complexity quite enjoyable.
(Developer: AwesomeGamesStudio – 80 points)
Avatar Fantasy RPG is yet another Avatar fantasy RPG. See what I did there? Well it is.
Unlike the other notables in the rather specific genre, Avatar Fantasy RPG keeps things simple. It’s more about wandering through different zones and touching “?’s” to fight monsters for levels and loot than it is about talking to NPCs, questing, and finding hidden treasure chests. It’s about as straightforward as an RPG can get, but so help me I was still disappointed when the trial ended. There’s just something about the illustrations and the goofy, but oddly fitting music that kept me interested much longer than I’d expected.
(Developer: DigitalDNA2 – 80 points)
Riddle me this: Why create a game that requires the use of a microphone, then tell players they can still play without one by using prerecorded audio, then refuse to let them do so unless they have a microphone? Okay, it’s not so much a riddle as a rather stupid issue that doesn’t need to be.
A much more relevant question would be: why create a game that’s essentially Karaoke with Avatars, but fail to supply lyrics for people to actually, you know, sing? How can someone manage to get the tone right for a song they’ve most likely never heard before when they don’t even know the words? What’s the freaking point? I’m sure that using music from your personal library (which is available in the full version) would lessen this problem, since it’s most likely music that you’ll know at least some of the lyrics to, but come on. This is a really stupid problem that shouldn’t even exist.
(Developer: DandySoft – 80 points)
Super Sequence 3 is a game of Simon, played with a 360 controller. Just like the other two games in the series. To be fair there are some extra options to play around with like using farm animal sounds or bird calls (*sigh*), speeding things up, repeating the sequence backwards, and so on, but it all just boils down to tapping buttons on the controller as directed by the AI. Or randomly tapping everything to “make music” in the freestyle mode. That’s a thing that exists, too.
(Developer: Bandana Games – 80 points)
Brain Jump 2 is a collection of… I guess they’re tests designed to boost one’s thinking/intelligence or whatever it is these things are supposed to do. They range from familiar puzzles like Sudoku to anagrams to counting change, and each one is timed in order to provide some form of score to try and top during subsequent attempts. It’s not compelling or exciting, but it’s functional and I’m sure there are more than a few people out there who would find something like this worthwhile. Especially for a dollar.
(Developer: Diki – 80 points)
Sudo-Quick is Sudoku but with a bomb fuse for a timer that gets shorter and shorter the longer it takes to pick a number. If you like Sudoku, you’ll like this. Heck, even if you aren’t really in to Sudoku you’ll probably enjoy it for at least the duration of the trial. It’s easy to pick up and play for a few minutes or longer, has plenty of difficulties to cater to a larger audience and doesn’t look ugly. What more do you really need?
(Developer: V7 Entertainment Inc. – 240 points)
Esoterica America seems like it might be an interesting game. Unfortunately it’s one of those games where the trial ends before you’re really given much of a chance to do anything, but what I was able to piece together during those minutes is that it’s some sort of adventure game with a strong focus on the Illuminati. I think.
It’s certainly got an interesting art style, although the character animations are pretty awkward. It also looks like it has a good deal of voice acting, which is a little hit-or-miss, but also nowhere near as terrible as I’ve heard in a few other indies. The price is a little steep (comparatively speaking) to justify making an uninformed purchase, but it’s probably something adventure game fans should try out at the very least.
(Developer: Magiko Gaming – 80 points)
I’m honestly not entirely sure what to think of Bunker Buster. The game itself incorporates mechanics that are very similar to one-button fliers like Copter, but instead of moving down an endless corridor, the vehicle bounces back-and-forth between both ends of the screen. Obstacles still need to be avoided, but now there’s also the added objective of dropping bombs on specific targets.
Initially it’s fairly easy. Players just fly over the same area repeatedly until they’ve taken out their target, which typically involves blowing the crap out of the environment surrounding said target until there’s a clear shot. It starts getting much more complicated when you have to do all that while also constantly tapping the left trigger in order to stay in the air and fly through narrow passages.
It’s not exactly the kind of game I’d have expected from the same people who gave us the fantastic PLATFORMANCE: Castle Pain, but it’s not bad.
(Developer: GBCoder29 – 80 points)
Horned Toad Hornswaggle isn’t anywhere near as terrible a game as it looks and sounds. That doesn’t mean it’s spectacular, but it is a decent twin-stick arena shooter that uses an interesting method of linking health and ammo together.
Players control a horned toad who’s trying to get home. Getting home apparently means shooting blood at other creatures (interesting fact: horned toads are actually lizards and they do in fact shoot blood from their eyes) and attempting to survive wave after wave of predators. Shooting blood uses up your reserves, and once the reserves run dry it starts to drain health. Thankfully both health and blood can be regained by eating ants, but there are way more nasty things that want to eat you than there are tasty morsels.
(Developer: Utopioneer Games – 80 points)
Apparently not one to beat around the bush, Shooting Gallery does exactly what it says. Shooting targets by moving a set of crosshairs around isn’t ideal, but it works well enough. It also helps that the targets are sizable, so they can be hit fairly easily while sweeping, but more points are earned by shooting accurately, so it’s a toss-up.
Up to three coins can be earned in each level, with the amount given based on performance, but unfortunately the shop you can use the coins in isn’t available in the trial. According to the description there are lots of upgrades and things to buy, so theoretically it should add some replay value, assuming the high score chasing and four player multiplayer isn’t enough.
(Developer: errcw – 80 points)
Do you like Risk? Of course you do. Well Tacticolor takes the same key elements of territory control, dice rolls, and distribution of forces, then does away with turns and has everyone go at the same time, all the time. It’s hectic, tense, and pretty much just as fun as you would think Risk crossed with espresso could be.
I enjoyed my time with the trial quite a bit, obviously. I’m a sucker for unique visual styles, but I also enjoy dabbling in The Game of World Domination. My one gripe, aside from the obvious one of not being able to adjust any of the settings or try out other modes in the trial, is that sometimes it can be tough to select the right territory, especially in the heat of the moment. But really, if that’s the biggest problem this game has, it’s nothing anyone should worry about.
(Developer: The Awakening – 80 points)
Don’t let the horrid visuals fool you. Abmastrophy (whatever the hell that is) is great.
As weird as it may sound, it’s about as worth getting excited over as Z0MB1ES!!!1. No joke. Sure it’s a twin-stick arena shooter, but the real similarities are in the more subtle details. Obviously it’s quirky as hell, what with the psychedelics and weird stream-of-consciousness monologue that pops up in the background as you play, but it’s also fun. And the simple, yet ingenious way it incorporates scoring with pick-ups, increasing difficulty, and upgrades is… well it’s ingenious. Okay, so the two aren’t all that similar, but they do evoke a similar feeling of surprise and excitement.
(Developer: Angel of Osmond – 80 points)
Arc Lancer certainly has some good ideas, but the overall implementation is a bit too rough. Imagine, if you will, a hybrid of Asteroids and mission-based space-faring PC games like Freelancer. Now imagine mission areas that feel too small, a camera that’s zoomed in too close, and an absolute bare-bones presentation. Sounds a little less orgasmic, doesn’t it?
I’m not saying it’s a bad game, but a few tweaks here and there would probably make it amazing. Being able to replay missions (for reduced rewards) is a nice feature and using your earnings to purchase special skills, produce new ships and upgrade existing ones is cool, but aside from some glowing text there’s not much to look at when between missions. And like I said, the camera is a little too close for comfort.
It’s definitely a great idea. It’s just that it falls short.
(Developer: Hollywood1945 – 80 points)
I’d like to talk about Pick, but I can’t. I can’t say whether it’s good, bad or somewhere in the middle. I can’t critique anything about it at all.
It looks like a possibly interesting music-based game that might require or at least allow the option for using a guitar controller. Unfortunately it also requires the use of your personal music library in order to play it. I don’t use my 360 for music, because I have iTunes, a computer, and an iPhone. I also never gave a shit about custom soundtracks in my games. So yeah, in theory Pick is probably a decent game, but unless I start ripping CDs to my 360′s hard drive I won’t be able to test that theory out. And no, I’m not going to start ripping CDs to my 360.
- Avatars Don’t Bleed (80 points)
- Avatar Fantasy RPG (80 points)
- Tacticolor (80 points)
- Abmastrophy (80 points)
- Avatar Superstar (80 points)
- Pick (80 points)