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Indie Summer Uprising Review Roundup Part 2 | Arms, Trains, Chester, Speed & Temples!

Jonathan Lester
Chester, Redd: The Lost Temple, SpeedRunner HD, Summer Uprising, Take Arms, Train Frontier Express, Xbox 360 games, Xbox Live Indie Games

Indie Summer Uprising Review Roundup Part 2 | Arms, Trains, Chester, Speed & Temples!

The Indie Summer Uprising has now unleashed its full complement of great games onto the Xbox Live Marketplace, and it's high time we took a closer look at the five titles that released over this last week. You can catch up with our review roundup of the first five here... so without further ado, let's get involved and do this thing! I hope you've still got a few Microsoft Points handy...

Take Arms

Developer: Discord Games

Get Demo/Buy: 240 Microsoft Points

Take Arms initially appears to be designed with Contra in mind; a mechanically slick and capable run & gun platformer that empowers players with a range of big guns and enemies to kill them with. However, the singleplayer campaign is just foreplay to an online multiplayer suite that actually resembles a triple-A shooter twisted into two dimensions. Team deathmatches and capture the flag modes become hectic, raucous affairs as combatants leap from platform to platform, rush their objectives and generally have a spankingly good time. We're not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to online shooters on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and Take Arms proves that the platform definitely has what it takes.

However, the outrageous fun factor is slightly tempered by a hosts of netcode glitches. Collision detection can take a major hit (with bullets and grenades sometimes disappearing through scenery or players), especially as far as melee combat is concerned. Some of the levels are also designed in such a way that spawn camping becomes a painfully viable combat option. Discord Games have promised to support Take Arms with a slew of patches, and we hope that most of these issues will soon be addressed.

Take Arms, despite a few technical limitations, delivers massive online thrills that you'd expect from a game several times the price. It thoroughly deserves to gain a thriving loyal player base over the next few weeks.

SpeedRunner HD

Developer: Doubledutch Games

Get Demo/Buy: 240 Microsoft Points

The original SpeedRunner is a free-to-play Flash title that has been tweaked, sharpened, polished, and augmented with extra content for an Xbox Live Indie release. As such, it retains the original game's focus on split-second platforming and grappling through a selection of spike-laden levels, which admittedly don't take too long to master once you've gotten acquainted with the laws of momentum and inertia. Six bonus stages add some ridiculously difficult new challenges to the proceedings, which will likely tax even platforming masters to the edge of reason before they actually get around to completing it. Value is unfortunately at a bit of a premium here.

Once again, though, multiplayer is by far the most enjoyable part of the package. Up to four players can race through five different stages, which soon becomes a thrilling race against time rather than a gruelling quest for self-improvement.

SpeedRunner HD is a short, if fairly sweet, trip into physics-driven spiky platform hell. Fans of similar experiences will make the most of this one.

Train Frontier Express

Developer: Train Frontier Team

Get Demo/Buy: 240 Microsoft Points

And now for something completely different. If you like model trains or have an interest in train simulation, this little Indie title will allow you to build your own tracks and while away the hours driving around them.

To be honest, it's actually difficult to say more than that. The builder interface is intuitive and relatively easy to use, placing track design elements within easy reach and challenging players to attain a selection of achievement-esque badges. Controlling the trains from an on-board perspective is little more than a self-congratulatory diversion, but it's good fun to experience your creations nonetheless. You can create tracks. You can drive trains. You can cause some crashes and explosions if you want to. And that's pretty much your lot.

The term "niche audience" is an understatement of epic proportions, but Train Frontier express delivers on its simple premise and does so with an attractive visual style. It's probably the best Xbox Live Indie train simulator you'll play this week.


Developer: Brilliant Blue-G Games

Get Demo/Buy: 240 Microsoft Points

Chester has been in development for a full year... and developer Benjamin Friedrich's hard work is plain to see in every aspect of this exciting platformer. Chester doesn't boast just one art style, rather, it features six beautiful and bizarre sets of aesthetics that can be collected and pasted on to the levels at will. It's one of the most visually appealing and refreshing games I've played in months, providing a satisfying feast for the senses and an antidote to all the dusty brown textures we spend most of our time staring at.

The innovation doesn't end there. Chester features a cast of different characters who  can be freely switched between during a level; each possessing unique abilities as well as a radically different design (many of which are based on classic gaming characters and themes). The action itself is familiar and occasionally punishingly difficult; resembling the Super Mario Bros with or without a massive amount of hallucinogenic substance abuse depending on what skin you've opted for. A recent patch has addressed a number of technical gripes, resulting in a generally stable and polished product.

Chester is a vibrant and exciting breath of fresh air that will blow away your gaming cobwebs. Definitely try out the trial version before you drop the points, but be sure to do so with all due haste.

Redd: The Lost Temple

Developer: Blazing Forge Games

Get Demo/Buy: 240 Microsoft Points

Retronauts are going to get a real kick out of this one. Redd: The Lost Temple feels exactly like an old Amiga classic, featuring ruthlessly tough top-down adventuring and dungeon crawling with an emphasis on avoiding trouble rather than causing it. The intrepid adventurer Redd only has delayed-action dynamite to defend himself against the monstrous guardians of the Lost Temple, meaning that players will need to call upon superhuman reserves of reflexes and patience to dodge attacks while avoiding potential pitfalls. It's a welcome change of pace amongst a swathe of twinstick shooters, and one that works especially well in some imaginative boss fights.

As mentioned, Redd: The Lost Temple is rock hard, tempering a three-hour completion time with lots of seemingly unavoidable deaths and some astoundingly cheap sections. Redd can only see a few feet in front of his torch, meaning that some enemies and hazards literally come out of nowhere. However, getting into fastidious save game practices will shield you from most of the potential frustration.

Redd: The Lost Temple is an excellent adventure yarn that offers fun and frustration in equal measure. Luckily the imaginative design and sheer enjoyment factor vastly outweigh some of the cheaper moments - and make for an extremely attractive purchase.

Indie Summer Uprising Review Roundup Part 2 | Arms, Trains, Chester, Speed & Temples!

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