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This is Hard

XBL Indie Games Review Roundup: Gorilla Warfare, Trading, Deaths and Trials!

Jonathan Lester
Ancient Trader, Games reviews, Indie Games, Kong 360, Old School Racer, Pwnage of Empires, This is Hard, XBLIG, Xbox Live Indie Games


Once again, we've delved deep into the murky waters of Xbox Live Indie Games and surfaced to bring you five of the best and brightest.

Kong360: Gorilla Warfare


Developer: SpaceDude & Kiwi

Buy/Get Demo (240MSP)

Timesplitters taught us that monkeys and guns are an instant recipe for fun- and Kong360 doesn't disappoint. Imagine Unreal Tournament reimagined as a brightly coloured twinstick shooter starring psychopathic gorillas and you're somewhere near the mark. Your ape's controls are mapped to the analogue sticks, with the ability to jump, walljump and change weapons within easy reach. Basically, if you've ever played a twinstick shooter before...scratch that... since you've all played a twinstick shooter before, you'll quickly be able to jump straight into the action. Being able to change your trajectory is a little offputting at first, but you'll soon get used to it.

The weapon selection will be familiar to most FPS fans. Machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers and a tremendously powerful banana bomb provide a solid (if small) arsenal, but Unreal Tournament fans will be delighted with the shock rifle. Much like the classic ASMD, the secondary fire launches a slow-moving energy ball that can be detonated to create a massive shockwave!

The fusion of addictive FPS deathmatch and CTF mechanics with the accessibility of twinstick shooters makes for an impressive little singleplayer experience- but the real draw of Kong360 is its competitive multiplayer. Whilst drop-in 8 player Xbox Live deathmatches are supported, you'll probably find it difficult to find a populated game (hopefully the lobbies will fill out over the next few days)- but luckily 4 player splitscreen is perfect for rounding up a crew and engaging in some immediate and engaging gunplay. Throwing down on best mates or total strangers is a lot of fun and makes for a surprisingly tactical experience in capture the flag.

Whilst the small online audience may sadly relegate Kong360 to obscurity in the future, we highly recommend you give this one a go. Besides, the nearest comparable experience is XBLA's Madballs: Babo Invasion... which retails for 800 MSP! Highly recommended.

Ancient Trader

ancient trader_picnik

Developer: Fourkidsgames

Buy/Get Demo (240MSP)

Ancient Trader is an engrossing and tactical turn-based board game that invites you to set sail, fight and trade your way to victory. Played on an attractive grid based on an ancient map (replete with plenty of monsters and rival players), you'll need to upgrade your ship's weaponry and acquire enough artifacts to locate and destroy a powerful boss enemy. Naturally, upgrading your galleon will require plenty of money; which you'll earn through simple delivery quests, battling and trading using the at-a-glance stock market.

The twist in the tail is that your opponents are seeking to do exactly the same thing. It's therefore necessary to keep your ship...well, shipshape whilst making sure that you're not falling behind your foes. An accessible three-button card-based battle system and an simple control setup allows you to do just that. Ancient Trader is both easy and fun to play, but there's a huge amount of depth if you're looking for it.

Ancient Trader is a fantastic little title that's fun both alone or with a few friends... but it certainly isn't for everyone. Fans of slower, strategic experiences or board game fanatics will get a huge amount of value from their 240 MSP.

Click here to see which other diamonds in the rough Jon's unearthed this week...