This week brings us three more fantastic games on the Xbox Live Indie service. We've got a twinstick shooter that practically redefines its genre, a co-op platformer with a groovy gimmick and some pure retro exploitation for your delectation. And they're all 80MSP.
Developer: Firestorm Studios
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to one of the finest twinstick shooters you'll ever play.
It's not as if we're short of a few twinstick space SHMUPS on the Xbox Live Indie service. Taking a leaf out of the Geometry Wars book, many bedroom devs see an easy way to make a quick buck by slapping a cheap gimmick onto an otherwise derivative . Abaddon: Retribution, however, adds more than enough genuine depth to turn the experience into a fully-featured space opera that just happens to feature a dual thumbstick input.
At first, the proceedings will be extremely familiar. Your cruiser (the titular Abaddon) needs to be defended from hordes of incoming enemy fighters. Each enemy yields 'green matter' that functions as both points and currency. So far, so unremarkable... except docking with the Abaddon pauses the action and grants you access to a bewildering array of new ships, weapons, turrets, and upgrades. These upgrades persist between missions, making the action akin to a fast and fluid RPG. The sheer range of armaments and equipment on offer is enormous, and adds a significant tactical depth that you'll rarely see on the service.
However, the Abaddon is more than a passive base that needs to be mollycoddled and defended. It's the most powerful capital ship in the human fleet, and can be tricked out with its own enormous selection of devastating offensive turrets. Equipping the right mix of AI cannons throws a little tower defence into the already diverse formula, and allows the powerful cruiser to engage enemy fleets or defend priority targets by itself.
After you've slagged the last enemy cruiser into smouldering wreckage in the intelligently-scripted (and occasionally hilarious) campaign, three skirmish modes provide a huge amount of extra value. Defending the Abaddon against increasingly dangerous foes or leading it on a strike mission adds plenty of extra bang for your single buck. Most impressively, Abaddon: Retribution also features drop-in local and Xbox Live multiplayer. Other players can man your fighter's turrets or take on ships of their own, allowing up to 8 players to get involved in total.
Abaddon: Retribution delivers a classy campaign, slick presentation, serious depth and a huge amount of value... all for 80 Microsoft Points. Put in the simplest of terms: this is a game that you want. Don't buy that avatar item. Buy this instead.
Mama & Son: Clean House
Developer: Ludosity Interactive
Mama & Son answers one of the most basic questions that most shooters tend to gloss over: who does the cleaning up afterwards? In this gleefully tongue-in-cheek action platformer, a mother and son cleaning team have to save the planet. Really Commando (yes, that's really his name) is a soldier at heart, and uses his machine gun to kill the alien hordes as they spawn in. However, his ammo supply is incredibly limited- and it's up to Mama to supply more by sweeping spent shell casings into recycling bins scattered around the level. It's a symbiotic relationship that's surprisingly fun in multiplayer and a breeze in singleplayer thanks to some impressive AI.
Mama & Son: Clean House is a slick, smooth, smart and humourous platformer that feels like a bonafide classic in the making. The cleaning cooperative dynamic elevates it above most other platformers on the service, and I'd urge gamers of all tastes to at least check out the demo.
Hypership Out Of Control!
Developer: Fun Infused
Demo/Buy (80 MSP)
Hypership Out Of Control! Ship always moving! Make sure not hit bad things! Explode obstacles! Make points get! Friends play too!
Ahem. Sorry about that. Designed with a faux-retro Japanese style, Hypership challenges players to weave their way around ten difficult waves as their hypership continually increases in speed. It's a pure, simple and incredibly engaging experience that will demand quick reflexes and a good sense of humour. Twenty 'Rewardments' make for an addictive reason to keep playing, and up to four players can merrily compete in the delightfully old-school multiplayer mode.
It may be a simple and streamlined SHMUP, but Hypership Out Of Control is a genuinely rewarding little title that'll leave you grinning from ear to ear. It's a fantastic filler for local multiplayer sessions, and at 80MSP, Hypership is well worth a purchase. Retro fans will go nuts for this one and should ensure that it doesn't slip under their radar.
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