Blazin' Balls Xtreme Edition
Developer: MSTAR Games
Regulars will remember that MStar Games topped our very first Xbox Live Indie roundup with their epic sim Space Pirates from Tomorrow. Development of their latest title has been a rocky road paved with broken Microsoft sales lists, disappointment and competition from avatar shovelware... but Blazin' Balls Xtreme Edition is finally with us. Don't let the spellchecker-vexing title put you off, because BBXE delivers a professional and polished experience that deserves your attention as well as this week's trophy. Oh, and as I like to say: it's fun as hell.
The premise is beguilingly simple. Players are tasked with rolling the titular blazin' ball along narrow linear stages, jumping it over chasms and collecting coins to rack up the highest score and quickest time possible. However, coloured patches of flooring affect the ball in wildly different (and frequently surprising) ways, including control inversion, bizarre visual distortion and causing uncontrollable bouncing. There are only 20 stages in the final version- but the point is to master the perfect route through the pits and obstacles and secure your place amongst the immortals in the leaderboards. A raucous head-to-head multiplayer mode that rewards dirty tactics also provides the perfect battleground for settling disputes and losing friends forever.
Razor-edge platformers live and die by the strength of their controls, and thankfully BBXE delivers a precise and responsive input that allows for fine fingertip manipulation. Trust me, you'll rely on every millimetre of control to net the quickest times on the later stages! Polished graphics and a musical score round out the package, making it an attractive proposition for 80 Microsoft Points.
Blazing Balls Extreme Edition is slick, simple and instantly engaging; providing addictive premium content that's designed to be enjoyed over multiple playthroughs. Casual buyers will find an enjoyable distraction from their usual gaming routine - but many will discover an immediate obsession with netting the highest scores and times. Which, quite frankly, is why many of us got into the medium in the first place.
Fancy grabbing a free copy? Stick around for our giveaway!
Big robots are awesome. So are Rez-style vector graphics. These are very basic universal truths... so naturally, the fusion of the two is bound to be impressive. DUENDE allows us to throw down in some stylish mechs and boasts a truly haunting atmosphere thanks to the impressive visuals.
The closest parallel is Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram that currently retails on XBLA for 1200 points. For a fraction of the price, Wyvern delivers a vastly superior control scheme, extreme speed, solid singleplayer campaign and the split-screen multiplayer that was sadly lacking in the Dreamcast classic.
240 Microsoft Points will net you a fully-featured, responsive mech shooter with a groovy Japanese art style. You'd be mad not to at least try the demo.
Developer: Third Party Ninjas
Halloween is the perfect time for Indie developers to release cheap and nasty themed apps... but don't let Bluebones Curse slip under your radar. After a run-in with a powerful witch, Cap'n Bluebones has to embark on a humorous adventure to find Davy Jones' gold and reclaim his corporeal body. It's a genuinely capable platformer with crisp graphics, spot-on mechanics (that don't fall into the trap of being too floaty or slidey) and a catchy musical score. The voice acting is also some of the finest on the entire service. Arrr, matey!
Looking to celebrate Halloween in style? Why not pick up this enjoyable Indie romp for less than a pumpkin!
Found another Xbox Live Indie gem you'd like to bring to our attention? Want to join in the love fest? Drop us a line in the comments!