We've got a real battle for first place this week... and in fact, we've even got stiff competition just to make it onto the list! If you've got a few Microsoft Points knocking about, get onto the Xbox Game Marketplace and hit up the Indie Tab right now. Seriously, why not snag yourself a few games for the price of a single set of Halo Reach avatar armour?
Developer: Lotus Games
Demo/Buy (240 MSP)
We all love playing cards. The fact that Solitaire is still bundled with every PC ever made aptly demonstrates our affinity for arranging cards in order of descending value and matching suit. However, the success of Bejeweled and other 'match three' games indicates that our preferred thief of time may have shifting away... and Didgery combines both sets of addictive mechanics into a thoroughly worthwhile little package.
Playing cards are laid out in a square grid, and making chains of cards will soon become second nature to any solitaire veteran or poker player worth their salt. These chains disappear from the board to be replaced by fresh cards, and the objective of each match is to accrue enough value of each suit to move on. As you'd expect, matching enormous groups of cards creates a powerful explosion and rewards us with copious bonus points. The twist, however, is that making chains adds points to a constantly declining timer that needs to be constantly replenished and watched like a hawk.
The core gameplay is dead simple and thoroughly addictive, but Didgery also shoehorns it into an epic celestial struggle of good vs evil. The suits are cast as four powerful elements that need to be united to save the universe from descending into hell... or something... and whilst it's a little hammy, it's great to see a developer go the extra mile and give us some context.
Didgery is a capable and attractive puzzler that provides addictive thrills and enjoyable fantasy overtones. It's heavenly in every sense of the word.
Nuclear Wasteland 2030
Developer: Sick Kreations
Normally I wouldn't bat an eyelid at an arena-based zombie survival shooter. God knows that the Indie marketplace has enough of them already. However, Nuclear Wasteland instantly grabbed my attention because it isn't a twinstickshooter... rather, it's a first person shooter. The FPS genre hasn't exactly thrived on the Indie Markeplace, but I'm happy to report that Nuclear Wasteland is a fantastic effort.
The graphics are a cut above the other 3D offerings on the service (with a funky graphical style), and it's refreshingly fully featured. You've got ironsights, a sprint function, pistol whip melee and all the usual accoutrements that gunslingers are used to. The gameplay is still as basic and frantic as you'd expect from a typical twinstick shooter (killing zombies and looting gear from towers dotted around the map), but the mechanics are as solid as you'd expect from a retail release.
Nuclear Wasteland lets us net a servicable FPS with an addictive scoring system for under a pound. Not only that, but it also demonstrates the viability of the genre on the Indie Live Marketplace. Its an impressive title that deserves your rapt attention- and justifies your while knuckles.
Developer: Deal Twice
With a name like Jungle Friendzy, you might expect this to be a sickly sweet childish platormer with young target audience firmly in mind. However, the cutesy presentation belies a cut throat online deathmatch that resembles a streamlined Super Smash Bros. Three classes give players the choice between a nimble squirrel, a bee-launching bear and a podgy tiger armed with a hilarious carnivorous plant... and challenges them to brutally throw down in cleverly designed arenas. The cartoon-like graphics bring a real sense of charm and fun to the proceedings that's rarely seen in the genre.
The platforming is instantly accessible, but most importantly the netcode works. Up to 8 players can join in over Xbox Live which makes for a manic and rewarding breath of fresh air from your gritty online shooter of choice.
Jungle Friendzy may not be brimming with features, but the slick mechanics, charming graphics and functional netcode make this an absolute bargain at 80 Microsoft Points. Why not head over to the forums and schedule a match or two?
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