This has been a decidedly turbulent week for Xbox Live Indie Games. Our sensational interview with MStar Games' Mike Bergenstjerna absolutely slammed the state of the service, with esteemed MVP George Clingerman wading in with his own exceptional set of observations and solutions. On top of that, some misguided lacrosse fans have been playing havoc with the ratings system.
But never mind all that. It's easy to lose sight of the all-important games in amongst all the controversy, so this week, we've got four great titles for your consideration. As always, click the links to check out the trial versions!
Oozi: Earth Adventure Episode 1
- Developer: Awesome Games Studio
- Get Demo/Buy: 80 Microsoft Points
Call us misty-eyed retro fanboys if you must, but we love it when a game makes us feel like we're back in the good old 16-Bit days. Oozi: Earth Adventure feels like it deserves pride of place in a SEGA Mega Drive compilation, and though it obviously comes from a cookie cutter mould, it provides a seriously solid experience for the meagre asking price.
As well as a heady dose of nostalgia.
Controlling the titular blob, you'll jump your way around five long levels, leap over spike pits, collect stars and leap upon enemies to kill them. We've danced this dance before a thousand times, but the incredibly responsive controls and authentic visual style makes Oozi: Earth Adventure feel like a classic retro title from yesteryear. As well as the meaty campaign, there are also a few challenge levels and a timed arcade mode to add some welcome extra bang for your sixty-eight pence.
Oozi: Earth Adventure Episode 1 oozes style, content and value. Future episodes will need to shake up the formula with new abilities and challenges, but for now, this is an fantastic start to what could be an exceptional Indie franchise.
CEPINAS is yet another space shooter. Oh yes. But this time, there's an interesting new twist. The experience hinges around capturing planets by encircling them in a ring of lasers, and once you've done so, they can be upgraded into massive fortresses that actively defend against enemies taking them over for their own nefarious ends. Nuanced controls and sharp visuals will help CEPINAS break out of the pack and (hopefully) onto your radar.
A focus on multiplayer shenanigans (both on and offline) makes for an addictive and exciting experience in which players squabble over territory; playing much like a blend between Asteroids and Risk. I hope that a solid community will start to form on Xbox Live to take advantage of its unique and addictive gameplay mechanics.
CEPINAS is a raucous, deep and exciting shooter that shines when played with a few mates. Expect to lose some friends after particularly aggressive betrayals, mind!
Lil' Demons: Splatter
Another FPS has arrived on the Xbox Live Indie marketplace, and I'm thrilled to report that it works like a charm. It's essentially the standard twinstick arena formula crunched into a first person perspective, with the emphasis firmly on strafing away from the adorable hordes of colourful demons who descend on you in large numbers. Each type of demon responds to incoming fire in different ways (such as exploding in enormous chain reactions or rolling for cover), and the selection of weapons and powerups are a lot of fun to play with. The graphics are stylish, the engine is solid and the action is hectic as all hell.
So why isn't Lil' Demons: Splatter further up this list? Good question, and one that has a simple answer: it just doesn't go very far. For all its frills, it's essentially a very basic shooter that just happens to be in first person format. The experience feels like a tech demo for a larger project... and considering the quality of what's on offer, I genuinely hope that this is the case.
Lil' Demons: Splatter is a fun and functional shooter that could be the foundation of something truly great. As things stand, it's still well worth a punt.
DeRail games are a fixture of our Xbox Live Indie Game of the Week roundups thanks to their delightful and furiously difficult retro platformers, but this year, they've switched their focus to shooters. Unfortunately we're not convinced that this is necessarily a change for the better.
At first CTG seems to be a standard twinstick shooter, in which you'll fight off waves of bouncing cats and grannies as they merrily rebound around the arena. However, you'll soon learn that enemies can only be killed by bouncing them into swirling vortexes on top of the screen - and keeping enormous stunned hordes airborne and headed in the right direction takes some serious strategy and a steady pair of thumbs.
Sadly, the presentation and art style will keep CTG out of contention. The slaughter of grannies - why grannies?! - is unnecessarily gory (displaying a crude and disgusting animation if you run out of lives) and utterly devoid of charm. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that it's genuinely unpleasant to behold. CTG is completely out of character for DeRail, and as a fan, I can't quite get my head around it.
CTG boasts solid gameplay and tight mechanics, but its unnecessarily charmless presentation and subject matter do it no favours. Less bloody killing of grandmothers next time, please chaps.