This last week, I've taken an uncharacteristic break to prepare for E3 and get a cheeky bit of cheap sunshine thanks to a last-minute deal... but enough lame excuses [I thought we fired you? -Ed]. Whilst I've been separated from my console, my Windows 7 mobile has staunchly stayed within easy reach - so it's time to round up some of the best indie games to have supported the fledgling platform!
Well, after a little rant. Before last year's Xbox.com site redesign that included indie games into the browser marketplace, Microsoft rightfully took a lot of flak for failing to give these titles enough exposure. Unfortunately they've failed to learn from their mistakes, meaning that Indie games aren't hosted in the browser marketplace along with their Microsoft-published big brothers.
The upshot is that you'll need Zune (groan) installed to take advantage of the download links... and it took a fair bit of detective work using Bing's (groan harder) visual search to track them down. Prepare for an longer, angrier rant at a later date. I now return you to our feature presentation.
Hypership Out Of Control!
If Hypership Out Of Control looks familiar, it's because Fun Infused Games' breakthrough indie hit is no stranger to our Game Of The Week roundups. In fact, we rated it as one of the best XBLI titles of 2010... and it's now also one of the best games on Windows 7 phones.
In case you're unaware of the premise, Hypership tasks players with guiding a constantly-accelerating spacecraft through a wicked selection of scrolling mazes. You'll need razor sharp reflexes to weave past intricate labyrinths, walls and asteroids, which is facilitated by smooth 1:1 touch controls. The core mechanics are tight, the presentation is watertight (and charmingly retro to boot) and multiple modes give players plenty of value.
Full online leaderboards (a seriously impressive feature for an indie mobile title) allow you to rank your high scores with the best players in the world. Good luck beating Fun Infused at their own game, mind!
The most delicious thing about Hypership is that there are two varieties to choose from. The Lite version is completely free, and contains almost all of the content on offer. The full version removes the in-game advert banner... which gives you a much better view of oncoming obstacles and a larger play space. Trust me, it's well worth upgrading if you enjoy the generous Lite experience. You can read my full review over at Mobot.net.
Finally, it's worth noting that the original Lite version was plagued with reports of stuttering frame rates and performance issues. Pleasingly, however, Fun Infused Games have been extremely conscientious at releasing continual updates - and Hypership now runs as smooth as silk.
Hypership Out Of Control is as brilliant on handsets as it was on consoles, and is arguably better suited for quick and frequent high score runs during long commutes. Highly recommended!
The Doucette brothers - aka Xona Games - are another staple part of our Indie roundups. Score Rush thoroughly deserved its praise for being one of the most beautiful shooters ever made, but it was their award-winning Decimation series that put them on the map.
Decimation X2 is a raucous and tense reimagining of the classic Space Invaders formula. Players control a tiny turret at the bottom of the screen as scrolling phalanxes of alien assailants attempt to reach their base line. Frequent pickups soon grant you unbelievable amounts of raw firepower that can rip through entire enemy formations, but the implacable hordes naturally increase in speed and ferocity as they decrease in number.
The action is slick, quick and addictive, but special mention needs to be made about the visuals. Decimation X2 looks absolutely exceptional thanks to ludicrously colourful explosions and particle effects that make the shooting as visceral as it is good old fashioned fun. It's more polished than most of Microsoft Games Studio's efforts... not to mention joyously gratuitous.
My one criticism of Decimation X2 is a wee bit churlish to be honest - and you can take it with a pinch of salt. The retina-shredding explosions and effects are undoubtedly a feast for the eyes, but they often make incoming projectiles very difficult to see. Let alone evade! It's a compromise worth making, but be prepared for a few aggravating deaths.
Decimation X2 is Space Invaders for a new generation who's hungry for retinal stimulation and constant thrills. And you can play it on the train. No-brainer.
- Developer: On 3 Technologies
- Get Demo/Buy
Windows Phone 7 is desperately in need of a killer RPG. Or at least a few Roguelikes. Unfortunately The Harvest is in no position to fulfil this demand (since Luma Arcade were too busy implementing WP7 features to make it fun to play)... and initially, Argie RPG seemed to fit the bill.
And it almost does. Players create a hero out of a number of varied character classes and engage in random battles to gain experience, skill points and money to spend on better equipment. The battle system is streamlined and fluid, and the graphics and menus are incredibly accessible thanks to being based around the standard scrolling WP7 format. It's addictive, time-consuming and easily capable of munching several hours of free time.
However, Argie RPG is currently just a framework for greater things. There's no story or progression to speak of, just random battles and the bare bones of a shop and skill system. At present, this unfortunately relegates it to a timewasting diversion... but once On 3 Technologies add PvP functionality, it'll be an entirely different proposition. Plus, it will provide the closest thing to synchronous multiplayer that WP7 has to offer.
Argie RPG is an addictive, deep and distracting timewaster that can easily spiral into full-blown obsession. Highly recommended, though definitely test out the trial version first.
If you're experiencing another twinge of deja vu, it's because Ionball is another excellent XBLIG title that more than earned its accolade as Indie Game Of The Week. You can check out our previous coverage for our take on its blend of Breakout with steampunk imagery and RPG elements... but right now, all you need to know is that it also thoroughly deserves to take up a tile in your WP7 games collection.
In case you're still in any doubt, I'd urge you to check out the demo for yourself... and allow me to reiterate the following:
Ionball a blend of Breakout... with Steampunk imagery... and RPG elements. What are you still doing here?
I've only scratched the surface of the great indie titles available on WP7 - so keep an eye on Mobot.net for future commentary and reviews! I'll be hitting the Xbox 360 scene with a vengeance next time, folks.