This weeks XBLIG Indie Zone has reviews for Star Dash, Dirchie Kart, Googly-Eyed Splitters and Love Hurts, as well as previews for Fluffy: Operation Overkill and Perkunas’ Dragon.
Before getting on to the reviews, I (Dave C) would like to officially welcome our latest staff member Kyle who is doing a great job working on the indie games reviews. He is doing such a great job that he has most of the next episode wrote before I could get to finish putting together this episode! A big welcome and thanks to Kyle!
Star Dash – 80 :MSPoints: – Marketplace
Star Dash is an action platform game where the aim is to reach the level exit while collecting as many points as possible. You start at the bottom of level and must make your way to the top by jumping across platforms to gain height. A time limit is enforced and to complete many levels you will need to collect time stars which increase the limit by a few seconds. To make things a little more trickier the level automatically scrolls to the top, if you get caught at the bottom it is game over. Fortunately other stars can be collected and can reverse or slow the scrolling for example, which is essential to do in later levels.
There are one hundreds levels to play on which will take some time to complete. The levels appear to be well designed and are never hard enough to be impossible but you will need to remember optimal routes to ensure you beat the time and get a good score. Changing your route to get a score multiplier can make all the difference but could cost vital seconds. The controls are generally fine though in the heat of the moment you can often mistime a jump and end up falling past a platform or two.
Presentation is a little basic, it works fine but is not anything stand out. Graphically the game fares better though the graphics are fairly standard tile based designs. Having your avatar as the character works well. Music is OK, nothing memorable but it does the job.
Star Dash costs 80 :MSPoints: which is decent value for money. The one hundred levels will take some time to complete and there is some replay value to improve on your scores. It is a simple yet fun game. If you enjoy short blast platform games you should check it out.
Dirchie Kart is a racing game, similar to that of Mario Kart by taking use of various offensive and defensive power-ups scattered throughout the race track to come out on top in the single-player Grand Prix mode, with the Decaffeinated & Mongrel cups, with your choice of 250, 500 or 1000 whopping CC’s . The game hosts three different vehicles to choose from, the ‘Hornet’, ‘Caddy’ and ‘Truckasauras’ (The last of which being surprisingly similar to optimus prime) with each having different speed and item limits, such as the Hornet with the highest speed, but the lowest item count. To go along with the various Karts are the odd cast of characters ranging from ‘Afro Chimp’, the devilish ‘Joe’, the tribal ‘Peaches’ or even your own Xbox Live Avatar.
The gameplay is nothing short of what you’d come to expect with slick turning via the power slide feature, a range of courses to race on such as the sunny spring-time track ‘Bump & Grind”, the fruity (literally) ‘Lemon & Lime’ track, ranging to the extremely creepy ‘Technicolour Nightmare’ track featuring clowns, lots and lots of clowns. As well as the ability to race either against bots or human players locally via 4 player split-screen.
The game’s graphics are a good fit for the arcade-style kart racer with the cartoony visuals which are above-par based against most XBLIG’s out there, with the smooth 3D effects provided. The same could be said about the music for the game as well, nothing spectacular but fit the game well with the upbeat, silly tone of some of the music as you dash to the finish.
For 240 :MSPoints: or even the free PC download Dirchie Kart is worth the money if you’re looking to kill time with a quick, action-packed racing title that could keep you and some friends busy as you duke it out in the multi-player-only Race, Battle, and Drag events.
Googly-Eyed Splitters – 80 :MSPoints: – Marketplace
The oddly titled Googly-Eyed Splitters is a platforming game boasting a selection of 40 levels, and three different worlds (Grassland, Volcanic, and Iceland) all for the low price of 80 :MSPoints: or $1. The levels are challenging enough to offer a solid hour to two hours worth of gameplay as the challenge gets ramped up throughout the levels.
Gameplay for this title is as the title implies, “split.” Basically, if you press both of the sticks in opposite ‘splitting’ directions your heroic little blob will split into red and blue sections which are individually controllable with both sticks and the left / right triggers and/or bumpers. This unique style of gameplay throws color-specific challenges in the levels (Ikaruga, anybody?), where only the red blob can pass through red gates, and the same goes for the blue blob and blue colored gates. Overall, this approach to platforming is just challenging enough to push you through the game, however there is one minor gripe with the game that I had.. for a platforming game the controls for not only the individual pink blob, but both individual blobs can be very slippery and make it so you have to time and press your luck with some jumps and gaps. Besides the minor controlling issue the game is an enjoyable forty levels to keep you occupied for your dollars worth.
The soundtrack for the game is a bit forgettable, with a few mixed up tunes throughout the game, so nothing too spectacular there. However, in the graphics department I was very fond of the painted background and menu selection screens which flow with the more cartoony style of this game well, however the actual graphics can’t stack up to the amazing painted scenery it’s better than nothing.
Overall, you can’t really complain with a title worth just a dollar and provides more than enough gameplay to make up for the expense, if you’re a fan of the more cartoony platformers and don’t mind the occasional frustration with slippery controls this game is right up your alley, otherwise I’d skip over it.
Love Hurts – 80 :MSPoints: – Marketplace
Love Hurts, sounds like another one of those bad dating simulators huh? That’s what I thought too until I started up this masterpiece of an XBLIG title. Love Hurts is a side-scrolling beat ’em up, with a solid NES / SNES feel and graphics to compliment them as well. The game’s story-line is a simple story of a man waiting at dinner for his ‘princess’ that calls him up and says she was captured, and the story of humorous clichés begins as he travels to find his beloved princess.
Gameplay is exactly what you’d expect with a beat ’em up style game, with the usual kicking, punching and jumping you’ve come to expect. Because of the style of the game being an homage to retro games, the controls themselves are reminiscent of games such as Double Dragon, or Battletoads with the solid, not-so-fluid style the older games are known for with a difficulty curve that could be compared to some of the dream-crushing titles the NES / SNES held. Along with a wide choice of enemies ranging from waiters to vacuum cleaners this game also provides some great dialogue such as the creator of the game taking cracks at his own sprites in the game looking like something “a 6 year old drew.”
On the graphical side of the game, to go with the old-school feel are some beautiful 16-bit graphics to make the story one you won’t get tired of looking at. Now for the musical side of things, as you’d come to expect with a retro style game are some great 8-bit / chip-tune tracks that are as pleasing to the ears as the graphics are to the eyes.
Really for mere 80 :MSPoints: it’d be a crime not to pick up this title for the love price, as you can clearly see the love and time put into this little title that’ll be sure to give you a good challenge. So, why waste your time reading this. Go pick it up if you’re a fan of beat ’em ups!
Fluffy: Operation Overkill
The game centers around a psychotic squirrel called Fluffy. A strange virus turned all animals in his surrounding into bloodthirsty beasts. Now it’s Fluffys task to slide into his hazard suit and deal with all infected animals to reveal the cause of the virus. Fluffy is constantly supported by his former chief, Colonel Badger, who helps out with useful tips and weapon/ammo drops. Be-yond all the blood and gore on Fluffys way lies the terrifying truth.
Fluffy: Operation Overkill launches this month, you can find more information at sosodev.com.
Perkunas’ Dragon is a top-down RPG shooter indie game. You can play with Zithira the Dragoness who needs to find her way from an unknown land. The unknown land is a mystic land full of creatures from the Slavonic mythology. Zithira flies through a map and meets various people who live in this area. She has to help them because they are the only ones who know the right way from the unknown land…