The Indie Zone: Episode 18

Reviews for the XBLIG games Happy, Tunnelvision and Meep 2 – Jumping Evolved as well as news on some forthcoming games.

Happy – 80 :MSPoints: – Marketplace 

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Happy is a rather interesting game, revolving all around a large mans quest for cake as he rolls around through farmland, giant cacti and even the sky. It sure is an odd premise alright, but the developer made this game to support a pet rescue center, with every cent of profits going directly toward animals in need around the UK which I find to be a very noble cause, and a great fundraising idea on the XBLIG marketplace. 

As mentioned, Happy is all about rolling on your stomach from point A to reach point B, which is a delicious cake waiting for your consumption. Besides that, there’s not much else gameplay wise except for a couple of slopes, one or two bouncing platform puzzles, and chili peppers that make you go faster via farting on the few levels presented, around 6 or 7 I can recall. Gameplay is fun while it lasts, but it does not last long at all, really, you could beat this game in 10 minutes if you set your mind to it. Even though the “gameplay” presented is lacking, let’s remember that this is all for a good cause in the long run. 

What I found to be quite odd in Happy, was how the character was so simply drawn, while the landscapes surrounding him were exponentially more detailed. That said, the environment around our large friend are well drawn in a sketchy art-book kind of style, which I found to be pretty pleasing, with the variety put into the small amount of levels everything looked good, especially that wonderful cake. Music in the game is one of the more interesting parts, providing an ambient soundscape providing a relaxing feel to the game, which fits well because the gameplay is slow-paced and calm just like the music. I found the music to be one of the more outstanding parts of the game, giving it a nice relaxing feel even with the little variety presented in the tracks. 

All in all, it’s hard to be critical for a little project made to promote an animal hospital, which I admit is a great cause, but does not make for the best game I’ve seen. I mean, Happy is fun for the 20 or so minutes you’ll spend playing it, but I can’t really say it’s worth buying for any other reason than knowing it’s going to a good cause, but hell, it’s better than donating and getting nothing in return I suppose. Feel free to try the game out yourself, while you’re not going to get much out of it, it was a novel idea for a game to donate its profits to a cause such as this one. 


Tunnelvision – 240 :MSPoints: – Marketplace

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Tunnelvision by Stendec Games is more or less the most gorgeous Indie Title I’ve encountered to date. Textures are shiny as well as smooth. Menus don’t feel cluttered and are actually quite appealing.I’ll admit I had a bit of trouble diving into this game after the first level due to the fact that it seemed like another shmup(shoot-em-up). However, Tunnelvision may be 3D but, it plays like most of the insane 2D shmups out there. Bullets,rockets, and laser beams often occupy the screen like an evening at an epileptic rave. Tunnel Vision’s electronic music does its justice to the atmosphere and tempo this game builds as players progress through each level/section.

Game-play is simple, guide your beautifully modeled  ship through the abysmal tunnels while dodging the rain of colorful bullets and bland obstacles from oncoming ships in order to reach the level lord. Successfully defeating the level enables you to progress to the next level. Tunnelvision doesn’t vary often both in the level design and bosses. Players will frequently encounter the same level lord model but, each time it is equipped with a couple new minions or faster firing rate. This makes the game boring and repetitive  especially when you will be looking at similar events for a bit. Tunnelvision has no story or background to explain why you are flying a ship in a tunnel, why these ships,turrets, and level lords are after your blood. I also found my self question why I should care about my high score since a leader-board is non existent.

As I progressed through the first three levels(including tutorial ) I found my self able to use many new abilities like the shield, which becomes your inanimate spouse through the countless levels of devastation. Next is the slow bomb which when launched puts players in a bullet time state allowing easier dodging and targeting especially when you can easily find yourself as lost as you were at the end of “Lost”. Tunnelvision does not have an abundance or power ups like many shmups do but it is certainly enough to aid in the battle for non-motivational survival. In addition Tunnel vision’s controls are awkward and obtuse which makes for an often frustrating experience when trying to dodge the hell-fire sent upon you by enemy ships that are trying to kill you for no  reason. While I would like to say that the  music while it is entertaining and uplifting makes up for the gameplay it doesn’t. But, it is safe to say the upbeat techno music is one of its highlights.

With a lack of story and incentive for re-playability like  a leader-board and collectibles Tunnelvision will be very hard to be absorbed into. However,  gorgeous graphics and atmospheric music can and will accompany you on this tunnel journey through a hard worked shoot-em-up/rail shooter by Stendec Games for 240 :MSPoints: in the XBLIG section.


Meep 2 – Jumping Evolved – 80 :MSPoints: – Marketplace

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Meep 2 is the sequel of the platform jumping game released in 2010. It brings us some improvements and new features including new graphics and two player versus modes.

The aim of Meep 2 is simple, starting from the bottom of the level you must reach the top by bouncing on platforms to reach the goal. The Meep continuously bounces leaving you to move left or right to reach the next platform. There a several varieties of platforms apart from the standard one, including a mobile platform which moves from side to side andspringboards which give you extra height when bounced on. To make things a little trickier platforms include ice makes you slide and spikes make you loose control. The platforms can be mixed together in later levels which adds to the challenge. In addition there are balloons which when hit can make your Meep float for a few seconds, teleport to another location or explode which can help in some situations.

The single player mode has a reasonable twenty levels to complete that offer a good challenge. You play against the time earning a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal depending on your performance. You can also opt to race against a Ghost to get a better judgement of your skills. The two player mode pits players against each other in a split screen view tournament. The aim is to simply reach the top before the other player. It can be quite competitive in terms of learning the best routes for all the levels and there is a decent amount of replayability in this mode.

The graphics are a good improvement on the first game, they are better drawn, more colourful and look the part. The music is lively and suits the game theme, maybe aimed towards younger gamers though. Presentation is nice and simple, no problems there.  Overall Meep 2 is a good improvement on the original. For 80 :MSPoints: you get a worthwhile game aimed more towards playing with two players than by yourself. I recommend at least trying the trial version, it is good fun against another player.


Magic Racing GP 2 is due for release on XBLIG in the near future. Here is an extended trailer to check out in the meantime.


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