Reviews for Dark Delve, Convict Minigames by two new reviewers Ellis and “Sm1tty Sm1t” as well as a review for Sherbet Thieves in this Indie Zone.
Dark Delve – 80 :MSPoints: – Marketplace – Review by Ellis Spice
Ever wondered what Doom would be like if, instead of running and gunning, you were walking and battling? Then make yourself welcome to the world of Dark Delve, one that is home to all kinds of beasts and ghouls. The aim of this first person, 3D dungeon crawler is to find the queen, trapped in a castle for generations, and get rid of her before she again causes harm to her kingdom. This campaign begins with a set of pictures set to a overly-dramatic voiceover, and my first thought was ‘Oh no, here comes the rubbish’. Dramatic voiceovers don’t tend to be a sign of a quality game, after all.
But what do you know, I was wrong! After this point, your produce your team, and I decided to go with the ideal threesome with the most creative names ever; ‘Me’ the male Warrior, ‘Her’ the female Rouge and ‘Him’ the male Mage. Taking my fully rounded team of nameless no-hopes, I upgraded their weak little bodies and gave them some new and improved weapons. Then, onto the dungeons with me! Along with Her and Him, of course…
The look of the castle, the location of said dungeons in this grand adventure, caught me by surprise somewhat. Looking like something straight out of Doom, if Doom was set in the Middle Ages and didn’t have any guns or enemies, the graphical styling of this game was impressive, even on my now-ancient standard-definition television.
After I finished admiring the look of my soon-to-be battle grounds, my team moved onwards, towards the first door we could find, inside of which was my first outing to the turn-based battle system. The art style of the creatures you faced vary greatly from that of their environment, being 2-D and much more colourful than their surroundings. Some people may be put off by this seemingly random change, but to me they seemed to fit fine with the turn-based system they were to be involved with. Then again, maybe years of playing Pokemon games on the Nintendo handhelds will do that to you…
However, I have less fine things to say about the battle system itself. The system is very limited, with only 2 attacks options available to you, only one of which tends to be helpful in all situations. The amount of attacks that miss, for both you and your enemies, is also frankly amazing, with seemingly every other attack missing at some points. The game also gives the option to defend, which lowers the damage you take for that turn, but also means you can’t attack, making this option mostly useless. You also have the option to flee, which would be very helpful if the game didn’t block your exit most of the time!.
However, on the whole this doesn’t ruin the game in the slightest, as battles tend to be a quick affairs, with mashing the A button to just to attack the first enemy doing the trick against many of your foes. The exploration element of this is enjoyable to say the least, and although this also results in a bit of back-tracking when you need to get the hell out of there, at no point did I find myself totally ‘lost’ in the castle, thanks to the handy mini-map on screen at all times. Considering it’s 80 :MSPoints: pricetag, if I were you I’d buy that for a dollar. Now, if you don’t mind me, I’ll be off to go slay some more zombies…
Convict Minigames – 240 :MSPoints: – Marketplace – Review by Josh “Sm1tty Sm1t” Smith
Convict Minigames is a collection of five events grouped together to provide players with varying challenges, maximum fun, and unique value within the Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace. That recipe, in theory, would create an indie game that appeals to a rainbow of players. The execution however, gives players an experience to forget. The five games included do offer variety, unfortunately that variety ranges from awful to abysmal.
Bop! is a 1 or 2-player “fighter” pitting players in a battle to squash their opponent by jumping on them. Players can select one of three characters, each possessing different abilities, and fight it out in a landscape that looks as if it was created in MS Paint.
High Hopes is a fast-paced game of “climb the beanstalk”. Again, one or two players can compete to race up a beanstalk after a giant. Jumping from leaf to leaf or cloud to cloud, players must avoid obstacles in order to stay in the lead. The visuals offered are far better than Bop! and add a cell-shaded feeling to a lackluster game that is essentially mashing you’re A-button.
The aptly titled Jurassic Bar allows players to choose between four different dinosaurs and battle cave men … in a bar. The objective is to survive wave after wave of cavemen who attack with sticks, stones, and other debris. As the dinosaur, you can attack the cavemen in order to kill them, or eat them to regain health. Continuing with the 2nd grade art style, Jurassic Bar does have bright colors, but the lack of changing scenery fails to ignite any excitement.
Cave In is a race against the clock. As a spelunker you must avoid falling ceilings, tribal spears, spike traps, and collapsing floors in order to race to the end of the level. Again, a simple bashing of the A-button will find players soaring through levels with limited difficulty. The retro visuals are akin to the early days of gaming and offer a nice trip down memory lane, but the lack of a backdrop continues the trend of the other minigames which offer no variety.
The saving grace of the entire collection comes with Triangle Man. This little, yellow guy must work his way through puzzles of impossible odds. Visually reminiscent of an early Atari release, the difficulty involved will provide players with hours of fun. To maneuver through levels you must trigger switches, avoid spikes, collect coins, and reach the doorway in one piece. After a number of deaths players have the option of skipping the level at the cost of five lives, which are tracked at the bottom of the screen. 28 minutes into my own adventure, I was staring at 163 deaths.
Priced at 240 :MSPoints:, Convict Minigames doesn’t offer enough gameplay to warrant a purchase. Granted, five minigames would normally justify this purchase, but unless you have a house full of friends looking for something new, but not necessarily good, stay away.
Sherbet Thieves – 80 :MSPoints: – Marketplace
Sherbet Thieves falls in to the category what I am going to call Twin Stick Defense. The game is primarily a twin stick shooter with some defense style gameplay, there are similar style games out there but it is not a crowded market.
Sherbet Thieves takes you on a wacky journey through a dozen levels in which you must ensure that the farmers Sherbet does not get stolen by Aliens. On each level there are a number of sherbet ‘blobs’ on screen, aliens will spawn and try to steal the sherbet and bring it back to their UFO. Your task is to stop them from doing this by shooting and killing them. Enemies come in a variety of guises from hippies that fire smoke rings which block your shots through to enemies that fire back. There is a good variety and use of the various weapons comes in to play for optimal destruction.
You earn money at the end of each level which in turn can be spent on buying new weapons. There are seven in total and you can equip them as primary and secondary firing. Some are more useful than others, the ‘Protoplasmic Blunderbus’ through to the less useful ‘Ion Pitchfork’. Later levels increase the challenge by having two UFO’s, so your initial strategies of hanging around a single UFO will probably not work. You have a Gravity Bomb which can be strategically placed on the screen which draws enemies towards it, useful in a number of ways such as last ditch attempts at killing enemies but also for some sneaky tactics such as grouping the sherbets together when enemies have them for an easier defense.
The presentation is fairly standard, nothing amazing but it works. Graphically the game is mixed, the sprites are average in looks but the explosions and weapons fire look better. Music is what I would call a country/techno mix with banjos and beats, they are pretty good and add to the wacky style of the game.
The game can be completed in around a hour which is quite short. Once completed there is not a great deal of replayability. The game seems to be missing something which would elevate it to a game I would come back to. Saying that, while the game lasts it is good challenging fun and the quirky humour is enjoyable. Well worth further investigation.0