Demo-nday

For a lack of something better to do I downloaded some demos of Xbox Indie games. Here are three of them. Maybe this will become a weekly feature? Or whenever I feel like it?

The Good

Weapon of Choice

A throwback to the glorious days of Contra. You run, you gun. There’s heavy rock music. I’m not a hard rock affectionado so I can’t judge the quality of the score as music but it sure does a great job of keeping you pumped and firing. There’s some story about aliens invading earth but there wasn’t much in the demo to judge its quality. What stands out is the design and the weapons. Weapon of Choice was created by Mommy’s Best Games, which is composed of primarily one person: ex-Insomnia employee, Nathan Fouts. Except for some help with the music and some script writing the game was created by him alone.

I love the design of the aliens. They are very otherworldly and don’t hue to any familiar biology. They remind me of the creatures from The Mist. Strange and magnificent and terrifying.

The real stars are the weapons. Not one of them is any sort of conventional. Of the three playable characters in the demo one caries a rifle that shoots boomeranging machetes, one a gun that fires satellites that fire lasers, and one that uses a jet engine. That’s correct, an engine of a jet plane, of which he keeps the bonus end pointed towards the baddies. And yes, he can use it to fly around.

There’s a lot of other neat stuff going on, like the ability to rescue downed characters, a spider backpack that lets you climb walls (or monsters), multiple story paths, and “deathbrushing” where a brush with death (get it?!) slows down the action and gives you a chance to save yourself.

Weapon of Choice looks to be a fantastic game and I’ll be purchasing the full thing soon.

The Maybe

Solar

Solar might be a fantastic game. Right up there with fl0w or Flower maybe. Unfortunately the demo doesn’t give any impression of the scope of the game. It reveals that there is a mission mode but only lets you play around in sandbox mode and then only for a few minutes. It gives you a very basic tutorial and let’s you off on your own. I don’t think this is the correct kind of demo for this type of game.

In it you play the sun.

You roam around space, burning up asteroids and collecting planets into your gravitational field. Planets can then capture asteroids and turn them into moons. By pressing X you can cause your planets to absorb their moons (to level them up?) and then, when there are no moons left, to absorb the planets into yourself. The purpose of this is unclear.

It might be worth a purchase to see where the game is in all of this. As the demo stands it’s just a pretty physics toy.

The Expected

Pixel Man

Sturgeon’s Law states that 90% of any medium is complete and total crap. It should be expected that the majority of these XBox Indie games are going to be just terrible. I downloaded Pixel Man because I like pixels and men and the game billed itself as “an experiment in minimalist/retro game design” I enjoyed Passage and Don’t Look Back so I figured I’d give Pixel Man a chance. My mistake.

The game is as basic as can be. You maneuver the pixel man to a yellow square while avoiding the red squares. The pixel man can jump and… that’s it. There’s no music, no story, no unique mechanics. Nothing. The game promises thirty levels but if they are as generic and simple as the ten in the demo (which I’m convinced are) then there’s absolutely no conceivable reason to pay even the most micro of payments for this game.

I could randomly pick any game on Newgrounds and come up with something better. Pixel Man especially pales in the light of Time Fukc, a wonderful Newground flash game I played on a whim last week. It has the same premise (get the guy to the place) but does so with so much more style and wit. Sorry, Super Gravelyn Bros, your game is the most asinine thing I’ve experienced all year. I hope you submitted this game as a joke, because it absolutely fails on every other level. There’s a lot of potential in the Indie Marketplace for great heights. Games like this bring it down.

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3 Comments

Filed under Games

3 responses to “Demo-nday

  1. GAH TIME FUKC IS SO GOOD.

    But, man, I gotta get my roomies to buy Weapon of Choice or something.

  2. Thanks for at least trying the demo for Pixel Man. I do appreciate that.

    The levels do become more interesting and challenging later on. I’ll admit our trial is a bit flawed in that respect. I’ll also admit that the game is super basic (that was the point) and not for everyone, so if it’s not your thing, that’s cool.

    Again, thanks for giving us a try at least. :)

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