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Nitronic Rush [REVIEW]

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Nitronic Rush: released November 11th, 2011
Developer: Students at DigiPen Institute of Technology
Platforms: Windows

This holiday season has been a brutal one. In the past month I’ve had my attention divided between Arkham City, Skyrim, Tribes: Ascend, Diablo 3, Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Dungeon Defenders, and Gears of War 3. Not to mention the titles I have yet to get around to, such as Assassin’s Creed Revelations, No More Room in Hell, Serious Sam 3, DotA 2, and Saint’s Row: The Third. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have an absolutely maddening number of games in my backlog, but holiday seasons such as this one are just murder. The sheer quantity of top notch titles at my disposal is a little intimidating.

With all that in mind, it’s nothing short of a miracle I ended up even remembering Nitronic Rush, but it’s a damn good thing I did. Let me start off by saying that my absolute favorite racing games of all time are Rush 2049 and F-Zero GX. I could go on for hours about these two games, and I have been lamenting the lack of any real sequels to them for years now. So imagine my surprise when I finally boot up Nitronic Rush and it turns out to be the very definition of a spiritual successor to those games, Rush in particular. In fact, if you ever played and enjoyed either of those games to any extent, stop reading and just go download it now. The link will be at the bottom of this review, Just GO. It’s a free download, and you will not regret it. Read more…

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Vorpal [REVIEW]

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Vorpal: released December 30th, 2010
Developer: Red Wolf
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

More than any other genre, this generation of games has seen a huge resurgence of platformers. Games like Braid, N+, Super Meat Boy, and countless others have done a phenomenal job of not only keeping the genre alive, but of also keeping it relevant. This generation of platformers is home to some of the most brutally difficult, challenging, and rewarding games of the last decade. For gamers who have long yearned for a return to the days where completing a game could be considered a real, honest to goodness accomplishment, this is outstanding news. That being said, the platformer isn’t the only genre of old that has seen a resurgence in this generation. The shmup (short for shoot’em up) has had a less celebrated comeback, but make no mistake, this new generation of shmups is just as creative, demanding, and satisfying as this new generation of platformers.

Although platformers have had a history of housing some pretty difficult games, seasoned gamers will tell you that traditionally, the shmup has held the title of most insane average difficulty. The genre as a whole is known for not exactly being a stroll in the park, and one subgenre in particular could be considered unquestionably the most ridiculous and over-the-top difficult of them all. I speak of course, of the bullet hell shooter. Games like Ikaruga, Triggerheart Exelica, or really anything from developer Cave, who specializes in the creation of the most sadistic bullet hell shooters around. These games, these tests of skill and willpower, will throw innumerable waves of bullets at you, in all shapes, all sizes, from all directions. Typically they’ll come in a variety of patterns that you must navigate, sometimes having barely a hairs breadth to squeeze through. The miniscule movements and insanely fast swarms of bullets can make these games almost mesmerizing when observed being played by someone who really knows what they’re doing. Read more…

The Impossible Game [REVIEW]

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

The Impossible Game: released November 23rd, 2009
Developer:  FlukeDude
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

Impossible:
Not capable of being accomplished;
Unacceptable; Intolerable;
Extremely difficult to deal with or tolerate.

All of these definitions and then some are more than a little appropriate when describing the aptly titled, The Impossible Game. It’s risky business naming your game something as foreboding as “impossible,” but I can confirm by way of first-hand experience that while it may not truly be impossible, for many it will certainly seem that way as this game more than earns its title. I’ll also be lumping the level pack in with this review since they’re all essentially the same game.

In The Impossible Game, you play as the little orange square that could. He is on a quest to journey across some pretty strange lands; lands filled with dangers such as random drop offs, spikes, platforms appearing out of nowhere, and a case of a bipolar gravitational pull. But, despite the certainty that he can, and will, die hundreds upon hundreds of times, he just never gives up. Now that’s determination. Read more…

Groov [REVIEW]

November 23, 2011 2 comments

Groov: released January 9th, 2009
Developer: Funkmasonry Industries
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

It seems as though many people tend to underestimate the potential power that a well composed soundtrack wields in the gaming world, either to immerse the player, or possibly even lull them to sleep. Having a good rhythm to get lost in, a fast paced track to get the adrenalin going, or a haunting orchestral piece to set the mood is something many gamers may take for granted, but it doesn’t make them any less important. In fact, to accentuate my point, the game I’m reviewing today harvests nearly all of its enjoyment solely by the charming and creative way that it makes use of its soundtrack.

Yes, Groov is technically a twin-stick shooter, but that’s not why you’re going to enjoy it so damn much. Why would it be? There are a million, trillion, zillion twin-stick shooters saturating the market right now, so in order for one of these titles to really stick out, they’ve got to be doing something pretty unique or outstanding, and Groov stands up to these requirements by focusing on one key aspect. This game is all about the music. Read more…

Zombie Estate [REVIEW]

November 23, 2011 1 comment

Zombie Estate: released May 15th, 2010
Developer:  JeremyVerchick48
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

Zombies and twin stick shooters. Both are synonymous with the XBL Indie games scene, because quite frankly, they’re everywhere. And why not? Twin stick shooters are easy enough to design, and zombies tend to make almost anything appear at least three times cooler than it actually is. What maths did I use to figure that out, you ask? Well I’d love to tell you, but I’m afraid my maths are probably too mathy for the common man (or woman) to really understand, so maybe you just don’t worry about the maths. It’s legit, I swear.

Here we have Zombie Estate. A twin stick shooter where you walk around somebody’s property, blasting away at all manner of undead, monstrous beings, all the while earning cash and upgrading to bigger and badder weapons so as to better demolish the never-ending waves of baddies that come at you. On the surface, it’s pretty standard fare. Nothing terribly unique that stands out about this game, other than the fact that it’s inexplicably addicting. When I first fired this title up, me and my girlfriend got completely sucked in to it, just blasting away at the hoards of undead, upgrading and restocking in between waves, until eventually we succumbed. It’s simple, but it works. Read more…

Dungeon Defenders [REVIEW]

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Dungeon Defenders: Released October 19th, 2011
Developer: Trendy Entertainment
Platforms: Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network

Every once in awhile we happen across games that completely catch us by surprise. Maybe it was a game we’d never heard of before and just happened to see at a buddy’s house, or maybe it was something we expected to have a little mild fun with, only to have it turn around and absolutely shatter our expectations. Regardless of what events lead us to finding these titles, I think we can all agree that it’s a pretty magical experience when we do, and having just finished almost an entire day straight of playing Dungeon Defenders, I can honestly say that this game had me utterly enchanted.

Dungeon Defenders takes two of my favorite (and most addicting) genres, Tower Defense and the Action RPG, and smacks them together into sweet, sweet harmony. Tower Defense games are an unhealthy habit for me, as I tend to love them just a little too much, but when a developer successfully marries Tower D. to another of my favorite genres, I just lose it. It’s a rare occurrence, only ever notably happening in games like Sanctum and to a lesser extent, Monday Night Combat. Indie developers have always been inextricably drawn to the genre of defending towers, so it seems appropriate that they seem to be the ones to really push the genre in new directions, first with those previously mentioned titles, and now with this game. Read more…