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Archive for the ‘Xbox Indie’ Category

Spotlight On: MagicalTimeBean

March 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Games Made: Soulcaster I & II, Escape Goat 

Today I would like to take a moment to shine a spotlight on an up and coming indie developer who has made some incredibly well crafted games in the past few years, and is bar none one of the best developers currently inhabiting the Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace. If you’ve got a 360 and you haven’t tried either Escape Goat or the Soulcaster games, you’re really missing out on a couple of the absolute best experiences on the platform. In this article I’ll briefly go over the outstanding games that he’s made, then at the end there’s a Q&A where we get to hear from the man himself. Read more…

Escape Goat [REVIEW]

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Escape Goat: release November 2nd, 2011
Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

An increasingly popular subgenre of late has been the skill based platformer. Games like Super Meat Boy, Dustforce, Splosion Man, and a handful of others, have taken the age old genre of platforming off of it’s life support, and given gamers everywhere a reason to care about it again. Popular as they are though, not everyone can get behind these two-dimensional tests of acrobatic showmanship, and would rather opt in to a slower paced platformer, something that retains the challenge, yet drops the insane obstacles. Escape Goat, a puzzle platformer from developer MagicalTimeBean, is exactly the title to fill that role.

In Escape Goat you play the role of a purple Goat who has been imprisoned for witchcraft (what the what!?), and somehow, you must find a way to escape. Along the way you’ll also encounter a mouse who has the ability to switch places with you by way of a teleportation hat. The game starts you off in a brief series of tutorial levels to help show you the ropes, and once you’re finished, it drops you in to a hub world where you have a little more freedom concerning the paths you take. There’s a total of nine main worlds, each with six levels to overcome, and each with their own unique themes and ideas. When you first begin there will only be two “worlds” unlocked for you, but each time you conquer one of them, it unlocks two more. After you’ve completed a minimum of seven of these areas, you’ll unlock the final door, which is an extra lengthy ten stage endeavor. Read more…

Soulcaster I & II [REVIEW]

February 15, 2012 4 comments

Soulcaster: released March 1st, 2010
Soulcaster II: released December 14th, 2010
Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Platforms: Windows, Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

For this review I’ll be covering two separate games, the original Soulcaster, and it’s sequel Soulcaster II. They’ve been longtime favorites of mine on the XBLIG Marketplace, and what with their recent launch on the Windows OS, it’s high time I finally show these games some love. The Soulcaster games are an interesting blend of Action RPG and Strategy mechanics that manage to take the hack n’ slash out of the dungeon crawler, and still maintain a fun, unique take on the genre. I’ll be starting off of course, with the original Soulcaster.

What immediately makes these games stand out, is the interesting gameplay mechanics they employ. On the surface it may resemble an old school Gauntlet game, and to an extent, that’s fairly accurate. Where it differs is in the execution. Instead of choosing a class to play as and going to town on baddies by way of your own combative prowess, you instead take the role of a Soulcaster, who uses something called a soul orb to summon “images” of great warriors. You first encounter these warriors by way of a trio of statues, each made in their likeness. From there, the spirits (or whatever they are) of these warriors grant you the ability to summon images of themselves which will aid you during combat, assisting you to thwart the evil that has cursed their land. Read more…

Monday Night Combat [REVIEW]

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Monday Night Combat: released January 24th, 2011
Developer: Uber Entertainment
Platforms: Windows, Xbox Live Arcade

If I were forced to describe Monday Night Combat in one sentence, it would read something like, “It’s as if Team Fortress 2 and Defense of the Ancients had a baby, and all of that baby’s friends growing up were tower defense games, and despite the crazy mish-mash of cultures, that baby still grew up to be a perfectly adjusted member of society, and in fact excelled at whatever it put it’s mind to!” Okay, yes, that’s a helluva sentence, but it seems somehow appropriate considering that Monday Night Combat is one helluva game. Competitive shooters are a pretty tough nut to crack, so it’s understandable that developers would want to do whatever they can to differentiate their title from the pack, but blending a competitive classed based shooter, with tower defense, and DotA? As insane as it sounds, that’s exactly what Uber Entertainment have done here, and it works amazingly well!

The basic gist of the game is that it’s some kind of futuristic bloodsport tv show. Games are played in huge, packed stadium arenas, there are announcers, mascots, sponsors, and of course there’s Pit Girl, who is the game’s token eye candy/cheerleader. There are two notably different modes of play to choose from, those being Blitz, which is the game’s dedicated tower defense mode, and then the meat of the experience which is Crossfire, Monday Night Combat’s shooter-DotA hybrid mode. Read more…

Owlboy [PREVIEW]

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment


Owlboy: release date TBA 2012
Developer: D-Pad Studio
Platforms: Windows, Xbox Live (Indie or Arcade not yet determined)

 [NOTE: THIS PREVIEW IS FOR THE DEMO OF VERSION 1.01]

Owlboy is going to be one of the best indie games of 2012. Sometimes you play a game and it’s great, you have a lot of fun with it. Sometimes you play a game and it’s amazing, and you know you’ll always remember it pleasantly. Then other times you play a game, and you just can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sheer outstanding quality of it. From top to bottom, Owlboy is truly a first-class experience. The visuals are beyond outstanding, the sound design is absolutely killer, and the gameplay is a perfect mixture of action, adventure, platforming, and puzzle solving. There are some truly stellar titles on the way this year, and if you didn’t already have Owlboy on your list of names to watch out for, do so now.

Right off the bat I have to give kudos to D-Pad Studios for the visuals. The artwork in this game is truly striking and despite the overall quality of the game, I feel like this is what will get buzzed about the most. That’s not to imply that the visuals are the only buzzworthy aspect of the game, just that damn do they look nice! The attention to detail, the vibrant colors, the stylish designs, it’s just phenomenal. Nothing I say is really going to do the visuals justice, so just let the media speak for itself. There’s a trailer at the end of this preview and I’ll also put a link to D-Pad’s site so you can download the demo and see for yourself. It’s probably better that way as these things are always best experienced first hand. Read more…

Asteroids Do Concern Me [REVIEW]

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment


Asteroids Do Concern Me: released December 7th, 2010
Developer: Evil Robot Logic
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

Simplicity in gaming is an interesting topic. This last generation of consoles in particular has seen the term transformed a bit, now being associated with the “casualization” of the industry. When a developer wants to take a long established franchise that is cherished by many a veteran game enthusiast and alter it to appeal to a more casual audience, what do they do? They simplify things. Unfortunately this has led to the word “simple” now being synonymous with “casual” or, in many cases, “bad.” Asteroids Do Concern Me is without a doubt, the very definition of simple, but even more than that, it’s a fantastic example of how simplicity doesn’t always translate to poor game design, despite the unfortunate stigma that comes along with it.

The core gameplay in Asteroids Do Concern Me isn’t terribly unique, in that it is very clearly derivative of many flash games that you can find online for free. The goal in Asteroids Do Concern Me is to navigate your ship through a field of asteroids, trying to travel the furthest distance possible. If you’ve ever played Robot Unicorn Attack, then you’re already familiar with the idea. So then what makes this game worth your time? Hilarious writing, outstanding presentation, and just enough nuance in the gameplay to keep things interesting. Read more…

Cosmic Caverns [REVIEW]

December 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Cosmic Caverns: released April 29th, 2011
Developer: Maximinus
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

When I was a kid, there was a game on the NES that I absolutely had a blast playing. I usually had to play using the assistance of a Game Genie of course, being as I was pretty young, but damn if I didn’t still love every second of my time with Solar Jetman. You piloted a space ship around various alien locales, navigating caverns and obstacles, retrieving items that then needed to be brought back to your base ship, and generally just tried your damnedest to survive the trip. And that’s all well and good, but what made it unique was the control scheme. Instead of using the usual left goes left, up goes up, etc. style control setup, Solar Jetman used one button as your ships thrust, and then left and right on the D-Pad were used to tilt the ship one way or another. Need to move right? Tilt the ship right and hit thrust. Going up? Make sure you’re totally vertical and hit your thrusters. But what’s this!? You’re about to crash in to the ceiling! Quick, rotate the ship 180 degrees and hit the thrusters full blast! It was a totally unique experience to me, and despite all my years of gaming since then, despite the literally hundreds of titles I’ve played since my golden years with the NES, I have still never really encountered any other games that played like Solar Jetman. That being said, I’m sure most of you have connected the dots and guessed that, “Hey! I’ll bet the game he’s reviewing right now is actually quite similar to this Solar Jetman thing he keeps mentioning!” And ya know what dear reader? You are quite right.

Cosmic Caverns is a game where you control a space ship and you must navigate various caverns, most of which I’m assuming are of the cosmic variety. The game handles just like the previously mentioned Solar Jetman. You must rotate your ship and then hit the thrusters to move in whatever direction the ship is facing. It adds a whole other layer of complexity to navigating these levels and it’s tons of fun to do so. Traveling through narrow tunnels becomes something of an ordeal in Cosmic Caverns since, if you hit the thrust too hard, you ram in to the ceiling, and if you start moving too fast you’ll need to rotate and thrust the ship in the opposite direction to slow your momentum. The unique control style present in this game is what makes it so exceptional and interesting to play. Read more…