Indie | XBL Indie Games Round-Up – 28/07/09
By Matthew Reynolds
Community Games is dead. Long live the Indie.
The service has finally started the transition to ‘Xbox Live Indie Games’, with the name and new pricing scheme in full effect. Gone is the 800 Points option, bringing 400, 240 and even 80 price points, mirroring the runaway success of $1 games on the iPhone app store. Game updates now occur automatically, avatars can be used, and the doors are open to new regions, including Japan (we look at the first game here). Surprising changes, the sort that are needed to revive the service – and time will tell if they will work.
Wow, that was fast, eh? We already have our first Japanese XNA title, a horizontal scrolling shoot-em-up called Crescendo Symphony. (The title is actually in Japanese, so queuing it up online might be a tad easier.) Despite the description and title text, it’s actually very friendly to use, with ‘Engrish’ menus and instructions to get you started.
The shooting controls are simple, with three attack types; there’s a basic dividing shot, a special attack that pours a can of bullet-hell onto the screen, and a mid-range shot activated by powering up your shooter bar. Taking down dozens of pink fairies, their positions are predictable and simple enough for the first few minutes, before the screw is turned and things become notably more difficult. This is partly due to the uncertain hitbox around your floating anime girl, making later screens difficult to navigate. Those curious to see what kind of crazy bosses it has will have to fork out for the full version too – we didn’t make it within the trial limit.
It’s certainly an impressive looking game, using a delicate mix of crisp anime sprites and 3D backgrounds, and the fact that its one of the few shmups on a downloadable service makes it of interest, even if its shooting mechanics aren’t particularly notable or deep. Chances are you’ve already downloaded the trail out of sheer interest anyway – we have no idea how someone managed to make a Japanese XNA so quickly either.
idle han [link]
After a rather impressive 6-2 win over my brother on Pro Evolution Soccer, I jumped into this in high spirits, and I wasn’t disappointed. TabeBALL is a charming and faithful reproduction of table football, where the sticks become your hands (left controls goal and midfield, the right defence and forwards) as you attempt to smash the ball into the opposite goal. And for those who aren’t overly ambidextrous, you can just map both to either stick.
It’s slow-paced and perhaps more controllable than the real thing, but it has that madcap feel like a good game of table football should, including those rage-inducing unstoppable shots that backfire into your own net. That doesn’t stop the camera following the ball and jittering at every bounce, but doesn’t dampen the pleasant cel-shaded visuals that go hand-in-hand with its simplistic charm.
Although it’s doubtful you’ll want to play against the computer very often (no Master League here, obviously) that doesn’t excuse the dire AI. It managed to score three own goals in each of my games, and there were several instances where the defenders just passed it around before resigning it to the back of the net. And that was on Normal; on Easy the table would probably be on a slant. But while the physics aren’t perfect and the action isn’t particularly fast-paced, for a couple of quid this would make a fun diversion to its retail cousins.
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