As a result of my semi-fanaticism for Xbox Live Indie Games, I've decided to try and review an Indie Game a day for the next month or so. Now I'm sure there will be times when I'm not able to review a game, but I will try my best to stay on top of it. I have 32 indie games at the moment, and am constantly expanding my library, so there's no shortage of games. I just thought this would be a fun experiment, and it would be great to get the word out about some of the lesser known gems on the Marketplace.
So for today, I'll check out Star Crisis, a side-scrolling shooter from Excalibur Studios.
Star CrisisKicking off this blogging attempt is an 80 point game known as Star Crisis. It isn't an incredibly ambitious game, but it does succeed at being an entertaining shooter of moderate length, especially considering the price at which the game is being offered. The game is only five stages long, although its retro feel and style, excellent music, and two player cooperative mode, so it's important to know what you're getting for the price paid. While there is an attempt at innovative gameplay (the inclusion of gravity, and a jet booster that causes the player to move up and down; controlled by either the left trigger or left stick), this seems like more of a hindrance than a unique aspect of the game.
A traditional side-scrolling shooter, there's not much that can be said about Star Crisis' gameplay. Sure, you have weapon power-ups, shields, and life, but there aren't many aspects that haven't been seen in a game before. The only notable aspect is the aforementioned gravity and jet booster, and these don't seem like they could have been utilized in any interesting way. Again, it just really seems as though the game would have been better without this aspect, as it makes it difficult to dodge enemies, lasers, and even difficult to pick-up the swift power-ups as the float across the screen.
At only five stages long, Star Crisis is not an incredibly long adventure and can be easily completed in one sitting on even the hardest difficulty. Like most of the game, it lives up to expectations, but doesn't surpass them. Difficulty varies from incredibly easy to moderately difficult, with Easy and Normal modes keeping the game peaceful, while Hard mode is not that much more difficult. The game also has an Endless mode, but without online leaderboards it doesn't really serve much of a purpose.
One of the best parts about Star Crisis, and one of its main selling points, is the fact that the composer, Magnus Pålsson, also composed the chiptune soundtrack of indie darling VVVVVV. This gives the game an excellent retro feel, and complements the 8-bit styled graphics. Pålsson's influence on the soundtrack is clear, sounding a lot like VVVVVV's soundtrack (known as PPPPPP)--which is in no way a bad thing. It would be awesome if tracks from Star Crisis could be included in PPPPPP as something of a bonus, because these songs rank up there with my favorites on PPPPPP.
Star Crisis isn't a bad game, in fact it's a pretty good game. Sure, there are better games you could buy for a dollar on the Xbox Live Indie Games, but if you do decide to pick up this game, it won't be put to waste. The excellent soundtrack alone is worth the dollar entry fee, and the minor gameplay, difficulty, and length flaws shouldn't be enough to deter potential buyers. This game probably shouldn't be your first indie game if you've yet to venture into the frightening indie game marketplace. Once you've purchased several of the marketplace's best offerings, however, Star Crisis is a must-buy.