Indie Games Explosion!

So I recently picked up a bunch of Indie Games with my latest 1600 points card. Here are some brief impressions on all of the games I bought. If you guys like this, I may do it more with some other Indie Games I'm interested in picking up.

Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp

 Johnny Platform's charm lies in its simplistic premise.

  • Price: 80 ($1.00)

The first Indie Game that I picked up, Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp is a simplistic platforming game that was originally released as a homebrew game for the Nintendo DS. The game stars Johnny Platform, a coffee addict who you must guide through stages, collecting coffee, killing enemies, and then going through the door.

The premise is simple; once you kill all of the enemies in the stage, the door opens and you're able to go to the next stage. There are well over 30 stages to traverse, with progressive difficulty. This simplistic premise works for the game, and variety in the level design (including introduction of new concepts) keeps the gameplay fresh. For $1.00 (80 points), this game comes highly recommended (I believe that's the price, I already bought it so I can't check again).

I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES!!1

 I made... a game... WITH ZOOOOMBIES IN IT!

  • Price: 80 ($1.00)

I doubt I even have to tell you what Z0MBIES!!1 is all about, due to its fame as a quality Indie game by now. A dual-stick shooter, Z0MBIES has a wide variety of enemies to blow away with a plethora of power-ups and weapons. The game is very entertaining and funny in its presentation, using "l33t" for everything (no game over, but rather a proclamation of "DEDZ!!1"). This, as well as the constantly changing background and increasingly ridiculous enemies really give the game a sense of style that make it worth the dollar.

The game doesn't have a huge amount of depth (only one level), but beating old high scores is just as addictive as it was in Geometry Wars. I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!1 is one of the best 80 points you can spend on the Indie Games Marketplace.

Miner Dig Deep

 The deeper you dig, the bigger the game becomes.
  • Price: 80 ($1.00)

Another game that costs only a dollar, this game is possibly the deepest (pun intended) experience that a dollar can purchase on the Indie Games Marketplace. Like most of the good Indie Games, the concept that Miner Dig Deep is founded on is simple. However, the gameplay expands beyond the simplicity into an interesting and involved (not to mention relaxing) experience.

In Miner Dig Deep, you play as a miner who must, believe it or not, dig deep. Collecting resources is really the whole point of digging. After collecting enough resources, they can be traded in for money, while can purchase tools to help dig even deeper or to hold more kerosene in your lantern (which allows you to actually see where resources are). There is little to no challenge in Miner Dig Deep, but the simplistic concept and presentation make Miner Dig Deep an absolute steal for 80 points.

Arkedo Series 01 - JUMP!

 Jump's old school challenge is part of what makes it great.
  • Price: 240 ($3.00)

The first of Arkedo's "one game a month" Indie Game experiment is a faux-retro (with great looking 2D sprites) platformer starring a character resembling Pitfall Harry. Jump has 30 levels of classic platforming. The goal of each level is to collect all of the bombs before the timer ticks to zero. In some cases, there is a prerequisite, such as collecting a certain amount of money before picking up the bombs.

One key thing that Jump excels at is tight, responsive controls. This is an absolute must with a platformer such as Jump, because most levels require pinpoint accuracy. While this is easy to learn, it is tough to master as Jump has an old-school challenge to it. Not only do you have to play through increasingly difficult levels, but losing all of your lives takes you all the way back to the beginning. A staple to Arkedo's games, Jump has a hilarious sense of humor, encouraging you when you die, jokes when you pause, tongue-in-cheek level names, and much, much more. Despite any shortcomings, Jump is a fantastic game, and a great way for Arkedo to kick off their "one game a month" experiment.

Arkedo Series 02 - SWAP!

 The art style of Swap is fantastic.
  • Price: 240 ($3.00)

Described as a "dual stick puzzle game," Swap is basically a Tetris Attack clone, with several twists. The most important difference between Tetris Attack and Swap is the ability to also switch tiles vertically. This allows for combos up to eleven blocks, rather than the seven allowed in Tetris Attack. In addition, Swap has a variety of extra items and power-ups to keep gameplay fresh as the game goes on.

My major gripe with Swap is the very slippery control. The left stick moves the cursor and the right stick switches blocks. However, the cursor moves so fast that it's possible to slide it too far. This can end up tripping you when you're playing on higher difficulties, but on lower difficulties it's not too much of a problem. With Arkedo's track record (Big Bang Mini, Nervous Brickdown, Jump), it comes as no doubt that the art style is stunning (especially for an Indie Game), with smooth and bright colors complementing the world of the game.

Arkedo Series 003 - PIXEL!

 Everything in Pixel is pure quality.
  • Price: 240 ($3.00)

The true gem of the Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace, Pixel is an absolute masterpiece. Everything from the fantastic sense of humor to the blithe music that accompanies each level. Pixel is much better than even most Xbox Live Arcade games, and I would probably buy this as an 800 point game.

Pixel is a platformer, but it differs from traditional platformers in some major ways. Unlike Jump, Pixel takes place across large levels, instead of smaller ones. The star of Pixel, the titular Pixel the Cat, can run, jump, stomp, and meow. The biggest difference, and the aspect that makes Pixel unique, is the ability to zoom in on particular objects of the environment, and then alter it by finding an "activation pixel" inside of the sprite. For example, zooming in on a tree could give the player the ability to chop it down, creating a pathway for Pixel the Cat.

Like Jump, Pixel's control is tight and responsive, a key aspect of platformers. Even when moving fast, Pixel responds to movement quickly. The game also retains Arkedo's sense of humor, and possibly has some of the funniest lines I've ever seen in a game. This happy-go-lucky style paired with innovative game mechanics, fantastic music, and great platforming makes Pixel the single best game on the Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace (of the games I've played).

Johnny Platform Saves Xmas!

 Saving Xmas takes Johnny Platform to a variety of levels.
  • Price: 240 ($3.00)

The sequel to Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp really comes down to one factor; if you liked the original, you'll like this. Saves Xmas gives Johnny Platform new abilities (rolling, double jumps), updated graphics, and remixed music. The general gameplay stays the same; collect coffee, kill enemies, go into the door at the end. Other twists are added, including environmental aspects (for example, fire) and improved stage design.

Saves Xmas is a good game, especially for $3.00. It's not the best experience that you can get on the Indie Games Marketplace, but it's up there. If you're looking for a great platformer that has a decent length (I believe the game has over 100 levels) and a classic, fun appeal, then Saves Xmas is for you.

Fishing Girl

 I'm a sucker for stylistic graphics, and in that Fishing Girl shines.
  • Price: 80 ($1.00)

As with most well-done Xbox Live Indie Games, Fishing Girl's charm is in its simplicity. Fishing Girl centers around a girl and a boy, and the goal of the game is to get the two back together by building up your fishing rod and then reeling in the island where the boy is. Like Miner Dig Deep, the best thing about the game is the constant upgrading and collecting of items. There is little else to the gameplay; you cast your rod and catch fish.

The art style of the game is absolutely fantastic, with great animation and character design. While the game is very short (probably around five to ten minutes), there are challenges that help the game to have some replayability. The game does have some shortcomings (I don't see why it's necessary to hit a certain area to buy things), but even with these minor flaws Fishing Girl is a well-made game and well worth the dollar for which it sells.

bricks4ever

  • Price: 80 ($1.00)
     Psychedelic mode is A LOT brighter.

Arkanoid clones are a dime a dozen, but bricks4ever has some sense of charm to it. Just about everything in the game has been seen before (power-ups, the classic block crushing gameplay). What makes bricks4ever unique is the design and placement of the blocks. Instead of just having them in set rows and columns, the blocks are occasionally placed behind other impenetrable blocks, adding another layer of challenge. bricks4ever includes several other unique features that make it interesting and fun. There is a dual-stick mode and a co-op mode, both of which work very well.

I have to at least make a passing mention to a couple features of bricks4ever that make it absolutely worth the 80 points that it costs. Somehow the developers of the game managed to make a connection between block breaking and the Big Bang (don't ask me, I'm still confusing). Additionally, there is a visual feature to make the graphics "psychedelic," which makes the glows of the blocks even brighter. These few, seemingly minor things are what gives bricks4ever its uniqueness and charm, and while it's not incredible, for 80 points you can't go wrong.

Squid Yes! Not So Octopus!

  • Price: 80 ($1.00)
     Fast-paced gameplay and bright, colorful graphics make Squid Yes a great purchase.

Before I begin describing the game, you need a little background. Squid Yes began as a forum joke when a user said he wanted a game where the maximum score is 9 (joking about Giga Wing's possibility for scores in the trillions). So, another user set about singlehandedly creating such a game. In Squid Yes, the maximum score is 9, with normal enemies giving you very small point increments (~0.000100 or even lower).

Anyway, onto the game. Technically a dual-stick shooter (the left stick moves the character and the A button shoots), Squid Yes has great stylistic graphics and fast-paced gameplay. The game is not easy by any means, and it isn't a complete Geometry Wars clone, like some games on the Indie Games Marketplace. Squid Yes isn't a game where you'll sit down and play for hours on end, but is better in bite sized amounts of gameplay.
7 Comments
8 Comments
Posted by StarFoxA

So I recently picked up a bunch of Indie Games with my latest 1600 points card. Here are some brief impressions on all of the games I bought. If you guys like this, I may do it more with some other Indie Games I'm interested in picking up.

Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp

 Johnny Platform's charm lies in its simplistic premise.

  • Price: 80 ($1.00)

The first Indie Game that I picked up, Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp is a simplistic platforming game that was originally released as a homebrew game for the Nintendo DS. The game stars Johnny Platform, a coffee addict who you must guide through stages, collecting coffee, killing enemies, and then going through the door.

The premise is simple; once you kill all of the enemies in the stage, the door opens and you're able to go to the next stage. There are well over 30 stages to traverse, with progressive difficulty. This simplistic premise works for the game, and variety in the level design (including introduction of new concepts) keeps the gameplay fresh. For $1.00 (80 points), this game comes highly recommended (I believe that's the price, I already bought it so I can't check again).

I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES!!1

 I made... a game... WITH ZOOOOMBIES IN IT!

  • Price: 80 ($1.00)

I doubt I even have to tell you what Z0MBIES!!1 is all about, due to its fame as a quality Indie game by now. A dual-stick shooter, Z0MBIES has a wide variety of enemies to blow away with a plethora of power-ups and weapons. The game is very entertaining and funny in its presentation, using "l33t" for everything (no game over, but rather a proclamation of "DEDZ!!1"). This, as well as the constantly changing background and increasingly ridiculous enemies really give the game a sense of style that make it worth the dollar.

The game doesn't have a huge amount of depth (only one level), but beating old high scores is just as addictive as it was in Geometry Wars. I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!1 is one of the best 80 points you can spend on the Indie Games Marketplace.

Miner Dig Deep

 The deeper you dig, the bigger the game becomes.
  • Price: 80 ($1.00)

Another game that costs only a dollar, this game is possibly the deepest (pun intended) experience that a dollar can purchase on the Indie Games Marketplace. Like most of the good Indie Games, the concept that Miner Dig Deep is founded on is simple. However, the gameplay expands beyond the simplicity into an interesting and involved (not to mention relaxing) experience.

In Miner Dig Deep, you play as a miner who must, believe it or not, dig deep. Collecting resources is really the whole point of digging. After collecting enough resources, they can be traded in for money, while can purchase tools to help dig even deeper or to hold more kerosene in your lantern (which allows you to actually see where resources are). There is little to no challenge in Miner Dig Deep, but the simplistic concept and presentation make Miner Dig Deep an absolute steal for 80 points.

Arkedo Series 01 - JUMP!

 Jump's old school challenge is part of what makes it great.
  • Price: 240 ($3.00)

The first of Arkedo's "one game a month" Indie Game experiment is a faux-retro (with great looking 2D sprites) platformer starring a character resembling Pitfall Harry. Jump has 30 levels of classic platforming. The goal of each level is to collect all of the bombs before the timer ticks to zero. In some cases, there is a prerequisite, such as collecting a certain amount of money before picking up the bombs.

One key thing that Jump excels at is tight, responsive controls. This is an absolute must with a platformer such as Jump, because most levels require pinpoint accuracy. While this is easy to learn, it is tough to master as Jump has an old-school challenge to it. Not only do you have to play through increasingly difficult levels, but losing all of your lives takes you all the way back to the beginning. A staple to Arkedo's games, Jump has a hilarious sense of humor, encouraging you when you die, jokes when you pause, tongue-in-cheek level names, and much, much more. Despite any shortcomings, Jump is a fantastic game, and a great way for Arkedo to kick off their "one game a month" experiment.

Arkedo Series 02 - SWAP!

 The art style of Swap is fantastic.
  • Price: 240 ($3.00)

Described as a "dual stick puzzle game," Swap is basically a Tetris Attack clone, with several twists. The most important difference between Tetris Attack and Swap is the ability to also switch tiles vertically. This allows for combos up to eleven blocks, rather than the seven allowed in Tetris Attack. In addition, Swap has a variety of extra items and power-ups to keep gameplay fresh as the game goes on.

My major gripe with Swap is the very slippery control. The left stick moves the cursor and the right stick switches blocks. However, the cursor moves so fast that it's possible to slide it too far. This can end up tripping you when you're playing on higher difficulties, but on lower difficulties it's not too much of a problem. With Arkedo's track record (Big Bang Mini, Nervous Brickdown, Jump), it comes as no doubt that the art style is stunning (especially for an Indie Game), with smooth and bright colors complementing the world of the game.

Arkedo Series 003 - PIXEL!

 Everything in Pixel is pure quality.
  • Price: 240 ($3.00)

The true gem of the Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace, Pixel is an absolute masterpiece. Everything from the fantastic sense of humor to the blithe music that accompanies each level. Pixel is much better than even most Xbox Live Arcade games, and I would probably buy this as an 800 point game.

Pixel is a platformer, but it differs from traditional platformers in some major ways. Unlike Jump, Pixel takes place across large levels, instead of smaller ones. The star of Pixel, the titular Pixel the Cat, can run, jump, stomp, and meow. The biggest difference, and the aspect that makes Pixel unique, is the ability to zoom in on particular objects of the environment, and then alter it by finding an "activation pixel" inside of the sprite. For example, zooming in on a tree could give the player the ability to chop it down, creating a pathway for Pixel the Cat.

Like Jump, Pixel's control is tight and responsive, a key aspect of platformers. Even when moving fast, Pixel responds to movement quickly. The game also retains Arkedo's sense of humor, and possibly has some of the funniest lines I've ever seen in a game. This happy-go-lucky style paired with innovative game mechanics, fantastic music, and great platforming makes Pixel the single best game on the Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace (of the games I've played).

Johnny Platform Saves Xmas!

 Saving Xmas takes Johnny Platform to a variety of levels.
  • Price: 240 ($3.00)

The sequel to Johnny Platform's Biscuit Romp really comes down to one factor; if you liked the original, you'll like this. Saves Xmas gives Johnny Platform new abilities (rolling, double jumps), updated graphics, and remixed music. The general gameplay stays the same; collect coffee, kill enemies, go into the door at the end. Other twists are added, including environmental aspects (for example, fire) and improved stage design.

Saves Xmas is a good game, especially for $3.00. It's not the best experience that you can get on the Indie Games Marketplace, but it's up there. If you're looking for a great platformer that has a decent length (I believe the game has over 100 levels) and a classic, fun appeal, then Saves Xmas is for you.

Fishing Girl

 I'm a sucker for stylistic graphics, and in that Fishing Girl shines.
  • Price: 80 ($1.00)

As with most well-done Xbox Live Indie Games, Fishing Girl's charm is in its simplicity. Fishing Girl centers around a girl and a boy, and the goal of the game is to get the two back together by building up your fishing rod and then reeling in the island where the boy is. Like Miner Dig Deep, the best thing about the game is the constant upgrading and collecting of items. There is little else to the gameplay; you cast your rod and catch fish.

The art style of the game is absolutely fantastic, with great animation and character design. While the game is very short (probably around five to ten minutes), there are challenges that help the game to have some replayability. The game does have some shortcomings (I don't see why it's necessary to hit a certain area to buy things), but even with these minor flaws Fishing Girl is a well-made game and well worth the dollar for which it sells.

bricks4ever

  • Price: 80 ($1.00)
     Psychedelic mode is A LOT brighter.

Arkanoid clones are a dime a dozen, but bricks4ever has some sense of charm to it. Just about everything in the game has been seen before (power-ups, the classic block crushing gameplay). What makes bricks4ever unique is the design and placement of the blocks. Instead of just having them in set rows and columns, the blocks are occasionally placed behind other impenetrable blocks, adding another layer of challenge. bricks4ever includes several other unique features that make it interesting and fun. There is a dual-stick mode and a co-op mode, both of which work very well.

I have to at least make a passing mention to a couple features of bricks4ever that make it absolutely worth the 80 points that it costs. Somehow the developers of the game managed to make a connection between block breaking and the Big Bang (don't ask me, I'm still confusing). Additionally, there is a visual feature to make the graphics "psychedelic," which makes the glows of the blocks even brighter. These few, seemingly minor things are what gives bricks4ever its uniqueness and charm, and while it's not incredible, for 80 points you can't go wrong.

Squid Yes! Not So Octopus!

  • Price: 80 ($1.00)
     Fast-paced gameplay and bright, colorful graphics make Squid Yes a great purchase.

Before I begin describing the game, you need a little background. Squid Yes began as a forum joke when a user said he wanted a game where the maximum score is 9 (joking about Giga Wing's possibility for scores in the trillions). So, another user set about singlehandedly creating such a game. In Squid Yes, the maximum score is 9, with normal enemies giving you very small point increments (~0.000100 or even lower).

Anyway, onto the game. Technically a dual-stick shooter (the left stick moves the character and the A button shoots), Squid Yes has great stylistic graphics and fast-paced gameplay. The game is not easy by any means, and it isn't a complete Geometry Wars clone, like some games on the Indie Games Marketplace. Squid Yes isn't a game where you'll sit down and play for hours on end, but is better in bite sized amounts of gameplay.
Posted by Whisperkill

Nice 
 
The indie games I have a Groov and Soul 
 
Both of those you should check out

Posted by Pie

@StarFoxA said:

Miner Dig Deep

 The deeper you dig, the bigger the game becomes.
  • Price: 80 ($1.00)

Another game that costs only a dollar, this game is possibly the deepest (pun intended) experience that a dollar can purchase on the Indie Games Marketplace. Like most of the good Indie Games, the concept that Miner Dig Deep is founded on is simple. However, the gameplay expands beyond the simplicity into an interesting and involved (not to mention relaxing) experience.

In Miner Dig Deep, you play as a miner who must, believe it or not, dig deep. Collecting resources is really the whole point of digging. After collecting enough resources, they can be traded in for money, while can purchase tools to help dig even deeper or to hold more kerosene in your lantern (which allows you to actually see where resources are). There is little to no challenge in Miner Dig Deep, but the simplistic concept and presentation make Miner Dig Deep an absolute steal for 80 points.

Awesome game, im a little peed that I paid 800 MS for it though.....

Posted by Sweep

I loved Jump, i'm going to go buy Pixel RIGHT NOW!!!!
 
*runs

Moderator Online
Posted by Eelcire

Nice write up and batch of games to start off with on the Live Indie Channel. Nice you included the price as that is a big draw now. Love the Arkedo series, with Pixel! being my favorite of the batch so far. Also picked up Fishing Girl having enjoyed the flash version, though I still can't snag a shark (if that is even possible). I'd certainly like reading more impressions on different indie games as it's always interesting to hear another perspective.
 
If you're interested in more indie games I've set up a list here (haven't finished writing descriptions yet). The quality of the games have been increasing steadily and I'm interested in just as many indie games as full retail games now. What's nice is that many of these games are just small chunks and don't really compete with my game time for other larger games.

Posted by MythDarK

My favorite indie games are, without any doubt at all, Soul and The Impossible Game. The latter one is addictive as hell, though I had my doubts when i first tried it out.

Posted by StarFoxA
@Eelcire: I'll be sure to check those out. That's a great list you have going.
Posted by Bigandtasty

Nice write up. Somewhat interested in Squid Yes.
 
I'm waiting for that 80 MSP wrestling game (Action Arcade Wrestling I think it was called), too.