Guess what? We’ve reached January, and still 2/14 of these games aren’t out. This one week promotion has hit its 5th week, which is great for the purpose of me writing these things, but otherwise is probably not what was intended. Only one of the games I have left came out in the last week, but it’s one that I assumed would be a guaranteed good time. Instead of just ending the article there, I’ll then take a few minutes and point out a couple good and some truly terrible games you can download on the Xbox Live Indie Game channel that aren’t part of the promotion.
I think this promotion might actually have done its job– to make people more aware of the Indie Game community, and more importantly in some ways, to make Microsoft make the Indie Game channel a little more noticeable to the average person. Not only did they move Indie Games in front of demos in their Marketplace, there’s now a special page for the Winter Uprising itself. While not all the developers are talking about their sales, it seems that the sales for a lot of these are going well. Then again, I may not know what the expectation is when the listed price for your game is $1-3, I’m sure Microsoft gets a piece, and then you get what’s left. How many copies of “Try Not to Fart” do you have to sell before you break even? I’m betting one, and I doubt it’s hit that mark yet.
Cthulu Saves the World — 240 MS Points ($3)
This was the game I had been the most excited about when I looked at the games slated for the XBLIGWU, Chtulu Saves the World. It’s from Zeboyd, the same people who made Breath of Death VII, and it’s unsurprisingly another classic console RPG homage. If BoD7 was a salute to NES RPGs like Dragon Warrior, this game is a closer comparison to early Genesis or TurboGrafx-16 RPGs in both visual style and music. If you liked BoDVII, there’s absolutely no reason not to stop reading this right now and go download it. Sure, it’s three times as much, but I don’t mind paying $3 for what is around 6-8 hours of entertainment per play.
I have to give Zeboyd credit on the story here — instead of the classic “save the world because you are a hero,” this time you play as Cthulu– yes THE Cthulu (as opposed to Pete “Cthulu” Johannsen, who works at the post office and has IBS). You arise from your centuries of underwater slumber to destroy the world as planned, but before you get a chance– you somehow lose all your powers. The only way to get them back is to become a True Hero, which means that you, as Cthulu, must go out and save the world from evil– so that you can get back your powers and destroy the world yourself. Pretty awesome idea actually. It’s a far better story than most current day RPGs. Shit, this story is roughly 1,000 times better than the story for Final Fantasy XII (I don’t even know what really happened in that game, and I spent over 100 hours playing it, and you could be a cool airship pirate).
I have to warn you… this is the official video for the game. It’s a music video. I made it 10 seconds into the song before I threw my speakers out of annoyance. The music in the game is regular RPG-style game music. I really hope this song isn’t in there somewhere. So, you might want to mute it…. consider yourself warned.
The game itself is actually quite good. Everything that I liked about BoD7 has been improved on, and Cthulu Saves the World is actually pretty innovative for what would at first glance be a fairly simple RPG. First off — you’re Cthulu, right? Much like the real Cthulu, many of your abilities will cause people to go insane. Going insane makes some monsters do less damage and take more, but other enemies will become empowered by their insanity, so you actually have to keep track of things more than “attack, attack, attack, heal, attack.” The branching skill-up paths from BoD7 are back as well, which I thought was a pretty nifty idea. Yeah, I said nifty, wanna fight?
Know what else is nifty? Random encounters are capped for areas. This is the best idea in the history of RPGs, and I first saw it in a $3 game. Take that, Squeenix. In each level, the random encounters you can meet will stop occurring after a set number. In the first area, it’s 25. So after you defeat 25 random fights, you will be free to explore the map at your leisure without having to stop every 5 steps to fight increasingly less-threatening enemies. This is an amazing concept that would make pretty much every RPG I’ve ever played about 200 times better. “But Jeremy, I like just killing guys endlessly to make the challenge trivial! Why would they do this to me!?” Hold on there, Hoss. You can still do that — hit your menu button, and select “fight.” You can fight in the first area all damn year if you want now. Again– best idea in the history of RPGs, no matter how you like to play these things. I like to play them nude.
Chtulu Saves the World is the only XBLIGWU game that actually made it out this week. Of the remaining two, Alpha Squad (a dual-stick action shooter that supports 4 players) has been in and out of public testing so I expect it soon, and the last game is Rickenbacher vs. The Aliens which has a website with absolutely no information on its progress. It looks like a Xevious clone, which could be a lot of fun, but I don’t know how long I will wait around for a Xevious clone before I go back to writing about personal hygiene issues like I normally do. Since I’m out of Winter Uprising coverage for the week (and because writing a 500 word article is frowned upon), here’s a few games I’ve found on the Indie Games service that are worth mentioning– for better or worse.
The Impossible Game — 80 MS Points ($1)
Do you like frustration? Can you push a button? If so, then I have found the game for you! Actually, I bought this game, because I can do both those things, and there’s something about it that is charmingly hard. I can’t write a whole lot about the game, because the mechanics for this game are as simple as you can get. Cube moves forward at a set speed, you push button to make cube jump. That’s it. It’s a lot like “Asteroids Do Concern Me” in that aspect, but somehow, even though it’s really basic looking and incredibly frustrating, I like it.
If you ever played Banjo-Kazooie Nuts and Bolts for the Xbox 360, then you may remember that Klungo made his own arcade game (in the game), and you could play it to get some money or jiggies or something or other. Well, this is that game, but much, much longer, and with checkpoints that you set up as you play it. That description is essentially only useful to Jeremy and Billy, but if you don’t want to try the demo for this or pay $1 to find out, then you can drive to the store, find Banjo-Kazooie, and play it long enough to get to Klingo’s game, and then you will see what this game plays like.
Or, just download the demo for free. Your choice.
Zombie Cow-Milking — 80 MS Points ($1)
There are 4 million games with Zombie in the title on the XBLIG. I know zombies were cool at some point, and I won’t argue with you that I’ve had two games so far that have zombies in the title already, but… bitch, you ain’t played nothing until you’ve played motherfucking Zombie Cow-Milking.
This shit is barely even a game. You know what people absolutely love in their videogames? Quick Time Events. You know– games where you can break up your awesome action sequence with prompts to push X, A, Up, Right Trigger, to make the action on screen continue. Dragon’s Lair was the first game I saw where this happened, but somehow at the time it didn’t seem bad, probably because at the time a cartoon-game was mindblowing. It’s unfortunately manifested itself in a lot of games since then. Shenmue had full Quicktime sections, same with Yakuza, the Resident Evil series– pretty much any “cinematic” game now has at least one or two of the damn things. For the most part, I like Quick Time Events about as much as I like crab lice.
And this game is nothing but QTEs.
No video? No, I couldn’t find one online… but you don’t need one. All you see the whole time is your character sitting in front of a Southparkian cow (I just made up an adjective), and the button you need to hit next on the right side of your screen. That’s it. There’s nothing else to see. Just sit there drooling all over your shirt and press the button it tells you. And you get points. Thankfully, this game bills itself as a party game, so you can play split screen 4 player action. I bet that looks intense!
Haha, no. No, please don’t bother trying this game. It’s not even so bad it’s funny, it’s just plain stupid. If you find me one person who liked this game, please send them my way so they can be sterilized immediately. Their genes need to stop with them.
Vorpal — 80 MS Points ($1)
Vorpal on the other hand is well worth your dollar. Do you like overhead shooters at all? Of course you do, because you’re not a sissyboy. Vorpal takes the hardest part of every shooter, the boss fights, and focuses entirely on that aspect. Vorpal is nothing but hard-as-balls boss fights. I played this for about 20 minutes today and I still can’t beat the first guy, and I consider myself quite good at shooters. Ok, to be completely honest I sort of suck at them, but I want to be good. That counts for something… right?
This game starts out rough. There’s no warm-up waves of simple enemies to let you power-up or anything. Instead you are thrown into an arena fighting one-on-one endlessly long battles against some of the toughest bosses in shooterdom. It’s set up sort of like Street Fighter for shooter fans, and it’s non-stop pain if you don’t have the quickest of reflexes. Look and see how half the screen is filled with instant death. Bullet hell, indeed.
This is like the masochists’ training module for shooters. You don’t want to play through 4 levels of Gradius V to get back to that boss you die on because he’s all bullets and doom? Here you start on that from the first second you play this. It’s brutal. However, the controls are super tight and responsive and while it’s hard as shit, after a few minutes you will get better at it. I’m betting if I play this enough I’ll be able to go back to all the shooters I’ve been unable to beat forever and destroy them. Just for the chance to make Ikaruga my bitch, I’d pay $1. So, I did.
Maids with Balloons — 80 MS Points ($1)
What the fuck is this? I had to download this as soon as I saw it, and holy shit, I can’t say I regret it. Maids with Balloons is honestly the worst game I’ve ever played. It fails on literally every level of amusement. First off, the concept for this game is that you are playing as three maids who want to go to the beach, but they are afraid seagulls will shit on them so they are going to chase them away with balloons. But you don’t just find balloons on a beach, silly, so they also go out and get balloons at the circus and on a busy freeway. So it’s already got probably the most retarded backstory ever.
But so what… I mean, nobody seems to remember that QBert’s backstory was about his inability to get an erection around snakes, so fine. Let’s ignore that. Let’s instead look at the game itself.
Maids with Balloons is three mini-games, all with the delightful Maids and Balloons theme we’ve already accepted. The beach mini-game is a Space Invaderish game where you at the bottom release balloons upwards to hit those seagulls that are literally circles with poorly drawn faces on them. The Circus mini-game is that atari circus trampoline game. The Freeway game is Frogger, only far less interesting. All three of these mini-games are absolutely miserable versions of the games they are imitating. Watch this video below for about 5 minutes more of Maids with Balloons than you need to see.
Did you see those videos of mildly attractive girls dressed like maids? I’m 100% sure those are the only reason this game exists. Who is this game targetted to, other than the small market of dudes who are really into housecleaning and latex? How do you convince three girls to do this? Shit, how do you even get one girl to agree to be in this game? I guess this is supposed to be an “adult” release on the XBLIG, which is a gross enough concept, but man, it fails even on that end. I didn’t cum one time while playing Maids with Balloons– unlike the 14 times I did playing The Impossible Game (oh… those sexy cubes).
Maids with Balloons is hands down the biggest waste of $1 ever. Don’t buy this game for any reason, even if it’s just to review on the internet for 8 people. If I saw this game on your Xbox when I was at your house, I would assume you were a huge pervert and retarded, because you can get your maids playing with balloon fetish kick online with a google search for free, and you never have to play any of these shitty minigames.
And that’ll sum up the XBLIGWU for week 5 of this thing, hopefully both of the remaining games will come out this week, or else I will be telling you about Avatar Massager Online and probably some other retarded zombie game. Hooray Xbox Indie Game channel!
Author: Jeremy P
Jeremy P is a game-playing, film-watching workhorse from Baltimore. He wants to be left alone, but you can follow him on the Twitters. @DelishBoloney
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