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Xbox Live Indie Games Nook: October 2011

Representing the best releases in the last month of Xbox Live Indie Games. This article has not been reviewed by Microsoft or a ratings board.

Top picks

Wizorb

Wizorb is a great Arkanoid-styled game that apes much of its aesthetic feel and sound from NES classics. Developed by Tribute games, which includes the lead designer and animator of Scott Pilgram Vs. The World, it comes as no surprise that Wizorb establishes a similarly effective brand of old school pixel art. Interspersed between the standard Arkanoid segments are light RPG pieces in which the titular Wizard-turned-Breakout-paddle wanders about town and donates money to citizens, helping to rebuild their town, while Tribute Games attempts to provide further substance through genre-blending. Wizorb’s a nicely paced indie game – one of those rare gems that breathes life into a service full of half-executed ideas.

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Dead Pixels

At first blush it looks like the kind of game you always see from Indie developers – the look is tightly developed around the pixel-perfect aesthetic of River City Ransom, but adding to that are the layered on film-grain effects, compliments of the zombie films that inspire its premise. This is a simple, effective combination that works well for Dead Pixel. The game tasks players with roaming through twenty streets of infected scum, ultimately making it to the escape route. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of shops and abandoned buildings filled with valuable attribute-boosting items, weapons, and occasionally, the shop owners will request things in return. There’s a leveling system, local co-op, and the promise of free DLC each time the developer, Can’t Strafe Right, hits another sales milestone. It’s a pretty sweet and cost-effective little download.

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Other recommendations

Take Arms

Having distilled all of the primary functions of a Call of Duty game into 2D, Take Arms works out to be a fairly competent multiplayer shooter. All the core ideas are here, with a few base player classes, vertically-oriented level designs, persistent rankings, and incentives for camping with a sniper rifle. It feels about right and the balancing is decent enough, though the game’s fate hinges on its popularity online. Things aren’t looking so hot only a month out, with the Call of Duty crowd unexpectedly turning a blind eye to the indie channel. All said Take Arms is at least functional, closely following the structure of Ska Studios’ Zombies and Pterodactyls 20XX, sans dinosaurs.

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The Fall of Gods

After creating civilization, the gods butt heads over gender conflicts and an all-out war begins, shrouding the earth in darkness, and giving cause to what we now call ‘the big bang’. Following this cataclysmic meltdown of the gods, our perspective shifts to a young man’s birthday. As a sort of coming of age ritual, he must go into the caves above his village and retrieve the sword his father’s hidden from him (what a dick). On the strength of this admittedly scattered introduction, The Fall of Gods fills out the role of an action-RPG in the tradition of Zelda. It does well to obfuscate its RPG Maker origins with a combination of visual effects and sound map design. Apart from the touchy controls, The Fall of Gods stands as a promising first chapter in what looks to be an interesting indie series.

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Tunnelvision

Waves of bullets are encircling your ship, coming in hot, as indicated by their neon-infused trails. Maneuvering around them with deftly executed barrel rolls and shooting out the source turrets, you speed down the tunnel, dodging whatever missiles and rotational obstacles come in your way, working your way to the ‘level lord’ and ultimately taking him out, as well. It all feels a bit familiar in a nice way, nearly hitting the mark when it draws on the bullet-frenzied nature of shmups, but due to the self-imposed limitations of tunnels and lack of diverging paths, there’s not much else to see.

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The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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