Indie Friday 6.18.2010

Checking out four of the latest indie titles on Xbox Live.

Erik Norrisby Erik Norris

Indie Friday 6.18.2010

Look, we all love big budget video games. They’re the ones that make the gears of our industry turn. However, we also don’t want to forget the little people. The undiscovered. Because if you think about it, the creators of today’s current low-budget indie games could be the next Tim Schafer, Hideo Kojima, or Shigeru Miyamoto. They just need the opportunity to get noticed. That’s why we at Crave have created a weekly spotlight feature to draw some attention on the indie gaming scene and maybe get a few of these up-and-coming creators the recognition they deserve. Hence, we have teamed with Xbox Live and their Indie Game Marketplace to give birth to Indie Friday!

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stunning_stuntsStunning Stunts
Developer: ProjectorGames

Stunning Stunts is essentially ExciteBike on a quasi-three-dimensional-two-dimensional plane with a heavier focus on the tricks than the racing, as the name implies. But there is a charm and addictiveness that comes with Stunning Stunts due to its integration into Xbox Live, making it a community-heavy trick racer that’s simple and fun.

How this works is pretty ingenious and doesn’t actually require you sitting in matchmaking lobbies and waiting for an undisclosed amount of time for the room to fill up. Instead, in Stunning Stunts you race a group of “ghosts” and compete against their best time and point accumulations. Make no mistake, these are real people’s times and scores, it’s just that the players who acquired them are not necessary to get the gaming started.

I found myself playing this simple game over and over again, trying to master the art of flipping my dirtbike and pulling off sweet ollies and endos without loosing momentum. Stunning Stunts is a simple game but has the same level of  addictiveness that you find in the best phone games.

the_flowThe Flow
Developer: Angry Aardvark

I don’t know if there is a simpler game than The Flow. The game has one button, two commands, depending if you tap or hold it. That’s it. You play as a glowing orb that has to jump from platform to platform as the screen scrolls to the right. However, the further you go without falling into the abyss, the faster your orb gets. It then becomes a challenge to judge each of your jumps so you do overshoot the platforms.

However, The Flow suffers from Contra syndrome, as I’m going to call it. The game starts out easy enough, but about halfway through the first level it becomes incredibly hard to keep going. And when you die you have to start back at the beginning. After 10+ tries at the first level, I gave up. If I can’t beat the first stage of The Flow, what hope do I have for the later ones? Hence, Contra syndrome.

If you consider yourself a masochist, The Flow is a simple arcade game made for you.

zapzap_pewpewZap Zap (Pew Pew)
Developer: Ergostudios

Zap Zap (Pew Pew) is Asteroids with a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek twist. The game is extremely simple but rather addictive. Levels are short and sweet, bosses come frequently to switch up the rules of gameplay, and the game offers 2-play co-op. It’s a very good value for 80 MS Points ($1).

It’s very easy to fail in Zap Zap (Pew Pew), but luckily, the game gets you right back into the action (at the level you last left off on) quickly. Therefore, you’ll be replaying levels over and over again but never feel overly frustrated due to loading downtime.

orbit_oneOrbit One
Developer: Mo

Orbit One takes the cake this week for sharpest style for such a simple game. In Orbit One the goal is to collect as many orbs as possible while avoiding enemies and making a point not to collide into the center “sun” of the arena. But the sun has a harsh gravitational pull that is continuously trying to suck you in. The controls of Orbit One then center (pun not intended) around avoiding the enemies and the pull of gravity while collecting little orbs. It’s quite hard to explain, but trust me, it’s very addictive.

Orbit One can also be played with up to four players locally, adding a nice competitive level to the mayhem. The multiplayer even follows Tron rules where you can cut someone off with your “ship” trajectory and destroy them.

Orbit One is a very simple game with a cool Geometry Wars-esque style (Geometry Wars seems to have a lot of inspiration around the indie crowd). The game’s mutliplayer is just an added bonus to keep you playing when the friends come over. Well worth the 80 MS Points.

That does it for this edition of Indie Friday. These games make up but a small chunk of the games that hit the Xbox Live Marketplace under the "indie games" heading. So be sure to check out that section of the XBL Marketplace for more original game offerings. Also, each one of these titles can be purchased for 80 MS Points ($1) right now. Hardly bank-breaking.