July 26, 2011 12 Comments
Antipole received a Second Chance with the Chick that noted the slowdown discussed in this review has been fixed. Consider this article the Chick’s definitive review, but click here for her updated thoughts.
UPDATE: Antipole is now 80 Microsoft Points ($1 USD)
When the guys at Saturnine Games asked me to review their latest title, the Catholic in me was like “Rock on! Any game that sticks it to Pope Sidious is a-okay with me!” And then I reread the title and realized its name was Antipole. This was followed by me self-face-palming while I ponied up 400 points.
Antipole is in fact the first $5 game I’ve reviewed here at Indie Gamer Chick, so I admit I planned on holding it to a slightly more strict standard than others. After seeing the still pictures, I thought “oh hip hip hooray, more generic running and shooting.” Nothing about it looked particularly good. I set my standards high, my expectations low, and braced myself for the worst.
As it turns out, Antipole is seriously fucking awesome.
Antipole is an action-platformer with a slight garnish of puzzle elements. You control a dude who is running through a series of levels shooting at robots and hopping over spikes. Been there, done that. But what makes Antipole truly unique is that it’s one of the few Xbox Live Indie titles I’ve played to rely on a gimmick and have the gimmick work flawlessly.
In this case, you can reverse gravity by holding the right trigger. Doing so will cause you and almost any enemies within range of you to reverse gravitational pull and float upwards. You can use this ability to clear large gaps or offensively to defeat enemies. This alone wouldn’t have been enough to make Antipole stand out in a very crowded marketplace full of platforming-shooters. But designer Edward Di Geronimo Jr. and his team stayed ahead of the curve by introducing new and unique elements in nearly every one of the game’s twenty stages.
A platformer lives and dies on its play control, and Antipole is near flawless. The jumping at first felt a little bit on the loose side, but I quickly adapted to it and learned that the mechanics work very well with the gravity abilities. For the most part, every death I experienced was my own fault, robbing me of passing the buck to the game like the narcissistic bitch that I am.
In some levels, the strength of the default gravity changes, either being much heavier than normal or much lighter. The first time it happened, I almost thought the game was broken. Then I spotted a hopping robot that I had previously encountered being effected by the same forces. Very smooth, Saturnine guys. Good design choices are all over in Antipole. The level layouts are all clever and provide new ways of using the gravity gimmick to its fullest potential.
Of course, I did have a few technical issues, which led to my open challenge to the XNA community regarding peer testing. And right before that went to publication, the guys at Saturnine Games confirmed that they experienced the same problems as me, albeit in different spots in the game. I’m told they will look closer into this and work on a fix. Good enough for me.
Even taking into account those issues, Antipole is clearly one of the best games on the marketplace. It strips out the bullshit and leaves us with innovative platforming at it’s very core. It features good graphics and a really inspired soundtrack. The concept is well realized, never being boring or tedious. And there’s some awesome gaming homages in here, like a boss fight that will be familiar to fans of Super Metroid. I don’t know where this will fall in my Top 10 once it’s patched, but rest assured that Antipole will gravitate towards the top. Oh ho ho, he he he, God damn I’m such a wit.
400 Microsoft Points set off a firestorm of controversy in the making of this review.