Convict Minigames

Wow.  I am rarely stunned by a game’s poor quality, but Convict Minigames has left me nearly speechless.  I saw the trailer for it a while back and shuttered at the thought of getting challenged on it.  So naturally I was challenged a few days ago.  Now the people at Convict Interactive are very nice and friendly people.  But this is about two things: quality of games and MONEY.  Real money that real people will spend.  And I can’t take into account how nice someone is when it comes time to review a game.  If I did, almost nothing I review would get slammed.  Developers tend to be nice.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here.  Convict Minigames is by far, BY FAR, the worst Xbox Live Indie Game I’ve played.  Cycloid is not even close.  As if that’s not bad enough, Convict Interactive had the unmitigated gull to charge $3 for this failed abortion of a title.  Of the five games presented here, four of them are completely and utterly useless as video games, which are, you know, things designed to entertain people.  The final one actually had good ideas, but the execution is so far off the mark that I don’t think it’s possible to offer it any praise.  Let’s take a look at each game one by one.

Cave In controls the best of the five, but it's still not any good.

Bop!

Bob is an alleged fighter where you pick one of three characters and try to defeat your opponent by repeatedly hoping on their head.  The controls are sluggish, the computer AI too smart, and the graphics are ugly.

High Hopes

The developers boasted that this game was made in 48 hours, as if that’s a point in its favor.  I could jab my eyeballs repeatedly with a shard of glass for 48 hours but that doesn’t mean doing so is a good idea.  This is one of those “climb high” titles.  You jump repeatedly up a beanstalk.  The same type of game has been done better for cheaper multiple times on the Xbox Live Indie Game marketplace.  Your $3 here buys you more sluggish controls, unfair random-level design, and piles and piles or boredom.

Jurassic Bar

You choose one of four barely mobile dinosaurs and then swat away at barely mobile cavemen.  The characters are badly animated and the controls are even more sluggish than any of the previous two games.  By the way, this is yet another 48 hour special.  While I concede that there’s a degree of difficulty in making a game in such a time frame, I could give two shits less about it.  I want to play a fun game, not a bag of digital vomit that happened to be semi-coherent within a two-day period.

Cave In

An auto-scrolling platformer where you have to jump from stone to stone, trying to avoid various pits and spikes.  Of the five games, this one might have been the best if any effort was done to give it a purpose.  You can play it with four players, which I suppose would make things interesting, but once you complete the run towards the gold-shitting monolith thingie, nothing happens.  You can’t collect the gold or anything.  Even better, there’s no “congratulations on making it!” screen.  Instead, the ceiling collapses, killing you, which was the only way they could think of to bring you back to the title screen.  This one actually controls the best of the five, but it’s still useless.

Triangle Man

The highlight of the set, which is kind of like saying getting a morphine drip is the highlight of getting stabbed through the chest with a rusty samurai sword, Triangle Man is a punishment platformer mixed with some puzzle elements.  You play as a triangle thingie that has to run around, collect all the coins in a stage, and get to the door.  It actually works, albeit barely so.  Your dude moves too fast, jumping is too floaty, and the parameters for collision detection are too undefined to actually enjoy it.

Triangle Man has a couple good ideas that are ruined by horrible play control.

Now if the guys at Convict Interactive had tossed the other four games in the garbage where they belong and focused on refining Triangle Man, and then released it at a more reasonable price of 80MSP, it would have been easy to recommend.  I especially liked the later stages where you control as many as four dudes at the same time and have to keep an eye on all of them while trying to navigate four completely separate sections of  a room simultaneously.  This is what the entire game should have been about.  It’s an original and worthwhile gimmick for a game.  But nope, the use of this doesn’t come into play until much later on, and by time it started I had already started researching what would be the most peaceful way to kill myself using an Xbox controller.

Regardless of potential, Triangle Man is still a crap game, and anyone who tells you otherwise was merely suckered into believing it after slogging through the first four shitty games in this collection.  Thus you have five games at or very near the bottom tier of XBLIG titles, all packaged together, and all for triple the price of some really great games.  It’s absolutely shameful.  Convict Minigames sounds like a pretty accurate name, because playing it feels like punishment.  Upon completion of Triangle Man, I felt like I had finally finished serving my time and was ready to rejoin society.  Sure, I’ve now got a teardrop tattoo and I’m missing my black cherry, but I’m free!

Update: Minutes before this went up, Convict Interactive told me that they were unaware that they could charge $1 for the game, on the grounds that they believed it was too large.  Convict Minigames is 36.20 MB.  A simple Google search for “Xbox Live Indie Game Pricing” brought up the Wikipedia page for Xbox Live Indie Games, which states, quote:

“Games larger than 50 MB must be priced at least 240 Microsoft Points.”

Now this policy has been in place for quite a while, so it’s not like they can claim that it was just dropped on them out of nowhere.  If you can’t even bother to do 30 seconds worth of research on the marketplace that you’re putting your product on, you don’t deserve to earn any money off it.  They didn’t deserve that anyway on the grounds that their game is a festering piece of shit, but still, you guys couldn’t even do a Google search?  Disgraceful.  And just so I’m perfectly clear, even at $1 this game is simply not worth it.  It’s terrible at any price.  Maybe Triangle Man would be okay if it was FREE, but it’s not.  Do not pay any money for this game.  Put a $1 aside and give it to one of those bell-ringing Santa thingies at Christmas.  Buy a small order of fries from McDonalds.  Do anything but spend it on this.

Convict Minigames was developed by Convict Interactive

240 Microsoft Points were victims of a genocide against entertainment in the making of this review.

Hurley over at Gear-Fish also covered this turd.

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7 Responses to Convict Minigames

  1. The peer review system is a little broken. They’ll allow crap like this (going on your word, haven’t/won’t play it) but they’ll freeze stuff up if they don’t like it.

    • There are certainly problems with peer review. Basically we can’t fail something unless it’s for a reason listed on the Microsoft guidelines (which became “the evil checklist”). However you can certainly not pass something you don’t want to see on the service (just not fail it). The most this usually does though is delay the game. Eventually they’ll get enough reviews from people looking for others to review their game themselves, hoping that by reviewing their game they’ll return the favor.

      My personal rule of thumb is if someone review my game (pass or fail) I will review theirs in turn at least once. If that is for a game I don’t want to see on the service and it passes that first time then I will pass it anyway, but if it fails that first review I won’t touch it again. If I like it and it fails then I’ll keep reviewing it until it passes. That doesn’t mean I automatically give it a pass every time. I just mean I give it an honest review every time it’s up until it passes.

      I had that exact scenario come up with AppPack. He reviewed my game, and when I reviewed his I had to give it a fail and then never touched it again. It eventually got passed anyway after failing several times.

  2. ‘The highlight of the set, which is kind of like saying getting a morphine drip is the highlight of getting stabbed through the chest with a rusty samurai sword…’ That’s gold right there.

  3. Pingback: 10/1 Indie Rundown | Gear-Fish Reviews

  4. Robert says:

    After some quick research I noticed they are students and their 48 hour games were made during 48 hour competitions and were winners and runners up so I would believe them that they weren’t fully aware of the pricing issues (after all they are young and keen and researching stuff like that is kinda boring and slightly on the obscure side).

    Since I haven’t played the games I can only assume that the problem here is that the games didn’t have or had very little “polish” before being released commercially.

    As a bit of a critique on your reviewing style (which reminds me a little of zero punctuation which I love), I feel you might spend too much time bagging the developers rather than the game.itself, its almost like it is a personal attack on them. Its fine to an extent but if you bag out the developers rather then the game it isn’t really a review (granted though the review would probably have been a lot shorter were that the case).

    • Kairi Vice says:

      I slammed on them because I was POed about the pricing thing (and the fact that they didn’t do 30 seconds worth of research). I general I try to focus on the game itself. And for the record, I opened a fairly positive dialog with the developers following this review. See, I’m a people person :P

  5. Huh… I liked this a lot more than you, Kairi. I thought Bop was interesting as a game that took the Super Mario jump-on-someone attack to its ultimate conclusion, complete with a variety of characters, each with unique abilities to assist them. I enjoyed Cave-In as well, for its visual aesthetic particularly, and (like Bop) it’s great as a local multiplayer experience. LIke you I found Triangle Man the best of the bunch, and liked it more than you did. Though I think I’m more tolerant of imperfect controls, if the game is full of intriguing ideas, than you are. Might be due to growing up playing on the Intellivision’s infamous controller, and (later) actually taking a liking to the Atari Jaguar’s controversial controller. Hell, I even liked the original Xbox’s classic “Duke” controller, so there you go.

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