April 5, 2012 10 Comments
Thankfully the code-giveaway portion of this feature is over with. I had a total of nineteen entrees. Nineteen. That’s over the course of a month. Well, like the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him vote for a chance to win Microsoft Points. Sigh.
Well, I’m not going to let you non-voting types spoil my fun here. Oh no. The voters already did that themselves with all the mediocre games they picked for me. Sure, I liked Breath of Death and Cthulhu Saves the World, but the thing is, I already liked them, on account of having played them before I started Indie Gamer Chick. On the other hand, I thought Lumi was fucking terrible and the Decay series was kind of a mixed bag. A mixed bag containing dead plague rats and tampon run-off. This week, we have the Arkedo Series. Three games with nothing in common except they’re all XBLIGs by the same developer and they cost 240 Space Bucks each. Oh, and they’re boring as fuck.
Well actually, JUMP! isn’t. The first game of the series is also probably the best. It’s a neo-retro platformer where you play as a guy that in no way resembles Indiana Jones. There are various bombs scattered throughout the stage and you have to collect them before the timer on them reaches zero. Once you have all the bombs, you make your way to the door.
Despite JUMP! priding itself on being old-school, it has a modern-style of pixelated graphics that looks really slick. It also seems to want to feel like an old timey punisher, but it’s not overly difficult. Maybe it gets that way later, but I won’t be around to find out. You see, JUMP! also brings over a couple antiquated game mechanics, such as a lives system. I didn’t think much of it, until I ran out of lives and the game popped up a message that said something like “Doesn’t it suck how old-school games don’t let you continue?” At which point I sighed and declared to Brian “call for a penis-shaped U-Haul because I believe a dick move is coming.” Indeed, JUMP! has no continue system. When you run out of lives, you get to start the whole thing over. And thus it can officially go fuck itself.
The second game is SWAP! It’s a Pokemon Puzzle League sort-of clone where blocks rise from underneath the screen and you have to clear them by lining up four of them. That’s pretty much it. I have to say, SWAP! is well made in terms of graphics and controls (mostly), but it’s just really boring. This same kind of game has already been done better for decades now. Because you need to line up four blocks, it doesn’t leave you enough room to set up the types of insane combos a game like this needs to hook me in. It doesn’t even have a versus mode. I’m not sure why so many people assured me I would enjoy SWAP! Yea, like all the games in this series, it has a level of sophistication typically unseen on Xbox Live Indie Games. I just feel that it’s dull compared to other puzzlers. Hell, it’s dull compared to that annoying kid that lives next door. The one that chews the plastic tips of his shoelaces.
Finally, there’s PIXEL! Before trying it, I figured I already had played it on account of it having the same character and graphics style as a PSP Mini called Pix’n Love Rush, but the two games aren’t similar at all. Love Rush was neat variation on the endless-runner genre. PIXEL! is an incredibly generic platformer that’s only original idea is ruined by shitty play control. You play as a cat that has to hop and bop enemies. The actual platforming follows every convention of the genre, stupid or otherwise. Like SWAP! the game is competent but boring. You’ve played dozens, maybe hundreds of games like this in your life. PIXEL! has no potential to land itself anywhere near the top of that list.
The one original idea is being able to freeze the game with the left trigger to open up a magnifying glass. If you click special blocks with it, you enter a maze mini-game, where you steer a cursor around looking for an exit. Typically, you have X amount of seconds to find it or you return to the main game and lose a tick of health. This would be fun, except the cursor is so damned sensitive that it’s easy to skip right past the exit and hit a block that will push you away from it and back to beginning. Even as I got late into the game, I never quite got the hang of it. Other mystery blocks involve silly things like press the A button to cut a tree down, or answering questions to get to the next area of a stage. My gut tells me PIXEL! was meant to be a Nintendo DS game (the developer had made some games for that platform) and these were supposed to be touch-screen events.
Either way, PIXEL! is completely boring. It’s slow-paced, it’s repetitive, the levels are clichéd, the enemies are stock, and it just isn’t any fun. Yes, it looks really good, sounds really good, and plays really good (outside of the mazes), but it’s less than the sum of its parts. That’s pretty much true of the series as a whole. JUMP! might have been worth recommending, but the one problem it has is big enough to be a deal breaker. As far as SWAP! and PIXEL! go, all I can say is they are good-looking, well made sleeping pills.
240 Microsoft Points apiece do recommend Pix’n Love Rush on both PlayStation Network and iPhone in the making of this review.
Thank you to all my readers for helping to keep me motivated. This marks the 198th, 199th, and 200th games reviewed at Indie Gamer Chick! Here’s to 2,000 more!