Minigame Marathon

I seem to have given many of my readers the wrong impression about me.  Believe it or not, I’m not here to trounce bad games.  My goal should be the goal of any game critic: find the good stuff.  Admittedly, that can be hard on Xbox Live Indie Games, but there is plenty of good stuff to be had if you look.  Take Minigame Marathon.  These days, whenever I hear the word “Minigame” I think of a Wii and go into convulsions.

Alas, I had nothing to fear from Minigame Marathon.  The concept is simple: take 26 small game types, string them together, and time how long it takes you to complete them all.  And guess what?  It’s fun and addictive!  Many of the games are modeled after classics such as Pong, Frogger, Snake, or Breakout.  Others involve simple tasks like staying inside a box, hoping across platforms, or collecting coins.  The game uses an easy-to-decipher color system.  You’re green.  Anything yellow is good.  Anything red is bad.  It gives all games an immediate pick-up-and-play quality that is often not found in XBLIGs.

Last Mother Fucking Brick Syndrome is back and trying to cost me the #1 spot on the high score leaderboards.

There are four difficulty levels to choose from, plus you can select whether or not you want to play the games in random order or not.  Each game starts with a brief explanation.  The timer only runs when a game is in progress, so these won’t slow you up too much.  I do wish that it gave you the option to turn off the help-screens once you had a feel for all the games included, but it’s not a deal breaker.  You get three attempts at each game.  If you fail at a game, you have to wait until you’ve finished all other games before getting another crack at the stuff you died on.  Again, it’s a smart design, and super addictive to boot.  About an hour into my play session, I declared to Brian that, to my shock and his, Minigame Marathon was in contention for a spot on the Indie Gamer Chick leaderboard.  If only the multiplayer could hold up.

Sadly, it doesn’t.  Minigame Marathon’s only option is split-screen local multiplayer, which requires the games to be shrunk to fit each box.  On some of the games, that’s fine.  But in stuff like Maze or Mine, which involves navigating tight spaces (especially on high difficulties), seeing which way to move is extremely tough.  I have a television  large enough to double as God’s surfboard and it still wasn’t enough for many of the games, crippling the fun.  Considering that the previous game by his developer was Avatar Grand Prix 2, which had a pretty decent and robust online mode to it, this feels even more like lost potential.

By time a four-player session has ended, your eyes will be permanently disfigured into a squint. Just tell people you were swimming in a pool with too much chlorine in it.

In the nit-picky department, I wish the controls had been a lot tighter, and also I think some of the games are downright impossible on the high difficulty levels.  In “split” you have to avoid touching walls while the room you’re in continuously divides into smaller sections.  Your character does not stop moving, so it requires you to press left and right repeatedly, in fast order, or die.  The problem is there’s a slight delay in the game’s reaction that makes timing this much harder than it sounds.  My gut tells me that the developer probably tested this using a keyboard instead of a wireless Xbox controller, which I hear is actually a common problem during development.  I’m not sure why developers wouldn’t test their game using the controller everyone will play it with.  It makes no sense to me.  It would be like training a Formula 1 driver by making him ride a Spider-Man Power Wheel.

Even with all the faults, I had a great time playing Minigame Marathon.  It reminded me a lot of Nintendo’s Wario Ware series.  Instead of trying to do something too ambitious, the guys at Battenberg Software took the concept of “keep it simple” by using old, worn game types and practically weaponized their addictive potential.  Games that last ten seconds?  Not fun.  Making you play all those games in a row for a high score?  Digital heroin.

Minigame Marathon was developed by Battenberg Software

igc_approved180 Microsoft Points are the girl living next door in the haunted mansion, so you better learn her name because it’s Kai-ri in the making of this review.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

6 Responses to Minigame Marathon

  1. GaTechGrad says:

    This game probably had the shortest trial out of any Indie game that I’ve played. I’m not saying it was bad, but in only 8 levels I didn’t see enough that actually made me want to buy the game.

  2. Dave says:

    Thanks for another great review, honest and amusing as always. That’s two near misses, so one day we’ll get a game onto your top ten!

    Just a note: you can actually turn off the help screens that are shown before each game in the options menu.

  3. Cuddle Bear says:

    This game looks pretty cool. I’ll take it for a trial spin.

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