As promised, I’ll close out my first anniversary celebration in style. Here we go, the Top 25 Xbox Live Indie Games of All-Time. According to me at least. For the sake of this not taking up too much space, and because I’ve been having trouble finding time to write this out, I’m breaking this up into five parts If you’re looking for the very best Xbox Live Indie Games has to offer, this is where you should start. As a reminder, you can purchase all 25 games on this list for less than the price of one single disc-based release. 25 amazing games for the price of 1? How can you say no to that? You can click on the titles to read my reviews. You can also visit the Leaderboard to see what the remaining twenty games are. I really kind of did this in the wrong order. I suck. This list doesn’t. Let’s roll!
#25: Crystal Hunters
Developed by DreamRoot Studios
Concept: Collect crystals while avoiding enemies in this top-down logic puzzler.
Sort of like: The Adventures of Lolo (NES)
Why I like it: Crystal Hunters is an intelligently designed game. Puzzlers on XBLIG sometimes forget to properly scale the difficult level, dumping players off in the deep-end early on. Crystal Hunters eases players into the mechanics of the game. Make no mistake though, the difficulty scales up hugely towards the end. If you like mind benders, this sucker will go all origami on your brain.
What could have made it better: The play control is pretty touchy. The graphics are small in resolution.
Who will like it: Mensa types, eggheads, grizzled old prospectors.
Who won’t like it: Dummies, the recently lobotomized, girls named Crystal Hunter.
#24: Lair of the Evildoer
Developed by Going Loud Studios
Concept: Fight various undead enemies while trying to escape the lair of an evil genius in this twin-stick shooter.
Sort of like: Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES) if it was a rogue-like.
Why I like it: Lair of the Evildoer is an intense, though very clever shooter. Games that feature randomly-generated levels tend to feel generic, but Lair of the Evildoer is overflowing with personality. With a wide variety of enemies, weapons, and customizable stats, this is probably one of the most intelligent shooters on the platform.
What could have made it better: It was practically begging for co-op.
Who will like it: Shooting fans, zombiephiles, Austin Powers.
Who won’t like it: Shag carpet salesmen, actual evil geniuses, human resources managers.
Developed by Tribute Games
Concept: Old-timey brick-breaker with some RPG elements peppered in.
Sort of Like: Arkanoid set in Middle Earth.
Why I liked it: In my original review, I absolutely scorched Wizorb. And I regret that I wrote that review the way I did, because I failed to articulate that I really did like the game. I’m not exactly a fan of the genre, so the fact that Wizorb held my interest until the end is kind of a miracle. The only other brick-breaker that has done that for me is Shatter on PlayStation Network. The charming 8-bit graphics that are without a tinge of a modern influence are among the best of their breed on XBLIG. Wizorb is really special.
What could have made it better: The RPG stuff is mostly smoke and mirrors, so I wish they had gone further with the concept than they did.
Who will like it: Retro gamers, Breakout enthusiasts, demolitionists.
Who won’t like it: Bricklayers, union contractors, people who would rather be the Elforb instead of the Wizorb when they play Dungeons & Dragorbs.
Developed by Ishisoft Games
Concept: Yuletide puzzle-platforming.
Sort of like: The Game Boy version of Donkey Kong.
Why I liked it: The sequel to Johnny Platform’s Biscuit Romp (#36 on the Leaderboard at the time of this writing) combined fast-paced platforming with some clever level design and puzzles. There should be more games like this on XBLIG.
What could have made it better: Both Johnny Platform games feature a useless lives system that halts progress and forces replaying previously beaten levels for no reason whatsoever.
Who will like it: Platforming fans, people who like puzzlers that don’t require an IQ north of Albert Einstein, Ralphie.
Who won’t like it: Children on the naughty list, the Grinch, people waiting for Johnny Platform’s Hanukkah Brouhaha.
Developed by Andrew Gaubatz
Concept: Build cities using words and parts of speech.
Sort of like: Scrabble and Sim City had a beautiful baby that is potentially a genius and occasionally shits on you.
Why I liked it: Lexiv is probably an acquired taste that requires a love of word games mixed with a deep fondness for simplified Sim City-esq strategy and maintenance. Despite being a very rough build (I would safely call it a beta), you can see the potential. I could see Hasbro licensing this and branding it as Scrabble City.
What could have made it better: Every stage begins with “L-E-X-I-V” as the starting word that you have to build on. This is incredibly stupid because X and V are not the most versatile letters. I actually hate V more than X. V’s are the wisdom teeth of Scrabble. When they show up, they cause nothing but pain and are in dire need of extraction.
Who will like it: City planners who play crossword puzzles, crossword fans who aspire to be city planners, those little shits that make the Scripps finals.
Who won’t like it: Pepole hoo relie to munch un spel chek, the dude who was planning to make “Words of Warcraft”, Charlie Brown.