Continued from Part 1, here are the best Xbox Live Indie Games, #20 through #16. Click the names to read the full reviews.
#20: Alien Jelly
Developed by Collective Mess
Concept: Sci-fi logic-puzzler where you move a group of gelatinous aliens around a maze.
Sort of like: Cuboid (PSN) as directed by Tim Burton. Only it doesn’t suck, unlike everything Tim Burton has done over the last decade.
Why I like it: I know logic-puzzle games are not extraordinarily popular. I would say they are an especially tough-sell on XBLIG, but Alien Jelly really shines brightly with great graphics to go along with some absolutely brilliant (and difficult) level design.
How it could have been better: The camera was terrible, leading to all kinds of problems with perspectives and depth-perception.
Who will like it: Puzzle fans, Sci-Fi fans, you know what? Fuck it, let’s just save time and say “nerds.”
Who won’t like it: SETI personnel, Martians, Travis Walton.
#19: Flight Adventure 2
Developed by CAVOK Games
Concept: Pilot a P-51 Mustang across a beautiful landscape in this shockingly detailed flight simulator that is officially licensed by Boeing.
Sort of like: Take your pick of any flight sim out there. It’s like that.
Why I like it: I’m not into this genre. At all. But Flight Adventure 2 absolutely hooked me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s anything but newb friendly. Yet the game has no actual “goals” in the strictest sense, freeing you to not feel any pressure to perform. It’s just about flying around and enjoying the sights. But it’s done in a very impressive way. It was released before the file size limit for XBLIGs was increased to 400MB. I’m actually scared what these guys could do with the extra space, considering that Flight Adventure 2 had incredible draw distance, mostly realistic physics, and even online multiplayer (with a tacked on and somewhat dull race mode). It’s also worth mentioning that this is Brian’s favorite XBLIG by a vertical mile.
How it could have been better: More landscapes, planes, or modes. I sure hope Flight Adventure 3 is on the way.
Who will like it: Amateur aviators, armchair pilots, people with pteromerhanophobia.
Who won’t like it: People with pteromerhanophobia, Germans, The Big Bopper.
#18: TIC Part 1
Developed by RedCandy Games
Concept: A mechanical robot man thingie tries to save the environment from evil oil drillers.
Sort of like: Any non-threatening, Nintendo-esq platformer. For some reason it reminded me of Super Princess Peach (DS).
Why I like it: XBLIG is populated by platformers that want you to suffer, but TIC is a tender loving game that would rather you enjoy the experience instead of cursing the day the spike was invented. The production values are nothing short of spectacular, but the smooth gameplay and excellent level design really put this one over the top as one of the best of its genre on the format.
How it could have been better: As the name implies, TIC: Part 1 an incomplete game. It’s been a year since I played the original and there has been no word on when Part 2 can be expected, which does sour the experience.
Who will like it: People who try to live “green”, Greenpeace, The Jolly Green Giant.
Who will dislike it: Sarah Palin, Texans, Hoggish Greedly.
#17: Minigame Marathon
Developed by Battenberg Software
Concept: Fast-paced minigames that you try to complete in as minimal time as possible.
Sort of like: Nintendo’s WarioWare series done with old-school game concepts.
Why I liked it: WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ was undoubtedly my favorite Game Boy Advance game (and I would consider calling it the absolute best game I’ve ever played. Feel free to ponder that for a while), and Minigame Marathon is as close as I’ve seen an XBLIG come to that. But while WarioWare focuses on absurd themes and juvenile humor, Marathon looks to gaming’s distant past for inspiration. Bite-sized versions of Pong, Frogger, Breakout, and their kin are sandwiched together in a game that’s potently addictive.
How it could have been better: In split-screen multiplayer, the graphics get too scrunched down, rendering some of the games nearly unplayable. The game features online leaderboards, but not multiplayer, and that’s a shame.
Who will like it: People with short attention spans, speed-run enthusiasts, people with short attention spans.
Who won’t like it: Fans of the color blue, Pheidippides, Rosie Ruiz.
#16: Orbitron: Revolution
Developed by Firebase Industries
Concept: Try for combos as you shoot down enemies while under a huge time crunch.
Sort of like: Defender if it was remade today like Pac-Man Championship Edition.
Why I liked it: Orbitron: Revolution has professional-level graphics, a true rarity on XBLIG. But that has nothing to do with why I like it. The gameplay is pure white-knuckle, high-pressure, score-driven, golden-age era fun. It really is like Defender, only with a time limit and without any little dudes to rescue. I never liked those guys much anyway. The constant rescuing of them really harshed my mojo. Orbitron is currently priced at 80MSP, but the price goes up to 240MSP on July 9, so get it now.
How it could have been better: Each wave of enemies spawns in different positions on the board, and sometimes achieving a high score is dependent on having a wave spawn in a way that is just perfectly set up to string together a combo. Success in Orbitron is not totally dependent on luck, but that unquestionably factors in, perhaps too much.
Who will like it: High-score fans, Eugene Jarvis, guys who have Buckner & Garcia’s “The Defender” on their iPod.
Who won’t like it: People who like the ability to reverse, guys waiting for Radarscope: Championship Edition, Darth Vader.