We’ve reached the top 10. Which are featured right there on the sidebar of this very site. So much for building anticipation. Oh well. You can read parts 1, 2, and 3. Here are games #10 through #6. Click the names to read my full review.
#10: Star Ninja
Developed by Bounding Box Games
Concept: Throw bouncy throwing-stars at pirates.
Sort of like: Angry Birds, only better.
Why I liked it: Star Ninja was an early review on this site, but it remains my personal barometer for the potential of Xbox Live Indie Games. If I had to bet on which of the 240 previous games I’ve reviewed had the greatest chance to be a major world-wide commercial success, it would be this. It does the “aim & fire” action-puzzler genre better than Angry Birds, and it also features better characters, puzzles, humor, and graphics. If Bounding Box Games can get this on iPhone, it could very well be the next big runaway hit.
How it could have been better: It’s not always clear what is something that the ninja star will bounce off of and what it will get stuck in, so building the stages out of a more distinctive material is probably necessary.
Who will like it: People who take the “ninja” side in the pirates or ninjas debate, the guys at Disney making a movie where Steven Seagal discovers Flubber, Splinter.
Who won’t like it: Butters, Honus Wagner, Oroku Saki.
Developed by Zeboyd Games
Concept: Help Cthulhu get his mojo back in this comedic 16-bit RPG.
Sort of like: H. P. Lovecraft as read by Mel Brooks.
Why I liked it: Although Zeboyd’s technical masterpiece was Penny Arcade, I thought the writing in that was often mediocre. In Cthulhu, the idea that you’re playing as the Great Old One kind of wears thin quickly, but the overall story and humor remain strong through-out. In that sense, it made a hypocrite of me, because I’ve always said gameplay is king. Penny Arcade plays better, but Cthulhu Saves the World is the better game. Not that CStW is a slouch in the gameplay department. The battles are fast paced, the insanity system is fun, and it packs bonus content like developer commentary and an original second quest, all for $4 less than their recent title.
How it could have been better: Zeboyd didn’t realize fast enough that random encounters are a thing of the past. If you could combine Penny Arcade’s gameplay with Cthulhu’s story, it would have been the #1 game on this site.
Who will like it: People who can spell “Cthulhu” without having to check Wikipedia, Metallica, unimaginative Scribblenauts players.
Who will dislike it: The Roivas family, Hastur the Unspeakable, Megazord.
#8: Miner Dig Deep
Developed by Substance Games
Concept: Dig for precious metals that you use to buy equipment that you use to dig for more precious metals.
Sort of like: Dig Dug – Enemies + Minecraft = Heroin.
Why I liked it: You’ll either grow to like Miner Dig Deep or you’ll hate it immediately. For months, I had people telling me that I had to play Miner Dig Deep, but they wouldn’t tell me why. It was suspicious, and a bit ominous. After a while, I caved in (no pun intended) and bought it. Then, six hours later, I emerged from a dazed stupor after I accidentally beat the game. Thank Christ it had an ending, or I would still be playing it. If you want an actual explanation of why I liked Miner Dig Deep, I can’t really offer you any reason other than “I honestly don’t know.” The gameplay is repetitive, grindy, and the game is nothing more than a time sink. Its appeal exists on an almost primal level. Or maybe it’s a Freudian thing relating to me just wanting to get drilled.
How it could have been better: As I stated, you can beat the game, and then it gives you the option to start over or keep digging up your currently map. I wish it offered something more.
Who will like it: Geologists, people attracted to shiny things, Solomon.
Who won’t like it: OSHA, environmentalists, canaries.
Developed by Utopian World of Sandwiches
Concept: Eat-or-be-eaten party game.
Sort of like: Bomberman meets Pac-Man.
Why I like it: With the exception of Worms, I’ve never really been into party gaming. Chompy Chomp Chomp must have something going for it, because I spent hours playing this online and off, with friends and family, colleagues and acquaintances. Chompy keeps things simple enough that anyone can pick-up-and-play it. Vast improvements have been made since the original build, fixing problems with spawning, and thus negating frustration. With more fixes planned, Chompy has the potential to climb up these rankings.
How it could have been better: A lot of the stages are just no damn good for the type of game offered here, making it too easy to get cornered. Try to figure out for yourself which ones don’t work before playing this with friends, because they can really kill the mood.
Who will like it: Social butterflies, hospitable hippos, the Donner Party.
Who won’t like it: Dieters, vegans, Katniss Everdeen.
Developed by MonsterJail Games
Concept: Guide a cat around a castle in search of keys.
Sort of like: A 1980s PC -styled Metroidvania.
Why I liked it: I guess I’m a sucker for exploration-based platforming. LaserCat takes a minimalist approach to this concept. You have no offensive options at your disposal, there are no secondary items to collect, no cut scenes to sit through, and the whole game takes about two to three hours to finish. It sounds limited, but LaserCat’s focus on pure gameplay works. This is one of the most enjoyable experiences on a modern console.
How it could have been better: In order to collect keys, you have to answer trivia questions, some of which are non-nonsensical riddles. This was done to meet XBLIG’s unwritten minimal shittiness quota.
Who will like it: Subscribers of Cat Fancy, Eleanor Abernathy, YouTube.
Who won’t like it: People with ailurophobia, Saturday Night Live, Mumm-Ra.