Light Fighters

I admit, I haven’t been very productive as of late.  I think I’m suffering from some sort of XBLIG-related malaise.  Part of that comes from getting so many review requests for games that just don’t seem that interesting.  I’m not talking about games that look bad or play bad, but just the type of stuff anyone (besides those that made it) would have a tough time getting excited over.

Take Light Fighters by Deviant Spark for example.  It’s not an awful game by any means.  It’s not really good either, but what’s wrong with it is so insubstantial that trying to get a full review that’s also entertaining to read is like trying to dig a canal using a plastic spoon.  The main focus of the game is local-only multiplayer combat.  This is almost never a good idea on XBLIG.  Even really great party titles on the platform, like Chompy Chomp Chomp or Hidden in Plain Sight, are tough sells for non-indie-loving nerds.  You developers really need to meditate on this fact.  Close your eyes and try to picture someone like me pitching a game like Light Fighters to my friends.

“We’re spaceships.  We try to shoot at each-other’s spaceship.  This goes on until one of us dies.  Here, look at the trailer.”

“Uhhh………huh.  And you think we should play this over Borderlands 2, why?

“Because, um, because I’m Indie Gamer Chick?”

“That’s cool.  We’re not though.”

screen2

By the way, this doesn’t include Brian, who is really supportive of this whole Indie Gamer Chick thing that I’ve fallen into.  But his support has limits.  Especially when he’s listened to me whine about how bad the single-player modes of the game are for hours.  The AI in the tournament mode is just too good at shielding shots, which can make matches drag on for ten, fifteen minutes with no progress being made.  And the meteor mode is awful too because it’s slow, your bullets get used up too fast and take too long to reload, power-ups are too slow to arrive, and yet it’s somehow still too easy.  By time it’s his turn to jump in, he knows better.

“Okay Brian, let’s try this multiplayer.”

“Is that the game you’ve been having a chick-boner over?”

“No, that’s Genix.  I’m writing that review tomorrow.  This is for Light Fighters.”

“The one you’ve been complaining about?”

“Yea.”

“I think I’ll pass.”

“But, I need to try this multiplayer.”

“Your dad is home, get him.”

“Oh come on, please?”

“No.  Cathy, if you’re not liking it at all, why would you attempt to subject your friends to it?”

“Because, um, I’m Indie Gamer Chick!”

“And I’m Nippy Nuts the Car Guy.  What’s your point?”

“Um, misery loves company?”

“I’m not really feeling like being in the company of misery today.”

“It probably won’t be THAT bad!”

“But you think it will be bad.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, but no.”

“Please?”

“No.”

“I’ll give you a back rub!”

“Your hands are too tiny for it.”

“I’ll take you out for a rib dinner!”

“See, now that you’ve said that, you’ll be craving a rib dinner and I’ll get it anyway.”

“I’ll blow you.”

“I’ll get that anyway too.”

Okay, so such a conversation didn’t really take place.  I wouldn’t offer to blow Nippy Nuts just to get him to play a game with me, and he actually would step up if I pressed the matter.  But do I really want to?  A game’s goal is to grab you from the get-go with an interesting hook and fun gameplay, and the two hours I spent with it were, while not outright painful, pretty damn dull.

I did end up having a bit of a go with multiplayer and it was just as bland and exhausting as I suspected it would be.  Mind you, this is a perfectly functional game that features decent (if somewhat primitive) graphics and solid play control.  It’s just not fun.  It wasn’t fun to play, it wasn’t fun to explain to my friends so that I could squeeze in some multiplayer rounds, and it wasn’t fun to write about.  It took me a few weeks to get to this review, in part because Brian was on vacation, but also in part because I promised the developer I would review it and immediately had buyer’s remorse.

I would like to say that the developer of Light Fighters has been nothing short of classy, and quite patient considering that I had to put his review on hold for a couple of weeks.  So hopefully he takes the news that I didn’t enjoy his game at all with good grace, instead of accusing me of being a lying crackwhore who has failed to comprehend the genius of his game.  I’m guessing he won’t be a poo thrower though.  He actually has talent and class.  Typically it’s only the completely talentless that resort to flinging poo and making themselves a total clown for the bemusement of the community.

screen1

There is nothing really wrong with Light Fighters besides not being fun.  The game didn’t crash.  There weren’t physics glitches.  Everything wrong with it can be boiled down to “this game probably had no chance of being entertaining from the onset and the developer should have recognized that and tried something else.”  Even if the ships were more interesting, or the bullets they fired more exotic, or the AI less unfair, or the reload-rates less painfully slow, or if multiplayer matches didn’t all boil down to glorified button mashers that leave little to no room for strategy, or if it had something to keep track of what your best times are in meteor mode, or if the meteors weren’t so fucking spongy, or all of the above, Light Fighters still would have been boring.  Don’t forget to ask play testers “is this fun?”  Because that’s just as important as whether the game is functional or broken.  Don’t just ask if it’s fun, but ask follow-up questions too.  “Why is it fun?”  “Why isn’t it fun?”  “What could make it more fun?”  Which, I’ll admit, will put your fellow developers in an awkward position.  It’s the equivalent of your girlfriend asking if this dress makes her look fat.  And it does.

xboxboxartLight Fighters was developed by Deviant Spark

80 Microsoft Points would be interested in playing a game called Deviant Spark in the making of this review.  I bet it would be about a Transformer who enjoys streaking and showing people his collection of nude playing cards. 

“Ha, good one Cathy!  Hey, isn’t that.. is that Michael Bay taking notes?”

“Huh?  What?  Oh fuck, hey, NO!  DO NOT PUT THAT IN THE NEXT MOVIE!  DIDN’T YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM MUDFLAP AND SKIDS?!!”

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

21 Responses to Light Fighters

  1. Is movement in this game only along the y axis? I’m assuming so by the bar thingy in the screenshots but I’m really curious now.

  2. I was sad that the multiplayer was so dull. I tried the thing out and yeah, the defense in the game is so good that the offense may as well not exist. It didn’t help that the same energy bar is used for both offense and defense, so when you DO finally get your opponent cornered and out of energy, guess what? You’re out too! And probably in a worse position than they are. Bullets needed to move faster and take less energy. Actually, if you just sped the game up to like 1.75x or 2x speed and had the bullets take even 3/4ths the energy that they do now, the versus mode would be kinda fun.

  3. Tim Roast says:

    “I admit, I haven’t been very productive as of late.”

    I think you mean you haven’t been as productive of late, because you still are productive, at least going by frequency of posts compared to most.

  4. CJ says:

    Just admit it, Cathy. You’ve been unproductive on the XBLIG front, because most of the games you review are ASS. Let’s not kid ourselves. In front of a professional panel, a lot of these games would get eaten alive because they skip out on the most important part of playing a game… TO HAVE FUN! Some look great, some sound great, some have great gameplay concepts, and some have PORN in them! But if a game is ASS, all that takes a backseat because, there are MUCH better things people could be doing. Like playing the most recent Square masterpiece, which are usually technical marvels. Or listen to Deadmau5. Or play the next Castlevania, and while those games saturate the action platformer market, they usually don’t disappoint. Or jerk off to FREE internet porn. You know, the one that doesn’t require me to play an ASS game, just to see some tits? 😀

    You know what? I’m gonna start a review site, review games and I’m gonna start telling people how ASS they are. Somebody needs to tell these developers to either MAN UP AND DO BETTER NOW or STOP FUCKING MAKING GAMES, BECAUSE THEY SUCK ASS AND THEY PROBABLY FLIP BURGERS BETTER THAN THEY CODE!

    Because many of these are SO BAD, they’ve draining the life out of one of the most prominent, popular and appreciative XBLIG reviewers around! And because I’m tired of looking at some 2000+ New World Orders and Big Rigs. 😉 As a community, we CAN do better than this! We SHOULD!!

    • Anyone can put out a game on XBLIG. ANYONE! OK, ok, ok, anyone with $100 to spend.

      No minimum quality requirement! No experience necessary! No nothing! Seriously, people have posted (and passed!) dev kit samples!

      IMO: this is the best and the worst part about XBLIG, and to say “MAN UP AND DO BETTER NOW or STOP MAKING GAMES” is akin to saying “MAN UP AND DO BETTER NOW or STOP MAKING BLOG POSTS! / VIDEO GAME REVIEWS! / SHORT STORIES! / PICTURES OF YOUR DOG!”

      It’s your right to call ass games ass, but it’s also our right to create ass games. How else are we to learn? If anything, I wish I had released more ass games! If I had, then maybe my current game (my first release) would have ended up being less ass.

      Also, flipping burgers pays better per hour than XBLIG 99.9% of the time, though it is dramatically less fun. I would know since I flipped burgers at McDonald’s for about 2 months when I was 16 🙂 I don’t recommend it.

      • CJ says:

        I like your reply. 😀 But really, no one has to put their crappy games out to learn from them. I learned how to make awesome shmups by taking notes from games I liked(ChoRenSha 68K, Reversed, CrimsonLand). EVERYBODY should do this. I was in that phase of “I can make good games by myself! Blue blazes I’m awesome!”, but that lasted like, a few months because someone told me my games outright sucked and I should research popular shmups to make them better(your animations suck cuz there aren’t any, draw better, make better bullet patterns, etc.). Clean Asia developer Cactus told me this! 😀 It kind of hurt at first of course, being a newbie at game dev. But I got blasted by mutliple developers since then, so I cleaned up my act real quick. Now people tell me my shmups remind them of old Toaplan games(which is a compliment I think) 🙂 Took all of 4 years though.

        Point is, there’s a reason a lot of folks don’t like the XBLIG channel. But we don’t have to hold up the reputation of being a turd factory!

        • How did you get all that awesome feedback if you didn’t put your game “out there”? I guess you weren’t using XNA?

          I think that XBLIG is as much of a turd factory as any open deployment source (Flash sites, Unity game sites, etc, etc). The only difference is that people have to pay $100 to deploy XBLIG turds and that’s really too bad (also we aren’t allowed to give our games away for free, so there’s that too). On the other hand, can you imagine the turditude level that would be reached if there wasn’t a $100 fee? *shiver*

          IMO: People don’t like the XBLIG channel because they want it to be something it isn’t. They want XBLA level games from the public at rock bottom prices. But it’s not that. It’s freedom, ugly, dirty, horrible, wonderful, beautiful, disgusting, freedom.

          • CJ says:

            I didn’t use XNA back in 2006. It was more of a demo contest. There were 2 more failures I had after, but they sure as heck didn’t make it to the spotlight! My shotgun made sure of that! 😀 But each one marked great improvements because of the previous feedback I got. The difference was that no one saw those. Just that one rotten egg, then a bunch of golden eggs. XD There was no pressure to get there though.

            Personally, I think such a scenario would be more suited for novice XBLIG developers. But it’s the system that forces people to release those kinds of games. Developers are pressured to release for quick payments, no one gives them the valuable feedback they need, and they gotta wait weeks just to see what the public thought of their projects.

            • NVO Games says:

              2006! When you said 4 years I assumed 4 years ago for some reason… Would you mind posting a link so I can check out your stuff? I’m curious!

              I wonder how long until Steam opens the floodgates and lets anyone sell anything just like XBLIG, Metro and the various app stores… There money to be made from cr-apps and dev subscriptions after all 🙂

      • Jimmy Page says:

        I have to agree with this sentiment. If the developers of Skyfish can make a Mediocre game after 6 tries there’s hope for all indie developers to make something good. I mean the Skyfish series was so bad initially I’d hesitate to even call it a dev kit it began so bad. So to see one almost resemble a functional and playable game kind of shocked me.

        • CJ says:

          Skyfish was functional at the very least, wasn’t half bad on the gameplay front IMO. I applaud the developer for their actions. Can’t say the same about the other crApps though. 😛 I consider a XBLIG crap when it can’t even BE functional. Like it tries to do what it’s supposed to do, but fails at every opportunity. Usually this is a basic task like moving, jumping…exiting.

          • Jimmy Page says:

            Well Skyfish 3 (Zombiecraft) is functional but I honestly don’t get its function I mean you can place blocks and remove them, oh and jump, so while functional it really didn’t have anything to do with that functionality it just sort of existed with no purpose to it. I will say that Skyfish 6 (Skyfish forever) is actually functional and the function does seem to have a purpose to it. But it has taken this long to get the series to even look like something resembling a game.

            • NVO Games says:

              Oh man, Skyfish Forever was one of the first games I tried to peer review.

              BTW: the person behind Skyfish has relinquished the game to the community so I’m actually considering creating a Skyfish game 🙂

  5. CJ says:

    By the way, if you wanna see an early game I made NVO, search “Saberella” on Youtube. 🙂

    • NVO Games says:

      So can I assume that you are “AdigunPolack” then 🙂

      • CJ says:

        No. But that’s one awesome person! 😀 Probably one of the more inspirational and encouraging judges of anything, ever. He encouraged me to keep going with my game development.

  6. Pingback: Indie Links Round-Up: Interlocked | The Indie Game Magazine - Indie Game Reviews, Previews, News & Downloads

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