Short Subject Saturdays: Plug & Play and The Plan

igclogo

In my review of The Old Tree, I said I would like to see more indies tackle short subjects. This got me thinking: why don’t I do a feature where I look for these games? So, I put out a call on Twitter asking for suggestions on games that could be finished in under twenty minutes. I didn’t really think this through all that much. Most developers pitched their own games under the guise that hypothetically, if you never make a single mistake and do none of the side quests, a game could be finished in twenty minutes. Or people pointed me at arcade style games that can be played in bursts of a minute at a time if I so wished. Sigh.

So, here’s my unofficial definition on a short subject indie game. A game with a beginning and an ending that unfolds in a linear fashion, where a player can see 99% of the content in a single play-through, all in under twenty minutes.

Every Saturday, I’ll take a look at a couple such titles. You can hit me on Twitter with your suggestions.

First up is Plug & Play. Originally, my definition of short subject indie games mentioned that they were story driven, but I realized that didn’t apply to this one. There really isn’t a story. Plug & Play is a series of vignettes. Take power plugs, stick them into sockets. Or there are Plug People: anamorphic plugs and sockets that you might end up having to plug into each other. Even David Lynch was like “whoa, slow down there, bro, that’s too weird.”

Human Centiplug?

 Plug & Play. Human Centiplug?

Plug & Play was developed by Mario von Rickenbach and Michael Frei ($2.99 were similtanntious creeped out and turned on in the making of this review. Available now on Steam)

Plug & Play was developed by Mario von Rickenbach and Michael Frei ($2.99 was simultaneously creeped out and turned on in the making of this review. Available now on Steam)

Plug & Play is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

Plug & Play is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

Gameplay is just typical point and click puzzle fare. I really wish more short subject indies would incorporate conventional gameplay mechanics into their work. But what’s here is enjoyable enough. It successfully got me to shake my head and say “wow” several times, which I’m guessing was its goal. Heck, it even caused me to laugh out loud a few times. Is there a point? No. Is it worth ten minutes of your time? I think so. Is it worth $3? Maybe not. When I tweeted that I enjoyed this title a lot, many of my fans balked at paying $2.99 for a game that takes ten minutes to finish and has no replay value. If this had been my title, I would have priced it at a dollar. $1 feels more comfortable for a game that is, for better or worse, a novelty. It’s not meant to compete against the likes of Shovel Knight or Super Meat Boy. It’s meant to compete against over-sized gumballs and temporary tattoos. $1 for a game falls into the realm of impulse buy. $3 puts you head-to-head with some more lengthy titles. Why compete against them when you don’t have to?

Jeff Goldblum was unavailable for comment.

The Plan. Jeff Goldblum was unavailable for comment.

Not that being cheap is an indication of having value. I nearly died from boredom playing this next title, which is free on Steam. The Plan puts you in the role of a fly who has to, well, fly. You fly up. At one point you escape from a spiderweb. Then you fly up some more. Than something happens and the game ends. It lasts about five minutes, and I thought it was boring. It felt more like a tech demo. A “get your feet wet coding your first game” experience. Solid graphics, and maybe it was trying to make a point, but I didn’t get it if it was. The Plan is one of those art for the sake of art titles that some people get and others don’t. Those that don’t get it and call it fart-sniffing, pretentious fluff are right. But those that are moved by it and call it a work of genius are also right, because art is always in the eye of the beholder. But I thought it was duller than being trapped in a conversation with Siri.

The PlanThe Plan was developed by Krillbite Studio
Available for free on Steam.

Thank you to Nate for creating the Short Subject Saturdays logo!

 

 

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8BitBoy

I’m reviewing far too many neo-retro games. 8BitBoy lured me with a siren song of colorful, convincing retro graphics and a modest $0.99 price tag (when it was on sale. Price is now $3.99). An opening narration eases you into the charming, Neverending Storylike setting of a man who discovers that one of his beloved Sega Master System cartridges from his long-lost childhood has a label with a missing title. He plugs it in, and suddenly he’s in the game. I loved the idea. So it’s a real shame that the storyline never pops up again, at least until you beat the final boss. Only it does the Bubble Bobble thing where you have to get all the correct items to unlock the true ending. I didn’t bother trying, but for those who purchase 8BitBoy, you’ll be happy to know that it put a lot of stock in replay value. That is, assuming you can look past some of the worst play control seen in a good indie platformer that I’ve experienced.

Sigh. No, I can't ship the dev off to the Turkish prison. They have no room left for people who make ice stages. Because that would be like 99% of all platform games. Nobody likes ice stages. Stop making them.

Sigh. No, I can’t ship the dev off to the Turkish prison. They have no room left for people who make ice stages. Because that would be like 99% of all platform games. Nobody likes ice stages. Stop making them.

8BitBoy handles awfully, at least with an Xbox One controller. Part of that is on me and my clearly-demonically possessed left thumb. No matter how many times I rest it on the d-pad and tell it “you will use THIS! The stick is no good!” the damn thing has a life of its own. Serves me right for smoking nutmeg that one time. But, actually, stick or d-pad, movement is ultra slippery. The best example of how movement needed a lot of tuning up are the Super Mario like vines. Sometimes you’ll hit a block and a vine will come out. The act of climbing this vine should not be a chore, but simply going up it in a straight line is agony. I kept wiggling to the left and right. I’m told this is much easier with a keyboard. Um, yea? So what? Who wants to play a 2D hop-‘n’-bop platformer with a keyboard? I don’t. I haven’t spoken with the developer so I can only speculate what happened, but I’m guessing he designed the game to be played with a keyboard and the controller support was only added afterwards. When you turn on the controller, the cursor for selecting stuff from the menu is also mapped to the controller, even though it still handles like it’s mapped to the mouse.

There’s a lot of other weird control issues. The game does the Super Mario “hit the block to reveal the item or get coins” thing. Only in 8BitBoy, you have to be perfectly lined up with the block or just bonk off it to no effect. There’s really no benefit to making a player be perfectly lined up. It’s just busy work. Like Three Dead Zed, 8BitBoy feels like the all the movement physics are transplanted from a different game. There is no one-sized-fits-all style of movement physics. Two of my favorite-controlling platformers are Super Meat Boy and Shovel Knight. Both couldn’t be more different. Take Super Meat Boy’s controls and put them in Shovel Knight and the game would be a disaster. Put Shovel Knight’s into Super Meat Boy and the game would be unbeatable. As a developer of a 2D platformer, you need to make sure the play control is perfect for your game, based on nothing else but how your game should handle. Don’t say “I like how (Game) controls. I’m going to make mine handle that way!” Because what you’ve designed might not lend itself well to that. And for God’s sake, don’t stop testing with complete strangers until the moment you go gold. Once you’ve released, you’re sort of locked in. Ask the Three Dead Zed guys.

I’m really frustrated with 8BitBoy’s loose controls because everything else about it is sublime. I almost never talk about the graphics of a game, but what’s here is practically an 8-bit siren call. 8BitBoy is colorful, inviting, and beautiful. Well, opening level rainstorm not withstanding. Seriously, why would you start your game with a rainstorm? Rainstorms are depressing. Christ, is there some kind of unwritten rule that indies must be at least THIS bleak? I shudder to think of what an indie reboot of Mappy would be like. “Act One: Mappy’s mother just died of cancer. Mappy laid down in bed and began to cut himself. Going too deep, Mappy nicked an artery. Our adventure begins with Mappy slipping into unconsciousness..”

Gene Kelly is the only person who made rain seem less than bleak. For everyone else, rain is like liquid sadness. What was the tummy symbol on the unhappy Care Bear? RAIN!

Gene Kelly is the only person who made rain seem less than bleak. For everyone else, rain is like liquid sadness. What was the tummy symbol on the unhappy Care Bear? RAIN!

And that level design? Sorry to quote Inspector Gadget, but I’m feeling it here: wowzers. Perfect use of old school tropes here. Excellent moving platforms. Well placed spikes. TONS of hidden pathways and rooms. No matter how bad the controls were, I wanted to experience these stages. When I found a warp zone early on and skipped to the midway point of the second world, I was kind of bummed out. But, the fact that the level design is so inspired only serves to frustrate me with the controls more. How could a developer get one aspect of the game so fucking right and completely and utter airball an equally important component? You know, a common theme in indie gaming is final stages that go out with a whimper instead of a bang. Where you can tell the developer rushed the finale out just so they could see the game released and hear what people have to say about it. 8BitBoy doesn’t have that. The last levels are some of the best in the entire game. Normally that would have me looking to give the closest person a tearful hug of relief. Here, that made me just shake my head and wonder, what if they had got it right?

8BitBoy by all rights should be a top 25 game on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard. Does it do anything new? No. Instead, it feels like an all-star version of an old school tribute. Every conventional 2D mechanic is here and damn near perfect. Even though I spent my entire run cussing the controls, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any fun. 8BitBoy is a lot of fun. It’s yet another one of those “dream game come to life” titles. But this dream game is a bit of a nightmare. The controls are completely unacceptable. I do absolutely recommend 8BitBoy, both to love-sick nostalgic types and cynical nostalgia-hating cynics such as myself. But I also recommend it as an example of a game that does everything right except the thing it needed to do most. Giving a game like this to a fan of platformers (such as myself) is like handing someone a Porsche without a gas pedal that has to be started like Fred Flintstone’s car. Hey, it’s still a Porsche, right! Just be ready to pick glass and rusty nails out of your feet.

8bitboy logo8BitBoy was developed by Awesome Blade
Points of Sale: Steam, Desura

igc_approved1$0.99 (normally priced $3.99) didn’t note above that there’s a nasty glitch where sometimes you have a reserve item, go to activate it, and the item is lost with nothing happening. They really ought to fix this in the making of this review.

8BitBoy is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

Escape Goat 2

From July 1, 2012 to July 26, 2013, the top ranked game on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard was Escape Goat, an incredible platform-puzzler by Ian Stocker. I’ve played dozens upon dozens of puzzlers since starting Indie Gamer Chick, and it stood out. It didn’t have the most difficult puzzles, but the ingenuity of the puzzle design left a big impression on me. It was one of the first games I played that made me realize that indies in many ways have eclipsed big studios in terms of creativity and intelligence of design. But, what impressed me most of all about Escape Goat was how this was a puzzler that anyone could play. Compare it to something like Gateways, which is probably the most brainy puzzler ever created. Less than 1% of all people who purchase that game ever finish it, even on it’s “easy” mode. Which is not a knock on it. As of this writing, it ranks #9 on my Leaderboard. The game is genius. The problem is, the learning curve is so steep that you practically have to be a genius to get the most out of it. Escape Goat was challenging enough to give anyone making their way through it a sense of satisfaction, but not so smart that anyone would be likely to walk away and never return. Sort of like what I’ve been known to do with punishers. Damn you 1001 Spikes, you refried bastard of a game, you.

Escape Goat 2 isn’t a revolutionary upgrade on the original by any means. It’s still built around single-screen puzzles that are solved by activating a series of switches that alter the layout of each stage. You still have a mouse helper that you use to squeeze through narrow passageways, transfer places with, or to activate switches. And it still contains equal parts platforming and puzzling, a balance that many of its genre cousins have trouble maintaining. It’s safe to say that Escape Goat 2 is more of an evolutionary step. When this is the case, I typically find the sequel to be satisfactory, but leaving less of an impression on me. Mario Galaxy 2, Kingdom Hearts II, and Arkham City all left me feeling that. That’s what makes Escape Goat 2 such a surprise. It not only feels fresh, but that sense of awe and discovery that hooked me with the original happened to me again and again, as I watched floors and walls shift around to reveal the pathway to victory stage after stage. It reminded me the staircases at Hogwarts, or the some of the elaborate boobytraps from the Indiana Jones franchise. In this sense, Escape Goat and Escape Goat 2 hold a unique distinction for me on the indie scene: they’re the only games that made me totally revert back to my childhood. Not even Journey managed to accomplish this. For this reason, Escape Goat 2 is the first game since Journey that made me debate whether it should go on top of the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

No, my mascot making a cameo did not influence my feelings. Truth is, I'm a little insulted by the lack of stature it was given. It should have been a miniboss, at least.

No, my mascot making a cameo did not influence my feelings. Truth is, I’m a little insulted by the lack of stature it was given. It should have been a miniboss, at least.

As an evolutionary version of Escape Goat, the sequel features new styles of puzzles. Sometimes you’ll acquire the ability to manipulate four mouses at once. Other times, you’ll have to turn the mouse into a block, either to act as a shield or to smash platforms below you. Unlike the first game, levels unfold in a slightly more linear way. One of the fatal weaknesses of the original game was that the levels could be tackled in any order. For this reason, the difficulty couldn’t be scaled. The sequel not only fixed this, but it contains one of the finest difficulty curves the indie puzzle scene has ever seen. Even when you later open up new stages that link off the opening levels, those new levels feature the proper scaling of difficulty. Is it perfect scaling? Of course not. Even big budgeted games by some of the biggest names in gaming rarely nail the curve, and indies never do. Having said that, Escape Goat 2 comes the closest. Considering how bad the first one screwed the pooch in this area, I thought it was worth mentioning.

Like the first Escape Goat, I found the controls to be exceptional. I was actually shocked to learn that people are complaining about them. I’ve reviewed 472 indies as of today, with the highest percentage of them being platformers. Proper platforming controls are among the most difficult things to get right. I never once felt the controls failed me. If I died, it’s because I fucked up, not the controls. The jumping is so natural that your limitations become instinctive almost immediately. Maybe I had an easier time because I enjoyed Escape Goat 2 with an Xbox One controller, but really, even some very good indie platformers struggle with controls. I would rank my experience with Escape Goat 2 second only to Super Meat Boy in terms of how instinctive they become. I can think of no higher praise.

I don’t want this to sound like a digital blowjob. Believe me, I have some bones to pick with Escape Goat 2. My biggest gripe: the lighting effects. Many of the stages are lit in a way where you have to explore them to get a proper lay of the land. It sounds great in theory, but I felt it took away from the majesty of discovery, which is where Escape Goat really shines. It’s the same thrills that make movies like National Treasure and Tomb Raider bearable to watch. Unfortunately, those moments in Escape Goat 2 are often shrouded in darkness (even when you turn the image brightness up in the options), and that’s really a shame. I’m also still not a fan of when the stages center less around puzzling and more around simple precision platforming. Although I argue that Escape Goat 2 does platforming very well, it’s not the game’s calling card, and those stages feel almost phoned in.

Escape Goat 2 also does that annoying thing where one of the unlockable super powers can only be achieved by dying X amount of times (in this case, 400 god damned times). I *hate* it when games do that. Thomas Was Alone did it too. Granted, TWA did it in a way that confirmed my fucking awesomeness, but this shit is like rewarding players for incompetence. Picture if we did this in all walks of life. Did you watch the last Superbowl? Remember when the Broncos gave up a fucking safety right off the bat? Imagine if they followed that up by dousing their coach with Gatorade while the players that fucked up gave each other chest bumps and high fives, all while the beleaguered Seahawks watched on in dumbstruck awe. You wouldn’t give them a fucking achievement for that. And yet gaming now does this on a consistent basis.  STOP IT!! The point is to not die!

Unless you’re one of those games where the point actually is to die.

See what I mean about the lighting? Why is it every game has to be so damn dark and mopey these days? Do you know what the indie development scene needs most of all? A fucking psychiatrist.

See what I mean about the lighting? Why is it every game has to be so damn dark and mopey these days? Do you know what the indie development scene needs most of all? A fucking psychiatrist.

Escape Goat 2 isn’t revolutionary. It won’t change the way you feel about gaming, one way or another. So it surprises me that I actually had to stop and think about whether I enjoyed it more than Journey. It ultimately came down to this: Escape Goat 2 made me do that “revert back to a giggling, wide-eyed child” thing that games like Portal and Super Mario Galaxy did for me. I crave those moments. They’re so very rare. I give the nod to Journey because it’s the only indie I played that took me places emotionally that I never expected any game would do. I hope that doesn’t detract anyone from giving Escape Goat 2 a whirl. After all, I am comparing the best indie I’ve ever played to the second best indie I’ve ever played. Because, as of this writing, that’s exactly what Escape Goat 2 is. A magnificent title from a rare breed of talent. A game that makes me proud of what I do here at Indie Gamer Chick.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to the game and kill myself another 304 times. Because Ian Stocker is that much of an asshole.

Escape Goat 2 logoEscape Goat 2 was developed by Magical Time Bean

IGC_Approved$9.99 is so hungry it could eat a goat burger. I have no clue what that means, but my late partner Kevin used to say that every day in the making of this review. Do goats taste nasty or something?

Escape Goat 2 is Chick-Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.

 

Dots

Having epilepsy sucks.  Between Jerry and I, we rolled off eight straight days of new reviews here, a new record for Indie Gamer Chick.  Then I got absolutely obliterated over the weekend by a spell, and wasn’t fully recovered by time the next spell hit on Wednesday.  I’ve had no coordination.  I’ve been sleeping a ton (cause for alarm for anyone who knows me).  I almost checked myself into the hospital under suspicion of brain damage after finding myself enjoying Duck Dynasty.

Mostly, I was pissed at not being able to play the games I planned on doing for Indie Gamer Chick.  Then I realized that I had been spending my recovery putting a sickening amount of time into a simple, addictive little iPhone game called Dots.  Before I get to the game itself, I have to browbeat the developers for a bit.  Dots?  Seriously?  You put all that effort into making a really fun game and Dots was the best you could come up with?  It’s appropriate the game is on mobile because you guys totally phoned it in with that name.

Connect the dots. Nanna nanna nah. Connect the dots. Nanna nanna nah.

Connect the dots. Nanna nanna nah. Connect the dots. Nanna nanna nah.

So the basic idea is you have a 6×6 grid of colorful dots that you have to link together to score points.  If you are able to link colors in the shape of a box, it clears all of that color (and any extra dots trapped inside the box).  There are two modes: one where you have sixty seconds and one where you have thirty moves.  Like Bejeweled and its ilk, Dots relies as much on luck of the draw as on anything resembling skill or cognitive thinking.  Because of that, it’s not deeply rewarding.  I look at those pricks on the high score board and think, nay, KNOW that they not only used all the premium boosters, but still have the luckiest board to work with you could hope for.  When it comes to randomness in games, I’m not lucky.  The only time I beat the odds is when doing so works against my favor.  If I was to play Russian Roulette with a special revolver that had 10,000 chambers, one of which was loaded, I guarantee you that Jerry would be writing my obituary.

So why have I been hooked on a game that is based almost entirely on luck?  I can’t even really explain it.  Dots is almost hypnotic in its simplistic pleasure.  Part of it is the sound effects.  The chimes that grow louder as you string together longer lines, which creates a soothing STOP LAUGHING AT ME!  I’m serious!  This is like getting a sensual massage in your ears.  Plus, I kept playing hoping for that off-off-off chance of me getting onto the global leaderboard.  Actually, these guys could really suck people in by making a separate leaderboard for games where no boosters were used.  Of course, doing so would probably discourage people from buying the boosters, but still.  You can grind up money to spend on the bonuses, two of which can be used once each per game.  Add extra time (or five extra moves in 30 move mode) and clear all dots of a color are pretty effective, but the clear-all color booster is very spendy.  There’s also a booster that allows you to remove a single dot from the grid, which might open up a run of square-making.  None of them are necessary to enjoy the game.  In fact, it was days before I used my first one.  But, you probably do need them to have any remote hope in Hell of making the Leaderboards.  Again, there should have been more.

IMG_0139I’ve been stuck at my house for almost a week now.  In that time, I’ve been a bump on a log, watching marathons of House or Dexter with my boyfriend.  But, I suspect that Dots is the perfect “play it while waiting in line” game.  That’s what mobile games should be about.  Hypothetically, that’s what the best handheld games should be too.  Sure, epic RPGs have a place on your Vitas and 3DSs, but what about games that take advantage of the best thing handhelds exist for: killing time when you’re waiting for shit away from home?  Phones have completely conquered that market.

It’s a shame that Nintendo and Sony have given up so much ground to the cellular industry in the time-wasting department.  Games like Dots, not to mention abysmal sales of really good pieces of hardware like Vita, make me wonder why they even bother anymore.  The Vita and 3DS are essentially hand-held versions of recent consoles, and their libraries reflect that.  Maybe the era of the dedicated handheld gaming device really is over.  I mean, yeah, it’s cool that you can play Ocarina of Time while waiting for the bus.  But you have to spend $40 for that, not to mention buying an expensive piece of hardware that really doesn’t have any other functions to do so.  Meanwhile, the device I play Dots on can also play movies, Netflix, anything off my DirecTV, and music.  I can use it as a GPS, as a calculator, as a camera that doesn’t take crappy low-resolution pictures.  I check my stocks on it, or the weather, or movie showtimes.  I can tweet from it, or update my Facebook, or browse the internet.  I can send text messages and emails, or unlock my car door with it.  Oh, and make phones calls too.  Really, Nintendo and Sony, no matter how cool the technology in your gaming devices are, they’re still mechanical relics from a bygone era.  I would tell you to get with the times, but Sony is charging an arm and a leg for a couple measly gigs worth of memory cards and Nintendo is.. well.. Nintendo.  The times are not something they’re going to be getting with anytime soon.

DotsSeal of Approval LargeDots was developed by Betaworks

Dots is Free to Play, and Chick-Approved

Genix

Damnit.  Damnit damnit damnit damnit damnit!!

sad-puppy

How did this happen?  Early on in my play through of Genix, I felt I was playing a pretty good game.  I tweeted that it was “fucking awesome.”  I joked about having a “chick-boner” over it.  I probably should have put more than an hour into it.  What started as a fun neo-retro space jaunt ends up turning into a tedious, sprawling mess riddled with unfairness and frustration.  It’s one of the most disastrous turns I’ve seen an XBLIG make.

Genix’s hook is centered around its unique presentation.  The free-floating line graphics over a static background gives the game a holographic look similar to “floating image” games of the 70s and 80s like Sea Wolf, or especially Asteroids Deluxe.  This effect is also known as the “Pepper’s Ghost” and is used to create the special effects in the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland.  While playing this, my boyfriend commented that Genix, more than any other XBLIG covered at Indie Gamer Chick, belongs in an arcade.  Imagine a cocktail cabinet hosting Genix, using the Pepper’s Ghost effect.  It would be spectacular to look at.  Hell, it’s pretty damn nice to look at now on a television.  Even better was the amount of restraint shown by the developers to never allow the graphics to get in the way of gameplay, which is such a common mistake on games this stylistic.  It’s too bad this restraint didn’t extend to level design.  It’s like an alcoholic who triples his cigarette intake to quit drinking.

Screen shots don't do Genix justice.

Screen shots don’t do Genix justice.

Genix is all about navigating labyrinthine stages, looking for keys and doors to mate with the keys, shooting enemy ships and searching for an exit.  It’s certainly a different concept on the space shooter genre.  It’s probably been done before, but being a whippersnapper, this was new to me.  And at first, I enjoyed it.  Levels were well-organized, the mazes were clever, and the combat was.. well, that was always a bit tedious, but never annoyingly so.  The problem with the shooting is the enemies are pretty dang spongy.  Getting past early enemies isn’t so much a challenge as it is a device for killing the game’s pace.  The spongy enemies also combine with limited ammo to create a sort of puzzle effect on the game.  Although totally optional, Genix keeps track of how many enemies you take out in each stage.  It seems to give you just enough bullets in each stage to defeat every enemy.  This could have been a clever device to extend the game’s shelf-life, but the problem is it’s just not implemented in a fun way.  Enemies take so many bullets and firing them is so loosely done (even a snap-pull of the trigger fires multiple rounds) that you end up having to pump the fire button, shooting one round at a time in hopes of not wasting a single bullet.  It stretches the combat beyond boring and into the realm of torture.

But, the well designed stages more than made up for this, and I never grew tired of the beautiful graphics.

And then something happened.

About ten stages in, Genix gets teeth, and not in a good way.  Enemy turrets that fire quickly and are dead-on every shot are placed around corners in a way designed to guarantee you take damage.  Enemies are also placed just around corners in ways that force you to take damage rather than being able to strategically take them out.  Levels become more sprawling, sometimes taking ten minutes or longer to complete.  Your health drains relatively quickly and there are no checkpoints, so imagine putting ten minutes into a stage just to die because a boss appears out of nowhere and you’re trapped in close-quarters combat with a sliver of energy remaining.  That means you get to replay those ten minutes again.  Sometimes I don’t mind it, but Genix’s design doesn’t really lend itself well to forced-replays.  It also doesn’t help that weapon upgrades are dull and don’t really help so much with the sponge factor.  In early videos of the game, enemies don’t seem to be such bullet-eating bastards, so what happened?  Why do I get the feeling this is yet another example of a developer getting too good at their own game and beefing it up for their personal benefit, to the detriment of others?

screen3

An hour into Genix, I had it pegged as a top-20 game, but it’s not.  I can’t even put it onto the Leaderboard.  It has too many problems, chief of which is the game ramps up the difficulty by being a dick instead of being a fair challenge.  This dissolves the early sense of awe and makes the problems that were always present stick out much more.  Control is too loose, firing is too loose, the levels have too much needless backtracking, enemy design is basic and boring, and the game has serious pacing issues.  Like sometimes a tiny box-shaped stage with no maze elements appears at random that feels totally out-of-place.  Or sometimes you’ll get a new gun (like the plasma cannon) and realize that maybe it DOES kill enemies faster, but it also uses ammo faster, thus maintaining the status quo.  Let me stress that Genix has all the potential in the world to be something special.  Not by tearing it down and rebuilding it from scratch, but just by using some common sense and a little bit of patchwork.  This could very well be a top-10 game, but I can’t recommend it.  Like the crater that enjoys eating donkeys, Genix is too in love with being an asshole.

xboxboxartGenix was developed by Xpod Games

240 Microsoft Points (160 points too much) are practically begging for this game to get patched and ask for a Second Chance with the Chick in the making of this review.

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