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.”

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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.

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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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