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XBLIG reviews Spooktacular

Its that time of year again and as such on my other blog [shameless plug] I've been doing the traditional thing every terrible reviews does and doing a month of Halloween themed reviews, So here for those reading in the C blogs is the combination of the full months collection of reviews all in one giant go.

Game Name: house of cockroach

Cost: 240

Review bit: Ah a review of a game from a way back. Originally I did write about this before opening this main blog and as such everything I said about that is floating in the either out there somewhere, and lost for all time. So House of Cockroach is a game that would be brilliant if it had managed the right target, House of cockroach is what can best be described as an average lightgun game. For those of you who know of light guns and Know how flatscreen, HD and high scan TVs have killed the original methods lightgun games used, youíll no doubt be questioning how a lightgun game could exist still on anything other than the Wii. This is the problem with house of cockroach as it is forced to have aiming reticules on the screen and use the controller with 2x 4x and 6x movement speed buttons.

Removing the need for a cheap plastic gun accessory actually works to this games deferment the game isnít bad with some amazing enemy and level models so much so they actually make the 240MSP price tag very palatable with the cockroaches even seeming animal like in their movement. The games idea of multiple weapons is a genius concept with machine gun allowing quicker fire but giving slightly less points while the reflect gun fires slower can bounce round the level hitting multiple enemies and giving more points. The Final weapon being the limited supply bombs which wipe out enemies in the area but unlike most games you have to aim them. The games only real other problem is the seeming lack of urgency with the timer being the only real enemy and maintaining enough time to go through the level which is more dictated by the games movement than anything you can influence to any great degree. While the demo only give one level there are many others to play and it does support 4 player offline co-op.

Verdict: A very good game and a very terrible game at the same time. If this had been Wii Ware or been released one Microsoft finally allows XNA devs to add kinect functionality to their game it would have been a very worthy addition to most peopleís libraries. However due to the aiming reticules, using the controller and the fact itís an infinite ammo game with seemingly no threat the game becomes a victim of its own ambition with the game size meaning it didnít get to qualify for the 80MSP release bracket where in its present state it belongs

Game Name: Firebies, the new zombies

Cost: 80

Review bit: It seems only right I begin this month of horror themed games with what happens to be the largest growing theme in games, the Zombie game. Like a plague sweeping through gaming zombies are everywhere, so the question is, what are Firebies ? The answer is I have no real idea, my best guess is kind of more stupid zombies. So Firebies plays strangely like a well programmed side scrolling brawler, true the combos feel a little clunky but not so much itís too annoying. The combos are unique and stylish, the projectile weapon of the default character freezing zombies and on top of this you have explosives all giving what could well be a very good strategic combat system.
However the game seemingly wastes this and decides to become another wave based zombie game where you have to fight your way through wave after wave of zombies with no real progression beyond going from wave to wave or arena to arena.

Verdict: A Real shame as while 80MSP games sell if this game had put in the time and had a campaign of some kind along with multiplayer modes then it could well have become the Indie game equivalent of Castle Crashers or Scott Pilgrim vs the world. However it didnít and as such thanks to its mediocrity and refusal to take the risk itís not making the 80MSP price point when it could have made the 240MSP point with ease.

Game Name: Angry Fish Halloween

Cost: 80

Review bit: Wait didnít I review Angry Fish before, I swear I did and it didnít do badly. You know what else, this game isnít Angry fish but Angry Fish Halloween and while it is a cheap jump on the Halloween bandwagon itís not like another franchise isnít bandwagonning too isnít right George Lucas , honestly anything cash in more eh ?
This is the third Angry Fish game as each has only been 80 MSP, this one actually seems to have further tightened on the formula and while Iím yet to check out Angry Fish Deep Sea it only makes the tightening and perfecting of the game actually seem even better. With the normal level of story of one single screen this game oddly is beating out the copy of angry birds I have installed on chrome both on level time and feeling. With Angry Birds the physics have never felt quite there with Angry fish the physics are worse but yet they do feel there as you fire the fish from a cannon to try and finish off the cats. My one bad point about this game, no real hidden stuff I know about and it felt slightly too easy.

Verdict: Let me put it this way. Angry birds on Xbox is £24.99 (About $35) The angry Fish trilogy is 240 MSP which is about $3. To say Angry Fish Halloween has managed to go up a level is mad and while itís a blatant rip off game it might actually be beating out the game itís trying to copy and bettering it. Thatís right Angry Fish Halloween on my 360 resets the levels quicker than my laptop can for angry birds, this isnít some poor laptop either its one that can holds its own and somehow play newer games (even if I have to have the graphics right down). Itís not getting a recommendation but thatís purely down to the fact Iím waiting for the triple pack game at 240MSP or maybe even a special Quad pack edition for 240 (Donít do this people who bought the 3 games will be so annoyed ok)

Game Name: Werewolf Hallow

Cost: 80

Review bit: It was a Dark night like any other night because thatís kind of the point of it being night, you know darkness. I was browsing through my downloaded Xbox Live indie games when the controller was mysteriously drawn to the end of the list (I dropped it and it fell on the floor press the analogue stick so it scrolled through). By the time it had stopped (Iíd picked the damn thing up) it had highlighted one game, a game Iíd never seen before a game that looked perfect for this overly tacky themed series of reviews. I quickly researched this game having no memory of downloading it, only to find the game was a 2010 release around Halloween. However I had scrolled through the indie games I had downloaded many times and never before had this game been there.So I decided to just play the damn thing.

Werewolf Hallow is, well tell you what see if you can guess itís ok Iíll wait

If you answered a survival shooter then pat yourself on the back if you said anything else then what did you expect ?

Anyway back on track Werewolf Hallow is an arena based survival shooter with a few minor differences from its contemporaryís; first itís not wave based, second you donít know how many enemies there are about and thirdly it actually manages to be tense. Considering this game is under the 50MB limit so is 80MSP just look at these graphics.

Sure theyíre nothing to write home about in terms of AAA level but this is a $1 game. The tension is built by the fact there is a limited area of sight in front of you and enemies only attacking if they happen to see you, so you can creep along hoping to avoid them. Every so often the air and quiet is broken by the howl of a werewolf which often causes me to look round frantically to see if Iíd been spotted. Once you are spotted you have to take out the werewolf and try to kite it so you can fire on it. The problem with running kiting it is often you run into more werewolves making the problem worse. The game provides you with the tools you need to kill them in the form of a machine gun which can fell the normal werewolves in about 1 clip and the holy bowling ball launcher which fires special bowling balls that explode in a shower of white light killing any wolves near the blast.

A holy bowling ball ?

So having a super weapon that powerful might sound like the machine gun is useless especially when you face the more powerful grey wolves which can survive 2-3 clips worth of fire, well itís not as the game does a good job with the Machine gun firing and reloading quicker but the holy bowling ball launcher being slow be able to deal with a pack.
The game does have its issue though, firstly there no leader boards of any kind so no real reason to try other than to see if you can, as thereís no bragging rights be they online or offline. While the Area of vision light is nice it does feel very generic and I do feel the game would have worked better with a cone of light in front of you with some dark patches at the sides giving more of a torch effect. The game also seems to suffer from a distinct lack of style for the most part with a very basic looking menu.

Verdict: The game feels very much like a Halloween version of North pole zombie Massacre only without an objective. As far as arena based survival games go this one is quite good especially considering it manages to give create tension while you have infinite ammo pretty much. As a proof of concept this game is pretty damn good, itís just a shame it didnít try to say have levels to the game with more weapons and the obligatory log cabins. With a bit of work I could well have seen this as a 240MSP game up in the Hall of fame but alas itís not. I canít recommend this game as without online scoreboards or anything like that a single player score attack game with no way to record your score itself is a bit redundant.

Game Name: Incident at Dreamy Vale Church

Cost: 80

Review bit: I downloaded this demo a long while ago always intending to review it at some point, well that point has finally come when I decide to blow the dust off this portion of the hard drive.
The game begins with a slightly board voice giving you the title and by the title I mean the real one include The because apparently my xbox at least doesnít have that in the games listed title. When you begin the game gives you a nice comic book style story though without the nice voice acting or option for it to play like a scene that would have been a nice touch. However while it doesnít do much other than show the coming, it does gain major points for having a zoom function that let me zoom in to save straining my eyes at the comics text. Thatís a big plus one especially added to the fact the rest of the writing is nicely readable without a HD TV. As far as story goes itís almost a typical B movie from the start, so much so I swear the game is walking the satire line.

Just confirm this for me. A police station gets a call at night reporting lights on at a church that is meant to be closed and presently locked. The only two officers on duty are both female. One goes and gets capture, so the second one goes to investigate along with making a possible joke about a fast ride. When there she discovers the other officer has been handcuffed up with her own handcuffs and the comic make a joke about one for the album, whilst the first female officer is handcuffed to a chair with the comic displaying a near upskirt shot. I really should comment on this game saying itís one of those games using boobs to sell and creating female sex objects especially with the option for a maid costume instead of the police ďuniformĒ. I canít though because it doesnít portray them as helpless with the two officers deciding they have to fight their way out and even the cast of enemies managing to have female skeletons. No Iím not joking it manages to differentiate the skeletons your fighting, so well in fact even I could tell. The fact its two fairly strong characters (as in they donít flinch really at the prospect of fighting hordes the undead) mean I canít really moan at the game especially as it might well be in on how ridiculous it is.

Now Incident at Dreamy Vale Church is a side scrolling 3D brawling game, this is a genre that is often hit or miss and Dreamy Vale manages to almost nail it on the head, the fighting does feel like youíre connecting and itís not always a case of mash one button the whole time to win, you have to think a bit with some opponents backing off and attacking requiring you to jump or use a longer range move on them or get hit in the face for your trouble. The game does have issues though donít get me wrong, first the game does at times throw huge numbers of enemies at you and its almost certain death as you get perpetually stun locked, forcing you to either die or use most of your heat doing a super move. The next issue are the pick ups, they seem random often too rare and with no obvious explanation of what they do; with the um bikini top thing ? Giving you a speed and attack power boost, the wad of cash giving you points and something that looked to be a purple flower actually harming me. In my time playing I didnít find a single health item meaning death is inevitable playing which is a little bit of a shame as it means you can die just due to cheap hits mounting up on you this combined with the lack of a block of any kind is a real annoyance.
The character and level designs look great for a $1 indie game, no seriously they are damn good and the animation quality is pretty damn good too

Verdict: If youíre after a side scrolling beat em up and are done with Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim or you just want a cheap side scrolling beat em up to play for a bit then this game is definitely for you. It isnít getting a recommendation because of the faults mentioned and the fact while they had to get the game under 50MB to get the 80 price tag it feels like this game should have been a far bigger 240MSP game where it could have had far more polish added or at least get rid of the concept art in favour of something making better use of the space. While some will say the game is pretty hard, I oddly at one point in time had a side scrolling beat em up phase in a previous console generation and this game does feel very much like an old school game in the difficulty.

Game Name: Halloween HD

Cost: 80

Review bit: Ah Halloween HD the film where the seemingly immortal killer Mike Myers dresses up in a number of weird costumes and claims to have eaten a babay a crappy attempt to carry on a horror film series by setting the film 20 years later than the original. You know I think I got a bit confused somewhere there, Iíll be right back.

Ok back now, turns out I was wrong Mike Myers the character isnít based on the actor of the same name, and the Halloween guy simply had a thing for masks but seemingly never claimed to have eaten a baby. Also I was thinking of Halloween H2O.
So Halloween HD is not some kind blue ray version of the films or a terrible remake of the original Halloween game but in HD, no at least then I could claim this was a game. What Halloween HD is in fact is an ďambience creatorĒ or in realistic terms some pictures and background music and not much more than that. You pick one of 4 scary locations with the trail version locking one off because they have to try and get you to buy it for some reason right. When on the scenes the camera pans about like some terrible video editor effect and youíll note the name (or I believe the deviant art screen name) of the people who made the pictures is displayed along with some kind of background music. The idea being in making your own Halloween haunted house for the night you, you set up a TV with this on as part of it. Oh and pressing the right trigger causes a screaming noise. Thatís it, thatís all the game has in it and even forgetting the whole, needing to have a game set up and TV and xbox it wouldnít work as itís barely scary at all.

Verdict: Halloween HD, even the Halloween film series would be ashamed to be associated with this in any way, seriously take that $1 got to a store and put it towards actual decorations or a scary Halloween sounds CD. Or even better just buy one of those terrible $1 Halloween films because theyíre probably better than this rubbish.

Game Name: Pumpkin carver

Cost: 80

Review bit: Pumpkin carver, seriously how the heck do I review this? The name describes most of the game. Well you get given a pumpkin and can pick from ready created shapes for the eyes nose and mouth, oh and you can turn the fog and ghosts on and off. When youíre done you can admire your handy work. The game even claims itís great for parties. Really game ? So at a party you need a TV set up and the 360 on ? The only thing this can even claim over carving a real one is possibly price and safety. The issue being thereís no creativity itís all pre defined selectable shapes. If this game had created a 3D pumpkin and let you carve the thing how you wanted Iíd have given this game some credit, but no it doesnít.

Verdict: Carve a pumpkin for real if you want to then you can use the inside to make drinks too. Heck if a parent supervises and helps their child it would probably be more fun for the child to carve one for real and sometimes a bit of risk is good.

Game Name: Skully

Cost: 80

Review bit: Out of all the 3 crap Halloween ďdecorationĒ games Iíve reviewed so far, this one is possibly the most competent and the one that makes most sense as to why itís a digital thing. Skully is a floating skull, the suggestion being using a projector or screen to display it as part of a haunted house thing. Essentially itís a digital version of a puppet almost with you able to open and close its mouth so add your own voices to it, change the face expression, make it move toward the person (possibly looking better being projected than on a screen when it goes towards them) and you can adjust its position and the flame effects with it.

Verdict: for a $1 decoration the fact you need to spend about $70 on a projector and have it set up with the 360 and positioned in a way to make the effect work kind of makes this a damn expensive decoration and does require you to sit there and man the thing to work it. As a concept of bringing puppetry to the XBLIG scene itís kind of unique and Iím surprised not XBLIG devs have tried to make a puppet based game as it would be unique on XBLIG and almost unique in gaming other than the Kinect game The Gunstringer. Though I say avoid this one unless youíre really desperate to have a haunted house item no-one else on the block will have.

Game Name: Fatal Seduction

Cost: 80

Review bit: Another Silver Dollar game, the moment I saw silver dollar I shuddered by default knowing their record, and in a rare twist of fate Iím here to give some kind of praise. Fatal Seduction is another auto scrolling game very much like sins of the flesh only better. You play as a girl in whatís presumed to be an asylum telling a doctor there about her story of what happened for her to get there. While the tale is played you play the role of her in her chalk drawn story / scrap book. The chilling tale tells of how her mother died and how the girl claims she was tormented by demons and helped by an Angel to kill the demons trying to seduce your father and let the devil enter this world. The gameplay involves avoiding obstacles, shown in red and fighting the demons that come up in the story, with key moments in the tale leading to surprisingly varied boss fights.

Verdict: A chilling tale which is probably fairly shot but lasted out the 9minute trial and kept my interest even tempting me to see it to the end. Itís no great game but it does solidly manage the asking price and possibly a bit more. Well done Silver dollar, now make more like this and better

Game Name: Mutant Zombie Onslaught

Cost: 80

Review bit: Oddly this game kind of fell into my line of sight by accident having been dismissed multiple times already as another horde zombie shooter. I decided to try it for a change and itís a bit different. The story line is a corporation released a range of Hamsters that glow in the dark, not to be confused with the real life glow in the dark rabbit Alba. A year after the release of the pets a new mutated flu virus causes victims to develop permanent glow in the dark eyes, a further year later the flu virus mutates its victims into monsters. Youíre sent into the lab as the hero or Heroine to try and track down the details of the genetic modifications to the Hamsters to help develop a cure. Though as youíd expect itís the epicentre of the zombie mutant infection.

The game sees you travel through a series of rooms clearing the infected, this change to the standard wave formula works as you do feel a sense of progression beyond simple points and upgraded weapons. The game does a very good balancing job with power weapons running out forcing you to use the less powerful pistol or a melee weapon. With special infected zombies and very nice working tight controls that feel responsive and intuitive the game is doing well.

Verdict: While it doesnít get a recommendation, I will say itís worth checking out the trial to see if you think itís worth picking up yourself. If it had online Co-op it would probably have managed a recommendation but still.

Game Name: Teddy Defender

Cost: 80

Review bit: So Teddy defender sees you playing as a little childís teddybear, having to rally the toys to prevent various enemies getting to the child to cause nightmares. Unlike most XBLIG tower defence games this isnít as such set lanes, you can make the maze you want. True there are only a few ďtowerĒ types in the game, with planes being used to fire at air born enemies, army mean for ground and Jack in the boxes to help multiple lanes at one the game does have some variety. You get to use building blocks to try and adjust the enemies paths to maximise damage done and prevent the enemies getting through. The game is very visually nice with indicators for enemies and time remaining. I do however have two objections to the game first is the use of the teddy that you control to set up, as while a great concept itís a little stiff and annoying to control, Iíd much rather have had the bear able to pass through all obstacles etc and place blocks where he stands not one square infront. My second issue is while the game for the most part is very visual the tutorial isnít with the audio actually being what tells you want the towers do, while not a huge issue if youíre playing with the sound off then you can quite easily miss this information.

Verdict: All in all quite a good game, I wonít recommend it but it only missed by a tiny margin due to its stiff controls.

Game Name: The Zombie Shotgun massacre

Cost: 80

Review bit: When I heard the name I immediately knew I had to play this game, it sounded like a grindhouse film made game. Itís just a shame itís not. Zombie shotgun massacre sees you playing as a bikini glad heroine carrying a shotgun fighting hordes of the undead to um, try and progress I think by doing things like rescuing cats. The game plays like a side scrolling beat em up with only one move for you, shoot, you seemingly canít shoot while moving and the enemies do at some points constantly respawn. While the enemy variety is possibly the best part of the game, most of them seem poorly animated and almost as clunky as the protagonistís movements. Some zombies seemingly taking too many hits to kill especially as they respawn. The game further tires to play on the whole ďOMG BOOBsĒ angle by having you pick up trading cards with one of about 4 different girls shown on them.

Verdict: A game trying to sell on boobs alone and neglecting everything else, avoid this one and its one life only gameplay, itís really not worth. I can suggest what should have been done with the shotgun though Iím pretty sure Iíd have multiple more letters of complaint than normal.

Game Name: The Zombie Shotgun Massacre 2

Cost: 80

Review bit: So I went into this game expecting the same rubbish repackaged. I actually came out slightly surprised as the game has polished up and worked on itself a bit with all the animations far smoother and the game balanced better. The big problem being the game hasnít advanced enough to be that great. The card mechanics is still there as are the silly fetch quests and singe button combat and constantly spawning enemies.

Verdict: Itís still not the game it could be and still not that good. Iíd say avoid it until number 3 though at least this version has tried to shape up

Game Name: Zombie Sausages

Cost: 80

Review bit: Ah sausages, the latest thing to be turned into a horrifying zombie and no I donít just mean the meat in the supermarket super value brand ones. Zombie sausages is another strange parody of the growing zombie genre. Infact itís two games, first is the assassination game where youíre told to kill a certain sausage and no others, with each sausage being its own Mr Potato head with various accessories added so itís quite good with a large variety of Zombie sausages walking round and gives a bit of a challenge.

The second game is what Iíd call the chaos game type, you are let loose with a variety of weapons, all 3 of them that are very satisfying to use on the two levels. My favourite being the use of the Machine gun mowing down all the sausages on screen and causing a nice amount of collateral damage to the levels themselves. The destructibility of the levels really is the star of the game as you enter a level looking like a neighbourhood and leave it looking like the end of a Diehard film. The grenade weapon is a very nice addition and so are the gas tanks in the level all leading to more explosions and action a true satire of the genre. The Icing on the cake is the inclusion of the elderly person with poor sight who turns up in the middle of the invasion and forces you to try and avoid shooting him. The issues the game has however are initially its only a score attack game with no failure state as such in the destruction mode and that level destruction actually removes score while its oddly one of the more fun aspects.

Verdict: with little depth or staying power due to the poor failure state, itís enjoyable for 5 minutes but before the end of the 9 minute trial period I was already starting to bore. Iíd say itís an avoid.

Game Name: Zombie Sausages 2

Cost: 80

Review bit: Zombie Sausages 2, the game I doubt anyone called for but as the song goes one sausage went fizz and the other went bang. Though unfortunately itís not a very big bang. The sequel brings more different, varied levels to play on, no new weapons and one new mechanic. The new mechanic is found in the Carnage mode where if the sausage population reaches a certain density on the level they will kill you. This is what the game was missing and fixes the main issue of the first game. Itís not a big improvement but its something

Verdict:With more staying power than the original but only just, Zombie sausages 2 makes its asking price but doesnít go any further than that.

Game Name: Zombie Turkey Outbreak

Cost: 80

Review bit: Zombie Turkey outbreak, Iím pretty sure that was the plotline of a South Park episode, though I may be mistaken on that front. After a weird virus thing hits a turkey farm the turkeys decide itís time for them to take revenge on the humans. You enter the farm to dispose of these foul creatures. The game plays like a standard FPS game, very much like COD, with the guns having little to no recoil, as you progress you get better more destructive weapons. The level design is nice which is a shame as it just highlights how poor the enemies look, so much so they look worse than the turkeys in the N64 south Park game. The AI isnít much better letting you kite the zombies with too much ease and a points I even managed to get the turkeys stuck on parts of the scenery. I only saw a grand total of two enemy types, the large Turkeys that take about 3 shots to kill and smaller slightly quicker ones that take less shots. The big problem with the game is that while it claims to have grenades and offers Iron sights for better accuracy but thereís no point as thereís no headshots etc and the level while well designed is just one level so the appeal will no doubt quickly fade especially with the only incentive being more weapons.

[size=9] The South Park on the N64 Turkey[/size[

Verdict: What could have been a very great parody of the horde survival genre oddly plays it too straight for it to work at all as a parody and means it falls into all the traps of horde survival games essentially.
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About Dwavenhobbleone of us since 8:33 AM on 06.19.2012

A qualified Environmental Chemist who happens to live in a fairly dense city with no real environment or chemistry industry.

I review indie games on another blog and you'll see them pop up here if I think the review is a good or interesting one (along with a shameless bit of self promotion)

I also operate another blog reviewing films and I mean t pick that back up when I can.

I've been gaming since the SNES days. I've been in the pro scene before for tribes 2 but hate the present pro scenes and have no interest in going back into it.

I tend to get into quite a few Betas and love ones without NDA as it means I can write about them. I have even beta tested an xbox 360 game in my time (and no not a normal public Beta one )

In gaming I'm normally the guy looking at the shelf below the AAA titles first to see if there are any great hidden gems.

My gaming drug of choice: Timesplitters in any flavour (Why won't you make Timesplitters 4 Crytek, why ????? I need my fix of insanity )
Xbox LIVE:hobblejp
Steam ID:dwavenhobble


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