Greed Corp – XBLA Review

A WDesm review for XBoxHornet

“A Cute, Cheery, and Intense Turn Based Strategy Game: Scratching A Longtime XBLA Itch”

Greed Corp is a Turn Based Strategy game where, perhaps more than any other game, you will win or lose, live or die, by the resources on the map. I say this because in Greed Corp, resources are only earned by excavating the ground below you…and you’re floating in the sky. After too many turns of mining, the ground falls away below you, and any buildings and units that were perched above fall to their untimely demise. Unlike other strategy games, where it is possible to “turtle up” and wait until you have superior strength, the unique inclusion of fragile terrain is a novel way to keep games fast-paced and intense.

The game gently starts you off in a tutorial, explaining to you the basic principles of the game (harvest materials, build units, destroy enemies either by wiping them out or decimating the land they stand), and I would encourage the would-be armchair generals to pay close attention to the options available to you. At first glance, Greed Corp will seem like a very ‘busy’ game, with build menus, turn counters, and resource counters spread all around the screen, and don’t get exasperated if it takes you a few moments to have it ‘click’ (for my own admission, I lost at the first level twice before understanding some strategy in building placement and the value in owning the high ground). The tutorial is a very linear guide to the mechanics of Greed Corp, but it will take a few games of trial-and-error for you to understand the tactics available to you. Thankfully, the game ships with four unique factions to play as, each contained in their own separate campaign, and these campaigns will be all the training you need for the most dangerous opponent of all: Man.

Greed Corp supports 1-4 players, be they AI opponents (of varying degrees of difficulty), local buddies, or online rivals, and these matches can play out over a variety of different maps and options to truly show your mastery of the crumbling battlefields. If you find yourself appreciating the nuance of an ever-shrinking battlefield (and trust me, it is a refreshing change from standard strategy fare), you will be able to find countless hours of pleasure challenging the AI, squaring off with Gamertag friends using the supported Party system or even clawing your way up the leaderboards. A note about the online system: Much like a sparse collection of other games, only one player per console needs to have a ‘Gold’ membership to play an online game. That means that you can play a 2v2 match or 3v1 match, with multiple people playing per console. This feature is amazing, as it promotes online play with friends, without demanding everyone have a $50 gold account. I know that Microsoft supports this feature across almost all of its games, but sadly, too few developers take full advantage of this feature – the inclusion of local friends jumping online can only promote the game to more people.

Some of the artwork for the game. It seems to be a cross between 'cartoony' and 'steampunk'.

Greed Corp gave me a vibe much like the first Advance Wars game did; strong tactical gameplay and unique mechanics are masked by a ‘cute’ theme and story. And while Greed Corp certainly gets exceptional mention for a fantastically-developed online mode, I can’t help but wish that users were more gently integrated into the game, rather than being thrown into such a busy UI. Don’t get discouraged by it though; this game has the depth any tactician can love, and its ‘fragile ground’ mechanic is a fresh breath of air to the genre.

Game Score 7.5/10

Download a free trial here.

Watch a trailer here.

Watch the new launch trailer here. It’s pretty hilarious (and very indicative of the the ‘cartoony’ theme).

Kaleidoscope soundtrack available for FREE – XBLIG

Fallen in love with the Kaleidoscope soundtrack?

Well good news, it is available to download free of charge at the following link.


Kaotik Review- XBLIG Review

A Wargamer review for XboxHornet

Kaotik Puzzle, from Silvermax Studio, is a nice throw back for fans or newcomers to the classic puzzle game Tetris Attack. Similar to Tetris Attack, the player is presented with a screen of coloured tiles that constantly rise. The objective of the game is to keep these tiles from reaching the top. To do this, the player must match colours in groups of at least three or four depending on the setting. Unlike Tetris Attack, however, it is a one-on-one battle against either an AI or human opponent.
There are two ways to play the game – Single Player or Multiplayer.

In single player there are 3 modes – Kaos, Variable, and Equal mode – in which you battle an AI opponent. First, Kaos mode gives you the option of choosing a separate character than your opponent. This is a very nice mode especially for multiplayer. Second, Variable mode makes your character match your opponents. Third, Equal mode is similar to Variable mode, except your opponent uses the same character as you. Once mode is chosen, there are six characters to choose from, each with their own cursor, way of matching tiles, and an attack. For fans of Tetris Attack, you’ll be happy to know that one of the cursors is very similar. The character/cursor chosen depends on the preference of the player. For example, one cursor rotates tiles as a group of four in a square form, while another will allow you to pick a single tile and move it anywhere on the screen. Each attack that the characters have is somewhat similar. There are bombs, timed bombs, and hidden tiles that eventually flip to coloured tiles; these attacks are automatically used when you create a match that is equal to the group configuration for your character. This makes the game much harder for your opponent as the screen starts to fill up with tiles that cannot be matched right away. Lastly, there are 5 difficulty settings for the AI. If this is your first time, it’s best to try the game in a lower setting than normal. If you are familiar with these match three puzzle games, stick to normal. For experience players, try something higher, but keep in mind, extreme is nearly impossible.

The controls are simple – use the left thumbstick or D-pad to move the cursor around the screen, and use the A button to rotate or select the tile(s). One cursor also allows you to use the right thumbstick to move the tile, which feels a little slower compared to the other methods. Using these controls, you must keep the coloured tiles from reaching the top of screen while using attacks to make the ascension of your opponent’s tiles faster.

The core multiplayer portion of the game is where all the fun is. It’s a one-on-one, highly competitive splitscreen battle against a human player as you keep your blocks from reaching the top. Depending on the skill of your opponent, this can be quite the challenge. Gameplay wise, it’s the same as single player. With each character you choose, a different attack can be used. The same modes from single player are present here such as Equal and Kaos mode. With Kaos mode, each player may choose their own preferred character. This is a really nice mode because if you are really good with a certain character, you aren’t stuck playing the same one as your opponent, which he may be good with. If you really want to mix things up, there is a third mode – Custom. Here, you can mix the cursor with different matching configurations and attacks. Of course, other multiplayer options are available such as system link and online play. I tried to play a random game online, but of course, like most indie games, no one else was looking for a match. That is ok though because with this mode, you can invite a friend to play from the comfort of their own home.

In the graphics department, there isn’t a whole lot to say. I mean, it’s great; nothing bad to be said about it. Everything is very polished and smooth which makes it very easy to recognize each tile and make a match quickly for success.

According to the developer, the audio is a remix from an Amstrad CPC game. I don’t know what game, but the remix is very well done. It fits the overall theme nicely. After a while it may feel repetitive, but depending on how focused you are, you start to forget there is music playing. If you simply don’t like it at all or just want something different, the game supports custom soundtrack that allows you to play your own songs from the Xbox 360 HDD.

Personally, I’ve had a lot of fun with the game. Most of the time I’ve been playing splitscreen multiplayer with a friend and I can definitely say it is very competitive and challenging with the right opponent. One thing I feel could have been added to the game would have been a better description as to what each cursor did, how the attacks are played, and so on. Eventually you catch on and learn from playing, but being able to read it first and then test it would have been a nice addition. It would have been tough to write in a way that was easy to understand, but even a video tutorial would help newcomers. If you want to take a break, or just want to see a really epic match, set the game to demo mode and watch the AI battle it out on what may be Extreme. You may not necessarily learn how to play from it, but is a nice break after an intense match. Lastly, there are player statistics. It’s always nice to see how well you did overall and is something lacking in a lot of indie games. What are shown here are your high score, Total play time, chains, combos and games won.

So, in the end, if you’ve ever played a match three puzzle game like Bejeweled or simply Tetris Attack, you’ll be very familiar with how Kaotik Puzzle is played. Chances are you’ve already bought it and really like it. For 240 points, you can’t go wrong. It’s too good to pass.

Game score 8.5/10

To download a free demo click here

Clover Original Soundtrack Available Free

Press release
London, United Kingdom – Friday 26th February

Clover Original Soundtrack Available Free

In the run-up to Clover: A Curious Tale’s March 3rd release, Binary Tweed and Blitz 1UP are making the soundtrack to the XBLIG original Clover available for free. Featuring a half hour of original piano compositions and bonus rock demo, the OST can be downloaded direct from Blitz 1UP or re-hosted by media outlets.

Whilst this freely-distributable version is that of the original game, Clover: A Curious Tale will feature completely re-recorded and expanded tracks with additional pieces not available in the original.

Clover: A Curious Tale is a downloadable indie title created in partnership with Blitz 1UP, an initiative of Blitz Games Studios. The expanded revamp of XBLIG Clover is to be released on Wednesday 3rd March through and as-yet unannounced partners for the price of GBP5.99, EU6.99 and USD9.99.

About Binary Tweed –

Binary Tweed is an independent games studio created in September 2008, focusing on the reinvention of classic genres to make “new games that are bit like old games, but better.” After leaving the financial sector, founder Daniel ‘Deejay’ Jones set up shop using the services of a network of friends and ex-colleagues of a variety of creative disciplines. He aims to bring original takes on vintage games to new and experienced gamers alike, using the power of his 10” moustache.

Lazy Raiders – XBLA Review

A WDesm review for XBoxHornet

“Roll Your Way To Treasure in this World-Spinning Puzzle Platformer!”

Lazy Raiders is a puzzle/platformer where your main character, usually Dr. Diggabone (though a pleasant surprise awaits as an alternative character choice), is simply too lazy to adventure any more. To assist the archaeologist in his quest for riches and relics, you spin the entire world around this slothful fellow, all the while collecting gems, gold and keys, while trying to avoid the traps in the various mazes and labyrinths. The game is engrossing, addictive, and does a good job capturing that whimsical charm and je ne sais quoi that makes bigger-name platformers like Paper Mario so cute and endearing while never managing to leave you fuming over a failed timing.

The only tool you have at your disposal in Lazy Raiders is gravity, which, while a unique design for it, makes this game a physics-based platformer/puzzler, and I’m always happy to see more of those around. Your only controls in the game are the ability to spin the entire world either clockwise or counterclockwise, and the ability to “flip” the world 180o. Dr. Diggabone always falls directly down, and he will slide, flop and fall all over the map as you get used to the idea of moving everything in the game except the character you are supposed to control. The difficulty of the game slowly ramps up, first by increasing the complexity of the geometry, then by adding traps such as spike pits and flamethrowers, and finally by adding ‘enemies,’ who are stuck following the same rules of gravity at your disposal, but cause you to lose should they pilfer the relics before you do. “Losing” the game isn’t penalized too harshly – indeed, even though levels are timed, there appears to be no severe penalty to taking your time, other than a loss of bonus points – and the game’s lack of a punishment failure or a sort of ‘lives’ countdown really keeps gameplay light and forgiving without stressing the player out. The later levels certainly have their share of more-challenging moments, which I suppose should be expected, but they are never impossible, and you can always keep trying and trying, with zero penalty.

If the notion of stress-free gameplay is a radical departure from a more preferred and adrenaline-fueled fare, don’t dismiss the game too quickly – like all XBLA titles, the game comes with a full set of achievements, and these ones are certainly no easy feat to get full gamerpoints on. In fact, Lazy Raiders is chock full of rewards for pushing yourself to the limit, and any completionist will be franticly trying to earn every gamerpic unlock, every avatar reward, and every last achievement to seal their bragging rights forever, while the included leaderboards offer a chance for the twitch gamers to show their honed mastery of superhuman reflex and pristine timing.

For me, I’m more than content to use the “Avatar Mode” in the game to casually play every level as my overdressed digital personae, flopping around like a gravity goldfish as I stare mesmerized by the title screen option “DLC.” Yes, Sarbakan, I’m already left wanting more.

Game Score 8.5/10

Download a free trial of the game here.

Asphalt Jungle – Xbox Indie Review XBLIG

A WDesm review for XBoxHornet

“Easy to pick up, Impossible to Put Down – The Perfect Cocktail of Casual Gaming”

The goal of Asphalt Jungle is to prevent a moving car from running out of road to travel on, becoming a spiritual successor to games such as the old Pipe Mania and Pipe Dream. The car continues to travel forward, and the road, a jumbled mess, must be rotated and twisted to accommodate the car; when the car travels over the road, it is destroyed, requiring that the path not double back at any point. The game throws extra confusion into the mess with the occasional obstacle, removing the amount of road available to manipulate, or an occasional incentive in the form of a power-up (meaning bonus points), and even negative-point power-ups to be avoided at all costs. If you can survive this chaos for long enough, the destroyed asphalt randomly respawns, and the hectic fun begins anew.

Asphalt Jungle is exactly what XBLIG excels at – Asphalt Jungle is a single player ‘Casual Game’ that has a very simple premise, an infinite amount of playtime, and a perpetual encouragement to play ‘just a little bit more’ and do ‘just a little bit better’ at the game. It’s unfortunate that the game doesn’t have an explicit motivational system; as some of its recently-released XBLIG peers have shown, there is a merit and a charm to having in-game awards, badges, and ‘achievements’, even if they are not official achievements to add to your gamerscore. An easy implementation, even for these casual games, is a series of badges that unlock largely-superficial changes such as themes or new soundtracks, and it is a shame that Asphalt Jungle didn’t take the plunge into a direction such as that.

Graphically weak, but that doesn't hurt the casual and addictive gameplay!

Asphalt Jungle is exclusively single player, so there’s no multiplayer opportunities to enjoy here, and coupled with the lack of goal-based awards/badges, you’ll probably not get hundreds of hours of challenging gametime, but the game that is offered is an enjoyable, relaxing and inviting timesink, and at the price of 80 MSPoints, you’ll get your money worth for sure.

Game Score 8/10

Download a free trial of the game here.

Space Pirates from Tomorrow Giveaway Update

The Space Pirates from Tomorrow Giveaway is over, and congrats to airdom for winning a free game code!  MStar Games has also released Carrum, and is currently working on Blazin Balls.

Find out more information about Space Pirates from Tomorrow here, read our review of Space Pirates from Tomorrow, or more about MStar Games here.

And stay tuned for more reviews and more contests!

Initiative for joint advertising of XBLIG

Thanks to the Microsoft and the Creators club for their support

As a response to developers not being able to advertising on the major gaming sites because of the prohibitive costs, a collaboration of us have united.
We are organising a band of pioneering developers who are determined to increase the public awareness of Indie games on the Xbox, Marketplace.

We have taken the bold step of booking advertising on the Official Xbox Magazine website for the month of March ‘10.

The costs of the advertising are being shared by the developers, the advertising spots are being split into six day blocks in which the games featured will have twenty thousand impressions on OXM at a fraction of the cost of advertising a single game.

Some developers are testing the waters with twenty thousand impressions and some are advertising for eighteen days and sixty thousand impressions.

In these exciting times for Xbox Indie games why not join in our band of merry men (and women) in advertising on the Official Xbox Magazine where your games can get unparalleled exposure outside the dashboard.

An example of the add can be found here, click the banner and it will take you to an example advert page.

If this is something that you would be interested in, please contact us. Or come and discuss it at our forum. You can leave a comment and I will contact you, if that is easier.