Initiative for joint advertising of XBLIG

Thanks to the Microsoft and the Creators club for their support http://creators.xna.com/en-US/news/XboxHornetInitiative

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.

Advertisements

Initiative to increase awareness of games coming soon

We have started an initiative to try and increase the awareness of games coming soon.

This is in the very early stages and will hopefully grow very quickly.
We have set up a page at http://www.xboxhornet.com to promote games in the works or coming soon.
This is the link to the page http://www.xboxhornet.com/xtube/index.php?pt=feature to get your game featured on this page you will need to submit your video and let us know that you would like it featured.

In return we would ask that you place one of the following banners on your website/blog.
468×57 Pixels
150×300 pixels
150×90 pixels
150×45 pixels

We also have a 728×90 pixels banner too.

The idea is to have a page featuring lots of games that are in the works helping to create a buzz for the games.

BTW anyone out there willing to help out with making banners with better text, please contact me. This is an idea in development.

Thanks for your support.

Darwinia+ – XBLA Review

Darwinia+ Logo

A WDesm review for XBoxHornet

“A cult classic retrofitted for a new console”

Darwinia is a virtual “digital world” where the inhabitants, the crude, single-polygon Darwinians, are innocent civilians. As the game begins, Darwinia is being overrun by a dangerous virus, and Darwinia’s creator, a Dr. Sepulveda, recruits you to save the day. From that charming start, your voyage into Darwinia’s unique gameplay begins.

Darwinian

A Darwinian - He needs your help!

Darwinia has been described as a Real Time Strategy (RTS), a puzzle game, and even gets reference as a “God game” or a “throwback to hackers” (indeed, Darwinia+ comes with a hilarious variety of intro screens, and even if you just try the demo, watch a few of the intros…I won’t spoil the surprise, but they are worth it!). Its variety isn’t misplaced either – this cult classic is a diverse and in-depth gameplay experience, and its presence on XBLA is a benefit to all of us.

The game starts off with a gentle tutorial, explaining how to control the Darwinians – each level requires that you babysit the civilians, while earning and researching upgrades to tackle new problems/claim territory and, of course, stop the viral threat. For those coming over from the PC market, the controls do take just a little getting used to, but I found them to be simple enough to get the hang of once I had cleared the first two levels, and those new to Darwinia+ shouldn’t even miss a beat. Once the tutorial levels are done, the gameplay evolves even further, becoming an even deeper and more elaborate system of objectives, multi-mission goals and events that need attending to – while the game is never nightmarishly difficult, there is always something to do, and you’ll feel yourself both engaged and relaxed as you sink deeper and deeper into the couch potato slouch.

Artistically, this game is in a league of its own. The graphics are a herald to the 1980s computer concept of neon lights, hard edges, and smooth shapes (if you’re thinking Tron or Rez, then you’re on the right path), and they look fantastic. The audio is likewise retro-flavoured, and while the combat noises are a little too harsh for my tastes, they certainly do remind me of that nostalgic 80s flavour.


If for some reason all of the above creativity and mental stimulation doesn’t sate you, and you’re hankering for a more bloodlusty solution, then rest easy, because I’ve only covered half of Darwinia+’s offering: The game includes Multiwinia, the multiplayer evolution of Darwinia, with full Xbox Live and party support. With six different games modes (ranging from the traditional ‘kill everyone and win’ model to the exotic ‘fuel a spaceship, man a spaceship, fly a spaceship’ challenges) and the ability to play with CPU bots or your friends online (or even just find a quickmatch for an anonymous trouncing), your enjoyment of Darwinia+ could easily outlast your Xbox 360 itself.


Darwinia+ isn’t perfect, and I’ll admit that I still find map movement a little wonky even after putting substantial time in, but it’s damned close. Considering the high quality content inside it, the variety of gameplay options, and the uniqueness of the offering, I’m surprised it’s not being offered at twice the price – it would certainly worth it.

Game Score 9.5/10

Download a free trial of the game here.

Space Pirates from Tomorrow – Xbox Indie Review XBLIG & Giveaway

A WDesm review for XBoxHornet

“An Incredible And Expansive Galaxy Just Waiting For A Pilot”


Space Pirates from Tomorrow had a rocky start to its life – after a strong media build-up in the Indie circle, it was pulled almost immediately after launch so that a few crippling bugs could be addressed before bad PR sunk the fledgling game. It was a brave move, to be sure, as it meant that MStar Games had to hope that their positive PR hype would last until its relaunch. Now, Space Pirates from Tomorrow has been re-released, and with a shiny new polish to it, can it hold up? I’d certainly say so – the delay has taken some of the rough off the title, and offered even more to the player!

Space Pirates from Tomorrow is an over-sized overdose of epic space flight simulation, which instantly sets it apart from the regular XBLIG offerings, most of which are designed to be short, sweet, and easy-to-enjoy games – an ideal “casual gaming” repertoire. Space Pirates from Tomorrow, from the very beginning, boasted over 2000 hours of gameplay and a nearly-infinite amount of quests, combats, and adventures flying through a variety of solar systems, and it wasn’t lying. If you have ever pined for another Elite, Wing Commander Privateer or another Freelancer, then you have an opportunity to taste new space in Space Pirates from Tomorrow, and you’ll be tasting it for as long as you want.

Control-wise, SPfT is a mixed bag – spacesims are generally more complex the closer to ‘real’ physics they get, and while it’s not perfectly Newtonian, SPfT certainly takes some getting used to. The on-screen HUD and mandatory tutorial will help you out substantially, though you still need to put in some effort to survive combat. An (optional) 3-rd person is available, buried in an options pane, and for those that want the ‘over-the-shoulder’ cam, you’ll be happy it’s there.

After completing the tutorial, you are given free range to travel the current solar system, and instructions on how to warp to an incredible array of other solar systems, all with their own planets, traffic, and docking stations. These stations contain marketplaces (for trading), shipyards (for upgrades), and contract postings (for initiating quests). With so much offered ground (or should I say, “space”) to cover, I completely agree with the “2000 hours of gameplay” claim, and I’m glad that the re-release of SPfT included minor visual cues to indicate movement in space (the original version was more static, making travel seem nearly arbitrary), although the sci-geek in me is still wanting more space-themed effects, such as to-scale planets with their own gravity (and collision effects), threatening asteroid fields, and the burning radiation of a sunflare. Even without the full glory of space captured though, I’m having a blast flying around in a space sandbox, and if you’re willing to try it out, so will you.

Space Pirates from Tomorrow is an ambitious game, and if you’re willing to put in the time and patience to master its quirks and appreciate its eccentricity, you are guaranteed to get way more than your money’s worth….roughly two thousand times your money’s worth. As a bonus, if the music in the game really strikes your fancy, you can download the entire soundtrack for free here.

Game Score 7/10

Download a free trial of the game here.

To earn your free copy of the game, simply leave a comment here with a title of one of MStar’s other games (either released or upcoming) to be eligible! Out of all entrants, one will be randomly selected after Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 6pm EST (also include a way to contact you)!

Kaleidoscope – Xbox Indie Review XBLIG



A Wdesm review for XboxHornet

“Bring Colour Back To The World In This Adorable Platformer”

No matter how big XBLIG gets, it will always be a reviewer’s greatest joy to review games that have uniqueness and creativity, and my weekend definitely benefited from reviewing Kaleidoscope: In this game, all the colour has been leeched away from the world, and only by traversing the world collecting pigments, can you bring back vibrancy. The presentation seems rather reminiscent of Yoshi’s Island: The artstyle is intentionally youthful, while still looking stylish, but the gameplay is a solid platformer. Each level starts off in black and white, and as you collect pigments, the level gains colour slowly, transitioning into a, well, Kaleidoscope of colours.

The gameplay is exclusively single-player, which makes sense, as this is a game more for fun exploration and learning about a cute storytelling – leaderboards wouldn’t make much sense here, as this is not a competitive game. Let me repeat that: Kaleidoscope is NOT a competitive game. This game is accessible to the casual and “fun” gamer, as it does not have lives, timers, death, or game overs. Even failing to make a jump sets you back a dozen seconds at worst, and doesn’t slow down the game at all; this is not a game to get stressed about, and the pastel backgrounds and adorable monsters (I mean, even the spikes look a little cute – how is THAT possible?) won’t have you screaming in rage. The only complaint, and its more a fault of the genre than of this game, is that for pure completionists (yes, this game has ‘awards’, and yes, you will want to collect all of them), there is a fair amount of doubling-back on levels. I’m not too upset however, as the levels are enjoyable to run through, and I can usually find something new to do in them as I scour for all of the pigments.

If you’re at all interested in playing something less competitive than the usual fare and with a larger focus on visually stimulating exploration, you really can’t go wrong with Kaleidoscope. It comes complete with a unique OST made by the talented pros over at OCRemix, and the soundtrack is a free download for fans of the music (click here to grab it!). If you need more convincing, feel free to watch the trailer here, but you should really recline on the couch, grab the controller, and try the demo. Bringing colour back to the world has never been so fun and relaxing!

Game score 8.5/10

Download a free trial of the game here.

SlideColors – Xbox Indie Review XBLIG



A review by Christopher Ellis for Xbox Hornet

SlideColors

SlideColors is yet another entry into the match-three puzzle game, but
it’s not as simple as others. Instead of rotating a few pieces around
a central axis point, or switching two pieces, you move entire rows
and columns. The game has three modes: puzzle, time attack, and clear
blocks.

Puzzle mode starts you off easy, getting you used to the mechanics of
game play. You have to move the colored blocks into corresponding
colored holes. It seems easy enough, but the patterns (and starting
block placement) can be devilishly tricky. You don’t get to set your
blocks into their spots and forget about them, they still move around
until you get everything just perfect. This play mode has a normal
mode available from the start. But it also has a hard mode that can
only be unlocked by beating normal mode.

Time Attack has you matching rows or columns of at least three. You
have a set amount of blocks you need to clear in each level and a set
amount of time. If you match five, a special power-up appears that
will clear the row and column it appears in. As levels progress,
you’re faced with big red X blocks that cause the row and column they
appear in to be unmoveable.

Clear Blocks has you clearing cells of blocks that have metallic
backgrounds. Once you clear all the metallic cells, you’re whisked
away to the next level. You’ll find many of the same qualities of Time
Attack in this mode as well. It sounds easy, but seeing every metallic
cell gets a bit harder when you start clearing the board. I would’ve
liked to see some sort of higher visibility effect as you destroy
blocks, maybe the metal heating up and turning red. Or perhaps this
was a conscious design choice? Make it a bit harder to see as you go
along to raise the difficulty.

SlideColors features beautiful, clean graphics. Each different block
has both a distinctive color and a distinctive shape on top of it. The
game also has great music and sound effects.

There are few faults to this game, but not many, and nothing that
detracts from the quality of the game. As I see it, this might be one
of the most pure, addictive puzzle games I’ve seen on any platform. I
just wish there was some sort of infinite mode.

Final Score: 9/10

Christopher can be found on Xbox Live by the gamertag Azrane1.

Download a free trial of the game here.

Office Disorders – Xbox Indie Review XBLIG



A review by Christopher Ellis for Xbox Hornet

Office DisOrders

Office DisOrders is a Sims-like game that takes place in a corporate
environment. I say Sims-like, because while you have to meet your
body’s general needs as you work,the game isn’t as open-ended as the
Sims. Given the nature of corporate environments, this isn’t
necessarily a bad thing.

You play as Jennifer, who has just been sent to a small office by a
temp agency. Over the course of a single week, you’re hired on
permanently, fired and rehired multiple times.

Throughout the game, you’re given tasks to do. As you complete them,
the story moves forward. But, you have to watch your hunger, thirst,
energy, and bladder. Any of those get too low, you’ll start to get
stressed out. If your stress gauge gets full, you’ll quit your job;
game over. Luckily, the stress gauge takes at least 45 seconds to
fill, so unless all four of

Considering the Sims element of managing yourself, the rest of the
gameplay was perhaps painfully linear. Beyond moving the story forward
and keeping yourself healthy, there’s nothing else you can do. This
really made me feel let down; there’s almost no sense of exploration
in this game. In its defense, the game is a very funny tongue-in-cheek
look at office life and bureaucracy. It’s almost reminiscent of Office
Space.

The game has simple controls, move with the left stick, confirm
actions with A. The game uses a circle menu for all its interfacing
options. I like that once you use your thumbstick to select your
choice, you can release it and the game will choose that option.

The game features simple, clean 3D graphics. What surprised me was the
detail given to seemingly nondescript objects. The computers show
several different screens based on how they are currently being used.
Your coworkers’ computers will frequently show they’re playing
solitaire, showing they’re doing about as much work as you are playing
a video game about working.

The music is of a higher quality than I’d expected. The game has
varied sound effects which are used sparingly enough. I think the
audio levels could have been normalized a bit better so some sound
effects didn’t drown out the music. Likewise, some of the music was
too loud.

Everything boiled down, the gameplay is bland, but the story is funny,
and the game is very short. Sadly, the humor isn’t enough to sustain
the game for it’s relatively short length.

Game Score: 6/10

Christopher can be found on Xbox Live by the gamertag Azrane1.

Download a free demo here.