Solar Review – Plus World Exclusive Preview

An XboxHornet review by WDesm

“You had me at Open-Ended and Physics-Based”

In some of my other reviews, notably Gerbil Physics and Along Came A Spider, I’ve extolled the great virtues of thrilling gameplay possibilities through strong physics engines. Well, evidently I managed to miss the herald of fantastic physics engines on XBLIG, because Solar, released back in March 2009, predates them all. As far as I’m concerned, its only crime is that it took me so long to review it.

Solar has you playing as a sun in a physics wonderland, a blossoming galaxy. Your goal, if you can have a goal in a sandbox game, is to build a solar system around yourself – by moving closer to objects, they will sync up into orbit around you, and the circle of (galactic) life begins: First with asteroids, then with planets, and finally with your planets drawing in moons and asteroids of their own. It can even get so complicated as you destroying other suns in a head-on collision, and you can claim their planets for your own. If that doesn’t sound appealing enough, then I’ve got even more good news for you: The base gameplay can be expanded upon by completing challenge modes (and mastering said modes in under a target time), which unlocks optional features and variables to enhance your physics sandbox. The optional features are amazing in and of themselves – some of them (while a minor investment of time to earn) completely change how you can play in your sandbox.

Solar has found the perfect mix of both open-ended sandbox euphoria, and challenge-based physics puzzles. You’ll have a planetful of fun discovering the quirks of the game, and the hours will tick by as you strive to build your very own perfect sandbox “Solar” System. I encourage you to try it out, and considering it’s extra- terrestrial pricing (only 80 Points), you can’t really go wrong!

Game score 9.5/10

Download a free trial of the game here.

Exclusive Preview

Additionally, Murudai (the one-man development team behind Solar) was willing to answer a few more questions about his goings-on recently: While many (including myself) are looking forward to Primordial, an rpg about microbial evolution, it has been put on hold to instead devote time to a DreamBuildPlay entry. We can’t spoil too much about it, but if you are willing to watch this brand-spankin’ new tech demo here , you’ll notice that it plays a little bit like an old Run-n-Gun game (like Metal Slug), but with the quirk of being able to …possess???… enemies. We can’t wait to see it complete for the March competition, but to leave you salivating, we have an exclusive sneak image to wet your appetite:

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JForce: UNSTOPPABLE – Gameplay

Jermaine Ubenheimer is on a quest to find out
what he values most in life, though he may run into trouble along the way in this action-packed
top-down shooter. Featuring more weapons
than you can imagine and a story you will
never forget.

HIGHLIGHTS:

-EPIC STORY with fully animated cutscenes, copious amounts of blood & gore, crazy plot twists, and PUNS.

Sequence Dream Build Play ’09 HD Trailer

Combining the rich mechanics of an RPG and the frenetic action of a high-octane rhythm title, Sequence is the story of two mysterious people, struggling to discover the secrets of the Tower.

Avatar Sports- Indies lead the way

The Major development houses have been fairly slow to pick up on adding Avatars to their games, obviously the amount of time it takes to develop a disk game for the Xbox has had an effect on this too. So is has come down to the indie game developers to take the lead and since the addition of Avatars to XNA 3.1 a lot of them must have been very busy.

In just a couple of months since the release of XNA 3.1 several Avatar games have been announced and sport seems to be a popular subject. It is not hard to see why, most nations have a good percentage of their population that are sport mad and what could be better than playing a game with a mini version of yourself.

So here are the games Avatar Sports games that have been announced so far.

Kickers – Avatar 3 on 3 football (soccer of the uninitiated)

Avatar Golf
Based on the excellent Easy Golf, with the course editor and course sharing, Avatar Golf is going to be a sure fire hit.

Basketball Three – Three on three Avatar Basketball

With Avatar Karting and Avatar Bowling in the works it is clear that Indie developers have a taste for Avatar sports games and I pretty sure there are a large number of Xbox owners who do too.

Now there are going to be a lot of people that scream the all these games are just a copy of Wii Sports, but in truth that argument just does not stand up. There have been sports games since day one of gaming and this is just a the natural progression of the use of Avatars so let’s hope that all these games play well and get the attention they deserve. After all the guys who have made these game look like they are doing a great job with the tiny development teams they have.

We look forward to trying them out soon.

Kickers – Avatar football DBP09 Trailer

Play the worlds favorite sport with your own Avatar! Kickers brings 3 on 3 Arcade Soccer to the Xbox 360 with full Avatar support. Play by yourself or with up to three friends in local matches (Six player online support coming soon).

Basketball Three Trailer – Avatar Basketball

Another great use of Avatars by an indie developer, thanks to our friends at http://www.indiegameblog.net/ for bringing this to our attention.

Basketball Three brings you exciting 3 on 3 basketball match experiences with Xbox360 Avatars. Get more score for your team to enter Showtime state and perform various stylish dunks! With simplified basketball rules and control system, wide range of players can enjoy basketball game with family and friends.

No news on a release date, sorry.

Band of Bears Trailer – DreamBuildPlay 2009

Kenny from Cellar Door Games was good enough to contact us and give us the low down on Band of Bears

Here is how he descirbe the game:

“Join a ragtag group of adventuring bears as they travel the world in search of gold and glory. With support for up to four players on a single screen, explore exotic locales with your family and friends and work together to solve dastardly puzzles, defeat relentless enemies, and uncover ancient treasures. Grow from wannabe adventurers and earn your reputation as strapping treasure hunters by gaining experience, leveling-up, learning new abilities and discovering secret riches.

Band of Bears takes a fresh approach to cooperative gameplay by changing the game based on the number of adventurers. The world provides new puzzles, enemies, and experiences whether you play it solo, with a friend, or with a whole group. Hand-drawn and hand-animated, Band of Bears provides an immersive and charming experience that can be enjoyed by casual and hardcore gamers alike.”

I am really looking forward to playing Band of Bears the gameplay looks great and in the video it looks like Cellar Door have managed to incorporate the multiplayer game very well. We’ll let you know more when we hear about a release date.

Until then, you had better start saving for some MS points, there are just so many good games in the XNA/XBLIG pipeline.