Recent XBLIG dashboard promotions

While there is a lot of focus on some negative events around the XBLIG channel these days, I'd rather like to shed some light on more pleasant news now such as recent dashboard promotions. The german GamePro magazine continued their 'IndieWatch' video series started back in February on the Inside Xbox channel, covering the following titles in episode three:



Unplugged

Qoccer

Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess

Beat Hazard



I'm surprised to find two twin stick shooters among this selection, as I've had my fair share of titles in this genre and am a little fed up with them, also wondering why GamePro hasn't picked the much better ones you can find on XBLIG. In Unplugged (80 MSP) you have to shoot lots of fruits, vegetables and other food shaped enemies in a drain, stopping them from going down the drain hole in the middle of the screen. Apart from its quirky handdrawn graphics and strange level bosses like a chunk of cheese, this solid shooter hasn't much to set it apart from better titles in the genre such as Beat Hazard, which offers impressive visuals and generates enemy waves analogous to the background music. The game features 10 tracks, but you can also play to music saved on your console or streamed from your PC. It's a shame the title doesn't support playing music from USB devices, and the price of 400 MSP is also set a little too high for my taste, considering how many great twin stick shooters are available on XBLIG for only a fifth of this price. At 80 MSP, Qoccer is a pretty unique, turn-based soccer game with cubic players and a novel concept. But I don't like turn-based gameplay and am not interested in soccer at all, so I passed on this one. An excellent pick at 240 MSP, platformer Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess offers great comic book visuals with lots of funny animations and fast-paced platforming action. Its addictive gameplay and very polished presentation makes this title a must buy.


Another promotion worth mentioning was also found on the german Inside Xbox channel  in the so-called Xbox LIVE Lounge, a user column similar to the Monday Musing on the UK dashboard. It was asking gamers to describe their favorite Indie Game: "What's your favorite indie game? What do you find most appealing about it, e.g. the clever game mechanics, stunning graphics, cool sound or maybe the story, that drew you in or made you laugh?"

"What's your ultimate insider tip for the world of indie games?"

Ironically, participants had the chance to win some XBLA games, when it certainly would have made more sense to give away indie games in the course of this promotion. Anyway, the column published a few days later had a gamer enthusing over his favorite beat'em up Chu's Dynasty, which shortly after showed up on the top position of the (german) Best Selling Today list on Xbox.com and has been remaining there since then.

Similar to Gamepro's efforts on the german dashboard, the Official Xbox Magazine dedicated an OXM Report on XBLIG on the UK Inside Xbox channel. The video is titled "Grapple of our eye" and features the following titles:

GrappleBoy
"If you're patient enough you're going to have quite a lot of fun with it..." is what OXM says about this platformer in the vein of Super Meat Boy, spiced up with grappling hook game mechanics borrowed from Bionic Commando. I think you will need a LOOOT of patience for this game, at least if you intend to actually finish it. I'm stuck on one of the last levels of the game because I'm struggling really hard with the controls, that don't offer any precision whatsoever. Apart from this nuisance, this is a fairly polished title worth checking out. If I should ever manage to finish it, I'll write a review describing my suffering while playing it.

Cthulu Saves The World
This game is perfect for fans of old school RPGs but "it still feels a little bit old and clunky" according to OXM. I thought the game was meant to be that way, but I'll refrain from any judgement as I've never played it. I just don't like turn-based RPGs, but Cthulhu's top position on the german Top Rated list and its degree of polish speak for itself.

Astroman
One of the best platformers you can get on XBLIG. Lovely graphics, an atmospheric soundtrack and huge levels for you to explore make this an essential part of any indie games collection. OXM thinks that "it's pretty good [...] but sometimes the physics are a little bit funny. Especially after jumping, you sometimes find yourself floating in the most peculiar way..." I didn't have any such difficulties with the controls and found maneuvering the little astronaut through the well designed levels to be a joy. Don't miss out on this one!

Alien Hunter
"Maybe alien abductions actually ARE this boring...", OXM wonders, but why did they choose to include it in their video then, instead of promoting another quality indie game? Alien Hunter is a First Person Shooter, one of the most over-saturated genres in my opinion, and one I'm certainly not missing on XBLIG.


Revolver360
OXM calls this side-scrolling SHMUP "one of the best shooters in years", and they're right about it. Not only does it offer possibly the most stunning graphics on the service, it literally also features a unique twist by enabling players to let the game world revolve around their ship, opening up routes that were blocked by enemies or bullets before. It's a novel gameplay mechanic and a shooting rush you just have to experience for yourself!



Last but not least, the IGN Picks list, that's rarely been updated and presented rather questionable selections most of the time, was finally replaced by a list called Kotaku's Favorites. The XNA team stated on its blog that editors of kotaku.com will update the list regularly. The first selection proves their competence for the job, as the list includes top notch titles such as Aban Hawkins, Ballistic and Shoot 1UP. Go check it out on the Indie Games dashboard section of the Xbox LIVE marketplace!



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