If you read XBLA Fans with any regularity — or even any irregularity, for that matter — then you’ve probably noticed something about us: we cover indie games. A lot. …
It looks and plays a lot like Geometry Wars. This is the inescapable reality of We Are Doomed, an upcoming twin-stick shooter from one-man studio Vertex Pop. The world is colored with softer, pastel hues, and the enemies are tangible things instead of angular shapes. But anyone who has played Geo Wars will immediately grok what they’re seeing and experiencing in We Are Doomed and will know exactly what to do. Creator Mobeen Fikree isn’t shying away from the comparison.
“I don’t mind,” he told XBLA Fans earlier this month at PAX East. “I think Geometry Wars is a great game, and following in that lineage of Robotron, Smash TV, Geometry Wars and then, you know, this. I’m happy to be a part of that lineage. When people go, ‘Oh, it’s like Geometry Wars!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s like Geometry Wars.'”
Until it’s not.
The moment you use the right stick to open fire on the waves of space baddies swarming the screen it becomes clear how We Are Doomed diverges from the formula. Instead of blasting enemies with a never-ending stream of long-range laser fire, players instead must rely on a medium-range “overpowered laserbeam,” as Vertex Pop’s website describes it. In actuality, it doesn’t come off like a laser at all. Instead, it looks and feels more like you’re wielding a flamethrower with an infinite fuel supply. Nudging the stick farther in any direction will elongate the beam/flame, but it will never cause it to reach clear across the screen.
If you want to defeat the baddies — and you’ll of course need to do so if you want to make any progress in the game — then you’ll need to get a bit closer than you may be used to getting in other twin-stick shooters. “You have to dive into the action,” explained Fikree. “You have to be close range if you want to zap baddies — you can’t sit in one corner of the map and shoot things all the way in the other corner.”
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions was developed by Lucid Games and published by Sierra. It was released on November 26, 2014 for $14.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is a punishing experience. It will destroy what faith you have left in yourself as a gamer. It will force you to try over and over in vain as you continue to fail. But just like Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (and its sequel) on Xbox Live Arcade, Geo Wars 3 will keep you coming back for more.
True story: I bought my first HDTV and an Xbox 360 after seeing Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved for the first time. So obviously, I’m a fan. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions improves just about everything in the original and adds a ton of new content. This is the third game in the series (not counting Geometry Wars: Galaxies on 3DS/Wii U, since most people don’t seem to count that game for whatever reason), and the first by new developer Lucid (and published by the recently resurrected Sierra). It is both a trip back in time and a look forward. What has stayed the same? Your little ship-like shape moves around in the now familiar twin-stick shooter style game, as you blast away other brightly colored ships and shapes on a stark black background filled with psychedelic effects and particle explosions. It’s only sort of retro, as nothing even remotely close to it could have been made back in the days of quarter-munching arcade machines. It’s addictive, and it’s hard. Very hard. So, what has changed? Quite a bit.
Sixty Second Shooter Prime is developed and published by Happion Laboratories. It was released June 18, 2014 on Xbox One for $4.99. An Xbox One copy was provided for review purposes.
ID@Xbox is shaping up to be an excellent and very welcome platform for independent developers to bring their beloved games to the Xbox One platform. With the program, we’ll see exciting creative directions and artistic expressions. But then there comes along a game such as Sixty Second Shooter Prime that brings out the worst plague of the mobile market today: cloning.
Sixty Second Shooter Prime is a twin-stick shooter that tasks the player with traversing a two-dimensional plane, blasting away hordes of geometric enemies, each with different patterns and tactics the player must evade. The catch? The player has only 60 seconds and one life. Rack up as many points as you can while collecting powerups and multipliers and try to topple your friends’ high scores. Sound familiar?
It’s no secret that Nintendo isn’t in the best shape right now. After finding great success with the Nintendo DS, the Wii launched and got the masses talking about Nintendo once again. Then something happened. The Wii’s sales plummeted, the Nintendo 3DS launched poorly, and investors are questioning Nintendo’s direction with their next console, the Wii-U. Nintendo is desperately trying to gain back momentum. What happened to Nintendo’s mojo? Well, Microsoft, the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade all have something to do with it.
To truly understand what’s at play here, we have to first consider why Nintendo has historically been a successful company. Nintendo has always excelled at making games that appeal to the masses. Nintendo makes games that anyone can pick up and play. Mario has been a part of our living room since 1983 because Mario games have always been easily approachable for anyone who wants to sit down and play. Whether it’s you, your little sister, your best buddy or your dead beat uncle, Nintendo makes products for everyone. When Nintendo is succeeding, it has always been the case. So why are the tables turning?
A theme within the gaming industry this generation has been the expansion of who plays video games. Console makers have been looking to draw in a new audience by making games easier to approach and simpler to play. Motion sensors and touch screens are just two of the things we’ve seen this generation that are making it easier for your mom, dad, and little sister to pick up and play video games. But look a bit deeper and you’ll see a trend when it comes to the games themselves as well, and Xbox Live Arcade has something to do with it.
Geometry Wars was developed by Bizarre Creations and was released on October 3, 2005 for 800 Microsoft Points. The price has since been permanently reduced to 400MS points.
Developer Bizarre Creations, which closed its doors in 2010, was always known for its Project Gotham Racing series until it ventured into downloadable territory during the Xbox 360’s inception with Geometry Wars. Although it’s a simple twin-stick shooter, it’s flashy visuals and addictive score-based gameplay were enough for some gamers to purchase its inevitable sequel and even its cousin on the Nintendo Wii. Now, more than five years since its release on XBLA, it deserves a chance to get recognized by those who may have overlooked it.
To the uninitiated, you control a blocky spaceship with the left analog stick and shoot projectiles (which are upgradable through the game) with the right analog stick. You are confined to a large grid set on the backdrop of space, with enemies that drastically get stronger as the game progresses as well as advance in numbers. Some enemies are easy to take down, while others dodge your fire like a rat avoiding pest control. If you become overwhelmed you can hit the right trigger to activate a bomb that wipes out everything on screen — that is until they return in full force. If you’re looking for a challenge, try earning the excruciatingly difficult achievement unlocked by earning 1 million points in the game.
Zombie Football Carnage was developed by Milkstone Studios S.L. and released on February 18, 2011 and costs 80 Microsoft Points. A copy was provided by the developer for review purposes.
The only thing that Zombie Football Carnage has in common with football is a projectile pigskin and cumbersome football gear, so we were surprised to see football in the title. But does the game live up to the sport that grabs the attention of many Americans, or does it fumble trying to reach the goal line?