Wednesday, February 8, 2012

XBLIG Roundup

Last weekend was pretty low key, so I downloaded a couple of random XBLIG games I heard were pretty neat. Here is the chronicle of my experience!:

Ocean Drive Challenge:

This is basically an OutRun clone, although done with high res graphic tiles. It doesn't quite have the same charm without that mid-80s pixelly-ness, and there's only one route to the end rather than dividing until multiple courses, but the controls handle well, and it's pretty fun. The major difference is that hitting a car only bumps you out a bit instead of causing you to spin out of control - to balance this out there's also a lot more cars on the road, which makes it feel a little more cluttered compared to the original game.


Neat little action-puzzler where you need to reach the exit and collect as many gems as possible before the rising lava table turns you to ashes. Great idea, and it's definitely a solid game, but it feels like it could use some kind of gimmick (grappling hook? Grappling hooks are rarely not awesome) to really make it shine.

Game Type:

What's essentially a parody of the awful new Xbox Live interface is actually a really damn good game, or at least the foundations of one. Actually navigating through a series of cluttered, inane menus, you can actually play the game, starring that weird green hoodie-wearing, jump kicking girl featured in the "Game Type" menu. It's a shooter vaguely similar to Mommy's Best Games' Shoot1up, with a big focus on scoring mechanics. Shooting enemies will slightly increase your multiple, as well as grant you cash to build up your "parkour" (AKA laser) bar. You can also sacrifice half of your laser bar to slow down time and cancel out any bullets with your beam. The same level is looped over and over, progessively getting harder, and while the scoring is fun, it's a little bit too easy. With some balancing and placed in the context of a standard level-based game, this would easily be amazinh. It's funny too - all of the random enemies you fight are comprised of the commercialized junk you see on the fake dashboard.

Curse of the Crescent Isle:

I actually should've written about this while back, since it's well over a year old at this point. It's retro throwback like many titles on the service, although better than most. Greatly inspired by Super Mario Bros. 2 (the USA one, or Doki Doki Panic, if you'd like), the main mechanic involves jumping on enemies and picking them up. Advancing that idea a bit, like Kirby, many enemies have a unique property, whether it allows you bounce on spikes or flip gravity. The first level's a bit slow, but once it gets going it's a quality game, and is just enough to make you annoyed at Nintendo that they never properly followed up on SMB2.

DLC Quest:

A platformer where you're required to advance the game by collecting in-game currency and purchasing random stuff, spoofing the modern day need for DLC. You begin without the ability to jump (or even properly animate) and eventually work your way up to buying in-game weapons to avoid grinding and so forth. As a game it's pretty average, and it's essentially a one-joke premise spread out over a thirty minute game, but it's presented well enough to make it funny, so in the end it's worthwhile. Plus considering the gaming industry takes itself far too seriously, any kind of satire is definitely welcome.


Far and away the best looking game I've seen on the service, Orbitron is a variation on Defender, where you must defend an orbital ring from enemies. There are set cores that are attacked, so it's a matter of flying back and forth, trying to juggle the quickly mounting onslaught against multiple areas. Thankfully there's the ability to boost to move quicker, as well as gates to quickly move between sectors. Plus there's a scoring system involving multiplers to make things a little more interesting, and again, it looks incredible. The only downfalls: sometimes the power-ups tend to look too similar to enemies, and the frame rate is stuck at 30, so combined with the slightly curved scrolling at the edges, it's slightly headache inducing after awhile. Apparently there's a PC version in the works which will run smoother, but this game is still definitely worth the 240 points as it stands.


We already did an article on this Arkanoid-type brick-breaker game a few months ago, but we wanted to highlight this again because it's worth grabbing. It's also out on the PC.

I really should work on compiling a list of "must have" XBLIG titles. There's a huge amount of junk on the service, but also some rather excellent titles that tend to get ignored - even for myself, I usually only go browsing through there every few months to see what's new, but then again, I only turn on my Xbox once every few weeks to begin with. Everyone by now really should have, at the very least, Protect Me Knight and Shoot1up, as well as Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World (if you don't already have the PC versions of those anyway). Any other favorites?


  1. I played a game called 鉄鋼歩兵 and found it fun, located at鉄鋼歩兵/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d80258550827 on the market site. The language barrier is a problem initially since you don't know what stats are for parts but I managed to mostly work out stats and unlocks without knowing Japanese. Even though the game looks basic and enemies don't get terribly sophisticated I think it's a good deal especially at 80 points.

  2. Those are some good choices. I've played a load of solid XBLIG titles, but some of my personal favorites are:
    - Gravitron360
    - LaserCat
    - Little Racers Street (recent release)

  3. Sequence, a rhythm RPG also available on Steam, is worth checking out.

  4. Do not forgot :

    > Blocks That Matter ( the record, I worked on it :D

    > Tempura of the Dead (

    > Protect Me Knight ( Yuzo Koshiro the creator of Streets of Rage worked on it !!

    > Arkedo Series 01 - Jump! (

    > Arkedo Series 02 - Swap! (

    > Arkedo Series 03 - Pixels! (

    > Shoot1UP! (

    > 1000 Spikes (

    > Platformance (

    > JoyJoy (

  5. Have retro-throwback platformers become the FPSs of downloadable indie games?

  6. Perhaps, but I'm not complaining - a good number of them are pretty decent.

  7. I'm not myself, just can see the bubble bursting like any genre 'shroom. Also, I fear the process is liable to cynicism, no?


  8. Potentially, but I don't think it's super lucrative enough so that creatively bankrupt people will approach it solely to make a buck. Those seem to stick to the other gimmicky garbage on the XBLIG, because those seem generally cheaper/easier to make anyway.

  9. There's already a lot of backlash about people "cashing in" on pixelated platformers for the "retro" dollar.

    Honestly, none of those "retro" games looks like an actual "retro" game. They're all stuck in this disconnect between NES-level graphics using higher res sprites and full colour palettes.

    To me, for the most part, they just scream "lazy graphic design". Make it ugly and chunky and call it "retro" instead of doing proper graphics. Hmm, where have I heard this before...oh yeah, Minecraft.

    I've yet to see any of these "retro" platformers that either goes the extra mile and looks ugly as a real NES game, or goes the opposite extra mile and looks as good as a quality SNES game. They're all stuck in this lazy middle.

  10. I wouldn't recommend Ocean Drive Challenge. It's one of those titles that are on the fence as far as I'm concerned, and I think alluding to better games while playing poorly and adding nothing of worth makes it passable.

    Great to see Curse of Crescent Isle up there. It's the best game featured.

    I'm always pushing NYAN-TECH and Astroman, two excellent but wrongfully ignored titles which deserve better.