Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review of Garden Gnome Carnage

I played this a game a few years ago when it first came out on Yoyogames. It placed second in a winter competition held on the site. I was pleasantly surprised to see this game available as an Xbox indie game.

In Garden Gnome Carnage you play as a building with a garden gnome tied to your chimney. Soldiers are trying to climb the building in order to liberate the gnome from the building. You don't want that to happen. There are many ways of dealing with these intruders such as swinging your gnome at them, shaking them off your building, throwing explosive bricks at them, and calling in some airstrikes. These guys are relentless though and will come at you in the hundreds with all that they've got. There's also a friendly cat that tries to climb your building to refill your bricks. That cat is the one thing that you do want to reach the chimney. If you chain enough combos together you can also play a quick minigame that will benefit you if you manage to win. The game ends when someone finally reaches your chimney.

Garden Gnome Carnage is one of those crazy ideas that definitely deserve a try. The game is just fun to play. It keeps track of your scores so you can keep track of your progress. It says it has online leaderboards as well but I don't think they are working at the moment. It also has a level up button that allows you to skip the early slow levels and get into the action faster at level 20.

The only downside to buying the game is that you can already play the game for free on several different flash sites with the only difference really being that the flash version is more Christmas oriented with elves/gnomes trying to capture you instead of soldiers. The game is great either way and should be played. It sales for 80 microsoft points.

It is still a great original game a few years later. Garden Gnome Carnage gets a 4/4.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review of Breath of Death VII

I first learned about this game when I saw it go on sale at Steam. It was bundled along with Cthulhu Saves the World for only $3. I was almost going to get it when I then saw both games originally came out on Xbox Live Indie Games. I thought about it for a little bit and then decided that I would rather play both games on my 360 instead. Both games are currently available on both Steam and Xbox Live Indie Games.

Breath of Death VII: The Beginning is really the first of the series, not the seventh. It is an old-school RPG that features references to many other classic games of its time period. The story follows a skeleton named Dem who lives in a world inhabited by the undead. A war long ago wiped out all life on the earth and so everything has been taken over by the undead. Dem goes on his adventure by following the advice of his fellow companions who join up in his party. Eventually a whole group of four of you will find the a long lost secret that will decide the fate of everyone.

Breath of Death is about four hours long. Though that may be considered short for an RPG I think for the price it is just the right length. The game has random encounters with enemies just like many other games do. However, once you fight so many of these random encounters you are able to avoid them in the area unless you choose to fight them. Leveling up in the game is pretty quick and has branching choices for leveling up such as "+ 30 HP" or "+ 10 strength" along with new different attacks to choose from. Graphics are simple but classy. A nice soundtrack accompanies the game as well.

Breath of Death is pretty much your typical retro RPG. It is well done and there aren't really any problems with it. It does have a harder difficulty mode and a couple extra dungeons to go explore. But there really isn't a whole lot to separate it from other games of its type. Also some of the areas can be a little hard to navigate around.

If you like JRPGs I would recommend this game. It's only 80 msp on 360. Cthulhu Saves the World is a much better game however and I would recommend it over Breath of Death if you are only going to get one of them. If you're going to buy both then play this one first.

I give Breath of Death a 3/4.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review of Techno Kitten Adventure!

If your looking for something crazy then this adventure might be for you. Thirteen cats must try their best to explore the world all while listening to techno music. This trip is not for the faint of heart.

Now when you first get into the game there will seem like there are a million things going on all at once. You'll see unicorns and rainbows to flying turkey dinners zooming right pass your little kitty. It's okay, none of those do a single thing other than look pretty. In fact Techno Kitten is probably one of the simplest games you will ever play. Only one button is used for the entire game. With the A button you let your kitty fly higher, letting go of it lets him fall to the ground. With these advanced controls the kitten must dodge shapes, just plain old white shapes. Although there may be dragons and bacon flying around the area  they are nothing more than a distraction. Actually that's the challenge of the game, not getting distracted by everything going on. The game keeps track of how far you get by the score it keeps. The higher the score on a particular level the more cats you unlock. I don't believe the kittens do anything other than look different, though some are more useful than others because they are easier to see against the backgrounds. Each level follows a different music track and has it's own unique theme. Everything gets more intense as the song continues on. Techno Kitten features four levels.

I personally have enjoyed Techno Kitten Adventure, and it's not just because of all the cats. I enjoy weird, crazy games. The more I play it the more I like it. It's a fun game to show off to friends. However, it really isn't much of a game. If you stripped away all the effects, music, and graphics this wouldn't be much of a game at all. Also at times it's practically impossible to tell what is going on. When the shapes and your kitty match the background it can begin to get a bit frustrating. After a while you will get used to everything going on and the game gets easier. Although all the levels have a lot of hectic mayhem happening all around the screen, none of them match up to the craziness of the meat level. The meat level makes everything else look simple in comparison and is the only stage to really offer anything different.

Techno Kitten Adventure! is one insane trip. But at 240 microsoft points I don't know if I can really recommend buying the game. The only stage that really stands out besides the first trial level is the meat pack. I do think everyone should download the trial though just to experience some of the crazy action the game has  to offer.

Techno Kitten Adventure can haz 2/4.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review of Stick 'Em Up 2

Thepwnboss and I decided to team up in our epic play through of Stick 'Em Up 2: Paper Adventures. Along the way we encountered terrorists, pirates, ninjas, and a whole shower of falling stars. With our various weapons and vehicles we conquered everything that opposed us.

So what is Stick 'Em Up you may ask? Stick 'Em Up is a platform shooter where you play as stick figures. Now I have only played the trial of the first one so I don't have a full experience of the entire series. The second improves greatly from the graphics of the first (which really was just stick figures) and turns everything into a paper form. The game now looks beautiful. With multiple landscapes to fight through Stick 'Em Up stays fresh till the end. The game can be played through with up to four players locally (though it was just thepwnboss and me this time). It also features some sort of deathmatch mode for up to four players as well.

Again I will say Stick 'Em Up 2 looks amazing. It's a beautifully crafted world and a joy to play through. The soundtrack is well done and goes along with the atmosphere. The gameplay itself is solid and the controls work fine. Right trigger to shoot and left trigger to jump leaves you able to aim nice and efficiently. There is a nice diversity as well with all the areas and the unique weapons that are issued to you each level. Racing across the moon is something you don't do everyday, neither is battling pirates or throwing shurikens in feudal Japan. Not to mention you can do all this with three other people.

Unfortunately the game is short, very short. The game features six levels, all of which can be completed in about three minutes or less. In those six levels there is almost too much variety. The first level which is also the tutorial and trial level feature an assault rifle and rocket launcher. This is the only modern level in the game, afterwords you will never see your rifle again and the only time you will get another rocket launcher is to fire at  falling stars. Sure deflecting bullets with your sword is fun, but it's also fun to charge in with guns blazing. There are challenges to complete which may give a little more replay value along with a few difficulty modes. From my play through of the trial of the first game I saw there were bonus effects you could turn on after finding secrets. I have not found anything like that in the second one. The one vs one I had with thepwnboss wasn't anything special either, but it is there if your interested.

This game has just about enough quality and polish to be an Xbox Live arcade title. I just believe it is too short. The game sales for 240 microsoft points ($3). I think I did see something in the game that said they were going to add more content later this summer. It also said that the game may raise in price after. If I see this content update I may edit this review to give more information on the game.

Until then, Stick 'Em Up 2 gets a 3/4.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Review of Avatar Bowman 2

The popular game Bowman finally comes to the Xbox 360. It also has Avatars in it! Not only does it include the original 2D mode, Avatar Bowman 2 also includes a 3D version of the game with a whole new way to play.

Bowman consist of two archers. Each archer take turns trying to shoot an arrow at the other player. You aim the bow up and down to try to get the best angle. The power of the bow may be adjusted as well. Once the arrow is released you will see it fly towards the other person. Based on where the arrow has landed is how you will want to adjust your next shot. Wind is also a factor and can be changed around at the beginning of the game. The first archer to hit the other archer three times wins. 3D Bowman works similar to the original. Now armed with a crossbow you must aim left and right along with aiming higher and lower. Wind seems to play an even bigger role in 3D version requiring more drastic changes to your aim. Both can be played with computers or another person.

I love anything to do with bows so I was pretty excited to see there was a Bowman version on the 360. The game does okay with the actual gameplay. However, Avatar Bowman 2 doesn't always feel right. I don't know if it's the graphics or the shooting mechanic but it just isn't very engaging. The animation of the avatars seem a little off. Although the environments look decent it would help if there were different areas to keep the game fresh. The 3D landscape also could be used more. I was disappointed when I learned the 3D version has you face right in front of the other Avatar both on top of a hill. Fighting between the trees and around the castle would have given more variation and require more thought about where to shoot instead of mindlessly matching each shot next to your previous shot. I tried to find an online match but was unable to enter one. It does let you practice against a computer while searching for an opponent. One major issue I found is that in the classic mode if you shoot yourself it will actually count as a hit against the enemy. You essentially can win by shooting yourself three times in a row.

So is Avatar Bowman 2 worth getting? Maybe... If you are craving Bowman and want it on your 360 then this is a decent version. Not bad for 80 points but you could always find the original version for free. Try it first to see if it is right for you.

I give Avatar Bowman a 2/4.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review of QuickDraw

I'm sure we have all played wild-west style dueling mingames. Those are the ones where you wait for the sign to come up saying "Draw"and the first person to shoot wins. Well QuickDraw revolves around this entire gametype, and the results are surprisingly fun. 

QuickDraw features an Arcade mode which puts you up against opponent after opponent to see how long you can carry on. Each challenger has a slight variation of the duel. Sometimes the rules might easily be the first one to press the correct button wins, while at other times it may be something along the lines of the first one to fire after the can hits the ground. If you ever shoot before the desired time you are given a foul. Two fouls equals a loss. After every five matches or so you get the chance to play a quick round of blackjack to earn an extra life. Each opponent has a score value that goes up after each duel. The dueling will continue until you finally run out of lives. There is also a versus mode where you can either battle your friends locally or you can play against the computer.

I didn't initially think QuickDraw would be anything special but after trying it out I was amazed by how much I liked the game. Everything just works together, from the music to the graphics to the comedic bounty signs. Many of the concepts may be simple but when they come together they make a great game. Honestly I can't really think of anything negative about the game.

QuickDraw is a treasure on XBLIG. The western atmosphere and the solid dueling mechanic make an amazing combination. For only 80 microsoft points you can be dueling all day long. QuickDraw definitely deserves a try!

I give QuickDraw a 4/4!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review of Nuclear Wasteland 2030

Zombies and survival defense go hand and hand together. I mean, when there is a zombie apocalypse what else is there to do than run and hide? Well one brave man named Joseph Kelly decides enough is enough and goes straight into the heart of the problem. Armed with whatever gun he can get a hold of, Joseph goes out into the wasteland to clean up the mess of mutants that roam the countryside. But is one brave man enough to win the fight against the mutants?

Nuclear Wasteland is a wave-based survival first person shooter in which you continuously fight mutants. As far as I know there is no way to win; the goal is to try to last as long as possible. You start with a pistol with an unlimited amount of ammo. After you pass a few rounds different towers and bunkers will start opening. Inside these buildings are health, ammo, and extra weapons. Once you unlock more weapons, you are allowed to carry one main weapon and your original pistol. When the round is over all the bonuses reset giving you a chance to rearm with more ammo and health. As time goes on more and more mutants come out to stop the one man army.

I was impressed by how good this game looks for an XBLIG. Of course there is only one map and one enemy type, but even with a few stiff animations the game still looks good. The actual gameplay isn't bad either. If you enjoy Nazi Zombies or Killing Floor this may be a good choice. The aiming can be a little hard especially with the pistol since it's a semi-auto gun. Besides the actual aiming the gunplay feels good. Each new weapon feels stronger than the last.

The biggest problem of the game that I see is how easy it is. Once you learn how to kite all the zombies and to quickly move around the map the game becomes way too simple. A minimap helps you see exactly where all the zombies are in the surrounding area. You get a load of health to keep you alive, and if that wasn't enough you have three lives that will restart the wave in case the mutants do manage to take you out. After all the weapons get unlocked there really isn't much to do besides fight wave after wave of mutants. I let myself die around round 25 after playing for almost an hour. Another strange thing about the game is the enemy spawns. After a while there will be more zombies in a round than can be in the level at once. After you kill off those zombies, the new zombies will instantly spawn at the same location all together, usually right behind you. Though this does make the game slightly tougher it just feels odd and I think it would be better if the zombies spawned randomly after death. Not necessarily a negative but I was also able to accidentally break out of the map. There's some room to explore, and it didn't really break the game like I thought it might.

Despite not being too difficult Nuclear Wasteland is still a fun experience. There is no co-op or online play which could have been a welcome feature. But a decent FPS game for 80 microsoft points is not a bad deal at all.

I give Nuclear Wasteland 2030 a 3/4.