Review – Avalis Dungeon 2: Boob Harder

If I was being totally honest, I’d have to admit that “Boob Harder” isn’t actually any part of the name of this game at all, which is just called “Avalis Dungeon 2.

In fact, maybe that’s another lie. Calling this a game is a bit like calling my dog-eared copy of Catch-22 a game, in that it’s not really much of a game at all.

Avalis Dungeon 2 works like this: you are in a static scene, and you press a button to choose a direction which takes you to another static scene. Occasionally you’ll have a fight, which shows you a static image of something with big tits and you choose between three attacks. Either you’ll guess right and move on, or you’ll guess wrong and have to start again. The whole game. You have to start the whole game again. There’s one single checkpoint in the middle but that’s it.

That might sound bad, but the entire game is actually about sixty seconds long, and if it didn’t send you back to the start every time you guessed wrong it would be over very quickly. Even as it is, it only takes about ten minutes to guess your way to the end. Oh, there’s that word again.


You see, there’s no skill at all in Avalis Dungeon 2. You can’t look at an enemy and evaluate their weakness and choose an appropriate attack. There are no clues. No hints. Nothing. You might face two identical enemies that are killed by different attacks for literally no good reason and so all you can do is just press a button at random and hope for the best.

There’s just, well, there’s just not really any point, is there?

Avalis Dungeon 2 is available now for 240 Microsoft Points. That’s four points for every second of “game.”


A Wizorb Trailer You’ve Probably Already Seen

Here’s a trailer for Wizorb that you’ve probably already seen. Yeah. I said that already.

It’s worth watching again, though, because it does look really very nice indeed. It’s Breakout within the shell of an RPG. It comes to us from Tribute Games, which is the company created by Jonathan Lavigne, one of the developers of the Xbox LIVE Arcade Scott Pilgrim game, Jean-François Major, and Justin Cyr. Wizorb also features some art from Paul Robertson, and that link just there is NSFW. Awesome, but NSFW.

Wizorb will be in peer review sometime in the next week, and its release will follow.


Hacotama, or, to give it its proper name, HACOTAMA, is a puzzle game from Yo1 Komori Games, developer of the quite pretty shmup Prismatic Solid. 

They’ve outdone themselves somewhat, with HACOTAMA, which is just utterly gorgeous.

Normally graphics aren’t relevant to a game’s quality and that’s the case here, but it would be ridiculous not to mention them when the game does look this impressive. The screenshot doesn’t really do the game justice, and it has to be seen in motion to be truly appreciated. Blocks in the background float around, objects in the foreground are sharp and crisp, but it’s the balls that really make it. Made from coloured glass, they reflect light and moving them around or just watching them as the background moves around them is quite stunning.

Jaw off the floor, is the game any good?

Yes, in a word. Or four. It’s a puzzle game, in which your aim is to use your avatar to roll the balls in the level onto some glittering points. You can see a couple of those on the left side of the screenshot there.

Gravity works from the centre of the structure you’re on, and so you can walk all around the blocks with no risk of falling off, and the balls operate in the same way. Pushing balls moves them precisely one block away, and if you push one off the edge of a block, it will roll around the structure and stop on the next face. There are a few more quirks to the gravity that are explored in later levels.

Aside from pushing balls, you also have the ability to ride them. You do this by clambering on top of one, holding the A button, and moving in the direction you want to go. You’re limited to not being able to go over the side of blocks when doing this, however. The A button is also what you use to push balls, and it’s an incredibly simple control scheme that even the most stupid person will grasp in seconds.

The most stupid person probably won’t want to download the game, though, aside from to marvel at the graphics. While the tutorial and beginner levels don’t offer too many problems, getting into the intermediate levels things start to ramp up a bit, and the advanced levels are really very difficult indeed. There are 40 levels in total, and it will take quite some time to figure them all out – even if you’re not stupid.

It’s nice when a unique puzzle game comes around. Sure, we’ve seen Sokoban a million times before and half of those on XBLIGs, but to see it in 3D in such a well presented and easy to play way is really rather lovely.

HACOTAMA is available now for 240 Microsoft Points.

Review – Redd: The Lost Temple

There’s one thing you need to ensure as a game developer; when the player of your game loses, they have to feel like it was their fault that they lost.

Redd: The Lost Temple gets this completely wrong and it’s a shame because aside from that, it’s a great game.

There’s one blindingly obvious comparison to make when describing Redd. Imagine one of the dungeons from a 16-bit era Zelda game, and that’s pretty much it. You enter a temple searching for an amulet and you must explore it looking for keystones to open new areas, pressing switches and avoiding enemies and pitfalls. It’s Zelda by numbers, in a way.

It’s never quite as much of a puzzle as a Zelda dungeon, though. Redd is more about the journey than solving puzzles, and most of the time you’ll stumble across the correct way to go just by wandering around aimlessly. This isn’t to say that it isn’t an enjoyable way of doing things. Exploring Redd’s temple is just as fun as exploring a dungeon in Zelda, even if you don’t have to think about it so much.

It also differs slightly in that you have no efficient way of defending yourself. You have sticks of dynamite but the three-second countdown makes them mostly ineffective against enemies, and so the focus here is of avoiding enemies. It’s a nice idea and makes the gameplay very tense, but it also brings us back to the introduction of this review.

Redd’s temple is very dark, which means that he has to find torches to light his way. When he has a torch at about 75% of its capacity, he can see four or five feet around himself. It’s not enough, and further to this everything in the game uses the same limited palette. Holes in the floor are the same colour as slippery bits of floor and when viewed in torch light, are almost invisible. Enemies blend into floors and walls and holes and are near invisible for same reason. Well over half the times you’ll die in Redd will be because you just didn’t realise there was a hazard there. It’s apparent why it was designed this way, it does feel “authentic” in a way, but there has to be a point where authenticity is toned down so that the gameplay doesn’t suffer.

It’s a shame that this balance is off because there’s a lot to like about Redd. The dungeon design is wonderful and the fact that Redd only has dynamite to attack with makes for some very clever and creative set-pieces, such as boss fights when you’re sure that boss fights wouldn’t work. An epic final boss means that the end of the game feels satisfying and complete, even though Redd’s story is just beginning. There’s no Raventhorne-esque kick in the teeth, here.

Redd does just about enough to recommend itself. While the “cheap” deaths are incredibly annoying, you never lose too much progress if you save often and there’s plenty of fun to be had in the three-or-so hours that you’ll be exploring the temple with Redd.

Redd: The Lost Temple is available now for 240 Microsoft Points.

Indie Games Summer Uprising – Week 2

The Indie Games Summer Uprising has all but come to an end, and the second week brought with it something of a recovery from the first.

Take Arms (240 Microsoft Points) started the week, for a couple of hours. Some issues with the multiplayer caused the game to be pulled, however. If too many people tried to play at once, the game failed to cope. It has since made a return to the marketplace and so is now available and working as God intended. Or how the developer intended, anyway.

SpeedRunner HD (240 Microsoft Points) was next, a 2D platformer with a focus on, er, speed running. It’s a lot of fun, even though the platforming isn’t quite as smooth as one might hope. Things like wall-jumping are harder than it needs to be, and there’s a lot of focus on smooth landings and stuff because if you mess up, you’ll drop speed. You’ll still have enough speed to reach the end of the level in time but who cares about that when you’ve got fast times to set?

Train Frontier Express (240 Microsoft Points) is thousands of pounds worth of model railroad for the price of a model railroad magazine. There’s no worrying about passengers or income or whether you’re running on time, you just have a sandbox in which to build whatever you want. There’s a huge variety of props and customisation options alongside your track, and then you can dip into the online to see what others have been creating too. It turns out that other people are impressive.

Chester (240 Microsoft Points) was next, a 2D platformer with a number of different graphical styles that the player can switch between at will. The platforming is solid, but there’s just something about the experience that feels slightly hollow. Read our review for more details.

Redd: The Lost Temple failed peer review first time round, and so missed its release this week. It has since passed and should hit the marketplace some time tomorrow. Look out for our review soon afterwards.

Review – Chester

Chester came out a couple of days ago as part of the Indie Games Summer Uprising, after fans of the game voted it in to the promotion. It’s easy to see why.

Chester is a 2D platformer with a gimmick. Not only can you choose between different characters, you can also choose between a bunch of different visual styles, too, and every level can be switched between every style on the fly, if you so desire.

That there is just one of them, and each of them is unique and looks really great. There’s an 8-bit theme, a sketch theme, and a bunch more on top of that too. Some are better than others for things like, oh, I don’t know, seeing where you want to go, but all of them are impressive in their own ways and all of them fit the feel of the game.

This gimmick is also where the game starts to suffer. While each style looks amazing, it also means there isn’t really much feeling of progression in the game. Each level is part of one of three worlds, and progressing from world to world just gives you more levels with the same visual styles you’re already used to, and as a result every single level starts to feel exactly the same as the level before it.

There’s never any moments that surprise the player, and it feels a lot like just going through the motions to get to the end of the game. There are no bosses, either, so it really is a case of seeing everything the game has in the first few levels, then all that’s left to offer change is levels that get harder.

It’s unfortunate, because aside from this, Chester can be a lot of fun. The platforming itself is up there with the very best on XBLIGs. He jumps in a very satisfying way, with a perfect feeling of weight and momentum in all his movements that so many games get wrong. The enemies are varied and each has its own specific attack patterns and a specific way for it to be taken down. Some are more frustrating than others but all are easy enough to kill if you take it slowly.

All the platformer clichés you could want are here too. Each level is littered with collectibles that unlock those other characters and graphic styles, either by collecting enough stamps or by finding an item in a level specific to that character. There’s also a spaceship part (well) hidden in each level to find.

It’s funny, too. There’s no dialogue but the character designs and the artwork itself just has a whimsical air about it that makes the game incredibly appealing.

It’s not a game to sit and play for long periods, then, because the levels quickly start to feel samey. Played a couple of levels at a time, though, there’s some great platforming to be had, here.

Chester is available now for 240 Microsoft Points.

More Clothes to Remove as Moe Mekuri 2 Releases

萌めくり2 (Moe Mekuri 2) has just been released, and it looks like more of the same.

It’s probably not a particularly fashionable view, but I did really enjoy the original game. You have to look past the loli stuff somewhat, and then look even further past it when they start taking their clothes off, but there’s a really fun puzzle game beneath it.

In the original your goal was to flip all the tiles over to the same way, but every time you flip one all the surrounding tiles flip too, so it all has to be done in a certain order. The sequel shoots a ball that flips over every tile it touches, and it’s your job to direct and split it using special tiles so that everything is flipped in one shot.

The presentation and music is really good, too. There’s blue sky everywhere, chunky fonts, great music and it’s all just very bright and sunny and cheerful.

萌めくり2 is available now for 240 Microsoft Points.

BioHack – The Hardest Game Ever

We’ve all played physics-based games before. But have you ever tried one based on biochemical kinetics?

That’s the developer’s description of BioHack. If I was the developer, I’d have written “so, you think you’re good at puzzle games? BioHack is here to fuck your shit up.”

First of all, CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BIOHACK ON XBOX 360 (80 Microsoft Points)

At this point you should go have a play. Just get a feel for what it looks like and then come back in eight minutes and read the rest of the post, because it’ll make more sense if you’ve got a tiny bit of experience. You could also watch the trailer instead, to get a rough idea of what it’s all about.

Then, when you get back, continue reading…

Read more of this post

August 2011’s Best Xbox LIVE Indie Games

I do round-ups of the month’s best (and worst) Xbox LIVE Indie Games for Console-Arcade, and so I figure why not put a link to it here?

Then I realise I typed “here” without putting a link there, so I put it here instead.

Train Frontier Express is Almost Here!

Train Frontier Express, the latest title in the Indie Games Summer Uprising, has been set to release and could be available any moment.

While you’re waiting, why not watch the trailer? (Over and over again.)

The game is a construct-em-up, but in a shock move, isn’t anything at all like Minecraft. Here’s what you do get, though:

  • What-you-see-is-what-you-get world editor
  • Stylized pop-art and funky props
  • Customized train setups
  • Derailment and explosive effects
  • Share maps and ride online with 4 player Xbox Live play

The game is a joy to play, and hopefully will still manage to be noticed after Microsoft decided to release FIVE Xbox LIVE Arcade Games tomorrow, all competing for Train Frontier Express’ Microsoft Points.

I’d give them to TFE, personally.

Train Frontier Express is available very soon for 240 Microsoft Points.