Bad Bunny

REVIEW: Bad Bunny

Don’t let Bad Bunny‘s ($1.00) Batman-esque box art fool you; there is nothing Dark Knight-ish (but mabye slightly Donnie Darko-ish?) about this game. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Sure, it’s a violent, Easter-themed ‘Missile Command‘-style turret defense, but it’s so colorful and bright! Vengeful kittens and bunnies dropping explosive-laden eggs never looked so cheerful!

Bad Bunny - Screen

Why your fellow, big-eared compatriots are attacking you without provocation is never quite explained (Fascists? Can they even understand the concept?), though this could be a Braid-style role reversal, as you are one evil-looking sonuvabitch. So… perhaps it isn’t them attacking you, but you who are the aggressor here. They were only defending themselves this whole time. Whoa.

In any case,  Bad Bunny is the typical setup for the genre; a stationary turret that covers the length of the screen, tasked with defending the fort / burrow you call home. You’re given one life to hold out as long as you can against adorable waves of cloud-riding bunnies and plane-flying cats, with the occasional dropped powerup (a shield, extra turret, laser) as payment to continue on.

Bad Bunny - Screen2

Also cash, which piles up around your ‘bunker abode’ and is never used. There is some challenge involved; you can blast incoming eggs out of the sky as they fall (hence the Missile Command reference), and that does make for some tense moments. Given the chaos of multiple targets and eggs, though, one is inevitably going to slip through.

It’s a simple game that works as advertised, but there’s absolutely nothing here that you haven’t seen done before in a more tidy package. There’s no online leaderboards to compare scores with either, so take away Bad Bunny‘s holiday timing (I’m just late on the review), and you haven’t got much in remainder.

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Review on Indie Gamer Chick

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2048 - Xbox 360 Edition

REVIEW: 2048: Xbox 360 Edition

Oh, poor Mobile Gaming Pop Culture. After losing Flappy Bird to the great Bird Nest in the Sky (though it’s destined to be resurrected), it needed a new craze to bide its time during the long workday. Enter Threes! and 2048, bringing number matching / stacking to the forefront of the Internet’s consciousness. 2048: Xbox 360 Edition ($1.00) is the classic bandwagon game, looking to pry loose a quick buck and strike while the iron… er, numbers table, is hot.

2048 - Xbox 360 Edition - Screen

For the uninitiated, all of these games follow a simple, but strict code of operation; slide and match similar numbers in a grid to pair them together, constructing them into ever-increasing values until the board eventually fills up and you have no more moves to make. Your ‘goal’ is to get the highest score. Threes! centers around adding values of… well, you know, while 2048 (and this Xbox version) asks you to work around the number 2, joining tiles in an attempt to reach the elusive… you guessed it, 2048.

You can move the tile set in any direction but diagonal, so long as an open space or possible pairing exists. And while your initial moves can be made without much thought, sliding together matches late in the game can be harmful if you paint yourself into a corner. Higher values are harder to match, introducing a fair amount of thought and strategy to your moves.  Call it Tetris inbreeding mixed with a Rubik’s Cube, call it a time-waster and / or a passing fad, but it’s incredibly-addicting, if you’re not careful to watch the time.

2048 - Xbox 360 Edition - Screen2

See, letters. That’s totally different, right?

This game continues where Gabriele Cirulli’s original left off, and adds a slight ‘twist’ in the form of pairing letters. This merely dresses up the gameplay, of course, giving you something different to look at without breaking any new ground. Personally, if we’re brainstorming clones here, I’d like to see a Jim Carrey version based on stacking The Number 23. But we can’t always get what we want, can we?

Bottom line, 2048: Xbox 360 Edition offers nothing new to fan the flames of the originals it so blatantly follows. Even with a spot-on impersonation, global leaderboards, and the letter-based secondary mode, there’s little reason to invest in this game, or any of the other recent and future bandwagon titles for that matter, so long as an official, free version exists somewhere.

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Oh, and if anyone’s looking for a challenge to beat, I posted my best of 5432 on the leaderboard. Not much to some, maybe, but I considered it a pretty impressive run. Be gentle on my ego.

Super Broken Games

REVIEW: Super Broken Games

Besides a casual glance at it on the marketplace, my first experience with Super Broken Games ($1.00) came with a tweet from the always-lovely Cathy at Indie Gamer Chick, who could not play the game due to epilepsy concerns with the pulsating menu and in-game effects. After booting up the game for myself, I could understand why, but thankfully developer Feel Good Seal included an option to turn off the effects and issued a patch to fix another potential issue.

With backstory out of the way, Super Broken Games is a series of deliberately-broken minigames, with each based around a particular failed idea or controller caveat. Using varying forms to go about this (sometimes you’re a snake in a maze, other times a bouncing ball, a seemingly-drunken flying ball, etc.), it all amounts to 37 ways to die and / or frustrate yourself.

Granted, a few take the legitimate approach, giving you somewhat normal controls and a straightforward objective (collect all the items, reach the exit), with numerous hazards in place. Challenging, but achievable once you’ve determined the correct path and gotten a handle on whatever controls you’ve been dealt. The vast majority, however, take a more dastardly route, flipping the schemes entirely, or adding a second snake to control, forcing you to watch two screens and babysit two characters, etc.

These minigames revel in playing the jerk, and seem to be there purely to set you off in a rage. So the obvious question would be: Why would anyone want to get pissed off playing a bunch of busted setups? I’m not sure. Maybe you’re a masochist. Or maybe your parents didn’t love you enough and you’re living a transient lifestyle, seeking out painful experiences as a way to feel alive and fill the hole in your heart that never quite healed (…that last bit may be a stretch).

 Super Broken Games - Screen

More than likely, you do it because you appreciate a good dare, which is what most of Super Broken Games feels like. Much as people choose to climb Mt. Everest because ‘it’s there’, so too will gamers play ridiculously-hard or unfair games to prove a point to themselves or others. ‘Others’ might end up being the key word, as the game allows for local multiplayer up to four. Turning ‘constant failure’ into a party game sure beats going solo.

Ultimately though, the novelty of being ‘broken’ may not be enoughSuper Broken Games opts for a playful sort of fun with its controls, but it lacks the artistry and addictive qualities of other masochist titles like Super Meat Boy or N+. Mean is always mean, but being mean on purpose? That’s just mean.

Bitcoin Tycoon

REVIEW: Bitcoin Tycoon

Though popular culture (and the jokes it spawns) doesn’t always translate well to videogame form when it’s the ‘whole game’, Bitcoin Tycoon ($1.00) had me at ‘breeding alpacas’. That says more about me than it does in making it a thrilling feature in a videogame, but I digress. Yes, the screenshots are true. The game is a SimCity-lite, allowing you to build your own metropolis, to be financed entirely by using the trendy, scam-happy digital currency known as Bitcoin.

Bitcoin Tycoon - Screen

It all starts with a hot dog stand, but the building mechanics are incredibly-simple, letting you place (but not edit or remove, bizarrely) different structures wherever there is a open space. The map is decent-sized, and so long as you are not trying to lay down Alpaca farms directly on top of each other, you can cram quite a few buildings / objects in one area. From your humble beginnings, a town will slowly begin to emerge.

Pieces run the gamut of your typical city builder, including restaurants (people need to eat), hydroelectric dams (people need power), advertising billboards (people need to buy things), and sketchy government buildings (people need to be spied on). Of course, each piece comes with a custom description of its properties, often skewering the Bitcoin currency, pop culture icons (the Winklevoss twins?), and political realities for jokes, and it does a fine job at that.

Unfortunately, for a SimCity-type, there is dreadfully little in the way of strategy or challenge. Although structures rise in price and materials the more you place, you don’t have any of the everyday concerns that running a real city entails. No public opinion to bow down to, no traffic jams to unclog (although a Tesla dealership is available), no server issues and / or always-online requirements (my small jab at EA), and no natural disasters to rain on your Bitcoin parade.

Bitcoin Tycoon - Screen2

Bottom line, you simply build however you please, and then build some more. Even without paying attention to which structures do what and how they affect the economy (certain objects require a set amount of electricity or people), you’ll be reasonably on your way to building the more expensive pieces in under twenty minutes. Under an hour, and you’ll likely build the final piece, a monument to the founder of Bitcoin.

After that, well, you’ve got nothing. You could always continue construction, but with no progress being saved or extras to concern yourself with, Bitcoin Tycoon is a largely-empty experience. Once you’ve had a ‘lulz’ or two at the one-liners, and maybe surrounded the Winklevosses with ill-tempered alpacas (…I may have a problem), it’s purely superficial from then on. The game is totally worth its weight in fake currency, but real money? Maybe not so much.

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This review is also featured on Indiepitome

Mysterious Blue Valley

REVIEW: Mysterious Blue Valley

The aura around Mysterious Blue Valley ($1.00) seemed promising at first. A trip to an unknown destination, the allure of a potential job, being taken under the wing of the equally-mysterious ‘Mr. Money’, a rotund fellow who doesn’t believe in wearing shirts to cover his sizable man breasts? Sure, I’ll bite. You should never turn down someone who wishes to be your wealthy benefactor. Sounds vaguely Great Expectations-ish, minus a teasing Gwyneth Paltrow but with a Japanese twist.

Mysterious Blue Valley - Screen

Clearly a metaphor for something.

Of course once we actually get there, it’s an entirely different story. Turns out it’s not really a mysterious valley I find myself in; more an ‘Amphitheater of the Weird’. This isn’t some vacation or job offer, either, it’s just slave labor. ‘Mr. Money’ isn’t paying me squat, can’t afford personal clothing, and orders me around in broken English from his private tent. It’s apparently so terrible, I’m being totally sarcastic with my replies and whispering mean comments behind his back.

I can’t say I blame my in-game self; his instructions sound like the sort of ‘busy work’ no one wants to hear. I’m to walk extremely slow around the stage / amphitheater, turning like a tank, picking up these blue blocks— in specific order— and return to the stage to place them. Without ever letting go, I might add. If I do, or choose the wrong piece, the blocks go flying off into space. Because reasons.

I’m not a quitter, though. Well, not quick to quit. More than a half-hour later, I’ve stacked the fifteen(!) blocks that Mr. Money requested of me. He then tells me someone is watching us, and I set off to follow a shadowy man around the stage until he eventually stops behind the blocks I’ve already placed. It’s then that my not-benefactor assigns me a new mission; climb to the second floor of the stage and collect more blocks. Again, in a specific order. This involves a rope, and for me to be standing in a certain fashion in front of the wall to utilize it. Ditto for jumping back down, after I’ve wrangled the blocks. Four minutes later, I’ve succeeded in placing one of them, with at least a dozen more to go. … … (sigh)

Mysterious Blue Valley - Screen2

Nope. I know to hang myself with it.

This is the point in the program where those of us in the business like to say, ‘Fuck that’. There’s other interesting bits I gleaned from the screenshots, like a spider and a green garden hose, but I’ll never see it to its no doubt bizarre conclusion. I’m all for abstract gameplay, but nothing is worth the actual, mind-numbing labor this game puts you through. Not even Mr. Money’s ample breasts.

Mysterious Blue Valley is the kind of project that begs for oversight and playtesting. Anything to prevent it from what it currently is. A far-flung idea is one thing; it’s quite another to make the task so boring and exacting that you alienate whoever picks it up. You could do literally anything else, and it would be a more appropriate use of your time. As such, this is one valley that should remain unexplored.

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