REVIEW: Dizeaze

As developer NeuronVexx’s last game on XBLIG, Dizeaze ($1.00) fits comfortably in the ‘FPS zombie survival1‘ mold that’s come before it, similar in style to the DayZ crowd and its XBLIG brethren, such as Deadburg and ApocZ. It’s a definite change of pace from the developer’s previous projects, and there’s no doubting it’s BIG.

Dizeaze - Screen

‘Big’ if we’re stating things in total, explorable land area. Dizeaze isn’t content to set things on a small or medium-sized map; it basically asks you to survive— and travel on foot— across an entire continent filled with individual towns, cities, buildings and homes. The first time you view the map, then zoom out, you’ll be a little intimidated. It’s a pretty tall task, with miles and miles of digital real estate (read: miles and miles of boring, mostly empty forests) between you and that objective, delivering ‘the cure’ for the zombie infection you find yourself surrounded by.

‘The Cure’ is Dizeaze‘s default PvE mode, letting you roam the apocalypse solo (or with up to 8 players2), while ‘Survival’ drops the pretense of story and has you surviving as long as you can against the zombies— and other players. The world of Dizeaze is predictably vacant and ransacked. You’ll find some supplies scattered around, guns with limited ammunition, but you’ll be relying mostly on melee3 weapons and tools in a fight, or better still, running away to regroup and live another day. Of course, you do find better equipment eventually, color-coded according to their strength and rarity. You can even craft and upgrade those weapons and tools, provided you have the materials (and a workbench… oh… and available backpack space) at hand.

Dizeaze also tries for survival realism. You’re not without concerns, having to monitor your food, water, and sleep levels carefully, finding homes4 and beds to rest in, budgeting supplies and traveling during the day to avoid the larger zombie hordes at night. While scavenging, you can only carry so much stuff before it weighs you down, and with each day that passes, the world changes ever so slightly, giving increased stats to all the zombies. The message is clear; you can’t be complacent or stay in one place too long.

Dizeaze - Screen2

In practice, however, it’s more annoying than suspenseful. Survival games have always walked the line between requiring little urgency and too much of it, with the gameplay and exploration aspects designed to keep you engaged while ‘putting up’ with the constant need to find new supplies and keep moving. Dizeaze as that kind of game isn’t original, ditto for the zombies, but its scope is ambitious… perhaps too ambitious. You can only jog so many miles, rummage through so many nondescript houses, and chug so many milk cartons before the whole thing starts to feel like a chore, even if you are making slow but steady progress towards a spot on the map.

Having friends to help you loot and keep you company along the way will help, but even that can only do so much to make things interesting between the slower moments. For all it does, Dizeaze reminds me a lot of Deadburg, and I can’t help but think that’s a better game to play. To be fair, there’s more than enough options and content here to justify a $1.00 purchase, yet with a little more polish and a lot more variety, Dizeaze has the potential to be something really great. As is, sometimes it just plays like busywork.


  1. There’s a third-person view as well, allowing you to switch between the two as desired. My advice? Third-person outdoors, first-person indoors. You’re welcome. 
  2. I assume, as I never found more than two or three people in a game. Dizeaze‘s game page says eight total, and I’ll say that unless proven otherwise. 
  3. Melee combat is a weak spot for the game. It’s hard to accurately predict how your attacks will hit, and if a zombie ‘stuns’ you with its attack, you’re left defenseless for a few seconds. Against a pack of enemies, and cornered, you’re pretty much screwed. 
  4. And let me say it now; zombies spawning out of the ground inside houses and buildings is bullshit! I can appreciate the added challenge and the ‘nowhere is safe’ vibe, but it’s a little much. At least with Deadburg‘s Minecraft-ian look, it made some sense. 

REVIEW: Last Stand

As you can no doubt surmise from the screenshots, Ghere Games’ Last Stand ($1.00) is a wave shooter1 featuring the ever so undead, set in a dreary-looking underground bunker populated by yourself— the only ‘living’ resident— and a horde of snazzily-dressed yet oddly-shaped zombies. You can probably guess what happens next, and what your job in this apocalypse is going to entail.

Last Stand - Screen

Following the well-trodden path of Call of Duty‘s formula for dispatching zombies, Last Stand takes place in a series of similar (like really similar, like exactly the same) rooms, walled off by barricades that can only only be felled by the hard-earned cash2 you get from eliminating those undead. The zombies themselves will occasionally drop ammunition and temporary buffs to aid in your quest for money and bunker space, such as double cash, double-sized magazines for your guns, and an insta-kill powerup.

That money can also be used to buy a trio of new weapons beyond your trusty starting pistol; a shotgun, a semi-auto rifle (think sniper), and assault rifle. Your upgraded arsenal comes in handy, as the zombies will get more powerful as the round goes on, requiring multiple shots to finally be put down.

Last Stand - Screen2

And you’ll wish they didn’t. The combat is dull and repetitive, as are the zombies’ damage animations, strangely morphing from walking, to crawling, then back to walking as you shoot them. Add to this a lot of other annoying little issues and glitches, such as getting stuck in doorways between rooms, zombies running in place (oh, and invulnerable to boot!), weird pauses and hiccups in the game, and it all makes for a very unsatisfying experience.

One you’d be keen to avoid. It’s functional (to an extent), but cheaply done, a drag to look at in motion, and even more lifeless3 than one of the developer’s previous, Zombie Hunter IV. Even excusing the use of the undead (which I’m not) and grading it solely as a wave shooter, Last Stand isn’t very competent, or fun. At all.


  1. Sort of. There is no ‘start’ or ‘end’ to the waves; the zombies are just always around. They never leave. 
  2. There’s some good life advice in that: Something standing in your way? Throw money at it, and it will disappear. 
  3. Pun very much intended. Because it’s zombies, haha. Get it? They’re dead. No life! Lifeless! Haha. …Haha…. Ha…. … I’ll stop. 

REVIEW: GERONEKO

We’ve all heard our share of apocalyptic and End of the World tales, the cool and the serious, the strange and the strange-yet-could-be-true, but GERONEKO ($1.00) features one of the most bizarre world-ending storylines I’ve yet come across. When the Earth is suddenly destroyed in some kind of cataclysmic event1, a cat riding a ‘Super Space Vacuum Cleaner’ comes along, needing to shave the fur off a whole bunch of space animals. You can then use that hair to build a new planet, and start life as we know it over again.2

So, okay, that’s that. GERONEKO started out life as a Japanese Game Jam title, made the move to PSM (PlayStation Mobile? Remember those games? RIP.), and now finds itself on XBLIG. Because why not. It plays loosely as a ‘shooter’, although there are no guns or bullets here, just a single-screen black hole slowly pulling you and said space animals slowly towards the center to meet your certain doom, no doubt. You ‘shave’ these critters by passing over them, and it’s game over if any of them are sucked into the black hole before they’ve been shaved. Bizarre, but simple enough.

The game’s ‘Original’ setting is bare-bones and almost pointless; it asks you to shave as many animals as you can before your fuel runs out, then just ends without tallying your score or offering up anything else. ‘Arranged’ mode is a little meatier. Here, your ship can be refueled (using floating tuna cans, natch) to give you additional time, and you’ll have to avoid flying dumbbells3 during your space barber shop duties. You must reach a handful of score plateaus, with the action picking up at each turn.

GERONEKO - Screen

Apt description; checks out.

Things can get a tad hairy4, but minus the J-Rock track that kicks in after you’ve scored a certain amount in ‘Arranged’ mode, the gameplay doesn’t evolve much beyond that. More animals to shave, more dumbbells to avoid, more fuel to collect. If you’re good enough, you can unlock a bonus game afterwards to pad your score, pitting you against a ‘space ninja’ that hurls yet even more dumbbells at you. The future is bleak, my friends. And loaded with dumbbells.

And so it goes. GERONEKO sure has a unique premise, but very little else going for it gameplay-wise. It’s just too basic, and while it might hold your interest for a minute or maybe two, it’s more likely going to join a short list of XBLIGs where you literally stand up after and ask ‘What the hell did I just play?’


  1. According to the story, God said ‘Enough,’ and it includes the lines, in order, ‘All of life to live in the earth despair / Who has abandoned the faith, / In addition, a person was vomiting.’ I realize this is probably a Google Translate gone awry (we’ve all been there), but it’s still pretty funny to read, so far as apocalyptic Earth stories go. 
  2. No, you’re not high and I’m not either (I think), that’s the premise. I warned you it was bizarre. 
  3. A space cat’s #1 sworn enemy, apparently. I mean, they are heavy bastards, and it would probably hurt pretty bad to be nailed by one in orbit around a black hole, so it makes a kind of sense. 
  4. Pun very much intended. 

Year Four of theXBLIG

Today marks four years(!) that theXBLIG has been online. Things have been slow, with gaps in-between posts (mostly my fault, partly due to a lack of releases), but the site is still going. That has to count for something, and I am damn proud to be able to say that much. Unfortunately, these ‘birthday’ celebrations have taken on an air of solemnity the past two years, as the Xbox Live Indie Games service has wound down and been given its official ‘sunsetting’ countdown (fast approaching its September 9th sell-by deadline, by the way).

It’s a sad event to have on your calendar, but as I’m often told by people with smiles too big to be natural, ‘all good things must come to an end’. Just as XBLIG will soon reach its conclusion, so too must ‘theXBLIG’. Time marches on. It’s a natural progression. It’s not all going to end in tears, of course. Indie developers have multiple avenues for publishing their games now, and the pastures beyond XBLIG are undeniably greener. If nothing else, XBLIG can stand proud knowing that it was the ‘starting off point’ for dozens of indie game careers, and maybe even the first time any of us had heard of or played ‘indie games’. Its place in history is secure.

As for theXBLIG, I will finish out reviewing new games as they come. I promised you that much, and I promised myself the same. After that, I have plans to do a limited run of must-play XBLIG games, probably starting at the end of the year and running through the first part of 2017. I’m not sure of the format, but with no new games to write about, that will probably be my personal ‘send off’ to the service, and the site. This should give anyone looking for a few good games to play before the final shutdown a short list to go by.

Regardless of the inexorable future, I want to once again thank each and every one of you for visiting this site. Whether you’ve been coming here for years, or just once in a great while to check for free codes, whether you’ve left a comment or just lurked in the shadows, it’s been an absolute pleasure for me to play these videogames and write about them for you. So, Thank You.

With much love and much(er) appreciation,

Tim

REVIEW: Bubble Booster

Whatever name you ascribe it, working to align bubbles of a similar color and shooting them down is a pretty timeless recipe of the puzzle shooter genre. It was a guaranteed staple of the earliest game consoles (see Puzzle Bobble and the like), and it’s a damn near regular appearance on mobile devices of all kinds these days. Bubble Booster ($1.00) is yet another example of that tried-and-true formula.

Here, the setup retains the classic conundrum of bubble busting; orbs of various colors spread across the stage, some in noticeable, ‘easy to shoot’ patterns, others less so, and in harder to reach areas. You can control your shots and / or fine-tune your aim, sending your own orbs ricocheting off walls or stacking them aside for later use. You complete any given level by clearing out all of the bubbles on that stage, one way or another.

This gives the game its simple hook on the surface, with some strategy and mindfulness needed to actually increase your scores to a boastful level. While you can always just match the color (three or more) in a line of some sort to remove bubbles from the playing field, you gain more points for ‘dropping’ other bubbles in play around where your shot hits. In this regard, it makes more sense to ‘pick and choose’ your moves, placing your shots where they’ll do the most damage and clear out more of the board.

It’s a clever trick, one that’s made all the more tricky with the added complication of having a limited amount of time to take your shots, as well as the level ‘ceiling’ pushing the stack of bubbles closer to game over every few moves you make. To motivate you to do better, the game offers online leaderboards, tracking everything from practice scores to fastest level completions, overall high scores, and highest level reached. You can also earn new bubble skins (like individual country flags) and wallpaper backgrounds.

Bubble Booster - Screen

It’s all superficial stuff, mind you, but it’s a decent amount of unlockables to earn. With all that said, though, Bubble Booster is an also-ran, with plenty of better examples in the genre released well before it, or for free1, for that matter. There’s literally dozens of this game type out there, and that has to hurt its bottom line.

So while it’s far from original or unique in its execution, Bubble Booster is a fun enough puzzler to waste a few hours on. What worked ‘then’ still works ‘now’, albeit in smaller doses. The online leaderboards further extend that lifetime if you’re the competitive type, just be aware that there isn’t anything here that you haven’t already played in years (possibly decades!2) past.


  1. It’s arguably easier to aim and play these games with a mouse, too. Controllers are nice, but they’re not always the best option for all game styles and genres. 
  2. If so, congrats! You’re old (like me)! 

Reviews and News for Xbox Live Indie Games

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