Tag Archives: $2.99

REVIEW: Snake Party

Not to be confused with another way to say there’s a bunch of dudes clustered in one location, or a very strange (and very specific) kind of reptilian gathering, Snake Party ($2.99) represents another notch in the classic ‘snake’ game category. And it’s kind of a sort-of sequel / upgrade to the eight-years-earlier Snake3601 from the same developer. That’s also kind of very similar-ish?

At any rate, you have the familiar mechanic of your ‘snake’ chasing down ‘targets’ that can both extend your time left on the clock and increase your body size to eventually-ridiculous lengths (phrasing!). The challenge, of course, is to manage that growth within the confines of a given level, avoiding walls and obstacles, as well as your own self. The rooms are varied as such, with over 100 challenge stages, the difficulty increasing as you shift from different tiers as often as you’d like, including Easy, Expert, and Insane2.

Each tier is suitably stocked to offer variety and plenty of said challenge. Victory conditions and modifiers for every level change as well, with some asking you to collect a certain number of targets, or navigate for a set time with infinite growth, obstacles blinking in and out of existence, etc. This mixes things up nicely, ensuring you never get too comfortable completing a single task or playing in one set pattern the entire way through.

There’s also various survival modes to test your skill, and four-player couch battles return with their own devious modifiers, letting you compete for high score, bragging rights, and the always-precious free space to move around in (things get cluttered fast, no surprise). That would probably be the ideal way to play the game, but for XBLIG, it might be limited to who you have available in your immediate surroundings and how many controllers you have.

snake-party-screen

Though the biggest question, of course, would be how much you enjoy the Snake gametype, and if you don’t mind essentially playing the same game as what you already can find in your web browser, your phone, your watch, your calculator, or any number of other places that Snake clones exist. Given its similarity to the previous Snake360, too, you might have already had your fill of it in this particular presentation.

Even with those drawbacks and aforementioned games, Snake Party is plenty fun and plenty challenging, albeit close to the same thing you’ve seen and done before. But, if you’re new to it, or play too much Slither.io, or just enjoy the arcade-y hook of it in any form and / or have four controllers on hand, there’s more than enough content to keep you busy, be it with friends or going solo.


  1. Eight(!) years ago; man, Xbox Live Indie Games has had a hell of a run, when you think about it. 
  2. And while Hard is predictably tough to handle, and Expert is difficult stuff to anyone but the most-practiced Snake-titioner, Insane is just… just… why would you do that to yourself!? 
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REVIEW: Press X to Not Die

Besides the obligatory Night Trap and a half-dozen Chris Antoni horror games, I’m not well-versed in the FMV genre. I’ve never been particularly impressed with them either. They’re usually short experiences, highly repetitive, and ridiculously over-the-top in terms of both storyline and acting1. Press X to Not Die ($2.99) is all of those things. It’s also good, clean, stupid fun.

Setting the story in a nondescript suburb at the onset of a pseudo-zombie apocalypse (the type where you just know the government’s involved… and it is!), things start off with a healthy hatred of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening2 and a simple, one-button command, Press X to Not Die3.  That advice serves you well as you dodge zombie-like attackers (also a clown, and a hockey player… in full gear?) en route to various locations that conveniently advance the plot and / or invite you to watch your girlfriend shower4.

To its advantage, Press X to Not Die is readily aware of its cheesy nature and its shortcomings as an FMV game, as well as that of the entire genre. And it is in that self-aware knowledge that the game does best, phrasing its dialogue and presenting its characters all in the guise of a videogame format, giving you an adequate excuse for pressing X and / or mashing buttons to survive. The timing for these prompts is altered with the level of difficulty selected, and the game tracks your ‘score’ based on how well you do.

Press X to Not Die - Screen

Shower scene!? Denied!

To add to the immersion and mix things up, the game’s dialog changes depending on choices you make or how poorly you perform, reciting the number of deaths you’ve suffered, say, or chastising you for being a pervert. It’s a nice touch that somewhat customizes each person’s playthrough, without straying too far from its wacky pace and ‘campy’ feel throughout. There’s even a mode that gives the game a retro, pixelated look if you prefer your footage grainy (which, admittedly, sort of adds to its charm).

You shouldn’t expect longevity (probably 30 minutes to complete) or a hugely-satisfying conclusion to wrap things up (that’s saved for the sequel, natch!), but Press X to Not Die‘s tongue-in-cheek performance ultimately wins you over. It’s clearly a passion project, and with all its clever interactive bits and self-referential humor, it’s one you should happily take part in.


  1. You’re occasionally getting ‘Mark Wahlberg’ caliber acting here, and yes, that’s another rip on The Happening. Honestly, I don’t mind the guy in most other films, but here… damn. It’s just terrible. 
  2. I mean, The Happening deserves the hate, really. I can’t stress that enough. Fucking trees, man. Seriously. 
  3. Which is also.. the title… Ohhh wait… I see what you did there. 
  4. I tried to watch my ‘girlfriend’ shower twice. Purely for the purposes of this review and for science, I assure you. 

REVIEW: Bopscotch

For all its many bright, colorful levels, numerous ‘costume changes’, and ball-shaped characters leaping throughout, Bopscotch ($2.99) is still an endless runner. Well, I suppose if you want to get technical, it’s an endless bouncer. There’s no ‘jumping’, per se. At any rate, you’re still stuck on auto-run, testing your reflexes and overcoming the same obstacles / hazards you’ve dodged and ‘cheated death’ from thousands of times over1.

And yet, ‘bouncing’ your way through each stage brings a subtle variation to the formula that is both mildly-refreshing and annoyingly-perverse. More on that later, first the details. Bopscotch features an assortment of customizable ball avatars2, called ‘boppers’, and offers up over 90 stages of well-designed— and yes, occasionally frustration-fueled— deathtraps and spikes, sprinkling in some additional tricks as you go along, like sudden speed changes, one-way signs, and breakable floors / ceilings to open up new paths.

You’re gathering candy as you go (which equates to your score), but the goal is, as always, misleadingly-simple: reach the exit of each level unscathed, and move on to the next. Of course, that objective and its cheery visuals are a lie; this is a masochistic endless runner, and you’re going to die, my friend. A lot. Instant retries are unlimited, natch, and there is the Willy Wonka-esque ‘golden ticket’, a single-use item that is occasionally handed out, and which permits you to skip the current stage in exchange.

Which you may need. Rather than traverse the game’s many dangers the old-fashioned way, Bopscotch‘s round-ish fellows are quite good at bouncing, forcing an entirely-different method of of movement and timing on the player. In addition to allowing more space to line up jumps, you can also tweak your speed on land and in the air, which is vital to crossing some gaps and ‘threading the needle’ between spikes. The tutorial level gives you the basics, but you’ll still need a bit of time to adjust to Bopscotch‘s particular cadence, if you will.

Bopscotch - Screen

Can be more complicated than it looks.

That adjustment is mostly painless, mind you, but it does throw a wrench into the traditional machine of understanding endless runners. The levels themselves are pre-set sequences, fun to figure out but built to be completed in a certain way, one that requires nigh-perfect timing on your part. Given the genre the game belongs to, you can expect to replay some stages over and over, along with all the colorful language that results from it.

In that way, Bopscotch is no different than something like, say, The Impossible Game. Clever idea and ‘ball cosplay’ aside, it’s designed to frustrate over long periods of time. You’ll find ample challenge and more than ample content (besides the 90+ level ‘Adventure’ mode, there’s a two-player local race option), but you still have to know what you’re getting yourself into. Proceed from there.


  1. Only to die a thousand deaths more in the next level or game. Vicious circle, Life’s a Bitch, [insert hopeless fatalism here], etc. 
  2. Knights, Teachers, Mummies, and the like; change your color, or swap out hats and shirts as you please, with new items unlocked for completing a series of levels. Hardly in-depth stuff, but hey, it’s fun for the dress-up crowd. 

REVIEW: DELTA

Stuff like hermitgames‘ DELTA1 ($2.99) should really come labeled with a pair of warnings. The first is good news up front; the game is a fully-addictive arcade racer, has that ‘one more try’ quality that plenty of games aspire to but most don’t ultimately achieve. The second is not as good, and potentially hazardous to your health; DELTA is an all-out audio / visual assault on your respective senses. If you’re sensitive to pulsating lights and shapes in the slightest, or get motion sickness easily, it’s probably best to avoid the game entirely rather than take a chance.

Proceed with caution.

Disclaimer aside, the game is a sound-based first-person racer with trippy visuals. That’s just generic phrasing by me. In actuality, DELTA is like someone’s Tron-inspired acid trip through the trench sequence in the original Star Wars, running back to back with the ‘stargate’ sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey, dipped in a psychedelic rainbow, all while some Daft Punk / Aphex Twin-type music plays in the background2. It’s that busy!

Things move pretty fast, flashing and morphing and spinning as you whiz by, and the somewhat procedurally-generated courses you race on mean you can’t just memorize layouts to win. I say ‘somewhat’, as the tracks in DELTA are comprised of inter-connected ‘rooms’, aligned randomly. While you will eventually adjust to the hazardous walls (one hit = death, natch) and camera style in any given ‘room’, the corridor between can lead into a random layout each time, presenting a new race on each attempt. And you’ll be ‘attempting’ quite a bit; you’ll have to twitch your way through this one, my friend.

You can choose from a total of three race ‘classes’: 120, 144, and 180. Each features its own visual design and music (the soundtrack is slightly interactive, modified with every triangle-shaped ‘delta’ you pick up along the way). While the default race is unlocked from the start, you’ve got to earn access to the latter two ‘tracks’ by reaching a preset distance marker in one continuous run. That total distance is, in essence, your score. Otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward racer. Your chief objective is to survive and / or reach the end of the stage, with a ‘reward’3 unlocked for completing all three.

DELTA - Screen

You can almost taste the colors, man.

The game’s excellent and eclectic graphics match the developer’s previous efforts, but those same novel visuals can work against the quickened gameplay in DELTA. Given the shifting nature of the rooms, and the constant pyrotechnics / flashing, it’s super easy to lose track of where you are and what you’re looking at. Throw in an occasionally-spinning camera, and ‘suddenly steering yourself straight into a wall that you quite literally didn’t see coming’ becomes totally plausible. The gameplay, too, can be its own worse enemy, as I literally felt fatigued at playing it for longer than an hour at a time.

That last bit can be mostly chalked up to late nights and eyestrain, though it’s certainly worth the mention, depending on how you plan to play. Consider it a challenge on several levels then, beyond the atypical difficulty of the navigation itself. So long as you don’t stare at your screen for too long, DELTA is plenty tough, and plenty fun.


  1. This review is also featured at Indiepitome
  2. No embellishment. None. 
  3. And don’t bother asking me what that reward is, as I’m in no immediate danger of finishing the third track. 

REVIEW: Nandeyanen!? – The 1st Sûtra

It’s not every day your Bullet Hell stars a super long-nosed demon that’s been asleep for a few thousand years, only to be immediately thrust into a long-brewing battle upon waking. Oh, and your lady fox1 has been kidnapped. That’s bound to make anyone cranky. Nandeyanen!? – The 1st Sûtra2 ($2.99) gives you a shooter steeped in Japanese mythology, in particular the Tengu and a war with the Yōkai (all of them folk / supernatural beings). The game features a gorgeous watercolor art style, with pretty transitions and effects within the stages themselves. It’s quite beautiful to look at.

Shame you don’t get much time to admire the scenery or listen to the music tracks, as something is usually trying to kill you… with an excessive amount of bullets. The Yōkai foot soldiers come in many flavors, but the real focus (and challenge) is at the end of a level. The game’s mini-bosses and main bosses can be a tough match-up for Tengu-man, tossing out thousands of bullets for you dodge. Like most Bullet Hells, though, your character has a very distinctive hit zone (belt buckle), allowing you to wade through a sea of fire and still manage to come out on the other side unscathed.

This is, of course, provided you have quick reflexes and know how to break shields / direct fire back at the enemy. Nandeyanen!? is more than a mere shooter, as its successful completion will require you to get acquainted with some basic mechanics, like bullet-canceling bombs, a reflective counterattack, and using your loyal familiars (spirits) to attack stronger foes and / or collapse their shields, making them temporarily vulnerable to your fire. If that sounds overly-complicated, I assure you it’s not.

The game is a still a shooter underneath, a matter of following patterns and noticing the routes you need to take. Yet its character shines through in the environments and enemy design, in bits of brief dialog before each fight, to give some ‘meat’ to the otherwise breezy events. If you’ve collected all of a given stage’s ‘runes’ (dropped by defeated enemies), you can save yourself some trouble and knock off a chunk of the boss’s health beforehand. These battles can get a little hectic to say the least, with several volleys of bullets to carefully maneuver through and simultaneously return fire.

Nandeyanen - The 1st Sutra - Screen

Unfortunately, the impressive visuals and ample challenge mask an extremely-short adventure; just three stages in total. It should run you no more than a half-hour of playtime. There’s no real reason to repeat the game either, unless you want to try another difficulty level or shuffle through some lovely concept art. To be fair, The 1st Sûtra marks the, ah, …first ‘chapter’ of the game’s story, but at $3, the asking price may be a bit much for the content it delivers. It remains to be seen what the cost of future3 chapters will be.

Frustrations with its brevity aside, Nandeyanen!? – The 1st Sûtra is still one of the better Bullet Hell shooters I’ve played on the marketplace, especially for the rich visual style and folk history. Developer Tchagata Games could have just as easily thrown together some hasty art and backgrounds and called it a wrap for its first project; the fact that they didn’t proves they respect the genre and the material. I look forward to seeing what comes next. It’s off to a strong start.


  1. She literally has fox ears …and a real problem keeping her shirt on and / or buttoned. 
  2. This review is also featured at Indiepitome
  3. The developers have stated this is only the beginning for Tengu-man, but how many chapters there will be in all, or if there’s a concrete release schedule for the rest, was not given.