So the tiny little brother of X-Box Live Arcade, the X-Box Indie Games Store, has had a slightly checkered history.
The good part about the store is that it allows people without the time, inclination or resources to make a full-featured XBLA game to make something and put it in front of a wide audience. There are some really fun games on the service, and usually for a crazy cheap price-point. The games I’ve purchased on the Indie Games Store ran me 80 Microsoft points, or $1. That’s less than an awful cup of coffee. And the games are all actually pretty impressive! Fun, low-budget, usually experimentalist, and well worth a try. If you’ve got a 360, I heartily recommend any of the RadianGames games, all of which have been a good shoot-em-up time, as well as “Breath of Death VII: The Beginning”, a comedic RPG that manages to recapture the fun of the SNES style RPGs without recapturing the insane grind and boredom.
There’s one problem with the Indie Games Store, though: It allows people without the time, inclination, or resources to make a barely acceptable game to put their stuff out there. The games on it are, in the main, spectacularly bad. The ones I bought, which I do love, represent 1/1,000th of the content available. There are a dozen variations on “Massage”, which is a “game” where you press a button and your controller vibrates. A depressing amount of the content is comprised of exact clones of existing games, repeated over and over as each individual hack decides that it would be totally awesome to remake Brick Out.
But good news! A collection of developers, tired of the generally slipshod nature of the content being released on the Indie Games store, have banded together to offer a pretty sweet promotion. The Indie Games Winter Uprising is a timed release of a collection of a staggering 14 titles from top-notch developers that actually put effort into the things they make. With the average price a dollar per game, it is pretty much impossible to go wrong here.
Soulcaster 2: Equal parts dungeon crawler, strategy and adventure, MagicalTimeBean’s follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Soulcaster features an all-new set of worlds to explore and a soundtrack glossed in late-80′s redbook audio excess. Also: exploding skeletons.
Cthulhu Saves the World: The next RPG from the creators of the popular parody RPG, Breath of Death VII: The Beginning, Cthulhu Saves the World features a new 16-bit visual style, a fantastic soundtrack, sophisticated yet streamlined gameplay, and an epic tale of insanity, romance, and redemption. Save the world to destroy it!
RadianGames Crossfire 2: Crossfire 2 features all new upgrades and weapons systems, along with two main modes. Play through Conquest mode with a friend and save your progress through 60 all-new waves and new enemy types, or play Score Attack and match your best scores against your friends and the world.
Chu’s Dynasty: Chu’s Dynasty combines the strategic fighting of street-fighter with the multi-tiered 4 player mayhem of super-smash brothers. Chu’s then adds a new twist to the genre with time manipulation. Over 2 years in the making.
Alpha Squad: Alpha Squad is an adventure game that has mechanics primarily used in dual-stick shooters, to keep the action fast and heavy as you explore the world and its characters. Up to 4 player co-op, a customizable storyline, large world, unforgettable weapons, music from Stemage of Metroid Metal, and art from industry veterans.
Epic Dungeon: The ultimate dungeon crawling experience! Multiple character classes and fast paced gameplay make Epic Dungeon one of the most enjoyable roguelikes to date.
Break Limit: Prepare to go mind-numbingly fast as you Blast, Smash and Break Limit through every one and thing in your way! Featuring classic arcade style play – will you survive to be the champion of our online scoreboard, or will you end up a grease spot on the first asteroid you see?
Decimation X3: The thrilling sequel to one of the most popular shooters on the service features insane firepower and pure arcade action. From the creators of Duality ZF (coming soon to XBLA).
Asteroids Do Concern Me: Test your piloting skills in this addictive one button action game. Featuring five different modes of asteroid dodging fun. The odds of surviving this game are 3720 to 1. Have you got the minerals?
Hypership Out of Control: Space is a dangerous placed for even the most seasoned starship pilot, full of asteroids, multicolored floating blocks, and space mines. It’s even more dangerous when you your accelerator is stuck to the floor and your brakes are out. Can you survive long enough to get that elusive high score or are you destined to add a new crater to the face of an unsuspecting asteroid? Find out in this retro gaming tour de force featuring 10 Waves (forward and backwards), 5 game modes, 1 to 4 player co-op, and online high scores.
Aphelion: Wings of Omega: The conclusion to one of the most popular RPG franchises on XBox Live Indie Games, players will reprise the role of Savion Mercarte as they pick up where Episode One: Graves of Earth left off. Featuring numerous new features and enhancements like improved animations, more side quests and optional content, faster paced combat, a new playable character, and much, much more!
ZP2KX: Zombies and Pterodactyls!: In a dystopian future where humans love guns and zombies just want to be left alone, the pterodactyls have seen to it that everyone has to be miserable together. Take your jetpack online and splatter some fools with blades, guns, grenades, and other instruments of mayhem. Earn XP, level up, unlock features, clothes, and skills! Build awesome classes! From the developer of I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1 1NIT!!!1 and The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai.
Ubergridder: You are in deep space, and nasty one-eyed tentacle toting aliens have broken your spaceship. Help Robert the maintenance robot repair the spaceship, one grid at a time.
Rickenbacker vs. the Aliens: Rickenbacker vs the Aliens is a cel shaded 2D shooter where you fly Eddie Rickenbacker’s SPAD against a relentless enemy rendered in a 1930′s movie serial style. Bomb ground targets as you defend yourself against an arial barrage, fighting your way to victory for Earth.
Look for all of these on your console this winter! Together we can get something besides Massage apps.