Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.


XBLIG Antipole Heading to DSiWare, PC Version Not Forgotten

Saturnine Games has announced that their quite excellent gravity-manipulating platformer Antipole will soon be expanding beyond the confines of the Xbox Live Indie Games portal and onto DSiWare. The title boasts a difficult platforming adventure, complete with solid gameplay mechanics the likes of which we’re just not used to seeing on 360′s indie channel.

The handheld version of the game will add additional challenge levels and offer up a bonus mode for owners of Saturine’s other DSiWare title Cosmos X2. No specific release date for DSiWare as of yet except “the first half of 2010″, and as we’re rapidly heading toward the last part of that target window, we’re hopeful to see the portable arrive sooner than later.

The developer also mentions that a PC version (originally announced as a launch platform with the XBLIG version) is still being worked on alongside development of their next XBLIG title Turtle Tale. We’ll be keeping an eye on that one as well.

If you’re in possession of a 360, check out Antipole now for $3. If not, check out the original release trailer to give you an idea of the gameplay:

[Saturnine Games]


Shmup Loving DSi Owners to get Their Fix with Cosmos X2

CosmosX2000As a gamer/writer I pride myself in owning nearly everything that can play a video game. Seriously, name it and I’ve probably got it (unless it’s one of those really niche devices). Still, the one thing that has alluded me is Nintendo’s DSi. I own a DS, but not a DSi as, at the time of its launch, I saw little reason to upgrade, something that I’m definitely regretting as a shmup fan today.

Cosmos X2, as stated above, is a shmup where you’ll be fending off an alien invasion. Blah, blah… insert usual shmup story here. Needless to say, you don’t play a shmup for it’s deep and enthralling storyline/plot. What you do play them for is their abundant action and weapons arsenal, of which Cosmos X2 certainly has.

Now the real question here is just what kind of weapons can you expect? Where in most shmup games the weapons are used in a completely offense-minded attack to destroy your enemies, Cosmos X2 takes a different approach. Your ship only comes with two weapons for each level and each weapon comes with a shield. As you shoot you’re weapon will deplete your energy for that weapon. However, as you defeat enemies your weapon will recharge. It’s a sort of give and take scenario, only the end result is everybody else is dying.

Cosmos X2 is available on the Nintendo DSiWare shop today for 500 points ($5).



Kingdom Simulator Majesty 2 is Heading to Nintendo’s DSiWare [E3]


Fans of the Majesty series of games have reason to celebrate this morning. It would seem that Paradox has announced that Majesty 2, the latest PC game in the franchise, is getting a “mini me” version for Nintendo’s DSiWare. This is also fantastic news to anybody who loves strategy titles, as the Majesty series has always offered a unique take on the genre.

For those who haven’t played Majesty or it’s successor, it is a basically a kingdom simulator with some added RTS and RPG elements added into it. Basically, you get to build the fantasy/medieval city of your dreams. The DSiWare version of the game promises to bring that experience to Nintendo’s handheld, but with some key differences. Here’s the feature set:

  • Real-Time Strategy with indirect control – your heroes have a will of their own! Place a high enough reward as incentive however, and they will go hunting monsters or discovering new lands at your command
  • 12 mission campaign
  • Cast magic spells using the Nintendo DS stylus

The game is being developed by Kranx Productions and is being published by Paradox Interactive. It is set for release in Autumn of 2010, no price has been announced.

Confused why we are reporting on Paradox Interactive games? Read why!




On One’s Own: Casual Gaming Concerns

Critter_CrunchOn One’s Own is a column about, you guessed it, independent gaming. The wayward wanderings of DIYGamer’s James Bishop might lead to probing art, gameplay, design, reception or a number of other aspects related to independent games. But you can rest assured that all things indie will be carefully considered on a weekly basis.

There are some things that people just were not meant to understand. Jell-o, for example, is one of those things that continue to be amazing as long as you do not try to figure out exactly how it works. The stuff is delicious, bouncy, satisfying and gelatinous. If you ever want to turn yourself off of Jell-o forever, read up on gelatin. Scary stuff there, I’m serious.

This is the realization I have come to over the past couple weeks as I have had some time off from DIYGamer: I enjoy some kinds of games only when I am not thinking about it. This is sort of a shocking realization for someone who has spent the past two years looking for deeper meanings in videogames and sharing his criticisms with the world.

Critter Crunch vomitImagine my shock that this kind of enjoyment, the mindless, pointless enjoyment of gaming, extended to indie games that some of my peers had long protested were amazing and worth the effort to purchase and play extensively. By peers, I don’t just mean random people my age that attend classes with me or fellow coworkers, but other journalists in the field.

Luckily, in both cases that I will mention below, I received the games for what I would call “more-or-less” free. Best Buy stockpiled some coupons for me which I then turned into virtual cash via a Playstation Network card and the Nintendo DSi came with points that I had neglected to spend until recently.

In the same little shopping spree, I finally picked up Critter Crunch by Capybara Games on PS3 and Fieldrunners by Subatomic Studios for the DSi. Critter Crunch is one of those games that a number of people were quick to inform me that I absolutely had to play. Fieldrunners was not exactly recommended by folks I know, but goodness did I hear a lot about it in general. Besides, Desktop Tower Defense is a frequent addition to my rather normal day job, so I figured I would give it a go.

Critter CrunchThis is where the bad news starts. Critter Crunch has thoroughly failed to impress me. Other than being amusing to try to describe to someone—you eat the jewels inside bugs and then attempt to vomit enough into your child’s mouth—and very, very pretty to look at, my stint with Critter Crunch has been largely spent with a frown. It’s gorgeous, goofy but just is in no way substantial enough.

Perhaps this is all a matter of perception, though. Bejeweled, for example, is not exactly marketed as having a wonderful narrative, gripping plot and engaging characters. The same goes for any of the various games within the genre that Bejeweled has helped make so popular. Going to Panera Bread and expecting a steak dinner might leave a person dissatisfied but maybe they should try a sandwich, soup or salad. Results may vary, of course, but the principle remains the same: misguided expectations are only that; misguided.

Part of the problem is a lack of time in general, sure, so games like Mass Effect 2 or even Machinarium have been shelved in favor of more accessible titles for me. Even Valkyria Chronicles, a game that has recently entranced me, is not exactly the best to try and pick up for some quick playing before heading off to work.

Desktop Tower DefenseCritter Crunch has the exact same downfalls for me, though, being relegated to console play, but is a type of game that is entirely meant to be played while waiting in line, during long stints in the bathroom or in the backseat whilst carpooling. Someone, somewhere, clearly was not considering that a person might actually sit down on a sofa and attempt to give it an extended play. I refer again to Jell-o, as it might be delicious and you can eat a whole lot of it, but there sure isn’t any substance there.

Even ignoring Critter Crunch as a “possibly better if it were mobile for me” kind of game, I still have my handy-dandy Nintendo DSi and Fieldrunners. Unfortunately, it just so happens to be a tower defense game and, as everyone knows, there hasn’t been any real innovation in the tower defense genre since, well, people started calling it a genre.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I actually have a weakness for Ye Olde Tower Defense. I thoroughly enjoy every single minute I spend plotting out my building structure in order to cover the most ground in the best way. I have only recently been turned on to the whole idea of selling outlying towers in order to bolster defenses where you need them most. If you thought that your MMO of choice required micromanagement, pick up Fieldrunners and get back to me.

FieldrunnersAn epiphany occurred to me the other day however that has since tainted each and every time that I play the game. I thought to myself, “I really should get to working on my column… right after this level.” When I did finally put it down, I considered the meaning of this decision process.

What, exactly, did I accomplish in my time? At least with some games, there is a bigger picture to consider. While playing Grand Theft Auto, I might struggle with the comic depiction of violence in our daily lives. While playing Braid, I might consider the entire concept of perception among other things. While playing Fieldrunners, on the other hand, I usually consider how to better stop the little guys from getting to the other side of the virtual field. Especially those damn helicopters, pesky things that they are.

As a graduate from Indiana University, perhaps I could better utilize my time. It’d be like constantly playing Solitaire. I relate the entire process to a concept from food: empty calories. Sure, Fieldrunners might taste great going down but jeez, is there anything in there that actually nurtures my thoughts at all?

FieldrunnersThe casual gaming scene screams of fast food to me. And yes, I did just personify an entire section of entertainment. To repeat myself, there’s nothing of substance to be found but most people can agree that they’re enjoyable. The problem is not that they are not enjoyable but that they hold no meaning beyond that. Solitaire might be a fun pastime but there’s a reason why it’s called that: it is meant to pass the time.

And maybe that’s part of the problem. Muddled definitions and various ways of describing videogames have existed since the medium’s inception. Is it video games or videogames? Are they more like games or more like interactive movies? How do they relate to traditional literature?

These are all questions that I have considered from time to time and take a toll on how this argument is viewed by any given reader. Depending on what you make of those questions, you might agree or disagree vehemently with me.

If nothing else, I propose that the casual gaming sector be relegated to being a pastime while all others are referred to as hobbyist. There’s a reason baseball isn’t a national hobby.


This Game has 25 Million Levels… AlphaBounce

AlphaBounce000There are a number of reasons why I’m curious about this new indie Nintendo DSi game, Alpha Bounce. First and foremost is their claim that the game has “more than 25 million levels to play.” Second, they also claim their game is the first “brick-breaker RPG”… whatever that is. I mean, I know what a brick breaker game is, but how do you combine that into an RPG?

So, needless to say, I have a lot of questions for this very intriguing game.

But, moving on, I’m sure you guys want to know a little bit more about the game instead of reading my wonderings about how the game functions or how there could possibly be so many levels:

Combining the classic brick-breaking concept with RPG features and a touch of the shoot-’em-up video game genre, AlphaBounce offers an endless universe with millions of levels.

Throughout their adventures players will be able to amass a vast collection of equipment, containing many items which will drastically change the rules of the game.

The player is a prisoner of the powerful ESCorp, an intergalactic mining corporation which exploits the mineral resources of the galaxy.
With the help of his envelope (the ship), the prisoner must break through the mass of rocks which blocks the game area in order to clear the zone and progress to the next level.

Are you as interested as I am now?

Good because the game is available right now, for a mere 500 DSi points ($5) on the DSi store, which means you need a Nintendo DSi or DSi XL.

If you do get it let us know how you like it. I, unfortunately, only have a DS Lite and can’t play this game.



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