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


Enhanced Cthulhu Saves the World PC-Bound, OST Released for Free


I’m sure some of you may be a little over-saturated with Cthulhu news this week, but the good stuff from Zeboyd Games just keeps on coming.

Hoping to continue development full time, the dev has opened a KickStarter page in an effort to raise the $3,000 needed to port the game to PC. That’s right PC’ers, get ready for some old school JRPG hilarity! I say that with confidence as some 48 hours after the fundraising effort began, 75 backers have donated nearly $4,000 toward the cause. So it’s effectively green-lit at this point.

If you’re wondering why they need to raise money even with solid XBLIG sales, Robert Boyd explains here–but basically it’s because Microsoft takes forever to pay up.

The PC version will bring about several enhancements that had to be cut form the Xbox 360 version due to time constraints. This includes a new mode called “Cthulhu’s Angels” (YES) among other coolness. It’s also been confirmed that all these add-ons will show up in a free patch for 360 owners, so everyone gets in on the win.

In other news, looking for some new tunes to add to that awesome old school RPG music collection? Zeboyd has offered up the complete CSTW soundtrack as a free download.

This concludes my joypost, carry on.


Indie Games Winter Uprising: In Conclusion

Cthulhu000Over a month and a half after the Indie Games Winter Uprising event began we are just now concluding. It’s been a pretty wild ride for the developers who were a part of it and, even more so, the person running the whole thing Robert Boyd, developer of Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World.

It’s funny, just a few days into the event there were already a few press outlets calling the event a failure, something that I then ranted a bit on for a while. It seems shortsighted to me, personally, that the mainstream video game press be so cynical against what amounted to no more than a handful of indie developers banding together to help promote their games. To instantly write it off as a failure was not only frustrating to me, as an indie game writer, but also to the developers still participating in the event.

Anyway, Robert Boyd actually answered a few questions for me post-Indie Game Winter Uprising as a sort of conclusion piece in how well he thought it did, what the event did overall for the developers and channel and whether or not there will ever be another one.

Overall, how are you feeling post-Winter Uprising?

Good overall. It was more work to organize than I expected, but I’m glad I did it.

Has the event matched or exceeded your expectations?

As far as coverage goes, it has definitely exceeded my expectations. Not only did we get articles and reviews from many major sites, but Microsoft even officially recognized the event and did a dashboard promotion.

As far as sales go, I think everybody got a bit of a boost, but nobody’s going to be retiring as a millionaire quite yet.

Were you happy Microsoft came in at the end to lend a hand, so to say, by featuring it in their “Spotlight” section on the Dashboard?

Very happy. Hopefully, this is a sign of greater support in general for the platform from Microsoft and not just a one of event.

Epic Dungeon has sold over 11,000 and ZP2KX has sold over 9,200. Has any other games come close to matching or exceeding that kind of success?

I don’t have sales figures from all of the developers who participated, but I believe those are the 2 games in the promotion with the highest sales. In terms of revenue, Cthulhu Saves the World is probably at the top.

How well has Cthulhu Saves the World done since release, granted it’s only been out for a little while?

It’s been out for 2 weeks and it’s doing very well. We have received very positive reviews from Eurogamer, GamesRadar, and Joystiq among others, and our average user rating in the US is 4.5/5 which puts us in the top 10 best rated. We’ve sold 6,298 copies in the first 14 days which is just slightly less than what we sold in the first 14 days for Breath of Death VII: The Beginning, but of course, Cthulhu Saves the World is at a higher price point so we’re making a lot more revenue this time around.

What’s happening with Rickenbacker vs. the Aliens?

I believe it’s been canceled.

Many game journalists were beginning to claim that the Winter Uprising event wasn’t that successful a couple weeks into the event, did this deter you in anyway?

It annoyed me a bit that some journalists misread some of the things I said in an interview with Edge, but no, it didn’t deter me.

Is it safe to assume that you would be interested in hosting another such event? Maybe on an annual or bi-annual basis?

I haven’t decided yet. If I do organize another event, then it would probably be annually – I don’t really have the time to do it more often that than, plus I think doing it too frequently would diminish the effect.

Huge thank you to Robert Boyd for answering a few questions. I certainly hope they attempt to do another event like this next winter. It was a great way to highlight some of the premiere games coming out.

[Zeboyd Games]


Cthulhu Saves the World Has Highest Revenue Amongst Winter Uprising


In an interview/conclusion piece I’ve prepared on the Indie Games Winter Uprising event (to be released later today) Robert Boyd has released some details about his hit RPG Cthulhu Saves the World and how it has fared amongst the other games in the event. Spoiler alert: it’s done quite well.

In its first two weeks after being released Cthulhu Saves the World has gone on to sell more than 6,300 copies on XBLIG. Beyond that, however, since the game is currently priced at 240 MS points ($3) Robert is assuming that his game is probably the top in terms of revenue for the entire event, despite Epic Dungeon and ZP2KX selling over 11,000 and 9,200 copies respectively. Doing the math really quick confirms this, unless either Epic Dungeon or ZP2KX had a surge in sales.

Anyway, I’m still working on my conclusion piece for the event, but this seemed like big enough news to warrant a post unto itself. Selling so many copies in two weeks, no matter how insignificant it may seem to mega publishers like EA, is still a huge win for indie developers. I would not be surprised if Cthulhu Saves the World goes on to be the highest selling game of the event.

[Buy/Try, Zeboyd Games]


XBLIG Thursday: Alpha Squad

AlphaSquad001Conveniently enough, one of the last remaining Winter Uprising games to make it out came out today and, let me tell you, this is a good’un!

Alpha Squad, by developer Dragon Divide, is a unique story-based twin stick shooter. I say unique because well, let’s face it, most twin stick shooters are relatively light on story, if they even have one at all. Alpha Squad plays as a sort of action adventure twin stick shooter which comes out to be a really nice combination.

The game starts out by allowing you to choose between four different characters, I don’t think it really matters which one you choose although each seems to have their own personality. From there you set off across the globe on various missions, being that you are mercenaries.

I guess the really unique part about the game is that it, seemingly offers a unique way to change and mold the story based on your interactions with NPCs in the game. I don’t know how it does this as I wasn’t able to play long enough via the trial, however, even in my limited play through I was able to get to points where the dialog seemingly got pretty advanced leading me to believe that this is actually a really deep game.

Additionally, the game comes with a host of online capabilities that allow you to play with friends in the story, or via an arena competitive match up. The game also supports a series of trophies you can earn throughout the game as bragging rights. Unofficial achievements, if you will.

Overall, there’s really nothing about Alpha Squad that isn’t great. This is a solid twin stick shooter for people who want more out of their twin stick shooters than simply milling around a small arena shooting unnamed enemies. This game has story, characters, unique settings, and a progressive styled trophy system. Really, this is almost like the twin stick shooter to end all twin stick shooters.

Alpha Squad is available right now via the Xbox :Live Indie Games channel for 240 MS points $3).




Cthulhu Saves the World Bug Fix Patch Incoming, Zeboyd Considering New Content Update


Zeboyd Games has passed along initial sales data along with a couple of news tidbits concerning their recently released title Cthulhu Saves the World.

First, sales-wise things have started off well with 3,637 purchases and 10,369 trial downloads across the first five days. That comes out to a nice 35% conversion rate, which I’d wager is well above average for a $3 title on the channel where you simply don’t get the same impulse purchase benefits that a (decent) game with a $1 tag enjoys.

Zeboyd will be releasing a patch in the next few days to fix some bugs that were discovered after the game made it through peer review and onto the Marketplace. Perhaps more noteworthy, the dev mentions that they “haven’t decided yet” whether they’ll be putting together another patch down the road that would bring “new content” to CSTW.

Color us intrigued. New quests? Perhaps a dungeon or two? Who knows, whatever the case we sure hope they decide to go for it.

Also, I missed this when it came out upon launch (too busy reviewing) so check out the “Hey There Cthulhu” music video:

[Try/Buy on Xbox Live Marketplace]


XBLIG Thursday: Return All Robots!

ReturnAllRobots000With so many Xbox Live Indie Games being released almost daily at this point, it’s easy to see why a few indie developers felt the need to band together to create what they considered to be a “cream of the crop” sort of event highlighting a bunch of great XBLIG games being released back in December (and a couple in January). Still, that doesn’t mean that any game not part of the event was bad. Case and point: Return All Robots!

The primary premise of Return All Robots! is fairly simple. You play as an intern who got stuck in a laboratory disaster where robots are turning evil and malfunctions are running rampant. This has caused a series of robots to go bad while a number of them have remained normal. The goal is to save the good ones while avoiding the bad ones.

Sounds pretty easy right? Actually, it can be quite difficult. Unfortunately, the robots aren’t functional in terms of AI. Basically meaning you have to control them with a small remote. The robots are then designed to face you wherever you go. Using this method you can control them and move them in a straight line towards the teleporter which will bring them out of harm’s way (those robots are expensive, after all).

Of course, having the evil robots thrown in each level just adds to the game’s challenging puzzles. You see, while directing robots all over the place, you’ll have to make sure that the evil robots never come in contact with you, the teleporter, or the normal robots. Should it happen even once you’ll lose the level and be forced to restart.

Overwhelmingly I enjoyed Return All Robots! for what it was: a simple, yet challenging, puzzle game that offered a high level of polish that I’m not entirely accustomed to in Xbox Live Indie Games. As such, I’d easily recommend this game to anybody out there looking for a unique, robot-inspired puzzler.

Return All Robots! is available right now via the Xbox Live Indie Games channel for 240 MS points ($3).

[Buy/Try, Space Whale Studios]

[This is not a review. This is a "first impressions" piece based on less than an hour of gameplay.]



XBLIG Thursday: Spelunking in Tobe’s Vertical Adventure

Tobe001While it might not be the spelunking adventure platformer we’ve all been waiting for on the XBox 360, I did manage to come across an Xbox Live Inde Game that might just hold you over in the mean time. The game I am referring to is, of course, Tobe’s Vertical Adventure.

Tobe’s Vertical Adventure is, as you already know, an adventure platformer that has you playing as a huge headed little boy named Tobe, a boy who’s typically used to playing video games about adventuring, not actually adventuring himself. Through a series of comedic cut scenes it’s only through his sister — I’m assuming it’s his sister anyway — that Tobe actually attempts to find adventure and treasure himself.

The game plays like a fairly standard platformer. You can jump up on to platforms, wall jump, collect trreasure, use items, etc. There’s not much here to gush about really. If you like the way 2D platformers play then you’ll certianly enjoy Tobe’s Vertical Adventure.

Each level you come acr0ss will give you various items to pick up and a series of treasures and helpless animals for you to save. The goal is to keep moving through the cave, typically in a downward direction until you reach the big treasure. Upon acquiring the big treasure the cave will begin to collapse and you’ll now have to climb all the way back up, except this time you have a timer ticking down in order to give you that little extra challenge and adrenaline rush.

All in all, Tobe’s Vertical Adventure is a charming little adventure platformer that I had quite a lot of fun with in my limited time playing the trial, enough so that I’m seriously considering picking up the game. I’ve always enjoyed solid platformers and this one is certainly looking to be one of the best the Xbox Live Indie Game channel has produced yet.

Tobe’s Vertical Adventure can be bought right now for 240 MS points ($3).

[Buy/TryOfficial Website]

[This is not a review. This is a "first impressions" piece based on less than an hour of gameplay.]



ZP2KX Has Surpassed 9,200 in Sales


Great news for our friends over at Ska Studios today as it has been revealed to us that their recent XBLIG title: ZP2KX: Zombies and Pterodactyls! has surpassed 9,200 in sales making it, I believe with my current information, the second best selling Indie Games Winter Uprising title.

It was just a little while ago that sites like Edge, Kotaku and Joystiq were all too willing to call the XBLIG event a failure. Today, as we begn to see increased sales in more titles it’s looking like anything but. I hope to be able to sit down with Robert Boyd at some point to discuss the event in a postmortem fashion, after it’s concluded of course.

Once again, congratulations to Ska Studios.

[Buy/Try, Ska Studios]


Epic Dungeon Moves Over 11,000 Copies in December, Dev Talks Uprising [Exclusive]


As the Indie Games Winter Uprising promotion has unfolded for the XBLIG channel over the last month or so, some have debated (a bit prematurely I wager) that the experiment had failed in some form. While I believe we’ve yet to obtain a clear, final consensus on what the event has and hasn’t done for indie developers on the 360 console, there is one thing that isn’t debatable: a lot of people really like its lead-off hitter Epic Dungeon.

Developer Mike Muir has dropped in our mailbox the launch specifics for the roguelike as well as his thoughts on being a part of the Uprising. Muir’s happy to report some big numbers for the first month that went beyond his expectations.

“Sales have been more than I expected, to be honest. I sold over 11,000 copies in December (still awaiting final numbers, but I expect it to be closer to 12,000)” Muir told us. 11-12k in an opening month is right on par with some of the channel’s all time top sellers. Currently it sits at eleventh on the Top Downloaded list and ninth on the Top Rated list on the dashboard — for the record, there were six other titles from the Indie Uprising residing on the downloads chart as well.

“I feel that the Winter Uprising helped a lot. I think being in the Uprising, itself, was a great experience.” Muir stated. “Everybody worked really hard to make it happen, and it’s been great fun getting to know some of the other developers. I think, as a whole, it has helped improved the visibility and the general opinion of Xbox Indie Games, which is fantastic. And, I hope to see other efforts to promote the Xbox Indie Games in the future.”

As for what owners of Epic Dungeon can expect in the near future?

“I’m still committed to continuing development on it and releasing free patches with additional functionality and content. Hopefully, I’ll have some more solid details available in the next few weeks.”

[Eyehook Games and Try/Buy Epic Dungeon]


Jack Be Quick: Limbo $5 Off Today Only


Just have a few minutes to drop by and share before I go out and awkwardly talk to people, put on a stupid party hat and ‘stay up’ until midnight like I’m not up until 4 AM every other day. Playdead’s dark puzzle platformer–and one of our GOTY picks–Limbo is on special today for Xbox Live’s ‘Countdown to 2011′ promotion, going for just $10 (1200 MS Points) through tonight.

The discount ends at the strike of Midnight Pacific time. When it won’t only be tomorrow, it’ll be next year…except for Hawaii.

Limbo Review

[Try/Buy on Marketplace]