Posts Tagged ‘XBLA’

Farming Simulator Review

Farming Simulator Featured

Farming Simulator Boxart

Developer: Giants Software
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360

I do not long for a farming lifestyle. It seems like an incredible amount effort against increasing odds. Still, I’ve always had a taste for pretending to farm in video games. SimFarm was my first experience with the subject and ended up being a long time favorite. Farming Simulator is a sim I’ve been interested in trying out but never got around to. That is, until the multiplatform console launch.

Farming Simulator is a fairly complex game. That’s why it is highly recommended you check out the multiple tutorials first. Each details how to use various different farm vehicles to tend to crops. Then, you can see how to deposit your crop as well as purchase new seeds from the store. It’s even possible to buy a shiny new truck or livestock! You’ll get all the basics down and then be free to roam.

Farming Simulator Featured

Once in-game, missions will pop up from time to time. Each mission can be accepted or turned down, but you want to accept them whenever possible. The problem I found when taking on new missions was that there was still a lot about Farming Simulator I wasn’t sure of. Where exactly were the buildings that supply crops or livestock? You basically have to commit it to memory since the map doesn’t actually show the names of buildings. As this is a farm we’re dealing with, there is a lot of space to cover to check on buildings. You can quickly warp to different vehicles but you don’t really want one always parked by an important store because then you’d never be able to take it out and use it!

It’s also one heck of a rough-looking title. At least the game is about farming and not something that would require fancier graphics. The GUI is also a bit mucky, although it does have one important feature. The top of the screen shows what button presses can be used within a vehicle. This is necessary because controls vary from vehicle to vehicle, because they each have different jobs to perform.

Farming Simulator can manage to be a fun, zen-like experience but players must be invested enough to get to that point. I was somewhere in the middle. It’s neat to manage my own farm but less so when everything has such a leisurely pace. I guess I wasn’t cut out to be a farmer.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Foul Play Review

Foul Play Featured

Foul Play Boxart

Developer: Mediatonic
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC (Reviewed), Xbox 360 – XBLA
Review code provided

“All the world’s a stage” is a quote which well reflects the realm of gaming. Games themselves tend to be visually represented stories, often mimicking tricks used first from plays or films. But every once in a while we get a game that doesn’t eschew that fact. Instead, we get something like Foul Play in which the lead character narrates his story and then acts out memories through a stage play.

Baron Dashforth is a self-proclaimed “daemon hunter” as well as a gentleman. That much is evidenced through things like his top hat and mustache. Despite his supposed gentlemanly nature though we are tasked with making Dashforth brawl his way through copious enemies and stages. From a beginning in Egypt all the way to the hellish daemon plane, there’s a lot to see.

Fights themselves can easily become button mashing fests. In order to lessen this, developer Mediatonic chose to offer special challenges on each stage. There are three at a time and often ask players to either defeat enemies in a certain time frame, keep civilians safe, or destroy enemies in a certain fashion. Successful completion of all three grants the player a new reward. The hardest challenge to complete almost always ends up being the one that asks players to chain successful attacks in excess of 100 hits.

Foul Play Featured

What makes pulling off a 100+ combo difficult? Primarily, it is the controls but the visuals also play into it. For one, Dashforth is small and not particularly speedy. Because the game takes place on a “3D” plane, he can move into the foreground, middleground, or background. Getting from one side to the other is pretty slow, even after gaining a useful ability in the third act. With not enough speed, you can find yourself losing a chain simply because you can’t get to another enemy in time.

The art style also causes trouble. Many of the characters are the same skin tone as Dashforth and about his size. When they aren’t dressed up in costume, it’s easy to lose track of your character among them. Similarly, when a massive enemy (or group of them) appear, they can completely obscure the view of your character. Static objects become see-through when you’re behind them so why can’t the big baddies do the same? Then, when there are enemies clustered all over each other, it is simply easy to not notice one is prepping an attack that will break your combo. Dodging and blocking is very easy and quick, but you can’t dodge effectively if you can’t see what’s coming!

Foul Play Screenshot

Players can enter into Foul Play solo or engage in local or online co-op. When in co-op the game makes more sense. This is because story scenes feature both characters and then have the second disappear once the single player resumes control. Perhaps the story itself isn’t that exciting, but it is able to offer some laughs along the way.

I did not much care for character designs, but that’s not to say the art as a whole is awful. This is not the case. The animation is smooth and the play aesthetic is used well. Heading to a new part of the screen often has backdrops being switched out, and new things hanging from wires off the ceiling. Similarly, enemies dress up as crabs, bears, and more and you can always see their face tucked into the costume. The concept of having the game be one big stage play is executed well thanks to the art design.

For as cute and silly as the visuals are though there is still work that needs to be done to tune up gameplay. It is easy enough to play but frustrating in other design areas. Even with all moves unlocked, it’s still hard to keep attack chains going far beyond 100. At times, it feels like a chore and that’s something you never want a game to become. Foul Play is one game that seems to emphasize style over substance. Pick it up if you and a friend absolutely adore brawlers and can run through the five acts together.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Cloning Clyde Review

Cloning Clyde Featured

Cloning Clyde Boxart

Developer: NinjaBee in Association with J. Kenworthy Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLA

The puzzle platformer genre is completely stuffed with awesome, decent, and poor titles. At least, it definitely seems to be that way now. How were things back in 2006? Although it wasn’t very long ago at all I feel like there were certainly less… Or at least it was around then that the so-called “indie game” saw itself rise from the corners of the internet. In any case, maybe when Cloning Clyde came out it was still something fairly unique.

All things considered, it does have some neat tricks. Cloning Clyde’s main feature is, well, cloning! You traverse around 2D levels and often need to reach new, higher areas, press buttons, or do various other tasks along the way. Some of these can be accomplished alone but others require you to clone yourself once or multiple times over. Cloning is accomplished at special machines so you can’t abuse it on the fly.

Cloning Clyde Featured

Levels aren’t tremendously long but they can become quite puzzling. Mainly you just need to get the Clyde you control through a level but there are more points awarded if you accomplish extra tasks. Each level has enemies to defeat, figures to collect, and you also get a bonus for saving the extraneous Clydes. There is also a feature to combine DNA between Clyde and animals/objects which yields pretty humorous results at times (as well as giving him new powers).

Cloning Clyde sure doesn’t look very good anymore, though. It’s quite a shock to find that it was actually published by Microsoft Studios considering the incredibly rough visuals. In any case, the gameplay still stands up as fairly fun – if simple. Finally, if you don’t like seeing Clyde’s bare butt in his hospital gown then you can turn on family friendly mode which gives him underwear.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

 

ARKANOID Live! Review

Arkanoid Live Featured

Arkanoid Live! Boxart

Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLA

Arkanoid is not my favorite video game in the world but it is a powerful time waster. Semi-recently, we’ve even seen some really good revitalization brought to the classic formula with the likes of Shatter and Wizorb. Maybe it’s because of my time with those games that anything far more “retro” feels just plain dull.

ARKANOID Live! is unfortunately one game that doesn’t do enough with Arkanoid to keep it compelling for a modern audience. Most strikingly it seems like the kind of game that could almost come out on the original Xbox Live, when the focus was on very simple ports of known games.

Arkanoid Live Featured

Basically, you go through two episodes of destroying blocks with a ball and paddle. The longer you survive, the more complex the block patterns get, such as surrounding breakable blocks by unbreakable ones. There are also enemies, which can be turned on or off, but don’t offer any extra challenge to the game.

The biggest feature of the game is probably multiplayer but I didn’t test that out. They tried to make ARKANOID Live! more interesting with neat music and 3D moving backgrounds, but really, it just isn’t enough.


Score 0.5

1/2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

0 day Attack on Earth Review

0day

0daybox

Developer: Gulti
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLA

Top-down shooters have a great deal of fans, many of which are partial to retro renditions of the genre. Sometime in 2009, Square Enix decided to publish one such shooter by the name of 0 day Attack on Earth. No, I’m not sure as to the purposeful lower case of the name, but that’s what it was brought over as.

The game is incredibly simple. You choose one of a variety of aircraft and from there fight against aliens busting out of the city. A few different cities are portrayed, such as New York City and Tokyo, but you’d be hard-pressed to really know which is which while playing. It also happens to be a twin stick shooter which means you’re aiming bullets with one analog stick and piloting your craft around with the other.

0day

It doesn’t take much to make these kinds of games good, but it also doesn’t take a lot of effort to make one bad. In 0 day’s case, it falls into the latter camp. The graphics are adequate but dull, the music is uninspired, and play is incredibly repetitive. Players, as well as enemies, are super small which means you’ll often ram right into one. Similarly, noxious purple clouds act as impenetrable barriers that you’re likely to collide with simply because you can’t zoom out enough to see more than a few feet in front of your ship.

There’s little reason to play this game and the online community is all but dead. There are far superior choices available within the XBLA marketplace.


Score 0.5

1/2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Boogie Bunnies Review

Boogie Bunnies Featured

Boogie Bunnies Boxart

Developer: Artech Studios
Publisher: Sierra
Platform: PC, Xbox 360 – XBLA

If you’ve been playing games for any amount of time then chances are you’ve come across a match-3 game or two. The main goal in any of these puzzlers is simply to match three (or more) of the same colored object in some connected pattern. Games like these get skinned and re-skinned from Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine to Dr. Mario and even Lumines.

Boogie Bunnies is little more than your average match-3 game although it certainly tries to be more engaging. It mostly fails in this pursuit. Artech Studios sure seemed to have given the game their all though. This is evidenced by looking at the “match” objects which are all moving polygonal bunnies.

Boogie Bunnies Featured

The bunnies don’t move too much to cause confusion (most of the time). They simply do some idle animation and hop forward every once in a while to simulate the screen slowly being filled to capacity. If you’re doing well with matching, however, they will spontaneously begin a dance party. All the same, they never move out of their respective spots so it’s not too hectic.

If you let yourself get into it, Boogie Bunnies is a competent game. It’s just not what would be at the top of anyone’s list when they are looking for a good block matching game.


Score: 1.5

1  1/2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

0D Beat Drop Review

0D Beat Drop Featured

0D Beat Drop Boxart

Developer: Cyclone Zero
Publisher: Arc System Works
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLA

Ever since the massively successful Tetris first hit the scene, developers have been trying to find any way to cash in on a similarly addictive formula. Sometimes they get pretty close. Usually though you end up with something ranging from mediocre to creative. Which camp does 0D Beat Drop fall into?

Thankfully, the game succeeds quite well. It feels at first like a mix of Lumines and Puzzle Fighter. Almost every mode pits you against at least one player (human or CPU). From there, you work to match four or more colored blocks in various orientations. If you succeed, then some of your blocks will be dropped on the enemy. Similarly, if they do well, you’re likely to get their blocks tossed onto your side.

0D Beat Drop Featured

What connects this to Lumines? Well, 0D Beat Drop employs a musical system for the casting of blocks from one side to the other. Simply lining up four in a row won’t clear them. Instead, you must hit the proper button on the background music’s beat for it to work. This starts out easily enough but quickly becomes more challenging, as each successful hit causes your window of accuracy for the beat to become much smaller.

It creates a fairly enthralling experience when you’re not only focusing on blocks but on the beat. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of songs available (with more as DLC). Still, there are a couple of varied modes available that extend the package between 10 stages. Give it a look if you’re a fan of rhythm-based puzzling.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Beat’n Groovy Review

Beat'n Groovy Featured

Beat'n Groovy Boxart

Developer: Voltex
Publisher: Konami
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLA

Konami is the undisputed king when it comes to rhythm/music games as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, outside of DDR, they have really squandered the Bemani label in the West. With tons of bankable properties, they instead continually release misguided versions of their classics to supposedly appeal to American tastes. They create awful, old-looking versions that no one is interested in.

Such is the case with Beat’n Groovy. The game itself is modeled strongly after the successful (and Japanese-only) Pop’n Music. Okay, Pop’n saw US release on Wii but it was one of those bastardized versions. This game is played by using a 3 or 5 button layout to hit keys as they fall down the screen. It’s easy enough, and the standard model for Beatmania as well.

Beat'n Groovy Featured

The problems come in when you look at the paltry songlist – only 9 tracks in all. There may be downloadable content available, but people would only be interested in buying that if the base property is sound. It isn’t. Sure, the play is still adequately Pop’n style, but the music they selected was extremely poor. Most of it sounds like the early days of Bemani, and some of the tracks (as far as I could tell) are legitimate Bemani properties. But if you’re trying to appeal to the US then you’ve got to make a “modern” tracklist that appeals to current tastes.

Check out the demo if you’re set on having a Western version of Pop’n but this is probably the worst version you could get. It’s a shame, because if Konami could ever have success via a non-DDR rhythm game then they might be willing to put actual effort into others.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system